Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta & Balsamic Vinegar

Brussels sprouts are an essential part of my Thanksgiving weekend menu because my mom and mother-in-law are here to gobble them up with me. 🙂 In this dish, they are sweetened- and darkened- with balsamic vinegar.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Amanda Hesser. I significantly reduced the amount of breadcrumb topping. It was a nice side dish to serve on Thanksgiving because it comes together quickly and requires minimal oven time.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs, preferably fresh
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • 4 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 2 lbs baby Brussels sprouts, washed and trimmed (cut larger ones in two)(I used an entire stalk of sprouts)
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces pancetta in small dice (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 T minced shallots
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup veal stock or rich chicken broth, more if needed
  • 2 T chopped parsley, for garnish
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. In a bowl, mix bread crumbs and thyme with 2T olive oil, and spread on a cookie sheet. Toast, tossing frequently, until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Heat butter and remaining 2 T olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until foamy.
  4. Add brussels sprouts, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sauté, tossing frequently, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add diced pancetta, and sauté, tossing frequently, until sprouts are well browned and softened slightly, and pancetta is crisp, about 10 minutes more.
  6. Reduce heat, add shallots and garlic, and sauté until fragrant, 2 minutes.
  7. Increase heat to high, add balsamic vinegar and stock, and cook, tossing frequently, until sprouts are glazed and tender, about 10 minutes; add more stock if needed.
  8. Taste, adjusting seasoning if necessary.
  9. Transfer to a warm serving bowl and scatter bread crumbs and chopped parsley on top.

Buttermilk “Fried” Pork Chops

I have learned so much about cooking by watching Sara Moulton, particularly when she had a live cooking show many years ago. I’ve just started watching her PBS series and I’m thrilled. I have to watch a lot of episodes from previous seasons to catch up! 🙂

She cooked this dish on the show with her son who is reportedly obsessed with making it. We absolutely loved it too- it’s a wonderful weeknight dish. I made the “warm weather” version, serving it over salad dressed with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, but plan to try the “cool weather” version as well, serving it over sautéed apples and cabbage with butternut squash or sweet potato purée.

This recipe was adapted from Sara Moulton.com. I used larger pork chops, used basil, thyme and cilantro in the dressing and topping, and modified the method. I served it with roasted potatoes on the side for my starch-loving husband.

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

For the Pork Chops:

  • four 1 inch-thick boneless pork chops
  • 1 c buttermilk
  • 1 t Tabasco or Chipotle Tabasco
  • Kosher Salt
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 2 to 2 1/2 c panko bread crumbs
  • 6 to 8 T extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 T fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, cilantro, and/or basil
  • lemon wedges, for serving, optional
  • Warm Weather Version: green salad with Buttermilk Ranch Dressing, for serving (dressing recipe below)
  • Cool Weather Version: sautéed apples and cabbage, for serving
  • Cool Weather Version: butternut squash or sweet potato purée, for serving

For the Buttermilk Ranch Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup regular or low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 T rinsed, dried, and chopped fresh mixed herbs (tarragon, chives, parsley, thyme, basil, cilantro)
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced or pushed through a garlic press
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To Prepare the Pork Chops:

  1. If time permits, freeze the pork chops for 30 minutes to make them easier to cut.
  2. Carefully cut each horizontally to make 2 thin chops for a total of 8 chops.
  3. Place the meat on a cutting board between 2 layers of plastic wrap.  (Alternatively, sprinkle a small amount of water into a large resealable plastic bag.  Place a pork chop in the bag and close, leaving 1/2 inch open.) Pound with a rolling pin or meat pounder until the chop is about 1/8 inch thick; remove and set aside. Repeat with the remaining chops.
  4. Whisk together buttermilk, Tabasco, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a measuring cup; press in the garlic. Transfer to a large resealable plastic bag.
  5. Place the pounded chops in the bag with buttermilk mixture, one at a time making sure each one is coated, and marinate at room temperature, turning several times, for 30 minutes.
  6. Spread out the bread crumbs in a pie plate.
  7. Remove the chops from the marinade and season them with salt.
  8. Working with one chop at a time, toss the chop in the bread crumbs; shake off the excess crumbs.
  9. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large stainless steel, cast iron, or non-stick skillet over medium heat until hot; add half the chops. (I used a 14″ skillet over scant medium heat. Next time I will try a cast iron skillet to ease the clean up!)
  10. Sauté them, turning once for 3 minutes per side, or until golden and just cooked through. Remove to a plate and keep warm.
  11. Repeat with the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil and the remaining chops, adding more oil if necessary.
  12. Chop the herbs for the topping. (I used cilantro and basil.)

To Serve:

  1. Divide the pork chops among dinner plates, top each portion with come chopped herbs, and serve with a wedge of lemon. Alternatively, serve the pork chops over the dressed green salad.

To Make the Buttermilk Ranch Dressing:

  1. Whisk together all ingredients in a measuring cup.
  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Chill until ready to serve.

Note: These pork chops are delicious hot, at room temperature, or even chilled.

Quick New Orleans Red Beans & Rice

This quick recipe results in a full-flavored replica of a classic version that has simmered for hours. I served it to my family for our past two Mardi Gras feasts- followed by a mandatory King Cake, of course! 🙂

This recipe was adapted from David Guas, a New Orleans native and chef-owner of Bayou Coffee Bar and Eatery in Arlington, Virginia, via The Washington Post.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

  • 8 ounces smoked, cooked pork sausage
  • 2 15-oz cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, stemmed and seeded, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 7-8 scallions, sliced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 6 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3 cups chicken stock
  • 3 fresh thyme sprigs or 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 2-3 stems flat-leaf parsley, leaves minced
  • about 1-2 tsp coarse salt, to taste
  • 1 cup white Basmati rice cooked in 2 cups chicken stock, for serving
  • hot sauce, for serving, optional
  1. Cut the sausage in half lengthwise, then slice into half-moons.
  2. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat.
  3. Add the sausage and cook for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring a few times, so some of its fat renders. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the sausage to a shallow bowl.
  4. Add the diced bell pepper, onion, scallions, and garlic to the rendered fat in the pot; stir to coat.
  5. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook for 2 minutes, stirring, until just softened.
  6. Add the beans, stock, thyme, bay leaves, black and cayenne peppers.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium; cover and cook for 25 minutes.
  8. Uncover and remove the bay leaves and thyme sprig stems with a slotted spoon.
  9. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash about 1 cup of the beans against the side of the pot, or until desired thickness is achieved.
  10. Return the sausage to the pot. When heated through, stir in the parsley.
  11. Serve hot, over cooked rice, with hot sauce, as desired. I have served it in individual bowls topped with a scoop of rice or in a serving dish over rice.

Kabocha Squash, Sausage, & Cornbread Gratin

I am in love with kabocha squash- it is just so creamy and sweet. This dish may be the ultimate autumn casserole. It was a little bit involved to prepare but the results were worth every minute.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. I slightly modified the proportions and method. Fabulous!

4 to 6 servings
  • 1 small to medium kabocha squash
  • 7 large garlic cloves
  • 3 6-inch-long rosemary sprigs
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale (I used a 10 oz bag), ribs removed and torn into 1-2″ pieces (about 8 cups)
  • 2 medium shallots
  • 1 pound fresh pork sausage, such as sweet Italian (about 4 links)
  • 2 cups crumbled cornbread, from a 6×4 inch piece
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  1. Bake cornbread. (I used Trader Joe’s Cornbread Mix.) Set aside to cool.
  2. Position a rack in center of oven; preheat to 400°, preferably on convection.
  3. Cut off stem end of kabocha squash and rest on cut side. Cut squash in half. Scoop out seeds and stringy innards with a spoon; discard. Cut squash into 1″-thick slices. Using your knife, slice off the tough peel and layer of light green flesh beneath.
  4. Smash the garlic cloves with the side of the knife and remove peel.
  5. Combine squash, garlic, rosemary sprigs, heavy cream, and ¼ cup water in a medium saucepan. Season generously with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Cover pot and reduce heat to low. Simmer until squash is tender and easily mashes when pressed with the back of a spoon, 20-25 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, grasp stem end of each kale leaf. Starting at stem, slide your other hand along length of leaf to strip leaves. Repeat with entire bunch; discard stems. Tear leaves into 1″–2″ pieces (you should have about 8 cups).
  7. Peel 2 shallots and thinly slice crosswise.
  8. Use the tip of your knife to prick the sausages all over in several places.
  9. Crumble cornbread into coarse crumbs (you should have about 2 cups).
  10. When squash is tender, remove saucepan from heat. Uncover and pluck out rosemary sprigs, leaving leaves inside pot. Transfer entire mixture to a medium bowl (reserve saucepan) and mash with the back of a spoon or a potato masher until no distinct pieces of squash remain. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Wipe out pot with paper towels and heat over medium. Add butter and heat until melted. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 4 minutes.
  12. Add kale to the pot, a couple of handfuls at a time, stirring to wilt between each batch, and cook until leaves are dark green and wilted, about 3 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
  13. Transfer to kale to the bowl with squash, then fold to incorporate.
  14. Heat the olive oil in the same saucepan over medium and add sausage. Cook, turning once, until browned on both sides (they won’t be cooked through), about 6 minutes. Transfer to cutting board and let cool for a few minutes (reserve saucepan again and do not pour out fat from sausages–you’re going to use it one more time).
  15. Meanwhile, using a rubber spatula, scrape squash and kale mixture into a shallow 2-qt. baking dish and smooth top. (I coated the baking dish with cooking oil spray.)
  16. Cut sausages crosswise into 2″ pieces and nestle into top of squash mixture, spacing evenly.
  17. Heat the drippings remaining in the saucepan over medium and add cornbread crumbs. Cook, stirring, just until crumbs are evenly coated in fat. Scatter cornbread crumbs over squash mixture; season with more salt and pepper.
  18. Bake gratin until crumbs are toasty and brown and sausages are cooked through (you can insert an instant-read thermometer into center of sausage to check if registers 140°, or just cut into one with a knife), about 15 minutes.
  19. Let cool 5–10 minutes before serving.

Broccoli Bolognese with Orecchiette

I have two versions of one of my favorite classic Italian dishes to share. This is the broccoli-loaded “healthier” version.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appétit, contributed by Adam Rapoport. I increased the amount of broccoli, modified the proportions, and used sweet Italian sausage. It was a quick and tasty weeknight meal.

Yield: 6 servings

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of broccoli florets
  • coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 12 to 14 ounces fresh sweet or hot Italian sausage (about 3-4 links), casings removed
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • 14 to 16 ounces orecchiette
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1½ ounces Parmesan, finely grated (about ½ cup), plus more for serving

  1. Cook broccoli in a large pot of salted boiling water until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer broccoli to a colander and let cool (save pot of water for cooking pasta).
  2. Chop broccoli into small pieces; set aside.
  3. Heat 2 T oil in a large skillet over medium. Cook garlic, shaking skillet occasionally, until it starts to turn golden, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add sausage and a generous pinch of red pepper flakes and break up meat into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring occasionally and continuing to break up sausage, until it is browned and cooked through, 6–8 minutes.
  5. Bring reserved pot of water to a boil and cook pasta until barely al dente, about 9 minutes (set a timer for 3 minutes less than the package instructions; it will cook more in the skillet).
  6. Meanwhile, ladle about ½ cup pasta cooking liquid from pot into skillet with sausage and add blanched broccoli. Keep mixture at a low simmer, stirring often and mashing with spoon to break up sausage even more, until pasta is finished cooking.
  7. Using a spider or slotted spoon, transfer pasta to skillet, then ladle in ½ cup pasta water. Cook, stirring, until pasta absorbs most of the liquid and is just al dente, about 4 minutes.
  8. Add butter and stir until melted, then transfer pasta to a large bowl.
  9. Gradually add 1½ oz. Parmesan, tossing constantly until you have a glossy, emulsified sauce.
  10. Serve pasta topped with more Parmesan and red pepper flakes and a drizzle of oil.

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Pressure Cooker Coconut Curry Chicken

Using a multi-cooker like an Instant Pot seems to be all the rage. I can’t justify owning one… as I have a fabulous stove top pressure cooker and a separate slow cooker. Thankfully, wonderful dishes like this work with my old school kitchen supplies. 😉

The sauce is incredibly flavorful in this dish. I LOVED it! I am such a sauce person. I made it with boneless, skinless chicken thighs but cubes of lamb, fish, or pork could also be used. If using chicken breast meat the cooking time should be reduced to 2 minutes. This recipe was adapted from Dinner in an Instant by Melissa Clark, via The New York Times. I used crushed tomatoes instead of fresh and used a stove top pressure cooker. We enjoyed it with roasted CSA cauliflower on the side. Fabulous.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • 28 oz can crushed San Marzano tomatoes or 3 to 4 ripe tomatoes, halved through their equators
  • 3 tablespoons ghee, unsalted butter or safflower oil
  • 3 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
  • 2 cups finely chopped yellow onions
  • 6 garlic cloves, grated on a Microplane or minced
  • 2 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 3-inch cinnamon stick or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 8 cardamom pods, lightly crushed with the flat side of a knife, or 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 ½ to 3 pounds (about 10) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons garam masala, to taste
  • ½ cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
  • cooked brown Basmati rice, for serving, optional
  • plain yogurt, for serving, optional
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
  1. If using fresh tomatoes, start by setting a box grater over a bowl. Starting with their cut sides, grate the tomatoes through the large holes of the box grater so the tomato pulp falls into the bowl. Discard the skins. Measure out 2 cups of tomato purée.
  2. Heat the ghee and the coconut oil in the pressure cooker. Stir in the onions and sauté, stirring often to encourage even browning, until they are caramelized, 12 to 18 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garlic, ginger and cumin seeds; cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  4. Stir in the cinnamon and cardamom and cook for another minute.
  5. Stir in the coriander, salt, turmeric, red pepper flakes, black pepper and finally the tomato purée (fresh or canned).
  6. Add the chicken to the sauce, cover and cook on low pressure for 4 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally; this could take up to 30 minutes. If the sauce seems too thin, use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a bowl and then simmer the sauce on the sauté setting until it has thickened to taste. (Note that the coconut milk will thin the sauce down further.) (I reduced the sauce.)
  7. Stir in the garam masala and the coconut milk, and let the curry sit for 20 minutes for the flavors to meld.
  8. Serve with the rice and yogurt, if desired. Garnish with cilantro.

Note: If you’d rather use a slow cooker, cook on high for 2 to 3 hours or on low for 4 to 5 hours, adding the coconut milk during the last hour.

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Chilled Corn Soup with Tomato-Bacon Toasts

This is a bowl of fresh and creamy heaven. Easy to prepare too. I topped it with a splash of color from my absolute summer favorite, basil. The toasts made it a filling meal as well.

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart Living. We ate it slightly chilled instead of cold because we enjoyed it on a cool and rainy summer night. My husband gobbled up the chilled leftovers and would recommend this soup served cold as well. 🙂 I think it would also be delicious served warm!

Yield: Serves 4 to 5

  • 4 slices bacon (about 6 ounces)
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 6 ears of corn)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 to 8 slices crusty bread (I used a sourdough baguette)
  • 4 ounces manchego or other hard, sharp cheese, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds (I halved them again to fit on my bread slices)
  • extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • basil, chiffonade, for serving
  1. In a large straight-sided skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, turning once, until crisp, 8 minutes. Transfer to paper towels.
  2. Add onion, garlic, and a pinch of salt to skillet; cook stirring, 8 minutes.
  3. Stir in 4 cups corn, then 2 cups water; season with salt and pepper.
  4. Bring to a simmer; cook, stirring occasionally, until corn is tender and most of liquid has evaporated, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Transfer to a large bowl, stir in 1 1/2 cups ice water and the sour cream.
  6. Blend mixture with an immersion blender, or in a blender (in two batches, if necessary), until smooth.
  7. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until cold, about 45 minutes. (I skipped this step and served it slightly chilled.)
  8. While the soup is chilling, season the tomato slices with salt and pepper. Toast the bread slices.
  9. Top the bread with cheese slices, tomatoes, and bacon.
  10. Ladle soup into bowls. Garnish with remaining 1/2 cup corn kernels, more pepper, drizzles of oil, and basil, as desired.

I’m sharing my summer soup at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #181 this week co-hosted by CH @Cooking From My Heart and Nimmi @Adorable Life. Angie featured my post from last week’s Fiesta- Yay! Check it out! 🙂

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