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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tarragon Scented Pork Chops in Mushroom Sauce

Let's keep it simple, let's keep it fresh, with full of savory flavors.

Pork chops are cheap and easy to make, but just as easy to overcook and to end up with a dry piece of meat, chewy to eat. A good way to remedy that situation is to let the meat either marinade or cook in a liquid.
Nothing complicated here, took 2 seconds.

What you want to do is;
- First, heat a medium sized frying pan to medium-high heat and add a splash of olive oil to the pan.
- Then, fry the pork chops just to get a quick golden color on both sides. Then remove the chops and place on a plate, set aside.
- In the same pan (with all the pork grits, yum!) throw in some sliced mushrooms and a finely chopped onion and fry until onions are translucent.
- Return the pork chops in the pan with the mushrooms and onion and pour a can of mushroom soup base on top and stir so it melts all over the pan. If you want to add some tarragon flavor, add a spring of it to the pan, immersed in the sauce.  Bring to a simmer. Bring the heat to low and place lid on pan.
Cook for 10-15 minutes.

In the mean time, prepare your side dishes. Personally I very much enjoy this dish with asparagus and rice. The rice is a good pair with the sauce while the asparagus add some crunch and freshness to the plate.

So there you go, pick up some chops and spruce up your work night with this flavorful dish.

Eat well, sleep well and till next time!


Thursday, June 9, 2011

"Salade Niçoise" for a hot summer evening

Humidity percentages are in the 90's, a walk across the street become a breathing challenge for your lungs and all you want is to lounge at home in your air conditioned living room. Well you are not alone, and those evenings will not end any time soon. On those nights, cooking seems unbearable as your only wish is to plunge into a pool of cold water. The "Salade Niçoise", with mixed origins but named after the french city "Nice", is an excellent dinner idea for hot summer nights. Many variations of this dish exists but here's the a combination of ingredients I remember when eating this dish as a kid.

- Blanched new potatoes (or canned potatoes do the trick to go even faster)
- Hard boiled eggs
- Your olives of choice
- Blanched string beans
- Artichoke Hearts
- Fresh tomato wedges
- Canned tuna, drained
- Anchovies if you'd like
- Arugula, rinced,  for the bass of the salad

For the dressing, it's a combination of;
- EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil - about 1/4 of it
- Dijon mustard - 1 tbsp
- Lemon juice - juice of one lemon

Toss the arugula , string beans and artichoke hearts in the dressing, keeping some dressing on the side. Arrange all the ingredients on a plate and pour the reserved dressing on the tuna. It's as simple as that. Enjoy with your beverage of choice. This light meal won't heat you up and will be a great start to the rest of your evening. Enjoy!

Eat well, sleep well and till next time!


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Kitchen renos!

Very exciting news, i'm getting a new kitchen!

In the next month, blogs postings won't be as frequent due to me moving to my new place and renovating. I will try and let you all know what is going on and show the progress of the renos, especially in the kitchen. The size of my new kitchen is fairly comfortable compared to the one I have at home now, but it needs some work. Here's how it's looking now.

Already the owners are installing a new hardwood floor on top of the existing laminate flooring, thank God! Next step will be getting a new fridge to fit in the massive 42" space made for it. The tiles will need some touching up, and of course a fresh coat of paint will be splashed around, color still undetermined. Please observe my biggest issue here, and that would be the lack of counters. No worries, I have already picked out a kitchen island for my workspace.

Here above is the new floor that's going in right now, can't wait to see it finished so better decide the color going in the kitchen. Great thing about this kitchen is the amount of natural lighting from the south side of the house and all the great storage. 

Hopefully when all is done, this kitchen will be unrecognizable! If anyone has tips, ideas or comments about the renos, I will gratefully accept them. Here's hoping you can all share my excitement for this new project. This is a great step not only for me personally, but for the blog as well. I will finally have the set up for video blogging and much more. All very good news. Keep posted for developments on my new kitchen and of course more dinner ideas and recipes!

Eat well, sleep well and till next time!


Japanese Udon Noodles

The Udon noodle is a very popular noodle, mostly used for udon soups in Japanese cuisine. You can also find this wheat-flour noodle is many fried dishes, combined with anything from curry to raw eggs. In today's supermarkets, you can surely find this product, conveniently vacuum packed and cooked, ready to use. If you can not find this product in your local supermarket, the closest oriental supermarket will have plenty variety of them to chose from.

Personally, I always have a few packs of these in my fridge for the times I need to use up some vegetables in something like a stir fry. Here is a one pot meal, ready in no time at all.

Udon noodle stir fry

- Broccoli, finely chopped
- Zucchini, finely chopped
- Onion finely chopped
- A couple handfuls of  frozen prawns
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
- 1/4 Cup light soy sauce 
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp hot sauce 

1. Make the sauce before heating up your wok. To do this, simply place all ingredients for the sauce in a measuring cup and whisk with a fork. 
2. In a wok on high heat, pour some vegetable oil to fry your vegetables. When the oil is hot place the broccoli, zucchini and onion pieces in the wok. When the vegetables are almost cooked through, add the prawns to heat through. Turn the heat down to medium heat.
3. Then add to the work; the sauce and the noodles. The steam from the sauce will generate steam to help soften the udon noodles. If things are getting sticky at the bottom of your wok, add a few drops of water. The extra steam will not only loosen things up from the bottom but will cook everything nicely. 
Serve immediately.

Stir fries are always a favorite of mine when I want a quick meal idea. Try this combination today and feel free to add any other vegetables you would want to make this dish your own!

Eat well, sleep well and till next time!


Friday, June 3, 2011

Spicy Shrimp Couscous

Summer is well on it's way and so are the hot temperatures. Whether it is too hot to cook, you are in a rush, or both like I was, this is a quick and delicious meal. Depending on short cuts taken, this dish can be put together even faster. Nowadays, the freezer isle is, more then ever, becoming a useful resource for quick meal ideas. Here is how put this dish together.

- 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
- 1- 796ml can of diced tomatoes
- 2 handfuls of raw frozen prawns
- splash of soy sauce (1 Tbsp)
- 2 Tsp Sriracha Chili Sauce (brand of hot sauce and quantity can be modified)
- 3/4 cup couscous

1. In a large sauce pan on medium heat, fry the bell pepper and the onion. When you start getting some color on the onions, pour in the tomatoes, bring to a simmer.
2. Add the prepared raw prawns in the vegetable mixture, turn heat to low and place lid on pot. Let cook until the shrimp have become pink throughout to make sure they are cooked. If you are using precooked shrimp, simply add to heat through.
3. Once the prawns are cooked,  add the soy sauce and the hot sauce to the mixture, bring back the dish to a low boil. Toss the couscous in the pot, stir around, place lid and remove from heat. Let sit for 10-12 minutes for the couscous to cook and absorb all the liquids of the dish. You may want to stir after 5 minutes for all the couscous to cook.

And there you have it. To make this even simpler, you may use a frozen blend of vegetables to make this even faster and easier of a recipe. Hope you enjoy and stay cool this summer!

Eat well, sleep well and till next time!