Monday, October 26

Mire poix pork chops

It ain't much, but we want you to know we haven't abandoned you.

Well, I'm a big fan of one-pot meals. Easy to prepare, easy to serve, and less stuff to clean up afterwards. What's not to love? Okay, so I'm actually using 2 pots here, okay a pot and a baking dish. But the concept's the same. Especially since I'm using a non-stick pot. Good ones are criminally easy to clean. Start by lubing up a 9x13x2 baking dish. I used spray. Like I said, I cheated.

Up next, prepare a mire poix. I think mine isn't exactly right, because I used equal amounts carrots, celery, and onion, but it still tastes fine. And smells great too. Use a little butter to induce a little color in the onion and carrots. (According to Greg Dean, it's an old culinary school hazing prank to tell the freshmen to brown celery. Celery doesn't have the required sugar to undergo the Maillard reaction, so it doesn't brown. Think about it: You spend more energy chewing celery than you get from eating it, so how much nutritional value do you think it has?)

When you're done with that, add some cubed bread to make croutons in there, and mix it up.

Now lay down a little stuffing, followed by some pork chops. I've used cuts of loin. Salt and pepper each layer, then lay down more stuffing and repeat.

Bake until the pork chops are done. Umm... I really don't know how long. When in doubt, go with 350, and just check on it at 15 minutes, and every 5 after that until your pork is the doneness that you like.

Voila! One pot meal, with your starch, your vegetables and proteins. Easy money.

Something more interesting next time, when I'm not getting crushed. Stay tuned, I promise it will be more entertaining next time.

Sunday, October 11

Apple butter cookies

As you all know, there are three rules here about Caes brother cooking. Rule number one is that everything is better with butter. This entry is an exploration of possible corollary to this rule: things with "butter" in their names are good.

At our Mart of Wal, they keep apple butter right next to the peanut butter. And since I was running low on PB, I figured I'll take some AB along for the ride.

Also in this neighborhood is jelly and jam. I guess I should have realized that apple butter would be closer to those because it comes in a similar jar. But it'll be close enough for what I want to do with them. I think.

What I have in mind is apple butter cookies. In my childhood we had this cookbook we got from a local hospital. I don't know how, but there it was. And in it was a dirt-simple peanut butter cookie: 1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 egg. Bake. It's really that simple. So let's see what happens if we try to make apple butter cookies instead.

Hmmm.... That consistency of apple butter has bitten me in the butt. But I had a feeling this was going to happen, so I figured I'd just add flour, a little at a time, until it becomes a cohesive dough. Or least a thick batter. Well, there's a spare 1/4 cup measuring cup that lives in my flour jar. Perfect, right?

2 1/2 cups of flour later, this is what we have. It's close enough. So. Apparently it's traditional to ball up peanut butter cookies and mash them down with a fork. I decided to mash the apple butter cookies down with a spoon. You'll want to spray the back end of the spoon with some nonstick spray. Pour out a blob of batter then mush it around into a disk. Bake at 350 for about 10-12 minutes or when you figure they're done.

Looks pretty good, right? Well, there's a bit of a problem. Remember how I added 2 1/2 cups of flour 1/4 cup at a time? You can surmise I beat the batter after each addition. Now, if you follow the gospel according to St. Alton, you'll be familiar with the muffin method: Mix your dry ingredients together, your wet ingredients together, then pour the wet on the dry and mix as little as possible. Beat it senseless and you'll get a very glutenous creation that will end up chewier than you'd like. But it's still edible... even looks like a cookie. And it tastes quite nice. Apple isn't one of those flavors you see in cookies very much. That's a shame, and you should join me and correct that.

But now that I mentioned "muffin"....