Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Things I Am Loving This Week

Last week was so busy, I didn't think I had time to find any "Things I Am Loving This Week." I was trying to catch up on modules to be able to take the first test for my distance learning program and had my head down studying for much of the week. Good news is the modules are done, the test is taken and passed, (which I am loving!), and now I have a week to catch up on everything else I let go by the wayside for the week. And, come to think of it, there are a few things I am indeed loving.

I LOVE Mark Bittman and find his recipes to be consistently delicious and usually quick and easy. For Christmas I received The "How to Cook Everything" daily box calendar, full of his recipes, and flipping over a new card each day usually ends up making me hungry. I kept thinking of his Januaary 4th recipe for Skillet Pork Chops and finally picked up a couple of good ones from Whole Foods to make the dish. At the bottom of the recipe card it gave a variation for Pork Chops with Mustard and of course once I saw the capers in it, I had to make it. (I put the basic recipe here with the directions for the mustard version in red at the bottom).

Skillet Pork Chops (With Mustard & Caper Sauce)
"How to Cook Everything" Calendar by Mark Bittman
(Makes 4 servings / Time: 30 minutes)

4 center-cut loin pork chops, about 1 inch thick, trimmed of excess fat
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if not using butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon minced garlic or 2 tablespoons minced shallot, onion, or scallion
1/2 cup chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, store-bought broth, or water, plus more if needed
1 tablespoon butter (you can use more olive oil instead, especially if it's flavorful)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice or wine vinegar
Minced fresh parsley leaves for garnish

Sprinkle the chops with salt and pepper. Place a large skillet over medium-high heat for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the 2 tablespoons olive oil; as soon as the first wisps of smoke rise from the oil, add the chops and turn the heat to high. Brown the chops on both sides, moving them around so they develop good color all over. The entire browning process should take no longer than 4 minutes, and preferably less.

Reduce the heat to medium. Add the wine and the garlic and cook, turning the chops once or twice, until the wine is all but evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of stock or water, turn the heat to low, and cover. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, turning the chops once or twice, until the chops are tender but not dry. When done, they will be firm to the touch, their juices will run just slightly pink and, when you cut into them (which you should do if you're at all unsure of their doneness), the color will be rosy at first glance but quickly turn pale.

Remove the chops to a platter. If the pan juices are very thin, cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan, until the liquid is reduced slightly. If they are scarce (unlikely), add another 1/2 cup of stock or water; cook, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan, until the liquid is reduced slightly. Then stir in the butter or oil over medium heat; add the lemon juice, pour over the chops, garnish, and serve.

Pork Chops with Mustard: In the last step, stir in 1 Tbsp or more of Dijon mustard with the lemon juice (some capers are good here, too, as is a dash or two of Worcestershire sauce). Finish as directed.

Notes/Results: Yum! The sauce is perfect, tangy and good and the pork chops turned out moist and very flavorful. I ate it with some brown rice and kale salad for a quick dinner. An easy recipe and a keeper for when I get those occasional pork cravings.

I also love Michael Pollen and enjoyed both "The Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food" The other day I picked up his "Food Rules: An Eater's Manual"--a small succinct guide to what to eat. This little paperback is a great recap of Pollen's messages and putting them into daily practice through the simple "rules" he has written or collected and brief explanations of how to apply them. It's not rocket science and it is mostly stuff we all know, but messages that we sometimes need a reminder on.

A few of my favorites:
  • "Avoid food products containing ingredients that no ordinary person would keep in the pantry."
  • "It's not food if it arrived through the window of your car."
  • "Treat meat as a flavoring or special occasion food."
  • "Eat animals that have themselves eaten well."
  • "Don't eat breakfast cereals that change the color of your milk."
  • "Treat treats as treats."
And finally:
  • "Break the rules once in a while." (Even Michael Pollen knows you can't be perfect all of the time!)

Finally, my spending the majority of my time studying (and occasional posting) made it a "tough week" on Max. For some reason I can be doing anything else and he is perfectly content but when the laptop is open and/or the IPOD with my classes is on and my earphones are in, he becomes a major pain by laying on the computer, trying to pull the power cord out with his paws and teeth or laying on the floor crying for attention. Just a bit distracting!

I can't help but laugh at him and love him--especially when he settles down and I find him like this: (Exactly how I was feeling last week!) ;-)

So that's what I am loving this week. How about you?


  1. Mark Bittman has never disappointed me ever. He is one of the few reliable men in my life. Those pork chops sound delicious...and yes I'm a sucker for capers as well!

    The Michael Pollan book is hysterical! His tips of course have some substance to them but the way he phrases them are just too funny.

    Max is adorable. By the way.

  2. Well, I want everything in this post. From the page a day calendar, to the book, to the sweet annoying kitty cat!

  3. Max, so cute! I just had pork chops tonight also :)

  4. Haha! How cute this kitty!
    The dish looks really delicious!

  5. Adorable Max!

    Those pork chops sound luscious.

  6. Deb... great recipe!

    I think the caption for the last photograph should be ~ "Oh, Deb! Not another picture of my 'cute' playful ways."

  7. I love the pic of Max with his paw over his head - very cute! The pork chops with capers and white wine would be calling my name too. Of course, throwing in some mustard would make me extremely happy too! Hope this next week is more peaceful for you!

  8. Great chops! Love the sauce, and Bittman.
    Go Max! You can unplug it!
    Looks like a great little book, I haven't looked at it yet, but you can't help but agree with the "rules".

  9. I love Mark Bittman! I had this calendar, last year, and I made a few but never posted them. SIGH. I only wish he had photographs (me being so visual dependent. This recipe is great. Love the kitty. Mine never fail to amuse me.

  10. I always look forward to this feature on your blog. I'm a die-hard MB fan and love his recipes. The pork chops sound wonderful.

  11. I am loving that last picture of your cat!

  12. That pork chop looks so succulent. And Max and my Molly would be quite the pair.

  13. Oh excellent recipe to say the least and u cook up evryhting so beautifully...ur sweet hello kitty is so so cute...

  14. Those pork chops are just my type of food. Perfect for a weekday, delicious sauce, easy to prepare. Looks wonderful!

  15. oh great pork recipe and adorable cats what do you study


  16. This Pork Chop and that sauce look wonderful.

    That last photo of that cat is just adorable!

  17. How CUTE is that kitty! So very cute! Those chops look delicious and I love Michael Pollan, and really want to read his new book!

  18. This pork loin looks delicious...and Max is very cute...great pictures!

  19. The mustard and caper sauce sounds great with the pork chop!


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