January 14, 2014

Blue Cheese & Pear Sauce

Blue cheese and pears, everyone loves that combination. Why not make a sauce of those favorite foods and serve it over pasta? I could only think yum and I was right. The secret is not overloading the blue cheese and to use a juicy soft pear. The rest is sauce 101.

I think The Nudge was expecting a heavy blue cheese sauce, you know, the kind you dip wings into. Not the case here. It was perfectly balanced and I would make this again for when I am serving simply grilled, roasted or sauteed meat.

I used Anne Burrells recipe for spaetzle, minus the fresh herbs. Instead I added a pinch of dried rosemary to the sauce. Was the right choice.

If you do not have a spaetzle maker, you could do what I do and use your pasta drainer, one with large round holes. It must be able to handle heat since it will sit on a pot of boiling water and you will also need a spatula to force the dough mix down. A simple set-up but it works well for me, every time. If you have access to a large insert on your food mill, you can use that and the large disk for a potato ricer, although will produce small spaetzle, will also work. If you want to bypass the whole from scratch pasta thing, buy small gnocchi or even fresh cavatelli, but dried will not work as well.

The most important thing is to buy a wedge of real blue cheese, not crumbles we throw into salads and Buffalo dips, they are coated with something that stops them from sticking together. Any blue cheese will melt perfectly, so origin is not important.
Add splash of sweet Moscato and a touch of honey and you have the ultimate sauce, the kind I would serve with a fillet of beef as easily as with a bowl of gnocchi.

Blue Cheese & Pear Spaetzle
serves 4

* 1/2 small white onion, diced
* 1 medium clove of garlic, minced
* 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
* 1/4 cup sweet white wine
* 1 teaspoon honey or Agave Nectar
* salt & pepper
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 2 ounces wedge bleu cheese (I love the new buttermilk style)
* 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary, minced
* 1 pear, peeled, seeded and diced

* 1 batch spaetzle (recipe here but can also buy the box mix)

1. Chop the onion, garlic and saute in the butter along with the rosemary. When soft, add the pear, wine, honey and simmer until the wine is almost evaporated. Add the cream, salt & pepper and when the cream comes up to a boil, add the cheese, cover, turn off the heat and let the cheese melt.
2. Right before serving, heat the sauce with the spaetzle until is starts to simmer. Serve immediately.

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January 7, 2014

Green Chiles and Onion Sauce

There are three foodie newsletters I subscribe too and Fine Cooking is one of them. Each day they send me a recipe. Sometimes I bookmark them, sometimes I don't.
This one showed up on December 4th.

How did they know I was looking for a tasty but different recipe for boneless loin chops I bought. Ideally I would find one that The Nudge could grill. I am teaching him how to cook and grilling is a great place to start. He's mastered steak, pork tenderloin and chops were next. Unfortunately the weather turned prohibitive for grilling, so pan sauteing it would have to be. He's not ready for that yet.

I had all the ingredients on hand and it just so happened, since I have had popovers on my mind and a new pan beckoning me to break it in, I stumbled on Smitten Kitchen's Corn, Buttermilk and Chive Popover recipe which will be perfect with these chops and I can get two posts from one meal. I hope. My first try at her popovers were not at all successful but I refuse to give up.
So, you will either see a post on popovers in a few days or a Merry Christmas greeting.

Cook's note: This was absolutely delicious, a true one pot wonder. The heat is perfectly balanced so even kids would like this and I used my cast iron pan from start to finish. I did not change a thing.

Pork Chops with Green Chiles and Onions
Adapted from

Serves 4
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1 teaspoon pure ancho chile powder or chili powder
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 4 center-cut boneless pork chops, preferably about 1 inch thick (about 1-1/2 lb. total)
* 3/4 cup lower-salt chicken broth; more as needed
* 1 4-oz. can chopped green chiles
* 3 Tbs. chopped jarred jalapeños (from about 12 slices)
* 1 Tbs. cider vinegar
* 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 3 Tbs. olive oil
* 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced

In a small bowl, combine the cumin, chile powder, 1-1/4 tsp. salt and 3/4 tsp. pepper. Sprinkle on both sides of the pork and set aside. In a blender or food processor, purée the chicken broth, green chiles (with their liquid), jalapeños, and vinegar until smooth.

Put the flour in a pie plate and dredge the pork chops, shaking to remove any excess. Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Pour in 2 Tbs. of the oil and heat until shimmering hot, about 1 minute. Add the pork chops and cook, without moving, until they’re brown around the edges and release easily from the pan, 2 to 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, flip, and cook the other side until browned, about 2 minutes more. Transfer to a large plate.

Over medium-high heat, add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and the onion to the skillet. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted and golden, about 4 minutes. Add the green chile mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the mixture thickens slightly and the onions are completely tender, 2 to 3 minutes more; add a splash of chicken broth if the mixture seems dry. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Return the chops to the pan, nestling them into the onions. Cover and simmer gently until the pork is fairly firm to the touch with just a little give, 3 to 5 minutes. With a paring knife, make a nick in a thicker chop to make sure it’s only just a little pink.

Serve the pork chops topped with the sauce.

Nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 360; Fat (g): 18; Fat Calories (kcal): 160; Saturated Fat (g): 4; Protein (g): 39; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 11; Carbohydrates (g): 10; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2; Sodium (mg): 810; Cholesterol (mg): 115; Fiber (g): 2

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