Archive for Fall Mains – Page 4

Rosemary “Yorkshire” Puddings

Of course, fabulous to serve alongside a delicious prime rib roast of beef; although I have been known to make them to have with beef stew made with red wine. Rosemary just goes so well with beef! The puddings are crisp on the outside, soft inside and stay puffy!

Preheat the oven to 350 F

1 1/3 cups unbleached flour
½ tsp. salt
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups homogenized milk
4 Tbsp. melted butter
4 tsp. minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 Tbsp. butter for greasing the custard cups

I find it much easier to place the custard cups on a baking sheet for baking.

In a blender place the flour, salt, eggs, milk & the melted butter, blend for a total of 30 seconds, scraping down the sides after 15 seconds.

Place 1/2 tsp. butter in each of eight 2/3 cup custard cups, greasing the inside of each cup thoroughly; place in the oven for 5 minutes, or until hot. Fill the cups half full with the batter & sprinkle the top of each pudding with about ½ tsp. rosemary. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown & crisp.

NB:  If you happen to have rendered beef fat on hand it’s very good for greasing the custard cups instead of the butter.

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Turkey, Hunter’s Style

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This recipe for tacchino alla cacciatora is from Julia della Croce’s cookbook “Umbria.” The book explores the foods and traditions of that region of Italy and is filled with great recipes. Turkey, either wild or farm raised, is eaten all over Umbria but not the whole roasted bird we are accustomed to in North America. A simple dish to put together that turns turkey thighs into a very tasty meal. We mostly use thighs but occasionally we use the drumstick and thigh. I saw a neat trick a number of years ago on one of Julia Child and Jacques Pepin’s T.V. cooking shows. They were using the turkey drumsticks. Tried it, works great…just cut around the base of the leg through to the bone about 1 ½” from the bottom so you can get at the area where the tendons are (at the bottom end of the drum).  After cooking the drums, remove the tendons using needle nose pliers that are used for cooking purposes only.

DSC_5619 nx2Makes 4 Servings

2 whole turkey thighs (1 ½ lbs. each)
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 large cloves garlic, crushed but left whole
1 fresh rosemary sprig, about 8” long, or 1 tsp. crumbled dried rosemary
¾ cup dry white wine
½ cup meat broth, or as needed **
4 large fresh sage leaves, minced, or ½ tsp. crumbled dried sage
8 juniper berries, ground
¾ tsp. sea salt, or to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

Saw or hack each thigh through the bone into 3 pieces, (your butcher might do this for you however, I left mine whole). Rinse the turkey pieces & dry well. In a heavy-bottomed, large, wide skillet ample enough to accommodate the turkey pieces without crowding, combine the oil, garlic & the rosemary, if using fresh. Place over medium-low heat & warm gently, pressing down occasionally with a wooden spoon to release the flavours from the garlic & the rosemary. Do not allow the garlic to colour beyond a golden hue. This should take 5 – 6 minutes. Discard the garlic & the rosemary sprig.

Raise the heat to a fairly lively temperature & slip the turkey pieces into the skillet. I start them skin-down, then brown on all sides, about 15 minutes. Add the wine & let the alcohol evaporate, about 3 minutes. Now add the ½ cup broth, the rosemary (if using dried), the sage & the juniper berries, stirring to distribute all the ingredients. Reduce the heat to low, cover & cook until the turkey is tender, about 45 minutes. Remove the cover occasionally to stir the meat in order to prevent sticking, re-covering the pan each time. If the turkey seems to be drying out, add more broth as needed to keep it well bathed in cooking liquid.

When the turkey is thoroughly tender, season with salt & pepper to taste. Transfer to a warmed platter & serve immediately.

Note: I seasoned my turkey pieces a bit before browning them but you will note that it is not called for in the recipe, it’s just how I do things. For the meat stock, I either use veal stock or a combination of beef & chicken or turkey stock, depending on what’s in the freezer.  If you choose to cook the thighs in one piece, carve the thighs before serving.

**If you would like to make your own stock, please go to How to Make Stock.

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Italian Veal Stew With Rosemary

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This very tasty spezzatino (stew) is from the north east area of Italy. It’s quite simple to prepare and is braised in the oven. Traditionally it’s served with polenta. ** I have served the stew as a second course, preceeded by a pasta first course but it would also be lovely served with some veggies and good, crusty Italian bread. An Italian dry red wine or a Cabernet Franc or Merlot would be a perfect accompaniment.

Makes 6 Servings

6 Tbsp. EVO
4 ½ oz. pancetta, finely chopped
3 large shallots, peeled & cut in half
2 large carrots, peeled, cut in half & then into 1” pieces
2 large celery stalks, cut into 1” pieces
3 ½ lbs. veal stew meat, cut into 1 ½” pieces
Unbleached flour
1 cup + 2 Tbsp. dry red wine
2 medium bay leaves
2 ¼ tsp. chopped fresh rosemary or ½ tsp. dried
12 oz. beef stock** or tinned low salt/no salt beef broth
12 oz. chicken stock** or tinned low salt/no salt chicken broth

Garnish: Chopped fresh rosemary (opt.)

Preheat the oven to 325 F.

Place the shallots, carrots & celery into a food processor & chop until finely chopped, approximately 1/16” pieces, being careful not to over process to the point of a puree.

Heat 3 Tbsp. EVO in heavy large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the chopped pancetta & chopped veggies; sauté until veggies are tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large bowl (do not clean pan). Add 1 – 2 Tbsp. EVO to the pan & heat until hot. Place ½ cup flour, 1 tsp. salt & ¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper into a plastic bag; dry the veal cubes with paper towels, then put a few pieces of veal at a time in the bag; place into the pan with the hot oil; continuing to coat more veal to fill the pan, making sure you don’t overcrowd the meat as it will not brown properly. You will probably need to do the veal in 2 batches. As the veal is browned, remove to the bowl with the sautéed veggies.

Add the wine, bay leaves & chopped rosemary to the pot; boil 5 – 10 minutes to allow wine to evaporate slightly. Return the veggies & the veal to the pan. Add both stocks; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and place in the preheated oven until meat is tender; approximately 1 hr. + 30 to 45 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking. Remove from the oven; if the stew requires a bit more thickening, stir together 1 Tbsp. potato starch & 2 Tbsp. cold water. Place over medium heat & add a little of the mixture at a time stirring until the consistency you want; season with salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste. Sprinkle with additional chopped fresh rosemary if desired.

**If you would like to make the polenta to accompany the stew, please go to Creamy Polenta.

**If you would like to make your own stock, please go to Making Stock.

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Braised Chicken In Saffron Cream And Pasta

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If you like saffron, this one is for you! It’s saffrony and winey and yummy! When I make this chicken, I like to serve it in the Italian manner, I use some of the sauce to dress the paccheri/pacchero pasta (a very large tube pasta with a big hole in the middle) as a primi (1st course), then follow with the chicken drizzled with more sauce and a green veg. as my secondo (2nd course). An excellent braise to be enjoyed in the fall, winter or spring months. If you can’t find the Paccheri/Pacchero you can substitute Rigatoni.

Makes 4 – 6 Servings

DSC_5284 nx22 ½ – 2 ¾ lbs. whole chicken thighs, skin on
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. EVOO
2 cups chopped cooking onions
6 garlic cloves, peeled & crushed
2 cups dry white wine, preferably Italian
1 tsp. saffron threads, crushed (don’t be tempted to use powdered)
2 cups (or more) low-salt/no-salt chicken stock** or purchased chicken broth
1 cup whipping cream
2 Tbsp. lemon juice (or more to taste)
1/3 – ½ cup chopped fresh basil
12 oz. – 1 lb. Paccheri/Pacchero pasta or Rigatoni
½ cup + grated Parmigiano Reggiano

To Make the Chicken:

Add the saffron to the wine & set aside.

Season the chicken with salt & pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat & add the oil; add the chicken, skin side down & cook until golden on both sides; approximately 7 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate as it is browned; add the onions & garlic to the drippings in the skillet; sauté until the onions are slightly softened but not browned, 7 – 8 minutes. Add the wine-saffron mixture to the pan; bring to a boil. Continue to boil until the liquid is thickened & reduced by less than half; about 8 minutes. Add 2 cups chicken stock to the pan. Return the chicken to the skillet; bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low; cover & simmer gently until chicken is cooked through (adjusting the heat to prevent boiling & turning the chicken over after 20 minutes; continue cooking with the lid on, for another 10 – 15 minutes until the chicken juices run clear when pierced with a skewer.

DSC_5268 nx2Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil & preheat the oven to 180F. Place a large pasta bowl in the oven to warm, along with serving bowls/plates for the pasta.

When the chicken is cooked through, remove to a warm platter & keep warm while finishing the sauce. Spoon off fat from the juices in the skillet & discard. Add the cream to the pan & boil until the sauce is reduced to 2 ½ cups & is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Set aside half the sauce in the warm oven to be used for serving the chicken.

Cook the Pasta:

While the sauce is reducing, add 1 – 2 Tbsp. salt to the boiling water; add the pasta to the pot & cook according to directions on the package, or until al dente. When pasta is cooked, drain; add to the pan containing the remaining saffron sauce & toss well to coat the pasta, 1 – 2 minutes. Place the pasta into the large, warm serving bowl & top with some of the basil; serve, passing Parmigiano Reggiano to sprinkle on the pasta.

To serve the chicken, nap the chicken with the saffron sauce & sprinkle with the remaining chopped basil.

**If you wish to make your own chicken stock, please go to Making Stock.

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Chicken Braised In Apple Cider

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There is just something about apple cider (the hard stuff), in a sauce, then you have new crop apples add some great bacon and voila, a great combination! You might like to serve the braise with Colcannon** or mashed potatoes, or maybe even dumplings. The chicken can be done either on the top of the stove or in a 325 F oven, (I prefer the oven as it frees up the stove top)

Makes Approximately 4 – 6 Servings

1 chicken, cut up into 8 pieces (reserve the backbone for stock)
2 Tbsp. EVO + more if required
½ to ¾ lb. blanched, peeled small onions (cippoline or pearl onions)**
4 thickly sliced strips of bacon,** cut crosswise into ½” pieces
2 oz. Irish whiskey or Scotch
½ to ¾ cup English style apple cider**
1 cup chicken stock** or purchased low salt/no salt chicken broth
1 Tbsp. fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried thyme
6 medium sized carrots, peeled, cut in half
2 medium sized apples, cored, cut into wedges
4 parsley stems
2 stalks celery, cut into 1” pieces
1 very large bay leaf
1 Tbsp. potato starch

(opt.) 2 to 3 tsp. apple cider vinegar

Garnish: chopped parsley

Heat a large skillet pan over medium heat. Add the bacon & fry until browned but not crisp. Remove & set aside. Add 2 Tbsp. EVO or a combination of EVO & butter and heat until hot but not smoking. Pat the pieces of chicken dry using paper towels, season with salt & pepper & place in the pan to brown, skin-side down (I call it presentation side) first; turn over once golden brown & brown on the other side; remove to a large plate & set aside.

If more than 2 Tbsp. oil remains in the pan spoon some out into a small bowl. Add the onions to the pan & turn in the drippings until they are slightly browned (approx. 5 minutes); deglaze the pan by adding the whiskey & reduce until hardly any liquid remains in the pan. Add the cider, chicken stock & bring to a boil; add the thyme, carrots, apples, parsley stems, celery & bay leaf, then return the chicken (except the wings & breasts) to the pan skin-side down; reduce the heat to simmer (or place in a preheated 325 F oven); cover & let simmer for 10 minutes; adding the wings & breast pieces once the 10 minutes are up; cover & simmer for 15 minutes; turn the chicken pieces over, skin-side up; cover & continue to simmer for approximately 15 more minutes or until  the juices run clear when pierced with a skewer & the carrots are cooked.

Remove the chicken to a large serving platter, placing the carrots around the chicken; keep warm in a preheated 180 F oven.

To thicken the sauce, heat the juices in the pan until hot; combine 1 Tbsp. potato starch with 2 Tbsp. apple cider; stirring in a bit at a time until you have the consistency you like; season with salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste. If the sauce is a bit too sweet for your taste, add a bit of the apple cider vinegar to taste.

**If you would like to serve the chicken with the Colcannon, please go to Colcannon.

**To blanch the onions, please go to Blanching Vegetables, or go to Whole Foods, they sell frozen ones all ready to go!

**Gelderman’s are a really good source for pork.   Please see My Source List for information.

**Merridale Cider makes very good quality apple cider as does Sea Cider.   You can find their cider at private liquor stores.

**If you would like to make your own stock, please go to Making Stock.

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Roast Pork With Ginger Thyme Sauce

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A long-time favourite at our house! Redolent with ginger and fresh thyme, a perfect autumn dinner, perhaps served with spaetzle or roasted potatoes. The sauce is delicious!  Any leftovers would make a great sandwich using some of my Spiced Fruit Chutney.

Makes 6 Servings

Rub for the Roast:

DSC_5339 nx21 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme
2 ½ tsp. salt
¾ tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 medium garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf, crumbled
¼ tsp. ground ginger

For Cooking the Roast:

3 ½ to 4 lb. boneless pork loin roast (preferably the loin end)
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil, not EVO
2 Tbsp. butter
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, thinly sliced
4 fresh thyme sprigs
2 garlic cloves (unpeeled)
1 bay leaf

For the Sauce:

¾ tsp. ground ginger
1 1/3 cups Gewurztraminer or Riesling wine
1 cup unsalted chicken broth** or purchased chicken stock
4 – 6 gingersnap cookies, crumbled (I prefer Mi-Del available at WholeFoods)
¼ cup whipping cream
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 ½ tsp. minced fresh thyme

Combine the ingredients for the rub in a small bowl. If the roast is tied & rolled, untie & unroll. If the roast has a thick layer of fat, trim the layer down to between 1/8 to ¼”; place pork in a non-aluminum pan & rub the entire surface with the rub. Cover the pork & place in the fridge for 12 – 24 hours.

Cook the Roast:

Position the oven rack in the lower third of the oven & preheat to 325 F.

Scrape all the marinade from the pork; pat meat dry; reroll & tie back together using kitchen string. Add the oil to a heavy heatproof pan that is just slightly larger than the roast. Heat the oil in the pan over medium-high heat & brown the pork on all sides; transfer to a platter. Discard the oil & turn the heat down to medium-low; add the butter & melt; add the onions, carrot, thyme sprigs, garlic & bay leaf. Cover & cook 5 minutes; add the pork, fat side up. Cover, increase heat to high & cook until sizzling, about 1 minute. Place in the oven & cook for approximately 14 minutes per lb. or until the roast reaches 155 F when tested with an instant read thermometer. Check the roast approximately half an hour before you think it should be done just to see where things are at. When done, remove to a warm platter; tent roast with foil.  Let the roast rest while you make the sauce.  Remove the string before carving the roast.

Make the Sauce:

Skim excess fat from the roasting pan if necessary. Add the ginger to the pan & stir over medium-high heat 30 seconds. Add the wine, stock & gingersnaps. Stir until thickened to the consistency of a thin sauce, crushing the mixture with a potato masher or the back of a large spoon; approximately 8 minutes, the gingersnaps should disappear into the sauce; add the cream & boil until thickened to the consistency of a medium-thin sauce; approximately 8 minutes. Season the sauce with salt & pepper to taste; if you wish, strain the sauce into a heated sauceboat, pressing gently on the solids; stir in the minced thyme.

Slice the pork into 1/4” slices & spoon a little sauce over, passing the remaining sauce separately.

**If you wish to make your own chicken stock, please go to Making Stock.

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Roasting A Turkey

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It’s getting to be the time of year when I regret the loss of buying a proper turkey, known as New York Dressed.  I wrote a post. “Cock-a-Doodle-Do” that you might wish to check out.  We really enjoy a proper and properly cooked turkey.  Sadly, we normally don’ bother anymore due to the unavailibility of New York Dressed birds these days in B. C.  If you know a “grower” for God’s sake, let me know!

DSCN7291 nx2That being said, I look back with fond memories of the New Dressed turkey dinners we had in the past.  Every chef has their method of how to cook a turkey.  Here’s how I do it.  You will see that for the most part the turkey is roasted breast down.  What this does is to make the turkey self-basting & cooks it faster.  All the juices melt down into the breast!  No basting you say!

To Roast The Turkey:

Remove the turkey from the fridge 1 hour before cooking. Set aside the neck & giblets to make your gravy.  **You can make the stock for the gravy the day before, keep in the fridge until an hour before you want to make your delicious gravy.

Preheat the oven to 450 F.

If you are stuffing your turkey, do it now. Truss it up with skewers and kitchen twine. Rub the bird all over with EVO & season liberally with kosher or sea salt & freshly ground pepper.

Place turkey, breast down on a rack set in a roasting pan. Immediately place into the preheated oven, turning down the heat to 350 F for smaller turkeys and 325 F for birds over 12 pounds. Roast for 12 –  15 minutes per pound. You can always add time, if needed. Halfway through roasting, rotate the turkey in the oven and continue roasting. Check the turkey, 1 hour before your estimated roasting time is up, with a instant-read thermometer, the temperature needs to be 165 F at the thickest part of the inner thigh muscle (not touching bone). At this point, if you wish, you can turn the turkey over, baste & return to the oven until it is cooked, basting once more. It might only need to cook for 30 – 45 minutes. When done, remove from the oven and let stand ½ hour before carving. Old cookbooks ask for 180 to 185 F internal temperature, but that is way too long and you will, indeed, end up with the  proverbial “overcooked, dry turkey”.

**To make the “base/stock” for your gravy; chop up the some of the liver, the giblets & the heart.  Wipe the neck with paper towels.  Heat up a sauté pan; add 1 Tbsp. each oil & butter & brown the neck on both sides.  Add in the chopped up bits; sauté them until lightly browned; add 1/2 a medium onion, one small diced carrot, 1 stalk diced celery & sauté until softened; add a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme, 1 bay leaf, a couple sprigs of Italian (flat leaf) parsley, 6 black peppercorns & 2 cups of chicken stock or water.  Bring to a boil; cover & turn heat to simmer; simmer for 2 hrs.  Let the base cool; strain into a bowl with a sieve; place in the fridge until ready to make your gravy, the fat will harden on the top; remove it before using.  Secret:  cats love the meat off the neck & I admit it here, so do we! 

Jamie Oliver has a neat tip for keeping the bird hot for an hour.   If you did not see the programme, what he did was cover the turkey with 2 layers of  tin foil, then lay 2 tea towels over top. We did it and it works!

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Veggie Moussaka

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I found some end of  season eggplant at the Farmer’s Market and thought, what better way to use it, than to make this for Veggie Monday…not saying you can’t make it on other days! This makes a really, really tasty vegetarian main course. A nice addition might be a salad and bread. What I like to do is broil the eggplant & make the sauce the day before, then throw them in the fridge until an hour before assembling the moussaka. Sometimes I make the moussaka in an 8” square pan and sometimes in 4 individual casseroles.

Makes 4 Servings

2 eggplants, 1 ¾ lbs., cut into ½” thick slices
1 ½ tsp. salt
2 Tbsp EVO + more if needed
1 cup crumbled feta cheese (my preference is Dodonis)

DSC_4952 nx2For The Tomato Sauce:

2 Tbsp. EVOO
1 ½ onions, chopped into ¼” dice
1 medium-sized zucchini, cut into ¼” dice
½ red bell pepper, cut into ¼” dice
½ cup dry red wine
2 cloves, garlic, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. chili flakes, or to taste
¼ rounded tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
10 oz. tinned Italian plum tomatoes, drained & chopped, reserve juice
½ small tin tomato paste
Salt to taste

For the Custard:

2 Tbsp. each butter & unbleached flour
¾ cup homogenized or 2% milk
¼ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. each nutmeg & freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup ricotta or drained cottage cheese (see below)

Prepare The Eggplant:

Layer the slices of eggplant in a large colander, sprinkling between each layer with salt. Let stand over a bowl to drain for approximately 30 – 45 minutes. Rinse the eggplant under cold water; place on lint-free towels & dry the slices well. Brush 2 rimmed baking pans with EVOO; brush one side of the eggplant slices with more oil; place on the baking pans, oil side down & brush the tops with more oil.

Meanwhile, place the oven rack at the highest level; turn the broiler on. When the oven is heated, place one baking pan at a time in the oven & broil the eggplant for 5 – 7 minutes, or until golden, turn the slices over & broil the other side until golden. Broil the remaining pan of eggplant in the same manner. Set aside until ready to assemble the moussaka.

Make The Tomato Sauce:

Heat a large skillet over medium heat; add the EVOO, when hot but not smoking, add the onion, zucchini, red pepper & sauté until softened but not browned, approximately 5 minutes; add the garlic & sauté 1 minute longer. Stir in the chili flakes, oregano, cinnamon & pepper; cook, stirring for another minute; add the red wine & reduce until almost evaporated; add the chopped tomatoes & tomato paste to the pan to make a very thick sauce, you may need to add a few tablespoons of the reserved juice at this point if the sauce appears to be too thick at the beginning, otherwise keep the juice for another use. Bring the sauce to the boil; reduce the heat & simmer for 10 minutes or until zucchini is tender; season to taste with salt & pepper; set aside until ready to assemble the moussaka.

Make The Custard Sauce:

The instructions below are for making the sauce in the microwave, however you can do the sauce on top of the stove in a pot if you must!

In a large, glass microwavable bowl, melt the butter, covered with a piece of wax paper or a glass lid or plate; whisk in the flour, return to the microwave & cook on level 5 for 1 – 2 minutes, or until the mixture is a bit bubbly. Gradually whisk in the milk until combined, return to the microwave & cook, uncovered, in 1 minute intervals, whisking between each interval, on level 10 or high, until the mixture comes to a boil & thickens. Remove from the microwave, whisk in the salt, nutmeg & pepper. Let cool for 10 minutes & then whisk in the ricotta or cottage cheese & eggs; set aside while you assemble the moussaka.

**To drain cottage cheese, place a sieve over a bowl & line with 2 layers of rinsed cheesecloth; place 2 cups of cottage cheese into the sieve, fold the cheesecloth over the cottage cheese, place a plate on top & a heavy weight on top of that, place in the fridge for 24 hours.

Assemble The Moussaka:

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Oil an 8″  baking dish or 4 individual baking dishes, place approximately ½ of the tomato sauce in the bottom of the pan; top with half the eggplant; sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the feta cheese. Top with the remaining tomato sauce & remaining eggplant; spread the custard sauce over the top, covering completely; top with the remaining feta cheese. Place the moussaka in the oven & bake for 1 hour or until the top is browned & set. Let stand for 15 minutes; cut into squares to serve.

**If making in 4 individual dishes, simply divide the ingredients amongst the casseroles. I think it’s a good idea to place individual dishes on a baking sheet to make it easier to both put into & remove from the oven.  The baking time may be a bit shorter than 1 hour.

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Pan Seared Pork Chops

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Properly cooked pork chops are fabulous, so tender & juicy. This is one of those things to keep up your sleeve, especially after coming home from work and having to come up with something easy, peasey for dinner! Gelderman’s** is a great source for excellent pork products.

DSC_4911 nx2Makes 4 Servings

(4) 1 ¼” thick, bone in pork chops
Salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Heat a cast iron frying pan or other oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Season the chops with salt & pepper; add 1 Tbsp. cooking oil or a combination of cooking oil & EVOO to the pan. When hot, but not smoking, add the pork chops & cook for 5 minutes; turn chops over & place the skillet in the oven & cook for 8 – 10 minutes for medium well or 12 minutes for well done. Your chops will be a lot juicer if cooked medium well. Remove the chops to a heated platter & let rest for 5 minutes before serving.  If there are any juices that have accumulated, serve with the chops if you wish.

**See My Source List to find Gelderman’s products.

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A Favourite Mac ‘N Cheese

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Kid food, childhood memories, bubbly and golden mac ‘n cheese with tomatoes…what’s not to love? Because I adore tomatoes, this is right up my alley and I hope yours too! I like to make this with tomatoes that are available locally right up to the early fall; they are so sweet, juicy & delicious!

DSC_4398 nx2Makes 6 – 8 Servings

7 Tbsp. unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup breadcrumbs made from crusty bread**
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. elbow macaroni or other short tubular pasta
4 cups milk (not skimmed)
5 Tbsp. unbleached flour
½ cup chopped onions
1 clove garlic, minced
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 – ¼ tsp. Tabasco or to taste
4 cups grated cheese (a combination of 2 cups old cheddar, 1 cup each Gruyere & Parmesan or Fontina)
1 lb. red & yellow tomatoes, cut into 1” pieces, or for small tomatoes, cut in half

Combine the breadcrumbs with 2 Tbsp. of the butter that has been melted, along with 1 tsp. of the chopped thyme 1/8 tsp. salt & ¼ tsp. of the pepper.

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease or spray with non-stick cooking spray, a 3 quart casserole or 9 x 13” baking dish.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add 1 Tbsp. salt then add the macaroni, stirring for a minute to keep from sticking. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes (it will not be fully cooked), drain, rinse & set aside.

Make the Cheese Sauce:

**I like to do this in the microwave but you can do it in a pot on top of the stove.

In a very large glass, microwavable bowl, melt the 5 Tbsp. butter on medium (level 5) heat; remove & add the onions; return to the microwave & cook on level 5, in 2 minute increments, until the onions are softened (approximately 8 – 10 minutes. One minute before the onions are done add the garlic & microwave one minute more. Whisk in the flour; return to the microwave for 2 minutes, level 5, until it bubbles a bit; very slowly whisk in the milk; add the nutmeg & return to the microwave & microwave on high for 2 minutes; whisk & continue cooking, in 2 minute increments, until the sauce comes to a boil & thickens. (If you don’t have a large enough bowl; do this step twice, otherwise it could overflow. Once the sauce is done, combine the two, then add the cheeses & seasonings.) Remove from the microwave; add the cheese, ½ tsp. salt, ½ tsp. pepper, remaining 2 tsp. chopped thyme & Tabasco, whisking until the cheese is melted.

Stir the macaroni & tomatoes into the sauce. Pour into the greased casserole; sprinkle with the buttered breadcrumbs; bake until bubbling & golden, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes or so before serving.

**To make the breadcrumbs, please see How To Make Breadcrumbs.

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