Peachy Pork and Peppers

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Recently, on the way home from an amazing North Georgia mountain vacation, I stopped to pick up some Georgia peaches. They’re amazing when you get them right from the source: juicy, full of flavor, sweet and tart simultaneously. It was a sad day for me when the last two peaches shriveled a bit and didn’t invite me to devour them. Not one to waste good food, though, I took my paring knife and trimmed back the skin, only to find some beautiful fruit just below the surface.

“This would be great for a recipe,” I ever-so-cleverly thought to myself. I was right!

After a quick peek in the fridge to see what ingredients could be had without a trip to the store, I found the following:

4 Pork chops, center-cut loin

1 of each color peppers: red, yellow-orange and green

1 large Onion (Vidalia is what I had on hand)

Hmmm, sounds possible. I sashayed over to the pantry for a look at our dry goods:

Rice (Success Boil-in-Bag Jasmine Rice, to be exact)

2 cans green beans

Raw almond slivers

Part of a bag of Fresh Gourmet Garlic Pepper Crispy Onions (No other will be the same!)

Brown sugar

 

Well, this seems interesting. After a quick internet search for peaches and pork chops, I realized I didn’t exactly have everything for any of the recipes. Determined to not have to run to the store, I improvised.

What resulted not only made me wild with delight, but my adult step-daughter (who has always loved her mother’s cooking, not mine) couldn’t help herself:

“I’ve just gotta say this, Joan, this is the best meal you’ve ever made. This might even be my favorite thing ever! Gimme some more!” She went on, but I’ll stop there. Must remain humble.

Now, how can I ever beat that?

Here’s how I ended up making a winner of a dinner on the improv (see complete list of ingredients at end of this post):

In a bowl, I combined 1 chopped, slightly-overripe, peeled Georgia peach, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup white wine vinegar, ½ cup brown sugar, juice of one-half lemon, 2 heaping tablespoons Dijon mustard, 1-2 tsp Iodized Sea Salt, 1 tsp ground black pepper, and a few shakes of spices like coriander, ginger and turmeric.

I placed the pork chops in a glass baking dish and poured about 2/3rds of the marinade over them, reserving the rest in the refrigerator for later. I turned the chops over to be sure both sides were covered in marinade, then covered the bowl and refrigerated for a couple of hours.

When it was time to cook dinner, I put some water on to boil for my so-easy Jasmine rice. Then I chopped the onions and peppers in large chunks (about 1”) and sautéed them in enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a fry pan. When softened and the onions turned gold, I added the other peach (peeled and chopped, remember, I had two left), then the reserve marinade from the refrigerator. I let this marinade cook down most of the way.

The water was boiling by now so I placed the rice bag in that pan. Too easy, right?

Next, I placed the onions and pepper mixture into a bowl, added more olive oil to the pan and heated it up. I removed the pork chops from their marinade (reserving the marinade) and placed them into the sizzling pan.

While they cooked I opened the two cans of green beans (fresh may have been better but this is what I had), drained them and put them in a ceramic baking dish. In a small sauté pan, I melted about 2 tablespoons of Irish butter and sautéed about a palm-full of slivered almonds just to heat, not burn. I folded this in to the green beans, along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and a shake or two of dried onion flakes from the cupboard. Not finding any cream-of-anything soups in the pantry, I decided to skip a sauce, and just layered the fried onions (by the way, those Fresh Gourmet Garlic Pepper Crispy Onions are amazing and make all the difference) atop the beans. I put them in the oven turned to broil and set the timer for 5 minutes.

Returning to the pork chops, it was time to turn them. Depending on how thick they are, I estimated about 5 minutes a side, but check for temperature with a meat thermometer before deciding they’re ready. As they neared completion, I added the remaining marinade to simmer together heartily.

By now the rice was ready to drain. I laid the rice in a large shallow serving dish near the stove. The green bean casserole (checked regularly to be sure it wasn’t burning) got a stir and went on the table.

When the pork chops were ready, I added the onion, pepper and peach mixture back to the pan to heat them all back up together, then placed the pork chops on the rice and spooned the glorious sauce with the onions, peppers and peaches all over the pork chops and rice.

“Time to get your drinks, everyone!”

Served with pumpernickel bread and more of that Irish butter, well, you can imagine. Winner Dinner.

For a variation, try grilling the pork chops and cooking all the marinade with the onion, pepper and peach mixture.

INGREDIENTS:

Peachy Pork and Peppers

4 Pork chops, center-cut loin

1 of each color peppers: red, yellow-orange and green

1 large Onion (Vidalia, preferably)

2 chopped, slightly-overripe, peeled Georgia peaches, (separated)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/3 cup white wine vinegar

½ cup brown sugar

juice of one-half lemon

2 heaping tablespoons Dijon mustard

1-2 tsp Iodized sea salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

¼-1/2 tsp coriander, ginger and turmeric

1 family-size bag of rice (Success Boil-in-Bag Jasmine Rice, to be exact)

 

Almond Green Bean Casserole with Garlic-Pepper Crispy Onions:

¼-1/2 bag Fresh Gourmet Garlic Pepper Crispy Onions

2 cans green beans, drained

¼ cup raw almond slivers

2 T butter

1 tsp dried onion flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

Brunswick Stew — Quick and Smokey-Bones Style

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The first cool, cloudy day of autumn stirs an irresistible urge for Brunswick Stew–not just any Brunswick Stew, but Smokey Bones’ Brunswick Stew.

The economic crash of the last decade (has it been that long?) took down our local Smokey Bones, though, so I’ve had to do my best to create an easy imitation. Perusing the web for same gave me some good ideas, but eventually I settled on my own, unique creation.

This (my impromptu recipe) is a quicker and easier version than those I found online, but pleases my picky palette perfectly! I’ve incorporated some ready-made items with brand names I found in my local Publix. I’d venture to guess it would be pretty tasty with your local brands too.

Impromptu Cuisine’s Brunswick Stew

Ingredients:

1/2 Publix Mojo Rotisserie Chicken

1 package microwave pulled pork (Jack Daniels flavor)

3/4 lb ground beef

2 large Vidalia Onions, chopped

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 box Progresso Chicken Broth (4 cups)

1/4 cup Magic BBQ Seasoning

1 Tablespoon Chorro’s Hot Sauce (less if you’re wussy)

1/2 cup Heinz Ketchup

1 Tablespoon French’s Yellow Mustard

3-4 Tablespoons Lea & Perrin’s Worcestershire sauce

1-2 teaspoons Iodized Sea Salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 — 28 oz can crushed tomatoes

1 — 28 oz can diced tomatoes

2 — 14.5 oz cans or one cylindrical package frozen sweet creamed corn

1-2 Tablespoons Raw Organic Sugar (maybe more if your corn isn’t sweet)

"A very pleasant bouquet."

Get ready for “A very pleasant bouquet.”

Method:

I begin by browning the ground beef and sautéing onions while  pulling the chicken from the bones. I unashamedly admit to opening a beer and helping myself to a few tastes (tastes, that’s all!) of that amazing Mojo chicken skin and the end of the wing during this process. You can’t really put that in a stew; someone’s  got to eat it, right? Like the good Cherokee in my great-great grandmother, we honor the good spirit in all things by doing our best not to waste it! Too much, though, and it goes to my ‘waist’ instead.

Then I start opening cans. I feel a bit like a 60’s mom during this part, but it’s for a good cause, I tell myself. We’ll get to the point where everything is fresh and organic–maybe even home-grown–someday. Like after retirement.

By now the ground beef and onions should be ready to drain. Yes, get that grease outta there. There’s enough fat in the pre-packaged pulled pork to keep your body well-insulated for winter.

Now this is where the fun begins! Turn up the music and dance a bit while you just plunk every ingredient into a nice large stew-pot, stir it up and bring it to where it just starts to try to jump out of the pot. Then cover, reduce heat to simmer, and get on with whatever else you want to do with your evening! You have anywhere from an hour to two, depending on your schedule. Just stop by and stir every 15 or 20 minutes so it doesn’t get a dark, stinky crust on the bottom. This will ruin it all! Save the stew! Stir it up!

(Note to the attention-impaired: Start this stew in the morning in a crock pot. This helps save your stew!)

About a half an hour before dinner time, taste it and adjust seasonings if you feel you must. Then get started on the modified corn bread recipe I’ll be posting soon. Don’t forget your quick, fresh, organic salad prep on the side; you don’t want to skip your greens!

Yum.

Yum.

Recommended pairings: What else? Your favorite beer or near-beer.
Ginger ale for the totally abstinent.

Let me know what you thought of this one. My family LOVES it!

Warm and toasty,
Your impromptucuisine host,
Joan

P.S. For some mental, emotional and social nourishment, stop by my other blog at joantwarren.com

 

Garlic and Rosemary Lamb Rib Chops in Cabernet Demi Glace

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Here’s one from Christmas 2013 that I have been meaning to post. I apologize for lack of photo, next time I make them I’ll add one!

This past Christmas, my sweetheart and I found ourselves having Christmas dinner alone. Did we feel lonely? Not particularly! We’ve been blessed with so many great family dinners, we chose instead to spend the evening enjoying each other’s company over a quiet dinner. This meal was enhanced by enjoying lamb rib chops that were the best we’d ever had. The amazing thing about them was that I made them, recipe and all! We both decided this is our new holiday specialty. Family, be prepared, you will taste them at some point in the future!

These are reminiscent of Garlic and Rosemary Lamb Chops in Cabernet Demi Glace that we had once at a Stonewood’s Restaurant, but could not find a recipe for, and they don’t seem to be on the menu anymore. They often serve their ribs with mint jelly, of which we are not big fans.

Ingredients:

2.25 – 2.5 lb lamb ribs, meaty (6 ribs usually)

2 T minced garlic

2T fresh or 1 T dried rosemary

1/2 c olive oil

1/2 c cabernet sauvignon

1 T coarse sea salt

1/2 T (yes, tablespoon) coarse ground pepper

1/2 t dried thyme

2 T butter or margarine

1 c chicken or beef broth

1/4 c Half and Half

dash dried mint

Preparation:

Crush garlic and rosemary together with salt, pepper and thyme (mortar and pestle style)

mortar and pestle

-Add oil to make a paste

Cut ribs apart and trim extra fat (leave some for good flavor and texture)

Smother/rub the garlic/oil mixture onto chops, mainly on meat areas

Set aside to come to room temperature, about 45 minutes to an hour

Heat a small amount of oil to medium high in large skillet, add chops and cook about 5 minutes each side, turning to brown evenly and check the temperature

At 125 degrees F, remove chop to warm spot

Discard all but about 2 T oil mixture from pan

Add wine to the pan and cook, scraping pan, to reduce by one half

Add broth, dash of mint, and reduce by one half again (5-10 minutes)

Incorporate butter, then Half & Half, adjust seasoning to taste.

Serve rib chops with about 1 T Demi Glace atop each one

These are great with garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus.

Close enough to heaven for us. Enjoy!

For another sort of fare, visit my other blog at

joantwarren.com

Quickie Caribbean Chicken Soup

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A Surprisingly Delicious Soup Created from Memories of Pollo Tropical’s Caribbean Chicken Soup
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Hubby has a cold and really wanted a hearty chicken soup for dinner. It was late, we didn’t feel like driving 30 miles to Pollo Tropical for his favorite Caribbean Chicken Soup, so I searched the web for a recipe for same. Finding nothing, I decided to improvise. A quick trip to Publix and in about an hour we had a tasty soup, plenty for four very large bowls. The result: one happy hubby, one blogging wife, and now, you too, have the option to experience the pleasure!
Ingredients:
1 Publix rotisserie chicken, Mojo flavor
1 small calabaza squash
1 green plantain, on the ripe side

Happy Plantain, about this ripe!

Happy Plantain, about this ripe!

1 medium sweet potato
1 small package frozen yuca
1 cup frozen sweet baby peas
1 cup frozen sweet and white corn
1/2 cup diced onions
1-2 tablespoons garlic (minced, fresh or jar)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
2 packets Badia Sazo’n Tropical (con culantro y achiote, with annatto and coriander)

This stuff

This stuff

1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cartons chicken stock (7.6 oz each, College Inn, Bold Stock, Rotisserie Chicken flavor)
Juice of 1/2 lime and 1/2 orange or tangerine
2-4 cups of water
Directions:
Cut the calabaza squash into several large pieces and scoop out seeds and strings. Place skin side up on plate and microwave 5-8 minutes (this step makes it a lot easier to skin and cube)
Meanwhile, saute’ onions and garlic in oil in a large soup pot, until golden brown
Peel and cube plantain and sweet potato
Add these to the onion to saute’ briefly, stirring occasionally to prevent burning
Add the broth, frozen yuca, peas, corn and seasonings and bring to boil
Cut up the chicken breasts and leg meat, discarding skin (or, if you can’t resist, have a taste of the skin before you discard it)
Save the wings for tomorrow’s lunch
Add chicken pieces to the boiling mixture
Keep soup at a lightly rolling boil, stirring occasionally.
Remove the calabaza from microwave and using a knife and fork, carefully (it’s hot!) cut the flesh away from the skin, cubing it as you go and slipping the cubes into the soup
Remove the large chunks of yuca from the soup with a slotted spoon
With a fork and knife, slice these lengthwise into quarters, remove the center spine, then cube the yuca, and return it to the soup (you may not need all the yuca, you decide)
Let cook until the yuca cooks all the way through, tasting and adjusting seasonings/water amount as you wait, adding water as needed to keep enough fluid to stay soup instead of a stew
Ladle into soup bowls and serve with French or Cuban bread slices. Cures what ails ya.

For a different kind of fare, visit my other blog at

joantwarren.com

Happy Accident: Chicken Calamatacata

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Sometimes my pantry gets stuck in a time warp. I’ll pull something out thinking I just bought it last month, or so, and, bam, it happens again: “Best if used by July 2012.” Yes, it’s nearly 2014.

More than once  (okay, so many times he doesn’t believe me any more when I say, yes, we have all we need in the pantry), my sweet and oh-so-patient honey has rushed to the store for something after asking me to check an expiration date, while I cook.

I started making Chicken Piccata tonight and realized too late that the jar of capers had expired. Their fuzzy white coats were my first hint the time warp had struck again. So, instead of asking hubby  to run to Publix (everything else was timed and ready), I took a chance. No, I didn’t serve the fuzzy capers, I took a chance and substituted sliced Calamata olives for the capers.

Wow, delicious! A happy accident, and a hit with all but the four-year-old picky eater!

Here’s the recipe:

Chicken Piccata turned Chicken Calamatacata
2 Boneless chicken breasts, butterflied or thin-sliced.
Salt and pepper
2 T butter or margarine
2T olive oil
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup sliced Calamata olives

Salt and pepper the chicken breasts, dredge in flour.
Heat to sizzling the butter and oil in large fry pan.
Pan-fry chicken breasts 3-5 minutes per side, browning them.
Remove them to dish.
Add lemon juice and broth, heat to boiling, scraping any brown from pan into the sauce. Cook until reduces by a third. Return chicken to pan, cook another 5 minutes.  Add olives and stir. Remove chicken to serving plate and pour sauce with olives over meat. Serve immediately.

We had them with sour cream and onion potatoes and broccoli, would be great with Calamata mashed potatoes too. I’ll share that recipe soon.

For a different kind of fare, visit my other blog at

joantwarren.com