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Friday, April 5, 2019

Grandpa's Got The Blues - Crockpot Pork Chops



Grandpa's Got The Blues is one of the newest sauces from my small gourmet food company.  It is a blueberry balsamic maple sauce.  

We've found that it is good on just about everything.  It's amazing used simply in cottage cheese or poured over vanilla ice cream. Great on ribs. A wonderful dipping sauce.  But what about cooking with it?

I decided to find out.  I'm certain there will be other recipes in the future with this sauce, but I've made this twice now and my wife and I both love it.  I'm hoping you will too.

Video

With this recipe, I decided to try something a little different this time around.  My wife's been bugging me for ages to do a video instead of just pictures.  Those of you that have been married for very long know that simply ignoring those kinds of comments doesn't go over very well; so here we are, with a video.

Since this is my first try, I'm quite happy to hear any of your feedback.  The recipe is below so you can take a look at that as well.

I THINK it's fairly easy to follow, but since I came up with it and filmed it, that's to be expected.  I'm more concerned that you think it's easy to follow.  Feel free to stop, start, replay, etc., and let me know what you think.




Here's the recipe to go along with the video.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Ingredients


  • 4 pork chops
  • 2 tbsp Not Just For Turkey brine mix
  • 2 cups water (or liquid of your preference)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced (or diced, your choice)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 oz olive oil
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bottle Grandpa's Got The Blues


Directions


  1. Brine the pork chops.  This is very simple.  Put two tbsp of brine mix in two cups of water or liquid of your choice and mix well (if you are doing more or less than four chops, change the amounts of brine mix and water but keep the same ratio).
  2. Put the pork chops in the brine mixture.  Be certain that the chops are covered with the brine mixture and refrigerate.  If they are very thin you can get away with a couple of hours in the refrigerator.  I try to brine them for a minimum of four hours, preferably overnight when possible to give them the best flavor.
  3. When ready, remove from the refrigerator and rinse the pork chops and pat them dry.
  4. Dredge the pork chops in the flour.  If you'd like, you can season the pork chops with a bit of salt and pepper at this point though with the flavor from the brine it's not really necessary.
  5. Put one ounce of oil in a skillet on medium heat.
  6. Brown the pork chops on both sides.  This should take about 3-4 minutes per side. 
  7. Remove the pork chops from the skillet and place in the crockpot.  We use a liner in the crockpot simply to reduce cleanup time.  It's certainly not necessary, it just makes things a bit easier.
  8. Add the onions and mushrooms to the skillet.  You may or may not need the additional oil.  I find that the mushrooms tend to "suck up" the oil and I need to use the additional ounce.  If so, add it at this point.  
  9. Sauté the mushrooms and onions just until they are soft and the mushrooms start to give up their liquid.
  10. Add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds, just until they are getting fragrant.
  11. Add the white wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to get off any bits that are stuck there.
  12. Reduce the wine by half.
  13. Add the two cups of chicken stock and stir.
  14. Add one bottle of Grandpa's Got The Blues, stir well and bring to a boil.
  15. Spoon the mixture over the top of the pork chops.
  16. Cover the crockpot and cook for 4 hours on high or 6 hours on low.
  17. Remove the lid and take out the pork chops.  They will be VERY tender and may even fall apart as you take them out.
  18. The cooking liquid will be fairly thin.  You can serve it as is or thicken it a bit.  I like to thicken it to more of a gravy consistency with a mixture of cornstarch and water. 
  19. Serve over mashed potatoes or egg noodles.
  20. Enjoy!











Saturday, January 5, 2019

Black Garlic and Truffle Oil Mashed Potatoes


Okay, let's get this part out in the open.

These are ugly mashed potatoes.  There, I said it.

They also happen to be some of the best tasting mashed potatoes I've ever had.  Don't just take my word for it, though.  My wife and I own a small gourmet foods company, and we have sampled these potatoes with literally hundreds of people.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that the overwhelming majority of people who try them absolutely love them.

Black Garlic
We have been asked for this recipe repeatedly and this is the first time I've had the chance to write it up.  We hope that you'll enjoy it!

If you have any questions about black garlic, this blog post does a good job of explaining it.  And if you need any black garlic, you can always get it here.



Ingredients


  • 3 pounds potatoes (preferably russets - though you can use any that you like)
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick) cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup heavy cream (you can use milk instead if you prefer)
  • 2 oz (4 tbsp) truffle oil (either white or black truffle oil will work)
  • 6-8 peeled cloves black garlic (number depends on size of cloves and taste preferences)
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions


  1. Peel and cut potatoes.  You can cut them into any size you'd like, as long as they are uniform in size.  I prefer about one inch square simply because they cook a little quicker.  
  2. Place potatoes and garlic in cold water and bring to a boil.


    Black garlic with potatoes in water.  The water is cloudy from the starch in the potatoes.

  3. Cook until fork tender (15-20 minutes).
  4. Drain well*.
  5. Place potatoes and black garlic back in pot and put on very low heat, tossing until potatoes cook off most of the remaining water.

  6. Turn off heat and roughly mash the potatoes and black garlic together.

  7. Heat cream (or milk) on the stove top or in the microwave just until warm.
  8. Add butter to the potatoes to let melt (alternatively, you can melt this in the microwave as well but I don't find any real advantage to this). 
  9. Add the truffle oil to the potatoes.
  10. Pour in cream or milk a little at a time while using a potato masher to reach desired consistency.

  11. Season with salt and pepper. 
  12. Serve hot and enjoy!

    *If you save the water from the potatoes it will be FULL of flavor.  If you'll be making soup any time soon, use this instead of plain water.  You can thank me later.


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Black Garlic and Mushroom Risotto



My wife and I own a small gourmet food company. One of our products is black garlic.  Probably the most frequent question we get is, "What is black garlic?", closely followed by, "How do you use it?".

I'll answer the first question, and this recipe will give you at least one answer to the second one. There are MANY ways to use it and a few of them will be coming to this blog soon.

So, to answer the question about what black garlic is, I'll start by saying what it is NOT.  It is not a type of garlic that you can grow in the garden or pick up fresh at the farmer's market.  You may find it there, but it's not freshly picked in the same way as "normal" garlic is.

Black garlic has to be MADE.  It is not, as some websites may tell you, fermented.  I can say this with some authority since I have made literally hundreds of bulbs of it this year alone.  It is created by a very long, very slow roasting process.  It involves a special machine and a lot of time.  The traditional roasting process takes 44 days to complete.  There is NOTHING added to it - no spices, no liquids, it is nothing but garlic.

Now, here's something a bit harder to describe.  How does it taste?  Let me start by asking a question.  Have you ever had caramelized onions?  If so, you know that the end product is much sweeter and much more mild than a raw onion.  The same thing is true of black garlic.  Because it has been roasted for such a long time, it turns pitch black, has a very soft jelly-like consistency, and is very sweet and mild.  We spend a lot of time with the public, having them taste our products, black garlic being one of the most popular.  We have heard many different descriptions of the taste, but some of the most common are that it tastes like balsamic, fig, or Worcestershire sauce.  It is full of umami (a Japanese term to describe our fifth sense of taste, along with sweetness, sourness, bitterness and saltiness) and adds an amazing flavor to just about everything.

So much for the introduction to black garlic.

On to the recipe.

Because we love the taste of black garlic, I wanted different ways to use it.  On the back of the bags of black garlic we sell, we tell you how to make a black garlic dipping oil. It's amazing, but very simple. It had to be in order to fit the recipe on the bag.

As much as I love simple, I also love to cook.  I love complex flavors and the feeling of being in the kitchen for awhile and creating something incredible and unique from simple ingredients.  It takes me back to the days of being in my mother's or grandfather's kitchen when I was very young.  It seemed like a form of magic to me when they would take the most simple and basic of ingredients and an hour later there would be an amazing meal on the table with smells and flavors that stick with me to this day.  This recipe duplicates that feeling for me.  Yes, it has some ingredients that are not quite so common; however that feeling of magic that hits me when you are able to create something out of simple things still makes me feel like a little kid again.

That's really just a complicated way of saying we wanted more ways to use black garlic.  This has become one of our favorite ways of using it.  I have another risotto recipe here on my blog and I love it, but I love this one more.  I also have a recipe here for risotto cakes.  You can use the risotto from this recipe to make the cakes and, as my wife says, they are orgasmic.  If the look on her face as she eats them is any indication, she's right.  ;o)


So, without any further preamble, here's the recipe.  Please feel free to leave us any comments letting us know how you liked it!


Ingredients


  • 4 1/2 cups vegetable stock
  • 8 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 sweet yellow onion, minced
  • 6-8 finely chopped cloves black garlic (The number of cloves varies because of the size of the cloves and according to personal taste.  Also, because black garlic is very soft and sticky, it is sometimes easier to smash the cloves with a fork than it is to chop.)
  • 2 cups dry arborio rice
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 8 ounces fresh portobello mushrooms, sliced*
  • 1 teaspoon porcini mushroom powder* (though this is optional, it really enhances the flavor)
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered rosemary* (though this is optional, it really enhances the flavor)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 4 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
*optional (Yes, I called this recipe black garlic and mushroom risotto.  If you don't  like mushrooms, just leave the mushrooms out and call it black garlic risotto!)


Directions


  1. Pour the stock into a pot, bring to a boil, and turn down to a simmer.

                 

  2. In a small skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of butter.  
  3. Add the powdered rosemary and porcini powder.
     

  4. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the mushrooms. Season to taste with salt and pepper. 
  5. Cook on medium low until the mushrooms are tender (about four minutes).  Set pan aside.


  6. In an additional pan (a large, heavy skillet, NOT the one with the mushroom mixture) melt 3 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. 
  7. Add the onion and cook until translucent.


  8. Stir in the black garlic.


  9. Stir in the rice.


  10. Add the wine. Stirring constantly, reduce until all the liquid is evaporated and rice grains have a glassy translucency.

    Notice that the ends of the rice are starting to become translucent.  This is
    when the wine should be evaporated and it's time to start adding the stock.



  11. Pour a cup of simmering stock into the rice. Cook and stir constantly until the stock is evaporated, then add another cup of stock.


  12. Continue cooking and stirring and adding stock until the rice is soft but firm.
  13. Add the mushroom mixture to the rice. Stir in the parmesan, remaining 2 tablespoons butter, and the mascarpone.


  14. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  15. Enjoy!



Monday, February 26, 2018

Easy Crockpot Pork Chops


This recipe is as easy as you want to make it.  There are (many) versions of it out there that are incredibly simple.  This one is a bit more complicated, though still easy.  As I go through the steps, I'll tell you which ones you can easily skip and which you can't.  The prep can take anywhere from about two minutes to 30-45 minutes (including all prep time for chopping vegetables, etc).  It all depends on how much time you want to spend and how you want it to taste.  The more time you invest, the better it will be.  However it will be good even with the minimal two minute prep time.

Let's start with the basics of this recipe.  Most versions I've seen of this on the web call for the pork chops, a can of cream of chicken soup and a package of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix.  That's it.  Put the pork chops in the crock pot, pour the can of soup on top then sprinkle on the dressing mix.  That's all there is to most of these recipes.

As much as I like simple, I also like great flavor.  I'm going to walk you through how to take this from a good flavor to a fantastic flavor.

It involves several more steps and a few more ingredients.  As I mentioned earlier, you can skip some of these steps and ingredients.  They really are optional.  Adding the extra steps may seem like it's a bit counterintuitive since one of the reasons for using a crockpot is simplicity; but I assure you the additional steps are worth the extra time they take.

Having said all that, here's the recipe and you can decide for yourself.



Ingredients


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 pork chops
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup (or cream of mushroom soup)
  • 1 package Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix
  • 1 cup flour*
  • 5 oz sliced mushrooms (my preference is portobello but whatever you like will work)*
  • 1 medium onion, diced*
  • 1 cup white wine*
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)*
  • salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste*
      *optional


Portobello mushrooms

I LOVE this tool.  It allows you to very quickly prep your garlic.  It's called a
"garlic rocker".  Since I use a lot of garlic when I cook, it saves me an
 enormous amount of time.  If you're interested, you can see it here.

Onions diced and garlic minced


Directions


  1. Season pork chops with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste (I always brine my pork chops, typically overnight.  This isn't a necessary step although it definitely makes them much more tender and adds a great flavor.)

    Seasoned pork chops
  2. Coat the pork chops with flour on both sides (optional step).


  3. Brown the pork chops in the olive oil (optional step).


  4. Put the pork chops in the crock pot (I use a liner; it makes clean up MUCH easier.  Liners available here).

  5. Sauté the onions and mushrooms in the pan you used for the pork chops.  If there isn't enough oil, feel free to add more as needed.  You want to cook them until the onions are just getting soft and the mushrooms have started to create their own liquid.  This should take about 3-4 minutes (optional step).

  6. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds (optional step).

  7. Add the wine and turn up the heat.  You want to reduce the amount of liquid by about half (optional step).

  8. When the liquid has been reduced, add the cream of chicken (or cream of mushroom).  Mix everything together.

  9. Add the dressing mix and again stir everything together.


    After stirring in the dressing mix

  10. Pour the mixture over the pork chops.

  11. Put the lid on the crock pot.
  12. Cook for six hours on low or four hours on high.


  13. When they are done, remove the pork chops and stir everything else together.

  14. Serve over egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

  15. Enjoy!
         
          Here you can see just how tender these are.  They are literally falling apart.




Saturday, February 3, 2018

EZ Apps: Pizza Roll-ups



I love making these pizza roll-ups.  They are incredibly versatile. You could also fill them with Mexican style ingredients such as hamburger or shredded chicken with appropriate seasoning, cheddar cheese, etc.   You can even stuff them with chopped corned beef, potatoes and cabbage for an Irish feel.

In this recipe, I'm going to give you directions for making a simple marinara out of tomato sauce.  However,  you can just as easily use a canned spaghetti sauce.   Jarred sauce will definitely save you time though making it from scratch is pretty simple as well.

The possibilities for these roll-ups are truly endless.  If you prefer pepperoni, throw some in.  Hamburger along with mushrooms and green peppers?  Why not?

You can even make these vegetarian if you'd like.  Simply leave out the meat and use the cheese and whatever vegetables you'd like.  Throw in some of the frozen vegetable crumbles (meat substitute), and if you add Penzey's Italian Sausage seasoning, it will taste just like Italian sausage.  I know this from experience.

Just substitute whatever you'd like for the insides and it will be excellent.



Ingredients*



  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 lb Italian sausage (mild or spicy, your choice)
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 8 flour tortillas (8 inch)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
      Marinara
  • 16 oz tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil 
  • pinch of kosher salt
      OR
  • 2 cups your favorite spaghetti sauce

*Cook's note:  I used the eight inch tortillas and only had eight of them in the package.  I could have easily made 10-12 of these with the rest of the ingredients, then cut them in half to serve.  If you choose to use the smaller size tortillas it will make quite a few more.  Likewise, if you use the larger tortillas it will make less but you can cut them up into smaller pieces to serve.


Directions

  1. Preheat the oven 350° F.


  2. Cook the Italian sausage until it's well browned.  Set aside.


  3. Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Add olive oil.  Add garlic and cook until garlic is soft (about 30 seconds to one minute). Remove from heat and add tomato sauce, red pepper flakes (if using), oregano, basil and salt.  Mix well to completely combine.  THIS STEP IS OPTIONAL.  IF YOU ARE USING PREMADE SPAGHETTI SAUCE, SKIP THIS STEP.


  4. Take a tortilla and using a brush, paint one edge of the tortilla with the egg wash.  This will help the tortilla stick together when you roll it up.


  5. Place about two tablespoons of the Italian sausage on the lower edge of the tortilla (opposite side of where you put the egg wash).


  6. Put two to three tablespoons of mozzarella cheese next to the sausage.


  7. Pour approximately two tablespoons of sauce on top of the cheese.




  8. Roll the tortilla up into what looks like a small log.  The area where you used the egg wash will help it stick together.


  9. Brush the top with the remaining egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.



  10. Line them all up on a lined backing sheet and bake for around 20 - 30 minutes until crisp and golden.



  11. Dip in marinara sauce and enjoy!