Porkchops With Cherry Tomato-Mustard Sauce

Enough, I say!

Enough posting links to and pictures of other peoples’ brilliant work in lieu of my own mediocre and haphazard creations.  I’m finally going to write about something I actually did for a change.

I’ve been putting off posting this for a while, not because it was a disaster, but because the photographs themselves are absolutely hideous.  I couldn’t get the light right, I couldn’t get the camera to focus and I was rushed because the people I was serving the meal to actually wanted to eat it, instead of sitting around and watching me take pictures of their food while it grew cold.  Stupid, impatient people.  Heh.

So, just keep in mind that while the photographs make the food look as if it was reconstituted out of some awful 1970s-era Baptist Ladies’ Fellowship cookbook, the food itself was really quite good.

Porkchops With Cherry Tomato-Mustard Sauce
Serves: 4

 

Before I discuss the ingredients, I’d like to talk a little bit about where I found this recipe.  My friend Sarah gave me the new Rocco DiSpirito cookbook recently.  Aside from the undeniable eye-candy on the front cover:

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Yum.

…there are also some fantastic-sounding recipes inside (Beef with Crispy Potatoes and Blue Cheese; Goat Cheese Ravioli; Fried Scallops with Melted Onions; just to name a few).

But the book itself is weird.  I’m educated-guessing that to replace the television income that has been depleted by his widely-publicized legal battle with his estranged produced/friend Jeffery Chodorow, he’s entered into a partnership with one or more food companies to promote their food in this cookbook.

The result is a bizarre mixture of polished yet accessible recipes (good!) with recurring calls for such random yet specific ingredients as “Amore® garlic paste” and “Victoria® Fra Diavolo sauce” or “Dole® classic Romaine lettuce” (bad!).  I mean, we’re getting down to brands of lettuce here?  Really?

The entire thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  These aren’t even things that real chefs cook with.  Canned okra?  Hellman’s® Dijonaise?  Real chefs aren’t sending their staff out with directions to the nearest Sam’s Club, all: “If you don’t return with 80 cans of Green Giant® creamed corn, you can kiss your ass good-bye!”  It’s a scam and it irritates the hell out of me.

If I wanted to cook with a specific list of pre-made, preservative-laden, name-brand ingredients, I’d rip the paper off the back of a can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup.  It’s just not a very tasteful or professional way to write a cookbook and I find myself — yet again — disappointed with our boy wonder, whom I want so desperately to like.

All that said, I enjoyed the sound of Rocco’s recipe for porkchops with a mustard/cherry tomato sauce and decided to tweak it for my own tastes.  It’s quick, easy to make, and is a real crowd-pleaser, which is why I love it.  Finally…here is the recipe (brand names left out for everyone’s benefit): Continue reading Porkchops With Cherry Tomato-Mustard Sauce

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Porkchops and Spinach

Last night, I did something that I absolutely dread: I cooked a recipe out of a cookbook.

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This may not seem terrifying to the rest of you, but there’s something about cooking while reading while measuring while stirring while pouring while flipping that completely destroys any normal cooking ability that I have.  I think it’s the reading part that gets to me.

Baking something out of a cookbook?  No problem.  That’s normal.  I can’t just stand there in the kitchen and decide, “You know, I think I’m going to put this flour together with this cocoa powder and see what comes of it!”  Baking is more science than art, and for that you need a recipe.  Sure, you can fiddle with the recipe as you go or modify it later to your liking.  But baking is simple and straightforward: stir things together in bowl, bake.  Throwing “reading” into that mix doesn’t make too much of a difference.

Cooking, however, is different for me.

I’ve always been the kind of person who cooks in the same way that I play piano — by ear.  Now, I don’t have the incredible palate that my mother has, where she can visualize a meal and all of its ingredients in her mind and know exactly how everything will taste together before she’s even bought the groceries.  But I know what goes together and what doesn’t.  And I usually make our meals out of whatever’s in the pantry at any given time, a practice which doesn’t necessarily lend itself to following a recipe out of the latest issue of Bon Appetit.

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Weirdly, I own a massive collection of cookbooks (again, not as large as my mother’s collection which — at last count — numbered 258 tomes).  But instead of using them for their intended purpose, I read them like you would novels.  And I suppose that somewhere in the back of my mind, I ferret away little chunks of cooking knowledge that present themselves when I’m poking aimlessly through my pantry and trying to figure out what I can make with a can of butterbeans and some leftover baby spinach.

That said, I am determined to start cooking with actual recipes.  And to that end, I chose a very easy porkchop recipe with a caramelized onion sauce (a Rocco di Spirito recipe) and a side of creamed spinach (my mother’s recipe).  And I have to say, I was impressed with the results.

I don’t know if it has more to do with the fact that I’ve finally got decent appliances and cookware (I love you, All-Clad) or that I’m a calmer person in general than when I first started cooking in college, but everything turned out exactly as planned.

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The recipes are after the jump.  Yes, they’re ridiculously easy.  But for someone like me, they were quite an accomplishment. Continue reading Porkchops and Spinach