Sunday, October 25, 2009

French-Inspired Fall Flavours

Tonight's dinner was one of those meals that somehow came together with things I already had in the pantry (a rare occurence in my house). I still had some ultra-thick boneless pork chops from Costco in the freezer - the only protein other than eggs, in the house - so I started out by thawing them.

Peaking through the refrigerator, I saw that I still had a couple of local apples, and a few local baby cabbages (so cute!). I remembered I had a couple of cans of Gaymers apple cider, and there it was.......dinner. This dish is representative of the Northern (Normandy) region of France.

Apple Cider Braised Pork Loin with Cabbage

~ 6 boneless pork loin chops (I sliced my ultra-thick ones in half)
2 TBSP butter
salt, pepper
~ 12 ounces hard apple cider (such as Gaymers, Strongbow), or about 1 1/4 cups apple juice plus 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar (drink the remaining cider while you continue with the recipe)
4 to 6 cups of finely shredded cabbage (young, if possible), without cores
2 apples, cored & sliced - I leave the peel on
2 TSP cornstarch
1/2 cup light or heavy cream

In a large, heavy-bottomed pot, heat the butter over medium-high heat. Season the pork with salt & pepper; brown, both sides, in pan. Remove the browned meat and set aside. Deglaze the pan with roughly 1/2 cup of the apple cider, scraping up bits from the bottom.

Add the cabbage and apples, tossing to coat. Season generously with salt & pepper. Saute for about 5 minutes, then return pork to pot. I placed the pork on top of the cabbage, and then heaped some of the cabbage on top, so that the pork was in the middle. Add the remaining apple cider.

Bring to a boil, then cover & simmer for ~25 minutes. The meat will be cooked through and the cabbage should be completely tender. Cook a bit longer if the cabbage is not tender enough. Check for seasoning; adjust if necessary. Remove the pork and set aside. Sprinkle the cornstarch over; stir to combine. I like the sauce to be a bit thickish - if you'd rather not add the cornstarch, skip this step.

Add the cream. Return to a boil and cook until the cabbage mixture has thickened. Place the cabbage apple mixture on a platter & top with the pork. Drizzle some of the sauce over top of the pork to serve.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Adding MAJOR Flavour

I always mention these products in my cooking classes, so I thought I'd talk about them here. These oils/extract are produced my a company called Boyajian. I started off with the lime oil, which I use in many of my southeast-asian soups, my ginger lime wasabi mustar, and now my ginger lime coconut scones. Just a drop or two adds a HUGE amount of pure, powerful lime flavour. I have since bought the orange oil, and most recently, the pure maple extract. The maple extract adds a big boost of flavour to my maple oatmeal scones. Even though they have a good amount of maple syrup, this greatly heightens the flavour - since, you can never have too much maple flavour. I highly recommend trying out these products!
I have smelled the other products, which are all available at Sous Chef in Erindale. If you have never checked out the store, and you're into interesting & exotic food items, you simply must go. You'll find an vast array of gourmet salts, vinegars, mustards, peppercorns........too much to describe, really. ie. go there, soon.........