Chicken stock, pork chops, tarts… it’s been an active few days. Good active, but… yeah, active. This week I actually went grocery shopping before work in the morning because I had no other time to do it. Honestly, I am very ready to curl up somewhere soft and sunny and sleep for a week.
I guess trashy TV and wine will work too.
Anyway, Tuesday night I dealt with my chicken stock. There was, as promised, some grease on it when I took it out of the fridge, but I skimmed almost all of it off with a spoon. I set aside about half a cup for my pork chops that night, and filled my ice cube trays with the rest (for storage, not cocktails. Though there was a close call). There was quite a bit leftover, but I’m sorry to say I threw it out. There is only so much chicken stock you can save when your kitchen is smaller than a mid-size SUV.
My friend Fi was coming over for dinner, so I decided to make pork chops, polenta with (a lot of) Parmesan, and asparagus. I lovelovelove with little hearts drawn in the margins this pork chop recipe from The Essential New York Times Cookbook (which I also desperately want). It’s delicious and complex tasting and stupidly easy. I think Fi liked it too because she gnawed at the bones, and I had a great time. And she brought wine, which is always a winner.
Note: My camera battery died and my sister downloaded a fancy photo app on my phone. I took this picture of the pork chops and polenta with it. I do NOT know how to work this app. They do not look scary and green in real life.
My lovely friend Colleen asked me about my salmon recipe the other day, and I’m really going to try to post more recipes in more specific terms, or at least link to people who describe them better than I do. The problem is that I very rarely measure, and I mostly ignore recipes. Usually I treat them as a sort of flexible inspiration, and do my own thing. The two recipes tonight, though, are uncharacteristic in that I actually mostly stuck to them. Case in point: for the first, the only changes are that I use pork chops instead of veal, wine instead of water, and add a lot more chicken stock and wine and boil it down. This is big for me! Try it, it’s great.
The pork chops were another good choice because I wanted to have everything as ready as it could be when Fi got here so I could hang out with her. This is how easy the prep is: When I got home from work I got out my big casserole and put in a dollop of butter and some olive oil. Then I skinned and halved three garlic cloves, and set on the counter the garlic cloves, my chicken stock, thyme, and salt and pepper. I dredged the chops in flour on a plate. I put my asparagus in the steamer, ready to be turned on, and put the polenta, water, and salt in a pot ready to start. Done. I had less than an hour between getting home from work and when Fi arrived, and I still had time to do all my abovementioned fussing with the chicken stock, change, do the dishes, tidy my apartment, clean my fridge shelf where the pork chops oozed on it, and play with the Internet for a good 25 minutes. It felt like cheating.
My second dinner was actually for a work potluck this afternoon. Gina stayed over on Wednesday night, and we made a great, light salad while I worked on my potluck dish. Actually, Gina cut up things for the salad while I showered. She is an artist as well as a nurse and a neuroscientist, and every time she cuts everything up all the pieces have uniform thinness and perfect right angles. Her salad was a work of art.
For my potluck I decided to make this recipe for sausage and kale tart from Food52 (my new BFF forever), which I also almost totally followed! Except I added more cheese (mostly ricotta, which came from small Vermont family farms, but some feta), and put in ½ of a cup of whole wheat flour instead of totally all-purpose. Gina and I had a great time making pie dough. I don’t have a food processor (I know, Mark Bittman, I KNOW) so I crumble the cold butter into the flour with my hands, which is more fun anyway. I still have a nice little ball of it, any suggestions?
I’m not a fan of kale but with all the cheese it was yummy. I would have liked to use better Italian sausage than I got at Whole Foods, but you know, when you shop at 8 am you have to make sacrifices.
One of these sacrifices is not writing in detail about everything I cook, because I’m tired and I don’t have that much space. But I’m doing a lot of happy dancing because of all the lovely facebook comments I’ve gotten, and the fact that I have at least one follower I’m not related to! Amazing. If I mention anything that you would like me to write more about, let me know. This is honestly just fun for me.