Monday, January 26, 2009

Two Dinners

Lest you think all we do is desserts, here are two awesome dinners Noah and I made recently. The first is the above dish, our take on a meal we had at Angeli Caffe recently - Penne with Ricotta, Cherry Tomatoes and Bacon. The second, in the pictures below, is Stuffed Pork Chops with Spinach, Goat Cheese and Green Tomato Chutney.

The penne dish was a Monday Night Special, which inevitably means quick and easy. And because the LA weather can't decide if it's going to be hot or freezing on any given day lately (whoo! global warming), it's a dish that's warm, but not heavy. Meaning it goes both ways. In a totally non-porno way. We had to make some substitutions on the original because I was totally lazy and forgot to roast any garlic for the pasta and also because we had some awesome bacon to use up and didn't feel like battling the crowds at TJs to get pancetta.
The stuffed pork chops were all Noah. I'm guessing that on Saturday, while I was writing in the bedroom he was watching the Food Network, because the dish is a riff on a recipe from Giada De Laurentiis (the lollipop head who loves to host kicky "impromptu" dinner parties). Okay, no more bagging on Giada, 'cause honestly she has good ideas for simple meals and is also one million times less annoying than RachRay and P.Dean.

Noah whipped it up for dinner last night and bless him, totally let me veg on the couch nursing a nasty, but diminishing hangover. Note to self: you cannot drink like you're 27 anymore, sugar. Again, there were substitutions (I think if you're a person who enjoys eating and cooking at all it's basically impossible not to tweak a recipe to fit your own needs/likes/timelines). The only one of real note is that the recipe calls for sun-dried tomatoes, of which I am not a big fan (though more of a fan than roasted red peppers which just kind of gross me out). Also, we didn't have any. So my genius ass chimed in from the couch with the brilliant idea of subbing in some of the Green Tomato Chutney Noah's Aunt Debra made us for Xmas. Okay, Deb, that stuff is AWESOME! And was perfect for the pork.

I added a salad to the meal, along with some sliced baguette and the crack-tastic Jean-Yves Bordier butter that we still have from Paris. If anyone knows where I can get this in the States, tell me now. I'm almost out and an $800 plane ticket seems like a slightly elevated price tag for butter. But for this butter, only slightly.

So there you go, not one but TWO non-dessert recipes for y'all to enjoy.
Whole Wheat Penne with Ricotta, Cherry Tomatoes and Bacon
inspired by Angeli Caffe

2 servings whole wheat penne (I'm too lazy to measure out how much exactly, but am guessing it's about 2 c. of dried pasta)
1/2 c. fresh ricotta (if you can get it, the cheese dudes who sell the Winchester Farms goudas at the H-wood Farmers Market have the best fresh ricotta in town)
3-4 strips of bacon, more meaty than fatty OR 1/4 c. pancetta
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
Garlic (half a dozen cloves if roasted or 2 chopped cloves if raw)
Basil (we didn't have any, so we left it out)
Salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, to taste

Cook up the penne. Reserve a few tablespoons of cooking liquid for sauce. Slice the bacon/pancetta into small strips. Sautee. Remove when they've reached your desired level of crispy. Discard all but 2 tsp. bacon/pancetta fat. Use this to cook raw garlic in on medium flame. Once garlic has browned (1-2 mins), add the cherry tomatoes. Cook 1 minute, then add in pasta, bacon/pancetta and a bit of the reserved cooking liquid. Cook another minute. Take off flame and pour into a large bowl. Add the ricotta and stir, adding more cooking liquid if you want a saucier sauce. Add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste. Serve with a few shavings of parmesan if you're a cheese whore like myself.

Pork Chops Stuffed with Green Tomato Chutney, Spinach and Goat Cheese
adapted from a recipe by Giada de Laurentiis

2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. green tomato chutney OR 6 sun-dried tomatoes, diced
1-10 oz. bag of frozen spinach OR 2-3 cups fresh spinach, sauteed
1/2 tsp. salt, plus more for seasoning
1/2 tsp. black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1/4 tsp. thyme, fresh or dried
1/4 c. (2 oz.) goat cheese
1/3 c. reduced fat cream cheese or 1/4 c. non-fat greek yogurt
4-4oz. center cut pork chops
1 1/2 c. chicken broth (or, if you're Noah and I, the duck broth you've had in the freezer for while)
1/2 lemon, zested
2 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. Dijon mustard

Warm 1 tbsp. olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomato chutney, spinach, salt, pepper and thyme. Cook until combined, about 2 more minutes. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl. Add the goat cheese and the cream cheese or greek yogurt. Stir to combine and set aside.

Use a sharp knife to cut a pocket into the thickest portion of the pork chop. Stuff each pocket with 1/4 of the spinach and tomato mixture and close the pork around the stuffing. Season the outside of the pork with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, combine the chicken broth, lemon zest, lemon juice and mustard.

Warm the remaining 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot add the pork. Cook until golden and cooked through 4-7 minutes a side (ours took longer as the pork was quite thick). Transfer the pork to a side dish and tent with foil to keep warm. Add the chicken broth mixture to the skillet over medium high heat and deglaze the pan, scraping up the cooked pork bits as the broth simmers. Reduce by half to make a light sauce. Spoon some over the pork before serving, putting the rest in a gravy bowl (or, if you're Noah and I, a crappy, chipped ramekin) for spooning over as you eat.

1 comment:

Sophie said...

Wow, this looks like a good, well perfect combination!!! Well Done!!