Bourbon Smoked Paprika Pork Chops

We are back from Maine where had perfect weather (warm and sunny all day for the beach, cool and breezy at night for sleeping), lots of lobster and steamers, and plenty of relaxation time. We will tell you about it once we get ourselves organized. For now, we have a recipe we made the week before we left. Back in July, Chris took a vacation from our New Orleans vacation and went with friends J and L to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. He's a huge bourbon fan, so this was a real treat, and since then, we've both had a better appreciation for America's spirit. So much that we decided to play around with it in the kitchen a little bit.

This recipe not only uses bourbon, but also a bourbon-smoked paprika we got in one of our Foodzie tasting boxes. This spice mixture is made by Bourbon Barrel Foods and has the flavor of sweet paprika mellowed with the oakiness of bourbon. Perfect for seasoning pork, right? So we created a marinade with the paprika, brown sugar for extra sweetness, and bourbon, then grilled our marinated pork sirloin chops with some cipollini onions that we threw onto the grill grates for a simple but delicious side dish.

Kudos to Chris for those TV-worthy grill marks, huh? Nicely done!

Bourbon Smoked Paprika Pork Chops with Grilled Cipollini Onions


2 boneless pork sirloin chops
kosher salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/4 tablespoon Bourbon Smoked Paprika
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 ounce bourbon
1 lb. cipollini onions

Season the pork chops with salt and pepper and place in a large zip-type bag. In a small bowl, mix together the paprika, brown sugar, bourbon and additional salt and pepper. Pour the mixture into the bag with the chops and allow to marinate for at least one hour. Place the pork chops and cipollini onions on a heated grill. Grill the pork chops on both sides until cooked through, with the length of time depending on size of chops. Grill the cipollini onions until they are soft and start to caramelize.


Domenica, New Orleans

As we are about to leave for one last huzzah (a week on the beach in Maine sans computer!!!) before we teachers have to go back to The Place That Must Not Be Named, we'll leave you with a few tidbits from our recent trip to New Orleans. We had eaten dinner the previous night at Restaurant R'evolution and should have still been full from that, but when we're in the Big Easy, we seem to have hollow legs, so the next afternoon, we went to Domenica, a John Besh restaurant at the gorgeous Roosevelt Hotel. 

The hotel is one block off Canal Street and is an impressive sight to behold. The Art Deco style permeates the building that opened as the luxurious Grunewald Hotel in 1893 and stretches an entire city block still. An ambitious renovation project post-Katrina has restored it gloriously, and the addition of a top chef's restaurant adds to its allure.

But Domenica (which means "Sunday" in Italian) is casually elegant rather than snobbishly so. Sparkling chandeliers hover over espresso-colored wooden tables where each placemat also serves as the menu. The menu highlights homey Italian specialties (pizze, salumi, antipasti, pasta, panini, dolci) with a contemporary chic touch, all the while focusing on the bounty and traditions of the American South. In other words, it's John Besh doing Italian and doing it well.

The chef's selection of salumi, cheese, olives and vegetables featured meats that were sliced so thinly you could see through them. We adored those pillowy fried doughs that came with it!

The roasted cauliflower, served with a whipped goat feta cheese dip, was exquisite in its simplicity. We are totally going to attempt to duplicate this one at our next dinner party!

The contrasting colors and flavors of the squid ink tagliolini (black ink pasta tossed with opaque white crabmeat) made for a dish that was both beautiful to look at and to taste. The local crabmeat was so very fresh!

Pizzas were thin and crispy and topped with the freshest of ingredients - of the sort that would be well at home in a Roman pizzeria, except for the local Abita brew that J washed it down with, of course.

One bite of the tagliatelle with rabbit and porcini mushrooms took us back a decade to our trip to Tuscany. The rabbit was moist, the mushrooms earthy, and the dish well-composed. Delicioso!

The desserts were also quite inspiring, particularly the oven-roasted peach cake, with Nebbiolo-poached figs and fiore di latte gelato. The crema cotta and pistachio crostata, with its many layers of differing tastes and textures, formed individually delightful bites. And the gelati were creamy, cold, refreshing and flavorful. Very traditionally Italian!

It was quite the lunch (yes, lunch!) and we very much enjoyed the incredible food, the beautiful setting, and being treated to it all by the best of friends. Thank you again, J and K! Love and miss you!

Domenica on Urbanspoon


Julia Child's Petit Pots de Creme au Chocolat

Bon anniversaire, Julia Child! Yes, today would have been dear Julia's 100th birthday. To celebrate, we made her Petit Pots de Creme au Chocolat (chocolate cream custards) as the dessert for a small dinner party we are having later for out of town guests. The pots du creme are chilling as we write this, and in about three hours the guests will arrive for grilled ribeyes, corn on the cob and this silky, chocolatey, chilled dessert.

The recipe is from The French Chef Cookbook (Recipes from Julia Child's celebrated first television series), published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1968. It is organized by show number, but there are plenty of indexes to help you find that perfect French recipe you are looking for. There are tons of them, too, for every occasion.

To get you in the celebrating mood while you cook your dinner this evening, click on this - a WGBH-created mash-up of clips from Julia at her best to the tune of Sweet Child O' Mine. What a tribute! And take a look at today's Google logo! Love it!

Rather than publish copyrighted material, we will give you the recipe for the pots de creme via photos. Any one of her books is worth buying, so if you really want the recipe, do the right thing. And, as always, Bon appetit!


Attack of the Garden Tomatoes (with recipe for Slow-Roasted Tomatoes)

Whether or not you have a dirty mind, you need to take a look at this weird thing that came out of our garden. Yikes!

We have so many tomatoes, we don't know what to do with them all. The other day, we harvested a few and put them in a bowl on the kitchen windowsill where Louie (our younger cat) loves to lie down in the sunshine. The next morning, this is what we found. Guess Louie likes tomatoes! And, yes, we found a different location to store them in.

Sun Sugars

Husky Red Cherry Tomatoes

We are totally into these Sun Sugars - perfect, round, bright orange tomatoes that taste like candy! Great for straight up eating, but we have soooo many. We also love the Husky Red Cherry tomatoes that are just now ripening.

Rather than buying "sun-dried" tomatoes in a jar (Are they really dried in the sun, or is it some sort of chemically induced drying process?), we are making slow-roasted cherry tomatoes that will allow us to take our tomatoes into fall! We will use them in pasta dishes, salads, bruschetta, so many uses! Here's what we do, but this is definitely one of those "flexipes" (that would be a flexible recipe): use the herbs you like, don't use garlic if you don't want to, adjust the amounts according to the number of tomatoes you have. You get the picture.

What's great about these is the intense flavor that is brought out during the roasting. We ate most of them shortly after they cooled. Some we stored in olive oil - the added flavor that is infused into the oil is fabulous for bread-dipping and such. People tend to be wary of storing things in olive oil, but as long as your ingredients are well-washed, your storage container is sterilized, and you store these in the refrigerator, all research we've done says it's fine to keep tomatoes like this for up to six weeks. Longer than that, and you should follow stricter canning/preserving techniques. They taste so good, you won't need to worry about all that...


Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

4 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped*
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
parchment paper
6 cloves garlic, unpeeled
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil for storage

sterilized canning jars with airtight lids

*Cooks' note: We used rosemary this time and are thinking of using oregano, thyme, or basil for future roastings. Yes we will soon have that many tomatoes.

Preheat oven to 200 F. In a large bowl, place the halved tomatoes and rosemary. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Gently mix well with your hands. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Pour tomatoes onto parchment paper in one layer, then place garlic cloves in different areas on the baking sheet. Bake for 2-3 hours, until tomatoes look mostly dry. Allow them to cool well. If storing, place them in canning jars, packing them in well and using the handle of a wooden spoon to force air out of the jar. Cover completely with olive oil and seal with airtight lid. Store in refrigerator for up to six weeks.