Sunday, May 19, 2013

Pan Fried Chops

Growing up, I often watched my mother prepare dinner.  It saddens me that I didn’t find my passion to cook until I became an adult, but I couldn’t help but pick up a few tricks as I watched the master at work.
Whether you are frying veal chops, pork chops, chicken breasts, turkey cutlets or fish filets, the technique for pan frying is the same.  This is the way my mother taught me to fry when I was a young girl, and although over the years I may have changed the seasonings, spices and substituted Panko for bread crumbs, the technique remains the same and always produces a crispy and delicious crust.

§     4 portions of meat (chicken breasts, veal chops or pork chops)
§     1 cup flour seasoned with dry rub seasoning OR salt, pepper and cayenne pepper
§     2 whole beaten eggs with 2 tablespoons of water, seasoned with salt and pepper
§     1 cup bread crumbs or Panko seasoned with salt, pepper and cayenne pepper
§     Vegetable oil for frying
§     1 tablespoon Rhonda’s  or store bought Dry Rub Seasoning (optional)

Rhonda’s Dry Rub Seasoning: (optional)
§     4 tablespoons Kosher Salt
§     4 tablespoons brown sugar
§     3 tablespoons garlic powder
§     2 tablespoons season salt
§     1 tablespoon paprika
§     2 tablespoons black pepper
§     1 tablespoon onion powder
§     1 tablespoon chili powder
§     1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
§     1/4  teaspoon ground cumin

Directions for Rhonda’s Dry Rub Seasoning:
In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and mix well. Store in an airtight container. I save the containers in which I buy spices at the supermarket. When they are empty, they make perfect shakers for my homemade dry seasonings and rubs. This rub is one of my favorite. I use it in many of my dishes and always when I grill meat, fish or poultry.

Directions for Pan Frying:
Wash the chops and pat dry.  Season meat liberally with dry rub on both sides and set aside.
In one shallow bowl, add seasoned flour.
In a second shallow bowl beat eggs with 2 tablespoons water and season with salt and pepper.
In a third shallow bowl, add bread crumbs or Panko, Japanese bread crumbs which are dryer than typical bread crumbs.  If you use Panko, the finished crust will be significantly crispier. One at a time, dust the chops in the flour mixture and coat well on both sides.  Shake off excess flour before dipping into the egg mixture.
Remove from egg mixture and dredge in bread crumbs or Panko, pressing to coat and shaking off any excess.
Heat the oil to 375 degrees F in a large skillet with 2-inch deep sides. (The oil should be about 1/4-inch deep.) Add the chops to the preheated oil, being careful not to over-crowd the pan.
Pan fry for 2 - 3 minutes, or until golden brown. Turn and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.
Whether you’re frying chicken, veal or pork, make sure the juices run clear to ensure the meat is fully cooked.  Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the chops.
Serve warm.  For a printer friendly copy of this recipe, go to Pan Fried Chops. Enjoy!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Balsamic Strawberry Shortcake

Whether it’s made with shortbread, yellow cake or sweet biscuits, Strawberry Shortcake is my favorite dessert.  In decades past, I would have to wait for summer to get fresh strawberries.  Today they are available fresh and in supermarkets year round, so I don’t know why I wait until the spring and summer to make it, but I just do.

This new and improved recipe includes non-conventional ingredients, and I encourage you to try it exactly as it’s written.  You won’t be sorry you did.  But if you must, just leave out the balsamic vinegar and basil leaves for my traditional recipe.

Sweet Biscuit Ingredients:
§     1 1/4 sticks of cold, unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes
§     3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour  
§     1/3 cup sugar
§     1/2 teaspoon salt
§     2 tablespoons baking powder
§     2 eggs
§     1/2 cup heavy cream
§     1/2 cup buttermilk

Whipped Cream Ingredients:
§     3 cups heavy cream
§     1/2 cup powdered sugar
§     1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Strawberry Filling Ingredients:
§     2 pints strawberries, hulled and quartered lengthwise
§     1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
§     2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
§     8 basil leaves

Balsamic Drizzle Ingredients:
§     1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
§     1/4 cup sugar

Optional Ingredients:
§     Powdered Sugar
§     Vanilla Ice Cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.    In a large bowl sift together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt.  Scatter the butter over the flour mixture.  Using the tips of your fingers, rub together the flour and butter until the mixture is crumbly.  Place the flour mixture into the refrigerator for 20 - 30 minutes.
To prepare the strawberry filling, combine the strawberries, granulated sugar and balsamic vinegar and toss gently to coat evenly. Let stand for a minimum of 30 minutes until the berries release some juices.  The strawberries can be prepared ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator.
Remove the flour and butter mixture from the refrigerator and using a fork, beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. The mixture will come together in a ball.  In a small bowl, mix together the cream and buttermilk.  Gradually add in the cream mixture until a stiff, moist dough forms.  Do not overbeat. 
Using an ice cream scoop or 1/2 cup dry measuring cup, portion the dough for each shortcake onto a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray or lined with parchment paper or a Silpat.  Space the shortcakes 1 inch apart, to make 12 shortcakes total.  For a brown crusty top, brush the tops with cream, and sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar.
Bake until the shortcakes are lightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Place the baking sheet onto a wire rack and let cook for 5 minutes. Transfer the shortcakes to the wire rack and let cool completely.
To make the whipped cream filling, in a chilled large bowl, whip the cream on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.  Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and whip until the cream holds firm peaks. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. 
For the balsamic drizzle, in a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the vinegar and granulated sugar and bring to a simmer. Cook until the mixture has reduced by nearly half and the glaze is syrupy, about 8 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly. (If the glaze thickens too much dilute it with warm water until it is the consistency of chocolate syrup.) 
For each serving, slice a shortcake in half horizontally and place the bottom, cut side up, on a dessert plate. Top with some strawberries and then with some whipped cream.  You may want to add a small scoop of vanilla ice cream between the strawberries and the whipped cream (optional).
Using a spoon, streak the berries and cream with a fine drizzle of the balsamic glaze. Sprinkle with freshly chiffonade basil.  To chiffonade the basil, stack the basil leaves in a neat pile so they are curling upward.  This makes them easier to roll.  Roll the basil leaves tightly like a cigar.  Using a sharp knife, slice the leaves into thin, evenly sized strips. 
Cap with the top half of the shortcake. Using a fine mesh sieve, dust with powdered sugar and serve immediately. For a printer friendly copy of this recipe, go to Balsamic Strawberry Shortcake. Enjoy!