Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pork Loin Chops with Nectarine Salsa

Nectarine salsa:
2 ripe nectarines
2 ripe tomatoes
1/2 sweet onion
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt to taste
Chop above ingredients and refrigerate for a few hours before grilling chops

Brine (Optional) for extra juicy, tender chops:
2 boneless pork loin chops
1/2 cup kosher salt
4 cups water
2 tablespoons molasses
Add chops to brine and refrigerate four hours before grilling

Season pork before grilling with:
Chili powder

Remove pork chops from brine, coat with seasoning, grill for about 10 minutes per side (depending on thickness of the pork chop). Pile the salsa on top and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dupont Circle Sundays

Despite the 110 degree temperature outside, I ventured to the Dupont Circle Farmers Market this weekend. I ran into some metro challenges, as usual, but arrived in the circle to a frenzy of locals scavenging a plethora of booths for the freshest produce, greenery, artisan breads, and cheeses. When I got back home, I cranked the oven to 400 (cranked down the thermostat to 65), and roasted two foil-lined trays of sliced zucchini, eggplant, onions, and large chunks of chopped garlic. I seasoned the veggies with a little cooking spray, onion salt, fresh ground pepper, and parsley. I roasted them for about 40 minutes and tossed them a few times throughout for an even char.

As soon as they were done, I made a veggie wrap with cheese and couple dollops of nonfat greek yogurt and stashed the leftovers in a large Tupperware. The roasted veggies made a terrific side dish to my salmon that evening. I enjoyed them on pizza with pesto sauce the next day for lunch, and I mixed them with rice, chicken and soy sauce the next night for a pseudo – stir fry. So versatile and healthy!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Rooftop Brunch Barbeque

My roommates and I all love to cook and entertain, so we decided to host a brunch for our friends. We eagerly brainstormed menu ideas. Visions of fatty egg casseroles, strata, and quiche were dancing in our minds. We have a small apartment and knew that there wouldn’t be adequate space to accommodate our large network of DC 20-somethings. Luckily, our steep rent includes accommodations such as a “club room” with ovens, a stovetop, a pool table, and plenty of space – or as we call it, a “party room.”

Invitations were extended, and weeks went by. Then we received a notice that the “club room” would be undergoing renovations for the rest of the summer. At first, we were somewhat excited that perhaps we could use this as leverage to negotiate a discount on our rent. Our apartment complex owners quickly sent us a copy of the clause in our rental contract stating that this was not an option.

Then the disappointment set in and panic ensued. Where will we host this rager-of-a-brunch? We would have to do it on the outdoor patio attached to our building. What kind of dishes would fare well outdoors? Certainly not fatty egg casseroles! What if it thunderstorms, or worse, what if it’s humid?!

The pluses were that we would have access to a grill. But what kind of brunch barbeque would this be? What is a brunch barbeque? Here are a couple of recipes we tried:

Grilled Peaches and Yogurt

5 large peaches cut in half, pit removed
Cooking spray
Nonfat vanilla yogurt

Prep the peaches and turn the grill on medium low. Spray the bottom of the peaches with cooking spray and place directly on the grill. Close the grill and let them cook for about 15 minutes or until soft when pierced with a fork. Remove from grill, drizzle with honey, and top with a scoop of yogurt and sprinkle of honey. These were DELICIOUS!

Cinnamon Buns (recipe courtesy of Lucy Rothlisberger, my boyfriend’s fabulous mother)

1 c of warm milk
1/4 c butter
1 egg
3 1/2 c of flour - I usually use bread flour but regular flour works
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp salt
3 rounded tsp of regular active dry yeast

Place all ingredients in your bread machine in this order. Then select the dough cycle. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Once the dough is done rising, roll it out on a flowered surface until it is a large rectangle about ¼ inch thick. Then rub butter all over the dough - just enough to coat it. Sprinkle the dough generously with brown sugar and cinnamon (be VERY generous). Then just roll the dough up into a long sphere. Take a piece of thread and slide it under the sphere then cross it over the top to cut the dough into separate cinnamon rolls. Bake the rolls on a cookie sheet for about 15 minutes. I baked them several days before our brunch, let them cool, and froze them. I took them out of the freezer the night before brunch, heated them in the oven for 10 minutes at 200 degrees, whipped up a quick icing with milk, butter, cream cheese and powdered sugar, and voila!

Monday, July 11, 2011

DC has a Wharf?

I had heard rumors about the infamous "DC Wharf." Allegedly this place exists in the "dangerous" part of DC. The part of DC that a 20 something girl should not go alone... Southwest.

I decided to take my chances in search of the freshest seafood this place has to offer. I took the metro to the L'Enfant Metro Station and walked a half mile to the riverfront. There I found it. Seafood Mecca. From peel-and-eat shrimp, to fresh oysters, to live crabs and seafood gumbo, this place had it all and it was packed with people! I wandered among the excitement in awe and finally decided to get a dozen littleneck clams to cook for dinner and a cup of gumbo to enjoy before my metro ride back home to chinatown.

The gumbo was outstanding - hot, spicy and hearty. The clams made a great meal, here is how I prepared them:

One dozen fresh littleneck clams
3 cloves garlic
1 large shallot
Splash of white wine
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 can of italian diced tomatoes
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
Crusty french bread (to soak up the broth)

Soak clams for several hours in water to remove any sand. Saute' onions and garlic with EVOO in a large pot (actually used a large wok because my roommates and I are short on pots with lids). Add a splash of white wine, followed by the chicken broth and the diced tomatoes. Bring to a simmer. Scrub and rinse clams before adding them to the broth. Cover the pot and wait about ten minutes. The clams are done when the shells open.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Low-cal (but better than the original) Tuna Salad

I never particularly liked tuna salad as a kid. Probably because I hated mayonnaise. Recently I decided to give tuna salad another chance by replacing the mayonnaise with nonfat greek yogurt. It was delicious and much healthier than your mom's tuna salad!

2 cans chunk tuna light drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
chopped celery (add as much as you like for a nice crunch)
1 large chopped red bell pepper
1 medium chopped red onion
6 oz. nonfat greek yogurt (drained)
salt and pepper to taste

Just mix all the ingredients together and enjoy alone or between two toasty pieces of bread!