Why we started this idea????

A passion for food, wine, friends and entertaining is a big part of our life. This is a way for us to document our experiences, passion for food & life and also share it with others.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Grilled Pork Chops with Wild Mushroom Sauce

This week for Gutsy Cooks Club we choose Top Chef's Marcel Vigneron's recipe for Grilled Pork Chops with Wild Mushroom Sauce from Season 2. If you are a Top Chef fan you must remember Marcel and his arrogant smirk and demeanor. 

He may be both arrogant and smirky but let me tell you this recipe rocked! 

We started with some bone in pork chops I picked up at  one of only two local butcher shops we have close by.

We made several adjustments to the original recipe. First, instead of the bacon and cabbage he has to be served as the side we switched to pancetta and kale. Cooked the exact same way. Second, we used baby portobello mushrooms (crimini) as I just am not a huge fan of portobellos for some reason. Third, we omitted the whipping cream and subbed a flavored creamy garlic and chive cheese for the called for cream cheese. Mostly because my goal was to pick up everything we needed for the meal at the butcher's and they didn't have cream cheese but they did have a flavored cheese, sort of like Boursin just a different brand. We just didn't feel the potatoes needed the whipping cream as well. 

At first we were concerned this was going to be a lot to take on after both of our 1st real day back to work and for our self made anniversary dinner. But really it was pretty quick. It did helped we made it together with a glass of Oregon sparkling wine in hand.

We layered our dish with the components of the recipe on the plate.





We could tell immediately this was going to be pretty darn tasty given all of the components and how well they match together. 

We have to say the mushroom sauce was just weird. It was a strange texture and color, almost looked like a pate'. But the overall taste was good. We did additionally add a little heavy cream to mushrooms instead of just water to make them at least a little creamy. But it was not really a sauce.

We served the meal with a FANTASTIC 2007 Washington, Horse Heaven Hills Syrah from Robert Ramsey. It was a perfect syrah and truly perfectly paired with the meal.

Now that we enjoyed this recipe so much I guess I have to become a bit less of a Marcel hater I suppose.


Grilled Pork Chops with Wild Mushroom Sauce

4 medium pork chops
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
6 pounds Yukon gold potatoes
1 1/2 pints heavy whipping cream
2 sticks butter
2 ounces creme fraiche
4 ounces cream cheese
Grated nutmeg, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
6 portobello mushrooms
3 heads of garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cups cabbage, cut as thinly as possibly
4-6 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons butter

Lightly brush each pork chop with oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill pork chops to desired doneness.
Peel and dice potatoes. Place in large pot and cover with cold water to the depth of one inch. Cook over low heat until potatoes are tender, being careful not to let the water boil. Remove from heat and drain. Let potatoes cool slightly. Process potatoes in a food mill, transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
Combine cream and butter in a small pan and cook over medium low until cream is warm and butter has melted.
Mix cream mixture, crème fraîche, and cream cheese into potatoes. Season to taste with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.
Heat oven to 425 degrees.
Wrap garlic in foil and roast in oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until very soft.
Remove stems and gills from portobello mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil. Place portobellos on rimmed baking sheet and cover with foil. Roast in oven for 10 to 20 minutes, until tender. Squeeze garlic from skin. Combine with mushrooms in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Process, adding 1 tablespoon water at a time, until mixture is smooth.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cabbage and blanch until tender. Drain and transfer immediately to a bowl of ice water. Let sit until cool. Remove and drain well.
Cook bacon in a medium skillet over medium heat until crispy. Remove from pan to a paper towel-lined plate.
In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add cabbage and bacon and stir to combine. Cook until cabbage begins to soften, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm until ready to serve.

© 2013 Marcel Vigneron

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Spanish Tortilla with Chorizo

Weekend breakfast around here is more appropriately called brunch I suppose given we are far from early risers on weekend mornings. We feel pretty lucky to have a bully that also loves to leisurely rise as we do.

We definitely don't do big breakfasts often as once we are up and about we feel the need to get on with the day I suppose. But this weekend was our 13th wedding anniversary and we choose to stick close to home and enjoy some local scenes and just be in our lovely home that we rarely spend time in during the summer months. 
So a special breakfast was in order.

A few years ago I started making a simple but wonderful Spanish tortilla. Of course since I hadn't made in some time I couldn't find the exact recipe so I just decided to go from what I remembered and add some red peppers and chorizo to make it more appealing to G.

I started with browning the chorizo ,

and then slicing my potatoes on the mandolin. It's kind of funny, I remember thinking when I bought this $30 mandolin about 4 years ago that it would be such a waste because I only made scalloped potatoes once or twice a year. Now I believe it was possibly the best $30 spent on a kitchen gadget. Although we definitely don't  use it daily when we do use it it's a huge time saver in cutting things thin and uniformly. 

Adding some onions, red pepper and basil gave some good flavor to the tortilla too.

It was pretty tasty if we say so ourselves. Our cast iron skillet needs some better seasoning done as it did stick when I turned it over sadly.

But it still tasted great. 

A complete meal in one skillet.
Brunch on the patio is always a great way to kick off a day, anniversary or not.


Tortilla with Chorizo
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 pound bulk chorizo
  • 1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced inch thick
  • 1 red bell pepper (ribs and seeds removed), thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a medium ovenproof nonstick skillet, 1/2 heat oil over medium. Add chorizo, cook until browned.
    Add potatoes, bell pepper, and onion; season with salt and pepper (skillet will be very full). Cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are crisp-tender, 14 to 16 minutes. Uncover, and cook off excess liquid, 1 to 2 minutes.

  2. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, basil, hot sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and teaspoon pepper. Pour egg mixture over vegetables in skillet, and stir to distribute evenly. With the back of a spatula, press down on vegetables so they lay flat and are submerged.

  3. Bake until tortilla is set, 12 to 16 minutes. To unmold, run a rubber spatula around edge of skillet to release tortilla; invert onto a serving plate. Drizzle tortilla with oil; garnish with parsley.

Monday, August 5, 2013

GCC:Kale Salad with Brussels Sprout Leaves and Lemon Vinaigrette

We are excited to be hosting our Gutsy Cooks this month with our Top Chef recipe theme. 

We didn't have a ton of time to determine our theme so we kind of just thought of what was inspiring our cooking currently. With a new season of Top Chef starting we are definitely intrigued by their challenges, techniques and often even unusual ingredients. We are huge Top Chef fans so it just kind of seemed like a good theme to go with = Top Chef  recipes.

This week we went with a recipe; Kale Salad with Brussels Sprout Leaves & Lemon Leaves, from Season 10 which happened in Seattle (another "of course" choice.) It is a recipe from Brooke Williamson, who is only the 2nd female Top Chef ever chosen. We both actually think that's pretty cool.

There are a few reasons this recipe appealed to us. 1) It's summer = light recipes just sound good. 2) It has Kale and Brussels Sprouts = 2 Super foods we have great affinity toward. 3) It's rare a Top Chef makes a salad for the judges = it's even more rare that the judges feel a salad is Top Chef  "Worthy." But this salad met the mark with the judges. They were quite impressed. 

We immediately made a few tweaks to the recipe but subtle ones. The first was with the beets. Our local market had these beautiful golden beets that just said, "choose me." So we went with golden beets as opposed to the typical red beets. 

We also decided adding some bacon would really complete the flavors. ( WE REALLY THINK THIS TWEAK MADE THE SALAD FOR OUR PALATES.) 

The recipe calls for anchovy fillets. Funny, 12 years ago I would have never used anchovies in ANYTHING. 5 years ago I would have only went with Anchovy paste to make a Cesar salad maybe. But today fillets of anchovies are just fine.

These little fishy things really do bring a unique flavor to a dish like this. 

But the thing that really made this salad (in addition to the bacon) was the beet vinaigrette. Wow, this was good. 

We actually added a bit less olive oil than the recipe called for which made the vinaigrette more like a puree. This was a fantastic omission. 

We also added,as mentioned before, some bacon bits. I don't know for some reason these flavors were just screaming to us, "add bacon." And we were quite happy we followed our gut on this one. Because let me tell you with the bacon addition this salad was not only delicious it was also a main dish. 

This salad was a hit. Obviously, not an everyday side salad that we typically make when we do make salad but rather a meal in itself.

We hope all of our Gutsy Cooks will join us this month as we try to do some Top Chef replication. Even non- Gutsy Cooks can jump on over to Monica's Sweetbites Blog and check out the recipes and cook with us. 


Kale Salad with Brussels Sprout Leaves & Lemon Vinaigrette

Season 10

We were excited to hear that Top Chef would be filmed in Seattle for season 10. We ended up being
somewhat disappointed to see so few Seattle food spots highlighted in the season and that the last 4 episodes were actually on a cruise and in Alaska. We felt a bit short handed. Few women have won Top Chef so it was exciting when Brooke Williamson won the season. This is her recipe for a great, bright salad that the judges raved about.

Brooke Williamson Top Chef, Season 10, Episode 1

For the salad:
One head curly kale, torn and de-stemmed
8 anchovy filets, julienned
Separated outer leaves from 6 large Brussels sprouts

For the lemon vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoons whole grain mustard
One shallot finely diced
1 tablespoons honey
Salt and black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 filets of white anchovies, finely chopped
For the beet vinaigrette:
One small shallot, diced
One clove garlic
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons red wine vinegarSalt to taste
One medium red beet, cooked, peeled and diced3 tablespoons olive oil

To make the salad:
Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl

To make the lemon vinaigrette:
Whisk all ingredients together until well combined

To make the beet vinaigrette:
Place all ingredients in blender except for the oil. Puree until smooth and slowly drizzle the oil into the blender.

Place the beet vinaigrette on bottom of plate. Toss greens with lemon vinaigrette and place a mound of salad on top of the beet vinaigrette. Garnish with kale chips if desired.