Country fried smothered pork chops!

Smothered pork chop

Happy New Year everyone. I know it’s been a while since my last post. However, it’s never too late to share some good recipes. Well, it looks like the pandemic has picked up again. Don’t mean to be sarcastic, life is still so different as we knew it. Yet, we are still dealing with the unknown of how our world is turning.

When I hear that the country is “lightly” locking down. I think of “ok, quarantine time again.” At least I’m not having an anxiety attack when I continue to hear the word “pandemic” or, “numbers are up.” I actually think of being home and cooking some good food! Hey! We have to still make the best of what’s going on in the world. Cooking is my staying calm and collected in a situation I have no control over.

Although, I would rather be traveling, and experiencing tasting dishes from other Countries. I will do my best to bring you recipes that have a meaning to my culture and other cultures. Especially, cultures that are right here in my own country.

Although this dish “country fried southern pork chops” would probably be considered a “southern dish”, and that it is! However, the “sauce is French. My take on that situation is that after the Louisiana trade, Louisiana, especially New Orleans still kept their French ways of cooking. The sauce is called etouffee. Basically, a roux (rue). This sauce is one of the first things you’ll make in culinary school. I always knew I’d make it again. It’s so hearty and delicious!

Although my “country fried smothered pork chops” is an American dish. It was derived from France. I like that! The idea of cultures, especially food recipes that can stay alive and reach delicious possibilities of so many families. It’s such an infinite process of our world.

Ingredients

4 bone-in half inch pork chops

Flour for dredging

Seasonings – adobo, garlic powder, sazon, salt & pepper.

1/2 cup Oil for frying

Roux ingredients

2/3 cup flour

3 tablespoons butter

5 or 6 cups water or chicken stock

I whole white onion

Salt and pepper to taste

Pork chops drippings

How to make

Season the pork chops with all the dry ingredients. add oil to frying pan, let get hot, dredge pork chops in flour and fry 5 minutes on each side. Place in I’ve for 10 to 15 minutes.

Set pork chops aside and use pork drippings to make your roux.

Add the flour to drippings and whisk add butter and onions (cook onions through). Cook down for few minutes then add the water or stock, and cook for few more minutes. Note: more stock may have to be added as the roux should have a thick, yet loose consistency.

Add salt,!pepper and garlic powder to taste.

Country fried smothered pork chops

Add pork chops to roux or plate it by pouring over chops in a platter. Enjoy!

Bean thread/Pad Thai

Bean thread Pad Thai

This dish takes me back almost 30 years. I remember when I was working as a secretary in downtown Brooklyn. Every pay day, a coworker and I use to splurge for lunch, and we’d go to this Taiwan restaurant. I’d order this noodle dish, every week. However, it took me a while to work my way to trying a different culture of food. I was use to Chinese food that was usually the whole in the wall restaurant, where my idea of an Asian dish was chicken wings and pork fried rice. But, it’s not the Resturant’s fault that they have to adapt to what the neighborhood whats the most. However, my horizons were limited.

I forgot the name of the Taiwanian restaurant. But, I believe it plays an important role in my culinary enthusiasms. Because, each week I went there, it pushed me to order something that I felt would be more flavorful than the dish I had last week.

Enter pad Thai and bean thread noodles. Oh yes! And, the freshness of vegetables like scallion and cucumber. Never knew that vegetables can actually add exotic flavors to a dish.

I made this dish to purposely bring my taste buds back to something for me that really just taste good!

Ingredients

Bean thread noodles (2 bundles)

Shrimp 2 cups

Cucumbers 1 cup

Scallions 1 cup

Cabbage (salad bag for convenience) 1 cup

Carrots 1/2 cup

Cilantro 1 cup

Fish sauce 4 tablespoons

Sesame oil 4 tablespoons

Soy sauce

Salt and pepper

How to make

This dish is actually very easy to make. Frying chicken is more complicated.

Prepare the noodle as the instructions on the packet. Use 2 average bundles.

Cut up your vegetables, medium dice, also for convenience, get the salad pre made, so much easier then cutting up a whole cabbage. Also, for convenience, get precooked shrimp.

If you have a wok, perfect! If you don’t no problem. Regular pan will do fine. Add your 4 table spoons fish sauce, and, 4 tablespoons sesame oil. Let heat up a little, then throw your shrimps, veggies, then noodles. Splash soy sauce as needed, make sure noodles are covered completely with soy sauce.

Use tongs or flat flipping pancake turner. Add little salt and pepper. Make sure all ingredients are incorporated.

This dish is also healthy. Anything with this much veggies is no question. Enjoy!

Duck Confit! My Culinary School Daze

Duck Confit served with white rice, spinach, mushrooms, and my homemade ginger sauce.

Don’t get me wrong, but there were some days in culinary school when I had some Bad days. And, some days were like Heaven’s gate opened up for delicious recipes that went great!

Duck Confit pronounced (Con-fee) is poultry I never cooked, before culinary school. I’ve had duck before, when I use to work near Chinatown! I remember having it with plain white rice, and a delicious ginger sauce that came with it on the side.

However, in culinary school, I learned so much about duck, because it’s considered a French dish. And, most culinary schools are somewhat organized in the way the French prepares its students for professional kitchens.

With that said, I wanted to be brave enough to cook duck on my own. In school there’s a head chef looking over you, so it’s a controlled environment. Duck Confit is just duck rendered/cooked in its own fat! However, the fat from the duck is saved. Because, it is so delicious, and savory that if you don’t use it to cook with other foods, like sautéing vegetables, or baking potatoes. It would be considered a great travesty, and shock against the culinary world.

Slice duck over rice and spinach
Crispy skin Duck Confit

Ingredients

4 Duck Breast

Salt

Pepper

How to make

Clean, then salt pepper the duck on both sides. Place duck on skin side first, pan does not have to be hot. Please do not add any oil to pan.

Cook on both sides for 4 minutes each, at least skin side until golden brown and little crispy. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees. Continue to cook in oven for 8-10 minutes.

Let rest, then slice, the color should be a nice beautiful pink.

Serve with so white rice and sautéed mushrooms and spinach. Any vegetable will do.

Ginger and scallion sauce

I love the ginger and scallion sauce! It is the most flavorful, and delicious. It’s so perfect for the duck dish.

Ingredients

Ginger

Scallions

1 cup vegetable oil

2 tbl Salt

How to make

Cut vegetables small dice. One cup of ginger and one cup of scallions. Add salt and mix with vegetables.

Boil oil until it’s literally smoking, however let cool for 2 minutes before adding to ginger and scallion.

Place vegetables in heat resistant bowl and add hot oil.

Vala, you have a delicious ginger sauce, that goes great with any poultry or meats!

I hope you enjoy making this dish, I sure did. The flavors of the duck took me back to my culinary school days, and the sauce took me back to Chinatown!

Summer Sweets/Christmas in July! My Momma’s Peach Cobbler!

Had a craving for my Mother’s peach cobbler! Funny tho, my Mom only made peach cobbler on the holiday season. Although My Mom has passed, my vivid memories of her was watching her cook as a kid, than as a teen and in my college years, (helping in the cooking prep by that time).

I suppose I’m just reflecting my precious time that I had on this earth with her. However, my Momma’s food was always the thing I needed to feel blessed! Especially, when life brought me down. I’m always yearning for that feeling of home, of course I’ll probably never recapture the actual feeling. However, I’m damn sure gonna try. Because, that’s my momma’s food, it could put a smile on Scrooge’s face, (hence, the Christmas theme of the article!😂)

This recipe is not exactly like my Mom’s, and not that her ingredients was less than or more than. I’m a culinary enthusiast, so I’m always gonna mix and match flavors.

Ingredients

  • 2 cans (29oz) peaches drain liquid, (about 4-5 cups)
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the batter:

  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Butter
  • ground cinnamon to sprinkle on top

Cook time: 40 min at 350 degrees

How to make:

Place peaches (drained from can) in a sauce pot, and add the sugar, brown sugar, salt, vanilla extract, nutmeg and cinnamon.

Cook for 6 to 7 minutes, set aside to cool.

I used ramekins for my desert. Place a slice of butter in each ramekin. Melt butter in your preheated oven, let melt for couple minutes.

While butter is melting, mix your batter ingredients with a whisk. Once smooth , add to your ramekins evenly.

With a saucing spoon, layer your peaches on top of batter in the ramekins. Sprinkle cinnamon on top.

Place ramekins in preheated oven for 40 min., at 350-375 degrees.

Then enjoy! 😋

Don’t forget to add vanilla ice cream on top these bad boys! 😋

A little Tiramisu 🇮🇹

Tiramisu

Although the pandemic has eased up a bit. Still, travel to some other countries are still on heavy lockdown. My plan on resuming my traveling will probably start up again next year. With news of a new variant surfacing, I am still gonna take precautions with traveling. Also, with air travel being unpredictable, and flights being canceled left and right. I don’t like taking chances booking and than being unsure I will make my destination or worse, being in another country and having a flight being canceled.

I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m talking about traveling, and the name of this article is called “A little Tiramisu!” Well, tiramisu is an Italian desert, and I’d like to keep in tune with what my blog is about! “Travel, culture and food.”

What I love about tiramisu is that it’s so easy to make. There is no baking involved. And, it’s an airy, light really delicious dessert! Your friends will think you spent hours making this dish, because it’s so flavorful, and it taste like you spent hours over an oven to make it.

Ingredients

*Lady fingers (2 packs)

1/3 cup sugar

2 tablespoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon salt

6 to 8 ounces mascarpone (should be at room temp)

2 cups of black coffee

3 tablespoons rum

Herseys bittersweet coco powder

*Unfortunately, lady fingers are considered gourmet foods, so finding them in your local supermarket can be frustrating. So you can substitute Stella D’oro Margherite.

How to make

I like to start off with making the coffee first. Because, it needs to cool down before dipping your lady fingers. Instant coffee is best, and it’s quick and easy. After coffee is done, mix in the three tablespoons of rum, and sit aside.

Second, use a kitchen aid or hand blender to thicken your heavy cream. Whip your heavy cream on high for about two to three minutes, adding your sugar, vanilla extract and salt.

Please! Do not make the dumb mistake I made and blend in the mascarpone with the heavy cream while blending in the kitchen aid or hand blender. Fold in the mascarpone with a wooden or rubber top spoon.

Now that the coffee with rum has cooled, pour in a wide bowl, and dip the lady fingers one at a time. Note: the texture of the lady fingers can be really soft, if so, just brush the coffee mixture on the lady fingers after layering them in your pan.

Use a frosting flatware to spread half your cream on top of the lady fingers, than sprinkle/shift the bittersweet coco powder over the cream. Repeat process so you’ll have two layers. Lady fingers, cream, coco powder in that order.

I hope you enjoy this dessert, it was fun to make, so delicious and be careful not to eat the whole thing.

Just appetizers

Been wanting to put together a post/blog for appetizers. Back in 2018 when I had to do my externship for culinary school, I worked at a catering company called Acquolina Catering. It was hard work, but personally I felt that having that experience was just as crucial as culinary school itself. At first, everyone I worked with treated me just like a newbie, and at one point I think I annoyed them, because my experience was below an entry level prep cook. However, I’m a tough cookie and I took whatever the chefs dolled out to me. Once I got some experience and continued to show up, (there was a point in time I was frustrated enough to just throw my hands up, and walk out the damn kitchen). However, I gained much respect, and I realized I was learning from the best. I settled in quite nicely after a while with the “Appetizer team”, one chef took me under her wing. Her name was Selsa (I’m sure I’ve spelled it wrong), however, she was the best teacher I’ve couldn’t of asked for. She was the best at what she did, and she never held back any thing she wanted me to know. I respected and appreciated her patience with me, because I learned things from her, I would of never got anywhere in the world.

Selsa, one of the best chefs in the business!

Anyhoo, I’ve put together some appetizers of my own. I think these appetizers are great for when you’re gonna just have a small, intimate gathering, and with cocktails you’ll be all set for a cozy evening. Or just to treat yourself after a hards day work.

First up:

Crostini with mango salsa and Brie with cilantro on top.

Crostini topped with a mango salsa, Brie cheese and olive oil

Spicy Deviled Eggs w/grilled shrimp on top

Baked Potato Skins

These are a few of my favorites! Recipes are as follows.

And, always remember to make a cocktail with these delicious appetizers!

Baked Potato skins

1 Bag of potatoes

Shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Sour cream

Bacon

Scallions

Directions:

Wash potatoes really good, and wipe off any access water. Cut potatoes in half, and use a small scooper to remove the inside of the potatoes, and leave a little on the skin.

Lay potatoes on a baking sheet with parchment paper skin side down. Add cheese, bacon and bake for 20 minutes to half hour.

Stick a fork in potatoes, if it goes through smoothly take out, let cool than add sour cream and scallions on top.

Quick and easy meals!

Linguine with mussels in garlic red pepper sauce

Yes! It literally took me 10 minutes to make this great tasting dish! This dish was so filling, and delicious! I’m bias anyways, because I love pasta! The sauce was made in the juice of the mussels! Add 1 stick of butter, red pepper flakes garlic powder and a half of cup of water. Simmer for 8 to 10 minutes.

Boil the linguine for 7 to 8 minutes (or follow directions on the package.

Ingredients

Pasta linguine (packaged)

1 stick of butter (half a cup)

1 to 2 pound a of mussels (1 pound for this recipe)

Garlic powder

Red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

Parsley for garnish (optional)

Note: do not forget to salt boiling pasta water.

PICKLING! A new family tradition

I wish I could say, that pickling was a tradition that I did growing up, and that it had been in my family for years, (because, I love it). Considering, that my Mom was born and raised in the south, pickling would be something of second nature to her. And, it would have definitely been passed on to my sisters and I. Unfortunately, during my Mom’s childhood, she had to grow up fast! Growing up in the rural south, in the 1930’s and 40’s, money was tight, jobs were tight. Children had no choice but to work to keep the family afloat. Going to school was not an option for many families back than. You see my Mom left home at 13 years old, yes, I said 13 (she was the eldest of 6). She left for the big city, “New York,” to work as a cook, and nanny to send money back home to support her parents, and siblings. In my opinion, I don’t believe that there was enough time to pass down certain cooking traditions, because whole families had to sacrifice education over survival.

I say that, because having to explain why I love pickling so much, came from my training in culinary school. However, learning it opened my mind to adding flavor, and spices to food, that takes time to infuse, and that was fun for me. It’s like a kid who’s too anxious to go to sleep on Christmas Eve. This was different than just creating a dish, but for me, it was creating a food that’s like a sponge. Absorbing many hot and sweet spices.

Actually, I never had a interest in pickling. I assumed it would be boring, because it’s such a long process. However, patience is a virtue, and it is worth the wait. I think it’s because, I was never introduced to it early in my cooking life. Which began at the age of 16, helping my Mom prep food for the holidays.

Pickling certain foods, and adding them to a dish can make all the difference of how successful that dish can be. Or, the flavor it can add.

I love pickling cucumbers! It was one of the first things I pickled. I love pickles, and I’ve since pickled my own cucumbers at home.

I’ve pickled red cabbage, recently. I was looking for a certain flavor for my version of a Cuban pork hero sandwich. The dish tasted amazing. It was a burst of aromatic flavors, with all the ingredients I added.

Francie’s Cuban Hero Sandwich
Pickled red cabbage
Culinary school and my first pickling
Pickling pickles homemade

Ingredients/Brining liquid

Jars with seals

Dill

Garlic

Sugar

Vinegar

Salt

Red pepper 🌶

Water

Ingredients can be used to pickle cabbage, cucumbers, onions etc.

Toppings for sandwiches

Pickled red cabbage

Fresh cilantro

Jalapeños

Hero/Sub (any kind)

How to make

Boil 2 to 3 cups of water, add 1 cup of sugar, half cup of vinegar. Bring to a boil, then let cool.

Place dill, garlic and red pepper, and tablespoon of salt into jar with whatever you’re pickling. When liquid has cooled, add to the rest of the ingredients in the jar. Seal jar, not too tight, then add patience. Most times pickling is about a week. Red cabbage may take a day or two.

*check this blog for Roast Pork shoulder or Pene recipe

A Tropical Blast

I’ve been to the Caribbean humm, probably a half a dozen times. Whether it be a cruise, or actually visiting the island itself. I so enjoy the relaxation of the ocean waves, sipping an island cocktail, lying on the beach, sun in my face, and cooling off in the clear, aqua water.

Yes! I have deep day dreams of my travels to the Caribbean. Well, we are in full winter, and about this time of year, I’d be planning my “winter escape”!

Unfortunately, this covid pandemic (a word I thought I would never use in my lifetime), has prevented travel tremendously. But, here we are, a fear of getting sick or worse, fear of not recovering from the illness.

Although, my blog is also about traveling, that’s not happening right now. So I will talk about my food. I love talking about food, I love creating dishes, and I love deconstructing southern dishes my mom taught me how to make.

The dish I’d like to introduce is a dish I created, derived from my Caribbean travels.

“A tropical blast” is what a friend called it, (and hence the name of the dish) when I asked her to come over and be a taste tester for me. I added much exotic flavors that work well together and compliment each other.

Francie’s tropical blast

This dish consist of sweet plantains, grilled blackened shrimp and a mango salsa that will perk up your taste buds wanting more! 👅

Ingredients

Fresh Shrimp (large)

Garlic powder

Black pepper

Cumin

Turmeric

Sazon seasoning pack

Adobo

Medium Ripe Plantains

2 cups of canola oil

(Depending on the yields or # of plates. Each plate should consist of 1/2 a plantain, 2-3 shrimp, 3 spoonful of salsa on top, and a lime and lemon wedge for garnish.

Mango Salsa Ingredients

2 mangos

Cilantro

Jalapeños

Red onions

Red bell pepper

Fresh Lemon & lime juice

Salt to taste

How to make

This dish is made up of three components. The salsa should be made first, and put in fridge directly after completion of mixture of vegetable, peppers, mangos, and lemon and lime juices. It should all be small dice.

I used a grill pan for the shrimp. Large sauté pan for plantains. Use a cup of oil for shrimps and a cup of oil for plantains. More or less depending on how many shrimps and plantains you are making. Heat pans with oil.

Clean and devein shrimp. Use 1 tablespoon of each of the dry spices for at least 10 pieces of shrimp. Could be more or less depending on how many shrimps you use i.e. For 20 pieces of shrimp use 2 tablespoons of dry ingredients. After seasoning the shrimp, set aside.

Heat the sauté pan with oil, slice the plantains from top to bottom, then in half. When pan is heated add the plantains, cook till golden color. Set aside to cool.

Add oil to Grill pan, and prepare to grill shrimp. Shrimp should take no more than 3 to 5 minutes to cook. Please! Do not overcook the shrimp. Watch and flip them over accordingly. Once done, set them aside. It’s time to combine the dish.

To plate this dish, plantains are layered on bottom, about 3 or 4 half’s. Then about 3 or 4 shrimps on top of plantains, and last, but not least, spoon on top the mango salsa over the shrimps. Add a slice or lime and lemon for garnish.

I really enjoyed making this dish, because it took me back to fun times. And, it gave me pleasure watching my friends enjoy devouring it.