Monday, October 17, 2011

Dessert Skewers

On Friday night, I had plans with friends for a girl's night in with wine and appetizers. I had a busy day and not much time to throw a sweet treat together as my contribution, so these dessert skewers were the perfect solution to my time-crunched dilemma.

I had seen an idea similar to this on Pinterest using strawberries and pound cake, but my local store had angel food cake and raspberries on sale on Friday. This idea is incredibly versatile- you can sub in a different cake type, fruit type, or chocolate type. Tropical theme?...pineapple, mango and pound cake with piƱa colada drizzle.  Struck by a major chocolate-moment?...chocolate cake, strawberries and chocolate ganache drizzle. You can customize this method to your own preferences.

As mentioned previously, I purchased the angel food cake for this dessert, so no recipe today, but if you have the time and want to make your own, here is a link to Martha's.

Pictures and Tips:
A picture of my set up. Store bought angel food cake, raspberries and skewers. You can find skewers in various lengths and thicknesses.

Use a bread knife to cut the angle food cake into small cubes.

Assemble the skewers. I chose to alternate cake/raspberry for visual contrast.

I melted a small amount of dark chocolate and butter in a double boiler. This can be done while you are assembling your skewers, but keep an eye on it so your chocolate doesn't burn.

Drizzle the skewers with chocolate. Don't worry about perfection...this is abstract art :)

And just like that, dessert is made. These skewers are quick and easy to make, and are just the right blend of classy and fun for a party. Plate them up and enjoy :)

Enjoy this inspiration for your next party,

-The Delicious Dabbler

ps. Never forget the importance of "the chef's snack."

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Apple Glazed Pork Chops

Happy fall flavors dabblers :) Last week I was grocery shopping at Seward Co-op (my fiance and I recently joined), and two items were serendipitously on sale: pork chops and apple juice. Apples, apples, of the best parts about fall. Apple juice, apple cider, apple pie, apple sauce, caramel apples....I love everything apple. Plus, apples are a point of pride at the University of Minnesota, you can read about the fruit breeding program at the U here.

Anyways, in a moment of fall flavor clarity, I purchased both items and turned them into a flavorful dinner for two.

-2 pork chops, medium thickness
    *take your meat out of the refrigerator and allow it to come up to room      
     temperature before you cook with it....this allows the meat to relax and will give
     the best results
-sea salt, black pepper, dried rosemary and thyme
-extra virgin olive oil
-apple juice

1. Coat the bottom of a medium-sized skillet with olive oil and place over medium heat.
2. Season one side of the pork chops with salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme.
3. When oil is hot, place pork chops seasoned side down into the skillet. Season the other side.
4. Allow to cook until pork chop easily comes away from bottom of the skillet, then flip.
5. After the second side easily comes away, pour in enough apple juice to cover the bottom of the pan.
6. Continue cooking and allow the apple juice to reduce.
7. Serve and enjoy :)

Pictures and Tips:
Step 1. Add olive oil into a medium-sized skillet, just enough to lightly coat the bottom. Place the skillet over medium heat to bring the olive oil up to to temperature.

Step 2. While the olive oil is heating up, season the top side of the pork chops. I don't tend to measure when doing things like this, but as you can see from the picture...use enough seasoning so that each bite will have a little bit of salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme in it. Sprinkle away and fun have with it, no need to be exact here.

Step 3. Getting the oil up to temperature is important because you want to get a good sear on the meat and you need a lot of heat to do so. The oil will start to visibly ripple, which is hard to catch on camera...but, you can also test the heat of the oil by dropping a few pieces of rosemary in. If they start to bubble when they hit the oil, it is ready to go.

Add in the chops, seasoned side down. Think about placement before doing so, because you don't want to have to move them around after you put them in the pan or you will tear the meat. Once the chops are in, season the other side.

Step 4. Allow the chops to cook until they easily pull away from the pan. You will notice a great brown color from the meat caramelizing...that is the power of the sear at work. Flip the chops over.
Step 5. When the second side is cooked and comes away easily (this will take less time than the first side), add in your apple juice. Add enough to coat the bottom of the pan. I used about a half of a cup, but you can just eyeball it.
 Step 6. Here is a picture of the apple juice reducing. The juice not only makes a great glaze for the chops, it also steams into the meat, adding moisture and flavor.

Allow the juice to reduce down until it is just coating the bottom of the pan. Remove the pan from heat. 

Step 7. Plate the chops and pour the remaining glaze over the top. Bring your plates to the table, and enjoy!

I served the chops with rainbow chard- sauteed with mushrooms and garlic and topped with parmesan cheese- and sliced Haralson apples.

This dish became a fast favorite in our house. To be honest, I made it again this week by request. 

I love fall cooking and baking...warm and cozy smells throughout the house, pumpkin, squash, spices- fall food is always comforting and feels like home. What recipes are you cooking up this fall?

Thank for visiting, 

-The Delicious Dabbler