Miss Ginsu: About/Bio

 

Smoked Chops & Apple-Kissed Kraut

I had grand plans for a gorgeous autumnal Choucroute Garni, but life interfered (I'm certain you're well aware of know how life tends to do that) and I realized that a long-cooking dish in the Dutch oven simply wouldn't do.

Food needed to appear on the table STAT.

Luckily, a deconstructed Choucroute Garni happens to make for one of the quickest meals out there. And a darn tasty one at that.

Chops & Kraut

Enter... Smoked Chops and Apple-Kissed Kraut.

Easy! Fast! Tasty! Seasonally appropriate! Exactly the kind of thing you want in your weeknight dinner arsenal, no?

I've configured this recipe for two, but if you want to serve more, just double the chops and kraut.

If you can't find smoked pork chops, you can use the standard ones, but the smoked ones (a German specialty) are really quite tasty, so I'd recommend you try to track them down.
Smoked Chops and Apple-Kissed Kraut (Serves 2)
1 apple
1 onion
2 tsp vegetable oil or bacon fat
2 smoked pork chops
1 cinnamon stick
3 cups sauerkraut
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp honey (or a little more, to taste)

1. Chop the apple into 1/2" cubes and slice the onion.
2. Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil or bacon fat in a medium-sized saucepan and the remaining teaspoon of oil in a skillet.
3. Saute the chopped apple and sliced onion in the saucepan for 5-10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, begin searing the pork chops over medium-high heat in the skillet.
5. Add the cinnamon stick, sauerkraut and cider vinegar into the apple-onion mixture. Let the kraut mixture simmer for 10-15 minutes.
6. When the pork chops have a little color on each side, remove from the heat and allow them to rest. (Smoked pork chops are already fully cooked. If you're cooking raw pork chops, make they reach an internal temperature of 160°.)
7. Season the apple-kraut mixture (to taste) with a little honey, divide it between two plates and serve each of the cooked pork chops on its own little bed of kraut.

Around here, this is the kind of meal that's typically served alongside a crisp green salad (maybe with apples, walnuts, goat cheese and a cider vinaigrette?) or steamed Brussels sprouts, but you'll have to gauge your own tastes.

In any case, it certainly makes an excellent autumnal meal (those apples! that cabbage!) for not a whole lot of money or time investment. And who couldn't use a few more of those?

Happy Eating!
Miss Ginsu

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11.19.2008

Not the Lunchlady's Goulash

At the tender age of six or seven, I had a clear moment of decision in the school lunchroom.

As most epiphanies are, this revelation was heartfelt and simple. Though I'd traditionally devoured nearly anything that crossed my path — poisonous or not — I discovered a newfound hatred for goulash.

Little did I know that the bland hamburger-macaroni combo they'd scooped onto my plastic tray and billed as goulash was actually a low-rent impostor.

After what was essentially a simplified Hamburger Helper, imagine my shock upon learning that goulash was actually supposed to be full of meat chunks, vegetables... flavor!

Spicy Pork Goulash

True gulyás was something entirely different — a beloved, often spicy dish that had a long heritage with the cattlemen of Hungary.

In keeping with any traditional dish, it seems there's a million ways to make a goulash. You'll find that the Wikipedia page on the topic is robust.

I've enjoyed goulash with beef stew meat and chicken, but at the moment I'm particularly in love with a take on the dish that Ryn brought into work for us to sample last week.

She found this spicy pork version in the superb Staff Meals from Chanterelle — a cookbook I recommend highly.

Unlike many of the products of haute restaurants, the recipes in Staff Meals are varied and delicious, but because they're from the back rooms of Chanterelle and not the fancy front tables, they're actually easy for the home cook to reproduce. Yay!

Spicy Pork Goulash

But on to the reformation of goulash...

Despite the whole chunks of meat in this dish, I think it still qualifies as a Recession-Proof Recipe. The meat in question is all about cheaper cuts, and the rest of the dish is filled up with spices and sauerkraut — about as cheap as it gets.

You can, of course, serve this entrée with hearty dark-grained bread or buttered noodles and/or mashed potatoes, if you like, but I really love the fact that the dish itself is high-flavor and low-carb. We're a bit mindful about how and when we're carbing it up around this household, so that's an important consideration.

And, like any stew, this goulash improves with a bit of mellowing in the fridge... thus, the leftovers are dynamite.
Spicy Pork Goulash (Based on the Staff Meals recipe)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 lb pork stew meat (shoulder is best), cut into 1"-2" cubes
2 large onions, halved and sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup chopped bacon
4 cups flavorful stock (vegetable, chicken or beef)
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup sweet Hungarian paprika
1 Tbsp Aleppo pepper (or hot Hungarian paprika)
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp caraway seeds
2 lb fresh sauerkraut (avoid the canned stuff)
Salt, to taste
Chopped parsley (Optional, for garnish)
Sour cream (Optional, for garnish)

1. Heat the first portion of oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven. In several batches, brown the pork cubes on all sides, moving the seared cubes to a dish while you work.
2. When all the pork is browned, use the same pot to cook the bacon. Add the onions and garlic and cook about 10 minutes.
3. Add the pork (and any juices it releases) back to the pot along with the stock, wine, paprika, caraway and bay. Bring to a boil and then either cover the pot and reduce to a simmer on the stove or move the covered pot to a 375°F oven. Either way, you'll let it cook for one hour.
4. Stir the sauerkraut into the pork mixture and either return it to the oven or keep it cooking on the stove-top for another 20-30 minutes or until the pork is very tender.
5. Carefully remove the stew from the heat and pluck out the bay leaves. Season to taste with salt and more paprika. Garnish (if desired) and serve.

I still find it amazing that this delicious dish and that junk that the lunchlady served with an ice-cream scoop go by the same name.

The sour cream is an optional — but really delicious — accompaniment. It does something magical with the flavors that's hard to describe. I recommend it.

Bon appetit!
Miss Ginsu

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11.06.2008

1. Go Vote. 2. Mix a Drink. 3. Hope for the Best.

I'm not going to tell you who to vote for (vote Obama), but in a tense time of great anticipation for the American people, this Election Day brings long lines at the polling places, a huge throng of first-time voters (noobs) and the need for a great autumnal cocktail.

Because whether you're happy with the outcome of the poll returns or not (seriously... vote Obama), I think we're all going to need a drink.

Zippy Ginger Fizz

I'm not going to go with red drinks or blue drinks here, because a.) ew. and b.) I'm sure you can find those all over the interwebs.

Instead, I want to feature something that's appropriate to these first days of November.

Though it's not the cheapest or most readily available option on the liquor store shelf, I'm kind of in love with Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur lately. It's delicious. And it's French. And, as you may have noticed, the French have a way with tasty things.

If you can't find it, I recommend you make this cocktail by whipping up some ginger simple syrup (don't worry... it really is simple) and substituting in vodka for the liqueur. I'll provide both options below.

For Ginger Simple Syrup, just add a 5" to 6" piece of ginger root (sliced thin), 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar to a sauce pan. Stir well, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove the ginger, and badda bing... that's all it takes.

You can store it, chilled in the fridge, for about a week or freeze it for longer.

This cocktail was inspired by the classic Gin Fizz and a spin on a tasty drink I had at a recent work event... but if you were to heat it up, you'll note it'd be close kin to the ginger toddy recipe I featured last December.

I think the kick of spice and rich ginger tickle are nicely autumnal.
Zippy Ginger Fizz
1. In a cocktail shaker, add 1/4 cup ice, 2oz ginger liqueur, a sprinkle of ground cayenne pepper and the juice of half a lemon (about 2 Tbsp).
2. Shake well and pour into a highball glass or straight up into a chilled martini glass.
3. Top off the glass with club soda.
4. Garnish with a twist of lemon and a sprig of mint, if desired.

Zippy Vodka Fizz
1. In a cocktail shaker, add 1/4 cup ice, 1oz ginger simple syrup, 1oz vodka, a sprinkle of ground cayenne pepper and the juice of half a lemon (about 2 Tbsp).
2. Shake well and pour into a highball glass or straight up into a chilled martini glass.
3. Top off the glass with club soda.
4. Garnish with a twist of lemon and a sprig of mint, if desired.

Remember: It's 207 270(!) electoral votes for the win. There's a map here if you want to print it out and color in the states while the returns roll in tonight. I'm pretty sure that's what I'll be doing.

Cheers!
Miss Ginsu

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11.04.2008

What's For Dinner? Autumnal Arugula-Apple Saute

On Monday night, I cooked a turkey breast roast. With some roasted Brussels Sprouts and pan gravy, it was a fine dinner.

I cubed the rest of the roast, and this week I've been using up the cubes in various ways. The turkey-black bean burrito on a whole-wheat tortilla. The turkey cubes in my antipasti salad at lunch.

Autumnal Saute

Tonight's meal might be my favorite of this week's leftover turkey dishes. An Autumnal Turkey-Apple Sauté in just 15 minutes flat. Good on vitamins, pretty low in the carb department, seasonal, economical and tasty, too.

You can't beat that with a stick, as my pa used to say.

Sauteed apples and onions

Now, you could used cooked tofu cubes or seitan cubes or pork cubes or chicken cubes or whatever protein you like, but I happened to have turkey on hand.

You could also go all crazy and peel the apple. I didn't. Why? Well, because I'm lazy and because I justify my behavior with the thought of extra fiber and nutrients in the peel. So there. It was just as tasty with the peel on.
Autumnal Arugula-Apple Sauté (Serves two... or one with leftovers)

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, halved and sliced thin
1 apple, cut into 3/4" cubes
1/4 cup pecans (unsalted)
1 bunch arugula (or spinach), washed and chopped
1 cup cooked turkey cubes (1") (or whatever protein you like)
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
A pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper

1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottomed pot or skillet until it shimmers.
2. Add the onion slices and the apple cubes. Sautée 10 minutes, or until the onions soften and begin to brown a bit. Add the pecans to the pan.
3. Add the arugula or spinach, along with the cooked turkey cubes. Keep it moving in the pan, cooking down the greens, for about 5 minutes.
4. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt and pepper, and serve.


You could serve this with a starchy side dish (couscous?) or a hot buttered roll or something, but I'm going low-carb this week, so no bread for me.

Still, it's a tasty dish... the apples provide sweetness, the pecans are nutty and rich and the turkey fits right in. I also have leftovers for lunch.

I'll do this one again soon, leaving out the protein cubes, and serving it as an autumnal side to a pork chop or something.

I bet this'll also be a good dish to keep on file for the days after Thanksgiving when turkey is in abundance and both ideas and energy to cook are running low.

Bon appetit!
Miss Ginsu

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10.16.2008