I don’t know if its summer or what, but my mind is slowing down on blog worthy entries. I am cooking, but just to eat and not to blog.Yesterday I started in the kitchen of the caterer. I arrived promptly at 8 am Saturday morning. It’s a rented commercial kitchen up in a funky yet non gentrified area of Chicago. Anyway I waited and called as no one was in yet. The janitor said they should be there. When I was about to give up I called the head chef, who was not supposed to be there. I feared waking him up. But he answered and was en route. Seems Chef #2 was supposed to be there but was called away for a private cooking assignment in some glamorous Eastern European locale. The caterer has a contract for some private residences and businesses in Europe. How fun.Anyway my first task was washing and slicing a case of strawberries. Then making fruit infused sugar for drink rims,then washing and chopping a case of Romaine for salads, and finally slicing and baking dough for the signature canapes. All went swimmingly well until they started to cook to fast. I’m not used to all the commercial ovens and ranges and some were not crisp enough and some too crispy. Anyway another dough log was pulled out for more and they were cool with them. It’s fascinating watching the detailed organization, lists and prep that go into off premise catering. All to be whisked away to assemble and finish on site.Tough but fun work. I barley looked at the clock and before I knew it it was over. 6 hours of mindless enjoyable tasks. I could have worked the event , but Certain Someone and I had dinner plans at the wonderful Korean BBQ place called Solga later that evening. The only unpleasant part is washing the dishes.That’s an operation in itself. I cant wait to be called back again and actually go on site. I so love being back of house rather than front of house. The atmosphere is way more pleasant. Enough of that lets get home cooking.
So Sunday dinner is always a special for me. If we don’t go out, I like to cook something .So whats new about that? But its a way to unwind and indulge before we go back to the grind. I created both dishes based on what I have on hand.
For the main course we had Hazelnut Crusted Pork Chops and Nectarines. Basically I used toasted hazelnut flour( which is just ground hazelnut not flour, so this can be gluten free) which was sitting the freezer .Pork goes so well with fruit, and I have a lot of fruit. This is rather simple. Dredge your chops in hazelnut flour, chopped fresh rosemary, salt and pepper . Spray a baking sheet with non stick cooking spray . Bake the chops in a preheated oven at 350 degrees until done. Turn once.In a separate sauce pan, add 4 tablespoons butter. Place halved fresh nectarines and 3 tablespoons sugar and cook down. We want to keep the fruit intact but turn occasionally to soften and cook through.The mixture should start to slightly bubble and caramelize.Add about 1 tablespoon of sherry and let mixture cook down some more. You should a nice syrup from the juices, sugar, butter and sherry. Serve atop the chops.
For dessert I made a pudding.Linda over at one of my favorite blogs Make Life Sweeter , has an event going on called Got Milk. The purpose of the event is to raise awareness for Word Breastfeeding Week during the first week of August. I know nothing about breastfeeding,other than I was breast fed and it has tons of benefits for both baby and Mommy. If my day ever comes, that’s the route I’m going. Anyway Linda is asking for recipe involving milk as the key ingredient. I wanted to experiment with fried milk, a Spanish treat, but the heat and laziness won. So I decided to use what I had on hand and create a Pistachio Tapioca Pudding. Certain Someone loves puddings, as do I. As I kid my favorite flavor was that instant pistachio pudding you get in a box. Now with more grown sophisticated tastes,I have created my own. I had leftover pistachio paste in the refrigerator.This was a store purchased variety.I also had some granulated tapioca in the pantry. The rest is history. How real and natural a real pistachio pudding looks without food coloring. The flavor has way more depth too.
Coco’s Pistachio Tapioca Pudding
5 1/2 tablespoons of pistachio paste
3 cups of milk
1 1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract
1 1/2 teaspoon Almond Extract
6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons granulated tapioca( fast cooking variety)
In a large bowl whisk eggs,almond extract,sugar, and pistachio paste. Heat the milk in a pot.Do not burn. Slowly add about 1/3 of the hot milk mixture to the egg/sugar mixture. Note, I used my stand mixer and added hot milk as the it was whisking the egg mixture. Add the egg mixture back to the reaming hot milk. Mix. Add tapioca. In a double boiler heat the mixture over med/high whisking constantly until thickened. It will take approximately 15 minutes for the tapioca for the tapioca to get clear and start thickening the mixture. When mixture coats the back of a spoon it its ready. Pour into serving dishes. Place a film of plastic on top. Let cool at room temp, than place in the refrigerator.
Well I know this was a long post, but I wanted to show the meal altogether. It wasn’t too heavy at all. Certain Someone may have preferred his chops fried more Southern Style, But I was trying to keep it lighter and healthier for us.