Pan-Charred Pork Chops With Chipotle Butter

Keep It Simple, Sweetie is the best way to cook a very nice piece of extra thick pork chops.  In this pan-charred pork chop with a chipotle compound butter the mild flavor of the pork is boosted with a char flavor, then complemented with flavors from chipotle pepper compound butter.  I char the pork chops on a Calphalon grill pan and then complete the cooking in the oven.

Pan-charred pork chops with chipotl butter

Pan-charred pork chops with chipotl butter

 

For this dish I bought a fresh cut 1-1/4" thick pork center pork chop with the rib bone in

Pork center chops boin-in

Pork center chops boin-in


About Pork Center Cut Pork (from thekitchn): 

  • Other names: Center-cut rib chop, pork chop end cut, pork rib cut chop, rib end cut, rib pork chop
  • Where it's from: The rib section of the loin, from the shoulder to the middle of the loin (the rib bones attached to these chops are actually baby back ribs).
  • What it looks like: Large eye of lean loin meat and no tenderloin meat. There is a bone running along one side and sometimes a layer of fat on the outside. Rib chops from the blade end have more fat and connective tissue than chops from the shoulder end.
  • What it tastes like: The chops are very tender, have a little more fat than loin chops, and have a mild flavor.
  • How to cook it: Since the meat on these chops is lean, quick cooking like grilling, broiling, or sear-roasting are the best methods. Brining first will help keep these chops moist and tender.
    There are four types of cuts for rib chops.  For additional information, check out "A Complete Guide To Pork Chops Meat Basics".


The Recipe (serves 2)
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees

Tool needed:  grill pan

Ingredients

  • 2 Fresh cut pork center cut pork chops with the rib bone in
  • Salt, preferably sea salt or Kosher salt
  • Fresh crushed black pepper
  • Light (pure) olive oil
  • Chipotle pepper compound butter
  • Sliced spring onions (optional garnish)

Preparation:

Wash the pork chops and pat them dry.  Allow the pork chops to reach room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Generously sprinkle salt on one side of the pork chops.  (This step is very important!  The salt helps to bring out the flavor of the pork, as well as aide in tenderizing and keeping it moist.)  Sprinkle on the crushed pepper.  Lightly cover with olive oil.  Gently press the ingredients into the pork chops.

Turn the pork chops over and repeat the above steps.

Set your grill pan on your gas or electric burner and set the temperature to high.  Get the pan very hot.  I always look for a little smoke to emit from the pan.  

Place each pork chop in the grill pan.  Do not move the pork chops after you first place them in the pan.  Cook for 3-4 minutes on the first side.  Three minutes if you want a light char.  Turn the chops over and sear for 3 minutes. Transfer the pan to the oven for 8 minutes, only 8 minutes!!

Take the pork chops out of the oven and transfer to a warm platter or plate.  Allow to rest for at least 5-6 minutes.  Note that the pork chops will continue to cook during this resting period.  If you want to check for doneness , gently make a small cut along the bone and "peak."  It's important not to cut into the meat which will allow any juices to escape and render a dry pork chop.  

Note:  If you purchase a 1" thick pork chop, sear to get a char as noted above.  But reduce the cooking time in the oven by about 1 minutes.  Better to have an under-cook pork chop that can be returned to the oven than an over-cooked pork chop that is dry!

To Serve:  Top the pork chops with chipotle pepper compound butter.  Garnish with sliced spring onions.


 

See just how easy pan-charred pork chops is to make:

This is a 3-minute (light) char:

Pan-charred pork chop light

Pan-charred pork chop light

 

This is a 4-minute (dark) char pork chop:

Pan-charred pork chops dark

Pan-charred pork chops dark

 

Chipotle Pepper Compound Butter


The pan-charred pork chop flavor is wonderfully enhanced with the chipotle pepper compound butter.  It's easy to make with just a few fresh ingreidents, such as Italian flat-leaf parsley, garlic and the crushed smokey hot chipotle pepper.   I like to make it a day or two ahead.  Click on the link to get the complete recipe.

Chipotle pepper compound butter

Chipotle pepper compound butter

 

Then Enjoy!

Pan-charred pork chops with chipotle butter

Pan-charred pork chops with chipotle butter

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Roasted Corn-On-The Cob With Husk On

No grill?  No problem.  Like holding the husk while eating your corn on the cob?  No problem.  Want flavor on your corn on the cob?  That's covered here too.

This is all really quite easy to do.

baked corn on cob with husk

baked corn on cob with husk


The Recipe
Pre-heat oven 350 degrees

Ingredients:

  • Fresh corn on cobs, husks still on.

Preparation:

Pull off excess corn silk at the end of the cob.  Rinse off the cobs.  Place cobs in a pan and fill with sufficient water to cover tops of the cobs. Soak cobs for at least 35-40 minutes.

Drain off water and place cobs on a baking sheet.  Place cobs in the oven on the center rack.  Bake for 35 minutes or until corn feels soft when you press on the cob.

When ready, pull the husks back.  Pull off a long husk leaf and use to bundle and tie the remaining husk leaves.  This makes a great handle while eating the corn.  Pull off all silks.  Butter, salt and pepper to taste.


You may also be interested in trying your roasted corn-on-the-cob with this finishing butter:

Hey!! Did you like this recipe?  Let me know and click on the like button below.  
Plan on trying it out?  Let me know that too in the comments.  
I would love to get your feedback.  In the meantime, thanks much for reading this post:)

Chipotle Pepper Compound Butter

One of the loveliest things about compound butter or what is also referred to as finishing butter is its versatilty, embrasing whatever flavor your heart desires and for a wide variety of cuisines that your palate desires!  

Here, I chose chipotle pepper for its smoky hot flavor.  It's ideal not only for Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes but also for cuisines from vegetabels to meats to stews and more.

To inspire you, here are a few other suggested flavors:

  • Grated parmesan cheese--especially for garlic bread and popcorn
  • a medley of herbs such as basil, thyme, dill, tarragon, oregano, chives and of course parsley--all great for vegetables and meats
  • cinnamon and brown sugar--add to baked breads, pastries, baked fruits (pears, peaches, etc.)
chipotle pepper compound butter

chipotle pepper compound butter

 

Not familiar with chipotle pepper?

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About Chipotle Peppers

Chipotle peppers are smoked jalapeno peppers.  There are two types. Chipotle "Morita" is picked when green and is then smoked.  It's most commonly found in the U.S.  Chipotle "Meca" or Tipico is allowed to ripen to a bright red and then smoked for a longer period than "Morita."  Chipotle "Meca" (see image with the whole tan pepper) is more intense, more expensive but unfortunately, more difficult to fnd.  Both come in the whole and crushed forms.

Whole chipotle peppers are not attractive but the fragrance and hot smokey flavor more than make up for its unattractive appearance.  Many Mexican and Tex-Mex crusines include chipotle peppers but it can be enjoyed in many other dishes. 


The Recipe (Yields 8 ounces)

Tools:  A small blender or just a bowl and a fork

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces of butter (unsalted if you wish to control salt content)
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped flat leaf Italian parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, medium size and minced
  • 1 Teaspoon crushed dried chipotle pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon paprika
  • Salt and pepper (preferably fresh cracked) to taste

Preparation

Add all of the ingredients into a blender.  Blend for at least one minute.

Place the mixture in a small bowl with a cover.  Or roll the mixture like a sausage using parchment paper, aluminum foil or clear wrap.  Store in the refrigerator for up to a week or freeze the butter.


Watch just how easy it is to make chipotle pepper compound butter:

 

Serve it up with a decorative flare:

Chipotle Pepper Compound Butter

Chipotle Pepper Compound Butter

Enjoy!

chipotle pepper compound butter

chipotle pepper compound butter

 

Related Posts:

Hey!  If you like this idea for a compound butter, why let me know.  
Just click on the like button below.  Better yet, leave me a message, please.
Thank so much!

Sausage Cheese Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers

Warning!  You'll need a plate or large napkin held close under the chin while eating these juicy sausage and cheese stuffed roasted sweet mini bell peppers.  

Inside each pepper is a spicy sausage mix with the nutty flavors of Gruyere cheese and Parmesan cheese. Another layer of Gruyere cheese tops the pepper and is then sent back to oven for melting. 

Sausage cheese stuffed mini sweet bell peppers

Sausage cheese stuffed mini sweet bell peppers

A great substitute for the Gruyere cheese is provolone cheese which also melts and pulls like a stringy cheese.  Just remember, Parmesan with it low water content doesn't melt well.  Carry it with a cheese that does melt will still allow you to enjoy it.

 

About mini sweet bell peppers

Vine sweet mini bell peppers are hybrids of bell peppers.  But they have fewer seeds and are sweeter. The flavor is mild and not hot. They range in sizes 1-1/2" to 4" in colors of yellow, orange and red.  The peppers have a wonderfully crunchy texture, a delicious snack to just eat raw. On the other hand, they're great in almost any dish.  Usually available year round, I found a bag of them at a Costo Store. 

 

Check out this You Tube Video and see just how easy it is to make these sausage and cheese stuffed sweet mini bell peppers:


The Recipe (yields 12)

Primary Kitchen Tools:  6-cup cupcake pan, 6 - 4-1/2" square parchment paper sheets, Skillet
Pre-heated oven 400 degrees

Ingredients:

  • 12 mini sweet bell peppers, washed and each approximately 2" long
  • 8 ounces spicy bulk sausage
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 very large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup Gruyere cheese, grated
  • 1/3 cup Gruyere cheese, grated (reserved for topping off mini peppers)
  • 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup flat-leaf Italian parsley, chopped  
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional if you want more heat)
  • Salt and pepper to taste (optional)

Preparation:

Mini Bell Peppers:  Line each cupcake holder with one square parchment paper.  Fill each cupcake holder with two mini sweet bell peppers.  Place the filled cupcake pan on the center rack of the pre-heated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the bell peppers are soft.  (15 minutes should yield a soft bell pepper but with some firmness.  Twenty minutes will of course yield much softer bell peppers but not mushy.) When peppers are cooked, set the pan aside and allow the peppers to cool.  

Onions and Garlic:  While the peppers are baking, melt butter in a skillet, then sautée onions and garlic until the onions are transparent, about 1-1/2 minutes.  Set onions and garlic aside on a dish.  Add sausage to skillet, turning and breaking it up into small pieces while cooking.  Remove sausage to a bowl when done.

Cheese mix:  Mix the 1/2 cup of Gruyere cheese and the 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese in a bowl.

Bringing It All Together:  To the sausage, gently mix and stir in each ingredient, the onions and garlic; the cheese mix; and the parsley.  Cut off the top for a cap and scrape out any seeds, as well as the inside ribs.  Using a small narrow spoon, stuff each pepper up to about a 1/8" of the top.  Using the reserved Gruyere cheese, add about a teaspoon or more (or just use your fingers) to the top of each pepper.  Put the caps back on each pepper.


Enjoy!

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You may also be interested this snack/appetizer:

Roasted Chicken Breast Salad With Green Grapes

No exaggeration: This roasted chicken breast with green grapes fresh salad is deliciously healthy ingredients with cranberries, walnuts, feta cheese, a shallot onion, fresh baby spinach and a simple but lovely white balsamic vinaigrette.

 

Serve it in a lovely salad bowl and watch everyone dig in.

roasted-chicken-breast-salad.jpg

 

The salad starts with a chicken breast that is split; skin left on; breast bone left in; fresh rosemary sprigs tucked under the skin; and then roasted on sheet pan.

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The roasted chicken is nicely cubed and the seedless green grapes are pulled off its stem.

cubed-roasted-chicken-breast.jpg
green-seedless-grapes.jpg

 

Even the supporting "actor" ingredients are delicious enough to eat alone!

ingredients-for-chicken-salad.jpg

The Recipe
Serves 4-6

Ingredients for the Roasted Chicken Salad

  • 1 large raw chicken breast, split with skin left on and breast bone left in
  • 4 whole rosemary sprigs
  • 8 ounces of loose seedless green grapes
  • 3 ounces roughly chopped walnuts (2 Tablespoons set aside for garnish)
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, brick style then cut into small squares (optional substitution: crumbled feta cheese)
  • 3 ounces dried cranberries, preferably sugared
  • 1 shallot onion, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 6 ounces baby spinach, washed and patted dry
  • Salt to taste
  • Cracked white pepper (or black) to taste
  • 4-6 Tablespoons white balsamic vinaigrette, or to taste (see below for ingredients and preparation)

Preparation for chicken salad
Preheat oven 375 degrees

Wash chicken breast and pat dry.  Place two rosemary sprigs under the skin of each chicken breast.  Season both sides of the breast with salt and pepper.  Place breast with skin side up on a cookie sheet.  Bake for 45 minutes or until chicken meat next to the bone is no longer pink. You can check for doneness by turning the breast with the bone side up and gently slit the meat alongside the bone.

While the chicken breasts are roasting, prepare the remaining ingredients as noted in the ingredients list.  Add all ingredients, except the grapes, to a large bowl.

When the breasts are done, remove them from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Then remove the rosemary, cut away the skin and breast bones.  Cut chicken meat into cubes.  Add chicken breasts and grapes to the salad.  Pour in the white balsamic vinaigrette and gently toss salad.

White Balsamic Vinaigrette

If you're not familiar with white balsamic vinegar here's a few things to note.  It's sweet, has a clean aftertaste and is versatile in application from salads to chicken to cheeses (particularly blue cheese) to even bison.  Price can range from a few dollars to as much as $1000.  Of course price is influenced by its aging process and resulting quality.

True white balsamic vinegar is produced by only two consortium in Italy, Modena and Reggio Emilia.  Cheaper varieties are made in surrounding areas by cannot carry the authentic processing method designation.  White balsamic vinegar is made using a process of reduction (long hours of heating) of pressed Trebbiano grapes and then aged in wooden barrels, similar to the process of making wine.  The aging process occurs from 3 years to as long as 25 years which of course distinguishes the quality and the taste.  To learn more about balsamic vinegar both the red and white, check out What's The Deal With: White Balsamic Vinegar? at The Kitchn.com and Balsamic Vinegar on Wikipedia.

White balsamic vinaigrette

White balsamic vinaigrette

What to look for.  White balsamic vinegar, what is most frequently found in U.S. grocery stores, is blended with white wine vinegar.  

I was able to find a reasonably priced bottle of white balsamic vinegar produced in Modena, Italy for Batistini Farms, carried at Whole Foods Store.  It has 12 grams of natural sugar per tablespoon, naturally occurring sulfites, and 5.4% acidity.  It had zero additives and artificial non-GMO and was gluten free.  

My other choice had less sugar, 4 grams per tablespoon (which I had preferred) but it had added sulfites. So just be sure to read the label to purchase which white balsamic fits your taste and health.

Vinaigrette Ingredients and preparation for this roasted chicken breasts and green grapes.  Yields 1 cup

  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Dash of salt (preferably sea or Kosher salt)
  • Dash (or more) cracked white pepper corn (can substitute with black pepper corn)
  • Dash of lemon juice (optional)
  • Add a little honey is also optional, particularly if the white balsamic vinegar has a high sugar count per tablespoon.

Preparation

Add all ingredients to a wide-mouth jar and shake until thoroughly mixed.  Immediately pour 4-6 tablespoons onto salad and toss lightly.  Add more vinaigrette if you wish. 

Note:  When making vinaigrette, it's best to make no more than you need or enough that you will use within a week or a few days, especially if you include fresh ingredients such as garlic or shallots or onions, etc.  Store this left-over vinaigrette in the refrigerator.  To reduce the amount of vinaigrette called for in this recipe, whatever measurement you choose use a ratio of 3x oil to 1x white balsamic vinegar.


Enjoy!

032 MSL Chicken Salad-plated1V2Display-10-134.jpg

 

You may be interested in a couple of other salad recipes:

Fork Smashed Red Potatoes

Fork smashed red potatoes has the wonderful textures of being lumpy and smooth with the added flavors of Vidalia onions and lots of garlic. Want more flavor?  Just add shredded sharp cheddar cheese., garnish with sour cream or as I did here, add bacon bit.

This side dish is quick and easy to make.  And it's a great escape from making labor-intensive, fluffy smooth mashed potatoes but still offers appetite satisfaction when eating potatoes. 

fork-smashed-red-potatoes1.jpg

Leah Brakke, in her article "10 Healthy Reasons To Dig Into Red Potatoes," writes that it can lower stress levels; increase energy; is naturally fat and gluten free; and can contribute to healthy blood pressure.  You can get more details in her article at Black Gold Farms.

Leave the skin on!

Much of the nutritional value of a potato is found in its skin. Red potatoes are particularly healthy because of the thin, nutrient filled skins, which are loaded with fiber, B vitamins, iron and potassium. Half of the fiber of a potato comes from the skin. On red potatoes in particular, the skin is already super thin, so it doesn’t detract from the taste or texture.
— Leah Brakke
Washing-red-potatoes.jpg

 

Just wash the potatoes, remove the little eyes and brown skin patches (if needed); cut into fourths; and throw into a heavy stock pot.  Roughly chop half a Vadalia onions; peel garlic cloves; add these to a pot; and boil until tender.  

cut-red-potatoes.jpg

The Recipe
Yields 6 cups

Ingredients:

  • 6 small red potatoes, washed and quartered
  • 1/2 large Vidalia onion, roughly chopped
  • 6 whole garlic cloves
  • 2-1/2 cups of water
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 Tablespoons of milk for additional moisture (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Suggested garnish:  crisp bacon bits, shredded sharp cheddar cheese or a large dollop of sour cream.  Garnish is optional

Preparation:

Add the first four ingredients to a heavy stock pot.  On high heat, bring water to a high rolling boil.  Lover heat to medium and continue to boil for 20 minutes or until red potatoes are fork tender.

Drain off excess water but retain just a little water, approximately 3 Tablespoons to 1/4 cup.  The retained water adds a bit more moisture.  Add the butter, salt and pepper. Using a fork, smash and gently stir the potatoes, onions and garlic.  If you decide to add shredded sharp cheese, gently stir it in after smashing the potatoes.


ENJOY!!

fork-smashed-red-potatoes2.jpg

Roasted Pecorino Romano Cheese Chicken Drumsticks

Roasted Pecorino cheese chicken drumsticks is a tasty, flavor-filled alternative to fried chicken.

roasted-cheese-chicken-drumsticks.jpg

 

 If you're like me, one who hates the messiness of frying chicken, you'll find this easy to make.  Just dip the chicken drumsticks in a butter and egg mixture, then dip them in Pecorino Romano grated cheese, place on a greased cookie and pop them in the oven!

drumsticks-dipped-in-parmesan.jpg

 

Set the oven to 375 degrees and wait 45 minutes:

roasted-parmesan-chicken-drumstick.jpg

Can't find grated Italian Pecorino Romano cheese?

grated-parmesan-cheese.jpg

Parmigiano Reggiano is a great alternative.  Is there a difference?  Yes.  Both are hard, salty and umami rich.  Both come in a fresh and a dehydrated or dried form.  Pecorino Romano, however, is saltier and tangy.  Parmigiano Reggiano (often referred to as Parmesan cheese) is nutty and a bit milder.  (See Delco Foods for more details)  

Another alternative is to substitute the drumsticks with chicken thighs.  But then, why stop there?  Make the roasted chicken parts with both chicken thighs for those who prefer the white meat and the chicken drumsticks for those who love the dark meat.


The Recipe
Preheat oven 375 degrees
Cookie sheet sprayed with a no-stick cooking spray

Ingredients:

  • 6 chicken drumsticks
  • 1/4 cup of melted butter
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup fresh finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese (or Parmigiano Reggiano)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground sea salt (alternative: Kosher or even regular salt)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Additional salt and pepper to season the drumsticks to taste

Preparation:

Wash drumsticks, drain excess water and season with salt and pepper on all sides.

Mix egg and butter in a shallow bowl.  In a separate shallow bowl, mix the grated cheese, 3/4 teaspoons each of salt and pepper.  Using a pair of tongs (or your fingers), dip each drumstick, one at a time first in the butter and egg mixture and then in the grated cheese.  Be sure to cover all sides and the top of the drumsticks.  Transfer drumsticks to the cookie sheet and place in the middle rack of the oven.

Bake for 45 minutes.


Enjoy!

parmesan-chicken-drumstick.jpg
 

Check Out More Poultry Recipes:

Olive Muffalata Stuffed Hard-Boiled Eggs

Wanting a different take on the classic stuffed hard-boiled eggs, I rummaged through my refrigerator (door wide open!) and spied a jar of olive muffalata.  

If you are not sure of what is olive muffalata, it's a spicy (just a little) pickled olives--and so very delicious!  You can purchase it in the grocery store in a jar, online or the grocery store deli.

stuffed-hard-boiled-eggs.jpg

I made tried out a few versions of olive muffalata stuffed hard-boiled eggs several times and this is what I settled on:

ingredients_olive_stuffed_hard_boiled_eggs.jpg

 

For a variation on mustard, I used whole grain Dijon mustard:

hard_boiled_egg_yolks.pg

 

In went the olive muffalata:

egg_yolk_mixture.jpg

 

After stuffing the eggs, I like topping it off with a little more olive muffalata:

013 Plated Hard Boiled Eggs Stuffed-with-spoon-Display-8745.jpg

The Recipe:
Yields 8 half olive muffalata hard-boiled eggs.

Ingredients:

  • 4 hard boiled eggs, cut in half and yolk set aside in a bowl
  • 2 Tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 3 Tablespoons Miracle whip (or mayonnaise)
  • 1-1/2 Tablespoon olive muffalata, oil drained
  • A little extra olive muffalata to top off the stuffed hard boiled eggs
  • Dash of salt and cracked white pepper (optional)

Preparation:

Cut the hard boiled eggs in half and remove egg yolks to a bowl.  Sprinkle a little salt and cracked white pepper on the white halves.

Mash the egg yolks until crumbly.  Add Miracle whip (or mayonnaise) and continue mashing the egg yolks until smooth.  Mix in whole grain Dijon mustard.  Then gently mix in the drained olive muffalata.

Using a small spoon, fill the hard boiled cavity with the yolk mixture. Very gently make a slight indentation in the top of the filling.  Top off the filling with a little more of the drained olive muffalata.

Serving Ideas:

  • Munster cheese and crackers
  • Sliced Bartlett pears

olive-stuffed-hard-boiled-eggs.jpg

Enjoy!

Trying it out?  Love to have your feedback!

Orange And Berries Shortcake

orange-berries-shortcake.png

A shortcake is really just sweet biscuit dough.  Add oranges, berries and lots of whip cream and voila, you have a classic delicious dessert.  

This is a favorite in my household, especially when fresh fruits are in season. As for the shortcake, I make it a little sweater than most shortcake recipes because I also love to eat the shortcake as is.   

    Make your own whip cream using the recipe below or if in a pinch, buy ready-made whip cream.  

    So let's get started on the recipes which consist of making the shortcakes, making the orange and berries sauce and the whip cream.  Serves 4-6 (depending upon how large you want your shortcakes.


    The Recipe:

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

    Ingredients for shortcake:

    • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
    • 4 teaspoons of baking powder
    • 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
    • 1-1/4 cup of half and half milk

    Preparation for shortcake:

    Spray a cookie sheet with a non-stick bakery spray or cover the bottom with parchment or wax paper. 

    Sift dry ingredients in a large bowl:  flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.  (Although your flour may come pre-sifted, often it settles into clumps from just sitting on a shelf.  So it's best to just sift it though a strainer.)  

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    Using a spatula or a dough mixer, cut the butter pieces into the mix until it reaches a grainy consistency.  Create a well in the center and pour in the half and half milk.  Lightly stir the milk into the mixture.  You should end with a wet dough.

    Using a very large serving spoon, scoop a heap of the dough and drop it onto the cookie sheet.  If necessary, gently form the sides to make them a bit more round.  Dab a little melted butter on the tops.

    Bake for 12 minutes.  Test for doneness with a tooth pick.  (If you want the top to be a little more brown, zap it under the broiler for about 30 seconds.)  The inside of the short cake will be soft and moist with outside a bit crunchy. 

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    Ingredients for orange and berries sauce:

    • 2/3 cup of sugar (If you want to cut back on the sweetness, add only 1/4 cup of sugar)
    • 2/3 cup of orange juice, preferably with pulp
    • Juice from half a lemon
    • 1 large navel orange, peeled and segmented (save the juice)
    • 10 ounces of fresh strawberries, washed, stem leaves cut off and then cut into quarters
    • 6 ounces of fresh blackberries
    • 2 teaspoons brandy or Grand Marnier (optional)

    Preparation for orange and berries sauce:

    Add sugar, orange juice and lemon juice to a large heavy skillet over medium high heat.  Continuously stir ingredients for about 10 minutes or until it caramelizes.  Be careful at this step.  Once sugar starts to melt, it is very hot and can burn quickly.  

    Remove from heat, add the brandy and fold in the fruits.

     

    How to make your own whipped cream!  It's easy!

    Place a metal bowl and wire whisk in the refrigerator for about 15-20 minutes.

    Ingredients for whip creme:

    • 1 cup of whipping cream
    • 1-2 Tablespoons powder sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    Preparation:

    Add powder sugar, vanilla and whipping cream to the chilled metal bowl.  Using an electric blender with the chilled wire whisk on a medium high speed, whisk ingredients until whipping cream becomes stiff enough to form peaks, approximately 4 minutes.  Be careful not to over whisk.  The whipping cream may loose its nice smooth look and look a bit lumpy.  If you're not using it right away, store in a tight container in the refrigerator.  It will keep for one day.  Should you decide to use it at a later time, liquid may have separated.  Not to worry.  Just lightly whisk it again.  Yields 2 cups.  

    How build the shortcake with oranges, berries and whip cream.

    There are two options for serving this orange and berries shortcake: 

    • The first is described in this recipe which is to fold the fruits into the caramelized orange sauce.
    • The second option is to just layer the shortcake with the fresh fruits, pour the sauce on top and then add the whip cream.

    Whichever method you choose, cut the shortcake in half, lengthwise.  Set the top half aside.  Add a layer of fresh fruits and juices, add whip cream. place the top half on the whip cream.  Add another layer of fruits and juices and top with whip cream.


    Enjoy!

    anns-liee-orange-berries-shortcake.png

    I would love to hear from you should you try the dessert.  Of course, go ahead and share with other readers and me how you make your shortcake dessert.

    Orange Creme Brulee

    There is something therapeutic about picking up a spoon and breaking through that beautiful glassy caramelized sugar to reach the soft rich vanilla custard of a crème brûlée.  Yes, it's an elegant French dessert with a classy French title but I don't let that scare me from making it at home.  

    It's really quite simple to prepare; although I must confess burning the sugar topping to get just the right caramel hardness can be a bit tricky.  Still, this can be overcome with practice.

     

    orange-creme-brulee.png

    Crème brûlée is a rich vanilla custard to which, in this recipe, I've added orange flavor.  Yields 32 ounces.  


    The Recipe:

    Preheat oven 325 degrees*

    Special tools you will need:

    • Fine strainer or cheese cloth
    • Broiler or Blow Torch**

    Ingredients:

    • 1 quart heavy cream
    • 1 vanilla bean
    • 1 cup divided sugar into halves
    • 6 egg yolks
    • Pinch of salt
    • 1 teaspoon orange flavor extract (or Grande Marnee)
    • Zest of one orange
    • Boiled water, about 1-2 quarts

    Preparation:

    Pour heavy cream into a sauce pan. Scrape out seeds from a vanilla bean.  (Check out the short video below, if you have never used a vanilla bean.  Note as well a vanilla bean should be fresh and soft enough to twist into a knot.)  

    Add the vanilla beans and pod, the divided sugar and pinch of salt to the heavy cream.  Gently stir with spatula and bring to a low boil.  


    How to remove seeds from a vanilla pod:

    As the heavy cream mixture approaches a boil, gently whisk the egg yolks until the eggs show a light color.

    Add a small amount of the hot heavy cream to the eggs and whisk.  Be careful not to add too much which would cook the eggs.  Blend in a little more of the heavy cream, then slowly add the remaining cream.  Add the orange flavor extract.  Blend.

    Pour the mixture through a strainer into a pitcher or bowl that has spout or wide lip for pouring.  Add the zest of an orange and stir.  Pour the mixture into the ramekins leaving about 3/4" to 1" at the top.  

    Baking the custard in a water bath:  

    Place the ramekins in a glass or metal tray and then put it in the oven on the middle rack.  Pour the boiled water into the tray to at least half the height of the ramekins.  

    *For deep dish ramekins, such as the one shown, bake for 40-45 minutes.  If you are using wide 6-8" ramekins, bake for about 30 minutes but at 300 degrees.  The custard is ready if it jiggles when shaken.  Be careful not to overcook. Using a spatula and oven mittens or kitchen towel, remove ramekins from the water bath. Place the custard in the refrigerator for at least three hours.

    Create the caramelized sugar topping:

    Remove custards from refrigerator and allow them to reach room temperature.  Using the reserve sugar, spread about two or more tablespoons on the custard. Gently shake or move ramekin in a circular motion to evenly and completely spread the sugar over the top.  Tip the ramekin to discard any extra sugar.  Too little sugar will give you a thin layer.

    **There are two methods that can be used to caramelize the sugar.  

    Oven broiler method: 

    However, this method adds to the cooking of the entire crème brûlée.  The caramelizing also gives dark brown blisters.  Should you choose this method, just be sure to watch the caramelizing closely and be sure to turn the ramekin half way through the process.

    Using a blow torch method: 

    (First a word of CAUTION:   Work in a well-ventilated space that is clear of other combustibles. When using a blow torch follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer!) 

    Using a circular method, heat the sugar.  Soft bubbles will form than brown:

     

    ENJOY!

    Would love to know if you try the recipe
    So please do come back and share your experience.

    Hot Chocolate And Party Flavors

    Hot Chocolate-MarshmellowV2-5506.png

    Never had a hot chocolate party?  Not even after a snowball fight?  Perhaps this hot chocolate recipe will inspire you.  

    My goal here was to create a basic dark hot chocolate recipe that both children and adults could enjoy.  But for us adults I wanted to be able to "bump up" the flavor with choices from a variety of alcohol flavors.  

    First, I must attribute the use of half and half milk along with whole milk to an Ina Garten hot chocolate recipe.  The half and half adds a bit of creaminess to the flavor.  I always keep Dutch processed cocoa powder on the shelf, so that too was an easy ingredient to include in my recipe.


    The basic recipe Ingredients for four:

    • 2 Tablespoons dark Dutch processed cocoa powder
    • 3 Tablespoons boiling hot water
    • 2 cups whole milk
    • 2 cups half and half milk
    • 6 ounces dark semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
    • 1 Tablespoon sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla (optional when using other flavors)
    • Garnish with toasted marshmallows, optional (But I strongly encourage this garnish!)

    Preparation:

    Heat the whole milk and the half and half milk into a sauce pot on medium-high heat.  While you are waiting for the milk to get very hot, pour the boiling hot water over the cocoa powder and mix until very smooth.  When the milk becomes very hot but just before it boils, add the chopped dark semi-sweet chocolate and remove the sauce pot from the heat.  Using a whisk, start with a slow stir and then increase to a vigorous whisk as the chocolate melts.  

    Add the blended dark cocoa to the mixture.  Continue to whisk.  Add sugar and vanilla.  Continue to whisk to get a smooth mixture with little to no tiny chocolate specks.  Your chocolate will cool a bit during the mixing, so return it to the heat to make it a hot chocolate just before serving.

    For flavors added, I started by replacing the vanilla extract for each flavor.  (I did test with including the vanilla and found that to be a nice option as well.)  The flavors I tested were peppermint extract plus Peppermint Schnapps; almond extract plus Amaretto liqueur; and orange extract plus Grande Marnier liqueur.   


    One of my most favorite flavors is the peppermint:

    • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract 
    • 1 shot of Peppermint Schnapps for every 8 ounces of hot chocolate. Add the Schnapps to the cup or glass of hot chocolate and stir. 
    • Garnish with whipped cream and crushed peppermint candy
    Hot Chocolate-Pepperment-SprinkleV2-5568.png

    My other most favorite flavor is Disronno Amaretto:

    • 1 teaspoon almond extract (This is optional.  I tried the Ameretto without the almond extract and with it.  Loved both of them.)
    • 1 shot of Disronno Amaretto (Add the liqueur to the cup or glass of hot chocolate.)

    Okay, I confess.  As you can see in the image below, I grabbed a homemade biscotti to dunk into my Ameretto hot chocolate.  And yes, I loved it, especially the part where I finished off this wonderful ritual just drinking the Ameretto hot chocolate. 

    hot-chocolate-and-biscotti.png

    My least favorite is hot chocolate with Grand Marnier liqueur, although I love and I mean LOVE Grand Marnier.  But for those interested in trying it out:

    • 1 teaspoon orange extract
    • 1 shot Grand Marnier liqueur

    If you want to experiment a hot chocolate with other alcoholic flavors, you may want to try a bourbon or a brandy.

    For another but non-alcoholic flavor with hot chocolate, experiment with caramel, such as adding a caramel extract or caramel syrup.  Just make sure to use a syrup in the hot chocolate, such as what is used in coffee rather than the heavier and thicker caramel topping used to garnish whip cream or ice cream, like that in the image below

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    Enjoy!

    Ready for a hot chocolate with party flavors now?  
    I hope so or just go with the hot chocolate.  
    And then, don't forget, share your hot chocolate experiences with my readers and me.  
    We'd love to hear from you!  Really
    !

     

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