Friday, September 25, 2009

Juicy Braised Pork

I love fall, the temperature is getting cooler, the leaves are changing, and its football season. It’s that time of year when I am home more in the evenings and ready to heat up the stove, turn on the oven and cook! Sunday night as I waited for Kyle to arrive home from the Bronco game, I decided to try something out of my comfort zone, PORK. I don’t really like it, don’t order it at a restaurant and don’t buy it at the store. Problem is, Kyle loves it and it seems I’m the only one not partaking in “the other white meat”. So here goes…

Juicy Braise Pork

2 lbs pork shoulder or tenderloin, cut into 8 pieces

Salt and Pepper

3Tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

4 gloves of garlic, roughly chopped

4 Tbsp tomato paste

1 Tbsp flour

2 ½ cups red or white wine

½ cup beef broth

1 bunch of parsley stems, tied with a string

2 bay leaves

Preheat oven to 325°. Pat the pork dry with paper towels and season both sides with salt and pepper.

In a large cast iron pan or skillet heat oil over medium – high heat. Place four pieces of pork at a time into the pan and brown the meat on all sides until a golden crust forms. Transfer pork to a plate and set aside. To the pan, add the onion, celery, carrot and ½ cup of wine and cook for 5-7 minutes until vegetables are softened. Add the garlic and cook for another two minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook until you smell the sweet aroma of the paste, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the remaining wine and reduce sauce by half. Pour half of the sauce into a glass or ceramic baking dish. Place pork into dish along with the parsley and bay leaves. Pour remaining sauce in the dish, evenly. Add water if the sauce does not come up to the top of the pork. Cover the dish and place in the over to braise until the meat is fork tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving platter and serve.

A few things to keep in mind, you can make this dish in a Dutch oven and then skip the transfer to a baking dish step. Depending on the type of pork you use, the baking time will vary tremendously. If you are using a shoulder cut, it will take longer, up to 3 hours because it is generally a tougher meat. If you use tenderloin, it will be more like 20 minutes in the oven.

It’s really easy to make, doesn’t take much time from pan to oven and can be paired with anything. It has great flavor, even I ate it and really like it!


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Halloween Accessories

If this doesn’t make you want to throw a Halloween party, I’m not sure what will. I just came across these from King Arthur Flour and they are so fun!!!

Adding the cherry on your sundae...they are reusable!!!! Makes the set of 12 for $12.95 worth it. I’m pretty sure this is a must have for my holiday kitchen accessories!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bones: part deuce

I realize I’ve only been blogging about food for a few months and there is no reason for a second blog on any restaurant this early on, but it’s just so good I can’t help myself!

Saturday night was date night and Kyle, my husband, wanted to try Bones, the restaurant I recently raved about. My rant worked on him, because three days before we went, he knew what he was ordering. It was a beautiful night and we sat on the patio. The place was packed and people were pouring in all night. (I’d advise reservations specifically for more comfortable chairs.)

We started with two appetizers, the steamed buns with pork belly and the lightly fried shishito peppers. We had previously has Shishito peppers and loved them. They are a mini, mild pepper from Japan that is slowly becoming popular at boutique restaurants in town. If you see them on a menu, they are great, nearly zero spice and can be almost sweet. The menu said lightly fried, and I’d say more like pan seared. They were a perfect little start. Pork Belly happens to be Kyle’s new favorite thing and I am trying to venture out of my “I don’t like pork” box. A top a small rectangular plate, were three, mini taco shell shaped, steamed buns with shredded pork belly. I’d never had a steamed bun before, and had no idea what to expect. I believe they are of Chinese origin and are commonly stuffed with meat. The bun is almost spongy to the touch and after taking a bite, I’d say chewy, like not cooked all the way dough. Always fun to try something new!

For the main course Kyle ordered the Udon which are large, dare I say, worm like, noodles, accompanied with roasted pork and a poached egg. He loved it! I was my usual self and ordered what I knew I loved, the Ramen. I just could past up the noodles decorated with lobster, edamame and a buttery lobster miso broth. DELICIOUS!

The “FINISH” is Frank’s soft serve ice cream. The flavors of the night were Honey Nut Cherrios, Nutella or twist. I have a love for hazelnut and couldn’t pass up Nutella ice cream. It was awesome, and surprisingly light. Kyle had a twist in a cone which was gone quickly, obviously a good choice

You’ve got to try this place….

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lemon Shrimp Scampi with Pasta

On Wednesday, free night number two, I tried a second new recipe. Sure, we’ve all done shrimp scampi before, but the lemon takes it to a whole new level. As you’ll read on, the recipe instructs you to make your own shrimp stock. If you’re like that typical American, you think, “forget it!”, you can buy it in the store?! As we all know the answer is yes, but it is soooo easy to make, why spend the extra $5.00 when you have the shells right there calling your name! The whole dish is crisp, light and refreshing! I paired it with steamed broccoli and it was a wonderful meal!

Lemon Shrimp Scampi Pasta

6 garlic cloves, pressed

2 lemons, zest and juiced

5 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound medium-large shrimp (21-25), peeled, devained and butterflied (Reserve shells)

1 onion, diced

¾ pound thin linguini

2 Tbsp butter

1 small bunch parsley, leaves chopped

In a medium size bowl, combine the garlic, zest and juice of 1 lemon, oil, red pepper flakes half of the diced onion and shrimp. Set aside to marinade.

Meanwhile, place shrimp shells and remaining diced onion in a small pot, over medium heat. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain into a bowl and discard the shells and the onion.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the linguini and cook until just tender. Drain and reserve ½ cup of cooking water.

Heat a skillet over high heat. Take shrimp out of marinade and cook until they turn pink and start to caramelize. Remove the shrimp from the pan to a plate, set aside. Add remaining marinade and let cook for a few minutes and then add about 2 cups of shrimp stock and the reserved pasta water. Continue to cook until sauce reduces by half. Add zest and juice of remaining lemon and butter and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the shrimp and pasta and toss to combine. Sprinkle parsley over plated serving. Serve immediately

If you don’t want to scorch your hand trying to reserve pasta water, bail on that and pour all of the shrimp stock you’ve made into the pan. It adds more flavor and creates more of a sauce for your pasta. Also, you don’t need to butterfly the shrimp if you don’t have time for this laborious step. The reason is the shrimp look bigger, so you can trick your guests or family into thinking they are eating XL shrimp, while they are just an M. The shrimp will also fan out a little, which is beautiful for presentation.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Orange Glaze Chicken

I haven’t cooked a real meal in what feels like forever and with Tuesday night free, I wanted to try something new. Besides a new recipe, I am stepping outside of my skinless, boneless chicken breast comfort zone. It’s bone-it and skin on!

Buying chicken with these two pieces is cheaper, adds moisture and flavor and its not so hard to DIY (do-it-yourself). This recipe calls for crisping the skin, but if you didn’t want the skin, just cut it off. When the chicken is cooked, the bones…yuck, just pop right out! I didn’t believe it when I say it on TV, but it works, and I am now a buyer of “chicken with skin and ribs”.(that sounds terrible)

Orange Glaze Chicken

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 skin-on bone-in chicken breast halves
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
½ cup frozen orange juice concentrate
2 tablespoons honey


Preheat over to 375°. Liberally salt and pepper the chicken bread halves. Heat oil in large sauté pan over medium-high heat and sear the chicken, skin side only, until brown and beginning to crisp, about 5 minutes

Meanwhile, make the orange glaze: In a small saucepan, heat the orange juice concentrate, honey and salt and pepper to taste, over medium heat. Boil for 3 minutes, remove from heat.

Turn chicken over and brush each piece with the glaze. Turn the chicken skin side up and transfer the pan to the oven. Bake until the internal temperature is 160°-170°. Brush on more glaze halfway through, about 15 minutes total. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes on a cutting board. Remove the chicken breast from the bone and slice the meat on the bias.

This will easily serve 4 people a generous helping. I paired the chicken with a slight slaw with about 1 Tbsp of the orange glaze in the dressing and jasmine ride. For an added garnish, you could sprinkle orange zest on top of the rice. A nice, light, refreshing and citrusy dinner!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Venue Bistro

A few weeks ago, before we headed to a Thursday night pre-season Bronco game, Courtney, her Mother-in-law, Erika, and my mom and I stopped at Venue for drinks and dinner.

Well known Denver Chef and Owner, Holly Hartnett, is a former culinary school mate of my mom. So when we were trying to figure out where to go near the stadium, Venue was a fabulous choice!

The Highlands is where everyone wants to be, from living, shopping and dining, it’s where you’ll find some of the best spots in town. Venue is just in from the busy happenin’ corner of 32nd and Lowell. The patio is small and has the feel of a novel set in a New York City neighborhood. We pulled two tables together and enjoyed a bottle of the house wine, Venue White, made especially for Venue! It’s a blend of Viognier, Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc that is crisp and a great paring to everything we tried.

Between the four of us, we ordered the happy hour Pork Quesadilla, Arugula Salad and the Shrimp and grits. There were a couple orders of each item, and they were all fabulous. I have to get on a soap box here and scream from a mountain top how absolutely FABULOUS the Shrimp and Grits are!!!!! A few things…first, I don’t like the texture of gritty, sandy, granular foods, and grits are in that category. I inquired about the grits, and she described them as smooth, creamy and buttery. So I thought what the heck, I’m ordering something outside of my box and it sounds like a very interesting combination.

Turns out this is Venue’s signature dish, as it should be! It’s served in a dinner size shallow bowl, but the size is more of a small plate. The creamy grits are in a perfect circle in the center of the dish surrounded by a thin circle of chartreuse sweet thai chile sauce. The shrimp are huge, 3 bites per shrimp and beautifully displayed overlapping one another in the center. I started from the outside in, getting a little of the chile sauce and fork full of grits…amazing, creamy, buttery, and how grits should be! I’ve never had grits like this. They are smooth with almost a mashed potato consistency. The chili sauce adds the perfect amount of sweet to the dish and a little spice. The shrimp were perfectly cooked and a perfect meat to accompany this dish. I don’t know that I’ll ever try anything else on the menu because that is all I want! I guess when I’m there, someone will have to order that, so I can taste a little piece of heaven!

The Pork Quesadilla are moist, delicious and plenty of food to share or as an entrée. The glue holding them together is Swiss cheese which is a unique combo with the BBQ sauce. A great bet for something savory with a hint of tang! The Arugula Salad is something that everyone has, but this one is refreshing, a perfect size to accompany an entrée and the candied walnuts bring the entire salad together.

The menu at Venue changes often with the changing of season and availability of fresh food, which just forces you to go back and try something new! I’m calculating my next visit…here I come Shrimp and Grits, or maybe something new?!


Thursday, September 3, 2009


As I made lunch plans with some reps, the question of “where to eat” is of course on the top of the list. Emily and Pam typically want sushi so when they suggested Bones I was in!

Bones is apart of the family of restaurants by Frank Bonanno, which in my mind are always a fabulous bet! I have been to two of his restaurants and had wanted to try Bones. Back in my college days, this location was a little sandwich shop we could count on for a quick bite to eat. Since, it was a coffee and ice cream shop until it was transformed into Bones.

It is a small, quaint and inviting little place that has a feeling of calm. The 7 tables that occupy the little floor space are accompanied by a dine-in bar and outdoor patio. It’s the perfect date night spot that reminds you of a Chicago neighborhood restaurant.

The lunch menu is small with choices to please all. “First” we shared the White Gazpacho with Crab. I’m not sure I would have ordered this on my own, and after the first bite I was sold. The cool broth was light and creamy and filled with garnished grape tomatoes and lump crab meat. A couple of bites each, just enough to tease. The six noodle bowls make your mouth water, except one, it was more of a drool. Ramen: Poached Lobster, Edamame, Miso…need I say more? The bowl arrives with steaming noodles, lobster and edamame. The miso broth is then poured over the bowl, and the aroma takes you to anther land. I dove in immediately and devoured nearly the entire dish.

It’s a must in the Denver restaurant scene!