Friday, August 08, 2014

CLCA Days 27-28: Farm-to-Table Fabulousness!

"Cyd's Low-Carb Adventure," Day 27
Breakfast: "Green" Smoothie with Berries, Almond Milk, and Chia Seeds (I added a half cup of spinach leaves to her regular berry smoothie--she liked it!)
Lunch: Take-Out Salad
Snack: Fresh New York Peaches and Whipped Cream
Dinner: "Protein-Style" (Bunless) Cheeseburgers
Dessert: Carrot and Tangerine Frozen Pop (Those Outshine Bars are YUMMY!)

I made my first secret raid on Janice's garden today. I snitched two zucchini, a bunch of Lacinato kale, a few Czech Black hot peppers...oh, and a handful of basil (in my pocket--not pictured). And I used half of this haul (except the peppers) in tonight's wonderful dinner.

"Cyd's Low-Carb Adventure," Day 28
Breakfast: "Green" Smoothie with Berries, Almond Milk and Chia Seeds
Lunch: (She worked though lunch. Hmph!)
Dinner: Creamy Zoodles with Leeks and Bacon and Cheesy Kale-Stuffed Pork Chop with Garden Bruschetta
Dessert: Local Peaches with Whipped Cream, Blueberry Fruit and Veggie Frozen Pop
Midnight Snack: Corn on the Cob (Tee hee.)

I spent two hours in the kitchen tonight creating a most elaborate and fabulous meal! From Bon Appetit, I made Creamy Pappardelle with Leeks and Bacon (with zoodles instead of pasta for Cyd). And then I made up an entrée: brined pork chops stuffed with lacinato kale, onions, garlic, feta and blue cheese and topped with fresh garden bruschetta.

The zucchini, kale, and the basil in the bruschetta were from the garden that I planted at my friend Janice's, the tomatoes were from the farm stand up the road, the garlic and feta were from farms that we visited in Maine, and the cream was from my local milk share. Farm to table, YO!

Kale and Cheese Stuffed Pork Chops with Garden Bruschetta

Pork Chop Brine:
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
3 cups water
4 butterflied pork chops

Kale and Cheese Filling:
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced
2 cups Lacinato kale, chopped
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/4 cup white wine (or chicken stock)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

2 large tomatoes (baseball-sized), seeded and cut into large dice
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/4 cup fresh basil, cut into a chiffonade
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablesoon olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine the kosher salt, sugar and water and mix well to combine. Brine the butterflied pork chops while you make the filling.

To make the filling, add two tablespoons of olive oil to a skillet over medium heat, then saute the onions until tender. Add the chopped kale and garlic and cook until the kale has wilted down. Add white wine (or chicken stock) and cook until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat. When the kale mixture is completely cool, stir in the crumbled cheeses.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Divide the cooled kale and cheese filling into four portions. Remove the pork chops from the brine and rinse well in cold water. Pat dry with paper towels. Spread a quarter of the filling onto each of the pork chops. Tie up with kitchen twine (or secure with toothpicks). Add the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil to an ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Cook the pork chops until deep golden brown on both sides. Then put the skillet in the oven and finish cooking the chops for about ten minutes (or until an internal temperature of 145 is achieved). Let rest for at least five minutes, loosely covered with foil.

Meanwhile, make the bruschetta. Chop the tomatoes, onions, garlic, and basil and combine in a bowl. Drizzle in the balsamic and olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Gently stir everything together. Top each stuffed pork chop with a couple of generous spoonfuls of bruschetta.

Creamy Pappardelle with Leeks and Bacon
(Source: Bon Appetit, February 2013)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium leeks, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, sliced crosswise
*I also added two cloves of peeled and minced garlic.
kosher salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 pound pappardelle or fettuccine
1 cup finely grated Parmesan or Grana Padano

Heat oil and butter in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring often, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, 5-8 minutes. Add leeks (and garlic, if using) and season with salt. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring often, until leeks begin to brown, 5-8 minutes. Add cream, thyme, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened and coats the back of a spoon, 5-8 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain pasta, reserving two cups of the pasta cooking liquid.

Add pasta, Parmesan, and one cup pasta cooking liquid to sauce and stir to coat. Increase heat to medium and continue stirring, adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta.

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