Saturday, October 29, 2016

Grilled Garlic Pork Chops - Italian Style Favorite

These chops are flavorful and easy to prepare. Marinate them in advance for a quick and simple dinner, full of Italian flavors.  If weather permits, prepare these outside on the grill. They will have better flavor. If not, you can cook them in them in the oven. As always, use bone-in chops for better flavor and juiciness.

Julian's Grilled Garlic Pork Chops
In the photos shown here, I'm using a charcoal grill at a Villa Perla del Lago which we rented on Lake Como In Italy. The villa was stunning and the chops turned out great. If you'd like to visit Lake Como I'd highly recommend this villa.

Julian's Italian Grilled Pork Chops
1/3 cup olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 lemon, juiced

salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 thin to medium cut, bone in pork chops
1 tablespoon white granulate sugar

Mix together the olive oil, garlic, oregano, basil, salt, pepper and and fresh lemon juice. Add the pork chops and marinate refrigerated approximately 4-8 hours. Preheat the grill or an oven to 400F degrees. Shake off excess liquid and sprinkle lightly with sugar on both sides. Place over the hot grill or on a cooking rack over a baking sheet in a the oven. On the grill, turn after about 4 minutes and continue cooking on the other side. Continue cooking until the chops are cooked through. Total cooking time about 12 minutes, depending on thickness of chops. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Swedish Meatballs over Buttered Noodles

The national dish of Sweden, and re-popularized by retailer Ikea, these little meatballs in a creamy sauce are popular on buffets and served as a main dish.

Julian's Swedish Meatballs over Buttered Noodles
If you haven't had them before, these are very different from Italian meatballs which are larger and spicier. When I was a child in the 1950-60's every American housewife showcased these at their holiday party buffet. Since then they had gone out of fashion, and you rarely saw them at parties or served at dinner. However with the introduction of Ikea into the United States, that has now changed.

Ikea estimates that it sells 150 million Swedish meatballs every year. The dish was the brainchild of Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad, who worried that customers would get hungry while browsing his massive stores. His team came up with a menu for a food department. It had to be cheap and it had to be Swedish. Meatballs were the answer.

In Sweden, the meatballs are made with ground beef or a mix of ground beef, pork and sometimes veal, including bread crumbs sometimes soaked in milk, finely chopped fried onions and all spice. A sauce made of broth, pan drippings and sour cream is common. The small (1 inch round) Swedish meatballs are traditionally served with sauce, boiled potatoes or noodles, a condiment of lingonberry jam, and sometimes fresh pickled cucumber.

Below I give you my rendition, which I'm serving as a main course over buttered egg noodles. You can just as easily use them on a holiday buffet without the noodles. In my recipe below I include mushrooms and make the sauce with some white wine. Neither are traditional and you can omit these if you prefer. Both enhance the flavor. This is not a quick dish to prepare, as it usually takes me nearly two hours. You can however, prepare them a day in advance and reheat at serving time. My photos in this recipe show a larger batch. The below ingredients should make about 24 meatballs.

Forming the meatballs.

For the Meatballs
2-4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, finely diced
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup bread crumbs
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Browning on all sides.
For the Sauce
8 ounces slices white button mushrooms (optional)
1/3 cup white wine (optional, substitute chicken broth)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups beef broth
3/4 cup sour cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Egg noodles (1 pound)
4 tablespoons butter

Fresh chopped parsley leaves to garnish


Meatballs:  Heat half the olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until onions have become translucent. About 3-4 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine ground beef, ground pork, bread crumbs, egg yolks, allspice, nutmeg and cooked onion. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Mix until well combined, using your hands or a large spoon. Use a small scoop to gather the meat mixture and roll it into a ball with your hands. The finished meatball should be 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter.

Add the remaining olive oil to the skillet or Dutch oven and brown meatballs on all sides. This is done in batches so as not to overcrowd the skillet and allow for proper browning. Each batch will take about 5 minutes to brown on all sides. Transfer cooked meatballs to a bowl or platter. They need not be cooked completely through as they will cook again in the sauce.

Sauce: If using the mushrooms, add them to the skillet/Dutch oven and cook stirring constantly for 3-4 minutes until they begin to tenderize. Deglaze the pan with white wine or chicken stock, scraping up any brown bits and mixing with the optional mushrooms. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Add the butter to the skillet and stir until melted. Stir in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in beef broth and cook, stirring constantly until the sauce is lightly thickened, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in sour cream, taste and season as needed with additional salt and pepper.

Combine the meatballs with the sauce and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through and thickened, about 10 minutes over medium heat. If you desire a thicker sauce, make a slurry of a small amount of flour and water and stir in a little at a time until the desired thickness is reached.

While the meatballs cook in the sauce, boil the egg noodles. When tender, drain and toss with butter. Place noodles in serving dishes and top with the meatballs and sauce. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Cooking in the sour cream sauce.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Crispy Buffalo Shrimp - A Game Day Favorite

This recipe for crispy buffalo shrimp is my version of a dish they make at Hooters. They don't share their recipe, but I think this is pretty close. It's great for game day when you are serving a variety of hot and cold appetizers while watching the game.

Julian's Crispy Buffalo Shrimp
In the recipe below I suggest you toss the cooked shrimp into the buffalo sauce. If you want everyone to have clean fingers, hand dip each piece holding the shrimp by the tail. Then you'll have clean little 'handles' on the shrimp to keep everyone's fingers tidy.

These are deep fried shrimp, but you don't have to have a deep fryer to make these. I use my deep skillet, called a 'chicken fryer', but really any heavy bottomed pot or skillet will do. Just keep in mind, the larger the pot/pan, the more oil you will consume. You want the oil to be about 1 to 1.5 inches deep and you don't want the shrimp to crowd or they will stick together. This is why I prefer a wide deep skillet for the job.

Oil heated to 350F degrees.
Regarding the type of hot sauce to use in this recipe, I prefer Frank's Red Hot Buffalo Sauce. You can substitute Tabasco or any other favorite brand of hot sauce.


20 Shrimp, large, peeled, deveined, tails on
Canola oil (see note above)
Dried parsley to garnish
Ready to go!

Wet Coating
1 Egg, beaten
1 Tablespoon yellow mustard
2 Teaspoons Creole or Cajun seasoning
2 Teaspoons garlic powder
2 Teaspoons onion powder
5-6 grinds of black pepper

Dry Batter
1 Cup cornmeal
1 Cup flour
3 Teaspoons Creole or Canjun seasoning
4-5 Grinds of fresh black pepper

1/4 Pound (1 stick) butter
1 Cup hot sauce (see note above)
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Teaspoon garlic powder

Rinse, peel, and devein shrimp. Leave tail intact for use as a handle when eating. Let drain then place in a mixing bowl.

Prepare the wet coating: Using a fork, mix egg with mustard in a small bowl. Stir in the seasoning, garlic and onion powder and black pepper. Place shrimp in a large bowl and toss with the egg/mustard mixture and set aside.

Prepare the dry batter: Mix the cornmeal, flour, seasoning and pepper in a large mixing bowl.

Begin to heat the the oil in a large skillet, pot or fryer to 350 degrees over medium-high heat. Use a thermometer to monitor temperature. Do not overheat the oil.

While the oil preheats, prepare the sauce. Place butter, hot sauce, lemon juice and garlic powder in a saucepan. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until butter is melted and you are ready to coat the shrimp. Stir occasionally.

Form an assembly line, with the hot oil at the end, the bowl of dry batter closest to the oil, followed by the wet-coated shrimp

When the oil reaches 350F degrees, toss 1/3 of the shrimp in the corn flour and coat well. Place into hot oil, making sure not to overcrowd the pan. Use a slotted or screened spoon to gently move the shrimp apart in the oil. When the shrimp are golden, approximately 3-4 minutes, remove to paper-towel lined plate. Repeat until all shrimp are cooked.

Toss or hand dip the shrimp in warm buffalo sauce. Sprinkle with dried parsley and serve.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Apple Maple Glazed Pork Chops

A great autumn recipe that is easy to prepare and with a flavorful, juicy result. If the weather is good, by all means grill the chops. If not, you can also cook them in the oven.

Grilled Apple Maple Chops with Balsamic Carrots and Peas
I marinate these chops with the rub for 2-4 hours, the longer time being for thicker pork chops. If you are pressed for time, you can skip the marination and just apply the rub a few minutes before you begin grilling.

I make two versions of these and give you both options below. They simply change up the spices used, and both are equally good. There is a small bit of heat in the seasoning, which pairs nicely with the sweet apple cider and maple syrup. It is by no means 'spicy' or 'hot'. If you want it that way, increase those spices.

I use hot chili oil (above) in this recipe, which is available wherever Chinese cooking spices are sold. If you can't find it, substitute regular olive oil combined with 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes.

2 Bone-in pork chops
1 Sweet apple, halved and cored

2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon chili powder
     or spicy curry powder or omit
1 Teaspoon garlic powder
1 Teaspoon salt
3-4 grinds of fresh black pepper
1 Tablespoon hot chili oil
    or olive oil with or without crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 cup apple cider or natural juice
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespooon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
pinch of salt


2-4 Hours in Advance of Dinner

In a small bowl combine the brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly with a fork crushing any chunks of brown sugar. Add the chili oil to the spice mixture. It will make a crumbly paste. Dry the pork chops with paper towels, and then rub the spice mixture onto both sides. Place on a plate and cover so they are air tight with plastic wrap. Refrigerate.

1 Hour in Advance of Dinner
In a small saucepan, prepare the glaze by combining the apple cider, maple syrup, Dijon mustard, crushed red pepper flakes, and salt. Bring to a low boil uncovered. Reduce heat to simmer, stirring occasionally. Let the sauce reduce by about half to intensify the flavors (about 30 minutes).

30 Minutes in Advance of Dinner
Heat your grill to medium high heat (or preheat your oven to 400F degrees). Remove the chops from the refrigerator and put the spice covered pork chops on the hot grill (or in a dish in your oven). Brush with the cider glaze. Grill/bake for about 6 minutes. Turn the chops and brush with the glaze on the other side. Grill for about 2 more minutes, flip and brush again. Repeat this process until the pork chops are done and have an internal temperature of 145-150 degrees.

If you're also grilling the apple, brush the halved apple with glaze and grill for about 5-6 minutes cut side down on the grill.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Walnut Date Bundt Coffee Cake

This old-fashioned recipe is easy to make, requires no electric mixer, and yields a perfect fruit and nut cake. I like to serve this as a morning/brunch cake with coffee, or at tea in the afternoon as it is not overly sweet and very dense. I think you can picture your grandma making this with her favorite wooden spoon.

Julian's Walnut Date Bundt Coffee Cake
I use the bundt pan because I like the way it looks and bakes in this pan. But as you can see, my 10-15 cup large classic bundt pan is only about half full with this recipe. That's another reason I like this pan for this cake. You don't want a big tall piece of this cake with coffee or tea. Rather a smaller, shorter cake is required and my large bundt pan makes an ideal size for this purpose. You could also use a loaf pan, or several small loaf pans for an ideal tea cake size.

Loaded with Dates and Nuts
I sprinkle the top with a little powdered sugar, but that's only to highlight the bundt shape and provide a little decoration. You could of course, drizzle it with some cream cheese frosting or anything similar. If you want to serve this as a sweeter dessert, the frosting may be desirable.

This is a perfect recipe to use up dates and nuts that were perhaps left over from cookie baking. You can substitute walnuts for other nuts if you have them on hand, although a soft nut similar to a walnut is preferred. Raisins, dried figs or prunes could also be subsituted for the dates is that's what you are trying to use.

Chopped dates, soda and butter.
1 pound dates, pitted and chopped
4 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup white granulated sugar
pinch of salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 egg, room temperature
1 cup chopped walnuts

Place dates into a large bowl with baking soda and 2 tablespoons of butter. Pour boiling water over dates, butter, and soda and stir to combine. Set aside.

Using remaining softened butter, butter and lightly flour a large bundt pan, being sure to coat the center cone. Tap out excess flour so no large clumps appear in the pan. Pre-heat oven to 350F degrees.

When the date mixture is room temperature, combine flour, sugar and salt in a separate bowl. Crack the egg into a small bowl and scramble it with a fork. Stir in the vanilla.

Stir the egg/vanilla mixture into the large bowl with the date mixture. Gradually stir in the flour mixture until well combined. Fold in the nuts. Transfer to prepared bundt pan and bake 45 minutes, or until a pick comes out clean. For individual mini-bundt cakes, baking will only take 30 or so minutes. Use the pick to determine when baking is complete.

Ready for the oven.