Broiled Pork Chops w/ Orange-Radish Salsa: 30 minute CHALLENGE!!!!!!!!

Miss Macchiato, I accept your challenge to create a healthy and great-tasting dish in 30 mins or less!!  Well Ok, it wasn’t really a challenge per se, more like a casual mention in her last article that dovetailed with what I was going to make for dinner tonight anyway.  BUT A CHALLENGE ACCEPTED, EVEN UNKNOWINGLY, IS A CHALLENGE ISSUED!!!


So the recipe I chose was from Chili Pepper magazine.  I originally was going to try to do this post while I was cooking and see if I could really wow the judges (of which there are none) by getting the whole thing done in 30 mins.  But you will soon notice that there is no recipe listed here.  That brings us to the first obstacle:  the recipe isn’t online so I couldn’t cut and paste the stupid thing.  That’s ok, I decided to post after the cooking was over, as long as I got that done in 30 mins I’ll be fine.  Second obstacle, and I quote here:  “Combine orange juice (2 cups), lime juice (1/3 cup) and brown sugar (1/3 cup) in heavy sauce pan over medium heat.  Bring to a low boil, stirring often, about 20 mins or until syrupy and reduced to about 1/2 cup.”  2 cups plus of liquid to 1/2 cup in 20 mins?  I’m thinking …. no.  Not going to happen.  Never does for me anyway.  Ok, so lets make it a “weekday meal” kind of challenge but not a hard and fast 30 min kinda deal.  Third obstacle:  the recipe kinda sucks.


We were doing well in the beginning.  While the orange juice mixture was boiling I made the salsa, the quick and dirty version of which is this: 

  • 1 (11oz) can mandarin oranges, drained and sliced in half
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup diced radishes
  • 2 T finely chopped cilantro

It called for the oranges to be sliced once, but I did it a few times because the texture of mandarin oranges can get kind of slug-like when the pieces are too big.  I looked ahead and noticed that I was going to put half of the orange juice brown sugar reduction in this as well, and I didn’t think the red onion and radishes would be enough to counteract that sweetness, so I diced up half a jalapeno and threw it in there too.  This tasted nice and bright and lovely and looked like this..




For the pork chops, they were simply broiled 3 mins on a side, and brushed with the glaze after flipping.  The rest of the glaze went in to the salsa, which turned it into a saccarine-sweet mess.  But the saving grace is this, before the wheels came off the cart, we had a pretty decent dish.  AND without all the reduction crap you can EASILY make this in less than 30 mins.  SO I DECLARE THEORETICAL VICTORY!!!!!


pork chop and salsa


~Citizen Chef

James Beard + Barefoot Contessa = Food Love 4Ever (and Crazy Good Spaghetti & Meatballs)

Long ago, before I was serious about cooking and the only food I liked to cook was dessert or pasta, I picked up a funny looking book from the closeout section of a bookstore. At the time I had no idea who James Beard was, I just wanted to buy another cheap book on pasta. After buying it, the book went into a pile and was forgotten. The book: James Beard’s Beard on Pasta.

James Beard, a very important figure in American cooking, has left behind a culinary legacy. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say:

[Beard] was an eccentric personality who brought French cooking to the American middle and upper classes in the 1950s. Many consider him the father of American-style gourmet cooking. His legacy lives on in twenty books, numerous writings, his own foundation, and his foundation’s annual Beard awards in various culinary genres.

A few weeks ago, I was cleaning out my closets and came across it. And what a find. This book, now out of print, contains many wonderful little recipes created by James Beard. Many of them can now be found in his later books, such as The New James Beard, but this one is entirely pasta. If you can find a copy, it would be well worth your while to pick it up.

As an aside, I would like everyone to know that the reason I don’t underline my book titles is because I don’t have a button for it, and I don’t know html to provide one. Every time I ask the admin for one he just says, “Just type leet-slash-hacker-backslash-hax-omg!” or something and of course I never remember. So that’s why my formatting is weird.

But back to the book! I’ve made a couple of things from the book so far, including a really fantastic dish that is based on a jelly roll. No joke — you bake it like a souffle then roll, slice it and top with a simple, savory tomato sauce… It’s crazy good. I’ll post it next week. The tomato sauce he accompanies a lot of his dishes with is this fantastically simple sauce with such a wonderful flavor — and it’s basic enough that you can do a lot with it.

So, I decided I would pair it up with some meatballs and serve it atop some whole wheat pasta. For our meatballs, I picked something from the Barefoot Contessa and, in the end, I ended up with a delicious meal that was prepared entirely in 30 minutes.

Novice chefs and those afraid of the device we call a “stove”, take note because this dish is for you.

Spaghetti & Meatballs

So we start with James Beard’s simple tomato sauce.

Simple Tomato Sauce
From James Beard’s Beard on Pasta

1 – 28 ounce can Red Pack whole tomatoes in puree
1 onion, diced
1 teaspoon dried spice of your choice (oregano, thyme, basil, etc.)
salt and pepper to taste
4 tablespoons butter

Put tomatoes, diced onion, spice, salt & pepper into a pot. Cook on medium for 25 minutes. Stir occasionally, breaking up the tomatoes. Add butter, stir until melted and incorporated into sauce.

Note: For a smoother sauce, puree in a food processor or blender after the sauce has finished cooking.

That’s really all there is to it. Here’s my sauce in action:

Tomato Sauce Montage

Throw it all in a pot, cook, process with 4 one-second pulses to give it the texture you see in the photo.

To organize my time I put the sauce ingredients on the burner first, then threw together my meatballs. When there was only 15 minutes left in the game, I threw a pot of salted water on and cooked the spaghetti noodles.

Baked Meatballs!
Adapted from the Barefoot Contessa

1 pound meatloaf mix (combination of veal, pork & beef)
1/2 cup fresh white bread crumbs (2 slices, crusts removed)
1/8 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, but try to avoid compacting the meat as much as possible. Form 1-inch balls and place in rows on greased cookie sheet. Bake for 25 minutes.

So again, it’s a little bit of work for a good turnout. Here’s the before and after:


As I’ve said before, I prefer baking meatballs over frying because it’s healthier, it’s easier to cook and clean up, and also because I never have to wonder if the meat is cooked all the way through. Put them in the oven for 25 minutes and “call it good”.

This was a delicious meal, easily prepared and easily tidied up afterward. Plus, there’s just something mentally satisfying about spaghetti and meatballs. Maybe it’s the kid in me, I don’t know, but this made me very happy. Serve with garlic bread and/or salad and feel like a kid again.

Spaghetti & Meatballs 2

The Monday Muffin: Chocolate Cherry Muffin

Last week, I mentioned that I was going to try and be better about the in-process photos. This weekend, I made two amazing things that I can’t wait to share and I definitely concentrated more on the process shots. Unfortunately, with the muffins, that’s kind of all I got. After they came out of the oven and I put them on the cooling rack, I forgot to take that last shot. It doesn’t really matter; you’ll easily understand that they’re muffins by the shot of them looking so perky in the pan.

Chocolate Cherry Muffins in Oven

If you follow my twitter account then you already know the muffin and where it hails from, via the weekly muffin sneak peek: Chocolate Cherry Muffins from Gourmet. They’re a cake-like muffin, rich in chocolate and riddled with chocolate chips and dried cherries. They’re very rich and best served warm, while the chocolate chips are oozing inside the cake. However, when they’re room temperature or chilled from the fridge and served with your hot beverage of choice, you’re not going to be disappointed. The addition of the tart, dried cherries is nice, as it offsets the richness of the chocolate. Without the cherries, the concentrated power of chocolate would be too much.

When melting the chocolate into the butter and milk, be sure to use a double-boiler, or a small pot and a heatproof bowl. Fill the pot with 1 – 2″ water, and set the bowl on top. The water should not touch the bottom of the bowl. This method of melting chocolate is best as it never scorches your chocolate.

After the chocolate is melted, the mixture will seem a little grainy, even after whisking. Don’t worry, because adding the two eggs will create a glossy texture. There are two ways to add the eggs. The first way is to do it as written, and wait for chocolate mixture to cool prior to adding the eggs. The second way is if you don’t have time to let the mixture cool completely. Don’t add the eggs to the hot mixture. Let it cool for a couple of minutes, then whisk the eggs. Take 1/2 cup of the chocolate mixture and slowly add it to the eggs, whisking as you pour. Once the egg mixture is thoroughly combined, slowly add it to the chocolate mixture, whisking as you pour. This will keep your eggs from curdling.

Chocolate Cherry Muffin Batter

Chocolate Cherry Muffins
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips, divided
1 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried sour cherries (4 oz)

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F.

Heat butter and half of chocolate in milk in a 2-quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly, until just melted. Remove from heat. Cool 15 minutes. Add eggs and whisk until smooth.

Whisk together flour, cocoa, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl until combined well. Add chocolate mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in remaining chocolate and cherries.

Divide among 12 greased (1/2-cup) muffin cups. Bake until a tester comes out clean, 14 to 18 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 5 to 10 minutes.

Muffin in tin

These muffins are definitely a guilty pleasure and I like them very much. Comparing them to my all-time favorite banana muffin is a little difficult because these are a completely different animal. They are delicious, and would be a really fun treat to serve in the coming holiday season. Thumbs up!

MoM Sept. ’09 Bon Appetit: Chocolate-Chip Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Cherries

Okay! Welcome back to another segment of our Magazine of the Month: Bon Appetit! This time I am pretty sure I got the month right: September.

Yes, it’s from the year 2009. Smart asses.

My photos for these cookies were few and not that attractive, and it’s too bad because the cookies are quite wonderful. I should have tried harder to do them justice and now I’m kicking myself.

Here’s the Bon Appetit photo. My end result does look almost exactly like the cookies in the professional photo, with the exception of my use of white chips rather than chocolate and my dried cherries were a little smaller.

Courtesy of Bon Appetit

I was really pleased with the white chips in the cookie because it gave the cherries a slightly candied flavor. The cookies were thin and crisp and the oatmeal, because it is processed quite finely, lends itself not only to the flavor, but also to a more substantial structure.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Cherries

I’m aiming to do more of those “in process montages” that I’ve put together in the past, where there will be 4 – 8 small photos all lumped together to show the food as it is being made. I should have done that here, because I was really excited at how this dough is put together:

Food processor, baby!

Yes, nearly the entire thing is done right inside the food processor for the comfort, ease, and pleasure of not being irritated that someone sprayed cookie batter onto three walls, ceiling and both cats by unauthorized mixer speeds.

Not that it’s ever happened to me or anything.

Chocolate-Chip Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Cherries
Adapted from Bon Appetit, September 2009
Makes about 4 dozen, Prep: 20 minutes, Total: 1 hour

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups dried tart cherries (6 ounces)
1 1/4 cups white chips

Position 1 rack in bottom third and 1 rack in top third of oven; preheat to 375°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Blend first 4 ingredients in processor 30 seconds. Add eggs; process to blend. Add next 4 ingredients. Using on/off turns, process until oats are coarsely chopped and mixture is blended. Transfer to large bowl. Mix in cherries and white chips.

Spoon batter by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart (cookies will spread). Bake until tops of cookies are golden brown, rotating baking sheets after 7 minutes, about 12 minutes total. Transfer cookies to rack; let cool. Repeat with remaining batter.

This is a fun cookie – it just tastes fun! – and the addition of cherries is a great twist for the fall season. The oats can be processed as finely as you want, so if you aren’t crazy about the texture of oatmeal then you can keep on pulsing until it’s a texture you like. I love oatmeal, so I didn’t mind having some flakes mixed around. The original recipe calls for baking them for 14 minutes, but I found that to be too long. Take your cookie out when the center is still a little pale, as it will continue to bake on the rack/cookie sheet. Baking them until consistently brown throughout will leave them a little hard after they’ve completely cooled. Despite being a flat, crisp cookie, these seem sturdy enough for travel so I’ll probably drop them in my Christmas cookie gift boxes again this year.

Last year I made a cookie for my Christmas boxes that was similar to this (Double Chocolate Cherry Cookies). But you’ll notice that it’s a soft, risen drop cookie – basically, it’s a chocolate chip cookie with extra goober in it. This new version is a flat, crispy oatmeal cookie, but with extra goober in it.

The point is, drop cookies all pretty much hail from a small handful of recipes and they all have slight variations on each other, with different goobers added. If you can make one drop cookie, you can make them all. No exception.

If you like to bake but don’t want to go through the fuss and mess of putting them together, try this out. It’s two more steps than a purchased cookie dough, and ten times more satisfying.

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies with Dried Cherries 2

Okay, I don’t know the exact ratio of satisfaction – the above number was just a guess. If it’s that important I can get a math nerd on the case.

MM’s Favorite Stir Fry: Chicken & Choose Your Own Veggies with Coconut-Curry Sauce

I make a lot of stir fry. It’s easy, delicious, there’s vegetables in it, it contains rice (my fave) and it’s a one-pot meal. There’s also another personal reason, and that’s because my spouse has to “prepare” his food before he begins to eat it, so if I put something in front of him that’s not scoopable and needs to be cut up into a million pieces (like a steak or a chicken breast), then we’re going to be waiting a while because he cuts everything on his plate first before he eats it. By the time he’s done preparing, I’m finished with my food. So the stir fry is the nice compromise. There’s no cutting, just shoveling delicious mouthfuls of food into one’s mouth.

Coconut Curry Stir Fry 2

This is my current favorite out of my large stir fry repertoire and it comes to us by way of that book I haven’t stopped yammering on about: The Cook’s Illustrated “Best 30 Minute Recipe“. What I like about this is that there’s a generic stir fry recipe that’s accompanied by a table that tells you how long specific vegetables need to be steamed for. This allows for mixing and matching your favorite vegetables. On the next page, five very different sauces are listed that are added to the stir fry. Technically, you could have stir fry all week with basically the same protein and leftover vegetables, all you have to do is mix up the sauces for a totally different result. It’s that pair of pants you wear a couple of days a week, but the different shirts make it seem like a completely different outfit.

If you want to get the vegetable chart and the varied sauces, you’ll have to pick up the book. Here’s my favorite concoction with chicken, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini and snow peas.

Chicken Stir Fry with Coconut-Curry Sauce
Adapted from The Best 30 Minute Recipe

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, separated
1 pounds prepared vegetables: cauliflower, snow peas, julienned zucchini and slivered carrots
1/2 cup water
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon grated, fresh ginger
1 cup coconut milk
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon red curry paste
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Toss chicken with soy sauce. Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add protein and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned (3 – 5 minutes). Transfer chicken to a clean bowl.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the stir-fry sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together coconut milk, fish sauce, curry paste, brown sugar and cornstarch until combined.

Add 1 more tablespoon of oil and 1/2 cup water to pan and return to medium high heat until oil is shimmering. Add cauliflower florets to pan, cover and steam for 3 minutes (set your timer — it helps). Carefully remove lid. Add carrots and cover, steaming for 2 minutes. Carefully remove lid. Add snow peas and zucchini and cover, steaming for 30 seconds. Vegetables will be crisp-tender.

Clear center of pan and add remaining 1 teaspoon of oil, garlic and ginger. Cook and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken and juices back into pan. Whisk coconut milk mixture to recombine, add to pan and bring to simmer. Cook sauce until thickened 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Words can’t describe how happy this meal makes me. It’s fast and simple, and a delicious way of getting vegetables into your diet. If you’re worried about spice, don’t be, this is pretty mild. Still, if you’re nervous, the red curry paste can be cut back to 1/2 tablespoon and still have a pleasing effect.

Coconut Curry Stir Fry

The Monday Muffin: Spiced Yogurt Muffins

Surprise, surprise — I actually made the deadline for the Monday Muffin segment. After a very long afternoon, I debated whether or not to slack off until about 9:00 last night, when I figured I should just get off my butt and whip up some muffins. They aren’t that time consuming, I was just feeling lazy and I knew no one would be surprised if suddenly they appeared on Tuesday.

But before we get into the Monday Muffin, a little housekeeping: Last week I posted a turkey burger for our Magazine of the Month, Bon Appetit. I must have been having some sort of brain fart because I made the post title “August” when it is, in fact, September and, though CC and I had a good discussion about his choice of magazine, for some reason I thought he wanted to do the August Bon Appetit. After I posted the burger (which was the August cover), he mentioned to me that he wanted to post some roast chicken thing, which was the cover. And that’s when I realized something was wrong because you really can’t have two covers. So, I changed the post title and the recipes link to the September edition of BA, but the burger is from the August edition. This month we’ll just make the MoM a Choose Your Own Bon Appetit Adventure. Go to page 23 to make a burger, go to page 47 to make a chicken, and then go to page 95 for Chef Ramsay to hit you over the head with a cold scallop and then you die.

And now, back to the Monday Muffin: Spiced Yogurt Muffins.

Spiced Yogurt Muffins 2

I was in the mood for something a little different so when I saw this on Food & Wine, I went for it. The spices in the muffin are distinctly a fall flavor and would be perfectly suited to serve for a breakfast on Thanksgiving morning. What surprised me was the texture of this muffin. Because it calls for 1 1/4 cups of lowfat yogurt, the insides are a bit creamy, almost like you’re eating a light pumpkin pie. If you like pumpkin pie and that texture, you’ll be pleased. I baked these with and without paper cups, and the muffins without the cups ended up with a goofy, gummy consistency around the base of the muffin. The muffins that baked in the paper were fine, so bake these in the paper cups. The recipe says it makes 18 muffins, but they come out rather small so just do yourself a favor and put them all into the single muffin tray and bake for a couple of minutes longer.

Spiced Yogurt Muffins 1

Spiced Yogurt Muffins
Courtesy of Food & Wine Magazine

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups plain low-fat yogurt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 375°. Line 18 muffin cups with paper or foil liners. Lightly spray the liners with vegetable oil spray.

In a food processor, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and 1/2 teaspoon of the nutmeg and pulse to blend; transfer to a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, yogurt, butter, applesauce and vanilla. Fold the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients until just blended.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups. Sprinkle the granulated sugar and remaining 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg over the muffins. Bake for 18 minutes, until the muffins are springy; let cool in the pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Spiced Yogurt Muffins 3

MoM Sept‘09 Bon Appetit: Grilled Turkey Burgers with Monterey Jack & Smoky Aioli

You may have noticed that our September Magazine of the Month is, in fact, no longer available on the shelves, as it is the August edition of Bon Appetit. Fear not fellow food lovers, Bon Appetit gives it up for free on their website!

Bon Appetit September 2009 Table of Contents

And, as they say, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

BA Turkey Burger with Cheddar and Smoky Aioli
Photo courtesy of Nigel Cox, Bon Appetit

My first jump into the magazine was their turkey burger and I’m shamelessly starting with the Bon Appetit photo. Reason being, this burger was absolutely rockin’. My own photos, not so much.

I adapted this burger to my own needs quite a bit because it calls for things I didn’t have, wouldn’t purchase, or wouldn’t eat. First, it called for seeds that are first smoked then finely ground. I had the ground spices already (cumin and coriander) and didn’t want to spend additional money just so I could toast a teaspoon of seeds, so I just used what I had and it came out fine. Cumin was definitely the more prominent, but not overbearing, spice. Funnily enough, this burger also calls for smoked paprika, which my spouse hates, but mixed with the rest of the spices, the lemon juice and olive oil, he didn’t notice. You could also toss the paprika in for some toasting if you wanted to. I was worried about bringing out too much of the paprika and turning my spouse off of the meal, so I didn’t. I snuck it into the aioli like a ninja… albeit, a ninja holding a container of bright red spice, but whatever. It worked and he loved it.

BA Turkey Burgers 2

Per usual, I fixed these bad boys on a George Foreman set to high heat. After it was warmed up enough, I gave the bottom plate a decent brushing of olive oil (about a tablespoon or two) and then set the patties on top. As I’ve said previously, compacting a burger is a really bad idea so I did not close the top. I also doubled the burger size. I used a pound of turkey for two burgers and, as you would imagine, at the end of the burger I experienced a waistband emergency as my midsection reached full capacity and was ready to burst.

But they were good. So very good.

Here’s my very busy sideview photo, with the second burger in the background and some onion rings poking into the picture. After I assembled the burgers and took the photos, it occurred to me that I should have put the tomatoes and spinach leaves on the bottom bun, put the patty and cheese on top, and photographed a lovely, open-faced burger. But by that time I was starving and smell of burgers was prevalent throughout the house, so I said to hell with the pretty photos and started eating. I’m sure you understand.

BA Turkey Burgers 3

Grilled Turkey Burgers with Monterey Jack and Smoky Aioli
Adapted from Bon Appetit

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for brushing
3 – 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground turkey
4 1/3-inch-thick red onion slices
4 slices white cheddar cheese or Monterey Jack cheese
4 sesame-seed hamburger buns (or something that tastes fun – not plain)
Arugula or baby spinach
Tomato slices

Toast cumin and coriander in small pot over medium-high heat until aromatic, shaking skillet often, about 1 1/2 minutes. Cool. Whisk mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, fresh lemon juice, smoked paprika, garlic, and ground spices in small bowl. Season aioli to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Aioli can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Place turkey in medium bowl. Add 2 tablespoons aioli; mix gently. Using damp hands, divide turkey mixture into 4 equal portions, then form each into scant 3/4-inch-thick patty, about 3 1/2 inches in diameter. (Or go the MM route and split that sucker into two patties — wear tight, nonstretch pants at your own risk!) DO AHEAD Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and chill.

Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat) or Foreman (high heat, just the way Georgie likes it — yeah, that’s a little weird, I know). Sprinkle burgers with salt and pepper.

Toast buns. Grill turkey burgers 5 minutes (or 7 – 8 minutes) for the MM-sized gigantic burgers). Turn over; grill until almost cooked through, about 4 minutes. Top each burger with 1 cheese slice and grill until meat is cooked through and cheese melts, about 1 minute longer. Place 1 turkey burger on each of 4 bun bottoms. Top each with dollop of aioli and some arugula/spinach and tomato slices. Cover burgers with bun tops and serve.

I liked these a lot and will probably make them again. I was, at first, concerned with the turkey drying out because I’ve had bad experiences with cooking ground turkey in the past — typically I choose ground chicken over turkey for that very reason. But it wasn’t a problem. The burgers came out moist and very flavorful, and the scent of the toasted spices was a really nice touch. The turkey makes them very hearty, so I could see myself serving this for a weeknight meal in the middle of winter.

Overall, the time it took to make these was very short — I’d say 30 minutes? Prep time was about 7 minutes to make the aioli and spices, and the rest of the time went to toasting the buns and cooking the beef. By the time my oven was preheated and my onion rings were baked, the burgers were done.


BA Turkey Burgers 4

If you’re anything like my spouse, you will see the above photo and hone in on the bun. Your words will be, “OH MY GOD, WHAT IS THAT WHITE STUFF ON TOP? IS IT FUNGUS? MOLD? DROOL FROM THE EVER-ELUSIVE SASQUATCH?”

It’s flour and the buns were fresh and delicious. Relax and enjoy.

Strawberry-Banana Muffins

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned the possibility of doing a “Monday Muffin” segment with the caveat that my ability to keep to a regular blogging schedule is very poor. Case in point, I skipped out on the muffin entirely last week and now it’s Wednesday!

At least I went and made a “Muffins” category to support my nasty muffin habit.

Strawberry Banana Muffins 4

So here’s the Monday muffin for this week. It comes to us from Joy of Baking, and I had really high hopes: Banana-Strawberry Muffins. I chose it because we’ve made strawberry muffins and banana muffins, and this combines the two into one. Can we go wrong with that?

We’re about to find out.

These little treats are a banana bread base with chopped strawberries spread throughout. To keep the strawberries from sinking, they are mixed into the flour before being added to the wet ingredients.

Strawberries in Flour

Beyond coating the strawberries in the flour mixture, the way to make these muffins are straightforward. Mix the wet ingredients, add the dry ingredients, bake.

Strawberry-Banana Muffins
Courtesy of Joy of Baking

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large ripe bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
1 cup fresh strawberries cut into bite sized pieces
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Position rack in center of oven. Line a 12 cup muffin pan with paper liners or grease with butter or a vegetable spray.

In a small saucepan melt the butter. Set aside. In a medium sized bowl whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and mashed banana. Add the melted butter to the brown sugar mixture and stir to combine.

In another large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gently fold in the berries, making sure they are coated with flour. This helps to prevent the berries from sinking during baking. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir only until the ingredients are just combined. Do not over mix the batter or tough muffins will result.

Divide the batter evenly among the 12 muffin cups, using two spoons or an ice cream scoop. Place in the oven and bake until a tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

These are okay. I probably won’t make them again. The banana flavor in these was a little muted — now that could be because my bananas weren’t totally brown so I didn’t get a lot of the syrup taste, but I’m pretty sure it’s just the muffin. The strawberry chunks, though nice, weren’t pronounced enough. There also just weren’t enough. To make sure you get a good spread of strawberries in this, I’d recommend upping the amount to 1 1/2 cups of chopped strawberries.

Strawberry Banana Muffin 2

To be honest, the Smashed-Strawberry Muffins we made a couple of weeks ago were better and the Banana Nut Muffins before that are still the best we’ve made. These were nice, but that’s it. They didn’t give me the wow factor I was hoping for. Maybe if I had put a little sugary streusel on top they would have been saved, but there’s already enough going on in this muffin that I didn’t want to overload the flavors. This gets a solid C grade.

Salad w/Avocado-Lime Vinagrette and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds: the Article About a Chef’s Fiesta Strikes Back

If you remember last time, we left our intrepid hero wondering where the hell the flavor went in his sauce that he should have made with raisins instead of prunes, probably letting them marinade in the wine before blending them up and substituting tomato paste for the tomato.

Well the very next day he made this… and all was well and good and the ghost of the pork tenderloin came to him in a blue glowy vision and forgave him for messing up the previous dish, and said “the avocado will be with you… always…”


Salad with Avocado-Lime Vinaigrette and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

from Sept 2009 Bon Appetit



  • 9 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced peeled seeded avocado
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup unsalted shelled raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted
  • 3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 3/4 teaspoon minced seeded serrano chile


  • 1 5-ounce package mixed baby greens
  • 2 avocados, halved, seeded, peeled, sliced
  • 1 12-ounce container cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, diced
  • 1 medium jicama, peeled, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices, then 1/3-inch sticks
  • 1/2 medium red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups coarsely crumbled cotija cheese or feta cheese (about 7 ounces)
  • Spicy Pumpkin Seeds (pepitas roasted in a bit of oil and then seasoned with salt, sugar and cayenne pepper)




  • Combine all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


  • Place greens in very large bowl. Add avocados, tomatoes, cucumber, jicama, and onion. Toss with enough vinaigrette to coat. Sprinkle with cheese and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds

Not alot of prep photos on this one, but here’s the first stage:

salad pic 1

..and then I put the dressing on it…

salad pic 2

..oh yeah…time to smother you in cheese and spicy pepitas…

salad pic 3

..oh yeah.. that’s the ticket.

~Citizen Chef

MoM Sept ’09: Roasted Pork Tenderloin w/Prune and Ancho Chile Sauce: It’s a Long Way to the Meh if You Want to Rock and Roll

So here is the recipe in all it’s glory:

Roasted Pork Tenderloin w/Prune and Ancho Chile Sauce
Courtesy of Bon Appetit



  • 4 large dried ancho chiles (1 1/2 to 2 ounces), stemmed
  • 1/2 white onion, halved through root end
  • 1 medium tomato
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/2 pound pitted prunes
  • 2 cups low-salt chicken broth, divided
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 1/2 cup orange juice


  • 3 1-pound pork tenderloins, trimmed
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil



  • Arrange chiles in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat; toast on both sides until slightly blistered and puffed, pressing often with spatula, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer chiles to medium bowl (reserve skillet). Cover chiles with hot water and soak until soft, about 45 minutes. Drain chiles.
  • Meanwhile, place reserved skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, tomato, and garlic to skillet. Cook until slightly charred, turning often with tongs, about 10 minutes. Transfer to work surface. Coarsely chop onion and tomato; place in medium bowl. Reserve garlic.
  • Place strainer over large saucepan. Working in batches, puree chiles, prunes, onion, tomato, and reserved garlic in blender with broth, wine, and orange juice until smooth. Press puree through strainer into saucepan. Discard solids in strainer. Simmer sauce in pan until reduced to 4 cups, stirring often, 10 to 15 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Can be made 4 days ahead. Cool, cover, and chill.


  • Arrange pork in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Pour soy sauce over. Turn to coat. Refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 4 hours, turning occasionally.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove pork from soy sauce; pat dry. Sprinkle pork all over with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large skillet over high heat. Add 1 pork tenderloin to skillet. Sear on all sides until brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pork tenderloin.
  • Transfer 2/3 cup prune sauce to small bowl; reserve remaining sauce for serving. Brush pork with some sauce. Roast until thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 145°F to 150°F, turning occasionally and brushing with more sauce, about 25 minutes. Transfer to cutting board. Let rest 10 minutes.
  • Cut pork crosswise on slight diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange on platter. Spoon some of reserved sauce over. Serve with remaining sauce.


See I think that looks dynamite.  I would think you would get a real depth of flavor from the prunes and the ancho chiles and the roasting of the tomato and onions.  I mean it even looks awesome:

prune ancho chili sauce

Ignoring the finger in the lower right hand corner, doesn’t that look all unctuous and umami and junk??  Well it wasn’t!!!  The dish as a whole was fine, but you really can’t go wrong with pork tenderloin marinated in soy sauce.  But the sauce was watery and blah.  I did use a pretty big tomato which might have made the sauce less rich, and I do admit the prunes I used didn’t taste all that great, but they are prunes after all.  I even let the sauce reduce alot more than normal to try and get that richness I was looking for.  No soup. 

Here is the finished product, with Roasted New Potatoes with Poblano Chile Rajas from that same article:

ancho chili pork

Yeah I know, it looks awesome.  And we ate it.  But it was a solid B at best.  Does this bode ill for this month’s MoM???  Fear not gentle readers, salvation is coming!!  And it’s from the same article as those two…. 

~Citizen Chef