Sunday, January 16, 2011

Delicious Winter Time

This meal is a winning combination with its sweet-savory juiciness, the tender bite of the bitter greens, and the nuttiness of the soft mash.

My husband brought home some boneless pork loin not too long ago, and I knew then that I couldn't simply make them into dinner without first documenting these precious cuts. So I went to our wonderful farmers' market and selected a bunch of fresh rosemary and a head each of gorgeous chicory and cauliflower to do justice to the vittles waiting for me back home....

Without having a formal recipe, I followed the guide in my memory of how pork loves some sweet + spice. As in apples & nutmeg, or peaches & shallots...and in my case, maple syrup (grade b, less brightly sweet) and rosemary. I also added a tiny amount of soy sauce (use only good quality, here) for an extra kick, and seared them in a hot pan to get them nice and browned.

For the cauliflower mash, I used a half-head and separated the curds into medium-small bunches, placing the lot into a metal basket to steam in my pressure cooker. I don't like to boil anything as most of the nutritional value transfers into the water, so I steam instead, and I even save the leftover water to add to stocks or sauces - thanks, mom! After opening the lid I checked to be sure the cauliflower is soft enough that it gives way when I press a fork into it (if no, I can simply replace the lid - make sure enough water still remains at the bottom of the pot - and turn the heat back on until the knob returns to rattle).  Place the curds in a food processor and add a little chicken stock or the water from steaming,  a little butter, cream, and creme fraiche and give it a whirr. I pulsed the mixture until it was pretty smooth - do so until it's to your liking.

And lastly, the greens! I removed seven or so leaves and rinsed them (and then shake or pat them dry), and sliced cross-ways until I had elegant, thin strips. I heated my small cast iron skillet until pretty hot, added a little olive oil, and tossed all of it in. After letting the chicory wilt from the pan heat for a couple minutes, I turned them about, getting new coverage and repeating the same. All told, they only need to cook for about 4 minutes or so - you want them to retain a little crunch.

Measurements are approximate - adjust to your taste
Serves 4
4 boneless pork loin chops
1/2 head cauliflower - look for no blemishes and tight curds
1 small head fresh chicory or other hearty, bitter greens - leaves should be firm

2 tbsp olive oil, for wilting and pan-frying
3 tbsp fresh rosemary 
3 tbsp grade B maple syrup
2 tsp quality soy sauce

for cauliflower mash
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup creme fraiche
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp chicken stock or vegetable water
use sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste - I put it on everything

As you see I used pork, cauliflower, and chicory. You are welcome to use this as a launch pad and substitute lamb, chicken, or beef in an appropriately sweet-savory complementary dress. Also, feel free to use parsnips, potatoes, turnips, celery root, etc. If you prefer something other than the wilted chicory, you may use escarole, chard, broccoli rabe, mustard greens, or other similar hearty greens. Have fun first and foremost, and let me know how it turns out! :)

One everything is prepared, find a serving dish you like and put it all together. I assure you, it is very hard to resist licking the plate after a tasty dish such as this.


  1. very nice photography. loved going through your portfolio. so creative.

  2. thank you, brian. i'm happy i could share my work with you - i love doing it. hope that you'll continue to follow my work - a trip to Japan is just on the horizon!

  3. I thougth you're allready gone to Japan :) Have a nice trip, and cannot wait for the new photos.

  4. Great write up to accompany enticing photos!