pork chops with peppers and capers

Those of you who have been following know that I have very little experience cooking any type of meat or fish.

Honestly, the past three months have been rather odd. I have spent the summer at home in the Midwest, and over the life of this blog (about five weeks), I have cooked meat three times. Three nights in five weeks have been dedicated to meat. Beyond that, this summer I have consumed my share of smoked fish, prosciutto, pancetta, and anchovies. I went out and ate some steak and egg, a bowl of scallops and shrimp, and even a huge slab of ham topped with sauerkraut (an odd experience, that). In short, dear reader, I have eaten much more meat (and I am including fish here, I suppose) in the last three months than I usually consume.

Quite honestly I am more than happy with my usual plant-based diet that might be sprinkled with the occasional can of fish. (I would argue that canned fish receives a worse reputation than it deserves.)

Yet, lately, I have been thinking. Perhaps I should learn how to cook meat, even if I rarely eat it. After all, whatever would I do if, someday, I am asked to butcher an entire chicken? or fillet a fish? or know the characteristics between different cuts of meat? or (gasp!) do whatever it is that people do with game meat?

Most likely, of course, I will never be asked to do such things. And yet, because one never knows what the future holds, I should like to be prepared.

As mentioned above, I have cooked three meat dishes in the past five weeks, two of which are featured in this blog (here and here). Both are chicken khoreshes from Batmanglij’s Food of Life. And both, though respectfully good, fell short of spectacular. I have no doubt that the problem rests with me, not the book.

So, in an attempt to improve my knowledge about meat, I hereby swear that I will (attempt to) cook a few more meat and fish dishes, even after the summer ends and I return to the East Coast. My latest meat-cooking adventure: these pork rib chops that I made last night. Lo and behold, the chops turned out well. I may have overcooked them a bit, not sure. Hopefully, my plating eye for meat will improve over time. But all in all, I am quite pleased.

And I must admit that browned bits of meat really do make a fine base for a sauce.

This is my 59th completed dish from Batali’s Molto Italiano. Percentage complete: 18.04%

eggplant khoresh

I now have completed 30 recipes from Batmanglij’s Food of Life (percentage complete: 11.19%). I am very pleased with the presentation of this eggplant khoresh, or braise. Honestly, I think it’s fairly stunning. The eggplant is dark and elegant. The cherry tomatoes add a necessary brightness. And overall, the dish looks nicely roasted; the flavors seem to be melding happily away together.

Yet, despite its lovely appearance, this khoresh tasted like a fairly average chicken dish. It was good, no doubt. But just good, really. And little more. Despite the spices—largely, turmeric, cinnamon, and crushed red pepper—I added, the flavors simply did not seep through to the entire dish. And salt. I even added quite a bit of salt this time, though I usually see little need to use more than a small pinch.

Well, I am determined to cook an extraordinary meat khoresh one of these days, though meat is far from my specialty. Until then, at least I can enjoy the look of the very pretty food!

Parador – Egg Harbor, WI

Near the end of our Door County excursion, we stopped at Parador in Egg Harbor for dinner. This restaurant is fairly new, but has great potential. Parador serves tapas, which are appetizer-size dishes that are enjoyed family-style. I love these little plates that are so thoughtfully crafted.

We began with an excellent beet salad and a fresh gazpacho.

roasted beet salad

chilled gazpacho and white sangria

We followed this with house-made hummus and flatbread . . .

hummus and flatbread

. . . and steak and egg. This was my first poached egg. I think I might be addicted!

steak and egg

We finished our meal with some bacon-wrapped dates.

bacon-wrapped dates

A very successful ending to a great day. Thank you, Parador.

The Cookery – Fish Creek, WI

I don’t often get the chance to visit cool restaurants. Or, at least it seems that way sometimes! But when I do, I like to remember the experience, especially if that experience is to honor a special occasion (even if that occasion is often just the food). So, I thought it might be productive, and fun, to also use this blog space as a place to chronicle my restaurant experiences. Well, here we go: the first restaurant post!

The place: The Cookery

The location: Fish Creek, Wisconsin

As I noted in this post, some of my family and I spent a day in Door County, Wisconsin about two weeks ago. Door County covers most of the state’s peninsula, and just may be one of the coolest places in the state.

We stopped at The Cookery for lunch after a morning of picking cherries and visiting one of our favorite wineries. The lunch was just what we were looking for, fairly light and extremely fresh.

red quinoa and roasted beet salad with feta
-lovely, precisely what I needed-

asian brown rice salad with pineapple, bell peppers, and dried cherries tossed with a sesame peanut vinaigrette
-good, but perhaps a bit heavy-

cookery club
-basic, but satisfying (and with excellent bread)-

eggplant bruschetta

It’s official: Eggplant belongs on my favorite foods list. This hearty and healthy eggplant bruschetta represents my kind of comfort food.

Now that I know that eggplant is fairly easy to grow, it will become an annual summer treat.

I have now completed 58 of Batali’s 327 recipes. Percentage complete: 17.74%