Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fall Dinner: Braised Pork and Cabbage

I chose this recipe because I had a big head of cabbage in my refrigerator just staring at me, and I didn't have anything specific planned with which to use it. There's always coleslaw (which I may still make this weekend with what I have left!) but I wanted something warm and comforting to contrast the cold spell we've had this week. I also had an abundance of pork chops in the freezer that were on sale last week, so this recipe suited both well! I searched on the Everyday Food website, because I had made something similar from that show in the past few months with pork and cabbage that was pretty decent, and I found this Braised Pork and Cabbage recipe. I remembered the other recipe called for milk, which I didn't have, so that was out (here's a link to that recipe: Pork Chops with Bacon and Cabbage).

So... I squared off with my huge head of cabbage and shredded it, 4 cups to be exact. The recipe calls for cole slaw mix, which is simply shredded cabbage and carrots that have been bagged. Everyday Food suggests 4 cups of shredded cabbage mixed with 2 cups of shredded carrots to equal the 1 pound package you can buy, but I definitely thought there were too many carrots. And I love carrots! If I make this again, I would reduce the amount of carrots to one cup. I used my food processor to shred the carrots, but I didn't like how finely it was shredding my cabbage, so I chopped that up on the cutting board by hand.

I really liked how the potatoes were sliced in this dish (whole small red potatoes are sliced 1/4 inch thick); they had nice texture and cooked quickly. We have a family recipe that I like to make at least once a year that consists of sauerkraut, smoked sausage, bacon, potatoes, apple, and red potatoes. It's delicious! This recipe reminded me of that family recipe a bit because they both include caraway seeds, but I usually cut the potatoes into chunks and it has to simmer for a while to fully cook them. I may slice them 1/4 inch thick next time, it was a nice change.

I am glad I waited to post this until we ate some of the leftovers tonight (I prepared this two nights ago), because I enjoyed it more the 2nd time. Wednesday night, I thought it was good, but definitely a unique flavor. I enjoy the tartness that cider vinegar adds to a dish (I used unfiltered cider vinegar from Trader Joe's), but 3/4 cup is a lot of vinegar! Next time, I would cut the amount of vinegar by at least a third and replace it with more water or chicken stock. After eating it tonight, it reminded me of an episode of Giada deLaurentis' show I had seen about "Day Ahead Dishes" (I can't remember if it was Everyday Italian or Giada at Home). She made several dishes that could be prepared the day before, such as chicken simmered with peppers and onions, then simply warmed up on the stove the next day and served, even in the same pot! She explained how it gave the chance for the flavors to really combine, like how a great chili can taste even better the next day. I think this might be the same scenario for this Braised Pork and Cabbage, my husband and I both remarked that the flavors were better tonight. Overall, I would make this again with a few small changes, but I don't think this would be a recipe I'd reach for on a regular basis. Even though this recipe was from March 2004, there was a short video on the website:

If you've tried it, let me know what you think!


Braised Pork and Cabbage

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 well-trimmed bone-in rib pork chops, 8 ounces each
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 package (1 pound) coleslaw mix
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, optional
  • 3/4 pound small red potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick


  1. In a Dutch oven (5-quart pot with a tight-fitting lid), heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Generously sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side. Remove pork.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add remaining tablespoon oil, onion, coleslaw mix, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until cabbage has wilted, about 10 minutes.
  3. Raise heat to high. Add vinegar, caraway seeds, and 1 1/4 cups water; bring to a boil. Add potatoes, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover, and cook until cabbage and potatoes are almost tender, about 20 minutes.
  4. Return pork to pot; cover, and continue cooking until pork is just cooked through and potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes more.
From Everyday Food, March 2004

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Healthy Comfort Food: Lentil Soup

This is the best lentil soup I have ever had, hands down. No comparison. And who do I have to thank for this recipe? My mom! She developed this recipe about 10 years ago, and one or both of us has to make it at least once a year. Sometimes I make it twice if I'm craving it, which you will understand after having just one cup or bowl. The only change I have made to my mom's version is changing the dried spices to fresh herbs, if available. I almost always use fresh parsley (Italian flat leaf is my preference) because it's relatively inexpensive and can be used in other dishes easily. I have been using fresh thyme more and more in the past year or so, so if I have that on hand I definitely use it in the lentil soup. I would like to experiment more with fresh marjoram, which doesn't seem to be as common, but it would be interesting to try since the marjoram is what makes this soup so spectacular. When my mom was developing a few soup recipes, she took a tip from our neighborhood Greek restaurant that had awesome soups. She asked the owner what his secret was... and guess what it was? The marjoram! Yum.

One thing that might need adjustment is the amount of chicken broth, I've found myself using more than what the recipe calls for; you could even add some water instead if needed. I like to rinse out the broth/stock container with a little water and put that into the soup. I've started making my own stock this year, so I use that if I can.

This recipe is definitely worth trying during the fall or winter months when it's colder outside, and a bowl of soup warms both the belly and the heart. I love to make a big pot of it and enjoy it for a few days; if there is any left after a day or two I'll freeze the remaining amount and use within a few months. So good, yum!

Here's the recipe:

Lentil Soup


6 slices of bacon, cut ½ inch wide (approx. ½ lb)

5 whole carrots or the equivalent amount of baby carrots, cut into small dice

2 stalks of celery cut into small dice

6 cloves of garlic, minced

1 large onion, cut into small dice

1 bunch scallions, chopped

32 oz can of roma tomatoes

32 oz can of chicken broth

16 oz dried lentils

3 bay leaves

1 teaspoon dried thyme or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme

2 teaspoons Nature’s Seasons® Seasoning Blend made by Morton Salt

1 teaspoon dried parsley or 2 teaspoons fresh parsley

1 teaspoon marjoram or 2 teaspoons fresh marjoram

Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste

1. Sauté bacon until crispy in large dutch oven or very deep pot.

2. Remove bacon and sauté carrots, celery, garlic, onion, and scallions for several minutes. Reserve cooked bacon and chop into small pieces.

3. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for approximately one hour or until lentils are cooked. Add more broth if needed.

4. Garnish soup with chopped bacon and serve.

Note: This serves approximate twelve large bowl portions or twenty-four cups.

Cool Kitchen Product: Kitchen Laptop Stand

I have developed the habit of printing out recipes from my laptop computer that I find online or that I have seen on cooking shows, typically on 8 1/2 by 11" white paper. However, a moment of inspiration or desire, or which there are many, can contribute to an ever-growing stack of printed recipes, only organized into two piles: recipes that have been tried, and recipes that have yet to be tried. Some recipes may be stuck into a binder that my mom started for me in college; this binder contained family recipes inserted into plastic protective sheets, with extra sheets for me to add my own recipes in the future. Great in theory, but for an inspired cook, this binder can become overstuffed and unorganized quickly!

It is great to have the recipe in hand, to be able to bring it into the kitchen and stick it into my plastic cookbook stand, so I can have it right in front of me while I am making it. But what do I do after I am finished? What if I chose not to make it again, what should I do with the printed recipe? A person can only have so much scrap paper.

I have decided it would be best to develop a system to organize my recipes digitally on my laptop, eliminating the need to print out a single piece of paper. This system would save both time and money (no more wasted paper or expensive printer ink!). In addition to the digital recipes, high speed internet allows access to hundreds of short cooking videos. A few of my favorites are Everyday Food, MyRecipes (which includes Cooking Light), and Rachael Ray's clips from her daytime show (inserted into her recipes). A while back, I was making a Rachael Ray recipe that I had watched her make on TV and I specifically remembered her grating garlic into the pot. I stood in my kitchen peering at the recipe... no garlic listed among the ingredients. I walked over to my laptop, pulled up the video of her making the meal, and counted how many cloves of garlic she grated into the pot. A simple mistake in the recipe made me think: wouldn't it be great to be able to watch that video in the kitchen?

Computers have tried to invade the kitchen and organize your shopping list, maybe even do the shopping for you. But, where can a cook get a high tech computer for the kitchen, that organizes thousands of recipes and that will also play internet cooking videos? I own a laptop, and it's connected to the internet through a wireless router. Should I use my nice laptop in the kitchen and take the chance of getting a spill, or worse, sticky splatter on the keys? My laptop would have to be protected and remain splash proof. Was there a simple solution to my dilemma, perhaps a laptop stand that I could use in the kitchen? I needed a sleek, durable and easy to use kitchen laptop stand that is also easy to clean and store. Lo and behold, I found exactly that on Amazon! Now everyone can have one and have as much fun in the kitchen as I do. Keeping my recipes organized in the kitchen has been as much fun as watching videos as I cook. My Kitchen Laptop Stand also converts into a cookbook holder to hold a traditional cookbook.

Can you believe standard laptop computers may finally have a place in the kitchen? Perhaps the computer just needed a windshield. An organized cook is a happy cook!

The Kitchen Laptop Stand is available on