Saturday, September 09, 2006

Quick Food

I love this cookbook. I'd forgotten about it for a while, when I wasn't cooking much, and recently rediscovered it, complete with many post-it-note marked recipes to try. Leafing through, I was reminded of how much I like it. It's a very stylish cookbook. Each recipe takes up only a page, with the opposite page containing a beautiful and appetizing picture. There are rarely more than 10 ingredients, but they're all real ingredients. Unlike most "quick" cookbooks, it doesn't rely on a convenience foods to make things fast. And best of all, it's a cookbook written for cooks - with only a single (small) page for each recipe, the instructions are sparse and assume you know what you are doing.

The roughly 200 recipes in this small chunky book are organized not according to ingredients or place in the meal, but by method of cooking. Pot. Pan. Wok. Grill. Oven. With the exception of a small section called Dessert, they are all main dishes. It's a little gimicky, but I think it works.

According to this article, Quick Foods is just one of a larger series of books originally from Australia (which would account for the larger than American standard number of lamb recipes). Other titles include Comfort Food, Cool Food, Veggie Food and several more. I'd say that I needed to rush out and pick up the rest of the series, but instead, I think I'll try to get through a few more of the post-it notes in this one first! On my first pass through the book, I marked sooo many recipes that I gave up marking halfway through the book, knowing that I could pretty much just open a page at random and find something interesting.

Some of the recipes I've made and enjoyed so far have included:

  • Orecchiette with mushrooms, pancetta and smoked mozarella
  • Salmon and dill potato patties with lime mayonnaise
  • Chicken breasts with mustard cream sauce
Tonight I tried out a new recipe, and was very pleased with the result. Given that I've written about both paprika and sherry vinegar recently, it's not a surprise that it jumped off the page at me and insisted on being cooked.

Pork with Smoked Paprika, Potatoes and Shallots
(adapted from Quick Foods, from Laurel Glen Publishing)

1 tbsp paprika
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
4 thick pork loin chops
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 sherry vinegar
1/2 c crushed tomatoes in puree
1 c hot water
1 lb potatoes, cut into 1/2-3/4 inch pieces
8 shallots, peeled
6 handfuls of arugula

Mix the paprkia, salt and pepper, and sprinkle over both sides of the pork chops. Heat the olive oil over medium in a deep pan large enough to hold all the chops at once. Sear the loin chops until browned, about 2 minutes on each side. Remove from pan and set aside.

Deglaze the pan with the sherry vinegar, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes and the water, and bring to a boil. Add the potatoes and shallots, lower heat and cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

Add pork chops back to the pan and cook for 6 minutes or longer, until they are done to your liking. Remove from the pan. If necessary, bring the sauce back up to a boil and reduce slightly.

Divide arugula between four plates. Top each with a pork chop, some potatoes and the sauce. (Contrary to my picture above, we found that we liked this best when the arugula got wilty, so do go ahead and mound everything up together.)

Serves four.

No comments: