Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Schnitzel, cucumber salad, fries and cauliflower

My last post is from April 7th. It's not that I haven't eaten since then, but sometimes I forget to take pictures. And other times the food is just not "photo" worthy. As you can see with the picture of the refrigerator soup, it looks awful. It looks more like a swamp in a plate! The soup looks awful but tasted wonderful.

The reason why I took the picture of my dinner tonight is for several reasons. One, to show how important color is when presenting a meal. The food is all white or white-ish and looks like a terrible combination. The other reason why I took the picture is because at least three of the items on the plate remind me of dear friends and new people I've met.

The schnitzel was made with some pork that was leftover from a picnic roast I purchased several months ago. When I interviewed Ursula from Germany for Idaho's Melting Pot, she prepared these fabulous schnitzels from scratch. I love schnitzels but somehow had never fathomed the idea of making them myself (yeah, I know, I'm such a dork sometimes). When I saw how easy it was to make and how wonderful they tasted, I knew this was going to be a keeper!

The cucumber salad is something I learned from Ursula as well. Salting the slices helps to remove some of the water from the cukes and improve the cucumber flavor, and a dollop of sour cream adds silkiness, flavor and a great balance. A great dish that is a winner everytime!

The fries were home-cut and home-fried in the oven. When I visited Mark in West Virginia I made these fries for dinner one night. Mark loved them and said they were the best oven fries he had ever tasted. Quite a compliment from such a good cook!

And the cauliflower.....I had forgotten how great cauliflower tastes. When I saw a recipe for cauliflower on My Kitchen In Half Cups, I was inspired to make it. As usual, I'm useless with recipes and ended up doing my own thing. Still turned out great (cauliflower with cheese is SOOOO Dutch!) but the real surprise was the few raw florets that were left over in the colander. I munched on them while I prepared the rest of the food and was delighted with the fresh, crisp taste. Gotta remember that!

But most of all, the reason why I'm posting the picture and the recipes is because all four items are so simple and easy to make. And I believe that in there lies the charm of good food: simple, easy to make and yet so tasty.

4 boneless pork chops
1 egg
1 cup of panko or homemade breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon of garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon of italian herbs or your own favorite blend
1 tablespoon of butter or oil

Butterfly the pork chops, cover them with plastic film and pound them thin. Beat the egg in a plate, mix the panko and seasonings in another. Dip the meat on both sides in the egg, then dip it in the breadcrumbs so that each side of the meat is neatly covered. Pat the coating down carefully with a flat hand and repeat the process with the rest of the meat.

Heat the butter or oil in a skillet and brown the schnitzels on both sides, for about four minutes each. Since the meat is so thin, it doesn't need a lot of time to be ready.

German Cucumber Salad
1 medium size cucumber
1 teaspoon of salt
1 heaping tablespoon of sour cream
Pinch of dill and ground pepper

Peel the cucumber, then slice on a mandolin or cheese slicer into thin slices. Sprinkle the salt over the cucumber and mix well. Set aside for about 30 minutes. Pour off the excess water. Taste a slice. If it's too salty, you can rinse the cucumber and get rid of the saltiness. Stir in the sour cream, the dill and the pepper. Taste and adjust.

French fries
4 large Russett potatoes
4 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
Pinch of salt

Scrub the potatoes, dry them and cut into 6 wedges. Dry the cut pieces with a paper towel. Heat two tablespoons of oil on a rimmed baking sheet in a 450F oven. Toss the potatoes with the remaining oil and place the skin-side down in the hot oil. Bake for about 10 minutes, turn the potatoes on their side, bake for another ten minutes and turn them over on the other side. When they're golden brown, take them out, toss them in a bowl lined with paper towels and salt. Eat while hot.

Cauliflower with cheese
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Pinch of italian seasonings
1/2 cup of grated cheddar cheese

Parboil the florets in the microwave, two minutes. Toss with the olive oil, add the garlic and seasonings and bake in an oven dish for twenty minutes. Sprinkle the cheese on top, bake for several minutes more until the cheese is melted and serve.

See? Simple as can be, and yet so good, easy and affordable.

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