"True wine enthusiasts don’t collect wines.
They collect memories of wines shared with friends and family."

-Dario Zucconi

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Stuffed Pork Loin Chops with Twice-Baked Cheesy Potatoes and Arugula Salad

I love Sundays! Sundays come with a level of anxiety about the fact that the weekend is almost over, and wishing that we had an extra day to the weekend.  But, it is still my favorite day of the week. For as long as I can remember, Sunday has always been a "family" day for me. It has also become a day when my creative culinary mind goes on overdrive. Having a family of my own -- and having a career outside of the home - Sunday has become a day when I look forward to creating some delicious dishes for my family to enjoy together on Sunday in a relaxing way, and to share our gratitude for the many blessings we have in our lives.

This week was a rough week on so many levels. But, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonades . . . literally!

We have this amazingly huge Meyer Lemon tree in our backyard. It is now overflowing with delicious and juicy lemons. Today was an unusually warm day in the Bay Area (with temperatures in the 70s). The kids wanted to make lemonade. After my daughter's basketball game, we picked some lemons from the tree.  My daughter and I made lemonade with fresh mint and a hint of pure vanilla extract (my secret weapon for extra flavor!). Her words: "This lemonade is refreshing and delicious!" My 7-year-old son's words: "It's also very cool and yummy! Can I have some more, please?"

Lemonade is refreshing, but it's not a meal. For dinner, I made yummy pork loin chops, stuffed with a delectable mixture of chopped dried Crimson raisins, Blue Stilton Cheese, chopped fresh parsley and fresh thyme. It's a fairly simple, but elegantly delicious, way to cook the pork chops. Rough Recipe:
  • Soak the raisins in some dry white wine for about 20-30 minutes until they are soft and plump.
  • When soft, drain the raisins (discard the wine), and finely chop.
  • Stir in some Stilton Cheese (goat cheese also works well here).
  • Stir in chopped fresh parsley and thyme.
  • Season the chops with salt and pepper.
  • Slit a deep pocket in the chops (or ask your Butcher to make pockets for you).
  • Stuff the cheese/raisin mixture inside the pockets of the pork chops (sealing them so the stuffing doesn't fall out).
  • Pan sear the pork chops on the stove over medium-high heat (about 5 minutes per side) - Cast Iron skillets work great, if you have one. 
  • Finish cooking the chops in the oven for about 15-20 minutes (depending on how thick your chops are).
  • When cooked, take the chops out and let them stand (loosely covered) for about 5 minutes before slicing/serving.
We served the pork chops over a bed of fresh Arugula salad (dressed in a simple home-made lemon vinaigrette dressing) and a twice-baked cheesy potato (this is my husband's specialty, and the kids' favorite!).

Basically, we bake regular Russet Potatoes, like you are making baked potatoes.  When soft, slice the potatoes in half (lengthwise), and scoop out the flesh of the potatoes (saving the skins). Mix in some butter, half and half, shredded cheese (Mexican 5-Cheese or Cheddar), and salt and pepper.  Then, stuff the potato back in the skins, and bake them again for about 30 minutes. Yummy!

For the wine. . . We decided to try this Cabernet Sauvignon blend that I picked up from Costco for about $20 a couple of weeks ago.  It's regularly more than $40, but Costco was having a nice discount on this wine. It's St. Clement's "Oroppas" 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon (http://www.stclement.com/OROPPAS). It's a Bordeaux-style blend that is incredibly delicious.  It has a deep purple color.  It has concentrated depths of flavors of dark black cherries, espresso, and black currants and just a hint of licorice, but with soft tannins and a lingering and velvety finish on the palate. The majority of the grape varietals are Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, with some Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc.

I was surprised that when we opened the bottle, we didn't have to let it breathe for that long before we could enjoy the wonderful flavors of the wine. I would definitely pick up another bottle next time I am at Costco. And, even better, next time I am in the Napa Valley, I may have to stop by for a visit at the Winery. 

Here is hoping that you were able to cherish this weekend with your family. Until next time . . . Cheers!


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