Kickin' It Old School: German Style

Here is another great recipe from my mom's collection that we made when I was visiting. This meal is an old German recipe that my mom has had since her hay days in Newport Beach. She got the recipe from one of her favorite places in Newport at the time called Gulliver's and immediately made it her own. My dad calls this meal the "one where everyone does not talk" because everyone is eating and loving it. This is a fabulous, hearty cold weather meal that is great for company or any night of the week.

German Style Roast Pork Dinner
Recipe from Mom, adapted from Gulliver's, Newport Beach, CA
serves 4

For the Pork Roast: Rub Lawry's seasoning salt, pepper and garlic salt all over a 4lb boneless center cut pork roast. Bake at 350 degrees in roasting pan for about 1 1/2 hours or until internal temp reaches 150 degrees. Let rest on a carving board for 15 minutes before slicing.

For the Apples: Peel, core and cut 8 apples into thick slices. Toss in a glass baking dish with enough brown sugar, honey, cinnamon and nutmeg to coat evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, mixing occasionally and adding more brown sugar and honey as needed. (Can be made in advance and reheated before serving)

For the Potatoes: Peel and clean 5 large potatoes, cut into 1/8ths and place in large saucepan or stock pot with enough cold water to cover. Bring pot to a boil over high heat and cook potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes of boiling time. Drain the potatoes and place back into the warm pot. Allow the steam to rise for a couple of minutes to get rid of excess moisture. Using a ricer, food mill or potato masher, mash potatoes into desired consistency (I like them smooth, but some like lumps!), but not too much that they get gummy. Add 1/2 cup of warm heavy cream and 1/2 stick of melted butter, salt and pepper to taste. you can always add more liquid if they appear dry. (Make these while the roast is in the oven)

For the Gravy: After placing pork roast on the carving board to rest, place roasting pan on the stove over medium high heat. Add a few table spoons of flour to the pan (enough to coat) and using a whisk, mix together the flour and pan drippings. Pour in 1 cup of dry white wine to the hot pan to deglaze, use the whisk to scrape up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan while mixing everything together. Once the mixture is bubbling and reduced slightly, add in 1 cup of chicken broth, salt and pepper. Continue to stir and bubble to allow to reduce. Once sauce has thickened, transfer sauce to a warm serving bowl with ladle.

For the cabbage: Slice 1 cabbage and steam in pan with a bit of champagne (you can use water or wine as a sub) with the lid on until just cooked, but not too crisp. Meanwhile saute 6 to 8 slices of bacon, cut into 1 inch bits, until crisp. Drain the cabbage well and toss in the bacon and fat. Season with Lawry's season salt and pepper to taste. Let sit while you are making the gravy.

This is one of my longer recipes that require more components, but the results all together are so great. Ladle a generous amount of gravy over the meat and potatoes. Try to get every component on your fork for one fabulous bite and all the cooking will be worth it.



Addicting Pumpkin Bread

I just got home from a great trip to visit my parents in Colorado. My mom is who taught me how to cook and has some fantastic recipes for the fall. This first one is for a pumpkin bread so moist you won't believe it. It is delicious for breakfast as well as for dessert with a scoop of ice cream. This is an easy recipe and makes 2 loaves, so make one for yourself and use the other as a gift.

Pumpkin Bread

4 eggs, beaten
2 cups sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup cold water
1 lb canned pumpkin
2 1/2 cups of sifted flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp each nutmeg, cinnamon, ground clove

Mix ingredients together until smooth using a hand mixer or stand up mixer. Fill two loaf pans about half way up the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/4 hours. Enjoy!

My mom also told me that these freeze nicely. I like to cut a piece off and stick it in the microwave until warm and then serve with a pat of butter. Totally decadent, but so great on a crisp fall morning.



Cheese Straws

To quote Deb from Smitten Kitchen, "meet my new favorite party trick." I couldn't have said it better myself. When I saw these on her site I was amazed I had never heard of them. A handheld cheese snack? Yes, please. Make a batch for your next party, put them in a pretty glass on your table. Watch your guests gobble them up. Next time I'm doubling the recipe.

Cheese Straws

from Smitten Kitchen, adapted from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook

1 1/2 cups (about 6 ounces) grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened and cut into 4 pieces
3/4 cup flour, plus more for dusting

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon half-and-half

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a food processor, combine the cheese, butter, flour, salt and red pepper in five 5-second pulses until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the half-and-half and process until the dough forms a ball, about 10 seconds.
3. On a lightly floured surface, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough into an 8- by 10-inch rectangle that is 1/8-inch thick. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into thin 8-inch strips, each 1/4- to 1/3-inch wide (dipping the knife in flour after every few inches ensures a clean cut). Gently transfer the strips to an ungreased cookie sheet, leaving at least 1/4-inch between them. The dough may sag or may break - don't worry, they taste the same no matter how they look! The straws can be any length, from 2 to 10 inches.
4. Bake the straws on the middle rack for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the ends are barely browned. Remove from the oven and set the cookie sheet on a rack to cool.
5. Serve at room temperature.

XOXO, Jenna


Bacon + Chocolate = Yum

I know, I know it sounds like a bad foodie nightmare, but really it is quite delicious. I recently discovered Mo's Bacon Bar by Vosges Chocolates. It is a dark chocolate candy bar with bits if applewood smoked bacon and smoked salt inside. It sounds bizarre, but I think it brings a new fun spin on the regular ole' chocolate bar.

For those of you that have never heard of Vosges, it is "Haut-Chocolat" company that makes interesting and beautiful chocolates and toffee. They have truffles with cayenne pepper in them, amazing caramels with sea salt and toffee with many, many nuts. They also carry a wide variety of old fashioned favorites for those less adventurous candy lovers. (see chocolate covered caramels with marshmallows)

With the holidays coming up, I thought I would share this gem of an online food store as they have gorgeous packaging and quick delivery. This is the perfect thank you gift, happy holidays gift (everyone is always getting candy, you could be the gift-giver that everyone remembers) or just a gift to yourself! You can also find the bacon bar in some grocery stores, it was at the butcher's counter at my local Fresh Market. :)

PS: You may think I am getting a kick back from this company, but I really just love the candy! I wish I was!



Extreme Makeover: Chicken Soup Addition

Everyone loves the comfort of a bowl of steamy chicken soup on a cold day. This time of year always gets me excited to try new soup recipes and I found one that is easy and delicious. I also tried making my own stock for the first time. There were definitely some things I would do differently (bigger chicken, use less water, remember celery at the grocery store), but I think it did make a huge difference. This recipe that I found includes the recipe for chicken stock and there is extra that you can freeze for another round of soup. Those of you from Chicago may have been to one of my fav brunch spots, Feast, in Bucktown and I am obsessed with their tortilla soup. Well, let's get serious, I order tortilla soup anywhere I see it on the menu. The version at Feast has a beautifully rich broth that you can tell was made from scratch. I think this recipe is pretty close and can be tweaked in so many ways. Be generous with the salt and pepper and feel free to add more heat!

Mexican Tortilla Soup
Adapted from, Tyler Florence
serves 4

2 Tbls extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 jalappenos, seeded and minced
3 ripe medium tomatoes, chopped
1 cup of corn kernals (fresh or frozen would work, just thaw out the frozen kernals before using)
1 quart chicken stock (recipe follows or use store bought)
Salt and Pepper
Canola Oil, for pan frying
8 corn tortillas, cut into 1/8 inch strips
1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken (if you make the stock, use the stock chicken. Or use a rotisserie chicken from the market to save time!)

2 avacados, halved, pitted and diced
1 cup shredded Cheddar or Jack cheese
1/2 cup (or more!) of coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1 lime, but in wedges, for serving (squeeze lime juice over each bowl before serving)

Place a stockpot over medium heat and coat with olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, jalapenos and tomatoes and cook until cooked down and pulpy. About 15 minutes and continue to stir. Pour in the stock and chicken, season with a generous amount of salt and pepper, simmer for 20 minutes over low heat, covered.

Meanwhile, heat 1 inch of canola oil in a skillet over medium-high flame. When the oil begins to smoke, add the tortilla strips in batches and fry until crisp (It takes just a few seconds!) Remove to a paper towel-lined platter and sprinkle with salt while they are still hot.

Ladle the hot soup into bowls and top each bowl with the avacado, tortilla strips, cheese, cilantro and lime.

Chicken Stock

1 whole free-range chicken (about 3 1/2 lbs), rinsed, giblets removed
2 carrots, cut in large chunks (no need to peel)
3 celery stalks, cut into large chunks
2 large onions, quartered
1 large head of garlic, top cut off so cloves are exposed (skins and all)
1 turnip, halved
handful of fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of whole black peppercorns
Place everything in a large stockpot over medium heat. Pour in only enough water to cover (about 3 quarts). Bring pot to a boil, then lower to medium low heat and gently simmer for 1 1/2 hours, partially covered, until the chicken is done. As it cooks, skim any impurities that rise to the surface (you will notice it in the beginning if it happens, 30 min in). you can add more water to keep the chicken covered if necessary.

Carefully remove the chicken to a cutting board. When it is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones; hand-shred the meat into a storage container. Carefully strain the liquid through a fine sieve into another pot to remove the vegetable solids. Use the stock immediately for the soup, or if you are going to store it, make sure to cool completely before placing in the fridge (good for 1 week) or freezer. (yields 2 quarts)

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