Monday, August 30, 2010

Maple-Mustard Pork Chops from Cooking Light

Last week, I caught the first episode of Masterchef and first challenge included pork chops. Whitney Miller from Mississippi is twenty-two years old and has never made pork chops before. She won the challenge. How can a young woman who has never made pork chops win the challenge? How come I don't make pork chops more? Pork tends to be a relatively cheap meat and if you choose the right cut, it can be really lean. The scary part about cooking pork chops for me is over-cooking it. I fear a dry pork chop.

Well, I fear no more. Marshall and I went to Harris Teeter and picked up two thick-cut pork chops. We went for the thick-cut because we figured there were less chances of drying them out. There are two things that I felt were key about cooking this dish. One, use a regular pan so that some of the juices and meat sticks to the pan a bit. This will give great flavor to the sauce. Two, I seared each side of the pork for 3 minutes each and then let the pan sit in the oven at 350F for 7 minutes. Since I seared each side, it helped keep the moisture in.

The maple-mustard sauce is amazing. This sauce is so simple and it compliments the pork chops very well. Its not too sweet and the mustard doesn't punch. This is definitely a dish I will be making for my friends.

Maple-Mustard Pork Chops
Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

2 bone-in center-cut pork chops, thick-cut
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Pre-heat oven to 350F. Sprinkle both sides of pork with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.

2. Heat a oven-safe large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add pork to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until cooked through, but with a slight blush in the center. Place pan in an oven for 7 minutes. Take pan out of oven and take pork chops out of pan. Place aside on a plate and cover with foil.

3. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add butter to pan, swirling pan to coat. Add shallots; sauté 3 minutes or until tender and translucent. Add broth; bring to a boil, and cook 1 minute. Stir in mustard, syrup, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook 1 minute or until slightly thick. Return pork to pan. (Add a bit of water to pan if the sauce is too thick) Cook pork 3 minute on each side or until thoroughly heated (be careful not to overcook pork). Serve pork with sauce. Garnish each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons parsley.

The pork chops were $6.15 for two pieces. We had to pick up Dijon mustard which was $2.99 a jar. The green beans were frozen and $2.50 per bag. The mashed potatoes were made with Yukon Gold which was $3.99 per 5lb bag.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

DC State Fair

Corn Dogs, funnel cake, popcorn, fried Oreos...this is what comes to mind when I think about state or county fairs. I used to wander around and people watch. I used to be jealous of the girls who had boyfriends who rode with them on the Ferris Wheel. I used to get sick from going on the spinning rides that my brother would dare me to go on. I used to spend a lot of money trying to win just one prize. It was all fun and the food will always be my best memory of fairs.

A couple of friends of mine have organized the DC State Fair. I understand that the argument is that DC is not a state but I'd agree that "district fair" just doesn't bring on good memories the way "state fair" does. The DC State Fair will be going on this Saturday at the Tubman Elementary Field (11th and Irving Streets NW). For more information on the fair, please visit

Here is the schedule of events:

11:00 AM Winners of the Photography Contest announced
11:30AM-12PM Jam Contest judging and awards
12PM-12:30PM Pickle Contest judging and awards
12:30PM-1PM Cupcake Contest judging and awards
1PM-2PMPie Contest judging and awards
2PM-2:30PM Funkiest-Looking Vegetable judging and awards
2:30PM-3PM Biggest Vegetable contests weighing and awards
3PM Winners of DC Homebrew Contest announced
3:15PM Raffle winners announced
3:30PM Columbia Heights Day Cupcake Eating Contest (Stage 2)
4PM-4:30PM Tastiest Tomato judging and awards

Sunday, August 15, 2010

DC Food Blogger Happy Hour - 1 Year Anniversary!!

Its hard to believe that it has been one year since the first DC Food Blogger Happy Hour. My friend Anna came with me to hold my hand through it because frankly, social events were (and still are) intimidating to me. We walked into the Poste courtyard and we were faced with a wall of people. I could not believe that all these people were all food bloggers but they all were. And not only that, they were so friendly! That was the day I met Nick from Macheesmo and Rex from Savory Reviews. While drinking beers and under the September blue sky, they gave me blogging advice and we discussed food. Its great that we are still friends and still discussing food.

September 1st will be the 1 year anniversary of the first DC Food Blogger Happy Hour. I've had a great time meeting bloggers and have really enjoyed being part of the planning committee. This month's hosts are Jenna from Modern Domestic and Amelia from Gradually Greener. Please stop by, say "hello" and try Poste's famous truffle fries. RSVP Here.

Note: If you are interested in joining the planning committee to help arrange and host a DC Food Blogger Happy Hour, please email me at thriftydccook at gmail dot com.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Caffeinated Pancakes

***Disclaimer*** This recipe is not appropriate for children, pregnant women, or those with a heart condition.

Today is Marshall's birthday and I've known that I needed to do something special for awhile. I wanted him to wake up to bacon frying, pancakes on the griddle, and easy-over eggs. The reality is that he would curse my name if I had fed him that meal because he would end up asleep on his desk at work. So when I eyed a tin of chocolates that our friends Jenny and Josh gave to Marshall, I suddenly had a plan...Caffeinated Pancakes.

These are special chocolates, you see. Not special like "magic brownies" but special in other ways. They are chocolates from Germany and each piece of chocolate contains as much caffeine as two cups of coffee. It hit me that these would be great in pancakes. This way, Marshall can get a cool birthday breakfast and still keep his job by not falling asleep at work.


1 cup of Aunt Jemima's Pancake Mix - $2.49 per box
3/4 cups of milk - $1.99 per quart
1 egg - $3.99 per dozen
1 Tablespoon of oil - free from previous purchase
2 pieces of Scho-Ka-Kola Chocolate (cut up to little pieces) - free from a gift ($5.99 per tin)
2 oz of milk chocolate (chopped into little pieces) - free from a gift

Heat skillet to medium-low. Combine all the ingredients until large clumps disappear (don't over mix though.) Pour 1/4 cup of mix onto skillet. Cook until bubbles appear on top of the pancake and then flip over and cook until other side is a golden brown.

We ate the pancakes with a little butter, a little maple syrup, and sliced bananas. And yes, we drank coffee too. I wondered if I was going to be hyper from the chocolates. I didn't think so until I realized that I was pacing back and forth waiting for an elevator. After that, I stopped wondering if those chocolates were really caffeinated. These chocolates can be purchased online at the

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Beef Thai Salad at the 14&U Farmers Market

I've worked in two Thai restaurants in my life. The most recent experience was at Thai X-ing on 5th Street and Florida Avenue NW. Taw is the owner and chef of the restaurant. The restaurant had 8 seats total but had a mad, crazy take-out business. I started working there January of 2009. My then-boyfriend had just broken up with me and I was emotionally numb. The day after the break-up, I went to dinner with my roommate at Thai X-ing. We sat in a cluttered yet cozy corner where we had a narrow view of the kitchen. We were surrounded by drawing of tigers and books about art. Taw had opera playing and we could hear the phone ringing and orders being taken. The wait for the dinner was long but it was worth it. We dipped our spoons in the the Panang Chicken, tasted it, paused, and then looked at each other in amazement. It was the best Panang curry I had ever eaten.

After dinner, Taw came out and I casually asked him if he was willing to take on an apprentice. I was willing to cut, chop, clean in order to learn how to make that Panang curry. Turns out that Taw was in need of help and the next Saturday, I was there at 3pm to prep. It was the middle of winter and my hands became chapped from washing and chopping all the vegetables in the cold end of the kitchen. Taw liked the vegetables cut in triangle and he taught me about cutting things into the same size so that everything cooked evenly. Taw taught me to cook the curry for a long time so that the flavor of the spices were enhanced, add the coconut milk and let it stew some more. Taw taught me that the trick to a good curry is to cook the curry and coconut milk for a while and to add the meat and vegetables when needed. He taught me to always garnish. I left that kitchen every Saturday night dead tired, with chapped hands, with an aching back, and a little bit more whole as a person.

I don't think about the ex anymore but I do still think about all those Thai dishes I helped make. This is a very simple salad that packs a lot of flavor. The dressing is lime juice, minced garlic, sugar, and fish sauce. That is it. I decided not to add chili just because there are very few people I know who can take Thai chili heat. It can be added in the dressing if desired. I would serve this as an appetizer because the flavor is so strong, it would be a bit much for a whole entree.

Beef Thai Salad
Adapted from

1-lb London Broil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp sugar
5 tbsp fish sauce
5 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1 head Bibb or Boston; or 1 heart of Romaine lettuce.
12 sprigs fresh mint (optional), remove the leaves and discard the stems
1 small cucumber (seeds removed), peeled and sliced thin
1 small red onion, sliced very thin
3 or 4 sprigs cilantro, stems removed
Chopped roasted peanuts (optional)

Grill or broil the London Broil until medium-rare. Trim off any fat. Cool and slice thin, into pieces approx. 2 inches across and 1/8 inch thick.

Mix garlic, fish sauce, lime juice, and sugar in a small bowl. Add the sliced meat and toss with the cucumbers and shallots. Taste and add more fish sauce if desired.

Make a bed of the lettuce on a serving plate. Place the beef on top. Top with peanuts if desired. Garnish with cilantro.

The recipe actually called for Sirloin Steak but I used London Broil instead because it is a less expensive cut of meat. The intensity of the dressing will overpower the taste of the steak so there is no reason to spend a lot of money on sirloin steak when the London Broil will be just as good (and it was $4 less per lb.) The beef was from Pecan Meadows Farm, a vendor at the 14th and U Farmers Market.

Olga from Mango and Tomato, Alejandra from One Bite at a Time, and Tammy from Adventures of a Florida Girl in DC and I were invited to demo some summer recipes at the 14 and U Farmers Markets. We had an amazing time and were so happy share these recipes. Big thank you to Adventures in Shaw for getting the ball rolling and bringing us bloggers together. Below are the other dishes that were served at the demo.

Goat Cheesecake
Raw Beet and Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese Medallions
Farmers Market Vegetable Confetti Salad with Champagne-Dijon Vinaigrette
No Bake Lasagna

Friday, August 6, 2010

14&U Farmers Market - Cooking Demo

Do you ever wonder what to do with all that wonderful produce that is available at Farmers Markets? Tomorrow, a few food bloggers and I will be doing cooking demos using produce and items that can be found at the 14th and U Market. Please come by and say "hi" and sample some of the food.

Here is the program:

* 10 AM Olga Berman - will create a Raw Beet and Arugula Salad with Goat Cheese.
* 10:45AM Alejandra Owens - has Goat Cheesecake and No bake Lasagne.
* 11:30 Tammy Gordon - is on with a Farmers Market Summer Confetti
* 12:15 Sylvie Nguyen - is doing a delicious Thai Beef Salad

Hope to see you there! For more information on the 14&U Farmers Market, please click here.