crispy rice with spring vegetables and spicy korean barbecue-style pork

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This is a mash-up of two recipes by Bon Appetit and Tasty. It’s really good! Because it is loaded with fresh vegetables, crispy rice, and spicy tender pork. So many textures and flavours to enjoy!

Crispy Rice with Spring Vegetables
For Two

4 oz snow peas or sugar snap peas, strings removed and sliced diagonally
1 Japanese cucumber, sliced into thin rounds
Pinch or two of salt
Splash rice vinegar, optional
4 scallions sliced on the diagonal, reserving some of the green tops for sprinkling
2 tablespoons rice bran oil or vegetable oil
3 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, divided
1 rice cooker cup of short grain rice, cooked and chilled at least 10-12 hours
Spicy Korean Barbecue-style Pork (recipe follows)

Dressing
2 tablespoons gochujang or Sriracha sauce
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons honey
2-4 teaspoons sesame oil
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1-2 tablespoons water.

Accompaniments
1/2 cup fresh or frozen green peas cooked 3-4 minutes in boiling water until just tender
2 cups fresh pea shoots, bean sprouts, watercress, or baby arugula
Pickled radish
Carrot and daikon quick pickles
1 fried or poached egg per person, optional

Prep vegetables. Put cucumber rounds in a small bowl and season with salt to taste. Toss cucumbers and let sit. Pour off any excess water then add splash of vinegar if desired. Taste and season with more salt, vinegar, and a pinch of sugar, if desired. Set vegetables aside.

Crisp the rice. Heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 teaspoon sesame oil in a large skillet or wok, preferably non-stick, over medium-high heat. Add remaining scallions to the hot oil and cook, stirring until the scallions soften, about 1-2 minutes. Scrape scallions and oil into a large bowl. Reserve the pan. Add rice and a bit of salt to the scallions and oil. Mix well until rice is smooth, no lumps.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in the work or skillet over medium heat. As soon as the oil is hot (I test the oil by sticking a wooden chopstick in the oil. If bubbles gather around the tip, the oil is hot enough.) Scrape rice into the center of the pan, and flatten it so it is even, keeping it away from the sides. You want to crisp the bottom of the rice but not make it thin like a pancake. Cook until the bottom is dark golden brown, about 6-8 minutes.

While the rice is browning, make the dressing in a small bowl. Only add 2 teaspoons sesame oil to start. If using Sriracha, omit the water. Taste and add more gochujang, Sriracha or sesame oil to taste. Set dressing aside.

When rice is browned, chop it up into chunks with a spatula and divide it between two bowls. Keep warm by covering the bowls with a kitchen towel. Set aside.

In the empty skillet or wok, combine the green peas and snow peas and cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until the snow peas turn bright green, about 1 minute. Add a splash of water to the pan until it sizzles and cook another minute more. Lightly season with salt and share it between the two rice bowls.

Next, lightly stir fry the pea shoots/bean sprouts/watercress/arugula. When it wilts slightly, lightly sprinkle a little fish sauce or soy sauce. Stir to combine and divide it between the rice bowls.

If using, fry or poach the eggs, one per person. Add to the rice bowls. Arrange some pickled radish, cucumbers, daikon and carrot in the bowls. Add spicy Korean barbecue-style pork (recipe follows) then sprinkle dressing and scallion over all. Serve at once with extra dressing on the side.

Spicy Korean Barbecue-style Pork
250g pork tenderloin slices, chilled or frozen for easier slicing
1/2 small red onion, sliced into thin strips
3 stalks scallion, sliced on the diagonal
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger root, minced
2 tablespoons gochujang
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine
2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon rice bran oil or vegetable oil
Sesame seed to garnish, if desired

Put meat in a medium bowl and add all the ingredients except the rice bran or vegetable oil and sesame seeds. Toss to combine. Refrigerate meat 30 minutes.

Heat oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add pork mixture and stir fry until the pork is no longer pink, about 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle a bit of sesame seeds on top, if desired. Divide among rice bowls. Serve at once.

bun cha: vietnamese grilled pork patties with rice vermicelli, salad, and pickles

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Bun cha, Vietnamese grilled pork patties with rice vermicelli, salad, and pickles, is a favourite dish of mine because of its emphasis on fresh ingredients. I’ve eaten different versions of it so this is a combination of memory, though the base recipe is from America’s Test Kitchen. The grilled pork could have been dry but dipping it in sauce for a few minutes before serving immerses the pork in flavour and anticipation. The salad and quick pickles provide extra relish for the chewy noodles, but I could barely restrain myself from pouring more sauce over all. 

Bun Cha (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
Yield: 4-6 servings

Noodles and Salad
6 oz/170 grams rice vermicelli
1 head/8 oz lettuce, shredded
1 English cucumber, peeled, halved and sliced on the bias, optional
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves and stems
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, shredded (roll up leaves and shred crosswise)

Quick Pickles
1/2 cup daikon white radish, cut into matchstick size pieces
1/2 cup carrots, cut into matchstick size pieces

Sauce
1-2 Thai chilies, stemmed and minced
3 tablespoons sugar
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup hot water
5 tablespoons fish sauce
juice of 2 large limes

Pork Patties
1 large shallot, finely minced
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
400 grams ground pork

Make noodles and salad. Boil a large pot of water. Add the noodles and cook until just tender, 4-5 minutes. Drain noodles and rinse in cold water until cool. Drain noodles well, spread noodles out on a baking tray double lined with paper towels, then let stand at room temperature to dry, turning occasionally. Arrange lettuce, cucumber, if using, cilantro and basil separately on a large platter. Refrigerate until needed. Arrange dry noodles on a plate.

Make the sauce. Put chilies, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and garlic in a mortar and pound to a fine paste. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add the hot water and the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add fish sauce and lime juice, stirring until combined. Set aside.

Make the quick pickles. In a medium bowl, soak matchstick vegetables in hot water until softened. Drain. Pour 1/3 cup of sauce over the vegetables and marinate for 5 minutes. Remove the pickles from the sauce and arrange them on the plate with the salad. Keep the sauce for the meat patties.

Make the pork patties. Combine the shallot, fish sauce, sugar, baking soda, and white pepper in a medium bowl. Add pork and mix well. Shape pork into 12-14 patties, each about 2.5 inches wide and 1/2 inch thick.

Heat griddle over medium-high heat. Brush lightly with oil. Cook patties until browned, 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer grilled patties to the bowl with sauce and toss gently to coat. Let stand 5 minutes.

Transfer patties to a serving plate, reserving the sauce. Return reserved sauce to the remainder of the sauce. Serve noodles, salad, quick pickles, sauce, and pork patties separately.

cuban style citrus roast pork with mojo sauce

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For this recipe, I used a one-pound boneless pork shoulder roast and scaled all ingredients accordingly. The pork turned out tasty and tender, with a cumin-citrus flavor. The citrus juice helped tenderize the meat as well as add complexity. Putting the roast on a bed of onion rather than a roasting rack was inspired, adding onion flavor to the meat and the sauce around it. The mojo sauce was delicious and needed no other seasoning, just the orange-lime juice. But it took a long time to cook because it was wrapped—it took 1 hour and 40 minutes for a 500g piece of pork shoulder, wrapped. I should either cover the pan rather than the roast or cook it in a slow cooker all day. I made this roast for the express purpose of making cubanos, Cuban roast pork sandwiches, which were served with twice-fried smashed green banana.

Cuban Style Citrus Pork Roast with Mojo Sauce (adapted from Elizabeth Germain, Milk Street)
Time: 10 hours
Yield: 4 servings (one-pound roast)

For the Dry Rub:
3 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika
4-5 pound bone-in pork butt, fat cap trimmed to 1/4-1/2 inch

For the Herb-Garlic Paste:
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2/3 cup orange juice of 2-3 oranges
1 teaspoon grated lime zest
1/3 cup lime juice of 2-3 limes
1/3 cup fresh oregano leaves
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons EVOO
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1-4 medium-large onions, depending on the size of the roast
½ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
lime wedges, to serve

In a small bowl, mix together the salt and paprika. Using a paring knife and a twisting motion, make twelve 1-inch deep cuts all over the pork. Rub pork all over with salt mixture then wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 8-24 hours.

Heat oven 400˚F/200˚C with the rack in the lower middle position. Zest the orange and limes and set aside. In a 1-cup liquid measuring cup, combine orange and lime juice. In a food processor, combine orange and lime zests, oregano, garlic, oil, cumin and pepper. Process until the garlic is finely chopped, 1 minute. Add ¼ cup of the juice and process until combined, about 10 seconds. Set aside.

Using 18-inch wide heavy duty foil, make a foil sling in a large roasting pan. Leaving a generous amount of overhang on either side. Gently press 1 sheet of foil into the pan lengthwise. Press a second sheet over that crosswise, again leaving ample overhang. Using kitchen parchment, repeat this process, setting the sheets over the foil. Cut onion(s) in half and put them in the middle of the parchment.

Unwrap the pork and rub all over with the herb-garlic paste. Place fat side up on the bed of onions in the prepared pan. Pour ¼ cup of the juice around the bottom of the roast, avoiding the roast itself. Save the remainder of the juice for the sauce. Loosely fold the excess parchment around the pork, then fold the excess foil up over the pork. Crimp the foil together to create a loose sealed packet. Roast until the meat is tender and registers 190˚F, about 3 ½ hours (about 50 minutes per pound).

Cook’s Note: Because of the way it was wrapped, the 500g roast took 1 hour 40 minutes to come up to 190˚F. Must try covering the pan instead or putting the roast in the slow cooker all day.

Transfer the pork to a carving board, tent loosely with foil and let rest 30 minutes.

Make the mojo sauce. Pour the juices from the pan into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Then add the remaining ½ cup citrus juice. When the sauce is hot, remove the pot from heat and stir in the cilantro. Cover and keep warm.

Using tongs and a knife or carving fork, cut and shred the meat into chunks, discarding the bone and any fat. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with ¼ to ½ cup of the warmed sauce. Serve with the remaining sauce and lime wedges.

 

 

ground pork curry noodles

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This is an easy weeknight dinner dish that cooks up in less than half an hour. I used to make it years ago for Andy and the kids, and I was reminded of it when we were at the Cheesecake House last weekend, and I ordered it for dinner. Its curry flavor can be mild or pungent, depending on how you like it, but the important thing is not to cook the lettuce but to heat it through at the last minute.

Ground Pork Curry Noodles

220 g organic dried rice noodles
2 teaspoons vegetable oil or rice bran oil
1 medium red onion, cut into thin rings
4 cloves garlic, minced
350 g lean ground pork
1/2 tablespoon curry powder
Nam pla (fish sauce) to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper or to taste
1/2 tablespoon Knorr chicken soup powder
1/2 cup water
cornstarch, optional
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, chopped

Boil a large pot of water and let it simmer.

In a large wok or skillet, heat the oil over medium-high until it shimmers. Cook the onion until it is wilted. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the meat and cook, stirring, until no longer pink. Mix in the curry powder, nam pla, and pepper to taste. Put in the soup powder and water. If desired, thicken the sauce with a little cornstarch mixed with water. Taste and adjust seasonings. Turn off the heat and add the chopped lettuce, toss to combine.

Cook the noodles in the simmering water about 6-8 minutes or until al dente. Drain and toss with a little bit of oil so that the noodles don’t stick together.

Serve the ground pork sauce over the hot noodles. Eat at once.

parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme and garlic: pan fried herbed pork chop

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Like the song, it’s a recipe for love and this pan-fried herbed pork chop. It’s served with mashed cauliflower, spinach with chili flakes in coconut oil, and steamed sugar snap peas.

Pan-Fried Herbed Pork Chops
2 pork chops, 2 inches thick
1 tablespoon cilantro (the parsley), minced
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Put the herbs in a small bowl. Pour the oil into a large plate. Place the pork chops in the oil and turn. Spoon the herb mix evenly over each side. Fry on a griddle 6-8 minutes per side or until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165˚F on an instant read thermometer.

Mashed Cauliflower
1 head cauliflower cut into florets
1/3 cup cream cheese
1 tablespoon milk
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the cauliflower in boiling salted water for about 6-10 minutes or until tender. Drain and put into a food processor. Process until fine. Add the cheese and milk to make it creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Spinach with Chili Flakes in Coconut Oil
1 bunch spinach
Crushed chili flakes to taste
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Chop spinach into 3 inch lengths. Saute lightly in vegetable oil. Add chili flakes to taste. Add the coconut oil. If it is solid, let the heat of the food melt it.

Steamed Sugar Snap Peas
2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed
Salt to taste

In boiling salted water, cook the peas until they turn bright green. Remove from heat and drain. Rinse the peas in cold water to stop the cooking. Plate, and sprinkle sea salt or Himalayan pink salt to taste.

spare ribs in black bean-garlic sauce

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Spare Ribs in Black Bean-Garlic Sauce
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes

2 pounds spare ribs, chopped into 2 inch lengths
1/3 cup salted black beans
8 large cloves garlic, chopped coarsely
1 tablespoon vegetable cooking oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1-2 teaspoons black soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
salt and pepper

Put the black beans in a small bowl and cover with water. Let it sit five to ten minutes until softened, then drain water. Mash the softened black beans to a paste. Set aside.

Add the garlic and mix well. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the black bean-garlic paste and fry until fragrant. Add the spare ribs, turning to coat thoroughly. Season with soy sauce and black soy sauce. Add 3/4 cup water and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 45 minutes. Stir ribs occasionally.

Remove the cover and let the ribs cook on medium high heat until the sauce is reduced and thickened. Taste. If it’s bitter, add sugar. Taste again, then season with salt and pepper.

stuffed pork roll with sage

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2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into thirds
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 boneless porkchops
2 tablespoons dried sage
8 cloves garlic, peeled
4 slices prosciutto (can use thin ham slices)
4 tablespoons butter, finely diced
4 dried apricots
extra virgin olive oil
6 strips pancetta, each 1/2 inch thick (can use bacon)

Preheat the oven to 425˚F/200˚C

Put the potatoes in a pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Give potatoes 3 minutes then drain them and allow them to steam dry.

Put a tablespoon sage, 4 cloves garlic, prosciutto/ham, butter, apricots, salt and pepper to taste in the workbowl of a food processor. Process until all ingredients are finely chopped and pasty. Set aside.

Place a tablespoon of the sage mixture in the center of the boneless pork chop. Roll up and tie with a piece of kitchen string. Repeat. Roll each pork chop roll in the remaining tablespoon of sage. Set aside.

Slice pancetta or ham into thin pencil-size strips. Put them in a large roasting pan with potatoes and the remaining cloves of garlic. Drizzle with a little olive oil and put the pan in the oven.

Ten minutes later, put a frying pan on the burner and let it get very hot. Add a teaspoon olive oil and put in the seasoned pork chop rolls. Try for 10 minutes or until golden on all sides. Remove the pan of potatoes from the oven and nest the pork chop rolls on top. Return the pan to the oven for 10-15 minutes more. The internal temperature of the pork chops should reach 165˚F on an instant read thermometer. If not, heat some more. Remove pan from oven and serve.

poached egg and grilled pork on a rice burger patty

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We haven’t been to Somtam restaurant in months, so we went last night and brought home our leftovers:  grilled pork and sticky rice. I like these leftovers. They make a great breakfast the next day.

Heat about 2 teaspoons oil in a skillet over medium heat until it shimmers.

To make the rice burger patties, I pressed the sticky rice in the bottom of a ramekin, to make a patty about 1 inch high. If the rice is too dry, pour about a teaspoon of water on it and nuke it for about 20 seconds or until it is soft. To unmold the rice, run a sharp thin blade around the edges and shake it out upside down into the skillet with the hot oil. The rice will sizzle. Fry each patty about 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy.

Meanwhile, crack an egg on the counter and open the egg in a clean ramekin.

To poach the egg, heat 2/3 pot of water in a small sauce pan. Add about 1 tablespoon vinegar to the water and let it boil. Turn down the heat to a simmer. Using a silicone spatula, swirl the water and slip the egg from the ramekin  into the center of the eddy. Swirl a little bit more, being careful not to break the yolk. The vinegar helps the egg yolk and egg white to combine while the swirling eddy helps to shape the cooking egg  into a round. Cook 3-4 minutes depending on how runny you want your egg yolk.

To remove the egg from the sauce pan, I use a spider. This is a spatula with a round head that has holes instead of slits. Drain the poached egg well and put it on top of the rice burger patty.

To assemble, put the  patty on a plate. Top with a piece of ham, or in this case, grilled pork, and  of course, the poached egg. Garnish with Sriracha sauce, if desired. Other garnishes: minced onion or scallion and chopped fresh cilantro.

Herbed Pan-Fried Pork Chop

Reblogged from More Than One More Day.Blogspot.com November 13, 2010.

I always like to try new recipes. This one is from America’s Test Kitchen, which seldom disappoints. It had good flavor without being either too salty or too oily. The only question I had was, what do I do with the crisp bacon bits?

Blended spices (or use your own blend)
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/4 teaspoon basil
1/4 teaspoon rosemary
1/4 teaspoon sage
pinch of ground fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup flour
3 strips of bacon, chopped
4 center cut, bone-in pork chops
1/4 to 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Make the spice blend. Pour blended spices in a shallow pan or pie plate. You may find you will need to make another batch after two pork chops. I did. Pour flour into another pan or pie plate.

Season the pork chops. Dip each chop in the spice blend, then lightly dredge in the flour. Let the pork chops rest in a plate for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, fry up the bacon in a large 12 inch skillet. When crisp, remove the bacon to drain but reserve the bacon fat. Start wth 1/4 cup of oil to the fat and heat until just smoking. Add more oil if necessary.

Fry the pork chops. Put each pork chop in the hot oil. Fry for 3-4 minutes on each side. Mine came out over done so I would reduce that to 2-3 minutes per side instead. Drain on a greased wire rack set over a baking tray in a warm oven. Don’t discard the pan drippings.

Still no idea what to do with the bacon bits but since I was making pan fried asparagus with tomatoes and black olives, I decided to dress that up with the bacon. Ta-dah!

Pan-fried Asparagus with Tomatoes and Black Olives (and bacon bits)
2 pounds thick asparagus spears, ends trimmed
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup black olives, chopped
2 -4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)
1 tablespoon bacon, chopped and fried until crisp, drained (optional)
4 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (optional)

Trim the asparagus. Hold up one spear and snap off the end. Cut all the other spears to the same length.

Make the tomato-black olive dressing. Use the pan drippings from the pork chops to make the dressing. Over medium heat, fry the garlic in the pan drippings until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and olives. Cook until the tomatoes “spring” water and become wilted. Pour the dressing into a bowl, cover with foil, and reserve.

Cook the asparagus. Rinse out the skillet and dry it with paper towels. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil. Lay half the spears in the pan in one direction. Lay the other half in the opposite direction. Cover and cook over medium heat until the asparagus turns a bright green, about 2-4 minutes. Remove to a serving dish and pour the dressing on top. Top with cheese, basil, or bacon bits.

Crunchy Baked Pork Chops and Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Reblogged from More Than One More Day, Sunday September 26, 2010

Simple avocado and lettuce salad, pasta with etc. and the crunchy pork chop

Like any good foodie, I went to check out the new Trader Joe’s that opened at 72nd and Broadway. Looking for what America’s Test Kitchen calls “a hearty white bread” I chose this one as a likely candidate. In the package the slices were 1 inch thick and were substantial, without that Wonder Bread softness. When the cashier told me it makes excellent French toast I knew I was in the neighborhood. The menu tonight was entirely from America’s Test Kitchen. I had to make some adjustments since Fairway, just 2 blocks up Broadway from Trader Joe’s, does not sell center cut pork chops 2 to a pack but 3 to a pack. This recipe requires you to make your own breadcrumbs but after that, the pork chops cook very quickly in less than 20 minutes. In this recipe you must soak the meat in brine before baking.

Crunchy Baked Pork Chops
3 center cut boneless pork chops, 3/4 to 1 inch thick, trimmed of excess fat

Brine
4-6 teaspoons table salt (down from 1/4 cup)
4 cups water
1 gallon size ziploc bag

Dipping Mixtures:

breadcrumb mixture
3 slices of “hearty white bread”, shredded into 1 inch pieces
1/4 cup onion
3 large cloves garlic
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped (parsley in the original recipe but I like cilantro)
1 teaspoon fresh thyme

flour
1/4 cup

egg white mixture
6 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour
3 large egg whites
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

3 lime wedges for garnish

Combine all the brine ingredients in the gallon ziploc bag. Put the pork chops inside, close it, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove from the bag and pat dry. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350˚F.

While the pork chops are brining, prepare the bread crumb mixture. Pulse the bread pieces in a food processor or blender until you get coarse crumbs. If using a blender, do a handful at a time. Spread the bread crumbs on a tray. I like onion and garlic, so I increased the amounts from 2 tablespoons onion to 1/4 cup, and I used 3 large cloves instead of 2 medium. Pulse the onions, garlic, and oil together, about 6 times.

Add the onion mixture to the breadcrumbs and mix well. Bake until golden brown and dry, about 20 minutes, stirring twice. Remove the breadcrumbs from the oven but do not turn it off. Let the breadcrumbs come to room temperature. Toss the crumbs with Parmesan, thyme, and chopped cilantro. Transfer to a pie plate and set aside. In another pie plate, pour 1/4 cup flour and set aside. In a third pie plate, add the egg whites, mustard, and 6 tablespoons flour. Whisk until there are pea sized particles.

Increase oven temperature to 425˚F. Spray a wire rack with cooking spray and put it in a baking tray. Dip each pork chop in the following sequence: flour, egg mixture, and breadcrumb mixture. Place about 1 inch apart on the prepared wire rack. Bake 17-25 minutes. I baked the 3 chops for 17 minutes and they came out juicy and slightly pink but cooked through. According to ATK, the internal temperature should reach 135˚F. Then let the chops rest 5 minutes until they reach an internal temperature of 150˚F. Now ATK did not say resting inside or outside the oven, but I turned off the oven and left the chops inside for 5 minutes. They were indeed crunchy, as promised, and not at all salty.

Here’s the recipe for the pasta. Now, when I cook, I don’t run and and buy everything exactly as the recipe says for one very simple reason: economy. I make substitutions especially if they won’t alter the taste or the appearance of the finished product. Instead of pasta shells, I used an open package of elbow macaroni from my pantry cupboard.

Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Ricotta, and Peas
2 cups pasta shells
1 cup frozen green peas
3 large cloves garlic (up from 2 cloves)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (I didn’t increase this because these pepper flakes are potent–they’re home-made by my sister-in-law’s cook in Bangkok)
1 1/2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
1 8.5 oz. jar sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained, rinsed, and chopped coarsely
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
2 teaspoons fresh mint, chopped thinly
salt and black pepper to taste

Boil the pasta according to package directions. In the last 15 seconds, add the frozen peas. Drain and return to the pot.

In a small skillet, heat the garlic, oil and pepper flakes until sizzling but not browned. I accidentally browned the garlic, but I think it tastes better that way. I like the strong burned flavor. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes, ricotta, Parmesan cheese, mint, salt and pepper to taste, and the garlic oil mixture. Add to the pasta and peas and mix thoroughly.