Sometimes I think of myself as a female Willard Scott, the affable weatherman who talks about the over-100-year-old people and about the best whatever he has ever seen, tasted or found in America.
With me, it's seasonal cooking and every season seems to be my favorite. In the winter, I enjoy making soups, stews, braises and comforting desserts. In the spring, it's the just-unearthed ramps, asparagus and garlic scapes. Summer is everything in the garden and freezing it for the months where there is little that is fresh and local.
But fall may be my favorite. It is the season that I put my cooking toe in the water, roasting vegetables, using apples in savory and sweet dishes, anything made with maple syrup and cooking my pork roast with sauerkraut mixed with applesauce and baked in the oven until it is sweet and sour and crispy on the top.
A couple of weeks ago, I had friends over for dinner for that pork roast served with sweet potatoes with garlic and cinnamon. In the paper, I see that pork chops are on sale in most supermarkets, so a few days later I made a recipe from Fine Cooking. I think you will like both.
Pork Chops with Cranberry-Maple Pan Sauce
From Fine Cooking, October/November, 2012
Yield: serves 4
4 1-inch thick bone-in pork chops (about 2½ pounds)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1½ tablespoons olive oil
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
½ cup lower-salt chicken broth
½ cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Pat pork dry and season with 1 teaspoon thyme, 1¼ quarter teaspoon of salt and ¾ teaspoon of pepper.
Heat oil in a heavy-duty 12-inch skillet over medium heat until simmering hot. Add pork chops and cook without moving until pork is browned around edges and easily releases when you lift a corner, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip chops and continue to cook until firm to the touch and an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into a chop close to but not touching bone registers 140 degrees, about 9 minutes.
Transfer chops to a plate and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Add cranberries, broth, maple syrup, cider vinegar, mustard and remaining thyme to the skillet and raise heat to medium high. Cook, whisking, to incorporate the mustard and any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until cranberries soften and liquid has reduced to a saucy consistency, about 7 minutes.
Return chops and any accumulated juice to the skillet, turning to coat both sides. Serve with sauce.
Potatoes and Garlic
Adapted from "Cook This Now" by Melissa Clark (Hyperion, New York, 2011)
Yield: Serves 4
1½ pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
6 (or more) unpeeled garlic cloves
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 thyme branches
1 cinnamon stick,
broken into pieces
1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Put all ingredients in a baking pan and toss to combine, then spread out in an even layer
Roast until potatoes are tender and browned, 25 to 45 minutes. Serve hot or warm, along with the garlic cloves.
The first time I saw Dylan's Candy Bar, a two-story confectionery in Manhattan, my face became one big smile. Every color in the rainbow was candy. For more than a few minutes I was a little girl again, picking up a quarter's worth of penny candy into a small brown bag and, on the way home, pulling "pills" from the long thin white paper and popping them into my mouth. Penny candy costs way more than a penny.
There is a Dylan's Candy Bar at Mohegan Sun and, just before a Connecticut Sun basketball game, I scooped grapefruit jellies into two tiny plastic bags, one for me and one for my friend, Karen, who had introduced me to these sour-sweet candies. But, a problem: you're not allowed to bring anything edible into the arena. Good thing my bra would hold another four to six ounces of deliciousness.
Ah, Dylan's Candy Bar. Yet another great reason to watch our Connecticut Sun play incredible basketball.
Dylan's Candy Bar
Mohegan Sun Casino