Sunday, July 15, 2007

Lover's Porkchops & a Sweet Treat for the Grandparents

Yay! Andrew came over yesterday to help me bake! We spent most of the afternoon hanging out in front of the TV, watching (what else?) the Food Network, before I made him the anniversary meal I had promised him before my mom stepped in with her plans the night we had the chocolate-raspberry cheesecake. His dinner was simple to make but made the whole kitchen smell amazing, and he finished off his plate with nary a word. The only suggestion he made was to simmer the pork longer in the apple-spice mixture a bit longer, or to score the meat so it can soak up the apple-y goodness. I guess it wasn't too bad, though, since I don't think I've seen him that content after a meal in a while! Alas, no photos, since the camera is still AWOL, but I served his pork chop with tahitian black rice and cauliflower.

Lover's Pork Chops (recipe by me, can also be found at GroupRecipes)
Serves 2
2 centre-cut pork chops
1 tablespoon brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tart apple - peeled, cored and diced
  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Brush chops lightly with oil and place in hot pan.
  3. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes, turning 1/2 way through, or until done.
  4. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, salt and pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  5. Add butter to skillet, and stir in brown sugar mixture and apples.
  6. Cover and cook until apples are just tender.
  7. Score pork chops lightly, add to apple mixture in pan.
  8. Coat with apple mixture and cook 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 296.9
Total Fat: 14.6 g
Cholesterol: 75.9 mg
Sodium: 38.3 mg
Total Carbs: 17.2 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.9 g
Protein: 23.9 g

Anyways, onto the baking! Yes, so Andrew helped me ENORMOUSLY with this latest endeavour into the kitchen, and I fully intend to save him a slice for a reward :). The recipe we used is a variation on one that Susan made and posted on her blog, and I thank her enormously for the recipe. When I made this cake for the first time with my mom it was for my birthday and it was the only way we could enjoy a birthday cake together as a family. It means a lot to me that this cake can tie us together, even for just a moment. Thank you so much, Susan!

This time the cake was made for the grandparents' 52nd anniversary BBQ (which is tonight). I know they liked the cake the first time around, so hopefully their good will extends through to tonight! Here's my modified recipe:

Can't Be Beet Chocolate Cake (Adapted From Susan @ FatFree Vegan)
12 Servings
398 mL can sliced beets, drained
unsweetened apple sauce
2 tbsp. water
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. white vinegar
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup Splenda
1 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground cloves

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Oil or spray two 8- or 9-inch cake pans.
  2. Put the drained beets into the food processor with 1/4 cup (clear) water, and process until pureed.
  3. Put the pureed beets into a 2-cup measure. Add enough apple sauce to reach the 2-cup line.
  4. Add the 2 tablespoons water, vanilla extract, and vinegar to the beets and mix well.
  5. Mix the dry ingredients together, add the beet mixture and stir until well-combined.
  6. Bake for 35 minutes Test by inserting a toothpick into the center; it's done when the toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool completely before cutting and serving.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 92.6
Total Fat: 0.2 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 61.4 mg
Total Carbs: 21.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.0 g
Protein: 2.3 g

This isn't a very sweet cake, nor does it rise very high, (the pic is one layer) but the taste is deep, earthy and satisfying. My mom and I agree that it is a vast improvement over traditional bakery chocolate cake! I'm fairly sure Susan had submitted her recipe once already for ARF / 5-A-Day over at SweetNicks, but I'm going to send mine in as well with some extraneous information about the humble beet. This information comes from Chicago Conscious Choice, and makes me particularly happy about these veggies I have growing outside my window!!!

In addition to being cancer-preventing antioxidants, the anthocyanidins found in beets are anti-inflammatory; they support connective tissue regeneration, promote blood flow, and reduce cholesterol. Scientists and physicians have gathered much evidence to support the idea that by ingesting antioxidants people can reduce their cancer risk and increase their overall wellness.

Beets fresh from the garden actually pack an antioxidant triple whammy, as you get the anthocyanidins in the root and the carotenoids and chlorophyll in the leaves. Use the beet tops soon after you buy the beets, as
the roots keep well for a much longer time. Both the stems and leaves of the beet top are excellent when lightly boiled in salted water. The red stems strewn among the lush green leaves are delightful to look at and the contrast between the crunchiness of the former and the tenderness of the latter is pleasing to the palate. The roots can be steamed, boiled, baked, roasted, or parboiled then grilled.

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