Friday, January 19, 2007

Rachael and Ina make a perfect couple!

Can you imagine a more schizophrenic duo in the kitchen than Rachael Ray and Ina Garten? I mean, there's Rachael, giving things a "shimmy shake" and declaring every single dish as "YUM-O." And then there's Ina, the Queen of Cool, high energy never ruffling her calm demeanor. I can't imagine that smile disappearing from her face even if the dog ate the $200 prime rib she had purchased from a personal friend who runs a farm raising heirloom beef.

Can you picture those two in the kitchen together? How long do you think it would be before someone’s Santoku knife “accidentally” entered the eye socket of the other? Nonetheless, we had an excellent dinner tonight that combined recipes from both of these ladies.

Our main course was Rachael’s Pork Chops with Spiced-Apple Pan Sauce and Roasted Broccoli, paired with Ina’s Roasted Winter Vegetables. Rachael’s pork chops were browned, then lifted out of the pan long enough to sauté apples and onions with cinnamon and nutmeg before being finished with a splash of lemon juice and a handful of chopped parsley. While the pork chops simmered on the stovetop, the broccoli roasted in the oven with a wisp of garlic until the broccoli florets developed into crispy, browned, caramelized goodness.

However, before I even started on Rachael’s recipe, I had popped Ina’s Roasted Winter Vegetables into the oven. Within 20 minutes, even though the vegetables had nothing on them but salt, pepper, and EVOO, the house was redolent with the aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg. It smelled like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and gGrandma’s house, all rolled into one. I pulled the winter vegetables out while the broccoli roasted, then popped them back in the oven for a few minutes before plating dinner.

Not only was dinner delicious, I felt like we were doing our bodies a huge favor with the nutritional double whammy of the broccoli and the beta-carotene rich winter veggies.

We finally got the rain that we have been waiting for, so this was a great night to have something that calls up some vague ancestral memory of a farmhouse after harvest. Of course, we were going to have chili, but the store I stopped at didn’t have the fire-roasted tomatoes I wanted. Don’t you hate that? For the sake of one ingredient, the whole plan has to change. Of course, I could plan ahead, but where’s the fun in that? Actually, I do plan for a week at a time, but sometimes I just don’t want what was on the menu, or something isn’t thawed out (like the pot roast that’s been in the refrigerator for five days now).

Also, I’ve now posted the recipes for Ina’s Real Meatballs and Spaghetti, along with my own spaghetti sauce that a friend of mine very much wanted to see. Good luck with that, Mr. K. You know that no one makes it like Mom, right?

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