Sunday, June 30, 2013


I made these double-thick grilled chops recently for a father's day celebration with my husband and 2 boys. There are a fair number of steps to preparing them, but what a fun labor of love this was...and very worth the effort as they were scrumptuous. I started in the morning by making a Bourbon Brine.
I served the Bourbon Chops with a light spinach soufle and grilled sweet baby peppers and Vidalia onions.
You can brine chicken, turkey, pork or just about anything. Brining helps meat retain its juiciness and makes the meat much more tender and succulent. I brine my turkey every year at Thanksgiving. What I think is fun about making brine is once you have the basic proportions of salt to water you can add any seasonings, herbs or veg to flavor your brine. The basic balance is a gallon of water (or mix in other liquid-apple juice, cranberry, wine, etc.) to 1 cup of salt (regular table salt with no Iodine or other additives). If you are using Kosher salt, which is more expensive and not necessary, you will need a little more. My rule of thumb is to brine 1 hour per pound of meat or poultry. I brine a turkey overnight, but pork chops only need a few hours. Here's the recipe.
1 cup water, brought to boil
3/4 cup salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2+cup Bourbon
4 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
3 additional qts. water
Bring 1 cup water to boil and add all other ingredients. Stir to dissolve salt. Remove from heat. Cool or chill in the freezer to get it cold faster before moving on. Once chilled, add 3 qts. water. I brined the double thick pork chops in a zip lock bag in the fridge for about 7 hours, which is more than they needed, but does no harm. Brining in a bag works well because you want to make sure every part of the meat is submerged. Double-bag to avoid any seepage or spills. I had about 2 cups left over brine which I froze. (Do not re-use brine once you have brined your meat.) Turn the chops every 1/2 hour or so.

On to the chop preparation...

Rinse chops thoroughly to remove excess salt. Pat dry and let sit in the fridge for an hour to completely appreciate all the goodies from the brine. These chops have had a lot of Bourbon!

Remove from fridge and let come to room temperature for about an hour before grilling. I grilled over a very hot hardwood fire reduced to a good bed of coals. While the chops are coming to room temp, make your bourbon glaze.

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Butter
3/4 cup Bourbon
2 Tbsp. Maple syrup
Heat Olive Oil and butter in a saucepan until bubbly. Very carefully add Bourbon. Give the pan a gentle shake to flame up. Gentle is the key here. You do not want to spill the liquid onto your (in my case) gas stove. Let the flame burn off for 30 seconds or so and then very gently blow on the flame to put out. By flaming you burn off the alcohol so the glaze does not taste like pure bourbon.
This makes me feel very cheffy!
Once the fire is out, reduce heat and add 2 Tbsp. maple syrup. Cook very slowly to reduce by about 1/2 or until you get desired thickness for glazing the chops as they are grilling. Let cool completely on the counter at room temp.

Next, make the Bourbon mushroom cream sauce.
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 Tbsp. Butter
4 white button mushrooms, sliced
4 babyPortabella mushrooms, sliced (--Or any mushrooms you like to make about 1/2 cup sliced.)
3/4 cup Bourbon
For the Roux:
1 Tbsp. Butter
1 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. Bourbon
1 cup light cream
Heat butter, add flour, cook until you have a nice thick paste. Add Bourbon and about 1/4 cup of the cream. Keep stirring so consistency is smooth and creamy. Keep adding cream a little at a time until thoroughly blended.

Saute mushrooms in Olive Oil and Butter over medium high heat for about 5 minutes until mushrooms start to sweat. Add Bourbon very carefully as it will flame up again. As with the glaze let it flame for under a minute and then blow out the flame. Reduce heat to low. Continue sauting over low heat for about 5 minutes.

Next, add the roux to the sauting mushrooms and stir gently. Keep stirring over low heat until you get the desired thickness for a creamy sauce. If it gets too thick add a little more cream (or Bourbon!). Remove from heat. Re-heat when ready to serve.

I had the butcher at my local grocery store cut these pork chops to almost 2" thickness. Chops do not take long to cook and can over-cook easily which is why the brining helps to keep them moist. Start with a clean grill. Spray your grill (whether charcoal, wood, or gas) with PAM. Brush the chops, both sides with the glaze. I grilled these chops about 2 minutes then turned clockwise to get the cross-hatch grill marks and grilled another 2 minutes. Glaze again. Turn the chops over and repeat for a total of 8 minutes grilling time. Glaze again generously. Turn your heat as low as you can and cover the grill and let set another 5 minutes. This gives the chops a very lovely smokey flavor and finishes the cooking. Take them off the grill and let them rest for 10 minutes while you get the rest of the meal together. The chive blossom is optional. My grill just happens to be next to my herb garden and the chives were in bloom and looked pretty. I also added the blossom to the plate when serving because no matter what you do to a cream sauce, it does not always look very pretty, but this sure was a Bourbonliscious treat!
Wishing everyone a very happy, festive, wonderful 4th of July!
I will be in NH with my family for the 4th grilling Blue Cheese Stuffed Hamburgers flavored with Smokey Chipotle.
An old fashioned potato salad and cole slaw
made with Chinese Cabbage, dried cranberries and scallion will complete our cookout.
My mouth is watering...
Thanks again for allowing me to share my
Triple Bourbon Pork Chops!
Tune in again soon for another episode of:

Monday, June 17, 2013


A classic New England favorite, I have been loving Grapenut Pudding all my life. This is the dessert I made with Kathe Rabbitt the other night to complete our Blue Plate Special Meatloaf extravaganza. It goes together very easily and if you serve without ice cream or whipped cream is actually quite healthy!  Hint: It's better with the topping!

1 quart milk, scalded
1 cup Grape-Nuts cereal
4 large eggs
Scant 1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla (Sounds like a lot, but is the right amount.)
Pinch of salt
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
Water for the hot water bath.

Here's Kathe popping the Grapenut pudding into the oven.
Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium-sized bowl pour scalded milk (To scald the milk, heat in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat until a skin forms. Pull off skin with your fingers and discard.) over Grape-Nuts and let sit 5 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp. butter to the milk so it melts. In a second medium-sized bowl, with a whisk beat eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt. Add the egg mixture to milk and Grape-Nuts and stir well.  Pour into a buttered 2 quart casserole dish. Generously grate nutmeg over the top (or use ground nutmeg). Place the casserole into a deep roasting pan. Place in the oven and pour water into the roasting pan enough to reach halfway up the side of the casserole. (This gives the custard a soft, creamy texture.) Bake 45-60 minutes until almost set in the center (custard still has a slight jiggle). Serve warm, at room temperature, or completely cooled with either whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Here's another dessert I made recently for my brother's birthday which also calls for Grape-Nuts. This healthy treat is easy to make, looks elegant and tastes yummy.

For the Crust
1/3 cup Grape-Nuts
3 Tbsp. chopped walnuts
1/2 cup mini Chocolate Chips
1 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 tsp, freshly grated lemon zest
Dash of cinnamon

For the filling
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Filling ingredients:
1 cup 2% cottage cheese
4 oz reduced fat cream cheese
2 Tbsp. sugar (Next time I would use 3 Tbsp.)
1 large egg
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. finely grated fresh lemon zest
1/2 tsp. vanilla
40 raspberries
Make the crust: Pulse crust ingredients in a food processor or mini-max until crumbly, but moist. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter, add to the crumbs and mix well. Lightly oil or butter 5 custard cups. Divide crust mixture among the cups and firmly press into an even layer on bottoms.

Make filling and bake cakes:  Puree cottage cheese in food processor or blender until completely smooth. Don't give up on it. The texture will be completely transformed. Add the remaining ingredients. Scrape down sides several times so the mixture gets very creamy. Spoon into custard cups.  Press 8 raspberries into the top of each cheesecake. Bake in a hot water bath (same as above recipe) until firm, 20-25 minutes. Cool on rack. Chill covered for at least 2 hours.

Variations on this cheesecake are endless...strawberries or blueberries. A spoonful of either raspberry, strawberry or blueberry jelly swirled through the cake. Or bake the cheescakes without fruit and top with fresh kiwi's, etcetera, etcetera!
Here's my big brother getting ready to blow out the candles
while his dear wife, Esther and their dog Rosy cheer him on!

Thanks for tuning in again for another episode of:
Let me know if you're enjoying the new "lighter" version of my blog.
Next time I will share a recipe for double thick pork chops brined in bourbon, grilled with a bourbon glaze and served with a bourbon cream sauce!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013


Recently cousin Joe and his wife Kathe joined us for dinner. Kathe wanted to Cook With Cindy and together we made a spectacular, but very humble meal.

The term Blue Plate Special has been around since the late 1800's, but gained popularity during the Depression through the 1950's at restaurants, especially diners, around the country including Shoney's! The term is used for a large portion of very inexpensive, hearty food that was served in a 3-section disposable Blue Plate. My husband bought me this plate especially for our dinner with Joe and Kathe.

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil
2 yellow onions, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
3 lbs. ground chuck (I used 2 lbs. of regular fatty and 1 lb. of lean)
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (I also added about 1/2 cup Panko crumbs as it seemed too loose.)
3+ Tbsp. Homemade ketchup

Heat oil in a medium saute pan over low heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ground chuck, tomato sauce, egg, bread crumbs, half the onion and garlic mixture, and salt/pepper to taste (Yes, I do taste raw beef and as some of you know steak tartare is one of my favorites!), in a large bowl. Stir with your hands just enough to mix. Do not over-mix.
Place the meat in a 3"x11" loaf pan (I did not have that size so used a regular bread pan and had enough to also fill a mini bread pan.) and mound the top with your hands to form a crown.
Kathe is about to pop that loaf in the oven!

Top with remaining onion-garlic mixture and drizzle with ketchup. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes for easier slicing.


I have never made ketchup before, but now cannot imagine buying it. So easy, so good, and so much less sugar! This recipe makes about 3 cups and lasts in the fridge for up to a month.

1 28-oz. can tomato puree
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
1 clove garlic, crushed and peeled
1/2 jalapeno, seeded (I did not have a fresh jalapeno so used about 1/4 tsp. dried hot pepper.)
2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
1/2 cup cider vinegar
Pinch of cayenne; celery salt; dry mustard; ground allspice; ground cloves; ground ginger; and ground cinnamon
Salt/Pepper to taste

Combine tomato puree, onion, garlic, jalapeno, and sugar in a blender or food processor. Pulse until blended, then add vinegar and 1 cup water and puree until smooth. Transfer to a medium saucepan and add all other ingredients.

Cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat for 45 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. You will never buy Heinz again!

For dessert we had old-fashioned New England grapenut pudding served warm with whipped cream.

Two of my most loyal blog followers have suggested I might make my blogs a little shorter. We are all so busy that I agreed with them completely so this is the first of a shorter version of Cook with Cindy. Next time I will give you the recipe for grapenut pudding.

I love cooking with friends and family and look forward to many more delightful experiences in the kitchen.
Until next time, enjoy your time in the kitchen.

These knives belonged to my husband's grandfather who was a chef in Falmouth, MA on the Cape.
Big, sharp knives are very empowering!