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rosemary-tarragon pork chops | dining a deux

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Hi there!  Every family size is different and in the last two years it really just been my son and I at the dinner table so I’ve become pretty accustomed to scaling back on meal size with the exception of creating recipes for this blog.  In another two years he will be off to college….leaving me to dine alone or with a partner as I transition to becoming an empty-nester (gulp).  Dining à deux can be sophisticated – or relatively simple – it just sets a different tone than putting together a standard family dinner.  It’s adult in nature; it conjures up two people enjoying themselves with a lovely meal and perhaps a bottle of wine in a relaxed setting.  I certainly admire all of the bloggers out there that have found successful ways to get a good meal on the table every night for their families but I’m just not in that place anymore as many others are no longer as well.  So I thought I would start a Dining à Deux feature with recipes designed for two to make dinner just a bit more special, a little more intimate, and wonderfully appreciated.  I hope you enjoy it!!  And most recipes can easily be doubled to serve a family of four……..

Today’s recipe is Rosemary-Tarragon Pork Chops.  Yum.  A little more sophisticated than a family meal with the stronger-flavored herbs and the wine sauce – but it doesn’t have to be.  My son – who is in the Dominican Republic this week with his Spanish classmates and faculty – doesn’t like rosemary so I made my third test recipe today while he is away lol.  I am so proud of him – they are working with children there.  My mommy heart almost burst when I saw this picture posted yesterday via the Outreach360 organization……especially love how the little boy who is diligently working is resting his hand on my son’s arm almost as though in comfort and appreciation.

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Preparations are underway for the pork chops…..each pork chop is first seared in a hot skillet and then transferred to a baking/roasting dish where each sits upon a nice thick slice of sweet onion which become soft and even sweeter.  Did I already mention yum?

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nacho cheesiest bay scallops gratin

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This dish was dinner Tuesday night to celebrate Cinco de Mayo but it’s good any evening – no holiday required to enjoy!  I adapted this recipe that’s been in my binder of fish and seafood recipes for years by switching out a couple of the original ingredients – namely Ritz crackers and Parmigiano-Reggiano – for Spicy Nacho Doritos and a Mexican blend of finely shredded cheese.  If your kids are not big seafood eaters, cheese and Doritos just might be the enticement they need to dig in.

 

 

 

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hearts of palm salad with olives and ham

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This salad is a twist on the famous 1905 Salad at the Columbia Restaurant – a Tampa and Sarasota, FL Spanish-Cuban dining establishment that dates back to 1905 – and there is a little story on how this recipe came to be.

Let’s go back to 1999 – a very important year because that’s the year in which my son was born.  But I was also hard at work on recipes back then, fueled and inspired by my frequent weekends spent at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY taking a wide variety of courses.  It was during this time that I challenged myself to submit recipes to what was Bon Appétit magazine’s former  “Too Busy to Cook?” section that featured recipes by readers of the magazine.  Surprising enough, my recipes were accepted and I found myself staring in awe at the April 1999 issue in which they were published.

So yesterday, I decided to resurrect this recipe exactly 16 years later.  The only change I made was to increase the amount of garlic and I tossed the lettuce in the bowl with the other ingredients instead of laying leaves on a plate.  Not touching anything else – it’s a food blogger’s dream when someone else does the recipe testing for you – in this case the Bon Appétit test kitchen.  Pretty cool.

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chicken with prosciutto, rosemary, and lemon

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Boneless, skinless chicken breasts can be a yawn.  Haven’t we all been there?  Looking for a zap of genius to elevate the lowly and overused boneless, skinless chicken to a new level?

Buy skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts – leave the skin on and remove it from the bone.  Have your butcher do it for me if you’d like, but it’s easy to do yourself at home.  I just run my fingers between the meat and bone, and then use a small paring knife to keep cutting the breast away from the bone.

The prosciutto, pine nuts (or pignoli nuts if we want to be fancy and Italian), and rosemary give this dish a decidedly Mediterranean flair and I love the texture that the pine nuts and crispy prosciutto provide.  I like to serve this over a bed of baby arugula greens and a few slices of fresh mozzarella cheese……and leftovers are delicious.

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twice-baked potatoes with crispy shallots

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Who can resist a delicious twice-baked potato?  

Don’t see any hands raised lol.  This dish is when you crave something a little special, when just a regular ‘ole baked potato just won’t do.   Perfect with a steak or swordfish, these can also be made ahead and finished in the oven at a later time.  And the shallots?  YUM.  I would of course probably top anything off with crispy shallots if given the opportunity.

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