Yes I know, quite a bit of time has passed. The great thing about living in New Orleans is there’s always a celebration and this year took that to the max. From the previous post of February 27th, Mardi Gras on top of the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Day Parade to the actual St. Patrick’s Day and a deadline that had to be met by Monday morning, did not allow me much time to get the family together for Sunday dinner. No need to fret. This is the real world over here, not Martha land. Shit happens. We all know it.
Without further adieu, today I bring you the feast of the Fourth Sunday:
Fried Breaded Mushrooms, Tuscan Style
Braised Pork Chops with Sage and Tomatoes, Modena Style
Celery and Potatoes Braised in Olive Oil and Lemon Juice
Shredded Carrot Salad
I was stuck working on the 20th (Sunday) so we decided no harm in pushing the meal to Monday. It was a celebratory event as my sister had just finished up her 12 week internship at the Audubon Special Species Center. No longer would her days be filled with husbandry, vicious cats and hoofstock. A happy/sad moment for her, but one that calls for eating nonetheless. Taking to the random flipping method, page 422 caught my eye. Not normally the type to choose a fat piece of meat be it red or the other white, the thought of the pork cooking in tomatoes for over an hour seemed to be both a delight to my tastebuds and the scent of the household. In addition, my sage plant is growing out of control and needing pruning. Knowing it was going to be a fat piece of meat (literally, recipe calls for 3/4” thick chops), I wanted to keep everything else pretty light. Well, that and I needed balance to the deliciously gooey loaf of seeded Italian bread.
Enter braising potatoes and celery. Only in Asian food have I ever consumed cooked celery as a large chopped vegetable. Every other time I use it, it’s finely chopped, creating the base for the dish. Not sure what to expect, in conjunction with the lemon juice it offered a very light, acidic, almost palate cleansing effect to the meal. This dish also provided escape to the routine of pairing pasta when tomatoes are involved.
Lettuce was already hanging out in the crisper drawer, ready to be chopped, but in keeping true to the theme, I wanted to offer more than just lettuce, but stay away from the symphony of La Grande Insalata Mixta, the idea of shredded carrots for a salad was alluring. I love carrots. But straight up by themselves? Such a surprise! This is the salad you should be serving on a spring afternoon for lunch or for any shower. So simple it’s ridiculous, the lemon juice and carrots blend into a harmonious sensation of crunchy, sweet and sour. Carrots are naturally sweet but simply blending with lemon juice elevates it into a very sophisticated, but simple dish. This would be the perfect bed for a fresh chicken salad. Go crazy and weave it into a birds nest!
I’m starting to grow very fond of appetizers. It’s always important to have a drink nearby while cooking, but you don’t necessarily have the opportunity to snack on everything you’re preparing. Thankfully I had the assistance of my brother who shared the breading duties and took over frying while I prepped the remainder of the meal. The recipe offers no sauce recommendations, so he suggested a quick Aioli, which we whipped up in no time. If you’re not familiar, Aioli is a mayonnaise made of garlic, olive oil and an egg. Many people (myself included) heard the word mayonnaise and shut down. Not today. It provides the perfect contrast to the crunchy exterior of the mushroom.
This meal was not my favorite. I don’t know if it was my mood, but individually, I would do the elements again. However the crowd did not agree with me and thought it all a winner.
See you soon…