Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Start as you mean to go on......

On New Year's eve my flatmate made  a most delicious meal of mulled lamb. It had featured on Nigel Slater's Twelve Tastes of Christmas. What Nigel had said about this dish was true. It does taste of Christmas! And it was the most scrummy start to 2013.

January 1st began slowly. I washed the dishes and cleaned the kitchen to the music of 'Ave Maria' by Gounod, Schubert and Caccini. I love the fact that the first day of the year is devoted to the Mother of God. It is a reminder that salvation began its path on earth through the fiat of a young woman faithful enough to agree to God's plan for her life. 

My parents were joining us for lunch, and I was going to prepare another recipe by our dearest Nigel. This time it was his Pork Chops in a Mustard Sauce. I served them with fresh spinach and hassleback potatoes. Then we took a stroll down to Port Meadow and I petted the 'wild' horses down there and admired the floods. It was beautiful.

I am all into starting the year as you mean to go on. This year, among my many resolutions to drink less, take more exercise, spend more time at home and cook and eat frugally beautiful food, I also have a resolution to 'do good on impulse'. So often we get distracted by thoughts such as, 'it's not the right time', 'people will think that odd' or 'I'll do it tomorrow'. My patron for this year is Saint John of God - I'll write more about him later, but suffice to say, he never waited around to do good.

Elizabeth Ann Seton is the first of my friends' patrons to be remembered this year - her feast is on 4th January. She was a woman who knew her own mind, she was cultured, educated and a pioneer. She was married and the mother of five children, the first American - born person to be canonised. Elizabeth Ann was a pioneer of education, and she and two of her friends worked hard to establish the first free Catholic school in the United States. Elizabeth Ann is a reminder that anything is possible if you only agree to try, and so she is an appropriate beginning to a New Year, a year in which the answer will always be "Yes",  fiat.

PS:  You can still choose your patron! Click here.

Pork Chops in a Mustard Sauce: The Kitchen Diaries

Page: 51 – February 13th
[The recipe below is an exact copy from the book, no alterations have been made]
Pork spare rib or chump chops – 2 large, about 1cm thick
butter – 25g
olive oil – 1 tablespoon
garlic – 2 large unpeeled cloves, squashed flat
a glass of white wine
double or whipping cream – 150ml
grain mustard – 1 1/2 tablespoons
smooth Dijon mustard – 1 1/2 tablespoons
cornichons – 8, or half as many larger gherkins 

Rub the chops all over with salt and pepper. Put the butter and oil in a shallow pan set over a moderate to high heat and, when they start to froth a little, add the flattened garlic and the seasoned chops. Leave to brown, then turn and brown the other side. Lower the heat and continue cooking, turning once, until the chops are no longer pink when cut into.
Lift out the chops, transfer to a warm serving dish and keep warm. Pour off most of the oil from the pan, leaving the sediment behind, then turn up the heat and pour in the wine. Let it boil for a minute or so, scraping at the sticky sediment in the pan and letting it dissolve. Pour in the cream, swirl the pan about a bit, then leave it to bubble up a little before adding the mustards and the chopped cornichons.

Taste for seasoning; you may need a little salt and possibly black pepper. The sauce should be piquant and creamy. If you want, you can sharpen it up. Pour the sauce over the chops and serve. Enough for 2 with mashed or unbuttered new potatoes.

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