Category Archives: Port

Ricotta & Onion-Port Jam Flatbread

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When is pizza not pizza? When it is flatbread of course. Flat bread is one of my favorite go to foods. It can be served as part of a light dinner, as an appetizer or even a mid afternoon snack. All it takes is some flatbread—pre made or my preference of fresh homemade pizza dough– and the toppings of your choice. You can make them sweet, savory or a combination of the two. Top them with meat, cheese, fruits or vegetables. Really, anything can be a topping for flatbread so you can make individual ones to please your entire family or bake up a variety for a smorgasbord.

This flatbread is one of my favorites and is inspired by the Savory Simple food blog. I’ve used my own pizza dough and topped it with fresh ricotta cheese, crumbled bacon and homemade port infused onion jam. The jam is sweet, savory and decadent and the key to its success is cooking the onions slowly so they caramelize. You can make the jam earlier in the day if you prefer then top the flatbread with it when you are ready to cook. So go ahead and try this recipe then let your imagination decide which direction you go next. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

RICOTTA & ONION-PORT JAM FLATBREAD 

For the flatbread:

1 recipe of your favorite pizza dough

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup onion-port jam

1 cup crumbled bacon

1/4 cup green onions, minced

For the Onion-Port Jam:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 large yellow onions, peeled, quartered and sliced thin

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup water (more if needed)

1/2  cup port wine

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • Melt the butter on low heat in a large skillet.
  • Add the onions, sugar and salt.
  • Sweat the onions, stirring, until they begin to caramelize.
  • Turn up the heat to medium-low. Once the onions have begun to brown, pour approximately 2-3 tablespoons of water into the pan to deglaze, using a spatula to scrape up the brown bits and stir them into the onions.
  • Repeat this glazing and deglazing process until the onions have been thoroughly caramelized and taste both sweet and bitter, approximately 25-35 minutes.
  • Add the port wine and balsamic vinegar to the onions and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring periodically, until all of the liquid has reduced and is coating the onions.
  • Taste and add a bit more salt if desired.

When you are ready to build your flatbreads:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. If your oven has a pizza setting, use that.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper then set aside.
  • Divide the pizza dough into four even portions and working one at a time on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a long oval.
  • Place each piece of dough on the prepared baking sheet taking care to make sure the edges are not touching.
  • Place 1/4 cup of the ricotta cheese on the top of each piece of dough and use a rubber spatula to evenly distribute it across the entire surface.
  • Divide the onion-port jam amongst the flatbreads, spreading it to cover as much of the surface area as possible.
  • Add the bacon and the green onions to each flatbread, evenly distributing them across the top of each one.
  • Bake flat breads for 15-17 minutes or until the crusts are browned and crisp and the toppings are beginning to bubble.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Yields: 4 flatbreads

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Twenty-Five Days of Cookies: Port Balls

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Christmas is twenty days (gulp) away and what better way is there to countdown to the big event than to feature a cookie recipe each day? Think of it as a cookie recipe advent calendar. And to fill that advent calendar I’m featuring twenty five of my favorite holiday cookie recipes that are sure to fill your holidays with cheer. Bake them to fill your cookie trays, bring them to a cookie swap or eat them yourself; they are guaranteed to bring about holiday joy. And if you love baking as much as I do, making them is a fun filled gift unto itself. Enjoy!

We’ve all heard of rum balls but port ball? Why not? After all, port is a very popular drink here in Belgium. I have yet to see a restaurant menu that doesn’t offer a wide selection of this rich drink on its menu. And wander into the wine section of any shop and the selection of port is literally overwhelming. (When we were in Albania for some reason it was impossible to find port in any shop so I guarded my stash closely and foreign visitors knew the quickest way to please their hostess was by bringing a bottle with them). But, since it is so readily available here, when I saw this recipe from The Noble Pig, I just knew I had to make them. Sure enough, I wasn’t disappointed and found myself making a second, larger batch. So try them yourself. You won’t be disappointed. I promise.

PORT BALLS

1 – 11 ounce package Nilla Wafers
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 cup pecans, whole
3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup Port
1/2 cup confectioners sugar

  • In a food processor, pulse the Nilla wafers, cocoa powder and 1 cup whole pecans until fine crumbs form.
  • Add the Port and corn syrup to the crumb mixture and pulse again until well blended.
  • Scoop out the very sticky mixture into a bowl and add 3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans.  Mix in pecans with a spoon until fully incorporated.
  • Roll into 1-inch balls and place on parchment paper.
  • Place the confectioners sugar on a large plate and roll each ball in the sugar.

Yields: 48 inch balls

 

 

Blackberry Pork Chops

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

This super easy dinner idea is adapted from Cooking Light Magazine.  I’ve been making this recipe for years and it is always a family favorite.  Because you use thin pork chops, it only takes a matter of minutes for the meat to cook making them a perfect weeknight dinner.  During Glenn’s last assignment we would regularly invite the geographic bachelors from his ship over for a home cooked dinner and these pork chops quickly became the most requested meal.  Because I had a very large pan I would triple the recipe to feed the crowd.  But the pork chops work just as well for a fancier meal; I’ve used boneless pork chops and served them as a part of a formal sit-down dinner.  Regardless of the audience, they are always a hit.

BLACKBERRY PORK CHOPS

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 bone-in thin cut pork chops

Salt and pepper

1 small shallot, minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup Port

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup seedless blackberry preserves

  • Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  • Season the pork chops on both sides with the salt and pepper.
  • Add the pork chops to the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes per side until the chops are browned and no longer pink in the middle.  Remove from the pan.
  • Add the remaining oil to the skillet and heat until shimmering.
  • Add the shallots and garlic and stir until brown and fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add the Port and stir to remove the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the balsamic vinegar and the preserves and stir until the jam is melted.
  • Return the pork chops to the pan and cook until heated through.

At this point you can reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and allow the pork to sit for up to 1 hour until ready to serve.

Serves 4

Ricotta & Onion-Port Jam Flatbread

IMG_5997

When is pizza not pizza? When it is flatbread of course. Flat bread is one of my favorite go to foods. It can be served as part of a light dinner, as an appetizer or even a mid afternoon snack. All it takes is some flatbread—pre made or my preference of fresh homemade pizza dough– and the toppings of your choice. You can make them sweet, savory or a combination of the two. Top them with meat, cheese, fruits or vegetables. Really, anything can be a topping for flatbread so you can make individual ones to please your entire family or bake up a variety for a smorgasbord.

This flatbread is one of my favorites and is inspired by the Savory Simple food blog. I’ve used my own pizza dough and topped it with fresh ricotta cheese, crumbled bacon and homemade port infused onion jam. The jam is sweet, savory and decadent and the key to its success is cooking the onions slowly so they caramelize. You can make the jam earlier in the day if you prefer then top the flatbread with it when you are ready to cook. So go ahead and try this recipe then let your imagination decide which direction you go next. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

RICOTTA & ONION-PORT JAM FLATBREAD 

For the flatbread:

1 recipe of your favorite pizza dough

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup onion-port jam

1 cup crumbled bacon

1/4 cup green onions, minced

For the Onion-Port Jam:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 large yellow onions, peeled, quartered and sliced thin

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup water (more if needed)

1/2  cup port wine

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • Melt the butter on low heat in a large skillet.
  • Add the onions, sugar and salt.
  • Sweat the onions, stirring, until they begin to caramelize.
  • Turn up the heat to medium-low. Once the onions have begun to brown, pour approximately 2-3 tablespoons of water into the pan to deglaze, using a spatula to scrape up the brown bits and stir them into the onions.
  • Repeat this glazing and deglazing process until the onions have been thoroughly caramelized and taste both sweet and bitter, approximately 25-35 minutes.
  • Add the port wine and balsamic vinegar to the onions and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring periodically, until all of the liquid has reduced and is coating the onions.
  • Taste and add a bit more salt if desired.

When you are ready to build your flatbreads:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. If your oven has a pizza setting, use that.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper then set aside.
  • Divide the pizza dough into four even portions and working one at a time on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a long oval.
  • Place each piece of dough on the prepared baking sheet taking care to make sure the edges are not touching.
  • Place 1/4 cup of the ricotta cheese on the top of each piece of dough and use a rubber spatula to evenly distribute it across the entire surface.
  • Divide the onion-port jam amongst the flatbreads, spreading it to cover as much of the surface area as possible.
  • Add the bacon and the green onions to each flatbread, evenly distributing them across the top of each one.
  • Bake flat breads for 15-17 minutes or until the crusts are browned and crisp and the toppings are beginning to bubble.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Yields: 4 flatbreads

 

 

Port & Cherry Brownies

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I’ve been following her blog for awhile now and I don’t think I’ve ever made a recipe from the Yankee Kitchen Ninja that I haven’t loved.  To put it mildly, you could say that I am a fan. So just when I thought it couldn’t get any better I came across this recipe for port and cherry brownies and my infatuation moved to a whole new level. All I can say is oh my! The brownies are dense and chewy and the cherries, plumped in sweet and fruity port, provide for a sweet surprise in every bite. And because they are baked in miniature muffin tins, you are rewarded with bite sized treats that are perfect for feeding a crowd.

These brownies seem designed with a Belgian palate in mind. Belgians love their port–it appears on just about every restaurant menu as an aperitif. Sweet and rich, port is a natural accompaniment to chocolate. And since I’m in Belgium, with ready access to a vast variety of the best chocolate in the world, I decided to mix things up a bit and use a combination of two chocolates in these brownies. I’ve experimented with different combinations but I like combination of bittersweet and dark chocolate the best since it adds complexity without sugar. If you don’t have dried cherries on hand, dried cranberries make for the perfect substitute.

And if you want to complete your Belgian trifecta, serve the brownies with a Belgian cherry lambic beer. The one from Timmerman’s Brewery is particularly good. A final thought, since these brownies have fruit in them they must be healthy. Right?

PORT & CHERRY BROWNIES

2 tablespoons port wine

2 tablespoons water

1 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

5 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

3/4 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/3 cup flour

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Lightly coat a 24 cup mini muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Heat the port and water to boiling in a small saucepan and then add the cherries.
  • Reduce the heat to low and stir until the majority of the liquid has evaporated.
  • Remove from the heat and cool.
  • Melt the chocolate and the butter in a double boiler, stirring until the mixture is smooth and well blended.
  • Remove the bowl from the heat and whisk in the sugar.
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Add the salt, pepper and flour to the sugar mixture then gently fold in the cherries and any remaining liquid.
  • Divide the batter evenly amongst the prepared muffin tins.
  •  Bake for about 15 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  • Cool the brownies in the tins to room temperature and then unmold.

Yields: 24 miniature brownies

Crispy Cashew Chicken w/ Cranberry-Port Sauce

 

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Boneless chicken breasts are a cook’s best friend and for this reason I always have a package in the freezer just waiting to be turned into dinner. Some weeks we may eat chicken every night of the week yet never tire of it because what is served on top creates variety. Neutral in flavor and incredibly versatile, they can be dressed up or down.  A simple sauce can take them in one of many directions. And as is the case with this recipe, the classic combination of poultry and cranberries takes on a whole new meaning with the addition of a few extra ingredients.

A bread coating is the quickest way to give a chicken breast some crunch. But when you add toasted and  chopped nuts to the breading mixture your results are extra crunchy and flavorful. And thanks to the addition of port, this cranberry sauce is anything but ordinary. If you are pressed for time, you can also make the cranberry port sauce ahead of time then simply reheat over low heat while the chicken breasts are cooking.

To complete the comfort factor of this dish I served it alongside oven roasted sweet potatoes and steamed greens.

CRISPY CASHEW CHICKEN w/ CRANBERRY-PORT SAUCE

For the sauce:

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 small shallot, minced

1 cup fresh cranberries

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup tawny port

1 teaspoon cornstarch

  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat.
  • Add the shallot and saute until soft and fragrant, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Add the cranberries and sugar and cook until the sugar has melted.
  • Add the chicken broth and port to the berries, turn the temperature to high and bring to boil.
  • Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. You want the flavors to meld and the cranberries to begin to break down slightly.
  • In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch with 1 tablespoon of water. Mix the cornstarch into the cranberry mixture and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Turn the heat to low and keep warm until ready to serve.

For the chicken:

4 boneless-skinless chicken breasts halves, pounded flat

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup unseasoned bread crumbs

1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup toasted cashews, chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil

  • Place the egg in a shallow dish.
  • In a separate shallow dish combine the breadcrumbs, sage, salt, pepper and cashews.
  • Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet set over medium high heat.
  • Dip the chicken into the egg then dredge in the crumb and nut mixture being sure to coat both sides of the breasts.
  • Place the chicken breasts in the skillet and cook for 4 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook for an additional 4 to 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
  • Serve topped with the cranberry sauce.

Serves 4

Blackberry Pork Chops

DSC_0002

It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

This super easy dinner idea is adapted from Cooking Light Magazine.  I’ve been making this recipe for years and it is always a family favorite.  Because you use thin pork chops, it only takes a matter of minutes for the meat to cook making them a perfect weeknight dinner.  During Glenn’s last assignment we would regularly invite the geographic bachelors from his ship over for a home cooked dinner and these pork chops quickly became the most requested meal.  Because I had a very large pan I would triple the recipe to feed the crowd.  But the pork chops work just as well for a fancier meal; I’ve used boneless pork chops and served them as a part of a formal sit-down dinner.  Regardless of the audience, they are always a hit.

BLACKBERRY PORK CHOPS

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 bone-in thin cut pork chops

Salt and pepper

1 small shallot, minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup Port

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup seedless blackberry preserves

  • Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  • Season the pork chops on both sides with the salt and pepper.
  • Add the pork chops to the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes per side until the chops are browned and no longer pink in the middle.  Remove from the pan.
  • Add the remaining oil to the skillet and heat until shimmering.
  • Add the shallots and garlic and stir until brown and fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add the Port and stir to remove the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the balsamic vinegar and the preserves and stir until the jam is melted.
  • Return the pork chops to the pan and cook until heated through.

At this point you can reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and allow the pork to sit for up to 1 hour until ready to serve.

Serves 4

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