Seared Pork with Creamy Cognac Mushroom Sauce

It feels good to be able to sit up at a computer and actually blog.  Which seems a strange thing to say.  The cold going round here knocks you on your backside.  There was barely enough energy to work the remote.  Forget watching anything with a plot as keeping focused was not on the cards!  Which meant silly stuff like Real Housewives.  Please, nothing real about them!  My brain may never recover.

I did find Design on a Dime.  Which is very lightweight but has inspired several ideas for our porch that I want to try out when the weather gets a bit warmer.  I’m looking forward to creating a comfy area to hang out in.

It also felt good this weekend to get back into the kitchen and work on creating dishes.  I had some pork ribs and some root vegetables to use and I wanted to do something on the French side.  There were a ton of recipes using mushrooms and cream.  A combination that I love.

Cognac Mushroom Pork 1 2016

I prepped the roast veg of potato, parsnip, and carrot first and got those cooking.  Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet, season the pork with sea salt and pepper, then brown all four sides.

Cognac mushroom pork 2 2016

Remove from the skillet and cover with tin foil.  Finely chop a shallot (these can be potent and make you cry!) and add to the skillet.  Cook for a few minutes on medium heat.  You want the shallots to soften, not brown, then add 4-5 cloves of chopped garlic.

Cognac mushroom pork 3 2016

After another couple of minutes add a few mushrooms that have been sliced.  Then add 1-2 teaspoons of fresh thyme, some sea salt, and pepper.

Cognac mushroom pork 4 2016

Once the mushrooms start to brown add 1 1/2 – 2 cups of chicken stock to the skillet and bring to a simmer.  Add about 4 tablespoons of cognac and a couple of tablespoons of stone ground mustard.

Cognac mushroom pork 5 2016

Put the pork back into the skillet and simmer until the pork is cooked and the sauce has reduced a bit.  Then add a 1/3-1/2 cup of cream.  Taste and add more cognac and mustard if needed.  Sometimes the cream can dampen the strong flavours.

Cognac mushroom pork 6 2016

Serve over the roasted veg and top with the sauce.  You might find you have plenty of sauce left over.  I used mine to make a creamy chicken soup for tonight’s dinner.  Too good to let it go to waste!

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Finally French Baked Eggs!

There are times where you have to try, try, and try again.  Such is life.  It gets a bit annoying when that happens with a recipe.

I saw a recipe in a cookery book of Barefoot Contessa’s for easy baked eggs.  Ooh, I thought, this looks amazing.  Let’s have a go.

To start her method was to broil.  I followed it to the letter.  Three times and failed each time.  I was starting to get annoyed!  The flavours were there but the yolk would over cook and the whites would stay runny.  Not the way I wanted.

In the meantime I tried Jovina Cooks Italian recipe for Marinara Baked Eggs.  I still struggled with getting the yolks runny but it was a better result.  My husband and I talked about maybe separating the eggs and cooking the whites for a bit.  Darya on Tortore mentioned in the comments the same idea so that settled it.  I was going to give it another try.

French baked eggs 1 2015

This recipe is for one serving.  Finely chop a handful of parsley, rosemary, and thyme.  Then finely mince a clove of garlic.  Grate about a 1/4 cup of fresh parmesan.  Set all this aside.

French baked eggs 2 2015

Preheat the oven to 400F/205C.  In a shallow bake safe dish heat up 1 1/2 tablespoons of cream and a tablespoon of butter.

French baked eggs 3 2015

Separate three eggs and add the whites and half the cheese and herb mixture to the dish.  Season with sea salt and pepper.  Bake until the whites are almost set, fluffing a few times as it cooks.  Add the three yolks.

French baked eggs 4 2015

Add the rest of the herb and cheese mixture.  Bake a few minutes more until the yolks are warm but still runny.  I was feeling really positive by this point!  Once the eggs are cooked, remove from the heat.  Grate a bit more parmesan over the eggs.  Toast up crusty bread to serve with.

French baked eggs 5 2015

Look at that, runny yolks!  This was easy.  🙂  And oh so good.  I am so happy I figured this out.  There is an extra step but it means I get the result I’m supposed to.

Croque Monsieur, Fun Food for the Kids

In some of the tourist places we visited in France I came across croque monsieur.  An inside out grilled cheese sandwich!  The kids tried it and thought it was fun.

I loved the inspiration I got while over there.  So much good food and ingredients.  I got a kick out of this vending machine we found:

Croque Monsieur 11 2015

I mean how cool is this idea?  Fresh veg, fruit, and homemade soups.  Don’t get me wrong I loved the Cadbury vending machines when I lived in London but still, this was refreshing to see.  Much better than these fish sticks I found:

Croque Monsieur 10 2015

How sad.

There are several recipes for croque monsieur, all pretty similar.  I used Ina Garten’s from Barefoot in Paris as a guide.  I used our sourdough bread for this.  I really didn’t want to use the soft storebought white bread she recommends.  I just don’t like that stuff!  I needed to make 4 sandwiches so I toasted the bread ahead of time.  Also, prep 1/2 cup of parmesan and 1/2 cup of jarlsberg and set aside.

In a small saucepan melt 2 tablespoons of butter then add 3 tablespoons of flour to the butter.

Croque Monsieur 1 2015

Keep it on the heat and continue whisking to cook the flour.  You don’t want the mixture to burn.

Croque Monsieur 2 2015

Her recipe called for 2 cups of milk but I felt that was way too much.  I decided to go with 1 1/2 cups of milk.  We still had too much sauce leftover.  Gradually add the milk to the flour mixture, again whisking the whole time to work out the lumps.

Croque Monsieur 3 2015

Croque Monsieur 4 2015

With the heat on medium bring the mixture to a near boil.  You don’t want to have it actually boil but you need it hot enough to thicken.  Keep stirring to prevent the milk from scorching on the bottom.  Once the sauce thickens remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.  Dust the top with nutmeg and season with sea salt and pepper.

Croque Monsieur 5 2015

Spread stone ground mustard of your choice onto half the slices of the toast.  Add slices of ham and top with the other slices of bread.  Then spoon on the sauce.  Top with more jarlsberg cheese.

Croque Monsieur 7 2015

Croque Monsieur 8 2015

Broil until the cheese is bubbly and golden brown.  Serve with a side salad.

Croque Monsieur 9 2015

I have to say as crazy as this dish sounded to me it was a lot of fun to eat and it was delicious.