Asian Meets German Cooking

Eager to try the Thai seasoning I bought at an Epicure party recently, I went to their website for inspiration and found a delectable-looking pineapple glazed pork chop recipe. It called for their Cuban seasoning, but I thought, why not try it with Thai instead? A spicy-sweet blend of ginger, lemongrass, and chili flakes would go well with pineapple, would it not? The answer is yes, yes it does.

You can find the original recipe here. Below is my tweaked version, which I served with creamy scalloped potatoes like Grandma used to make (that recipe also follows). The flavours complemented each other surprisingly well for being from such dissimilar cultural backgrounds.

Of course, you could serve these pork chops with rice instead. I just happened to be in the mood for some comfort food, and what could be more comforting than scalloped potatoes on a cold winter night? Besides, this way your taste buds get to take a little trip around the world, all in one plate!

Pineapple Thai Pork Chops

4 bone-in pork chops
1 can (19 oz.) pineapple rings
1 1/2 tsp. Epicure’s Thai seasoning (see note below)
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
Coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Drain pineapple, reserving juice. Mix Thai seasoning with 1/4 cup of the pineapple juice. Pour over pork chops and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Cut pineapple rings into large chunks. Set aside with remaining juice.

In a large nonstick skillet, brown pork chops in oil on one side. Turn and add the remaining pineapple juice and pineapple chunks. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer until pork is fully cooked, about 10 minutes. Serves 4.

NOTE: You could also try another spicy-sweet gingery seasoning blend, such as Club House’s Thai One-Step Blend. You’ll find this in the spice aisle at the grocery store. The results may be slightly different, but feel free to experiment as I did!

Creamy Scalloped Potatoes

4 tbsp. butter or margarine
4 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 rounded teaspoons chicken bouillon granules
2 cups milk
6 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 large onion, chopped

In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Stir in flour, pepper, and chicken bouillon. Add milk. Stir constantly until boiling. Remove from heat.

Layer half the potatoes and onions in a 2.5 quart casserole dish. Pour half the sauce over. Layer the rest of the potatoes and onions on top. Cover with the rest of the sauce. Sprinkle with paprika. Bake covered at 350 F for 50 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes more or until potatoes are tender. Serves 6.

Quick Sunday night supper

I threw this together last night using some ingredients I had on hand. Served in bowls with grated mozzarella cheese sprinkled on top, it was a warm, satisfying dish and a nice change of pace from all the leftover turkey we’ve been having this month. My husband’s favourite part was the chunks of hot Italian sausage; mine was the tender broccoli florets, bursting with folic acid and all those other healthy green-veggie vitamins. We agreed that next time, he gets extra sausage in his bowl and I can have extra broccoli in mine.

This is a quick and easy recipe to make when you’re pressed for time or when you’d rather just relax on the couch with your dearly beloved instead of spending hours in the kitchen. Just add broccoli, Italian sausage, and mozzarella cheese to your grocery list this week, and I bet you already have all the other ingredients in your pantry to make this next weekend!

Sausage Broccoli Pasta

6 hot Italian sausages, casings removed
1 jar (700 ml) tomato sauce (I used a no-name 6-vegetable pasta sauce)
1 cup uncooked pasta (I used rigatoni)
1 head of broccoli, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
Additional grated mozzarella for sprinkling

In a large nonstick skillet, fry the sausages until cooked, about 10 minutes. Drain and return to the skillet. Add pasta sauce and cook over medium heat until bubbly.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and boil for 4 minutes. Add broccoli and continue boiling 6 minutes longer. Drain and add to the sauce mixture. Stir in cheese and mix well. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the cheese is melted.

To serve, scoop into bowls and sprinkle with additional grated mozzarella cheese. Makes 4 bowlfuls—just enough for 2 hungry people, with leftovers for the next day!

BBQ recipes in November?!

Tonight was not a good night for barbecuing. Not only was it cold and windy, but it was starting to get dark by the time we got home. But I didn’t let the frigid weather stop me from experimenting with some great grilling recipes in the comfort of my warm kitchen!

Spice-Rubbed Pork Chops

I do so love my iPhone recipe apps—including Epicurious, which is the source of this mouth-watering dish. When I saw that 97% of reviewers would make this again, I knew it had to be good, and now that I’ve tasted it myself, I would definitely agree it’s a keeper!

I adapted the recipe slightly based on what I had in my pantry. I didn’t have garlic powder or onion powder on hand, so I substituted one minced clove of garlic and 3/4 tsp. minced onion. I also left out the cayenne. Even without it, the flavour was bold enough for me!

Instead of cooking the chops on the BBQ, I heated a little olive oil in a non-stick skillet with a lid and cooked 3 chops at a time over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes, covered, turning them every 5 minutes. They came out juicy and delicious! The only thing missing was those lovely charred grill marks. Which is why I can’t wait to try the original recipe (below) as soon as the sun smiles on us with a warmer day!

Spice-Rubbed Grilled Pork Chops

Pork Chop Willy’s Grilling Rub:

  • 3 tablespoons sweet paprika, preferably Spanish
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt, either kosher or sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne

Other ingredients:

  • Six to eight 10- to 11-ounce bone-in pork rib chops, 3/4 to 1 inch thick
  • Vegetable oil spray

At least 1 and up to 8 hours before you plan to grill the pork chops, prepare the dry rub, combining the ingredients in a small bowl. Coat the chops with the spice mixture, place them in a large plastic bag, seal, and refrigerate.

Fire up the grill, bringing the heat to medium (4 to 5 seconds with the hand test).

Remove the chops from the refrigerator and let them sit covered at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Spray the chops with oil and transfer them to the grill. Grill for 18 to 20 minutes total. Turn onto each side twice, rotating the chops a half turn each time to get criss-cross grill marks. The chops are done when just a hint of pink remains at the center. Serve hot.

Read More:

Grilled Zucchini

My husband and I have made this recipe on the BBQ before. His only complaint was that I should have bought more than one zucchini! This time, I made three, and we only had a few pieces left over. Mind you, these are the small zucchini they sell in the grocery store, not the robust garden variety. Still, they taste pretty good this way. I’d have to say that next to my Mom’s zucchini chocolate chip cake, it’s my favourite way to eat the vegetable!

To make this recipe work indoors, I used a small, shallow roasting pan of mine that has a rack. I put the zucchini on the rack in a single layer and broiled them about 8 minutes on each side. For the last 8 minutes, I moved the oven rack up as close to the heat as possible. The zucchini actually turned out very pretty; the black marks could have fooled you into believing I actually did brave the cold to BBQ them!

The recipe comes from Kalyn’s Kitchen.

Grilled Zucchini

  • 1 zucchini 12-14 inches long, sliced in slices 1/2 to 5/8 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder or garlic puree (optional)
  • 1 -2 tsp. dried oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, or a combination (optional)

Cut zucchini into slices, making sure the slices are the same thickness. Combine salad dressing with garlic powder and dried herbs of your choice, if using. Put zucchini slices into ziploc bag, pour in marinade and let zucchini marinate 4 hours or longer, even as long as all day if desired.

To cook zucchini, preheat grill to medium-high. (You can only hold your hand there for 3-4 seconds.) You can spray the grill with non-stick spray if desired, but you don’t really need it.

Place zucchini on grill, having a spray bottle handy for taming any flames that shoot up from the oil in the marinade. After about 4 minute, check for grill marks, and rotate zucchini a quarter turn. Cook 3-4 more minutes on first side.

Turn zucchini to second side and cook about 4 minutes more, or until zucchini is starting to soften quite a bit, with the outside slightly charred and browned. Season with salt and fresh ground black pepper and serve hot.

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Spiced Pumpkin Bread

Here’s a great pumpkin recipe to try. It’s become a tradition for me to make this for my father-in-law’s birthday, which happens to fall around Thanksgiving (near the beginning of October for us Canadians). The original recipe from my Aunt Carol made two loaves; I’ve adapted it to make only one loaf and changed the amounts of spices slightly. It’s good with or without raisins and nuts. I’ve even substituted dried cranberries for the walnuts, which adds some nice colour and moisture.

Spiced Pumpkin Bread Recipe

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups white sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup oil
1/3 cup chopped walnuts OR dried cranberries, optional
1/2 cup raisins, optional

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and spices.

In a separate bowl, beat eggs, sugar, pumpkin puree, water, and oil. Add to dry ingredients, stirring only to moisten. Fold in nuts or cranberries and raisins, if desired.

Bake in a greased loaf pan for 45-55 minutes at 350 F, until a piece of uncooked spaghetti inserted in the centre comes out clean.


Cooking pumpkins

I once worked on a farm that grew pumpkins (among other things). Part of my job involved giving tours to groups of schoolchildren and teaching them all about how pumpkins grow. Another part of my job involved baking spiced pumpkin cookies to serve to these eager young visitors. The main ingredient, of course, came straight from our own pumpkin patch. That autumn at the farm is when I learned how to take a real, live pumpkin and turn it into something other than a jack-o-lantern. I’ve never bought a can of pumpkin puree since.

How to cook a pumpkin:

1. Choose a small pie pumpkin (they have the nicest flavour for baking).

2. Break off the stem and wash the pumpkin.

3. Cut pumpkin in quarters.

4. Using a spoon, scoop out seeds. (Roast them for a snack later!)

5. Put pumpkin pieces, with skin on, in a large pot and fill it about half to two-thirds full of water.

6. Lightly salt, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat.

7. Reduce heat to medium-high and maintain a steady boil until pumpkin is soft when pierced with a fork (about 20 minutes).

8. Remove from heat and drain.

9. When pumpkin is cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape the flesh away from the skin. Discard skin.

10. Mash pumpkin, put in bags, and freeze. To use frozen pumpkin in recipes, thaw and drain of excess liquid.


Use immediately in your favourite recipes! Depending on the size, one pie pumpkin will give you about 2 1/2 to 3 cups.