Monday, March 31, 2014


I had half a cucumber in the fridge and decided to slice up some sunomono.  This is the little cucumber salad you get in a bento box.  It's slightly tangy from the vinegar and more than a little sweet.  Sunomono is an easy side for lunch, and it tastes better the second day.

The trick to an even marinade is very thin slices.  If you have a mandoline or food processor, set it to the thinner blade.  If you have an offset vegetable peeler, you may be able to use that as your slicer if you get a Japanese or Persian cucumber.  Those should be narrow enough for the peeler to straddle.

*1 English cucumber or 3 Japanese or Persian cucumbers
1/2 tsp salt
*3 Tb rice wine vinegar
1 Tb sugar
1 drop soy sauce
sesame seeds for garnish

1.  Peel cucumber if desired.  Slice cucumber as thinly as possible.  Arrange in a sieve and sprinkle with salt.  Allow to sit for 10 minutes, then squeeze out any water the salt has drawn from the vegetable.  Transfer to a bowl or storage container.

2.  In a small bowl, stir together vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce until sugar dissolves.  You can microwave it for 15 seconds to speed up the process.  Toss dressing on cucumbers and chill for at least 1 hour to marinate.

3.  Serve as 1/4 C mounds on the edge of the plate or in a sauce cup, topped by a tiny sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Yield depends on size of cucumber, about 4

Difficulty rating  π

Friday, March 28, 2014


I'm not sure I've ever devoted a post to a single ingredient, but I learned something from this one and decided to share.

Sprouts had starfruit, and I realized I've never had it, so I picked up a small one.  When I got it home and went online, I found out that it wasn't quite ripe.  I had to let it sit on the counter a few days to get fully yellow.

A YouTube video explained that you can eat all of it, but most people choose to remove the seeds because they are unexpectedly crunchy.  You just slice it crosswise and go.  It makes a fruit salad into a conversation piece and can decorate a fish or poultry dish.  If you're looking for something mildly sweet for a green salad and don't feel like using citrus, this is an option.  Starfruit is a little tart.  I think I was expecting it to taste like mango, and it doesn't.  Somewhere between a mango and a grapefruit, I think.
Just a reminder that a trip to the grocery store doesn't have to be a chore.  If you keep your eyes open, you may discover a new-to-you culinary gem.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Gefilte Fish

I've toyed with the idea of making my own gefiltes, but it always sounded too gross.  Either I have matured, or I really want to get rid of last year's matzoh meal in the pantry by the end of this Passover.

There are two ways of preparing fish for a gefilte recipe.  The more modern ones have you get the fishmonger to grind it for you.  See previous post for my recent history with the fish counter.  The traditional versions have you hack it into tiny bits.  Since I was working with previously frozen fish, I thought this would be the way to go.  While it's still a little frozen, fish isn't that difficult to mince.  I could have done it in the food processor, but then I would have had to clean it.  This recipe is just like making a meatloaf.  If you usually make your meatloaf in the food processor, it will work just as well for gefilte.

There are also two traditions of flavoring a gefilte.  Recipes from Poland and the western end of Russia have a bit of sugar in them.  Sephardic do not, but use more herbs and spices.  Manischewitz is on the sweet end, and most of the selections in the kosher aisle aren't far behind.  I'm of Ashkenazi descent, so I put the sugar in it.

The recipe I'm using is mostly from Wolfgang Puck's on Food Network, except I'm simmering instead of baking, and skipping the cabbage part.  I'm sure it looks beautiful and presents well.  I also found out from a woman on the cryptograms site who goes by momof7 that you can pre-shape the loaves in a plastic freezer bag and keep them in the freezer until you're ready to cook them.  It just takes 1-1/2 hours of simmering if you drop it in straight from frozen.

The taste when they came out was excellent.  Just the right balance of seasonings.  I chose sole and rockfish (no relation to the one in the stock) as my fish.  You want to pick a white fish that is low in fat.When I used horseradish, it did overpower the flavorings.  What I had not been prepared for was the delicate texture.  This isn't the lump you get out of the jar.  I didn't whip the egg whites as Puck does, and it was still so soft and delicate that you almost wouldn't know it's gefilte.  It was more like a fish-flavored matzoh ball.  This could have been because I used matzoh cake meal, or maybe I changed the proportions of something, or because I had it slightly warm instead of the typical chilled.  Whatever, I was happy.

1 Tb olive oil
1/2 medium onion, minced
2 lbs white fish, finely chopped or ground
*1/2 C matzoh cake meal
2 eggs
1/2 C parsley, finely chopped
1/2 tsp white pepper
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 carrot, cut in julienne strips
1 leek, white part only, julienned
more parsley for garnish
1 quart fish stock

1.  Sweat the minced onion in the olive oil until translucent.  Set aside and allow to cool slightly.

2.  In a mixing bowl, combine fish, matzoh meal, cooked onion, parsley, white pepper, salt, and sugar.  Knead together to mix well.  In a small bowl, beat eggs slightly and add to fish.  Knead again to distribute.  Refrigerate mix until ready to use, or divide into portions in plastic bags and freeze.

3.  In a medium saucepan, bring fish stock to a low boil, then lower to a simmer.  Shape handfuls of mix, about 1/2 C each, into quenelles.  That's like a cross between an egg and an aspirin.  It's not a sphere, but the shape two large spoons would make.  Gently lower portions into simmering broth and allow to cook for 30 minutes (90 from frozen).  If some of it is exposed because they're floating, turn over for last 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.  If serving chilled, transfer to a storage container and place in fridge.  To serve warm, set aside in the broth while preparing garnish.

4.  Bring water in a small saucepan to a boil.  Drop in julienned carrots and leek and allow to boil for half a minute.  Remove from heat, drain immediately, and place in a cold water bath to stop the cooking.

5.  To serve, place one quenelle in a small bowl or dish with a spoonful of the broth and garnish with vegetable slices and parsley sprigs.

Serves 10 to 12

Difficulty rating  :-0  (for chopping the fish)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Fish Stock

After the success of the vegetable stock, I got it into my head to make my own fish stock - or fumé to the classical chef - for the next post that you'll see in a few days.  After all, it's pretty much the same thing, but you add fish bits while boiling.

The "fish bits" seemed to be the hard part.  I buy fillets because I don't want to deal with heads and stuff.  I don't think the average consumer does, because most of what you find in the market is beautifully filleted and mostly skinned.  The first two seafood counters I went to had no idea what Fish Stock was, much less what I meant by "trimmings".  Big chains apparently do not butcher their own seafood.

Whole Foods to the rescue.  I almost never shop there, but they do have an elaborate seafood section.  Plus, they have a big sign over the fish counter that they will skin and fillet fish for you.  Bingo.  They'll even cook your seafood, which to me defeats the purpose of buying it at a market instead of going to a restaurant.  I pre-ordered a pound or so of any white fish bones, heads, fins, and skin that he could accumulate over the weekend.

What I ended up with was the cuttings off of two big rockfish.  It was the size and weight of a newborn, and he gave it to me for just a token price that made this project economical.  Time to scale up the recipe and freeze the leftovers.  Frankly, I wasn't sure it would fit in my stock pot.  I went out and bought quart mason jars for the first time ever.  I never can a batch that big, but this was going to require several.  It is important to mention that, even though I stored the stock in mason jars, they are not "canned".  You can't water-bath can stock, and I don't own a pressure canner.  This was simply a cheap, reusable storage medium that allowed me to keep track of the yield.
What are you complaining about?  I'm the one who had to touch it.
Fumé sounds all fancy because it's a classical sauce.  I used the recipe out of my garde manger book, with the exception of using kale instead of leeks because that's what I had in my stock freezer bag.  Oh, and I used some sherry instead of opening a bottle of white wine.  There are no carrots because you want a white stock.  It's really easy because nothing has to be cut pretty.  You're only going to be using the liquid when you're done.  I didn't even bother with a bouquet garni pouch and just tossed everything in.  I trust my strainer.

1 lb fish heads, fins, bones, and skin (no gills)
1 C chopped onion
1 rib celery, chopped
1 leek or 2 leaves kale, chopped
1 Tb olive oil
1 small bay leaf
1 sprig fresh parsley
1 sprig fresh thyme
5 whole peppercorns
1/4 C white wine (or 2 Tb dry sherry)
1 qt water

1.  Open the windows.  In a large stock pot, heat oil over medium low.  Add fish trimmings and cook until opaque, stirring frequently.  Add vegetables and spices and sweat vegetables until onion wilts, about 5 minutes.  Add wine, spices and herbs, and water.
2.  Bring to a low simmer.  Do not boil, as that will kick up impurities.  If it gets foamy, skim off top.  Keep heat very low, cover, and let simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

3.  Remove from heat.  Strain through a fine-mesh sieve or doubled cheesecloth.  Either use immediately, or refrigerate or freeze for later use.  When chilled, it will become slightly gelatinous.  This is normal.  Keeps in the fridge for 5 days, freezer for 1 month.

Makes about 1 quart

Difficulty rating  π

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Blackberry Muffins

I ended up with a package of blackberries and no reason to turn them into jam.  I've never made this recipe out of the Tea book because I wouldn't buy blackberries just to use them in muffins.  Having some foisted upon me, I decided to try it.

I was surprised that this uses regular flour.  For something so delicate and - let's face it - high in oil and sugar, I would have expected cake flour.  For my batch, I used one cup of cake flour and the rest regular.  It reduces the chance of over-mixing and creating holes, but still allows enough gluten development for them to rise without whipping the egg.  You could also use any kind of berry in this recipe, but adjust the amount of sugar to match the sweetness.

Full disclosure, I had extra blackberries and put a couple on top of each muffin before baking.  There are probably closer to 10 oz in mine, so don't be surprised if yours looks more sparse.

2-1/2 C flour
1 Tb baking powder
1/2 C sugar
1 egg
1-1/3 C milk
6 Tb (1/4 C plus 2 Tb) vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
*6 oz fresh blackberries
2 Tb light brown sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 400º.  Grease or line a 12-cup muffin pan.

2.  Sift flour and baking powder into a medium bowl.  Stir in white sugar.

3.  In another bowl, beat together egg, milk, oil, and vanilla until smooth.  Add to dry ingredients and stir just until blended, no more than 5 strokes.  It's ok if there are still some lumps.

4.  Stir in blackberries, which will get rid of remaining lumps.  Let sit for 5 minutes for everything to hydrate evenly.

5.  Spoon batter into muffin pan.  Sprinkle tops with brown sugar (1/2 tsp per muffin, if you want to do the math).  Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until well-risen and golden brown.  Cool in pan 5 minutes, then turn out muffins onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 1 dozen

Difficulty rating π

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Falafel Pie

Pi day (March 14th) was the day before Purim, so I combined the two traditions.  I got my vegetarian, legume-based, theoretically healthy meal, but in pie form.  It also saved me from having the just-fried smell in the house all weekend.  Finding out I can bake the falafel in a way that does not ruin the texture was a welcome bit of news.

Purim also means that I have just under five weeks to use the chometz in the house before Passover.  There's always some, like flour, that I just put away for the holiday.  The process is easier if there's less of it around.  I'll be working my way through the dried beans, rice, and frozen baked goods for a while.  The garbanzo beans in the falafel count.

This recipe is modified from Bake at 350º.  The falafel base is a lot like hers, but I'm changing the topping.  Putting hummus on a chickpea crust seemed like overkill to me.  Like any pizza, what you put on it is entirely up to you.

*2/3 C dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
1/2 large onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 C fresh parsley leaves
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
*3 cloves garlic
*1 tsp cumin
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 C flour
olive oil for greasing pan
1 single-serving (6oz) container of Greek yogurt
1 tsp lemon juice
*1/4 tsp dill weed
1 cucumber, thinly sliced
1 Roma tomato, diced
1/2 C sliced olives (your choice of type)

1.  The day before, soak the beans in 3 cups of water.  I highly recommend soaking your own, as the texture of canned doesn't really work in falafel.  Drain after at least 18 hours.

2.  In a food processor, combine garbanzo, onion, parsley, salt, paprika, cumin, garlic, and baking powder.  Pulse into a chunky paste.  Add flour and pulse again to absorb some of the excess moisture and create something more like a dough.

3.  Preheat oven to 375º and liberally oil a pie pan.  This is what is going to "fry" the falafel, and it will stick to the pan if you don't.  Press dough into the pan, making a slight ridge up the side so the toppings will fill the center of the pie.  Bake for 20 minutes, until edges are browned and center is firm.  Allow to cool slightly while you prepare the toppings.
4.  Beat together yogurt, lemon juice, and dill.  Spread sauce over base of pie shell.  Arrange cucumber slices, chopped tomatoes, and sliced olives.  Serve slices while crust is still warm.

Difficulty rating  :)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Hydroponic Farming

It finally rained in SoCal.  A lot.  All at once.  This was the heaviest rain since I put in the fountain garden, and I found out that I didn't punch enough holes in the liner.
The first night, it rained about an inch in 12 hours.  The water rose enough to cover one of the two stepping stones.  There were a few higher clumps of dirt that were covered with little pill bugs trying desperately not to drown.  I held up hope that the drainage slits I cut last year would take care of it and let it go.

The following day, it rained a lot harder.  When I went to check on the pond, one of the lettuces was completely underwater, the bugs had drowned, and the higher stepping stone was about two inches under.  At this point, I realized that I was creating a mosquito breeding area and made efforts to reduce the amount of standing water.  After bailing with a one-quart yogurt container for a gallon or so, I got out the sump pump that had done the original excavation.

I spent several hours over three days attacking that puddle with the pump.  Every time I got it cleared, it rained again.  Finally, the storms passed on Oscar Sunday and I could leave it to dry on its own.

One of my favorite things at Epcot is the boat tour of the farm in the Land pavilion.  They do a lot of hydroponic farming, but part of that method is giving the roots a chance to breathe.  You don't leave them completely submerged, or they'll rot.  My prized cherry tomato plant slowly drowned over the course of a week and I had to rip it out after picking any usable fruit left on it.  The lettuces did a little better.  Except for one butter lettuce, I just trimmed the outer leaves.  They are attempting to resurrect.  Once everything started to dry out for real, Gus started chucking out more spears than I've ever seen at once.  He probably saw me ready to rip out anything dead and was begging for mercy.  They're still too thin to eat, but the plant is definitely making an effort.  The pill bugs have returned, and my cilantro from last year has self-seeded.  My laziness in not dumping out the dirt in the pot has paid off.  Sometime in the next couple of weeks, I'm going to excavate down to the liner and drill a lot of holes.  Then I'll be ready to go vegetable shopping again.

Meanwhile, halfway across the back yard, Artie was having the happiest week of his little artichoke life.  Water hog.  Kale wants to know if we can do this every weekend.  I was surprised that this didn't cause the first round of pumpkin seeds to germinate.  I talked to the guy when I went to buy another packet of seeds, and he said it's just too early.  They need a lot more consistent warmth and sunlight.  I'll keep the hills fenced and weeded until I'm ready to try again at the end of this month or beginning of next.  I'm so impatient.  Meanwhile, their neighboring bushes are truly appreciating that I'm finally watering them.  I didn't know they were flowering shrubs.  They haven't done it in a couple of years.  Oops.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Vegetable Stock

In cooking school, one of the first-semester lessons was how to make stock.  My initial reaction was that we spent all this time making a perfectly good soup, just to strain it and throw out the bits.  (Jewish soups can be a bit uncreative.)  What a starter stock does is hold the flavors of whatever you used to make it, and whatever you add during the soup-making process just makes the broth richer.  It can also be reduced into sauces.

I usually buy broths and stocks because I decide to use them too late to make them myself.  Prepared cooks make them ahead of time and freeze them until needed.  My menu often changes while I'm in the grocery store, so I really ought to be one of those people.  Instead, I end up buying broths with too much salt and not enough natural flavor.

The breaking point was holding a quart box of vegetable stock in my hand and realizing that it was $4. For half that and an hour of simmering, I could have one that tasted the same.

I did buy all fresh veggies for this batch because my crisper was bare (except for that darned thyme!), but it is easy to plan ahead for a project like this.  Set aside a gallon ziplock bag.  Every time you trim the ends off a carrot, celery, onion (the mix is referred to as mirepoix), or any root or leafy vegetable, stick it in the bag and put the whole thing in the freezer.  When it's full, sauté up the veggies, add a quart or two of water, and let the pot simmer for about an hour.  Strain, and you're done.

I am omitting salt from this recipe.  Many vegetable stock recipes include it, but I figure you're going to be salting to taste when you use it anyway.  By starting with only natural salts from the veggies, it's more of a blank slate of herb flavorings.

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 core of a bunch of celery (those limp, yellowy ribs that you never use) and their leaves, coarsely chopped
*2 sprigs thyme (or another herb)
*2 bay leaves
*4 cloves garlic, chopped
*1/2 tsp whole peppercorns
*1/2 tsp whole coriander seeds
1 Tb olive oil (not vegetable oil)
6 C water

1.  Your choice:

  1. Toss all ingredients except water in olive oil and spread out on a foil-lined sheet.  Roast at 400º until veggies are golden and cooked through, about 45 minutes.  If making a meat- or fish-based stock, this is the preferred method.  Browning the bones intensifies their flavor.  Transfer ingredients to a large soup pot.
  2. In a large soup pot, toss all ingredients except water in olive oil.  Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.  It's ok if the veggies get dark brown or even a little burned.  It brings out the roasted flavor.  It takes about 15 minutes to cook them through.
2.  Stir in water.  Bring to a boil, lower heat to a simmer, and cover.  Simmer for about 1 hour, to extract full flavor from the veggies.
3.  Pour mixture through a sieve into its destination container.  You can proceed straight to using it at this point, or refrigerate or freeze for later.  If refrigerating, and if you used the olive oil instead of canola, you can skim it off once it solidifies and make a virtually fat-free stock.

Makes 4 to 5 cups, depending on evaporation

Difficulty rating  π

Friday, March 7, 2014

Beef Taquitos

Tortillas were on sale, and I got it into my head to use some stew beef in the freezer for taquitos.  What surprised me was that these are not fried, but baked.  Good; I fry too often just to put cool stuff on this blog.

This is a two-parter recipe, one for the filling and the rest is assembly.  You can make the meat the day before, or slow-cook it all day in a crock pot and assemble the taquitos during normal dinner-cooking time.

The biggest problem I had was the tortillas cracking when I rolled them.  This only happens with naturally low-gluten corn tortillas, not the flour kind I usually buy for pretty much every other Mexican-themed recipe I make.  I experimented with various degrees of moisture and warmth.  The best results were from completely drenching them before warming them up in the microwave.  Before that, even ones I rolled successfully cracked by the time they went into the oven.  I barely got enough whole ones for a good photo.

1 lb chuck roast or "stew meat"
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
*1/2 tsp chili powder
*1/2 tsp cumin
*1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 C diced onion
1 Tb olive oil, plus about 1/2 C for brushing
2 C water or beef broth
*1 Tb tomato paste
14 to 16 small white-corn tortillas
shredded cheese, salsa, guacamole, and sour cream for garnish or dipping

1.  Early in the day or a day before, get out a medium saucepan.  Sauté onion in 1 Tb oil until soft, then add meat and brown lightly.  Add spices and water.  Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cook until meat is pull-apart soft, at least 2 hours.  Drain.  When cool enough, shred into a bowl.  Stir in tomato paste.  Taste and add salt or pepper as necessary.

2.  Wet tortillas under running water.  Warm tortillas in microwave four at a time at 15 to 20 seconds, until they're pliable, moist, and don't crack when you roll them.  Preheat oven to 375º and line a baking sheet with foil.

3.  Brush a small amount of oil onto both sides of tortillas.  Spoon 1 heaping tablespoon of filling into the center of each tortilla and roll up like a cigar.  Place on baking sheet seam-side down, securing with a toothpick if necessary.

4.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until edges begin to brown.  If desired, sprinkle with shredded cheese and return to oven briefly to melt.  Serve hot with dipping garnishes.

Makes about 14.  Servings depends on if it's an appetizer or main dish.

Difficulty rating  :)

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Bean and Kale Soup

Technically, this still counts as Pantry Project because I put my remaining Israeli Couscous and some of the bacon ends in it.  Neither were in the original recipe, but I thought they would round it out as a more complete meal without relying on a side of bread to fill me up.

Fine Cooking's original recipe is vegan and gluten-free.  It uses cannellini beans, which I'm not terribly fond of and couldn't find in dried or low-salt canned, so I subbed in Great Northern as a neutral white bean.  My version not only contains meat and gluten, it isn't even kosher.  It's still light for lunch or dinner, and a bit healthier than I expected.  While I was babysitting the house on construction days, I was not burning many calories.  Or getting anything useful done.  Or doing any errands that really need doing, like renewing my driver's license.  I have a month.

I'm starting a broth bag.  You'll see in a future post what I went through to get the broth for this recipe.  I don't waste much food in trimmings, so this could take a while.  I'll still probably need to buy an onion.  Maybe I'll debone some poultry for the blog so I can freeze the bones for a chicken stock lesson.

2/3 C dried white beans, or 1 15 oz can drained and rinsed
*4 slices thick-cut bacon
1-1/2 C diced yellow onion (about 1)
3/4 C diced carrot (about 1)
3/4 C diced celery (about 2 ribs)
*1/2 tsp dried rosemary
2 Tb tomato paste
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 qt low-salt vegetable broth
4 C (packed) kale, stems removed and cut in chiffonade
*1/2 C dry Israeli couscous
*kosher salt and cracked pepper to taste

1.  If cooking beans from dry, soak for 6 to 8 hours.  Drain.  Cover with 2" of water and a touch of salt, bring to a boil, and simmer for 1-1/2 hours.  Drain and set aside.  Go meet up with everyone who started on step 2.

2.  Cut bacon meat from fat and chop meat into bits.  Hang onto the fat a minute.  In a soup pot, cook the bacon over medium until done.  Set aside.  Add reserved bacon fat to pot and cook to render fat, about 10 minutes.  Remove solids and discard.

3.  In fat, sauté diced onion, carrot, and celery until soft, about 6 minutes.  Add tomato paste, rosemary, and garlic and continue to cook until fragrant, about 2 more minutes.  Add broth, beans, bacon, and kale and bring to a boil.  Simmer until everything is soft, 15 minutes.

4.  Stir in couscous and continue to simmer until pasta is done, about 10 minutes.  I know, you usually turn off the heat with Israeli couscous, but that's because you expect it to soak up all the liquid and don't want to scorch it.  There's no reason to do that in a soup.  Although, if the soup starts to look too thick, you can add a bit of water.

5.  Taste and add salt and pepper as necessary.  Serve hot.  If you want a garnish, try a bit of shredded parmesan cheese.

Difficulty rating :)

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Stuffed Pork Chops

I'm still clearing out stuff.  This one got rid of the Costco-sized canister of breadcrumbs that were here before I started this blog.  The mustard I used technically expired over a year ago.  There's so much vinegar in mustard, it isn't a big deal.  The pork chops were on sale after Superbowl.  Three days after a bbq-heavy holiday is a great time to shop for meat.

Most similar recipes online use cheese in the stuffing and make a sauce.  I'm not a huge sauce fan and I had half an opened jar of turkey gravy in the fridge, which I ended up not needing.  I also felt like cheese would compete with the mustard for dominance and skipped it.  Don't drown out the flavors if you don't have to.

As for the stuffing a meat product issue, it's called a food thermometer.  If the core reads 165º, everything is dead.  Don't worry.

4 thick-cut pork chops, boneless (about 5 oz each)
1 C frozen spinach, thawed
1 Tb oil, plus 1/4 C for frying
*1 clove garlic, minced
*2 Tb grainy mustard
*1 C seasoned bread crumbs

1.  To make the filling, cook garlic in a large, oven-proof skillet in 1 Tb oil over medium until it begins to have an aroma.  Add spinach and 1 Tb of bread crumbs and cook until moisture is absorbed, about 5 minutes.  Start preheating oven to 350º.

2.  Make a pocket in the pork chops:  Into the side, use a sharp knife to slit the meat, leaving half an inch intact on the other three sides.  My meat was still partly frozen, which helped the process immensely.  Spoon the warm filling into the pockets.  That way, it will finish defrosting the meat for you and start to cook it.

3.  Rinse out pan and put it back on the stove over medium-high heat to dry.  Once dry, add 1/4 C oil and let it heat while you prepare the chops.

4.  Place remaining breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl or pie tin.  Squirt a bit of mustard onto each pork chop and rub it all over.  Dredge chops in breadcrumbs and place in hot skillet.  Cook for 4 minutes on first side, to get it dark and crispy.  Flip chops and cook for 2 more minutes.  Place whole thing in oven and cook until thermometer reaches 165º in the thickest part of the filling, about ten minutes.  Remove carefully from oven.  The hot oil might splash and burst.  Serve hot, with gravy or a sauce if desired.

Difficulty rating  :)