Free Range Nurse

Cooking therapy from a former travel nurse

Blue Cheese and the Other White Meat April 29, 2010

Filed under: dinner,pork — freerangenurse @ 9:11 am

It has been years since I’ve had a pork chop.  My husband doesn’t much care for them, so I don’t make them very often, but the other night, I had a real craving.  Not in the way I usually like my chops (just salted, peppered and baked in the oven), but with something different.  I went to one of my favorite websites – Epicurious – and searched pork chop recipes and found this.  It spoke to me.  It involved cheese.  It involved bread, and mushrooms, and butter.  Really, need I say more?  My husband was nice enough to go to the grocery store for ingredients because he is sweet like that, and because if I go, I will come back with $200.00 worth of other stuff we don’t need.  Yep, impulse buyer right here!

I altered the recipe just a bit, adding panko bread crumbs with a little dijon mustard to the outside.  I don’t believe less is more, apparently.  The results were delicious.  The blue cheese lends a nice tang to the stuffing.  I did leave one pork chop plain, however, because I know my husband wouldn’t touch blue cheese if his life depended on it.  He’s a simple man with simple tastes.  He takes his baked potato with butter only!  Disturbing, I know.  Sydney is a little more adventurous, thankfully.  She gave it thumbs up.

Blue Cheese Stuffed Pork Chops

adapted from Bon Apétit, September 1998

  • 4 1-inch thick pork chops, with or without bone, butterflied
  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 1 1/2 cups small cubes of French bread
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp minced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles
  • 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp liquid from cooked mushrooms
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs



A Tête-a-Tête About Brioche April 27, 2010

Filed under: bread — freerangenurse @ 9:14 am

Têtê-â-têtê – noun – (quite literally a head to head) a private conversation between two people.

Brioche â têtê – noun – culinary, traditional way of preparing brioche, in a mold with a little head of dough.

Come, let’s have a little talk.  It’s about bread.  I mentioned in a previous post my love of bread.  I love a warm chunk of bread, just out of the oven with a delicious imported butter spread across it.  I will never be thin.  I blame this bread fetish on my elementary school years, growing up in Austin, and our field trip to the ButterKrust bakery (which, sadly, is no more).  The tour took us on a behind the scenes tour of making loaves of bread.  I remember the warm yeasty smell in the air, the workers hand twisting the dough, the conveyor belt of baked loaves, but most of all I remember the slice of warm Texas toast slathered in butter that we got at the end of the tour (along with a No. 2 pencil and a ruler).  The amount of butter on that bread was obscene!  And so delicious.

Now that I’m an adult (in years, if not mentality), I still enjoy a warm piece of bread, with slightly less butter on it.  My friend, Jackie, was kind/cruel enough to bring a copy of Fine Cooking to work to show me and inside was a tempting recipe for brioche along with detailed step by step instructions.  I immediately went to Central Market to pick up recipe ingredients and my own copy of the magazine.  My first day off and I made two batches of brioche, reasons to follow. (more…)


Conquering Your Fears and Following Your Instincts April 25, 2010

Filed under: appetizers,dinner,lunch,seafood — freerangenurse @ 2:30 pm

I have a confession.  Artichokes have always intimidated me.  These big thistles are covered with spike tipped leaves, have a center choke that will make you do just that if you eat it, and have always seemed like a lot of effort to basically serve as scoops for mayonnaise or butter sauce.  Yet, with all these obstacles, I do enjoy artichokes and their tender hearts, so when I saw this recipe for shrimp stuffed artichoke bottoms, I couldn’t resist getting over my fear of artichokes.  Another fantastic reason to conquer my fears were the beautifully photographed step by step instructions in Fine Cooking Magazine for preparing artichokes in a number of different ways.



So Many Choices April 24, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — freerangenurse @ 8:00 am

Is it possible to be in love with a grocery store?  If it is, is it also possible for the relationship to be a little bit disfunctional?  Such is my relationship with Central Market.  It is a store I both love and yet, it is also a love that overwhelms me.  First, the distance it is from my house is an issue (it’s about 18 miles, one way).  There is often heavy traffic somewhere along the route, a major annoyance.  Once there, I have to deal with the lack of parking.  It’s not that the lot is small, it’s that the lot is small for the number of other shops in that shopping center.  This is just the beginning.

Inside the store, I am overwhelmed with the quality and quantity of fresh produce.  There are too many options and everything looks entirely too good!  I want to buy it all!  I don’t have recipes lined up, but I can google that when I get home, right?  It isn’t a matter of going to the store with a full belly; this isn’t about picking items out of hunger.  This is choosing things because you’re curious, because you’re inspired, because you saw it.  This is dangerous.  There are marketing geniuses at work there.  Apples are stacked just so, fresh pineapples sit on fields of shaved ice, mushrooms of exotic names and appearances peek out of darkened bins, fresh greens with names you’ve never heard of beckon, try me, pick me. (more…)


Urban Legend Cookies April 12, 2010

Filed under: chocolate,cookies,dessert — freerangenurse @ 10:43 am

Did you ever hear the story of the Nieman Marcus cookie?  Supposedly a woman dined at the Nieman Marcus Cafe and had their chocolate chip cookies for dessert.  She enjoyed the cookies so much, she asked the waiter for a recipe and was told they could sell it to her for two-fifty.  She agreed and then upon receiving her credit  card statement, was horrified to find out that she was billed $250.00 for the recipe.  She called the store to dispute the charge, but was told, essentially, too bad, no refunds.  Disgruntled and bent on revenge, she distributed the recipe to everyone she knew to prevent anyone else from being duped into purchasing the recipe. (more…)


Absolutely In Love With Lebovitz! April 10, 2010

Filed under: chocolate,dessert — freerangenurse @ 10:00 am

Many of my friends know that there are a few food bloggers that I love.  There are many that I read, but only two or three that I could say that no matter what recipe of theirs I try, it always yields delectable results.  David Lebovitz is one of those three.  I have all of his cookbooks, I read his blog with great enthusiasm, I follow him on Twitter and I am FaceBook “friends” with him.  I’m a little obsessed. (more…)


Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto April 7, 2010

Filed under: dinner,lunch,side dishes — freerangenurse @ 2:19 pm

As part of my fall in spring meal, I added this wonderfully delicious risotto recipe I came across on Epicurious.  I have to say that as tasty as the scallops were, this was the real show stopper.

Yes, this dish takes time.  Yes, this dish requires more than one pot (in fact, two pots and a sheet pan).  Yes, this dish requires constant stirring and supervision.  Yes, this dish is absolutely worth every ounce of trouble.  Creamy, hearty and with enough vegetables to almost consider it a health food….well, at least in this household.  My husband, who never eats vegetables of any kind, not only ate this, he even proclaimed it delicious!  Sure, he picked out the spinach, but he was blissfully unaware of the squash he was eating.  Yes, this dish is sneaky. (more…)


Seared Scallops with Apple Brandy Cream Sauce

Filed under: dinner,seafood — freerangenurse @ 1:12 am

It’s spring here in central Texas…of course it’s spring everywhere, but I mean if feels like spring here.  The weather is absolutely beautiful.  Warm temperatures, lots of sunshine, low (for Austin) humidity and the perfect time for finding the freshest spring berries and vegetables, firing up the grill and spending time outside.  Is that what I’m doing?  Nope.  I had a craving for some decidedly fall ingredients.  Seared sea scallops with apple brandy cream sauce, wilted spinach with garlic and butternut squash risotto.  Sometimes you want what you want.  If I had to pick a favorite of the three, I would have to say the risotto was the winner.  I’ll post that recipe, too. (more…)