It's the simple things in life. My muse this evening is a plate of artisan salami, a wedge of creamy, salty, buttery brie, and a chewy bagette from the Acme Bread Company; washing it all down with an ice cold beer. Jealous? You should be.
I'm sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself here. Let's get the formal introductions out of the way. My name is Rebecca, and I'm an artist living in the wonderful city of San Francisco and I am a self taught cook with a huge passion for food. To put it simply I'm a food nerd to the max. I live with my boyfriend John who is also a food nerd to the max, in a cozy little apartment in Nob Hill. Our kitchen leaves a lot to be desired, and is about the size of a small bathroom, but somehow we manage to make it work. We're constantly playing a game of bumper butts, and one of us should have lost an eye by now, but we still cook to our heart's content.
Cooking has become an escape from all of the day to day bullshit. And it seems as of lately that there is an extraordinary amount of the stinky stuff, which is why I have decided to start this blog, dear reader. And by dear reader, I am basically addressing my mom, who will most likely be the one person to actually read this thing. I have never considered myself to be a writer, although I always have something to say, and when it comes to food it seems my ramblings are never ending. Friends are always asking me what I'm cooking for dinner, or for help to plan a menu to impress that special someone, and I couldn't love anything more. This will be a space for me to actually get some of my ideas down on paper, something a little more concrete than just shooting off my mouth.
As I mentioned earlier, I'm an artist, or trying to be one at the very least. While my artwork has always been an outlet for my creativity, it has also become a second job, and when I can't come up with a new painting idea or wacky sculpture, I turn to food to fill that creative void. John and I love entertaining friends whenever we can (we do love a good theme party), coming up with new recipes, and pushing ourselves to the extreme of do we buy this tub of butter or do we make it from scratch? just for the pure satisfaction to say that we did, regardless of the inconvenience.
Cooking can be expensive, especially the way John and I like to cook, so over the past few weeks I have been buying our meat in bulk from our local discount box store to save a few pennies. This week I bought an 8 lb. pork tenderloin in all its glory and goodness. The giant tuberwang of hog will last us at least 2-3 weeks and well worth the $18 I paid for it. It also provides a little inappropriate entertainment in the kitchen, but I won't scar you with that mental image. Oops, I probably already have.
But I digress. Let's get back to my muses, as they are way more exciting than me. So the antipasto was just the beginning of a wonderful meal. The piece de resistance on the menu tonight consists of pork schnitzel in a buttermilk mushroom sauce and a quick cooking sauerkraut made from red cabbage. We had some 2 week old, stale, homemade sourdough sandwich bread, a lovely head of red cabbage from our vegetable and fruit box that we had gotten earlier this week, and of course our giant pork tender wang sitting in the fridge just calling our names. What could be better than making fresh bread crumbs and taking out all the week's frustrations with a heavy meat mallet on a poor, defenseless slice of pork? Much more satisfying that going to the gym, I concur, and without the awkward moments in the women's locker room where all the old ladies are standing around in their birthday suits. Oh the horrors I've seen. Luckily there is nothing horrifying about a thin cutlet of pork shallow fried to perfection smothered in tangy buttermilk gravy.
Pork Schnitzel with Mushroom Buttermilk Gravy and Red Cabbage Sauerkraut
2 pork loin cutlets about 1/2 inch thick
2 cups + 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
2 cups seasoned bread crumbs (we made our own, but store bought is fine)
1 1/2 cups + 3 tablespoons of buttermilk
1/4 cup of vegetable oil
1 cup of chicken stock
3 tablespoons of bacon fat or butter
1 diced shallot
2 cloves minced garlic
1 package of crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 teaspoon of dried dill
1 teaspoon of lemon pepper
1 small head of red cabbage, shredded or finely sliced
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 teaspoon each of yellow and brown mustard seeds
1 tablespoon of caraway seeds
1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar
Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees
Place pork cutlet in between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound with the flat side of a meat mallet until meat is approximately 1/4 inch thick. Prepare dredging station. You will need 3 large shallow bowls or containers. Bowl #1: combine 2 cups of all-purpose flour, and a few hearty pinches of salt and fresh ground pepper. Bowl #2: whisk 1 egg with 3 tablespoons of buttermilk and a splash of cold water. Bowl #3: Seasoned bread crumbs. Dredge pork cutlet in seasoned flour mixture until fully coated and shake off any excess. Next, place pork cutlet into egg mixture and coat completely. Again, shake off any excess. Then, coat pork in seasoned bread crumbs. Repeat for second pork cutlet. Heat vegetable oil on medium high heat in a 12" cast iron skillet for about 3-4 minutes. You can test if the oil is ready, by gently dipping a small corner of the cutlet in the oil. If it sizzles it's ready. Put the pork in the pan and cook approximately 2 minutes a side or until crust is golden brown. Transfer to baking sheet and place in oven to finish cooking for about 5-10 minutes or until meat is firm to the touch.
Mushroom Buttermilk Gravy
Remove excess oil from cast iron skillet. Do not remove the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Melt bacon fat and whisk in 3 tablespoons of flour 1 tablespoon at a time, until fully combined and forms a thick paste. Next add in shallots, garlic, and sliced mushrooms and sautee until softened, about 2 minutes. Add chicken stock to deglaze the pan and stir until roux is dissolved into the liquid. Add remaining buttermilk, dill, lemon pepper, and salt to taste. Reduce heat to low and let gravy simmer for about 5 minutes or until it thickens. If gravy gets too thick, add chicken stock to thin out.
Red Cabbage Sauerkraut
Heat olive oil in large sautee pan on medium high heat. Add cabbage, 3 large pinches of salt, mustard and caraway seeds. Stir to combine and cook until cabbage begins to wilt. Stir in apple cider vinegar. Reduce heat to low and let cabbage simmer for 10-15 minutes or until soft and tender.