From Left to Right: Lemon Balm, Gingered Rhubarb, Lemon-Lime

From Left to Right: Lemon Balm, Gingered Rhubarb, Lemon-Lime

Well, it looks like Summer has finally hit Wisconsin, at least I hope it has. The weekend was warm and the last few days have been in the upper 70′s. And while I like all the seasons, it has been a long, cold, wet Spring and I’m ready for some warmer weather. In anticipation of the warmer temperatures, I mixed up a trio of syrups to make homemade soda with, although these syrups would be great in a variety of drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.

The main inspiration for making the syrups though was my Sodastream machine, a birthday gift a year and a half ago. While I love the machine, most of their flavoring syrups leave something to be desired. I don’t mind their “diet” syrups but even their “regular” syrups contain artificial sweeteners. And besides, they are loaded with chemicals and preservatives. Why not make your own? It’s simple, they taste great, and you know exactly what is in it.

While all of these syrups are full sugar syrups, at least they don’t contain high fructose corn syrup, and unlike store bought soda, you can determine exactly how much syrup you want to add, helping to regulate how much sugar you put into your body. I’m thinking I might also try to make a few diet versions, but that will have to wait for another time.

This time the 3 syrups I made were Gingered Rhubarb, Lemon-Lime (a variation on the Sour Mix I made for Whiskey Sours in this post) and Lemon Balm, one of my favorite summertime herbs.  To turn the syrups into soda, combine 2 ounces of syrup with 6 ounces of soda water, either made in your own carbonation machine or purchased in the form of soda water. Pour both over ice and gently stir to combine.  The 2:6 ratio is just a start.  If you want it sweeter or more flavorful add a bit more, and if you want a lighter flavor or less sugar add less, it’s up to you.

Most syrups will last, at least, a week or 2 in the fridge although I would try to use herb flavored syrups up within a week as after that the quality of the flavors will start to deteriorate.

Gingered Rhubarb Syrup

2 1/2 cups Water
2 1/2 cups Sugar, granulated
1/2 cup Ginger, fresh, peeled and roughly chopped
4 cups Rhubarb, roughly chopped
Grenadine (optional)

In a non-reactive sauce pot combine the sugar and water. Add the ginger and rhubarb and bring to a boil. Cook until the rhubarb falls apart, then remove from heat. Allow to steep for 10 minutes then strain out all the fibers, pushing on the pulp to remove as much liquid as possible. Allow to cool to room temperature, bottle and store in the fridge.

If, like me, you aren’t blessed with red rhubarb you can do what I do and add a few drops of grenadine to the syrup to give it a light pink blush.

Lemon-Lime Syrup

2 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 cups Water
1 cup Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 cup Lime juice, freshly squeezed

Combine the sugar and water in a small pot, bring to a boil and cook just until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Strain the lemon and lime juice to remove any and all pulp and add to the cooled simple syrup. Chill until ready to use. Because of the additional sugar, as compared to the original Sour Mix recipe, this syrup will keep longer without a loss in quality of flavor for up to 2 weeks or so.

Lemon Balm Syrup)

2 cups Water
2 cups Sugar, granulated
3-4 cups Lemon Balm leaves, freshly picked

Combine water and sugar, in a small pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and add the lemon balm leaves. Allow to steep for 10 minutes. Strain, allow to cool to room temperature, bottle and chill. Use within 1 week.

If you have been following my blog for any length of time you should know by now that I am a huge Bourbon fan. While I’ve never met a Whiskey I haven’t liked, over the years I’ve found that I prefer Bourbon to all other Whiskeys, including Scotch. I’ve always been a Bourbon, at least since my college days, when I drank copious amounts of Jim Beam. While in culinary school I discovered Basil Hayden and the rest of the Super Premium Bourbons and haven’t looked back since. Basil Hayden is still one of my favorites, although I can’t afford it often so my “go to” Bourbon is Maker’s Mark or Buffalo Trace.

While in college I usually drank Jim and Coke, or did straight up shots, but occasionally I would go on Whiskey Sour kicks. I quickly outgrew those drinks as they always seemed too harsh and abrasive. It wasn’t until years later that I rediscovered what great drinks “Sours” could be once you gave up on that nasty premade bottled stuff made with chemicals, acids and a very small percentage (if any) of real juice. Real purists will probably tell you that it is best to make each and every drink completely from scratch. While I will occasionally make my Sours this way, I prefer to streamline the process and make up a batch of homemade sour mix. This is a great time saver, but only make enough to use up in a couple of days. After that, the fresh lemon and lime juice starts to oxidize and loses that wonderfully fresh flavor that one can only get with fresh squeezed juice. Technically, the sour mix will stay good for a week or so, but to really experience the drink in its prime use up your sour mix in a day or two. Also, this drink is all about freshness so don’t even consider using a shortcut and buying one of those plastic lemons and limes. It’s not worth it and you might as well just go ahead and purchase the sour mix itself. Trust me those plastic lemons and limes taste nothing close to fresh squeezed.

Finally, and I’ve covered this before, but it’s been awhile, many old, classic drinks contain egg white. It lends a rich, almost creamy mouth feel to cocktails. Make sure that you use the freshest eggs you can get your hands on and don’t overdo it or it will add an off flavor to your drink. If the thought of a bit of raw egg white totally grosses you out, you can skip it and the drink will still be good, but I encourage you to try it, at least once, and see if it doesn’t elevate the drink from just good to great.

Sour Mix
makes about 4 1/2 cups

1 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 cups Water
1 cup Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 cup Lime juice, freshly squeezed

Combine the sugar and water in a small pot, bring to a boil and cook just until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Strain the lemon and lime juice to remove any and all pulp and add to the cooled simple syrup. Chill until ready to use. Best if used in the first 3 days but will stay good for a week or so.

Whiskey (Bourbon) Sour
makes 1 drink

2oz. Bourbon
3oz. Homemade Sour Mix
1 Tbl. (1/2oz.) Egg White”"

Combine Bourbon, sour mix and egg white in a cocktail shaker and dry shake (shake without ice) for 5 seconds. Add ice to fill the shaker half way and shake for about 20 seconds. Strain into a tumbler filled with ice, making sure to allow the shaker to drain completely. Garnish with a cherry and lemon or orange wheel. You will notice in the picture above there is no cherry. We had some maraschino cherries in the fridge but it looks like my daughter got to them before I did!

**Egg whites can be difficult to measure out as they want to stick together. You can combat this by adding a drop of water to the egg white and giving it a quick beating with a fork to break it up. If it still wants to cling together it’s best to under portion the egg white rather than over portion it.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been in the gin mood. For the last year I’ve mainly been drinking rum and, my personal favorite, bourbon. But recently I was in a gin kind of mood. It was hot out, unseasonably hot. It was only the beginning of June but between the high heat and the lack of rain the grass, in our yard, has the brown, stunted look and sharp, prickly texture of August. I was in the mood for gin, but I didn’t want anything too heavy and aromatic and, for once in my life, wasn’t in the mood for a Gin & Tonic. Luckily I didn’t have to search far. The folks over at Sloshed! are a great resource for well crafted cocktails. A quick search of their gin drinks and I came across a drink called the “Florodora.” It was exactly what I was looking for. You can find their recipe here. The folks over at Sloshed! originally found the recipe in “Esquire Drinks” by David Wondrich. They slightly altered the recipe by using Ginger Beer instead of Ginger Ale, and I had to agree with their choice as I am a fan of the bite of Ginger Beer. Also, in the classic cocktail (this one has quite a history) they use a raspberry liqueur, but Sloshed changed it to raspberry syrup. Since I had raspberry syrup around this is what I went with. For a more decedant drink by all means use a raspberry liqueur like Chambord. I have also slightly altered the recipe further by increasing the amount of Raspberry Syrup since I am a sucker for anything “raspberry.”

I do hope you give this drink a try, even if you don’t like gin. Gin’s strong, piney, juniper taste is easily tamed by the sharp Ginger Beer and the floral and fruity qualities of the raspberry syrup. I truly believe that even if you are not a fan of gin you will like this one. Try it out and let me know!

The Florodora

makes 1 drink

2oz. Gin

1oz. Raspberry Syrup (homemade or higher quality product)

1/2 oz. Lime juice (fresh please, no bottled stuff)

Ginger Beer

Lime wedge

Fill a collins glass with ice. Pour in the gin, the raspberry syrup and the lime juice. Fill with ginger beer and garnish with a lime wedge. Give a quick stir just before drinking and be prepared to make another one as these go down quite easily!!!

Like most of the people in the upper Midwest, I can’t believe the weather we are having. We’ve had almost a full week of 70-80° temperatures and it’s barely the middle of March. Of course, we’re all holding our breath, just waiting for winter to make one last bid for supremacy. We watch the news religiously expecting to hear that the season’s worst blizzard is heading our way and that this weather is nothing but a short tease before we are plunged back into sub zero temperatures.

That doesn’t mean that I haven’t been out, enjoying this early preview of summertime. It seems that every day our neighborhood is infused with the aromas of people grilling out and watching the kids play outside in their shorts makes me think that the end of the school year is right around the corner, not Spring Break.

To celebrate this early taste of summer I created a new cocktail. Well, okay, I hate to say “created” as someone, somewhere has probably come up with this flavor combination before, but it’s new to me. You will need to make a couple of things first though. You will need to make the Ginger Lime Syrup and Homemade Sweet and Sour Mix, both recipes follow the main recipe. The Ginger Lime Syrup I originally created as a flavoring syrup for homemade soda and while it makes an okay Ginger Ale, it makes a much better mixer for cocktails. But if you have a Sodastream, or another such carbonator, give it a try. Of course you could use store bought sour mix, but why? It tastes nasty and leaves a strange aftertaste in your mouth. Besides, it masks all the other wonderful flavors in this drink.

While, techniquely this drink really would be considered a collins because of the addition of soda to top the drink I’ve called it a “Sour” which I’m sure will annoy those sticklers out there. Either way its still a good drink. I also haven’t added the egg white, which is often customary in a classic sour and which gives a “Sour” its creamy smoothness.

Gingered Bourbon Sour
makes 1 drink

2 oz. Bourbon, your favorite brand (whiskey would be fine also)
2 oz. Ginger Lime Syrup, recipe below
3 oz. Homemade Sour Mix
Club Soda
Lime, or Lemon slices

Fill a highball or Collins glass with ice. Pour in the Bourbon, ginger syrup and sour mix. Give a quick stir then fill with club soda and garnish with lemon or lime slices. After finishing the first one, enjoy another, and maybe another…only if you aren’t planning on driving anywhere!!

Ginger Lime Syrup
makes approximately 3 1/2 cups

2 cups Water
1 1/4 cup Sugar, granulated
3/4 cup Light Brown Sugar
3 oz. fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp. Coriander seed, lightly cracked
3 Limes
1/8 tsp. Salt

Combine water, sugars, ginger and coriander in a sauce pot, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, covered. Remove from heat and allow to steep 10 minutes more. Meanwhile zest and juice the limes. Add the zest and salt to the ginger mixture and steep 5 minutes longer. Strain and cool. Once room temperature add the lime juice and refrigerate until ready to use. Will hold for 2 weeks.

Homemade Sweet and Sour Mix
2 cups Lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 1/2 cups Simple syrup (1:1 water to sugar ratio)
1/2 cup Water
1/3 cup Lime juice, freshly squeezed
1/3 cup Orange juice, freshly squeezed

Combine all ingredients and strain to remove any pulp and/or seeds. Refrigerate until needed. Will last for about 1 week, but tastes best within a day of making.

I first discovered Elote when I was living in Chicago. There were all these Mexican street vendors in my neighborhood pushing carts and selling, what I discovered, was corn on the cob. But this wasn’t ordinary corn on the cob has I had known it. Instead of slathering it with butter, salt and pepper they slathered it in mayonnaise, dipped it in grated cheese and sprinkled it with ground chile and a squeeze of fresh lime. I have to admit, at first I was kind of disgusted. Mayo on corn on the cob?! But being a chef and a rather adventurous sort I had to give it a try. Besides how bad could it be? Ultimately it was just corn on the cob. Well, I tried it and fell in love. And let’s face it, what’s not to love; creamy, rich mayo, salty, nutty cheese, a bit of spicy heat, and the freshing tang of lime juice, all backing up that wonderful sweetness of fresh corn.

This week, our CSA share contained 5 ears of freshly picked corn on the cob. I racked my brain, coming up with all sorts of wild and crazy things to do with this corn (and hopefully I’ll get to do one or 2 of those things in the near future) but ultimately decided the best way to showcase such wonderfully sweet, freshly picked corn was to serve up in the ultimate summertime fashion; on the cob. But that wouldn’t be much of a post, which got me to thinking and wondering how many other people had never had corn on the cob done the Mexican way. See how I selflessly put my readers first. Trust me it has nothing to do with the fact that I’ll use any excuse to add as much fat and dairy as I can to just about any recipe…really.

Just a few notes before I get to the recipe. First off, I often talk about how produce is so much better the fresher it is. While this is true of most all produce, it is especially true of corn. Corn is the sweetest the moment it is pulled off of the stalk. Once picked those sugars begin to get converted into starch, losing much of its sweetness at an alarming rate. While supermarket corn, in the middle of summer, may taste pretty darn good, I challenge you to stop by your local farmer’s market, pick up a couple of ears of corn that were picked early that morning and have them cooked off by noon. If you have never indulged in this summertime luxury you’ll be amazed at the sweetness and depth of flavor that you never knew you were missing.

Traditionally, the cheese used in making elotes is Cotija Anejo (Queso Anejo). Outside of cities or in area without larger hispanic populations, this cheese may be difficult to find. Not a problem. Just use parmesan cheese instead. As always I will state that doesn’t mean that nasty stuff that comes in a green container and has a shelf life of a million years. Use the real stuff!! Cotija Anejo is not exactly like Parmesan, but close enough that the vast majority of people couldn’t tell the difference.

Finally, when I make elotes, I use ground cayenne pepper as my choice of chile. You could use ground ancho, chile de arbol or even ground chipotle if you want a bit of that smokiness that comes from chipotle, but please stay away from “chili powder.” While chili powder has its uses for this dish it doesn’t work so well, in my opinion. Of course there are plenty of recipes, gracing the web, for elotes that use chili powder, but I disagree with its use here. Chili powder is a spice mix containing, not only, ground chile, but usually ground cumin, ground oregano, and other various herbs and spices. To me this muddles up the flavor a little too much, taking away from the bright freshness of the food.

Elotes

fresh corn on the cob, still in the husks
mayonnaise
finely grated Parmesan cheese (see my rant above about the stuff in the green container)
ground cayenne pepper (or your choice of chile, not chili, powder)
lime wedge (cut limes into 1/6ths)

One and half hours before you are ready to eat prepare the corn. Rip off the exposed part of the corn silks but leave the husks intact. No need to remove them completely as they are easy to remove after being cooked. Submerge the corn in cold water. After the corn has been soaking for 45 minutes to 1 hour, fire up your grill and set it up for direct grilling over medium high heat. Place the corn on the grill and cover, checking every few minutes and turning every 4-5 minutes. Don’t worry, you will have the occasional flame as loose bits of husk or stray bits of corn silk catch fire. Unless your fire is too hot that initial soaking should prevent the entire ear from catching fire. If this is your first time cooking corn on the grill you might want to keep a spray bottle with water, just in case. The corn will take approximately 20 minutes, depending on the size of the corn, how hot your grill is, how often you remove the lid, yada, yada, yada. You can tell the corn is done by gently peeling a bit of the husk back to expose the kernals. Raw corn will have a dullish look to it. Cooked corn will have a slight sheen to it and the colors will be a bit more vibrant.

Once done, remove from the grill and serve. I usually make this a serve yourself affair. Everyone grabs an ear of corn. I peel the husk down to the stem, which I have left on to serve as handle for eating the corn. Most of the corn silk should come with the husks, but it is easy to remove any strays that still cling to the corn. I then liberally slather the entire ear with mayo, just like you would with butter. I probably use between 1 and 2 tablespoons per ear. Next sprinkle with the grated cheese. Don’t be shy…load it on. Next sprinkle with the chile powder. This is a personal preference on how hot you like it. I like medium hot. Just enough to get a bit of burn but not enough to interfer with the taste of the corn. Finally grab a lime wedge and squeeze the juice all over the ear and enjoy. Since the cheese is usually pretty salty no need for any added salt unless you are a complete addict!

Like most of the country, summer has come to Wisconsin with a vengence. We went from just a couple of weeks of spring-like 60° weather to temperatures in the mid 90′s with heat indexes reaching well over 100°. While I am not overly bothered by the heat-you can’t be if you’ve spent most of your life in professtional kitchens-this heatwave has caught me offguard and I find myself seeking cooling refreshments as often as possible. My usual goto’s, in summer-apart from the plethora of alcoholic beverages I’ve been known to consume-are often sun tea and, a personal favorite, Iced Lemon Balm Tea. This heatwave called for something different though.

Luckily, my wife, Wanda, had just picked up a rather large watermelon and I was keen on making something out of that. While Watermelon Lemonade is the first thing to come to mind, if given a choice between Lemonade and Limeade, I will almost always choose the limeade. Not that I’ve ever said ‘no’ to a glass of freshly made lemonade, but if given the choice I prefer limeade. Why that is, I’m not sure. No matter what you prefer, you just can’t go wrong combining watermelon and citrus to create a refreshing summertime drink. If you prefer lemonade then, by all means, replace the lime juice with lemon juice. It will taste just as good. Whatever you do, though, please stay away from the bottled juice, and don’t even think about using that stuff that comes in those little plastic lemons and limes. That stuff has lost all of its freshness and complexity leaving you with nothing but sour juice. Besides, how hard is it to juice a few lemons or limes. You haven’t gotten that lazy have you?

Watermelon Limeade
makes 1/2 gallon

10 cups or more seedless watermelon, rind removed and diced small
1 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
1 lime, sliced into rings

Puree the watermelon, in a blender. Strain through a fine mesh sieve or through 2 layers of cheesecloth to remove most of the solids. You should end up with 1 1/2 quarts of watermelon juice.

Place watermelon juice in a pitcher and add the remaining ingredients. Taste, adding more sugar or more lime juice to get the balance of sweet and sour just right for your taste. It should be a little on the strong side so that when poured over ice it doesn’t become to diluted. Place in the refrigerator and allow to chill for, at least 1 hour. Fill a glass with ice, pour in the watermelon limeade and garnish with a wheel of fresh lime.

It’s been awhile since I posted last. Work has been keeping me very busy and I have just been too tired to write at the end of the night. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking. I have, but I just haven’t gotten around to posting any of the recipes yet, so the posts over the next week should kind of catch me up….I hope.

I’ve kind of been on a Caribbean kick the last week or so and the other day I can across some really nice looking plantains at my local grocery store. My wife loves plantain chips so I decided that I would whip up a batch of tostones for her to try. Like plantain chips, tostones are fried, but they tend to be thicker and often are just a bit soft in the center. Personally, I prefer tostones over plantain chips any time.

You will find lots of recipes that say that the plantains must be completely green to make authentic tostones. That may be the case, but I’ve found that I prefer a hint of sweetness in my tostones so I look for plantains that are just a few days from being fully ripe.

Tostones are very easy to make but they do require a double frying, something you see often in Caribbean cooking, especially in Cuban cuisine. First peel the plantains. This can be somewhat difficult if your plantains are still very green as the skin wants to adhere to the flesh. Once peeled slice the plantains into 1 1/2 -2″ chunks. Deep fry these chunks in 300°F vegetable oil for about 3-4 minutes.

They will be lightly browned and have started to soften. Drain on paper towel and allow to cool.

Once cool, place each plantain chunk between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and gently smash them. To do this I usually use a small saute pan. Don’t slam the pan down, on top of the plantains, like you are tenderizing meat, or you will smash it into oblivion. I just place the pan on top and press down to flatten them.

Once the plantains have all been flattened, return them to the deep fryer set at about 350°F and fry until golden brown and crispy around the edges, about 4-5 minutes. Don’t overcrowd your pan. I usually do 3-4 at a time. Remove, drain on paper towel and sprinkle with salt.

I usually serve these with a traditional mojo sauce (a citrusy, garlicky sauce native to Cuba). This simple sauce takes about 5 minutes to make and is a great accompaniment to the tostones.

Mojo Sauce
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup lime juice**
1/3 cup orange juice**
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground cumin

Gently heat the olive oil until warm. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Add to the olive oil, bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. This sauce is best served the same day as it is made, though it can be stored for up to a week in the fridge.

**Note: Traditionally, the juice of the sour orange would be used, but they are difficult to find here in the middle of Wisconsin. If you can find them then replace both the lime and orange juice with an equal amount of juice from the sour oranges.

The last couple of weeks, here in Wisconsin, have been unseasonably warm. We hope for days in the 70′s in May, though often it only gets into the 60′s, but the last week or two has seen temperatures in the upper 80′s and even lower 90′s. Looking for ways to cool off I decided to make a few drinks based on rhubarb, seeing as I have a huge patch of the stuff just begging to get used up.

Rhubarb has the same tart quality that makes citrus fruits such wonderfully refreshing drinks when the weather gets hot. Unfortunately it doesn’t contain much sweetness so the first thing I needed to do was create a syrup with the rhubarb to sue as a base for any drinks I made. After doing some experimenting I decided on pairing the rhubarb with sugar and lime to form the syrup from which I would then create a couple of drinks.

For the alcoholic version I wanted to create I decided to use rum as the liquor. After numerous experiments and tastings (oh, the sacrifices I make for this blog) it was determined that standard white rum worked best. While, generally, I am more of a fan of gold or dark rums, I found that these rums had too much character that tended to overpower the taste of the rhubarb. Rhubarb may be quite tart, but its flavor profile is rather delicate and can easily be overwhelmed by other strong flavors.

Rhubarb Lime Syrup
2 pounds rhubarb, cut into chunks
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 cups water
1/2 cup fresh lime juice

Combine rhubarb, sugar, and water in a nonreactive sauce pan, bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 10 minutes or until the rhubarb starts to fall apart. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Strain liquid into a pitcher and add the lime juice. Chill until ready to use.

Rhubarb Spritzer – nonalcoholic

4 oz. rhubarb syrup
seltzer water

Fill a glass with ice. Add rhubarb syrup and top with seltzer water. Give a quick stir and garnish with a lime wedge.

Rhubarb Rum Cocktail

3 oz. rhubarb syrup
2 oz. Bacardi rum
1/2 oz. grenadine (preferably homemade)
seltzer water

Fill a Collins glass with ice. Add the syrup, rum and grenadine. Stir to combine. Top with seltzer water and garnish with a lime wheel.

It’s getting close to midnight and although I sat down at the computer about 2 hours ago I’ve now started to type up this post. Instead of writing I got sucked into yet another bunch of political debates….okay, arguments. Without getting into politics here on my blog, let me just say that some people really piss me off. Our country has become so divided between the right and the left, the liberals and the conservatives, I sometimes wonder if we haven’t passed the point of no return. Of course, each side blames the other for spreading the hate and fear mongering, but both sides engage in this type of rhetoric and discourse. I have my political leanings but even those I support are part of the problem. Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn’t be better to vote them all out of office and start all over again.

But enough of my ranting. You haven’t come to a food blog to read about politics, but don’t worry, the recipe I have today is worth wading through that short sidebar. Once again, I turn my sites to the humble hog for inspiration, because, come on, what’s not to love about pig! Pork is such a flavorful and versatile product. Virtually every last bit of the pig can be used, literally from snout to tail and from the tops of the ears down to the hooves. And the pig has given us one of mankind’s greatest gifts – bacon!!!! What’s not to love about bacon; crispy meat, rich, juicy fat and a deep sweet smokiness. I truly feel for those people whose religion forbids them from not ever knowing the joys of bacon. But I digress, again. I blame it on the late hour and too much cyber debating.

Moving on. This recipe calls for pork chops. It doesn’t matter which type of chop you choose, but choose chops with the bone in. All chops come from the loin section, a part of the pig that lies along the middle of it’s back. This location doesn’t get used much by the pig, compared to other muscles so the whole loin is pretty tender and moist. My personal favorite for chops is a rib chop, which contains a large round eye of meat surrounded by fat on three sides and a rib bone on the other. But you may use whichever chop you like best or better yet, whichever type is on sale.

Coriander Crusted Pork Chops with Lime Glaze

4 pork chops, thick cut (about 6-10 oz each)
salt
pepper
coriander seed, whole

1/2 cup Lime Marmalade**
1 tsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. honey
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. chili powder

Grind the coriander in a spice mill or mortar and pestle until coarsely ground, leaving some larger pieces in the mix. Season the chops with salt and pepper and generously season with the ground coriander.

Allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling. Meanwhile combine the marmalade, vinegar, honey, cayenne and chili powder and stir to combine. Preheat your grill. Clean and oil the grates and place chops over high heat. Cook for about 6 minutes.

Flip and cook another 6 minutes. Remove to a cooler part of the grill. Brush 1 side with glaze, cover grill and cook for 3 minutes. Flip, brush other side with glaze and cook 3 minutes making sure the bottom isn’t burning. Continue this until all the glaze has been used up and the pork chops are cooked through, about 150°F. Watch the chops carefully as the glaze will burn if the heat is too high. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

**Note: Use the provided link to make your own lime marmalade or you can substitute any other marmalade for the lime marmalade. Any citrus flavor would compliment the other flavors in the recipe well.

I have no idea why I decided to make Lime Marmalade today. The idea popped into my mind yesterday though I don’t know why. I think the idea first took seed last Friday (New Year’s Day) as we were sitting at our regular breakfast place, waiting for our food to arrive. On the table were those little packets of jelly, one of the flavors being Orange Marmalade. I’ve seen it there many, many times but that day for some reason it caught my eye and stuck with me. The funny thing is, I don’t even really care for marmalade all that much. I don’t dislike it, it’s just not my first, second, or even third choice when choosing a preserve to slather on toast or bread. Raspberry jam is always my first choice (well actually Spicy Raspberry Jam is even better), along with strawberry, and apricot, though my wife makes a killer spiced grape jelly. Again, though, I am not overly particular, and can’t remember coming across a preserve that I couldn’t stand.

For whatever reason I latched on to marmalade this week, I knew I didn’t want to make orange. It was either grapefruit or lime. I love the flavor of both, but ultimately decided I was in the mood for something lime flavored. I have made numerous jellies and jams before, but can’t remember ever making marmalade so I headed to my bookshelves and the internet to study up on making marmalade and to develop a recipe.

I have found 2 schools of thought when it comes to making marmalade. Some recipes call for a 3 day process where you boil the citrus in water for 10 15 minutes then let it sit overnight, repeat, and then on the third day you finish the marmalade. The other school of thought is to do it all at once, but with a long cooking time to ensure that the peel is tender and that all the pectin is extracted. I chose to do the one day method, though in the near future I want to try the other method and compare the two.

I was very happy with the way my first batch of marmalade turned out. Sweet, tart, with just a bit of a bitter edge this marmalade makes a great spread for toast, english muffins, scones (especially berry studded ones) and a whole host of other “breads.” And I expect it will make a great ingredient in a whole host of other dishes and applications.

One thing about this marmalade; it has a slightly soft set to it. It definitely is not as thick or as tight as many jellies and jams you might be used to eating. That’s the risk of not using store bought pectin. If you want a firmer set you can try adding some liquid pectin, towards the end of cooking, but I rather like the slightly looser set of this preserve.

Lime Marmalade

2 pounds limes, washed under warm water to remove any wax if not using organic limes
4 cups water
3 pounds sugar

Zest all the limes. The easiest way to do this is to invest $7-$10 in a citrus zester. They come in handy quite often so are well worth the few dollars. If you don’t have a zester the thinly peel the limes with a peeler trying to avoid as much of the white pith as possible. After peeling the limes cut them into very fine strips. If you had a zester, you would have been done 15 minutes ago!

Cut the limes in half and squeeze all the juice into a nonreacative pot along with the lime zest. Finely chop the remains of the limes, including all the membranes and pith. You can also roughly chop them and put them in a food processor to finish the job, just don’t turn it into a puree. Place the finely chopped lime into a cheesecloth or muslin jelly bag.

Tie it closed and toss into the pot along with the juice, zest and the water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours. During the last half hour remove the lid. Remove the pulp filled cloth and carefully squeeze out all the liquid that remains the in pulp. Add the sugar to the liquid in the pot, increase heat, bring to a boil and cook until a thermometer reaches 220. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Remove all scum that has floated to the top and pour into jars. Cover, and if not processing, place into the refrigerator once they have slightly cooled. If you want to process the marmalade then place in a bath of boiling water that comes at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars and process for 10 minutes. Remove from bath and allow to cool. Check seals on jars and if one didn’t seal properly, move to the refrigerator.

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