blood orange

winter citrus salad with spiced pork chops

Why hello there friends! I’ve missed you!

winter citrus salad with seared pork chops | Brooklyn Homemaker

I know it’s been a long while since I shared anything with you here, and for that I’m sorry. This post has been a long time coming.

I have a little story for you.
I bought a journal the other day.
I had a journal when I was a teenager, but that was kept for reasons of pure juvenile vanity. This new journal is to be kept for a different purpose altogether.

Words like “overwhelmed”, “frightened”, and “anxious” can’t even begin to describe how I’ve been feeling for the past few months, so I’ve decided to keep a record of the things that are happening as they happen. I don’t want to forget how everything really came to pass if and when the “alternative facts” outweigh the real ones. It may be important some day.

Hold on to your butts folks, I’m about to do the thing that a food blogger is never ever supposed to do under any circumstances. I’m going to talk about politics.

GASP!

winter citrus salad with seared pork chops | Brooklyn Homemaker

Food bloggers are supposed to make light and bubbly conversation with their readers, detailing nostalgic stories from their childhoods, or relating amusing little anecdotes from daily life. We’re supposed to share our lives, but in a way that’s innocuous and easy to digest. The goal of a food blogger is to write mouth-watering recipes, amuse our readers, and hopefully grow our readership. Therefore, any subject that could be construed as polarizing is at odds with our aim to gain followers, and is usually off-limits. Under normal circumstances, we spend our days baking cakes and turning zucchini into spaghetti; we’re not “journalists”, nor are we policy experts or political science majors. That doesn’t mean however, that we don’t have opinions or principles, nor does it mean that our votes or our stakes in the management of our country count any less than anyone else’s.

I’ve been chewing away at all this in my head for the past few weeks and months, and in the end I’ve decided that some things are just too important to keep quiet about. If you find my views and convictions to be “offensive” and you decide not to keep reading my blog or cooking my recipes, I’ll just have to accept that. After all, we’re talking about pork chops and cupcakes here, while people’s lives, livelihoods, and lifestyles are on the line. If you’re a regular reader, you should at least know by now that I’m a man and I’m married to another man, so it should really be no surprise to you that I’m nervous about how our lives may be affected under a president who’s pandering to the most narrow-minded, prejudiced, and hateful among us.

winter citrus salad with seared pork chops | Brooklyn Homemaker

I realize that there are many people in the world who are thrilled with the outcome of the recent election, and are pleased as punch that campaign promises are being kept. If you’re one of those people, please understand that I’m speaking my mind today for a reason. I’m not just a “sore loser” or a “snowflake” as I’ve been called recently on social media. I’m speaking out because there’s so much at stake, and I fear the consequences of intolerant, inexperienced, irresponsible leadership.

Like it or not, we now have a man in power who cares more about money and his own ego than he cares about the country he’s pledged to lead. Say what you will about our last president, I know he wasn’t perfect, but he was a thoughtful man with integrity and grace, and a man who cared deeply about our country. Our current president is immature, irrational, erratic, and is easily influenced by those willing to stoke his ego or line his pockets. He’s proven that any billionaire willing to vocally praise him will be rewarded with a cabinet appointment, no matter how inexperienced and ill-suited they are to the job.

His closest adviser and Chief Strategist is an unapologetic racist and spokesperson for the alt-right (neo-nazi) movement, who once said in an interview, “I’m a Leninist. Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”
I mean, how terrifying is that? The president’s (alt-)right hand man, who knows more about politics and policy than he does himself, has proudly declared that he wants to destroy our country as we know it. With his mentorship, our president is actively working to divide our country against itself. Rich against poor, old against young, straight against gay, native-born citizen against immigrant, man against feminist, and white Christian against any and all other creeds and colors. He’s essentially waging a war against anyone in this country who isn’t a rich, straight, white, conservative, Christian, and it scares the crap out of the rest of us.

Since we’re on the subject of war by the way, his foreign policy decisions are irresponsible and ill-informed at best, and the disrespectful way he speaks with world leaders and long-time allies is downright dangerous. I don’t want to sound over-dramatic, but this man could be putting our lives and safety at serious risk.

winter citrus salad with seared pork chops | Brooklyn Homemaker

For me, the first days after the election were a mix of horror, depression, and cautious hope that maybe this man might not be as bad as he made himself out to be. Maybe he really was just trying to appeal to the worst in us because he knew it could work, but when it came to leadership, maybe he’d be… okay-ish? Of course, a lot has happened in a short time, and my worst fears have been recognized. He’s made it abundantly clear that things are going to be very, very scary for the next few years.

I have so many unanswered questions right now, and I lay awake at night thinking about how my life is in the hands of someone who doesn’t give a damn about anyone but himself and his rich white friends.
Will our marriage be deemed invalid or the federal marriage protections we enjoy reversed? Is it safe for us to ever consider having children? Will the quality of our (hypothetical) children’s education eventually be dependent on our income? Will I lose my healthcare? Will my family lose their (government) jobs? Will my neighbors be removed from their homes and deported? Will my friends become victims of harassment and violence? Will my taxes increase to pay for unnecessary and ineffective border security? Will the EPA be dissolved, climate change officially denied, and our environment and national parks destroyed for profit? Will we lose our freedom of the press under a man who can’t handle criticism or opposition? How far backward will be forced before we can move forward again, and how long will it take to repair the damage this man and his appointees can do over the next four years?

winter citrus salad with seared pork chops | Brooklyn Homemaker

Reading the news every day has become an exercise in masochism, but the one ray of hope is the knowledge that things don’t have to be like this, and this can’t last forever. To make sure these dark times end as quickly as possible, we must stand together, look past (or hopefully even celebrate) our differences, and be steadfast in our opposition to his attempts to divide and destroy us.

The people united will never be defeated.

In the months since the election, his popularity has plummeted and he’s become the least popular incoming president in the history of the gallup poll. His every move has been met with vocal criticism, nation-wide protests, and countless lawsuits; and frankly I couldn’t be more proud of the everyday citizens who’ve taken a stand. I’ve heard my whole life about how lazy and complacent my generation is, but when the shit hit the fan, we took to the streets with clever signs and knit hats, flooded our representatives in Washington with phone calls and postcards, organized resistance networks on social media, donated our hard-earned money to Black Lives Matter and the ACLU, and hosted fundraisers to benefit Planned ParenthoodCAIR, and the Water Protectors.

Ultimately, I know I’m not saying anything new here, and if you’ve been paying attention, I’m not telling you anything that you don’t already know. I guess the real point I’m trying to make here is that we all have a voice, and in these unsettling times we can’t be afraid to use them, even if doing so might have some negative consequences.
We need to do everything in our power to show people with other points of view that policies designed to “protect traditional values” can have terrible negative consequences, and don’t just affect unknown hypothetical immigrants, feminists, people of color, or homosexuals. These policies directly affect the lives of their friends and neighbors, their baristas and hair stylists, their surgeons and teachers, and even their favorite food bloggers.

winter citrus salad with seared pork chops | Brooklyn Homemaker

Whew! I didn’t realize when I started writing this that I had SO MUCH to say, but I’ve been holding back for so long that I’ve had plenty of time to gather my thoughts. I’m sorry that I’ve basically ignored the recipe altogether through this post, but I promise I have just a few quick things to say about the yummy salad in these pretty pictures.

A few weeks ago Russell talked me into doing the Whole30 diet with him. I have to admit, it’s been really difficult and I’m totally over it and can’t wait for the end. I’ve been dreaming about chocolate chip cookies and pizza for weeks, but we’re in the final stretch now and I’m happy we did it. Oddly enough, as restrictive as this diet is, it’s been a sort of fun exercise in will power and self-discipline, and in a world that feels like it’s rapidly spinning out of control, having total control over something, anything, feels really refreshing. Having this much restriction has also deemed most restaurant food off-limits, and forced us into the kitchen multiple times a day, every day. While it certainly has felt like a chore at times, spending so much time in the kitchen has been strangely therapeutic. My kitchen feels like “home” to me, and cooking so often has brought some semblance of familiarity and normalcy back to my life, even if I’d really have preferred to drown my worries and sorrows in a thick slice of chocolate cake.

winter citrus salad with seared pork chops | Brooklyn Homemaker

I swung by my local butcher shop one day looking for pork chops, and when I spotted the gorgeous cara cara and blood oranges in their produce case, I instantly knew what I wanted to do. We’re friends with the butchers there, and the pork chops they gave me were very generous, huge even, but I actually think a smaller chop would have been better suited to this recipe. Mine were about a pound each, but I think 1/2 lb chops would be the way to go. If you’re not a huge pork fan, or can’t find good thick pork chops, you could also do the same spice rub on some boneless, skinless chicken breasts and they’d be amazing too.

Because Whole30 is so protein heavy, it’s important to make sure you eat LOTS of veggies with every meal, and to go for BIG, BOLD flavors as often as possible to avoid gustatory boredom.

This salad is definitely not lacking in big, bold flavors. The mix of citrus fruits add fresh biting acidity and bright sweetness; the pistachios are rich and buttery; the fennel fresh, sweet, earthy, and slightly anise-y; the arugula is peppery with a hint of bitterness; the pork perfectly spiced, wonderfully browned on the outside, and tender and juicy inside; and the dressing, with red wine vinegar and a hint of Dijon mustard, ties it all together perfectly.

winter citrus salad with seared pork chops | Brooklyn Homemaker

Winter Citrus Salad with Spiced Pork Chops

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
Generous salt and pepper to taste
2 thick-cut, bone-in pork chops (about a half pound each)
2 teaspoons olive oil or butter
Arugula
mix of citrus fruit (I used 1 each of tangerine, blood, naval, and cara cara oranges)
a handful of thinly shaved slices of fennel bulb or stalks
1/4 cup roasted pistachios

Red Wine Vinaigrette:
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Lightly toast spices in a dry skillet until they smell fragrant. This should only take a few minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder (or coffee grinder *see note) along with salt and pepper. Grind into a fine powder. Sprinkle or rub all over both sides of your pork chops and let them rest at room temperature for about an hour. If you like, you can use this time to prepare the citrus or mix the dressing.

Preheat your oven to 400F and let a large cast iron skillet heat up with it.

Remove the skillet from the oven and add olive oil or butter. Place the skillet over a medium-high flame and sear the pork chops for about 3 minutes on one side. They’ll probably smoke a bit, so use your vent fan. Flip the chops and immediately transfer to the oven. Roast until the chops reach 135 to 140F at the thickest part of the chop. This should take between 5 and 10 minutes.

Remove from the skillet, tent with foil, and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes while you assemble the rest of the salad.

Place enough arugula for 2 individual servings (how much you like is totally up to you) into salad bowls. Use a very sharp knife to cut the peel off of your citrus and slice them into thin discs. Top the arugula with the citrus discs, shaved fennel, and pistachios.

To make the dressing, combine all ingredients in a mason jar with a lid and shake shake shake to combine. Pour over the salads and toss to combine if desired.

Top with rested pork chops and enjoy!

 

*Cooks note: Only use a coffee grinder if you have a spare. Don’t use a grinder you use for coffee or your coffee will taste like ground cumin, fennel, & mustard. Alternatively you could use a mortar and pestle.

beet and blood orange bundt cake #bundtbakers

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “New Year, new you” at some point in your life.

beet and blood orange bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

Well, I’ve decided that I don’t need a new me. I’m as happy as a clam with the current me, so I’m tossing that pesky little phrase out the window.

beet and blood orange bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

What I could use in the new year though, is some new recipes. I really want to shake things up and learn some new tricks in the kitchen.

In my last #bundtbakers post I mentioned that I’d gotten an old cookbook from my mother and I wanted to try some new (to me) recipes from old cookbooks. Russell heard me loud and clear and found me some even older cookbooks on Ebay for Christmas, one of them dating back to 1884. Some of these recipes are so old, and so unfamiliar, that they actually feel completely fresh and new and innovative! I can’t wait to start cooking my way through them!

beet and blood orange bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

Don’t get the wrong idea though. While I definitely want to revisit the recipes of the past, I also want to try a few things that are totally new and modern. New ways of doing things, new techniques tips and tricks, new spins on classic recipes, and new combinations of flavors.

beet and blood orange bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

As fate would have it, our very own June of How to Philosophize with Cake chose “Strange but good / weird flavor combinations” as our #bundtbakers theme this month. Can you think of a better segue into trying something new and exciting in the great big world of bundts?

I sure can’t!

I wasn’t the only one who got excited about this month’s super fun and interesting theme. 25 bloggers are participating this month and some of the ideas they came up with are truly mind-blowing. Please scroll down past the recipe to check out everyone’s cakes, but be warned, you might want to grab a towel to wipe up the drool while you read through their posts.

beet and blood orange bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

After some serious thought and option weighing I decided to try making a beet cake. I’ve always loved beets and have often thought that their earthy sweetness would work well in dessert. I’ve wanted to try experimenting with beets in sweets for a long while but until now haven’t had the drive to go for it.

Apparently I’m not the only one who thought beets worked well with this theme. While everyone’s cakes are totally different, there are a few others who used beets in their recipes too, and they all sound phenomenal.

I’m usually pretty good at being able to size up a recipe and know what changes I can make without screwing it up.
Unfortunately this was not one of those times. I had a one hell of a time getting this recipe right and had to make three cakes before I was happy with the results. My first plan incorporated ricotta along with the beet puree and orange juice, and while it tasted great there was too much added moisture and the texture was dense and gummy. The ricotta didn’t really add much in the flavor department either, so I nixed it. The next try was much closer to perfection but I knew I still had a little work to do before I could proudly and confidently share the recipe with all of y’all.

beet and blood orange bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

One thing I was sort of surprised and disappointed by was the way the bright red color of the beets baked out by the time the cake came out of the oven. For some reason the very top of the cake stayed red, but the interior turned a pale orange color. I tried a few things in my experimenting, and did some research online on how to preserve the color with acidic ingredients like orange juice, buttermilk, and baking powder (rather than baking soda which has a base PH). The bottom line though was that this cake needs to cook too long to be able to preserve the color, so making sure the cake is cooked all the way through means that you have to sacrifice that vivid red.

I thought about using food coloring to turn it red again, but that’s not really my style and it seemed unnecessary. The beets are there for flavor not color, and the flavor stays even after the color bakes out.

beet and blood orange bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

Let me tell you, this cake has amazing flavor in spades. You may think that using beets in a cake is weird or unappetizing, but think again. It may sound a bit weird in theory, but it’s seriously freaking delicious. Even people who don’t care for beets will probably enjoy this bright and citrusy cake.

Thanks to the moisture from the buttermilk and beet puree, this cake is incredibly moist and tender, with a light and delicate crumb. The bright citrusy acidity of the blood orange pairs beautifully with the sweet, earthy, almost floral flavor of the beet. Ground cardamom bolsters the floral notes in the beets, and a bit of ground clove bridges the gap between the bright citrus and earthy beet. A sunny blood orange glaze adds even more citrus flavor and a naturally pretty in pink color that’s missing from the cake itself. To top it all off a sprinkle of freshly toasted pistachios adds crunch, color, and an earthy floral flavor that compliments the rest of the cake perfectly.

beet and blood orange bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

Beet and Blood Orange Bundt Cake

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
zest of one blood orange
1/4 cup fresh squeezed blood orange juice
2 small to medium beets
1/2 cup buttermilk
3 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cardamom (optional)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons peanut oil or canola or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs

Orange glaze:
zest of one blood orange
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed blood orange juice
1 1/2 to 2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup toasted pistachios, roughly chopped

preheat oven to 350F.

Brush a 10 to 12 cup bundt pan with softened butter, dust with flour, and tap out excess. Refrigerate.

Combine orange zest and sugar in a large bowl and mix until well combined with an electric mixer. Set aside.

Wash and peel beets and cut into quarters. Place in a food processor with orange juice and puree until very smooth, about two to three minutes. Pour into a measuring cup and measure out exactly 1 cup of beet puree. Discard any extra if you have too much. If a little short you can top it off with a touch of extra buttermilk. Add 1/2 cup buttermilk to beet puree and stir well. Set aside.

Whisk flour, salt, baking powder, cardamom, and cloves together in a medium sized bowl.

Add softened butter to orange scented sugar and cream together on high speed until very light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add oil, vanilla, and one egg at a time, beating just enough to incorporate. Alternate flour and beet mixtures, beginning and ending with flour, scraping sides of bowl between additions.

Transfer batter to prepared bundt pan, tap out any air in the pan. Place pan on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 55 to 65 minutes, or just until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean.

Cool on a cooling rack for about 20 minutes before inverting pan to remove cake onto the rack. Cool on the rack until completely cool.

To make the glaze, whisk orange zest, orange juice, and powdered sugar toghether until smooth and completely free of lumps. The glaze should seem very thick, almost spreadable. If too thick add a few drops of water or orange juice, if too thin add more powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time until you reach the desired consistency.

Pour glaze over completely cooled cake, and before it dries, top with a sprinkle of pistachios.

Cake should keep, well sealed in an airtight container, at room temperature for up to 4 days.

beet and blood orange bundt cake | Brooklyn Homemaker

There are so many incredibly interesting and mouthwatering cakes this month. I know I say this all the time, but I really wish I could try them all. Some of these combinations of flavor are simply unbelievable that I’ve got to try them for myself.

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BundtBakers

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#BundtBakers is a group of Bundt loving Bakers who get together once a month to bake Bundts with a common ingredient or theme. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme or ingredient. You can see all of our lovely Bundts by following our Pinterest Board.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about BundtBakers can be found on our homepage.

blood orange whiskey sour

Valentine’s day is almost upon us!

You know what really puts people in the mood for romance?

blood orange whiskey sour | Brooklyn Homemaker

BOOZE!!!

(duh)

blood orange whiskey sour | Brooklyn Homemaker

I wanted to come up with a cute little romantical cocktail for me and Russell to enjoy on this oh-so-romantic occasion, but for the life of me I couldn’t think of what to serve. Champagne tends to give me a headache if I have more than one glass, and a quick search on pinterest turned up little more than a who’s who of chocolate martinis and syrupy sugar bombs. Not that there’s anything wrong with chocolate martinis and sugar bombs, but they’re really not our thing.

blood orange whiskey sour | Brooklyn Homemaker

Just when I was starting to think that I wasn’t cut out for this whole Valentine’s day thing, it hit me! All I had to do was make a few little tweaks to a favorite cocktails recipe I already had in my arsenal!

blood orange whiskey sour | Brooklyn Homemaker

Russell and I love a traditional (stiff) whiskey sour with lemon juice, superfine sugar and plenty of good American whiskey. I like to use rye because I think it’s more assertive flavor stands up better against the citrus in this drink, but bourbon would definitely work well too if that’s what you prefer. Fresh egg whites are shaken into this classic cocktail to add the signature foamy creaminess that whiskey sours are known for. I always try to buy eggs that come from cage free local farms, so I don’t worry too much about the fact that the whites in this drink are raw, but if you’re concerned about food safety, most grocery stores carry little cartons of pasteurized egg whites that you can use instead.

To add a little romance, I substituted some of the lemon juice with fresh squeezed deep red blood orange juice. Once it mixed with the other ingredients and had the dickens shaken out of it, the blood orange juice gave this cocktail the sweetest pale pink color you could ever ask for.

blood orange whiskey sour | Brooklyn Homemaker

Don’t let that cutesy pink color fool you though, this cocktail packs plenty of punch. Two ounces of straight whiskey is always guaranteed to get the night started right in my book.

While this is a perfect drink to serve your sweetie on Valentine’s day, these classic flavors would also be totally delicious any day of the year. Oh, and hey, if you happen to find yourself alone on this romantic day of days, this recipe makes two cocktails, just enough to make you forget your sorrows or give you the courage to go out and find yourself a date!

blood orange whiskey sour | Brooklyn Homemaker

This blushing beauty of a cocktail is bright, fresh and satisfying. Good looks and great taste, the total package! The rye whiskey and fresh citrus play off of each other perfectly and the shaken egg whites add a smooth, creamy, silky mouthfeel. The fresh squeezed blood orange juice adds a bit more sweetness and bright citrusy depth than you’re used to in a whiskey sour, but keeping some of the lemon juice ensures every bit of that sour bite that you expect.

blood orange whiskey sour | Brooklyn Homemaker

Blood Orange Whiskey Sour

  • Servings: makes 2 cocktails
  • Print
4 ounces good American whiskey (preferably rye)
1 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
2 ounces fresh-squeezed blood orange juice
2 teaspoon sugar
2 egg whites

Combine all ingredients in a large cocktail shaker, fill with plenty of ice, and shake like crazy for about 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, or into an ice-filled Old Fashioned glass. If desired, you can garnish with a maraschino cherry or a slice of orange, but I don’t think you’ll need it.