Fennel pollen is kind of expensive but also really amazing. There really isn’t a great substitute for it, so if you’ve got a little extra money, I’d invest in some. So fragrant. Kind of like if you mixed fennel with curry and some kind of mystery tasty ingredient. I’ve seen it online at Amazon. I was going to go that route but, in the words of jwa, I was able to score some through my “shadowy, underground, food blog connections.”
Actually, I made a comment on twitter about wanting to get some and a fellow pdxer offered to sell me some from a big, fancy food order they were putting together! But honestly, I think “shadowy, underground, food blog connections” sounds better. Much more mysterious…
Even without the fennel pollen, I think these are worth making with the brine alone. The chops are so flavorful and juicy!
Pork Chops with Fennel Pollen
Adapted from Secrets of a Restaurant Chef
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp fennel seed
2 tbsp coriander seed
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3 bay leaves
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 ribs celery, diced
4 cloves garlic smashed
1 1/2 quarts cold water
4 bone-in pork chops
1 tbsp wild fennel . . . → Read More: Pork Chop Heaven, aka: Pork Chops with Fennel Pollen
So, when we last left off with this culinary space odyssey, Rachael Ray’s Swedish Meatballs were pretty good. They also contained full-fat sour cream, which is why for the two other recipes I cooked, I went right to the healthier section of The Astronaut’s Cookbook.
NASA, it seems has done some research on vegetarian diets for long space flights and there are about 20 of these recipes in the book. A number looked interesting but in the end I went with Kidney Bean Burgers (I had actually been looking for a veggie burger recipe) and Tofu Brownies.
The burgers were really good! The recipe makes six burgers — jwa and I each ate one for dinner and I froze the other four. I was a little afraid that the bean burgers would squish out of the bun (as bean burgers are prone to do) but they seemed to hold their shape. Well played, Future Space Kidney Bean Burger. I would definitely make them again. Quite tasty.
The tofu brownies were…interesting. And I say that as an open-minded person who once made tofu chocolate mousse that was terrific. But, let’s start with the burgers, shall we?
Kidney Bean Burgers
Adapted froma recipe . . . → Read More: Future Space Food II: Electric Vegetarian Boogaloo
Facebook, not just for fake farms and stupid quizzes…
I went to grade school, junior high and then high school with someone who now works at NASA. I know, neat! We recently got back in touch via facebook and now I am contributing to a cookbook review he’s working on. Not just any cookbook, but The Astronaut’s Cookbook: Tales, Recipes, and More. I must admit that when he first asked me if I wanted to help review the book and cook a few of the recipes I was a little worried. My only previous experience with space food was the novelty packages of freeze dried Astronaut Ice Cream you could get at the Bay area Frys. (Edited to add: I kind of miss the San Jose Ancient Egypt-themed Frys).
But, it was okay as the cookbook was filled with pretty normal looking recipes. In fact, it seems that astronauts eat meals from the likes of Rachael Ray — Swedish Meatballs and Emeril — Kicked Up Bacon Cheese Mashed Potatoes. Hey! Astronauts are JUST LIKE US!
After perusing the book I decided on the Swedish Meatballs, Kidney Bean Burgers and special future brownies. Not all in the same meal.
Those . . . → Read More: Rachael Ray (and More) in Space: Part I
I once spent the better part of a day making a Rick Bayless Mole Sauce recipe. Hours and hours and the end result was…fine. Which I’m pretty sure had much more to do with my execution than the recipe, but there it is. I wasn’t in love with it and jwa actually didn’t like it. Then I make this recipe not expecting much and it is really good. I guess you just never know.
Of course I have absolutely no problem spending all day on a sauce, but I’m okay taking a short cut or two, which is no way should be interpreted as a “semi-homemade’ anything. Seriously. Don’t make me come over there.
Anyway, even though this is “easy” it still takes about an hour or so to prepare. I also found it very beneficial to make the sauce earlier in the day so it has 4+ hours to hang out and meld and stuff. When I tasted it right after making, the peanut butter taste was very strong but a couple of hours later, the spices were more dominant and it had evened out quite a bit. It was even delicious! So, allow about an hour . . . → Read More: Easy Mole Sauce (and what to do with it)