I took an early morning train to New York last Wednesday. I was in the city for only a few day. They were crisp, fall days that reminded me how much I miss it.
I stayed with my little brother, Ben, who wears suits everyday and took me out for pizza, prosciutto, and wine at Mario Batali’s casual restaurant, Otto. I walked around Prospect Park in Brooklyn and, later, paused for cappuccino in a warm West Village café. I window-shopped, pressed into crowded subway cars, and perched on a stool at a bar with friends. I sat in a leather chair at a small paper-scented bookstore, reading food magazines before a more business-oriented meeting nearby. A plum tart, split in two with a plastic spoon at Patisserie Claude, tasted of sweet cream and powdered sugar.
I had dinner at Barbuto on Thursday with a couple of friends with whom I often used to cook. A pumpkin bruschetta and linguini laced with swiss chard and garlic spoke to fall. Afterward I met my brother and his girlfriend at an odd little wine bar that projected its menu onto the tabletop from a motion sensor lodged in the ceiling.
It was New York but it wasn’t. It was cool and calm, filled with good food and a lot of walking. But it was quick and nothing feels very real for two days that flew by.
Last night, back in Boston, I cooked for my family. I wanted something that felt like fall and, perhaps, a bit like New York. I made a bronzed set of pork shops, served over a cabbage and apple slaw. I saw the recipe on The Cooking Loft, a Food Network show with chef Alex Guarnaschelli. I met her once, when I was reporting for a story last year in New York. She and I sat in the dark front room of her restaurant, Butter, and spoke of being a woman and a chef in the city.
“It’s like “Rocky”,” she had said with a laugh. “You have to get up and drink the egg yolks. Every day I drink the egg yolks.”
This recipe, however, was quite easy.
Stovetop Pork Chops with Cabbage and Apples
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
2 teaspoons crushed coriander seeds
2 small heads savoy cabbage, cored and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons white pepper
2 knobs fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon dry ginger
1 14oz can whole, peeled tomatoes
1 poblano pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into thin slices
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
4 pork loin chops (bone-on)
1 teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 green apples, cored, halved, and cut into small slices
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
-Melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium heat, and toast the cumin, caraway, and coriander seeds for 30 seconds. Add the cabbage, and toss to coat. Season with salt and white pepper. Cook for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring often.
-Add fresh ginger, dry ginger, tomatoes, and poblano pepper and stir to blend. Cook 5 to 8 minutes, until tender. Add cilantro and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and keep warm while cooking pork.
-Sprinkle pork chops with salt, pepper and paprika. Heat large skillet, and pour in oil. When the oil begins to smoke slightly, add the pork, arranged in a single layer. Brown on first side 2 to 3 minutes. Turn and brown on the other side for an additional 2 – 3 minutes. Reduce the heat and cook 5 to 6 minutes and then turn and finish up with a further 5 to 6 minutes of cooking time. Season again, lightly with salt and pepper.
-Heat the cabbage, add the apple slice and red wine vinegar. Arrange the pork on top of the cabbage in a dish or on a plate, and serve.