The summer revealed itself to all of Prague this past week; warming the sidewalks like a kitchen burner, tempering the breeze with the southern European heat, and whitewashing the stucco and Renaissance sgraffito that spirals up the city’s walls like ivy. The tourists shuffle like cattle down the winding alleyways, clutching their maps and tugging on their visors and taut money belts. “Pardon, pardon,” I stammer, trying to unbraid myself from the crowd. With a stubborn walk, I manage to reach my destination. It’s an enclave patio tucked away quietly where the husband is waiting in the shade. He’s keeping guard of a worn wicker chair for me. He’s patient, sitting with his back against a row of books whilst wiping away the cold beer’s sweat on the glass. “What took so long?” he says, bending sideways to stroke the dog. “Sorry, it’s packed out there,” I exhaled then sat. I craned my neck up and to the sun, “Yes, a beer, please,” I confirmed to the waitress with a squint. Then I threw him a sunshine smile and sighed.
Indeed summer is here in Prague and although it may be a bit tricky to get around the “City of 100 Spires”, you may find it a bit easier in your kitchen (or maybe the park where you can grill) to navigate. I’m a fan of warm food, especially a warm savory dinner, so I must declare that cold salads or a chilly leek and potato Vichyssoise may not always be my preference.
The other day I returned from the grocer with some fresh-cut pork, hoping to make baked pork chops stuffed with fresh mozzarella and sundried tomatoes. Unfortunately, it turned out that they were much too thin to be possibly stuffed. One option I could have pursued was to continue with my recipe yet roll them like a rollatini (like you would do for eggplant) with the mozzarella and tomato. Instead I decided to move laterally with my ideas and think French; bathing the cuts in EVOO and arranging them in a baking dish, dusting the dish with garlic, shallots, and scallions while framing the dish with freshly-cut tomatoes. The result? A full-flavor and light dish perfect for the summer months. Baking time is minimal so, if you are like me in a city flat, the oven heat won’t add to the already warm summer breeze and up the temperature.
This week, create this 30 minute Porc à l’Italienne recipe from The Bell Kitchen, prepared French country style. The dish matches perfectly with steamed carrots or string beans. Add a warm baguette and you’re on your way to the perfect summer dinner. In addition, stay tuned for a new summer feature on thebellkitchen.com for a section devoted only to summer recipes ideal for holiday picnics, weekend trips, and other in-season inspirations.
And you? Is your summer off to a good beginning? I indeed hope so and that with a new season begins a new start.
“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
- 4 cuts of fresh pork
- 1 large tomato
- 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
- 3 shallots, chopped
- 1/2 cup scallions, chopped
- 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp EVOO
- Salt, cracked pepper, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp Provencal herbs
- Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C) and coat a baking dish with 1 tbsp EVOO. Salt and pepper the pork and arrange in the dish. Add the shallots, garlic, and scallions over the pork. Arrange the cut tomato around the pork. Add the 2nd tbsp EVOO and season thoroughly.
- Bake for 30 minutes or until pork has finished cooking. Let rest for 5 minutes then serve.
- Pairs perfectly with steamed carrots or string beans, roasted potatoes, and a warm, fresh baguette.