It would be easy to be just a teeny bit envious of Katie Workman, especially for someone (like me) who has spent much of her career in the kitchen and at the keyboard. She is beautiful, smart, has an impressive resume (founder of Cookstr, regular contributor to NPR, The Wall Street Journal and Food & Wine, in addition to cookbook author), and is the scion of a famous publishing family.

What’s more, she lives in apparent style with her husband and two young sons in New York City, where her dining room table seats 10. Mine does too, but in a very different real estate market.

Workman Publishing, launched by her late father, Peter, in 1968, is the name behind such well-known titles as “The Silver Palate Cookbook,” “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and “The Official Preppy Handbook.” But Katie did not fall right into writing cookbooks published by her family’s company. After college, she spent 12 years as a cookbook editor at Clarkson Potter before founding – an online recipe library – in 2008.

Her first cookbook, “The Mom 100,” was published in 2012, earning praise for its straightforward approach to getting healthy food on the family table with a minimum of fuss.

Her latest book, “Dinner Solved,” released in August, advances the theme, with recipes that can be easily adapted to suit picky eaters and more adventurous diners, and some that can be revised for vegetarians – all from the same starting point. It is, in a word, genius: well-organized, thoughtful and a breezy read, with lots of helpful tips and sidebars on “What the Kids Can Do” to help prepare each dish. While some recipes are pretty basic, there are plenty of others I really want to make – even though I’m generally cooking for just one other person, and he eats anything.

Among the recipes that intrigue me: Japanese Salmon Burgers with Avocado Wasabi Crema, Baked Shrimp and Grits with Caramelized Fennel and Leeks, and Sweet Potato-Cinnamon Rice Pudding, one of the book’s few, but well-chosen, homey desserts.


Since we had picked up local pork from Winter Hill Farm at the Brunswick farmers market last weekend, I opted to try Katie’s Spanish Pork Chops, which get a punch of flavor from a spice paste. The recipe was super easy and uses ingredients most cooks have in their pantries – perfect for a weeknight after a long, busy day.

In other words: Dinner, solved.



Katie Workman’s recipe says it makes enough spice rub to coat four chops, but our two were hefty, so I used it all. Want less punch for a picky eater? “Use a more restrained amount of the rub on their chops,” Workman writes. The recipe also says to refrigerate the chops after slathering them with the rub, but since meat should sit at room temperature for a bit before cooking, I left them out on the counter for about 20 minutes. I used hot smoked paprika, so skipped the cayenne.
Makes 4 servings

1 teaspoon minced garlic (about 1 large clove)1 teaspoon paprika, sweet, spicy or smoked


1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

Pinch of cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for cooking the chops

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar

4 pork chops, each about 1-inch thick, about 2 1/2 pounds in total

4 thin slices lemon

Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, extra paprika, lemon wedges for garnish


Combine the garlic, paprika, cumin, coriander, oregano, thyme, cayenne (if using), salt and pepper in a small bowl. Add the olive oil and vinegar; stir to make a paste. Smear the paste evenly on both sides of the pork chops and place a lemon slice on top of each. Let the chops sit at room temperature for about 20 minutes, or if you want to cook the chops later, refrigerate them for up to a day.

Heat a large skillet (cast iron is perfect) over medium-high heat until very hot. Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and when the oil just starts to smoke, add the pork chops, lemon side down.
Let the chops sear without moving them until nicely browned on the bottom, about 4 minutes.

Turn the chops, keeping the lemon slices in place, and sear the other side for another 4 minutes or so, until nicely browned on the underside and a meat thermometer inserted into the middle of a chop registers 150 degrees F (the meat will continue to cook after it leaves the pan).

Transfer the chops to a serving plate or cutting board and let sit for 4 to 5 minutes before serving whole, or in slices. Sprinkle with parsley and additional paprika, and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over the pork.

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