Monday, June 30, 2008

Pork Tenderloin with Port Sauce

Source: "James" via Martha Stewart via my mother

Note, this recipe isn't on her site anymore, so I can't link it.

This is my second favorite way to prepare pork tenderloin. My very favorite is pork with balsamic vinegar from Marianne Esposito, but this recipe is much quicker and really really good. It's a great weeknight dinner. Best of all, I almost always have the ingredients on hand!

2 Tbl olive (or vegetable oil)
2 pork tenderloins - (1 lb ea)
Coarse salt -, To Taste
Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup port wine
1 cup chicken stock
2 Tbl butter - (1/4 stick), Unsalted
1 Tsp red-wine vinegar, or more to taste

1. Heat oil in a medium, heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat.
2. Remove silver skin from pork tenderloins, pat dry, season with salt and pepper and slice crosswise into 1-inch pieces.
3. Brown medallions in oil. Transfer to a warm platter; set aside.
4. Remove skillet from heat. Discard fat, and add port; return skillet to heat. Deglaze sauce, scraping with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits from bottom of pan. Continue cooking until sauce is reduced to about 2 tablespoons.
5. Add broth, and cook until sauce is lightly syrupy, about 4 minutes.
6. Whisk in butter, a little at a time, gently shaking pan while whisking. Stir in vinegar. Taste, and adjust for seasoning. Spoon sauce over pork, and serve immediately.

Super Easy Peach-Blueberry "Cobbler"

Source: Betsy

Tomorrow marks the start of July, which is the beginning of blueberry season here in the south. To celebrate, I'm posting one of my favorite blueberry recipes. It is not your traditional fruit topped with biscuit topping cobbler. It is a little more cake-like, but not all that sugary sweet. Best of all, this recipe could not be easier. Serve with vanilla ice cream.

1 1/2 C self rising flour
1 1/2 C sugar
1/1/2 C milk
1 stick butter melted
add in some cinnamon and nutmeg
A bunch of sliced peaches (maybe 4-6 cups)
A bunch of blueberries (one or two pints)

mix it up and dump the fruit on top. Bake 350 ~ 1 hour.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Restarant review: PM

Subtitle: Fried Pickles, WHO KNEW?

I'm feeling very guilty, food blog-o-sphere for neglecting this blog. I am currently having several issues. First, because it is the height of summer, my diet is filled with very simple things that you really don't need to hear about. Sliced cucumbers with vinegar, oil and salt, grilled chicken breasts with balsamic reduction, grilled yellow squash with olive oil, etc. Exciting eh? Second, I don't feel much like writing. Third, I haven't uploaded photos recently.

I DID make beer butt chicken this weekend, which was good, but not spectacular. I think it has the potential to be excellent with a bit of tweaking. I dare not post that entry without the pics. What fun is beer butt chicken without beer in a chicken's butt?

A recent meal, which we really did enjoy quite a bit was a visit to PM. I know, I'm way late for jumping on the PM band wagon. But you've got to cut me some slack, we've only been in Nashville for about a year. So many restaurants, so little money. And so many have been a disappointment that I am hesitant to try new places sometimes.

So the husband and I went on Saturday evening with three friends. We met at 7 pm, and JUST beat the dinner rush. The patio is really nice, though the larger tables were full, so we sat inside. It's a casual place that has a definite college campus vibe, one I personally dig. We had read some reviews suggesting the service wasn't great, but our waiter was awesome, genuinely friendly, attentive, fun, and knowledgeable.

As I've mentioned before, I don't dig the umami scene, so I was really excited about their fairly extensive vegetarian menu. Plus, two of the five of us are vegetarian, so this was a great place. We ordered a smorgasbord of big plates, small plates, and appetizers, so I really can't go into everything we ordered. I'll just touch on highlights and disappointments.

Sweet potato bisque- Unfortunately for you vegetarians, this soup apprently has a bit of sassage in it, so it's not for you. It was perfect, a little sweet, a little spicy, and SMOOOTH. I would've licked my bowl if I were at home.

The famous burger - I didn't try this, but my husband loved loved loved it. He felt guilty about order the burger with such a cool menu, but had to try it since it has become a legend in Nashville.

Fried pickles - My vegetarian friends ordered these, who I might mention are so NOT southern. They are Indian, so didn't really have a history with friend pickles. Actually there was not a southerner at the table so none of us expected much. But, wow were they delicious. I think the pickle slices were butter, not dill. It was a perfect little bite of tangy, sweet, juicy, crispy goodness. My Mexico city native husband, who DESPISES pickles loved these things. Get ye to PM and order fried pickles, I say.

All of the desserts we tried - Green tea ice cream, Lychee sorbet, and Thai pudding. All delicious and not too sweet. I had green tea ice cream, but I think my regular is going to be Thai pudding.

Now, when I say disappointments, I don't mean I didn't like these things. Everything was good, but I won't order these things again, because they weren't perfect.

Tempura vegetables - They were a nice mixture of veggies, and were fried very well, but they weren't salted after frying. Tempura needs a little bit of seasoning. The sauce was more sweet than salty, so it just wasn't perfectly balanced.

Lump crab wontons - Good, but unremarkable.

There was more, but I won't go on anymore. I'll let you make up your own minds.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sichuan-style Shrimp

Adapted from Foolproof Chinese Cooking via Epicurious.

I was looking for something to make for dinner last night that was quick, didn't heat up my kitchen with the oven, and had my favorite protein, shrimp. Love me some shrimp. This was a great option because it also has garlic, which I just got a head from my CSA yesterday and I could throw in some extra veggies from my CSA delivery. And I promise you, that if you go to the ethnic aisle of your grocery store, or better yet K&S, and start playing with some of their sauces you'll be less tempted to patron the by-in-large crappy Chinese restaurants here in Nashville (there are a few exceptions). Seriously, stir frying is so easy, quick, adaptable, and healthy.

Note, I was not a good foodie, and didn't go to K&S for my ingredients. I went to Publix because I was in a hurry. They didn't have Chinese black vinegar, so I substituted cider vinegar. Regardless this was delicious. Also note that I love love love love love tomato paste in a tube. No opening a can, no throwing away what's left, just squeeze into your pan.

I also threw in some onion with the garlic and ginger and broccoli with the shrimp. Serve with rice.

1/2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped garlic
2 tablespoon finely chopped scallions
1 lb raw shrimp, shelled and deveined

For the sauce:
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons chili bean sauce
2 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar or cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
Cilantro sprigs, to garnish (optional)


1. Heat a wok over high heat. Add the oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the ginger, garlic, and scallions.

2. Stir-fry for 20 seconds, then add the shrimp. Stir-fry the shrimp for about 1 minutes.

3. Add the sauce ingredients and continue to stir-fry for another 3 minutes over a high heat. Serve at once.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The start of no cook season

In the summer, the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven, and thus begins my season of "I don't want to cook" season. I still want to eat well, and don't mind preparing food, but turn on the oven and roast veggies, I don't think so. The oven makes the house too flippin hot, even with AC. This is TN afterall.

So, my posts may be a little bit more infrequent because you don't want to hear about chopping up some veggies and tossing them with a nice vinegar and salt. Last night, for example, we used tomatoes and cucumbers from our CSA to make a salad with some nice, expensive Greek sheep / goat milk feta along with some pita bread and hummus. A good dinner, yes, but not exactly a recipe.

I assume many of you feel the same way I do about turning on the oven in 95 degree heat. So, here is an awesome Bittman minimalist article from last summer on some quick summer meal ideas. I hope it inspires you the way it has inspired me.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Nothing new

Due to my husband's recent wisdom tooth surgery, I didn't do much cooking this weekend beyond making lots of semi-solid items. Our weekend was a beige extravaganza filled with scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, squash casserole, milk shakes, and smoothies. I suppose I could make solid food for myself, but making mushy food takes a lot more effort than making nice crisp food, so I just don't have the motivation to make two sets of everything.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Grilled "Halibut" with Lima Bean and Roasted Tomato Sauce

There are oh so many things that I miss about Chapel Hill (NC). I could go on and on with the list, but I'll save that for another day. Chapel Hill is only a couple hours from the beach, so we could get really incredible seafood for a reasonable price. Maybe I just haven't found a decent fishmonger yet, but I am just not thrilled with the quality of fish I can get here. And, fish is so friggin EXPENSIVE here. I was all ready to make this recipe as is, only to find halibut was $22 a pound at Whole Foods. I just can't talk myself into spending that much money on a piece of fish for a quick weeknight dinner just to cover it in a flavorful sauce. So I bought trout.

The trout itself was just alright. I know it would've been way better if I'd used Halibut as the recipe called for. And, I forgot to buy basil. Regardless, the sauce was super super yummy and should be put on everything: Pork, shrimp, maybe beef (though I'm not down with beef....I'm just not into the umami scene), chicken, pound cake....just kidding. Wanted to see if you were still reading.

Anyway, the recipe was great. The execution was less than perfect.

One more quick story. I picked this recipe because both B and I LOVE roasted tomatoes and lima beans. Every once in a while, when speaking of succotash, B has an ESL moment and calls it sasquatch. Tee Hee.

Source: Jonathan Waxman in Gourmet 2005

4 large tomatoes (preferably heirloom; 2 lb total)
3 garlic cloves, cut lengthwise into slivers
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 lb fresh lima or fava beans in pod, shelled, or 10 oz frozen baby lima beans or shelled edamame (soybeans; 2 cups), not thawed
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
6 (6-oz) pieces halibut fillet (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches thick)

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450°F.

Core tomatoes, then halve crosswise.

Stud the cut side of each half with garlic slivers, then sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper (total). Arrange tomatoes, cut sides up, in a lightly oiled shallow baking pan, then drizzle evenly with 1 tablespoon oil. Roast until just soft and wilted, 15 to 20 minutes.

While tomatoes roast, cook beans in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until just tender, 5 to 8 minutes.

Drain in a colander and cool slightly, about 10 minutes. When beans are cool enough to handle, gently slip off skins. Coarsely chop beans and roasted tomatoes, then toss with basil, remaining tablespoon oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and lemon juice (to taste).

Prepare grill for cooking over medium-hot charcoal (moderate heat for gas).

If using a charcoal grill, open vents on bottom of grill, then light charcoal. When charcoal turns grayish white (about 15 minutes from lighting), hold your hand 5 inches above grill rack to determine charcoal heat. It is medium-hot when you can hold your hand there for 3 to 4 seconds. If using a gas grill, preheat burners on high, covered, 10 minutes, then reduce to moderate setting.

Pat fish dry and season both sides with salt and pepper.

Grill on lightly oiled grill rack, covered only if using gas grill, turning over once, until just cooked through, 6 to 8 minutes total.

Serve fish topped with bean and roasted tomato sauce.

Prove me wrong

Okay people, my CSA had delivered its first bunch of beets to us. Thing is, neither I nor B like beets. However, in the spirit of the CSA, I would like to at least TRY and like them. I need your help. How can I prepare them that will turn me into a beet-loving convert?

Am I looking in the wrong place?

Is it my imagination or does Whole Foods not carry Creme fraiche?