Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Seared Figs and White Peaches with Balsamic Reduction

In the next couple of days, I'll be posting about my recent seven course wine dinner. It happens once a year when my family can gather themselves here in the same city. Lots of fun. Since it was already pushing 100 degrees in Dallas when we did it, there are some nice summery light dishes on there.

In that vein, this dish just screams summer. I'll go ahead and post it now so you can dash out and get those luscious peaches now showing up at produce stands and farmers markets.

Seared Figs and White Peaches with Balsamic Reduction
From Cooking Light magazine.
Makes 8 servings.

1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons butter, divided
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
4 firm ripe white peaches (about 1 3/4 pounds), halved and pitted
8 firm ripe Black Mission figs, halved lengthwise (about 1 pound)
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup crème fraîche
1/8 teaspoon salt

Cook peppercorns in a small skillet over medium heat 6 minutes or until fragrant and toasted. Cool. Place peppercorns in a heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag; seal. Crush peppercorns with a meat mallet or rolling pin; set aside.

Melt 1 teaspoon butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; stir in 1 teaspoon thyme. Add peaches, cut sides down, to pan. Cook 2 minutes or until browned. Remove from pan.

Place 1 peach half, cut sides up, on each of 8 plates.

Melt remaining 1 teaspoon butter in pan; stir in remaining 1 teaspoon thyme. Add figs, cut sides down, to pan; cook 2 minutes or until browned. Place two fig halves on each plate.

Add vinegar to pan; cook over medium-low heat until reduced to 3 tablespoons (about 3 minutes). Cool slightly.

Spoon about 2 teaspoons crème fraîche into the center of each peach half; drizzle about 1 teaspoon vinegar mixture over each serving. Sprinkle each serving with about 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle evenly with salt.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Fried Green Tomatoes with Bread-and-Butter Pickle Remoulade

I'd been eyeing the green tomatoes at the farmers market for a couple of weeks when I ran across this recipe in my "summer" file. I'd forgotten how delicious a fried green tomato can be. I fry yellow squash in a similar fashion every other week or so, but green tomatoes are even firmer and have a great sweet tanginess.

And this delicious remoulade simply gilds the lily. If you have some homemade bread and butter pickles you can use as an ingredient, all the better.

Fried Green Tomatoes with Bread-and-Butter Pickle Remoulade
Adapted from Southern Living.
Makes 6 to 8 servings

4 large green tomatoes
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups buttermilk (or milk)
2 cups cornmeal
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning (optional)
2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
Vegetable or peanut oil

Preheat oven to 200°. Cut tomatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Sprinkle both sides of tomatoes evenly with salt and pepper.

Pour buttermilk or milk into a shallow dish or pie plate. Stir together cornmeal and Creole seasoning in another shallow dish or pie plate.

Dip tomatoes in buttermilk and dredge in cornmeal mixture.

Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches in a large cast-iron skillet; heat over medium heat to 350°. Fry tomatoes, in batches, 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt to taste.

Transfer to a wire rack; keep warm in a 200° oven until ready to serve. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Serve with Bread-and-Butter Pickle Rémoulade.

Bread-and-Butter Pickle Rémoulade
Adapted from Southern Living.
Makes about 1 cup

3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Creole (or stone-ground) mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped bread-and-butter pickles
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons hot sauce
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon garlic pepper

Stir together all ingredients.

Note: This would also be a yummy sandwich spread. Including on a catfish or shrimp po-boy.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Sichuan Peppercorn Shrimp

Mouth-numbing. Not always a great term to hear. It makes me think of trips to the dentist and the rubber lips and embarassing drooling that follows.

In this case, however, it's music to my ears. My trip to the Asian market yielded me a package of Sichuan peppercorns, among other treasures, so I was excited to find this recipe from Food and Wine in my files.

After extensive research (i.e. a trip to Wikipedia via Google), the numbness has been explained. The pepper is not related to black pepper and not really "hot," but creates "a tingly numbness in the mouth (caused by its 3% of hydroxy-alpha-sanshool)." OK...lesson over. Go find some and fix this fantastic recipe.

Sichuan Peppercorn Shrimp
From Food and Wine.

Makes 4 servings.

1 1/2 teaspoons Sichuan peppercorns 1 pound large shrimp—shelled, deveined and butterflied
1/4 cup olive oil
3 scallions—2 coarsely chopped, 1 thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 jalapeños, seeded and thinly sliced
1 small ancho chile, seeded and very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Chile-sesame oil, for drizzling

In a small skillet, toast the peppercorns over moderate heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds; let cool. Transfer the peppercorns to a mortar or spice grinder and grind to a powder. Put the shrimp in a bowl, toss with 1 teaspoon of the ground peppercorns and season with salt.

In a medium skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add the shrimp and stir-fry over moderate heat until almost cooked through, 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet. Add the chopped scallions, garlic, jalapeños and chile and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the scallions and garlic are softened, 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of ground peppercorns and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

Add the shrimp and lime juice and stir until the shrimp are just cooked through, 1 minute. Season with salt and transfer to a bowl. Garnish with the sliced scallion, drizzle with the chile oil and serve.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cocktail of the Week: Ginger Cocktail

I've had the juicer out again for the last couple of weeks. It's great for the "leftovers" from my farmers market trips. Tops of celery. A few leftover beets. You get the picture.

So why not use the juicer for a delicious gin cocktail? Now beware...the ginger juice brings quite a bracing bite. You might want to reduce the quantity a little bit on your first try.

Ginger Cocktail
Makes one drink.

2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce ginger juice (recipe below)
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

Shake ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Ginger Juice

To make ginger juice, run enough fresh, unpeeled, washed ginger through a juicer for 6 ounces of juice (about 1 1/2 pounds of ginger). Combine juice with 1 cup sugar in a sealed glass jar and shake. Will keep refrigerated for up to two weeks.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Roasted Salmon with Herbed Greek Yogurt

Every now and then, I discover another ingredient that becomes a pantry staple. It was chipotles in adobo sauce a year ago--great to have in the fridge to add a touch of heat to salad dressings, sauces or just to stir into sour cream for a quick dip. More recently, it's been soba noodles. I fix them as a side dish "starch" far more often than pasta or rice. (With a lower glycemis index, they fit into my attempt to eat more "good carbs."

So here's the latest: Greek yogurt. It's low-fat, slightly thicker than regular yogurt and I've found lots of recipes for it.

Here's one. The salmon is great chilled and then "smashed" onto a piece of whole-wheat toast for breakfast.

Roasted Salmon with Herbed Greek Yogurt
From Martha Stewart's Everyday Food.
Serves 8.

1/2 cup Greek yogurt (2%)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill, plus sprigs for serving
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 side of salmon (3 pounds) or 8 fillets (6 ounces each)
Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat oven to 450°. Combine yogurt, mustard, dill, and parsley; season with salt and pepper. Place salmon, skin side down, on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread yogurt mixture on salmon.

Roast until opaque throughout, 15 to 20 minutes (8 minutes for fillets). Sprinkle with dill sprigs and serve warm or at room temperature with lemon wedges.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Cuban Mojo Sauce

I was lucky enough recently to win a mojito party from Bacardi. In a pretty original marketing ploy, they send a couple of folks out to your place with all the fixins' (rum included) so that they can teach you and your guests how to make a mojito...or eight.

Well, I felt obligated to provide some nibbles....and wanted to keep with the Cuban theme. So I put out some salsas and black bean dip purchased from a couple of local restaurants alongside tortilla chip and plantain chips. (Lord, I LOVE ethnic grocery stores.) Also some shrimp with a spicy orange rum dipping sauce I whipped up.

But the center of attention was make-your-own pulled pork mini-sandwiches. Very Cuban. I buy a pork butt or shoulder and slow roast it (technique to be posted soon). Then shred it and serve it on a big platter with little soft rolls next to it. And to finish things off, a bowl of this tasty tangy sauce. (Yes, you can buy it bottled, but it's so easy you might as well make it from scratch.)

Cuban Mojo Sauce
Makes about one cup.

1/3 cup olive oil
6 to 8 cloves garlic, finely minced (In a pinch, I have substituted a tablespoon of garlic pepper.)
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
(or even better 2/3 cup freshly squeezed SOUR orange (the bumpy, thick-skinned variety you can find at Latino markets) juice)
1/2 teaspoon cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a deep suacepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant and lightly toasted. DO NOT let it brown...about 30 seconds is plenty.

Add the juice, cumin, salt and pepper. (Be careful and STAND BACK; the sauce my sputter a bit.) Bring to a rolling boil. Taste and correct seasoning, if needed.

Cool before serving. Mojo is best served within a couple of hours of making, but will keep well for several days in a sealed jar or bottle in the fridge.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sweet Potato Salad

OK...this recipe won't be replacing my other half's legendary and traditional potato salad at picnics and BBQ fests. But it's an interesting twist. Definitely worth a try...and hearty enough to be the centerpiece of my healthy lunch tomorrow.

Sweet Potato Salad
Makes 4-6 servings.
From Southern Living.

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
Vegetable cooking spray
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
2 celery ribs, diced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup diced onion
1/3 cup diced green bell pepper
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
5 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
3 slices peppered or regular bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)

Arrange potatoes in an even layer on a baking sheet. Coat with cooking spray, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or just until tender. Let cool slightly.

Stir together remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, celery, and next 9 ingredients in a large bowl until blended. Add potatoes, and toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with crumbled bacon, if desired.

Serve warm or chilled.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mussels in Tomato-Wine Broth

When I can't think of something else to cook for dinner, but I want something special, I will sometimes turn to mussels. I can stop at the seafood counter on the way home and buy a pound or two. Cooked with aromatics and some veggies and with a piece of crusty bread on the side, they make a perfectly satisfying meal.

Here's a simple recipe that has served as the inspiration for many a mussels meal. In the next week or two, I will post a few variations on it. You won't need to use a recipe ever again.

Mussels in Tomato-Wine Broth
From Cooking Light.
Makes two servings.

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup dry white wine (use whatever you're drinking)
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes, undrained and chopped
1 (8 ounce) bottle clam juice
2 pounds small mussels, scrubbed and debearded
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Heat oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic, saute 1 minute. Add wine, lemon juice, pepper, tomatoes and clam juice; bring to a boil. Add mussels.

Cover, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes or until shells open. Remove from heat and discard any unopened shells.

Stir in parsley and serve.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Cheeseburger Meat Loaf

I cannot believe I haven't posted this recipe before. It is a family tradition, and no matter what other recipe for meat loaf I try, I come back to this one. It's rich and wonderful, but also complex enough that it deserves a good-quality bottle of wine. I'm thinking about pairing it with a wonderful (expensive) bottle of Patz & Hall Pinot Noir we brought back from our last Napa Valley excursion.

Cheeseburger Meat Loaf
Serves 4-6.

2 eggs
1/4 cup evaporated milk
2 slices stale bread, coarsely crumbled (I use Pepperidge Farm sandwich bread.)
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped celery (or 1 teaspoon celery salt)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 pounds ground sirloin
3 slices American cheese (the secret ingredient...a pocket of cheesy goodness in every slice)
1 cup ketchup
3/4 cup brown sugar

Beat eggs in a medium mixing bowl. Add cream and beat until well-combined. Add crumbs to egg mixture. Stir in and let sit until bread becomes good and soft. Add all remaining ingredients except cheese, ketchup and brown sugar and mix well.

Place 1/2 of mixture in loaf pan and flatten until even. Lay slices of cheese on top of meat, avoiding edges of the loaf. Place remaining meat mixture on top of cheese and shape into loaf shape, sealing cheese into middle of loaf.

Bake at 350° for 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Meanwhile, combine ketchup and brown sugar until brown sugar is dissolved and well-mixed. Remove meat loaf from oven and pour sauce over top. Bake for another 20-30 minutes or until done.

Let sit and rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tequila Mayo Dipping Sauce

If I've had a light lunch, I can be starving before I ever start dinner. If I'm lucky and the fridge is stocked (or I've stopped by Central Market on the way home), I can pull out a half-dozen chilled peel-and-eat shrimp and mix up a small ramekin of this sauce. (I just drastically reduce the recipe and guesstimate the ratios.) Delicious. And definitely worth trying on a larger scale for your next party. It would be delicious to nosh on this while you sit by the pool or on the patio.

Tequila Mayo Dipping Sauce
Makes approximately 2 cups.

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
2 tablespoons tequila
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Kosher salt
Freshly ground cracked black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine well. Serve chilled.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cocktail of the Week: Bourbon-Spiked Iced Tea

The other day at lunch, a co-worker told a hilarious story of surviving a boring business dinner her husband hosted by conspiring with the waiter. She had him fill her regular-looking iced tea glass with a potent Long Island Iced Tea. I admire her initiative.

Here's another cocktail she could have used to outwit her tablemates. But no reason to hide this one...make up a pitcher and share!

Bourbon-Spiked Iced Tea
Makes one cocktail.

2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce Cointreau or triple sec
5 ounces unsweetened iced tea
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon simple syrup

Fill a highball glass with ice. Add the bourbon, Cointreau, iced tea, lemon juice and simple syrup and stir. Garnish with a mint sprig and lemon wedge.


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Produce: What To Store Where...

Our kitchen is a veritable cornucopia these days. My weekly forays to the farmer's market are supplemented by herbs and peppers from our patio garden and treats from a green-thumbed co-worker. It can be overwhelming. And, unfortunately, I have sometimes let some of the bounty spoil by not storing it correctly. Sure a bowl of yellow summer squash looks great on the counter, but I've learned the hard way that that is NOT where they should be kept.

So I was thrilled to find this great list in a recent issue of Cooking Light magazine that tells me exactly what to put where (so to speak...).

These items go in perforated plastic bags, in the produce drawers:

Artichokes, asparagus, beans, beets, berries, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cherries, corn, cucumbers, figs, grapes, green onions, leafy greens, leeks, peas, radishes and summer squashes.

Here's our opportunity to create a still-life worthy of Matisse. Just make sure you keep the produce out of the sun and allow for some air circulation.

Apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, citrus fruits, eggplant, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, papayas, peaches, pears, peppers, pineapple, plums, pomegranates, pumpkins, tomatoes, watermelon and winter squashes. Note: You can extend the life of your avocados, kiwi, peaches, pears and plums by moving them to the fridge once they are ripe.)

These guys need to stored away from light in a well-ventilated spot in your pantry or cupboard.

Garlic, onions, potatoes.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Beet Gratin

We love beets here at our house. And I have found a wonderful farming family at our farmer's market that sells them by the bunch. My standard treatment is to roast them and then serve them with a little tangy goat cheese and some toasted pine nuts. So I was intrigued by this recipe. And it's pretty good. But, honestly, I think the blue cheese is a little overwhelming. If I make it again (and I just might), I'd probably go back to goat cheese instead of Roquefort.

But try it and let me know what you think in the comments section below.

Beet Gratin
Makes six servings.
From Cooking Light magazine.

2 pounds beets
2 tablespoons water
Cooking spray
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled Roquefort cheese
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup Italian-seasoned panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

Preheat oven to 375°.

Leave root and 1 inch stem on beets; scrub with a brush. Reserve beet greens. Wrap beets and 2 tablespoons water in foil. Bake at 375° for 1 hour or until tender. Trim off beet roots; rub off skins. Cut beets into 1/4-inch slices.

Cook reserved greens in boiling water 2 minutes; drain. Rinse with cold water; drain and pat dry. Coarsely chop, reserving 3/4 cup greens; reserve remaining greens for another use.

Arrange half of beets in a single layer in an 11 x 7–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with half the cheese, black pepper, salt, and sherry vinegar. Repeat procedure with remaining beets, cheese, black pepper, salt, and sherry vinegar. Spread greens evenly on top of beet mixture. Pour half-and-half evenly over greens; top evenly with panko. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until beets are tender.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Broiled Mussels with Smoked Paprika Crumbs

I have several mussels recipes on deck for the next couple of weeks. But this one needed to go up now. I fixed it the other night as a special treat with a glass of Champagne as I watched the Tony Awards. I am madly preparing for a multi-course wine dinner for my family in a couple of weeks and this one will make the cut for the first course and a glass of bubbly.

(Note: I only cooked one pound of mussels, so I had plenty of the delicious breadcrumbs leftover. They are going in the freezer to bread a tilapia fillet sometime very soon.)

Broiled Mussels with Smoked Paprika Crumbs
Adapted from Food and Wine magazine.
Makes 8 servings.

1/2 cup dry white wine
2 pounds mussels, scrubbed
3 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons smoked Spanish paprika
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Salt and freshly ground pepper

In a pot, bring the wine to a boil. Add the mussels. Cover and cook over high heat, shaking the pot until the mussels open, 4 minutes. Using a skimmer, transfer the mussels to a rimmed baking sheet and let cool. Pour the mussel cooking liquid into a bowl. Loosen the mussels in their shells and discard the empty half of each shell. Spoon the cooking liquid over the mussels to keep them moist. Cover with plastic wrap.

Put the bread crumbs in a medium bowl. In a small skillet, melt the butter in the oil. Add the garlic, paprika and cayenne and cook over moderate heat until fragrant. Scrape the contents of the skillet over the crumbs. Add the thyme and lemon zest, season with salt and pepper and toss well.

Preheat the broiler. Remove the plastic wrap from the mussels and top them with the bread crumbs. Broil 6 inches from the heat for about 2 minutes, rotating the pan as necessary, until the bread crumbs are browned and crisp. Serve right away.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Cocktail of the Week: Smoky Mary

When I had the mega-smoker out for Memorial Day, I planned on doing some extra-special ingredients after the meat came off. I bought some poblano peppers, fresh corn and tomatoes. I was thinking a relish of some kind with the veggies. And this cocktail with the tomatoes.

Well...I never got around to putting those items on. (Grilling the corn and poblanos led to a great "salsa" for grilled chicken a couple of nights later.) But I still want to try this recipe sometime soon. It sounds wonderful.

Smoky Mary
Makes one cocktail.

3 ounces vodka
2 1/2 ounces smoked tomato juice (see below)
2 1/2 ounces tomato juice
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/4 ounce Worcestershire sauce
Pepper/celery salt to taste
Dash of hot sauce

Shake all ingredients over cracked ice and strain into an ice-filled collins or cocktail glass.

Smoked Tomato Juice

Halve tomatoes and smoke over indirect heat on a charcoal grill using hickory or mesquite wood chips for 2o minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Transfer to a blender and process, then strain. Four medium tomatoes will yield about 2 cups of juice.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Lemon Chess Pie

OK...I'll admit it. I sometimes go to the cafeteria. It's hereditary...many a childhood night was spent at Luby's or Furr's. Especially when we went to Tulsa to visit the grandparents. (Just mention that to my siblings and they'll go into a riff on that salad lady.)

Anyway...there are two desserts I always grab for. (Oh, stop...of course I'm having dessert...the entree was chicken-fried steak or fried fish with lots of tartar sauce after all.) Chocolate icebox pie...you know, the one with the chocolate shavings on top. Or this. Lemon chess pie. Yum.

Lemon Chess Pie

1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 tablespoons flour
3 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
1 1/2 teaspoons butter flavoring
1 unbaked 9-inch pie crust

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cream butter and sugar. Add flour. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly add buttermilk and flavorings. Mix well. Pour into crust.

Bake for 50 minutes. The middle may be be a little jiggly when you take it out of the oven but will firm up as it cools.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Roast Pork Tenderloin with Dried Cherries and Rosemary

I am not usually a fan of fruit with meat. Fruits are for snacking or dessert. Not chutneys, not salsas, not compotes.

That said, I like this recipe. The combination of tart dried cherries with pungent rosemary (and wine and balsamic) adds a wonderful aromatic touch to what can be a bland cut of meat. Check it out...

Roast Pork Tenderloin with Dried Cherries and Rosemary
Serves 6.

2-1 pound pork tenderloins
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup dry red wine
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup cranberry juice or apple juice
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 shallots, halved lengthwise
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Rinse the pork tenderloin, pat dry and place in a shallow glass or ceramic baking dish and set aside.

Whisk together the cherries, wine, vinegar, juice, garlic, shallots and rosemary in a bowl. Pour this marinade over the pork; cover and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours or overnight, turning the pork several times.

Heat the olive oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Remove the pork from the marinade (reserve the marinade) and place the pork in the heated skillet. Brown the pork on all sides, about 5 to 6 minute total.

Pour the reserved marinade over the pork and place the skillet in the oven. Roast, basting several times, about 20 to 25 minutes until a meat thermometer registers 150-155°. The meat will be a light pink color.

Remove pork from the baking dish and cover loosely with foil. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before carving.

Season the tenderloin with salt and pepper. Slice into 1/4 inch pieces and spoon the pan juices over the pork. Serve immediately.

Food/Wine Pairing: An aromatic dish with cherries? To me, that screams out for a light Pinot Noir. Go for it.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Classic Barbecue Sauce

For my money, this recipe from Southern Living is the best homemade barbecue sauce I've tasted in a long while. But for the Memoral Day Meatfest 2009 (brisket, ribs, pork, chicken and all the trimmings), I tried this one also. It's from Martha's magazine. It was tasty, but a little too "tomato-y" for my Texas tastebuds. As one of my guests said, "It's a lot like marinara sauce."

Still worth a try though. Maybe you can doctor it up some. Share your alterations with the rest of us in the comments section below.

Classic Barbecue Sauce
From Martha Stewart Living.
Makes 6 1/2 cups.

1/3 cup safflower oil
3 small onions, diced (3 cups)
6 garlic cloves, minced (3 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chili powder (earthy.com) or regular chili powder
1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seeds, toasted and ground
1/4 teaspoon whole cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
4 cups crushed tomatoes (from two 28-ounce cans)
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 cups water, plus more if needed

Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, and saute until translucent and tender, about 10 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, the chili powder, coriander, cumin, molasses, and sugar. Stir and simmer for 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and cider vinegar, and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until mixture is thick and dark, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Reduce heat to low if sauce is simmering too quickly.

Pureé sauce in a blender. Add remaining 4 teaspoons salt, remaining teaspoon pepper, the white vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce, and puree. With blender running, carefully add water in a slow, steady stream. Blend until mixture is smooth and emulsified, adding more water if needed. Let cool, and refrigerate.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Oven-Poached Halibut Provençale

I've never been to Provence, but I can certainly pretend I am there when I fix this recipe, uncork a bottle of dry French rose and eat al fresco on the patio on a sunny evening.

Oven-Poached Halibut Provençale
Serves six.
Adapted from Cooking Light.

1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups chopped fennel bulb
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 teaspoon salt, divided
4 cups diced tomato
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
6 (6-ounce) halibut fillets
1 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup dry breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons chopped pitted kalamata olives
1 teaspoon dried herbes de Provence
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
Fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs (optional)

Preheat oven to 450°.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Add fennel, onion, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; sauté 8 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in diced tomato; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in fresh basil and fresh parsley.

Spoon half of tomato mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Place fillets over tomato mixture. Pour wine into dish; sprinkle fillets with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spoon remaining tomato mixture over fillets. Bake at 450° for 12 minutes or until almost done.

Combine the breadcrumbs, olives, herbes de Provence, 1 teaspoon oil, pepper, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over fillets. Bake 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve immediately. Garnish with parsley sprigs, if desired.