Month: October 2011

Roasted Pork Loin and Hot! Cranberry Sauce

Roasted Pork Loin and Hot! Cranberry Sauce

 

New USDA regs say it’s ok if it’s a bit pink.

 

As a recipe tester for Cooks Illustrated, I get to make all kinds of things.  I mostly like them, but sometimes I don’t.  The note that arrives with each recipe always says something to the effect of:

If you don’t care for one or more of the ingredients in the dish or wouldn’t ordinarily eat it, please do not test this recipe…

So, for instance, if you hate hot stuff, don’t test the On-Fire Texas Chili.  I love to see the magazine months and months later to see recipes on which I’ve worked; I’m interested to see the final result-which may not be the recipe I saw originally.  I test recipes far out of season sometimes (I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before–) and adore that out of time and place experience that has us eating turkey in March.  That was one of the best turkeys I’ve ever eaten, by the way, but felt like it took all day to make. If you didn’t buy the magazine last January or February, the recipe is online, but you must subscribe.

Testing recipes is much like my life as a church choir director that often has me reviewing Christmas cantatas over the summer when I’m less busy.  Even now, while I’m somewhat late getting started as I didn’t begin my new job until September, I’m singing daily about the baby Jesus while folks are buying Halloween candy and setting out their pumpkins.  Of course, I, too, am setting out my pumpkins despite adoring canned pumpkin.

Worth mentioning again:  buy canned pumpkin now if you need it for Thanksgiving pies or pumpkin bread.  There is, for another year, a shortage.

A bigger meal:  Add the pumpkin soup from the last post for a first course. For starters, serve something quite light like warmed olives and a few crispy chips; this is a big meal.

Want to bake a sweet something?  Make my pear or apple crostata for this fall dinner.

Not baking?  Purchased ginger cookies and a scoop of rum raisin ice cream.  Perfect.

Wine:  This is a meal for a splurge if you’re up for it:  buy an Oregon Pinot Noir.  Or try an entry-level bottle, which are now at entry-level prices.  For instance: Ken Wright’s under $30 beginner Pinot, which is not “beginner” at all.  Another option is a (French) Côtes du Rhone– many of which are so tasty, truly fallish, and under $15.  Ask your wine shop for a recommendation about which one.  Or just pick one to try.  You’ll probably be quite satisfied.  The 1/2 cup of wine you need in the cranberry sauce will be perfect out of any of these bottles.

A note about cooking pork loin: Unless done correctly (I don’t want to say “well” as we don’t have to cook it done anymore–145 degrees F is the USDA number today), pork can be dry and tasteless.  This particular recipe, however, which I often pair with roasted vegetables, is juicy and incredibly flavorful even leftover and/or warmed up.  Great for pork tacos the next day or chopped up in a frittata, it also makes lovely sandwiches.  We like it with my hot and spicy cranberry sauce.

Drizzle cut up root vegetables with olive oil, dust well with salt, pepper, and rosemary and roast at 425 F for 35-40 minutes or at 350 for closer to an hour.
This is easy, lush, and spicy–if you want it to be. (Recipe below) Good hot or cold.

So, just for a fun change from my own kitchen’s recipes, here’s one I’ve adapted from CI, and hope you enjoy.  A 3 or 3.5 pork pork loin feeds 6 generously and a 5 # roast feeds 8.  I like to carve the loin, place it at the center of a large serving platter, and surround it with roasted vegetables.  It can be placed at the center of the table or passed and everyone can help themselves.

Roasted Pork Loin and Hot Cranberry Sauce

  •  3-5# pork loin
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons coarsely-ground black peppper
  • 2 Tablespoons finely minced fresh or dried rosemary
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  1. Unwrap pork loin and set in roasting pan on a cooking sprayed or lightly oiled “V” Rack if you have one.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together sugar, pepper, rosemary, and salt.  Rub spice mixture over the pork and let sit an hour.  You can do this the night before and leave it covered in the frig, too.  Let the meat come to room temperature before roasting.
  3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  (Make sure your oven is clean.)  Place roasting pan with pork on a  rack situated at the middle of the oven and roast 30 minutes.
  4. Lower emperature to 375 degrees F and continue to roast another 30-40 minutes.  Check temperature at this point and remove from oven to rest or continue roasting until thermometer reads 145 -150 before resting.  Let sit 15-20 minutes (tented with foil) before carving.  It’s fine if it’s a bit pink and it should be juicy.
  5. Serve with a side of my Hot! Cranberry Sauce (recipe below.)

Hot! Cranberry Sauce

serves 6

  • 1 pound fresh cranberries
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 apple, peeled, and chopped
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (leave out if you don’t like spicy food)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • Water to cover
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine

In a 3 qt heavy sauce pan, place 1 pound fresh cranberries, 1/2 lemon quartered, 1/2 large apple peeled and chopped, 2 cinnamon sticks, 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, and 1/2 cup (or more to taste) brown sugar.    Add water to cover fruit, the pour in 1/2 cup red wine.  Bring to a boil, and lower heat.  Simmer for about 15 minutes until cranberries pop, fruit is softened, and mixture is thick.  Stir frequently  and add water if it becomes too dry.

Remove lemon to serve or let your sour puss friend eat it.  (Oranges can be used in place of lemons or in addition.)  Serve hot or cold.  Keeps well in refrigerator for several days.    If you do not like spicy food, leave out the crushed red pepper.

Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood

Busy around our house as fall takes hold.  Temperatures are dipping down toward the 40’s at night and it’s pretty dark at 7:30 am this far north.  Fall gardening chores are in swing (trimming back and covering rose bushes and cutting back hydrangeas, etc) and the leaves are still falling.  My lilac trees continue to hold green leaves, but the oak leaves from the neighbor’s yard are all over.  Along the Mississippi River, the maples are shedding leaves rapidly.  Last week, I drove to work through nearly a maelstrom of leaves flying all over the car.  When the dogs and I walk, Gabby is loving playing through the carpet of brown.

 

Below:   I couldn’t have done this if I tried.  Setting down my music bag on a dining room chair the other day, the bag caught the edge of the fall-decorated table/cloth and pulled everything off without damaging a thing.

 

 

Et voila:  set for Sunday night supper for World Food Day.

 

Pumpkin bread time.  Set out early to defrost in its wrapping.

I had Sue for dinner Monday night to celebrate the end of Opus and Olives, Book Club for wine and cheese and apple crostata on Tuesday night, Choir on Wednesday, church music friends on Friday, and 6 for dinner Sunday night for World Food Day….  It was a cooking week, but mostly did things I’ve done before and didn’t take many pictures???  Too busy, I guess.  The beautiful thing was sharing so many moments with so many people I love.

The house will be in an uproar as the kitchen floor is taken up next week and the new wooden floor installed the following week.  In between, I get a new refrigerator to replace the nearly- new refrigerator that won’t open it’s freezer side because it’s too big for the space!  So silly and wasteful.  I bought a German refrigerator, a Fisher and Paykel.  It arrives Friday to go into the dining room until the kitchen is done!

$1159 is the 2-drawer dishwasher price!

I continue to do lectionary study at St. Frances Cabrini in Prospect Park on Thursday mornings with an ever-growing group of worship planners.  While I sometimes miss my old Bible study at Faith awfully (Love you all so!), I’m so thrilled to be part of a new group.  We’re also planning an ecumenical Thanksgiving service for Monday, November 21 at Cabrini.  Time tba.

Note re salmon:  Read yesterday’s NYT article about purchasing Pacific wild salmon.  
They appear to be infected by a virus that started in the commercial fish farms.

COOK THIS NOW : 120 Easy and Delectable Dishes You Can’t Wait to Make  by  NYT columnist and long-time cookbook author, Melissa Clark. is the newest cookbook on my shelf.   Studded with sumptuous photos, this seasonal charmer will tell you  with a delightful “voice” exactly what to cook exactly now.  Get yours soon (or today as an e-book) by clicking on the title!

Meantime, we’re about to commence a bit of travel east and west while the dust flies in the house.  Might be a hiatus in the blog, but know I’m cooking another “The Big Night” feast with the gang in Colorado.  Keep watch for pics.

In memoriam…
Saddest week for organist and friend, Roberta Kagin, who lost her dear husband Craig Alexander last week.  The stories told about this man (one goal, nearly achieved, was to race past the police dept in Woodbury 100 times going over 100mph)  were so many and indicated a love for life I couldn’t help but admire to the nth degree. At age 84, he was still in-line skating to his volunteer job comforting families at the hospital surgery waiting room.  Go, Craig, go!  The rest of us:  Live, People, Live!!

Do it all with joy and sing a new song,
Alyce

Curried Pumpkin Soup or Julie Used to Live Here

Curried Pumpkin Soup or Julie Used to Live Here

 

I adore pumpkin in nearly any form.  I think I love pumpkins because they appear during my birthday month.  Maybe not, though.  Because, truly:  I love to eat them.  Almost any way.  While I’m sure pumpkin soup has been around a long time (A quick peek at my historical cookbooks, however makes no mention of it.  American Cookery 1796 has a recipe for Pumpkin Pudding.  Fanny Farmer, 1896, lists only pumpkin pie.  The  Household Searchlight Recipe Book, 1931, has listings for canning pumpkin, making pumpkin custard, jam, and pie with cheese crust–but no soup,) I had never tasted it until 1985 when we went to live in Spokane, Washington, and my God’s gift of a neighbor, Joyce Smith, made pumpkin soup in the pumpkins for a holiday meal.  Ten years later, I traveled right here to St. Paul, and good cook Lani Jordan whipped up a pumpkin-peanut butter soup for Sue’s birthday lunch.

My own soup was years later coming.  Late 90’s maybe.  By now, it comes in several guises.  I sometimes blend cooked, ripe pears and apples into the mix.. or other batches contain a touch of vanilla and a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds on top.  One memorable pot was ladled into bowls with my sweet-crunch  “Go Nuts” as garnish.  I’ve also been known to use a mix of squashes and vegetables (also cooked dried beans) with the soup and up the heat factor, as well.

While, according to an old Craig Claiborne book, you can steam unpeeled pieces of pumpkin and later peel and mash them, I’m by now definitely attached to opening a can.  As are many women.  And…
Pumpkin anything is pretty simple if you’re willing to used canned pumpkin.  I also adore butternut squash soup, but if you want to make butternut squash anything,  you have to peel and cook the rock-hard thing.  Which takes a lot of effort.  I buy a new peeler every year because the winter squash wreaks havoc with them.  Even Paula Deen gets one of her boys to peel her squash.   (My children don’t seem to be waiting in the wings to peel my squash.  Where are you?)   Your other option is to pay through the nose for already cut-up butternut squash.  I’m not doing that.   But pumpkin!  Well, that’s why God made Libby’s, right?  (Or go ahead and roast or microwave a whole one if you have to, but after trying it once,  you’ll head to the grocery store canned aisle.)  I seem to be on a pumpkin jag lately–both in this blog and in Dinner Place.    So!  Go ahead and make pumpkin soup.  Did I say it’s quick?  (Doubles or triples easily for a larger group.)

CURRIED PUMPKIN SOUP

serves 4  (or 6 small first course servings)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup each chopped onion and celery
  • 3 medium carrots, cut into 1-2 inch pieces (don’t peel)
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley, plus 2 tablespoons for garnish
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper (more if your curry powder is mild)
  • 1 quart (4 cups, 32 ounces) low sodium chicken broth or stock
  • 15-ounce can pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder, or more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, or more to taste
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream for garnish
  1. Heat olive oil in a 4-6 quart small stockpot over medium heat and add onions, celery, and carrots.  Season with a bit of salt and pepper and cook five minutes or so until somewhat softened.  Add parsley and garlic during last minute of cooking.
  2. Pour in chicken stock and stir in pumpkin and applesauce.  Add curry and ginger.  Stir well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Stir again.
  3. Bring to a boil and reduce heat.  Simmer until the vegetables are quite tender.
  4. Puree using immersion blender in pot or pour soup into food processor or blender and puree in small batches.  Whichever method you choose, be quite careful; the soup is hot.  If using blender, hold down a doubled up dish towel over the lid to keep it tightly in place.
  5. Ladle soup into bowls, top with a sprig or two of parsley and drizzle  with a bit of heavy cream to create an attractive pattern.

*I keep a variety of small jars of curry powder, but like Penzey’s Maharajah curry powder as the spices are the ones I enjoy and the heat is moderate.  If you use a hotter powder, use a bit less.  If you use a milder one, you might want to add a few drops of hot sauce.  You can also make your own curry powder from ground tumeric, coriander, cumin, cardomom, fenugreek, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne, etc.  Or you can read The Surly Vegetarian and get a great recipe for curry.

{printable recipe}

Two-Dog Kitchen and Life in the ‘Hood

Cooks just want to have fun:  Making pie crust cookies.

 

The last of Wendy’s heirloom tomatoes that ripened on the windowsill in my dining room for two weeks.

 

Under 5 minutes in the microwave:  great acorn squash.

 

Rustica Bakery, Minneapolis:  on BA’s list of ten best bakeries in the U.S.   Yep.

 

Rustica Bakery’s almond croissant.

 

Rustica Bakery:  a bit more elegant garnish, eh?  This is their latte.

 

58 years in the neighborhood, Troos comes to check Dave’s work on the vegetable garden.

 

Under the bushes he dug out, an old glass jar appears.

 

Appears to have been buried by Julie in 1965.  Troos doesn’t remember Julie.

 

One of the thousands of crazy, crazy squirrels in Tangletown this year.

 

This is a tiny bush with precious blooms in my south garden.

 

This chickadee cracks her seeds between her toes.

 

 

All cleaned up for Opus and Olives Sunday night downtown with 850 other Friends of the St. Paul Library supporters.

 

Lani and Jeanne after dinner having fun.

 It’s been a warm week.  Two days we even had the AC on to cook and sleep.  Weird October.
We have guests for dinner two nights coming up,a trip south with a friend to pick up a new puppy, Book Club here Tuesday, rehearsal on Wednesday and also Taize service in conjuction with Cabrini Catholic Church in Minneapolis.  Come worship@ 6:30 (Wed, 10/14) at Prospect Park United Methodist.  Take an hour bite out of your life to unplug, sit quietly, and reflect.  It’d do ya good.  Sounds like we’ll need it too.

Sing a new song of fall…leaves and pumpkins and wind and cooler temperatures,
Alyce

Southwestern Turkey Meatloaf or Here You Go, Lori!

Southwestern Turkey Meatloaf or Here You Go, Lori!

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I have a friend named Lori.  She’s smart and tall, is mom to a big hulking chocolate lab, is beautiful and talented, and does things like run a salon and also fly airplanes.  Sometimes in the same day.  Did I mention she’s a runner and that she’s from Boston?  She also “did” my nails for several years in Colorado Springs.  When you spend an hour and a half every three weeks literally face to face with someone for years on end, you either become friends or sleep.  Lori and I chose to become friends. (I miss her.)

So, being women and being friends, and being a foot apart so often, Lori and I talked food. (Also family, men, sports–her, not me, work, whatever)  Lori’s mostly vegetarian, though she eats some chicken, etc.  And Lori makes meatloaf.  Turkey meatloaf.  It’s good, says she, but she’s a bit bored with it.  More than once, she asked if I had another recipe.  Recipes, now that we have the internet, are a dime a dozen, but I hadn’t made turkey meatloaf in years.  I was intrigued and remembered someone saying, “You cannot season turkey meatloaf like beef meatloaf; it’s awful.  You must season it like turkey.”  While that brings sage, onions and celery to mind, for me it also brings hot peppers, feisty cheese, and salsa.  Living in San Antonio for four years and Colorado for 15 would do that.  Taking cooking classes in Santa Fe would definitely do that.

One day, after months of turkey meatloaf ideas perking around in my head from time to time, I decided to try it.  Wow!  Both Dave and I loved it.  This loaf is full of chiles, onions, garlic, and salsa, and I stuffed it with overlapping slices of pepperjack cheese so that when you cut it (make sure and let it sit a while or you’ll have a gooey mess), there are lovely melting bites of sharp cheese right at the center.

I mean, if meatloaf is good, people adore it–right? It’s filling, homey, stretches to feed a bunch, and makes great sandwiches.  Though, really, loving meatloaf isn’t something everyone wants to admit.  It’s not on top of the trendy list, though come to think of it COOKING LIGHT has a meatloaf article in the October Issue.  But trendy or not, if you make it, they will come.  And they’ll want the recipe.  It’s one of those emotional food-pingers like, “My grandma made the best meatloaf!”  Make this even if you have to invite people over to eat it.  ESPECIALLY if you have to invite people over to eat it.

Side: Mashed potatoes is the usual suspect, but I did an all-in-one sauté of sliced new potatoes, onions, garlic, and late summer squashes that comes together just before the meatloaf comes out of the oven and while it rests before serving.  Top it with finely diced fresh tomatoes and sweet green peppers for color and crunch.   That’s not much for directions; let me look in the cooking journal and see if I kept amounts listed when I cooked it.  If I did, I’ll include a recipe.  How’s that for informality in the cooking blog?   Here’s the meatloaf recipe, for which I definitely kept the list of ingredients and, uh–techniques and methods!

Here you are, Lori.  Sorry it took so long.

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Southwestern Turkey Meatloaf Stuffed With Pepperjack Cheese  

Serves 6-8  (or 2 with lots of leftovers for sandwiches or freeze half for later)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided (one for oiling pan, one for the top of the meatloaf)
  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 ½ cups salsa, divided (1 cup in meatloaf, ½ cup on top for serving)
  • 2 cups whole wheat bread, cubed
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/3 cup minced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces (about 1 ½ cups) chopped button mushrooms
  • 4 ounce can chopped mild or hot green chiles, drained
  • 1/3 pound sliced Pepper Jack cheese
  • Chopped fresh tomatoes and bell peppers for garnish, optional

Note about salt:  I do not include much salt as the salsa contains quite a bit.  If you’d like to check and see whether or not you’d like to add salt, make a small meatball of the mixture and fry it in a bit of oil.  Taste and see (great song, too!) if you’d like any salt

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Oil 9”x5” loaf pan using 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. 
  2. Wash your hands well and take off your rings and watch.  To a large bowl, add the second group of 11 ingredients—turkey through chiles– using only 1 cup of the salsa.  Put your hands down into the meat mixture and mix for about 2 minutes or until combined thoroughly.
  3. Pat half of the meat mixture firmly and evenly down into the oiled loaf pan and place the slices of pepper jack cheese right down the middle of the loaf, overlapping, stopping before the very end. (So that the cheese doesn’t ooze out so much while the meatloaf bakes.)  Pat the other half of the meatloaf mixture on top of the cheese—again, firmly– to create the loaf.  Brush top of meatloaf with the other tablespoon of olive oil.
  4. Place loaf pan on a foil-lined sheet pan and bake for about 1 1/4 hours or until instant-read thermometer registers 160 degrees F.  Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes; temperature will come up to 165 degrees F.  Invert onto serving platter, first pouring out excess liquid if necessary, and top with the other half-cup of salsa. (Carve in pan if easier.) Garnish with diced tomatoes and green peppers as desired.  Surround the loaf with the Potato-Zucchini Sauté and serve hot.  Store leftovers tightly wrapped in refrigerator for up to four days. (Can wrap tightly and store in freezer up to 3 months.)

{printable recipe} 

Yes, it was in the cooking journal and here it is…

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Potato Zucchini Sauté  serves 6

  • 6-8 small (1-2″) new red potatoes, sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder (I like Penzey’s; choose your style.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 each:  small zucchini and yellow squash, sliced thinly
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  •  Garnish, optional:  1/4 cup each:  diced fresh tomato and green pepper
  1. In a large skillet or sauté pan, heat oil and butter.  Add potatoes.
  2. Cook until potatoes brown on one side.  Stir and turn potatoes.  Add onions and dust with chili powder, salt, pepper, and oregano.  Cook one minute and add squash and garlic.
  3. Cover and cook until potatoes are tender–perhaps a total of 35-40 minutes and squash is al dente or grandma done (your choice)–another 2-3 minutes.
  4. Serve garnished with tomatoes and peppers if desired.

{printable recipe}

Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the ‘Hood

It’s that time of year.  Keeping the cantata on the piano at all times (skipping my own piano lessons), planning holiday travel, getting the last of the outdoor chores accomplished before it snows, changing out the clothes, ordering wool socks, taking as many walks as we can with the doggies, and grabbing yet another bouquet out of the flower garden. This may have been the last rose of summer:

Or maybe this one!


While very dry, the grass is still mostly green.

 Here are the pies I baked for Pops and Pies, one of the monthly concerts at Prospect Park United Methodist:  

Must be October if it’s pumpkin!

Sour Cream Apple (above)

 I did make that beef-vegetable soup I mentioned (with three variations plus some ideas on how to make it a bit cheaper) and if you’d like to see how I did it, you’ll need to visit examiner.com where I write cooking and food articles for St. Paul.
Basic Beef-Vegetable Soup
Pumpkin Custard just for YOU

Also, on my blog for The Solo Cook (Dinner Place), there’s a great pumpkin custard topped with cinnamon-kissed creme fraiche. It’s made for those who cook for one and is done in one minute in the microwave.  Your very own (crustless) pumpkin “pie.”

Warm enough for flip flops yesterday.

 

Stubborn Tucker:  wouldn’t turn around for his picture.

Happy October, my friends.
Sing a new song,
Alyce