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