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Start the day in happy and healthy 4th colors…

Skip the burgers and beer this weekend and put together a festive, but filling picnic-worthy meal of grilled pork tenderloin -one of my favorite summer meals- served with grilled sweet potatoes along with a choice of sauces. Bacon, too, if you want.  Throw together a spicy herb coleslaw and, if you’ve time, my most popular pasta salad–a tortellini and vegetable dish that’s easily made vegetarian (or even vegan) if necessary.  Make the beautiful Strawberry-Amaretto Ice Cream from my last post for the finishing taste and to leave everyone feeling sweet.  This meal lends itself to potluck if you’d like to pass out recipes and just wait for the food to roll in.  If there are any leftovers at all, you’re set for the next day, too, as everything in the post keeps beautifully and the pork makes perfect tacos.  Happy 4th!

Begin in the morning with coffee along with a bowl of sliced red and blue berries and chopped watermelon topped with Greek yogurt, a little granola, and a drizzle of local honey.

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Start the day’s festivities playing some great 4th of July music. Try Pandora or play this selection off youtube.com…  Raining?  Keep the troops happy watching a patriotic movie or two; snuggle up with the pups. Print off coloring pages for the little ones.

RED, WHITE, AND BLUE BREAKFAST SUNDAE

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You’ll have plenty of room for the big picnic later on in the day. A pomosa (Pomegranate juice and sparkling wine) on the side would be a very happy accompaniment, I think.  Figure on a cup each of berries and watermelon for every person, along with 1/2 cup Greek yogurt, 1/8 cup granola, and a teaspoon or so of honey.

PICNIC MENU AND RECIPES:

Just for grins and giggles, when I made this meal, I did a fun appetizer of cherry tomatoes, boccacini (tiny mozzarella balls), and kalamata olives mixed together in a bowl with a small spoon and some toothpicks.  Might work for you on little skewers.  Totally non-cooking. Served with some crispy crackers.  Very red, white and blue, if not totally made in the USA.

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GRILLED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH TWO SPECIAL SAUCES AND GRILLED SWEET POTATO MEDALLIONS

Serves 8.  Make sure your pork is at least barely pink so that it’s juicy and tender. A little BBQ sauce and a Spicy Dijon-Greek Yogurt sauce are good accompaniments. (See below.)

  • Olive oil
  • Crushed red pepper, optional
  • 2 pork tenderloins
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 4 slices thick bacon, optional
  • 6 sweet potatoes, sliced 1/2-inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme, and 1-2 small bundles for garnish

1. Heat grill over high heat.  Brush with olive oil and season the pork tenderloins with a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper all over. Wrap each with two pieces of bacon–if using– inserting toothpicks every 2 inches or so to secure bacon.  Set aside.

2. Poke 6 or 8 holes in each sweet potato and place all 4 potatoes in microwave on paper towels. Cook until nearly tender–about 10 minutes. (If not nearly tender, return to microwave for another minute or two.)  Remove carefully from the microwave; cool briefly.  Slice, leaving skin on, and brush wish olive oil on both sides.  Season with salt and pepper.

3. Grill pork over high heat 6-8 minutes or so on each side until quite browned, keeping the grill covered and watching for flare-ups from bacon, if using.  Turn heat off, leave pork covered on grill for another 5 – 10 minutes or until pork reaches 140 – 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Let rest a few minutes on a cutting board before removing toothpicks (if using), slicing and serving.  (Pork can come up to 150 while resting.) Read here for USDA guidelines for cooking meat.

4. While pork rests, turn grill back up to high, and grill sweet potato slices over high heat 1-2 minutes on each side or until slices show deep, dark grill marks marks, are quite hot and also tender.

5. Place a tenderloin on a serving platter and surround with sweet potatoes.  Sprinkle potatoes with chopped thyme and use the rest of the bunch for a garnish on the platter. Refill platter with the second tenderloin and the remainder of the potatoes as needed.  Serve hot or at room temperature.

NOTE:  You can accomplish this indoors if necessary, browning meat on a stove-top grill or in a heavy sauté pan, then finishing it in the oven while you grill  or sauté the sweet potatoes.  Read here for further directions for meat. 

 2 sauces for pork tenderloin:  Serve pork with #1: Your favorite BBQ sauce–homemade or store-bought and  #2: Your new favorite, Greek Yogurt-Dijon Sauce. (1 cup plain yogurt spiced up and mixed with 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard and a few drops of hot sauce and some fresh ground black pepper–or to taste.)

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HOT HERB COLESALW

Serves 8.   If you happen to know someone named Herb, invite them to the cookout and let them enjoy the razzing.

  • 10 cups cabbage, shredded, soaked in water or ice water, drained, and toweled dry
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper or to taste
  • 1/3 cup minced, mixed fresh herbs (cilantro, basil, mint)
  • 1/4 cup finely minced red onion
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrot, optional
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar or more to taste
  • 1/8 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup light mayonnaise

Mix dried shredded cabbage with one ingredient at a time, tossing after each and tossing very well at end. Taste and correct seasonings, including sugar and vinegar.  Chill 2 hours before serving if possible. Taste and correct seasonings again. Serve cold.

IMG_7688ALYCE’S TORTELLINI SALAD  

12 servings.    You’ll find this salad a couple of places on the blog; it’s a favorite and always a happy bowl-full for summer picnics, cook-outs, or pot lucks.

18-20 oz. fresh cheese tortellini (find in refrigerator case)
2 small zucchini, cut into matchstick size pieces
1 small yellow squash, ditto
1 red sweet pepper, ditto
1 yellow sweet pepper, ditto
1 green or orange sweet pepper, ditto
1/4 cUP minced red onion
1/4 pound (4 ounces) hard salami, cut into 1/4″ slices  (I like sopressata for this.)
1/3 cup  each fresh basil and parsley, chopped (keep out 1 T for garnish)
1/2 teaspoons dried oregano or Herbes de Provence
1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese (keep out 2T for top of dish)
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt; Freshly-ground Pepper;1/8 t crushed red pepper
Cherry Tomatoes for garnish

1. In 8 qt. stock pot, bring 5-6 qts. well-salted water to boil. Add fresh tortellini and cook about 8 min or according to package directions. Stir in the sliced zucchini and yellow squash for the last minute or two of cooking so that it cooks until just barely tender.
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2. Meantime, make dressing: In large bowl (or baby food processor), whisk together red wine vinegar, garlic and Dijon mustard. Slowly pour in olive oil and whisk until emulsified (creamy and satiny). Add salt and peppers; stir well. Set dressing aside.
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3. Add sliced peppers, salami, all but 2 tablespoons parmesan, all but 1 tablespoon fresh basil, and the oregano or Herbes de Provence.  Stir gently; tortellini can fall apart easily. Drizzle most of dressing onto salad and combine. (Save some dressing to add right before serving)
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4. Refrigerate until needed or overnight. To serve, add extra dressing and taste salad for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with reserved basil or parsley, Parmesan cheese, and cherry tomatoes.  (If refrigerated overnight, you’ll definitely need to re-season and perhaps add a bit more dressing.)
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Notes:  If you have any other vegetables, add them. For vegetarian or vegan option, skip salami and, for vegan, use pasta made without eggs or cheese and leave off Parmesan.

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STRAWBERRY-AMARETTO ICE CREAM

Alyce’s Recipe here. (This was the last post on the blog.)

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WINE:  American wines, please!!  Begin with sangria (click for recipe) and move on to ice-cold California rosé or a Washington-state riesling. Have a lighter, summer beer like Negro Modelo for those who want it.

Sing a new song and enjoy your country,

Alyce

Here’s the same pork grilled indoors and then finished in the oven. I made it a couple of weeks ago for tacos in the DACOR kitchen at Mountain High Appliance (formerly Shouse.)
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