Saturday, December 24, 2011

Herb-Roasted Pork Loin

Oh my, this is pure deliciousness.  It is a shame I made for Lovey and myself alone.  I shouldn’t have been so selfish.  This needs to be shared.  I did not half this recipe and 4 pounds of pork loin is a lot of meat.  It sure made for a ton of wonderful leftovers. 
I can’t tell what magazine the clipping came from but I’d love to share it with you.

Here’s what we’re working with today.   Please don't judge me for having spiders on the island.  It was October when I made this.  I think it would make a great Christmas Day dinner.
Pat the pork dry and season it with salt and pepper. 

Straddle a flame proof roasting pan over two burners, then heat 1 Tbsp. oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers.  Brown pork on all sides, then transfer to a large plate.

Put a metal rack in the pan and place half of the herbs down the middle of the rack.

Smear the shallot-mustard mixture over the top and sides of the roast.

Place the roast, fat side up, on top of the herbs.

Roast for 1 hour.

Place the remaining herbs on top of the roast.

Continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 140° - 145° (about 5 to 15 more minutes).

Transfer pork to a cutting board and allow to rest 15 to 25 minutes.

While the pork rests make the sauce.

Remove rack from pan and discard the herbs.  Straddle pan across 2 burners on medium heat.  Add vermouth and mustard and de-glaze.  Scrape up those tasty brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Let boil until reduced by half.

Add broth and simmer.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a 2 cup measure.  If there is more than 1-1/2 cups boil to reduce.  If there is less than 1-1/2 cups, add water.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan.  Whisk in flour to form a roux and cook, whisking until pale golden.  Whisk in the vermouth mixture and simmer until slightly thickened.

The sauce alone is argument enough for keeping a bottle of dry vermouth on hand.

Serve pork with sauce.

Clean Kitchen

Herb-Roasted Pork Loin

Yields:  8 servings; Prep time:  20 minutes; Cooking time:  1-1/4 hours


for pork:
1 (4 to 4-1/2 lb) boneless pork loin roast, trimmed
2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. olive oil, divided
6 rosemary sprigs, divided
8 large thyme sprigs, divided
8 sage sprigs, divided
8 savory sprigs (optional-because they are hard to find), divided
½ cup finely chopped shallots (2 large)
2 Tbsp. finely chopped garlic (about 4 cloves)
3 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

for sauce:
1/3 cup dry vermouth
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1-3/4 C. reduced-sodium chicken broth
1-1/2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1-1/2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

Mise en place:

·         Rinse pork and pat dry
·         Rinse rosemary, thyme and sage; dry by rolling in paper towels
·         Toss half of the herbs with 1 tsp. oil
·         Mince shallots and garlic.  Stir together with Dijon mustard & 1 Tbsp. oil
·         Measure out vermouth, Dijon, chicken broth, butter and flour


Preheat oven to 350° with the rack in the middle.

Pat pork dry and season with 1-3/4 tsp. salt and 1-1/2 tsp. pepper.  Straddle a flameproof roasting pan over 2 burners, then heat 1 Tbsp. oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers.  Brown pork on all sides, then transfer to a large plate.  Put a metal rack in pan and arrange half of herbs down middle of rack.  Smear the herb Dijon mustard mixture over top and sides of pork. 

Put roast, fat side up, on top of herbs.  Roast 1 hours.  Toss the remaining herbs with a little olive oil and place on top of the roast.

Continue to roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 140° - 145° (about 5 to 15 more minutes).

Transfer pork to a cutting board and allow to rest 15 to 25 minutes.

While the pork rests make the sauce.

Remove rack from pan and discard the herbs.  Straddle pan across 2 burners on medium heat.  Add vermouth and mustard and deglaze,  scraping up the fond from the bottom of the pan.  Boil until reduced by half.

Add broth and simmer.  Strain through a fine mesh sieve into a 2 cup measure.  If there is more than 1-1/2 cups boil to reduce.  If there is less than 1-1/2 cups, add water.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan.  Whish in flour to form a roux and cook, whisking until pale golden.  Whisk in the vermouth mixture and simmer until slightly thickened.

Serve pork with sauce

Friday, December 23, 2011

Broccoli With Lemon-Cream Sauce

This recipe produced a very nice side dish that I will be making again.  I can’t tell where the clipping came from or how old it is.

Since I usually cook for C. and myself I half most of these clippings.  I prepared half of the broccoli but I prepared the full recipe for the sauce.  Can’t have too much sauce when it has lemon, wine and butter in it!.  I’ll post the full recipe at the end.

It makes a colorful dish when you garnish it with the pimiento slices.

Here's what you will need.

A quick opinion on this recipe regarding the butter….the recipe calls for butter or margarine.  I don’t think so.  No margarine.  Use butter please.  Thank you.

Broccoli With Lemon-Cream Sauce

Yields:  8 servings


2 large heads broccoli, about 2 pounds
Yolks of 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. dried basil leaves
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ C. butter or margarine
1 – 4 ounce jar diced pimento, drained

Mise en place:

·         Wash and cut broccoli into florets with 2-inch stems
·         Measure out wine
·         Separate yolks from whites and slightly beat (you can freeze the whites)
·         Squeeze lemon juice
·         Measure out herbs and seasonings
·         Slice chilled butter into Tbsps.
·         Drain pimentos


In a 4-quart saucepan over high heat, bring broccoli and 1 inch water to boil.  Reduce heat to low; simmer, covered, 10 minutes until broccoli is crisp-tender.  Drain.

In top of double boiler over simmering water, heat egg yolks, wine, lemon juice, salt, basil and pepper, stirring frequently until mixture thickens.

Remove from heat and whisk in butter one Tbsp. at a time whisking after each addition until butter is thoroughly blended.

Arrange broccoli on platter; pour sauce over and garnish with diced pimentos.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Peppermint Candy Shortbread

 The recipe for these shortbread cookies is found in a book published by Oxmoor House called “Christmas Cookies”.

These are nice little cookies.  I’ve actually made a better tasting shortbread (now, if I can only remember where that recipe is…) but there is certainly nothing bad about this recipe.

I love shortbread because it's not overly sweet and rich.  Such a simple recipe for being so versatile.  The vanilla bark and peppermint add just the right amount of sweetness to the shortbread.

Ingredients are so simple; just butter, sugar and flour.

It’s easy to roll out.  For this particular recipe it instructed to roll out to a 6” circle.  I rolled out my dough into a rough circle and then used a 6” round corning ware dish to cut around so my circle would be nice and neat.  I’m anal that way.

Score with a knife and bake.

When a batch comes out of the oven, I like to go over the score lines again before it cools.

When transferring to a cooling rack to separate it into wedges, handle the shortbread very carefully.

My vanilla bark wasn't very deep for dipping the rounded ends in.  Instead of dipping the end of the cookies in the vanilla bark, I found it easier to use a little spreader.

Peppermint Candy Shortbread
Yield:  2 dozen

1 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
4 (2 ounce) vanilla bark coating squares
2/3 cup crushed hard peppermint candy

Mise en Place:
·         set out butter to soften
·         measure out sugar and flour
·         crush peppermint candies with a rubber mallet in a baggie and pour into small bowl
·                 prepare your double boiler

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add sugar, beating well.  Add flour, beating just until blended.

Divide dough into 3 equal portions.  Place 1 portion of dough on an ungreased baking sheet; roll into a 6-inch circle.  Score dough into 8 triangles.  Repeat procedure with remaining 2 portions of dough.

Bake at 325° for 25 minutes or until barely golden.  Let cool on baking sheets 5 minutes.  Remove to wire racks to cool completely.  Working very carefully, separate discs into wedges.  (Shortbread is very fragile.  Be gentle with it so tips remain intact.).

Friday, December 16, 2011

Bourbon Balls

The Christmas Holiday wouldn't be complete without Bourbon Balls.  I've been making this recipe since my sister Melody unleashed it on me about 5 years ago.

These boozy little delights go a long way.  You can nibble on one for hours or pop a whole one in your mouth if you are setting out to get a buzz.

Here are your ingredients.  Vanilla Wafers, pecan pieces, powdered sugar, light corn syrup, unsweetened cocoa Dutched, bittersweet chocolate morsels and of course bourbon.

A note on a few of the ingredients...
first, use a good bourbon.  I'm using Knob Creek this batch but I usually make them with Makers Mark;

second, this recipe calls for Dutched cocoa instead of natural cocoa.  "Dutched" is a process where the beans are treated with a potassium solution to neutralize the acidity of the cocoa bean before grinding. Natural cocoa is when the cocoa bean has simply been roasted before ground into a fine powder.  Dutched powder will be darker in color; and

thirdly, the original recipe calls for semi-sweet chocolate morsels but Melody and I prefer the bittersweet.

 You will want to break up the vanilla wafers before you measure them out.  Put some in a baggie and use whatever weapon you find at hand break them up into pieces about this big..

A little note here...before you start processing all of your ingredients together, process some extra vanilla wafers to a powder and set aside.  You may need to add some at the end if you feel your mixture is too wet.

 Chop your pecans into pieces. 

In a food processor, process the vanilla wafers, pecans and chocolate morsels until ground to a powder.

 Add 3/4 cup of the powdered sugar & the cocoa powder & process until incorporated with your wafer-pecan-morsel powder.  Tip:  keep the pusher in the feed tube if you don't want powdered sugar to come flying out.

With the motor running, add the corn syrup and bourbon through the feed tube and process until well blended.  Let the mixture stand for 5 - 10 minutes to firm up.

Shape mixture into 1" balls.  This 2 tsp. scoop makes perfect 1" balls and helps keep your balls a uniform size.

Place the balls on a sheet of wax paper.  I usually get 30 to 32 balls out of the batch. 

After resting in the refrigerator for about an hour, roll your little balls in the remaining powdered sugar and store in an airtight container (sometimes I give the balls a second roll in more powdered sugar after coating all of them once).  Let them mellow at least overnight in the refrigerator.

Melody's Bourbon Balls
Yield 30 - 32 balls

1-1/2 cup coarsely crushed vanilla wafers
1-1/3 cup (5-1/2 ounces) chopped pecans
1/3 cup (2 ounces) bittersweet chocolate morsels
1-1/4 cup powdered sugar divided
2-1/2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder - Dutched processed
2-1/2 Tbsp light corn syrup
1/3 cup quality bourbon (such as Makers Mark or Knob Creek)

Mise en Place:
  • crush vanilla wafers
  • chop pecans
  • measure out other ingredients
  • assemble your utensils
In a food processor, process the wafers, pecans and chocolate morsels until ground to a powder.

Add 3/4 cup of the powdered sugar and the cocoa powder.  Process until equally incorporated. 

With the motor running add the corn syrup and bourbon through the feed tube.  Process until well blended.  Let mixture stand 5 - 10 minutes to firm up slightly.  If mixture is dry add up to 1 Tbsp. of water, processing until smoothly incorporated.  If a little too wet, add extra powdered vanilla wafers a little at a time.

Shape mixture into 1" balls with slightly greased hands or using a 2 tsp. scoop.  Place rolled balls on waxed paper set on a cookie sheet.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Spread remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar in a shallow bowl or pie plate.  Roll balls into the sugar until thoroughly coated.

Refrigerate the bourbon balls in an airtight container, at least overnight, before serving.  This will allow them to mellow nicely.

Store in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks or in the freezer up to a month.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Crazy Mixed-Up Popcorn

This clipping is from the November 1997 issue of Southern Living and belongs to Sandy Stewart of Selma, Alabama.

Here are the players…popcorn, Rice Krispies, Cheerios, pecans, brown sugar, butter, light corn syrup, vanilla, and baking soda.  Note that the recipe also calls for dry roasted peanuts, which I,  being the lame brained person I am, forgot to buy.  And, I’m too lazy to get out and go to town for any.  I might add some other nuts I have in the freezer.

When selecting your popcorn at the store, select one that is not all buttered up.

Lightly butter a large roasting pan.  This is a wonderful old roaster that was my mother-in-law’s.  It's great for mixing up large quantities of stuff.

Mix the popcorn, cereals and nuts in the roaster.  I had walnuts, slivered almonds and sesame seeds in the freezer so I added those in lieu of the dry roasted peanuts.

Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup and butter in a 3 quart saucepan.  Have your candy thermometer ready!

If you spray the inside of your measuring cup with a little vegetable spray, your corn syrup will slide right out. 

Over medium heat bring the sugar-butter mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.

Boil, without stirring, for 5 minutes or until a candy thermometer registers 250°.  Pay no attention to that spoon resting there; he's a camera hog.

Remove from the heat and add the vanilla and baking soda.  These will make the mixture bubble up.

Pour your caramel mixture over the popcorn-cereal mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until coated.  A word of caution…any time you make a caramel or candy mixture always realize that it is hot, hot, hot and will burn, burn, burn.

Place the roaster in a 250° oven for 1 hour, stirring the mixture every 20 minutes.

Cool in the pan on a wire rack

Break apart and store in an airtight container.

I’ve made this today to bag up and give away at the office so I’m dividing it up into these cute
Santa Claus bags.

This is not a bad little recipe but it just lacked the wow factor for me.  I'm not saying that it is not good; I've just tasted better recipes.

I doubled this recipe but I’m giving you the recipe below as it was published.

Crazy Mixed-Up Popcorn
Yields 14 cups

6 cups popped popcorn
3 cups crisp rice cereal
2 cups toasted oat O-shaped cereal
1 ½ cups dry roasted peanuts
1 cup pecan pieces
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ cup butter or margarine
¼ cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon baking soda

Mise en Place:
·         Pop your corn
·         Butter roasting pan
·         Assemble all of your ingredients & measuring utensils
·         Preheat the oven to 250°

Stir together the first 5 ingredients in a lightly greased roasting pan.

Bring brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup to a boil in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly; boil, without stirring, 5 minutes or until a candy thermometer registers 250°.

Remove pan from heat; stir in vanilla and baking soda.  Pour over popcorn mixture, and stir until coated.

Bake at 250° for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes.  Cool in pan on a wire rack; break apart.  Store in an airtight container.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Sour Cream Topping

Since it would be sacrilegious to omit pumpkin pie and pecan pie from a dessert buffet at Thanksgiving their places of honor were reserved on ours.  But Thanksgiving is such an opportunistic time to try new desserts.  There is so much to do with pumpkin!  I tried three new recipes this year and the one I’m sharing with you today is a Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Sour Cream Topping.

This recipe hails from Gourmet magazine.  Date unknown.  It's a gastronomic shame that this great food magazine met it's demise two years ago.  I started reading Gourmet when I was in junior high school during the late 1960’s.  Gourmet was not simply my introduction to food from all over the world but the food journalists transported me to all of those remote places as well.

I have always gravitated to authors whose writings center around food.  One of my favorite food writers is Ruth Reichl.  She was the last Editor in Chief of Gourmet  when the magazine shut down in November of 2009.   I highly recommend any of her books.  Okay, on to the recipe.

Although the recipe has 3 different stages, it is really a simple recipe to make.

First you’ll make the crust with finely ground graham cracker crumbs, pecans, brown sugar, granualted sugar and butter.

I recommend boxed Keebler graham cracker crumbs.  I’ve tried processing my own from whole graham crackers and it just does not come out for me.  The recipe also calls for finely chopped pecans.  I ground mine in a food processor to the same fineness as the crumbs.

After mixing all of the ingredients for the crust press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the springform pan and up the sides about ½ inch (good time for those kitchen gloves!).  Place in the refrigerator for at least one hour.  I did mine the night before which is a nice do-ahead feature of this recipe.

This is also a good time to remind you to read a recipe completely through several times and several days prior to making it for the first time.  You might find yourself in a pickle if you did not allow at least an hour for your crust to get very cold or a day to allow the finished cheesecake to rest in the refrigerator overnight.

For the filling you will need these guys

The recipe calls for bourbon liqueur or bourbon.  Since I already had bourbon on hand I used that.

Whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt and the brown sugar. 

 In an electric mixer bowl cream the cream cheese and the granulated sugar.  Beat in the cream, cornstarch, vanilla and the bourbon.  Add the pumpkin mixture   

Beat until the filling is smooth.

Pour the filling into your chilled crust and bake in a 350° F. oven for 50 to 55 minutes.
While the filling is baking, mix up your topping.
This is a simple and quick with only three ingredients.

Whisk together the sour cream, sugar and bourbon.  Set aside until you are ready for it.
I think I hear the timer announcing the filling is done!  Remove the cheesecake from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes or more (but don’t take an hour long nap).  I think I let mine rest for not much more than the recommended 5 minutes.  Also, don't turn the oven off; you'll be sticking the cheesecake back in shortly.

With your offset spatula spread the sour cream mixture over the top of the cheesecake.  Bake for 5 minutes more.

Let cheesecake cool on a wire rack.   When it is completely cool, top with the pecan halves and give it a fine dusting of freshly grated nutmeg.  Cover lightly and refrigerate overnight.

Not the prettiest photo of this cheesecake.  Time got away from me and I failed to take a photo of it when it was removed from it's pan and placed on it's pretty pedestal.    This picture was taken when I was putting it up for the evening.  The pumpkin filling was very creamy yet firm and the topping added a little zing to it.  I liked this cheesecake a lot.  Family members who tried it liked it too but not many are cheesecake eaters.  I took the rest of it to work on Monday and it was gobbled up.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Bourbon Sour Cream Topping
Will serve 10-12

For the Crust:
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
½ cup finely chopped pecans
¼ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Mise en Place:
butter a 9-inch springform pan
melt butter in microwave and set aside to cool
finely chop the pecans in a food processor until they have the same consistency as your graham cracker crumbs
Measure out the sugars and graham cracker crumbs

In a bowl combine the crumbs, the pecans, and the sugars; stir in the butter and press the mixture into the bottom and ½ inch up the side of a buttered 9-inch springform pan.  Chill the crust for at least an hour (overnight even better)

For the Filling:
1-1/2 cups solid pack pumpkin
3 large eggs
1-1/2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp salt
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 - 8 ounce packages cream cheese, cut into bits and softened
½ cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp heavy cream
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp bourbon or bourbon liqueur

Mise en Place:
cut cream cheese into cubes and allow to soften
measure out all the other ingredients

In a bowl whisk together the pumpkin, the eggs, the cinnamon, the nutmeg, the ginger, the salt, and the brown sugar.  Beat in the cream, the cornstarch, the vanilla, the bourbon, and the pumpkin mixture, and beat the filling until it is smooth.

Pour the filling into the crust, bake the cheesecake in the middle of a preheated 350°F oven for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the center is just set.  Remove from oven and let it cool in the pan on a rack for 5 minutes.

For the Topping:
2 cups sour cream
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp bourbon or bourbon liqueur

16 toasted pecan halves for garnish

Mise en Place:
measure out all ingredients into your mixing bowl

In a mixing bowl, whisk  together all of your ingredients.  Spread the sour cream mixture over the top of the cheesecake and bake the cheesecake for 5 minutes more.  Let the cheesecake cool in the pan on a rack.  Place the pecan halves around the edge in a geometrical pattern and grate a dusting of fresh nutmeg over the top.  Cover loosely and chill overnight. 

Remove the side of the pan and place cheesecake on a serving plate.