Thursday, March 29, 2007

Pork Tenderloin 2 ways.....

When I buy pork tenderloin, they often come 2 in a package. They are most often frozen too, so its hard for me to split them. Thus, when I'm ready to cook them, I have to cook two. Instead of cooking both one way, I decided to treat them each differently. The first tenderloin I decided to grill, since the weather was so nice on Tuesday( 76F). I seasoned it with some herbs de provence,salt and pepper. I made a quick basting sauce of maple syrup, sweet and smokey mustard, garlic and apple cider vinegar. I threw some red potatoes in the microwave and finished them up on the grill. I grilled some asparagus to round out the meal.(BTW, the picture above is everything off the grill, not just my dinner plate) Forget 30 minute meals, this took 20 and was easy as pie.

Since our beautiful weather only lasted for 2 days( Monday and Tuesday), I decided to oven roast this pork. I made a pan sauce with port, dried cherries and red currant jam( the original recipe is from Cook's Illustrated and calls for orange marmalade, I didnt have any). I made some sour cream and chive mashed potatoes and Cook's Illustrated's pan roasted broccoli. This meal took slightly longer, but its not that difficult. Cook's Illustrated has some really great recipes for different pan sauces for pork, and chicken.

I'll be doing a lot of cooking on Friday and Saturday. We're doing some recipe testing at work for a tasting on Saturday night. I'll be baking 4 different lemon layer cakes to see which one we like the best.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

White spinach pizza.....

I really wanted to love this pizza. It has all the ingredients I love; spinach, mushrooms, and 4 different types of cheese. I ate so much red sauce in Florida, that the thought of a pizza using a white sauce really appealed to me. To top it off, I picked up a ball of 100% whole wheat pizza dough at Trader Joes on our way home. I was excited to use that. I tried to find a link to this recipe, but its not posted yet. This recipe comes from the Early Summer 2007 issue of Food and Drink. Food and Drink is the magazine of the LCBO( Liquor Control Board of Ontario). In Ontario( and all of Canada), you just can't go into a grocery store to buy booze. I know some US States are the same such as PA. Anyway, I digress.....

So, I made this white sauce with milk, flour, onions and roasted garlic. The recipe has you roast 2 cloves( not 2 heads) and then set it aside. I never saw what to do with the garlic as it was missing from the instructions, so I just added it to the sauce. You then saute some spinach and squeeze out the water. First, I found the sauce way too thick. The recipe calls for whole milk, but I used some fat free half and half I picked up at TJ's as well. I had to add some skim milk to thin it out. After the sauce and spinach goes on, you'll put on some parmesean( I used pecorino romano). Then 3 kinds of cubed cheese. The reason for using cubed cheese is so you get pockets of different cheese flavor. I used gouda, ementhaler and mozzarella( not cubed, it was shredded). You then layer on sliced cremini mushrooms and strips of red pepper. Robin and I both don't care for cooked red pepper so I left it off.

I popped it on my baking stone for 10 minutes( at 450f), the instructions say to lift a corner to check for browning. Well, it was very brown, but it was far from cooked. The dough was still kinda raw inside. I ate around the raw parts, but Robin wanted to cook her slice more. She wrapped it in foil and threw it back in the oven for 10 more mintues. By this point, I was disgusted with it so I took Harley for a walk. When I came back inside, Robin told me that the pizza never fulled cooked, even after 10 minutes in the oven. I really think its the whole wheat dough. I seem to recall having this problem before with this type of pizza dough. I guess its back to making my own pizza dough. Oh well, live and learn...........

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Sunday, March 25, 2007

Curiosity got the best of me.....

I picked this up back in August when I was in Ann Arbor, MI because I was really curious about it. I mean, come on, who would pay 18.00 for a cake mix? $3.99 sounds more reasonable, and its hard for me to resist what I deem a "bargain". These mixes are manufactured by Nordicware and are advertised as "all natural".

I picked up two more of these mixes at Marshall's last week. Both were on clearance for 3 bucks. One is the infamous tunnel of fudge and a cinnamon swirl. I planned to make one of those last night but then I saw that this butterscotch mix had a use by date of Jan 07, I thought I better make this one instead.

This is the first mix I've ever seen that has a two step recipe, cream butter with a sugar packet, add dry packet alternately with milk. The streusel is mixed with 4tbl of butter and placed in the middle.

I'm please to say this did NOT taste like a mix. NO chemical taste whatsoever. I wont buy them again because for the amount of butter( 12tbls in cake, 4 in struesel) and eggs( 4), I could make a from scratch cake with just a tad more effort. (measuring the flour, sugar, and levener).

I skipped the optional glaze( more butter, brown sugar, rum) and instead just dusted with confectioners sugar.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

We're back......

Rather than write a few posts with pictures, I'll just lump everything into this one post. First, I didnt take too many pics when we ate out. When we go to Florida, we tend to eat at reasonably priced restaurants. Our most expensive meal was just 60.00 bucks and I totally forgot to bring my camera. I'm just going to write about the most memorable meals.

I'd read about Anthony's Coal Fired pizza on I was really looking forward to trying this place. The menu is really small, just ome page with no pastas on the menu. The two main things most ppl seemed to order were the coal fired wings and pizza. The wings are served with grilled onions and foccacia. I don't like wings so I never eat them, but Robin is a huge fan. Robin really liked them as she prefers her wings unbattered. We also got a mushroom/sausage pizza which I found good, but slightly greasy. I think the reason ppl who live in Ft. Lauderdale are such fans of this coal fired pizza is because most of the pizza places there are NY style. I've had brick oven pizza before many times and this is basically what Anthony's serves. It was good, but nothing spectacular. We also ordered a salad that was your basic romaine, onion, garbanzo bean salad with a red wine vinegar dressing.

On our second to last night there, we went to Jaxson's ice cream parlor in Dania. Jaxsons has been around for 50 years and is well known for its homeade ice cream, huge portions and long lines. Luckily we had no wait as we decided to go on a Monday night. Robin has been to Florida with me 4 other times and we never ate at Jaxson's. We shared a sundae called Half and Half. Two ice creams( we picked vanilla and peanut butter( of course), butterscotch fudge, hot fudge, whipped cream and cherries along with sidecars of sauce and pecans. They do charge a 1 dollar sharing charge but you get an extra topping for that price. We couldnt even finish the sundae, it was so big( and we had a light dinner too( totally unremarkable at Pollo Tropical). We'll definitely go back again on our next visit. I'd love to take my niece as she has a major sweet tooth as I found out on this trip.

Our last meal was lunch at Cheeseburger, Cheeseburger. I read about this place on Jason Perlow's blog. We went to say goodbye to my Grandparents and I was happy to see there was a location near their house. I only took a pic of the frings( rings and fries) because our chicken sandwiches were nothing spectacular. The onion rings were all globbed together so they didnt impress me. I also ordered a choc. banana malt and Robin had a peanut butter shake( natch). They use Edy's/Dryers ice cream plus different syrups and mix-ins. When I ordered the malt, the waitress asked me if I knew what a malt was and I said Yes( see archives, Jan 22, 06). Later, I asked her why she asked me if I knew what a malt was and she said " women your age often order malts and then send them back because they dont like the taste". I said " how old do you think I am" and she said "26". I'm not sure if she was hoping to get a good tip, but it sure made my day( I'm 40 btw). She also offered to order me a giant can of carnation malt powder. I thought that was sweet, so yes, she got a nice tip.

Last but not least, here is a picture of my sweet niece Emily. We went down for her 2nd birthday. She was invited to a bday party on Saturday at a kids gym type place and my sister and I took her. She certainly takes after her aunt because she loves her cake. She gets positively giddy when she knows she's going to get some. Anyway, I can actually say I'm very sick of eating out and I'm looking forward to doing some of my own cooking.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hamantashen and see ya later....

These are but a few of the dozens of Hamantashen I made for my sweet gramps. I made prune, apricot and raspberry. I used the almost like bakery hamantashen recipe from A Treasury of Jewish Holiday Baking. I know Purim is over, but my gramps loves these.

We'll be leaving tomorrow and we'll be returning on the 22nd. See ya later!!!!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Cooking for seniors....

I cooked for the Seniors last night. I've updated the thread on egullet. Check it out.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Choc. Cupcakes w/peanut butter frosting....( Ina Garten)

Yesterday, the weather was horrible. We had major snowsqualls and most of the roads were closed. My neighbor has a snow plow attatched to his truck and he always plows our driveway. I usually always give them some sort of baked goods in return. I have the new Ina Garten( barefoot contessa) cookbook out of the library and these cupcakes looked good. I cut the recipe in half and I still came out with 12 cupcakes.

My go to chocolate cake/cupcake recipe is Hershey's Black Magic, its supereasy to make, uses one bowl and oil instead of butter. Ina's recipe used butter with less sugar and more cocoa. Funny though, I didnt think the choc. flavor was that pronounced, but the crumb was very tender. The cake was the perfect foil for this lucious Peanut butter frosting( As I was making it, I remembered Paula's MIL's recipe), I'll have to make that next time. It's interesting to note though, that this PB frosting recipe isnt really Ina's( as most of the recipes in the book are credited to someone else).

I didnt measure the PB so I might have used less than I needed, but it still had a great PB flavor( I used Jiff, btw). Robin and I enjoyed one or two with a big glass of cold milk.

On Thursday, I cook for the Seniors again. Its going to be a labor intensive meal. Roast Chicken, mashed spuds, spinach salad with bacon, sauteed zucchini and bread pudding w/ vanilla sauce for dessert.

This weekend I plan on baking more challah and lots of hamantashen to take to Florida( we leave on Tuesday) with us. My grandpa loves cookies and since he isnt eating much these days, I figure I'd make him what he likes. This might be the last time I see him.

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Monday, March 05, 2007

3 mini desserts......

I made these 3 desserts this weekend at work. We had a seafood supper on Saturday and I thought it would be a great idea to do mini desserts. My boss found these cool plates at pier 1.

Here we have a mini lemon curd tartlet, a chocolate pot de creme( cook's illustrated) and vanilla bean poudcake with raspberry coulis( Baking w/ Julia). I thought the pound cake was great, although a bit too heavy. Some ppl left that dessert on the plate and of course my feelings were hurt. Anyway, it was a very stressful night as it was only myself and my boss and I was in charge of the salad course and the desserts and I helped my boss with the main dish as well. I'm not used to restaurant style service. My boss was very pleased though, she wants to do a family style ( my idea) Italian dinner in April.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Lemon Yogurt Cake( Barefoot Contessa)....

Try as I might, I couldnt get a decent picture of this cake. I checked Ina's new book out of the library to see if it was worth buying( it isnt). A lot of the recipes look good, but most are pretty basic. One thing I notice about Ina is that she "borrows" a lot of recipes from different people. Case in point, this lemon yogurt cake. Ina says " she wanted to see if she couldnt lighten her infamous lemon loaf cake" She saw a recipe from Dorie Greenspan for a yogurt cake so she decided to try that method with her lemon cake. In the headnotes, Ina says this cake is good for you. I wouldnt go that far, the cake still uses 1/2 cup of oil and 1 cup of whole milk yogurt. I wasnt thrilled with the cake, it was very lemony and a tad oily. After the cake comes out of the oven, you drench it with a simple syrup made with lemon juice and sugar. Ina also calls for 1 cup of powdered sugar for the glaze, but I only used a few tbls because I thought that was plenty.

Another recipe in the book is for Beatty's chocolate cake. This recipe is the exact same recipe as Hershey's Black Magic cake. For some reason, that really bugged me. I've been making Black Magic cake for years and years.

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