Saturday, December 20, 2008

Pork loin with prosciutto, figs, and bleu cheese

Served with garlic sauteed rapini and roasted acorn squash.

I used a piece of boneless pork loin, about 2 lbs.

First I butterflied it by slicing into the bottom third horizontally with a thin fillet knife, 

Then folding the flap back like opening a book, and continuing the cut into the rest of the meat: 

I seasoned the pork with salt and pepper, spread a thin layer of fig jam and laid a few slices of blue cheese on there.  I used a double  creme blue because that's what I had, but a better choice would have been a harder blue. For those who eschew blue, a firm aged Gouda would do, too.

I folded it back up and wrapped it in some prosciutto.

Then in plastic to firm up before sauteing.  It's not necessary to tie or otherwise secure the roast as long as you treat it with tender, loving care.  Until you slice it up and devour it, anyway.

Browned the prosciutto exterior in some olive oil, in an ovenproof pan.

Then it roasts at 350 until 150' or so- about 50 minutes for this one.  The roast and juices were removed to rest.   I cooked some sweet onion in the roasting pan until soft,  then  added some not-quite-ripe figs.

Deglazed with white wine when the figs  started to soften,

Finished up with some chicken stock mixed with just a touch of cornstarch and a few drops of decent balsamic vinegar (always seems to go well with figs).

Dinner for us plus a special guest.

4 dinners

Christmas season.  My least favorite time of the year.  I try to like it, but I guess it's just not in my nature to enjoy running around in the crappy weather, shopping under pressure, hauling out decorations knowing they just have to be put away in a few weeks, keeping the house neat with 2 little kids- my birthday- etc etc.  Thank goodness I actually like cooking and baking or I'd be in even more of a funk.  Anyway. Just to catch up, here's what we've been eating:

Red wine beef stew,
Tofu stir fry with black bean sauce and chicken,
My birthday dinner- my wonderful husband cooked!
This dull looking plate is a little NY strip steak with mushrooms and cauliflower cheese gratin.  We had a salad, too.  

Monday, December 15, 2008

Appetizers and Desserts for Wine Club!

The second Friday of the month is my favorite Friday.  Wine Club!!!

Ready.  Bring on the wine!

Citrus curd meringue tarts.  I have been so lame!  Can you believe?  This party was early December.  No posts in weeks and I was doing a lot of cooking, too.  And cleaning, shopping, hosting, know.  But it's time to get back into it.

So, for the "Holiday Extravaganza" wine club we were doing a mix of different, unusual, and highly recommended wines from Tom at Waterford Wine Co on Brady St.  Thanks Tom!  I didn't know what to really plan for so I just did some old standbys and tried a few new things, too.  My wine buddies don't mind being guinea pigs  (or so they say).  So:  clockwise from the top- crab tarts with cream cheese and chives, Italian sausage stuffed mushrooms, a quick bread with bacon, dried pears, and Gouda cheese (not that good- a bit dry IMO), and a really nice, easy flourless chocolate ganache cake.  I'll post the recipe for that later.

I served (from top) a 2 year old Gouda, double creme blue, and a white Stilton with dates and orange (from Trader Joe's).

Here we have those citrus tarts, and roasted fingerling potatoes with sour cream remoulade and smoked salmon.

The cookies: Swedish Pepperkakor, cranberry white chocolate shortbread, and raspberry almond butter bars.  

Here is the savory Apple- Cheddar galette and the pineapple bread puddings with warm caramel drizzle.  A big bowl of freshly whipped cream for the Ganache cake.  Wasn't there something else?  Maybe not.  This was like my third day with the new camera so sorry about the photo quality.

OK- this picture is some the most fun, stylish, and interesting women in the greater Milwaukee area.  We had 16 ladies but I couldn't get them all in!  I had a great time and sampled some very offbeat yet traditional wines.  I'm sorry I can't review them or even tell you specifics but I just wanted a nice, relaxing time drinking and chatting with my crew, so I didn't take notes.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Friday morning 2 am

Friday was my wine club's Holiday Extravaganza, at my house.  I tried to do as much as possible the days before- cookies baked,

Tart shells baked, caramelized pineapple bread puddings (and their caramel sauce) done,

A bunch of other cooking I got done early, too.  The gateau (chocolate cake), the mushroom stuffing, the citrus curd for the tarts, the sour cream mixture for the smoked salmon things...

Here's a good tip:  Set your table the night before.  Get out all your serving pieces (those scraps of paper on them say what will be on that dish), your utensils ready, etc.  This always takes me longer than it seems like it should.  There's always something I can't find, or something that needs polishing.   I hate being crunched for time so I always get set up the night before if possible.

The kitchen is somewhat cleaned, though still not ready for inspection.....

I'm going to bed.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thanks Mac!

So I remembered my laptop has a built in camera.  I'm not exactly getting the hang of using it to take pictures of food, though- this is the best of, like, 10 pictures of the Red Beans and Rice:

It's cold and snowy here.  I made a big pot of rib- sticking New Orleans style Red Beans and rice.  First, I sauteed the "trinity:"  onion, celery, and green bell pepper.  Then I added garlic, one Usingers Andouille sausage (diced), tomato paste, Tony Chachere's Cajun seasoning, and half a pound of red kidney beans.  Cover with water and cook until the beans are soft- about 2 or 3 hours on simmer.  Mash some of the beans with a potato masher, and serve over rice.  I also browned some smoked Polish sausages and some shrimp to garnish the top- and a scattering of scallion greens (but everyone else polished off the Polish before I got home from Zumba).

That's me, tasting the broth.  Can you say "Cheese?"

I am getting a camera in 3 days; and I am hosting our Holiday Extravaganza Wine Club Party this weekend- so hopefully I'll have some good stuff to post about coming up soon!!

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Maybe it was my fault for thinking I could do two things at once.  First I was making hummus and roasted eggplant/yogurt salad for dinner- to eat with pitas and some lettuce, tomato, and roasted red peppers.  This is the cubed, roasted eggplant with the Greek yogurt, a bit of honey, toasted and ground cumin and coriander seeds, and some cilantro waiting to be chopped and added.

Then I was also trying to make a caramel pecan ganache tart for Thanksgiving, and a few extra pie crusts to stash inthe freezer.  But, I had a would be helper who would not take "no" for an answer:

Eeew.  Actually, she gets her love of butter from her Swedish side (that would be me).

Crust rolled out beautifully...

"UP!"  "UP!"  "UP!"
I thought giving her the camera would buy me a few minutes to get the tart dough into the pan.  Too bad she had those buttery fingers.  It fell on the floor, for like the 20th time- but this time it broke.

See you when I get a new camera, everyone!

Mustard Glazed Pork Chops

I have carnivore guilt just looking at the picture.  Thick cut, bone in pork chops with a sweet, smoky, and tangy BBQ mustard glaze, sweet potato and apple casserole, and plain blanched sugar snap peas.

I seasoned the pork with just salt and pepper, then seared them in a very hot saute pan.  I didn't even need to add any extra fat since the chops were well marbled.  Let me explain about that skillet- it's not dirty, really.  That black stuff all over the sides is like the seasoning on a cast iron skillet.  A permanent coating from cooking a lot, with very high heat.  I don't even notice it since all the saute pans in restaurant kitchens are this way, but when someone- like my mom- tries to scrub it off I feel a little embarrassed about it so I thought I'd just put that excuse out there...

SO the chops are nice and brown and almost cooked through- I added a dollop of this BBQ mustard, a splash of white wine, a pinch of brown sugar and a glug of chicken stock and let it all boil down into a sticky intense glaze.

Previously, I had cooked some diced Fuji apple in butter and a pinch of allspice. 

I folded the apples into some mashed sweet potatoes, spooned the mixture into a little Pyrex baking dish, and topped it with a scattering of buttered pretzel crumbs before popping it into the oven to crisp up.  I'm a big fan of the crispy toppings, in case you hadn't noticed! 

The chops and potato rest while I blanch the snap peas in boiling water.  They only take about a 45 seconds to perfection.

Lasagna Bolognese

This is an absolutely delicious lasagna.  Unfortunately the photo of it is as a leftover.  I made the lasagna on a night when we went to the Opera and left my parents in charge of baking and eating it while they babysat.  I had the Bolognese sauce in the freezer so it went together in about 15 minutes.

First I made a roux- you know, equal parts flour and fat (in this case butter) cooked briefly together.

Then I added whole milk and brought to a boil, and seasoned with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.  I used about 1/3 cup each of butter and flour, and about 4 cups of milk.  The sauce should be thinner than you might think, since the noodles soak up liquid.

Can I just say again how awesome those no boil lasagna noodles are?  I never used to make lasagna until someone told me how well these work- now lasagna is a feasible everyday meal.  So anyway, the bechamel (that's the milk sauce) gets layered with the Bolognese and the noodles.

Sprinkle some Parmesan on the top, cover with foil, and bake for 45 minutes at 350'.  Then remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes or so.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Steak Soft Tacos

Adobo spice rubbed Flank steak,  with black beans, seared peppers and onions, avocado, and fresh salsa on warm flour tortillas.

It's kind of messy to cook a flank steak on the stove top.  The broiler might have been a better plan.  Foil over the top keeps the spatters to a minimum and helps speed the cooking.

The ingredients for a little fresh salsa...

The peppers and onion cook while the steak rests...

And voila.  I couldn't resist a little cheddar, too.

Funny thing about this blog.  We just had something like this meal about 10 days ago.  You see how you eat in reality, not just how you think you eat.  I would have said we eat fish and vegetarian both about once a week-also I would not have thought that I repeat meals within the month-  obviously, that's not exactly true.