Sunday, January 24, 2010

Pork Tenderloin

It is not always easy to come up with menu ideas...Sometimes I just go to the store and look for inspiration there!
Monday was such a day. I went to our local supermarket, Roche Brothers, and started looking for something I would want to make! Fish was out as it was the end of a three-day weekend, and there probably had not been any deliveries that day.

In the meat department, I looked at the sale items (yes, I do that sometimes!!) and there it was! Pork tenderloins. Now all I need is the vegetables! Pearl onions, carrots and mushrooms. Let's start cooking.

Pork Tenderloin

Serves 6

2 tenderloins of pork
15 - 20 fresh (or frozen) pearl onions
3 carrots (I like organic), sliced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
2 packs of assorted fresh mushrooms (shitake, oyster, baby bella)
6 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup chicken stock
1 bunch fresh thyme, or dried thyme to taste
 Salt and pepper to taste

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy skillet. Add the pearl onions, carrots and half the garlic. Saute for about 10 minutes until tender and slightly brown. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in the same Dutch oven. Add the mushrooms and the remaining garlic. Saute until slightly brown. Transfer to the carrots and onions bowl and set aside.

Season the tenderloins with salt and pepper. Heat another 2 Tbsp olive oil in the same Dutch oven and add the meat. Sear on all sides. When the pork is browned on each side, remove from the pan, set aside on a plate. De-glaze the juices with a little chicken stock. Reduce for about 5 minutes and then add the meat and the vegetables. Add the thyme.

Reduce the heat and cover. Cook for about 30 to 45 minutes, turning the meat and stirring the vegetables from time to time.

Serve sliced in 1/2 inch slices, with fresh sauteed spinach, or mashed potatoes.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Sweet and Sour Cabbage

Cabbage is a favorite winter vegetable, and really nice on a cold winter night. It goes really well with pork, can be stuffed in individual packets (Piggies in a Blanket), or as a whole. But who has time during the week? I certainly do not!

This version tastes just the same as the stuffed one, but is quick to make! And again the cranberries to sweeten the dish.

Sweet and Sour Cabbage

1 lb ground beef, lean
1 lb pork
2 medium onions, sliced thin
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 large cans of whole tomatoes
Salt and Pepper to taste
Fresh chopped parsley
Olive oil

2 small green cabbage heads, quartered
1 quart chicken broth

In a large heavy saute pan, heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the ground meats and some of the garlic, and saute until cooked, separating the meat with a wooden spoon. When cooked, transfer to a bowl and set aside. Remove the grease from the pan and discard.

In the same skillet, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and heat over medium heat. Add the onions and the remaining garlic.and saute.When browned, add the meats and mix. Add the red wine vinegar, the dried cranberries and the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook uncovered for about 30 minutes, until reduced and thickened.

While the "stuffing" is cooking, bring the chicken broth to a boil. Add the cabbage and cook for 15 t 20 minutes, or until softened.

Serve the meat on to of the cabbage, and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Chicken Cacciatore

This is a dish I had never made! We were watching the Food Network last weekend when Bobby Flay challenged a New York Fireman: Chicken Cacciatore. They both looked really delicious!

Julie, after watching the show avidly, requested the Cacciatore for Sunday night dinner...So here I am, writing down a list for Bob to go shopping (Thanks Bob!) and trying to figure out my own recipe!! It is actually pretty easy to make, but don't forget that it has to simmer for at least 1 1/2 hour. So plan accordingly!!!

Chicken Cacciatore

Serves 8

12 chicken thighs, skin on, extra fat removed
1 cup all purpose flour, on a large plate

2 medium size onions, sliced
2 red bell peppers, sliced in 1/2 inch strips
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
Olive oil

9 or 10 plum tomatoes, quartered
1 small can of diced tomatoes
3 cups of dry white wine
1 cup of chicken broth

1 bunch of fresh basil, chopped

In a large Dutch oven, or heavy skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions and red bell peppers and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add about half the garlic, 1 tablespoon of dried oregano. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Deglaze the bottom of the pan with a little chicken broth, reduce for a minute and pour into another bowl.

You will now sear the chicken pieces, in batches. For this I usually have a sheet pan ready for the seared meat, right next to the pan I am using.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the same Dutch oven.
Coat the chicken pieces in flour. Place in the hot pan, without crowding, skin side down. Let cook for about 4 or 5 minutes until skin is golden and crispy. Turn the chicken and cook for another couple of minutes, until seared. Remove the pieces of chicken from the pan and place in the sheet pan. Repeat until all the chicken is seared. You do not need to add anymore oil, as there is chicken fat left in the pan. When done you can empty the fat in a can to discard. Then deglaze the bottom of the pan with chicken broth, scraping all the pieces. Add to the previous bowl with the pan juices. Set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in the pan. Add the plum tomatoes and cook for about 4 minutes. Add the onion mixture and stir. Add the white wine, the diced tomatoes, the rest of the garlic, the rest of the dried oregano, the hot red pepper, the pan juices. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce for 10 or 15 minutes.

Add the chicken, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hour.

When done, just before serving, spinkle the chopped fresh basil.
Serve over pasta or rice.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Brie in Puff Pastry, with Apples and Cranberries

Happy New Year!!!  Two Thousand Ten? Twenty Ten??? Well it is much less of an issue in French!!  Bonne Annee Deux Mille Dix!!

We celebrated the New Year with the usual gang at Peggy and John's house! There was as usual a lot of food!
My contributions to the dinner were a Brie in Puff Pastry, a Chili and an Eggnog Trifle. Today I will share the Brie recipe. This is something I would never have thought about while still in France, as Brie is a cheese, like every cheese there, that is served after the salad and before dessert, plain. We do not cook it, we do not add fruits or vegetable. We eat it with a nice piece of crusty bread and a real good glass of red wine. But I love this appetizer served hot out of the oven, the cheese running and mixing with the stuffing.

Brie in Puff Pastry with Apples and Cranberries

One wheel of Brie
2 sheets of frozen puff pastry, thawed
1/2 onion sliced
1 Granny Smith apple, diced
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1/3 cup walnuts, toasted and then chopped
2 Tbsp butter
1 egg

Preheat the oven at 350F.

Heat one tablespoon of butter in a small saute pan; add the sliced onion and cook until tender and golden brown. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.

In the same pan, heat the second tablespoon of butter and add the diced apples. Saute for about 5 minutes, tossing regularly, until golden brown and tender. Transfer to the onion bowl and set aside.

In another small pan, toast the walnuts until fragrant, about 3 or 4 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and chop roughly. Add to the onion and apples bowl.

Add the chopped cranberries to the bowl and mix all the ingredients well.

Cut two circles into the puff pastry, slightly larger than the cheese.
Cut the brie in half into two disks. Place the bottom half onto one of the puff pastry circles. Place the apple mixture on the cheese and cover with the top half of the Brie. Place the second puff pastry circle on the brie and "glue" the pastry together with the egg wash (egg mixed with water). Cut a small hole on the puff pastry to allow steam to escape.

Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and bake for about half an hour, until crust is puffy and golden.

Serve hot.

Can be prepared a few hours ahead. Simply reheat in a 350F oven for 15 minutes.