Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Friday Night Dinner - Salt Crusted Pork Loin and Oven Roasted Pumpkin

Our local grocery store has recently run some amazing specials on pork loin, $1/pound - unfortunately for me they only sell them in massive sizes so being that I'm intrigued by the price I went ahead and bought a monster pork loin and have been testing out various recipes for using the thirds that I cut the meat into once it came home. First go-round was a BBQ pulled pork, it wasn't bad but the pork loin didn't have enough fat to keep it moist over the long-slow cooking process. Second time around was a big hit, I adapted a recipe that I found in a Curtis Stone cookbook (my favorite Aussie chef), Roast Loin of Free-Range Pork with Roast Pumpkin....a great way to use some of that pork loin that was perfect for a chilly fall evening.

Roast Loin of Free-Range Pork with Roast Pumpkin

3 1/4 LB Loin of Pork
1/4 Cup Kosher Salt
1/8 Cup White Sugar
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 1/4 Cups of peeled, cubed Pumpkin
1 Tbsp Fresh Majoram Leaves
1/4 Cup Maple Syrup

1. Preheat oven to 425. Score the loin of pork with a very sharp knife and rub with salt and sugar, then drizzle with olive oil.
2. Place on a rack in a roasting dish and roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 350 and roast for an additional 50 minutes.
3. While pork is in the oven, preheat a separate baking dish for pumpkin.
4. Place cubed pumpkin in dish and toss with oil. Don't put too much oil in the dish or the pumpkin will become soggy, not crisp.
5. Sprinkle the pumpkin with marjoram leaves and roast int eh oven for the last 30 minutes of the pork's cooking time. Turn the pumpkin frequently to ensure even cooking.
6. Drizzle the pumpkin with maple syrup and return to oven to keep warm until serving time.
7. Once pork is cooked, remove it from the oven and leave to rest for 20 minutes.

While the pumpkin served as a delicious side, I had some potatoes that needed to be used so I made a simple family favorite, potatoes au gratin (aka cheesy potatoes).

Potatoes Au Gratin

1/2 Cup Shredded Swiss Cheese
1 Cup Half and Half
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese
3 Tbsp Butter
3 Tbsp Flour
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/4 Tsp Paprika
1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
5-6 Medium Yukon Gold Potatoes, Thinly Sliced in Rounds

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a baking dish, then arrange first layer of potatoes in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle a mix of the Swiss and Parmesan cheese over the layer. Continue layering potatoes and cheese until you have used all potatoes.
2. Whisk half and half with flour, salt, and pepper. Pour over potato and cheese mixture.
3. Put one last layer of cheese on top. Dot butter on top of the cheese and sprinkle paprika over the top.
4. Bank 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours, until top is bubbly and golden brown.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Flan and apologies...

So apparently every time I think I've caught up and work and life and everything else have slowed down and I feel like I can get back to things I enjoy (knitting, blogging, you know the good things :) ) I end up being wrong - very wrong! Last month was a complete bust, well not professionally, just blog-wise because I ended up working my tail off for the latter 1/2 of the month in a way that is uncommon unless it's the end of a quarter. This month is starting to escape and I feel like the ultimate blog slacker, a very sad blog slacker. Everyone has been posting up delicious seasonal recipes and I realized that while I've been cooking (sort of) it's nothing like the amazing dishes that I'm seeing online - like I said, I'm a slacker!

Alas, once more I will try to regain my blogging devotion - I present for your enjoyment a favorite recipe (probably been posted here before) with a new twist - Flan Napolitano with Fresh Blackberry Sauce. The Flan is a tried and true favorite, one I originally got from mom (see her post from 07)

Flan Napolitano
1/4 c. Sugar
4 eggs
1 can sweetened condensed milk~La Lechera, or Eagle Brand
1 can evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla
4 oz. cream cheese (small Philadelphia cream cheese packet)

Caramelize & melt sugar in the bottom of flan pan (9 inch cake pan with high sides will be fine also but cover firmly with foil when baking), allow it to darken, set aside. Add all remaining ingredients: eggs, sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, vanilla & cream cheese, placing into a blender. Blend till this mixture is smooth, about 1 min. Then pour into Flan Pan onto caramelized sugar in bottom of pan. Place lid on flan pan & clamp down. Place flan pan in H2O (about 2-3 inches up the side of the pan in water bath) Bake 1 hr. 15 min. @ 350 or till knife comes out clean & flan is firm. Cool in pan. Can be refrigerated over night for best firmness & flavor. Place in warm water to loosen from pan & turn out onto platter or cake stand. The burnt sugar caramel makes the top of the Flan a nice golden color.

Fresh Blackberry Sauce:
1 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch
1 1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. lemon juice
2 c. fresh or frozen blackberries

Combine lemon juice and cornstarch in saucepan. Add sugar and blackberries. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until thick. Once it has thickened to desired consistency, pull aside and pour through a fine sieve, press as much juice as you can through the sieve. Use juice as sauce - discard what is left in sieve.

Yup I'm ok with the fact that this is really not a seasonal fruit, actually I made this back in May and have kept it stashed (ok I forgot to post it) but it is tasty no matter what!

And just because I need to show off something funny - here's a photo from our newest grocery spot - Sporuts - they had a 'cheese artist' who carved Bevo (aka the Longhorns' mascot) into a gigantic block of chipotle cheese not something you see every day!