Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Guinea Pig Friends

I've told y'all before how great everyone in my Sunday School class is.  Today, I truly pulled a major guinea pig experiment on them and thankfully, it went over well!  As I drove home from work last night I realized, "Oh %*&!, it's my turn for snacks tomorrow!"  As usual, I had no cash on me, I was tired and just wanted to go home.  So, I took a risk by going straight home and relying on my pantry.  It's 50/50 now; could be a tragic failure or a triumphant win.

After consulting the freezer and cabinets, I determined that I'd be able to concoct some sort of hash brown casserole.  Since I didn't want to go "Rogue Guinea Pig" I decided to consult a recipe for at least some guidance on quantities, consistency, etc.  So, I went to  and found this hash brown recipe.

Of course, I didn't have everything it called for, so some improvization was in order.  First, the hash browns that I had didn't quite measure 32 oz.  Hmmm, what to do, what to do?  Ah Ha!  Tater Tots to the rescue!  So, I chopped frozen tater tots until I had 32 oz of potatoes.  Then I needed a cup of cheese, but the only cheese I had in the house was those little rectangle cheeses that you put in the kids' lunch.  "Rectangle Cheese" as Vivian calls it. (She calls it like she sees it.) So, I chopped about 5 of those into tiny dice.  Green onions, didn't have 'em so I decided to jazz it up with about 1/4 cup of diced, pickled jalapenos.  I couldn't believe I was actually out of sour cream, so I used a little mayo and added some lemon juice to it.  Salt, pepper, Cream of Mushroom...check!

Now, in the past, I've made various hash brown casseroles with mixed reviews.  One time Neil said it was just plain bland and he didn't like it.  I have to say, in the 13 years I've known him, this is probably only the 4th time I can remember him just not liking a dish that I made.  The last one I made is a great dish of potato, asparagus & ham, but it definitely needed more salt to make the flavors pop.  So this one today was the proverbial crap shoot.  I loved it!  The mushroom soup gave it a creamy base so the potatoes weren't dry.  The jalapenos were an awesome addition, except for my non-spicy friends (Sorry, Dawn.  That probably wasn't such a good surprise for you!) And my tiny diced up rectangle cheese did the trick.  Luckily, my friends also liked it.  I even saw some of them go back.  My friend Kelly let me know that she thought it was "terrible, so terrible, I tried it twice!"  I think that's a pretty awesome compliment and testament to the off-the-cuff, seat-of-the-pants, what's-in-the-kitchen casserole that debuted today!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Baby Shower Menu

My sister is having a baby girl in April!  Baby Clara Lillian.  I'm co-hosting a shower and am trying to get the finishing touches on what we're going to serve.  Since I'm always paranoid that I'm leaving out something major or that I'm leaving a hole (you know, too much starch, not enough veg or fruit).  So, I thought I'd throw it out to you folks and get your opinions.

Here's what I have planned:
  • Tiropetas (these are little feta cheese/phyllo pastries.  We grew up with Greeks, so we've been eating these all our lives.)
  • Mini spinach & swiss quiches (homemade of course)
  • Swedish meatballs
  • fruit with amaretto dip (Thanks to my friend Ellen's awesome recipe)
  • Chicken salad finger sandwiches (these will come from Mathias Sandwich Shop)
  • Homemade petit fours
  • White wine
  • Ice tea

Thoughts?  Opinions?  Katherine and I are both non-traditional shower throwers and goers.  We loathe shower games, so you can forget that.  We're not really big on crepe paper streamers, bells or balls so decorations will be something simple like fresh flowers.  And, my friend who's hosting it at her house and my mom cannot deal with paper plates and plastic ware, so Kay bought new wine glasses and glass plates for the occasion.

I mentioned my friend Ellen.  A few years ago, she threw a shower for a friend.  This is when I first tasted this amaretto fruit dip.  It is light, flavorful and super easy.  She was nice enough to tell me how to make it, so now I will share with you.  Don't let the simplicity fool tastes fantastic and everyone will rave about it.

  • 16 oz Cool Whip
  • 2 instant vanilla puddings
  • 1-2 cups milk (just add until it looks right)
  • 4 Tbs Amaretto
Blend together until you have a nice fluffy dip.  Keep it cool until time to serve, of course.  I'm serving with mixed fruit...probably will cheat and have Publix do that for me. Publix for President!

So, if any of you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them.  Happy dining this weekend!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Return of the Garlic Soup

I started cooking when I was in high school.  That's when I remember starting to buy my own cookbooks and experimenting.  Once I got into my early 20's I was hooked on reading recipes and trying anything that sounded good. My sister, my cousin and a couple friends formed a supper club.  We met once a week and the rules were simple:  the cook decided on the dish and bought whatever food it involved and the others brought all the booze.  At some point during that time of my life, I came across a recipe for "Garlic Soup."  It was crazy simple and I've always remembered how much I loved it.  But, I lost the recipe.  I could remember the ingredients, but not the amounts.  Garlic soup had escaped me.

Fast forward to my 30s.  Neil and I went to Portugal with friends back in 2001 ( I think!).  We fell in love with that country and made a pact that when we got married, we'd come back for our honeymoon.  So, in 2004, we did.  One of the most awesome foods in Portugal is 'frango' which is a simple grilled, or rotisserie, chicken that is served with frites.  I know, the thought of grilled chicken doesn't exactly get my pulse racing either, but believe me when I tell you, this chicken will knock your socks off.  I'm not sure if they marinate it or if it has something to do with the white wood smoke that you see rising from all the restaurants' 'frango' chimneys, but it's the most incredible chicken on the planet.  After our first couple of days of frango and frites, it was time for some vegetables.  I ordered a bowl of vegetable soup in this little cafe along the Atlantic coast highway we were following.  Once again, this does not sound very exciting, but their vegetable soup is nothing like ours.  It's pureed...and every restaurant's is different.  Some are more green, some are heavier on the potato, others are a garden variety but they are all pureed so they are silky, creamy and smooth.  It became a quest.  We ordered it in every restaurant we visited to see whose was best.

I've always wanted to figure out how to duplicate this soup.  So many time when I've brainstormed about it, my mind would go back to that garlic soup memory.  That would be the perfect base and then I could add whatever leftover vegetables I had.  But, then I'd get distracted and it never got made.  A few days ago I made a roast pork loin with carrots and onions.  I started thinking about the garlic soup again because I had so many carrots leftover.  Even though I'd tried to find this recipe before using the Internet, I thought I'd give it another try.  I thought the early 90's,  what was I reading?  A-Ha!  Bon Appetit!  So, I got on Epicurious and tried again.  Guess what?  I found it!  Garlic Soup Lives!
Insanely simple ingredients bubbling away

After a few turns in the blender

Today, I have made 2 batches using my leftover carrots.  I still love this soup so much. It's just perfect when you top it off with a nice little swoosh of heavy cream.   And, it is the perfect base for adding any other vegetable in order to mimic the Portuguese veggie soups.  Disregard the lame reviews that people gave the recipe.  I don't  know what's wrong with them. 

One side note before I conclude.  I asked Neil to pick up potatoes and 2 heads of garlic for me.  You know how "they" say that men always think bigger is better?  Well, take a look at the garlic he brought home.  Enough said...
Yep folks, that's 3 heads of ELEPHANT garlic

Monday, February 21, 2011

I am a Thirsty Fellow devotee

I know it's been there awhile, but it's just been somewhat recently that I've finally been able to check out Thirsty Fellow on Gadsden Street.  And I gotta tell ya, I'm really diggin' this joint.  

The first time I went was for lunch with Neil.  He ordered one of the daily specials that day which was a big hot dog and was quite tasty.  I ordered (upon Neil's recommendation) their Philly.  Wow!  It was outstanding.  The meat was very lean, which I like tremendously, tender and flavorful.  The mix of hot and sweet cherry peppers was the perfect staccato.  The next time we went I had the Firecracker shrimp.  Theirs are a little different than Blue Marlin's but equally good.  They serve their shrimp fried with a jalapeno mayo to dip.  That trip, Neil went back to the Philly.  One evening, we met there for Happy Hour at the bar.  We split the Firecracker shrimp, but this time asking them to add the Philly pepper mix on top (similar to the Marlin's dish.)  It was simply terrific.

Any of you who read me know that my parents are awesome GPs. They took Vivi with them Saturday to see my sister in Asheville.  So, Neil and I attended the Regal Awards that night, slept in Sunday morning and headed out for brunch.  We bee-lined to Thirsty Fellow because we've been so intrigued by their signs touting their Sunday brunch.

It was a good choice.  First of all, they have one of the best Bloody Marys that I've had. It's rich and spicy, but not full of "stuff."  I hate having to chew up my Bloody Mary.  I ordered the shrimp and grits and Neil got baked French toast.  The shrimp and grits was quite good and different than all the rest. First off, you have a choice of bacon or sausage. I chose bacon and what they did was put crumbled bacon in the center of the dish for you to incorporate into the grits.  The gravy was light with sauteed bell peppers and parmesan cheese.  The shrimp were well cooked and a good size.  I was happy.  Neil's baked French toast was also very good.  The serving they brought him was enormous.  It was nice and warm and cinnamon-y.  It was served with sausage links and fruit.  Neil also asked for a side of the roasted potatoes, which he gave a thumbs up.  

I think Thirsty Fellow's Sunday brunch is right on.  Columbia has a deficit of good breakfast and brunch places these days.  Some of the other selections from the menu were an omelet du jour (this one was sundried tomatoes and mushrooms), waffles with a daily special fruit sauce, eggs benedict, homemade biscuits and gravy.  Of course, they also feature mimosas, bellinis and I'm tellin' ya, the Bloody Mary is a must.  If you're heading that way for brunch, give us a call...maybe we can meet you there!
Thirsty Fellow on Urbanspoon

Friday, February 18, 2011

Random Restaurant Memories

I don't know what got me on this wavelength today, but I've been having flashes of funny memories involving dining experiences.  So, for lack of anything better to do, I thought I'd record them here, for posterity of course.

There was the time that our family was on the way to Zorba's.  (This Greek restaurant opened in Irmo probably about the time I was in the 4th or 5th grade.  I'm guessing.  But, it's still there and is truly a tried and true Irmo institution.)  We're riding along and my sister was fiddling around with this new belt she'd gotten.  Remember those stretchy belts with the little bent loops that hooked together?  It was one of those.  We got into the restaurant, were seated, had ordered when I looked over and saw it.  I very casually asked Katherine, "Why do you have that belt around your neck?"  We all busted out laughing as she was horrified.  Hilarity ensued.
Very similar to the culprit

Or there was the time that my mom and dad let me take 2 friends to the Summit Club for my 12th birthday.  I guess they figured we'd all order something modest like steak.  But, I had a favorite at the Club.  Lobster Thermidor.  Not only did I order it, I encouraged my friends to do the same.  I'm sure my dad thoroughly enjoyed getting the bill that night.  Happy Birthday to me.

Another good one was during high school.  My dad was the EVP of a bank and the President was this god-awful Yankee nerd.  My boyfriend took me to dinner at Yamato's one evening.  We walked in and there was Yankee nerd at the bar clearly on a date with the mom of a girl I knew from school.  Interestingly, Yankee nerd's wife was not on this date with him.  I casually walked up and said hi to both of them and left them with mouths agape.  It was fun giving my dad that little tidbit of intel. 

Of course I already told y'all about the shrimp cocktail incident...Click here. 

When Neil and I first starting hanging out, we met a bunch of my friends in the bar at Harper's.  Neil and our friend Bryan decided to order dinner.  I didn't pay attention to their orders.  When they arrived, I looked at Neil's plate and thought to myself, "Hm, grilled chicken."  So, he starts eating it and each time I glanced over, the interior of this chicken breast was becoming pinker and pinker.  I asked him a couple times if he wanted to send it back and he said no and kept eating it.  Finally, I just couldn't take it anymore and starting telling him how I was really afraid this meal was going to kill him.  He kept saying that it was just fine and that I should try it.  Yeah, not thinkin' so.  But he insisted and put a bite of this raw chicken in my mouth.  Oh, the horror!  I belted out "That's FISH!"  He's giving me that freak-eye...this chick is unfamiliar with tuna?  But alas, before Neil, I hated fish passionately.  Shrimp, lobster, scallops I loved...but nothing with fins.   Since we've known each other, he has coached me into tuna (I like it more cooked than he does), salmon (WITHOUT the skin), grouper, mahi, flounder and catfish.  I'm evolving.  But I'd still take grilled chicken or shrimp over fish any day!
It can't get any rarer than that folks!

That's it for my random ramblings.  At least for now. 


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Chicken Satay makes my day

It's an interesting phenomenon: I think most people are intimidated by ethnic foods.  Not about trying them, but feeling like there's no way they could make it at home.  For instance, when was the last time you walked into your neighbor's house to find her whipping up some chicken saag and naan?  I know, if you had a nickel for every time...

I am an enthusiastic ethnic eater.  I think it's because I simply have to have variety.  I can't function with a food schedule like "sandwich night" and "taco night."  We have to mix it up around here.  If you guys ever find me routinely making the same dish on the same day of the week, you can be assured I've had some kind of neurological event.  

This all brings me to Thai food; one of my favorites.  I found an awesome cookbook a few years ago.  Of course, with my sense of time, it could've been a decade ago for all I know!  It's written by a woman named Nancie McDermott.  She's lives in N.C. of all places but knows Thai cooking like a pro from the 3 years she spent there in the Peace Corps.  The cookbook is fantastic...the recipes are easy to use, easy to modify and definitely help us shake up our palates!  

Last night, I made chicken satay from her book.  I haven't made this in ages and was thinking that Vivian would like it because of the peanut sauce on the side.  Interestingly, she ate the chicken happily, but of the peanut sauce she politely stated, "I don't care for it."  I served it with simple jasmine rice and steamed green beans.  We're big on green beans at our house.  I have to have green.  Anyway, I posted a comment on Facebook about the satay and my high school friend Marie asked for the recipe.  Here's the recipe from Quick & Easy Thai, by Nancie McDermott.

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 1 lb boneless chicken breasts (I used cutlets so I didn't have to pound and trim a lot)
Combine coconut milk, fish sauce, brown sugar and curry powder in a mixing bowl or ziploc.  Slice chicken lengthwise into 1/2" strips.  Place in marinade and cover.  Refrigerate 30 min or as long as overnight.

Spicy Peanut Sauce
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 Tbs red curry or mussamun curry paste
  • 2 tsp roasted chili paste (nahm prik pao; optional)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth or water
  • 1 Tbs fish sauce
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup chunky peanut butter or very finely ground peanuts
  • 1 Tbs freshly squeezed lime juice or tamarind liquid
Bring coconut milk to a gentle boil over med-hi heat.  Add curry paste and roasted chili paste and cook 4-5 minutes, mashing and stirring to dissolve them.  Add chicken broth, fish sauce, brown sugar, peanut butter and lime juice.  Cook 1 minute more, stirring well to make a smooth sauce.  Remove from heat & set aside.  May be served warm or at room temp.  Or cover & refrigerate, reheating gently just before serving time.

Thread the chicken on bamboo skewers in an "s" pattern.  Cook on a lightly oiled grill or under the broiler, turning often, until browned and cooked through, 4-6 minutes or so.  Serve with peanut sauce.

**Disclosure:  I didn't add the red curry paste for 3 reasons.  1) I didn't have any, 2) I didn't have all the stuff needed to make it from scratch, and 3) most importantly it would be too spicy for Viv.  Same thing with the chili paste.  So, I did add some pinches of curry, ginger and cumin to the coconut milk as I cooked it** 

Monday, February 14, 2011

Loaves and Fishes Stir-Fry

My mom is quite a person.  She's smart, creative, funny, inventive and resourceful.  She's also the type that will give you the shirt off her back, literally.  No really, I've told her to put her shirt back on before.

The other day I was at mom and dad's house and casually mentioned that I needed to stop at the grocery to get some vegetables.  You guessed it, mom sprung into action.  Now get this...she actually had matchstick carrots, asparagus, pea pods, broccoli florets, sliced mushrooms and sliced bell peppers in her fridge.  A stir-fry ready to go.  So, she offered to split it with me.  Because you know, stir-fry doesn't require a lot of any one thing, just a good variety.  It goes loaves and fishes.  
Starting with the broccoli, onion and bell peps

Adding the pork and the rest of the veggies
Then, to top it all off, she said "Oh, I also have this roasted pork loin from the other night.  Why don't you take that too?"  Can you believe this?

So, in the same spirit as my"kitchen sink" fried rice, dinner was born.  The only things I added were diced onion, I sliced the pork into strips, and stir-fried it all with a combo of Teriyaki glaze, soy sauce and garlic.  Whipped up a pot of rice and (as Vivian loves to say) Voila!

My "kitchen sink-ness" has definitely been learned from the master.  I've actually walked into my parents' house and my dad has announced, "We have to go out, there's no food here."  Mom goes into the kitchen, rifles through her freezer and pantry and an hour later dad is eating lamb chops and orzo.  I think he thinks mom is magic.  To some extent, he's right.  So, thanks to my shirt-off-the-back mom, we had a veggie packed, delicious pork stir-fry dinner.  

Finished product
Happy Valentine's Day Dottie!

Finally! A baked french toast that I like!

I used to think adult Sunday School was for lame-o socially inept oddballs.  Sorry, but it's true.  Then, I became one.  (ha ha)  My friend Jan told me about the class she attends and so I showed up.  I have a very cool Sunday School class and I thank Jan for encouraging me to get over my prejudices of adult Sunday School-goers.

The coolest component of my class is, of course, the people.  Kel and I can spontaneously quote "Silence of the Lambs" in unison.  Laurin and I go way back to high school and so far have kept most of those secrets!  My buddy Cannon keeps my brain on its "toes" so to speak and she's one heck of a blueberry picker.  The list goes on and on. Trust me, they are all cool and I consider them all very special friends. 

Another cool thing about my class is that we all like food.  We take turns bringing snacks to class.  Most of us like to cook and I think it's kind of evolving into a friendly contest to see who can wow the crowd or surprise them when we use them as guinea pigs for new recipes!  There are some awesome cooks in the Joy Class:  John and Pattie's shrimp & grits with the jalapeno sausage is a winner.  They work wonders with biscuits and gravy too.  Kristie is the baker extraordinaire.  Cannon whips up a mean grits casserole and recently Trudie brought a fantastic breakfast casserole that she cooked in a crockpot...brilliant!

So yesterday was Britt's turn and she scored about 28 thumbs up.  I've tried a few recipes for baked french toast and have never made one that was real interesting and certainly nothing to write home about.  Britt has solved that problem!  Hers looked beautiful, was delightfully cinnamon-y, and here's the real decadent had cream cheese hiding in the middle!  It was appropriate for Sunday School since everyone exclaimed something like "omg" at their first bite.  So, my friend Britt has graciously permitted me to post her recipe. She states that it's not a recipe that she created and she modestly added that she's "just good at following directions."  I think there was a little more to it than that...she added a smidge of Joy-Class-cool-adult-oddball sprinkles or something.

Britt's Baked French Toast
  • 1 loaf of good fresh bread (brioche or maybe an egg bread)
  • 2 bars cream cheese, cubed
  • 12 eggs (yep, that's a whole dozen folks)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
Tear bread into pieces. Place 1/2 of it in your baking dish (probably a 13"x9" would be best).  Top with cubes of cream cheese then the rest of the bread pieces.  Mix up the eggs, milk and syrup and pour over.  Cover & refrigerate overnight. 

In the morning, sprinkle the casserole with cinnamon then bake at 375 for about 40 minutes.  Serve and be prepared for the "omg's" and other suitable accolades!

Thanks Britt not only for feeding us yesterday but for sharing this awesome recipe with everyone.  This will be in my repertoire from here on out. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Parenting and Food

Being a parent means a lot of things but one biggie is this:  Put your money where your mouth is!  This was proven to me yet again last evening.

My whole life I've not liked tomatoes.  I order everything "no tomatoes."  I'd say I actually get it as ordered about 75% of the time.  Now, I'm ok with cooked tomatoes:  sauce, in chili, in pasta, on pizza, etc.  Just not raw.  The thought of chomping down on one of the "signature" Southern delights (white bread, mayonnaise and big slabs of tomato) just gives me the heebie-jeebies.

As I've gotten older though, I've learned like everyone else, that our tastebuds do change as we age.  I've been explaining this to Vivian pretty much as long as she's been alive.  Yesterday Vivian made me practice what I preach.  

I went to pick her up at my parents' house.  Mom had a snack plate out that consisted of blanched asparagus, celery, carrots, bell peppers, blue cheese and grape tomatoes.  So, little Vivver wanted to make me a plate.  When it came to that tomato, she said "I know you don't  like tomatoes, but I want you to just try it.  You might like it!"  Wow, that sounds like me verbatim.  I was trapped...there was no way I could get out of this one.  She used the Green Eggs and Ham maneuver on me.  So, I sucked it up and I ate that damn tomato.  To my amazement, I actually proved my own point.  It wasn't that bad. In fact, I might even try another one sometime soon.  And little Viv was beaming..."See?  I told you!"

Thank God she gave me a pass on the celery.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Greek Salad Craving

I hate to admit it, but my mind wandered today during the sermon at church. I was listening and following along but *all of a sudden* feta cheese popped into my mind.  This of course led to olives, peppers, lettuce.  Oh no...I'm dreaming of a Greek salad during church. I'm pretty sure there's no specific commandment in the Bible like "Thou shall not daydream about Greek food in the Temple" but it's probably something God would frown upon...right?  
This is my church.  It's a beautiful building and was the 1st house of worship built in Columbia

Well, completely by accident, my mind went there.  Next, it was whirring around like the Tasmanian eyes began moving (I'm a visual person) trying to locate a Greek place anywhere near where I was headed today.  Then, inside my head, I heard a loud Hosanna!  (I was in church, you know)  I could call ahead on my way to work, pop into the Grecian Gardens and bag myself a big ol' salad to go.  Yes, it's a plan.  That is what I'll do.  Wait, who's that talking?  Oh yeah, I'm in's the minister.  I'm back, I'm listening, I'm back from mental vacation.

Here's the thing.  In some ways, I've become kind of cynical about restaurants.  You ask for something in most places and you have a teenager screw up their face, pop their hip out to the side and say,  "Oooh,  we HAVE TO charge extra for that."  This amuses me on a couple levels.  I love the concept of having to charge extra to satisfy your customer. Who made this rule and who enforces it? "You have to charge them more.  I command it.  I will strike you with furious anger if you give them anything!"  The other thing that's so funny about it is people like my Mom.  She loves this comment.  She then replies with something like "I have money.  This is my order.  I can pay for it." No one in my family is going to walk away bickering over $.75 but it's ridiculous that a restaurant owner would even risk losing any customer over such a pittance.  

Anyway, I called Grecian Gardens today from the car.  A very pleasant young man answered.  I said, "Hi.  I'd like to place a pick-up order.  I'd like a small Greek salad, with no tomato, and I'd like some extra feta."  (Disclosure:  I know from years of experience that you can ask for extra anything and they may sprinkle a little on top or ignore you altogether.  But, every now and then, someone surprises you and does what you ask)  There was no further discussion other than him asking me my name.  No charging extra dialogue...just "thank you very much, it'll be ready in 10 minutes."

So, when I got to the office and opened up my salad box, I was delighted at what I found.  It was a big, beautiful Greek salad with FIVE olives, FIVE pepperoncini (the small tender kind that I love), no tomatoes (so many people in restaurant kitchens apparently think I'm just joking when I say no tomato, so they give it to me anyway) and...get this...not an extra sprinkle of feta on top.  NO, NO...they gave me a container of extra feta!  Can this be happening?  And, I'd forgotten that Grecian Gardens does this, but there was also one of their signature small round loaves of homemade bread!  This salad was shaping up into a true event.  

So, as guilty as I felt about conjuring up the idea of ordering this yummy pile of deliciousness during church, I quickly got over it.  Clearly, there was a plan for me today.  Have a perfect salad, done the way I like it, and a little bit of culinary joy on this fine Sunday!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Men and Food

My sister and I share some food "hates."  It's kind of weird. Could taste be genetic?  My knowledge of biology tells me no, but it makes me kinda wonder.

We loathe:
hard-boiled eggs
meat with bones in it
meat with fat on it

So, imagine my amusement to receive this email from her today...enjoy!

If I were to write a food blog, it would include the comment I got last night during dinner.  I was being lazy and decided to thaw out some frozen chili for dinner.  My guilt made me decide to make a great salad.  So, I reached to the back corners of the cabinets and pulled out hearts of palm, garbanzos etc to really make a “Salad deluxe” to go with it.  I also boiled an egg for the salad while the chili thawed.  So the comment I got about dinner...WOW you even boiled an egg.  Not impressed with heart of palm but a hard boiled that’s impressive!  I have to remember how easily impressed they are when I am stressing about what to make.  

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Maple-Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

Sometimes my sense of time, or really lack of sense of time, amazes me.  I have recipes all over the place.  Loose ones are on top of my microwave, some are stuck in my "staple" cookbooks, many are in my Master Cook software program and some are in my head.  This afternoon I was contemplating dinner and remembered a "couple of years ago" my sister sent me an email about the "best pork tenderloin she's ever made."  It lives on top of the microwave.  I've never made it, but it's been on top of that microwave for whenever the big day arrived for me to actually bust a move and make it.  Well, today was the day.

Here's the sad part.  At the table, I told Neil that I'd gotten this from K a couple years ago, but hadn't gotten around to it.  As I sit here typing to you friends, I look at the email that I printed oh-so-long-ago only to discover that Katherine sent this to me on September 17, 2005 I am ridiculous. Almost 5 years ago?  Clearly, I understated...I don't even know what having a sense of time entails.  I'm embarrassed, but alas, I will press on with my life.

So here's the deal.  It is a Weight Watchers recipe that came from their online WW program in 2005. Is it still there today?  Who the heck knows.  It's entitled Maple Balsamic Pork Tenderloin and the point value is 4.  Finally got it on the plate Chez Akre tonight and I'm glad I did!  I served it to the Vivver minus sauce because I've just conceded that she's not always ready for my accoutrements.  Result?  She loved it.  Especially once I told her it had maple syrup in it.  Neil?  Well, he gave me one of his complimentary responses that involves him eating the design off the plate.  (That's a good thing in Neil-speak.)  I loved it myself.  It was fast and easy, healthy and highly flavorful.  I recommend it, therefore I will share it with you.

  • 1 1/2 lb pork tenderloin
  • 1/2 cup Maple-Balsamic dressing (below)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
Slice tenderloin lengthwise, cutting to but not through, the other side.  Open up like a book, laying it flat.  Place in a large ziploc bag.  Add 1/2 cup dressing. Seal and shake to coat the meat.  Refrigerate anywhere from 20 minutes to 8 hours.  Prepare the grill to medium high.  Remove the tenderloin from marinade and sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Grill 8 minutes per side or until thermometer registers 155 degrees.  Remove from the grill and let rest 5 minutes.  Slice across the grain into thin slices and drizzle with the reduced sauce *See these instructions below*'s resting!

  • 1/2 cup V8 (I had none, so I pureed some canned diced tomatoes and added a little water to thin)
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp rosemary
  • 2 tsp Dijon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 Tbs olive oil
Combine all ingredients except oil. Gradually whisk in the olive oil to emulsify.  While the pork is on the grill, place remaining dressing in a saucepan and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until it becomes syrupy.  Use as a drizzle for the meat.

A little drizzle of sauce and joined by friends brown rice & steamed green beans

Give it a whirl...I think you'll like it.  If you think it might take you 5 years to get around to it (like me) then print this, stick it on top of your microwave and pull it out every now and then to remind yourself it's there!  Whenever you actually do make it, I wish you Bon Appetit! 


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