Trouble With Toast

Recipe: Orange-Cumin Glazed Pork Tenderloin

September 29, 2010
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Here’s another recipe I tried from The Athlete’s Palate – this one courtesy of Ivy Stark, executive chef at New York’s Dos Caminos restaurant.  Apparently, Chef Stark was a competitive figure skater in her youth, and that fuels her desire to create healthy, delicious dishes.

Pork tenderloin, of course, is another great source of lean protein (and a lovely alternative when you just can’t eat any more chicken).  Everyone knows the nutritional benefits of oranges, but did you also know that cumin is a good source of iron AND an excellent digestive aid?  We’re all about education here at TWT.

The pork in this dish was really tender and flavorful, and I wished I had some rice or bread to soak up the extra sauce.  In terms of side dishes, the table was split on the onion-orange salad – I really enjoyed it and thought it was a great foil to the spicy meat, but my companions felt that it was way too strong (neither of them are huge cilantro fans, which is probably the issue).  Whatever you serve with it, this pork is easy enough to throw together on a busy weeknight, especially if you marinate it in advance.  Enjoy!

  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1-2 canned chilis in adobo
  • Peel from one orange
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 pork tenderloins (1.5 pounds)
  • 2 oranges, segmented (about 2 cups)
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped (about 1/2-3/4 cup)
  • Salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine orange juice, chipotles, orange peel, cumin seeds, and salt in a blender.  Puree until smooth.

Place the pork tenderloins in a shallow dish and pour the orange mixture over them.  Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge at least one hour or up to overnight.  Take the tenderloins out of the marinade, and reserve the remaining marinade.

Put the reserved marinade in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until reduced by half, about 10-12 minutes.  Keep warm.

Place the meat in a shallow baking dish.  Brush with a little of the reserved marinade after 15 minutes.  Bake for a total of 20-25 minutes, or until a thermometer registers 160 degrees in the center of the meat.  Remove the meat from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Toss the orange segments, red onion, and cilantro in a small bowl with a little salt.

Slice the pork and drizzle with reduced marinade.  Serve with orange-onion mixture.


Recipe: Pancetta-Wrapped Chicken Breast with Pesto Orzo

September 27, 2010
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Happy Monday!  As some of you may know, I am less than two weeks away from running my first marathon – the Chicago Marathon on 10/10/10.  Woo hoo!  In honor of what will hopefully be my greatest athletic achievement to date, this week I’m going to share some recipes from The Athlete’s Palate Cookbook, a compilation effort from the editors of Runner’s World magazine.

The first recipe I tried was this pancetta-wrapped chicken, which was contributed by Matt Connors, a multiple marathoner and the chef and owner of the Lake House in Bay Shore, New York.  I tweaked the recipe a little – as written, it called for grilled zucchini, and I just don’t care for that particular ingredient (as you can see from the photo, I opted for peas instead).  An unintentional tweak, however, involved me completely forgetting the thyme.  I think that would have made the difference – without the herb, the chicken was tasty but a little flat.  It stayed nice and moist, though, thanks to the pancetta cover.  The pesto orzo was absolutely delicious – I wish I had tripled the recipe so I could serve it with all of my dinners that week.

Obviously, chicken is a great source of lean protein, so this is an excellent recovery meal.  Enjoy!

Pesto

  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Chicken

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
  • 16 thin slices pancetta

Orzo

  • 1 cup orzo
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

For pesto: Place all of the ingredients in a blender and pulse until smooth.

For chicken: Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Season the chicken with the salt, pepper, and thyme.  Lay the slices of pancetta overlapping each other on a sheet of plastic wrap.  Place the chicken on top at one end and roll it up in the pancetta, like a burrito.  Remove the plastic and place the roll in a lightly oiled pan.  Cook for 20-30 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest portion registers 160 degrees and the juices run clear.  Flip the roll halfway through the cooking time.  Remove from the oven and slice.

For orzo: Cook the orzo according to package directions.  Drain; toss with tomatoes and pesto.  Serve with chicken.


Top Chef D.C. sucks, but this recipe (Pasta with Braised Chicken and Saffron Cream) definitely does not

September 21, 2010
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Well, as you can see, I’m not doing a full-on recap of the Top Chef finale – mostly because the season has been so icky-poo that I just don’t care anymore, but also partially because a RESTAURANT spoiled me as to the end result.  Seriously, I had managed all day to stay away from blogs (oh, go read Jordan Baker’s recap) and newspapers and various and sundry foodie media, and I get home and start rollin’ through the ol’ Facebook feed, and the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group had a big “CONGRATULATIONS KEVIN” status update since he used to work at one of their outposts, like, a zillion years ago.  Annoying.  Anyway, I’m clearly not sad the season is over – maybe they should just scrap TC and play continuous seasons of Top Chef Masters.

Moving on…

I may not have won the title of Top Chef, but I made this awesomesauce pasta dish last week, and it was bangin’.  As I was cleaning and consolidating my spice shelf – what? – I noticed that I had some delicious saffron strands just calling out to be used.  This recipe was the perfect choice, as the slow cooking really brought out the saffron’s flavor – and, of course, it kept the chicken nice and tender and made the whole shebang ridiculously rich and tasty.

Of course, slow-cooking takes a time commitment (duh), so don’t try to throw this together on a random Tuesday night.  However, DO try it out – it was one of the few dishes EVER about which my husband had no comment other than, “Mmmm…this is really good…nom nom nom.”

  • 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 pounds chicken thighs with skin and bones
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped white onions
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
  • 2 cups (or more) low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 pound paccheri (giant rigatoni) or regular rigatoni
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) fresh lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup chopped fresh basil

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken, skin side down, to skillet and cook until golden, about 7 minutes per side.  Transfer chicken to plate.  Add onions and garlic to skillet (don’t discard chicken drippings); saute until onions are slightly softened, about 7 to 8 minutes.  Add wine and saffron to skillet and bring to a boil.  Continue to boil until liquid is thickened and reduced by less than half, about 8 minutes.  Add two cups chicken broth to skillet.  Return chicken to skillet; bring to boil.  Reduce heat to low.  Cover; simmer gently until chicken is very tender, about 1 hour total, turning chicken after 30 minutes to prevent burning.  Transfer chicken to plate and cool.

Reserve skillet with juices.  Remove skin and bones from chicken and discard.  Tear chicken meat into bite-sized pieces; place in medium bowl and reserve.

Cook pasta in pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm, stirring occasionally.  Drain; return to pot.

Meanwhile, spoon off fat from juices in skillet; discard fat.  Add cream to juices in skillet and boil until sauce is reduced to 2 1/2 cups and is thick enough to coat a spoon, about 10 minutes.  Stir in 2 tablespoons lemon juice, then chicken pieces.  Stir over medium heat until heated through, adding more broth (1/4 cup at a time) to thin sauce as needed/preferred.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add chicken mixture to pasta in pot and toss to coat.  Stir in basil.  Serve immediately.


Recipe: Jalapeno Goat Cheese Hushpuppies (and a brief TC mention)

September 15, 2010
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Okay, I just watched LAST week’s Top Chef episode, so I’m not even going to bother with any sort of recap, since you all know what happened anyway and the stupid finale is on TV tonight.  I will again refer you to Jordan Baker’s awesome recap if you are looking for humorous commentary about the show.  The best part of the episode for me?  Drooling at all of the street food and hearing my husband say, “I really want to go to Singapore.”  Yes, please, how about tomorrow?  I will call Seetoh and see if he is available.

Anywho, now that Kelly is no longer contributing her bitchitude and uber-obvious statements to the entertainment magic that is TC, we can move on to more important topics.  Like…hush puppies!  As happens sometimes, I was in the mood to deep-fry something recently, and this recipe from Bon Appetit seemed like the perfect choice.

Sadly, though, I was a little disappointed with the final product.  Yes, they fried up nicely and had good texture, and sure, any kind of fried carbohydrate is going to go over well in my household.  But in terms of flavor, these hush puppies weren’t really barking (sorry, just had to).  Perhaps an even finer chop on the jalapenos would have more evenly distributed the heat?  Perhaps some kind of additional element was needed, like onion or garlic or crushed red pepper?  I am convinced that if I play around with the recipe, I can figure out a way to make these puppies great.  To be continued…

If YOU try this recipe and figure out what’s missing, do let me know!

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons beaten egg
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped seeded jalapeño chile
  • 4 ounces coarsely crumbled soft fresh goat cheese (about 1 cup)
  • Canola oil or vegetable oil (for deep-frying)

Whisk first 6 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Whisk buttermilk, egg, and chile in small bowl to blend. Stir buttermilk mixture and cheese into dry ingredients.  Add enough oil to deep medium saucepan to reach 1 1/2 inches. Attach deep-fry thermometer to pan; heat oil to 320°F to 330°F over medium heat. Working in batches of 4 or 5, drop batter by tablespoonfuls into oil. Cook until golden, turning occasionally, about 4 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer hush puppies to paper towels.


Recipe: Blueberry-Peach Cobbler

September 7, 2010
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With the rest of the lovely Georgia peaches from Whole Foods, I made this fabulous, summery dessert (with a recipe found in Cooking Light).  This cobbler is different from many others I’ve tried, as the topping is more cake-like.  I guess it’s somewhere between a crumble/crisp topping and a biscuit topping?  Who knows – whatever it was, it was tasty.

The biggest hassle in terms of this dish is the peeling of the peaches.  When I thought about peeling five pounds of the fruit with a paring knife, I almost gave up on the idea entirely.  However, a quick internet search instructed me to quickly blanch and shock the peaches in order to remove the skins more easily.  Voila!  It worked beautifully.

One more note: definitely make the effort to find and use turbinado sugar.  It really makes a difference in the topping!  This cobbler isn’t exactly health food, but it’s a trimmed-down version of a classic that will definitely help you get your daily servings of delicious summer fruit.  Let me know what you think!

  • 5  pounds  peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced
  • 2  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 1  cup  granulated sugar, divided
  • 3/8  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 6.75  ounces  (about 1 1/2 cups) plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 1  teaspoon  baking powder
  • 1/2  cup  butter, softened
  • 2  large eggs
  • 1  teaspoon  vanilla extract
  • 3/4  cup  buttermilk
  • 2  cups  fresh blueberries
  • 2  tablespoons  turbinado sugar

Preheat oven to 375°.

Place peaches in a large bowl. Drizzle with juice; toss. Add 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoons flour to peach mixture; toss to combine. Arrange peach mixture evenly in a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Weigh or lightly spoon 6.75 ounces flour (about 1 1/2 cups) into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 6.75 ounces flour, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and baking powder in a bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Place the remaining 1/4 cup granulated sugar and butter in a medium bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla extract. Add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, beating just until combined. Stir in blueberries.

Spread batter evenly over peach mixture; sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Place baking dish on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 375° for 1 hour or until topping is golden and filling is bubbly.


Recipe: Prosciutto, Peach, and Sweet Lettuce Salad

September 6, 2010
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After eating some spectacular South Carolina peaches while vacationing in Charleston, I wasn’t sure if Georgia peaches were going to stack up.  However, on a subsequent trip to Whole Foods, Georgia peaches were on special and looking mighty fine.  I picked up a metric buttload and planned a few recipes around the sweet, summery treat.

First up was this salad, from Cooking Light magazine.  It couldn’t be simpler – if you can whisk together a dressing, you can make this dish.  With as simple as the preparation is, though, you have to make certain that you have top-notch ingredients.  I opted for fresh butter lettuce instead of the bagged mix, and I subbed goat cheese for ricotta salata because I always have it on hand.  The salad really hits every possible flavor and texture note – sweet peaches, salty sunflower seeds, crunchy lettuce, creamy goat cheese.  Even with just a small amount of prosciutto, the dish was satisfying enough to serve as a main course (and you could certainly pair it with some crusty bread for a little extra oomph).

Enjoy!

  • 2  tablespoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 2  teaspoons  honey
  • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8  teaspoon  salt
  • 2  tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1  tablespoon  finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1  (6.5-ounce) package sweet butter lettuce mix
  • 2  large ripe peaches, cut into wedges
  • 3  ounces  very thin slices prosciutto, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3  ounces  ricotta salata cheese, divided into 4 equal pieces
  • 2  tablespoons  dry-roasted sunflower seed kernels
  • Small mint leaves (optional)

Combine first 4 ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Gradually drizzle in olive oil, stirring constantly with a whisk. Stir in chopped mint.2. Combine lettuce mix and peach wedges in a large bowl. Drizzle lettuce mixture with dressing; toss gently to coat. Arrange about 2 cups salad in each of 4 bowls; top each serving with 3/4 ounce prosciutto, 1 piece of ricotta salata, and about 2 teaspoons sunflower seed kernels. Garnish with small mint leaves, if desired.


Top Chef D.C. – Episode 12

September 5, 2010
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Remember when I said I’d be back later this week with better posts?  Yeah, I lied.  Sue me.  I’m back, at least, though all you’re gonna get during a holiday weekend is a weak-ass recap of TC.  Again, sue me.

I can’t believe this episode was the last one filmed in DC.  On the one hand, it seems like they could have (and SHOULD have) done a lot more with the city and its wonderful food options.  On the other hand, I will be super glad to be finished with the lame, punny humor that has seemed to accompany every challenge.

The quickfire challenge was a tough one, where the chefs had to pick a wine and then create a dish to pair with it.  The contestants are told at the outset that the winner will be rewarded with a trip to London, and that this will be the last “high stakes” quickfire of the season.  They only have an hour, and yet Kevin inexplicably decides to do a braised pork belly (to pair with a merlot).  Not shockingly (to me, anyway), there isn’t enough time for a braised pork belly, so he has to switch gears and cook quail instead.  He does his usual “act pissy in the kitchen” routine, which hasn’t gotten any more charming.  Kelly goes for a zinfandel and a boar and blue cheese combo (icky), and Angelo picks a white wine to pair with foie gras.  Ed and Tiffany both opt for ribeye.  Angelo ends up winning the challenge, and the chefs are told that the final four will be heading to Singapore.

For the elimination challenge, the contestants head to the Goddard Space Center, where they are given their instructions by a NASA food scientist.  They are to create a delicious dish that can also be reproduced for space eatin’.  The scientist tells them to avoid too much sugar and large pieces of food, and that spicier foods work well when freeze-dried.  Off to Whole Foods!

Prep seems pretty standard, minus Tiffany realizing that she can’t use some mussels she was planning on.  The next morning, the chefs get a note from Tom stating that their ride was outside and that the winner of the challenge would be taking it home.  I was kinda hoping it would be a spaceship, but no, it’s just a dumb old Toyota Avalon.  Angelo gets in the drivers’ seat – good luck navigating the District, buddy.

Time for dinner – and Bourdain is back!!!  Buzz Aldrin is also one of the guests, along with the usual government drones.  Kelly goes first, with her halibut and artichoke number, and everyone seems to enjoy it.  The sauce would not fly (so to speak) in space, though, says the scientist.  Ed presents his Moroccan rack of lamb, and Bourdain thinks he nailed it.  Eric Ripert thinks it is too complicated, and Bourdain gives him a hard time (and calls him “the Ripper” – awesomesauce).  Kevin’s steak with fried onions (seriously, that’s all it boiled down to) is well-received, though the scientist wonders how they would keep the onions crispy in space.  Tiffany also did halibut, and again Bourdain and Ripert argue about the dish.  Finally, Angelo’s shortribs make quite the impression on Bourdain, and when Ripert starts nitpicking, Bourdain accuses him of being cynical and snarky and having a negative world view.  Oh, how the tables have turned!

At judges table, the chefs are told that they all did well and that the difference between winning and losing was very small.  The biggest complaints seem to be that Kelly’s dish was unoriginal (though perfectly executed), Kevin chose to serve sirloin, and Tiffany didn’t take the skin off her peppers.  Tiny little errors, but I suppose that’s how it works when the season is nearing its end.  Sadly, Tiffany’s errors send her packin’, which makes her sad because she was so darn close.  I am sad that she is gone, and since she was the only remotely likable contestant in the bunch, I am now perplexed as to who I want to win.

Singapore should be interesting…


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