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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pork tenderloin pan roasted

On working days I still try to cook a decent dinner - usually something that takes less than an hour of cooking so I can stay in the studio longer.

Last night I made a pan roasted pork tenderloin - easy, and delicious - definitely a keeper recipe. I served it with corn, and roasted un-skinned red potato chunks (cut about 1" thick) lightly coated with olive oil, sprinkled with salt,a touch of cayenne pepper and fresh slices of garlic, and roasted at 400F for about 30-40 minutes.

Here's the Pork tenderloin recipe:


2 lb. pork tenderloin
1 T butter
1 T oil
2 Sprigs of fresh thyme
2 peeled, sliced garlic cloves
1/4 c. chopped shallots
Salt & pepper to taste
1/3 c. red wine
1 -2 tsp butter

1. Wash pork under cold running water; dry with paper towels.

2. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil in skillet over medium heat.

3. Turn to medium high and when the butter foams, add the tenderloin and brown on all sides.

4. Lower heat to medium, add the thyme and garlic, and cook till the garlic is a pale tan color (only a minute or so depending on how thin you sliced the garlic. Don't brown it.)

5. Add the chopped shallots, salt and pepper and stir about a minute.

6. Turn heat to high and add 1/3 cup red wine and stir to scrape up any of the browned bits.

7. Lower the heat to low, cover and cook about 40-45 minutes till it registers about 145-150 on a meat thermometer. (You can cook it to a higher temperature if you don't like your pork pink).

8. When done, remove tenderloin to a cutting board and tent it lightly with some silver foil and let it sit 5-10 minutes to let the juices settle in.

9. Meantime, skim any fat from remaining sauce, add a couple of tablespoons of water and cook a bit to thicken it into a light, thin, sauce texture. Then strain it, pressing hard to get all the juice out, and return the sauce to the pan, and swirl in the butter till it melts. Keep the sauce warm on the lowest setting while you slice the meat, then serve the tenderloin slices with a bit of the wine sauce poured over.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Bucatini all' Amatriciana

Yesterday I was going to make a Lidia Bastianich Bucatini recipe, but to make a long story short, I realized quickly that the dish had very little to recommend it other than way too much heat, so I quickly changed gears after doing a lot of the pre prep, and combined parts of that recipe with another bucatini recipe. It turned out great - a definite keeper. Here's my version of the revamped recipe is you want to try it.

Bucatini all' Amatriciana Serves 4

1lb bucatini pasta (or thick spaghetti)
2 cups of canned plum tomatoes, chopped
1 cup of thick sliced bacon, cubed
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (I added some pepperonic paste from the first recipe, so the pepper flakes should approximate the same amount of heat. You can add a bit less or more of the pepper flakes to suit your own heat taste).
1/2 cup fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Salt to taste

3/4 cup of toasted, fresh bread crumbs from day old country bread.

Preheat the oven to 350F and coarsely grate the day old bread. Spread the crumbs thinly on a raised cookie sheet and bake them, stirring a couple of times till they’re toasted (about 8 minutes). Set aside.

Saute the bacon till light brown, (leave the bacon fat in the pan) then add onion and saute till onion is transparent and bacon a bit browner, and add the garlic a saute that with the bacon and onion for about a minute or two. Remove and discard the garlic as soon as it begins to brown, add the hot pepper flakes and the drained, chopped tomatoes.

Add salt to taste and cook over a medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring to prevent sticking, and adding some water if it thickens too much.

Cook the bucatini pasta until al dente in boiling salted water, drain and add to the pan with the sauce. Add the toasted bread crumbs and toss. Remove the pan from the heat and put on serving plates and sprinkle some of the grated cheese over and pass the rest.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Muscat de Provence squash

The garden is quieting down but still supplying us with some of the late planted pole and bush beans. I checked the three Muscat de Provence squashes and they're part green, part orange, so I think they'll be ready to harvest right after the first  good frost, which will harden them off and guarantee their longer storage.

This is my first time growing this squash. Our daughter, who lives in Germany, buys these to make her pumpkin cake and squash soup. I'm eager to try those recipes as well as a pumpkin pie as soon as they're ready.

My chile and other peppers and some tomatoes are still producing, although I've been covering some of the peppers with remay, and have moved the potted ones indoors for the night. Fortunately we had a freeze scare, but came out of that without getting touched and now we're in a warm spell and it looks like there's no threat of frost of freezing for the rest of this week.  Guess I'll be picking more beans, tomatoes and peppers for a while.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pasta Puttanesca

Menu choices on working days have to be pretty simple. And since yesterday was a full studio day in my pottery, last night I made pasta Puttanesca. This delicious savory dish was known as whores pasta because the ladies of the evening could cook up a tasy, quick dish that didn't take too much time away from their business. Here's the recipe I use. The one exception was that I used our own cherry tomatoes which are very abundant right now.

Pasta Puttanesca
  • 1 pound dried spaghetti, spaghettini, or linguine fini
  • 5 garlic cloves, forced through a garlic press
  • 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes in juice (preferably San Marzanos)that you've pureed in a blender or food processor
  • 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons drained and rinsed capers
  • Pinch of sugar (optional)
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped basil
Have all your ingredients measured and ready to use.
Cook spaghetti in a pasta in salted, rapidly boiling water until barely al dente (about 7-8 minutes).
While pasta is cooking s, cook garlic, anchovy paste, red-pepper flakes, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper in oil in a preheated 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and pale golden, about a minute.
Add tomato purée to garlic oil along with olives and capers and simmer, stirring occasionally, until pasta is ready. Add a tiny bit of sugar if needed or desired.
Drain pasta and add to sauce. Simmer, turning pasta with tongs, until pasta is al dente, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with the chopped basil.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Thai cucumber salad and Kosher dill pickle recipes

I was very busy in the garden a couple  days ago - picking a lot of veggies and getting them prepped and stored, in some cases and having some ready to use in recipes. Last night I made nachos using a lot of  the tomatoes and serrano chile peppers and today I'm making a green bean bisque recipe I found on the Internet. It's sounds good - rich, and spicy with a topping of fresh halved cherry tomatoes and shredded Jack cheese.

One of the readers of my Shambhala Pottery blog asked me to post these recipes which I mentioned in that blog a few days ago, so here they are. The Thais cucumber salad is a very refreshing recipe and even people who don't usually like the sour cream, dill cucumber salad, like my husband,for one love this!

Thai cucumber salad Serves 4

2 cucumbers peeled and sliced thinly
4 T sugar
2 T rice wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
4 T water
Pinch of Red Pepper flakes or to taste
1/4 cup red onion (halve or quarter the onion and slice very thinly)
1/4 cup fresh mint roughly chopped (or to taste. I used only a tiny bit)
Optional: 1/4 cup fresh cilantro roughly chopped

Combine all ingredients except the cucumbers and mix well to dissolve the sugar. Add the sliced cucumbers and lightly toss. (Best made a bit ahead a half hour or more, and refrigerated to develop more flavor .

PS: I omitted the onion and cilantro since all of mine has gonet to seed and it was fine without it.

Kosher dill pickles (These are delicious and easy to make. They taste just like the pickles I remember from the lower easy side of Manhattan, that the pickle man sold out of huge wooden barrels. They were a nickel for a huge pickle and he wrapped them in white paper. It was almost a lunch for a child!)

4 quarts (scant 4) of water
6 tablespoons coarse Kosher white salt
18-20 pickling cucumbers, scrubbed well
8 cloves garlic, un-peeled and lightly-crushed
2 tablespoons pickling spice 
6 bay leaves
1 large bunch of dill, preferably going to seed, washed (If you can't get it, use fresh dill leaves and add some dill seed which you can find in the spice section of the grocery store).

1. In a large pot, bring 1 qt (1l) water to a boil with the salt, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Remove from heat and add the remaining water.

2. Prepare three 1 quart wide jars by running them through the dishwasher or hand washing and then filling them with boiling water, then dumping it out..(I found that with the jars packed full of cucumbers, I had plenty of the brine leftover for a few more jars. So if you have an abundance of pickling cucumbers you might want to have more jars and spices ready)

3. Pack the cucumbers vertically into the jars, making sure they’re tightly-packed. As you fill the jars, divide the garlic, spices, bay leaves, and dill amongst them.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Morning chores and bruschetta

This morning I picked a bunch of cherry tomatoes for a friend. There's a great abundance of them this year, thanks to a lot of volunteer plants that I just let do their thing.  Since it was cool, and I had some time, I also did some weeding.

I think when we get back from our waffle breakfast with friends, I'll pick enough of those cherry tomatoes for us to use bruschetta for lunch.

Basically, I cut the cherry or other tomatoes into small chunks and mix them with some salt, pepper, a touch of red wine or balsamic vinegar, chopped fresh basil leaves, and thin shavings of parmesan reggiano cheese. If you like you can also put in a tiny bit of crushed garlic. I serve this on top of a good quality Italian, or sourdough bread, cut about 1/2" thick, rubbed with olive oil and toasted on both side under the broiler. You can also rub the bread with a split garlic clove before or after you apply the olive oil, if you want a more subtle addition of garlic to the bruschetta. It's so simple, healthy and delicious!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Stuffed cabbage dinner with friends

I've been doing food prep and cooking most of the day and I'm wiped; but the watermelon is cut and the dressing is made for the arugula salad, and the stuffed cabbage is all made and in the fridge, ready to cook later this afternoon. Dessert, at Jim's request, is just going to be some vanilla ice cream with two liqueur options - banana or caramel, or a non alcoholic Bailey's Irish Cream syrup. I'll suggest that they they choose either the caramel or the Baileys and save the banana for sipping after dessert. Banana liqueur is lovely after dinner and it's a good digestive.

I forgot just how much time stuffed cabbage takes, especially when you mess up the recipe, add double the salt and have to send husband to the store for another pound of ground beef, which means getting more onion grated, more rice measured, another egg beaten, etc, and twice as many cabbage rolls to stuff and wrap.  It was a good thing I had a huge head of Savoy cabbage. So now I have stuffed cabbage for 12 instead of 6. 

After breakfast I got some weeding time in the garden, which I probably should have skipped today; but I find it hard to walk past a weed and not bend down and extricate it from it comfy abode; but the problem is I can never stop at just one.  So about a half hour later, the compost pile had a new addition, and I resumed my food prep.

The kitchen is somewhat tidied, the glasses are washed and now I'm going to see if I can get Bonnie kitty in, feed her and get a bit of rest time before getting the table set and doing the last few kitchen chores and bit of living room tidying. Days like this I wish I were twenty years younger; but I'd gladly settle for ten!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A day to sow

It's a beautiful morning, so I was able to get out before breakfast just to plant a few cauliflower seeds. This Farmer's early cauliflower says it's only 40 days to harvest, so I hope it will work OK in this heat. If not, I can plant some later in the month. I'm busy with other things till later this afternoon, so I may be able to get out again after dinner if the rain stays away, to plant a few more things.

We love Indian food and one of my favorite curries is one with  cauliflower and garbanzo beans. I think I posted the recipe on my Shambhala Pottery blog a while back and there's a search box to use to find old messages if anyone is interested in trying it

I got my dried onions in a basket and now have to figure out the coolest driest place to put them. The basement may be too damp; but it is the coolest place in the house. The garage is another possibility, as long as I'm not firing my big soda kiln.

Friends are coming over for a stuffed cabbage dinner tomorrow, so I got a head start this morning and got the baby potatoes well scrubbed, and the green beans trimmed and washed. And since my dining room looked a lot like a seed store with seeds boxes spread out all over the table, I figured it was time to put most of the boxes away and only keep out those things that I'll be planting.

I checked the moon signs and it's now time (waxing moon), to plant above ground crops, so in the next couple of days I'll be planting more  things like arugula, escarole, etc. All my seedling that I planted a week or so ago are well up. I guess they really loved this heat. The bush beans are already up about 4", so I put down more bloodmeal to discourage the nightly bunnies.

When I was putting more of the bloodmeal near the corn yesterday afternoon, I saw why I'm not getting a lot of zucchinis - some critter is eating the young ones on the vine and just leaving a tiny piece where it's attached! Last year I found a ground hog/gopher (big guy), who had walked up the stone steps and was in one of the my stone terraces where I grow most of our vegetables, helping himself to dinner; and I suspect he is the current offending party. I just hope he leaves me one out of 3 zucchinis, which would be plenty for us.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Since the garden seems to be all consuming at the moment, I decided to create this new blog to report on the garden and kitchen activities this time of the year.

Right now the garden is becoming very abundant with produce that has to be harvested and dealt with on a daily basis. This past week I've been mainly harvesting bush and pole beans, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes,onions, swiss chard, zucchini, yellow summer squash and potatoes for eating, processing and  drying for storage. And of course, there's the never ending weeding and other garden maintenance. After a very long, tiring day in the kitchen and garden yesterday, with computer cleanup up being my only sit down, rest time, my old, aching body is screaming for a day off today, for which I am more than happy to oblige!

One activity I may tear myself away from the sofa for, other than making dinner, may be to get out my deer, bunny repellant spray. Some critters have gotten into my small corn patch, so this is the last year I'm going to try to grow corn in these mountains. There are way too many critters who enjoy helping themselves to this crop, so next year that spot will be devoted to other less delectable veggies that may not have such a great appeal to the deer, ground hog, raccoon, bunny, possum, and other  denizens of the forest.

I've been sprinkling blood meal which is usually a good, temporary repellant for the rabbits and deer, as well as it's usefulness as an organic fertilizer, at least till it rains at which time it has to be re-applied. But either the deer have gotten used to it, or it's a raccoon who isn't deterred by the blood meal, who's the culprit, so I'll try the spray and see if that will do the trick.

I have a compost pile behind my pottery gallery, which is regularly visited by our resident mink, one of the neighbors dogs (both of whom we caught red handed), and I suspect the racoons and possums. I don't cover over the newly dumped kitchen waste on a daily basis, which gives them a chance to munch and maybe leave the garden alone.