PORK MEDALLIONS WITH BLACKBERRY COMPOTE

Sounds pretty fancy, doesn’t it? But this was our dinner on a humble Wednesday night, which would make it appropriate for a “Celebrate Wednesday” post. It’s been a long while,  I confess I totally forgot about my own blog feature. The pork was prepared sous-vide, but of course you can use any method you prefer. I love the sous-vide path because it results in perfect texture and gives me a lot of flexibility in timing.  In the case of medallions, after cooking them whole in the water bath I slice and sear them briefly on a screaming hot non-stick pan with ridges, but you can also use a grill. On weeknights I am all for convenience and prefer not to wait for the grill to heat up.  Your call.

pork-tenderloin

PORK MEDALLIONS WITH BLACKBERRY COMPOTE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)
(sous-vide or regular cooking)

1 pork tenderloin, trimmed, silver skin removed
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1 tablespoon butter
lemon juice
for the compote:
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups blackberries
1 teaspoon arrowroot powder
2 teaspoons lemon juice
zest of 1/2 lemon
pinch of cardamon
pinch of salt

Season the pork with salt, rub the ginger all over, squirt a little lemon juice. Place it in a vacuum sealable bag, add the butter on top and seal the bag. Cook sous-vide at 140 to 145 F for 3 to 6 hours. When it’s time to serve, cut the pork in medallions and sear each slice on a screaming hot pan, preferably non-stick with ridges.  You can also sear it on a grill.  If you don’t have a sous-vide gadget, sear the pork after seasoning on a skillet with a mixture of butter and olive oil, then place in a 400 F oven until done to your liking.  Cut in slices and proceed with the recipe.

Make the compote. In a saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. In a medium bowl, toss the berries with the arrowroot powder, then add the berries, lemon juice, cardamon, and salt to the pan. Cook over low heat until the berries soften and the liquid seems a bit thick and syrupy, about 15 minutes, stirring every once in a while.

Spoon the compote, either warm or room temperature over the seared pork slices, and serve right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Pairing pork with fruit works very well for my taste.  Phil goes along for the ride, but I suppose he is not as into it as I am. I debated whether to process the fruit to make more of a sauce, but for the sake of speed and simplicity, I served it with blackberries still intact, although ready to melt in the mouth. The compote was still warm when I spooned over the meat, next day for my lunch I barely killed the cold from the fridge with a quick microwave step. Even at room temperature it does its job well.   Mashed cauliflower and green beans with almonds tied up our dinner. Interestingly,  this meal took me back to a dinner in Germany a looong time ago with my first husband and his family. That evening I had venison with blackberry sauce, and it stayed in my memory as one amazing meal.  I could not participate of their lively conversation in German, so maybe that made it for an even more intense gastronomic experience, all my senses converged to taste and smell…  Gotta dance to the music. Always.

😉

pork-medallions-with-blackberry-compote

 

 

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ONE YEAR AGO: Indian-Spiced Chicken with Chickpeas and Spinach

TWO YEARS AGO: Curry Cardamon Cookies

THREE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, March 2014

FOUR YEARS AGOBoeuf Bourguignon for a Snowy Evening

FIVE YEARS AGO: Chickpea Salad

SIX YEARS AGO: Soft Spot for Chevre

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Roasted Onion and Asiago Cheese Miche

CELEBRATE WEDNESDAY WITH PROSCIUTTO-WRAPPED SHRIMP SKEWERS

This is one of those super simple recipes that deliver a ton of flavor, turning a mid-week dinner into a special event.  Since seafood in general doesn’t need to be marinated for a long time, you can do the whole prep after arriving home from work.  But, if you want to make things even easier, make the marinade, clean the shrimp early in the morning, and keep both items in the fridge until showtime.  Since we have the luxury of coming home for lunch every day, that’s when I normally get this type of prep work done.  A small investment of time at noon, and voilà: painless dinner later in the evening.

ProsciuttoShrimp (Cooked: June 4th – Blogged  Oct 1st)

PROSCIUTTO-WRAPPED SHRIMP SKEWERS
(slightly adapted from a recipe by Rachael Ray)

3 tablespoons olive oil
4 scallions, white parts finely chopped and green parts thinly sliced on an angle, divided
1 teaspoon Hungarian red pepper (or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 jumbo shrimp, tails on and deveined
12 slices prosciutto

Combine the olive oil, scallion whites, red pepper and lemon juice in a medium size bowl. Season the shrimp lightly with salt and pepper, add to the marinade.  Toss to coat, and leave for 30 minutes in the fridge. Wrap each shrimp with a slice of prosciutto and thread onto a metal skewer. If using wood skewers, soak them in water for a few hours.

Grill the shrimp until firm and opaque, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a serving plate and decorate with sliced scallions, if you like.  I had some fennel fronds in the fridge, that’s what I added.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

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Comments:  The Hungarian pepper I used for this marinade was a gift I mentioned in this post. I love its complex flavor and mild level of heat.  I searched and it is available on amazon.com, but the price made me hyperventilate a little.  Lucky me, I do have very nice friends… Red pepper flakes (or fresh Fresno peppers) can be used instead, of course.

My package of prosciutto came with only 10 slices, so some of the shrimp (I actually cooked 14) went to the grill naked. They did not seem to mind, and we definitely did not mind either.  I grilled those for about 30 seconds less on each side. I also like to use a double skewer, a trick that prevents the shrimp from spinning around and makes flipping a lot easier.

Most recipes would call for bacon instead of prosciutto, but I don’t quite get that.  By the time the bacon is properly cooked, seafood will be severely over-done.  I find that prosciutto works much better, as all you need is to get some grill marks on it, so the timing can agree with the seafood wrapped inside it. Alternatively, if you prefer the flavor of bacon, you can pre-cook before wrapping delicate seafood with it. Check Melissa’s method with a click here.

Our dinner that evening was a nice take on surf-and-turf…  Juicy shrimp, and deliciously grilled hanger steak. Light, flavorful, and a breeze to prepare!  Cannot beat that.

ShrimpDetail

ONE YEAR AGO: Linguine with Cauliflower Pesto

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THREE YEARS AGO: Nutella Drop Cookies

FOUR YEARS AGO:  Dreaming of butternut squash

FIVE YEARS AGO: Simply Elegant: Salmon Curry (one of my very favorite dishes!)

CELEBRATE WEDNESDAY WITH HOISIN-GRILLED CHICKEN & SOBA NOODLES

hoisin222
I adore soba noodles. Whenever I serve them, the meal feels special to me.  For this dinner, I used green tea soba noodles, immediately kicking things up a notch (remember Emeril from the old days of FoodTV?).  Green tea soba has a nice color that fades just a little during cooking. Of course, you can use any type of noodles, including whole-wheat, if soba is not available where you live.  The whole menu came from the latest Cooking Light issue, which is full of great recipes, by the way.  The hardest part of the preparation was cutting the sugar snap peas, but other than that, very fast from beginning to end, making it ideal to celebrate that evening still a bit far from the joys of the weekend…  😉

HOISIN-GRILLED CHICKEN WITH SOBA NOODLES
(adapted from Cooking Light June 2013)

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 + 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
3  skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
salt
green tea soba noodles (or regular soba)
1 + 1/2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed and halved diagonally
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
toasted sesame seeds to taste
sliced green onions, to taste

Combine hoisin, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and five-spice powder in a large bowl.  Add chicken; toss to coat.  Grill for 10 minutes or until done, flipping the pieces half-way through cooking time.  Remove from the grill, let it stand for 5 minutes tented with aluminum foil.  Thinly slice across the grain.

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil.  Prepare the dressing for the noodles by mixing rice vinegar, sesame oil,  soy sauce, and Sriracha in a small bowl. Reserve.

Add noodles to the boiling water; cook for about 4 minutes.  Add peas; cook 1 minute or until noodles are tender. Drain. Add reserved dressing to the noodles & peas mixture.  Toss to coat. Arrange noodles on a serving plate,  top with chicken slices.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions right before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

ingredients
Comments:  The recipe calls for cooking the sugar snap peas in the same pot with the noodles.  It is a nice thought to simplify things and avoid having two pots of water boiling, but next time I will cook them separately. It will be easier to assemble the dish, tossing noodles with dressing, then adding the snap peas and mixing them gently.   I like sugar snap peas barely cooked, almost blanched, to retain their bright color and bite.   Leftovers next day  were still very tasty, but just a minute in the microwave turned the peas into a sad dark green, dangerously pointing towards the gray.  Delicate creatures they are!

I served cucumber salad as a side dish, as suggested in Cooking Light. The recipe is on the link I provided.  You may notice I omitted the peanuts.  Cucumbers have been a constant side dish these days. They are simply perfect for this weather.  😉

served2

ONE YEAR AGO: The Manhattan Project

TWO YEARS AGO: Carrot “Nib” Orzo

THREE YEARS AGOA Sticky Situation

FOUR YEARS AGO:  The Garden

CELEBRATE WEDNESDAY WITH PASTA AND MUSSELS IN SAFFRON BROTH

For some reason I had “issues” about cooking mussels at home. Maybe that whole de-bearding thing sounded too wild for my delicate self.  😉  But we love mussels and it’s  sad to only have them in restaurants, or even worse, only when we go to Paris and visit one of those widespread “Leon de Bruxelles” places.  Anyway, our grocery store in the Little Apple carries farmed mussels. They have no beard to worry about. Therefore, most of the cleaning process is done. They cook quickly, and certainly make a humble plate of pasta (and a rainy Wednesday evening) shine…

served1

PASTA WITH MUSSELS IN SAFFRON SAUCE
(adapted from Food and Wine magazine)

2 cups dry white wine
4 bay leaves
4 pounds small mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
Pinch of saffron threads
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
linguine
Salt and freshly ground pepper
minced parsley, to taste

In a large pot, combine the wine with the bay leaves and bring to a boil. Add the mussels, cover and cook over high heat, shaking the pan a few times, until the mussels open, about 5 minutes. Drain the mussels in a colander set over a medium bowl. Pour the mussel broth into a glass measure. Crumble the saffron into the hot mussel broth. Reserve.

Discard any unopened mussels. Remove the mussels from their shells and place in a separate bowl. Pour the melted butter over the mussels and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the thinly sliced garlic and cook over low heat just it gets some color. If you prefer, remove the garlic, if not, leave it in, and add the crushed red pepper, cooking together for one minute.   Slowly pour in the reserved mussel broth, stopping when you reach the grit at the bottom of the glass measure. Add the lemon juice and simmer over moderately high heat until the sauce is reduced to about 1 cup, about 8 minutes.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta just until al dente. Drain the pasta well. Add the buttered mussels and the hot spaghetti to the mussel sauce and toss over low heat until the pasta is uniformly coated. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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Comments:  Glad to inform my fear of mussels is a thing of the past.  I probably discarded more mussels than needed,  as I rather be safe than sorry, and was a bit insecure preparing them for the first time.  This is a delicious pasta! Of course, having great quality saffron adds a lot to it…  😉   Now that I am not afraid of cooking mussels, we will have them at our dinner table on a regular basis,  brightening up our Wednesdays, as we slowly move towards the weekend.

ONE YEAR AGO: Triple Chocolate Brownies

TWO YEARS AGO: Shanghai Soup Dumplings

THREE YEARS AGO: Bite-sized Chocolate Pleasure

CELEBRATE WEDNESDAY WITH A SEAFOOD EXTRAVAGANZA

served2Phil came up with this recipe about a year ago, and it quickly became a favorite of ours.  The idea is to go to the store and get three kinds of seafood, whatever looks best. Add to that one vegetable: we usually alternate between broccoli, broccolini (love the stuff!) and asparagus.  Lately we’ve been adding fresh shiitake mushrooms too.  This is a very healthy yet substantial meal, in which the pasta is a minor component to give us just the carbs we need.

SEAFOOD EXTRAVAGANZA PASTA
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

Pick three of the following options:
Sea scallops
Large shrimp
Salmon filets
Lobster tails
Ahi tuna filets

Choose one of these veggies:
Broccoli
Broccolini
Asparagus

Fresh shiitake mushrooms, caps only
Pasta (corkscrew, farfalle, fusilli)
A couple of lemons, juice and zest
1/4  cup + 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 Tbsp vermouth
Thyme
salt and pepper

Add the 1/4 cup olive oil to a small bowl, squeeze the juice of 1 lemon, season with salt and pepper, and add the thyme.  Whisk well to form an emulsion. Use that to brush the seafood you intend to grill.

Slice the mushroom caps very thin, cut the broccoli in florets, if using asparagus or broccolini cut them in 1 inch pieces.   Saute’ the mushrooms in 1 Tbsp olive oil, when they are almost tender season with salt and pepper and add the vermouth and lemon zest.  Cover and cook for a couple of minutes. Keep warm.  Cook the veggies either in a little salted water or by steaming.  If using broccoli, shock them in cold water to keep the bright green color. Reserve.

Start grilling the seafood (salmon, lobster tail, or ahi tuna). Sautee the shrimp and scallops on 1 Tbsp olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper.  Make sure not to over-cook the scallops and saute’ them in extra-high heat to sear the surface.   Cook the pasta to have it ready once all the rest of the food is done.  Reserve some of the pasta water in case you need it.

Once the pasta is done, drain it, put it back in the pan, add the mushrooms and broccoli, mix well.  If needed, add a little of the pasta water.  Transfer to a serving bowl, and add all the seafood on top, cutting the salmon (and lobster tails, if using) in large chunks.  Keep the scallops and shrimp whole. A squeeze of lemon juice all over the serving bowl is a nice final touch.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

composite(click to enlarge)

Comments:  I won’t sugar-coat the pill, this dish requires some effort so that all ingredients are ready at the same time for the final assembly. We always like to cook salmon and lobster tail on the grill, whereas the scallops and shrimp are sautéed on the stove.  Same for veggies and mushrooms.  You get the picture.  It is much easier if you and your partner (or friend, parent, sibling, room-mate, neighbor) cook this together.  However, usually Superman Phil is adamant about doing it all by himself. I am left watching him dash through the kitchen to the grill and back, spatula in hand, kitchen towel hanging from one shoulder, pasta water furiously boiling, and the dogs hoping that with all that activity some stuff might follow the Law of Gravity all the way to the kitchen floor.  Sometimes, it does happen… But, once all is said and done, we are rewarded with a great dinner! See my plate?  I go heavy on the scallops. I am not ashamed and will fight for the biggest, juiciest ones.   😉

platedThe pasta plays a completely secondary role. This is a dish centered on seafood and supported by a nice helping of broccoli.  Squeeze some more lemon juice right before indulging… And, if that was not enough seafood for a meal, I’ll tell  you what we love to have as appetizer before this dinner. All of a sudden, Wednesday evening feels like a party!   😉
appetizer

Heaven. Pure heaven.

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TWO YEARS AGO: Ming Tsai Under Pressure

THREE YEARS AGO: Paris, Je t’aime

CELEBRATE WEDNESDAY WITH HOMEMADE CALZONES!

baked111Do you think it would be too hard to enjoy calzones made from scratch right in the middle of the week?  Trust me, it is doable with just a little bit of advance prep.  First, the day before (or early in the morning), make your favorite pizza dough.  Place it in the fridge.  Also the day before, prepare the fillings, and reserve in the fridge, right next to the dough.  When you arrive home from work,  take the dough off the fridge and let it warm a little as you heat the oven.   Roll the dough out, add the filling, close the calzone, and bake!
ingredients

SPICY CHORIZO CALZONES
(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

1 recipe for pizza dough (click here for my favorite)
3 chorizo sausages, casings removed
1 can (14.5 oz) diced fire roasted tomatoes
1/2 Tbs olive oil
1 box (10 oz)  frozen spinach, defrosted, squeezed dry
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg
salt and pepper
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
egg wash (1 egg beaten with a little water)
homemade tomato sauce to serve alongside (optional)

Prepare the dough the day before or early in the morning.  Place it in the fridge until dinner time.   Make the filling:  heat the olive oil, and add the chorizo sausage, crumbling it into pieces. Saute the sausage until it starts to get browned, drain the diced tomatoes, and add to the sausage.   Reduce the heat, cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes.  Let it cool, and place in the fridge.

Remove the dough from the fridge, cut it in four pieces, and turn the oven at 400 F.  Squeeze as much water as you can from the spinach, add it to ricotta cheese, season with salt and pepper, add the egg and mix.

Roll out each ball of dough to a 7-inch diameter round.  Add a little bit of sausage mixture, the ricotta/spinach, and grated mozzarella.   Fold the dough over,  pinch the edges to seal, brush the surface with egg wash. Cut three slits with a sharp knife, place it in the oven.  Bake for  25 minutes until golden brown.   Serve with tomato sauce and a salad, and you are all set!

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

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These will turn any dinner into something special and festive, and they are sooo easy to make!  I used a very spicy chorizo, but the ricotta mellowed it down quite a bit. Sometimes I do not add any egg to the ricotta, but in this version I did, to make sure the filling would have a bit more body. If the filling is too liquid, the bottom of the calzone might get soggy.  Of course, this is a perfect recipe to improvise, coming up with different ingredients: sautéed mushrooms, black olives, a little Gorgonzola cheese, artichoke hearts, anything goes!

doublet111I like my calzones either plain, or with a little bit of tomato sauce, but others are known to go for the kill… 😉

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting

ONE YEAR AGO: Plum-Glazed Duck Breasts

TWO YEARS AGO: Holiday Double-Decker

THREE YEARS AGO: New York Deli Rye

CELEBRATE WEDNESDAY WITH A SEAFOOD CURRY

I honestly could not remember when was the last time I made a special midweek dinner for us. It seemed like ages, so I browsed the blog and there it was:  May 3rd.  Four  months ago.  Four hectic months.  Slowly we begin to adjust to a new routine, but there’s no doubt that my cooking suffered quite a bit.  Lack of energy, the feeling of being always short on time and exhausted, it all took a toll on me.  But, it’s about time to shake things up a little. This was simple enough to prepare after work, and delivered all that I expected to make that evening – a prisoner in the middle of a busy week – feel very special!

THAI SEAFOOD CURRY
(adapted from Bon Appetit Everyday Meals)

3 large limes
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 large red bell pepper, cut in small dice
1 + 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons Thai green curry paste
1 can (about 14 oz) light unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon fish sauce
10 ounces cod fillets, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
12 peeled large shrimp
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

Finely grate enough peel from 2 limes to measure 1 + 1/2 teaspoons. Squeeze enough juice from 2 limes to measure 2 tablespoons. Cut third lime into wedges, and reserve for serving.

Heat vegetable oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the  shallots, bell pepper, and minced ginger; sauté until shallots and peppers soften up slightly, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.   Stir in curry paste, coconut milk, fish sauce,  lime peel, and 2 tablespoons lime juice. Simmer gently, for a few minutes. Sprinkle fish and shrimp with salt and pepper. Add fish and shrimp to curry sauce. Return to very gentle simmer and cook just until fish and shrimp are opaque in center, 5 to 6 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add cilantro and basil; serve with lime wedges, over steamed white rice.  Prepare to receive high praise.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  The original recipe used halibut, but I substituted cod because our grocery store had gorgeous looking cod that day, whereas the halibut seemed a bit sad (or, to quote a favorite French expression of mine: pas fameux ;-)).  My other modification was to use green curry paste instead of red, because that’s what I had in my pantry.  As to coconut milk, I almost always use light because it works well for this type of recipe. It is slightly less dense, but feels rich and flavorful enough, with the added bonus of lower fat content.

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