Archive for January, 2009

Pork Tenderloin with Mustard and White Wine Cream Sauce

When I cook pork, it’s almost always pork tenderloin.  I just love the way it melts in your mouth when it’s cooked correctly.  I almost always pick some up whenever it’s on sale.  This recipe is one that I created through trial and error.  As you will probably see, I am a big proponent of pan sauces.  I’ve already done one recipe with pork tenderloin, but this is another great one that requires much less prep work.  I remember my parents making a similar recipe from Gourmet magazine when I was younger, and I tried it again once I started cooking.  I found that the Gourmet recipe left a lot to be desired.  Since I found an awesome way to cook pork tenderloin in Cook’s Illustrated, I decided to try and adapt that cooking method with my own pan sauce.  Basically you brown the tenderloin on all sides on the stove and finish baking it in the oven, meanwhile constructing your pan sauce.  I originally tried making this sauce with just cream, wine, garlic, and mustard.  I realized though that the addition of shallots really added an extra dimension of flavor to the sauce.  With the addition of incorporating the fond from the pan, I had finally found a pan sauce I was proud to call my own.

Continue reading ‘Pork Tenderloin with Mustard and White Wine Cream Sauce’

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Pan Sauce 101

Chicken and Garlic and White Wine Pan Sauce

Chicken with Garlic and White Wine Pan Sauce

One of my favorite things to do for a meal is to cook some sort of meat in my 12-inch stainless steel pan and then use that to make a pan sauce.  Pan sauces are able to take the remnants of the meat you’ve cooked and incorporate those delicious flavors into your sauce.  Plus there’s also the added benefit that you don’t need to dirty an extra vessel to make the sauce in.  For those of you who love nonstick cookware, you need to try and avoid that convenience for this.  A nonstick pan just won’t give you the same rich flavor that you will get using a stainless steel pan (I’ll explain this below).  The wonderful things about pan sauces, is that once you get the hang of the process you can experiment and come up with your own sauces.  Here are the steps for a successful pan sauce:

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British Tea and French Biscuits

Just a quick pic of my afternoon tea.

British tea and French biscuits

British tea and French biscuits

The tea is Typhoo tea, my favorite brand of English Breakfast Tea. Purists may scoff, but I actually use the tea bags instead of loose tea leaves.

The biscuits are from Brittany in the north of France. They are crispy and buttery. What is not to like? These are called galettes de Pont Aven. The Trau Mad is a different style of biscuit that is thicker and more crumbly, both are great.

Spicy Shrimp Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Olive oil can make a great, light pasta sauce alternative to the heavy Alfredo or the all-to-common marinara sauce. Olive oil sauces are also much easier to make, requiring much less preparation and ingredients than the other two sauces.

Spicy Garlic Shrimp with Sundried Tomatoes

Spicy Garlic Shrimp with Sundried Tomatoes

The nice thing about an olive oil sauce is that it lets you play with more spices and herbs to bring those tastes to the front of the dish. You infuse the olive oil with any number of ingredients and drizzle it over the pasta. In this dish I used garlic, red pepper flakes and parsley as the primary flavors. I also soaked the sun-dried tomatoes in the oil to help reconstitute them and help the flavors mix.

The small brown things you see are fried garlic chips. I sliced some garlic into thin disks and essentially fried them in the olive oil. This yielded crispy garlic chips that not only infused the oil with the garlic flavor but also served as a great texture contrast in the dish and looked great as a garnish.

Spicy Garlic Shrimp with Sundried Tomatoes

Spicy Garlic Shrimp with Sundried Tomatoes

We’ve discussed picking out shrimp/shellfish before in Erica’s guest post about scallops. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Shrimp should be bought frozen. Most shrimp boats freeze their catches directly on the boat and thawed shrimp begin losing their flavor in just a couple of days.

As far as what size to go with? I tend to like large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound) because you don’t have to prepare as many to get a full dish. But it’s up to you, these were smaller but on sale, so I went ahead and got these.

Spicy Garlic Shrimp with Sundried Tomatoes

Spicy Garlic Shrimp with Sundried Tomatoes

Though I don’t always do this, I have read that it’s best not to buy cleaned and peeled shrimp. A chemical called tripolyphosphate is sometimes used in commercially cleaned shrimp. This chemical aids in water retention and can give shrimp an off flavor. The extra moisture will be released during cooking, and the shrimp will steam rather than sauté. That said, I am sometimes lazy and if I’m the only one eating it, I have bought prepared shrimp before.

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Microwave Potato Chips

Looking for a quick, easy snack? This is it.

Potato Chips

Potato Chips

For the longest time I actually never liked potato chips. I have always loved tortillia chips, but potato chips… I dunno, they never really did much for me. I found Pringles to mediocre and generic, Ruffels kinda turn into a paste and get stuck in your teeth, Lay’s failed to impress me. But then, someone gave me some Cape Cod chips and a whole new world was opened to me. After those, I started to like chips!
One thing I haven’t done is make a batch myself though. Now, I’ve made french fries (thick and thin cuts) but I just haven’t got around to frying up a bunch of potatoes in chip form. Deep frying something always feels like an event. I have to use a big pot, regulate the temperature, keep a close eye on it, bandage up my hand when I spill hot oil all over it… Well, that last part hasn’t happened, but deep frying still feels like it’s a lot of trouble.

Potato Chips

Potato Chips

That’s why when I saw this in the archives of The Kitchn, I knew I had to try it. Potato chips in the microwave! Simple. Easy. No oil or fat. All you have to do is slice a potato. Obviously, if you have a mandoline, that part is made even easier, but a chef’s knife will get the job done just fine. And all the cooking is done in the microwave, so don’t complain about it being hard to cook.
As for the taste, they are good. They don’t have quite the same taste as fried chips (no oil, obviously), but they do have a great crisp and crunch. It probably wouldn’t be worth trying to make a large batch for a crowd, but if you are looking for a quick snack, this definitely hits the spot.

Click through for the recipe and more pics. Continue reading ‘Microwave Potato Chips’

Bacon Grilled-Cheese Bacon Cheeseburger

That’s right.  A bacon cheeseburger, with bacon grilled-cheese sandwiches replacing the bread. I know loading things down with bacon is “so 2008” but, really, it still tastes awesome.

Bacon Grilled Cheese Bacon Cheeseburger (top grilled cheese sandwich not yet applied)

Bacon Grilled Cheese Bacon Cheeseburger (top grilled cheese sandwich not yet applied)

These things are not for the faint of heart, but it is actually less intimidating than you think. We were all able to finish our burgers AND have a chocolate milkshake.

Autopsy shot of the burger

Autopsy shot of the burger

Examining this burger in detail, the layers are:

  • Bread
  • Bacon
  • Cheese
  • Bread
  • Toppings (Tomato and Onions)
  • Bacon
  • Cheese
  • The Patty
  • Bread
  • Bacon
  • Cheese
  • Bread

Awesome, yes?

Click though to see the full recipe and more pictures.

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Bacon!

Who doesn’t like bacon? It’s everything meat should be. Flavorful, fatty, salty, smokey and fatty. I know, fatty is in there twice. I feel like I only get half the meat I should be getting when I eat some bacon. I mean, the fat is great, it’s part of what makes it so good (that and the salt!). And there is always the risk that the bacon fat will spatter a bit when you cook it, so you have to clean the stove-top too. Can you somehow easily cook it without all that fat and mess? Fortunately, yes. And even more fortunately, it’s easier than you think. Use the oven.

Bacon

Bacon

Cooking for Engineers has two articles about the many many ways to cook bacon. Oven-bake, oven-broil, microwave, grill, and pan-fried are all covered. To me, the oven is the best way of making bacon. I have used Alton Brown’s Good Eats method before with success and wanted to see what a longer slower cooking time yielded. (If you look at AB’s recipe, he shows you how to cure the bacon and everything, I just buy my own and skip down to the end where he says to put it in the oven.)

AB calls for putting the bacon on a cooling rack set into a baking pan into a cold oven. Then turning the oven to 400F and cooking for 12 to 15 minutes (from the time you turn the oven on, not from when it is preheated). This is good and quick.

Bacon

Bacon

Cooking for Engineers takes a different approach to the oven method. Long and slow. You preheat your oven to 200F and use the same bacon-on-a-cooling-rack-in-a-baking sheet as AB. This method takes a lot longer. Three to four hours long. But hey, if you don’t have anything to do for a while or want to make bacon to reheat in sandwiches or something later, this is the way to go. I actually prefer this method for a number of reasons. It seems to render more fat from the bacon. The fat that is rendered is pure bacon fat. Pure white in color. No burnt bits in it. The bacon is great for saving and using later.

So if you have time, I say go with the long and slow oven cooking. If you want bacon faster, go with the higher temperature oven method.

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