Wednesday, October 29, 2008


How can something that looks like this

turn into a yummy dish they call "Poor Man's Lobster?"

Easing into Fall

One thing that is really funny about Floridians is that once the temperature dips into the 50s, people start wearing winter coats, boots, and sweaters. Then you have a good portion of tourists or whatnot who are still wearing shorts and flip-flops. It makes you double-take when you're out and about. I'm still not quite used to the weather. 60 degrees didn't used to feel cold to me, now I need slippers and blankets.

I'm still not quite ready to put my Le Creuset to good use with braises and stews. I'm not quite willing to roast a chicken just yet either. Until then I'm easing into fall like with this incredible pork recipe I saw today in my copy of Cuisine at Home. Cuisine at Home is really a underutilized magazine. I never hear anything about it at all! Yet, everything I've ever made from it has been fantastic. They must have some serious testers working for them. Just try this recipe and you might want a subscription yourself.

Sage Encrusted Pork Tenderloin
adapted from Cuisine at Home, December 2008

1 pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut in half
3/4 cup bread crumbs (I used wheat panko)
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh sage, minced (or 1 tsp dried sage)
salt and pepper

2 shallots, sliced
1 cup thinly sliced apples (I used one Jonagold)
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup thawed apple juice concentrate (I'd use slightly less next time so it's not so sweet)
2 tsp butter, divided
1 tsp flour
salt and pepper

Preheat the over to 425. Mix breadcrumbs, sage, salt and pepper, and oil together. I added a bit of water too in order to moisten the bread crumbs up. Rub the mustard all over the tenderloin pieces then roll in the breadcrumb mixture. Let the meat rest so the breadcrumbs adhere better. When you're ready to cook, heat some oil in a skillet and brown one side of the tenderloins for about 5 minutes. You may need to add more oil seeing as the breadcrumbs absorb most of it. Flip the meat then place it in the oven to cook through for another 15 minutes.

In another pan heat 1 tsp of butter with the shallots and cook until softened. Add the thyme and cook another minute. Finally add the apples and cook for another minute or two. Deglaze the pan with wine and cook until most of the liquid evaporates. Once evaporated add the broth and apple concentrate. Melt the remaining tsp of butter in a small dish and mix it with the flour. Add this mixture to the compote to thicken it and reduce the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Your pork should be done when a thermometer reads 150-155. If you're good with meat you don't need a thermometer. I like my pork a little pink inside so I'm not sure what the temp would be. Slice the pork into medallions and serve with the compote.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What would Calvin Trillin Think

Calvin Trillin first tempted me with the salt and pepper shrimp in Alice Let's Eat. His description of the dish in Hong Kong and Flushing was so clear you could almost smell the fry oil. The most recent issue of Gourmet had a recipe that reminded me of them again. I had forgotten about it and then found myself with a pound of mutant prawns from Malaysia (a pound was a mere 6 shrimp have you!).

Now it wasn't until I had these salted, breaded, and ready to go that I realized that salt and pepper shrimp are supposed to be eaten shell and all. The shell on these prawns was thick and tough, and would in now way crisp up to an edible state. It was too late. But I did have the shell split and a large portion of exposed flesh was covered in batter. I went for it and I'm glad I did. Sure you had to peel the shell off before eating, but the little bits of batter were incredibly tasty. These prawns were so big, I think I'd call this dish salt and pepper lobster tails rather than shrimp. Heavenly. The deep fried cilantro and jalapeƱos didn't hurt either.

Salt and Pepper Shrimp
from Gourmet October 2008

1 1/2 pounds medium shrimp, in shell, shell split and deveined ,legs removed
3 quarts oil (canola or smart balance with omega-3!)
3 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 large egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup cornstarch
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon freshly ground coarse black pepper
8 sliced jalapeƱos
2 big bunches of cilantro sprigs
2 teaspoons flaky sea salt to taste

Heat oil to 400°F in a heavy pot. Toss the shrimp with 1 tablespoon salt and let stand 5 minutes. Rinse with cold water, drain, and pat dry. Pulse egg whites in a food processor or blender until watery, then put in a bowl. Stir together cornstarch, 3 tablespoons pepper, and 2 tablespoons salt in another bowl.

Toss half of shrimp with 1/2 teaspoon each of kosher salt and pepper in a third bowl, dip in egg white, shake of excess, then lightly dredge in cornstarch mixture, shaking off excess. Make sure the coating is light. Fry until crisp and cooked through, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes (dependent on size). Transfer to paper towels to drain. Season, coat, and fry remaining shrimp. Reduce oil temperature to 375°F or therabouts and fry half of chiles with half of cilantro until cilantro just starts to turn dark green and chiles are wilted, only a couple seconds. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining chiles and cilantro. Serve shrimp topped with fried chiles and cilantro and sprinkled with sea salt. Serve immediately, shell and all.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Favorite drink of the moment

Have you heard of the French liqueur Domaine de Canton? The fresh baby ginger and cognac liqueur used to be hard to come by in the States but now it is readily available at specialty liquor stores. The design of the bottle is incredible and the contents even better. It is fine to sip over ice but can be mixed with a variety of other liquors. The bottle comes with a booklet of a handful of recipes (many more on the website), so I decided to try one mixed with Hendrick's gin. Hendrick's gin, if you're not familiar with it, is a gin infused with cucumber. Together this is a serious drink with serious flavor. Sweet juniper and cucumber and spicy, smooth ginger.

La Coloniale
2 parts Domaine de Canton Liqueur
3 parts Hendrick's Gin
cucumber slice to garnish