Monday, October 26, 2009

Maple Glazed Pork Loin with Creamy Polenta

Maple Glazed Pork Loin
1/2 c. syrup
1/8 t. cinnamon
pinch cloves
pinch cayenne
2-1/2 lb. pork loin
salt and pepper
2 t. oil
Sear roast in oil, remove from heat. Mix syrup and spices and roll loin in mixture. Roast at 325 degrees until thermometer reads 135 degrees (about 35-45 minutes), turning twice. Transfer to carving board. Allow syrup to sit 5 minutes to thicken up and pour over roast. Let sit 15 minutes. Slice and serve.

Creamy Polenta
5-1/2 c. water
1 c. milk
1-1/2 c. polenta
4 T butter
1 garlic clove, minced
2 oz. parmesan grated
Boil water and milk, add 1/2 t. salt and slowly pour in polenta, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often until liquid is absorbed (20-25 minutes). Remove from heat, add butter and garlic. Top with parmesan and broil briefly.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

German Onion Cake

3 large onions, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
4 teaspoons baking powder
5 tablespoons vegetable shortening
3/4 - 1 cup milk
1 egg, well beaten
3/4 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons poppy seeds
14/ teaspoon paprika (optional)

In medium skillet sauté the onions in butter over low heat until they just begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Season with dried marjoram, pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
Preheat oven to 450°.
In a bowl mix flour, cornstarch, baking powder and remaining salt. Add shortening and cut in until mixture resembles soft crumbs. Add milk and mix quickly to form a soft dough.
Oil 10" round cake pan and lightly use fingers to spread dough out evenly. Spread cooked onion over top.
Beat egg and sour cream together and spread over the onion, right to the edge of the pan. Sprinkle with poppy seeds and paprika.
Bake for 20 minutes. Cool slightly, then cut into wedges.

Not a difficult recipe at all, and full of flavor. A good side to any hearty soup or stew. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cornbread is what we'll eat in heaven

I'm sure of it.

Cornbread made from scratch (no Jiffy mixes please!) and baked in a cast iron skillet for that perfect golden crust and tender crumb, lightly kissed with butter and served piping hot. Or at room temperature. Or even cold (have you ever enjoyed a dish of crumbled cornbread with buttermilk?).

What I'd call cornmeal is sold here as polenta. Which is also a tasty dish but not the object of our focus today.

Recently while making cornbread I was inspired to take photos, thinking it would be fun to post a pictorial along with the recipe. Only problem is, my kitchen is like a cave. There is a window but since it looks out onto the covered patio, little sunlight actually penetrates the room so every photo I've taken in there looks sickly. No problemo! I moved my production out to the patio where I set up shop on one of Ivan's little wooden work tables (an unfinished wooden work table that I covered with a blue towel because I'm fancy like that). But at least the cornbread isn't a sickly shade of gray, which is how it photographed in the kitchen.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know all the trouble I went to just to bring you this if-you-squint-you-might-think-this-was-a-professional-tutorial.

1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon double-acting baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk, at room temperature
1 egg, at room temperature
3 tablespoons butter, melted (I've been known to use more of this particular ingredient)
more butter to brush on cornbread after it's done

(in whatever amounts you care to add)
chopped onion
chopped bell pepper (any color)
chopped jalapeño pepper
grated sharp cheese
fresh chopped herbs of your choice
cooked, crumbled bacon (and use the bacon grease in place of the butter!)

Set oven to 400°, put butter in cast iron skillet and set skillet in oven to preheat.

In one bowl whisk together the egg and milk.

In a second bowl combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Mix well. Add any of the optional ingredients you've chosen to use (I've been throwing in some red bell pepper, onion and cheese lately).

Mix wet and dry ingredients together lightly with a fork just until combined.

Add melted butter (or bacon grease) and incorporate into batter. Pour batter into hot cast iron skillet. Enjoy the sizzle it makes!

Spread batter evenly. Bake at 400° for 18-20 minutes until golden. When you take it out of the oven, spread another tablespoon or so of butter over the top. Cool slightly and cut into wedges.

Cornbread is great with so many things! White Chicken Chili and cornbread make a wonderful supper in the fall or winter. Last night we had creamed chicken over cornbread -- muy delicioso! [Note: I prefer this recipe for cornbread over the one I posted last April but both are tasty.] And of course what southern girl doesn't love soup beans and cornbread? But it's equally great with baked beans or green beans or...

Really, there's not much that cornbread doesn't go with. It's just a nice side to just about anything. So go ahead, make yourself some pan de maiz.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

SCORE! -- Success with No Bakes At Last!

Yes, it's true. On the SIXTH try I finally succeeded with the No Bake Cookies. Woot!

I'd just like to thank all those who stood by me in these previous difficult weeks. My success is due to you, faithful friends. Without your support I wouldn't be standing here today.
[holds up large silver award and waves it at the audience]
I want to thank the public library system for all the cookbooks that taught me to feed my family edible food, sometimes even really good food.
I also want to thank my family for eating the many a few less than spectacular meals.
But most of all, I want to thank the internet. It was you that provided the final recipe that spelled success in the form of AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS No Bake Cookies.
It is you that I can always count on, to come through with just the recipe I'm looking for.
Internet, you ROCK!
[pumps award high in the air]

[snaps back to reality]
I think ultimately success was due to using really good quality ingredients. Ivan made a trip into Cordoba Friday morning and was kind enough to do a Walmart run for me and he brought home Quaker oats. (Thanks honey!) That, plus replacing the cocoa with a dark chocolate bar cut into chunks, did the trick.

So for all those other No Bake Challenged Interwebbies out there, I bring to you a recipe that is almost sure to succeed. (Hey, if it worked for me after FIVE FAILS, it just may work for you too!) I've altered the name a little to reflect the product more accurately.

No Bake Chocolatey Goodness Cookies
4 oz. butter
1/2 cup milk
2 cups sugar
1 cup chocolate chips
(I used a large dark chocolate bar cut into chunks instead)
3 cups oats

Mix the butter, milk and sugar in a medium size pan over low-to-medium heat and stir frequently until it comes to a boil and boil exactly 1-1/2 minutes. Remove pan from heat, add chocolate chips and stir until melted, then add oatmeal. Mix until all the oatmeal is well incorporated. Use a large spoon to scoop cookie mixture onto wax paper or tin foil. Allow to cool and store in airtight container. Resist the temptation to hide the airtight container in your lingerie drawer so nobody else can have any. That's not kind and God will smite you for it. Of course you'd die happy and in a state of chocolate bliss.

Note: Sugar is in the container with the blue lid, in case you haven't surmised that. And you don't see any milk with the other ingredients because we drank it all while eating cookies last night. I didn't have the bright idea to include photos until this morning :-)

Note #2: I did not use either vanilla nor peanut butter which seems to appear in 99.2% of the recipes for No Bakes. While I do believe chocolate and peanut butter are an excellent flavor combination, I didn't want any peanut butter fighting with the chocolate in this instance. I just wanted that pure, rich deep dark chocolate. *sigh* These are, in my humble opinion, the best No Bakes I've ever had. Seriously.