Saturday, August 30, 2008
When I think of this dish, I think of an an episode of the Brady Bunch when Peter was talking to Alice about dinner and he imitated her in a Humphrey Bogart voice saying "Pork chops and apple sauce." Do you remember that episode? Well, Alice had the flavor combination down! Pork and apples go very well together.
I was very pleased with the dish. The flavors were spectacular! I will absolutely make it again and perhaps serve it to friends. I intensified the flavors of the sauce, adding extra apple and then straining it at the end and leaving the wonderful fruity flavors in the sauce that went over the tender, perfectly seasoned and cooked pork tenderloin. I placed the tenderloin on top of a bed of seasoned Swiss chard with red pepper flakes and onion. All of that lay on top of a bed of wild rice that I boiled in part water, part apple juice, ever more adding apple to the dish. It was good stuff!
Pork Roasted Tenderloin with Appled Sauce, Appled Wild Rice, and Greens
Adapted from Food & Wine's printing of a Pam Anderson recipe
For the pork:
One 1 1/4 pound pork tenderloin
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup naturally sweetened apple juice or apple cider
1/2 cup apple sauce - no sugar added
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 single-serving package of golden raisins
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Also, heat up a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Coat the pork tenderloin in oil and season with salt and pepper. Brown it on all sides in the pan. Then place it in the oven for approximately 18 minutes, turning once. The pork will be done when an instant-read thermometer registers 140 degrees when poked into the center of the thickest part of the tenderloin. Place the pork on a cutting board and let it rest.
Add the juice/cider, broth, apple sauce, soy sauce, raisins and ginger to the pan. Cook it down until the liquid is reduced by half. Pour the mixture through a strainer and into a bowl or gravy boat.
For the greens:
one bunch Swiss chard
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Heat the pan on medium-high. Add the olive oil. Saute the onions. Then, begin to add the Swiss chard. There will probably be too much of it to add all at once, so add maybe half. It will wilt and shrink quickly as you toss it around with a pair of tongs. Then add more, or the rest of the chard, salt and red pepper flakes. Continue to toss with a pair of tongs until the chard is wilted. Remove from the pan and set aside.
For the rice:
I used the Lundberg Wild Blend of rice, replacing half of the liquid on the package directions with apple juice. Once it was cooked, I tossed in small amount of toasted pecans.
Begin with the rice. Top with a layer of the greens. Slice the pork tenderloin in thin medallions. Place on top of the greens. Pour the sauce over it. Enjoy!
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Our anniversary fell on a Thursday and we made a reservation for 6:00. We arrived and the restaurant was about half full. The hostess was going to bring us to one table, but I saw a two-seater right under a nice window and asked if we could sit there. That was great.
The atmosphere was fairly casual. Some people were Friday casual, and some were just plain casually dressed. I get the feeling that most of the people dining there had some money - and their children were extraordinarily well behaved. I noticed that right away. There were quite a few families with fairly young children, yet I didn't hear one scream or argument during our entire dinner. Amazing!
There were a number of special drinks on the menu, and I ordered one. It's not listed on their site because it was a new special. But in was something like a white chocolate espresso martini. It had some sort of Godiva liqueur, vodka, and espresso. Here it is:
The drink was true heaven! I've had other espresso-type martinis. Compared to them, this one had very little espresso, but it sure was good anyway. I had to stop myself from slurping it down in a minute - it tasted so good! I loved the little decanter they brought it in. It was full of ice, and there was more of the drink in it that didn't originally fit in the martini glass. It was probably close to two drinks by the time I finished.
I was feeling a little bold, and wanted to try oysters of some sort. After all, we were at The Oyster Company, and I've never had oysters! They had a lot of oysters, but I think most of them were raw. I figured that probably wasn't the way to go for me. So I got what I felt was a beginners' oyster dish - Caitlin's Oysters (broiled with a lime cilantro and shallot butter).
Turns out I like oysters plenty! Maybe next time I'll do something a little more adventurous. These oysters were the tops. And there just weren't enough of them! The butter sauce was so good I dipped bread in it when the oysters were gone. I wanted to just drink it up.
Joe got the chowder. It wasn't an exciting picture, so I left it out. But he enjoyed it. It wasn't too thick and it tasted great. I did taste it and I agree - it was good.
For dinner, Joe ordered the Lobster Fettuccini:
We are quite sure that the pasta was homemade. If they didn't make it there, then someone nearby did. It was fresh and perfectly cooked. The lobster chunks were plentiful and the cream sauce was delicious. We both agreed that it was nice that the pasta wasn't swimming in the sauce. The ratio of sauce to pasta was very pleasant. The green things you see are edamame.
I had one of the best meals ever. It definitely goes into the Meryl Top 10. It was the Pan-Seared Dayboat Scallops:
The scallops were placed on a celeriac puree and were surrounded in a lemon-herb emulsion. I'm pretty confident that there was some bacon fat used in searing the scallops - though it wasn't overly bacon-flavored. Just enough to make the scallops spectacular. On top are some sweet potato chips. I was so stuffed I had to give my last scallop to Joe, and that hurt. Nor could I finish my second martini.
We looked at the dessert menu. I mentioned that were I to get dessert I would either go for the creme brulee or the flourless chocolate torte. Joe got the cheesecake for dessert - damn him! I should have gotten a picture, but I forgot! Joe says it was very good. He would have liked more of the fruit sauce which was very lightly drizzled over it and onto the plate in thin ribbons. The cheesecake was not the typical consistency of cheesecakes I've had in Massachusetts. It had a lot of cheese in it and the top browned some when it baked. I particularly like this kind of cheesecake and I sampled some of his. It had a thick graham cracker crust.In the end, I have nothing but wonderful things to say about The Oyster Company. I'd go back in a heartbeat.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I've been ending my summer vacation this year with Joe and the boys (our two Boston Terriers) in lovely Dennisport, MA on Cape Cod. We New Englanders refer to it as "The Cape." Joe and I've eaten out a couple of times at two similar restaurants, so I decided to do a "Battle of ..." post.
When on The Cape, eating at a fried seafood joint is an absolute must! I seldom indulge in the joy of a fried seafood meal, but this is the time to go all-out. And I am counting it as okay since we are getting tons of exercise kayaking, taking long walks and going on long bike rides.
Here we were on our ride on the Cape Cod Rail Trail:
So the day arrived for my fried clam indulgence and after much research, I had decided to let loose on a place called the Original Seafood Restaurant located between the two, also on route 28. But we walked in and I ordered the clam platter (clams with bellies) but they foolishly ran out! Hey, when you are supposed to specialize in a food, you shouldn't be running out! So they get a thumbs-down in my book!
So I now present to you the Battle of the Seafood Shacks. The two restaurants, the Weatherdeck and Kream N' Kone, both located on route 28 and are within a couple of miles of each other.
168 Route 28
West Harwich, MA 02671
When doing my restaurant research on the clam shacks in the area, I didn't see anything written about this place anywhere. I had no intention on going there. But those bastards at the Original Seafood Restaurant were out of whole belly clams and Kreme 'n Kone was a mob scene - we couldn't even get a parking spot. So we went to the first other place that we saw, the Weatherdeck. I was keeping my fingers crossed.
Well, the food was great!
I got the belly clam platter for $22 (the average rate around here) and my husband got the fried scallops for about $9.00. Both were totally delicious.
The Clam Platter:
I really enjoyed the coating on the clams. The clams were on the smaller side, and were sweet and tasty. In all the clams I ate (and there were a lot of them), there was only one with a bit of sand in it, and that's pretty good!
The Scallop Platter (there actually are a lot of scallops under there!):
The coating on the scallops was good, not out of this world. But the scallops were perfectly cooked. They were tender and sweet. And they were pretty large in size (not huge).
The onion rings were awesome. I wanted more clams and less fries, so I completely passed on the fries, but Joe said they were good! He also had a clam chowder. He said he liked the flavor very much, but the consistency was too thick.
It was the atmosphere that could use improving. While there are a lot of windows, and a high ceiling with ceiling fans, it was hot. Granted, it was a really hot day, but some air conditioning would have been appropriate. Also, it doesn't look enticing from the outside. It needs updating. On the inside it could also use some updating of decor as well. The booths remind me of fast food joints from 1983. The benches were the hard orange particle-board ones and the table was a wood-grain laminate on particle board. Joe recalls the tables being sticky.
Here's pics from the outside:
When you order your food, you get a ticket with a number, and they call you when it's ready. That was fine when the place wasn't too busy, but it would have been annoying if they were busy and constantly calling out numbers.
But the food was good and plentiful. We had a lot of leftovers and I couldn't even finish my clams even though I never even ate a french fry. If you're hungry and you're there and don't want to deal with a crowd, it's a good restaurant and I recommend it.
Oh, and I think they may have sold beer. I could swear I saw a Budweiser sign.
Kream 'N Kone
West Dennis, MA 02670
The first time I went to Kreme n' Kone it was so crowded we couldn't get a parking space and figured that if one opened up, it would take forever to get a table and our food, so we turned around and left. Their sign says they were voted best on the cape, so they are pretty popular.
But today, it was just before noon, and the mobs hadn't arrived yet. So we went for it. We were trying to spend less money, so I didn't get the clam belly plate like I did at the Weatherdeck, but the price was comparable, at $21.75. Instead, I got the fried scallops ($12.99) and my husband got the fried haddock ($10.99). He also got a clam chowder.
The atmosphere was nice. The seats were comfortable and the decor was light and airy. there was an outside dining - not a patio, but the end of the parking lot, really. The location is good - just along the river, so if you sit on that side of the restaurant you can watch the kayakers and paddle-boaters. It was much cooler out on the day we visited the Kreme N' Kone (as opposed to the really hot day when we were at the Weatherdeck). There was no noticeable air conditioning. But on this day, they didn't need it. There was great ventilation coming from the breeze through the open windows.
One downer was the ladies room. It only had 3 stalls, and one of them was out of order. This is a family restaurant, so half of the adult women in the bathroom have a child with them. Seriously, I was in line while the restaurant was almost empty. There were two stalls, each with a mother and child in them, and two single women in front of me in line. In 15 minutes, the lunch rush probably was going to begin, so the facilities were not sufficient! It can be so hard to be a woman who needs to do her business.
Prices were similar to the Weatherdeck. But there was a noticeable difference in ordering in that they give you a number sign and they bring the food to you, which is nice.
The onion rings were great and were exactly like those of the Weatherdeck. The fries were good. My husband said they were just slightly better than those of the Weatherdeck. The chowder was good in flavor, but a little thick, just as that of the Weatherdeck. Perhaps they were made by the same people.
The coating on scallops was crispier than it had been at the Weatherdeck, but the scallops were slightly overcooked. They had tried to not cover up the scallops with fries. I'm guessing it's because the scallops get soggy under the fries. There were a couple under there and it was noticeable. In all, I'm giving the upper edge to the scallops at the Weatherdeck.
Here's the scallop platter:
And the winner is?
Honestly, this is a tough one to answer. If I look at our experience, I'd have to give the win to the Kreme N' Kone. But on a different day, it might not be an easy choice. Here's the breakdown:(btw - I don't know why you have to scroll down to see this table. Blogger is fighting me and I can't fix it!)
|Kreme N' Kone|
|Atmosphere (looks)||Needs Improvement|
|Ease of Parking and Speed of Food Arrival||Great||Depends|
Thursday, August 14, 2008
Bolognese-Style Pasta Sauce
Adapted from Eating Well Magazine
(with the help of Secrets of a Restaurant Chef)
yield: 8 servings
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups onion, chopped
1 cup zucchini, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 (28 ounce) cans petite diced tomatoes
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup water
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Heat-up a dutch oven on a medium-high flame. Add the olive oil and heat it up for a minute. Don't let it heat to the point of smoking. Add the onions. Stir occasionally for 2 minutes. Add the zucchini and and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Sauté the vegetables for about five minutes, stirring occasionally so they are soft and cooked, just beginning to brown. Add the garlic. Cook, stirring, for one more minute.
Add the tomatoes (don't drain them), white wine, water, bay leaf, the rest of the salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, oregano, and basil. Cook it for about an hour, stirring occasionally and checking to see the level of liquid. Each time that I saw the level of liquid get very low, I'd add about 1/2 cup water, stir, and continue cooking for one hour. I added water 3 times during the cooking period. If it were to have needed more, I would have used it.
Here's what it looked like after that first hour (water was a little low and I added 1/2 cup just after this picture was taken):
I don't like chunks of vegetables in my sauce, but I like the flavor. So I used an immersion blender. If you don't have an immersion blender, transfer the sauce to a regular blender. Be sure to temporarily remove the bay leaves first!
If you are going to add meat, such as the Neopolitan Meatballs that I made on this particular day, add it now and continue to cook. It took me about 1/2 hour to cook my meatball (I had to do it in batches). then I cooked the sauce for another hour after adding the meatballs. So the total cooking time of the sauce was 2 1/2 hours.
Here it is, with the Neopolitan Meatball recipe. That's good stuff!
Neopolitan Meatballs with Bolognese-Style Sauce
Adapted from Eating Well Magazine
yield: 24 meatballs
1 pound 93% ground beef
1/3 cup bulgar wheat
2 cups bread (french - not a baguette), cut into cubes
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon oil (for cooking the meatballs)
Bolognese-Style Pasta Sauce
Add water too the french bread and stir it around with your hands. I added enough so that the bread got wet in all parts, but I didn't add extra water. Once it's wet, put it into a sieve and press the extra water out of it so that no more water can be removed. Put the bread in a medium bowl.
Place the bulgar in a medium bowl. Add boiling water, covering the bulgar one inch above. Cover the bowl tightly and let sit for a half hour to absorb water. It won't absorb all the water, but that's okay!
Put the bulgar into the sieve and strain out all of the extra water. Add the bulgar to the bowl with the bread.
To that bowl, add the remaining ingredients (eggs, Parmesan, beef, cinnamon, salt, and pepper). Mix together with your hands - they are the best tools! Mix it completely so you can't see the different ingredients - just one big mass of mixture.
Form your meatballs. I got 24 meatballs. Here's what they looked like (compared to the size of a penny). They were between 1 1/2 - 2 inches in diameter:
Heat up a nonstick pan. Add the tablespoon of oil. Place the meatballs in the pan. But be careful to leave about two inches of space between the meatballs. You'll need room for them as you roll them to cook them on all sides. I had to cook the meatballs in 3 different batches before adding them to the sauce.
When the meatballs are browned on each side, carefully place them into the sauce as it cooks. They will finish cooking in the sauce for an additional hour.
Now you've got perfection! Yum!
You could serve them plain, or with pasta. But I bet they would make a great meatball sandwich too.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
In the world of food, Pam Anderson is not the bombshell blonde sex symbol. She is a cookbook author. Her most recent cookbook is The Perfect Recipe for Losing Weight and Eating Great, which I just ordered myself.
She had a few recipes featured in Food and Wine Magazine recently and this one caught my eye. It was a rewarding little recipe.
The components are all easy to prepare. In fact, you could do what I did. I made the candied orange peels one day, and the next day I made the custard. While it cooked I whipped-up the whipped cream! By the way, the whipped cream wasn't in the original recipe - it sure doesn't help to lose weight. But I used a small amount!
I love the flavor. It tastes like caramel, with hints of orange coming from the zest in the recipe. The whipped cream on top has Cointreau in it, expanding on the orange flavor in the custard. It's topped with yet another layer of orange, the candied peels.
Brown Sugar Custards with Cointreau Cream
Adapted from Pam Anderson (in Food and Wine Magazine)
1 3/4 cups 2 percent evaporated milk
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest
Whipped Cream Ingredients (Whipped Cream is optional!)
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons Cointreau
candied orange peel for garnish
For the Custard
Preheat the oven to 325°.
Combine the evaporated milk and brown sugar. Add it to a saucepan with the heat on medium. Stir occasionally so the sugar dissolves while you bring the mixture to a simmer. Be careful not to boil it.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla and orange zest.
You will need to combine the hot mixture with the eggs. But if you were to simply add the heated milk and sugar mixture to the egg mixture, you would cook the eggs and they would clump. The way to avoid the egg cooking is to only put in a small amount of the milk and sugar mixture into the eggs and stir while you add that small amount. Mix it up, and then add another small amount of the milk and sugar mixture. By doing this, the egg mixture heats up and distributes so that it won't clump and cook when you add the rest of the heated ingredients.
Once combined, strain the custard through a sieve to catch any solids that may have occurred anyway.
Place four small ramekins in a baking dish or roasting pan. Pour the custard into the ramekins. Add enough hot water to the baking dish to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
Remove the ramekins from the pan and water. I used a set of tongs. Place them on a cooling rack and let them cool for at least 1/2 hour.
Cover the custards with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours.
Garnish with the optional Cointreau-flavored whipped cream and candied orange peels.
For the Whipped Cream
Place the cold cream in a medium bowl. Mix on high till whipped. Add sugar and mix again. Add Cointreau and mix again. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
I've wanted to make candied orange peels for some time now, but for some reason I was intimidated. That was silly because this was one of the easiest things I ever did! I've been snacking on them, but I made them to garnish a recipe for Brown Sugar Custards that I will post later.
Candied Orange Peel
Adapted from Bon Appetit
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
3/4 cup water
Bon Appetit suggested using vegetable peeler. I don't have one that works that well, so I cut the orange peel off the orange with a good knife. Try to do it in nice, long sections. The white part that you see in the picture below is called the pith.
The pith is bitter and you want to remove as much of it as possible if you are not a fan of that bitterness. I'm not a fan, myself.
Make sure to cut by moving the knife away from your fingers!
Cut the peels into strips, about 1/8-1/4 inch thick.
Stir 3/4 cup sugar and 3/4 cup water in heavy small saucepan over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat heat and simmer for 2 minutes.
Add orange peel and simmer for 15 minutes.
Place the remaining 1/2 cup sugar in small bowl. Remove the peels from the syrup with a slotted spoon and toss them into the sugar, coating them with the crystals. Cool, tossing occasionally. I left them out on the counter for a little while to cool down before I put them in a container together.
For the remainder of the day, they were still soft. But the next day they had more bite and the sugar crystals were crispy again. I liked them that way!
I can't help but think that the syrup that was left in the pot (and that I threw away) would be wonderful in a citrus-flavored martini. But I have no plans on making one.
After using the candied peels to garnish the Brown Sugar Custards I made later that day, I wanted to chocolate-cover the rest of them, but I keep nibbling at them, and I wonder if I'll have any left. For now I'll post this recipe. If and when I chocolate cover either these, or a new batch, I'll post it.