Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Marinated Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Herb Pearl Couscous and Tomato Medley with Balsamic Drizzle

So it is midweek and you suddenly have company coming over.  You have a pork tenderloin roast in the freezer, couscous in the cupboard and tomatoes in the refrigerator, onion and garlic in the pantry. Boom!  Use the aromatics and spices for a marinade and spice up the couscous and begin reducing the balsamic.  An elegant but simple dinner on a budget to impress your guests.  Let's get to it. 

First, let's marinate the pork tenderloin. Grate or finely chop two cloves garlic and slice into discs two more garlic cloves. Separate. In a bowl, add three tablespoons of stone ground mustard with white wine, a pinch of salt and pepper, 1/2 teaspoon thyme and a tablespoon of rosemary. Add 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or 3 tablespoons white wine and a tablespoon of lime juice, whatever you have on hand, and allow the thawed meat to marinate for thirty minutes to three hours. I like to put the meat into a gallon-sized zip-lock bag with the marinade and let it work its magic. If you are marinating for more than an hour, do so in the refrigerator, otherwise, if it is just for thirty minutes, on the counter will be fine. Either way, allow the meat to come to room temperature before the cooking process begins. 

Next, add flavor the to the roast when you cook it. I add 1/3 cup of stone ground or whole grain mustard in white wine with a splash of sriracha, a clove of grated garlic, a tablespoon of white wine vinegar to a small bowl and whisk vigorously.  Set that aside. 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  

Now, add two or three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to an oven-safe skillet and, once the oil ripples, add the roast and sear it about four minutes per side, including the ends. Slice one large onion, red or white, into discs and place them into the skillet and set the roast atop the onion bed. Spoon the mustard flavoring atop the roast and place the oven-safe skillet into the oven for 35 minutes, reducing the heat to 375-degrees.  

Cook the pearl couscous according to the directions on the box, if you are making it form a box. Do not use the powdered flavoring.  Instead, add fresh grated garlic, rosemary and thyme to two tabs of butter and a tablespoon of evoo.  Add the couscous to the melted butter and heating oil over medium-high heat and toast the couscous, stirring often for three or four minutes.  Add a cup of water and bring to a boil.  Cover and allow to finish off of the heat. 

Next, remove the skillet after thirty-five minutes has gone by.  Allow the meat to rest for about ten minutes.  Slice at an angle into medallions.  

Reduce half a cup of balsamic vinegar in a small sauce pan, adding a teaspoon of lemon or lime and a few ribbons of fresh basil. When the balsamic has reduced by half, reduce the heat and after a few more minutes, remove the small sauce pan and let the reduction sit, uncovered, to cool.  It will thicken.  

After the balsamic reduction has cooled, plate the couscous, add the pork medallions atop that and drizzle the balsamic reduction over it.  I added my favorite salad ingredient, tomatoes.  I chose a medley of grape tomatoes and drizzled the balsamic over those, too.  Delightful, sweet and tangy together combination.  I love it.  

There is a bonus round for this meal!  You might have some leftovers, and I devised a fantastic lunch to make with the leftover meat.  

Thinly slice the leftover pork loin roast, add your favorite condiments to a bun or a roll, your favorite bread, let's say, add some cheese and fresh parsley or cilantro and a tiny pinch of salt and pepper.  Great make ahead lunch for the work week one day!

Thank You, my readers, for your time and consideration.  I hope you enjoyed this recipe and enjoy it for yourself!  Make it your own, add or remove spices or ingredients to suit your own taste buds.  Let me know what you think!  Thanks!
Now, go cook something for someone you love!!!

In-House Cook 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Chicken with Turkey Sausage Chunky Pasta Stoup

Remember when you were a kid and had a cold or the flu and your mom or grandma would make you chicken noodle soup?  Yeah, me neither.  So as an adult, I have indulged myself in the realm of soups and stoups.  A "stoup", as I am sure you know, is a really chunky, thick stew-like soup, ergo "stoup".  I made a version of this last weekend but.......well, it did not turn out so well.  The flavors I had wanted were all there, but I had made it in a slow-cooker and I'd made a fatal mistake:  I put the pasta in from the start, so my orecchiette became gloppy. Yes, I am deeply shamed. 

You can see how the orecchiette turned into big globs of pasta. 

Always one to learn from my mistakes, after recovering a bit from the stomach flu this weekend, I decided I needed my version of chicken noodle soup.  I did well, this time, and it has helped make me feel quite a bit adequate. Here is what I did....

1 package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts (2-3), cubed
2 packages of chicken or turkey Italian sausages, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 large or 3 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
2 - 3 fire roasted and peeled red peppers, chopped
4 - 6  roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped 
1.5 cups sturdy pasta, such as penne rigate 
1 quart chicken stock (I used my own homemade stock) 
1 cup white or rose wine
2 tablespoons apple cider or red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon coriander seed
1 rounded tablespoon paprika
1 rounded teaspoon thyme
1 rounded teaspoon oregano
1 rounded tablespoon Herbs de Provence
1 teaspoon Turmeric
1 teaspoon black pepper
1+ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (evoo)

Spices and aromatics

Red peppers, garlic and onion

This recipe is very simple to put together. One good idea I had was to put all of the spices except the turmeric, some salt and some pepper into a spice grinder and grind it until fine. I will tell you why in a moment, though I like to use Turmeric separately from most other spices in order to develop its own flavor and aroma from the rest. The salt and pepper I use to simply season the cubed chicken breasts which I cut in half and then cube, seasoning all sides of the chicken. When I sear the chicken and the sausages, I add a pinch of Turmeric and a hefty pinch of the rest of the seasoning.  When I add the onion and peppers, I add yet another good pinch (a rounded teaspoon) of the blended seasoning, the same with the garlic, the same with the tomatoes and the liquids.  Every layer of the dish is seasoned.  

Sauteeing the cubed chicken breasts and Italian turkey sausage.  

After deglazing the pot with the wine and vinegar, I added my homemade chicken stock, tomatoes and another layer of seasoning.  I let this mixture simmer covered for an hour.  

The aroma as this mixture simmers is simply incredible. 

Thirty minutes before adding the last of the chicken stock and the pasta, I add a layer of garden fresh flavor. Basil makes every pasta dish stellar. 

I added the penne rigate and let it cook another thirty minutes on low.  This sturdy pasta absorbs that delicious liquid flavor to add a condensed, complex layer of flavor.  Quite comforting.  I added torn basil atop the pasta as yet one more layer of flavor.  
Now, ready to serve!

I garnished with small basil leaves and shaved Parmesan.  What an intensely flavorful, hearty and comforting meal.  This was one of my favorites, hot out of the pot.  

I hope you enjoyed this recipe.  Please feel free to tweak it and make it your own!  That is the fun of cooking, making it to your own comfort level.  

Thank You for your visit, time and consideration!

One more for the road!
Now, go cook something for someone you love!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Taco Burger

I am a huge fan of tacos, and whenever I can incorporate or fuse taco flavors with any other dishes, I am all over it:  pizza, salads, pasta and now, burgers!  I decided to incorporate my Mexican spice blend with fresh aromatics and some of my favorite things, peppers, chiles, bacon and cheese. What could be better?  Here is how I made this incredibly savory, flavorful and filling burger.  

Ingredients for the burger patties
1 pound 90/10 lean ground sirloin
1 pound ground chuck
1 small red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
2 Fresno chiles, seeded and finely chopped
2 rounded tablespoons of my Mexican Spice Blend*
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon chipotle in adobo
Oaxaca or Provolone Cheese
4 fire roasted green chiles, seeded and stemmed

My Mexican Spice Blend*:
2 rounded tablespoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 rounded teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon chile molido or chipotle powder
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion or onion powder

I add the spices to a small skillet and toast until fragrant.  I add the spices to my spice grinder and grind until fine.  

If this is too much and time is not your friend, you could add a packet of your favorite store-bought Taco seasoning.  I won't be offended.  

Mix the meat with your hands, twisting and turning the hamburger to incorporate the fresh aromatics and spices. Press the mixed meat down into a bowl and score it with your hands to denote how many burgers you will be making.  

Set the meat aside to allow the flavors to infiltrate the hamburger meat.  In the meantime, add several slices of bacon to a skillet over medium-high heat.  I happened upon quite a find at the store for this:  jalapeno spiced bacon (Hormel brandTM) but you could use whatever thick cut bacon you wish.  You could spice it up with chipotle powder.  Fry up the bacon and cool on a rack or paper towel.  Remove most of the bacon fat (save it for something later!) and place the skillet back on the burner over high heat.  

Add the burgers to the skillet and allow to sear for five minutes per side for 1/3 pound burgers, or seven minutes per side for large burgers.  Mine were large. 

Next, add a fire roasted green chile or chiles to each burger. 

Top the chiles with cheese.  

Next add bacon and top the bacon with more cheese.  Pictured above it provolone.  I love Oaxaca and wish I'd had that on hand, but provolone melts so well.  

Toast the burger buns and add your favorite condiments, such as mustard and mayo or maybe create a chipotle aioli (like I did) to slather on the bottom bun.  In addition, place about one quarter cup of sliced pickled jalapenos to a small plate or bowl to also top the burgers with.  I making this all sound much more complicated than it is, but trust me, this burger is a true winner all the way around!

Assemble your burger any way you wish.  Please enjoy the assembled burger photos below!

Thank You for your visit, friends!  Always grateful for your readership!

Now, Please go cook something for someone you love!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Mr. P's Sage Sausage and Egg 
Breakfast Sandwich

I have to admit, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day and I perfectly happy having breakfast for any meal of the day. I also have to admit, I am rather obsessed with and addicted to breakfast sandwiches. It is no wonder I have made up a few of my own over the years.  This one has been my favorite by a long-shot.  It features a large, thick sausage patty mixed with my own spices, garlic and fresh minced sage, an egg and a chipotle mustard-yogurt aioli on toasted English muffins. Let's get to this simple yet mouth-watering savory breakfast or, rather, this Anytime, BLD (breakfast-lunch-dinner) sandwich!

1 pound package country sausage
6 sage leaves, 4 whole leaves set aside, two leaves finely chopped or minced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 clove garlic, grated (or, 1 teaspoon garlic powder)
salt and pepper 
2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chipotle in adobo
4 eggs
3 English muffins, split (8)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil

In a large bowl, add the sausage, garlic, spices and the fresh finely chopped sage and mix thoroughly. Form four large patties and place a whole sage leaf in the center of each patty.  Set aside for a moment. 

In a small bowl, add the yogurt, mustard, one chipotle pepper, diced along with a good teaspoon of adobo sauce, salt and pepper, and mix thoroughly. Note, if you cannot find a can of chipotle in adobo, you can add a teaspoon of chipotle or your favorite chile powder to the yogurt and mustard for a similar effect.  Set aside in the refrigerator to allow the flavors to marry. 

In the meantime, set the oven to broil.  Split the English muffins and broil them until golden. Remove and set aside. In the same skillet, add four eggs.  I used a large biscuit cutter to shape the eggs.  If you do not have one, no sweat.  A fried egg, or sunny side up egg is just fine.  Whatever makes YOU happy!

Add a teaspoon or two of vegetable oil to a skillet over medium-high heat and fry the sausage patties, starting with the sage leaf side down. Fry about five minutes per side.  They will form a deliciously aromatic crust. Remove and set aside on a paper towel.  

Now, assembly time!  Add some of the aioli to both top and bottom muffins. Place a sausage patty atop a muffin, an egg to the other, and add cheese if you like!  Top with greens, if you like, and enjoy!!! 

What a great way to start the day!  Perfect for weekends!  Serve with fresh fruit, a mimosa and relax!  Now, go cook this for someone you love!  

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Puerto Rican Pollo y Penne 

This is a favorite recipe, blending two parts of the Latin world, Spanish (via Puerto Rico) and Italian, the best of both worlds in one magnificent, flavorful dish. These so-called "fusion" dishes are among my favorites.  Let me stop introducing this dish and let's just get to it.  You will love it!  By-the-way, this recipe, while tweaked my way, is inspired by a recipe by Chef Daisy Martinez!

4+ chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped
4 sprigs fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano)
4 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 chipotle chile in adobe; 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
1 rounded tablespoon + 1 tbspn smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1.5 teaspoons pasilla powder, Cayenne chile powder, or chile molido or your favorite chile powder
1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
1 16-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
*A good splash of balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

To start, add two tablespoons evoo to a large pot over medium-high heat. Season the chicken thighs generously with salt and pepper and a mix of one tablespoon smoked paprika and half a teaspoon of chili powder.  When the oil in the pot begins to ripple, add the chicken thighs, skin side down first. Sear at least four minutes and check to see if the thigh will release and turn easily; you do not want to tear the skin, you want it to get crispy.  Turn the thighs when you can easily flip the thighs over. 

Sear the thighs at least four minutes per side, until they will release and turn easily. without tearing the skin. 

Remove the thighs to a baking pan with a rack and place in the oven at 250-degrees to keep the skin crisp.  

Next, remove half of the rendered fat and add the chopped onion. Add a little salt to help the onions sweat and add the garlic and stir  The aroma should be heavenly in your kitchen.  When the onions became just a little translucent, add the tomato products and incorporate well.  Add the spices at this point, stir, and allow the San Marzano tomatoes to cook through.  

As the tomatoes cook down, about ten minutes in, use a potato masher or immersion blender to break up the San Marzanos.  

Add torn fresh basil and bring the sauce to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and snuggle the chicken thighs into the sauce to finish cooking by braising.  Simmer the sauce for 40 minutes to allow the flavors to marry. 

After forty minutes, remove the chicken and let it rest.  Boil four quarts of water and liberally salt it when it comes to a roiling boil.  Add your favorite pasta -- I used Penne Rigate -- and boil till just al dente, or just before done.  Drain in a colander and plate to your liking, family style (traditional) or individually.  

I garnished with a little finely chopped basil and garnished with it.  I nestled a chicken thigh atop the chunky, chile smokey pasta sauce.  Delicioso!!!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Caprese Burger

It is certainly no secret how much I love Caprese, an Italian salad conmprised of tomato, basil and mozzarella on a pool of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I have served it cubed, tossed in an evoo (extra virgin olive oil) balsamic vinaigrette, marinated cubed Caprese and served it in a melted parmesan cup and I have served it on bruschetta, to name just a few, but never in a burger.  So, Introducing!  My Caprese Burger!

This is flavorful and simple and feeds four to six.  Six if you make burgers mini-slider sized, like my mother likes, four for heartier appetites. Here is my easy list of ingredients for my Caprese pesto:

6-8 fresh basil leaves
pinch salt and pepper
1 level tablespoon grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Pulse in a food processor (I have a little one for small jobs like this one), taste for flavor balance, adjust, if needed, more evoo or salt and pepper, spatula into a bowl and set aside to let the flavors marry. 

Burgers Ingredients:

1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 to 1 pound ground chuck
1 rounded tablespoon Italian seasoning
salt and pepper
2 sloppy tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 splash of Worcestershire sauce
Fresh basil leaves (3 per burger), whole
fresh mozzarella, sliced, 2 slices per burger
tomato, thinly sliced into discs

Special sauce:

3 tablespoons mayonnaise or plan Greek yogurt
1.5 teaspoons dry Italian seasoning
pinch salt and pepper
1.5 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
2 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, grated
1 rounded teaspoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Stir the special sauce ingredients together to form a spread. 

In a large bowl, add the meat. Add all of the ingredients to the meat and use your best kitchen utensils, your hands, and mix the seasonings, balsamic and Worcestershire sauce into the meat. I find it funny that chefs tell us "do not overwork the meat".  How long or how much is overworking the meat?  I find that a few good "swooshings" of your hands through the meat like beaters on a mixer works everything together quite efficiently. 

Form the burgers to the desired size and put a thumb hole in the center.  I followed Bobby Flay's advice about that and it works, in that the burger does not poof up and the juices remain in the burger, not squished out of it because the burger rounded.  I also gently season both sides of the burgers with salt and pepper. 

After about four or five minutes on the first side, flip the burgers and place the mozzarella slices atop the burger. If the burgers are large, let it cook six or seven minutes before flipping. Create a foil tent and place it over the burgers if you are frying them to help the cheese soften and melt over the sides. 

Now would be a great time to toast the buns. I drizzle the buns with evoo and add a little garlic powder to them.  That is just my preference. Do not burn them under the broiler like I often do!  Keep an eye on it and do not start fires.  

When the buns have toasted and the mozzarella has started oozing over the rounded edges of the burgers, add the Caprese spread to the bun. I put it on the top, and the special sauce on the bottom. I added the three large basil leaves to the bottom, atop the special sauce, thinly sliced tomatoes, burger and place the top bun atop the burger. 

It's all about the Caprese spread and special sauce!  

This was one of my best burgers ever. 

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In the meantime, Thank You for your time and readership!  Now, Go Cook For Someone You Love!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Simple Summer Sangria

It has been heating up here, in sunny California, and after long days at work, I felt it was time for a cool down with a fun pitcher of homemade sangria. Here is what I did; a little different from the norm, but I love these flavor combinations. The great thing about sangria is that you can have whatever flavor combinations you like. 

This is what I put together:

1  ruby grapefruit, peeled with a knife and sliced into discs

1 peach, cut around the pit and sliced

1 lemon, ends removed, sliced into discs

1/3 cup red seedless grapes, halved

1 tablespoon agave nectar

1 1/2 cups pink lemonade

1 cup spritzer water

1 bottle Rose sparkling wine

4 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade

Mix together thoroughly.  It is best to allow the flavors to marry a couple of hours - or longer - in the refrigerator prior to serving. 

Ready to serve?  Chill a glass in the freezer and gently pour.  Then, simply enjoy. 

I hope you enjoy this simple summer sangria!  

Please remember, drink responsibly!!!!!