Monday, April 18, 2011

I heard the sounds of pots today

Finally, life has settled down a little and I actually cooked a real meal. I honestly can't remember the last time I looked at a recipe and thought " Hey, I think I will fix that for supper". I think I posted the other day about the super sale Piggly Wiggly had. This morning I ran back just to see if they still had a few of the larger items at the sale price. I was beyond thrilled when I realized I could get another whole New York Strip and another whole pork tenderloin. If only I had looked at a cookbook before I went shopping I would have had things butchered a little differently. I literally have meats coming out of every frozen surface in my home.

This morning for example, after I had the butcher cut the N.Y. strip into individual steaks, I wound up with 6 packages of 3 each, and one rogue lone steak. The solo steak is in the fridge and the packs are frozen waiting on a day when nothing but steak will do. Did I mention That is 19 steaks for $83? Quite a deal. I would love to tell you I will do something beyond traditional, like a wellington or something similar, but I won't. On occasions throughout the spring and summer we will toss a steak on the grill and have a steak and salad supper with some huge vine ripened tomatoes on the side. ( We went to the botanical gardens plant sale yesterday and bought several heirloom tomato plants, so I am dreaming of them in advance)

I had the pork loin cut in 3/4 inch slices. Because Son3 is still eating most of his suppers here, I packaged them 5 to a pack. I froze 7 packages and had 4 pieces leftover for tonight. If I had only known what we would have for supper, I would have had it cut into slices, with the exception of a 1 1/2 pound uncut hunk. Oh well, it worked anyway, but it was just in a different form that what I would have preferred.

Oh yeah, and I am changing the rules of this blog. I decided if I found a new and untried recipe on the internet it will count in my quest for 100 new to us dishes. I am no longer bound to the cookbooks I own.

Mediterranean Pork Roulades

2 scallions, sliced
3 ounces herbed goat cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons chopped roasted red peppers
2 tablespoons sun-dried tomatoes
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning, divided
3 lbs boneless pork loin, butterflied
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat oven to 425°F
Layer the first 5 ingredients and 2 teaspoons of the seasoning on pork loin. Roll lengthwise; tie at 1-inch intervals with cooking twine.
3 Sprinkle with remaining seasoning, salt, and pepper. Place seam side down in pan.
4 Cover with foil and roast for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F and cook for 1 hour more or until thermometer inserted in meat reads 155°F.

This is the way the recipe is written and we know I have pieces of pork not a big ole hunk to butterfly, so here is what I did.

I took the 4 boneless loin pieces and pounded those suckers until they were about 1/4 inch thick. I had a pack of goat cheese but it was not herbed, so I mixed it with a wonderful Turkish seasoning blend I have. I spread it on each of the now flat pork pieces. I had no fresh spinach but did have a pack of frozen chopped spinach, so I thawed it and placed it on top of the cheese. Oops, no sundried tomatoes either so I nixed that idea and put 1/2 onion (julienne slices) equally among the 4 pieces. Another sprinkle of Turkish seasoning and it was time to roll them. I tucked the ends in and them rolled them into fat pig cigars. Oops again, no twine, so I had to go on the great toothpick hunt. I could not find the regular ones so the roulades were laced with green and red party toothpicks (plain no cellophane frills). Instead of baking them, I brought about 2 Tablespoons of olive oil to temp in an enameled dutch oven. I seared the pork well and then added a combination liquid of chicken stock, white wine and water. I used about a third of each and would love to give you the measurements but I forgot to measure. There was liquid about half way up the sides of the roll-ups. I turned the heat down to a low simmer and just let it sit and simmer its little self to doneness.

In a perfect world we would have eaten after about 35 minutes of simmering, but we don't live perfectly. Son3 got caught in traffic coming back from Birmingham Southern at 5p.m. The Hub started doing some odd jobs and I delayed supper for the first time. Son3 called when he was 5 minutes out and I turned everything back on to rewarm. He walked in the door and announced that he thought his car was making a funny noise, but it was just a flat.

Turn everything off and wait for them to fix the flat tire. Oops! The lug nuts would not budge, so AAA had to be called. It was supposed to take AAA about 30 minutes to get to our house, so Son3 was to clean out his car which would need to go to Estes tomorrow morning to have the tire repaired or (most likely) new one bought. I rewarmed supper again so we could scarf it down before AAA got to the house, when the phone rang. Brad from AAA was on our street looking for our house, so both Son3 and The Hub went to meet him. So it was turned off again. After about 10 minutes the tire was changed and everyone was ready for supper at last. A final reheating and supper was on the table. To be honest with all of the holding and rewarming I was surprised how tasty it was. Well at least the pork was tasty. By the 4th reheating the broccoli was a little on the mushy side and the mashed potatoes that were momentarily perfect had attained a pastelike consistency. Too bad, it was hot and it was on the table...finally!

I will make it again and I will probably do individual roulades,because I have all of these lovely slices of pork in the freezer. It was easy to serve and eat and the taste was fabulous. If I use toothpicks again to hold them together I will opt for plain wooden ones. There were green and red places in the pork where the food coloring in the toothpicks leached into the meat. Of course it may not have happened if we had eaten the blooming food the first time it was ready!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

No I didn't forget this...I just haven't cooked in about a month

I have not really cooked in over 2 months. It's not like I haven't thrown something on the grill and added a salad, but I have not done an honest to goodness sit down and plan a real meal lately. Thanks to The Pig in Bluff Park all of that is about to change.

The Pig is having a four day Tent Sale with bargains galore. I went yesterday and stocked up on many things and plan to go back tomorrow. I am not one of those people like the coupon hoarding folks who feel compelled to live with a wall of toothpaste, or have 93 cans of green beans on hand all the time, but when there are excellent buys of the protein kind I am all for it. This week is (appropriately) a pork bonanza at The Pig. They have all of these lovely baby back ribs and pork tenderloins at a fantastic price in there own little cryovac packages. Just buy and pop them in the freezer. They also have great prices on lettuce, apples, oranges and strawberries. Not much more in the way of produce, but they have several convenience foods at a very reduced price. Oh, and did I mention the whole New York Strips? I hear the sounds of my pots and pans getting ready for action.

There is a little catering shop across The Pig parking lot known for their Strawberry Cake. I think I am going to have to try and find a decent cake recipe ( since, perhaps and just maybe I have 8 quarts of strawberries in my fridge. I said earlier they were a good deal) Speaking of cake recipes, the cake shop in Homewood, Dreamcakes, had their new cupcake cookbook launch party tonight. I meant to go down and pick up a book and a cupcake or two. I didn't make it, but I am sure they will have both the book and cupcakes there tomorrow. I wonder if they have a good strawberry cupcake recipe? I really wonder if their caramel and sea salt cupcake recipe will be in it. Now my mouth is really watering. Makes me hungry just thinking about it.

I think I have really missed the process of cooking. There is something about doing it that grounds me. In fact when I am truly depressed or experiencing angst, I bake. I can go on automatic pilot and find something therapeutic about the process of measuring, mixing and baking. You don't have to think about what you are doing, because the list of ingredients is right in front of you. Baking by a recipe requires no creative thought, and in the end you have something that tastes mighty good with a hot cup of coffee. And what lessens sorrow more that something fresh out of the oven and a cup of joe?

With all of this food in the house and the promise of more to come tomorrow, I look forward to looking through my cookbooks and exploring some new ways to serve everything.