Friday, June 24, 2011

Pork Tenderloin Poached in Red Wine

Well, FINALLY we were able to get out in the yard and get the garden going, sort of. Now, we were able to move a few herbs around and get the tomatoes into the new greenhouse, along with the wimpy herb, basil. It just can't take the elements outside here, very temperamental. The weather here is atrocious again, just as it was last year. We have seen a few sunny days, a few with some sun, but mainly just rainy days after the snow had quit. It's still raining off and on, but at least we hit temperatures above 20C.... finally.

The tomatoes in the greenhouse are way behind schedule, but at least they've been planted.



They are starting to bloom and hopefully we will see some fruit on the vines soon.



The other night it was decided pork tenderloin was going to be the victim of the evening. I wanted to prepare it differently from what I have done in the past, so I looked around the house and here is what I came up with. I didn't think braising the pork was a good idea as it is a tender enough cut of meat that it doesn't need to be tenderized. Braising cooks the less tender cuts of meat using a liquid. This pork recipe is more of a poaching than a braising. I didn't sear the meat on the outside first. Instead, I just put it in the liquid (red wine) with some veggies and shoved it in the oven. Quick and easy.

Ingredients

- 1 pork tenderloin
- 1.5-2 cups red wine* (see below)
- 1/2 onion, cut into large pieces
- 2 carrots, sliced thick
- 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 1 tsp butter

Directions

1) Preheat the oven to 400F, and prepare all of the vegetables and herbs. No need to be perfect as they are only in this recipe to help flavor the wine and the meat.
2) Place the tenderloin in a good quality pot. You want a pot with a tight sealing lid to keep the heat inside.
3) Sprinkle rosemary over top along with some pepper,


and add the rest of the vegetables, herbs and spices. Just smash the garlic and you don't even have to take off the skin.






4) Pour in the wine until it reaches approximately 1/2 to 3/4 the way up the side of the tenderloin.


5) Put the lid on and place in the oven for around 35 minutes. You could turn the tenderloin over after 2 minutes, if you like. This will turn all of the pork a purple-ee color all over instead of just on one side. If you do this, you may need another 4-5 minutes cooking time.
6) When finished, yank it out of the oven and place the pork on a cutting board for a 5-6 minutes to cool down. This will ensure the juices stay inside the meat when you cut it. Meanwhile, strain the liquid so everything else is removed. Pour the wine back into the pot and crank up the heat. Bring to a boil and reduce to a little less than half of the original volume. When finished reducing, add the butter and stir into the wine. This adds flavor, a little brightness to the sauce and helps thicken it. Take it off the heat and set aside.





7) Slice pork on the bias (at an angle) to allow more of the sauce to come into contact with the meat and make your slices a little bit bigger.
8) Place on a plate with whatever else you are eating, pour the sauce over top of the meat, a little salt and serve.
Yield: Serves 2






*When choosing a wine for this, you have to think about a wine which will stand up to the flavor of the  tenderloin. An American Pinot Noir will suffice as it is bold enough. I didn't have a US Pinot and I was too lazy to run to the liquor store. I sauntered down the stairs to our little cellar and went through all of our collection and the best fit I found was an Okanagan-based Pinot from Mt. Boucherie, a 2005 Summit Reserve. Nice wine but I was a little worried it wouldn't stand up to the pork as it isn't as bold as it's US counterpart(s). My worries were placed aside after my first bite. It worked out fine.

Now, I had planned on serving some poached asparagus in hot water with EVOO and salt (which is what you see above) along with some ginger carrots, but unfortunately little O dropped one of her larger toys on her big toe after attempting to put the toy on one of our coffee tables. This made me almost forget about supper altogether. Fortunately, I remembered in the nick of time about the pork, let alone anything else. I only had time to make the asparagus because fatherly duties popped up. Making another dish would've made the pork sit and get cold. Poor kid, her big toenail now has a nice purple color underneath it to match the pork.

Little O's Menu

It's crunch time now as she is becoming extremely picky with her food choices. It's hard to get her to eat any protein right now. We will start the new regime by letting the daycare ladies feed her what all the other kids are eating from now on. They eat fairly healthy there, so we aren't worried. O has to understand more now than ever that you eat what is placed in front of you, not whatever YOU think you should be eating. She still demands her bananas, blackberries and other fruits, but there isn't much for protein as I mentioned. She did, however, eat some of our pork. Surprising, yes, very. We have had to resort to hiding any meat under a piece of bread or something like that, but she chewed down 4 or 5 pieces without us playing any games. Hopefully this trend continues. We don't eat meat everyday, but we do have a few different ways of getting protein in to her and our diets without it.

Quote Of The Day:

"If we're not supposed to eat animals, how come they're made of meat?"

~ Tom Snyder (1936-2007) American news anchor, television and radio personality

I love eating meat, but I don't push meat on anybody. Check this article out on Chef Tal Ronnen which I posted on my Big City Eater Facebook page yesterday. I like his ideas and he's very open minded (which we all should be when it comes to your diet and health), but I still will always eat meat. To good to give up all together.


Until next time, good eating everyone

Mark

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tomato And Goat Cheese Tarts From Ina

 These would be good for an UPSCALE Superbowl party if the people at your place wanted a little more than chicken wings and nachos. Enjoy!



One day while on the couch, sitting on my lazy ass channel surfing, a tomato jumped out from the screen and got my attention. The Barefoot Contessa was on and Ina was making these tarts. After I wiped the drool off of my chin, I decided I was gonna make them tarts (with a couple of my own changes).

As you all know, I'm a big tomato fan, so if there's any way to eat a tomato, I'll find it and try it. This one seems so easy and I never thought of doing it because I never bake. Baking is a science and cooking is an art. I'm an artist, not a scientist so I think I may be holding myself back a little bit.

Tomatoes and goat cheese go very well together, so adding a few other ingredients only makes the two more interesting. The caramelized onions add a great base flavor and the puff pastry is a fine canvas for your work. It's quick and easy to make, so let's get started shall we? This is a long one, so please bear with me.

Ingredients

- 1 package (2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted.
- 4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)
- 3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tbsp dry white wine
- 2 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
- 4 tbsp grated Parmesan. You will also need a vegetable peeler to shave a little over top of the tarts
- 4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese
- 1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices (I used smaller ones this time, it's all I had)
- 3 large basil leaves, torn by hand or julienned (cut into ribbons), if you want your tarts to look all pretty
- EVOO, the good stuff

Directions

1) Unfold a sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface and roll it lightly to an 11 by 11-inch square. 
2) Using a 6-inch wide saucer or other round object as a guide, cut 2 circles from the sheet of puff pastry, discarding the scraps. Repeat with the second pastry sheet to make 4 circles in all. Place the pastry circles on 2 sheet pans lined with parchment paper and refrigerate until ready to use. Preheat the oven to 425 F.
3) Heat 3 tablespoons of EVOO in a large skillet over medium to low heat and add the onions and garlic. Saute for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are limp and there is almost no moisture remaining in the skillet. Pay close attention as you don't want them to burn.
4) Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, the wine, and thyme and continue to cook for another 10 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Remove from the heat.


5) Using a sharp paring knife, score a 1/4-inch-wide border around each pastry circle. Prick the pastry inside the score lines with a fork and sprinkle a tablespoon of grated Parmesan on each round, staying inside the scored border. Pricking holes in the center will ensure the pastry will stay flat and only the outside will puff up. Pretty cool actually.


6) Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edge. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with your good EVOO and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, throw 4 or 5 shavings of Parmesan on each tart.


7) Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom sheet pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven. Serve hot or warm.
Yield: Makes 4 tarts


As you can see, I served it with my Cauliflower Gratin with some chives sprinkled over top. I was running out of time to cook things before they went bad, and the cauliflower was one of them. I hate throwing away food. You could say it was our Meatless Monday meal as well. I'm watching my portions and this was pretty big, so I couldn't eat all of it. 1/2 of the tart is for lunch tomorrow.

These tarts are easy to make. There seems to be a lot of instructions, but don't be misled. There are a few little things, like pricking the center of the pastry so it won't puff up, which has to be done and it's easy to do, but it has to be explained properly. The hardest part of the whole recipe is cooking the onions. Also,  you may know by now if you read a lot of my posts I'm not a big fan of measurements. Some things yes because you will screw up the recipe, especially in baking, but on the whole, no. I don't measure liquids or oils normally, I just put in what I think is right and/or what I think will work. So, if you want to measure tablespoons or 1/2 teaspoons, go right ahead. It won't change anything for the most part. You will however, take more time to prepare your meal.

We all know how good tomatoes are for us with all their vitamins, minerals and lycopene, but let's not forget about the onions and the garlic. Both should be eaten almost everyday if you can manage it. Do it right and people won't try to avoid you all of the time because you stink. Besides, even if you do stink like onions and garlic, big deal. It just means you are healthier than everybody who is avoiding you and you won't catch any of their germs as no one will be within five feet of you.

Little O's Menu

The ladies in her daycare says she's a picky eater. This is becoming a little bit of a problem, but I think it's just one of those phases she's going through. At first, I thought "Yeah right. She just won't eat the crap you feed the kids." But, I saw what they eat and it's not too bad actually. The worst thing I saw on the menu was fish sticks, but I think they're the good, healthier kind and they're baked not fried. They push fruit and vegetables on the kids as well. I'm glad to see they are sending the kids on the right dietary path, even if the parents aren't. O still eats a lot of yogurt with fruit, fresh or already in the cup. The ladies just laughed and asked if we ate like her. I just looked at my gut and said "What do you think?", and laughed. She has been going to the daycare two days a week now, and it's tough to see her go, but it's for the best. She will get more interaction with other kids her age, but I miss our little peanut very much. Her little shoes are too big to fill with anything else.


Restaurant (resort actually) Review

This past weekend, we went to spend the weekend at The Fairmont Chateau Lake louise, about an hour and a half west of here in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. It was Bonnie's idea to go out there and spend a family weekend away to celebrate our 3rd anniversary as well as Father's Day. Nice idea, especially as I have never experienced the place. We pulled in to this majestic location on Friday afternoon. Right away the guys were all over us (in a good way) and ready to help us out in any way we needed. Bonnie went in with Little O, and the fellow and I took care of the luggage. She came walking back out about 5 minutes later and informed me she had upgraded us to the Fairmont Gold floor as it was our anniversary. It only cost us an extra $100 per night, so why not? It's not cheap, but it's a special occasion. Who am I to argue....

On Saturday evening, we booked a babysitter (who was actually one of the Gold Floor concierges) for Little O and off to dinner we went. The Fairview Dining Room had a wine pairing dinner (2,3 or 4 course), so we both decided the 3 course would be more than enough. She started with the Yukon Gold Potato Wrapped Crispy Wild Prawns and paired it with the Jackson Triggs Dry Reisling. I had the Salt & Beet Cured Organic King Salmon paired with Pascal Jolivet Attitude Sauvignon Blanc. I don't like taking pictures in restaurants (especially ones as nice as this), but I completely forgot about it as I was hungry and excited to dig in. The main courses were Trio of Lamb Sirloin - Lamb Shank - Lamb Popsicle for her with a glass of Concha Y Toro Terrunyo Carmenère Block 27,


and I had the AAA Alberta Beef Tenderloin & Veal Sweet Breads and paired it with the Trivento Malbec Golden Reserve.


For dessert, she chose the Deconstructed Apple Pie, paired with a glass of Bonterra Muscat.


I had the Warm liquid Centered Chocolate Cake paired with a glass of Taylor Fladgate LBV Port.


Sorry about the quality of the Blackberry pics, but it's as good as it's going to get without pissing everyone off around us. Nice little congrats cookie for us as well. Very nice dinner, great service and a fantastic view made for a perfect little evening. The wife was pretty corked, but me being a seasoned vet in the imbibing department, ended up fine in the end. I actually went out for a beer later (to let Bonnie settle down Olivia as she doesn't when we're both there together, for some reason) to the Glacier Saloon and met a nice couple from North Carolina. Good way to end the night. We did eat at two of the other places in the resort (The Lakeview Lounge


and the Chateau Deli) as well. They were a great place to grab a bite, but I can only talk about the whole place so much without losing your interest. Just go and check the place out yourself. You will enjoy every bit of it just as much as we did. It's a very grand place with lots of history surrounding it.


Here's a pic of the lake as we took a 2 hour hike to the other side of it. Beautiful.


Quote Of The Day:

"There's lots of people in this world who spend so much time watching their health that they haven't the time to enjoy it."
~ Josh Billings (1818-1885) Pen name of American humorist Henry Wheeler Shaw


Until next time, good eating everyone.

Mark