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Cider-Brined Pork Loin

cider, dinner, pork By November 25, 2015 Tags: , , , , No Comments

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I have a confession to make: I am addicted to brining. In addition to being my favorite way to prepare poultry, this recipe for a cider-based brine is my absolute favorite way to prepare a pork loin. The cider-based brine keeps the pork loin moist as it cooks, and the apples cooked in cider provide a ready-made side dish. The brine, spicy honey, fresh thyme, and mustard in this dish help create a delicious balance of sweetness, saltiness, freshness, and heat. This dish is also surprisingly quick to pull together after the pork loin has brined overnight. With a little planning, my cider-brined pork loin makes a great weeknight meal.

To make the brine, you will need…

2 bottles of hard cider

2 cups water

1 tbsp minced fresh ginger

4 crushed garlic cloves

2 tbsp hot honey

1 tbsp fresh thyme, stems removed

1/2 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup dijon mustard

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp white pepper

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp whole allspice

1 tsp whole cloves

To make the pork loin, you will need…

1 pork loin

1 bottle of hard cider

3 medium honeycrisp apples, sliced

3 garlic cloves, crushed

3-4 fresh sprigs of thyme

2 tbsp salted butter

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp white pepper

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp ground mustard

1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika

To make the brine:

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In an eight-quart saucepan, combine all of the brine ingredients. Cook the mixture on medium-low, stirring occasionally, until all of the salt and sugar have dissolved. Allow the brine to completely cool and then transfer the brine to a plastic container with a lid or a large sealable, plastic bag. Add the pork loin to the brine and store the container or bag in your refrigerator for approximately twenty-four hours. If you put the brine in a plastic bag, store the sealed bag in a bowl to prevent spills or leakage onto your fridge shelves.

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To prepare the pork loin:

Remove the pork loin from the brine and rinse any excess brine off of the meat. For food safety, clean your sink and the area around it with a disinfectant after doing this. Rinsing off the pork could cause contaminated water to splash on the area around the sink. So, be careful and clean up.

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Mix together 1 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp white pepper, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp ground mustard, and 1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika in small bowl. Lightly coat the outside of the pork loin with the spice mix.

Melt 2 tbsp of butter in a cast iron skillet on medium high. When the butter is melted, swirl the butter to coat the pan. Sear the pork loin in the butter for a few minutes on each side. Turn off the heat and remove the seared pork loin from the skillet and place on a plate to the side.

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Turn the heat on low and deglaze the skillet using the bottle of cider. Add the apples and three crushed garlic cloves and coat in the cider sauce. Once the apples and garlic are coated in the sauce, turn off the heat and return the pork loin to the pan. Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme to the pan. The layer of apples will act as a roasting rack that will ensure the pork loin roasts rather than poaching in the liquid.

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Roast the pork loin and apples in the cast iron skillet for approximately 25-30 minutes. The exact cooking time will vary based upon the weight of the pork loin. The internal temperature should be between 145°F and 160°F, when measured with a meat thermometer, per USDA guidelines. I would recommend aiming for the lower end of the 145°F-160°F range, because pork loin has a tendency to dry out. Allow the pork loin to rest for five to ten minutes. Slice the pork loin against the grain of the meat and serve.

Cider-Brined Pork Loin

Cider-Brined Pork Loin

Ingredients

    For the brine:
  • 2 bottles of hard cider
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 4 crushed garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp hot honey
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme, stems removed
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp whole allspice
  • 1 tsp whole cloves
  • For the pork loin:
  • 1 pork loin (approximately 2-3 lbs)
  • 1 bottle of hard cider
  • 3 medium honeycrisp apples, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3-4 fresh sprigs of thyme
  • 2 tbsp salted butter
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp ground mustard
  • 1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika

Instructions

    To make the brine:
  1. In an eight-quart saucepan, combine all of the brine ingredients. Cook the mixture on medium-low, stirring occasionally, until all of the salt and sugar have dissolved.
  2. Allow the brine to completely cool and then transfer the brine to a plastic container with a lid or a large sealable, plastic bag. Add the pork loin to the brine and store the container or bag in your refrigerator for approximately twenty-four hours. If you put the brine in a plastic bag, store the sealed bag in a bowl to prevent spills or leakage onto your fridge shelves.
  3. To make the pork loin:
  4. Remove the pork loin from the brine and rinse any excess brine off of the meat. For food safety, clean your sink and the area around it with a disinfectant after doing this. Rinsing off the pork could cause contaminated water to splash on the area around the sink. So, be careful and clean up.
  5. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
  6. Mix together 1 tsp kosher salt, 1 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp white pepper, 1 tsp ground ginger, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp ground mustard, and 1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika in small bowl. Lightly coat the outside of the pork loin with the spice mix.
  7. Melt 2 tbsp of butter in a cast iron skillet on medium high. When the butter is melted, swirl the butter to coat the pan.
  8. Sear the pork loin in the butter for a few minutes on each side. Turn off the heat and remove the seared pork loin from the skillet and place on a plate to the side.
  9. Turn the heat on low and deglaze the skillet using the bottle of cider.
  10. Add the apples and three crushed garlic cloves and coat in the cider sauce.
  11. Once the apples and garlic are coated in the sauce, turn off the heat and return the pork loin to the pan. Add a few sprigs of fresh thyme to the pan.
  12. Roast the pork loin and apples in the cast iron skillet for approximately 25-30 minutes. The internal temperature should be between 145°F and 160°F, when measured with a meat thermometer, per USDA guidelines.
  13. Allow the pork loin to rest for five to ten minutes.
  14. Slice the pork loin against the grain of the meat and serve.
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Dark Swan Creamy Parmesan Black Rice with Crab

dinner, seafood By September 24, 2015 Tags: , , , , No Comments

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Today’s recipe is a perfect combination of food geek and pop culture geek. This dish was inspired by the Once Upon a Time season five previews of Emma’s Dark Swan persona. I wanted to create a beautiful and delicious black and white dish. I thought black rice would be the perfect, and the crab and parmesan cheese would provide great color contrast. Finally, I topped the whole dish off with feather-shaped parmesan crisp.

This dish was also heavily influenced by Massimo Bottura’s recipe Risotto Cacio e Pepe (found here) that was featured on the Netflix series Chef’s Table earlier this year. This is not meant to be a true risotto, hence the name creamy parmesan rice. Not only does it not use arborio rice, but it also not as creamy has risotto. The black rice keeps a nice al dente texture within the creamy sauce that is created in this recipe. Bottura created this recipe following an earthquake in Italy damaged several wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano, in order to use the damaged wheels. For the food geeks reading this, I cannot recommend the Chef’s Table series enough. Actually, stop reading this and go watch it now. I’ll wait.

When you are ready to try your hand at this recipe,you will need…

4 cups shellfish or chicken stock ( I used Better Than Bouillon’s lobster base)

3 cups parmesan broth (prepared as directed by Massimo Bottura’s recipe linked above)

1 1/2 cup dry white wine

1 cup water

2 1/2 cups black rice

3 lemons

2 shallots, minced

7 garlic cloves, minced

3/4 tsp black pepper

7 tbsp unsalted butter

1/4 cup parmesan cream

1 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano

1 tsp fresh sage, minced

1 lb lump crab meat

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp fresh parsley, minced

1 egg white

Mix the shellfish or chicken stock, parmesan broth, water, and one cup of white wine together and bring to a boil. In a separate pot, melt three tablespoons of unsalted butter. Once the butter is melted, add one of the shallots and four of the garlic cloves and cook until shallots are translucent. Add the rice and toss the it in the butter, shallot, and garlic mixture. Toast the rice for two to three minutes. Then, slowly add the liquid to the rice, stirring as you go. The liquid does not have to be completely absorbed before each new addition. As I said at the beginning, this is not a true risotto.

IMG_1542Finally, add the juice and zest of one lemon and the sage to the rice. Cook the rice in a covered pot until all of the liquid is absorbed. When the liquid is absorbed, finish the dish with two tablespoons of parmesan cream, a quarter cup of grated parmesan, and a quarter teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper.

While your rice is cooking, make your parmesan crisps. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Mix half a cup of grated parmigiano reggiano and the egg white together with a fork. Form the cheese mixture into the desired shape on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone mat. Grind some black pepper over the unbaked crisps. Bake until golden brown.

IMG_1549When the rice is almost ready, melt four tablespoons of unsalted butter in a saucepan. Add the remaining shallots and garlic cloves. Add the sea salt and cook for a few minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the remaining half cup of white wine. Add the the juice from two lemons and the remaining parmesan cream. Cook the sauce for five minutes.

IMG_1545Add the crab and cook for an additional five minutes. Finish the crab adding the remaining black pepper and one teaspoon of fresh parsley.

IMG_1547Plate with the black rice and crab with the parmesan crisps and more grated parmesan. This recipe will serve four to six people.

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Treats from the Tardis: Fish Fingers and Custard (and Chips)

dinner, seafood By September 18, 2015 Tags: , , , , No Comments

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As Whovians everywhere gear up for the Doctor Who premiere on Saturday, I decided to create a few recipes for the occasion. The first recipe is for what has become the quintessential Whovian recipe, fish fingers and custard. Inspired by the eleventh doctor’s bizarre taste in snacks, there are several versions of this recipe on the Internet ranging from sweet interpretations to Alton Brown’s unflinchingly accurate version complete with homemade minced fish fingers. This version involves two of my favorite pairings, fish and chips and french fries and aioli. In my version, I have made battered cod tenders, double-fried french fries, and a lemon-garlic aioli “custard”.

To make this meal, you will need…

3 cups white rice flour

2 bottles of blonde beer

2 tbsp, plus 1 tsp sea salt

1 tbsp, plus 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 tbsp, plus 1/2 tsp garlic powder

3 lbs russet potatoes

2 lbs cod fillets

3 pasteurized eggs, plus 1 pasteurized egg yolk

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 lemons

1/8 tsp ground cayenne

1 gallon of peanut oil, for frying

Start by making the aioli. Actually, let’s pause and have a conversation about raw eggs and salmonella. I am not a medical professional. I am just someone who loves to cook. There are serious health risks associated with consuming raw eggs (i.e., salmonella poisoning). Using pasteurized eggs reduces the risk, but it does not eliminate it. I have decided that I am personally comfortable with the risk. That does not mean you should be. I am a random person on the Internet. Take my opinion with a grain of salt. I encourage you to do your own research and make a decision for yourself and your family. Here is a helpful place to start. However, I would not recommend this recipe for children, the elderly, or someone with an otherwise weak immune system, as these groups are in the most danger in the event of salmonella contamination.

If you are cooking for one of these groups or are just not comfortable consuming raw eggs, you can still have an awesome custard dipping sauce. To make a raw egg free version, mix together 1 cup of regular store-bought mayo, the juice and zest of one lemon, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp cayenne, and a few pinches of turmeric or a few drops of yellow food coloring (to mimic the color of the egg yolk). To make the original recipe, combine 2 whole eggs, 1 egg yolk, the juice and zest of one lemon, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, and 1/8 tsp cayenne in a blender or food processor. Turn on the blender or food processor on low. While the machine is running, pour the olive oil in slowly into the open top.

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The aioli will be ready when it is the consistency of mayo. This should happen pretty quickly. Spoon the aioli into a bowl, cover, and place the aioli in the fridge to chill.

Now, you’re ready to prep your potatoes. Scrub the potatoes, slice them into strips, and place the strips in a large bowl of heavily salted water.

IMG_0656Once you’ve got your potatoes prepped, heat the oil in a large pot and prep the batter for the fish. In a large bowl, combine the rice flour, beer, 1 egg, 2 tbsp of salt, 1 tbsp of pepper, 1 tbsp of garlic powder, and the zest from one lemon. Leave the batter to rest. The oil should be ready by now. Check the oil by carefully dropping a pinch of salt into the oil. If the oil immediately bubbles when the salt hits it, then the oil is ready. While the batter is resting, blanch the fries in the oil (first fry). While you clearly will not need a deep-fryer for this step, I highly recommend a metal spider tool over a slotted spoon for placing food in the oil and taking it out of the oil. You can get these from Williams-Sonoma or Amazon for under $10.00. As always, use extreme caution around hot oil.

IMG_0659You don’t want to completely cook the fries at this stage. The fries will be done when they have begun to look puffy. When they reach this stage, scoop them out with the spider or a metal slotted spoon and place the blanched fries on a sheet pan lined with paper towels. Cover with the blanched potatoes with more paper towels and put them aside.

IMG_0670Once your fries are blanched, prep the cod by cutting the fillets into small strips.

IMG_0672Dip the fish into the batter. Use a spider or a slotted spoon to put the battered fish into the oil. Fry until golden brown.

IMG_0675Once the fish is ready, return the potatoes to the oil in batches to crisp them. As you remove the fries after their second fry, season them with salt (and other spices, if desired). Once your fries are ready, everything is ready to serve.

Coming Soon: A Jammie Dodger™-Inspired Tart for Dessert!

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Eat In Tonight: Grilled Chicken Noodle Bowl

chicken, dinner By August 18, 2015 Tags: , , , No Comments

Not the most exciting title, but I was not sure what to call this dish. This delicious dinner is one part ramen and one part stir-fry. Ramen-fry just sounds a little too silly, so I’m sticking with the name noodle bowl. Despite its lack of an exciting name, this dish is full of amazing flavors. So, say goodbye to delivery or, if like me and you live in an area with a dearth of delivery choices, skip the drive. To make this dish, you will need to start by marinating two pounds of chicken tenders for at least for an hour or, preferably, overnight.

Spicy Soy Chicken Marinade

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 tbsp gochujang (can be found at Walmart or grocery stores in the Asian foods aisle)

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp hoisin sauce

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tbsp pickled ginger

      Mix all ingredients in a bowl or a gallon freezer bag. Add the chicken, and toss the chicken in marinade to coat. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Grilled Chicken Noodle Bowl

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When I staged the ingredients shot for this recipe, I managed to forget the noodles. For a noodle bowl recipe. So, they get their own picture.

2 lbs marinated chicken tenders

1 lb julienned carrots

1 bunch cilantro

1 daikon radish, peeled and shredded

4 heads of baby bok choy

1 hot pepper (chef’s choice)

4 cloves of garlic

2 in piece of fresh ginger, minced

1 bunch of green onions

1 red bell pepper

1 yellow bell pepper

1 medium white onion

8 oz frozen edamame

8 oz package of sliced shiitake mushrooms

1 lb of rice noodles

2 tbsp canola oil

1 tbsp gochujang

1 tsp fish sauce

1 tbsp hoisin sauce

1/4 cup soy sauce

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

64 oz chicken stock (Swanson’s Thai Ginger Stock recommended)

    Start by prepping your veggies. Remove the seeds from bell peppers and hot pepper. Slice the bell peppers and dice the hot pepper. Peel and shred the daikon radish using a box grater. Slice the onion. Remove and reserve the green tops of the baby bok choy. Chop off the roots of the bok choy. Finely slice the remaining crunchy ends. Put these veggies to the side until ready to use. We’ll call this veggie batch 1. Mince the garlic cloves. Peel and mince the fresh ginger. Take the bok choy greens and chiffonade them. Set aside this batch of veggies aside until ready to use. We’ll call this veggie batch 2. Finally, cut off and reserve the white ends of the green onions and slice the green ends for garnish. Now that you’ve got all of veggies prepped, these next steps will go smoothly.

    Put on a kettle of water to boil (for the noodles). I followed the rice noodle cooking tutorial found here. After you put on the kettle of water. You will want to start you broth. Pour the chicken stock into a large stock pot. Add the shitaki mushrooms, a small bunch of washed cilantro, the white ends of the green onions, and half of the garlic. Bring the broth to a boil and, then, reduce to a simmer, while you make the rest of the components.

IMG_0545   While the broth is simmering, stir-fry the veggies and grill the chicken. Start by preparing a spicy soy sauce for the veggies. Whisk together the soy sauce, fish sauce, hoisin sauce, gochujang, the remaining garlic, and the ginger. Put the sauce aside. Put the chicken tenders in a grill pan or on an outdoor grill. These will cook for around 10 minutes. Flip the chicken tenders over half way through the cooking time. When the chicken is done, the meat should be white and the juices should run clear. Once the chicken is cooking, heat the canola oil in a wok. When the oil is hot, add veggie batch 1 to wok and pour the sauce over the veggies. Use a large spatula to toss the veggies in the sauce. Try to keep the veggies on the sides of the wok to prevent the veggies from steaming. Cook until bell peppers and onions are soft, around seven minutes. When veggie batch 1 is ready, spoon the veggies out the wok onto a plate. Add veggie batch 2 to the wok. Cook for around two minutes. Then, add back veggie batch 1 and turn off the heat.

IMG_0549IMG_0552    Prepare your rice noodles as instructed in the tutorial linked above. Strain the chicken stock, and you are ready to assemble your noodle bowl. To assemble the bowls, add the noodles to a bowl and pour the stock over them. Then, slice the chicken. Add the chicken and stir-fried veggies to the bowl. If desired, garnish with green onions and sriracha. And you’re done. Okay, so maybe that isn’t as easy as take-out. But, if you made it this far, you just made this.

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     And in my opinion, that’s way cooler.

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Marinated Grilled Shrimp

dinner, seafood, shrimp By July 7, 2015 Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , No Comments

Shrimp Salad

Grilled shrimp is a versatile protein that most home cooks have their own spin on. Grilled shrimp can be added to quesadillas, salads, stir-fries, pasta, or enjoyed by themselves (preferably with some cocktail sauce loaded with horseradish). Today, I am sharing my take on this classic.

To make these grilled shrimp you will need:

IMG_04232 lbs shell-on, deveined shrimp

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

3 lemons

1 tbsp kosher salt

1/4 tsp sriracha

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

To make the marinade, add the extra virgin olive oil to a gallon Ziploc bag. Zest the 3 lemons and add to the marinade.

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Add the salt.

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Add Worcestershire sauce.

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Add the sriracha.

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Add the black pepper

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Add shrimp and marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes. Then, load shrimp onto metal skewers or into a grilling basket, like the one pictured below. Squeeze the juice from the three lemons onto the shrimp.Grill until opaque.

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Peel and enjoy!

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