Thursday, December 17, 2015

Danielle's sweet potato gratin

It's nearly summer here and the mercury is climbing, but for some reason our vegetable box keeps including sweet potatoes. On the one hand, it's given me a new appreciation for a vegetable I rarely seek out. On the other hand, this dish feels more in tune with seasons in the Northern hemisphere than here where it's expected to reach 40C this weekend. Unlike many Thanksgiving side dishes, this recipe doesn't feel the need to add more sweetness to the sweet potatoes. I paired it with balsamic-glazed steak on a bed of rocket (arugula!) which worked beautifully. In a colder climate, some roasted meat would be a great, comforting pairing.

Two years ago: Sole Stuffed with Crab
Three years ago: Galveston Crab Cakes
Four years ago: Quick and Easy Chinese Greens
Five years ago: Goat Cheese and Asparagus Risotto
Six years ago: Pasta with Sundried Tomatoes and Pine Nuts

Danielle's sweet potato gratin (from Ottolenghi)

6 medium sweet potatoes (1.5kg)
5 tbsp roughly chopped sage or thyme
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp coarse salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
250 ml whipping cream

1. Preheat oven to 200C.
2. Wash the potatoes, but don't peel. Cut them into disks 5mm thick.
3. In a bowl, mix together sweet potatoes, sage, garlic, salt and pepper.
4. Arrange the sweet potato in a deep ovenproof dish by packing them standing up next to each other. Any extra garlic or sage can go on top.
5. Cover dish with foil, place in oven and roast for 45 minutes.
6. Remove foil and pour cream over the potatoes. Roast, uncovered for 25 minutes until tender. Serve.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Pork Tenderloin Roulade Stuffed with Herbed Spinach with a Quick Pan Sauce

This recipe is a little bit fussy, but still quick enough for a weeknight dinner and elegant enough for company ... and you can get out some of the frustrations of the day when you pound out the meat! Don't skip on the pan sauce.

One year ago: Pork Vindaloo
Two years ago: Kale Greens in Coconut Milk
Three years ago: Black Pepper Crab
Four years ago: Red Braised Pork
Five years ago: Chocolate Cinnamon Cream Scones
Six years ago: Mediterranean Couscous and Lentil Salad

Pork Tenderloin Roulade Stuffed with Herbed Spinach with a Quick Pan Sauce (from All About Roasting)

1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
2 tsp thyme leaves, roughly chopped
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt and pepper
5 ounces baby spinach
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley, dill, and/or basil
2 tbsp grated Parmigiano-Regianno
2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted and chopped
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 pork tenderloin (1 - 1 1/4 lbs)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp finely chopped shallots
2 tbsp brandy or sherry
3/4 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp creme fraiche or heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 325F.
2. Heat butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add shallots, thyme, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender, 3 minutes.
3. Add spinach to pan and pinch of salt. Toss until wilted, 2 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
4. Squeeze excess liquid from spinach and stir in herbs, Parmigiano, pine nuts, and nutmeg.
5. Butterfly the tenderloin by making a horizontal incision down the entire length in the center stopping about 1/2" before you cut the tenderloin in two. Open it like a book. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the surface and use a meat pounder or small heavy pan to flatten it until 1/4" - 1/2" thick.
6. Season tenderloin with salt and pepper and use a spatula to spread the stuffing over the pork, leaving a 1.5" - 2" border along the far edge of the meat. Starting at the edge closest to you, roll into a tube shape and secure with kitchen string ever 2" to 3".
7. Heat a large oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and sear pork, turning with tongs to brown all sides but one, ~8 minutes total. Turn pork onto the last side and transfer to the oven.
8. Roast pork, turning once after 10 minutes, and cook until thermometer registers 140 - 145F, ~ 18 - 24 minutes.
9. Transfer pork seam side down to a carving board and let rest.
10. Add butter to the skillet and return to medium heat. Add shallots and saute until softened, ~2 minutes.
11. Add brandy, scrape pan, and cook until evaporated, ~1 minute.
12. Add chicken broth and simmer until reduced by half, ~ 4 minutes.
13. Add creme fraiche and simmer 1 - 2 minutes.
14. Slice pork into 1/2" thick slices. Arrange 2 - 4 slices on a plate and spoon sauce on top. Serve.

Basil, Anchovy, and Zucchini Pasta

It feels strange to be enjoying the bounty of summer produce in December, but here with are with an abundance of greens and zucchini. I've never tried growing zucchini so I've never felt the pain of garden overload, but our CSA box seems to want to share it nonetheless. I had a zucchini recipe earmarked in Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, but when I went to make it, I realized we were out of eggs. This one became the hasty backup and to be honest, I was a bit suspicious of how much I'd like it. I shouldn't have worried though. It's an explosion of cheesy pasta with plenty of umami thanks to the anchovies. It's also a great quick and easy dinner option for those days when you want to minimize cook time and heat in the kitchen.

Note the recipe calls for small zucchini. Ours were big, so I sliced them before boiling. I've also simplified a bit to only dirty one pot.

One year ago: Lemon Rosemary Chicken
Two years ago: Sole Stuffed Crab
Three years ago: Galveston Crab Cakes
Four years ago: Pork Meatball Banh Mi
Five years ago: Baked Green Lasagne with Meat Sauce
Six years ago: Arugula and Cheese Pseudo Frittata

Basil, Anchovy, and Zucchini Pasta (from Maggie's Harvest - a gorgeous Australian cookbook!)

400g (about 12) small zucchini, ~8cm long
sea salt
500g pasta
extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
freshly ground black pepper
12 anchovy fillets, chopped
20 basil leaves
100g freshly grated pecorino

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and cook the zucchini for a few minutes.
2. Remove the zucchini with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool.
3. Meanwhile, add pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente. Drain, reserving a bit of pasta water, and transfer to a serving bowl.
4. Slice the zucchini into 2 or 3 pieces, drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, and grind on black pepper. Add zucchini to pasta.
5. Toss anchovies in pasta with basil, pecorino, and another drizzle of olive oil. If the pasta need moistening, add some of the reserved water. Serve.