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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Zucchini Carpaccio

Rachael Ray has a section in her magazine that's quick ideas.  I usually find a couple of nuggets in there.  This time, though, I found solid gold.  Zucchini Carpaccio. 

I know this time of year we're all looking for ways to use up zucchini.  Here's my secret - we never planted zucchini this year so we aren't buried in the stuff.  And, no, I"m not giving you my address so you can steathily drop bags of zucchini on my front porch.  Don't even think about it :-)  We actually had to BUY zucchini at the grocery to make this. 

It was just a happy accident that this got made well before dinner so the dressing had an opportunity to get really happy with the zucchini.  This was so good that I'm tempted to go plant some zucchini this weekend.  Ah, wait, that'd mean weeding a garden bed.  And, the beds in the front of the house aren't finished.  And, there's this mountain on my desk.  And, the house desperately needs to be cleaned.  And, there are still several rooms to paint.  Ok, fine, I guess I'll just buy them at the farmers market!

A couple of notes.  I used lemon balsamic vinegar from Artisano's and lemon olive oil.  Together, they were sweeter than olive oil and lemon juice would've been.  If you don't have either, I'd try the dressing before drizzling and think about adding just a touch of sugar.

Zucchini Carpaccio
serves two

1 small zucchini
1-2 T pine nuts. toasted
parmesan or romano cheese, shaved
extra virgin olive oil or lemon olive oil
white balsamic vinegar or lemon balsamic or lemon juice

Slice the zucchini VERY thinly.  Use a mandolin if you have one.  Lay the zucchini slices out in a circular pattern on a plate.  Top with toasted pine nuts and shaved cheese. Drizzle with oil and vinegar or lemon.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Weekend Wrap Up

The last couple of weekends were a lot more fun than this one is going to be.  Two weeks ago, we started with Chef JJ's fabulous Local Local dinner where he has six chefs and six brewers present the courses.  We went with a colleague of mine and his wife and had a totally delightful time.  Then, of course, last weekend was the trip to Columbus to see my stepson and his wife and our grandkids.  This weekend our plans consist of work and more work.  Our one break will be dinner with some wonderful friends on Saturday evening.  They're trying out Traders Point Creamery for Paul's son's rehearsal dinner.  We've never been there and have heard wonderful things about it so are very anxious to go. 

It's been so hot here that we've about melted.  There have been a few mornings that  I wanted to get some weeding done before the heat of the day set in.  It was still plenty hot but I got a lot done.  When I got hot, I'd go in and work on email.  Then, back to the weeding.  Then, back to email...  I'd get a couple of hours of good work in before Connie got up and got ready for the day.  But, the weeds are still winning.  As much as I hate to resort to chemicals, I think some Preen is in order!

One of the things that Chuck and Karen and Connie and I talked about at the Local Local dinner was how things go in cycles.  Our grandparents ate locally and shopped regularly.  Our parents thought it was wonderful to be able to go to the mega-mart and get the week's worth of groceries - including frozen and canned goods.  Now, we're all about eating locally and buying fresh.  That's one of the reasons that we typically start our Saturday mornings at the local farmers markets.

We make up a list of what needs to be used up at home.  Cucumbers, zucchini, beets, peaches, peppers.  Then, I start in on the menu.  Connie requested Duck Ragu again a couple of weeks ago.  Last week, I blogged about making duck confit for it.  Truth be told, we were talking to Chris Eley from Goose the Market at Local Local about using his duck confit in the Duck Ragu so I'm equally hungry for it!!  Goose is a wonderful butcher shop and so much more.  Chris always has locally grown produce, wonderful cheeses, sandwiches, wine, beer, gourmet grocery items. 

Our first stop is to pick up the CSA basket.  What gorgeous goodies we been getting.  Pattypan squash, eggplants, cucumbers, heirloom cherry tomatoes, mint and kale.  Then, on to the Broad Ripple Farmers Market.  Recently, I've been on a hunt for corn on the cob, heirloom tomatoes, wax beans, blueberries, shagbark hickory syrup and maple syrup. 

A couple of weeks ago we stopped at one of my favorite breakfast spots so I could get a cup of iced decaf and so we could say hello to a dear friend.  She told us a story that still has us chortling.  She lives on the third floor of a complex and her unit faces the river.  So, she has pretty much complete privacy.  She was sleeping in the buff and woke up to a gorgeous sunny day.  She bounded out of bed and turned to the window and said, "Good Morning WORLD!" and found herself looking at a very startled man who was up on an extension ladder painting the railing on her balcony...  One of life's embarassing moments!

This past week, we were supposed to be in Cape Cod to see Connie's two youngest sons and get some business taken care of.  Unfortunately, the other folks weren't terribly prepared and our trip has been delayed.  I'm most bummed that I don't get to see the kids - and Greg's girlfriend Mary.  Since I'd cleared my calendar for the trip, I decided not to pack it and to actually take a day off to work on the house.  Gads but working at my office is a LOT easier than the heavy lifting here.  My ankle is up to climbing a ladder again.  Not to using a shovel, though as I found out this morning when I thought a shovel would make weeding so much quicker.  So, last Tuesday, I finally finished painting the living room.  It's spectacular.  The carpets, though, are just gone.  The problem with buying a home that's been neutralized is that they use the cheapest stuff possible.  Ergo, carpets that are ready to head out of here in a mere six years.  Argh!  I'm hopeful that I can do that next year  since the carpet cleaner just doesn't even make a dent any more.

One sad commentary on our society today happened on Tuesday.  We went up to Menards to get some of the stuff we needed for our Tuesday chores.  The cart was full.  In the bottom were two rolls of duct insulation.  Our bedroom is about 10-20 degrees hotter than the downstairs so Connie figured that if we insulated the ductwork it more of the cool air might get upstairs.  We got out to the car and unloaded and there UNDER the insulation were two packages of insulation for outlets.  A grand total of $2.74.  But, we'd not paid for them so they weren't ours.  I walked back in and walked up to the young man who checked us out and told him I needed to pay for these.  He said, "WOW, nobody ever does that!"  In my mind that would've been stealing if I'd not walked back in.  Yet, I was told that's not the norm.  How sad.

Over the last couple of weeks, we've had some fun dishes that don't warrant a post of their own.  One of my favorites was the pimento cheese, bacon and tomato grilled cheese sandwiches.  I saw the idea on Chef Dennis' blog - More than a Mountful.  Connie's still enjoying the leftover pimento cheese.  That's one of those things that sounds so easy yet there are so many different ways to make the stuff.  I've always used just Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp Cheddar.  This time, I added about four ounces of cream cheese since I had it in the fridge.  Next time, I'm back to the CrackerBarrel only.  That's the photo up top.

A couple old friends were revisited this week.  Chief among them:  Friday Night Sandwiches.  Yes, they do taste as incredible as they look!

And, I made stuffed lamb chops.  The stuffing has made it to the blog but the lamb chops haven't.  Unfortunately this time they won't again.  Someone ( I won't say who, but her initials are Kate) forgot to take a photo of the finished dish...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Mediterranean Stacks

I am not the one you want going to the grocery store.  On the other hand, if you like fun stuff that's not on the list, then maybe you do want me going to the grocery store.  Just saying. 

On Sunday, we went to Thomas' funeral.  He was Auntie Deb's fiance.  Yes, it's complicated.  As with a lot of families these days we're a rather blended family.  Deb is my sister-in-law's older sister.  As in Pam who's married to the brother John who lives in Indy.  My other brother John lives in Orlando.  Yeah, reminds me of Bob Newhart too.  One's a full brother, the other is a step-brother.  They're both wonderful guys and I'm very lucky to have them as brothers.  As for Deb and Pam, we've known each other since we were knee-high to a grasshopper.  They lived a block down the street.  Went to the same schools, went to the same church.  So, I introduce Deb and her folks as my sister-in-law and my in-laws because that's what they are to me. 

On the way to the funeral I read the latest Rachael Ray Everyday magazine.  There were loads of great recipes and I  tore out probably 20 pages.  I'd kind of figured that after the funeral the whole fam would want to go out for dinner.  Wasn't happening.  Which was really a good thing because I was a bit wiped out after the trip to Columbus to see David, Kara, Bradley and Rosie.  I just wanted to go home and cook a good dinner.  Now, because I figured the fam would want to go out for dinner, I didn't put anything on the menu for Sunday.  All of the sudden, dinner was whatever I wanted it to be. 

The list of things to use up included tomatoes and goat cheese.  Rachael Ray Everyday had a great recipe for Mediterranean Stackers with both of those in there.  Perfect.  Now, I guess it's time to finish the first thought of this blog.  In order to make the Mediterranean Stackers, I needed an eggplant.  And, it'd be easier to buy a couple of boneless, skinless chicken breasts than it would be to thaw and bone a couple.  Oh, and I'd found a great blackberry recipe for a drink.  That meant we needed to stop at Marsh on the way home.  We put all the things we needed in the cart and went to the dog and cat food aisle to stock up for some of the furry kids.  Then, I headed the wrong direction.  Connie says, "Where are you going now?" Marsh has a wonderful bin of discount books - including cookbooks.  I was heading straight that way.  He rolled his eyes.  I forged on.  In the bin I found a great book called 3 Step Cooking with Flavor by McCormick.  The herb and spice folks.  I know they do a good job because I get their email recipes.  Into the cart the cookbook went.

Finally we were home and out of our funeral attire.  Connie was fixing cocktails and I was working on dinner.  The title of this really should have been "How to Take a Five Ingredient Dish and Turn It Into Something Much More Complicated."  Don't get me wrong.  Rach's original recipe sounded good.  It just sounded a little blah.  So, I kicked it up a bit. 

What did we think?  This was very good.  All the flavors played well together.  Using a chicken cutlet meant a perfect amount of meat.  And the marinade was perfect.  I'm not sure which marinade will be next but I can guarantee this new cookbook will get used a lot.  The only thing I'd change is that I'd make the eggplant slices thicker.  It got a bit lost.  There's a lot going on here all at once.  I decided to grill as much as I could to cut down on the mell of a hess in the kitchen.

Mediterranean Stackers


For the chicken:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced horizontally to make cutlets
1/2 c olive or vegetable oil
1/4 c Dijon mustard
2 T  Italian seasoning
1/2 t garlic powder

For the eggplant:
1 eggplant, cut into 1/2" slices, lengthwise
2 T olive oil
1 T Italian seasoning
1/2 t crushed red pepper
1/2 t garlic powder
3 oz fresh herbed goat cheese at room temp

For the tomatoes:
1 large beefsteak tomato or several smaller tomatoes
olive oil
1 T capers
2 cloves garlic
1 shallot

For the bread crumbs:
2 thick slices coarse Italian bread, torn into pieces
1 T olive oil
garlic powder


Slice the eggplants.  The recipe calls for peeling them but I rarely do so.  Put the slices in a colander and sprinkle them with salt. 

Allow them to drain for about 30 minutes.

Mix the marinade for the chicken.  Cut the breasts in half horizontally to make cutlets.

Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.

While the chicken is marinating and the eggplant is draining, get the rest of your ingredients ready:

Slice the tomatoes.  You'll want one slice per stack plus a cup or more of chopped tomato.  I used four fist-sized tomatoes and one smaller one.

If your goat cheese has herbs in it already, great.  If not, mix in some herbs.  We used smoked goat cheese and mixed in a small sprig of rosemary, a couple of sprigs of globe basil and two large sprigs of oregano - all the herbs were chopped very finely. 

Prepare the oil for brushing the eggplants.  I mixed olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic and crushed red pepper.

Prepare the bread crumbs.  Heat the olive oil to shimmering in a large skillet.  While it's heating, process the bread until it's in large crumbs.   Some of the crumbs will be 1/4" wide.  When the oil is sizzling, add the bread crumbs and sprinkle them with the garlic powder. 

Stir regularly so they don't burn.  You want the crumbs to be nice and crispy.

In a small skillet, heat some more olive oil - about a tablespoon.  Add the finely minced garlic and the chopped shallot. 

Saute until they're slightly browned.  Add the chopped tomatoes and their juice and the capers.

In a medium skillet, saute the tomato slices until they're warm and softened. 

You don't want to get them too done or they'll fall apart when you try to take them out of the skillet.

Now, it's time to grill.  The eggplant may take longer than the chicken.  Brush both sides of the eggplant with the red pepper oil.  Grill it on direct heat.  Remove the chicken from the marinade and discard the marinade.  Grill the chicken. 

It's time to make stacks...

Put a slice of eggplant on the plate. 

Schmear goat cheese on it.  Top that with a chicken cutlet.  Top the cutlet with a tomato slice

then a bit of the tomato sauce.  Sprinkle a generous amount of bread crumbs over the top.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lemon Basil Margarita

We use more herbs in drinks these days. It seems to me that it's a rather recent trend, but maybe I've just noticed it more since Connie and I have planted so many different herbs and include them in most every meal. I saw a recipe for a Lemon Basil Margarita then found it online on a blog called Ultimate Margarita. Here's the link to the recipe as he wrote it:  Lemon Basil Margarita.  This sounded right up our alley since it used some of the basil from our herb garden.  Connie made it as directed and it looked like this.

We both found it way too strong. 2 ½ ounces of liquor with only the juice of a lemon and some agave to cut it. So Connie decided to throw the whole mess in a blender with a bunch more ice and we had a Lemon Basil Slushie! This is a very refreshing drink on a hot day, and since we've had a plethora of hot days.... Well that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

I hope you enjoy this as much as we have!

Lemon Basil Margarita


 2 whole lemons, ¼ reserved for garnish, the remainder juiced
8 large basil leaves, plus a sprig for garnish
1 ½ oz of Agave Nectar,
1 oz of Grand Marnier
4 oz of gold tequila (we used Jose Cuervo)


Put the ingredients in a blender. Once it's nice and slushy, pour it into your chilled margarita glasses and garnish with a basil sprig and a wedge of lemon.  Don't forget to toast the one you love!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Jeni's Ice Cream

Have you ever noticed that sometimes things happen in bunches?  That's the way it was with Jeni's Ice Cream.  First, Gina from SPCookieQueen blogged about making sweet corn and blackberry ice cream.  (Click on the the link if you'd like to see that recipe as well as a chocolate ice cream one.)  It sounded heavenly to me.  But, Connie's not a huge corn fan so my guess was he'd not want to try that!  Yes, I saved the recipe anyway.  Then, on the way to Columbus to see the kids, I read a couple of cooking magazines.  I was supposed to be working on the outline for a Social Security Bootcamp but I couldn't balance the laptop and my notes on my lap.  I know, I thought that sounded like a GREAT excuse too.  At any rate, I ran across an article about Jeni's Ice Cream.  It went through how her technique is so different from others.  I read it to Connie.  Fascinating how the science of all of this works.  But, he's not a huge ice cream fan so I figured the chance of our finding Jeni's was slim to none. 

Well, we got to David and Kara's and had the grand tour of their new home and ate our sloppy joes and decided we'd all go to the grocery to finish the shopping for the evening meal.  I asked David if he'd like dessert and got a resounding YES!  Well, what do you want?  Kara piped up and suggested we could go out for ice cream.  I'm thinking that an ice cream run after a big dinner probably wasn't going to happend so suggested we get ice cream on the way to the grocery.  Perfect.  That's what we'd do.  And, guess where we went for ice cream?  Yup, they had Jeni's in mind the whole time. 

As you can see from the photos, Jeni's has a very unusual selection of ice cream:

I'm not sure I can go through what everyone had but I'll try.  I had three half scoops:  cherry lambic, poached pear and riesling and the corn and blackberry.  Connie had peanut with cayenne and rhubarb with lime.  Kara had passion fruit and pistachio honey.  David had three half scoops also - one was the poached pear.  Another was wildberry lavender and I can't recall the other.  The kids had chocolate.  And, we all tasted everyone elses's ice creams.  There wasn't one in there that I didn't like.  So, in spite of the fact that I really like to get my cookbooks on closeout, super low price deals, I bought the cookbook. 

Now because Bradley got in the first photo, we'll end with Rosie :-)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Steaks with Martini Butter

The primary benefit to being the cook is not having to do the dishes.  Well, that and the fact that I get to choose the menu.  This last weekend, we headed to Columbus, OH to see David and Kara and Bradley and Rosie.  David is my stepson, Kara is his wife and Bradley and Rosie are our grandchildren.  They are wonderful folks and the best parents around. I'd volunteered to cook - lunch and dinner.  I knew we were having sloppy joes for lunch.  Dinner, well, that was another story.  No clue.  I'd seen a recipe for martini butter for steaks but had no other ideas.  David loves meat slabs.  We typically don't.  Be they beef or pork or lamb slabs, they're typically not on our menu.  We'd prefer to get the majority of our calories from vegetables or starches.  On the way out of town, we stopped at the farmer's market and I bought corn on the cob, green beans and red potatoes. They sounded like they'd be fine with steaks. I'd brought several cooking magazines for the ride but they didn't yield anything wonderful.  Ok, fine.  I'll make it up.

Cut to the chase here.  Dinner turned out very well.   The steaks were perfect.  The martini butter.  Well I may never make another steak without making a bit of martini butter.  It enhanced the flavor without overwhelming anything.  I did saute some onions to add to the steaks.  For the green beans, I sauteed some grape tomatoes with oregano and browned some bacon and shredded a bit of parmesan cheese.  Rather than rambling on, let's go thru the whole menu:

Steaks with Martini Butter
Corn on the Cob
Rosemary Potatoes
Green Beans with Roasted Tomatoes
Crescent Rolls with Shallots, Oregano and Parmesan

Steaks with Martini Butter

4 m- 8-10 oz strip steaks about 1" thick
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 t truffle oil
salt and pepper
1/2 c drained pimiento stuffed Spanish olives
1/4  c gin or vodka (we used vodka)
2 T dry vermouth
2 t Dijon mustard
8 T unsalted butter, softened


Put the worcestershire sauce and truffle oil in a 9x13 glass pan.  Coat both sides of the steaks with the sauce mixture.  Grind some fresh pepper over the steaks.  Allow them to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to grilling.

Process the olives, gin or vodka, vermouth and dijon in a food processor.  When you've got a slurry, mix in the butter.

Grill the steaks to your preferred internal temperature.  Plate them immediately after you remove them from the grill and put a dollop of martini butter on each.  Once you've plated the steaks, add the rest sides to the plates.  This will accomplish two things.  One the steaks will have a few minutes to rest and allow the juices to redistribute and two, the butter got on them when they were very hot. 

Green Beans with Roasted Tomatoes

1 lb green beans
olive oil
2 T vermouth
1 lb grape tomatoes
6 slices bacon
1/2 c shredded parmesan
1 T olive oil
4 sprigs fresh oregano


Chop the bacon.  Use a small skillet and brown it.  Remove the bacon from the skillet and pour off the bacon fat.  Do not wipe the skillet because the browned bits (fond) will add some wonderful taste to the tomatoes.  Put a little olive oil in a larger skillet and heat it to shimmering.  Add the green beans.  When they've cooked for a couple of minutes - and before they've started to brown, add the vermouth.  Put the cherry or grape tomatoes in the small skillet with a little more olive oil and the oregano.  Saute them until they're bursting.  Plate the dish with the green beans on the bottom, topped with the tomatoes then the bacon then the grated cheese.

Stuffed Crescent Rolls

1 package crescent rolls
3 shallots, minced and sauteed
oregano, chopped fresh
parmesan cheese, grated

Unroll and separate the crescent rolls.  On the wide end of each put some of the sauteed shallots, some oregano and some grated cheese.  Roll as usual and bake following the package instructions.

martini butter recipe adapted from Fine Cooking

Monday, July 25, 2011

Duck Confit

How do you say I love you?  I'd imagine a lot of you say I love you with food.  Just like I do.  Used to be when a friend had a baby and now it's more likely when a friend has a hip replacement or other major surgery, I take over a bunch of meals.  Or, like this past week when Auntie Deb lost her fiance.  Instead of using my "spare" time blogging, it went to cooking.  Lots of cooking.  Thomas was the primary cook in their family.  Deb works two jobs and is still recouping from an incredibly nasty fall last February.  She shattered a good part of her left arm.  Now, I've got about 30 meals ready for her to pop in the oven or microwave when she gets home from work.  Like the rest of her family, she's a pretty picky eater so I kept it to basics:  chicken green bean casserole, sloppy joes, meatloaf, white chili, spaghetti sauce, chicken and noodles.  I've got my fingers crossed that she'll like all of that.  We went to the funeral this weekend knowing that we've done something to help out.  And, she knows we love her.

In between, we headed to Columbus, OH to see my stepson David and his family.  You'll hear more about that trip over the next couple of days.

That, my friends is why I've been a bit scarce recently. 

Now, I want to share with you duck confit.  The first time I used it I thought it was something very complicated.  I'd never make my own cassoulet because making duck confit sounded so incredibly intimidating.  Last weekend I unlocked the mystery.  It's super easy to make.  Connie's asked for duck ragu for a Sunday evening meal - the evening we typically do something complicated. 

During our regular Saturday shopping expedition we went to Goose the Market to pick up duck confit.  They didn't have any in the case or in storage.  Chris even checked in his personal stash upstairs.  Nada.  So, we bought duck legs and duck fat and made our own.  Chris said to cover the duck with kosher salt and put it in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours then to cook it on the stove top, in the oven or in a slow cooker at 180 for 12 hours. 

I knew I'd seen a recipe for duck confit in Heartland so I checked that when we got home.  That recipe called for rubbing the duck legs with salt then topping them with pepper, garlic, thyme and bay leaves and putting them in a covered dish in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.  Then, you're to wipe the salt off, brown the duck and cook it on high in the slow cooker for two hours.

Hmmm, the recipes sounded pretty different.  No surprise here, I decided to combine the best of both.

Duck Confit


4 duck legs with thighs
1/3 c coarse kosher or sea salt
2 t freshly ground black pepper
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
4 large sprigs thyme
4 bay leaves
1 c duck fat


Rub the duck legs with salt.  Put them in a glass baking dish.  Sprinkle them with the pepper.  Lay the garlic slices, thyme and bay leaves on the duck.  Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 days.  Now, you've got a choice.  You can brown the duck legs or not.  I chose not to.  In Heartland, the recipe calls for using two cups of canola oil for cooking the duck legs.  Chris typically uses duck fat.  So, because I've bought my duck confit from Chris, I chose to use duck fat. 

Lay the duck legs in the bottom of a slow cooker.  Dollop on the duck fat.  Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 12 hours.  Remove the duck confit and put each leg into a separate freezer bag.  Divide the duck fat between the bags.  Either use within a couple of weeks or freeze until ready to use.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins

Connie kept saying this one antique mall downtown was calling his name.  He and his ex used to shop antique malls.  Me, well, I think antique mall is another way to say high-priced junque.  But, because part of being married is humoring your partner, I went to the antique mall with him.  We left with only a cookbook:  The Best American Recipes, 2002-2003.  He shrugged his shoulders and announced that perhaps the mall hadn't been calling to him.  Indeed.  Then, on the way to our next stop, I read a lot of the recipes to my sweetie.  In fact, Bloody Mary Grape Tomatoes were the first one that popped for me.  When I got to the Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins, Connie started reminiscing.  His mom wasn't much of a cook.  She was great at opening cans and putting jarred pasta sauce on pasta but for her, food was just what you had to do.  Rather the opposite of me - I live to eat.  I get done with one meal and I'm already thinking about the next one - or the one after that!  Needless to say, Connie doesn't have many childhood food memories.  Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins are his fondest.  He went into great detail about how the muffins had a sugar topping and they'd lop over the muffin tins and they were SO very good.  I finally looked at him and suggested that maybe the mall was indeed calling his name - it was just all wrapped up in a kidhood memory!  Oh, he said, I think you're right. 

Since that day, he's talked about these muffins.  Now, you know I'm not much of a baker.  And, if I'm making muffins, I really want my lemon lavender blueberry muffins.  On our Saturday morning shopping trip, we found some lovely blueberries at one of the markets.  Connie put his arm around me and whispered, "Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins" in my ear.  So, what am I supposed to do?  Ignore him?  Highly unlikely :-)  Sunday morning I made the muffins. 

What did I think?  (We know what Connie thought - these were just like the ones he remembered and he quickly inhaled two of them.)  These were just a large blueberry with some dough.  I loved them.  I've always used the cute little cupcake papers.  That may have ended with these.  You spray the muffin tins really well with Pam and they pop right out. I loved the browned sides.  I'll make these any day!

Jordan Marsh Blueberry Muffins


8 T butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 c sugar plus 2 T for topping
2 large eggs
2 c all purpose flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/2 c milk
2 1/2 c blueberries


Heat your oven to 375.  In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each.  In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt.  Measure the milk out.  Add the flour mixture alternatively with the milk.  Mix just until the ingredients are combined.  Put 1/2 cup of the blueberries in a small bowl.  Crush them with a fork.  Mix them into the batter by hand then gently fold in the rest of the blueberries. 

Spray a large muffin pan with cooking spray.  Be sure you spray the top of the pan too.  Fill the muffin pan with the batter and sprinkle the tops with the remaining sugar.  Bake for about 30 minutes.  The tops of the muffins will be golden brown and will spring back when touched lightly.  These are best served warm but trust me, they're still great cold - I'm finishing up one as I'm typing...

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pork Tenderloins with Maple

This entire meal was a product of happy coincidences.  First, Connie and I went to Chef JJ's Local Local dinner last Friday.  We went with a colleague and his wife and had the best seats in the house. Chef JJ had six chefs and six brewers do the dinner. One of the highlights of the evening was a beer that Clay Robinson from Sun King Brewing had put in old bourbon barrels. OMG, that was fantastic beer!!! The food was amazing and most of the beers were equally amazing. But, Clay stole the show. Darren, from Bier Brewery down the road, was a pretty close second.  We were thrilled to hear that Darren and his cohorts just won brewery of the year in the initial State Fair judging.  The dishes ranged from those that I love like halibut cheeks marinated in orange to beef tongue bruschetta and sweet breads.  Our consensus favorite was Chef JJ's grilled vegetables.  He said he'd try and get the recipe posted on his website on Saturday but that didn't happen.  What did happen is that I paged through all of the recipes on his website and found about a dozen that I'd like to try right now.  One of them was a maple marinade for chicken.  Then, Sunday while I was taking a brain break from all the client files I had to work on, I read MomChef's blog.  She described pork chops with a maple ginger pan sauce.  My menu for the week included Chef JJ's maple marinade for chicken.  But, I'd bought pork tenderloins for a sandwich dish later in the week.  I wondered if I could mix and match here???

Under the Kate theory of what's the worst that could happen, I proceeded.  We'd bought wax beans at the farmers market and I had sweet onions and zucchini and shallots.  So, we were fine with the veggies.  The fingerling potatoes that needed to be used up went into a saucepan of water to be cooked a bit prior to being tossed in a grill basket and onto the grill.  The pork tenderloins went into the maple marinade.  The maple ginger pan sauce ingredients were put out in their mis en place.  And a marinade for the veggies was tossed together.  George was under foot making sure that anything suitable for a cat was duly shared.

The grill was hot so it was time for the tenderloins to go on the grill.  They looked beautiful with all of the lovely marinade.  And, that was the problem, I had about a cup of lovely marinade.  No way I needed all of that for basting the tenderloins.  Lightbulb above the head time - I had no idea what I was going to do with the potatoes once they went into the grill pan. How about a bath in the maple marinade? 

What did we think?  It was tough to pick the first place dish here.  They were all great.  We debated and debated and finally decided that our top two were the pork and potatoes.  I liked the potatoes best and Connie liked the pork best.  The potatoes were like little pieces of potato candy.  Normally, I'm not a big sweets fan.  But these were perfect.  Just enough sweet to make the potatoes sing.  The maple ginger pan sauce was fabulous.  MomChef comes through again with another fabulous recipe.  And, the veggies were great.  So are you ready for four recipes here?

Maple Marinade for Chicken or Pork


1/2 c pure maple syrup
3/4 T dijon mustard
1/8 t maple extract
3 T white vinegar
1/4 t kosher salt
1/8 t cayenne pepper
1/8 t thyme
1 T minced shallot
1/2 c olive oil


Use a blender to emulsify the ingredients.  If you want to top the cooked chicken or pork with some of the marinade, reserve it prior to marinating the meat.  Marinate the meat for 30 min to 4 hours. 

Grill over direct heat. 

We prefer our pork pink so use a thermometer to make sure.

recipe courtesy of Chef JJ

Maple Ginger Pan Sauce

This recipe is actually for pork chops which are dredged in flour then pan fried.  They're removed from the pan and a sauce is made with the drippings. Instead, I made a sauce with a little butter and olive oil instead of pan drippings.  I also chose to omit the mint and cilantro topping.


2 T butter and/or olive oil
1/4 c flour
3/4 c chicken broth or stock
2 T dark rum
1 T pure maple syrup, grade B
1 T olive oil
1 T minced fresh ginger
1 medium clove garlic, minced


Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet.  When it's shimmering, whisk in the flour.  Allow it to cook for a couple of minutes then slowly whisk in the chicken stock.  Add the rum and maple syrup. 

The sauce with thicken as it cooks.  Whisk it regularly.  While the sauce is thickening, saute the ginger and garlic in the last tablespoon of olive oil. 

When they're softened and the sauce is thickened, pour the sauce into the pan with the ginger and garlic.  I poured the drippings from the tenderloins in also. 

recipe adapted from MomChef, originally from FineCooking -- Breakfast

Maple Fingerling Potatoes


fingerling potatoes
maple marinade for chicken or pork


Trim potatoes.  Put the potatoes in a small saucepan.  Cover with water. 

Simmer gently for about 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are tender.  Remove from the water with a slotted spoon.  Toss with 1/2 c of the marinade.  Put the potatoes in a grill basket. 

Grill over direct heat for about 10 minutes.  Turn the potatoes regularly.  You want them browned, not burned. 

Chef JJ's Beer Veggies

Chef JJ served these with nine different vegetables.  Not only could we not remember what all of the vegetables were, we would have been eating leftovers for the next week.  So, we stuck with four of the nine.


1 sweet onion, cut into quarters, then sliced
2 shallots
handful of wax beans
1 medium zucchini, quartered, then cubed
1 beer (I used Fat Tire)
1 T dijon mustard
1/2 T worcestershire sauce
1/3 c olive oil


Mix the marinade ingredients.  Marinate the vegetables for 15-20 minutes prior to grilling them. 

Grill over direct heat in a grill basket.