Saturday, May 21, 2011

Roasted Pork Loin with Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette

Shown Here Atop Thomas Keller's Red Potato and Green Bean Salad

My dad works at Saint Monica's Church and had to work the masses on Easter, so my parents suggested this year we just meet at a restaraunt in Santa Monica.  This being our first Easter since my grandmother had passed away, I decided I wanted to keep the big family dinner tradition alive and offered to make Easter supper at our place.  Traditionally my parents make scalloped potatoes, a large ham and my favorite Egg bread, but that seemed too daunting.  Plus, we were eating around 4pm, so I wanted something a bit lighter.

I opted for a somewhat complicated Salad (see my post for Thomas Keller's Red Potato and Green Bean Salad), and a very simple Giada recipe for Roasted Pork Loin.  This recipe is REALLY easy; but don't let the simplicity fool you, it's HUGELY delicious.  Be very careful how long you cook the pork, so it remains moist.  But regardless of the final result of the loin, you will be smothering it in a delicious, garlicky balsamic sauce.  What could be better?

Roasted Garlic
2 heads of garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil

Pork Loin
1 (3 1/2 - 4 1/2-pound) boneles pork loin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 Roasted Garlic (above)
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 475 degrees F.

To make the roasted garlic, cut the heads of garlic in half crosswise.  Place garlic halves on a sheet of foil, drizzle them with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt.  Fold the foil up and around the garlic halves, making sure they stay upright.  Seal the foil into an airtight package.  Roast until the garlic cloves are golden and soft, about 60 minutes.  Keep the garlic in the foil and cool slightly.*

*Don't be a dummy like me and not put this in some kind of dish in the oven; my foil leaked oil all over the bottom of our oven and the room filled with smoke.  Thank goodness I didn't start a fire.  Also, check your garlic about halfway through.  Easier to burn than you think.

Thirty minutes after the garlic has started roasting, place the pork loin in a medium heavy roasting pan.  Season on all sides with salt and pepper. 

Roast the pork along with the garlic until an instant-read thermometer registers 140 to 145 degrees F, 30 to 40 minutes.  Remove the roasting pan from the oven, tent the pork with foil, and let rest for 15 minutes.

To make the vinaigrette, open the garlic packets and squeeze the roasted garlic cloves into a blender, squeezed the base of each garlic half.  Add the parsey and balsamic vinegar and pulse until blended.  Drizzle the oil into the blender while the machine is running.  Add the sugar, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons water and blend until incorporated.

Slice the pork into 3/4-inch-thick slices and transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle some of the vinaigrette over the pork and pass the remaning vinaigrette alongside in a small dish.  Pour a glass of wine, sit down, toast your family and dig in!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Citrus Chiffon Pie

The recipe for this pie uses gelatin, egg yolks and double heavy cream for a satin-textured filling.  The best part is the ginger-snap crust, which gives a sharp kick to the already tangy combo of lemon juice and orange zest.  If you decide to make this for a dinner party or special event, give yourself plenty of time because it will need to chill 3-4 hours in order to set properly.

For the Crust
1 1/4 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar

For the Filling
1/4 cup cold water
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) unflavored powdered gelatin
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups heavy (double) cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

For the Crust
Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl, combine the cookie crumbs, melted butter, and sugar and stir until the crumbs are well moistened.

I like to do this first step in a food processor - pulsing the whole cookies first, then adding the sugar and butter to combine

Pat the mixture firmly and evenly into the botton and all the way up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan or dish.  Bake until the crust is firm, about 5 minutes.  For a firmer, crunchier crust, bake an additional 5 minutes.  

For the Filling

Have ready an ice bath made by partially filling a large bowl cold water and ice cubes.

Por the 1/4 cup cold water into a saucepan and sprinkle with the gelatin.  Let sit until the gelatin softens and swells, 5-10 minutes.  

Stir in the granulated sugar, salt, lemon juice, orange zest, and egg yolks; the gelatine will be lumpy.  Place the gelatine mixture over medium heat and cook, stirring continuously, until the gelatin melts, and the mixture thickens, 6-8 minutes.  Do not allow the mixture to boil. 

Set the saucepan in the ice bath and let cool until the mixture is cold to the touch.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed or a whisk, whip together the cream and confectioners' sugar until thick, soft peaks form.  Spoon the whipped cream into the gelatin mixture and fold together with a rubber spatula until smooth.  Pour into the prepared crumb crust, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula.

Refrigerate the pie until it is cold and firm, 3-4 hours, but let sit at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving, to take the chill off.  If you want to add a decorative touch, use a sharp knife and peel a few orange twists and place in the center of the pie.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Emeril's Banana Cream Pie

My friend Maria shared this recipe with me.  It's probably the best banana cream pie I've had, ever.  To save time, we used a pre-made crust and purchased chocolate and caramel sauce, but I will still include Emeril's recipes for these items below in case you want to go all out.

Caramel Drizzle Sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cup heavy cream

In a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring often.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is a deep caramel color and has the consistency of thin syrup, 10 to 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Stir in the cream, return the saucepan to high heat, and boil the sauce until it regains the consistency of a thick syrup, about 2 minutes.  Cool.

The sauce can be refrigerated until ready to use.  Allow it to reach room temperature before drizzling it over the pie.

Yield: 3/4 cup

Chocolate Sauce
3/4 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 pound semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Combine the half-and-half and butter in a small, heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat.  Heat the mixture until a thin paperlike skin appears on top.  Do not boil.  Add the chocolate and vanilla and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. 

Remove from the heat and let cool.

The sauce can be kept refrigerated for several days, but must be returned to room temperature before serving. 

Yield: about 1 1/2 cups

Custard Filling
5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
3 to 3 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

Pie Crust
3 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup sugar 
1/2 ripe banana, mashed
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3 pound bananas, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch slices

Drizzled toppings:
3/4 cup caramel sauce, 
1 cup chocolate sauce

Whipped Cream Topping
2 cups heavy cream whipped to stiff peaks
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons granulated sugar

Shaved chocolate
Powdered Sugar

Preaheat oven to 350 degrees.

To prepare custard filling, in mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks, cornstarch, and 1 cup of the heavy cream.  Whisk to blend well.  Set aside.  Combine the remaining 2 cups cream, the sugar, and the vanilla bean in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk to dissolve the sugar and bring to a gentle boil, about 10 minutes.  Slowly add the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly until it thickens, about 5 minutes.  Be forewarned: this mixture must break and look curdled otherwise it will not set properly and it will be runny.  

Pour into a glass bowl.  Press a piece of plastic wrap down over the surface of the mixture to prevent a skin from forming.  Let cool completely at room temperature.  When cooled, remove the vanilla bean and pour the mixture into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a wire whip.  Beat at medium speed to combine the mixture.  If it will not combine, warm another 1/2 cup heavy cream and slowly add it to the mixture.  Whip until you have a thick and creamy custard.

To prepare pie crust, in a mixing bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and mashed banana.  Mix thoroughly.  Add the butter and mix well.  Press the mixture into a 9-inch pie pan.  Bake until browned, about 25 minutes.  Remove the pan from the oven and cool, for about 10 minutes.

To assemble, spread about 1/2 cup of the cutard on the bottom of the crust.  Arrange about a third of the banana slices, crowding them close together, over the custard.  Next, spread 1 cup of the custard over the bananas.  Arrange another third of the banana slices close together over the custard.  Top with 1 cup of the custard and the banana slices.  

Top with the remaining custard, covering the bananas completely to prevent them from turning brown.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours.  Cut the pie into wedges and serve with a drizzle of caramel and chocolate sauce.  Top with the whipped cream and shaved chocolate.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Citrus Salad with Sherry Dressing

This is a delightful, light and fresh Summer Salad that I got from my Good Housekeeping Cook Book.  The ingredients are fairly simple, but the flavor packs a big, citrusy, tangy punch.  Pairs great with fish.

2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large Granny Smith apple, cored and cut in paper-thin slices
2 large navel oranges
1 large pink grapefruit
1 bunch watercress (4 ounces), tough stems trimmed

1/ Prepare Dressing: In large bowl, with wire whisk, mix sherry, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper.  In thin, steady stream, whisk in oil until blended.

2/ Add apple slices to dressing in bowl and toss to coat.  Cut peel and white pith from oranges and grapefruit.  Holding oranges and grapefruit over small bowl to catch juice, cut out sections from between membranes.  (If you like, squeeze juice from membranes and reserve for another use.)  Add orange and grapefruit sections to dressing in bowl; toss to coat.

3/ Arrange watercress on platter.  Spoon fruit mixture and dressing over watercress.  Makes 6 accompaniment servings.