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May 2010 Archives

An Early Summer Night’s Dream

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on May 31, 2010 at 12:45pm

Here’s the perfect way to kick off summer: Get yourself invited to Debbie & Stu the Wine Genius Williams’ home for dinner.  There is no lovelier place to be on a first-summer’s-blush evening, on the patio in their lush back yard, chatting with them as well as Sue & Louis Ainsworth, sipping incredible wine, eating beautiful food, celebrating the end of another Minnesota winter.  It’s over, it’s really, really over!  Those leaves are real, those flowers smell like heaven, I am wearing sandals, and it will not snow for at least five months.  Cheers to that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drinking wine with Stu is an honor and pleasure.  He delights in sharing the unexpected, the fascinating, the obscure, collecting our reactions and observations like a child collects toys.  He remembers what his guests like and dislike, then reaches into his cellar for something new and interesting the next time we get together.

Yeah, he thinks like that.  I wish I had one-eighth of that talent, but it is not so.  That’s OK.  I accept my limitations and happily sit back and enjoy the ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A ride that includes food worthy of the wine.  Debbie & Stu always pull together colorful, fresh-from-the-market meals, this time grilled Scottish Highland beef, Boer goat, and St. Croix lamb from Blue Gentian Farms in New Richmond, WI (available locally at the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alongside new potatoes with fresh morels and grilled asparagus, it was a spectular meal.  Especially bookended by foie gras sprinkled with black Himalayan salt and Rustica Bakery rhubarb tarts.  Yeah.

What we tasted:

Pierre Peters Cuvee Reserve Blanc de Blanc NV Champagne

Pierre Peters 2001 Brut Cuvee Speciale Les Chetillons Champagne

2006 Nicholas Joly Les Clos Sacres Savennieres

2005 Domaine Vincent Girardin Mersault Les Narvaux

1975 Chateau Montrose

1975 Chateau Pichon Lalande

1977 D’Oliverias Reserva Terrantez Maderia

Rare Wine Company’s Historic Series Charleston Sercial Maderia

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello summer.

Fettucine Alfredo That Won’t Kill You

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on May 31, 2010 at 7:21am

My son is a big fettucine alfredo fan.  Restaurant versions are terrifyingly caloric, unnecessarily soaked in cups of cream and cheese, some even enriched with egg yolks. I’ve come up with a not-so-over-the-top version for him that I actually prefer.  I use real cream, but not too much.  A little goes a long way.

Nathan likes his as pictured, but if I were making this for myself I’d saute a handful or two of spinach leaves with the garlic.  Or a handful of peas would be pretty too (and a bit of diced ham?  That’s a classic, for good reason, yum.)  Fresh herbs are always a delicious finish, or a pinch of truffle salt.  Lots of options, all good.

Nathan’s Fettucine Alfredo
Serves 2-4

1/2 lb. dried fettucine (or spaghetti, good with cappelini too)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 c. heavy cream
salt
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
freshly ground black pepper

Cook pasta in salted water according to package instructions.  While the pasta cooks, heat a small skillet over medium-low heat.  Add olive oil, then garlic, and gently saute until garlic is tender and about to brown at the edges (do not fully brown the garlic, it will be bitter).  Stir in the cream and a generous sprinkle of salt.  Simmer for 1-2 minutes, stirring a few times, then remove from heat and set aside.  When pasta is done, before draining it, remove 1/3 c. of the pasta cooking water.  Drain the pasta, return it to the pot, and add the cream, Parmesan cheese, pasta cooking water, a sprinkle of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.  Toss until sauce is creamy and pasta is coated.  Serve immediately.

Grilled Salmon with Avocado, Egg, Greens, & Mustard Vinaigrette

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on May 28, 2010 at 7:07pm

As I’ve complained before, it’s hard to find good salmon in Minnesota.  I know, we’re in the middle of the country, about as far from any ocean as you can get in North America.  It’s an unimportant problem.  My not-terribly-local solution is that I buy wild salmon filets online from VitalChoice, the king salmon to be specific, and they are fabulous.  We don’t have them often, because they’re dear, but I’m OK with that.  Better infrequently awesome than reguarly lame.  True.

The inspiration for this salad is two-fold.  It began with a gorgeous photo in one of my favorite cookbooks, Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin.  The picture captures a long, colorful tangle of a wild salmon salad, studded with beets, potato, egg, and fresh herbs, drizzled with a tart mustard vinaigrette.  I’d tucked the recipe into the back of my mind until I saw Jaden Hair’s mouth-watering post – on her wildly popular blog Steamy Kitchen – of a Marcus Samuelsson-inspired open-faced salmon sandwich with sweet mustard sauce. Check out that sandwich – amazing, right?  (Side note: remember Marcus, owner/chef of Aquavit, Minneapolis-version RIP 2003?  He’s still one of the top chefs in the country, still running Aquavit NYC, and is preparing to open a new Harlem restaurant called Red Rooster.  Man do I miss our Aquavit, sigh.  My sister Stacey worked there when it opened.  As a result, we celebrated my brother David’s 21st birthday at the chef’s table in the kitchen.  Top five meals of my life, blew my mind a little bit.)

Anyhow, back to cooking at home.  Sorry to break that Aquavit-reminiscing bubble, but reality is…real.  Seven years real, wow.  Anyhow, if you put your hands on decent salmon, you’ll be delighted with this salad.  It hits all the important notes – hot/cool, crunchy/creamy, salty/sweet.  You’ll demolish it, as John and I did.  Destroy it.  Yeah.  It’s got it all going on, all good, deliciously healthy.  Bonus: It’s easy to put together and is so pretty that it’s worthy of sharing with others.

I can’t believe that I’m saying this, and perhaps take note that I am, but I wish you Minnesota’s gorgeous weather for your holiday weekend.  How often does that happen?

Grilled Salmon with Avocado, Egg, Greens, & Mustard Vinaigrette
Inspired by Jaden Hair at www.steamykitchen.com and Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin
Serves 4

Dressing
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. minced fresh dill
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. capers, drained
1/4 tsp. salt
freshly ground black pepper

Salad
olive oil
Four-4 oz. salmon filets
salt
2 large eggs
1/2 lb. new potatoes (omit or substitute sweet potatoes if needed)
3 cups greens (spinach, arugula, or a combination of the two)
1/2 c. quartered cherry tomatoes
1 large shallot, peeled & sliced thin
1 avocado, pitted and sliced into 1/2-inch slices

Heat grill.  Whisk together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.  Smear a few teaspoons of olive oil over both sides of salmon filets and sprinkle both sides lightly with salt.  Set aside.

Fill a large saucepan with cold water.  Add 2 tsp. of salt, then potatoes and eggs.  Set uncovered over high heat.  When water boils, turn heat to low.  Simmer potatoes and eggs for 10 minutes; when timer goes off, transfer eggs to a bowl of cool water.  Continue simmering potatoes until tender, another 10 minutes or so (test with a fork; when fork pierces easily, potatoes are done).

Remove potatoes from water and let sit at room temperature.  Grill salmon, depending on how hot your grill is, and how thick your filets are, 2-4 minutes per side (you want slightly under-done salmon; it will continue cooking as it sets up).  Transfer salmon to a cutting board and let rest while you assemble the salad.

Spread greens over a large platter.  Quarter potatoes and scatter over greens.  Top with tomatoes, shallots, and avocado.  Peel and quarter the eggs and arrange over the greens.  Spoon half the dressing over the salad.  Break apart the warm salmon into 2-inch pieces and arrange over the greens.  Top with the remaining dressing.  Serve immediately.

A Sweet Spoonful’s Strawberry Ice Cream

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on May 27, 2010 at 2:45pm

Remember when I wrote about the mind-blowing experience I had at the Penny De Los Santos food photography workshop I attended in March?  The reasons were many and varied, namely the San Francisco sunshine, Contigo’s gorgeous food, a hundred million great ideas from Penny, pushing way out of my comfort zone, and meeting three unbelievably cool chicks, all three of whom write beautiful food blogs (Chez Us, Bon Vivant, and A Sweet Spoonful).  I enjoy “keeping in touch” with all three over Twitter, and “catching up” with them by reading their blogs.  (You should read their blogs too, admire their lovely photographs, enjoy their San Fran raves…yeah, hugely jealous.)

A couple of weeks ago, Megan of A Sweet Spoonful wrote a hilariously sweet post about her love of ice cream.  She included a recipe and stunning photos of homemade strawberry ice cream – mmmm – and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.  Megan’s post inspired me to finally buy an ice cream maker (I’ve always wanted one) and start making ice cream that I actually like (other than Jeni‘s, which I love, but paying shipping for ice cream on a regular basis is obviously ridiculous).

The ice cream maker arrived and no surprise, the first batch I made was Megan’s strawberry version.  It is sublime, truly, especially right now, when berries are perfectly sweet and juicy.  Even my chocolate-obsessed husband, who was disappointed by my flavor choice, was blown away.  Yes!  Just in time for summer, a new toy to play with.  My next batch (see chocolate-obsessed husband) will have to be…chocolate…but after that, I think I’ll try my hand with salty smoked almonds, my favorite Jeni’s flavor.

Do you make homemade ice cream?  What’s your favorite flavor?  In case you’re wondering, after you have the ingredients ready (and very cold), the machine takes only 20 minutes to churn up creamy dreaminess.  Dangerous, if delicious.

PS Thanks to Suz for the pretty blue dishes – aren’t they sweet?

A Sweet Spoonful’s Strawberry Ice Cream
Megan Gordon, www.asweetspoonful.com
Makes 4 cups

Use any berries you’d like for this ice cream. Just make sure to cut up the pieces quite small–nothing good about big frozen, icy chunks of berries in your ice cream. Also, while I call for vodka here, you could also use kirsch or a liquor that would bring out the taste of the berries. I chose vodka because it has a neutral flavor and I always have some around the house, but play around with whatever inspires you–it’s not enough to make a big difference flavor-wise.

Adapted slightly from: Rustic Fruit Desserts

Ingredients:
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup (7 oz) granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
Pinch fine sea salt
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp. vodka
1 dry pint (2 cups) finely chopped strawberries

Directions:
Combine the milk, 1/2 cup of the cream, and 1/3 cup of the sugar in a 3-quart sauce pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally until just warm.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the yolks, 1/3 cup of the remaining sugar, and the salt and whisk until slightly lighter in color. Very slowly pour half of the warmed liquid into the yolk mixture, whisking continuously. Next, pour the yolk mixture back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Do not allow for it to get hot enough to boil. Heat slowly and watch for thickening.

Once thickened, take saucepan off of heat source. Set a bowl over an ice bath, then strain the custard through a fine-mesh sieve set over the bowl. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup cream and the vanilla and continue stirring until cool. Cover and chill in refrigerator 1.5 – 2 hours. Add remaining 1/3 cup sugar to chopped berries and put in the refrigerator in separate little bowl.

Once the custard has chilled, stir in the berries and vodka and freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Place the churned ice cream in a dry plastic container and cover with plastic wrap directly on top of the ice cream. Chill for at least 2 hours or until set up.

Storage: Stored in an airtight container in the freezer, the ice cream will be good for two weeks.

Souvlaki: Greek Pork Skewers

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on May 26, 2010 at 8:54am

Greek food and I had a shaky start, which is hard to imagine given how much I love it now.  My first exposure to a fully-loaded gyro – hours into my freshman year, University of Wisconsin-Madison, with my just-met roommate -  completely freaked me out.  So much garlic, with yogurt on meat (wha?), and juices running everywhere…my inner North Dakotan fainted a little bit.  Where are my parents?  Who is this girl I’m living with?  Why doesn’t she shave her legs?  What am I doing?  I wasn’t ready for feta cheese, not yet.

But after a couple of months of cardboard dorm food, and far too many pizzas, I started to crave food with…flavor.  I fantasized about going home for Thanksgiving dinner when it had never meant anything to me before.  I started exploring flavors outside of the Americanized Mexican-Italian-Chinese food I’d grown up with.  On a whim, I succumbed one hungry afternoon to the intoxicating smells from the falafel cart outside the UW Bookstore and ate the best sandwich I’d ever tasted.  Emboldened, I hiked back to the gyro place and got hooked on Greek salads and that damn sandwich, tender and spicy and dripping with yogurt, yeah.

And then…then I met Mary Pappas, almost 20 years ago, and my love of Greek food was cemented.  Mary would bring Greek treats – made by her mother-in-law and Yaya (grandmother) – into our office to share.  We would shamelessy attack and devour them.  Our staff birthday lunches often took place at It’s Greek to Me, or Christo’s, or Gardens of Salonica, and as a group we would eat obscene amounts of our favorite mezze, namely warm pita slathered with taramosalata, melitzanosalata, skordalia, and htipiti.  When I was pregnant with Nathan, Mary threw me a baby shower and had her mother-in-law and Yaya prepare all the food (I’ll never forget that party, The Best, sigh)…spanikopita, pastitsio, meatballs, salad, baklava, on and on…

So many happy memories.  Which now include my son!  Was it the amount of Greek food I ate at the end of my pregnancy, including that shower?  Whatever the reason, he loves it, and I’m thrilled.  Sharing a favorite dish with a child is an incredible experience.  Overall, we have many more misses than hits, but Greek food in general, and souvlaki (below) in particular, are now among his favorites.  Garlicky grilled pork, wrapped in warm pita bread and topped with tzatziki, the yogurt sauce that scared the crap out of me way back when.

The marinade is delicious with chicken too.  Serve with rice instead of bread to change things up.  Make extra marinade and toss with tomatoes, zucchini, and red onion – skewer and grill alongside the meat.  Use leftover sauce to make this tomato-feta sandwich for lunch the next day – also fabulous.  Lots of variations – have at it!

For more pork grilling ideas, and a whole menu for a Memorial Day barbecue (pork ribs, crunchy-creamy coleslaw, & strawberry shortcakes), check out my post this week for Dara & Co./Minnesota Monthly magazine.  I’ve got grilling pork on the brain – but only because the options are deliciously endless.

Souvlaki
Serves 4

Note: you can marinate the pork for up to 24 hours before griling.

2 lbs. pork tenderloin or pork loin, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 Tbsp. olive oil, plus more for the bread
3 Tbsp. red wine
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. coarse or Kosher salt, plus more for the bread
several grinds of freshly ground black pepper
2-4 loaves of pita bread (I like the flatbread loaves, not the pocket bread; I actually use the 365 brand of naan at Whole Foods)
Tzatziki (recipe below)

Put pork into a large Ziploc bag.  In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients and pour over pork.  Seal bag, massage the marinade into the pork a bit, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.  Heat grill.  Lightly brush or rub olive oil onto both sides of the pita bread.  Sprinkle one side lightly with salt.  Skewer pork loosely on metal or soaked bamboo skewers (discard Ziploc and marinade).  Grill pork for 5 minutes on each side, or until pork is cooked through (do not overcook for optimum tenderness).  Transfer skewers to a cutting board and let rest while you grill the bread.  On the still-hot grill, lay bread on the grate.  Grill for a couple of minutes on each side, just long enough to leave grill marks and soften/heat the bread.  Remove pork from skewers and serve with the warm bread and tzatziki.

Tzatziki
Makes about 1 cup

1/3 c. grated peeled cucumber
1 Tbsp. grated onion
1 Tbsp. minced fresh dill
2/3 c. Greek-style yogurt (Fage is an excellent brand)
salt and pepper to taste

Stir all ingredients together in a small bowl and chill.  Keeps for up to one week in the refrigerator.

Farro "Risotto" with Parmesan & Pea Shoots

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on May 23, 2010 at 2:54pm

Eating intact grains – as Summer Tomato refers to them – is not the same as eating foods labeled as “whole grain.”  Intact grains are just that, not ground into flour or broken into pieces.  Filling and nutritious, intact grains are a whole food, as well as a healthy, busy cook’s best friend.  Cook them – and legumes like navy, chickpea, black, or pinto beans while you’re at it – in big batches and use throughout the week.

For a delicious, filling break from oatmeal, warm cooked quinoa on the stove or in the microwave with milk, cinnamon, honey, and chopped walnuts (or try this version of hazelnut quinoa with dried cherries, one of my favorite day starters).  Make a quick salad for lunch or dinner with greens topped with warmed chickpeas and farro, toasted nuts, avocado, and a simple lemon/olive oil dressing – scrumptious, fast, and satisfying.  For more ideas, see Summer Tomato’s tips on How to Eat Healthy When You Have No Time.

Or, make “risotto” with a grain other than rice.  Barley makes a fabulous risotto-style dish, as does farro.  In the version below, I stir pea shoot leaves and grated Parmesan cheese into warm, chewy farro, fragrant with onions, garlic, and a splash of wine.  Perfect on its own, or served alongside grilled chicken or salmon, it’s bursting with flavor and texture yet ready in about 30 minutes.

Farro “Risotto” with Parmesan & Pea Shoots
Serves 4 as main course, 6 as a side dish

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 c. farro, rinsed and drained
1/4 c. dry white wine
2 1/2 c. chicken or vegetable broth
salt
2 c. pea shoot leaves (or spinach leaves, shelled peas, fava beans, chopped asparagus…vary as you like)
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic to the pan, sprinkle with a little salt, and saute until onion is translucent, 10 minutes.

Add farro and cook for 5 minutes.  Stir in wine and cook until wine is absorbed, about 5 minutes.  Stir in broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer on lowest heat for 20 minutes.  Liquid should be absorbed and farro should be tender/chewy.  If liquid is not absorbed, cover and cook for another 5-10 minutes.

When farro is done, stir in Parmesan, pea shoot leaves, and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Serve with additional Parmesan & black pepper if you like.  Leftovers are good at room temperature, served atop a green salad.

Minneapolis Farmer’s Market Bounty

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on May 23, 2010 at 10:39am

I made my first trip of the season to the Minneapolis Famer’s Market yesterday, total blast.  I strolled around with a big grin on my face, happy to see such bounty so early in the season.  I carried home garlic chives, pea shoots, asparagus, rhubarb, and a whole pound of freshly picked morel mushrooms.

 

 

 

 

 

The garlic chives and pea shoots were a buck a bunch, the morels…more than a buck.  But so worth it, I sauteed half of them for lunch as soon as I got home and ate them over savory French toast (a tip I received from the fabulous Donna Menne a couple of years ago).

 

 

 

 

 

Wow.  It’s as easy at it sounds – the (carefully cleaned, these were very fresh) morels sauteed in good butter with some salt, the bread dipped in egg/milk batter and also sauteed in butter until browned.  Morels meet French toast.  Decadent.  Delicious.  Sorry for the lame pic, it was dark as night yesterday afternoon.  Today my plan is to saute the remainder and eat them over grilled bread rubbed with raw garlic.  (Pic on right shows two things – one, how dark it was at noon.  And two, a pair of mallards hooking up in our pool.  I hope the female is Wanda, our planter-nesting hen, whose nest was destroyed by raccoons Friday night.  Perhaps she’s remated and trying again in a better spot?)

I baked the rhubarb into a strawberry-rhubarb pie, recipe via the simply awesome Simply Recipes.  Tender, sweet-tart fruit under a buttery-flaky crust will have you softly declaring, Yes, it is summer…summer! I’ll post the recipe below and note that since I didn’t have instant tapioca, I used cornstarch as a thickener, worked like a charm.  I ooh-ahhed through a slice for breakfast this morning.  Licked my fork.  Sipped my coffee.  And remembered that pie elevates a cup of hot coffee to nectar-of-the-gods’ status.  Zeus wishes he’d known strawberry-rhubarb pie with coffee.  Sorry man.

Post-morels and pie, I abandoned my destroyed kitchen, threw on some heels, and headed out with Suz for a Minnesota Blog Pantry event (#MNBlogPantry on Twitter).  Thanks to Elissa at Little Bean Photography for hosting – and snapping headshots of all the lovely local bloggers in her sunny studio!  And thanks to France 44 for the delicious wine, and Mom’s Best Naturals for the wholesome – local! – cereal samples.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Via Elise Bauer at Simply Recipes

3 c. rhubarb stalks cut into 1/2 inch pieces (trim outside stringy layer of large rhubarb stalks; make sure to trim away and discard any of the leaves which are poisonous; trim ends)
1 c. strawberries, stemmed and sliced
1 c. sugar
3 Tbsp. quick cooking tapioca (Stephanie’s note: I used 6 Tbsp. cornstarch instead; pie set up beautifully)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 tsp. of grated orange peel (Stephanie’s note: I used 1/2 tsp. cinnamon instead)
Unbaked pastry for two-crust, 9-inch pie (if making a 10-inch pie, or just want more filling, use 4.5 cups of rhubarb, 1.5 cups strawberries, and 1 1/4 cup of sugar)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Mix the rhubarb and the strawberries with the sugar, tapioca, salt, and orange rind. Let sit for 10 minutes.  Turn into a pastry lined pan. Top with the pastry, trim the edge, and crimp the top and bottom edges together. Cut slits in the top for the steam to escape.  Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes, reduce heat to 350°F, and bake an additional 30-40 minutes longer (40 to 50 minutes longer if doing a 10-inch pie). Stephanie’s note: place a baking sheet on the rack under the pie to catch overflow juices.  Cool on a rack.

Serve warm or cold. If you do cool to room temperature, the juices will have more time to thicken.

Weekend Grilling: Pork Tenderloin Tacos

Posted by Stephanie Meyer on May 21, 2010 at 8:55am

It’s going to be 90 sultry degrees here in Minneapolis on Sunday.  Ugh.  I’m not going to complain (is “ugh” a complaint?), but I’m not quite prepared for that level of heat and humidity.  Guess I’ll just have to grab a cold beverage and head out to the grill…tough, I know.

If you’re looking for something to sear, I suggest:

The whole barbecued chicken I posted below.
Any of the multiple burgers I posted a year ago (including several vegetarian ideas).
My tips for great hamburgers.
The miso-glazed salmon I posted at Dara & Co./Minnesota Monthly a couple of weeks ago.
These delicious grilled lemon shrimps on toasts.
The Korean-style grilled beef I posted last week.
Tandoori chicken skewers, so good with grilled naan.
My favorite way to grill vegetables – chapa-style.

Or…apparently I’ve had grilling on the brain these last few weeks…these pork tenderloin tacos, first posted at Dara & Co/Minnesota Monthly.  If you missed ‘em, here’s what I said:

I crave spicy pork—especially carnitas, or slow-braised pork shoulder, pulled apart, then roasted until crispy at the edges. Rolled into a soft corn tortilla… It’s beyond. While not difficult to make, a three-hour braise is too long for a weeknight dinner, so when a craving hits on a Monday-to-Friday, I pull off a cheat of sorts.

Also delicious, yet ready in 30 minutes: Thin slices of spicy pork tenderloin make a similarly porktacular (yes, I did just say porktacular) tortilla filling. Add your favorite carnitas garnishes. I like the contrast of creamy avocado slices with the crunch and heat of diced jalapeno and red onion. Add crumbled queso fresco (or feta), chopped cilantro, and a squeeze of lime to finish it all off. Flavor explosion, that’s the goal. Serve with corn or flour tortillas—your choice, just make sure they’re fresh and warm.

I grilled the pork on a Superior Planks cedar plank, which I wrote about for the printed magazine.  As you can see from the pic, I didn’t follow the instructions and lit the plank on fire.  A little pork-n-cedar inferno, right there on my deck.  Despite the fire – which I easily put out with a bottle of water, it really wasn’t a big deal -  the pork was delicious (you can see that it was unharmed, just nicely crusty).  Grill your pork on a plank (perhaps without lighting it on fire), or directly on the grill, or on a grill pan inside the house.  All fabulous.

Pork Tenderloin Tacos
Serves 3-4

1 pork tenderloin
1 tsp. each minced garlic, ancho chili powder, cumin, oregano, and coarse salt, mixed together in a small bowl with enough olive oil to make a loose paste
warm corn or flour tortillas

Suggested Garnishes:
avocado slices
chopped cilantro
chopped red onion
chopped jalapeno pepper
sour cream (thinned with a bit of cream for drizzling)
crumbled queso fresco (or feta) cheese

    Preheat grill.  Smear herb-paste all over the pork tenderloin.  Grill pork over high heat for approximately 10 minutes or until desired doneness.  Let pork rest on a cutting board for at least 5 minutes (keep in mind that the pork will continue to cook a bit more as it sits).  Slice thinly and serve in warm tortillas with garnishes.  (Note: while pork cooks, prepare garnishes.  While it rests, warm tortillas, wrapped in foil, on the still-hot grill for a few minutes.)

    Whole Barbecued Chicken

    Posted by Stephanie Meyer on May 20, 2010 at 6:32pm

    I half ruined this whole barbecued chicken and it was still so provocatively delicious that John and I attacked it (and each other, get back!) like wolves.  Snip, snap, gone.  Wow, dudes, if you have not heeded my unpaid over-representation of the Weber poultry roaster (I have no relationship with Weber), heed it now.  It will make your summer.  It will!  You will dream about the chickens that you impale upon it, the chickens that you roast into sublime, golden (or in this case, blackened) glory, the chickens that almost fall apart when done, insanely juicy and tender and crisp.  With just salt and olive oil, or with the dry rub and barbecue sauce below, it matters not.  They’re all…perfect.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    My mistake was the sugar I added to the dry rub before massaging it into the chicken.  Dumb, given the blast of searing heat it takes to produce a tender/crisp bird, but it was left over from another recipe (coming soon) and I lazily used it.  I’ve adjusted the recipe below accordingly so your bird will be browned-not-burned.

    To roast the chicken plain, read here.  To roast it barbecue style, see below.  Either way, write me if/when you’ve tried the roaster, I seriously can’t wait to hear how yours turns out – that’s how much I know you’re going to love this chicken.  (That is if you eat meat; and if you don’t, no worries, I’ll be back soon with plenty of tasty meatless options!)

    If you’re thinking Memorial Day entertaining…I posted a strawberry shortcakes recipe at Dara & Co./Minnesota Monthly magazine this week.  The Easiest Biscuits This Side of Pie, filled with sweetened berries and topped with mounds of freshly whipped cream.  Yeah.

    Whole Barbecued Chicken
    Serves 4

    1 4-5 lb. whole chicken, giblets discarded, rinsed and dried
    1 Tbsp. each ancho chili powder, salt, garlic powder, and oregano
    3 Tbsp. or so white wine or beer
    2 cloves garlic, smashed
    1/2 c. your favorite barbecue sauce (I like Daddy Sam’s)

    Preheat grill.  In a small bowl, stir together chipotle chili powder, salt, garlic powder, and oregano.  Spoon over the chicken and rub thoroughly into the chicken skin.  Sprinkle some inside the cavity.  (If you haven’t touched the dry rub with your hands, store remaining rub for up to 3 months.)  Fill receptacle in Weber poultry roaster with white wine or beer, add smashed garlic cloves, replace the receptacle top.  Set the chicken, legs side down, over the receptacle.  Tuck wings under themselves and push the roaster’s plug into the top of the chicken.  Place chicken/roaster on hot grill (moderate to around 450-500 degrees on a gas grill) and roast for about 1 hour, or until deeply browned and crisp and a leg moves freely in its socket (you’ll even see the skin pulling away from the leg).

    Carefully carry the sizzling, splattering chicken/roaster into the house.  I set mine on my cooktop because it is so very hot.  When the splattering slows, use tongs to remove the roaster’s plug and transfer the chicken to a cutting board.  Let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes, then carve.  Serve immediately.

    Blue Cheese Shortbread Crackers

    Posted by Stephanie Meyer on May 16, 2010 at 9:14am

    I’ll confess a deep, dark secret.  I love…Cheez-its.  I don’t want to know what cheez is, and I endeavor to not eat the things (I forbid them from the house…most of the time), but I’m moved by their flaky, tangy, processed perfection.  Addictive little beasts, grrr.

    But as tasty as they are, I’m obviously not bringing them to a party, at least not in this century.  (I’ve brought much worse to parties, including little cocktail pumpernickel slices spread with herb processed cheese and topped with slices of Oscar Mayer salami cut into Christmas-tree shapes.  It took me forever to free-form all those little salami trees.  I…yeah.  That was a long time ago.)  These better days, I think it’s nice to bring a host/ess something I’ve actually made myself, mad scissor skills aside.

    Like blue cheese shortbread crackers.  They’re cheesy (no Z!) and crisp.  Tender and tangy.  Addictive little beasts.  Perfect nibbled alongside a glass of wine.  And blessedly un-orange.  In other words, a lovely thing to take to a party.

    Blue Cheese Shortbread Crackers
    Adapted from Bon Apetit November 2002
    Serves 6

    3 1/2 oz. crumbled blue cheese (about 1/2 c.)
    3 Tbsp. butter, room temperature
    1/2 c. all-purpose flour
    1/4 c. cornstarch
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1/8 tsp. ground black pepper
    1/3 c. walnuts, finely chopped

    Blend the blue cheese and butter in a processor until creamy.  Add flour, cornstarch, salt, and pepper.  Using on/off turns, process until mixture resembles coarse meal.  Add walnuts and process just until moist clumps form.  Gather dough into ball.  Roll out dough between sheets of plastic wrap to 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch thickness.  Transfer wrapped dough to a baking sheet and chill for 15 minutes (they’re much easier to cut out and handle when chilled).

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat liners.  Using a small biscuit cutter (or other shape cutter), cut out crackers.  (You could also free-hand cut them into squares and skip the cutter altogether.)  Transfer cutouts to prepared baking sheets.  Gather dough scraps and reroll (and chill); cut out additional crackers.  Transfer to prepared baking sheets.  Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.  Transfer to racks and cool.  (Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.)