Sweet Potato, Apple, and Pork

With trying to branch out in our cooking and the gluten free experiment I have to get creative in how I use the ingredients.  That includes trying to use veg that I really don’t like.  Being a supertaster I’ve been limited because things like squash, sweet potato, zucchini, etc can be bitter to me.  Fortunately I’m having success in making these ingredients palatable for me but still letting some of that flavour that my family likes through.  Which is great because I’d love to be more seasonal with the local foods.  Kind of makes me wish I tried this before!

There was some sweet potato and rutabaga in the fridge that needed to be used up plus a bin full of apples.  I chopped up the sweet potato and rutabaga and covered with two cups chicken stock and 1 cup water.  Cook on a high simmer until they are about half cooked.

Sweet potato apple puree 1 2014

Add some sage and lemon thyme and one chopped apple.  Finish cooking the sweet potato and rutabaga.

Sweet potato apple puree 2 2014

While this is cooking, brown the pork in a skillet and finish it by baking.  Mix some olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper.  Set aside and chop up some mustard greens.  In a food processor spoon in the sweet potato, rutabaga, and apple leaving the liquid in reserve.  Add 1/4 cup of dry white wine.  Pulse while adding the cooking liquid a bit at a time until you get the consistency you want.   Layer the pork over the puree and top with the mustard greens.  Dress with the olive oil and lemon.

Sweet potato apple puree 3 2014

Next time I would use a little less rutabaga but we had to use it up.  Other than that I can say I like sweet potato.  In some things.  😉

Thanksgiving Turkey and Gravy

My favourite holiday is Thanksgiving.  There is nothing materialistic about this holiday.  We celebrate family by being thankful for what is important.  A healthy family, food on the table, and a roof over our heads.  Our wealth is not in the objects we collect but in the love we have for each other.  And one way I enjoy showing my love for my family is to cook for them.  My husband and I spent two days cooking and cleaning to get the list done.  We joke about two days of work for 1/2 hour of eating.  LOL But we enjoy the results.  Because there is so much food I won’t do it all in one post.  That would be very long post.  🙂

I love doing the turkey and gravy.  Now you always hear about the debate about using brine on the turkey or dry roasting it.  I don’t do either and I’ve never had a dry turkey.  It comes out moist and flavourful.

Heat the oven to 325 F.  The Fanny Farmer Cookbook recommends 15 minutes per pound if less than 16lbs and 12 minutes per pound if more than that.  Our turkey was just a smidge under 14lbs.  Also, I recently read that heirloom turkeys when done can still have pink tinged juices so you want the turkey to be 165 F when finished deep in the meat.  We got our turkey from a local farm two towns over so I was glad I read about this.

Once I put it in the roasting pan I drizzle it with olive oil.  Another tip with the turkey, don’t wash it, just put it in the pan.  Washing it will spray germs.

I liberally apply salt and pepper to the skin.

Whatever is added now is the base for the gravy so it is important to use the best ingredients.  I grabbed some rosemary and lemon thyme from the garden and put the sprigs into the pan.

I chop up some garlic and onions and toss these in.  Next I add a few cups of water and about 3/4 cup of white balsamic vinegar.  It has a lemony taste that I was going for.  Cover and pop into the oven.

To add another layer of flavour to the gravy I simmer the heart, liver, and neck in water while the turkey is cooking.

I keep the turkey covered for most of the cooking time so it steams with all the flavours.  For the last 20 minutes or so I uncover it to brown a bit.  Now as my daughter and I are the only ones that really like the skin my main objective is to keep the turkey moist rather than crisp the entire skin.  There are times I get it really crisp and sometimes it is like this time round not so crisp.  I set the turkey aside covered to rest while I make the gravy.

I remove the sprigs of herbs and add the water from the neck, heart, and liver to the gravy.  I set aside the neck to add to the stock I’ll make.  The dogs get the heart and liver.  🙂  Bring the gravy to a boil and add either flour mixed in water or corn starch mixed in water to thicken.  Add a bit at a time until you get the consistency needed.  I also add a bit of gravy master for flavour and colour.  Season as needed.

It’s important to boil as it thickens so you don’t have a flour taste.  I stir regularly to keep it all the same consistency.

It was wonderful having my parents, my aunt, and my sister and her family around the table with our family.  As some are vegetarian we have a lot of turkey left over!  Time to get creative.


Pan Fried Pork Chops with Apples

I’ve mentioned before Rich can cook.  He cooks amazing things.  And true to form, this dish was delicious.  His inspiration was from an old cookbook we have.  It was the pan fried pork recipe out of the “The Good Housekeeping Cookbook – A step by step cookbook”.  Of course, ahem, we’ve changed the recipe. 🙂

First you want to slice up some onions and saute them in olive oil.  Once they’ve softened a bit put them aside.  Salt and pepper the pork and place it in the pan you used for the onions.

Cook 5 minutes on each side.

Meanwhile put a baking pan in the oven with a drizzle of olive oil at 350 F.  We use the toaster oven.  We heat the pan so we aren’t placing food in a cold dish with cold oil.  We want to keep that nice sear that was achieved.

Put the pork in the baking dish and sprinkle with lemon thyme. Bake until nearly cooked.

Onto the sauce!  Saute sliced apples and the sauteed onions together and add a tablespoon of brown sugar.  Take 1/2 cup of hard cider with a teaspoon of corn starch dissolved in it and add to the pan.  Add splashes of the cider as you need to deglaze the pan as well.  Simmer until you have the apples at the softness you want.  Add the pork back into the sauce.

Simmer for a few minutes so pork is cooked then serve.  This dish takes between 30-45 minutes to make.  And this was enough for our family of four with a side potato dish.

Mushroom Crostini

To go along with the bacon crostini I also did a mushroom crostini with the mushrooms we grew out of that kit.  This is also very easy to make and has a wonderful earthy flavour.

I chopped up the mushrooms.  Here I used shiitake and oyster mushrooms.  I also used garlic and lemon thyme.

I saute these ingredients in olive oil.  You could use butter if that is your preference. Once the mushrooms start to brown a bit I then put in some very dry sherry.  1/4-1/2 cup depending on the taste you are looking for.  While these are cooking toast up some crostinis with olive oil.

Spoon on and enjoy!  This takes less than twenty minutes to make so is a great dish when you are in a rush.

Smoked Pork Tenderloin

For our wedding anniversary we’ve started a tradition where we pick out a present for ourselves.  Something we would enjoy together.  Last year our grill that was over 10 years old was falling apart and probably wasn’t the safest thing anymore.  So off we went to get ourselves a new grill.  After much research we settled on one that had 5 burners, a side burner, and last but not least, a smoker!  This is the only smoker I like, the human kind walking by me on the street, not so much.

For pork I usually use apple wood chips.  To add flavour to this dish I also used lemon thyme from the garden.  But you must soak these first in water.

These should soak for about 20 minutes but you can do it for longer if you have other stuff to complete.

For this cut of meat I am able to get all natural without any antibiotics or hormones at our local grocery store.  For the marinade I used a bit of olive oil, minced garlic, white balsamic vinegar, some dried oregano and basil.  I salt and pepper the pork then put the marinade on top.  I got distracted and forgot to take a picture.  It was absolutely gorgeous.  Trust me.  😉

While the pork is absorbing flavours I start the smoker.  When it is about 250F I put the pork in.  If I have time I let it cook completely in the smoker. I do let the temperature get up to about 350 F.  It was getting late and we all get cranky if we don’t get fed so I smoked it for about 40 minutes and finished it off in the toaster oven.  Crankiness averted!

Let it rest and then serve.  This meal took a bit longer due to the protein.  Overall from the time I started until the time we sat down to eat was about an hour and 15 minutes.