Monday, January 31, 2011

baking at home: Bumble-Berry Jalousie

Ahhh....delicious dinner, dishes done, kitchen candle lit, New Music Monday on WTTS for another hour and the smacking of sleet and ice freaking me out against the windows and doors.  The much-hyped winter storm arrived as promised just before dinner.

Sara and I are safely in for however long it takes.  Plenty of food.  Plenty of shows to watch on the DVR.  Plenty of blog ideas on my computer desktop.  Now all we need is some good luck that the power stays on.  Can't tell you how many serious discussions Greg and I have had about  having a generator installed to ensure we always have the sump pumps running along with, oh I don't know; lights, heat, a/c, refrigeration and other assorted modern conveniences we might like to enjoy.   Too late now.  Candles and flashlights are ready.  Tomorrow I'll take a serious look at the storage room to make sure that the mild disarray of it's current status doesn't leave something precious exposed to rising water.  Deep and heavy sigh and a little prayer that the line of ice v snow moves just a little south tonight.

Since I last posted about purchasing amazing pastries I thought tonight's post should be actually baking a fairly amazing pastry.  I last baked these over the holidays and I'm embarrassed to say that once again I managed to have more than my fair share.  I did savor every bite, but there may have been a few too many bites.  Thank God for a decent metabolism and a devotion to regular exercise.  I would look so amazing with less dessert, but what fun would that be?  If you share my love of baked goods, does it just amuse you to no end when you read a meal plan in a magazine that allows for one dessert a week?  Really?  One a day is truly still a goal for me.  One a week?  I would be so skinny, but I would be mean.  Mean as dirt.

Okay, back to business.  Tonight's topic:  the jalousie.  Zhahh-loo-ZEE for those of us not fluent en Francais.  A french puff pastry filled with fruit not unlike a strudel or turnover.  This recipe is based on one from Fine Cooking published in 2007.  Most packaged puff pastry sheets come two to a box, so if you only want to bake one (so you don't end up sharing one and more or less making another just for yourself, oops) remove just one sheet from the box and return the other to your freezer.  I have made an apple jalousie in the fall with apple slices, brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, butter and and seeds from a vanilla bean carefully sauteed for a filling.  This last round I made a bumble-berry jalousie because I had an abundance of frozen mixed berries from Costco.  I actually cooked too many berries and used the leftovers as jam.  Bonne idee, non?

Bumble-Berry Jalousie

14 oz. frozen mixed berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, the elusive marionberries, whatever)
1/4 C sugar
2 T blackberry or raspberry liqueur, optional
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1/8 tsp cinnamon
pinch kosher salt
1 1/2 T cornstarch

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed according to package directions (possibly overnight, plan ahead)
1 large egg
flour for rolling out dough
coarse sugar (demera, turbinado or decorative coarse white sugar)
creme fraiche, lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream to serve, optional

To make filling:  In a medium saucepan, stir together the berries, sugar, liqueur (if using), lemon juice, zest, cinnamon and salt.  Heat over medium high heat until the berries start to to release their juices and start to bubble, about 2 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring gently every now and then so the berries release more juices and soften but hold their shape for the most part (this did not happen for me, so the jalousie was kind of flat, but still lovely), another 10 minutes or so.  Remove from heat.  If your fruit is still intact, use a slotted spoon and remove most of the fruit and place it in a bowl.  Dissolve the cornstarch in 3 T of water.  Whisk into the berry juices still in the pan.  Bring mixture to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon until thickened, at least 2 minutes.  Since my fruit broke down I skipped the removing the fruit and brought the whole mixture to a boil with the cornstarch slurry.  This is how I had too much filling but ended up with some jam.  If you removed the fruit, mix the juices and berries back together.  Taste to see if you need a little more sugar.
To assemble jalousie:  line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, make an egg wash by beating the egg with 1 T water.

Unfold the puff pastry dough on a lightly floured surface and pinch together any seams if split.  Lightly flour top of pastry or rolling pin and roll out dough into a 12 x 14-inch rectangle.  Cut rectangle in half lengthwise to form two 6 x 14-inch rectangles.  Move one of the rectangles onto the lined baking sheet.

Use a pastry brush and brush a 1-inch border of egg wash around the perimeter of the dough.
Arrange the fruit in a 4-inch wide strip down the length of the dough leaving the egg wash border free of fruit as much possible.

Lightly flour the remaining piece of puff pastry and gently fold in half lengthwise.  Do not crease the fold.  Using a sharp knife, cut 1 1/2-inch long slashes about 1-inch apart along the folded edge of the dough leaving at least a 1-inch border on the remaining three sides.  Do not unfold the dough.  Using a long spatula, carefully lift the folded strip and position it over the fruit-topped dough, matching up the outside edges.

Gently unfold the top piece of dough over the filling, matching up the outside edges.  Press the edges together with your fingertips to seal.  Then use a fork to crimp the edges all the way around the pastry.

Chill assembled jalousie for 15-20 minutes.  Just before baking brush the top with a very light coating of the egg wash.  Sprinkle with the coarse sugar.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Bake for 15 minutes and then rotate the baking sheet.  Continue baking until pastry is puffed, a deep golden brown on top and light gold brown on the bottom, about 10-15 minutes more.  Remove from oven and transfer pastry to a wire rack to cool (you can just carry it on the parchment, set it on the rack and pull the parchment out from underneath the pastry, voila!).  Serve the jalousie slightly warm with creme fraiche, lightly sweetened whipped cream or ice cream as desired.  Can reheat at 325 degrees in teh oven if necessary.

unfold the dough 

roll out and divide into two equal rectangles

brush border with egg wash

spoon filling on center strip

folded and sliced pastry top on half of filling and bottom pastry

unfolded top pastry matching-almost edges

crimp edges with fingers and then decoratively with fork

my jalousie and the one I shared

in the oven

In a medium saucepan, stir together the berries, sugar, liqueur (if using), lemon juice, zest, cinnamon and salt.  Heat over medium high heat until the berries start to to release their juices and start to bubble, about 2 minutes.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer, stirring gently every now and then so the berries release more juices and soften but hold their shape for the most part (this did not happen for me, so the jalousie was kind of flat, but still lovely), another 10 minutes or so.  Remove from heat.  If your fruit is still intact, use a slotted spoon and remove most of the fruit and place it in a bowl.  Dissolve the cornstarch in 3 T of water.  Whisk into the berry juices still in the pan.  Bring mixture to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon until thickened, at least 2 minutes.  Since my fruit broke down I skipped the removing the fruit and brought the whole mixture to a boil with the cornstarch slurry.  This is how I had too much filling but ended up with some jam.  If you removed the fruit, mix the juices and berries back together.  Taste to see if you need a little more sugar.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Saturday at the bakery

Had to get up nice and early Saturday morning to fit in day 27 of yoga before heading up to West Lafayette for the Purdue basketball game with Carolyn, a DG pledge sister.  Headed to the Broadripple studio with probably 40 other yogis and yoginis.  All this time I've thought the temperature goal to be between 92 and 95 and maybe that's what it is at my usual Clay Terrace studio, but in the Rip yesterday the goal was 101.  Forty hot yoga bodies and an hour later I was basically liquid.  I couldn't have been any wetter if I had just jumped in the pool.  You would think that I would head directly home and up the stairs to twist and turn myself out of my yoga clothes and into the shower.  That would have been the polite thing to do, but a little thought bubbled up in my head:  Rene's Bakery is open and I am in striking distance.  The thought that last week I had to have enjoyed at least one-quarter of the blueberry pie never entered my mind.

So I turned a few corners and saw the tiny, cute, vivid blue Renee's bakery busy behind the counter but empty but for me in front of the counter.  That was a blessing to any other potential patrons.  Picked out two gorgeous slices of cherry frangipani tart and one raspberry bread pudding (adorable individual muffin tin brimming with brioche, berries and glistening coarse sugar).  Thirty-six hours later and only a little help from Kelly and there are only a few crumbs.  Highly recommend a visit if you really want to spoil yourself or someone you love!  They are closed Monday and Tuesday for baking, so plan accordingly.  Oh, and they are tucked in on a tiny street so click the link and follow the map.  If you are going to have dessert, you might as well enjoy something truly fresh, handmade, gorgeous and decadent.

I'd love to provide a photo for you, but all I have is an empty box.  Next visit, I'll take my camera.  Can't promise anything will last long enough to pose for the camera at home!

Friday, January 28, 2011

make-up day: Calzones

taste better than they look, but they look pretty tasty here

Day 26 of the 30-day yoga challenge!  Days 23 and 24 were pretty iffy with a little stomach bug and the 92 degree heat.  Even a little woozy, a little wobbly,  I made it through.  Not terribly productive at home (I am caught up on the Australian Open and Downton Abbey on Masterpiece), however so I broke out the bread machine and made it up to the family with a favorite dinner of calzones last night.  The previous night I gave myself a little break and made a big pot of chicken noodle soup with rotisserie chicken from Costco.  I suppose buying the actual chicken soup from the prepared case at Costco would be even easier, but not terribly.  Might as well run through the "recipe" for the soup before we tackle the calzones.

Shortcut Chicken Noodle Soup

2 T canola or olive oil
1 medium white or yellow onion, medium chop
4 cloves garlic, minced (you are trying to feel better after all)
4-6 carrots, diced or sliced
4 big stalks celery, diced
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
2 boxes (for 6-8 cups) chicken stock or broth
1 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
8 oz. egg noodles (or whole grain) in whatever size you like in your soup
8 oz. frozen peas

Get out your soup pot.   If you still don't have a LeCreuset enameled cast iron soup pot, buy whatever brand you see at Costco or Macy's (the Martha Stewart line is significantly less expensive especially when on sale and with a coupon, never tried one but surely it works the same).  Heat the oil and saute the onions, celery and carrots until onions are translucent, maybe 5 minutes.   Do not brown, keep the heat low.  Add the garlic, salt and pepper to taste (start with 1/2 tsp of each) and stir for about 30 seconds.  Add the broth, starting with 6 cups depending on how thin you like your soup.  Add the thyme and bay leaf.  Bring to a rolling boil and add the noodles.  Cook until noodles are soft (follow package instructions) adding more broth if you need it.  Add the peas if you like them like my Sara does.  Heat through.  Discard bay leaf.  Taste for salt and pepper.  That's it.  Serve with halved lemons and squeeze over your bowl of soup if you like that.  I love lemon in my chicken noodle soup, but that's a personal preference.  My mom always served her soup with endive lettuce and vinegar (?).  To each their own.

Back to the calzones.  If you read my blog on a regular basis you will know that I may have a different idea of easy than some people because I love to cook and I have the time.  I have a Cuisinart convection bread machine from Costco which really makes my life easier.  I never actually bake in it, but the dough setting mixes, needs and rises dough for me in one hour and thirty eight minutes.  All you really need is to remember to start your bread machine or set it to start with enough time before you want to bake.  I also regularly order shipments of baking ingredients from King Arthur Flour.  The quality is understood and the variety of ingredients (some you never knew you needed until you read their catalogs, website or baking blog) is the big draw.  Shipping pounds of flour and etc. gets pricey so I usually stock up when I get a free shipping e-mail.  So for calzones I use my perfect pizza flour, pizza dough flavor, white whole wheat flour (buy that locally) and SAF instant yeast.  You, however can buy ready to use or frozen dough at the grocery or Trader Joe's and get dinner in the oven faster and easier.  It's a bit of act of treason if I do that.  I have a fairly significant investment in ingredients and equipment in my kitchen.  I try to be a good steward of it all.  Which brings me back to the calzones.  I made them a week or so ago and they received rave reviews.  Of course I did not take pictures along the way and Sara chastises me about posting without pictures so I did not write them up.  I did still have half a container of ricotta cheese about to go to waste and a need to bake so calzones, round two.  One last note:  one ingredient I really thinks makes the difference in these is the Muir Glen Pizza Sauce from a can.  Not treason if I use canned sauce.  You know I can and do make sauce, but this is so good it's ridiculous to make it myself.  You will lick the spoon.

So, try it.  Use whatever you like on a pizza in a calzone.  Really it's just a different delivery method for the same flavor experience.  Kind of cute.  Your family can make their own, just cut their initials in the dough.  Fire up your oven and enjoy another wintry weekend.


2 1/4 C Perfect Pizza Flour Blend
1 C white whole wheat flour
1 T Pizza Dough Flavor, oprional
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 T olive oil
1 1/4 C very warm water
2 tsp instant yeast

ricotta cheese (16-ounces)
Muir Glen Pizza Sauce (preferred, but not required of course)
shredded mozzarella cheese
chicken or turkey sweet or hot Italian sausage, browned, crumbled and drained
pepperoni slices 
finely chopped or sliced onion, green peppers, red peppers
mushrooms, sauteed or fresh
fresh spinach
red pepper flakes

Add all ingredients for dough to your bread machine pan and use the dough setting on your bread machine to mix, knead and let the dough rise.  Check the dough before it finishes mixing and add a little flour or water as needed to make a smooth and only slightly sticky dough.  

You can, of course, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix them by hand or with a dough hook and your stand mixer.  Turn out onto a floured board and knead for 5-8 minutes by hand until smooth.  Spray the bowl with cooking spray or brush with olive oil and place the kneaded dough back in the bowl to rise for an hour.  You can use the dough without letting it rise, but the flavor improves with the rising.  

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.  

However you get here, turn your dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Divide it into 4-6 pieces for nice big calzones.  Roll each piece out separately to the desired size.  Mine were probably 9-10 inches in diameter.  Place rolled pieces on a baking sheet lightly brushed with olive oil (if you spray your cookie sheets time after time, the cooking spray will eventually build up and blacken your sheets, just saying).  

Spread about a 1/4 C of ricotta on your round of dough on one side only, leaving at least a 1/2 inch edge around the sides of the dough to crimp later.  Add your toppings as you like them.  I usually layer on the meat, the veggies, some spinach and then a few tablespoons of sauce and  a good sprinkle of mozzarella cheese.  Gently pull the dough to stretch it a bit to make sure it will get up and over your fillings.  Crimp the edges together with your fingers.  

Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.  

dough ingredients

some filling ingredients

dough portioned for four massive calzones

Greg's manly version

told you they were massive, the edges did stay together btw

the beginning stages of Sara's calzone

a little heavier on the veggies

one extra, always good 
on the oven (I need to clean my oven, sorry)
Editor's note:  I am half German and half Russian and not at all anything else let alone Italian.  This is my home version of Italian cooking not meant to be authentic, just approachable and delicious in it's own way.  If you want real, authentic Italian cooking get to know my dear friend Paula's husband, Dan! 

Monday, January 24, 2011

roasted tomatoes

Going through my "winter food" photo album in iPhoto I found these pretty pictures of roasted tomatoes.  This is essentially a quick dinner idea, but only if you remember to start the tomatoes after lunch.  Roasting tomatoes in your oven with some herbs makes your kitchen smell fantastic and then gives you a starting point for making a quick dinner more delicious.

Last week cherry tomatoes were on special so I bought four bags of them.  This technique works for roma tomatoes, campari tomatoes, cherry tomatoes or whatever you have on hand.  I had a bounty of cherry tomatoes before the first killing frost that I saved from my in-laws garden and I roasted them too.  

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees (if you are going to really slow roast them, use 250 degrees).  

Remove the stems and halve your tomatoes.  

Spread some olive oil on a shallow roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet.  Place your tomatoes in the pan or on the sheet in a single layer.  Sprinkle with kosher salt and a little freshly ground pepper.  Sprinkle a tablespoon of basil and oregano over them (use less for fewer tomatoes, this was a very packed full sheet).  

Place in the oven and roast slowly for 2-3 hours at 300 degrees or 4-6 hours at 250 degrees.  

before roasting
after roasting, looks good!

Now comes the fun part.  I had simply sauteed some sliced boneless, skinless chicken breasts with a little salt and pepper in some olive oil.  I also steamed some green beans and tossed them with a little kosher salt and lemon juice.  Sara served her tomatoes on the side, but mine went on my chicken with a bit of feta cheese (goat cheese would be good too).  Some warm crusty Seeduction bread from Whole Foods and a nice quick dinner.  

That's not terribly creative, but absolutely delicious.  You could add a little garlic when you are roasting the tomatoes and simply toss with some hot pasta.  You could add these to meatloaf which would really make a savory turkey meatloaf added along with some Parmesan or Romano cheese.  You could use them on a quick pizza.  If you chilled them you could add them to a pasta salad or make a great chopped salad with chopped roasted tomatoes, chunky cubes of cucumber, a little lemon juice and feta or goat cheese.  Up to you!  

National Pie Day: Blueberry Pie with Twist of Wine

Sunday was National Pie Day and I hope you follow me here or on facebook so you did not miss it.  If you did, Greg flew out this morning and there is 3/4 of a beautiful blueberry pie on my counter for just me (little one does not eat cooked fruit in any form a genetic flaw shared by Aunt Audie).  I have a deep abiding love for fruit pies.  Peach pie is my absolute favorite; but rhubarb, strawberry-rhubarb, blueberry and apple are right up there.  Straight up double crust fruit pies with a sugared crust are preferred.  If someone bakes me a streusel-topped pie (like my wonderful mother-in-law, Becky and her fabulous rhubarb pie) that's lovely too.  

When it's time to bake I check my recipe box and look for what's new on King Arthur Flour's website.  Their recipe for Blueberry Pie with a Twist hooked me with the following line "We discovered that simmering the blueberries in wine before using them enhances their flavor; they don't taste like wine, just more like themselves".  How could I not try it after that?  I'm on a be "more like yourself" path right now and have never been disappointed in anything cooked with wine.  

My original intent was to follow the recipe to the letter making a whole-grain crust along with simmering the berries and wine.  As happens on occasion, I glossed over the line in the crust recipe that instructs you to chill the dough overnight.  Oops, I had planned on a one-afternoon time frame.  Their whole-grain crust recipe called for buttermilk powder and ice water.  My favorite piecrust recipe calls for cold milk and lemon juice which is basically the same thing (if you ever need buttermilk and only have regular milk, stir in a tablespoon of lemon juice and it will curdle a bit) so I got out my Cooking with Dave's Mom cookbook (David Letterman's mom is a lifelong central Indiana resident) and decided to substitute whole wheat pastry flour for half the flour in the recipe.  The crust was fine, but it's still pie with lots of sugar and some fat so really what's the big deal with whole grain crust?  It's dessert.  If I ate pie everyday, the whole grain crust would be required but then again so would an extra hour of cardio.

Choose your crust recipe and form it in to two disks and wrap the disks in plastic wrap to chill for at least half an hour.  Make your blueberry filling and then roll out your crust (warming it up on the counter for 15 minutes if you've chilled it for longer than a half hour) and fill the pie.  Here's the filling recipe that I did follow with only one modification, half the butter (I used 1 1/2 tablespoons).

Blueberry Pie with a Twist of Wine

prepared dough for a double-crust pie

6 cups  (24 ounces) frozen blueberries (fresh would work, but save your money and use frozen berries)
1/2 C fruity red wine
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1 tsp vanilla
1 C confectioner's sugar
1/4 C brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 T lemon juice
1 1/2 T butter
1/4 C flour

Place the berries in a large saute pan.  Add the wine.  Simmer the berries gently over medium-low heat until the liquid in the bottom of the pan is syrupy, this will take about 45 minutes.  The berries will get very juicy and you'll stir them a few times and eventually the liquid will thicken all on its own.  Remove from heat.  The berries can be refrigerated overnight if you aren't making the pie all in one day.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a medium bowl combine the blueberries (and the juice from the pan), cinnamon, allspice, vanilla, sugar, salt and lemon juice.  Mix in the butter (if the berries are still hot it will melt, if the berries have been chilled, melt the butter before combining).  Then stir in the flour.  

Roll out the bottom crust and place in the pie pan.  Pour in the berry mixture.  Roll out the remaining dough for the top crust.  Place on top of filled pie.  Bring the hanging edges of the bottom crust up and over the top crust.  Crimp together.  Cut a few slashes in the top of the pie.  Brush the top crust with milk and sprinkle with coarse sugar if desired.  

Bake the pie at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  Gently place a sheet of aluminum foil on top of the pie and bake for an additional 30 to 40 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling through the vents in the top crust.  Cool and cut to serve.  The filling will be nice and set if you cool the pie for at least 4 hours.  I can never wait that long so my pieces of pie aren't as pretty on the plate, but warm pie with or without creamy cold vanilla ice cream is delightful. 

filling ingredients

berries on the stove with wine going in the pan


crust ingredients

berries at the beginning of their long simmer in the wine

berry filling

berries in the crust

rolling out top crust

crimped and vented

brushing with milk (sometimes I combine the milk with an egg white for a glossier finish)

sprinkled with demerra sugar

flour on the boots and the floor, occupational hazard



the slice Greg plated for me-see the extra filling!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

finding a little space

One of my favorite things my yoga teachers say is "find a little space, a little room".  Find it on your mat, in your pose and in your heart.  Many days during this yoga challenge I've found that the mental benefits carryover as well as the physical ones.  I finally got on my cross country skis today and flew along on the cold dry snow.  I love the silence of skiing.  I never need to disturb it with my iPod.  I love the schussing of the snow.  I love it even more on downhill skis on the slopes of Deer Valley in Park City, Utah, but today I just went there in my mind as I found my way through the woods in Carmel, Indiana.  Two very different ways to find the space, the room in my mind.  One so blessedly hot and steamy the other so divinely crisp and cold.  Namaste.

frozen fog 2010

Tomorrow is National Pie Day.  I am baking a new recipe for a blueberry pie with whole wheat pastry flour in the crust and red wine in the filling.  Fruit pies are one of my very favorite foods.  Yummmm..

winter dinner party: Roasted Pork Loin with Port Wine Fig Sauce and etc.

Yep, it's Thursday already.  Day 18 of my 30-day yoga challenge.  Another snowy day, another day the heated yoga sanctuary at TYC felt amazing.  I do not think the yoga can be blamed for my lack of posting consistency.  It's more that the Australian Open has begun and I have to remain news free until I get through each nights' matches on the DVR before I can trust myself to sit at my computer and not log-on to see who won.  I can not enjoy a match if I know the outcome.  I am apparently not that interested to see how someone wins or loses.  Unless there is some fashion disaster involved and then I have to see that on the big screen (Nadia Petrova and your ruffles and Venus Williams and your lattice work, I am talking about you).  I always play better during the tennis majors after observing how indeed if you have excellent footwork, get yourself set, strike the ball out in front and accelerate through your swing finishing with a proper follow-through the ball generally goes over the net with good (awe-inspiring, actually) pace and spin.  It's all about the consistency.  Missed it this week in my posting.  Achieved it in my yoga practice.  Occasionally found it on the court.

Time to make up for the delay in posting.  Really, you should see my "winter food" album in iPhoto.  I could write posts for days.  You've hopefully read about our annual Bellingrath Pig Roast.  Bob and Tammy, Charlene and Greg and I have been the constants in hosting our neighborhood pig roast Fathers' Day weekend the past six years.  The past two years we've added some new neighbors to share in the joy of hosting so we decided to get us all together well in advance this year under the guise of planning, but really more as a holiday party at a time we all had free;  namely the third weekend in January.  Heather has the little ones, so she offered to host dessert so the party could roll well into the evening.  Tammy offered to do appetizers and I offered to do the dinner part of our progressive dinner.  Most everyone was in attendance and we actually did discuss this year's pig roast for a few minutes.

Dinner menu for ten last Saturday night:  pear, basil and gorgonzola salad, harvest grains rolls, green beans roasted with shallots, smashed potato cakes with watercress and marascapone and roasted pork loin with port wine fig sauce.  As linked I've already posted the salad.  During prep I took some pictures so I've added them to my post from October.  The basil dressing on that salad brightens the pears and pecans and the gorgonzola pulls all the flavors together in a beautiful way.

basil dressing

I somehow have ordered Harvest Grains Blend from King Arthur Flour twice in the last few months, so some of it became delicious warm rolls for the dinner party.  Now I only have about 3 1/2 pounds of the grains in my pantry.  Funny.

I bought the two pound bags of fresh trimmed green beans at Costco and decided the best way to fix so many beans was to put them in the hot oven while the pork loin roast rested.  Shallots are always good with green beans, so I tossed a little olive oil with the beans, shallots, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.  Spread them all out on my stoneware baking pan and roasted them for 15 minutes at 450 degrees, stirring them a time or two while I flew around the kitchen.
ready to roast

ready to serve

The smashed potato cakes with watercress and marascapone would be better made into patties earlier in the day and browned in the oven, turning them once just before serving.  I followed the recipe and browned them on both sides in olive oil on the stove and then finished them in the oven .

sideways smashed potato cakes

Earlier in the day I made the luscious port wine fig sauce for the roast.  Reducing port wine with cinnamon sticks, honey, rosemary sprigs scents the kitchen in a very tempting way.  I left Tammy's appetizers (the crab cakes from Cooking Light were spectacular) and monitored the pork loin roasting.

The port wine fig sauce makes this dish adapted from a Giada DeLaurentis recipe.  So silky smooth savory sweet and delicious.

Port Wine Fig Sauce

3 C port wine (generally I buy a medium priced tawny port from Trader Joe's)
1 1/2 C chicken stock/broth
8 dried black Mission figs, coarsely chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 cinnamon sticks
1 T honey
2 T unsalted butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

In a medium-size heavy saucepan, combine the wine, stock/broth, figs, rosemary, cinnamon and honey.  Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook until reduced by half, about 30 minutes.  Discard the rosemary sprigs (some leaves may stay in the sauce which is fine, just get the woody stems out) and cinnamon sticks.  Transfer the mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Pour back into pan over low heat and stir in the butter, salt and pepper until the butter melts.  The mixture will darken with reheating.  The sauce can be made up to one day in advance.  Heat before serving.

port wine fig sauce ingredients ready to go

sauce reducing

in the blender

warming sauce

Roasted Pork Loin

2 T olive oil
2 T chopped fresh rosemary
1 T kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
4-5 pound boneless pork loin
1 C chicken stock/broth

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Combine the olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Rinse and pat dry the pork loin.  Place in a heavy roasting pan.  Spread evenly with oil mixture.  Roast, turning the pork every 15 minutes to evenly brown until the center of the pork is 145 degrees (buy that $10 instant read thermometer at the checkout at Sur La Table works like a charm and comes in bright colors so you don't lose it in your gadget drawer), about 45 minutes.

Transfer roast to a cutting board and tent with foil to rest for 15 minutes.  Meanwhile, place the roasting pan over medium heat and stir in the chicken stock/broth, scraping up brown bits.  Bring juices to a simmer.

Cut the pork crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices.  Arrange on plates or serving platter.  Spoon warmed au jus over roast.  Drizzle with warm fig sauce or serve sauce with the roast and let guests serve themselves.  

in the oven


my plate
Blogger's note:  Yep, today is Saturday.  An entire week after the dinner party.  Just a long post that took a while to publish.  Today was day 20 of the 30-day yoga challenge!  Sara joined me for a power vinyasa class.  Just the energy I needed to get some work done around here.  Heading out for a quick ski through the woods before it's time to cook again.