Friday, December 28, 2007

Pork Tenderloin and Cumberland Sauce

The madness is over!! No more over eating (until New Years Eve!!). I didn't make a huge dinner on Christmas night because it was just the four of us, but we did have a nice pork tenderlion, which we grilled and then I made a Cumberland Sauce to go with it. I made the sauce seven years ago when I first saw it in the Southern Living Holiday magazine, and we had remembered it was good, but never got around to making it again.

The recipe calls for 2 1/2 cups of port as the main ingredient, and also red currant jelly. Get your red currant jelly early in the year, because the only jar I could find was made by Trappist Monks and was really expensive at the Safeways! We had to divide the recipe in thirds, because we knew we had port, but discovered we barely had one cup. Our wonky thirding made the measurements a bit off, but it still turned out really nicely. I would highly recommend this sauce! Apparently it's nice with turkey as well and can be used as a ham glaze

2 1/2 cups port wine, divided
1 (10 1/2-ounce) jar red currant jelly
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons grated orange rind
2/3 cup fresh orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

Bring 2 cups wine and next 8 ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan, stirring constantly; reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often, 20 minutes.Stir together remaining 1/2 cup wine and cornstarch until smooth. Stir into hot mixture; bring to a boil over medium heat. Boil, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Remove from heat, and cool. Pour into hot sterilized jars, and seal. Store in refrigerator up to 1 month.****
Yield: about 4 cups

****or just pour straight into a gravy boat and serve!!

Sauce source

Monday, December 24, 2007

Gruyere and Parmesan Gougeres


These Gougeres (or cheese puffs) are so easy to make, and taste great. Don't let the fact that they are made with Choux dough turn you off. I always thought that would be really complicated, but it's so easy, just make sure you have all the ingredients out and ready to go, because once the dough comes together, you have to move quickly. This recipe is from Ina Gartens "Barefoot in Paris" book. I have made these a few times and it gets easier and easier.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Annual Pierogi Making

Every year for the last four years I get together with my friend Lisa and we make about 140 pierogies and split them. I freeze them and then bag them up and have a supply for about 4 meals. I love them, and it's fun to make them with someone!

It's very simple, but a bit time consuming (which is the whole point of getting together and doing it).The filling is just mashed potato with whatever you want in it. I like cheese and onion.

The dough is super easy:

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Curried Carrot Soup

I was so over all the sugar from the 300 cookies I've made in the last two days, I was dying for the Carrot Soup tonight. It's another winner from Everyday Food. Quick, easy and delicious. I ended up mixing in my cilantro and it made it even better.

Serves 4
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon curry powder
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 cans (14 1/2 ounces each) reduced-sodium chicken broth (about 3 1/2 cups)
2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Heat butter in a Dutch oven or large (4- to 5-quart) saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, curry powder, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
Add broth, carrots, and 3 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover, and simmer until carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.
In a blender**, puree soup in batches until smooth; transfer to a clean saucepan. Add more water to thin to desired consistency. Reheat, if necessary. Stir in lemon juice. Serve garnished with cilantro, if desired.

**I used my immersion blender right in the saucepan, and then just left it on the stove to keep hot until I was ready to serve it, and I didn't need to add more water at all.

Cookie Fever Continued.. Chocolate Crackle Cookies

These cookies are also from the trusty Martha Stewart Holiday Cookie magazine from 2005. A little bit time consuming to make, but they always turn out and they taste great! I actually forgot to put in the 1/3 cup of milk, but they still turned out and tasted just like they always do. That's unfortunately what happens when a 5 yr old is "helping".

Makes about 4 dozen

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk
1 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for rolling


Melt chocolate in a heat-proof bowl, or the top of a double boiler, over a pan of simmering water. Set aside to cool. Into a small bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and light-brown sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until well combined. Add melted chocolate. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk. Mix on low speed until just combined. Divide dough into quarters, wrap with plastic wrap, and chill in the refrigerator until firm, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. On a surface dusted with confectioners' sugar, use your hands to roll each portion of dough into a log 16 inches in length and about 1 inch in diameter. Wrap logs in plastic wrap, and transfer to a baking sheet. Chill for 30 minutes. Cut each log into 1-inch pieces, and toss pieces in confectioners’ sugar, a few at a time. Using your hands, roll the pieces into balls. If any of the cocoa-colored dough is visible, roll dough in confectioners’ sugar again to coat completely. Place cookies on prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart. Bake until cookies have flattened and sugar splits, 12 to 15 minutes.

Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Cookie Fever Day 2: Lemon Flowers

I've adapted these cookies from Martha Stewart. They were originally Lime Flowers, but the first time I made them I only had lemon, so I substituted that, and they were a huge hit. The only problem with these cookies is that one batch of dough doesn't make enough!!

2 cups flour (plus more for work surface)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Confectioners sugar

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl.

Put granulated sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed 1 minute. Add butter and mix until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in vanilla and lemon juice. Reduce speed to low and gradually mix in flour mixture.

On a lightly floured work surface, halve the dough. Flatten each half into a 10 inch disk, and warp each in plastic. Freeze until firm, about t 30 mins.
Preheat oven to 325F. Working with 1 half at a time, roll out dough on parchment paper to 1/8 inch thick. cut shapes from dough with a 3 inch flower shape cookie cutter. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cut a hole in centre of each with a 1-inch round cutter, repeat with remaining disk. Warp scraps in plastic. Freeze 30 mins, reroll, and cut.

Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until set, about 12 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Before serving sift confectioners sugar over cookies.

UPDATE: Dee let me know that I had a typo and had 1/2 cup lemon juice in the cookie batter and it should be 1/4 cup. So sorry to anyone who made it and the batter was too runny or too lemony!!!! If it worked with 1/2 cup let me know!!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Cookie Fever

Today was day one of Cookie Fever season. I had to make sugar cookies for my 7yr old's class party (they are going to decorate them) and I also needed at least 22 cookies for my neighbourhood kids cookie decorating party on Wednesday. I got out my trusty Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies magazine from 2005 and made the Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies. The recipe says "makes about 20". I doubled the recipe and I was going to make a 3rd batch if needed. 97 cookies later..... That dough just went on and on and on.

This is the recipe for 1 batch, which I'm sure you could get about 45 cookies out of. I use a 1 1/2 inch ice cream scoop to drop the dough and it makes a perfect sized cookie.

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon coarse (kosher) salt
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
Sanding sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350F. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. Put sugars in the bowl of mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add butter and mix until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs, 1 at a time, and then the lemon juice. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture.

Using the ice cream scoop, drop dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 3 inches apart. Flatten cookies slightly; sprinkle with sanding sugar. Lightly brush with a wet pastry brush; sprinkle with more sanding sugar.

Bake cookies until golden about 15 minutes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Braised Short Ribs

I'm pretty happy with the way these turned out. The recipe calls for dumping the carrots and onions and then making a sauce out of the liquid, but slow cooked carrots are too nice to throw away, so I just made the vegetables a side dish along with the leeks and potatoes.

I have adapted this from Everyday Food, October 2007

Braised Short Ribs (about 2 hours to prep and cook)

1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper
5 pieces of short ribs (about one pack)
1 tablespoon oil (I use Olive)
2 carrots, cut into large chunks
1 onion quartered
1 big slurp of red wine
3/4 can chicken broth
1 can whole peeled tomatoes in puree

Preheat oven to 400 F. Place flour in a medium blow; season with salt and pepper. Toss ribs in flour mixture until well coated; shake off excess.

2. In an oven proof dutch oven or saucepan, heat oil over medium - high. Cook ribs turning until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes, and then transfer to a plate.

Add carrots and onions to the pot. Cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits, until vegetables are lightly browned, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add a good slurp of wine, chicken broth, thyme and tomatoes,( breaking them up). Arrange ribs in the pot, bring to boil. Cover and then transfer to oven and cook for 1 hour. Reduce heat to 350F, cook until fork-tender (but not falling apart), about 1 hour more.

Using tongs or a slotted spoon, transfer ribs to a plate and keep warm

This is where I differ from the original recipe. I just scoop out the veggies with a slotted spoon and use them as a side.

To make the sauce if you wish (I don't do this, because it's just as good with the vegies and some liquid), strain the remaining liquid through a fine-mesh sieve (discarding solids); return to pot. Bring to a boil; cook until sauce is slightly thickened and reduced to about 1 cup, 10 to 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve ribs with sauce.

Potato and Leeks

Dice up the potatoes. Clean the leeks thoroughly and slice up. I used about 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pan and added the potatoes, leeks and salt and pepper and sweated them on a low heat for about 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally.