Sunday, July 19, 2009

Benedict Inspired Eggs

I love making brunch for my roommates, and since I had half a wheel of brie sitting around waiting to be used, I thought I'd do my own spin on eggs benedict. I found that the creaminess of the brie made hollandaise sauce unnecessary.

Benedict Inspired Eggs

4 slices bacon

4 eggs

4 slices brie cheese (about 3 ounces)
2 whole wheat English muffins
2 ounces fresh spinach
1 roma tomato, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook bacon as desired (I did mine in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes- prevents snipers from snacking away all the bacon!) Bring a medium sized saucepan filled with 3 inches water to a boil and sprinkle in some salt. Poach eggs, about 3 minutes, and delicately remove with a slotted spoon. Layer on top of a lightly toasted English muffin half, then place a slice of brie on top. Add bacon, spinach and tomato, then season with salt and pepper. I served this with a side of rosemary roasted potatoes.

Fresh Fig and Brie Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

I made my trip to the farmer's market this weekend in search of fresh figs, and I was not disappointed. I love fresh figs, but somehow had never cooked with them myself. These plump delights were the perfect inspiration and appear twice in this meal.

Fresh Fig and Brie Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

12 figs
2 cups red wine
1/4 cup fig jam
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 ounces brie cheese (1/2 of a small wheel of brie)
2 pounds pork tenderloin
Salt and pepper to taste

Place about 12 figs in a medium sized bowl and cover with red wine. Marinade about one hour. Half figs lengthwise and set aside,. Use marinade and stir in 1 tablespoon brown sugar and 1/4 cup fig jam and microwave for 30 seconds.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice about 4 ounces of brie cheese into strips. Butterfly pork and place brie and fig slices down the length. Next tie pork together with kitchen twine to secure and place in a greased baking dish. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon marinade over the pork. Cook about one hour, until the pork measures 150 degrees with a meat thermometer. Let cool 5 minutes then slice and serve.

Fig and Caramelized Onion Salad

1/2 small red onion, sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
4 ounces fresh spinach
5 figs, halved and marinaded in red wine
Red wine fig marinade (reserved from pork tenderloin recipe above)
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a small skillet on medium heat. Toss onion in sugar, and then cook in 1 tablespoon oil, about 6 minutes. Add to a medium bowl with spinach and fig halves. Then toss in 1/4 cup marinade and remaining oil. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pecan Pork Chop Salad

With just a few simple ingredients, this simple salad will knock your socks off. Looking for an easier approach? Skip breading the pork chops, and just grill them. Then toss the pecans in the salad.

Pecan Pork Chop Salad

Canola oil (1 inch high in pan)
4 1-inch thick pork chops
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups pecans, crushed
Salt and pepper to taste
12 ounces spinach
2 mangos, peeled, pitted and diced

For dressing:
3 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a large skillet on medium heat and warm oil until it maintains 350 degrees (if you place the end of a wooden spoon in the oil, bubbles should rise up). Dredge the pork chops in flour, then dip both sides in the beaten egg. Finally, coat both sides with the crushed pecans mixed with salt and pepper. Place in skillet and cook 6 to 8 minutes on each side, until crust is golden brown. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and let cool 5 to 10 minutes.

In the meantime, toss together spinach and mango. Once pork has cooled, slice into bite-sized pieces and add to salad.

For the dressing, whisk all ingredients together, then drizzle over salad.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Harry Potter Snacks, Part 3

Thanks to Addie Broyles for the story in today's Austin American-Statesman on Harry Potter treats! See the recipes I shared below:

Unforgettable Pensieve Dip

11/4 cup hard cider
4 cups smoked cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups Emmentaler cheese, shredded
11/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Sausage (for dipping)
Apple slices (for dipping)
Rye bread, chopped into pieces (for dipping)

Heat a large saucepan on medium heat and warm hard cider until simmering. Toss shredded cheese with cornstarch, then add a handful at a time to the simmering cider, stirring as you go, until fully incorporated and smooth. Sprinkle in the cinnamon and remove from heat. Add to a warm fondue pot and serve with sausage slices, apple slices and bread pieces for an unforgettable snack.

Pumpkin Juice

5 cups apple juice
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Stir all ingredients until thoroughly combined and serve chilled for a refreshing drink. For an extra kick, add 1/2 cup spiced rum to create "Rumkin Juice."

Cockroach Clusters

2 cups walnut (or pecan) halves
4 ounces chocolate bark
4 ounces dark chocolate
2 ounces peanut butter, melted (optional)
2 ounces caramel, melted (optional)

Spread out nuts on wax paper. Place chocolate bark and dark chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for a minute. Stir, then heat another minute, stopping every 20 seconds to stir. Drizzle over nuts and place in refrigerator to set, about 20 minutes. If desired, first drizzle nuts with peanut butter or caramel, then chocolate, for an added dimension of flavor.

Harry Potter Snacks, Part 2

We are on the eve of the premier of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and I cannot wait! It's been a magical 5 weeks of viewing our favorite HP movies and enjoying some treats from the movies, along with a few of our own classics.

Ron's wands were a fun invention for a Harry Potter party we had a few years ago. Since he breaks his wand in the Chamber of Secrets, it's a quite fitting use of broken pretzel rods! And for the butterbeer, there are several interpretations, both hot and cold, alcoholic and not, that you can find online. We loved this simple recipe, and it wasn't sickeningly sweet like I feared. The baked brie isn't HP-related per se, but it seemed like something the Hogwarts students might enjoy. Especially with the Harry Potter logo that Christine so masterfully added to it. These recipes are so simple, a first year could do them!

Ron's Wands

1 bag pretzel rods (both whole and broken is fine)
6 ounces chocolate bark

Lay out wax paper and prepare your pretzel rods. Place chocolate bark in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for one minute. Stir, then continue heating, stopping to stir every 20 seconds, until smooth. I recommend doing this in a tall glass, so when you dip the pretzel rods you can cover as much of the pretzel as possible. Lay on wax paper and add sprinkles. Let set about 20 minutes.

6 pack cream soda cans, chilled
1 cup butterscotch snapps, chilled

Combine both ingredients and serve in chilled mugs. Fit for a Hogwarts feast! Sorry, no photo :(

Baked Brie

1 package puff pastry, thawed
1 wheel brie cheese
1/4 cup fig jam

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the puff pastry and place brie cheese wheel in the center. Spread fig jam over the cheese and then tightly wrap the puff pastry dough around it, trimming the excess. You can then press a logo of your choice on the excess and press on top, if desired. Bake 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. I served with wheat crackers.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Vegetarian Mediterranean Panini

You know me, I love a good sandwich! I also tend to get in a very comfortable produce rut, so I decided to switch things up, while still making one of my favorites. What did I throw into the mix? A big, beautiful portobello mushroom. Mushrooms are such a nice meaty food without the heaviness that some of my go-to proteins lend to an otherwise light meal. Since I tend to go pretty heavy-handed with my sandwich toppings, the portobello mushroom was the perfect addition.

Vegetarian Mediterranean Panini

1 large portobello mushroom cap, stemmed and cleaned
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon dried rosemary

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 red onion, sliced
2 roasted red bell peppers
2 cups frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
8 large sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
1 loaf ciabatta
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

Heat a grill pan on medium heat. Brush 1 tablespoon olive oil on both sides of mushroom and sprinkle with rosemary. Grill about 6 minutes on each side until grill marks are formed. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes, then slice and set aside.

Heat a large skillet on medium heat and warm other tablespoon oil. Saute garlic and onion 2 minutes, then add bell pepper, artichoke hearts and sun dried tomatoes and saute 3-5 minutes. Stir in balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper.

Reheat grill pan or panini grill. Cut ciabatta in half to form a top and bottom, then slice into 5 pieces. Pile mushroom slices, vegetable mixture and a few crumbles of goat cheese on each bottom half, then place top on the sandwich. place sandwiches on grill pan and place a heavy skillet on top (I used my cast iron) and let it cook 4-5 minutes, then flip and let it cook an additional 3-4 minutes. Enjoy!

On the side:

Blackberry Spinach Salad

5 ounces baby spinach leaves
3 ounces fresh blackberries
1/4 cup shelled pistachios
1 ounce crumbled goat cheese
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine first 4 ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Whisk together vinegar, oil and salt and pepper and drizzle over salad.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Peach and Prosciutto Pizza

You know how I love experimenting with fun new pizza toppings, and with fresh summer peaches flooding the market I couldn't help but adding them in to the mix! The sweetness of the peach is countered by the saltiness of the prosciutto, and the honey goat cheese offers a mildly sweet creaminess that really balances out the flavors.

Peach and Prosciutto Pizza

1 refrigerated pizza dough
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup part-skim shredded mozzarella cheese
2 peaches, skinned and sliced
1/4 pound prosciutto, chopped
2 ounces honey goat cheese, crumbled
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll out pizza dough and spread olive oil over it in a thin layer. Next evenly sprinkle mozzarella cheese over tough, then top with peaches and prosciutto. Sprinkle the goat cheese crumbles on top and season with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 15-17 minutes, until the crust is golden brown.