Oh Gratin

Get it? Like Au Gratin? I am so funny sometimes.

I made Smitten Kitchen’s simple potato gratin. I used about 6x as much cheese, though, because I really like cheese.


Love Me Tender

I’m pretty sure that if it were up to The Boyfriend to decide our dinner menus, we’d have pork tenderloin at least four times a week. He’s a fan.

And so, tonight’s dinner: pork tenderloin with brown sugar and black currant rub.

I jotted down the recipe this time, because apparently it’s preferred over lemon-pepper or pineapple pork tenderloin.

The Recipe:
Pork Tenderloin with Brown Sugar and Black Currant Rub
Serves: 4
Time: 50-60 minutes

2.5 lb pork tenderloin
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp basil
1 tbsp lime juice
1/3 cup black currant nectar

Do This

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

While the oven is heating, rinse off the pork tenderloins, and trim off most of the fat. Make cuts 3/4 of the way through the tenderloin, spaced out every inch and a half or so. This has a dual purpose: you’re pre-slicing the meat for serving, and the brown sugar rub gets more coverage.

Place the tenderloins into a foil-lined baking dish. Rub the olive oil into the tenderloins, making sure to get into the cuts you just made.

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and basil. Rub this into the olive-oil coated pork tenderloin, again making sure to get all of the nooks and crannies covered. You should have plenty of brown sugar rub; try to distribute it evenly into a thick sugar crust.

Stir together the lime juice and black currant nectar. Gently pour it over the pork tenderloins (or if you have a baster handy, use that), softening the sugar rub, and (again!) trying to get into all of the cuts.

By now, the oven should be preheated. Slide the tenderloins in, and cook for 30-45 minutes (or until the internal temp reaches 160 degrees). Let stand for 5-10 minutes before finishing slicing and serving.

Optional: make a sauce using some of the juices and a mix of black currant nectar and some of the same spices from the rub (brown sugar, garlic powder, pepper, salt, basil).

We served this with steamed asparagus and rice pilaf.

Whoever Said Orange Was The New Pink Was Seriously Disturbed

I haven’t posted in over a week because I’ve been too embarrassed to post photos: I made some really disastrous cookies. My fault, not Martha’s. I was attempting to make her Pink Grapefruit Sandwich Cookies, and they never made it past the rolling and cutting step.

Two reasons:

I was totally blind at the grocery store. I grabbed pink navel oranges instead of pink grapefruit. So, umm, oops on that.

Not tragic, though — I’m sure this substitute didn’t cause the failure of my cookie dough. Also, I learned that I really like pink navel oranges.

The next problem was the result of me wanting to get these cookies made, ASAP. I scanned the ingredient list, checked to see whether the dough needed to be chilled, jotted down the baking time, and just went on and mixed, without thinking to read the instructions.

See what’s wrong with this picture? That is not a paddle attachment. I overmixed, pretty badly. To the point that freezing the dough didn’t make it un-sticky enough to roll out, and adding more flour just made it smell like flour with a little bit of juice in it. Fail.

There’s always an upside to these mishaps, though.
Today’s upside: I remembered how awesome sugared zest is.

I might try doing candied pink navel oranges. After I get these cookies right, that is.

In Case You Were Wondering

Honeydews also have seeds.

Also, they are totally in season right now. The honeydew in the photo was perfectly juicy and delicious. Go get one.

Salsa, Take One

Can we tell that I’m obsessed with my new food processor? I’m pretty much finding any and every excuse to use it, and what better to go alongside my Mexican Rice than some fresh, homemade salsa?

This is my first salsa. I went pretty simple and kept things in a pico de gallo style…I’ll get more adventurous next time. I went a bit light on the tomato (The Boyfriend doesn’t like fresh tomatoes, so I cut back…turns out salsa is an exception to this), and a little heavier on the onion. It’s very fresh, and very good with salty tortilla chips.

Chop up: 1/2 cup white onion, 1/2 cup fresh tomato, 1 tbsp cilantro, 1 red chile (minus the seeds, of course)
Add in: 2 tbsp lime juice, 1 tbsp lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

If you don’t have a food processor, you can chop the veggies with a knife…it’s just faster and more fun to watch them spin.

Muy Delicioso

I love Mexican rice. It’s one of those nice, carby side dishes that I have no problem consuming in mass quantities, and I’ve been known to order Mexican food with 2 extra sides of rice and then forget about my entrée. I snagged this recipe from Annie’s Eats, where it was co-opted from Dinner and Dessert, who found it in the September 2004 issue of Cook’s Illustrated. And presumably, the editors of Cook’s Illustrated found it somewhere, which means that, long story short, a lot of people have made and enjoyed this recipe. Good enough for me.

I was also super excited to find a recipe that I could use to test out my new food processor.

The Recipe: Mexican Rice
Serves: 3-4
Time: 45 minutes

1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 medium white onion
2 cups long grain white rice
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp minced garlic
3 medium jalapenos, ribbed, seeded and minced
1 can (2 cups) chicken broth
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro (optional)
1 lime, cut into wedges for serving

Do This

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Purée the onions, diced tomatoes, and one of the jalapenos until you have a soupy, dark red pulp. Transfer the mixture a liquid measuring cup; you should have 2 cups (or maybe a little more — mine filled my 2-cup measure past the line).

Place the rice in a large fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water until the water runs clear, about 1 1/2 minutes. If you’re nervous about the mesh, put a paper towel underneath to catch any stray grains that might fall through. The original recipe says to shake the rice vigorously in the strainer to remove all excess water, but I found that it’s just as easy to tip it from side to side and drain off the water slowly. Shaking vigorously = rice falls out.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed oven-safe Dutch oven or straight-sided sauté pan (or a wok, if you have neither) with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the rice and fry, stirring frequently, until it is golden and translucent, 6 to 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, and add the garlic and minced jalapenos to the pan. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 1 1/2 minutes.

Stir in the puréed tomatoes and onions, chicken broth, tomato paste, and salt. Turn up the heat to medium-high, and bring the mixture to a boil, then turn off the heat. Cover the pan and transfer to the oven. If you’re like me and lost the lid to your pan while moving (oops), you can transfer the mixture from a wok into a large casserole dish. Bake until the liquid is absorbed and rice is tender, 30 to 35 minutes, stirring well after 15 minutes.

Stir in the cilantro (if you like cilantro, that is) and serve with lime wedges. Eat until you’re about to burst.

This rice is good. The Boyfriend and I enjoyed it as an entrée, with a side of citrus-marinated grilled chicken breast and some strawberry margaritas. And more rice for dessert, because it’s good.

Let’s Laugh About This

Embarrassing confession that is NOT an April Fool’s joke: Until today, I had no idea that cantaloupes had seeds in the middle.

Pull my foodie card right now.

This morning, I cut open a cantaloupe for the first time ever. I know, I’m almost 25 years old, but up until now, I’ve always had pre-sliced cantaloupes (courtesy of my parents, or the dining hall at school, or the super convenient pre-sliced fruit at grocery stores). The seeds inside totally confused me. I mean, it’s a plant, and I guess the seeds have to be somewhere, but for some reason I did not expect them to be in the middle like that.

So, um…tell me about your embarrassing food confessions, and we can all laugh at this! Or you can just laugh at me, because really, who doesn’t know that cantaloupes have seeds?