Mustard-glazed Pork Loin

When you host friends for dinner as often as we do you sometimes run low on inspiration. Luckily there are a host of websites, TV programs, cookbooks and magazines aimed at helping you find something to try. I believe the inspiration for this came from an copy of Food Network Magazine that I thumbed through while at my doctor’s office.

I used pork loin “roast” for this recipe. A pork tenderloin would also work however the cooking time would be less.

Mustard-glazed Pork Loin
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • a 2 lb. pork loin
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp. whole grain mustard
  • heaping Tbsp. Dijon
  • 3 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Pat the pork loin dry and then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Mix the mustards, vinegar and maple syrup together and set aside.
  4. Add the oil to a oven-safe heavy bottomed skillet and heat on high until the oil shimmers. Sear the pork on all sides until nicely browned.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and brush the pork with about 1/2 the glaze. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Brush on the remainder of the glaze, rotate the skillet 180°’s and roast another 15 minutes.
  6. Check the temperature of your pork roast. If it hasn’t reached 145°F on an instant-read thermometer then roast in 5 minute increments until it reaches that temp. If it has reached that temp then remove the skillet from the oven and transfer the roasts to a cutting board. Allow them to rest for 10 minutes before cutting.

Notes:
I thought this paired very well with Za’atar Roasted Sweet Potatoes that I served that night. The savory glaze, with a hint of sweetness matched the earthy sweetness of the side dish really nicely.

Farro with Mushroom and Thyme

This recipe hails from a 2013 issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine. I made it shortly after first buying a bag of farro. In the Cook’s recipe they cook the farro as part of the recipe, in only 20 minutes. Ha! I found it took twice that time to get to an al dente texture. I now prepare my farro in advance, store it in the fridge for a day or two and have it ready to go.

Farro with Mushrooms and Thyme
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 10 oz. cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced evenly
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh thyme
  • 2 Tbsp. dry sherry
  • 2 cups prepared farro
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp. cider vinegar
  • kosher salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat until the oil is shimmering. Add the mushrooms, shallot, and thyme; sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and 10 grinds of black pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid released by the mushrooms has evaporated and the vegetables have started to brown. This will take 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Add the sherry to the pan and scrap up any browned bits (aka fond). Cook until the pan is almost dry, about 1 minute.
  3. Add the farro and toss until the ingredients are well combined. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring a few times, until the farro is heated through.
  4. Stir in the parsley and vinegar. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if desired.

Notes:
I’ve had good success by microwaving mushrooms in a covered bowl for 2-3 minutes on high. Drain the liquid, add to the hot fat and saute until browned, another 2 minutes. It can save 10 minutes or so on the dish.

Bacon Jam

I made this on a whim after looking for appetizer ideas for our family Easter lunch. I decided to make Bacon Jam and Brie Phyllo Cups however their bacon jam was nothing more than bacon added to apricot jam. I knew I could make something better.

This has a bit of a kick to it; adjust the sriracha to your taste. Heck, leave it out if spicy isn’t your thing.

I’m already picturing some of this jam on a slice of toast with some apple slices and cheddar cheese.

Bacon Jam
Servings: about 2 cups
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 2 hours

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound smoked bacon
  • 1 cup caramelized onions
  • 5 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 cup coffee
  • 3 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. sriracha
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 cup grade B (now called Grade A Dark/Robust) maple syrup

Directions:

  1. In a glass 2-cup measuring cup combine the coffee, brown sugar, sriracha, vinegar and maple syrup. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
  2. Chop bacon into 1″ pieces. Place a large, heavy-bottomed pot, such as a dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook until the bacon is lightly browned and starting to crisp. Move the bacon to a paper-towel-lined bowl and pour off the rendered bacon fat.
  3. Return 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat to the pan and add the caramelized onions and garlic. Stir into the bacon fat and cook until you start to smell the garlic. Add the liquid ingredients and combine. Scrap the bottom of the pan to release any bacon fond that may have been created at the beginning.
  4. Bring the mixture to a simmer and return the bacon to the pan. Simmer over low heat for about 2 hours, stirring periodically.
  5. Allow the mixture to cool, in the pan, for 20-30 minutes. Reserve about a 1/2 cup and set it aside. Transfer the rest into a food processor and process until smooth. Add the reserved bacon mixture and give it 1 or 2 pulses just to combine.
  6. Taste and season with salt, pepper, sriracha or vinegar to your own taste.
  7. Store in an air-tight container and enjoy.

Notes:
I use caramelized onions because I had them on hand. You could also thinly slice enough yellow or sweet onions so you have about 3 cups and cook them in step 3 with a generous pinch of salt for 10-15 minutes over low heat. Then add the garlic and continue from there.

This recipe is heavily influenced by this one I found on Pop Sugar along with 4 or 5 others I looked over that had similar combinations.

Bread and Butter Pickles

Homemade picklesOne of my childhood memories is waking up on a summer morning to the smell of hot pickling liquid. My mom canned pickles, relish, jams and jellies throughout the summer. We would enjoy the result months later, as would family and friends who received tasty treats in the winter.

A couple of years ago I asked my mom for her bread & butter pickle recipe. She laughed and pointed me toward a worn copy of the Ball Blue Book that she had used for 40 years. My recipe is an adaptation of that one with a bit more instruction.

Pickling is easy and doesn’t take a lot of special equipment. It’s a fine way to spend a summer afternoon, especially if the weather isn’t super-duper. The taste of a homemade pickle, in deepest winter, will brighten your day.
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Oven Barbecued Ribs

This recipe comes from my parents. It’s unclear to me who created it. I thought it was my dad however my mom still makes it and it tastes as good as ever. I think the only difference is that she finishes them in the oven while he used the grill. I find her way infinitely more practical as the grill can be a finicky thing.

Oven Barbecued Ribs
Servings: 6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 2.5 hours

Ingredients:

  • 6 lbs. country-style pork ribs
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 lg. onions, 1/2″ dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. hot sauce

Directions:

  1. Cover ribs with water in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 1 hour. Pork should be fork tender but not falling off the ribs (yet).
  2. While ribs cook melt butter in a saucepan or skillet and cook onions until tender over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add remaining ingredients and stir to incorporate. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 5-10 minutes. Taste for flavor, adjust as desired and set aside.
  3. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil (the foil aids in clean up). Spray the foil with cooking spray.
  4. When ribs are par cooked transfer them to the foil-lined roasting pan. Cover with about half of the sauce. Bake for 45 minutes or until sauce has thickened and ribs are failing apart. Feel free to turn the ribs occasionally to get all sides covered in flavorful sauce.
  5. Remove roasting pan to a rack and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Reheat sauce. Transfer ribs to platter and serve with extra sauce on the side.

Notes:
This is a great make ahead meal. It tastes even better after cooling, sitting in the fridge overnight and reheating.

Cucumber Salad

Summer is a season of abundant local produce. Not a week goes by without fresh tomatoes from the garden and gifts of cukes and summer squash from friends and co-workers. We do our best to use it all before it needs to be donated back to the compost pile. Salad is a fine way to consume fresh veggies as long as you, or your friends, will eat the salad. 🙂 This simple, lettuce free, salad comes together quickly and went well with grilled chicken.

[Cucumber Salad]

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Cumin Ground Lamb with Braised Napa Cabbage

When faced with a cabbage my first instinct is to braise it. When faced with a 15″ long and 8″ diameter Napa cabbage my impulse was to braise it for Saturday night dinner. My partner in cookery suggested some lamb to go with it and his Interweb search turned up a candidate recipe. A bit of tweaking to fit other items that were part of the meal and this was the result.

[Cumin Ground Lamb and Braised Napa Cabbage]

Cumin Ground Lamb and Braised Napa Cabbage

The idea for this recipe came from this recipe at the Hot, Spicy and Skinny blog. I’ve rewritten it to include the ingredients I used and reworked the instructions. Enjoy.

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