Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ian’s sweet and smoky Pork loin with baked apples & garlic mashed potatoes

Ian’s sweet and smoky Pork loin with baked apples & garlic mashed potatoes

Apples, apples, apples, so many apples. Christie and I have apples everywhere, and as much as I can eat apple crisp every day (really, I can, Christies apple crisp is just that good), I thought of trying out some of the apples within a main course, as opposed to a desert, just to try to mix things up.
As usual, i get to the point where I am beginning to think about recipes, and I just throw caution to the wind and fly by taste, making things up as I go along. The first image that came to my mind when I tried to conjure up images of apples in main courses was that of the cartoon image of a whole roasted pig on a giant platter with an apple stuffed in its mouth, uncovered as a master piece where the guests collectively gasp and applaud. Hmmm...first problem is getting a whole pig, and its a strange impulse buy no? Also the apple seems more symbolic that anything. Idea number 1 out of the window.
Idea 2. Pork chops with apple sauce. Okay, now this is totally doable, this is more like it, though all the walking around the neighbourhood that I have been doing lately, seeing all the brightly colour leaves on the ground, the fresh rain and the smell of fireplaces being lit for the first time was inspiring me to be a little more seasonal, a little more adventurous. Enter the Dutch oven.
I purchased a perfectly good Kitchenaid cast iron Dutch oven a few months ago at a local Canadian Tire store on sale from 100$, for 25$. Who can refuse that? My only regret is to not have picked up 2-3 more of them now. It is a quality addition to my kitchen. So, Dutch oven in hand, I had decided to add these elements of autumn to my dish. I wanted a nice, smooth smoky flavour to the pork, but I also wanted to make it nice and tender so that I could pull it apart with a fork and serve it piled up loosely. By cooking the apples along with the marinated pork within the Dutch Oven, I was able to preserve the flavours of each, and get plenty of apple juice to keep the pork nice and tender.
When I served this dish, I knew I had done well when all I could hear from the dining table was muffled mmmmm’s and pleased eating sounds. You can be sure this dish is going to be one that I will continue to make for years to come

Makes approx 4 servings (using 2 small 1lb pork tenderloins, fat cut off)
Preheat oven @ 325. Prepare the Pork marinate by combining all marinate ingredients into a bowl, mix well. Pour half of the marinate onto the Pork tenderloins and brush on until coated. Refrigerate and allow the pork to marinate for approx 6-8 hours in a closed container for optimal results, though not necessary. Place marinated pork in the Dutch oven, and pour in remaining marinate as desired.
Wash the apples thoroughly, remove stems and core for each apple. Cut apples into approx ½ inch wedges, and place in a mixing bowl. Once all apples are cut and ready, add the brown sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice as well as cinnamon and nutmeg, and toss by hand until thoroughly coated. Place apples on top of pork tenderloin in Dutch Oven and cover with lid. Place in oven for approx 2hrs, or the pork reaches the approx temp of 160degrees.
Wash, cut and peel the potatoes. Cut into 1/8 and place in a bowl of cold water for approx 10 minutes. Drain the water and gently boil the potatoes, draining once ready (when a fork can easily push through the center of a piece, they are ready). Add the butter to the pot so that the potatoes do not burn to the bottom, and add the potatoes & chopped garlic and salt. Slowly add skim (or your preferred milk, even sour crème), until desired consistency is achieved
Once pork is ready, spoon apples carefully into a serving dish, and remove pork from the dutch oven. Place the Dutch oven on a burner on medium high heat, and pour a few glugs of inexpensive whiskey ( I used a locally made whiskey) into the juices left from the pork and apples. Slowly add 1-2 teaspoons of cornstarch to help thicken, all the while whisking in order to prevent lumping. Once the sauce has thickened, remove from heat and strain to remove any lumps.
Pull pork apart with a fork (should be nice and tender from the closed Dutch oven cooking). Serve a spoonful of the apple mixture from a serving dish onto the shredded pork, and drizzle the apple whiskey gravy on top (including the garlic mashed potatoes). Enjoy

Pork Loin Marinate
• 1 cup of your favourite BBQ sauce
• 1 teaspoon of worchestershire sauce
• 1 teaspoon of Louisiana style hot sauce
• 5-6 drops of liquid hickory smoke
• ½ teaspoon of celery seed
• ½ teaspoon of cumin
• Salt & Pepper to taste

• 6 large sweet apples
• 1 cup of Brown Sugar
• Juice of 1 squeezed lemon
• 2 teaspoons of cornstarch
• 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
• ½ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

Garlic Mashed potatoes
• 2.5 lbs Potatoes
• ¼ stick unsalted butter
• ½ cup low fat milk
• 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
• Salt to taste

Apple Whiskey gravy
• 3-4 glugs of inexpensive whiskey
• Pan juices (see above)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Caramel Apple Crisp

Caramel...goooooood, Apples...goooooood, Caramel+Apples+Crisp... Awesome!

Caramel Apple crisp

This isn't the first apple crisp in this household over the past week. The first one we made was in the oven for 10 minutes before the apartment buildings fire alarm blaringly forced us out of our apartment while I freaked out trying to figure out if it was me that set it off. All I could smell was burnt apples which didn’t make me feel any better about the situation. Luckily it wasn't, but the trouble wasn’t over yet. I followed the smell down the hallway to find that my friend across the way was trying to make her first apple pie with a recipe that I had given to her.

Fortunately crisis was averted and her pie joined my apple crisp in our oven while the fire fighters were called off. By the end of the night we each had two servings of our freshly baked apple crisp and there was nothing to show for it but an empty dish to wash and some satisfied bakers!

The second time I made this crisp I ended up standing over the dish with spoon in hand at the end of the night. I was originally just going to put it away but ended up spooning bite after bite into my mouth. I finished off a good half of the dish.

The third one was made late last Friday night. My roommate Adam was leaving for Quebec City for the weekend and wanted to bring something sweet to his family. Unfortunately he didn’t mention anything about this until 12:00am so I had my pj's on and was about to crawl into bed when the idea came up. If this was any other recipe I don't think I would have done it but I couldn’t withhold this wonderful dish from anyone, and I'm glad I lost sleep over it!

Caramel Apple crisp

So yes, this is the fourth apple crisp this week therefore Ian and I thought that we might switch it up a little. We were contemplating cranberries or pears, but no. We intended to go all the way so we stopped in at Confection Sparkles, the local (and largest in Canada) candy store where we found every different shape and kind of caramel. Deciding to keep this batch simple, we stuck to the little square caramels. When they came out of the oven I brought down one of these little ramekins to the candy connoisseur, the owner of Confection Sparkles, and we will soon know if our little addition passes the test!

Caramel Apple Crisp
Loosely adapted from Martha Stewart
Tip: use a deep 8x8 inch pyrex dish

1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. granulated sugar
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
2/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

8 apples,cored,peeled, and cut into slices or enough apples to fill your pyrex dish.
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tbsp. cornstarch
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/3 cup chopped square caramels

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In your pyrex baking dish toss apples with lemon juice, cinnamon,nutmeg,cornstartch, and sugar. In a large bowl mix together flour, caramel pieces, salt, and both sugars. Cut butter into flour until mixture is the texture of coarse meal. Add oats and squeeze mixture together to form a couple clumps. Sprinkle the topping mixture over the apples. Place baking dish on a baking sheet, and bake until golden and bubbling, 55 to 65 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

It All Started With an E-mail.... Thanksgiving in Montreal, Stuffing and Cranberry Sauce

Turkey Dinner

Thanks Giving Dinner among friends... Friday Oct. 9
From: Christina Dillane (
Sent: October 2, 2009 10:39:06 PM
To: ten friends
Hello Everyone!

Ian, Adam, and I are cordially inviting you ten friends to a special Thanks Giving Dinner on Friday Oct. 9th held at my apartment! Now you know me and when it comes to food nothing will be boring and traditional!

This year I wanted to follow the Slow Food movement so we three pitched our money together to pay up the arss for an Organic Heritage Turkey. What is that you ask? Well these days 95% of the turkeys sold are from a single breed that has an unusual and unhealthy large chest (for breast meat) and is dumb as a stump. Because of this, these turkeys can't even procreate. This year we want a turkey that can have sex, so we opted for an almost extinct heritage breed of turkey that originated from Quebec and once roamed the vast frozen land with the Buffalo's.

For those of you who don't care if you turkey has enough brain power and correct weight distribution to do the deed... well I can tell you that it is supposed to taste freakin amazing. Does that help?

Because we are pouring most of our resources into this very happy turkey we were hoping that some could help out an make the sides. We need a stellar potato dish, some rockin vegetables side dishes, something with sweet potatoes, something else that I'm missing for a thanksgivin dinner but can't remember right now, and of course the pumpkin pie!
Thanks all, I'm really looking forward to next Friday!!!


Turkey Dinner

Turkey Dinner


Cranberry Sauce

Pumpkin Pound Cake

THE Stuffing
adapted from Martha Stewart

675 g Italian bread, torn into bite-size pieces
8 oz. bacon, sliced into 1-inch pieces
4 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups of reduced-sodium chicken broth
2 tsp. ground savoury
1 tbsp. ground sage
1 large apple cut into pieces

Leave out bread for 24 hours. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large saucepan, fry up the bacon. When browned remove from pan and add celery, shallots, and garlic; season with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables are softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add wine, and cook until evaporated. Transfer to a large bowl. In the bowl add the bread and eggs. When mixed through add spices and apples, then stir to combine. Mix in half of the broth, then continue to add in more just until stuffing is moistened but not wet (there should not be any liquid in the bottom of the bowl). Place stuffing in a large baking dish and cover with foil. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, then uncover and bake until golden, about 15 minutes more.

The Best Cranberry Sauce
adapted from Emeril Lagasse

2 cups cranberries
Juice and chopped zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup Port
1/2 cup sugar, or more if needed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon cornstarch

In a saucepan combine cranberries, orange juice and zest, port, sugar and cinnamon. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmering and cook until cranberries pop and are tender, stirring occasionally. In a small cup make a slurry with cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water. Whisk cornstarch mixture into cranberry sauce and cook, whisking, until sauce thickens. Taste and add more sugar, if necessary.

Variation: I couldn't find the orange I bought this year so I subbed in 1/4 cup of apple cider and it was equally as spectacular!