Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Apples

There are two reasons I enjoy preparing pork tenderloin recipes: it is one of the leanest meats available, and it is relatively easy to prepare. Whenever she made any sort of pork roast or pork dish for that matter, my mother always used ginger. And this I took from her. The spice blend I used here contains enormous amounts of cinnamon, ginger and star anise. So expect your kitchen to be filled with these lovely aromas. Somehow, I doubt anyone will mind.

Spice-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Apples
Serves 4

1 1 1/2 lb pork tenderloin
2 tbsp cinnamon
1 tbsp ground star anise
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp all spice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
5 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
zest of 1 orange

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Combine the spices and set aside.
3. Season the tenderloin with salt and pepper on all sides. Add two tablespoons of vegetable oil to a large skillet over medium high heat. Sear the tenderloin in the skillet, about a minute on each side. Remove to work surface and coat all sides with the spice mix.
4. Place spicce-rubbed tenderloin in a baking dish and roast in the oven to 15 to 20 minutes until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degreses F.
5. Meanwhile, melt one tablespoon of butter to the same skillet and cook the apples for about 8 to 10 minutes until fork tender. Turn of the stove and stir in the orange zest. Serves slices of the pork tenderloin topped with the warm apples.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Carnival Cocktail

I woke up this morning a little bit jealous. Jealous of my relatives and friends in Trinidad who, at this very moment, are loading up their cars and headed to the beach. It is an Ash Wednesday ritual. After two days of Carnival reveling, not to mention the weeks of parties leading up Carnival, everyone is exhausted, and the beach is where everyone congregates to unwind and recharge. While the tone is somewhat less festive, there is usually music and good food. Not a bad way to spend a day in the middle of the week. So maybe you can now understand why I am a little jealous.

In lieu of the beach, today I have my post- carnival cocktail. A combination of fresh pineapple, rum and coconut water. And looking at the bright side of things, my friends have the beach but there is a high probability that the traffic going to the beach will be horrendous. I do not have to deal with that. At least that is what I will try to convince myself of all day.

Carnival Cocktail
Serves 2

1 cup fresh pineapple
1/2 cup rum
1 cup coconut juice
2 tbsp agave
Angostura bitters

Blend the first 4 ingredients together and divide between two cocktail glasses. Serve with a couple dashes of bitter.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Chicken Stew with Beer

A couple weeks ago, we were invited to a beer-tasting event. While I am not much of a beer drinker - let's just attribute that to too many thirsty Thursdays at Sal's during my college days - it was a good opportunity to get together with some great friends.

There is a misconception shared by many our friends and relatives, especially those on the east coast and those back in the Caribbean, that the brutality of Minnesota winters means the end to most activities. This is not entirely true; the fun simple moves indoors. As was true on this particular night. It started with delicious food and very lively friends, and ended with dancing and me winning a twelve-pack of beer!

So over the next few days, I will attempt to explore beer's culinary uses. This should be interesting.

Chicken Stew with Beer
Serves 4 to 5

4 chicken breasts
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp salt and
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 russet potatoes, cubed
1 twelve oz bottle of beer
4-6 cups low sodium chicken stock

1. Season the chicken and coat all sides with flour, shaking off any excess. Add a couple tablespoons of oil to a large pot and brown the chicken on all sides. Remove from the pot and set aside.
2. Add the onion, pepper, and celery to the pot, and cook until softened, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and bay leaves, and cook for another minute. Return the pieces of chicken to the pot together with the remaining ingredients, stir and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat, and cook for 45 minutes.
3. Remove the chicken shred or cut into small cubes, then return the shredded chicken to the pot, and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes. Add more chicken stock if needed. Remove the bay leaves before serving.