Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Roasted Pork Loin and Hot! Cranberry Sauce

New USDA regs say it's ok if it's a bit pink.

 As a recipe tester for Cooks Illustrated, I get to make all kinds of things.  I mostly like them, but sometimes I don't.  The note that arrives with each recipe always says something to the effect of:
If you don't care for one or more of the ingredients in the dish or wouldn't ordinarily eat it, please do not test this recipe...
So, for instance, if you hate hot stuff, don't test the On-Fire Texas Chili.  I love to see the magazine months and months later to see recipes on which I've worked; I'm interested to see the final result-which may not be the recipe I saw originally.  I test recipes far out of season sometimes (I'm sure I've mentioned this before--) and adore that out of time and place experience that has us eating turkey in March.  That was one of the best turkeys I've ever eaten, by the way, but felt like it took all day to make. If you didn't buy the magazine last January or February, the recipe is online, but you must subscribe.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Curried Pumpkin Soup or Julie Used to Live Here

I adore pumpkin in nearly any form.  I think I love pumpkins because they appear during my birthday month.  Maybe not, though.  Because, truly:  I love to eat them.  Almost any way.  While I'm sure pumpkin soup has been around a long time (A quick peek at my historical cookbooks, however makes no mention of it.  American Cookery 1796 has a recipe for Pumpkin Pudding.  Fanny Farmer, 1896, lists only pumpkin pie.  The  Household Searchlight Recipe Book, 1931, has listings for canning pumpkin, making pumpkin custard, jam, and pie with cheese crust--but no soup,) I had never tasted it until 1985 when we went to live in Spokane, Washington, and my God's gift of a neighbor, Joyce Smith, made pumpkin soup in the pumpkins for a holiday meal.  Ten years later, I traveled right here to St. Paul, and good cook Lani Jordan whipped up a pumpkin-peanut butter soup for Sue's birthday lunch.  

My own soup was years later coming.  Late 90's maybe.  By now, it comes in several guises.  I sometimes blend cooked, ripe pears and apples into the mix.. or other batches contain a touch of vanilla and a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds on top.  One memorable pot was ladled into bowls with my sweet-crunch  "Go Nuts" as garnish.  I've also been known to use a mix of squashes and vegetables (also cooked dried beans) with the soup and up the heat factor, as well.

While, according to an old Craig Claiborne book, you can steam unpeeled pieces of pumpkin and later peel and mash them, I'm by now definitely attached to opening a can.  As are many women.  And...
Pumpkin anything is pretty simple if you're willing to used canned pumpkin.  I also adore butternut squash soup, but if you want to make butternut squash anything,  you have to peel and cook the rock-hard thing.  Which takes a lot of effort.  I buy a new peeler every year because the winter squash wreaks havoc with them.  Even Paula Deen gets one of her boys to peel her squash.   (My children don't seem to be waiting in the wings to peel my squash.  Where are you?)   Your other option is to pay through the nose for already cut-up butternut squash.  I'm not doing that.   But pumpkin!  Well, that's why God made Libby's, right?  (Or go ahead and roast or microwave a whole one if you have to, but after trying it once,  you'll head to the grocery store canned aisle.)  I seem to be on a pumpkin jag lately--both in this blog and in Dinner Place.    So!  Go ahead and make pumpkin soup.  Did I say it's quick?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Southwestern Turkey Meatloaf or Here You Go, Lori!

It was ready for its close-up, but does meatloaf ever photograph well?
 I have a friend named Lori.  She's smart and tall, is mom to a big hulking chocolate lab, is beautiful and talented, and does things like run a salon and also fly airplanes.  Sometimes in the same day.  Did I mention she's a runner and that she's from Boston?  She also "did" my nails for several years in Colorado Springs.  When you spend an hour and a half every three weeks literally face to face with someone for years on end, you either become friends or sleep.  Lori and I chose to become friends. (I miss her.)

So, being women and being friends, and being a foot apart so often, Lori and I talked food. (Also family, men, sports--her, not me, work, whatever)  Lori's mostly vegetarian, though she eats some chicken, etc.  And Lori makes meatloaf.  Turkey meatloaf.  It's good, says she, but she's a bit bored with it.  More than once, she asked if I had another recipe.  Recipes, now that we have the internet, are a dime a dozen, but I hadn't made turkey meatloaf in years.  I was intrigued and remembered someone saying, "You cannot season turkey meatloaf like beef meatloaf; it's awful.  You must season it like turkey."  While that brings sage, onions and celery to mind, for me it also brings hot peppers, feisty cheese, and salsa.  Living in San Antonio for four years and Colorado for 15 would do that.  Taking cooking classes in Santa Fe would definitely do that.

One day, after months of turkey meatloaf ideas perking around in my head from time to time, I decided to try it.  Wow!  Both Dave and I loved it.  This loaf is full of chiles, onions, garlic, and salsa, and I stuffed it with overlapping slices of pepperjack cheese so that when you cut it (make sure and let it sit a while or you'll have a gooey mess), there are lovely melting bites of sharp cheese right at the center.

I mean, if meatloaf is good, people adore it--right? It's filling, homey, stretches to feed a bunch, and makes great sandwiches.  Though, really, loving meatloaf isn't something everyone wants to admit.  It's not on top of the trendy list, though come to think of it COOKING LIGHT has a meatloaf article in the October Issue.  But trendy or not, if you make it, they will come.  And they'll want the recipe.  It's one of those emotional food-pingers like, "My grandma made the best meatloaf!"  Make this even if you have to invite people over to eat it.  ESPECIALLY if you have to invite people over to eat it.

Side: Mashed potatoes is the usual suspect, but I did an all-in-one sauté of sliced new potatoes, onions, garlic, and late summer squashes that comes together just before the meatloaf comes out of the oven and while it rests before serving.  Top it with finely diced fresh tomatoes and sweet green peppers for color and crunch.   That's not much for directions; let me look in the cooking journal and see if I kept amounts listed when I cooked it.  If I did, I'll include a recipe.  How's that for informality in the cooking blog?   Here's the meatloaf recipe, for which I definitely kept the list of ingredients and, uh--techniques and methods!

Here you are, Lori.  Sorry it took so long.

Here it is all dressed up with someplace to go.  Your mouth!

 Southwestern Turkey Meatloaf Stuffed With Pepperjack Cheese  serves 8  (or 2 with lots of leftovers for sandwiches)

1# each ground turkey breast and ground turkey
1 1/2 cups salsa, divided (I like Frontera Roasted Tomato, mild)
2 cups whole wheat bread, cubed
1/4 tsp each:  kosher salt freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup minced onion
2 cloves minced garlic
2 eggs, beaten
8 oz (about 1 1/2 c) sliced or chopped button mushrooms
1 4 oz can chopped green chiles, drained

1/3# Pepperjack cheese, sliced

2T olive oil, divided

Note about salt:  I do not include much salt as the salsa contains quite a bit.  If you'd like to check and see whether or not you'd like to add salt, make a small meatball of the mixture and fry it in a bit of oil.  Taste and see (great song, too!) if you'd like any salt.

Garnish optional:  Diced fresh tomatoes and green peppers

  1. Oil your biggest loaf (I used 9x5) pan using 1T of the olive oil.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Wash your hands well and take off your rings and watch.  Get a big bowl out of the cupboard and throw in everything (using only 1 cup of salsa; the rest is for later)--turkey through chiles-- but the Pepperjack cheese, olive oil, and garnish.  Put your hands down into the meat mixture and combine thoroughly.
  3. Pat about half of the meat mixture into the oiled loaf pan and place the slices of pepperjack cheese right down the middle of the loaf, overlapping, and stopping before the very end. (So that the cheese doesn't ooze out while the meatloaf bakes.)  Place the other half of the meatloaf mixture on top of the cheese and pat down to create the loaf.  Brush with the other tablespoon of olive oil.
  4. Place loaf pan on a foil-lined sheet pan and bake for about 1 1/4 hours or until thermometer registers 160.  Remove from oven and let  rest 10 -15 minutes.  Invert onto serving platter (or carve in the pan if that's easier) and top with the other half-cup of salsa.  Garnish with diced tomatoes and green peppers if desired.  Surround the loaf with  the Potato-Zucchini Sauté and serve hot.  Store leftovers tightly wrapped in refrigerator for up to two days.
Yes, it was in the cooking journal and here it is...
Potato Zucchini Sauté
  • 6-8 small (1-2") new red potatoes, sliced thinly
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1T butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 t chili powder (I like Penzey's; choose your style.)
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/2 t freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 t dried oregano
  • 1 ea:  small zucchini and yellow squash, sliced thinly
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Garnish, optional:  1/4 cup each:  diced fresh tomato and green pepper

  1. In a large skillet or sauté pan, heat oil and butter.  Add potatoes. 
  2. Cook until potatoes brown on one side.  Stir and turn potatoes.  Add onions and dust with chili powder, salt, pepper, and oregano.  Cook one minute and add squash and garlic. 
  3. Cover and cook until potatoes are tender and squash is al dente or grandma done (your choice)--another 2-3 minutes. 
  4. Serve garnished with tomatoes and peppers if desired.
Two-Dog Kitchen and Around the 'Hood
It's that time of year.  Keeping the cantata on the piano at all times (skipping my own piano lessons), planning holiday travel, getting the last of the outdoor chores accomplished before it snows, changing out the clothes, ordering wool socks, taking as many walks as we can with the doggies, and grabbing yet another bouquet out of the flower garden. This may have been the last rose of summer:
 Or maybe this one!

While very dry, the grass is still mostly green.
 Here are the pies I baked for Pops and Pies, one of the monthly concerts at Prospect Park United Methodist:  
Must be October if it's pumpkin!

This is a sour-cream apple topped with a decadent crumble.

I did make that beef-vegetable soup I mentioned (with three variations plus some ideas on how to make it a bit cheaper) and if you'd like to see how I did it, you'll need to visit examiner.com where I write cooking and food articles for St. Paul.

Basic Beef-Vegetable Soup

Pumpkin Custard just for YOU
 Also, on my blog for The Solo Cook (Dinner Place), there's a great pumpkin custard topped with cinnamon-kissed creme fraiche. It's made for those who cook for one and is done in one minute in the microwave.  Your very own (crustless) pumpkin "pie."
Warm enough for flip flops yesterday.

Stubborn Tucker:  wouldn't turn around for his picture.
Happy October, my friends.
Sing a new song,