Squeaky Peanut

"Dot takes on the Domestic Diva"

Meat atrocities: fine if you like that sort of thing… December 19, 2010

Filed under: Recipe Review — squeakypeanut @ 10:19 PM
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Meal NUMBER 50!

Pork Chops with Sautéed Apples and Onion; Shaved Fennel-Celery Salad; Mustard Mashed Potatoes; Maple Custards

Pork Chops:

The recipe involved bone-in pork chops, onions, Fuji apples, Armagnac, chicken stock, and butter. 

I am not going to give you the measurements for these ingredients, and I am not going to discuss its cooking method. I am taking a stand: it’s time to put an end to the whole Fruit with Pork thing. Now.  If you want to put pork with some garlic, or herbs, or BBQ sauce I will support your right to do so. But I just cannot allow this fruity meat thing to continue.

I wish I had a video of The Husband’s reaction to this part of the meal. There are many variations one can do of, “Oh, my god. This is soooo disgusting.” One can shake one’s head, and just repeat over and over again, “Oh, no.” Or say”Nuh uh,” several times over, then follow it with an “Ohhhhhhh, this is reallllllllly disgusting,” then an, “Oh my god! It’s gross! It’s really soooo gross” Then one can burst out laughing at how much one hates it.

THEN, one can admit that the flavors on the plate, while hideous, do complement one another, if one were into such things…

SALAD:

The fennel was not shaved, fyi. It was sliced, as was the celery. Kohlrabi is too fancy to be found at the several stores I tried, so we had to do without. The dressing was apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard (oh, how I have missed you), honey, and oil. I was supposed to use walnut oil, but didn’t for allergy-avoidance purposes.

I didn’t hate it as much as I expected to. It was pretty quiet in flavor. I liked that it was crunchy. Most importantly, this is the last of the year of terrible salads!

MASHED POTATOES:

These were Yukon Gold potatoes, boiled with their skins on for a rustic effect. They were mashed with whole-grain mustard, chicken broth and olive oil. These were the best thing on the plate, which I suppose isn’t saying much, but they were tasty. I like mustard and think this is a fun idea for a side dish, if you were making kielbasi or something along those lines.

MAPLE CUSTARDS:

We both normally hate maple, but we got some maple syrup from Trader Joe’s that is remarkably un-mapley in flavor. Otherwise I would have skipped this dessert.

I whisked together egg yolks, maple syrup and vanilla, then slowly mixed in heated milk and cream. The mixture was baked in ramekins in a water bath, then chilled. I poured a little bit of maple syrup on top before serving.

This was much better than I expected! The Husband took a bite and said, “OH, MY! I love this texture!!!!” It was silky smooth. Yum.

 OVERALL:

As I said above, the flavors all went together, but that is not necessarily a good thing, in my opinion. The sweet pork was not cute, the salad was just ok, but the potatoes and dessert were good. I could see people who like sweet meat and fennel really digging this meal.

Pork:  F, for our palates, but if you like fruit and pork you would probably give it a B

Fennel salad:  B

Mashed potatoes:  A

Maple custard: A+

 

In which the pork surprised us more than the soup November 28, 2010

Filed under: Recipe Review — squeakypeanut @ 11:24 AM
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After days and days of holiday and birthday treats, I was reluctant to make a Martha meal, but to (very, very loosely) paraphrase Winston Churchill, the only way through it is to cook it.

Meal No. 47: Watercress-Cauliflower Soup; Sage and Garlic Crusted Pork Tenderloin; Braised Fennel and White Beans; Pears with Maple Walnuts and Gorgonzola

The recipes are all on her site here. She recommends this as a buffet style dinner party. Soup on a buffet seems impractical and messy. The photo shows a giant brioche, but of course we will never know how to make that, as we will be making raw pears instead.  Pity.

Soup:

The funny thing about this recipe is that onions + cauliflower + watercress= thin broccoli soup!  It was a bit slimy, from too much butter used to saute the onion, but was otherwise ok. It was shocking how much it tasted like broccoli.  The Husband hated it at first, but when he added a huge amount of white pepper he liked it much better. He says it will make a good breakfast. Yes, I said breakfast. Ask him.

Pork:

You may notice that is entry is not tagged under “boring pork” like all of her other pork recipes. That’s because it was, oddly enough, quite delicious! Even the husband, a pork tenderloin hater, said it was delicious! Yippee. The sage and garlic made a nice crust and it was perfectly cooked and moist. We were thinking about using the leftovers for Cuban sandwiches, but that would involve buying bread, pickles, ham, cheese……

Beans:

Unfortunately, the beans I got were mealy and this didn’t have much flavor. It was a disappointment, but at least the fennel was cooked enough to not offend.

Dessert:

Normally, I am thrilled with the idea of a cheese plate; I prefer cheese to most desserts, in fact.  But it seemed excessive to have it with this meal, as the menu included pork, beans, nuts and cheese. That is a lot of protein, yes?

I have my own salty/sweet nut recipe, and this one used maple syrup. Our maple syrup is remarkably un-mapley, so that is the only reason this passed muster. We substituted pecans for the walnuts, and they turned out very tasty.

This next part is pathetic–I couldn’t find the cheese in the frig as I think I left it at our friend’s house on Thanksgiving. So we were forced to pick the cheese crumbles off the leftover salad and eat it with the pear and the nuts. (It was 9:30 at night, so I wasn’t in the mood to go to the store!). It was fine, because I was actually so stuffed from the soup, pork and beans that I could only eat a tiny bite anyway.

OVERALL:

Some items were better than others, but overall the flavors at least matched.

SOUP:   C as written, B with the gob of black pepper

PORK:    A+ Don’t faint!

BEANS & FENNEL:  C

PEAR/NUTS/CHEESE:   A

 

Non-Pork Un-Kabobs July 27, 2010

Filed under: Recipe Review — squeakypeanut @ 5:38 PM
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Pardon my absence; I was on vacation with family on Cape Cod, enjoying lots of gin and seafood and gin. When I came back there was nothing to eat, so I dove right back into MarthaLand.

Meal No. 30: Pork Kabobs with Thyme; Fennel and Red Onion and Parsley Salad; Toasted Bulgur with Almonds; Cantaloupe Granita

Kabobs: Martha’s pork recipes have been Not Good, so I took her suggestion to switch out the meat to chicken (or lamb, she says). I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs marinated in the juice and zest of an orange, five garlic cloves, two tablespoons thyme, a tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1/4 cup olive oil, some salt and pepper. I was supposed to have chopped and skewered them on, well, skewers, but I was chasing daylight as it was, so I just threw them whole onto the grill.

Glory be! They were delicious! I was expecting them to be too sweet because of the orange, but it wasn’t a detectable flavor; the meat was tender and tasty but still savory. It was good as leftovers.

Salad:

Was there some sort of fennel crisis while I was away? I had to go to four stores to find it.

A fennel bulb was sliced, along with a small red onion, and combined with some flat leaf parsley. I had to put it in a colander in an ice bath (!) and let it sit for 15 minutes. This was supposed to make the red onion milder. I happen to like red onion in all its spicy glory, so this seemed weird to me–why not just use a yellow or white onion? It was also 103 degrees the day I made it, so I had to keep the ice bath in the frig, as it was too warm to have it on the counter.

After the vegetables were drained, they were tossed with a dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, and celery seeds.

I used an organic fennel bulb, which must have been undersized, as the recipe made a tiny amount of salad for four people. The onion to fennel ratio was off,  according to The Husband. I, disliking fennel as I do, would have preferred the onion  to be even more prominent. It also had too much parsley for my taste. I dunno–it was edible, but I would never eat it again, while The Husband enjoyed the leftovers.

Bulgur:

This was also tasty, and went quite well with the chicken! I cooked a cup of toasted bulgur in chicken broth with a cinnamon stick and a bay leaf, then added some chopped salted almonds and olive oil after it was done cooking. It was delicious until I ruined it. The pepper lid was not closed all the way and a ton of pepper fell into it. I tried to get most of it out, but it was still so peppery it burnt the tongue.

Cantaloupe Granita:

This was pureed cantaloupe mixed with a simple syrup (with lemon juice), then frozen/scraped much like the cherry ice from a couple of weeks ago. The Husband hates melon. How can one hate something so innocuous? It baffles the mind, really, especially when that someone likes fennel! And liver!

I didn’t do all the scraping I was supposed to, so it got a tetch icy, but it had a nice flavor. It was cold and refreshing on a hot day, but it tasted exactly like a chilled cantaloupe you would eat fresh, so I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble. The Husband refused to look at it, much less taste it.

OVERALL:

Kabob:    A

Salad:      A  ( I am recusing myself since I don’t like fennel)

Bulgur: A

Cantaloupe:   B+

OVERALL: A   Kudos to Martha’s Underlings!