This “tweet” got a lot of attention: After 2 Rosh Hashanah meals with BB’s family, what do I make his Jewish Grandpa for dinner? You guessed it: pork tenderloin. Sigh. Yes, twitter skeptics, one can tell quite a story in 140 characters.
No spoiler alert here. Yes, I did serve pork tenderloin to a non-kosher Jew during a week-long holiday that I thought lasted only a day or two. Thankfully, my guests, Baseball Boy’s grandparents, gracefully ate the food I prepared for them. Swine and all. (Though, whether intentionally or unintentionally, I did manage to include the holiday’s staple apples and honey in both a side dish and the dessert.)
Truth be told, I was nervous about cooking for them as soon as the invitation had been extended. They’ve had us over for dinner several times, and their combined food knowledge way surpasses mine. Remembering excellent meal upon excellent meal I realized I had no idea what I could cook for them that would be some level above a microwave dinner.
It wasn’t until I stopped focusing on my guests and starting remembering the great finds of the season that I was able to put together a menu. Apples. Goat cheese. Fennel. Pork. Butter. Autumn is my favorite season for a reason. It turns out that the majority of the meal came from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food: Pork Tenderloin with Sautéed Apples and Leeks (to which I added fennel), Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots, a Beet and Goat Cheese Salad (my creation) and (again, from Martha) an Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake for dessert.
The salad, an all-Ohio creation, featured beets, onions and greens from my CSA, as well as a goat cheese from Integration Acres in Athens, Ohio. I’ve served various forms of this salad all summer long, and now that it’s officially autumn, it’s right at home in my kitchen.
Because I used all of my CSA carrots for another installment of Carrot Soup, I had to settle for store-bought carrots. Nonetheless, I do believe that I’ve found a new favorite carrot recipe, just in time for root vegetable season. The rosemary and butter infused broth left over from cooking these carrots would make a great base for a soup or risotto. Note to self: remember this.
The pork received compliments, perhaps out of pity for my poor menu planning and lack of extensive knowledge of the Jewish calendar. I was tremendously nervous about this entrée as I lack a working meat thermometer and the last time I made pork tenderloin, it was overcooked. The recipe (broil a heavily salted and peppered tenderloin for 15 minutes) seemed a bit too simple. But people liked it. Although the apples and leeks lacked something amazing, the pork is a keeper.
The cake was a bit dry for my taste, possibly because I failed to mix my ingredients in the correct order. Yes, I know the tiny magazine keeps things simple, but I sometimes fail to read ahead in my instructions, even if there are only three bullet points. Luckily, I’d purchased a pint of Jeni’s Honey Vanilla Bean Ice Cream to moisten the cake and make the plate shine.
It turned out to be a lovely meal, but I’ve learned my lesson: read beyond the first paragraph. Whether it be a recipe for Apple Cinnamon Cake or a Wikipedia article on Rosh Hashanah, chances are, that second paragraph is there for a reason.
Beet and Goat Cheese Salad
6 beets, roasted in olive oil, cooled and sliced
several handfuls of arugula and/or mixed salad greens
2 TB. sesame seeds
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 TB. honey
1/3 cup olive oil
crumbled goat cheese, to taste
black pepper, to taste
Whisk together the balsamic vinegar, honey and olive oil for dressing. Gently toss half of the dressing in greens. Set aside the rest of the dressing for future uses. Mix in the sesame seeds and onions and place on a serving plate. Lay sliced roasted beets (450 degrees for an hour while wrapped in foil should do the trick) atop the salad mixture and top with goat cheese and freshly ground black pepper.
Brown Sugar Glazed Carrots
from Everyday Food, October 2007
1 1/2 lbs carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch lengths, halved or quartered if thick
1 TB. butter
1 TB. light brown sugar
1/4 teas. dried rosemary (I used 1/2 teas. chopped fresh rosemary)
In a large skillet, place carrots, butter, sugar, rosemary and 1 1/4 cup water. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until carrots are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. (If water evaporates before carrots are tender, add 1/4 c more). Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until liquid is reduced to a glaze, 1 to 2 minutes more.
Pork Tenderloin with Sautéed Apples and Leeks
from Everyday Food, October 2007
2 pork tenderloins (1 1/2 to 2 pounds total), trimmed of excess fat and silver skin
2 TB. olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 leeks, white and light-green parts only, halved lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
1/2 teas. fennel seeds (I omitted these and added 2 TB. chopped fennel)
3 Gala apples, cored and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices and halved crosswise
1 TB. honey
1 TB. sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar
Heat broiler, with rack set 4 inches from heat. On a broilerproof rimmed baking sheet, rub pork with 1 tablespoon oil; generously season with salt and pepper. Broil, until pork registers 145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a plate, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest, 10 minutes (temperature will rise about 5 degrees as it sits).
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat remaining tablespoon oil over medium. Add leeks and fennel seeds; cook, stirring occaionally, until leeks are tender, about 6 minutes. Add apples, and cook, tossing, until just beginning to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in honey and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Thinly slice pork, and serve with apples and leeks.
Apple Cinnamon Upside-Down Cake
from Everyday Food, September 2007
10 TB. unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
3 apples, Empire or Gala (about 1 1/2 pounds), each peeled, cored, and sliced into 8 wedges
1 TB. fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 1/2 teas. baking powder
1/2 teas. salt
1/2 teas. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teas. pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat bottom and side of a 9-inch round cake pan with 2 tablespoons butter; sprinkle bottom with brown sugar. In a medium bowl, toss apples with lemon juice; arrange in prepared pan in two concentric circles (you might not use all of them). In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon; set aside.
With an electric mixer, beat remaining 8 tablespoons butter with granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until incorporated. With mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture in three parts and the milk in two, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
Spoon batter over apples in pan; smooth top. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a wire rack, at least 30 minutes and up to 6 hours (if cake has risen above rim of pan, simply push back inside rim).
To serve, run a knife around edge of pan, and invert cake onto a rimmed platter.