Monday, July 27, 2015

Notes and recipe: Shortcake

 26 January 2015

  • A video recipe from Chef John at Food Wishes.
  • The video recipe does not include instructions, so I cobbled some together below.
  • One of the appealing attributes of this recipe is how easy it is. I don't know if this is normal for shortcake, but the butter is melted and then just stirred into the dry ingredients.
  • The video says the dough should be patted out to 1-inch thickness, but it didn't look that think. I patted it out to an 8x5 rectangle which was a little less than an inch thick. 
  • I forgot to brush on the cream and sugar so it didn't brown as well, though it did rise quite a bit while baking.

  • The shortbread was tough and heavy ... perhaps overworked and/or overbaked. Maybe because it didn't have the cream and sugar on the top it browned more slowly than it would have otherwise.
  • I'll need to make this again and try some other shortbread recipes. My mom served strawberries with biscuits and Diane's mom served them with angel food cake, so while this is more biscuit-like than cake-like, it is a departure from both of our family traditions.

Eat leftover
  • I warmed the shortcake in the microwave the next evening. I enjoyed the shortcake better this way than room temperature as it was served the first evening.

Makes 6 Large or 8 Normal Strawberry Shortcakes:

2 cups self rising flour (I used2 cups of all-purpose flour,  1 tablespoon baking powder, and 1 teaspoon table salt)
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup heavy cream
½ cup milk
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter

  1. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and continue heating until golden brown. Set aside.
  2. Heat oven to 425° with a rack in the middle position.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a small bowl.
  4. Add milk, heavy cream, and melted butter and stir with a spoon until just combined.
  5. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and press it into a 1-inch thick rectangle.
  6. Cut it into 6 or 8 evenly sized pieces.
  7. Transfer to a baking sheet that is lined with parchment paper or a silpat.
  8. Brush the tops with heavy cream and sprinkle with granulated sugar
  9. Bake until browned, 15-18 minutes

Notes: Broiled Pork Tenderloin with Sun-dried Tomato and Basil Salsa

 26 July 2015

  •  Recipes from the September/October Cook's Illustrated magazine
  • This was a relatively quick Sunday dinner, it took about an hour to prepare everything.
  • The recipe for the pork was very straightforward and easy. The "secret" was the method they developed to provide consistent results no matter how your broiler works. This included preheating the oven to 325°, to preheat the broiler elements, before turning on the broiler.
  • I used the Hi setting for our broiler, which has two settings (Hi and Lo).
  • After broiling for 5 min the tenderloin was turned over and broiled for 10 minutes (the recipe gives 8 to 14 minutes for this step) to get to an internal temperature of 125°-130°.
  • I started the potatoes and asparagus around the same time as the pork.
  • The salsa was easily made, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh parsley, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper ... just chop and stir together.

  • The pork tenderloin was served with sun-dried tomato and basil salsa, boiled red potatoes, grilled asparagus, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from Lone Goat Vineyard ... this is the vineyard in Caleb's back yard in New Zealand. It's good wine.
  • Not only was this dinner easy to make, but the pork was tender and moist and the salsa was good and went well with the pork.
  • I started the asparagus too soon, it took only about 10 minutes to grill.

Eat leftovers 
  • We had the leftover pork with three other "p" foods: potatoes, peas, and Pinot Grigio. The meat was reheated in the microwave with a little water. It was OK, not too tough or too dry, though not as juicy as when fresh.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Notes: Smoky Pulled Pork

 12 July 2015

  • I made this last August and wrote about it in a blog post describing the smoking process in more detail.
  • I started around 2 PM except for applying a dry rub to the meat the previous evening.
  • I bought "Pork shoulder blade roast boneless", 4.44lbs, at the supermarket. The recipe is for a 5 lb roast, trimmed. I didn't trim it but I did note a lot of fat while applying the dry rub.
  • The instructions call for 2 cups of wood chips that are soaked and 2 cups that are dry. In the recipe notes it recommends weighing the chips. Doing this, I found the volume is more like 4 cups rather than 2 to get 4.75 oz.
  • Instead of two aluminum pie plates with 3 cups water each, I used one aluminum roasting pan, which fit perfectly on one side of our grill, with 4 cups water. I should have added more water as around 6 PM it dried out and I needed to refill it.
  • To maintain a temperature of 300°: left burner on high, middle burner on high, right burner off ... with this setup the temperature was a steady 260° using a thermometer at the level of the meat (i.e. I ignored the built-in thermometer in the lid of the grill).
  • In the last half hour of the initial smoking the propane ran out; fortunately we had a full tank standing by. The new tank generated more heat than the old one. It took some fiddling with the settings, but High - Low - Off led to a temperature around 300°, it fluctuated between 290° and 310°.
  • I removed the meat from grill at 8 PM, the internal temperature was a little under the recommended 200°.
  • I halved the recipe for the sauce and then halved again the amount of red pepper flakes.

  • The pork was served on sesame seed dinner rolls with supermarket "summer slaw", white corn, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and Vella Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • The sauce was not at all spicy, its primary flavor was the vinegar which was its main ingredient.
  • Much of the meat was tender but some was a little dry and tough. Is this because it is a blade cut and includes some leaner muscles?
  • All in all, though, it is good. The quantity is not overwhelming, especially since we plan to serve some to company one day this week. 
  • I should have started earlier than 2 PM.
  • I like this pulled pork with its North Carolina style vinegar sauce. However, I think I would like it better with a smoky, sweet Kansas City style tomato sauce.

Eat leftovers
  • The time and effort and investment in this dish are not wasted as it keeps very well, both refrigerated or even longer in the freezer. To serve it just needs to be reheated in the microwave oven.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Notes: Mini Meatloaves

7 June 2015

  • Anticipating a long day of hiking, I chose a quick meal for this Sunday dinner. We have had mini meatloaves before. The recipe is from the America's Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook.
  • Diane thought the glaze (ketchup + brown sugar + vinegar) was too sweet last time (I know because I wrote that in my blog post ) so I halved the sugar.
  • I used 100% ground beef, no pork or veal or meat loaf mix. I have looked at the supermarket for meat loaf mix but I've never seen it or ground veal. There is ground pork but only in 1-pound packages; I didn't want to have any left over and I didn't want my meat mixture to be 75% pork.
  • Dinner was ready about 70 minutes after I started preparations.

  • The meatloaf was served with peas & baby onions, mashed potatoes (how classic), Vella Merlot, and water.
  • Diane grew up eating meat loaf with no glaze (my mom often glazed meat loaf with ketchup) but she said this glaze was OK, not too sweet and not too sour from the vinegar and ketchup.   
  • The meat loaf was good, juicy, tender and flavored nicely.
  • These little meat loaves are a perfect size for us, one mini loaf per meal is just right, and they store well in the refrigerator and the freezer.