Sunday, March 14, 2010

Saturday Night, Birthday Pork

Yes that's right, Saturday night this time. Well I don't know where I got it, but I got a cold that took away my taste buds, which was not very nice. I went to the store for all the ingredients on Thursday and did some prep. When I woke up on Friday, I just wasn't feeling up to cooking, or eating, because everything I ate had no taste. I got about 30% of my taste back on Saturday so at least I could taste a little. Saturday was Tony's 39th birthday and I asked him what he wanted for dinner. He suggested... "a whole pork roast maybe the one you made before with peaches"... I made this recipe from Jamie Oliver a few years back and it was very good and I have been meaning to make it again. It calls for a whole pork roast with the bones in. Bone-in makes a big difference in the finished roast, but I have trouble finding bone-in unless it is around the Holiday's. I thought well I will make the pork with peaches if the store has a bone-in pork roast but if they don't I will make this other pork roast in my Thomas Keller cookbook. Well they didn't have bone-in and so I made Fig Stuffed Pork Loin from Thomas Keller.

Devils on Horseback

If you read my last post it was about our trip to NYC last weekend and this was my recreation of one of the appetizers we had at The Spotted Pig. It is prunes stuffed with pear wedges and then it's wrapped in bacon and roasted. I first soaked the prunes in port wine for about an hour and I roasted wedges of pear for about 15 minutes. Assembled them with the bacon and put them in the oven until the bacon was crisped up. I thought they were very close to the restaurant but Tony thought they tasted sweeter than he remembered. Maybe my taste buds were off because of my cold, so he may be right. But we did eat them so fast that I didn't get a chance to snap a picture of them.

Fig Stuffed Pork loin

You brine the whole pork loin for 10 hours and then remove it from the brine, rinse and dry it. Cut a hole through the middle of the pork to make way for the stuffing. His recipe for the stuffing is figs, balsamic vinegar, sugar, black peppercorns and lemon juice. After making it I realized he probably meant fresh figs. I used dried figs. It tasted fine in the end but mine didn't break down like his looked. I made the filling a couple days ahead so when I took it out to use it I reheated it and added a bit of water and let it cook down for probably an hour, I wanted it to soften up a lot. To finish the fig filling you saute some bread pieces and fennel in oil then add the fig jam with some chicken stock. Let it cool before stuffing it in the pork. I stuffed it and trussed it and put it in the oven for about 40 minutes at 350 degrees and it was perfectly done.

Glazed sweet potatoes

These were really good too. They are another Thomas Keller recipe. They are cut into thick steak fry shaped wedges, placed in a single layer in a baking pan, pats of butter over the top of them, covered tightly with aluminum foil and then baked for 35 minutes (that can be done ahead of time). Just before serving dip one of the cut sides into brown sugar and back into the baking pan with the sugar side up and then placed under the broiler until it caramelizes. I thought it would have been fine with less butter and no sugar. The extra butter and sugar were good but not necessary.

Tempura Brussels Sprouts with Spicy Soy Vinaigrette

This was another NYC dish we had at Momofuko. It was so good and I think even with only 30% of my taste buds working, I did a good job on these. The first hint was that Tony couldn't stop snacking on them as I was making them (before sitting down to eat dinner), and all I heard was mmmmmmm, woww, yummmm. I have a book that gives the definition of everything food related and for Tempura it says...A Japanese specialty of batter dipped pieces of fish or vegetables. It is usually accompanied by soy sauce...So I looked in my Joy of Cooking book and found a tempura batter which to my surprise was only two ingredients...2 cups of ice water to 2 cups sifted self rising flour. You mix the flour and water together, not too much, it will be a bit lumpy. Then I thought OK well I need a soy vinaigrette and the one that was served at Momofuko was a fish sauce vinaigrette. I don't have any fish sauce so I combined a little worcheshire sauce, soy sauce, saracha hot sauce and bit of honey to even things out a bit and then I whisked in a little olive oil to make it a vinaigrette. It was perfect. After draining the fried tempura Brussels sprouts on paper towels I tossed them in the bowl with the vinaigrette.

Banana Cake with Hazelnut filling and Hazelnut Praline Crunch

I wasn't happy with this cake. It was OK but I was trying to reproduce the cake at The Milk Bar in NYC and I wasn't even close. I made a banana cake recipe from Martha Stewart and I found the Gianduja Chocolate at Whole Foods that I had never heard of before. It's a hazelnut flavored chocolate. I made the hazelnut praline crunchy bits. I thought the filling was almost caramel with the hazelnut chocolate mixed in so I made Dulce De Leche by slowly heating sweetened condensed milk and it slowly turns into a caramel color, texture and taste. So I mixed it into the chocolate that I melted and as I was mixing it, it started to seize up. I thought it would be OK but it ended up hardening too much and it wasn't the owy, gooey, deliciousness that the other cake was. The cake itself wasn't banana-ee enough and I made a cream cheese frosting that wasn't on the original (I am not sure what the frosting was). So we just have to go back to NYC so I can try it again and study it better.

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