Sunday, July 12, 2009

Orange Braised Pork Loin

For my first attempt at braising, I tried this recipe.  I used my cast iron dutch oven, because it has a lot less volume than the non-stick one I got for Christmas, so I figured that would provide better liquid-to-meat contact.  It came out well, and turned out to go well with leftover potato glue.  One thing that I noticed, though, was that it dried out pretty quickly once sliced.  Fortunately, the sauce corrected that problem pretty well.  I tried to use my digital thermometer to tell when it was done, but it never read above 111 degrees.  The meat definitely cooked, so I'm not sure if there was a problem with the thermometer, or if there was some other cause.  I didn't think to check with an instant-read thermometer.  Next time, I'll have to do that.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Mashed Potatoes Fail

I was inspired by the success of the mashed potatoes I made for the 4th, and I had about a pound of potatoes left over, so I tried to make garlic mashed potatoes.  I thin-sliced the potatoes in the food processor, and set them to simmer.  While they were doing that, I chopped up two BIG cloves of garlic.  After draining out the potatoes, I sauteed the garlic in the same pot with a little bit of olive oil, some salt and pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes.  As before, I used water to keep the garlic from browning.  Then I returned the whole mess, garlic, potatoes, and all, to the food processor, and turned it on.  The result had a great flavor, but was gluey.  Did I just over-process it all, or do I need to stick with hand-mashing the potatoes altogether?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Grilled Steaks and Corn-on-the-cob

I've tried grilling things before, but could never seem to get the heat quite right.  My grill's idea of "medium heat" seems to be rather higher than most of the recipes I've tried.  So I had to come up with some way of measuring the heat.  I don't have a suitable thermometer, so I found the "hand method," and tried that for tonight's steaks.  It worked pretty well, and (more importantly) fixed a variable for me.  The next step is to start fiddling around with cooking times at a similar heat.  Tonight's 1 inch thick strip steaks were cooked at medium heat (4-5 seconds before hand must be pulled away) for 5 minutes on the first side, and 4 minutes on the second.  Done-ness ranged from medium rare to medium, depending on the thickness of the steak at that particular point.  I'm pretty happy with that, but I'll have to play with those times a little to accommodate other folks, who may like their steaks a little more well done.  One other note on the steaks: before putting them on the grill, I seasoned them with a mix of kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper, and let them sit for about fife minutes.

Corn-on-the-cob is pretty straightforward.  Once the corn is shucked (hungry roommates are handy for this task), just drop it in a stock-pot of boiling water (I like to salt my water just a little), cover, and let it boil for 8-9 minutes.  Pull it out of the water, and you're done!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Greek Pot-Crushed Potatoes

I got a text-message invite from a friend of mine to a Fourth of July cookout.  The invite came in late last night, and so I sent back a text asking if we could bring anything.  I got the reply when I got up this morning: BYOB and a side dish.  I couldn't find my Mom's baked bean recipe (Hey, Mom, could you send me that?  Those are yummy!), so I started looking around for a relatively simple side-dish.  The Splendid Table to the rescue!  The recipe is from their book, How to Eat Supper, which I think I've referenced before. 

It's pretty simple, once you work through it.  The secret is the food processor: use the processor to thin-slice both the potatoes.  This reduces the cooking time to around 6 or seven minutes.  Then dump the potatoes into a strainer, and use the same pan to saute up some garlic (also thin-sliced in the food processor) along with some salt, pepper, and just a little bit of red pepper flakes.  Neat trick: to keep the garlic from browning, add some water to the pan.  At the last minute, add a teaspoon of fresh oregano leaves.  Return the potatoes, mash, and fold in some parsley, sliced scallions, and the juice of a lemon.  It was really good, although the next time I think I will cut up the garlic a little finer, and perhaps add a few less scallions, maybe three instead of four.