Roasted Pork with Whiskey Plum Sauce

My mama makes a MEAN Pork Roast.  It’s “slap your mama good”..pardon the pun!  My family and I grew up eating her roasts on Sundays and holidays, and the taste always conjures up those memories.  Lavish, over-filled plates of roasted meat, rice and gravy and fresh from the garden vegetables or ones pulled from the freezer from last summer’s harvest.  It conjures family and community and glorious chit chat that I long to remember and revel in my heart and mind.  No matter how many times I make Roasted Pork, it seems I always find myself dialing her number and asking the specifics of her recipe yet one more time.  Her tips no doubt change with each call…and that’s probably on purpose, don’t you think?  I mean, the magic she’s putting into her roast is her magic…the love and pixie dust she puts into her food is hers alone.  That magic is hard to communicate on a recipe card or pinterest board, or even in a phone conversation.  But still…I call, I ask, I attempt.

My Roasted Pork is a “riff” on my mama’s roast.  She would say, “well, you’ve gone and messed it up” but au contraire!  “Mama…wait ’til you get a load of this…and a taste!”  ROASTED PORK with WHISKEY PLUM SAUCE .  The sauce may change your life!  The tanginess of the plums marries so beautifully with the richness of the pork.  The faint sweetness of the whiskey is a delicious and unexpected note.  Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables as you serve or on the side as I have done and then make sure you have nice bread on the table to help clean the plate of all the saucey goodness!

Roast Table View
ROASTED PORK WITH WHISKEY PLUM SAUCE

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 – 4 pound pork butt roast
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Plums, pitted and quartered
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion, quartered
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • Couple Splashes of Worcestershire
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh Rosemary
  • 1 lb carrots
  • 6 – 8 Red Potatoes, diced
  • 1 Cup Chicken Stock
  • All purpose Flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 shot of Whiskey (optional and I used Jack Daniels)
  1. Turn oven to 325 Degrees F.
  2. Place 2 Tbsp EVOO into Dutch Oven.  Turn stove top on high and heat oil (watch carefully…don’t burn the oil).
  3. Salt and Pepper your Pork Butt on all sides.  Don’t skimp…the roast can take it!
  4. Now sear the meat on all sides.  Make sure you end with fatty side up.  This way, the fat flows down into the meat while it’s roasting.  Juicy!!!
  5. Once the meat is seared, throw in your onion, minced garlic, plum and chopped rosemary… turn heat to med. high.
  6. Now douse with two or three splashes of Worcestershire Sauce over meat, plums and veggies.
  7. Pop into the 325 Degree oven…UNCOVERED.  It should look something like this going in…Roast Into Oven
  8. Walk away and cook for two hours.  Your home will be filled with the most delicious aromas.
  9. At the two hour mark, add your carrots and potatoes to the dutch oven.  I like to make sure I salt them as I layer the vegetables.  I also put a bit of the cooking liquid over the potatoes and carrots before returning to the oven.
  10. Set your timer and cook uncovered, one additional hour.  At the end of that time, your pot should look like this…Roast Out of Oven
  11. Turn off oven.  Remove the roast, potatoes and all but TWO carrots from the Dutch Oven onto a Serving Platter to rest.  Cover lightly with foil.
  12. The broken down bits of heaven that are left in the dutch oven should look like this and you are about to make sauce magic out of them.The Makings of the Plum Sauce
  13. Dump this mixture into a blender, reserving 1/4 quarter cup of the liquid drippings and leaving in the dutch oven.
  14. Pulse the roasted veggies and plums until pureed.
  15. Meanwhile, heat the reserved roasting drippings over a medium high heat.  Once bubbling, scatter a couple Tbsp flour into the reserved liquid and make a roux.  The flour will ball up immediately and at this point you will need to whisk in the chicken stock slowly.  Whisk out any lumps as it begins to cook and thicken, about 3 – 4 minutes.  It should look like this…Roux
  16. Return the roasted plum and vegetable puree’ back into the pot and cook on medium, stirring to heat through.
  17. Add the shot of whiskey and stir (optional).  Wait for the alcohol to cook out, about a minute, and then taste for salt and pepper.  Add as needed.  You may not need very much, if any, because you layered with salt as you added the vegetables to the roast.
  18. Simmer on low for about five minutes or until ready to serve.

Enjoy this meal anytime but it’s especially great for Sunday Suppers, Holiday Celebrations and Friends and Family Gatherings!  And one more thing!!!…Roast Pork leftovers make excellent Pulled Pork Sandwiches later and I will be sharing my crave worthy BBQ Sauce in an upcoming post that you will want to make again and again!

Until then…Cheers!!!  XOXO

Roasted Pork and Sauce
ROASTED PORK WITH WHISKEY PLUM SAUCE

Fig and Walnut Crackers…The Perfect Cracker (Really!)

 

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I am arriving upon the seven year anniversary of my perfect cracker discovery.  It happened on a girlfriend trip to Chicago in ’09 where one of the four girlfriends was living at the time.  I arrived, sick as a dog, dosed up on God knows what and a steroid pack (great house guest, huh?) ready to hit Chi-town and have an adventure with my besties!   There was no way I was going to miss a long weekend full of laughter, museums, speakeasy’s, shopping, wine, food and friends.  Oh!  And the perfect cracker!  But I hadn’t discovered that yet…

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As we strategized the next few days around Nancy’s dining room table, glasses of red wine in hand and enough crazy chatter to require a translator,  Nancy served to us what would become my cheese board cracker obsession from that moment on.  I can still hear her announcing to us like it was yesterday, “I found these fantastic little fig crackers at Whole Foods and can’t get enough of them!”  The crackers were indeed the perfect vessel for the Cambozola Cheese and Fig Preserves that sat happily upon them.  They were nutty and rustic; sweet and savory.  I may have been doped up on antihistamines and the like, but my girlfriends and I savored every delicious bite of a new found food crush.  We went on several culinary explorations that weekend, but besides my always beautiful friends, it was the cracker that left the lasting impression.

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When I returned home and headed to the market to find my cracker obsession, what I found was sticker shock!!!!  Granted, I’m not a “cheap” person by any means but wowzer!…Lesley Stowe’s Raincoast Crisps think very highly of themselves!  No wonder I love them…they’re crazy EXPENSIVE!!!   The crackers came in a teeny tiny little package and sported a price tag of about 8 bucks for twenty or so crackers!  Every time I would purchase them (and believe me, I’ve purchased them over and over for my cheese boards for years now), I would think to myself, “surely I can make these at home!”

It was last year that a magical thing happened.  I bought a wonderful cookbook by blogger turned cookbook writer, Izy Hossack.  The book, and subsequently the blog, is entitled Top with Cinnamon and both are wonderful.  Check them out here.  Anyhoo…I was reading through her beautiful book and there they were!!!…Fig & Walnut Parmesan Crackers!!!!  Izy had unlocked the secret to my cracker obsession!!!  I vowed to make them the next week to find out if they stacked up to my “perfect cracker.”  Suffice it to say, about eight months later I got around to making the recipe and BOOM!  There it was!  A beautiful, rustic, sweet and savory cracker that I could make at home for a ton less money than the ones I was buying at the market!…plus they are homemade!…plus they are healthy…plus they are delicious!!!  So many wins!

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In my home, these Fig and Walnut Crackers must be invited to every cheeseboard party!!!  My favorite combination is the way Nancy served them…with a bit of Cambozola Cheese, a beautiful cow’s milk cheese that is a combination of a French triple cream and an Italian gorgonzola, and topped with fig preserves.  Even if you’re not a gorgonzola fan, the triple cream and the sweet preserve will soften the saltiness that the gorgonzola can deliver, so I hope you’ll try it.  It is heaven in a bite!  I also love my perfect cracker served with just a plain triple cream brie as in my photos.  Or with my Rosemary Goat Cheese that I will post in an upcoming blog (friends always beg for the recipe).  Garnished with a slice of plum and voila!  Cheese Board perfection.

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The following is my adaptation of Izy’s recipe.  Great news!!??  The recipe is SIMPLE to make!  I dropped the parmesan from Izy’s original name since I couldn’t plainly detect it’s taste influence.  I also plan to tweak the recipe a bit more and introduce fresh rosemary to my next batch!

FIG AND WALNUT CRACKERS

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 cup parmesan, finely grated
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried figs, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.  Grease two loaf tins with butter.  In a large bowl, stir together the first 6 ingredients.  Add 12 1/2 fl oz water and the honey and stir until well combined.  Stir in the walnuts, pumpkin seeds and dried figs.  Divide the batter between the loaf tins and bake for 40 – 50 minutes, until the edges have started to shrink away from the tins and the loaves are dark on top.  Leave to cool on a wired rack and then wrap in plastic wrap and freeze at least 3 – 4 hours.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.  Unwrap and thinly slice the frozen loaves into roughly 1/8 in. thick slices.  Allow them to thaw a little then place the slices on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and bake for 15 – 20 minutes.  Watch the crackers very carefully during this stage as you may want to bake a bit longer if you desire a crunchy cracker.  The crackers will crisp as they cool…but I found that I had to increase my bake time from the original recipe because I don’t like a “chewy” cracker.  Needs a definite “crunch”!  You can store them in an airtight container for up to a week.                                                  Recipe adapted from Top with Cinnamon; Izy Hossack                                                                                        

I hope you love this recipe as much as I do and serve it soon!  Remember to savor life every day!…regardless if a cheese board is involved or not!   Love on your family extra hard and let your friends know you cherish and adore them!  Cheers everyone!!

Chicago Trip
Girlfriends in Chicago…Nancy, Robyn, Me and Teri

Weeknight Glazed Salmon and a “Killer” Rice Salad

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I remember the moment I started seriously paying attention to salmon and adding it to my diet.  No…it wasn’t because I heard it was loaded with Omega-3s and super charged proteins that fight off disease and increase brain power.  It was because I read that salmon was a serious part of J Lo’s beauty regimen (listen to Jenny From the Block here..oh yeah!) and how she achieved flawless, glowy skin (sigh).  Yep…vanity got the best of me!  And every time I would eat salmon I thought, “Bam!  Take that epidermis! Bam! Take that pesky crow’s feet!  Take that plain ol’ yucky wrinkles!”  Hmmm…I eat plenty of Salmon but alas, the skin is, shall we say, “doing it’s thang” and father time stops for no one, not even salmon.  But I digress…

I now eat Salmon, not for it’s beauty attributes, but because it’s just down right delicious and am thankful that something I love to eat so much is so stinkin’ good for me!  Another bonus…my son and hubs love it more than I!…so it’s a simple and tasty “go-to” menu for a weeknight supper.  In fact, I created this recipe last week while perusing my frig and cupboards for what I had on hand (this is pretty much the way I roll, cooking wise).  The first thing  I spied was a lone butternut squash…and what was to follow turned into Glazed Salmon with Brown Rice Salad of  Roasted Butternut Squash, Kale and Pecans.  Guys…this Salmon dish is ridiculously good and your family will not realize that they are eating Super Food Champions.  Salmon?  Kale?  Wholesome grains?  What’s even better?  My twelve year old son gobbled it up!!!!  Score!

Winter will soon be over and we’ll be enjoying more grilled meets and salads with juicy, vine-ripe tomatoes, so enjoy the winter vegetables like this Butternut Squash and be glad they’re still readily available.  And the next day…when you have some salad leftovers and you want to eat them for lunch…add some edamame to the dish and you’ll be even happier!

IMG_2391                        GORGEOUS INGREDIENTS

You’ll start by making the dressing which also doubles as the salmon marinade.  I use this simple dressing for a ton of applications  and therefore I keep it around a great deal.  It’s a sweet dressing that rocks out this salmon and gives it a beautiful, sweet, brown glaze.  Also works well with ribs, pork tenderloin and chicken…

Sweet and Sour Dressing

1 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 Tbs soy sauce

Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients.  I personally like to shake it in a bottle.  This will yield about 2 cups dressing, so you’ll have some left over for other applications.

Glazed Salmon with Brown Rice Salad of Butternut Squash, Kale and Pecans

2 – 4 Salmon Filets (1 – 2 lbs)

1 cup uncooked Brown Rice (cook according to package)

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 cup Butternut Squash; cut into 1″ dice

1/2 cup sweet onion; diced

1 clove garlic; minced

4 – 5 large Kale leaves; remove ribs and coarsely chop

1/2 cup pecans; chopped

1/2 cup cranberries; chopped

2 stalks celery; chopped

2 Tbs Butter

  • Marinade Salmon in about 1/2 cup Sweet and Sour Dressing while preparing the salad
  • Prepare brown rice according to package and cool
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and add Butternut Squash, Onion and Garlic.  Mix together with a dousing of EVOO (2 -3 Tbs) and remember…do not overcrowd the veggies or you will steam instead of roast them
  • Roast in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes
  • Meanwhile, saute’ the chopped kale and olive oil in a hot saute’ pan for about one minute.  Salt and pepper Kale to taste.  The Kale will break down fast and you want to maintain the beautiful green color.  Set aside to cool.
  • When the roasted Butternut Squash, Onion and Garlic have cooked for thirty minutes, add the pecans and cranberries to the baking sheet and toss slightly.  Cook for 5 – 7 minutes longer, being careful to watch the cranberries as you do not want them to char.  Set aside to cool slightly.
  • Prepare frying pan with 2 Tbs butter and place on medium high heat.  Once the butter is melted and bubbly, place salmon filets in hot pan, pouring marinade into the pan with the salmon.  Salt and pepper.
  • Watch your salmon for doneness…about two minutes per side for a gorgeous salmon that is not overcooked but velvety soft in the middle and brown on the outside.  Continue to baste with marinade from the pan as you cook.  Place into a 175 degree oven (if frying pan is oven safe), to keep warm while you combine salad
  • In a large bowl, combine rice, roasted vegetables, nuts and fruit and chopped celery.
  • Dress with Sweet and Sour Dressing to taste…start with about 1/4 cup…toss…taste…salt and pepper if needed…

My mouth waters just looking at this “killer salad!”  The crunch of the pecans and celery, the sweetness of the squash and cranberries and the slight salty bitterness of the kale make this a delectable salad…and the color is SO pretty!  Feel free to interchange the rice with quinoa or wild rice…any grain, really.  I serve it room temperature, alongside fish, pork and chicken.  Would pack well for a picnic or potluck!  Serve the Glazed Salmon over a bed of the rice salad.

IMG_2419GLAZED SALMON WITH BROWN RICE SALAD OF BUTTERNUT SQUASH, KALE AND PECANS

Bon Appetite!!!!

And please tell me what you think of this dish!  I love your feedback!!!  xo

Sexy Eggs | Valentine’s Breakfast in Bed

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I know, I know! I can hear you thinking it from here! “What could possibly be sexy about eggs?” Well, dear ones…I’m about to blow your mind with this simple, sexy and mouth watering five ingredient omelet (six if you count the garnish) that will have your lover, your friends, heck, even your pastor! (gasp)…rolling their eyes back in their head with delight and longing for more! Serve these gorgeous eggs in bed (minus the pastor…duh) with a bit of dark chocolate (my fav is this one) and your favorite Prosecco and you’ve got yourself a (fill in the blank)! I’ve even put together your Sexy Eggs playlist with Paula Cole’s “Feelin’Love” at the top of the shuffle and on heavy rotation!

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Sexy Eggs start with a simple omelet recipe. The Frugal Gourmet taught me how to make the perfect omelet when I was in college and you can find his tutorial here. That said, I use cream in my eggs for the richness…he uses water. The only prep you will need to execute in order to speed up the “sexy egg” process is roasting one red pepper under a broiler ahead of time and storing in frig until use. I cannot stress enough that a RED (or orange or yellow…not green) must be used and it MUST be roasted. Otherwise, you’ve made yourself a nice western omelet sort of thingy and, although it might be tasty, it will not be sexy.

Even the making of Sexy Eggs is sexy because you use your hands…yes…your hands.

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The warm eggs are soft and pillowy (sexy), the butter is buttery (sexy), the roasted red pepper is sweet and surprising (sexy) and the cream cheese is rich and decadent (sexy).  And the darn thing is so easy to make (sexy).

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SEXY EGGS     (makes two omelets)                                                                                                                                      

4 eggs

1/2 cup half and half

4 tablespoons butter

About 3 oz cream cheese

1/2 a roasted red pepper – skinned, deseeded and torn into strips

Salt and pepper to taste

Snipped chives for garnish

  • Whip together eggs and half and half
  • Place 1 – 2 tablespoons butter into hot skillet on medium high
  • Pour half of egg mixture into prepared pan and proceed to make an omelet
  • Place small dollops of cream cheese and roasted pepper strips on half of omelet
  • Salt and pepper all
  • Cook until done
  • Fold onto plate
  • Repeat for 2nd omelet

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SEXY EGGS PLAYLIST:

1. “Feelin’ Love”   –  Paula Cole

2. “I’m Your Man”   –   Michael Buble’

3. “All of Me”   –   John Legend

4.  “Theme from A Summer Place”  – Percy Faith Orchestra

5. “Drunk in Love”   –  Beyonce’

6. “I’m in the Mood for Love”  –  Julie London

7. “Speakers”  –  Sam Hunt

8. “Like I Love You” –   Justin Timberlake

9. “At Last” –  Etta James

10. “Gorilla” –  Bruno Mars

11.“The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face  – Roberta Flack