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Quick Brined Pork with Blueberry Rosemary Pans SauceHello friends!  I was approached by the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council to create a recipe that challenged me to experiment with different and interesting flavor pairings for blueberries beyond the typical pairing of blueberries with lemon.  I was “berry” excited to take up this challenge because I love blueberries all year round!  Not only are they delicious, but the nutritional content of blueberries is reason enough to eat them by themselves.  Check out the website littlebluedynamos.com for more delicious blueberry ideas!  This is an easy to make but pretty enough for your holiday table recipe and you will be asked for this recipe…trust me!  This sauce would also be amazing on chicken.  Please leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

 

Quick Brined Pork Tenderloins With Blueberry Rosemary Pan Sauce

pork blueberry rosemary brine photo

First, make the brine:

2 cups apple cider
2 cinnamon sticks
1 large sprig rosemary
1/3 cup kosher salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Bring all ingredients to a boil in a saucepan over medium high heat.  Pour hot mixture in to a non-reactive bowl.   Fill a large measuring cup or bowl with four cups of ice and top ice with cold water to total five cups.  Pour ice and water in to hot brine mixture and stir.  When ice is melted, add pork, cover and refrigerate for two-three hours.

pork rosemary blueberry brine pan seared

2-1 pound pork tenderloins, cleaned
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup tawny port
1 cup apple cider
1 large rosemary sprig
2 cups frozen highbush blueberries
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons salted butter
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place a baking sheet lightly brushed with olive oil in the oven on the middle shelf.

Remove pork tenderloins from brine and pat dry.

Preheat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium high heat with two tablespoons olive oil until oil is nearly smoking. Season pork lightly with salt and pepper. Sear pork on all sides and place in oven to cook fully, about 15-20 minutes.

When pork is cooked to at least 145 degrees (for medium) allow pork to rest for at least five to ten minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, reduce heat to medium low and deglaze hot pan with port and cider, holding the rosemary sprig with tongs and scraping the browned bits off of the bottom of the pan while stirring.

blueberry pork sauce 11
Reduce heat to med low and add blueberries, stirring occasionally, and cook until liquid is reduced by half.

blueberry pork sauce 1

Add 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and 4 tablespoons butter to pan and stir until mixture is thickened and syrupy and butter is melted, stirring again with the rosemary sprig and allowing it to cook in the pan with the blueberries.  Some rosemary leaves will fall off of the sprig and in to the sauce–that’s ok.

blueberry pork sauce 1111Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

blueberry pork sauce dinner

Slice pork on the diagonal for a lovely presentation and drizzle sauce over sliced pork. Serve immediately.  I served roasted potatoes and sauteed spinach with garlic with the pork and it made for a wonderful meal.  This pork and blueberry sauce combo is also excellent over a spinach salad, topped with crumbled goat cheese…YUM!

 

 

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I was recently contacted to participate in the “Legends of Europe” blogger Market Basket Challenge. The contest highlights Grana Padano, Parmigiano Reggiano and Montasio cheeses and Prosciutto di Parma and Prosciutto di San Daniele, which are five PDO (protected designation of origin) products from Europe. The campaign is designed to increase awareness of the products and  celebrates the legendary quality, tradition and taste of these five world–renowned PDO products.

I was randomly assigned Montasio cheese which I had absolutely no familiarity with at all, but I was intrigued….how I could, a lover of all things cheese, not have heard of this legendary cow’s milk creation?   I got on the phone immediately to see if I could purchase it locally (we have some pretty great specialty markets and cheese shops around here) but that was not to be. I found an online source (www.igourmet.com) and they had it to me within 36 hours, all ice packed and protected from the elements.

The cheese is a nutty, rich, sharp and very tasty hard cheese that is perfect alone, over pasta (I have tried it) and in my delicious little wine crackers, the recipe I will share with you.  I also created a fall chutney to bring a little bit of Autumn in New England to my cocktail snack and added to Prosciutto di Parma to add a rich, porky saltiness to the mix….the combination is so wonderful!  Because these crackers are so easy to make, you can prepare the dough up to a month in advance and freeze it and you can make the chutney up to five days in advance, wouldn’t this be the perfect appetizer to make ahead share for Thanksgiving or impress your friends and family at a holiday party?  I think so! 

Legends of Europe Montasio Cheese Crackers

Montasio Cornmeal Wine Crackers with Prosciutto di Parma
and Autumn Chutney

6 oz Montasio cheese, shredded
½ cup butter salted, softened
½ cup all purpose flour
½ cup yellow cornmeal
1 ½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme
3/4 cup salted roasted pumpkin seeds, roughly chopped

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, combine combine Montasio cheese, butter, flour, cornmeal, pepper and thyme.  Process until a ball of dough forms.  Turn dough out onto floured surface, sprinkle with pumpkin seeds and knead in with hands.  Divide dough in half, roll into a 12” log and wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Slice dough on the bias into ¼” crackers, yielding approximately 96 crackers in total. Place crackers on parchment and bake in preheated oven for 9-11 minutes, turning sheets at 5 minutes.

Slide parchment off cooling rack on to a flat surface and allow to cool completely.

For the Autumn Chutney:

1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1 cup tart apples (such as Macintosh) peeled and diced
1/8 teaspoon salt

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients and cook over medium low heat until mixture is thick and syrupy and fresh cranberries have popped, about 15-20 minutes.  Allow to cool and serve with Montasio Cornmeal Wine Crackers

To assemble:

Place 1/2 teaspoon of Autumn Chutney atop Montasio crackers.  Add a thin slice of  Prosciutto di Parma and a curl of Montasio cheese and enjoy!

Crackers are also wonderful with fresh apples, pears, crispy bacon or all by themselves!

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Food DemoWhat a great day at the Rockport Harvest Festival!

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Dates….love them…..sweet, chewy, nature’s candy really.  So when asked to come up with a recipe from Made In Nature Sun Dried Deglet Noor Dates I was so happy to take up the challenge!  Sweet…I was thinking sweet….date bread, date cookies, date candy…been there, done that but on the savory side, I had always wanted to create a no sugar added barbeque sauce so I though I would try my hand at it…..it was so delicious! 

The dates are so sweet that no additional sweetener was needed and the end result, after slathering on chicken thighs—amazing!  Here’s the recipe and some photos to go along with it, starting with the delicious end result, of course–Sweet Date Barbeque Sauce Chicken Thighs: 

Image

Sweet Date Barbeque Sauce

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups diced sweet onion
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 teaspoons kosher salt
1/3 cup AppleJack (or bourbon, if unavailable)
2 cups water, divided
1/3 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, divided
24 Made in Nature Dates, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons tomato paste

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine olive oil, onions, granulated garlic and salt and cook until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add Applejack, 3/4 water, 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 45 minutes until dates are soft.  Remove from heat and add remaining water, apple cider vinegar and tomato paste and puree until smooth.  Bring sauce to a simmer again and enjoy!

 

 

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The US High Bush Blueberry Council challenged me to make a blueberry recipe for Christmas.  Have been intrigued with the idea of making a Pavlova for a very long time because of my love for meringue cookies at Christmas time so I thought–how about adding some lovely blueberries and one of my favorite holiday treats, Meyer lemon to the mix–my wonderful friends from the West and South send me them in the mail–that means the world to me.  This is an impressive yet very very easy dessert that you can make ahead of time and assemble when you are ready to serve.  Although it takes some time, it is not active time so you can get a lot of other holiday “business” taken care of while it cooks and rests.

Ingredients:

5 large eggs, at room temperature
1/8th teaspoon salt
1 cup plus two tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 oz chopped white chocolate
1 cups frozen High Bush blueberries
2 Meyer lemons (or regular lemons) zested & juiced
Sweetened whipped cream
Confectioner’s sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.

Draw a 9” circle on a piece of parchment paper with a pencil (I used a small plate), turn the paper over and place on a baking sheet.  Set aside.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (save the yolks for making shortbread cookies for Santa!) and beat the whites and salt on high speed until the mixture is stiff and holds a firm peak.

With the mixer on high, slowly pour in the sugar and beat until whites are thick and glossy.

By hand, fold in vanilla extract, vinegar, cornstarch and white chocolate until mixture is well blended and streak free.

Spoon mixture on to the prepared baking sheet in a circle and form a peak in the center.

Mixture will be very thick, like marshmallow cream.

Bake in preheated oven for 1 1/2 hours.  Turn off oven and allow pavlova to sit in the oven until oven is cool.

Meanwhile, combine blueberries, Meyer lemon zest and juice in a small saucepan.  Over low heat, simmer blueberries until they are bright red and syrupy, about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add remaining two tablespoons sugar to mixture and continue to simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.  Taste blueberry syrup and add a bit more sugar if necessary as tartness varies in both blueberries and Meyer lemons.  Set syrup aside to cool

When ready for dessert, gently carve the top few inches off of the top of the pavlova (a serrated steak knife works well).

Fill the center with the blueberry mixture, drizzling some over the edge of the pavlova.  Top blueberries with whipped cream and place cut out top over whipped cream and crown with a bit more berries.

Your friends and family will be so impressed!  This dessert is light and sweet yet satisfying and is a great way to incorporate nutrient rich blueberries in to the dead of Winter!

For more fabulous blueberry recipes, go to littlebluedynamos.com

Happy Holidays!

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Admit it, resistance to these rolls would be futile!  But that’s ok when these delicious rolls are made from hearty and healthy whole grain flours and products from Hodgson Mill!  I have been challenged by this wonderful company, Hodgson Mill,  to create a holiday recipe for their blogger contest entitled “Have A Grain Holiday” so instead of making cookies or cake, a pie or something sweet, made rolls.

Now don’t get all worked up and say “But I can’t bake bread, never mind rolls!  They are too hard…and I don’t know how to use yeast!”  Well guess what….below are step by step instruction with photos to go with them to make these delicious treats…….so relax and give it a try!

These are much more than dinner rolls.  Slightly sweet with a touch of molasses, these rolls are perfect for a celebratory dinner,  hot out of the oven,  for the holiday buffet (no one will know or care that they are eating healthy whole grains),  for lunch for using up leftover turkey or slices or holiday roast in a sandwich and the next day for a light breakfast–see what I made for myself this morning below!  Also super fabulous for a holiday brunch with a little maple butter (softened butter mixed with a few tablespoons pure maple syrup) served right next to them….the possibilities are endless!   They are sitting on my kitchen counter, all wrapped up, as I baked them yesterday….what do you think…..try making little French toast with them on Wednesday when I have time for a proper breakfast?  How about bread pudding end of the week if they last that long, which is highly unlikely as my Mom says they reminder her of her Mother’s oatmeal rolls growing up!

So without further delay, here’s the recipe and step by step how to guide:

First, assemble your ingredients:

2 cups cold water
1 cup old fashioned oats, plus one tablespoon for sprinkling
1/3 cup warm (100-110 degrees F)
1 package Hodgson Mill Yeast (great for whole grains!)
1/3 cup molasses
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
3 cups Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Flour
2-3 cups Hodgson Mill All Purpose flour
1 tablespoon milk for brushing (optional if keeping recipe veg/vegan)

In a medium saucepan, bring 2 cups water to a boil and add oats.

Cook and stir for 2 minute until oats are softened.

Remove from the heat; cool to lukewarm (I put mine outside for a quick cool down as it was 34 degrees!)

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water with a drop of the molasses.

Allow to become foamy and active in a warm place, about 10 minutes.

To the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached, in a food processor with the plastic kneading blade attached or in a large bowl, add the oat mixture, olive oil, molasses, salt and Hodgeson Mill Whole Wheat Flour and 1 1/2 cups of the Hodgeson Mill white flour; beat until smooth.

Add enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Continue to beat/process slowly until surface of dough is soft and elastic adding more flour little by little until dough is no longer sticky.

Knead about 3-4 minutes on low speed or turn dough on to a floured surface and knead by hand until ball of dough is smooth and elastic, about 7-9 minutes.

Place dough in a large bowl that has been lightly coated with cooking spray or additional olive oil (or just wash out the one you were using before) cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1.5 hours.  This picture is of the dough before it has doubled in size….it literally does double in size–just be sure it is in a warm spot, out of drafts or the yeast will not be happy.


When doubled in size, punch dough down and allow to rest, covered for 10 minutes.

Spray or butter two 9” x 13” casserole dishes (preferably clear glass so you can see what is going on when they are baking) and set aside.

Shape dough into 30-two inch balls.

Tops of rolls will be smooth if you flatten the ball, and then pull the edges together like a purse, placing the gathered sided down in the prepared pan, 15 to a pan.

This is what the bottom of the roll will look like:

And this is the top of the roll:

Cover pans with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (you can preheat the oven and put them on top, that would work) until doubled, about 45 minutes.   Brush tops of risen rolls lightly with milk and sprinkle with oats–this part is optional if you are making them vegetarian/vegan.

This is what they look like before the rise in the pan:

And this is what they look like after the rise:

See how they are touching and have again nearly doubled in size?

Bake at 350° in a preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. If you have an instant read thermometer and are nervous that they are not cooked through, the internal temperature of the roll in the middle of the pan needs to be about 195 degrees F and they will be perfect.


Yield: 30 rolls
This is what I had for breakfast…..toasted oatmeal rolls with goat cheese and holiday spiced pear and cranberry jam….so delicious!  These rolls also make excellent egg sandwiches with cheese and bacon.

And what about using them for the leftover roast or turkey sandwiches I mentioned earlier?  How about a beef and horseradish sauce sandwich with lettuce and cheddar?  Oh yes….that’s the ticket!

So, just when you thought this blog post couldn’t get more delicious or interesting, there’s more!  Hodgson Mill is sponsoring a sweepstakes on their blog–the winner gets a great prize package filled with a ton of their wholesome baking ingredients and they are giving away 50–yes 50 of them so your chances are really good.  And they are drawing the winners on the 10th of December, just in time for holiday baking!  Here’s the link:

http://www.hodgsonmill.com/win-a-grain-holiday/

But wait, there’s more!  Last but not least, I am offering $25.00 worth of Hodgson Mill products to give away too!  Simply comment below before Friday, November 30th at 9:00 what you would make with delicious whole grain Hodgson Mill products, share my giveaway on Facebook and/or Tweet it for more entries and you might just win!  I will have the fabulous Lily draw the name out of a hat as usual!  And because the people at Hodgson Mill are in the holiday spirit, here’s the link to a printable $1.00 off coupon too!

http://www.hodgsonmill.com/grain-holiday-coupon/

Good luck to all and please, let me know if you make these yummy rolls!

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Here’s a disclaimer–my Mom makes the most delicious traditional potato salad…just the right mount of  mayo, potatoes boiled to perfection, the right spices, large pieces of onion for those that don’t care for them(she says they can just pick them out), hard boiled eggs on the top, and lots of love.  When I think of potato salad, that’s what comes to my mind.
However, when I saw a contest listed on my favorite cooking contest websites (www.cookingcontestcentral.com and www.contestcook.com) asking for creative “out of the box” potato salad recipes, sponsored by Reser’s Fine Foods, I remembered something I had made a few years ago, scribbled down on a piece of paper and filed away both in my brain and in the GIANT pile of recipes I have stacked near my desk.  And I use the word “stacked” loosely…

When I have an idea, I often do a rough version first and always write it down.  Often, I don’t give the recipe away (even if someone asks for it), or publish it anywhere, just in case there is a contest out there that it might fit and that’s what happened here.  My hand written version was rough, I didn’t write down how much of anything, just the idea and basic ingredients and this is what it came out to after much tweaking:

You should have seen me, laying on my side lawn like some kind of doofus, taking close up pictures of potato salad but for those of you who know me, that should not come as much of a surprise.

All-American Caprese Grilled Potato Salad

2 pounds red, white and blue (purple) baby or fingerling potatoes, washed and dried
10 cups cold water
4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
2/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, julienned (not oil packed)
2 cups seeded and diced fresh Roma tomatoes
1 cup – 1/2” diced fresh mozzarella cheese
3/4 cup julienned fresh basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice clean potatoes in to 1/3” slices on the diagonal, ensuring that potatoes are large enough not to slip through grill grates.

In a large pot or Dutch oven add water and 2 teaspoons of salt.  Add sliced potatoes and bring to a boil over high heat.  Boil potatoes until partially cooked through and nearly fork tender.  Drain and immediately rinse potatoes in cold water to stop the cooking process.  Allow to drain thoroughly, patting potatoes dry with a towel if necessary.

Pour potatoes in to a large bowl and gently toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning and one teaspoon kosher salt.

Preheat outdoor grill or indoor grill pan to high.  Reduce heat to medium and grill seasoned potatoes until cooked all the way through, tender and marked by the grill, turning once.  Remove from grill and allow to cool to room temperature.  Potatoes will cool quickly if spread out on a sheet pan after grilling.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine sun dried tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, remaining 2 tablespoon olive oil and remaining 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning.  Gently add grilled potatoes to the bowl and toss to combine.  Add basil and re-season with salt and black pepper to taste.  Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Well,  my potato salad was chosen as a finalist in the contest, Reser’s America’s Best Potato Salad Challenge and I am thrilled.  The judging process was rigorous!  There were 606 entries, they were narrowed down to 30, each dish prepared by chefs and then a judging panel rated them on taste, creativity and appearance.

Here’s what you can do for me.  In exchange for my nifty recipe above.  Would you go to this link: http://www.resers.com/special-offers/campaigns and vote for my recipe please?  The top five finalists, based on the qualifications above, coupled with the amount of votes, get to go to a cook off in Las Vegas and compete.  Having never been to Vegas, I would LOVE to go and cook this salad for the judges.  It is a facebook only contest so if you are not on FB, you have to sit this one out.  Voting is daily through the end of  August and then we wait until September 17th for the cook off contestants to be announced!  Thank you to all of you for your support–I really appreciate it!

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