Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cookbook Challenge: Farewell Summer, Hello Fall

In our latest endeavor to meet the Cookbook Challenge, we inadvertently combined a bright taste of the summer and deep, delicious taste of autumn. We had a pork tenderloin to cook up and chose a recipe for pork medallions from Mark Bittman's cookbook How to Cook Everything. Our shipment from Fresh Connect KC brought us butternut squash and Ginger Gold apples, so we chose Ina Garten's Butternut Squash and Apple Soup from Barefoot Contessa Parties. These two recipes represent Cookbook Challenges #3 and #4.

In the interest of post length, I'm not going to rattle on and on about the cooking process as the recipes are lengthy enough. The pork medallion recipe is nice and simple and we followed it word for word. After reviewing user comments on www.foodtv.com on Ina's recipe, I picked up some valuable hints in the prep of the soup..so watch for my notes at the end of that recipe. I admit to being intimidated by the soup recipe. I'd never attempted a soup like this and frankly, we weren't even sure we'd like the soup itself. Both dishes turned out fabulous....the pork was incredibly flavorful and the soup was the big surprise...rich and velvety and very yummy. We will most assuredly make both again. Now, on to the recipes...

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup (courtesy of Barefoot Contessa Parties)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 4 cups chopped yellow onions (3 large)
  • 2 tablespoons mild curry powder
  • 5 pounds butternut squash (2 large)
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet apples, such as McIntosh (4 apples)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups good apple cider or juice

Directions

Warm the butter, olive oil, onions, and curry powder in a large stockpot uncovered over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until the onions are tender. Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom of the pot.

Peel the squash, cut in half, and remove the seeds. Cut the squash into chunks. Peel, quarter, and core the apples. Cut into chunks.

Add the squash, apples, salt, pepper, and 2 cups of water to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook over low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, until the squash and apples are very soft. Process the soup through a food mill fitted with a large blade, or puree it coarsely in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade.

Pour the soup back into the pot. Add the apple cider or juice and enough water to make the soup the consistency you like; it should be slightly sweet and quite thick. Check the salt and pepper and serve hot.

My Notes:

The majority of comments agreed that half of the apple cider quantity should be chicken stock instead, as the combination of the apples and cider can make the soup too sweet. We did this and replaced the water with stock as well. It made for a tastier, heartier soup. We also added about a quarter cup of heavy cream to add to the richness towards the end of the process...and used it for the decorative touch as well.

Sauteed Medallions of Pork with Lemon and Parsley (courtesy of How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman)

Medallions of pork are so thin they cook through in the time it takes to brown them. Here's a basic recipe on which to build. Add a tablespoon or two of drained capers with the lemon juice if you like. You can follow any recipe for cutlets of veal or chicken for pork medallions.

Ingredients

1 (1-to 1 1/4-pound) pork tenderloin
1/4 cup olive oil
Flour for dredging, liberally seasoned with salt and pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
Juice of 1 lemon
Minced fresh parsley leaves for garnish
1 lemon, quartered

Directions

Cut the tenderloin into 1/2 inch slices (it will be easier if you freeze the meat for about 30 minutes before cutting). Pound them gently (use a flat rolling pin, the back of a skillet, or a similar object) between two sheets of waxed paper to make them a bit thinner.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil; set the seasoned flour in a shallow bowl near the stove.

When the oil is good and hot (a pinch of flour will sizzle), dredge the medallions, on at a time, in the flour, then place them in the skillet. Cook them over heat high enough to make the oil bubble; don't crowd. Set the oven to 200° F.

Turn the pieces as soon as they're browned, then cook the other side; total cooking time should be 5 minutes or less, so adjust heat accordingly. As the meat is done, remove it to an ovenproof platter and place the platter in the oven.

When all the pork is finished, pour off the fat from the pan. Return the skillet to the stove and add the wine, over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring, until the wine is just about evaporated. Add the lemon juice, stir, and pour this sauce (there won't be more than a few tablespoons) over the meat. Garnish and serve, passing lemon quarters at the table.


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