Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Applesauce, Cabbage Apple Bacon Slaw

B.Y.O.P.  Bring your own pork.  Tenderloin, that is.  Preferably grilled while drinking an Oktoberfest beer.  You'll need some oink to bring this plate together.  Perfectly cooked and sliced atop a homemade savory applesauce, plated next to a lovely fall apple bacon slaw, it's autumn on a plate.  If you need a basic guide to grilling a pork tenderloin, a good one is right here.  

Grilling all summer sure is fun.  But grilling in the fall is much more comfortable as you aren't melting between the smoky heat of your grill and the blazing sun.  And now with the more frequent mild winter days, the cover gets pulled off the grill almost every month of the year.  The newest day of the year, no matter how cold, used to be marked for grilling chicken wings while the oven got it's annual cleaning.  That tradition was short-lived, does anyone actually use the oven cleaning feature anymore?  Not here.  I'm lucky if I clean under my couch once a year. 

Have your costume picked out yet?  We're approaching that time of year.  I look forward to roasting the pumpkin seeds once we carve that orange orb into something that does not look as good as imagined.  That's just not the stronger half of my brain.  The pumpkin is quite versatile in the kitchen, from a dessert treat to a savory main dish. 

If you like making slaw this time of year, this similar version is quite delectable.  There could be some cabbage slaw leftover from this recipe, which will be tasty for up to 2 days. 

Applesauce, Cabbage Apple Bacon Slaw
4 servings, as sides

1 large onion, diced
3 medium apples, peeled, cored, and diced
2 TB fat- bacon, unsalted butter, or oil
1/4 C dry white wine
shot of brandy
1.5 TB AP flour
1 C low-sodium chicken stock

2 C red cabbage
2 C green cabbage
2 TB apple cider vinegar
1/2 ts sea salt, Maldon preferred
1/8 ts pepper
2 gala apples, cored and cut into matchsticks
1 carrot, peeled and diced
3/4 C toasted walnut pieces
2 strips bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled
2 TB good blue cheese

Render the fat from the bacon in a large skillet over low heat.  Cook until crispy and then set aside, crumble once cooled.  Add the apple and the onion to the pan and turn up the heat to medium high.  Season with a pinch of S&P and saute until tender, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Deglaze the skillet by adding in the brandy and wine, use a wooden spatula to scrape up the tasty bits, you don't want those to get left behind.  Let the wine reduce for about 5 minutes, stirring here and there.  Sprinkle in the flour, stir for two minutes to let that cook a bit and thicken things up.  Introduce the stock and turn up the heat to bring to a boil, then back to medium to simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove pan from heat and set aside.

Once the apple onion mix has cooled a bit, add to your food pro or blender.  It will still be hot, but those devices work best when food isn't still boiling hot.  Pulse a few times until you have your desired consistency, I prefer a pretty smooth sauce so I let it go for 30 seconds.  Once blended, pour into a small saucepan and keep warm over low heat.  (If you like your sauce warm, stash in fridge if you prefer cold)

In a large mixing bowl, add the cabbage, apple, carrot, walnuts and bacon.  Mix in the oil and vinegar, season with S&P, toss well.  Taste for seasoning/acidity, adjust if necessary.  Add some small pieces of good quality blue cheese and serve with your applesauce plated with some slices of grilled pork tenderloin.  That's autumn on a plate.  Need Autumn in your glass?  

Monday, October 7, 2013

Cilantro Lime Tilapia Tacos

Are you that asshole that microwaves leftover fish in the office lunchroom?  I sure am, cause I generally don't give a flying shit.  Usually it's salmon on Mondays, as we grill wild-caught salmon often on Sundays when we grocery shop the same day.  Rarely I will reheat something like tilapia, which has a bit more of a fishy odor than salmon.  When it comes to lunchtime etiquette at the workplace, I think this is pretty low on the list.  What do colleagues do at your work to piss off your lunch hour?  Stealing food is #1.  Leaving dirty dishes in the sink is a close second.  Do they 'borrow' your silverware or dishes?  Is it necessary to put your name on your sack lunch?  You have to put up with any loud eaters?  Do people leave food in the fridge for months so it gets all nasty and then you have to throw it out?  Luckily, I only have a couple of other people using the lunchroom when I do, so any dirty looks I might get from reheating leftover fish will be manageable.   

Apparently I enjoy this flavor combination with seafood

Cilantro Lime Tilapia Tacos
4 servings

For the tilapia-
1 lb tilapia, prolly 2 fillets
3/4 C cilantro, packed
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
zest of 2 limes
1/2 ts cumin
1.5 ts kosher salt
1 ts freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 C EVOO
Canola oil

For the crema-
1/4 C sour cream
1/2 ts lime zest
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 TB chopped cilantro
pinch S&P

For the slaw-
1/2 small red cabbage, thinly sliced and chopped
1 large or 2 medium carrot, peeled
1/4 medium red onion, diced
1 TB white wine vinegar
pinch S&P

For the options-
sliced avocado
cilantro garnish
thinly sliced jalapeno, serrano or habanero

In your food pro or blender, combine the cilantro, lime zest, garlic, cumin, and S&P.  Blitz to combine, then slowly add in the EVOO.  Place the tilapia in a shallow dish, season lightly on each side with S&P.  Spread the cilantro mixture on each side and let rest for 20 minutes at room temp while you make the crema and slaw.

Combine the sour cream, lime zest, garlic, cilantro, and S&P in a small bowl.  Stir well, taste for seasoning and then stash in the fridge.

Mix the cabbage, carrot, and onion in a medium bowl.  Add the vinegar and oil, season with S&P and stir well.  Taste for seasoning and then stash in the fridge.  You may need to add more oil and vinegar too, depending on the size of your slaw.

Heat a large skillet or even better, an electric skillet (375°F) or griddle to medium high heat.  Once hot, add a drizzle of canola oil and then gently place the fillets with the thicker part in the middle of the skillet or griddle.  Don't touch them for 3 minutes, let them brown!  After you get a good Maillard crust on the bottom, after 3-4 minutes, carefully turn them with a spatula and cook on the flip side for 3-4 minutes until cooked through.

Warm up your tortillas and assemble your tilapia tacos as desired.  If you run out of tortillas as I did, grilled french bread works great too.  I never pass up the opportunity for a sandwich. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Potato, Leek, and Bacon Pizza

Gonna crank this one out quick as I wait for the 3rd period to start...Blackhawks first game of the year in defense of their Stanley Cup victory 100 days ago.  The offseason is very short when you win the best trophy in all of sports.  Doesn't seem like that long ago we were making summer pies like this, but now that it's fall this one is more appropriate.  For the love of swine get some good bacon like Nueske's.  It's only a couple dollars more than your typical stuff and well worth it.  More flavor, more smoke, less shrinkage.  

Potato, Leek, and Bacon Pizza
4 servings

1 serving pizza dough, recipe can be found here
5-6 small red potatoes, very thinly sliced
4 slices good bacon
1 large leek, light green and white part only, very thinly sliced
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
6-8 oz. ball fresh mozzarella, halved and 1/4" slice

Preheat your oven for at least 30 minutes at 500°F.  Once your dough has been punched down, let rest for 10 minutes before shaping into something that resembles a circle on your peel or cookie sheet.

Render your tasty bacon over low heat in a cast iron or other skillet.  Remove when crispy to a plate lined with paper towel.  Crumble once cooled.  

Add the leeks to the skillet and turn up the heat to medium, season with S&P.  Cook until lightly browned and tender, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, 1 minute or so.

Drizzle your dough with a bit of EVOO, then layer on the potato slices.  Top with the leeks, then the bacon, and finally the fromage.  Slide onto your very hot pizza stone and cook for about 8-10 minutes, until the dough is crisp and the cheese is bubbly hot and lightly browned.