Sweet and Sour Pork with Papaya and Cashews

December 19th, 2014

Sweet and Sour Pork 1

 

A simple meal when you are overwhelmed with holiday preparations.  That is what is needed.  I have had this recipes for Sweet and Sour Pork with Papaya and Cashews for years.  I don’t even remember its provenance.  But I was happy to run across it again recently.  A single pork tenderloin was waiting in the freezer, papayas where available in the produce section of the supermarket and cashews were on the pantry shelf.  We enjoyed a quick and easy dinner.  All that was added was a bed of rice to meld with the pan sauce.

Sweet and Sour Pork 2

We are preparing to travel to visit family for the holidays.  We also have work that needs to be done at our Lake Lure Cottage.  Every three years the lake level is lowered so that homeowners can do repair work to seawalls and boathouse supports.  New Years will find us at a beach cottage on Mrytle Beach with long time friends.  So there is much organization to accomplish besides the usual Christmas rush.  Easy meal preparations is a boon for this time of year.  This recipe fits the bill.

Sweet and Sour Pork 3 close

Enjoy the festivities of the season.

SWEET AND SOUR PORK WITH PAPAYA AND CASHEWS

3/4 pound boneless pork loin or pork tenderloin, cubed
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 papaya, peeled, seeded, cubed
1/4 cup cashews

Combine flour and salt and pepper.  Cut pork into 1/2 inch slices or cubes.  Dredge meat in flour, shaking off excess flour.  Saute in oil until browned and cooked through.  In saucepan over medium heat, combine vinegar, water, and brown sugar.  Bring to a boil, stirring frequently.  In a small bowl, blend pineapple juice and cornstarch.  Stir into vinegar and cook, stirring frequently, until thickened.  Gently fold in pork, papaya and cashews.  Serve over a bed of rice.

Printable Recipe

 

Ham Loaf for the Holidays

December 14th, 2014

Ham Loaf 2V

Nothing brings back memories of home more than this sticky glazed ham loaf.  My Mother made this for many special occasions.  Forget the prime rib roast or the whole filet of beef.  To my Mother, a celebration required ham loaf.  We are not sure when she latched onto this dish.  We just always knew that it would be served when she gathered the family together for a holiday.

I don’t make it often anymore.  But at least once a year I have to make it, if for no other reason than the smell of it cooking takes me back to her kitchen.  She basted it often with the glaze and, at the end, it caramelized into the sweet coating that was one of her favorite parts of the ham loaf.  She always made two loaves so that she was assured of at least one of the end pieces for herself.

Ham Loaf 1

Scoring the top of the ham loaf looks lovely and also holds the glaze better.  It makes a festive presentation and tastes wonderful.

The ham loaf is a mixture of ground round and ground ham.  There was a time when you could ask the butcher to grind a ham steak together with the ground round, but not anymore.  For some reason, most supermarkets will not do this.  I either grind my own ham in my Kitchen Aid with the meat grinder attachment or buy a tube of ground ham.  I just discovered this product.  You may find that small supermarkets will be more willing to grind a piece of ham.  However you arrive at the mixture, you will not be disappointed.

On anther note, one of the things I try to do during the holidays is to support local businesses.  The big box stores are not in danger of losing customers, but by supporting small businesses we can make a big difference.

Eldred Williams

We were very impressed with this young entrepreneur who showed up on our doorstep one evening.  Eldred Williams is 8 years old and with his brothers and father have started a soap company featuring soaps with all natural ingredients.  He was engaging and enthusiastic about his soaps.  The name of the company is Gone Natural; 4 kids and a Father.  Check out the link for more information.  I am very happy with the soap that I bought.  Hopefully, this young man has a bright future.  With his attitude, he is well on his way.

Ham Loaf 3

Here is the recipe for my Mother’s Ham Loaf.  She would have been proud to share it with all of you.  For me it represents family, fellowship and one of the things that is important about the holidays.

My Mother’s Ham Loaf

1 pound ham steak, ground
1 pound ground round or lean ground beef
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup whole milk
2 cups saltine crackers, crushed (about 1 sleeve)

2 teaspoons mustard
1/2 cup cider vinegar
2/3 cup brown sugar

Combine the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl.  I sometimes combine the ground meats before adding the rest.  Form into a loaf and place in a 9″x13″ baking dish.  Score the top diagonally in both directions with a knife (about 1/4-inch deep).  Mix together the mustard, vinegar and brown sugar in a small bowl.  Set aside.  Bake the ham loaf in a 325 degree oven for one hour.  Pour sauce over meat and bake an additional one hour, basting frequently, especially during the last 1/2 hour.  Place on platter, slice and serve.

Printable Recipe

 

Sarah Bernhardt Cookies

December 8th, 2014

Christmas Cookies 14 2

I made a new cookie for the holidays this year.  The minute I received my copy of  A Kitchen in France by Mimi Thorisson, I knew that the Sarah Bernhardt cookies would be on my Christmas table.  Sarah Bernhardt cookies or cakes, as they are sometimes called, originated in Copenhagan Denmark in 1911 where a local chef made them for the French actress when she traveled there to promote the publication of her memoirs.  She was purported to have loved them.  Mimi Thorisson shared that she learned to make them from her Icelandic Mother-in-law.  They have now become a Christmas tradition in her household.  I can see why.

Christmas Cookies 14 3

They start with a meringue made from egg whites, confectioners’ sugar and almond flour.  I had to experiment with how large to make these and whether to use two spoons to form them or pipe them through a pastry bag.  I would recommend the bag.  It was much easier to handle the sticky dough that way.  After the meringues have cooled and put in the freezer for a short chill, they are frosted with a coffee and chocolate infused mixture.

Christmas Cookies 14 4

After the frosted meringues go back into the freezer to chill, they are then dipped in melted dark chocolate.  Even though there are a lot of steps to making them, Sarah Bernhardt cookies are well worth the time.  They are a mouthful of crisp meringue, soft frosting and rich dark chocolate.  I think it will take me some time to perfect this cookie.  For instance, I frosted the rounded side and dipped that in chocolate so that the flat bottoms would be stable.  The pictures I have seen were rounder because the frosting was piled on the flat side and then dipped in chocolate.  They are even more beautiful garnished with candied violets as I saw on one post.

Christmas Table 1

I am well on my way to completing my cookie baking.  So far I have made Mexican wedding cookies,  Chocolate and Pecan Shortbread Bars,  and the Sarah Bernhardt cookies.  This year I am wrapping my cookies in clear plastic bags tied with red ribbons.

Christmas Cookies 14 1

I hope you will find the time to make these delicious cookies.  They are worth a relaxing moment and maybe a sigh of satisfaction with a cup of tea or coffee.

SARAH BERNHARDT COOKIES (Mimi Thorisson)

Makes 40 to 50 individual cookies depending on size

For the Meringues:
4 large egg whites
2 1/3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
2 cups almond flour

For the Frosting:
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 large egg yolks ( I used pasteurized eggs because the eggs are not cooked)
3 tablespoons instant coffee powder, dissolved in 1 1/2 tablespoons hot water and cooled
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

11 ounces good dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Make the meringue.  Whip the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until frothey.  Gradually add the sugar, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, and continue whipping until the egg whites form stiff peaks, about 10 minutes.  Gently fold in the almond flour.  Using two spoons or a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip, spoon or pipe the egg whites onto the parchment-lined baking sheets.  The meringues should be 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide and 1/3 to 1/2 inch high.

Bake until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheets for 8 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Transfer the cooled meringues to a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze while you make the frosting.

Make the frosting.  With a wooden spoon, in a medium bowl, mix the sugar with the butter until smooth.  Whisk the egg yolks in another medium bowl until pale and thick, then gradually stir into the butter mixture.  Pour in the dissolved coffee, add the cocoa powder, and mix until the frosting is smooth and thick.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to firm up a bit, 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove the meringues from the freezer.  Use a spoon or a palette knife to spread about 1 1/2 teaspoon frosting over the bottom of each meringue.  Return to the freezer frosting side up for 15 minutes to harden.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Bring an inch or two of water to a simmer in a saucepan, put the bowl on top, and melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes ( You can use the microwave if your prefer.)  Remove from the heat.  The chocolate should be just warm to the touch; if it is warmer, let it cool a bit.

Dip the frosted side of each meringue in the melted chocolate so the frosting is entirely covered.  Let set on a large piece of parchment paper.

Line a large container with parchment paper and arrange the meringues in it, layering them between sheets of parchment.  Cover the paper and close the lid tightly.  The meringues will keep in the freezer for up to a month.

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Venetian Fish Soup

December 3rd, 2014

Venetian Fish Soup 1

I don’t know about you, but after the Thanksgiving holidays I crave food that is totally different from that table of white carbs and sweet desserts.  Also, for health reasons, David is trying to eat better.  So he has been on a seafood soup kick lately.  He spends his mornings at the gym and then comes home and throws something together like this Venetian fish soup.  Similar to bouillabaisse or cioppino, this fragrant fish soup is vibrant and alive with flavor.

Venetian Fish Soup 2V

Shrimp and fish fillets are the protein in this soup.  Combined with vegetables, clam juice, crushed tomatoes and white wine, you have a relatively light bowl of goodness.  If you wanted to add some carbs to the mix you could add a piece of garlic infused toasted baguette to the bowl before you add the soup.  But for lunch we liked it just the way that it was.

Venetian Fish Soup 3

The recipe came from Food and Wine Magazine.  David adapted it slightly.  But I am showing it here as it was written.  I am fortunate to have him in the kitchen doing his healthy cooking.  Maybe it will offset all of the cookies I am getting ready to make.

VENETIAN FISH SOUP

1/2 pound large shrimp, shells removed and reserved
2 cups water
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
2 onions, chopped
1 fennel bulb, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 1/2 cups bottled clam juice
2 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes in puree (from a 28-ounce can)
1/4 teaspoon dried red-pepper flakes
5 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt or more, depending on the saltiness of the clam juice
2 bay leaves
2 pounds moderately firm white fish fillets such as cod, halibut, ocean perch, orange roughy, or pollack (cut in pieces)
Freshly ground black pepper

Put the shrimp shells and the water in a small pot; bring the water to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.  Strain the shrimp stock into a bowl.  Discard the shells.

In a large pot, heat the oil over moderate heat.  Add the carrots, onions, fennel, celery and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the wine; cook until it almost evaporates, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the shrimp stock, clam juice, tomatoes, red-pepper flakes, 4 tablespoons of the parsley, the thyme, salt and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes.  Taste for salt and, if needed, add more,  Remove the bay leaves.

Add the fish, shrimp, the remaining tablespoon parsley and the pepper to the pot and bring to a simmer.  Simmer until the fish and shrimp are just done, about 2 minutes.

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The Paris Market: Black Friday Shopping at its Best

November 28th, 2014

Paris Market 1

Traveling to Savannah, Georgia over the Thanksgiving holiday proved to be a fun time.  Since we had already enjoyed our Thanksgiving meal, we were able to travel on Thanksgiving day the three hours to Savannah.  We had a wonderful seafood lunch on the river and checked into our rental apartment in the afternoon.  We watched two movies, Fargo and The Pianist.  For dinner we grilled filets, baked potatoes and made a simple salad. We retired early so that we could shop on Friday.

Paris Market 2One of my favorites shops in historic Savannah is The Paris Market and Brocante.  It is truly eye candy for those of us who love Paris, design, antiques and setting a beautiful table.  It is also at its best during the holidays.

Paris Market 3

One of the things they are known for is their window displays.  This year’s window was lovely and warm with an overstuffed leather chair, a warm blanket, lots of snow, logs and mushrooms and moss.  Here is a link to their website and previous windows.

Paris Market 4I was the first one in the door so was able to snap this Christmas display that greeted me without a lot of people in the picture.  Loved the trees and village structures.

Paris Market 5 The Paris Market is known for this back wall with the lighted metal paris letters.  On a cold morning those wool scarves sounded like a good idea.

Paris Market 6

I love this replication of a Paris Metro sign.  It leads you down the stairs to the lower level of the store.

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This huge elf is also next to the stairs going to the lower level.  Mushrooms seem to be a theme this year.

Paris Market 8

The lower level of the store is my favorite haunt.  I think I spent a good hour down there.  I wish I had gotten a close up of the lovely decorative flour bin that I almost bought.  It was an aged tin piece with lovely faded designs on it.  But as you can see there is almost too much for the eye to take in.

Paris Market 9

Here is a close up of one of the tables.  Love the linen napkins with the lettering.  All of the antique silverware was available by the piece.

Paris Market 10

Another table display caught my eye.

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I love the jingle bell napkin ring.  With a little twine and some bells, I think I could duplicate this.  Love the blue and white plate and the bone handled silverware.

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I also loved the different shapes of the rolling pins and the white marble cheese boards.  I was so overwhelmed, I came away with only a few things. I think David was thankful.  I may go back tomorrow by myself.  Who knows what kind of trouble I can get into.  If nothing else, I am now in the Christmas spirit.  What an inspiring shopping destination.

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.