Summer’s Last Hoorah

September 27th, 2009
Okay, so I know Summer is officially over, but I just can’t seem to relinquish my dependency on freshness of the season. Last weekend, I experienced a rare morning when I actually got watch my preferred channel on TV for a brief bit (instead of Noggin, Disney, or PBS – the channels my daughter prefers)! What did I turn to? The Food Network, of course! After 1 episode each of Giada and Ina, I had 2 meals checked off my weekly menu. The Barefoot Contessa’s Herb Marinated Pork Tenderloin paired with Greek Panzanella were perfect finds to say farewell to Summer.

My husband, Michael, loves bread, and all things carbohydrate. While I, too, am a carbaholic, it’s not often that I work bread into a meal. Call me unAmerican, but it’s just not something I think about! The toasted french bread pieces in the Greek Panzanella made Michael an instant fan! I substituted Mozzarella for the Feta cheese, and omitted the olives. If anyone has a trusted brand of creamy, non-pungent Feta, please let me know. We didn’t miss it, though, with the Mozzarella in it’s place.

The oregano in the marinade for the pork ties in wonderfully with the vinaigrette for the panzanella, making the 2 a very suitable pair. Plan a little bit ahead b/c you need 3+ hours to marinate the pork, and about 30 minutes for the flavors in the panzanella to marry. It’s not a difficult dish by any means, but plan a little bit ahead for the marinade in particular.

Penny introduced me to pork tenderloin when Michael and I were dating. It’s such a wonderful & versatile cut of meat, and so much more interesting than that “other white meat” alternative (aka, chicken)!

If you still have a hankering for the freshness of Summer, give these recipes a whirl.

Herb-Marinated Pork Tenderloin

  • 1 lemon, zest grated
  • 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 to 6 lemons)
  • Good olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 pork tenderloins (about 1 pound each)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, mustard, and 2 teaspoons salt in a sturdy 1-gallon resealable plastic bag. Add the pork tenderloins and turn to coat with the marinade. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag. Marinate the pork in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours but preferably overnight. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the tenderloins from the marinade and discard the marinade but leave the herbs that cling to the meat. Sprinkle the tenderloins generously with salt and pepper. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large oven-proof saute pan over medium-high heat. Sear the pork tenderloins on all sides until golden brown. Place the saute pan in the oven and roast the tenderloins for 10 to 15 minutes or until the meat registers 137 degrees F at the thickest part. Transfer the tenderloins to a platter and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow to rest for 10 minutes. Carve in 1/2-inch-thick diagonal slices. The thickest part of the tenderloin will be quite pink (it’s just fine!) and the thinnest part will be well done. Season with salt and pepper and serve warm, or at room temperature with the juices that collect in the platter.

Greek Panzanella

  • Good olive oil
  • 1 small French bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1 red bell pepper, large diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, large diced
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced in half rounds
  • 1/2 pound feta cheese, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup calamata olives, pitted

For the vinaigrette:

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup good red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup good olive oil

Directions Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread cubes and sprinkle with salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 5 to 10 minutes, until nicely browned. Add more olive oil as needed. Place the cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, tomatoes and red onion in a large bowl. For the vinaigrette, whisk together the garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt and the pepper in a small bowl. While still whisking, add the olive oil and make an emulsion. Pour the vinaigrette over the vegetables. Add the feta, olives and bread cubes and mix together lightly. Set aside for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature.

guest blog: Fennel & Apple Chopped Salad

June 17th, 2009

My mother-in-law is pretty amazing (not everyone can say that!). So you’ll understand why I was both honored and a bit nervous when she asked me to be a guest blogger. I’m not even going to attempt to fill Penny’s shoes in this post! But she does inspire and encourage me to embrace my love of cooking and culinary experiments. I hope this recipe celebrates her and encourages some of you to dare to try something new! For those of you already well on your way, salut!

The warm weather brings a wealth of opportunities in our kitchen! Grilled peppers, breads, and kabobs… refreshing salads, sauces, and salsas made with only the freshest produce are just some of my personal faves. Each year, I tend to find a few new ingredients on which to experiment. This year, several recent encounters with fennel have me intrigued! Last Winter we experienced fennel in beef short ribs, this Spring in a roasted pork tenderloin, and just a few weeks ago atop a fresh arugula salad with roasted tomatoes and parmesan at Nova in Asheville, NC.

When a Cook’s Illustrated issue surfaced featuring 3 different chopped salad recipes, one of which featured fennel, it ony took me about half of a second to lock this recipe into on our weekly dinner menu. The ingredients may seem unusual at first, but it only takes one bite to discover how wonderful they are together!

We also had fun with melted cheese as a savory side. Melted cheese you ask? Yes! Shred up some cheddar or parmesan and make little shredded piles on a silpat-lined baking sheet. Pop it in the oven at 375, and just keep an eye on it. The cheese will spread out and start bubbling. When it’s browned and hardened just a tiny bit, take it out and let it cool for a couple of minutes. Peel the crisps off the silpat, and you have some custom, homemade cheddar crisps! YUM!

The recipe posted below is just as it appears in Cook’s Illustrated (July/August 2009 issue). A few personal cook’s notes follow the recipe.

Fennel and Apple Chopped Salad

1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 1/2 inch dice
(about 1 1/4 cups)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 medium fennel bulb, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut into a 1/4 inch dice
(about 1 1/2 cups)
2 Braeburn, Jonagold, or Red Delicious applies, cored, and cut into 1/4 inch dice
(about 2 cups)
1/2 small red onion, minced
(about 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh tarragon leaves
1 romaine heart, cut tino 1/2 inch pieces
(about 3 cups)
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
ground black pepper
4 ounces crumbled goat cheese
(about 1 cup)

Combine cucumber and 1/2 teaspoon salt in colander set over bowl. Let stand 15 minutes.

Whisk oil and vinegar together in large bowl. Add drained cucumber, fennel, apples, onion, and tarragon; toss and let stand at room temperature to blend flavors, 5 minutes.

Add romaine and walnuts; toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Divide salad among plates; top each with some goat cheese and serve.
Recommendations (a.k.a. Personal Notes):

  • While the recipe does not call to cook any of the ingredients, I prefer to soften the fennel by sauteing in a pan with olive oil, salt and pepper until tender. If you choose to do the same, allow the fennel to come back down to room temp before mixing into the salad.
  • I do not remove the seeds from the cucumber. I don’t think it’s necessary!
  • Some people do not care for walnuts. I think this recipe would work nicely with pistachios, pecans, or cashews.

Printable Recipe

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