Sunday, August 30, 2009

Made in Akron - Cool store with cool Akron stuff!

Sure the local food movement is all the buzz, and 'locavore' has made into the dictionary, but what about gifts and products that truly reflect Akron, past and present? The Made in Akron store is here to fill that niche.

Sure there is some food, like pasta sauce from DeVitis Italian Market and Deli, and local candy made by Grabham Chocolatier and Dilley's Treats (note: Must try the Chocolate Covered Bacon), along with Russ Vernon signed copies of the West Point Market Cookbook, but there are plenty of other things to feast your eyes on.

Including some cool t-shirts, like this one:

Yesterday Made in Akron hosted a 'meet the Akron artists event'. Local artists set-up around the front, alley, and back of the store, on a luckily, nice day, to present their wares and meet new visitors to the store, which was fortunate enough to get a nice write-up in The Akron Beacon Journal.

They also feature artwork and jewelry from Akron artists. The photographs of four blimps flying together is pretty cool.

Chrissie Hynde has stopped by and shopped (and bought a few of the same items, I did - you'll have to go to the store to find out what that was), and last week actors Ethan Suplee, the brother from My Name is Earl, and T.J.Miller who are shooting a movie in Canton (for train scenes) w/ Denzel Washington called Unstoppable, stopped by and bought a few things. So you never know who you might run into buying Akron souvenirs.

Show your local pride and support local artists by shopping at Made in Akron.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Sweet & Spicy Pork Tenderloin w/Hot Pepper Jelly Glaze

I can usually look at a recipe and 'taste' the flavor combo in my mind before actually preparing the recipe. But sometimes, even a recipe with familiar ingredients, will throw a curveball of a combination that just makes me think, "I've got to try that one!", or "Good grief, what were they thinking?".

This one's original title is Robin Kline's Surprising Pork Tenderloin, probably due to the reaction she got from the tasters on the combo. She claimed people would look at the sauce ingredients and go, "How in the world can that be good?" But one bite is all it takes, because it is surprisingly delicious.

Sweet and Spicy Pork Tenderloin w/Hot Pepper Jelly Glaze and Ranch BBQ Sauce

Serves 6 to 8

Adapted from "Grillin' with Gas," by Fred Thompson (The Taunton Press, $19.95)

* -- Three 1-pound pork tenderloins, silver skin removed
* 2 tablespoons paprika
* 2 teaspoons kosher salt
* 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
* 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
* 2 teaspoons chile powder
* 2 teaspoons ground cumin
* 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
* 1/2 cup smoky, tomato-based barbecue sauce (can use your favorite bottled sauce)
* 1/2 cup ranch salad dressing
* 1/2 cup hot pepper jelly, at room temperature
* 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Instructions: Pat the tenderloins dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, combine the paprika, salt, sugars, chili powder, cumin and pepper. Rub about 2 tablespoons of this mixture on each tenderloin, giving it a good massage with the spices.

In a small saucepan, stir together the barbecue sauce and dressing. Set over low heat, stirring until just warm. Set aside.

Oil the grill racks. Preheat your grill using all burners set on high and with the lid closed for 10 to 12 minutes.

Place the pork on the grill and cook for 15 to 20 minutes total, turning occasionally to brown evenly on all sides. The pork is done when it yields slightly to pressure or and instant-read thermometer reads 145° to 150°. A few minutes before removing the pork from the grill, brush each tenderloin with the jelly and allow it to glaze. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Slice on the diagonal and arrange on a platter. Sprinkle the meat with the cilantro and serve with the sauce on the side.

Per serving: 310 calories, 37 g protein, 20 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat (3 g saturated), 104 mg cholesterol, 753 mg sodium, 1 g fiber.

Fresh Fig Gelato with Chinese Five Spice Powder

I scored a Cuisinart Ice Cream maker a couple of years ago, at a great discount, at Tuesday Morning, a favorite haunt for both useful gadgets, and apparently the graveyard of completely senseless small appliances, like the electric hard boiled egg maker and the ice tea makers. But that's a whole different post. And soon we will have our very own Tuesday Morning in the Fairlawn Town Plaza. Just down from Home Goods. Oh save me!

But I digress. The Ice Cream maker could not be easier to use. You just keep the gel filled metal bowl in the freezer until you are ready to make ice cream, plug it in, dump in your recipe, and viola, ice cream, or gelato in 20 minutes.

I checked a book out of library, from which the original version of this recipe came, but unfortunately I did not keep the title or author. It had about 50 recipes and most of them sounded fantastic,

I bought a case of fresh figs, probably 18-24, for last week's big party to use on the cheese and fruit appetizer display. In the feed 'em now frenzy, the figs never made it out, so I brought them home and took them off the client's bill. As of yesterday, the ones I hadn't already eaten with a little gorgonzola dolce (let both the cheese and the figs come to room temp, eat, then moan, repeat), had spent about 10 days loosely covered with plastic wrap in the fridge and were still looking good. You are lucky to get a few days most of the time with fresh figs, because they are so delicate to ship.

I was cleaning my desk yesterday, and came across the recipe I saved for Fresh Fig Gelato with Orange and Cinnamon. A quick trip to the store for whole milk and heavy cream, and I was on my way to breaking in that ice cream maker.

Fresh Fig Gelato with Chinese Five Spice Powder

1 # fresh figs, chopped
1/4 c fresh orange juice
1 T, plus 1/2 c light brown sugar (divide into two 1/4 c)
1/4 t Chinese Five Spice Powder, Penzey's preferred
2 c whole milk
1 c heavy cream
3 large egg yolks, at room temp
1/2 t vanilla extract
pinch kosher salt

Place figs, oj, 1 T brown sugar and cinnamon in sm pan and cook over low til figs soften, 10-15 min depending on thickness of skin. Mash the mix til almost pureed but still has some texture and set aside til reaches room temp. Cover and refrigerate.

In the meantime, place milk, cream and 1/4 c brown sugar in sm pan and cook over low heat, whisking from time to time, til it is warm, about 175 degrees.

Place egg yolks, 1/4 c brown sugar, vanilla, & salt in small metal bowl and whisk til completely mixed. Add 1/4 c of the warm milk mix to the eggs, whisking all the while. Continue adding milk to the eggs, 1/4 c at a time til you have about 1 1/2 c. Slowly, whisking all the while, return the now milk and egg mix to the remaining milk mix in the pan and continue cooking til it just begins to thicken or reaches about 185 degrees. Do not allow the mix to boil. Pour thru med fine strainer into a metal bowl, discard the solids and set aside til reaches room temp.

Add the cooled fig mix, cover and refrigerate til it reaches 40 degrees, about 3 hrs. Transfer to ice cream maker and proceed according to mfg instructions.

The figs got a quick chop and were heated over low with the orange juice and a little brown sugar to soften. I searched madly for a few minutes for my Penzey's Cinnamon (the best!), but despite looking in the same place about three times (don't you hate that the missing item never turns up no matter how many times you look in the same place hoping the universe dropped there in between search rounds??), so I made an executive decision to use Chinese Five Spice Powder. Wise decision.

Meanwhile, heat the milk, cream and some more brown sugar. Recipe said 1/4 here and the other 1/4 in with the egg yolks, but I had dumped it all in the milk before I re-read the directions. Oops, no harm. I just put a spoonful in when I whisked the egg yolks.

After everything chilled down in the fridge for a few hours, I was ready to get going.

It was absolutely delicious. Not an every day treat, to be sure, but when you've got a box of fresh figs, I highly recommend this recipe. Sure you could go with the original cinnamon., but I think the Chinese Five Spice Powder added a unique depth of flavor that complemented the figs and orange. And there's a little bit leftover for tonight.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pork Tenderloin with Tomato Peach Compote

It feels good to be back in the 'cook my own dinner for a change saddle'. Last night's Chicken with Poblano Sauce made a delicious leftover lunch, and I have had this pork tenderloin with tomato-peach compote from the July Gourmet Magazine on the radar.

I prepared per the recipe instructions and it was ok, but didn't blow me away. The peach and fresh tomato flavors do work well together, but there needed to be a kick of some kind of acid in the compote (I did not use the optional sugar). A flavored vinegar - ideally peach, but maybe fig, would have helped. Some dark brown sugar in the rub.

Speaking of the rub, I'm not sure the wet rub, ground in a mortar and pestle was the way to go. I only glanced briefly at the reviews after the fact, but someone suggested making a dry rub and I tend to agree with that. Dry ground ginger, dark brown sugar, with the curry. Saute the garlic with onion when making the compote.

I suppose I would push the compote into chutney territory by making it more sweet and sour. I was happy when I got a nice bite of peach with the pork. I was not a curry fan until I tried some of the Penzey blends, which really changed my opinion. Having a fresh, good blend is key; old stale supermarket jars are probably what made me turn up my nose in the first place.

Good starting point, but there is definitely room for improvement in this particular recipe. It still smells good though.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Flowers + Fruit and Vegetables = Fabulous

These beautiful arrangements were created by the gardening staff at an event I catered this weekend. The secret is to use two vases; the center vase holds the flowers, and the fruit and veggies are tucked around the flower vase.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

White Bean Vegetable Lasagna

Another night of cleaning out the fridge and making dinner with the results. Tonight - I had a couple of cans of cannellini beans which had been drained, rinsed, and pureed with some garlic and olive oil, a couple of carrots, a half of a large onion, some garlic, some parmesan cheese, a a large can of fire roasted diced tomatoes that I'd opened for something and didn't need them, a package of sliced mushrooms, and a bag of fresh spinach. And a package of no cook lasagna noodles.

First layer:

Out of the oven:

White Bean Vegetable Lasagna

2 cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
8 cloves of garlic, divided
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pkg no cook lasagna noodles
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 c chopped onion
1 9 oz pkg fresh spinach
1 1/2 c shredded parmesan cheese
1 pkg sliced white mushrooms
1 28 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 small jar of marinara sauce

Puree beans with garlic in food processor. While running, drizzle in enough olive oil to make mixture somewhat loose.

Heat 1 t olive oil in dutch oven. Saute carrots, onions and 6 cloves of garlic, chopped, or run through microplane, for a few minutes til softened. Add can of tomatoes, including juice, mushrooms, and spinach. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and cover. Cook about 10-15 minutes, til softened.

Place 1/3 of tomato mixture in 13x9, or 3 foil tins for 2 person servings, then layer with lasagna noodles. Top with white bean mix, spread to cover, then add more tomato mix, sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Repeat for two more layers. Top final layer with marinara and sprinkle with parmesan.

Cover with foil and bake 20-25 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10-15 minutes.

I like making the individual tins, then chilling and freezing the extras. 2 servings per tin, or 6 total.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Peach Lavender Cobbler

The fresh, local peaches have been outstanding so far this season. I've been looking forward to trying this Peach Lavender Cobbler recipe that was in Food and Wine magazine, and Saturday I finally made it for a dinner party. I nibbled a corner, just to make sure it was party worthy -wow!

The lavender flavor was subtle, but really did add a floral note to the peaches, which was a great contrast to the delicious dough.

I also couldn't help but crack up at the extra growth on some of the peaches. The grower said she wasn't sure what the deal was, but that they'd seen it on quite a few of the younger peaches.

Next - peach ice cream!