One more tropical celebration of summer! ~ Luau Meatballs

I made one more tropical recipe to celebrate this beautiful summer! I am soaking up the sunshine and warm weather while we still have it. It has been an especially lovely summer here in Seattle.

The pineapple cocktail sticks are from Two’s Company. They were too cute to pass up when I saw them at the store. 🙂 I wanted to use them before the summer’s end. These cocktail sticks were actually the inspiration behind this pineapple recipe!

The adorable summer pineapple printable banner is from My Sister’s Suitcase. It is free to print for your personal use. 🙂 I hope you’ll go over to their website to check out all of the fun things they have posted.

Luau Meatballs

2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs

2 tablespoons minced shallot

2 green onions, minced

3 tablespoons minced cilantro

1/2 teaspoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 pound ground pork tenderloin

1 cup fresh pineapple juice

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 teaspoons cornstarch

12 fresh pineapple pieces, for garnishing

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix the panko, shallot, green onions, cilantro, soy sauce, and salt. Add the pork and mix well. Form the mixture into about 12 meatballs. Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the meatballs for about 12 minutes, or until they are just cooked through. Be careful not to over bake or your meatballs will be dry.

In a medium saucepan, bring the pineapple juice to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and cornstarch to make a slurry. Whisk the slurry into the simmering pineapple juice. Cook until thickened.

Dip each meatball in the pineapple sauce. Top with a piece of pineapple. Serve on a cocktail stick with extra sauce for dipping.

It’s officially summer! ~ Kalua Pork on Whole-Wheat Taro Rolls with Poi Spread and Pineapple Slaw

Kalua Pork SandwichesWhen summer rolls around, my backyard starts to feel a little tropical. Seattle’s temperatures are about the same as Lahaina’s this week. 🙂 I absolutely love the Hawaiian Islands, and so this warm weather gets me in the mood to cook Hawaiian-style dishes!

Kalua Pork SandwichesI based this dish on a recipe I found on CookingHawaiianStyle.com. It’s a really fun recipe that uses a few of Hawaii’s most famous ingredients in a fresh new way.

I made a few tweaks to make the recipes a little healthier. For the taro rolls, I used whole-wheat pastry flour and skim milk, I replaced the butter with coconut oil, and I reduced the amount of sugar. For the slaw, I used nonfat Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream, and I omitted the sugar altogether. I also reduced the amount of dressing by half, and added a little extra pineapple. (After all, the pineapple is one of the stars of the dish!) For the spread, I used fresh horseradish root rather than prepared horseradish.

And since I don’t have an imu in my backyard to cook the pork, I chose a frozen kalua pork imported from Hawaii to keep it authentic. 😉 (I was able to find all of the ingredients I needed, including the pork and the poi, at my local Asian grocery store.)

Kalua Pork SandwichesKalua Pork on Whole-Wheat Taro Rolls with Poi Spread and Pineapple Slaw

Based on a recipe from Cooking Hawaiian Style

Taro Rolls:

1 (1/4 oz.) packet active dry yeast

1/4 cup lukewarm water

1/2 cup skim milk

1/3 cup coconut oil

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 large eggs, beaten

1/2 cup cooked taro, mashed

3 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

All-purpose flour for dusting hands and work surface

In a small mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water. Let sit for a few minutes until the mixture is a little frothy on the top. (If there is no froth forming after 10 minutes or so, start again with a fresh packet of yeast. This means your yeast was not alive.) Scald milk by heating in a small saucepan over medium heat until bubbles appear around the inside edge of the pan and the milk is just about to boil. Pour milk into a mixing bowl. Combine the milk with the oil, sugar, and salt. Allow to cool, about 2 minutes. Into milk mixture, stir in the eggs, taro, and yeast mixture. In a large bowl, add the flour. Make a well in the center. Add the liquid mixture to the flour. Mix thoroughly until the dough comes together. On a floured work surface, turn the dough out. Knead until smooth. Transfer the dough into a well greased bowl. Cover with a damp towel, and let rise in a warm area until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Flour hands, and punch down the dough. Divide into 16-17 even portions. Shape into small balls and place onto two baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Cover with a damp towel, and let rise in a warm area until doubled in size, about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350°. Bake until golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Serve immediately and freeze the extras. Makes approximately 16-17 rolls.

 

Poi Horseradish Mayonnaise Spread:

1/2 cup fresh poi

1/4 cup water

Fresh horseradish, grated (to taste)

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

 

Slaw Dressing:

1/4 cup nonfat Greek yogurt

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1 green onion, green part only, finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

 

Slaw:

1 cup red cabbage, shredded

2 cups green cabbage, shredded

1 cup carrots, shredded

1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped

 

Pork:

12 oz. store-bought kalua pork

 

Poi Horseradish Mayonnaise Spread

In small mixing bowl, combine the poi and water and mix well using a wire whisk. Add the horseradish and mayonnaise, and whisk until smooth. Chill before serving.

 

Pineapple Slaw

In small bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients. Blend well. In large bowl, combine all of the salad ingredients. Toss lightly. Pour dressing over salad. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate.

 

How to serve:

Take a taro roll and spread with the poi mayonnaise. Add kalua pork and top with pineapple coleslaw.

This pairs well with any drink served in a tiki glass! 🙂

Kalua Pork Sandwiches

Happy Halloween! ~ Pork Tenderloin and Squash with Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette

Halloween DinnerHappy Halloween!

To celebrate, I made a festive autumn dinner tonight of pork tenderloin and squash with a pumpkin seed vinaigrette. I based the recipe on one I found from Bon Appétit. I substituted pork tenderloin for pork chops to make the dish a little leaner. (More room for chocolate Halloween candy later, I figure! 😉 ) I also added more pumpkin seeds than called for, since they are one of the stars of the dish. (And you may have read about my feelings about pumpkin in the last post. 🙂 It’s one of my favorite things!)

Halloween DinnerPork Tenderloin and Squash with Pumpkin Seed Vinaigrette

Based on a recipe from Bon Appétit

3 tablespoons shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas), plus more for garnish

3 pounds winter squash (such as acorn, kabocha, delicata, or butternut), halved, seeded, cut into 1″ wedges

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided

Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

1 pork tenderloin, silver skin removed

1/2 small garlic clove, crushed into a paste

3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Preheat oven to 425°F. Spread out pumpkin seeds on a large rimmed baking sheet. Toast, tossing once, until just beginning to darken, about 4 minutes. Let cool. Coarsely chop; set aside.

Toss squash with 1 tablespoon oil on a large rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Roast squash, turning occasionally, until golden brown and tender, about 25 minutes.

When squash has been roasting for about 20 minutes, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy oven proof skillet over medium-high heat. Season pork with salt and pepper and sear until brown on all sides. Finish in the oven until the internal temperature registers 145 degrees. Let rest before slicing.

Whisk garlic, 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 3 tablespoons toasted pumpkin seeds, and remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a small bowl to combine. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper to taste.

Divide squash and pork among plates; spoon vinaigrette over. Top with cilantro leaves and pumpkin seeds.

Halloween DinnerFor dessert, I served pumpkin custard that I dressed up for the holiday. I piped a whipped cream ghost on top and added two mini chocolate chips for his eyes. PS. I wouldn’t recommend eating all the whipped cream, since I made him big and plump! But I love how he looks…He makes me smile. 🙂

I hope you have a safe and happy Halloween!

Whipped Cream Ghost

Just because it’s Monday ~ Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Honey Mustard Sauce

Tonight, we had a special dinner for no particular reason other than it is Monday. That’s a reason to celebrate, right? Why not? 🙂 There is a little snow on the ground, it’s a cozy day to stay inside, and I saw an eagle flying over Lake Washington from my window. There are always reasons to celebrate, I think :).

I found a nice bottle of Greystone Cellars Chardonnay for half price at one of my favorite grocery stores called Grocery Outlet. They have many high quality and organic foods and wines for a fraction of the price. It’s always an adventure to see what they have in stock. My latest find was this wine from Napa Valley’s Culinary Institute of America, which I was very excited to discover. I stocked up since their inventory turns over quickly.

That wine inspired me to find a recipe from the Culinary Institute of America to pair with it. I decided it would go well with a pork tenderloin dish from Gourmet Meals in Minutes. I used less salt than the recipe called for, and I added a tad more honey for a slightly sweeter sauce. Just taste as you go to make it to your liking. I also cut the recipe in half since it was just my hubby and me tonight, but the recipe below serves 8. It was easy to put together, but it felt special. Perfect for a Monday!

Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Honey Mustard Sauce

Adapted from Gourmet Meals in Minutes

3 pounds pork tenderloin

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons shallots, minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard

2 tablespoons honey

2 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons thyme, chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

1 1/3 cups vegetable or chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 425 F. Place a rack in a roasting pan, spray with nonstick spray, and place in oven. Remove any excess fat or silver skin from the tenderloin. Season with salt and pepper on all sides.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sear the tenderloin until it is golden brown on all sides, approximately 5 minutes. Remove the tenderloin and place it on the rack in the roasting pan. Roast until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 F. This will take approximately 15-20 minutes. (I use an oven safe kitchen thermometer with an alarm that tells me when the pork is up to temperature. It ensures I have perfectly cooked pork every time. Before I invested in this kind of thermometer, I must admit we had many dried out pork tenderloins! ;)).

While the tenderloin is roasting, return the sauté pan to medium heat. Add the garlic and shallots. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and cook until warmed through. Add the mustard, honey, vinegar, thyme, chicken/vegetable broth and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, and then simmer until the mixture reduces to a sauce consistency. Keep warm.

Remove the tenderloins from the oven and let stand 5 minutes before slicing. Slice the roast and serve with the warm honey-mustard sauce.

PS. The lovely organic greens and carrots were also from Grocery Outlet 🙂

 

Wedding Anniversary, Part 2 ~ Curried Apple Salad with Mizuna, Sprouts and Prosciutto

The first course of our anniversary dinner was a curried apple salad with mizuna, sprouts and prosciutto. It blends Asian, Indian and Italian ingredients, but we thought it really worked well together. We love trying new things, and this is something I would never have thought to combine on my own. That’s why I love the creativity of the etoile chef! It keeps things fresh and new. If you’d like to try something a little off the beaten path, I would highly recommend it!

I based this salad on Domaine Chandon’s Heirloom Apple With Curry And Ginger Prosciutto Salad. For my own spin, I used less olive oil for the dressing and less salt for the apples. I also used a little more mizuna and prosciutto and a little less ginger as a matter of preference.

Curried Apple Salad with Mizuna, Sprouts and Prosciutto

2 ripe apples, cut into 1/4 inch half-moon slices

1 teaspoon madras curry powder

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt to taste

In a small bowl, whisk all of the ingredients together except for the apples. Then toss the apples with the dressing until well coated. Set aside.

1/2 oz ginger (peeled and sliced into paper thin matchsticks)

4 ounces mung bean sprouts

8 slices of prosciutto

8 large basil leaves (cut into thin strips)

1 tablespoon olive oil

Generous handful of mizuna leaves

2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar

Salt to taste

Combine the olive oil, vinegar and salt in a large bowl, and whisk well. Toss the remaining ingredients, except for the prosciutto, into the vinaigrette.

To assemble, place the mizuna mixture on two individual salad plates. (I splayed it out so the pretty leaves all faced the edge of the plate.) Bunch up 4 pieces of prosciutto for each plate, and place them among the leaves. Then top it all with the apple slices.

Serves 2.

Happy Thanksgiving ~ Wild Rice and Goat Cheese Stuffing with Chorizo

Happy Thanksgiving!

For one of my favorite holidays, we hosted a little family get together at our house this year, and we made all of our traditional favorites – Slow roasted turkey breast with gravy (I tried a new recipe from America’s Test Kitchen this year for the main course, which I would highly recommend. The breast is my favorite part of the turkey, and this is a way to make sure it stays moist and flavorful), cauliflower and cheese, green beans with mushroom sauce, marshmallow sweet potatoes, wild rice and goat cheese stuffing with chorizo, and of course, pumpkin pie! I started making this stuffing for Thanksgiving a few years ago when we celebrated the holiday in Palm Springs and I was looking for a Southwest twist on the traditional recipe. It has since become a favorite that I make every year. The original recipe came from the Food Network, and I follow it fairly closely. I make it a pinch healthier by omitting the butter and using low sodium free-range chicken broth. I use real chorizo since it only requires a little bit, and it is a holiday after all :).

Wild Rice and Goat Cheese Stuffing with Chorizo

1 1/2 cups wild rice

5 cups water

Salt to taste

1/2 cup finely ground chorizo

1 finely diced large onion

1 tablespoon minced garlic

2 finely chopped carrots

3 finely chopped celery stalks

3/4 pound cubed stale hearty white bread

6 ounces goat cheese

2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 1/2 cups low sodium free-range chicken stock

Boil the rice, water, and a little salt to taste in a medium saucepan until the grains open and the rice is tender. Drain. (This can be done a day ahead if you desire.)  Cook the chorizo in a large saucepan over medium heat. Pour the chorizo over a bowl lined with a paper towel to drain the excess fat. In the same pan, add the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery and cook until the onion is tender but not browned. Add the rice, chorizo, bread, cheese, parsley, thyme, and stock and combine it all together. Season to taste with a little salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking dish and bake at 350, uncovered, until golden brown on top, about 25 to 30 minutes.

We paired dinner with our two house wines – Sofia Blanc de Blancs from California and Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington. American wines for an American holiday! 🙂

Memorial Day ~ Lime Marinated Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Tomato, Mint and Watercress Salad and Lemon Blini with Raspberry Sorbet

Cheers and thank you to all of the members of our military, past and present!

I attended one of my favorite Williams-Sonoma technique classes this weekend, which featured recipes for Memorial Day. They are free cooking classes held almost every Sunday before the store opens, and you get to taste the creations after they are made. I would highly recommend checking them out! I had a whole Memorial Day menu already figured out, but the samples were so tasty at the class that I changed my mind. We had lime marinated pork tenderloin medallions over a tomato, mint and watercress salad and lemon blini with raspberry sorbet. A very summery menu to kick off the unofficial start of summer! 🙂 This is my take on the recipes I learned. As usual, I tried to make them a tad healthier. For example, I used less salt in the marinade, quite a bit less olive oil for the dressing and more veggies than called for. In the dessert, I used skim milk instead of whole.

 

Lime Marinated Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Tomato, Mint and Watercress Salad

1 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed of any excess fat

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

Zest and juice of 1 lime

1 1/2 tablespoons light olive oil

1/4 teaspoon salt

Small garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons finely minced onion

2 oz chicken stock

1 oz red wine vinegar

1/2 teaspoon honey

1 oz extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 cups cubed tomatoes (bite size)

2 cups watercress

2 tablespoons fresh mint

2 tablespoons toasted slivered almonds

Cut the pork into uniform medallions, about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick, and place in a baking dish. In a small bowl, whisk the coriander, cumin, lime zest and juice, olive oil, salt, garlic and onion. Pour the marinade over the pork, mix well so every piece is coated, cover, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat your oven to 375

Preheat an oven proof grill pan over medium heat. Remove the pork from the marinade, and reserve the remaining marinade. Grill the pork on the preheated pan, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer the pan to the oven, and finish cooking for about 6 minutes, or until cooked through.

Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the pork to a platter to rest under a tent of tin foil. Add the remaining marinade, stock, vinegar, and honey to the pan and simmer together until it is reduced by one third on the stovetop. Whisk in the extra virgin olive oil.

Mix the tomatoes, watercress, mint and almonds in a large bowl. Toss the warm dressing into the salad and serve with the pork on top.

Serves 2

Lemon Blini with Raspberry Sorbet

1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese

1/2 cup skim milk

1 full egg (separated) and 1 egg white

2 tablespoons sugar

Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1/2 tablespoon baking powder

Two pinches of salt

Store bought raspberry sorbet

In a large bowl, whisk the ricotta, milk, egg yolk, sugar, lemon zest and lemon juice until the mixture is smooth. Sift the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt over the ricotta mix and stir until everything is combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are frothy. Add one more pinch of salt to this, and continue whisking until you have soft peaks.

Fold 1/3 of the egg whites with a spatula into the ricotta mix, and then gently fold the remainder of the whites in.

Preheat a pan over medium low heat and spray with cooking spray. 1 tablespoon at a time, drop the mixture onto the preheated pan. (This will make each blin about 3 inches in diameter.) Make sure not to crowd the pan. Cook about 2 minutes per side, until golden on the outside and cooked through.

Serve with small melon ball sized scoops of raspberry sorbet for a nice compliment to the mildly sweet lemony pancakes.

Serves 2, with leftovers

By the way, I’d like to note that I’m normally not a huge watercress fan. I find it too peppery and strong for my taste. But this dressing mellows out the flavor, so I actually enjoyed it! I think I’ll be eating more of this vegetable in the future with this new recipe. I’d recommend trying it if you find you steer away from peppery greens like I do.

I should also mention these aren’t technically blini, which are made of buckwheat flour and often served with caviar. But these are sweet little dessert pancakes along the same lines as that classic. Whatever you call them, I hope you enjoy!

Valentine’s Day/Chinese New Year ~ Moo Shu Pork and Homemade Fortune Cookies

This year Valentine’s Day (and our engagement anniversary) and Chinese New Year happened to fall on the same day, so we celebrated everything together with a romantic Chinese dinner at home. I love to celebrate holidays from all over the world in my own little way. It gives me one more way to spice things up with special moments. Who can’t use another reason to celebrate in the dark winter months? I tried two new recipes, and I would recommend them both if you would like a quiet night at home with Chinese take-in ~ Moo shu pork and homemade fortune cookies. It was an adventure in the kitchen, and I now have a greater appreciation for what my favorite local Chinese restaurant does after trying these dishes! The dishes were a little healthier since I could control the salt, cuts of meat, etc. Plus, we could make our own personal fortunes for each other to open, which was a fun bonus of making our own fortune cookies. (Is it cheating if you write your own fortunes?) 🙂 The first recipe I tried was Moo Shu Pork. The original recipe was from my favorite Cooking Light magazine, and it can be found at MyRecipes.com. I used simple cremini mushrooms instead of shiitake and wood ear to save quite a bit of money. But other than that detail, I followed the recipe pretty closely since it was already a lightened version of the dish.Moo Shu Pork2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons sake

1 teaspoon dark sesame oil

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 (1 1/2-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed of excess fat, and cut into 1 x 1/4-inch strips

4 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms

1/2 cup sliced green onions

3 tablespoons minced garlic (about 12 cloves)

2 tablespoons fresh ginger grated on a Microplane

3 tablespoons sake

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 eggs, lightly beaten

3 cups thinly sliced napa cabbage stalks

4 cups thinly sliced napa cabbage leaves

2 tablespoons sake

Hoisin sauce and flour tortillas for serving

Combine the first 4 ingredients in a zip top plastic bag. Add the pork. Seal and marinate in the refrigerator for about an hour, turning occasionally. Remove the pork from the bag, and discard the marinade.

Combine the sliced mushrooms, green onions, garlic, and ginger in a small bowl, and set aside.

Combine 3 tablespoons of sake and the next 4 ingredients (through black pepper) in a small bowl. Stir well with a whisk, and set aside.

Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the pork, and stir-fry for 3 minutes.

Remove the pork from the pan. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of vegetable oil to the pan. Add the eggs, and stir-fry 30 seconds or until soft-scrambled. Add the mushroom mixture and stir-fry 1 1/2 minutes. Add the cabbage stalks and stir-fry 30 seconds. Add the cabbage leaves and 2 tablespoons of sake. Stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the pork and the cornstarch mixture. Stir-fry 2 minutes or until the sauce is thickened.

Serve wrapped in warmed tortillas with hoisin sauce.

The second thing my husband and I made together was a batch of fortune cookies. I would recommend doing these with a partner, since they harden very quickly once they come out of the oven. We each filled out personalized little strips of paper for the fortunes, and then opened each other’s for a surprise. The original recipe was from the Food Network.

Homemade Fortune Cookies

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/2 cup sugar

2 large egg whites

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 tablespoon water

Cooking spray for the pans

Write your fortunes on little pieces of paper before you begin.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch and sugar.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg whites, vanilla, oil, and water. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until smooth.

Working in batches of 4, drop the batter by tablespoons on a baking sheet covered with a silicone mat. Tilt the baking sheet in a circular motion (and use your finger if need be) to spread the batter into 4-inch diameter circles.

Bake until the edges of the cookies are golden brown, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, and working quickly, use a spatula to remove the cookies from the baking sheet. Put a fortune into the center of a cookie and fold it in half. Bring the points together with open seams on the outside. Arrange in muffin tins to help keep their shape while they are cooling.

Repeat with the remaining fortunes and cookies.

We paired the meal with Sofia Blanc de Blancs (the same kind of sparkling wine that we enjoyed on New Year’s Day, which seemed fitting) with mandarin orange slices floating in the bubbles for the occasion.

I decorated the table with red (the color of both holidays) and a blend of Chinese New Year and heart decorations for Valentine’s Day and our engagement anniversary. For example, I printed a Year of the Rat image and a Year of the Dragon image, since they were the years that Rob and I were born. That added a little personal romantic touch. I also printed a matching Year of the Tiger image for the middle of the table, which was the year we celebrated today.