Sunday, October 21, 2012

Wrapped Pork Tenderloin and Pear Chutney

Yesterday was another kitchen therapy day, and on the menu were pork tenderloin and some lovely red Anjou pears. So, what to do with them? Here's what resulted, but alas no pictures this time.

Wrapped Pork Tenderloin
12 pieces dried tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
1 small chilli pepper
6-12 spears of asparagus, depending how large the are the spears, washed and tough ends removed
pastry, enough for a double crust pie
1 pork tenderloin, silver-skin removed
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a food chopper or mortar and pestle, make a paste of the tomatoes, garlic and chilli pepper. Set aside.

Roll out the pastry into a rectangle, large enough to wrap the tenderloin, but not too thinly. You're looking for about 1/4" thickness. Spread the tomato paste over the pastry, keeping it fairly centralized. Lay the asparagus spears in the centre of the pastry, alternating ends and tips. Lay the tenderloin over the asparagus. Carefully pull the pastry and up and over the tenderloin, much in the way you would create a jelly roll. Pull in the pastry ends before sealing the edges. Sprinkle the top of the pastry with salt and pepper. Coarse salt in this case is lovely.

Place the roll on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 45-60 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Remove from oven and let rest for about 5 minutes before slicing into thick slices for service.

Serves 4

Pear Chutney
1 red Anjou pear, cored and cut into 1/2"-1/4" cubes
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1 green onion, finely sliced
juice of 1/2 lemon (about 4 tablespoons)
1/2 cup natural, unflavoured yoghurt
salt and pepper to taste

Toss together first four ingredients in a bowl and set aside. Combine next three ingredients in a bowl; pour over the pear mixture, toss and serve.

Serves 4-6

Friday, October 19, 2012

Review: Thirty Years from Home: A Seaman's View of the War of 1812

Thirty Years from Home: A Seaman's View of the War of 1812
Thirty Years from Home: A Seaman's View of the War of 1812 by Samuel Leech

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As a reader I came to this autobiography from an historical perspective, not a literary, and thus should most historical accounts of this type be considered.

Samuel Leech, originally a sailor aboard a British brig, and later an American, during the Napoleonic and War of 1812, writes from a temperance and religious point of view some years after his experiences aboard ship. Some of the details are horrifying in their candour, of the floggings and abuse which formed daily life for the common sailor, of the starvation, privation and death. Perhaps most surprising of all was to learn about the details of what it meant to be flogged through the fleet, and that women indeed formed part of daily life for some sailors, even to the extent of giving birth aboard ship and the agonies that brought about to father, mother and child.

For anyone interested in the naval aspects of War of 1812, I would recommend this quick and fascinating read.

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Sunday, October 14, 2012

Roasted Lamb Chops and Apple Pecan Salad

Seems I needed a little more kitchen therapy this weekend, inspired in part by some lovely shoulder lamb chops Gary brought home from a wonderful little Mennonite market in Teviotdale. So, Saturday evening we sat down to a delicious meal, Leonard Cohen's Old Ideas playing in the background, candlelight, and wine.

The recipes I concocted for our fare follow.

Roasted garlic and rosemary lamb chops
Apple pecan salad
Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Lamb Chops
2 thick-cut shoulder lamb chops

6 cloves garlic
1/3 cup fresh rosemary leaves
1 fresh chilli pepper
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup olive oil

Finely mince together the garlic, rosemary and pepper; add salt and olive oil and combine well. You can also pound this in a mortar and pestle, or throw all the ingredients into a small chopper or food processor to obtain a coarse purée.

Rub the marinade liberally over the chops and allow to sit for about 1 hour at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 450F. Place a cooling rack on a baking sheet and lay the chops on the rack. Roast for about 20 minutes or until medium rare. You do not want to overcook the lamb as this will render the succulent quality of the meat tough. What you're looking for a slightly pink centre, nice crispy fat at the edges.

Apple Pecan Salad
This is another variation on a Waldorf Salad and my Stonehouse Salad (which appears in my cookbook, Stonehouse Cooks). 

2 apples (Your choice of variety. I used Crispins in this case because it's what I had on hand.)
1 small onion
1 celery stalk
1/2 cup whole pecans
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese, of whatever variety you wish. I used a Danish blue in this case.
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup plain yoghurt
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Wash, core and dice apples; place in a bowl. Peel and finely mince the onion; add to the apples. Finely chop the celery and add to the apple mixture. Toss in the pecans and cheese.

In another bowl combine the mayonnaise, yoghurt, salt and pepper. Pour over the apple mixture and toss liberally to coat. Serve on a bed of finely shredded greens.

The salad can be made ahead of time and refrigerated; the flavour improves overnight.

Serves 6

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Review: The Moor's Last Sigh

The Moor's Last Sigh
The Moor's Last Sigh by Salman Rushdie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every time I read one of Rushdie's novels I come away enlightened and amazed, and certainly reading the literary masterpiece The Moor's Last Sigh is no exception.

Perhaps one of Rushdie's more accessible novels, the story follows a more conventional narrative, although to call anything Rushdie writes conventional is inaccurate. In this case the story follows a family history, that of the Zoigoby clan, which takes us into Jewish, Moorish, Spanish and Indian heritage, illuminating perfections and defects of the body, mind and spirit. There is very much a theme of isolation of spirit and intellect in this novel, of loneliness despite crowded and intimate environments. In conjunction with that Rushdie marries political unrest to to restless spirits, so that both microcosmic and macrocosmic time flow around and through each other, so that one has a sense of a ship tossed upon a boundless sea.

As always there is a fluid and adept use of language and phraseology that defies every literary convention, and in doing so creates breathtaking art. One comes away wanting to memorize phrases for their utter beauty and sagacity. But let it not be thought this is a novel only of high art, for certainly throughout the story Rushdie's irreverent and incisive wit prevail, so that at times I caught myself bursting into laughter.

I would have to say that if a person is new to Rushdie's work, The Moor's Last Sigh would be a perfect introduction.

Highly recommended, and certainly a novel that should be a staple in anyone's library.

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