Well, the end of summer and back to school got the best of me! I haven't blogged in over a month and I'm so, so sorry. My sister-in-law had to get after me on facebook about this! I guess that is sort of like a fan, isn't it? Our husbands (my younger brother and her brother-in-law aka my husband) are currently in Alaska together with my dad and my older brother and his son, all hunting Caribou! I'm not exactly sure how to cook anything Caribou, so that will be an interesting blog in the future, I'm sure!
During the time I've been off the computer, I must admit I saw the new film, Julie & Julia twice! It is hands-down now my most favorite movie of all time. It's just that good. I went by myself for the first viewing and laughed and cried through the whole thing. If you haven't seen it yet, what are you waiting for?? I took my mom when she was in town last week, and she loved it just as much as I expected her to. I was so excited to get to be the person she saw it with. We are simply kindred spirits when it comes to the kitchen, and I thank her so very much for instilling this love of cooking in me!
So, not blogging hasn't been for lack of cooking--just lack of time to sit down and share with everyone. Our youngest started back to high school mid-August, and then we enjoyed our eldest home from her summer job in Dallas for just a few days here in Houston. We sorted through mounds of accumulated clothes and bedroom decor that simply could not all return with her to her new home in College Station. Moving out her bed made it seem so much more permanent this time around. But, Hello new scrapbooking room!
Well, we enjoyed a most fabulous "supper club" dinner with new friends earlier in August, and I've been dying to share my tried and true dinner party menu with you. This really is an easy to do dinner: do NOT be afraid of making risotto. It just needs love and attention, not unlike any husband or child or pet in your life. I love making it while my guests arrive and gather in the kitchen (as you know they tend to do). I always have the wine out ready to go and some munchies to enjoy while we visit and I simmer and stir. It is great fun and always becomes the focus of the party. To me, risotto is one of the most amazing comfort foods of all time. You can put your favorite ingredients into it and then also enjoy the leftovers the next day with a new drizzle of olive oil and grated parmesan. What could possibly be more pleasant? Try this same recipe but use chicken stock instead of beef and roasted corn instead of the mushrooms. It's absolutely amazing!
So, here's the menu and a couple of the recipes for grins (noted with *). Gather up some friends and enjoy the sparks of conversation good food always provides. You'll be glad you did. Do I hear my phone ringing? Are you calling me to join you?
Favorite Dinner Party Menu:
Spinach & Artichoke Dip (with Table Water Crackers or Hearty Tortilla Chips for dipping)
Beaujolais-Villages Wine or Light Pinot Noir
Wild Field Greens with sliced Pears, Candied Pecans, Grated Parmesan & Balsamic Vinaigrette
Portabello Mushroom Risotto*
Rosemary, Balsamic & Garlic Pork Tenderloin*
Dill Dinner Rolls*
Cheesecake (my dessert specialty, always! this night's flavor was chocolate malt!)
4 cups beef broth
1/2 cup butter
1 small onion, chopped
4-6 small portabello mushroom caps, chopped
1 cup Arborio rice (risotto pasta)
1/2 cup dry white wine (Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris)
2 Tablespoons heavy cream
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
1) Pour beef broth in large saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat & keep at a low simmer.
2) Melt 1/4 cup butter in large skillet.
3) Add the chopped mushrooms and onions and cook on medium until onions turn translucent. 4) Add the rice and stir constantly and rapidly until the grains are coated with butter and a tad bit browned.
5) Add a ladle of broth (approximately 1/2 cup) and stir constantly until almost all liquid has evaporated.
6) Add another ladle of broth in same manner and continue this process, one ladle at a time, until all broth has been added. The rice should never get completely dry, but it should not be fully awash with liquid, either.
7) Add white wine and continue stirring and simmering until fully evaporated.
8) Stir in the cream and Parmesan cheese and finally the remaining 1/4 cup butter.
9) Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Rachael Ray's Balsamic Roast Pork Tenderloins (from food network.com)
4 1/2 pounds pork tenderloins, 2 packages with 2 tenderloins in each package
4 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 cloves garlic, cracked
Steak seasoning blend or coarse salt and black pepper
4 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves stripped and finely chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped and finely chopped
1) Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. (yes, that is very, very HOT--this is intentional)
2) Trim silver skin or connective tissue off tenderloins with a very sharp thin knife.
3) Place tenderloins on a nonstick cookie sheet with a rim. Coat tenderloins in a few Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, rubbing vinegar into meat. Crizzle tenderloins with extra-virgin olive oil, just enough to coat. Cut small slits into meat and disperse chunks of cracked garlic cloves into meat. Combine steak seasoning blend or coarse salt and pepper with rosemary and thyme and rub into meat. Roast in hot oven 20 minutes. (I know it seems like too short a time, but trust me, it is perfect at that high heat. Adorably pink and juicy pork is a beautiful thing. But feel free to test it with your meat thermometer if you don't believe me!)
4) Cover with foil and let meat rest for 15-20 minutes, transfer to a carving board, slice & serve. Serves 10.
(Note in the photograph above, taken just before these went into the oven, I don't always grind up the spices together--the rosemary springs scattered also work just fine. And, I used 2 larger tenderloins instead of the 4 smaller ones. These did take a bit longer to cook, but if you use the smaller ones, please trust the recipe and go with the 20 minutes!)
Dill Dinner Rolls (these are really too easy for words and oh, so wonderful!)
1 pkg of Pillsbury Hot Roll Mix and package directed ingredients
1 Tablespoon chopped, dried dill weed
Prepare & bake according to package directions EXCEPT add the tablespoon of dried dill to the flour and yeast mixture before adding any other ingredients. Everyone thinks you slaved all day making homemade rolls--they are that good! I usually bake mine in either a 9 inch square or 9 inch round pan and serve all together in a like-sized basket so they can be pulled apart warm and fresh by my guest! Yum!!
So as Julie & Julia would say, Bon Appetit!! Oh, and let me know what crazy, yummy ingredient you added to your risotto! I'm craving pumpkin and squash these days.