Happy 2011, in the kitchen and elsewhere

January 1, 2011

I am happy to report I have begun 2011 in the kitchen, which I believe is just a fine, fine place to spend some time early on the morning of the first day of the year.

The black eyed peas are soaking (I didn’t start them until this morning, as I’m not cooking them until dinnertime). The pork loin is rubbed down in one of my favorite spice rubs, wrapped in several layers of plastic wrap, and basking in the fridge. And because I didn’t want NS to go hungry between this morning’s pancakes and dinnertime, I used last weekend’s leftover beef roast, a couple cans of diced tomatos, and a bag of frozen mixed veggies and threw together a pot of vegetable beef soup.

This after last night’s dinner, one of the best flank steaks I’ve ever fixed, albeit I may have to throw the pan out because I question whether it’ll ever be clean again. I marinated the steak overnight in balsamic vinegar and olive oil and meat tenderizer; heated some oil in my biggest skillet over medium high heat until it was hot-hot-hot, seared the steak for three minutes on one side, two on the other, and stuck it into a preheated 500-degree oven for 5 minutes. Perfect medium rare. Perfect, I tell  you. I’m so good I scare myself sometimes.

But then there was the risotto, which was, well, less than admirable. Risotto with gorgonzola dolce and pears and walnuts. Sounds to-die-for, right? Eh. Probably my fault, as I did not have the exact ingredients. Close, apparently, is not good enough with this recipe.

I did not have shallots. I used an onion. That was OK. I had walnuts, but I forgot to put them in, which also was not a major problem. I did not have Sauterne, so I used sherry, and I think that was OK. But I did not have gorgonzola dolce; I had regular gorgonzola, and I may have used too much, to boot; I was eyeballing the amount. It was way too gorgonzola-y for my taste, although the more I ate of it, the better I liked it. I will return to that recipe sometime when I have good gorgonzola dolce, which, as far as I am aware, you cannot get in the city of Hot Springs.

Anyway, after the better part of  a bottle of good red wine, I stayed up to welcome in 2011 (actually, I went to sleep about 11, but I woke up 45 minutes later), and then went to bed. So this morning it was up to prep for today’s dinner.

Let me tell you about this rub. I discovered this when Alyce Mantia, who for years had a wonderful little cafe/gourmet market in Memphis and is a foodie nonpareil, wrote about it in her blog. I made it up to use, as she suggested, on chicken, but it’s also excellent on pork. And I had a moment of panic this morning, because I Could Not Find the recipe for it, which I was sure I had included in the blog at some point, but apparently I had not. So, I found it, and here it is. Make it. It’ll mean the difference in a ho-hum dinner and a “Wow, what’s this?” when you’ve got chicken breast filets and 45 minutes.

These proportions willl make about 3/4 cup of rub. I used about 1/4 cup on a four-pound pork loin, stuck the rest in a small plastic container, and put it on my spice rack.

2 tablespoons each of kosher salt, black pepper, chili powder, coriander and cumin; 1 tablespoon each of cardamon and ginger.

That’s it. And believe you me, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. It’s wonderful to sprinkle some chicken thighs, sear them off good, and then cook them with some sauteed onions and garlic and a can of diced or crushed tomatos and some chicken stock until the sauce is thick and the thighs tender. It’s also excellent to rub on a nice thick pork chop and throw that baby on the grill with some corn, and plate it with a good caprese salad in the middle of the summer. I’ve pounded breast filets thin, sprinkled them with this, and grilled them on a Foreman grill — dinner in a hurry. All it wants is a starch and a salad.

I’ve never tried it on beef. Perhaps I’ll try that next, maybe to see what a burger would do.

Since I’m cooking the vegetable beef soup today, I think perhaps tomorrow will be…h’mm. Carbonnades a la flamande, simply because I have beef tips and I can. Or some other preparation of beef tips.

Meanwhile, I’m off to shower, then fix the boy some pancakes, then go out and get my hair cut, since I have a marvelous hairdresser who works on New Year’s Day and said since I forgot my appointment Wednesday she’d fit me in this morning. I’ll see you and y’mama ‘n ’em later, when I’m beautiful.

Don’t hold your breath.

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One Response to “Happy 2011, in the kitchen and elsewhere”

  1. laila Alive Says:

    Yum Yum Yum! I am soooooo using some of your tips. Yay! Foodies unite! lol lol


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