Monday, September 24, 2007

Spicing up that leftover pork tenderloin a la cauliflower

pork_tenderloin.jpg, originally uploaded by Cookthinker.

Those folks at Hormel know how to do a number on a piece of meat. They pump those pre-seasoned pork tenderloins with so much stuff, you just can't mess 'em up unless you fail to cook them long enough. Nevertheless, I had half of a peppercorn-spiced variety leftover from the weekend. I had perfectly grilled it on Saturday, so I didn't want to ruin it by nuking it for my Monday meal. It probably would have taken to the microwave just fine, but I wanted to preserve that tender juicy texture as much as possible so it wouldn't "taste" like leftovers.

Getting inspiration from Emeril, of all people, who I had watched earlier in the evening doing a fascinating treatment for cauliflower involving a hot pan, olive oil, garlic, crushed red pepper and lemon, I decided that may be a good option for my leftover tenderloin.

I cut the meat into into 1 inch thick medallions while heating a couple of turns of olive oil, three cloves of crushed garlic and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper. I added the medallions and sprinkled them with dried Italian seasoning. After they were heated through (about 6 minutes), I turned off the heat and squeezed the juice of half of lemon over the meat to tame the spice and add some citrus. The result was fork tender, more rounded in spice profile and seriously succulent.

Served with some gnocchi in gorgonzola sauce (a frozen emergency meal life-saver from Trader Joe's) and a simple green salad tossed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and it was a painless elegant meal on the table in 20 minutes. I even had a cheap French Bordeaux from TJ as well to top it off. Who says you can't live large on a Monday night?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Sweet Action in a Kettle of Fish

Steps away from the infamous Stonewall Inn in New York is a comfy neighborhood pub called Kettle of Fish. With low ceilings, dartboards, and a cluster of comfy worn in brown sofas, it's like hangin' in your buddy's basement rec room.

Tried a Sixpoint "Sweet Action" ale and it a was indeed a "sweet" experience. Slightly sweet and bitter with a good structure. This was listed on a beer menu written in marker on a sheet of paper taped to the bar, so I don't think it is broadly available.

Curry casserole - a Thai hot-dish

How could I possibly resist something so intriguing on a Thai restaurant's specialties list as a "curry casserole". While in NYC for business, a buddy of mine took me to his favorite Thai place in Chinatown where I got to experience this eastern take on a staple in middle American homes.

It was layered squid, shrimp, fish and other "seafood" in a thick curry spiked sauce. Paired with coconut rice, it was quite good. If I get the name of the place from my friend, I will pass it along..

Monday, September 17, 2007

While I'm promoting my professional projects . .

I've briefly opened the door to my commercial pursuits here, so I'll go ahead and post one more work-related piece of content and then back to bite&chew as normal.

One of my sites, is seeking to inject a little fun into learning how to eat healthier. To that end, we've created

If I tell you too much more, it kind of ruins it, but it's a mess - in a good way.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Calypso Shrimp - don't mess with Betty!

Work is clearly starting to overtake me, as I'm cooking recipes off the sites I manage for a living. I don't fit into the standard audience profile for these properties, but I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't take my own medicine now and then.

I ended the day like many of my consumers wondering "what do I make for dinner". Knowing I had a pound of shrimp in the freezer, I pulled up this recipe for Calypso Shrimp. I should have just trusted Betty and followed the recipe, but I had to start mucking with it by switching out the Old El Paso salsa for a spicy mango habenero variety because I wanted more hot & sweet in the citrus bean salsa (didn't work - dish needed the salt of a traditional mild chunky tomato salsa to counter-balance the sweetness of the oranges). I also, on a whim, picked up some imitation lobster meat that was on sale and mixed that in with the shrimp. Big mistake. The crap cooked down, shredded up and basically ruined the dish. The shrimp themselves, however, were very nice!

Sorry Betty, sometimes I can take your stuff up a notch, but I over-reached this time.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Crema's Hidden Magic

Summer in the Twin Cities is coming to an end and we have many reasons to be a bit down about that. Not the least of which being that I only recently discovered Crema. I've driven past the place a million times, but assumed it was simply an over-done ice-cream joint. With the summer being very short here, I never found time to go check it out.

We walked down one particularly warm evening after reading an article in our local neighborhood paper about their unusual featured flavors like olive oil and other unexpected things in addition to more traditional varieties. I tried their signature "crema" flavor which was suggestive of a iced latte. After grabbing our ice cream, we walked out to the alley dining area and discovered one of the most romantic spaces I've scene in Minneapolis.

In addition to the kitschy lights, there was a babbling fountain and selective foliage interspersed with intimate candle-lit tables and the open sky above. Apparently you can get a limited dinner menu there as well, but we were hard pressed to figure out what that menu was (seemed to be a secret that was only available by request). The ice cream itself was very good by the way.

20.21 - A dinner that stares back

Earlier this summer, I took a potential employee for my company to Wolfgang Puck's 20.21 at the Walker Art Center for a pre-interview-day dinner. I enjoyed my last meal at 20.21 and I have enjoyed the Puck cuisine at other restaurants, so it seemed to be a safe bet.

My last visit to 20.21 was with J the BF on a very crowded Saturday night. I forget what we were celebrating, but I've been reminded several times since that my ADD that night which seemed to keep pulling my eyes toward the wait staff, as opposed to my BF was not at all appreciated. Besides his irritation, I remember that the place was too loud & chaotic, the tables too small for the elaborate dishes (requiring most of the items to be plated by the servers at the table to prevent disasters) and the food was superb.

This time, it was Wednesday and it was business, so I expected the scene to be less chaotic, but the food equally superb. If I failed to give my dining companion proper attention, it wouldn't be perpetually thrown back in my face. After embarrassing myself getting us lost in the museum trying to find the bloody restaurant, we got in and were seated in a prime location in the signature window overlooking the Downtown vista hovering over the busy street below.

I started with my favorite dish, the crispy calamari salad - perfectly crisp tender bites of calamari over a fresh blend of greens tossed with a sweet/spicy chili sauce that is intoxicating. We ran through a few more mediocre dishes before being greeted by the grotesque disappointment of a whole crispy sea bass. Somehow, they managed to fry any flavor out of the fish to the point that even the fish looked shocked. The server was nice enough to take away the carcass and it's horrified stare before we labored to complete the meal. I fear that 20.21 is moving into that realm of places with great cocktails and tasty apps, but I'm not going to risk the $$s on the main dishes again any time soon.

Shamed into continuity

I have been informed by J the BF that if I intend to continue to embarrass him in fine restaurants by taking pictures of my meal with my Blackberry, then I am required to continue to blog.

Bite & Chew continues . . . .