Maple Glazed Pork Tenderloin

afoodcentriclife.com

My favorite thing about talking to some of our less-cheffy friends is that they make you feel super impressive and creative, even when your ideas are pretty standard. For example, Liza was recently telling The Chef and me about how there’s only so much you can do with chicken and vegetables, and you just can’t make pork tenderloin for two.

To which I said, um, depends on how large and fattening your portion sizes are, but that’s really not the point. Tenderloin is surprisingly simple to make, and it’s just about the best snack ever.

So when The Chef told Liza about this sweet and tangy marinade and the ways you could re-purpose your leftovers – tenderloin tacos, quesadillas, on buns with horseradish or honey mustard – she acted like he had just discovered fire. It was hilarious.

So this one’s for you, young Liza. Treat yo’self!

1 1/2 cups of maple syrup
1 cup of creole mustard
3 garlic cloves minced
1/2 cup olive oil
2 rosemary sprigs, chopped
salt and pepper

  1. Whisk together all ingredients.
  2. Pour marinade over tenderloin and marinate for 4 hours – overnight, depending upon how intense you want the flavor to be.
  3. Grill (or bake) until a thermometer registers 150 degrees. (If you are a little braver and like the pink, you can stop at 140.)
  4. Let the tenderloin rest for 30 minutes before slicing. Or, if you’re making this ahead of time for a specific occasion, refrigerate and slice when ready to serve. Tenderloin is just as good room temp.

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Filed under Main Course, Marinades, Pork, Southern food, Special Occasion

5 to Follow: Socially Savvy Nashville Restaurants

So I’m totally hijacking a post I wrote on my work blog in the hopes of cross-pollinating some audiences here, so please bear with me. This doesn’t have a recipe in it, but it does have some good eats, so click on over there if you want to read it all. And if you get a second, follow Parthenon’s Facebook page and Twitter feed. I update them, so chances are if you like this nonsense, you’ll fit right in there as well.

Tavern Burger with Fried Egg

“Recently Nashville has become a major player on the national culinary stage. And as any good Music City resident knows, when you step into the spotlight, you have to step up your social media.

People are passionate about food, and they love to talk about it with the chefs who create their favorite dishes. Because social media creates communities of foodies and food makers, some of the best Nashville restaurants are fostering those connections on Facebook and Twitter.”

Click here to read about the five best.

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Filed under Nashville Food

“Peg’s” Spinach & Ranch Dip

hiddenvalley.com

While I am sure I have had this dip many times in the past, our recent trip to Charleston reminded me how downright good it is. I though it so good, in fact, that I told Peg she just had to give me the recipe because I’m always looking for a good cold dip.

To which she replied, “Um sure, Ashley – it’s on the back of the packet.” And then she and the rest of the Davies pointed and laughed as they are wont to do. And that is why I love them.

My embarrassment aside, this dip is solid, and I actually prefer it with veggies for dippers than chips, which is miraculous on its own.Also, you can definitely use light sour cream in this without any adverse effect. I know. My inner fat girl cries out with shame at this suggestion.

And don’t skip the water chesnuts – they are what gives this stuff its cracktastic crunch.

10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained
8 oz water chestnuts, rinsed, drained and chopped
16 oz sour cream (you can go light here)
1 packet Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dips Mix
salt, black pepper and hot sauce to taste
French bread, cut into pieces
fresh veggies

  1. Mix first four ingredients (and s&p and hot sauce) together and chill for at least 30 minutes (preferably overnight).
  2. Dip the other stuff in it. Pretty straightforward.

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Filed under Appetizers, Comfort food, Dips, Veggies

Michelada ~ Cinco de Mayo 2K12

Yeah, so it’s pretty clear from the title of this post that I’m about a month late in getting around to it…

Garden & Gun

But it’s never too late for a beer-based beverage! Especially one that acts as a welcome substitute for a Bloody Mary when the summer is too sticky for tomato juice but you still need something to knock last night’s fog out.

The basic version of this drink is just lime juice and beer, but The Chef pointed me toward a Garden & Gun recipe that uses soy and Worcestershire, and my salt addiction rejoiced. (If you are not a sodium addict, you can control the amount by limiting the sauce additions.)

So if you like to drink anything bloody (Mary or Beer – this is not a vampire reference), try this out on Memorial Day. It’s an icy, refreshing change of pace. Ole!

1 beer (Mexican preferably, but anything without too strong a flavor will do)
2 limes, juiced
hot sauce
dash of soy sauce
dash of Worcestershire
dash of spices (like Tony’s)
Kosher salt

  1. Run a lime wedge around your glass and rim with salt.
  2. Fill halfway with ice.
  3. Add all ingredients, saving beer for last.
  4. Stir and slurrrrrrrp. Salty goodness.

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Filed under Alcohol, Beverages, Mexican food

Chilled Pea & Bacon Soup with Garlic Cream

© Quentin Bacon

It has been so long since I started writing up this recipe from my brother’s engagement party that he is now married. Inexcusable, no?

Well I’m not sorry! With the warm weather and the actual paying writing jobs, something had to give, and this was it. (I actually am sorry, though. This recipe nonsense is considerably easier and more fun to write about than FAA grants, and this audience is loyal as hell, so please forgive me.)

Anyway, we – and by “we” I mean “The Chef” – made a huge batch of this recipe for a St. Patrick’s Day engagement party and served it up in shot glasses. In my world, Soup + Shots + Bacon = Phenom. Seriously – peas are usually beyond lame, but the toppings on this make it delectable.

This is actually Daniel Boulud‘s super schmancy pea soup recipe, but it has been classed-down by Food & Wine for an easier preparation. It’s served cold so it’s a cinch for a party. Make a bunch and sip all summer.

8 slices of bacon
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 leek, white and tender green parts only, thinly sliced
5 cups chicken stock
2 rosemary sprigs
salt & freshly ground white pepper
1/2 pound sugar snap peas, thinly sliced
2 10-oz boxes frozen baby peas
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 cup heavy cream
1 garlic clove, minced

  1. In a medium soup pot, cook the bacon over moderate heat until browned and crisp, about 6 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a plate; reserve the fat in a bowl in case you need to add it at the end for more bacon flavor.
  2. In the same pot, heat the olive oil. Add the celery, onion and leek and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 7 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken stock, 4 slices of the cooked bacon, 1 rosemary sprig and a pinch each of salt and white pepper. Simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes.
  4. Discard the bacon and rosemary. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a blender.
  5. Meanwhile, bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the sugar snaps and cook for 3 minutes. Add the frozen baby peas and the parsley and cook just until heated through, about 1 minute; drain.
  6. Add the sugar snaps, baby peas and parsley to the blender and puree until smooth, adding a few tablespoons of the broth to loosen the mixture.
  7. Transfer the soup and the remaining broth to a large bowl set in a larger bowl of ice water to cool.
  8. In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream, garlic and remaining rosemary sprig to a boil. Simmer over low heat until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Strain the garlic cream into a bowl and let cool.
  9. Ladle the chilled pea soup into bowls and drizzle with the garlic cream. (Use a squirt bottle to make pretty designs out of the cream. It’s absurdly cheffy, but so freaking fun.) Crumble the remaining 4 slices of bacon into each bowl and serve.

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Filed under Appetizers, Party food, Soups

Smartini ~ Basil & Acai Berry Cocktail

My brother Martin is finally getting hitched, so I figured we needed a stout yet sassy beverage for his engagement party. In the name of printing up (completely unnecessary but adorable) little St. Patrick’s Day menu cards, this cocktail was named “the Smartini” as a Martin/Sarah mashup.

healthline.com

As a general rule, I think most dudes will drink a fruity cocktail as long as it:

  1. isn’t bright pink
  2. uses some sort of unorthodox ingredient, and
  3. doesn’t come in a fancy cocktail glass that makes you inclined to raise a pinkie.

And this cocktail passes all of those tests. The Acai Berry liquor is a trendy new kind of booze we had in Charleston while dining at Cypress (the oysters, OH THE OYSTERS!), and The Chef and I are pretty much basil sluts on every level, so this was a no-brainer.

While I didn’t squeeze the 3 dozen lemons it would have required to make a pitcher of this stuff, if I were making smaller batches, I’d definitely use the fresh stuff. Also, this has agave nectar in it, which is just nature’s fancy-sounding answer to Splenda, so do not be afraid.

The bottom line: this was refreshing and delectable, so throw it in your spring rotation.

2 parts Acai berry liquor (Veev)
1 part fresh lemon juice
1 part agave nectar
2 parts club soda
1 package basil, roughly chopped
cucumbers and lemons, sliced for garnish

  1. Pour your Acai berry liquor in a pitcher or tupperware container. Add basil. Let steep for 1-4 days, depending on desired strength of basil flavor.
  2. Combine all ingredients and chill.

I made this in a much larger quantity – i.e. used two bottles of Veev and increased amounts of the other ingredients proportionally – and that worked very well. Put it in a pitcher and dress it up with the cucumbers and lemons, and you got one pretty and potent cocktail.

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Filed under Alcohol, Beverages, Special Occasion

Asian Mignonette

glidemagazine.com

As I mentioned in the classic cocktail post, an Asian Mignonette is an interesting and delectable variation for an oyster topping.

Having only tried it a few times at the schmanciest of restaurants, I was intrigued to see how the homemade version would stack up. Turns out: really darn well.

This particular blend has a depth of flavor that lends a whole new element to the oyster, but it still brings the tang you’re looking for with an oyster garnish. Again, if you’re working with quality oysters, I say go naked: splash of sauce and slurp.

1/2 cup of sake
2 shallots, minced
1/4 cup of minced ginger
1/2 cup of rice wine vinegar
3 teaspoons of soy sauce
3 tablespoon of chopped cilantro
3 green onions, chopped

  1. Mix all ingredients.
  2. Let sit for 30 minutes.
  3. Serve.

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Filed under Asian food, Sauces, Toppings