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Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Honey and Mustard

Sunday, January 30, 2011
Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Honey and Mustard (Donna Hay)

It's a good day for Donna Hay.
(OGITK, Confessions of a Blogaholic)

I've already told you, haven't I, that blogging makes me do strange things. Such as this little roast here.
A fillet. Of pork. Roasted. Me. Who until few months ago almost didn't even know the flavor of pork ...
The thing is, today I woke up and started thinking of her, the Coco Chanel of food styling; the most beloved and most celebrated cookbooks' author among all food bloggers, the rookies and the pros; object of worship and source of untold frustration for those photos of her, clean, minimalist and always tres chic. A cult that transcends the logic of what's edible, an absolute reverence, for the most part incomprehensible to those who have never stood in front of a chicken with their camera.

And while thinking about the Divine, I remembered that:
1) By Donna Hay I own one book, which, like its other fellows on the shelf, is new, untouched, and sadly dusty (and how couldn't it be?);
2) By Donna Hay, I've never tried anything.
Shame on me. It was definitely time to make amends. And to make up for the lost time, I've studied the volume from top to bottom, only to choose the easiest recipe, as custom.
Divine, I hope you can forgive me anyways. I mean, I say it again, it's pork!

Roasted Pork Tenderloin
with Honey & Mustard

for 3

pork tenderloin 1, about 1 lb.
honey 2 tablespoons, full
whole grain mustard (aka Moutarde à l'Ancienne, which is much more In) 3 tablespoons, full
parsnips 4
olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh oregano to taste

Not only pork, but also parsnips. And whatthehell are these parsnips? Try to think of a pale carrot, or an oblong potato, or maybe something in the middle, and there you go, you'll have a fairly accurate idea of parsnips. For more information, you just need to read here.

Peel the parsnips, remove ends and cut them in half lengthwise. Season them with two tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper, and place them side by side on a slightly greased baking pan. Bake at 375 for about 45-60 minutes, depending on their size.
Meanwhile, prepare the marinade by mixing honey, mustard and few sprigs of fresh oregano, finely chopped (if you wish, you can add a couple of teaspoons of mustard seeds). Trim the meat from the fat and cover it with the sauce. Let it stand in refrigerator until ready to bake.
Lay the fillet over the parsnips, brush the marinade on top, making sure to cover it even on the sides, and bake at the same temperature for 25-35 minutes (depending on its size), until the fillet is golden on the outside and fully cooked on the inside.
And so this is done as well. Time to check mark it.

Red Snapper Ceviche with Mango and Coconut Milk

Monday, January 17, 2011
Red Snapper Ceviche with Mango and Coconut Milk

If I should suddenly disappear, please come look for me in South America. Peru, to be precise. I'm going to learn all about ceviche. For now I can tell you this: no cooking required, light and very easy. I already feel like screaming Ceviche Forever! Can you blame me?

Red Snapper Ceviche
with Mango & Coconut Milk

for 4

red snapper, bream, or other white flesh fish 3/4 lb.
lime 3-4
coconut milk about 1 cup
mango 1/2
red bell pepper 1/2
shallot 1/2
Thai chili pepper 1
olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh cilantro to taste

For this recipe I used a red snapper fillet, a white flesh fish with firm texture, very common in this area. You can substitute it with sea bream, or if you'd like you can also use tuna.
Cut the fish into small cubes, place them in a bowl and cover them with lime juice and coconut milk. Mix well, cover with plastic wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for 4-5 hours.
Drain the fish from the marinade, keeping few tablespoons aside. Dice the mango and the pepper. Finely chop shallot and Thai chili, seeds removed.
Mix them with the fish cubes, season with two tablespoons of olive oil, salt, pepper, some finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and the reserved marinade. Serve cold.

Pumpkin Muffins

Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Pumpkin Muffins

ELAINE: Oh yeah. It's the best part. It's crunchy, it's explosive, it's where the muffin breaks free of the pan and sort of does its own thing. I'll tell you. That's a million dollar idea right there. Just sell the tops.
(J. Louis-Dreyfus, The Muffin Tops, Seinfeld, Episode n. 155, 1997)

My first time. With muffins.
I can't believe it myself, but I had to wait over a decade before letting myself being persuaded. The thing is that, although I've fallen for muffins (blueberry, ed) at the tender age of 13, more than a century ago, when my American guest made me try them and all of a sudden I thought I had arrived in heaven, for all that goodness chock-full of huge and deep-blue blueberries was not part of the world known to me until then (and I didn't know that she had made them out of a muffin-mix carton and using fruits with testosterone to the maximum strenght, but these are just details...), I was saying, although for years I kept thinking of muffins as the perfect yet unattainable companion for a lazy and lascivious Sunday, once I moved to this land more or less stably, I cheated on them right away, I mean, really right away, for these things here (and these, and most of all these... mmmm, btw, 600 Guerrero Street @18th... when are we going?).
And the poor muffin has hopelessly fallen to a subordinate role, a breakfast gigolo to wear out in a bowl of latte, too big, too bloated, too ubiquitous, too available (but it's a matter of taste, mind you; scones have the same flaws, it's just that - if done with all the right fixings - I like them better, that's all. But anyway, muffins don't exist at Tartine, just sayin'...)
To complicate matters further there's also the fact that the muffin is almost always a split personality and rarely wins you over in its entirety: either you love it for the top, more rough and erratic, or it seduces you with its soft and tender body. And although time flows inexorably away, I haven't made up my mind yet.

My first time. With muffins.
All the hot details can be found below.

Pumpkin Muffins
for approximately 15 muffins

pastry flour 3 2/3 cup
butter 1 stick
sugar 1 cup
(I've reduced it a little from original recipe)
eggs 4
pumpkin purée 1 15-ounce can
ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon
ground ginger 1/4 teaspoon
freshly grated nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon
salt 1/4 teaspoon
baking powder 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon
raisins 1 cup
unsalted sunflower seeds 1/4 cup
softened butter to grease the pan

I've taken the recipe ...uhm... from this thing I scored at Christmas, which quietly and discreetly landed on my shelf with yet another excuse called special offer, coupon, loyalty card promotion, buy 2 get 3, voucher, seasonal sale, I don't remember. The truth is, now I want to go back to New York just to visit this new place of worship, which up to 20 days ago I had never even heard of. And to be honest, I can't even blame the special Christmas offer. I simply had to read that this Sarabeth owes its rise to the Olympus of America's most popular bakeries entirely to its legendary orange and apricot marmalade, and here I am, happily opening the wallet, dropping the card and casually putting the tome in my purse.
But this is now water under the bridge, and I think it's also a story already lived, can't tell you why. Better to stick to the subject matter: muffins. Before leaving you with the recipe, I'd like to point out two things, or maybe three:

1) Contrary to everything we've always known about muffins, this particular recipe (as well as others from the same book) calls for a good long initial beating of the butter, cold, followed by an equally good beating of the same with sugar. According to the author this procedure, very similar to that of a normal cake, will make the muffins' texture lighter and more delicate. The butter should be cold, so that the dough doesn't get too soft, otherwise the top will collapse and will consequently flatten (and sadden) your muffins;

2) Don't turn up your nose at canned pumpkin. After year, I too had to drop my barriers on this point. I just had to read these few lines, taken from Tartine, by E. M. Prueitt and C. Robertson, when talking about their famous pumpkin pie recipe:

Customers often ask if we process our own pumpkin for our holiday pies. We tried one year, and it was a fiasco of round-the-clock roasting and blending, and the results were never completely satisfying. Preparing the purée from scratch doesn't work that well at home either, as it is difficult to achieve as smooth a purée as you would like.

And if they did come out, how can I possibly fear a simple can?

3) How is it possible that at the first trial I got this high dome, almost like what you see around in the stores' windows, I don't know. I don't know if I should believe the cold butter trick. I actually have developed a simple little theory of my own: could it be the universally famous rule of beginner's luck?

Sift together flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, salt and baking powder, and set aside. In a large bowl, beat butter, cut into cubes, until creamy, then gradually add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture becomes fluffy and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, decreasing the speed, then add the pumpkin and stir well. At the end, gradually pour in the flour mix, stir and then add all the raisins. Continue mixing for a few seconds just until the dough comes together.
If you're not using paper cups, grease the molds as well as the outer edges of the pan with some softened butter. Otherwise, place a baking cup inside each mold, and just grease the edges of the pan to prevent the tops of the muffins from sticking to it. Using two spoons (or an ice-cream scoop), fill each baking cups with the mixture, almost to the edge. Generously sprinkle the surface with sunflower seeds, and bake at 400 for ten minutes. Reduce temperature to 375 and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the muffins are golden brown and a wire tester inserted into the center of the muffin comes out completely clean.