Thursday, July 31, 2008

Two-fer: Pork instead of Venison and Salmon

I didn't cook Tuesday night. During my commute home Sonya called and had the suggestion that I drop by Whole Foods to pick up two of their fabulous sandwiches. Going to Whole Foods is not something you ask me to do without thinking about the checking account. I'll drop in expecting to spend twenty bucks on a few items and come out having dropped a hundred on a few more (yes the qualifiers used previously were on purpose- you've all been there and done that at that store especially). I got the sandwiches and while I thought about the traffic and the impending rain outside, I thought about spending a little more time in this slice of supermarket heaven. So I picked up some reasonably priced fruit, a bag of recycled hardwood lump charcoal, two flavors of Izze (gawd that is great stuff), two knobs of cheese I knew Sonya would like, the sandwiches, a side of grilled asparagus salad, a gallon of milk, a pound and a half of salmon fillet, and the same of ground lamb.

Wednesday I was home at a decent hour so there was time to grill. No beer, but I had the bug and would have to make do. I had a pork tenderloin in the fridge that I needed to use and decided to knock the salmon out for tomorrow night or the weekend as well.

Pork Tenderloin-
The tenderloin I'd tried last week with some success. I prepared the pork in a pan instead of on the grill and used the goodies left over in the pan along with some of the resting juices to make a sauce. The recipe called for blueberries and I had frozen raspberries. I ran with it. I was surprised earlier that night to find that the locally owned market down the road had shallots, so that worked out well. The sauce turned out with pronounced garlic and shallot flavor- not too good, but I can see the potential even with raspberries. This time around I did not fool with the sauce. Same basic recipe, with many more juniper berries ( either they are old, having sat on Target's shelf too long- I got them severely discounted, or our juniper is much more delicate flavor than I expected), dried thyme instead of fresh, and fresh rosemary. Grilled it over high heat on all sides to sear and brown the meat, then tossed it on the side to cook through. I picked up the recipe from Jamie Oliver's show on Food Network several weekends ago.

Pretty simple. Salt, pepper, olive oil to coat, sliced citrus (about 10mm thick). Grill on high heat, then move off to medium for the remainder. All I did was slop the seasoning on, then the olive oil, and wallpapered the fillet with sliced grapefruit. I've used orange with great results before. Can't go too wrong there. That now sits in ice box for later. Sure, the skin/scales burnt to a crisp, but I gave that to the dogs for their help.

While grilling my old college roommate Dan H. and I had a great time catching up. It seems that the apple of his eye is learning to walk five steps at a time.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I've been thinking about a blog for some time. What interesting topic could I possibly post about?

Earlier this spring my wife and I took a real vacation. Not visiting family, not a three day extended weekend, nothing too close, a real honest to g-d vacation. We did it right. I mean, really right. This was the first time since I began working that I stopped thinking about work. I enjoyed every minute away from my everyday life and had to drag myself back into it. We went to Europe for 17 days visiting five countries on a cruise, spending three of those days on our own in Rome. Amazing. We took some incredible photos, we ate some wonderful food, and we visited places the both of us had always wanted to see. The two of us had an incredible time together. I am really happy that we were able to do this. I can't wait until the next time we have the chance to do something like this again.

The experience I had eating in Europe, even on the cruise-ship, was different than any that I've had here at home. Food was fresher, flavors more pronounced. I appreciated the way that restaurants were operated. Everything seemed to be centered around the food and the chance to enjoy it. Now I've always enjoyed food. I've always enjoyed preparing food and I've even had thoughts of going to culinary school. I'm no chef. It is not my aspiration to cook day in and day out for several hundred or even several tens of people. I enjoy cooking for my wife and myself. I enjoy cooking for my friends and family on occasion. I really enjoy spending time in the kitchen, then in the back yard drinking a beer while playing with our dogs as something sizzles away on the grill.

Because of that experience I've decided to share what I prepare and how I prepare it in a blog. The plan is to also post photos of the finished product and even some pictures of the food in progress. I cannot guarantee that everything will turn out right. In fact, I hope things don't always go as planned. It's been my experience that I learn more and faster from mistakes than from my successes. This is an opportunity to learn new skills, new flavors combinations (flavor palate- thanks Top Chef for the lingo), and grow as a cook.