Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Artisan Baking- Herby Beer Bread

You cannot claim to be a baker if you cannot bake a decent loaf of bread. You just can't. But the world of bread is so much more than the sliced white sandwich bread we're all used to. Bread baking is a very diverse art form with a skill level for everyone. Today we are going to bake a truly delicious quick bread. I know, "artisan bread" sounds all snooty and high-falutin' and quick bread generally is not thought of as snooty- but believe me, play with the right ingredients and flavor combinations and that is artistry if you ask me.

Beer bread is one of the easiest breads to make- very basic ingredients can be transformed into a warm loaf of deliciousness in just about an hour. No special equipment needed, no expensive mixes required. Flour, baking soda, sugar and a beer. That's it. If you have self-rising flour it's even fewer ingredients! The best thing about beer bread is it's a blank canvas. You can go wild with your favorite flavors and make just about any kind of bread your heart desires. Since we grow so many herbs in our garden, it's so easy to pull a few off the shelf and come up with something to match the meal we're cooking.

Today's bread is going to be a delicious combination of sweet and savory. Sweet caramelized onions and garlic, savory Guinness Extra Stout and thyme will round out the flavors. So let's get to it-

Herby Beer Bread with Caramelized Onions and Garlic

3 c. self rising flour (or 3 cups regular flour and 3 tsp baking soda)
1 tsp salt
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
12 oz can or bottle of Guinness Extra Stout
1/4 c. melted butter (NOT margarine)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4-5 cloves fresh garlic, minced
2 tb minced fresh thyme or 2 tsp dried thyme
olive oil, butter
1/4 cup additional butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients in bowl. Set aside.

In medium skillet add a tablespoon of olive oil and a couple tablespoons of butter, when melted add onions. Cook and stir over medium low heat until thoroughly caramelized. Add garlic for the last 5 minutes or so, to just cook the rawness out. Don't let the garlic brown. Stir in thyme.

Slowly pour in beer. Mix just enough to moisten, don't overmix. Add most of the onion mixture. Spread batter into greased loaf pan. Spread the remaining onions over the batter. Pour melted butter over top.

Bake approximately 45 minutes to one hour. Let cool for a few minutes before removing from pan.

Beer bread is a quick bread, a lot like muffins, and is best served fresh from the oven, warm with loads of melty butter. Leftovers make good grilled sandwiches too. I hope you enjoy this version and are inspired to try your own combinations. This one had those super browned bits of onion on top-reminded me of onion buns. Yum!

Today we're bundled up in the house on The Chef's day off, watching movies while the oven warms the house and a big pot of yummy pasta sauce simmers away on the stove. We will be enjoying our warm bread with big bowls of rigatoni tossed with The Chef's delicious pasta sauce and venison- I can't think of a better way to stay warm on a cold winter evening.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Spelt- Knocking Out the Foodie Resolutions One Grain at a Time

I'm not even two full months in and I'm already working on clearing my second Foodie Resolution of The List. This time I'm trying another new grain. Well, new to ME, it's actually quite ancient. This time we're going to give spelt a test drive in the kitchen. What is spelt? It's a very old type of wheat. sometimes called dinkle wheat. In my quest to learn more about spelt I discovered that this grain was one of the most common food crops in medieval times, and older. These days it's found mostly in Europe- American farmers abandoned it in favor of the more common wheat used for bread and flour. It does grow well with a lot fewer chemicals and fertilizers however, so with any luck, American farmers will start to reverse that trend and grow what has to be healthier- anything with less chemicals used during the growing season is absolutely better for us.

If your diet is such that you avoid gluten, spelt is not for you. It is wheat, after all, and even though it's packed with protein, fiber and tons of nutrients, it's also heavy on the gluten, and can be ground into flour for baking just like plain ol' wheat. 

Hey, I cheated- I bought a package of already steamed baby
beets. It was easier and less messy.
The more we learn about whole grains the more we know we should be eating more of them, and spelt is a great choice. It's a hearty grain too, with more texture than rice, a bite similar to barley and a chewy nutty flavor. In fact, that nutty flavor and texture reminded me of wheat berries and got me thinking this grain deserves a prominent spot on the plate, like a main dish salad. If you have been reading along for any length of time, you know I'm a salad nut- I love making a big batch on Sunday and packing lunch dishes for 3 or 4 weekdays to take to work. Grains are perfect with crisp crunchy veggies and a little vinaigrette dressing, instead of a heavy mayo-based dressing, and sometimes a little cheese for even more heartiness.With a grain like spelt you can make these delicious salads all year long- just switch out the veggies to whatever is in season and fresh. Roasted vegetables, like beets and cubes of winter squash, also go wonderful in a warm salad toss, and fill you up with good things.

To start this dinner, get a good sized roasting chicken ready to go in the oven- generously spread the chicken, breast side up in a roasting pan, with softened butter. Season well with salt, pepper and herbs of your choice. Thyme is perfect for this dinner. 

Place the chicken in a 350 degree oven to begin roasting. Baste the chicken occasionally with the pan juices, and halfway through cooking, squeeze half a lemon over the chicken. Add the lemon half to the roasting pan- you can squeeze the roasted lemon over the cooked chicken at the end of roasting. Chicken should be roasted to an internal temp of 165 degrees.

Spelt with Roasted Winter Vegetables and Pecans

2 cups uncooked spelt
1 small bunch scallions
1 small butternut squash
6 baby beets
1/2 cup chopped pecans
big handful baby spinach leaves, rough chopped
1/2 lemon
1/4 cup pan drippings from roast chicken
salt and pepper
olive oil

To cook the spelt, rinse well, then combine with 5 cups water. 

Bring to boil, then reduce heat and cook over very low heat until most of the liquid is absorbed and grains are firm but tender. Drain off any remaining water and set aside.

Peel and cube the butternut squash. Toss with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and spread out onto foil lined baking sheet. 

Repeat with the beets. Season with salt. Place in the oven and roast the vegetables until just tender. Check after 15 minutes and keep checking every 5 minutes.

Slice the scallions and give the spinach a rough chop. 

In a large bowl combine the cooked spelt, the vegetables, the pecans, and toss. Squeeze the half lemon over and drizzle with the pan drippings from the chicken. Toss again, season with salt and pepper, and serve. 

This dish is so good and so filling. The hint of lemon goes so well with the richness of the chicken juices, and creates the perfect savory "dressing", coating the grains and vegetables perfectly. The sweetness of the beets and butternut squash really stands out, the pecans add a nice crunch and the spinach leaves bring even more fiber and a pop of green to the dish. The spelt is so protein-rich the leftovers are going to be a meal all on its own. The leftover chicken will get picked from the frame and tossed for a great lunch for the weekdays.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Asianish, Zoodles and Meatballs- it actually works!

Are you part of the spiralizer revolution yet? You should be! This fun new way to serve veggies is bringing a smile to cooks everywhere. I have been seeing so many creative uses for spiralized veggies. The obvious curly fries, of course, but spiralized potatoes made into hash browns and latkes, long swirls of cucumber and carrot made into salads and slaws and so much more can add some fun to mealtime. What exactly is a spiralizer? It's a tool used to cut vegetables into long curling cuts, spirals, like long springs of food. They can be as simple as the inexpensive As Seen On TV Vegetti to spiralizing attachments to power appliances, with something in every price range. Ever since the spiralizer hit the culinary scene veggie "noodles" have been the new low carb option.  

Naturally I had to play with this fun vegetable noodle and what better recipe to play with than Drunken Noodles? Legend says that this noodle dish was dreamed up by a hungry drunkard looking for something quick to fix after a night of drinking, as there is no alcohol in the dish. Modern theories tend to be that the dish is so spicy you need to have a beer on the side to tame it.

My version of Drunken Noodles is a very similar recipe to Dragon Noodles. The sauce is very similar but adds quite a spicy kick to the tender zucchini noodles and juicy meatballs. As for veggies, I went with mushrooms, onions, garlic, sugar snap peas, red bell pepper, and asparagus. You can use any veggies you have on hand but stick with the peanuts. They add a necessary salty crunch element. 

Drunken Zoodles with Spicy Turkey Meatballs

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup sriracha

vegetables for stir frying
1 lb ground turkey
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
2 tablespoons minced onion
2-3 cloves, minced garlic
several dashes soy sauce
1-2 teaspoons sriracha
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 medium zucchini, spiralized
1/4 chopped roasted peanuts
cooking oil or coconut oil
additional flat leaf parsley for serving

In a bowl combine the sauce ingredients. Set aside for now.

As usual, I was out of Sriracha- so I substituted a hot sauce
I made myself from red rocket chilies. Worked great!
In a bowl combine the turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, minced onion, minced garlic, several dashes of soy sauce, the 1-2 teaspoons sriracha and a good tablespoon of chopped parsley. Mix lightly and form into small meatballs. 

Place meatballs onto greased baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees 25-30 minutes until cooked completely. Remove from oven and set aside.

Prepare the vegetables for stir frying while the meatballs are baking. Cut vegetables into equal sized pieces. Set aside.

Use a spiralizer to cut the zucchini into zoodles. 

Preheat a large skillet or wok. Add a couple tablespoons oil to the skillet. Add the vegetables and stir fry for 2-3 minutes until crisp tender. Remove from wok to a big bowl to toss. Add a little more oil if necessary and add zoodles. Stir fry for about one minute until heated through but barely cooked. Remove and place in the bowl with the vegetables.

Add the sauce to the wok with the meatballs. 

Cook and stir until meatballs are heated through. Pour over the vegetables in the bowl. Add the peanuts and toss to coat. Sprinkle with torn parsley and serve immediately.

Now this dish is complete just like this, and very low carb. Sometimes I like to serve with a little bit of steamed rice on the side as well, for me that makes it more Asianish. Either way, it's healthy and delicious and I hope you try it!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Perfect Mushroom Lasagna- You must try this one!

I love traditional Italian pasta dishes. I do. I mean, who doesn't love a big hunk of cheesy lasagna or a bowl of perfectly cooked spaghetti with tender meatballs and rich delicious marinara sauce? I also like to challenge myself to give those traditional recipes a new twist- something uniquely "me" in flavor combinations that I love, and it's even better when you add a boozy twist.

I admit it, I am on a cognac kick. No, I am not hanging out in the local bars getting hammered. I have been cooking with it like crazy. It warms up humble cheese soup, makes caramelized onions so much more special and takes simple mushrooms to a whole new dimension. And that, my friends, is where I am going today. Cognac and mushrooms. And cheese. And herbs. Baked. Oh man.....

What does this have to do with classic home cooking? Everything. I'm going to take everyday lasagna and turn it into something really special, really delicious and really my style.

Let's talk about mushrooms for a few minutes. Growing up pretty much all my mom ever cooked with was plain canned button mushrooms. In the spring Dad would hunt morels and usually came home with bags full. Of course, Mom was in the Breading and Frying Club when it came to morels, so my experience as a child with wild mushrooms was pretty limited. It wasn't until I became an adult and began exploring unique and unusual foods that I fell deeply in love with wild mushrooms. Cooking with fresh mushrooms is very different than Mom's cooking with canned mushrooms. Today's modern supermarkets have a much larger variety than back then, and if you venture into an Asian grocery store, you will find even more unique varieties.

Even when I am making a wild mushroom dish I like to start with a few white button mushrooms. They are flavor sponges and readily absorb all the delicious flavors they are mingling next too, especially the cognac *wink wink*  Portobella mushrooms are so popular and you can find the big boys or baby bellas- both are delicious. Porcini, Cremini, Oyster and Chanterelle mushrooms show up in the store once in a while and many of them grow wild- if you're an experienced mushroom hunter, go get them! Puffball, chicken of the woods, and pheasant backs are pretty common in Iowa, so I might have them from time to time if I am brave enough to battle ticks in the woods. But for this recipe, I am going to venture back to the city for some mushrooms from the BIG supermarket and avoid the woods for now. It doesn't matter what kind of mushrooms you use, as long as you have around a pound and a half to two pounds. 

NOTE: If you use shiitakes, remember to remove and discard the ENTIRE stem. It's too tough.

So.....Wild Mushroom Lasagna is on the menu, and you will need-
  • 1 1/2 to 2 lb assorted mushrooms
  • 3/4 cup butter, divided
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 4 scallions, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup cognac
  • 1 quart whole milk
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 package lasagna noodles
  • Herb Oil (recipe follows)

Get a large stockpot of water going if you are using the cooked kind of lasagna. Add the noodles when the water comes to full rolling boil and cook according to package directions. Drain into a colander and set aside. I used the no boil lasagna noodles.

While the water is coming to boil, preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Wipe the mushrooms clean and trim off the stem ends. You don't want to WASH the mushrooms because, like I said, they are sponges and will become soggy. Slice some of the mushrooms and cut some into chunks. In a large skillet melt 2 tablespoons butter with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add  the mushrooms and saute for 5-10 minutes until mushrooms are nicely browned. Add the scallions and garlic; cook and stir a couple minutes. Sprinkle the cognac over the pan, then cook until evaporated. and remove to large bowl. Set aside.

I wish you could smell these- mushrooms, garlic, cognac....
To make the bechamel sauce, start by heating the milk in a saucepan. In a large saucepan melt 1/2 cup butter. Stir in the flour and cook for a few minutes to cook out the raw flavor. Add the hot milk all at once and cook, whisking constantly until the sauce is thick and rich. Season with salt, pepper and the nutmeg.

Don't let the roux brown or the bechamel will be dark.
Now we're ready to assemble the lasagna. I like to use a 9x9 stoneware pan. Spread a small amount of the bechamel sauce in the bottom and cover with a layer of noodles. Doesn't have to be picture perfect- no one is going to see it. Spread with more sauce, then add half the mushrooms, sprinkle with 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese. Keep building: noodle, sauce, mushrooms, Parmesan, noodle, sauce and finish with Parmesan cheese on top. Pop it in the oven and bake about 45 minutes to an hour until hot, bubbly and browned on top. Allow the lasagna to rest about ten minutes before cutting. Serve drizzled with fresh Herb Oil drizzled lightly over each serving.

Herb Oil
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • a few sprigs thyme, leaves removed
  • pinch of salt

Make sure you have FRESH herbs for this. It is not possible to use dried herbs in this recipe. Blend everything together in a mini food processor. Trust me, you NEED a mini food processor in the kitchen for things like this. Makes such a huge difference in making herb oils and blending together small sauces. If you don't have one, crush or muddle the herbs in a small amount of the oil, and then mix it all together. Extra virgin olive oil is important to use because of it's fruity quality.

And how did it turn out? Awesome!! The bechamel is rich and creamy, the mushrooms are so hearty and delicious I never missed the meat one bit. It looks uber rich but it's really a pretty light dish- no heavy mozzarella and ricotta, just a few tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, and believe me, that is all you need. The drizzle of herb oil is a clean and fresh note but it's just fine without the oil. 

Talking about this lasagna with a friend tonight made us throw around a few other ideas- we're both big squash nuts, so maybe a butternut squash lasagna will be on the menu soon.......perhaps.......

Monday, February 1, 2016

A New Perspective on Cooking Contests

This is a post from City Girl Country Life, centering around small own life, county fairs and kids in the kitchen. The blog City Girl Country Life is heading into retirement so many of the recipes originally shared there will make an appearance here over the next several months. This story was originally published in July, 2015.


It's county fair season in Iowa again. This year I took a break from entering my own home canned foods and will get to try something completely different- judging. I won't be examining canned foods though. This year I have been invited to judge the Adair County Extension Office's 4H Pride of Iowa Cooking Contest. I'm so excited! I am assigned to the high school age group, and last year these kids made some pretty impressive dishes. Because part of the judging is food safety and the recipe, the kids have to make a poster that features their recipe and directions, and we will be paying close attention to all the steps and cleanliness practices.

The winners! My age group is the top row- L to R- Bailee,
Shelly and Shawna, and Alexis
I've got some pretty great dishes to sample- Meat, Potato and Egg Bake, Deep Dish Tacos, Italian Ribeye Linguine, Cornbread Casserole, South of The Border Casserole, Breakfast Lasagna, Breakfast Roll-ups and Healthy Spaghetti. What a menu! The recipes must include at least one Iowa produced product. The poster each cook makes must demonstrate that they've done their homework about the Iowa product(s) they are using, such as nutritional content. They have an allotted time to prepare their recipe and must demonstrate proper techniques, especially food safety rules. Once their dish is completed (some of the dishes go into the oven after the prep on stage and get tasted after cooking) they are judged on appearance, correct doneness and taste. 

The youngest cook in the competition, Brandon is a 4th
grader who prepared Guinea Grinder Boats. He was
awarded a blue ribbon for his recipe
Besides the award ribbons the contestants can win, they also are eligible for prizes and premiums provided by different producers and businesses, such as the Adair County Pork Producers, A.C. Beef Producers, Midwest Dairy Association, and 3 Bee Honey Farm, among others. 

Contest day arrives and I am excited!!! It's a million degrees outside but I know the 4H building has air conditioning. After a brief orientation fellow judge Karen and I make our way to the staging area and get set up at the judges' table. We have evaluation sheets for scoring the contestants and plenty of tableware for sampling. Karen  will be scoring the junior high and younger kids, grade 4 through 8, and I am judging the high school kids, grades 9 through 12.  A quick glace at the schedule and I can tell we are in for some amazing sampling.

Karen Schultheis also judging the contest. She lives in
Greenfield and is a school teacher
So how are the cooks judged? The judging is two-fold. First we watch the cook as they prepare the recipe they chose. We consider the recipe they chose. What is the level of difficulty? Is it appropriate for the age and skill level of the contestant? What are the Iowa ingredients used? Food preparation skills are watched closely too- did the cook use proper measuring techniques? Did they use appliances correctly and safely? How about food safety- was the cook mindful of cross-contamination and safety issues?

Then we judge the food itself. Does the dish look appetizing? Is it cooked properly and completely? How about the taste? Finally, we judge the cook's poster they made to accompany the recipe, and their knowledge of the ingredients and nutrition aspects. As judges, we get to ask questions and find out how the cook chose the recipe, what changes they made if they adapted it from another source, their cooking experience and practice, and quiz them on their Iowa ingredients.

Hank B. made this poster for his recipe demonstration.

Alexis' Italian Ribeye Linguine is explained in detail
In my group, my winners were Alexis S., a freshman, for her Italian Ribeye Linguine, third place, featuring Iowa dairy products, eggs, and beef ; a duo of Shelly B., sophomore, and Shawna A., junior, for their Healthy Spaghetti which featured spices from Tones, pasta from Barilla, Iowa-grown vegetables, Iowa ground beef and turkey, and corn oil; and the first prize winner was Bailee H., a senior, who created an amazing take on lasagna- Breakfast Lasagna, with Iowa pork (ham), turkey(turkey sausage), eggs, and dairy. 

Why did these three stand out for me? Alexis' dish was delicious and beautiful on the plate. Her steak was cooked perfectly and her sauce was homemade with Romano, Parmesan and Gorgonzola cheeses and thickened with egg yolk. She demonstrated a skill in tempering that egg that a lot of adults can't master. She had really good knife skills, chiffonading baby spinach and using kitchen shears to snip sun dried tomatoes. She plated the dish and drizzled a balsamic glaze over the top and presented a dish worthy of a restaurant. I was truly impressed. 

Shelly and Shawna worked through power outtages
to make their dish. They stayed focused and didn't
let the disruptions get to them.
The duo of Shelly and Shawna had some challenges from the get go. The power went out while they were cooking. This was their first contest but they handled it like pros, never missing a beat and just stayed focused and worked through it. How was the spaghetti? Delicious! They used herbs to bring a lot of flavor to the sauce and added lots of fresh vegetables to add nutrients and flavor, and they did something I really appreciate- they did not overcook the vegetables, leaving a slight hint of crunch and texture. In spite of the power problems the pasta was cooked wonderfully, a perfect al dente. They chose to serve farfalle instead of spaghetti and I liked that- it was easier to eat at the judging table.

Lasagna and breakfast are two words I never thought would go together but Bailee had the creativity to give it a shot and she made it work. Ham, turkey sausage, tender scrambled eggs, creamy Alfredo sauce, veggies, cheese and pasta sounds like a very unlikely combo but it really works! When I asked Bailee about how she came up with this idea she had a great story about working out the details and testing ideas with her mom. I never cooked with my mom and her story made me happy. This dish was truly impressive- the layers held up during serving, the noodles were perfectly cooked and my mind immediately thought this would be perfect for Christmas morning or a brunch celebration. She's got a real hit with this recipe, and that made it, for me, a point or two above the rest.

Brandon concentrates on his recipe
The fair printed a cookbook with all the recipes we judged and I'm going to share them with you! I plan on cooking all the dishes I sampled because they really were very delicious, easy to prepare and all used real food ingredients and not a lot of convenience products. The first recipe is one prepared by Cody M., a freshman. Cody was fun to chat with. He enjoys cooking and like to grow his own food. He told me he fashioned a container herb garden by recycling 2 litre soda bottles and even grew vegetables in these containers. Cody found this recipe online and made a change- the original used bacon, he switched to breakfast sausage links and it works! This reminds me of pigs in a blanket and is a fun take on French toast.

Breakfast Rollups

6 slices fresh white bread
1 package fully cooked sausage links
1 teaspoon butter
1 large egg
2 teaspoons whole milk
pinch of salt
3 Bee Honey
maple syrup

Cut the crusts off the bread, then flatten with a rolling pin. It will become a bit sticky. Combine egg, milk and salt in a dish and whisk to combine. Heat the sausage in the microwave until heated. Place one sausage in the middle of each piece of bread and roll up. Press the seam to seal.

Melt the butter in a skillet. Dip the rollups in the egg mixture to coat. Shake off the excess. Place in hot pan and cook, turning every few minutes until all sides are golden brown. Top with a drizzle of honey and maple syrup.

I really enjoyed this experience. I was a little nervous at the mic announcing my winners at the end of the contest but I did ok. I was so happy to be part of this great competition and hope to come back again. The Adair County Fair is in west central Iowa, in the town of Greenfield. There is no better representation of life in rural Iowa than to visit a county fair. I hope you get to experience this in your lifetime.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Reinventing a Classic- Pork a L'Orange

Well I don't think I have to clarify to anyone that I absolutely love pork. After all, I am a long-time Iowa girl and I often choose pork as my preferred protein when creating new recipes. What's not to love about pork- it's lean, delicious and juicy, and right now one of the most affordable meats on the market. A far cry from the days of pork chops fried to the point of old shoe leather, today's pork is nearly foolproof. It's no wonder I've taken such an interest in adapting classic vintage recipes to a new pork twist. Take this classic French dish, A L'Orange, the timeless roasted duck with orange sauce. Citrus goes so perfect with pork, I'm sure you will love this dish as much as I do.

Widely known as a classic French dish, Duck a L'Orange has a foggy history. Many Italians claim it was stolen from them. Asian cooks all have their own interpretation of the dish as well, with warm spices. Food historians claim the dish may date back thousands of years to regions of the Middle East, where pairing citrus fruits with fatty meats like duck was quite common. Regardless of where and when it was first created, it enjoyed a huge surge in popularity in the 1960s and 1970s in Europe and the United States. I can remember my dad, the original seventies-era foodie, roasting duck on Christmas Day, slowly rendering out all that lovely fat, crisping the skin, and then lovingly basting on the orange juice mixture until the duck was a deep golden brown and more fragrant than any other dish I ever remember him cooking. Growing up in a family of Minnesota hunters and anglers, wild duck and pheasant were more often than not part of the holiday menu and duck was without a doubt my favorite.

As an adult I've grown quite attached to traditional French recipes. Of course, that does not mean that I am going to prepare them "by the book"- I am way too much of a rebel for that! So I set about perfecting the orange sauce so that it accompanies pork in just as a delicious a fashion as the original duck, and comes together quickly with readily available ingredients and I think I've hit it with this recipe. I pored over numerous recipes before coming up with what I think is the best adaptation, and because I used so many recipes for reference, I honestly can't claim this as "mine" except for the super simple sauce. After all, roast pork is a kitchen standard every cook should master.

Make this recipe on a heavy baking sheet with a rim. If you use a large sheet you can make a one-pan dinner, which is a pretty popular trend right now- sheet pan suppers.

Pork A L'Orange

1 boneless pork tenderloin roast, 2-3 lb
salt, pepper, meat seasoning of choice
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
cooking oil
baby potatoes, scrubbed
1 lb haricots vert, or fresh green beans, trimmed

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Use a heavy rimmed baking sheet. Spread a couple tablespoons of oil in the baking sheet. Pat the roast dry with paper towels. Season well with salt and pepper or your favorite meat seasoning or rub. I used both Montreal Steak Seasoning and Feiny's Everything Rub. Place the roast on the baking sheet. Combine the marmalade, lemon juice and mustard. Spoon over the roast.

Add the baby potatoes to the baking sheet, rolling around in the oil to coat the potatoes. Sprinkle with additional seasoning. Roast for 30 minutes.

On a second baking sheet, spread another tablespoon or so of oil. Add the haricots vert and toss in the oil. Sprinkle liberally with the seasoning. Place in the oven with the potatoes and pork. Roast until the meat registers 145 degrees. This should be 15-30 minutes more. Check the temp of the meat at 15 minutes. Remove from oven, place the meat on a board and tent with foil. Allow the meat to rest ten minutes. Slice the meat on the diagonal and serve with roasted potatoes and beans, drizzle with pan juices if desired. Sprinkle with freshly chopped herbs, such as thyme or parsley, if you like. 

Rest your roast! You'll keep the juice in the meat and off
your board
Right now pork is such an affordable option and this recipe really dresses up what can sometimes be a boring cut of meat. It's elegant enough for dinner guests or date night, and quick enough for a weeknight dinner. No need for a fancy sauce either- this roast makes its own with the pan juices and the orange marmalade. The juices melt the kinda-burned spots of the marmalade on the pan and create a rich caramelly drizzle that's really really good stuff.

Even the leftovers look delicious. Drizzle any leftovers
with a little of those caramelly pan juices.
The best time for making a roast is when it's cold and nasty outside. If I described the forecast for Des Moines right now you would be just as disgusted as me- snow and lots of it. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE winter, just not two feet of it. I might as well crank up the oven and throw in a pork roast, whip up some orange sauce, roast some baby potatoes and haricots vert and daydream about having lunch on a sunny day in a Parisian cafe. Sure beats the view out my window- swirling piles of snow.