Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine's Day Dinner

I didn't take pictures this year. I just didn't get to do much decorating, though the children hung up hearts all over the house.

Our menu was good and the main dish is definitely a keeper! Here are a couple of recipes.

Palermo Pork Loin en Croute
2 1/4 pounds bonelss pork loin roast
4 thick slices of day old bread, crusts removed
2 Tbs. minced fresh herbs, rosemary, sage, etc.
2 Tbs. grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup cooked crumbled bacon
1 garlic clove, minced
salt & pepper to taste
1 lg. egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1/3 cup chicken broth
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup Cabernet Sauvignon
2 Tbs. salted butter
1/2 onion, chopped
2 Tbs. thinly sliced garlic
1 14oz. can of crushed tomatoes
1 Tbs. chopped fresh basil
1 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano
1 bay leaf
salt and ground black pepper to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Trim away any visible fat from the meat.
2. Place bread, herbs, cheese, bacon, garlic and salt and pepper in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Add egg, and 1 Tbs. of olive oil; mix well. Encase meat with the mixture, pressing firmly.
3. Put meat in a baking dish with remaining oil, chicken broth and vinegar. Roast for 90 minutes, or until internal temperature is 145 degrees. Remove to a cutting board.
4. To prepare sauce, deglaze the roasting pan with wine over medium-high heat. Heat a saute pan over medium-high heat. Cook butter, onion and garlic for 2-3 minutes. Add meat dripping/wine and remaining sauce ingredients. Cook over medium-high heat for 12-15 minutes, or until reduced by a third.
5. Slice meat, pour sauce on a platter, arrange meat on top. Makes 6-8 servings.

This was an easy recipe and very delicious. I substituted dried herbs (about half as much) for the fresh because my market's fresh were nasty looking!

Shayna and I served this with red potatoes cooked with garlic and tossed with butter and parsley, roasted red onion slices, homemade applesauce and a salad of hearts of romaine with oranges and bleu cheese.

For dessert we had caramel custards with chocolate cookies. The recipe I used for the custard came from Arnaud's a restaraunt in New Orleans. I've been wanting to have custard ever since I tried a version of Creme Brulee which was curdled and dry...I thought, "This isn't the custard I remember." I learned to make just a regular custard and then sprinkle the brown sugar on top and put it under the it closely and THAT my friends is Creme Brulee the way you would find it in New Orleans.

For last night I chose to make caramel custard, you unmold the custard and the caramel syrup pools around it on the plate. Yum!

Caramel Custard
1/2 cup granulated sugar, for the caramel
1 Tbs. water
3 large eggs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups whole milk, scalded
1/2 tsp. best quality pure vanilla
Preaheat oven to 275 degrees.
In a small, heavy skillet over medium heat, put the 1/2 cup sugar and 1 Tbs. water, cover and heat for 30 seconds. Uncover, stir and swirl the pan until the sugar is melted and turns a light caramel color.
Divide the caramel among six-4oz. custard cups and let stand until cooled.
Beat the eggs with the 1/4 cup sugar and add scalded milk, slowly, while stirring. Add the vanilla and strain carefully into the prepared cups, to avoid disturbing the caramel.
Place cups in a pan of hot water. The water should come almost to the top of the cups. Cover with foil. Bake slowly for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from the water and cool to room temperature. Chill until serving time.
To serve, run a knife around the edge of the custard and invert the cup onto a small plate.

So, to make Creme Brulee, omit the caramel on the bottom and sprinkle the cooked, cooled custard with brown sugar. Put under the broiler until the sugar is melted, but not scorched. Serve in the custard cups.

It was a delicious dinner and I had a pork loin twice the size I needed, so I just baked the other half up with some herbs on top. I'm going to be making fried rice with it and sharing it with friends tonight.

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