Saturday, January 30, 2010

A dinner to impress

Good day fledgling cooks!

Today, I'm going to throw you in the deep end. It's time to get gourmet on this mofo! You've been seeing boy/girl x for a few weeks (months?) now, you've made the pasta, the stir-fry, and maybe even gotten brave enough to try out something out of a cookbook. Well done! I betcha it served you well (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, saynomore). But now it's time for the big leagues, Slick! On the plus side, you pull this off, you're golden FOREVER!

Dudes and dudettes, I give you Maple-Cognac Glazed Pork Tenderloin.

I invented this one a few years ago in a fit of recent singledom, and while I've had mixed success with the consistency, the flavour is un-flipping-believable! It's also really easy to make.

To make life easier, I'll also say that you're serving this deliciousness with a side of green beans.

So, I'll give you the step-by-step.

Spice Rub

- coat meat (best to use pork tenderloin) lightly in olive oil and mixture of crushed black pepper, garlic powder, salt & crushed rosemary - I usually coat the meat with my hands, sprinkle the spices with a spoon and then massage them lightly into the meat with my figners. If reading any of this is making you tingly, get help.


Essentially, grill or bake the tenderloin until it's a uniformly cooked consistency in the middle. Tenderloin always stays a bit pink in the middle, so don't worry about that. In other cuts of pork, ensure it's white in the middle. Once cooked, slice into medallions about 3/4 inch thick.


In saucepan, sauté/fry/caramelize 1 tbsp very finely minced garlic and 1 tbsp very finely minced onion in butter. Basically, you want it to turn golden, but not burn.

Reduce heat to medium-low (about 4)

Add 1 oz. Maple syrup & reduce (cook until it starts to thicken)

Add ½ oz. Cognac & reduce

Add extra rosemary if desired

Allow mixture to simmer until reduced to glaze consistency (this is always the part I find hard, sometimes it just takes to long to thicken).

Baste or spoon onto cooked meat

As for the beans, boil them in a very shallow pool of boiling water, drain once tender, coat with butter and serve.

And there you go! Send me comments if you need more detail!

I'm not entirely sure what to put in my next post. I might go off on another diatribe...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Back from obscurity with a little diatribe on salt and processed food

Happy New Year!

Alright, it's been 4 months since I've posted and I feel bad (that's if anyone actually reads this).

I just wanted to talk about an issue that I've been taking to heart lately. What motivates me to write this blog is the fact that most single folks rely way too much on "convenience" food; take-out, microwaveable, prepackaged, tinned, etc... And hey, most of it tastes good! The craving for a McChicken comes up far more often than I care to admit.

The problem with most pre-made food is that it is full of two nasty elements: fat and salt. Easy way to get rid of the first is to eat the low-cal diet food. Fine, sure, it's not going to pack on the pounds. But it's by no means healthy. Think about a real simple example: pasta sauce in a jar.

Prego's "Chunky Garden Combo" sauce sounds kindy healthy to me - it's got chunks of garden in it! And at only 140 calories per cup, pretty diet-friendly too. Yeah, and then check the sodium content: 940 mg per cup. The daily recommended intake for adults is 1500 mg of sodium per day, so the sauce itself covers nearly a third of that. Add to that the salt you may have used to cook the pasta with, the numbers add up pretty fast. And that's in ONE MEAL! (Well, if you eat a cup's worth of sauce per meal...)

So, what does this have to do with making awesome meals that gets the ladies' knees a-quivering? Well, next time you're fixing up a bowl of pasta or a stir-fry or whatever I figure to show how to make next time (stew and/or soup, methinks), keep in mind to leave the salt shaker out of reach. A pinch to a teaspoon of salt is usually enough for any recipe, or even less, depending on ingredients and amounts.

Let's say you're cooking something and are adding olives. Each olive has somewhere between 30-60 mg of sodium (depends on size, preparation, etc.). The salt will permeate whatever dish you're making and flavour it just fine without adding any more.

Most meat and seafood is salted before it ever gets to your table, so you really don't need extra. And don't get me started about all that ketchup you're eating with your fries...

So, from now on, less salt. You want flavour? Raid that spice rack dude!

Bon appetit!