Thursday, March 30, 2017

Pork Medallions with a Mushroom Pan Sauce

Tender pork medallions seared to a golden brown and served with an herbed mushroom pan sauce. And yes, this is a 25 minute meal! 

25 minutes for something this elegant? Yes! 

Slicing a pork tenderloin into medallions is an easy way to prepare this cut of meat. Often we will grill or roast it, but searing medallions brings something else to the table. 

Once the medallions are seared you are left with a pan full of brown bits. I never let those brown bits go to waste - they hold so much flavor! Bring on the deglazing for a flavorful pan sauce! 

For this dish I chose to use earthy flavors mushrooms and thyme, two things that go perfectly together. The color was so rich, too. Can you imagine the oohs and aahs you'd hear as you set this serving dish down at a dinner party? I love it - fancy enough for a dinner party but easy enough for a weeknight meal. 

Pork Medallions with a Mushroom Pan Sauce
Original Recipe by Mary Ellen of Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations

  • 1 small (1-1.5 lb) pork tenderloin
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 6 large white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 sm onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 dry white wine
  • 1/2 c low sodium chicken broth (note - you can sub beef broth for a richer sauce)
  • A few sprigs of fresh thyme

  • Slice the pork into 1 inch medallions and season generously with salt and peppers
  • Heat olive oil in a large saute pan (I prefer a stainless pan as opposed to a non-stick pan). Add the pork and cook 4 minutes on one side; flip and cook for 4 minutes on the other side. Transfer to a dish. 
  • Add butter to the pan. Once melted, add the mushrooms and saute for 4 minutes. Add the onions and saute for 2 minutes. Add the garlic for 1 minute.
  • Add the wine to the pan and stir, scraping up all of the brown bits.
  • Add the broth and thyme leaves from one sprig. Bring to a simmer for a few minutes. 
  • Taste the sauce and adjust salt and pepper, if needed. Pour sauce and mushrooms over the pork and garnish with the remaining sprigs of thyme. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Classic Chicken Pot Pie

Classic Chicken Pot Pie - comforting, traditional home cooking from scratch. 

When Jon and I got married I really didn't cook much at all. I was a vegetarian at the time, so I had the tofu and vegetable stir fry meals perfected, and could make stuffed peppers and tacos using both real and "fake" ground meat, but that was about it. 
Jon loves to tell the story of the first time we hosted dinner for friends and I decided to make a roast pork tenderloin. I wanted to infuse it with some garlic flavor, so instead of marinating or rubbing it, I decided to put full cloves of garlic in the pork. Well, that's fine and all, but I didn't push the cloves all the way in, so they were all sticking up all over the pork. Jon jokes that I made porcupine pork. 
Not my proudest moment, but I was inspired to learn more and keep trying. I started reading recipes like crazy, but never liked to cook from them exactly, not even the first time making something new. That is what started my love of experimenting and cooking, and is a big part of why I don't like to bake - too much measuring!! I'd rather wing it and go on flavors. 
I started this blog almost 10 years ago when I was still very much a beginner. I look back at some of my recipes from 10 years ago and besides being horrified at the pictures, they make me laugh but also smile because I see how much I have learned. And I'm so glad that I truly LOVE to cook and that my daughter thinks I am the best cook ever :) 
It is for that reason that I have started to revisit some of my much older posts not only to take updated pictures, but to make some changes to the recipes. Most recently I updated a Chicken Pot Pie recipe. 
Chicken Pot Pie is such a comforting and traditional dish. And really, it's not that hard to make, even completely from scratch. Ok, I can't lie - you know that I didn't make the crust from scratch. But with so many good store bought pie crusts out there, I don't see a reason.
What is important to me is a good stock as the base. You won't find any cream soups in this recipe. 
So here it is - my updated Classic Chicken Pot Pie based on my old adaptation of a Martha Stewart Recipe. 
Don't be overwhelmed by the list of ingredients and steps. I'll break it down like this for you - 
Step 1 - cook your chicken which also is the stock making step. 
Step 2 - chop and saute your veggies.
Step 3 - add liquid to make the sauce. 
Step 4 - put in a dish, cover with pie crust and bake. Enjoy!!!
One final tip before we get to the recipe. Look at that picture above - see how some of the sauce bubbles out and down the sides of the dish? To avoid making a total mess of your oven, place a large piece of foil or a cookie sheet on the rack below the rack the pot pie is on to catch any drips. 

Classic Chicken Pot Pie
Loosely adapted from Martha Stewart

For Step 1: 
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 stalk of celery cut into chunks
  • 1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 c low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 c water
For Step 2: 
  • 4 Tbsp butter
  • 1 brown Russet potato, diced into small bit sized pieces (if you do this ahead of time, just store the diced potatoes in a bowl covered with water)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced (same size and potato pieces)
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 large white mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 c frozen corn
  • 1/4 c frozen peas
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper
For Step 3: 
  • 4 Tbsp flour
  • 2 cups of reserved stock (from step one, cooking the chicken)
  • 1/2 c heavy cream
For Step 4: 
  • 1 refrigerated pie crust

  • Step 1: Place the chicken in a pot with the thyme, peppercorns, bay leaves, celery, onion, pinch each of salt and pepper. Add the chicken broth and then add water slowly until your chicken is just covered. Bring to a boil and then let simmer until the chicken is cooked through (180 degrees), about 15-20 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate. Pour the contents of the pot through a colander into another pot; discard what is left in the colander and reserve the stock. Cut chicken into bite sized cubes.
  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. 
  • Step 2: Melt the butter in a large saute pan. Add the potatoes and saute for 5 minutes, until turning translucent. Add the carrots, red pepper and onion and saute for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, peas and corn and stir. Season with salt and pepper. 
  • Step 3: Add the flour to the pan and stir, coating all of the veggies. Slowly add the stock, stirring as you add it to thicken the sauce. The slower you add the sauce, the thicker you will be able to make your sauce. Once you have added all of the stock, add the cream and stir. Bring to a simmer, stirring often, and let simmer 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken. 
  • Step 4: Transfer the chicken-veggie mixture to a deep dish pie plate. Top with the pie crust, cutting off anything hanging over the edges. Cut a few slits in the top. Bake until the crust is golden, about 30 minutes. Make sure you put a piece of foil or a cookie sheet on the rack below the pie as it may bubble over. 
  • Let the pot pie sit for several minutes before serving. 
  • Tip: makes great leftovers! 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Grilled Flank Steak Crostini

An elegant appetizer for entertaining - crusty, toasted bread topped with creamy melted cheese and thinly sliced grilled flank steak. 

Our friends were in town on business recently so we were lucky to spend a fun night with them over good food and of course, lots of good wine. We definitely don't get to see them enough so this midweek visit was a special treat. 

As soon as the visit was planned I started to discuss the menu with my friend Jeff who shares my love of food and cooking. My husband tried to contribute (I'm lucky he loves to cook, too!), but whenever Jeff visits the food is always our thing. 

I knew our menu would include several courses. We ended up with three appetizer courses an an entree. Honestly, but the time we were done with apps I didn't even need an entree, but after an hour break we got back to cooking. 

Our favorite appetizer was this grilled flank steak crostini. I love crostini with different toppings, so for this one we decided on melted cheese and thinly sliced grilled flank steak. From there I just winged it and made several kinds of crostini with different toppings. 

Look how beautiful!!! 

Half of the crostini had melted provolone and steak, while the other half were topped with blue cheese and the steak. Toppings I used were chopped grilled red onions and sliced roasted red peppers. Once the crostini came out of the oven I topped some of them with cold tomato bruschetta topping and fresh arugula. 

I can't even pick which combination of ingredients were my favorite - they were all good!! They were so good that the next night my husband and I made more for dinner with the few leftovers that we had, and I plan on making them for a girls' night I am hosting next week (as long as the blizzard doesn't mess up my grilling plans!!). Yes, THAT good!

Grilled Flank Steak Crostini
Original Recipe by Mary Ellen of Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations

  • 1 baguette sliced into 3/4 inch pieces on the bias (a slight diagonal slice)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
  • 1 flank steak
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Cheese (I used sliced provolone on half and crumbled blue cheese on the other half)
  • Other toppings, such as:
    • 1 roasted red pepper, sliced
    • 2 rings red onion, grilled and chopped
    • Fresh arugula
  • Heat grill to high. Season flank steak liberally with salt, pepper and dried thyme. Cook __ min per side, flipping only once, to medium rare (or medium, depending on your liking). Let rest 10 minutes before slicing into very thin slices.
  • In the meantime, heat your oven to 400 degrees. 
  • Place the baguette slices on a cookie sheet and brush with olive oil. Put in the oven for 5-7 minutes, until crispy.
  • Remove from the oven and rub each baguette with the raw garlic. Top each baguette with cheese, steak, and other toppings, except the arugula (optional: put some more cheese on top). Return to the oven and turn your broiler on high for 2 minutes or until the cheese has melted. 
    • NOTE: if you don't want your steak to cook any more under the broiler, only top the baguettes with cheese and other toppings and broil. Top with the steak after removing from the oven.
  • Optional: top with some fresh arugula and drizzle with olive oil before serving.