Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Valentine's Dinner for Two

Pork Tenderloin with Cinnamon Scented Sweet Potatoes and Apples

When I think of a special Valentine’s dinner, my first choice is often beef tenderloin filet but this year when everyone has budget concerns I’ve turned to pork. Pork tenderloin is a lean, healthy cut of pork and is just the right size for two servings. Let it stand 5 minutes after roasting so that the juices are absorbed. The pork and the sweet potatoes bake at the same temperature and require about the same time. 

Makes 2 servings

1 (3/4 lb.) pork tenderloin

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

½ teaspoon salt


1 sweet potato (about 12 oz.), peeled and sliced

1 apple, peeled, cored and sliced

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon flour

½ tsp. cinnamon

¼ tsp. salt

1 tablespoon cold butte

            Combine the mustard, maple syrup, vinegar, salt and pepper if a food storage bag and mix.     
            Add pork. Seal the bag and let stand 30 minutes or up to 4 hours. Heat the oven to 375      degrees F.

            Remove the pork from the marinade and pat dry. Place on a rack in a small baking pan.     Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until meat reaches 160 degrees F. Loosely cover with aluminum foil and let meat stand 5 minutes before slicing.

While the pork is baking, lightly spray a 1-quart casserole with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange the sweet potatoes and apples in the bottom. Sprinkle with the orange juice.

Combine the brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl. Cut in butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over the sweet potatoes. Cover and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Keep warm.

Tip: A digital thermometer with a probe is the easiest way to have perfectly cooked meat and well worth the investment. Because the incidence of trichinosis is almost nonexistent, pork no longer needs to be cooked until well done. Insert the probe into the center of the meat. New recommendations are to cook pork to 145 degrees F. with a three minutes rest. The lower temperature results in juicy tender pork.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A New Twist on Pizza

Yesterday I appeared on KARE 11 Today in the Twin Cities. Here's the link to the segment. I demonstrated how to shape the calzones and how to bake with yeast.

Here's the recipe for All-American Calzones. The bacon cheeseburger filling is adaptable to all tastes.

All-American Calzones

This is a great recipe for nights when the family cooks together. Start with homemade pizza dough, and let everyone prepare his or her own calzone. You may use any toppings you like—just don’t fill the dough too full.

Makes 4 calzones

 Basic Pizza Crust, below

 1 tablespoon cornmeal

Ketchup and/or mustard

8 ounces lean ground beef, cooked and crumbled

4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

4 ounces Cheddar or American cheese, sliced

1/4 cup chopped onion

4 dill pickle slices, chopped

 Heat oven to 400°F with rack in lower third. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle with cornmeal.

Lightly flour working surface. Divide pizza dough into 4 parts. Roll each part into an 8-inch circle. Spread ketchup and/or mustard over half of each circle. Sprinkle 1/4 cup ground beef, crumbled bacon, an ounce of cheese, 1 tablespoon onion and dill pickle over condiments. You can add about 1/2 cup additional “extras” to each calzone. Fold circles in half. Press edges together and pinch to seal. After I pinch the edges, I roll them and press again. Place on baking sheet and cut several slits into top of each calzone.

Bake about 18 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly before serving.

Fillings for Traditional Calzones: Pepperoni slices, cooked and crumbled Italian sausage,    fresh sliced mushrooms, chopped green pepper, sliced ripe olives, shredded mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese.

 Basic Pizza

 This easy crust makes enough dough for two pizza crusts and four calzones. When I only need one pizza, I pre-bake the second crust and freeze it. With a crust from the freezer, homemade pizza arrives faster than delivery!

 Makes 2 (12-inch) pizzas
                 1  (1/4 ounce) package active dry yeast

                  1     cup warm water (105–115°F)

                  3       cups all-purpose flour, divided

                  1   tablespoon sugar

                 1/2 teaspoon salt

                  1   tablespoon olive oil

Sprinkle yeast over warm water in small bowl and let stand about 5 minutes. Combine 2 1/2 cups flour, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Stir in yeast mixture and olive oil. Continue stirring until flour is absorbed. Stir in remaining flour until a soft dough is formed. Dough will be sticky to start with, but after kneading it becomes easier to handle.

Place dough on well-floured surface and shape it into a ball. Place your fingers on top of dough ball, curled slightly, and pull dough toward you; then push it away, using palms of your hands. Turn dough1/4 turn and repeat. Knead dough 6 to 8 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic.

To judge whether dough has been sufficiently kneaded, place it on work surface, pull both ends gently, and release. Dough should be elastic and spring back.

If dough is sticky, gradually add flour while kneading but limit flour to 3 cups. Shape dough into a ball by pulling sides underneath forming a smooth top. Cover dough and let it rest while you prepare toppings. I just invert a bowl over the dough for this short rest.

Heat oven to 450°F. For crispest crust, place rack toward bottom of oven.

Grease two 12-inch pizza pans. Leave about 1 inch around edge of each pan ungreased so dough has something to cling to as it is stretched to fill pan. Place half of dough in center of each pan, and push it out to pan edges, rotating pan as you go. Form a raised edge around the crust’s perimeter.

Bake crusts 7 to 10 minutes or until they are just beginning to brown. Remove from oven. (The crusts can be frozen at this point. Cool to room temperature and wrap tightly before freezing.) Top as desired.