September 4- September 9, 2018
Tuesday: Return to Pittsburgh – Pantry Pasta (Castelveltranto Olives, Canned Tuna, Tomato Passata, Sautéed Onion sauce with Spaghetti)
Wednesday: Spice-Crusted Grilled Pork Tenderloin / Green Salad
Thursday: Mushroom, Tahini and Poached Egg Toast
Friday: Whole Black Bass en Papillote with Broccoli and Parslied potatoes
Saturday: Shrimp Ssam with Pickled Cucumbers and Fresh Herbs
Sunday: Meme’s Meatloaf / Fried Potatoes / Green Salad / Ice Cream with Blackberry Sauce
“Life was so much simpler when Apple and Blackberry were just fruits.”
We rarely write about desserts because, frankly, we don’t often make them. (Whoever thought that overladen dessert carts in restaurants was a good idea?) It’s a matter of taste for both of us, though it is also true that as a Steelers fan is to Tom Brady, SWMBO is to sugar and carbohydrates. But every once in a while, even when we don’t have formal guests, we indulge ourselves. Well, actually, I indulge myself and, after all, Billy and Emily came to dinner this past Sunday and what with the Steelers’ bizarre tie with Cleveland and my remembering that I had this basket of perfect blackberries I got at the market . . . and one thing led to another and we found ourselves, after a fine Sunday meatloaf, eating vanilla ice cream with Blackberry sauce.
We had meatloaf because it was cold in Pittsburgh – mid-autumn cold – and it had been raining continuously since Friday morning. We needed some comforting. The recipe for that meatloaf – “Meme’s Meatloaf” – can be found in the Wall Street Journal Weekend Edition for this last week.
But we can’t leave you eating dessert by itself, and the Spice-Crusted Grilled Pork Tenderloin we had on Wednesday was so perfect that we have to share that with you as well. This pork works as a main course with rice or potatoes and a green salad, or sliced thinly in a sandwich, or on a platter of appetizers or even, at four o’clock, when you’re feeling peckish, as a snack, right out of the refrigerator.
But pride of place this week goes to the blackberry sauce for two reasons. First, blackberries are nearly perfect at this time of year – unlike the prematurely picked, often sour blackberries of early summer. Second, this sauce, served warm over vanilla ice cream will make you forget politics, that sale you missed last week, the fact that you still weigh the same as when you began your latest diet, and your general shortcomings, sins and crimes against humanity. Go ahead and try it – you can make the sauce in under 10 minutes and, unless you are strange enough to insist on making your own ice cream, you’ll be eating this heavenly concoction in less time than it took me to write this post.
BLACKBERRY SAUCE FOR ICE CREAM
(from several recipes on the internet)
You can, I suppose, use this sauce on pancakes and waffles – but, like potato chips, we never have those at Casa Stuarti. I am a rebellious sort, but it is wise to pick your battles with SWMBO, and pancakes and waffles don’t mean that much to me. (Potato chips are another story, but that’s for another post.)
Basically, all you have to do is take something like 5 cups of blackberries (this is about 3 of those plastic packs stacked up at your local supermarket) and cook them down over medium with about a cup of granulated sugar. The berries will give up enough liquid for a good sauce in about five minutes, with occasional stirring.
To make a thicker, utterly fantastic sauce, mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with a tablespoon of lemon juice and add to the sauce after five minutes. Bring the whole shooting match to a boil and let it cook for about two minutes – stir to make sure nothing burns or sticks. You can refrigerate this sauce for some time, and it is good right out of the refrigerator. But if you cook the sauce while your guests are sitting after dinner, you can serve it warm and that, my friends, is about as perfect as anything gets on this banged-up planet.
[Recap – 5 cups of blackberries and 1 cup of sugar cooked for five minutes – decent sauce. Add 1 tablespoon of corn starch dissolved in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and boil for 2 minutes – great sauce.]
EXTRA – Spice-Crusted, Grilled Pork Tenderloin
(adapted from Cook’s All-Time Best Summer Recipes)
Timing: 40 – 45 minutes
Ingredients: Serves 4
2 (12 – 16-ounce) pork tenderloins, trimmed [i.e., remove the silver skin – call me if you need a tip about this]
So – we had one pork tenderloin which weighed in at nearly 2.5 lbs. God only knows where Giant Eagle gets their pork tenderloins, chicken breasts and Spanish onions. Perhaps from some farm next to the nuclear plant in Shippingport.
1 ½ tablespoon mustard seeds, cracked
1 tablespoon cornmeal
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, cracked
1 teaspoon Demerara or turbinado sugar [This is important – do not use granulated white sugar for this or you’ll get a too-sweet, burnt crust on the pork. Most supermarkets in our area carry these sugars.]
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
½ cup cornstarch
2 large egg whites
Vegetable oil spray
Trim the pork loin(s) of excess fat and of their silver skin.
Crack the mustard seeds and peppers and measure out the other ingredients. Mix the mustard seeds, the pepper, the sugar and the salt and spread on a rimmed baking sheet. (You’re going to roll the pork loin in this mixture to coat it.)
Start a charcoal fire or turn on your gas grill to get it hot. You’ll be dumping the charcoal onto one side of the grill to create a hot zone and a cooler zone. If you’re using a gas grill, turn one burner on high and leave the others off to create the same kind of cooking areas.
Place Cornstarch in a large bowl or on a large plate.
Beat the egg whites in a large bowl until foamy.
Pat the tenderloin(s) dry.
Coat them, one at a time, lightly with the cornstarch, then dip in the egg whites and transfer to the cooking sheet to coat with the spice mixture.
Spray the tenderloins lightly with the oil spray and place on a wire rack set in a second rimmed baking sheet for about 5 minutes. [If you don’t have a wire rack, they can just sit on that first sheet. If you don’t have cooking spray, you can brush lightly with vegetable oil, being careful not to knock off the spice coating, or just use extra olive oil on your grill grates to prevent sticking.]
When the grill is ready (don’t forget to clean and oil the grates), grill the tenderloins, covered, over the hotter side of the grill until browned all over. This will take about 8 minutes and require turning the tenderloin 4 times – onto all sides
Now move the tenderloin(s) to the cooler side of the grill and continue cooking, covered, until the meat registers 145 F. This should take 12-15 minutes.
Transfer the meat to a carving board, tent with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.