Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Red Onions and White Apricots

I love the combination of sweet and savory when you pair fruit with meat. Yesterday I tried a white apricot for the first time (what a fantasticly sweet piece of fruit) and I knew I wanted to pair it with pork. If you can’t find white apricots, any stone fruit will do-nectarines, peaches, plums etc.
For this recipe I use the oven, and depending on where you live in the country, turning on the oven in the middle of summer may be the last thing you want to do. You could saute the onions in oil with thyme and vinegar, add the broth and then add the fruit. Cook all of this together until the fruit is a little soft and serve it alongside a grilled piece of pork or chicken.

1/2 Red onion, medium diced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
5 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Pork tenderloin-seasoned with salt, pepper and thyme
3 Tablespoons chicken broth or white wine
4 White apricots, cut into large bite size pieces

Preheat the oven to 375. Toss the onions, oil, vinegar, thyme and salt together in a small baking dish, something that the pork loin can fit into. Place the pan in the oven. While the onions are roasting, sear* the pork loin in a large saute pan. Remove the pan from the heat and place the browned pork loin on top of the onions in the oven. Add 3 Tablespoons of chicken broth to the large saute pan to scape up any of the brown bits, and pour this mixture over the pork loin. After the pork has been in the oven for 10 minutes, add the white apricots to the pan and roast for another 10 minutes, or until the meat is cooked. Remove the pan from the oven and loosely cover with foil for 7-10 minutes before slicing into the meat.
* Brown all sides of the meat in a pan with a little bit of oil.

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Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut 1

My favorite fast meal these days is grilled sausages, sauerkraut, some grainy mustard and a cold beer. I got this recipe from a culinary school chum. It is so easy, tasty and nutritious. Lactic acid fermented vegetables (which is what uncooked sauerkraut is)  have a lot of vitamin C and contains good bacteria that promote a healthy gut.

This recipe does require a little bit of equipment, but you probably already have something that will work. You will need a ceramic or glass container, a small plate of some sort that will be able to fit inside the container to press down the cabbage, and you will need a weight to weigh down the plate. I found a ceramic container at the Goodwill for $1, the plate I had and I used a jar filled with water and rocks to weight the plate down. If you don’t have a plate that will fit inside the mouth of your container, double bag a zip-top bag and fill it with water and use this instead of the plate and weight.

1 small head of red or white cabbage

1 Tablespoon of salt

3 Tablespoons of water

Wash the cabbage and cut into quarters and cut out the core. Slice the vegetable as thinly as possible. Place the sliced cabbage in a large bowl and add the salt, toss to coat. Let it sit for about 30 minutes. Taste the cabbage, you want it to taste a little salty but not over powering. Add a little more salt if necessary. Pack the cabbage as tightly as possible into your container, use your fist to really punch it down. Pour the water over the top. Weigh the cabbage down with the plate and weight. Cover with a towel and place the container in an out of the way place for about 4-5 days. Check it after 24 hours to make sure that the cabbage is submerged under the liquid that has been released from the vegetables, if the top portion looks dry add a little water. It may smell kinda funny when you remove the towel, but it’s fine. Occasionally the top will get a film of some sort on top, just discard the top layer and eat whats underneath.

You can leave it on the counter where it will continue to ferment and get more sour or you can place it in the fridge to stop the fermentation. I store mine in the fridge, to save on counter space. If you chose to make this recipe over and over like me, save some of the sauerkraut and add it to your next batch, it will speed up the fermentation process.

kraut

No Knead Pizza Dough

Since I do not own a stand mixer or a food processor I rarely make homemade bread or yeast type doughs. Kneading takes a lot of work! I’m not saying it can’t be done, but once you’ve tried it you will understand the luxury of a machine that does that work for you. Also counter space,which is lacking in many small kitchens, is very helpful when kneading.

At the end of this post I try and explain how I shape pizza dough, I hope that it is helpful and not confusing! Some cooking methods are so much easier to demonstrate than to explain.

3/4 Cups warm water

1 Package of yeast

1 Tablespoon olive oil

2 Cups flour*

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

Pour the warm water into a small dish and stir in the yeast; let it sit for 3 minutes. In a large bowl stir together flour, salt and sugar. Add the oil to the yeast and stir into the flour mixture. Mix this together until it’s all combined. Cover the bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap and place it in a warm spot until it has doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Divide the dough in 2, use your hands to shape the dough and place on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Top the pizza with whatever you like, just don’t go overboard the crust is thin and if you overload it, it will be too soggy. Bake until the edges of the crust are golden brown.

Makes 2 12in pizza crusts

*you can use half whole wheat flour if you would like, just don’t substitute it completely or you will get a hard, thick cracker crust

A few random pizza related notes:

-a little cornmeal sprinkled on the cookie sheet before you place the raw pizza dough would add great flavor and a subtle crunch

-this dough can be made a day or two in advance of when you want to use it. After the dough has doubled in size, wrap the dough in plastic and place in the fridge. Bring it to room temperature before shaping

-I like to add a tablespoon or two of fresh herbs to the flour mixture, if you don’t have fresh herbs you could use 2 teaspoons of dried herbs

-when I’m shaping pizza dough I slightly flatten a ball of dough between my palms, then if you think of the dough as a steering wheel place your hands at 11 and 1 and pretend that you are making a left hand turn while keeping your hands at those same places, so the edges of the dough are moving and the dough is stretching down. As the dough stretches larger move your hands to 10 and 2. When it is almost at the desired size place it on the cookie sheet and stretch it with your hands to the desired size. I find that the steering wheel method, helps the dough keep a circular shape. But if the dough isn’t a perfect circle it just looks more “rustic” and everyone knows that you made it by hand especially for them!

Granola Bars

This recipe makes soft chewy granola bars, that you can customize to your tastes, or to what you have in the pantry. Instead of 1 cup of dried fruit, a 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and a 1/2 cup of dried cherries would be a good combo. Ooh and maybe a little candied ginger… I may have to start another batch.

(I used almonds, almond butter and dried orange zest in the picture of the granola bar)

2 Cups old fashioned oats
3/4 Cup wheat germ
3/4 Cup sunflower seeds
1 Cup almonds (or any nut you like), chopped
3/4 Cup coconut flakes (or shredded)
2/3 Cup brown sugar
1/2 Cup honey
4 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons peanut or almond butter
1/4 teaspoon seasoning (dried orange zest, cinnamon, or nutmeg etc)
1 Cup dried fruit (diced if it’s not already small pieces)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Place a large pot over medium heat, add the oats, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, nuts and coconut to the pan to toast. Stir the mixture occasionally, when the oats are lightly toasted pour them into a 9×13 pan and set aside. In that same pot that you just used add the sugar, honey, butter, peanut butter and spice; bring to a simmer and cook until the sugar dissolves, maybe 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in vanilla. Add the oat mixture and the dried fruit to the pot and mix it all together. Line the 9×13 pan with wax paper and pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Place another piece of wax paper on top, press down hard to fully compress everything together. Let it sit for an hour before cutting into bars. Wrap them individually in plastic wrap or layer them between wax paper in an airtight container.
granola bars