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Sunday, June 12, 2011

bbq tastes of summer

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One of the many things to love about summer is that you just can't go wrong when you invite people over for a barbecue. Nobody expects anything fancy (most are content with burgers and hot dogs), and anything you do that's a bit outside of the box looks extra fancy as a result.

For example, tonight's dinner was nothing crazy - bbq'd pork tenderloin, roasted potatoes, salad and dessert - but having a little fun with the execution of the dinner made it super delicious.

Of course, things would have been helped had hubs not practically petrified the pork on the grill (you know that memo from the FDA last week, where they said it was safe to cook pork to 145F? hubs burned it). I was surprised that despite it's inner temperature reading of 180F (no, not joking), some parts of the pork were still not bad.....definitely not juice, but still edible. The thinner parts were chewy and hard (yuck), but the thicker middle parts were workable.

I'm so obsessed with cooking magazines that I took the chance to use two of my latest - June 2011 Clean Eating and Early Summer 2011 Food & Drink - they absolutely did not disappoint, and you'll see the recipes for southwestern cheddar potato wedges, salad with endive, feta, avocado and mint, and passionfruit pavlova following. They were all such delicious twists on ordinary...I felt compelled to share them.


For the main, I opted for an asian-inspired (more pan-asian than any specific geographic location, hehe) pork tenderloin. Aside from charring, I thought the recipe would have benefited from longer marinating. I marinated about 3 hours, but I think that the flavours would have better permeated the pork with an overnight marinade. It was good though...I mean really, when there are meat and's hard for anything to be especially bad.

A little tip, when you are entertaining, make sure you have all of your garnishes ready to go before company arrives. In this instance, I had crumbled feta, cilantro, glaze for meat, grated cheddar and minced red peppers ready to go for last minute additions. It makes you look more organized and makes the whole meal flow a lot better.


Honey-lime dressed salad with avocado, endive, mint and feta
from Early Summer 2011 Food & Drink (will be online here soon)
As soon as I saw this combination of flavours, I knew it would be delicious. It's light and yummy and fresh...the mint adds that little bit of something extra, and it's all wonderfully balanced with the rich avocado, bright mind, sharp feta and yummy honey lime dressing all playing off each other. Can't go wrong with this. I'm sure it would be fine without the endive though - it was good, but you wouldn't be missing anything if you felt like not buying endives)


1/4 c olive oil
3 T lime juice
1 T honey
2 t dijon mustard
1 small garlic clove, minced
salt and pepper

1 large belgian endive (optional, I think)
1/2 cup mint leaves
8 cups greens (I used red leaf lettuce, baby spinach or mixed greens would work well)
1 large ripe but firm avocado, sliced
4 oz feta, crumbled

1. Combine dressing ingredients. Set aside (can be made in advance and fridgified)

2. Slice endive in half lengthwise. Cut out and discard core. Thinly slice. Coarsely tear mint leaves.

3. Combine salad ingredients in a large bowl. Toss. Add dressing. Toss. Eat immediately (will not keep).

Delicious. I think it would be great with a grilled chicken breast on top, or with a nice piece of fish, if you wanted to make the salad into a meal on its own).

Southwestern Cheddar Steak Fries
stolen and lightly modified from the June 2011 issue of Clean Eating

Potatoes are inherently yummy, so it's hard to go wrong, but this is like the love child of a potato skin and a roasted potato....and it's actually not too bad for you. YUM. I reduced teh amount of smoked paprika (and subbed sweet spanish paprika) because I find that smoked paprika tends to completely dominate all recipes. A little bit goes a long way. If you don't have smoked paprika, you could get some smokiness by using smoked salt, a drop of liquid smoke or some chipotle powder. I think they would be good even without the smoke though.


1 lb red or yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut lengthwise into wedges
1 T olive oil
1/2 t smoked paprika (I used bittersweet)
1.5 t sweet spanish paprika (not the cheap grocery store stuff)
1/2 t ground cumin
1/2 t garlic powder
1/4 t sea salt
1 oz finely shredded aged cheddar
1/3 c finely chopped red pepper
2 t minced cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 425F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper/silpat. In a large bowl, combine oil with paprika, cumin, garlic and salt. Toss potatoes with spice mixture. Place potatoes in a single layer on the baking sheet.


2. Bake in centre of oven for 10 minutes. Flip and stir potatoes, and bake for another 10 minutes.

3. Remove potatoes from oven and sprinkle with cheese and red peppers. Bake another 5-7 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve immediately.


Asian-inspired grilled pork tenderloin

I've changed this recipe a little bit, because I like to marinate my pork to infuse the flavours a little more. I would marinate this overnight for maximum yum factor.

1/4 c hoisin sauce
2 T lemon juice
1 T dijon mustard
1 T honey
1 T toasted sesame oil
1 T low-sodium soy sauce
1 T grated ginger
1 T minced garlic
[1 t lemon zest....I omited because I juiced my lemons and was too lazy to zest them after]
2 pork tenderloins

1. To make marinade/glaze, combine all ingredients except pork in a bowl. Mix. Pour 2/3 of marinade over pork. Reserve the rest of the marinade to use as a glaze/sauce.

2. Let pork marinate 24 hours (I say this is crucial...mine only marinated for 4 hours and the flavours were not permeated enough).


3. Grill pork to desired doneness (FDA recommends a temperature of 145F, with a rest time of at least three minutes). Brush pork generously with marinade during laste five minutes of cooking. As mentioned above, hubs grilled to a temp of 180F. I let it rest for 10 was still edible, but I think anything over 160F is really kinda overdone. Slice into thin slices and serve.

You could use this same recipe with either pork chops or chicken pieces and I think it would be equally great. The leftovers are awesom in stir fry, or in wraps or on salads. I was lucky enough to find pork tenderloin at half price today, so we royally stocked up.


Passionfruit pavlova
from Early Summer 2011 Food & Drink (will be online here soon)

I've written about pavlova before....for the uninitiated, it is a dessert consisting of a baked meringue, whipped cream and fruit. This is a relatively simple pavlova, and I think it's incredibly delicious. That said, I also found it too sweet, so I'm providing a recipe NOT based on what I actually made, but tweaked slightly to proportions that I am confident would yield a more balanced dessert.

Overall though, this is amazing...passionfruit is one of the most wonderful flavours in the entire planet - it's so intoxicatingly tropical....if you've never tried if before, this would be a most decadent initiation.

4 large egg whites at room temperature
1/2 t cream of tartar
3/4 c superfine sugar (just take regular and whiz it in the food processor)
1 t cornstarch
1 t white vinegar

1 c whipping cream
2 T sugar
1 t lemon zest
1 T lemon juice
2 ripe passion fruit

1. Preheat the oven to 250F (120C).

2. Trace an 8-inch circle onto a piece of parchment paper using a marker. Line a baking tray with the parchment paper, marker-side down (so the marker does not get on your meringue).

3. Whip the egg whites and cream of tartar until they are foamy. Slowly pour in the sugar while whipping and continue whipping on high speed until the whites hold a stiff peak and the sugar is dissolved (no longer feels gritty between your fingers). Fold in the cornstarch and vinegar.

This is the point where I'm thankful to have my beautiful Kitchenaid mixer:

4. Spoon the whites onto the parchment paper and try to make them look snazzy with a spatula. I tried and failed, - you can see.


5. Bake the meringue for 75-90 minutes, until the exterior is dry, cracking the oven door if the merinque starts showing signs of browning (I think mine browned a was still delish). Once out of the oven and cooled, the meringue should feel dry on the outside and peel away from the parchment paper easily. If still a little soft, return to the 250F oven for about 10-20 minutes. Cool the meringue on the tray before removing.

6. Whip the cream into soft peaks and beat in the sugar, lemon zest, juice and chill.

7. Just before serving, spoon the whipped cream over the meringue, and spoon the passion fruit seeds over the meringue - all you have to do is cut the fruit in half, stir the seeds with a spoon, and drizzle over top.

Voila. Tropical perfection. Slice and serve like a cake - serves 8.


One final tip, given that this is a bbq-themed post. You can bbq bacon. Go do it and thank me later.

That is all.

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