Foodie Jousting: Orange, Black and Sugar~

26 10 2009

Nov_09_miseI love participating in the Royal Foodie Joust…it always pushes my creativity out of the box a little.  When I read the ingredients selected by Kat of A Good Appetite, I had to laugh.  It’s Autumn here in the Northern Hemisphere.  Orange is abundant…Halloween is upon us so Black is joining in…and sugar.  Hmmm.  Orange…pumpkin, butternut, acorn…there are a number of orange fleshed squash.  Black as in dark beer, or cola if you prefer.   Hmmhmmmm…and sugar…  What to do with those ingredients… Then, I remembered the bottle of Double Chocolate Stout I’d stashed away knowing it would work into something sometime, and I’d wish I’d bought it. Today, would have been that day.   After a few weeks of thought processing, I came to a point of needing a dessert for a birthday dinner, and time was running out.  Why not?  She did say she wanted me to cook for her…  The worst case scenario would be to pull out ice cream.  So the joust begins…butternut squash, double chocolate stout beer and sugar to start with…and with any luck at the other end we’ll have a Chocolate Stout Butternut Brulee.

Nov_09_sqshIt sure starts out orange and black!

Double Chocolate Stout Butternut Brulee~

1 1/2 cups butternut squash chunks
1 1/2 cups Double Chocolate Stout

Simmer the squash with a dash of cinnamon until the squash in tender and the stout has evaporated. Measure 1/2 cup cooked squash pulp.

Squash pulp
4 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
1/4 tsp. salt
3 Tbs. sugar
3 Tbs. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
grating of fresh nutmeg

Mix together in a blender until smooth. Pour into ramekins and bake in a water bath at 325º until custards test done.  Sprinkle cooled custards with just enough sugar to cover the surface of the custard and torch until sugar liquefies and caramelizes.

Tasting Notes~
When we tasted the custard mixture before we baked it and it tasted like a chocolate malt, we knew we were headed the right direction.  The  crackly caramel crust provided a nice little crunch to go with the creamy texture of the custard.  The chocolate was just right…not too deep, but overshadowing the spices so that they were more like delicate flutes rather than fanfares of flavor.   There is no way I’d have realized I was eating any kind of squash if I hadn’t created the dish myself!  We all loved the dish, including the Birthday Girl!

Jousting with Apples, Cayenne and Maple Syrup

28 09 2009

Oct_09bI really love Jousting at The Royal Foodie Joust.  Jenn, also known as The Leftover Queen, plays hostess to a court of Foodies who have been playing “Chopped” for much longer than the Food Network has!  Each month the previous month’s “Best Over All” winner gets to select the 3 ingredients that will tease and torture us!  Some months are more difficult than others. I’ve been away a few months between work and availability of ingredients…and one combination I just could not get my head around in time.  It happens…  So when I finally got a chance to peek and see what we were up against this month and discovered we were to work with apples, maple and cayenne, a couple of things started working in the back of my mind.  I just left well enough alone until one concept of the other started to come together.  It helped that all 3 ingredients were in the house!

I knew I was going to mix the cayenne and the apples and the maple, but…as an appetizer or a main dish?  Then I remembered I had a port tenderloin…SOLD!

Pardon, I sloshed…

Dijon-Cayenne  Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Spicy Maple Apples

1 1/2 # pork tenderloin
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1/2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
Mix last dijon, cayenne and maple syrup. Rub well into pork tenderloin.
Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. fresh thyme leaves.Set aside for at least 2 hours.

About 45 minutes before you plan to serve dinner,prepare apples.

2 fuji apples, peeled and cut into eighths
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tbsp. butter
1/4 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
1/8-1/4 tsp. cayenne depending on your taste.
Saute until apples are tender…add additional water if needed

When apples are tender, set aside and keep warm while preparing the pork.

Preheat oven to 425º
In a heavy pan that can go into the oven safely, melt:
1Tb butter
2 tbsp olive oil

Sprinkle the meat with kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.
Brown tenderloin on all sides in the butter and olive oil.
Place pan into 425º oven for 15 minutes.
Remove to a plate and wrap to rest while you finish the sauce.

1/2 cup white wine
Balsamic vinegar
Deglaze the pan with 1/2 cup white wine; add 1 tsp balsamic vinegar then add apple mixture to heat

through and reduce.

Slice pork,  Serve on a bed of apple slices with a drizzle of sauce.

Serves 2-3
Doubles easily for 2 tenderloins.

Tasting Notes:
We agreed this was a slightly unusual dish, but also very good.  Apples go well with pork; pork goes well with maple; maple goes well with apples…we have a circle! We both thought the tenderloin could have been a little spicier without any problem.  I may have been a bit too restrained there.  It was still very flavorful, moist and tender. The addition of the balsamic vinegar to the sauce helped the apples feel a little sweeter.  This is a recipe where you can change the apples, without changing the outcome drastically.  I think a sweeter apple would have been fine, but the Fujis don’t give up their shape while they’re cooking, and that’s what our tree was FULL of.   So Fuji apples it was.  The balsamic vinegar added a little tang, and at the same time a little twisted sweetness to go with the maple…which almost disappears, and yet, it’s the only sweetener.  Our verdict was it was good enough to have again sometime this Fall!

Royal Foodie Joust ~ Rice, tomato, bacon challenge

25 05 2009

I really enjoy participating in the Royal Foodie Joust.  It gives me an opportunity to put on the creative side of my apron and see where my mind takes me…  My husband always gets a big smile on his face when I start thinking out loud…using him as a sounding board for listing ingredients and techniques as I wander around my imaginary kitchen.  This was a great team-work production.  We thought about the ingredients, and Bruce was leaning toward a take off on a classic BLT…ok.  But with avocado.  Ok.  “But I need to use rice…”  “Well…make a BLT with avocado hand-roll…you know how much we hate those!”  I still wanted to work a twist in with something…  Rice paper wrappers worked for that.  But what to dip them in?  I hunted down a dipping sauce recipe…and got to thinking about Mexican salsa…  Thai sauces are a balance of sweet-salty-sour-hot…that’s all pretty complimentary to salsa…and the herbs are similar…cilantro is common between…Hmmmm….why not?  Here’s what we came up with….

BLT Rice Paper Rolls with Thai Salsa ~


The rice paper rolls are filled with a leaf of lettuce, herbs (green onions, cilantro, mint and Thai basil), bean threads (I wanted rice vermicelli here, but it wasn’t available), cooked, slivered bacon, tomato, yellow bell pepper, avocado, then halved, cooked shrimp, rolled up.  The Thai salsa brings it all together in an explosion of flavors…  Tomato, mango, diced jalapeno, minced shallot, with mint, cilantro, and Thai basil in a Thai dipping sauce of lime juice, brown sugar (palm sugar was recommended, but unavailable), and fish sauce.   Drizzle, ok…Spoon a generous bite of salsa into the spring roll and devour.  There are so many layers of flavor!  Bruce described it as “a rainbow of flavors that just kept coming!”  This is going to be a GREAT summer meal as they also hold well in the fridge!


Huge thanks to The Leftover Queen for reigning over this event!

Jousting~Red, White and Green

26 04 2009

I really enjoy the various interpretive events among the food blogs.  I’ve tried, and tried to participate in Paper Chef, but one thing or another has prevented me from that.  I’ve participated in a few other little events here and there, but have really come to enjoy the challenge of the Foodie Jousts sponsored by the Leftover Queen.

The Joust for May calls for, not three particular ingredients, but 3 colors!  Way to go Peter and Christey!  This couple runs  They were voted Best Overall Entry in April’s food joust for their interpretation of the ingredients almonds, lemongrass and asparagus.  I have to admit…I voted for their dish too.

So…the challenge this month is to utilize red, green and white in our presentation.  Interesting…  Hmmm…  The first thing that came to mind for me was Salad Caprese.  Bright green basil…white cheese, and red tomatoes…so why not?


The recipe is ever so simple…a nice sturdy whole grain bread, sliced fresh mozzarella, buffalo milk mozzarella is particularly yummy if you can get it…a whispy slice of proscuitto, topped by a generous slice of vine-ripened tomato  and pop it under the broiler just long enough to melt the cheese and toast the edges of the prosciutto.  Add a sprinkling of extra virgin olive oil, and a chiffonade of fresh basil and just try to resist.  Good luck with that.  *Ü*