Wednesday, April 13

Old Friends, New Fun (and Food!)

So, I'm a bit behind, but my oldest friend, Katie, came for a visit two weekends ago and we had a blast! If you're in the market for some good recipes scroll down to get the details on what we ate while she was here.

Katie and I have been friends since third grade. We spent our summers together - mostly at her house, because she had a pool, a hammock, and an endless supply of IBC rootbeer. As we grew up we went to church together and saw each other often, but developed different interests and groups of friends. She went to culinary school in Charlotte, I went UGA in Athens, so we only saw each other a few times throughout college. The last time we saw each other was at my wedding. But some friends can just pick up where they left off.

Among other things, Katie brought with her
three packs of IBC rootbeer!

It's interesting that although we have very different jobs, both of our careers revolve around food. She actually considered becoming a dietitian after finishing culinary school and I thought about starting a catering business for a while (she works as a catering manager). So when the two of us are together you know there's going to be some good food.

To give you the Cliffs Notes version of the weekend, we ate at The Rooster's Beak on Friday night and had a mediocre dinner, but fantastic conversation. After Michael went to bed we had a late-night dose of girltalk. In the morning, we sat down to a no-fuss breakfast that I'd made the day before. I planned for us to have scones, biscuits, and homemade applesauce in a continental-style breakfast, but on a plate, along with the yummy cinnamon bread Katie brought, it turned out to be a very brown, very starchy meal. It was great! Haha.

Since it was a rainy day we occupied ourselves indoors by prepping food for dinner (we share a compulsion to prepare for the next meal as soon as we finish the one before it : ) and brainstorming for my brother's wedding cake. Once the rain died down we went to Surrey Center, which is my favorite place to shop in Augusta. We wandered around until the stores were closed and then headed back home to cook dinner.

Even in the yucky drizzle Michael was a great grill master! While he grilled the pork tenderloin Katie cooked up the brussels sprouts, which were fabulous. Honestly, if you think you don't like them try this recipe! We also threw together a spinach and strawberry salad since we've been loving that lately and made the fudge sauce to top the super-easy banana ice cream we'd made after breakfast. Dinner was ready for the table and oh-so fresh. This was a great springtime meal: satisfying without being heavy, healthy without skimping on flavor.

We were sad to see Katie go, but so very glad she came. I just wish I'd gotten a good picture of us! The only one we have doesn't do justice to either of us, so instead I'll post these pictures from the last time we saw each other.

Wedding reception hug!

The middle school sleepover crew.

Platypus face! You just never grow out of some things!

Without further adieu, here are the recipes from our delicious weekend:

Buttermilk Cheddar Biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt (I use a little less)
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup cold buttermilk, shaken
1 cold extra-large egg (I used a large egg)
1 cup grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water or milk
Coarse sea salt, optional (I highly recommend this)

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Place 2 cups of flour, the baking powder, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low, add the butter and mix until the butter is the size of peas.
Combine the buttermilk and egg in a small measuring cup and beat lightly with a fork. With the mixer still on low, quickly add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and mix only until moistened. In a small bowl, mix the Cheddar with small handful of flour and, with the mixer still on low, add the cheese to the dough. Mix only until roughly combined.
Dump out onto a well-floured board and knead lightly about 6 times. Roll the dough out to a rectangle 10 by 5 inches. With a sharp, floured knife, cut the dough lengthwise in half and then across in quarters, making 8 rough rectangles. Transfer to a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Brush the tops with the egg wash, sprinkle with salt, if using, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the biscuits are cooked through. Serve hot or warm.
Dough may be prepped and refrigerated 1-2 days in advance.
Ina Garten - Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics 2008
It was a drab-looking, carb-laden breakfast, but it hit the spot.
Also, I forgot the egg wash on the biscuits, so they weren't
as pretty as usual.

Chunky Cinnamon Applesauce
Yield: 4 cups
10 Winesap, Golden Delicious or other cooking apples
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup sugar, or to taste
1-2 tsp cinnamon
Core, peel, and cut apples into chunks.
Combine all ingredients. After cooking, mash to desired consistency.

Slow cooker: Cook on Low for 5 hours or on High for 3 hours.
Stovetop: Add enough water to cover apples, cover, and cook on medium-low 45 minutes.
This picture just won't turn the right way.
Believe me, it was a beautiful meal!

Herb-Marinated Loin of Pork
1 lemon, zest grated
3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (4 to 6 lemons)
Good olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic (6 cloves)
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Kosher salt
2-3 pork tenderloins, about 1 pound each
Freshly ground black pepper
Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, mustard, and 2 teaspoons salt in a sturdy 1-gallon resealable plastic bag. Add the pork tenderloins and turn to coat with the marinade. Squeeze out the air and seal the bag. Marinate the pork in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours but preferably overnight.
When you’re ready to cook, preheat the grill and brush with oil to prevent the pork from sticking. Remove the tenderloins from the marinade and discard the marinade.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then grill, turning a few times to brown on all sides, for 15-20 minutes, or until the meat registers about 137 degrees at the thickest part.  Transfer the tenderloins to a platter and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Let rest for at least ten minutes.  Slice and serve.
Ina Garten - Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics 2008

We were hungry, so we forgot to take a picture before serving!

Browned-Butter Brussels Sprouts with Almonds
Serves 4 to 6
Katie actually just made this dish up in her head, but I found a very similar recipe from a random website in case you'd like to replicate it (it's a keeper!).
1½ lbs Brussels sprouts, trimmed
¼ cup butter
1 tbsp lemon juice
¼ cup chopped almonds, unblanched
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Cook Brussels sprouts for 5 to 8 minutes or until almost tender. Refresh under cold water and drain well. Let cool slightly. Cut sprouts in half and place cut-side down on a paper-towel-lined tray to drain. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Bring to room temperature before next step.
Melt butter over medium-low heat in a large skillet until it is just starting to turn golden brown and has a nutty aroma. Stir in lemon juice and almonds and cook until butter is browned. Add Brussels sprouts and toss to coat well and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a warmed serving dish.
 Jennifer Mackenzie - LCBO

Banana Fudge Sundaes
 3 very ripe bananas, peeled, each cut crosswise into 4 pieces
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk, divided
1 cup half and half
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 ripe banana, peeled, diced (for garnish)
Puree 3 bananas, 3/4 cup condensed milk, half and half, corn syrup, and lemon juice in processor until smooth. Transfer to ice cream maker; process according to manufacturer's instructions. Transfer to container. Freeze until firm, about 4 hours.
Heat 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk and 1 tablespoon water in small saucepan over medium heat; add chocolate. Stir until melted and smooth, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if sauce is very thick.
Divide ice cream among bowls. Drizzle sauce over; top with diced banana. (Added step: we bruleed the diced bananas with a little sugar using my food torch!)
Bon Appetit March 2011

Torching the bananas: a fun, but optional step.

Chocolate wafer cookies added a little texture.

Doesn't all that just sound delightful?! What are your favorite springtime meals?

1 comment:

  1. For anyone who wants to try brussel sprouts but doesn't want to cook them in advance...
    Rinse sprouts, trim, and score an X in the bottom - this opens the center and allows steam to reach the middle of the sprout for faster and more even cooking. Brown the butter, toast some slivered almonds, and add lemon juice as stated in recipe above. Toss in the sprouts, season, cover and allow to steam in pan for a few minutes before putting the entire covered pan in a preheated oven for about 15 minutes (20 if the are slightly larger than normal). Serve and enjoy the seriously good sprouts.

    And by the way, I vote we don't wait our standard 2 years before visiting again! Let me know when you have another free weekend and I'll come down bearing more gifts : )