Friday, November 19, 2010

Rain + Food Network = An Autumn Menu for a Day Off

If I don't have a big family then I am going to be throwing a lot of dinner parties someday. I get these urges to cook, whether there is anyone to eat it or not :) but i typically find someone to eat it with...usually its the guys my hubby used to room with. Starving bachelors will eat anything and that takes a lot of the performance pressure off. I use their kitchen, they eat my food, its a great trade! And we have a ton of fun, I have to admit, because they are usually "bugging" me in the kitchen too. I get all the absurd stories, dirty/cheesy jokes and amusing male banter i could want for entertainment. Its like being younger with my brothers again.... nostalgia and eating always go well together. Hence the holidays.

Since original plans for tomorrow got canceled, i decided i wanted to relax and cook things far too technically advance for myself. This is the menu i devised (thanks to and and will most likely...kind of....loosely base my cooking on tomorrow. i already changed the mashed potato recipe LOL hey, you gotta start somewhere.

Pork Loin with Fig and Port Sauce



  • 2 1/2 cups port
  • 1 1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 8 dried black Mission figs, coarsely chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon salt, plus additional for seasoning
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus additional for seasoning
  • 1 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 (4 to 4 1/2-pound) boneless pork loin


For the sauce: In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the first 6 ingredients. Boil over medium-high heat until reduced by half, about 30 minutes. Discard the herb sprigs and cinnamon sticks (some of the rosemary leaves will remain in the port mixture). Transfer the port mixture to a blender and puree until smooth. Blend in the butter. Season the sauce, to taste, with salt and pepper. (The sauce can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium heat before using.)

For the pork: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Stir the oil, rosemary, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper in a small bowl to blend. Place the pork loin in a heavy roasting pan. Spread the oil mixture over the pork to coat completely. Roast until an instant read meat thermometer inserted into the center of the pork registers 145 degrees F, turning the pork every 15 minutes to ensure even browning, about 45 minutes total.

Transfer the pork to a cutting board and tent with foil to keep warm. Let the pork rest 15 minutes. Meanwhile, stir the chicken broth into the roasting pan. Place the pan over medium heat, and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits. Bring the pan juices to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Using a large sharp knife, cut the pork crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the pork slices on plates. Spoon the jus over. Drizzle the warm fig sauce around and serve immediately.

Blue Cheese Mashed Potatoes


  • 2 pounds Yukon golden potatoes, washed and quartered
  • Salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
  • Freshly ground black pepper


Place potatoes in a large stockpot and cover with cold water. Add salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium and cook until fork tender. Drain well. Add back to the pot that they were cooked in.

Meanwhile, heat butter and cream until hot. Add the crumbled blue cheese and stir together. Add sauce to potatoes and mash until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

Spiced Pomegranate-Apple Cider

A classic fall and winter beverage tastes even better with the addition of fresh pomegranate juice. To serve chilled, after the mixture has steeped, store sealed in the refrigerator.

  • 6 cups apple cider 
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 sticks of cinnamon, about 3 inches in length 
  • 1-1/2 cups pomegranate juice* SEE POMEGRANATE JUICE RECIPE 
  • 1-1/2 cups rum (optional)


Heat apple cider, cloves, and cinnamon until juice just reaches a simmer; remove from heat. Let steep, covered, one hour. Stir in pomegranate juice. For each serving, heat 3/4 cup juice mixture (do not boil); stir in 3 tablespoons rum.
Makes 8 servings.

I made all of these and i admit it....i followed the recipe. Almost to the letter, i added a cinnamon stick (I know HUGE right? meh i like cinnamon and i didn't regret it either) What can i say, i needed structure. Too much has been out of my control and everywhere, especially today, so where my cooking is normally a way for me to bust out of control a bit and get creative, this time I had to stick to the recipe just to get through it at all. Not because they were hard, but because it's what i needed. I am happy to say everyone enjoyed the meals, every course was a hit. So over all....a win :) Thanks Food Network.

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