Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mock Pork Marbella

This is a modification of a recipe from a couple of different places. The following is my variation of it and my family nearly lick their plates clean.

The key component for this is the pork loin. We use our own pork loin from pigs that were raised by a friend which we then butcher and process ourselves. So, I KNOW the quality of meat it top of the line and healthy.

Spray the bottom of a roasting pan.You can use a cast iron Dutch Oven if you have one- just do the whole process right in the Dutch Oven. If I am doing two loins, or two half-loins, I use my roaster so that I don't use up all the space in my oven.  Rinse and trim (if needed/necessary) the pork loin. I usually leave some of the fat on as that's where the flavor is! 

Sear all the sides of the loin in a frying pan that has been oiled with either bacon grease or coconut oil.  Remove loin to your roasting pan. Pour in 1 cup of balsamic salad dressing- off brand works fine- and bring to a simmer. Scrape all those delicious brown bits of flavor from the bottom of the pan. Pour the liquid back into your measuring cup and add a hefty splash of straight balsamic vinegar and 1/4 cup brown sugar. Stir well so the sugar dissolves. Add in 1 clove of garlic, minced, 1 T dried basil, 1/2 T dried oregano, and a pinch of salt.

Still following along? Don't quit on me now!

Now, add into your liquid 1/4 cup halved green olives and about 1/2 cup of prunes that have been roughly chopped.

Put the loin in the roasting pan and pour the liquid mix over top. Cover. Bake at 325 deg. until done. I did it one time for 4 hours and it was so moist and buttery, you almost needed to eat it with a spoon!

When it's done, take it out of the pan and set it aside, covered with a foil tent for 10 minutes to let it rest. Meanwhile, make a roux of butter and flour in a sauce pan. I use 2 T butter (no substitutes) and about 3 T flour. Skim off the fat from the drippings and discard. Strain out the olives and the some of the prunes. Set aside. Make a gravy with the liquid and roux. Add back in some of the prunes to the gravy.

To serve: either slice and place on platter with the olives and prunes scattered over top, or leave whole on platter and scatter the olives and prunes over top for presentation.

I serve this with a mashed potatoes and either carrots or broccoli. Round this meal out with some home baked bread, and you've got a winner!

This is equally good with boneless, skinless chicken or turkey breasts, or bone-in chicken thighs. We use the broilers that we raise ourselves or the turkeys our son raises for 4H. I think it makes all the difference in the final product when you use ingredients about which you can feel confident. Don't you?

Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap /


Mock Pork Marbella

1 pork loin, approx 3-4 lbs, trimmed as desired
1 cup any brand balsamic salad dressing
1/4 cup (hefty splash) of balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 T basil
1/2 T oregano
1 clove garlic, minced

Sear meat in bacon grease or coconut oil on all sides. Place into greased roasting pan. Pour in 1 cup balsamic salad dressing into browning pan and bring to a simmer. Scrape up all the little delicious bits of browned meat. Add rest of ingredients and pour over meat. Cover and cook at 325* until tender- 4 hours or so.

Remove. Tent. Make gravy. Serve. Inhale. Enjoy. Collect praises of awesomeness for mad kitchen skillz.

Oh, and clean up. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Homemade Bread

The recipe book refers to this as Very Good Bread. My family and I have to agree.

Once you start making bread, be careful. It's hard to go back to store bought bread once you've made this one. The natives get restless without homemade bread and will stage a coup if batches are produced too far apart. 

6 cups of bread flour* (AP works, but not as well)
2 1/4 cups of whole wheat flour
2 cups of hot water
1 cup of cool water
3/4 cup of oil
2 T fast acting yeast
2 t salt
1/3 cup brown sugar

Put the two flours, salt, yeast, and brown sugar in big bowl. Mix well. Add in the water and oil. Knead until very soft and pliable- about 10-15 minutes.

**If you have a Kitchen Aid mixer, the directions go like this: Put flours, salt, sugar, and yeast into mixing bowl. Turn on mixer with bread hook. SLOWLY pour in the water and oil. Keep mixer on low speed for about 5-7 minutes.

Turn out into a large, greased bowl and spray with oil. Cover and let rise until double in size. Punch down, separate into 4 equal piles. Form into loaf shape and put into greased bread pans. Poke holes in top with fork. Let rise again until double in size.

Bake in heated 400* oven 18-22 minutes or until golden brown and hollow when thumped.

My Amish friend takes her butter wrappers and wipes them over her loaves of bread when they come out of the oven but that is purely optional. 

Immediately turn out onto wire racks to cool.

*Bread flour is a high-gluten flour that produces the most tender bread ever. If you can't get your hands on it, don't worry, your bread will still be better than anything from the store!

If you ever have stale, leftover bread, try this recipe for homemade bread crumbs. 

Monday, October 6, 2014

Vanilla-Glazed Apple Cookies...Hello, Autumn!

Finally! An autumn recipe that contains not one iota of pumpkin!

This recipe comes from a 1965 Good Housekeeping Cookbook. I have another one that I use frequently from the same era (that I stole from my mom) that starts out by saying, "The way to a man's heart" is by cooking a great meal. I'll let you ponder that while I eat these Vanilla-Glazed Fresh Apple Cookies 

Start with 1/2 cup shortening (remember, kids, the book is from 1965). 
Add in 1 1/3 cups brown sugar and 1 egg. 
Cream those together.

In a separate bowl, sift 2 cups flour, 1 t baking soda, 1/2 salt, 1 t cinnamon,
1/4 t fresh nutmeg, and 1 t ginger (original recipe calls for cloves instead of ginger, but I intensely dislike cloves, so ginger it is).

With mixer running on low, pour in half the flour mixture, 1 cup finely chopped apples (peelings left on, if desired. I leave it on- it's easier that way), 1/4 milk or apple juice, then remaining flour mixture. It should resemble something similar to this:

Drop them by scooper-fulls onto a greased baking sheet 
and bake at 375* for 11-14 minutes, or until done. 

 Remove to wire rack to cool. 
I put mine on the rack with a cookie sheet under them
to catch the crumbs and the overflow of the glaze.

Mix up a quick vanilla glaze of 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1 T soft butter, 1/4 t vanilla, 
and 2 1/2 T light cream.

These are actually just as good the next day, if they make it that long, as they are the first day. They store really well as long as you layer them on wax paper.

The kids love these and I have been able to tweak the recipe enough to make them gluten-free (I just use my own gluten-free flour mixture). They can even be dairy free, just use apple juice in the dough and again in the glaze recipe. 

I hope you are able to make up a batch of these soon. You won't be disappointed!

They are so delicious you won't even miss the pumpkin~

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