Stuffed Roast Pork Loin with Figs

Stuffed Roast Pork Loin with FigsA Good Melon

There are a lot of great lines in the movie When Harry Met Sally, and I use them often. But, there is this one favorite scene where they are interviewing a couple about how they met and fell in love.

One of the actress’s lines is, At that moment I knew. I knew the way you know about a good melon…

Ninteen years ago, I met this great guy at work, and I just knew. I can’t really explain it but I did. We were not an obvious couple to say the least. Our backgrounds were just so different, but there was something about him… And again, I just knew. He, on the other hand, required a little stalking convincing.

We became great friends, and spent a lot of time together outside of work. But we didn’t actually start dating officially until about a year and half later. I think I just wore him down…

Three years after that we were married.

This week marks our 15th Anniversary, and to celebrate the fact that we haven’t smothered each other with a pillow, Mr. Wonderful and I decided to get away to the wine country for a day, with just the two of us. We sipped. We spa-ed (is that a word?). We ate. It was fantastic, and it was great to be just the two of us again, if only for a few hours.

Dinner at Ad Hoc was one of the highlights. The food was good, the wine was good, and it was so nice to enjoy a romantic dinner with my husband—and be able to have an actual conversation.

The after dinner activities were a little different, though. Fifteen years ago we probably would have met up with some friends and/or have gone dancing. Now?  We ate so much that went back to the hotel and fell asleep watching the Giants…at 9 o’clock. I know. Total party animals…

I have made a number of recipes from the Ad Hoc At Home book but, let’s face it, I’m good but I’m no Thomas Keller. The food we had that night was simple but so, so tasty.

The Smoked Pork Loin that we ate is not one of the recipes featured in the book, but this Stuffed Roast Pork Loin with Figs is, and as the weather gets cooler (eventually) it makes for a perfect fall dinner.

Stuffed Roast Pork Loin with Figs
Recipe adapted from Ad Hoc At Home by Thomas Keller
Serves 6 Read more…

Classic Apple Dumplings

Classic Apple DumplingsHey Dumplin’

Sometimes it feels like we get cheated here on the West Coast. For all of our fantastic weather, outdoor pursuits, great food, and amazing people, we pay a steep price—no real seasons.

Okay, we do get seasons, but it feels like two instead of four. Don’t get me wrong. I love living in the Bay Area, and I know I am lucky to do so.

But, would it be too much to ask that the temperature not be over 100 on the first day of Fall? Seriously, is a little bite in the morning air asking all that much? A few brightly colored falling leaves would be good too…

We got a brief taste of Fall a week or two ago. It was fantastic. There was a cool breeze in the air and a sweater was actually required. I was wearing one while sifting through the piles of fall-themed catalogs and magazines that keep showing up in my mailbox.

All the pumpkin spice recipes and copper kettle pictures have me longing for my boots and scarves. But, I would look like an fool wearing that when it’s 97 degrees out!

One thing I came across did stop me dead in my tracks because it screams Fall and Fall cooking:

While perusing one of the recent catalogs that arrived on my doorstep, I came across this Classic Apple Dumpling recipe—which is different than Baked Apple Dumplings recipe I posted about this time last year. So, you know I had to try it.

For me, apples and apple cider go hand in hand with fall. And I can’t think of a better way to ring in the new season, no matter how hot it is…

Classic Apple Dumplings
Adapted from King Arthur Flours
Read more…

Amy’s Preferred Chicken Pot Pie

Amy’s Preferred Chicken Pot PieGo with Your Gut

I have been cooking long enough to know better when it comes to trying new recipes for old favorites. Yet, I keep falling into that same trap—the who knows? trap.

Case in point: Chicken Pot Pie. I love Chicken Pot Pie. It’s up there in my top 20. And I am pretty militant about what makes a good one. And, I have tried many different versions, and I know which one I prefer.

Yet, I continue to try new recipes, hoping for a different outcome, but knowing that I will probably be disappointed…

This phenomenon occurred again last night. I recently found a recipe for pot pie turnovers that I thought would be great to have in the freezer. (I am still on my freezer food kick.) So, I gave it a shot. Alas.

One of my kitchen rules is not to alter a recipe until I’ve made it once according to the instructions. I was tempted to bend the rules this time, because the recipe called for dried thyme. I love the taste of thyme.

Fresh thyme is one of my favorite herbs, and I use it often. Dried thyme, in my opinion, tastes like dirt. And it will overpower anything you make with that dirty flavor. So I compromised and only used one teaspoon of the two the recipe called for.

Bad move… Fresh thyme is the way to go. I also did not care for the addition of  Dijon mustard to the gravy.

The pot pies were definitely edible. But as a family, we agreed that this recipe was not a keeper. I’ll stick with my tried and true. And the moral to this story? Don’t mess with a good thing!

Amy’s Preferred Chicken Pot Pie
The good news is you can use this filling I developed, anyway you want—be it as a traditional pie, or as turnovers for something more portable. Read more…

Andouille Mac & Cheese

Andouille Mac & Cheese Gridiron Grindage

Over the weekend, the angels were singing, the flowers were in bloom, the stars aligned, and everything was right in the world…College Football returned!

For most of you, this is a non-event. For us at Piedmont Grocery, it’s kind of a big deal. For the next 4-5 months (depending on who makes the playoffs) the trash talking and marching song playing will provide a much needed distraction from our daily lives.

For those customers who have experienced the store in the Fall at 9 AM on Mondays, you will know what I mean. You never know which fight song you might hear. It could be Fight for California…though that’s pretty rare. And I make sure that Mighty Oregon gets it fair playtime. It’s a fun tradition—though there are a couple of songs that should be retired…USC’s Fight On for one.

The fun is not limited to the store. My family is pretty Cookoo for Cocoa Puffs about college football. In fact, we gathered at my sister’s over the weekend, dressed in our finest maroon and gold, to watch Dad’s Trojans play Alabama. (Well, some of us. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I almost broke out in hives.) And I, of course, was wearing my green.

No matter what color we were wearing, all of us agreed that the football food we ate was fantastic. I brought a mac n’ cheese recipe, Andouille Mac & Cheese, that I had been dying to try, and it was soooo good. Definitely not diet but perfect for a tailgate or game day buffet.

Andouille Mac & Cheese
Adapted from Food & Wine
Serves 4
Read more…