Brined Pork Loin with Molasses-Mustard Glaze and Apple Butter

Brined Pork Loin with Molasses-Mustard GlazeFallin’ for Pork
Fall is when pork shines. My family eats pork pretty much year-round—either as pork chops, or in tacos, or whatever. But, when the calendar flips to fall, I start thinking about juicy pork roasts. (Turning the oven on in the middle of July when it is 102º outside is a non-starter.) Fall flavors like apple and cinnamon pair perfectly with the mild flavor of pork.

But, the challenge with pork roasts is that they can dry out if you cook them too long. To solve that problem and to introduce the flavors of the season to the pork, I like to throw any roasts or chops that we’re having for dinner in a brine.

Brining is easy and you don’t have to do it for long periods of time. Pork chops, for example, only need to be brined for 30 minutes to an hour depending on how thick they are. (Double cut chops can go as long as 2 hours.) Over-brining will cause the meat to be mushy which is never pleasant.

There are so many brines to pick from. But, I am partial to any that include apple juice or cider. The end result is just a bit sweeter but not super apple-y. One of my all-time favorite brines for pork is our recipe for Thick Pork Chops with Spiced Apples and Raisins. I use it 90% of the time, as it’s relatively quick and can be managed mid-week.

Sometimes though, you wanna go bigger.
This recipe for Brined Pork Loin with Molasses-Mustard Glaze and Apple Butter is not a quick weekday whip-up. It is better left for a lazy Sunday dinner with friends and family watching the leaves fall from the trees. Serve this with some roasted sweet potatoes and/or Brussel sprouts and maybe our Barley and Pine Nut Pilaf for the best representation of Fall on your plate…

Brined Pork Loin with Molasses-Mustard Glaze and Apple Butter Recipe
Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay and the Food Network
Yields 4 to 6 servings Read more…

Apple Bourbon Cake

Apple Bourbon CakeOctober Fest
Last weekend some friends hosted their annual Oktoberfest celebration. It was perfect. The weather was crisp and fall-like. The beer flowed and many pretzels were consumed. There were tasty brats and my favorite bockwurst. There may also have been lederhosen but it’s a visual that I’m trying to ignore.

I was in charge of bringing a dessert. But, what does one bring to a beer party? Chocolate seemed wrong. So, I figured a harvest-y flavor like apples would pair nicely. And, since the group was mostly adults, I knew something boozy would also work well. I went with this Apple Bourbon Cake, and it didn’t disappoint.

Don’t be afraid of the bourbon glaze. The flavor is not as overpowering as you might think. Some lightly sweetened whipped cream is a must, though…

Apple Bourbon Cake Recipe
Adapted from Melissa Clark, NY Time Cooking
Yields 10 to 12 servings Read more…

Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread

Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread RecipeWhen you find a recipe that piques your interest, your mouth starts to water in anticipation of what could be. But, there is always the possibility that the picture you have in your mind is not the reality. Sometimes that is due to user error and other times it is because of the way that recipe is written.

My problem is, when I get excited about a recipe, I want it to be perfect and I am really bummed when it’s not. One of the hardest things to do is to write a recipe that is clear and concise for a reading public that includes cooking talents that span the spectrum. It is almost impossible to get it perfect for everyone.

Therefore, when I find a recipe that I want to try, I always read through it a few times before I start the process. That way there are usually no surprises, and it usually comes out the way I expected. There are a few occasions when even armed with knowledge, it doesn’t work right. It can be very disappointing and disheartening especially when you can’t figure out what went wrong. Baking is notorious for this…

Case in point, I recently tried to make a cinnamon apple twist bread that I found from King Arthur. With the little chunks of apple and the cinnamon dressed up with a sweet glaze, this recipe appealed to my need for some indulgent fall flavor. And, I thought it would be a fun treat for a lazy Sunday breakfast.

Things started out just fine. The dough came out beautifully. But, things went sideways with the filling. I opted to go the Clear Gel route and that may have been my mistake. Or, maybe I just chose the wrong apples—because there was so much juice that the filling went everywhere. I managed to get the bread braided and ready to rise but I knew that the result was going to be gooey sticky. (Which could actually be a good thing, am I right?)

At the end of the day, the bread sorta worked. It tasted great but looked terrible. This weekend, I am going to try it again going the cornstarch route. I will not let this recipe defeat me!!

I’ll let you know how it goes…

Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread Recipe
Adapted from King Arthur Baking Company
Yields 2 loaves

This makes a delicious breakfast loaf and presents beautifully on the table. Read more…

Cheddar Beer Rolls

Cheddar Beer RollsLet the Good Times Roll
I am not a huge beer drinker. I really have to be in the mood for a beer. And even then, I have very specific beer tastes. It’s either a lighter beer like a Corona when it’s hot or I am on a beach. Or, usually, when it’s cold outside at the tailgate, it’s a Guinness or other type of stout. Nothing in between.

I do, however, cook with beer…a lot.

I have a number of recipes that involve beer from Beef Short Ribs Braised in Dark Beer with Bacon and Red Onion to Spicy Beer Marinated Flank Steak but one of my favorite ways to cook using beer is to make bread.

Sure you could do a straight-up beer bread like my Classic Beer Bread recipe which is a great addition to any fall chili or soup dinner. But, if you are looking for something with a twist give this Cheddar Beer Rolls recipe a shot. They are great on the table as dinner rolls. But, they work equally well when made into hamburger buns for a little something unexpected to up your tailgating game…and if you really want to get crazy, add some diced jalapeños.

Cheddar Beer Rolls Recipe
Adapted from NY Times Cooking
Yields 12 dinner-sized rolls or 6 hamburger buns

The addition of beer makes these Cheddar Beer Rolls recipe especially light and fluffy. And, you can also make delicious burger buns. Read more…