Monday, November 28, 2016

Ottolenghi Roasted Vegetables & Tahini Cookies

Had friends over for dinner last night and sous-vided (that's a verb by now, right) a pork tenderloin for the second time.  That may become my go-to main course for company.  So simple, cooks perfectly, and it gives me an excuse to show off the immersion circulator.

Anyway, to balance the easy main, I broke out Plenty and made Ottolenghi's roasted vegetables with vinaigrette.

I had an mild disagreement with a friend recently who complained that his recipes are too involved and she finds herself cutting corners when she makes them, with results that are just about as good. To which I say, is that a criticism or a compliment?  In my mind, if a recipe inspires you to combine flavors you might not have otherwise, or try a new technique, then it's done its job. 

I expect that any of us who are good cooks automatically adapt or alter just about any recipe we make.  Add more of a favorite vegetable, substitute away from an herb we're not partial to or don't have on hand. Reduce the salt or butter or whatever. Or change it if something doesn't quite make sense--for example this dish called for 4 red onions, which can't possibly be right--are American red onions way bigger than British ones? Ottolenghi encourages adaptation and alteration -- he usually suggests ways to change or simplify himself in the recipe intros.

Anyway, red onion overload notwithstanding, this is a terrific recipe. I roast vegetables just fine, thank you (in addition to red onion, this combined sweet potato, parsnip, cherry tomato, and a whole head of garlic along with sprigs of rosemary and thyme). But I've never bothered making a dressing for them before. Ottolenghi tosses these with olive oil, lemon juice, capers, maple syrup and Dijon mustard. Which I almost certainly would not have thought to combine on my own, but wow.  So much flavor, and yet without overwhelming the inherent flavors in the vegetables.  I can't wait to try this again, and I'm actively looking forward to tweaking it.  And as with so many of his dishes, it's beautiful--great color and gusto and verve, and half a head of garlic always adds visual as well as flavor appeal.  And it combined super-well with the pork, too.

I did a variation on his spinach salad with dates, nuts, and pita croutons, which I've made so many times I don't even look at the recipe anymore.  At this point, I think I can claim it as my own, or at least a "Joetolenghi" creation.

Finally, because I was feeling ambitious, or maybe because I opted not to bake bread, I also whipped up a batch of his Tahini Cookies, from Jerusalem.
Exactly as one might expect, they are peanut butter cookies meet halva, a very shortbready sort of crumb with a really nice sesame flavor. About as simple as could be to make, and yet impressively unusual and tasty just the same.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Sous Vide Pork Tenderloin

Greetings campers.  The unpromising shrink-wrapped thing to the left of this text is a sous vide-d pork tenderloin.  A little seasoned salt, some olive oil and not much else in there with it.  The bend in it is a little weird, I'd be the first to admit, but I don't have super long bags, and I didn't want to cut the raw tenderloin in two.

Anyway, as with all things sous vide (and all things pork tenderloin, too), it's not the most exciting thing in the world to watch it cook.  But here's a shot of it cooking just the same.
Eagle-eyed readers may note that I'm using Celsius on the immersion circulator.  I was feeling European.

And below is the finished product.  One of the sides is a little roasted butternut squash I made myself, topped with some seasoning mix from Kyoto.  The other is some gratineed cauliflower, frozen from Trader Joes.  Not bad, though I'm not sure I'll run out and buy more of it.

Anyway, of all the things I've cooked in a bath so far, pork tenderloins are second only to chicken breasts as far as this is really the only way you should ever ever cook them.  It didn't take a huge long time, the meat came out perfect, and it was quick and easy to get a nice sear going via a quick visit to the skillet.  Total and unqualified success.

I am really looking forward to making another one of these!