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Microwaved Steamed Broccoli, a Probe Thermometer, and the Best Pork Loin Ever

30 Dec

I didn’t really plan on posting anything today, but dinner has inspired me to write!

We’ve been eating out…a LOT.  Now that it isn’t quite so hectic around our house, we’re getting back into cooking meals for ourselves.  We had to run out to the store today and just foraged for ideas for dinner.  I found a pork loin I liked, and bought some broccoli and red potatoes to go with it.  I didn’t really know what I was going to ultimately make at the time (uh…other than pork, broccoli, and potatoes), but it seemed to have potential and it gave me an excuse to use my super cool new digital probe thermometer.

I found this really great recipe on Allrecipes for roasted pork loin (it was actually the recipe of the day, which was convenient) that I used as a basis for dinner.  Since my pork loin was only about a pound, I mixed about 1/2 tsp salt, pepper, 2 mined garlic cloves, 1/2 Tbsp. dried rosemary, and olive oil until it was pasty, then smeared that all over the pork loin and put it in my trusty cast iron skillet.  I put in my probe thermometer and set it to 150 degrees then stuck the whole thing in the oven set to 350 degrees.  How long did I cook it?  I’m guessing about 30 minutes, but I didn’t need a timer.  I have a super cool new digital probe thermometer!  

While the pork loin did it’s thing in the oven, I put a pot of red potatoes on to boil (in salted water with 3 garlic cloves).  After they were fork tender, I used a hand mixer to blend them together with 2 Tbsp of butter and some milk.  I added salt and pepper to taste and that’s it.  Mashed potatoes are so easy!

The thing that makes this relevant to The Modernist Cuisine is the fact that I made the steamed broccoli in the microwave.  It’s so easy I don’t know why everyone doesn’t do it this way!  I just cut my broccoli florets off the stalk and put them in a microwave safe casserole dish.  I added some salt, pepper, and a little lemon juice to the broccoli and then put about 1/16th of an inch of water in the bottom of the casserole.  I then covered the dish with plastic wrap and put in the microwave.  Overall I ended up cooking it for about 3-1/2 minutes on high, but I checked it a few times to make sure I didn’t overcook the broccoli.  While really nothing special, the broccoli came out great and I’ll definitely be steaming veggies like this in the future.

As a side note, here’s a handy thing to do with the broccoli stems!  Instead of throwing them away, cut off the fibrous pieces and cut the broccoli hearts into sticks.  They make for great snacking!

The real star of this show was the pork loin!  I have made pork any number of ways over the years, and while this seasoning mixture wasn’t the best I’ve ever used (that award goes to Ina Garten’s Loin of Pork with Green Peppercorns), the end result was absolutely fantastic thanks to the thermometer.  I cannot believe I haven’t been using one of these things forever!  I mean, I’ve heard various chef’s (though I’m mostly looking at you Alton Brown) talk about how awesome they are, but I guess you never really appreciate what you’re missing until you’ve experienced it for yourself.  Seriously, it was the easiest thing ever.  I set the alarm to go off at 150 degrees, and the loin coasted to a perfect 160 while it rested.  I’m not sure what more you could ask for.  It was the juiciest, tenderest, most delicious texture I’ve ever had in a pork loin.  Even after I was full I wanted more!  Please, trust me on this, never cook another roast without one!

So that’s it for now.  I’m very excited to test out my new pressure cooker for this week’s Modernist Cuisine recipe, Caremelized Carrot Soup, but more on that later.  Until then…

Bon Appetit!

Hiatuses and My Christmas Haul!

28 Dec

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and I may have added a few bricks to that particular road by trying to cook and blog so close to Christmas.  Sometimes life happens and I don’t always get to do things exactly as I had planned.  And I suppose I might have forgotten how busy the holiday season can be.  However, Christmas is over now and it’s back to the kitchen with me!

What’s great is that I got some really cool kitchen stuff for Christmas that will help me in cooking from The Modernist Cuisine!

First up, I got a very nice digital scale.  This is the third digital scale I’ve owned, and I hope this one lasts.  The first one had a good run and finally gave up.  The second had a cruel run-in with our toaster.  Apparently it warps and stops working if you leave it on top of the toaster oven while toasting.  I don’t plan on keeping this one on top of the toaster so as to avoid that problem in the future.  Eventually I would like to have another digital scale to handle very small quantities, but this one will handle most anything I can throw at it for now.

I also got a digital probe thermometer.  This is really awesome because I’ve wanted one for what seems like forever!  I haven’t had an occasion to use it yet but I’m very excited to test it out!

Lastly, and most awesomely, I got a pressure cooker!  To be honest, I have never in my life used a pressure cooker nor do I remember anyone in my family ever using one.  However, this one piece of equipment opens up a world of possibilities for modernist cooking.  I got a stovetop model, not an electric one, but that suites me just fine.  With a small kitchen, the last thing I wanted was another piece of equipment that has to plug in and sit on the counter.  While excited to try this one out, I’m also terrified that I’m going to blow up my house!  It has safety features and whatnot though so maybe this isn’t such a big issue.  🙂

The other thing that I’ll say is that I bought some sodium citrate online.  Another new ingredient for me!  I didn’t have much luck finding it in stores around here, which isn’t much of a surprise.  Actually, Kyle (the hubby) asked about it at our local pharmacy per some advice I found online.  The lady there looked at him like he might be a terrorist!  He had to, very quickly, explain that he only meant to make macaroni and cheese, not a bomb.  Hopefully we’re not on any kind of watch list now.

So between a new ingredient and several new pieces of equipment, I have plenty that I can write about!  I haven’t picked out a recipe for next week yet (I can’t make mac and cheese like I planned pre-Christmas until I get the sodium citrate) but I know I have a lot more to pick from just by having the pressure cooker.  If anyone has any requests or recommendations, by all means let me know!  Thanks for reading and I’ll post again soon!