Lighter Summer Fare

June 1, 2009 at 12:01 am 2 comments

Blog Food I 020The weather in Minnesota can be pretty funky this time of year.  Last week we had a day of 90+ temps only to be followed by a day that dipped to 50-something.  My poor mini-pup can’t quite decide if she wants to flop in the sun or keep up a brisk, body-warming trot, and a friend recently joked that he’d heard that summer would fall on a Tuesday this year.

But still, we hopefully label the month of May “spring,” and like to think toward the possibility of some consistent warmth from June through August.  As we slowly and erratically make the transition to lighter summer fare, some seasonal items help fill out the menu for a nice late-May supper.  Oriental-style Roast Pork Tenderloin, Parsley Buttered New Potatoes, Rosemary Ciabatta Rolls, Roasted Spring Vegetables, Sliced Kiwi, and a delightfully decadent super-dessert of Peanut Butter Banana Strawberry Fudge Supreme – but only if you eat all of your vegetables.

To serve 6:  Prepare the veggies first, to roast along side the meat in a pre-heated 350-degree oven.  Cut one medium white onion in half stem end to stem end, and then into 1/2″ slivers.  Core, seed, and cut two large orange peppers into bite-sized pieces of about 1” and wash and cube one large yellow summer squash into equal size chunks.  Cut off the reedy ends of 1# of asparagus spears and then slice each spear into thirds, making diagonal cuts.  Spray or sprinkle lightly with olive oil – 1 tsp is sufficient – then toss well to distribute the oil.  Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp ground coriander and bake for 40 minutes.

For the pork, mix in a small bowl 1/2 tsp each salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder and rub combined mixture over the entire surface of a 2# pork tenderloin.  Bake the seasoned tenderloin in a small, foil-lined roasting pan at 350 for 10 minutes, uncovered.  Meanwhile, mix together in the same small bowl 1 TB hoisin sauce, 1 TB lemon juice, and 1 TB light soy sauce.  Pour sauce evenly over the pre-roasted meat and bake an additional 30 minutes, turning the roast in the sauce every 10 minutes.

For the starchy side dish, I used “B” potatoes, which may not technically be new potatoes, but the result was still lovely.  Simply scrub (and halve into “new potato size” pieces) 1-1/2# red-skinned potatoes and cook them in 2 quarts of boiling water for about 15-17 minutes, testing for doneness with a sharp knife tip.  When the knife slips through easily, without crumbling the potato, drain them, plop some butter on them (I stick with my “a little goes a long way rule” for butter here, so a scant 1-1/2 tsp seems to flavor nicely when tossed with the very hot spuds), and sprinkle with freshly snipped parsley.  Dried parsley also comes to life pretty well in a hot, moist dish like this if you haven’t any fresh on hand.  I lack a windowsill in my kitchen for growing little pots of fresh herbs, so I often use dried to good effect.

For the rolls, I discovered at our funny little local low-overhead discount grocery, where the stock changes daily, a wonderful product called Olive Oil Rosemary Ciabatta Rolls, which come frozen and bake up to a crisp, hot decidedly continental meal accompaniment.   Crack one open and melt a little canola oil margarine into these babies and you’ll think you’ve died and gone to gastronomic heaven; I should have known, with the brand name of Joy of Cooking.  It’s not a whole-grain product, but it has some wonderful “tooth” to it.  Now I just wish I had bought a whole freezer-full while I had the chance.

For a light finish, I would sautée a few sliced gala apples in 1/2 tsp of butter and a 1/2 tsp of olive oil until golden and then top them with vanilla yogurt and a sprinkling of toasted sunflower seeds.

But if it’s a splurge night for you, definitely save room for desert.  I started a few days ahead by making up a batch of my favorite Fanny Farmer Cookbook hot fudge sauce recipe, using the version that calls for unsweetened chocolate squares rather than the cocoa powder version because I like the texture better, and making sure I had some good quality vanilla bean ice cream in the freezer.  Then make sure you have on hand some nice, juicy fresh strawberries and one or two firm but ripe bananas.

Early in the day I made the peanut butter base:  cream 3/4 C chunky peanut butter with 3/4 C cup butter on med speed for 30-45 seconds then beat in 1/2 C granulated sugar and 1 cup brown sugar, packed.  Next beat in 1 tsp vanilla and 2 eggs until well combined.

In a medium bowl, measure 1-1/2 C all-purpose flour, 3/4 C graham flour, 2 tsp baking powder, and 1/2 tsp salt and whisk until baking powder is well distributed.  Scoop flour mixture into peanut butter mixture 1/2 cup at a time, with mixer on low, until all dry ingredients are incorporated.  Spread dough in a buttered 11-3/4×7-1/2×2” baking pan and bake for 30 minutes.  You can use a 13x9x2” pan and check for doneness after 25 minutes with a toothpick inserted in center.  Center should be moist but not gooey.  Cool on a wire rack and cut into serving-size pieces; wrap securely in foil.

To serve, place a peanut butter cake square on each dessert plate, warm the hot fudge sauce until it is of pouring consistency, slice the strawberries and bananas, and set out the vanilla ice cream carton.  Assemble each masterpiece by topping the cake with a generous scoop of ice cream, surrounding it at the base with alternating strawberry and banana slices, and topping it off with enough hot fudge sauce to make it all come out even.  My guests’ confection-muffled “ummms” and “ahhhhs” told me this was a dessert worthy of devoting “dessert night” to.  Enjoy.


Entry filed under: Musings of a Midwestern Foodie. Tags: , , , , , , .

Attitude and Perspective Tuesdays With Mama

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Rae  |  June 7, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    Did I really read something about only ONE dessert per week?
    I’d never eat my vegetables!

    • 2. kirkhams  |  September 6, 2009 at 10:39 pm


      Thanks for visiting the web site and for commenting. I am always glad to have feedback, and I promise to publish plenty of dessert recipes in the futre!



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