Cold Comforts

December 9, 2009 at 1:56 pm Leave a comment

 Well, it is officially – and finally – cold in the Twin Cities:  Even with her little coat on, my little papillon-chihuaha walking buddy does a super model-like pivot when her foot hits the front step in the morning, zipping right back into the warmth of the living room.  I sympathize.  It is a bit of a challenge adjusting to a wind-chill factor of 14° when it was around 48° just last week.  

Now, I would assume that summer would win easily in a poll on favorite seasons because in Minnesota we tend to treasure every shirtsleeve day we can get, but I understand that nationally, respondents actually chose fall.  My thinking is that, for many, crisp autumn weather brings with it a yearning (and an excuse) for long-simmering stewpots filled with tummy-warming concoctions into which warm bread can be dipped, to sop up every last bit of goodness – a pretty sound reason for welcoming October.  Logic then leads us to conclude that the bite of winter would only intensify that natural inclination, right?  I like that theory, and so did my dinner guests when we took this rationale to the table with us, diving into Cider Pork, Cheddar Smashed Potatoes, Roasted Green Beans, Tossed Romaine Hearts with Light Ranch Dressing, Tomato Parmesan Foccacia from my wonderful neighborhood artisan bakery outlet, and – for the especially convinced – Death by Chocolate Parfaits.  I would say that this meal gives new meaning to the phrase “bite of winter.” 

For the pork I used: 

spray canola oil*                   1/2 C chopped onion

1 C chopped carrot (2 med)            1 C peeled, chopped turnip

1# boneless pork loin chops            salt and pepper to taste

1 TB soy flour                          1 C apple cider

                        1 C beef broth 

Coat the bottom of a large, heavy, oven-proof pot with oil and place it over medium heat..  Add the onion and cook 5 minutes, or until softened.  Ad the carrot and turnip and cook 3-4 minutes longer.  Cut the pork into 1″ cubes and add to pan; cook 3-4 minutes, stirring, until browned on outside.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and soy flour and stir to distribute.  Add cider and broth, bring to a simmer, then cover and bake at 375° for one hour.  Serves four moderate appetites.  

 The potatoes are basic: 

4 large potatoes                               1/4 C evaporated skim milk

1 TB sour cream or butter            1 C shredded cheddar cheese 

Scrub potatoes and partially peel, removing any unsightly parts of the skin.  Boil in enough water to cover for 15-20 minutes, or until tender.  Drain potato water off and mashed to a coarse texture with a hand-held potato masher, adding milk, sour cream or butter, and cheese gradually.  Salt and pepper to taste and serve as a bed for the pork stew.  For an even easier side, serve stew over whole grain couscous, which cooks up in 5 minutes. 

My salad was simply: 

4 C chopped heart of romaine             2 small zucchini, washed and sliced

1/2 C Miracle Whip                            1/2 C butter milk or soured milk

1/2 C fat free yogurt                           1/2 tsp dried parsley or chives

1/2 tsp dried dill weed                                   1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder                                    2 tsp lemon juice      

Combine greens and zucchini in a large salad bowl.  Blend remaining ingredients, pour 1/4 C over salad, and toss gently.  Refrigerate remaining dressing in a sealed container. 

And for the green bean side: 

2# fresh green beans                           1 Tb olive oil             Kosher or sea salt 

Wash and trim beans and toss with oil; sprinkle with salt.  Spread out in a large baking pan and roast for 30-40 minutes. 

Our desert was another last-minute happy accident reminiscent of ice cream pie, using: 

4 C caramel, peanut, fudge ice cream (Moose Tracks works well)                      1 C triple chocolate cookie crumbs 

Into parfait glasses, layer scoops of ice cream with a few tablespoons of cookie crumbs until the glasses are full.  I had a slightly over-baked batch of Death by Chocolate cookies – also known as Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Cookies and found on the inside of the Bakers™ Semi-Sweet baking chocolate squares box.  One recipe uses 18 squares of chocolate, and they are, as the tired saying goes, to die for.  

If you have a jar of maraschino cherries hiding in the nether reaches of your refrigerator, by all means, this would be the dessert you want to haul them out for.  And may your cold-weather eating hold many opportunities for plopping a celebratory cherry on top of something.

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

Strengthening Family Ties Stuffing Appetizers and Appetizing Stuffing

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