Friday, December 26, 2008

Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Apples and Raisins

Sometimes you just need something a bit fancy. This is not as complicated as it looks and a lot will depend on the kind of sausage you use. I used a spicy, apple cinnamon sausage that did just the trick! The next time I make this, I may just double the stuffing mix to serve as accompaniment.

1 3/4 lb. pork tenderloin, ends removed to make it a uniform thickness
1/2 apple
1/2 celery stalk
1/4 small onion
1 savory sausage, cooked or uncooked 1/4 - 1/3 cup
2 tablespoons raisins, preferably baking raisins
Dried marjoram
Cayenne or red pepper flakes
Salt and Pepper
Chicken stock

Put the apple, celery and onion in a mini-processor and, if using pre-cooked sausage, the sausage. Pulse on chop. Heat about 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan. When melted and the apple mixture. If using raw sausage, add that along with it. Cook over medium heat until the vegetables just begin to brown.

Add enough chicken stock to just cover the vegetables by about half. Add a few pinches of dried marjoaram and, if using pepper flakes, a pinch or two. Add the raisins and simmer until the liquid is absorbed. Set aside to cool (you don't want to place hot stuffing in a raw meat). Be sure to taste for seasonings. If you want a bit more of a kick, put in a dash of cayenne pepper.

Season the pork with salt and pepper. Using a sharp knife and beginning about 3/4" from the end, begin slicing into it lengthwise stopping about 3/4" from the other end. Be careful not to slice all the way down. You are creating a "pocket" for the stuffing mixture.

Spoon in stuffing and don't worry if you don't use it all. Insert four toothpicks or cut bamboo skewers through the sides of the tenderloin (see photo). Using butcher's twine, lace it up.

Preheat oven to 350-375. Place the pork in a shallow roasting pan (I used a glass bread pan). Sprinkle the remaining stuffing around it. Bake for 25 minutes. Add chicken stock, about 1/4-1/2 cup and return to oven for another 20-25 minutes. Pork should be done around 150-160 degrees. Cover with tin foil and allow to rest. Remove to a carving board and remove string. Slice and pour juices from pan over it.

If you want more juice, add a bit of warmed chicken stock to the pan.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Ham-and-Noodle Casserole

As soon as the furnace starts to kick in, I know the season of casseroles is beginning. Easy to make ahead, even freeze, they are nice on a cold day. If you don't have leftover ham, purchase a ham steak. But this recipe is at its best when one uses Boar's Head Pesto Parmesan ham. Just have the deli slice it about 1/2 inch thick.

  • About 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups dry egg noodles. I used Inn Maid medium noodles--non curly
  • 2 cups cubed fully-cooked ham, such as "Boar's Head Pesto Parmesan Ham"or any left-over ham.
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 can cream of celery soup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced without the stems
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion (not sweet onion)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery (optional)
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire (optional)
  • about 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
  • Pinch or two garlic powder
  • Topping
  • 1 cup SOFT bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan

Cook noodles. Drain. Put in bowl with a bit of olive oil so they don't stick.

In a large bowl, combine ham, soup, sour cream, mushrooms, onion, mustard, seasoned salt, Worcestershire, cayenne. Mix. Taste and re-season if necessary. Add the noodles and mix. Transfer to an 11 x 7 x 2 greased baking dish or a 9x9 pan.

In a bowl, toss breadcrumbs and butter. Add cheese. Sprinkle over casserole. Bake uncovered at 325-350 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until heated through. You may cover it with foil for the first 30 minutes and then uncovered for the last 15.

Note: To make fresh breadcrumbs, put a couple slices of bread in the mini-processor and whirl until breadcrumbs form. I don't like cubed, uniform ham chunks. Using a sharp knife held at an angle, I make thin non-uniform slices as if you really were using leftover ham. But that's just my own preference.

This can easily be doubled and you can freeze one.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Come to the Stable

By Gary T. Czerwinski

The United States finally came clean and admitted what most of us already knew: we are in a recession. Venice, Italy wishes it were in a recession, a recession of water, that is. It is inundated with the highest tides ever recorded. Our presidential election is over. The world turns and events go on.

This is one of the bleakest of holiday shopping seasons. Economists call it “deflation” because the discounts are so steep retailers aren’t making any money. And since most of what is selling isn’t made in the United States, it really doesn’t do us any good. To be honest, it’s not doing China much good, either. They are laying people off and the amount of container shipping across the oceans has decreased to a trickle.

I recently received an e-mail chronicling the number of big-name retail stores that will either shut their doors for good or begin closing outlets across the country. The numbers are staggering. Even more staggering will be the number of people who will lose their jobs.

Here’s a sampling:
  • Ann Taylor closing 117 stores.
  • The Bombay Company closed all 384 U.S. stores.
  • Charming Shoppes chain closed 150 outlets.
  • Circuit City filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in November 2008 and is closing 155 stores across the U.S.
  • CompUSA closed most of its 103 outlets.
  • Dillard's closed 21 outlets in 2008 and said it expects more store closures in 2009.
  • The Disney Store closed 98 outlets.
  • Eddie Bauer closed 29 outlets
  • Ethan Allen closed 12 retail design centers and two service centers in 2008.
  • The Foot Locker closed 274 outlets in 2007 and another 60 in the first quarter of 2008. More are likely.
  • Whitehall Jewelers began liquidating and closing all 373 of its stores.
  • The Home Depot announced in May 2008 that it would be closing 15 underperforming outlets.
  • Kirkland's is expecting to close 130 outlets by the middle of 2009.
  • Levitz Furniture: Good-bye.
  • Macy's closed 11 outlets in 2008.
  • Sharper Image began closing and liquidating all 184 of its outlets in June 2008.
  • Sprint will be closing 125 of its 1,400 retail outlets.
  • The Wickes Furniture chain began liquidating merchandise at locations nationwide in February 2008.
With the current economic forecast, expect more to follow. And this list doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of really small businesses. In 2007, 637,100 new businesses were created, 560,300 businesses closed and 28,322 filed for bankruptcy.

In my own lakeshore area where tourism is king, it’s not unusual to see stores open and then close within a few years. But we are now witnessing well-established businesses closing their doors for good. Mine included.

I’m always somewhat aghast when I walk into these big-box stores. Merchandise piled to the ceiling. A lot of it is the same stuff in other stores. The poet’s line “earth cry mercy” always pops into my head. How many more natural resources can we rape from our planet to produce all this … junk? Has it really been worth it?

Many families are planning more simplified Christmas celebrations. At last! Fewer gifts. More handmade, personal items. Less is more!

With so many people facing home foreclosures, becoming homeless and jobless, even living in cars, the meaning of “born in a manger” might just rekindle a divine and somber simplicity we seem to have forgotten.