Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Dinner Came With a Crown

One item definitely on my culinary bucket list is crown roast of pork, but it seemed daunting. But I made one today for Christmas dinner. I reviewed several recipes and decided to try one on

I visited the butcher at Publix and asked for a small roast. The smallest that could be made into a crown is seven pounds, quite a bit of meat, but absolutely beautiful.

Crown Roast of Pork with Apple Stuffing

For Stuffing:
6 slices firm white sandwich bread cut into 1 inch squares (I used sour dough)
6 Tbs unsalted butter
1/2 c finely chopped onions
1/2 c finely chopped celery
1 1/2 lbs tart apples (I used Granny Smith)
1/3 c sugar
1 tsp salt
Pinch of cinnamon
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp fresh or 1/4 tsp dried sage
1 tsp fresh or 1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
2 Tbs chopped fresh chives
1/4 c chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread bread squares in single layer on baking pan and bake until dry and lightly toasted (approximate 15 minutes). Cook onion and celery in butter in a 12 inch heavy skillet over moderate heat until softened (4-5 minutes). Stir in apples, sugar, salt, pepper, sage, thyme, nutmeg and cinnamon. Reduce heat to low and cook until tender, about 15 minutes, stir in bread, parsley, and chives.

For Roast
1 crown roast of pork with ends frenched
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/3 lb sliced bacon*

Lower rack of oven to lower 1/3. Sprinkle roast inside and out with salt and pepper and place roast in roasting pan. Place stuffing in cavity and wrap bacon slices around outside of roast, securing with toothpicks.* Wrap tips with foil and place in oven for 2 1/4 to 2 3/4 hours. Transfer to carving board and allow to stand , loosely covered with foil.

For Sauce:
1 1/2 c water
1/4 cup apple jelly

Remove fat from roasting pan and add water to deglaze pan by boiling, stirring, and scraping. Pour through fine mesh sieve and return to pan. Add jelly and simmer until jelly is melted.

Remove all foil from roast and carve into chops by cutting between ribs.

* I forgot to use the bacon.

Despite my mistake, the roast was very tasty and the stuffing was divine. I served it with glazed sweet potatoes (a recipe from the Food Network siteby the Neelys) and green beans almondine.

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I also served a deep dish apple pie for dessert.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

This One Should Come With A Warning

Do you need a little something to take to a party this holiday season? This is great! It is easy, fast, and dangerously delicious. Do not make it and keep it at home. You will not be able to stop. You'll make yourself sick. You'll get fat. You'll never want to leave your couch. Just. Don't. Tempt. Fate.

I made a double recipe today. I have plans. I have cookie tins to fill. I must be good. But I know that I have a large container of these in kitchen and I can hear them calling.

White Chocolate Cinnamon Pretzel Squares

1 bag of pretzels (16-18 oz) I used Synder's of Hanover squares
2/3 cup oil
1/3 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup cinnamon sugar for sprinkling
1 cup white chocolate chips

1. Whisk together oil, sugar, and cinnamon.
2. Pour pretzels into a microwave safe bowl and pour oil mixture in. Stir until coated.
3. Microwave for 1 minute, remove and stir. Microwave 45 seconds more.
4. Spread pretzels evenly onto two cookie sheets covered in parchment paper.
5. While still warm, sprinkle cinnamon sugar generously.
6. Melt white chocolate (on low heat, be careful not to burn) and drizzle over cooled pretzels.
7. Store in an airtight container.

You can taste the butter of the pretzels underneath the salt, then the cinnamon and sugar, and then, finally the white chocolate.

Here they are from a distance...
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And here they are, up close and personal.
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Just a note...I found that the drizzling of the white chocolate went better using a fork than with a spoon.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Baking Season Has Begun

I started my holiday baking today. Each year I promise myself that I will try something new and each year I return to my tried and true favorites. And today was no exception.

I made a batch of Paula Deen's Thumbprint cookies because I love them. Because they are not overly sweet. Because the recipe makes a lot of cookies.

Thumbprint Cookies

3/4 lb. butter (3 sticks), softened
1 c. sugar
2 egg yolks
3 3/4 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
any tart preserves

Cream butter & sugar. Add egg yolks & blend. Sift flour & salt, then blend into the butter mixture. Add vanilla. Chill dough thoroughly.

Preheat oven to 350. Shape dough into 1" balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Make an indentation in each ball with thumb. Fill the depression with jam. (Jelly or pecan halves would also work). Bake 15 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool slightly before removing from sheet to rack.

Will keep well in a tightly closed container.

Now, I'm sure that the good folks of America's Test Kitchen would use a German engineered and machined stainless steel ruler to measure each ball of dough, but I used the tools that God gave me.  photo IMG_20151201_132610_423_zpsxjpxasvw.jpg I happen to know that the distance between the first and second knuckles of my left index finger is exactly one inch.

And instead of using my thumb to indent the dough, I used the cover of my candy thermometer.

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I used raspberry jam, and I made a little less than 7 dozen.

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After they cooled, I carefully packaged them in an air-tight container and placed them in the freezer for later.