Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Oh my, it's 2016!

The arrow of time knows no slowing down, unlike you and me, who most likely are feeling sluggish, what with all those leftovers! Our holiday rack of pork roast was exceedingly succulent. Why? Rubbing it with olive oil and roasting first at a higher temperature for about ten minutes, and then lowering it for the remaining time helped, but the most significant reason is that my life-long programming to overcook pork is dismantled for once and all. If when the roast is pricked, the juice runs out slightly pink, that beauty is taken out of the oven right away. Another way of moisturising it further: wipe clean with a damp paper-towel several large mushrooms, break off their stems at the base and reserve, place the caps stem-end in a skillet with a tablespoon or so of butter, cover and simmer over moderate heat for five minutes, turn them over, put a bit of butter and thyme in every cap, cover, and braise for another five minutes. Each cap which would work also as a first course will have a luscious puddle of mushroom liquor, butter, and thyme. Flip one onto a pile of sliced pork, and voilà, 'instant' gravy!

Roast pork, braised mushroom cap, potatoes dauphinoise & Brussels sprouts

The meaty pork bones along with a bouquet garni, black peppercorns, mushroom stems, the rest of the Medoc wine, and onions were simmered for a few hours. The strained, reduced broth, now frozen, is ready for when a bowl of it, with added garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, broken linguine, pork slivers, and a poached egg would be the perfect way to warm oneself on a wintry night.

The pork broth can be mixed with homemade chicken broth

We, indeed, had the planned apple pie; hefty slices pitched-hit for breakfast the next few days. My favourite part of the preparation is tossing the sugar, freshly grated nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and a bit of flour into the sliced apples. Ah, the fragrance of apples and spice! Recipe is here. (For the crust, omit the cheddar and add a few tablespoons of sugar.)

Smaller bowl holds the sugar/spice mixture & the larger one, sliced apples

What a lovely baking accessory is our new non-stick silicone mat! If flouring is necessary at all, it is only a tiny bit hence there isn't the usual farinaceous mound up to my ankles. Also, the mat stays put when kneading or rolling dough. Since measurements for various diameters are right on it, rolling out the correctly sized dough becomes a cinch. The dough along with the mat can be rolled, and then unrolled right over the pie plate. After use, a dunk in soapy water is all that is needed. I see way more baking in the future!

The mat can be stored wrapped around the rolling pin so it always will be handy

Several tablespoons of sugar were added to the dough making the crust more tender than flaky and very nicely browned.

What to do with that gorgeous sticky juice that oozes all around the baking dish? Before it stiffens, spoon it into the crust's slits.

Choosing accompaniments for the pie, we dutifully followed Julia Child's dictum, if you're afraid of butter, use creambillows of whipped cream, rivulets of liquid cream, and mounds of coffee ice cream.

What! Plain pie? Yes, but there is a lot of cream in the coffee

The garden is brightened with orange-red hips which makes me glad that I didn't dead-head all the roses.

Eight of the eleven annual veggie beds are spaded and mulched with oak leaves. If the remaining three get done before the nursery order arrives which will be in a few weeks, I'll be chuffed.

A nearby copse of mostly oak trees provide leaves that will become leaf mould in a year

Dirac the Young Cat was very happy that holiday cooking involved a lot of cream of which some wound up in his bowl.

À la prochaine!

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