Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Mojo Pork

One of my favorite grilling recipes, that we used every summer at my business, is Mojo Pork.  I use pork tenderloin and fresh herbs and citrus juice.  The leftovers make fabulous Cuban sandwiches, so you can grill both tenderloins and make the sandwiches for lunch or dinner the next day.


Mojo Pork
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (approximately 2 and 1/2 limes)
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (approximately 1 and 1/2 oranges)
1/2 cup olive oil 
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
4 tsp. minced garlic
1 and 1/2 tsp. fresh oregano (or 1/2 tsp dried oregano)
1 tsp. grated orange zest
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
2 pork tenderloins (1 package), trimmed of visible fat and silverskin
1.  Add all ingredients except the pork to a large zip top freezer bag.  Seal the bag and squeeze to mix the ingredients.  Add the pork to the bag and reseal.  Place the bag in the refrigerator to marinate over night (or freeze, to make at a later date).  
2.  Clean and oil the grate of your grill.  Preheat grill to medium high heat.  Remove the pork from the marinade and grill, turning approximately every 5 minutes, and basting with the marinade.  It will take approximately 20 minutes to cook through (pork should reach at least 145 degrees F).  Food safety tip:  do not baste during the last 5 minutes of cooking.  Discard excess marinade.
3.  Let pork stand for about 10 minutes before serving.  Slice thinly and serve with grilled pineapple (recipe below).  It should serve about 6- 8 people. 

Grilled Pineapple
1 pineapple (cored, skin removed, sliced into rings)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1.  Lightly coat the pineapple slices with brown sugar.  Place the fruit in container in the fridge for approximately 2 hours to let the fruit macerate in the sugar.
2.  Clean and lightly oil the grill grate.  Preheat the grill to medium high heat.  Grill pineapple for a few minutes per side.  Pineapple is done when it starts to caramelize and has grill marks.
Alternate cooking method:  You can put a small amount of vegetable oil in a grill pan and cook the pineapple over medium high heat for a few minutes per side, until it starts to caramelize.

Cuban Sandwich
Cuban Bread (or soft French bread)
softened butter
yellow mustard
left over mojo pork (or roasted pork)
sliced ham
swiss cheese
dill pickles
Spread a thin layer of yellow mustard on the inside of the bread.  Layer slices of pork, ham, swiss cheese, and dill pickles between the bread.  Spread a thin layer of softened butter on the outside of the bread.  Cook the sandwich in a sandwich press.  Or, you can cook in a frying pan on the stove, as you would cook grilled cheese, using a spatula to press the sandwich down as it cooks. 
These Cuban-inspired dishes go really well with homemade Mojitos made with fresh mint!  Enjoy!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Strawberry Shortcakes and Freezer Jam

Sadly, strawberry season is almost over.  I have been busy making lots of treats to use up all of my berries. Here are some of my favorite strawberry recipes:

Strawberry Shortcakes

6 cups sliced strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup butter
1 beaten egg
2/3 cup milk
Whipped Cream (see recipe below)

1.  Stir together berries and 1/4 cup of the sugar; set aside.

2.  Stir together the remaining sugar, flour, and baking powder.  Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles course crumbs.  Combine egg and milk; add to the dry ingredients.  Stir just to moisten; do not over mix.  Drop by spoonfuls onto a lightly greased baking sheet (I use two tablespoons).  You should have enough batter to make approximately nine individual shortcakes.

3.  Bake in a 450 degree oven for approximately 12-15 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 10 minutes.  Split each shortcake into two layers.  Spoon the berries over the bottom half of the short cakes, top with whipped cream, then top with the top layers of short cakes.  Serve immediately.  (Makes approximately 9 shortcakes).

Tip:  You can make the shortcake part ahead of time; cool, place in a zip top freezer bag, and freeze.  Thaw shortcakes at room temperature for approximately 2 hours.  Make the strawberries and whipped cream just before serving.

Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar (or more to taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  Add the cream to a medium-size mixing bowl.  Beat the cream, using an electric mixer, starting on low and increasing the speed as the cream begins to froth.

2.  Gradually add the sugar and vanilla.  Continue to beat the cream or about 3 minutes, or until it holds soft peaks.  Use immediately.

Strawberry Freezer Jam
I make freezer jams because I am a freak about food safety!  They are also so easy to make. 

Strawberry Freezer Jam
1 quart fresh strawberries
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
4 cups sugar
3/4 cups water
1 package (1.75 oz) powdered pectin

1.  Cut the tops of the strawberries, then crush berries, one layer at a time.  (You should end up with about 2 cups of crushed berries).  Add lemon juice and sugar to berries.  Mix thoroughly and let stand 10 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile, combine water and pectin in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly.  Boil 1 minute.  Add cooked pectin to fruit mixture and stir for 3 minutes.

3.  Pour into jars or freezer containers, cover with lids, and let stand until set (but not longer than 24 hours).  Store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer for up to 1 year.  (Makes approximately 5  8oz. jars).

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Pick Your Own Strawberries

The Pick Your Own Strawberry season was a little late this year in my area of Bucks County, PA, but it was definitely worth it! I was able to go to Tabora Farm and Orchard last Friday and pick about 6 or 7 pounds of delicious strawberries. They said the season should continue for another week and a half to two weeks, so you still have time!

If you don't live near Tabora Farms, you can check www.pickyourown.org for a farm close to you.

Tabora Farm and Orchard - Chalfont, PA

The strawberry field at Tabora

Some of our delicious fresh picked strawberries

Part of the beautiful flock of chickens roaming around (my sister says "beautiful chickens" is an oxymoron, but to me they are beautiful!)

It was a fun day! I spent most of Saturday cooking and baking, and of course taking pictures. Later this week I will post some of my strawberry recipes, including Individual Strawberry Shortcakes, Strawberry Freezer Jam, and Strawberry Ice Cream.

It has been so cool out, I haven't been thinking much about grilling. Later this month I will post some of my summer favorites for the grill!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Stuffed Pesto Burgers

Since the weather has not been cooperating for strawberry picking, I decided to make some Stuffed Pesto Burgers.  This is one of my favorite burger recipes, and it is really simple!

Stuffed Pesto Burgers
(This recipe makes 4 quarter-pound burgers--  adjust the ingredients accordingly to make more burgers)
1 pound 90% lean ground beef
2 Tablespoons pesto (recipe to follow--  but you can use store bought if needed)
salt and pepper
approximately 2 oz. provolone cheese 
1.  Cut cheese into 4 equal chunks and set aside.
2.  In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, pesto, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Shape the beef mixture into 8 thin patties.  Sandwich a chunk of cheese inbetween two of the burger patties.  Seal the edges, making sure that the cheese is completely enclosed in the middle of the ground beef, so the cheese won't melt and leak out.  Repeat with the remaining cheese and beef patties.  You should end up with 4 burgers.
3.  If you are making these ahead, wrap them in waxed paper, then place in a freezer bag or air-tight container.  Store in the freezer or refrigerator.  Thaw before grilling, if frozen.
4.  Preheat grill to medium-high heat.  Grill burgers until cooked through, turning once.  Serve on rolls.
Homemade Pesto
Following is my recipe for homemade pesto.  It is another easy recipe, and you can use pesto for so many different things.  You can make it in a food processor or blender, but if you use a blender, separate the recipe into two batches, and just be patient.  Pesto freezes really well, so you can make up a bunch this summer.

(Makes approx. 4 cups) 
4 cloves garlic, peeled
6 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup pine nuts (optional)
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (3 ounces) finely grated parmesan cheese
1.  Add the garlic, basil, parsley, and pine nuts (if using) to the food processor or blender and pulse.
2.  Add the olive oil a little bit at a time, pulsing in between each time you add more oil. Keep pulsing until the pesto is smooth, stopping when needed to scrape the side with a rubber spatula.
3.  Transfer the pesto to a medium size bowl and stir in the salt and grated parmesan cheese.  This will keep in the fridge for a month (tip:  it helps to keep the bright green color of the pesto if you pour a thin layer of olive oil over the pesto).  If freezing, transfer into small airtight containers.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Strawberries are Late!

I stopped by Tabora Farm and Orchard the other day hoping to pick some strawberries, but I was told "pick your own" doesn't start until June 12th this year!  I guess the cool, rainy weather may have delayed them a little bit.  Fortunately, my favorite little farm stand down the road in Dublin has had their strawberries in for about a week or so.  So delicious!

Next weekend I hope to make Strawberry Freezer Jam and post the recipe, assuming I am able to pick strawberries.  My basil is coming in well, so I also plan to make Secret Chef "Stuffed Pesto Burgers" and post the recipe here later in June. Stay tuned!