Category Archives: Menu

My First Step

I love food.  You know I love food.  There are few things that can get me as fired up as food.  I could talk about it for hours.  I love technology too, but with technology, I don’t get the creative buzz that cooking gives me.  So recently, I’ve been trying to think of ways to connect more with that side of my brain and last night I actually took the first step.

I had the chance to make a three course meal for my brother and his wife for his birthday.  I think it turned out really well and I definitely had a lot of fun.  So much so that I’ve actually set up several more dates to do the same for some of my friends.  I’ll keep you posted. 

So here’s the menu from last night:

  • Roasted Shrimp Cocktail with Chili Cocktail Sauce
  • Pork Medallions with Mushroom Balsamic Reduction
  • Potato Gratin
  • Caramelized Corn with Thyme
  • Apple Cranberry Pastry with Cinnamon Cream

I’m an idiot for not taking any pictures, as it was a thing of beauty.  Anyway, here are the recipes, you’ll just have to use your imagination on how fantastic they looked.

Roasted Shrimp Cocktail

I stole this from Ina Garten.  A lot of times, the shrimp is boiled and that leaches away the flavor of the shrimp.  Roasting, on the other hand, concentrates flavor.

  • 1 lb of large (16/20) shrimp, the freshest you can find
  • Olive oil
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Peel and devein the shrimp.  Toss them in a little olive oil and then spread them out on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then roast in a 400 degree oven for eight to ten minutes.  The great thing about shrimp is that it tells you when it’s done by turning pink. 

Remove from the oven and then put in a bowl of ice to chill.  Serve with lemon wedges and this fantastic cocktail sauce:

Chili Cocktail Sauce

  • 1/4 cup of chili sauce
  • 1/4 cup of ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons of prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper sauce (I like Frank’s)
  • a squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Mix it all up and serve.

Pork Tenderloin Medallions with Mushroom Balsamic Reduction

  • Pork Tenderloin (I usually figure 1 tenderloin for every 2 people.  You do the math.)
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • 1 cup of Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 medium shallot, chopped fine
  • 1/2 pound of sliced mushrooms (any mushroom is fine)
  • 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter

First you want to put the vinegar into a small sauce pan over medium heat and cook it until it’s reduced by half.  When there’s about half a cup left and it’s syrupy, remove from heat and let it cool off.  Set it aside and we’ll come back to it at the end.

Next you want to trim the fat and silverskin from the tenderloin(s).  Then you want to slice across the tenderloin to make about two inch thick disks until you get to the “tail” end of the tenderloin.  Cut the tail almost in half long ways and then fold it along the cut.  It should be about the same thickness as your disks.

Sprinkle the meat with salt and pepper, then get out your heavy skillet.  Heat the skillet over medium high heat, then add a couple of tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil.  When the oil shimmers, put the meat in the skillet, but be careful not to crowd the pan.  (If you need to, cook the meat in batches.)  It’s important to leave the meat alone while it cooks.  Don’t move it around because that will prevent the nice browning that we want.  After five or six minutes, take a pair of tongs and flip the meat and cook for another four or five minutes.  We’re looking for about 140 degree internal temperature.  Remove the meat to a plate and allow to rest while making the pan sauce.

In the same skillet, add a tablespoon of butter, the shallot, and the mushroom.  Cook until the mushrooms turn golden brown, about six or seven minutes.  Add the vinegar reduction, and scrape up all of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Take the pan off the heat and then add the other tablespoon of butter and swirl around until melted.  Taste the sauce and adjust salt/pepper as desired.  Pour the pan sauce over the meat and serve.

Caramelized Corn with Fresh Thyme

  • 1 package of frozen corn, defrosted (My favorite is Birdseye White and Gold Sweet Corn)
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • Kosher Salt
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper

Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add butter and when it stops foaming, add corn.  Without stirring, let corn cook until you start to see some color on the kernels, five or six minutes.  Stir the corn once, and let the color continue to develop for another couple of minutes.  Add thyme, then salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately.

Apple Cranberry Pastry

  • 1 sheet of Puff Pastry, defrosted
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 egg, beaten with a little water

Heat oven to 400 degrees. 

In a small saucepan, combine apples, sugar, cranberries, cinnamon, orange zest and juice.  Over medium heat, cook for 5 or 6 minutes, until the apples soften just a bit. 

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of sugar on the parchment, then lay out the puff pastry sheet on the sugar, pressing the dough a little to make the sugar stick.  Cut puff pastry into four equal squares.  Fill each square with a tablespoon or so of apple filling.  Brush the edges of the pastry with beaten egg, then fold diagonally and seal the edges with a fork.  Brush the tops of the pastry with beaten egg and then sprinkle a little more sugar on the tops of the pastry. 

Bake for eight or ten minutes, until the pastry is a deep golden brown.  Let cool and serve with cinnamon whipped cream.

Cinnamon Whipped Cream

  • 1/2 cup of heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

In a medium bowl, add cream and whip for a minute or so with a whisk or hand mixer.  Add sugar and cinnamon, and then resume whipping until the cream stiffens and holds its shape nicely.