Tag Archives: balsamic vinegar

Balsamic Glazed Pork Tenderloin w/ Cherry Compote

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion.  If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

With the arrival of spring in Albania comes fresh cherries.  Small ones have been appearing in neighborhood fruit markets in recent weeks but they are now ripe, juicy and plentiful.  I can eat fresh cherries by the handful but I also like to incorporate them into entrees.  When combined with fresh orange juice and a dab of honey the cherries make for the perfect complement to balsamic glazed grilled meat.  I used pork tenderloin for this recipe but the flavors work just as well with chicken.  I served this dish alongside fresh peas, which are also plentiful this time of year, and leftover pearl barley.  Not bad for a quick and balanced dinner.

BALSAMIC GLAZED PORK TENDERLOIN WITH CHERRY COMPOTE

1 pork tenderloin

2/3 cup balsamic vinegar

2 cups fresh cherries, pitted

1 Tablespoon honey

Juice & zest from one orange

Dash of kosher salt

1 Teaspoon freshly grated ginger

1 Teaspoon cornstarch

3 Teaspoons cold water

1 Tablespoon Kirsch

1/4 Teaspoon garlic powder

Salt & pepper to taste

  • Place the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and heat over medium high heat.  Stir occasionally until the vinegar is syrupy and reduced by half, about 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat the honey and orange juice in a small saucepan over medium high heat until the honey is melted.  
  • Stir in the cherries and a dash of salt, cover, and reduce the heat to low.  Continue to cook until the pork is cooked, stirring occasionally and crushing the cherries slightly.  
  • Stir in the orange zest, ginger, and Kirsch.
  • In a small bowl combine the cornstarch and the cold water.  Bring the cherries to a boil, add the cornstarch mixture and boil for one minute.
  • While the cherries are cooking pre-heat a gas grill on high.
  • Liberally sprinkle the pork loin with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
  • Reduce the grill heat to medium-high.
  • Grill over indirect heat for 8-10 minutes turning twice.
  • Brush  the reduced balsamic over the pork.  
  • Cook for an additional 4 minutes then baste again.  
  • Repeat basting and grilling until the pork is cooked to your likeness.  The total cooking time will be 16-18 minutes.
  • Remove the pork from the heat and allow the meat to rest for 5 minutes.
  • Slice into 1/4 inch slices and divide onto four plates.  
  • Divide the cherry compote over the pork.

Serves 4

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Blackberry Pork Chops

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat. The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes. Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

This super easy dinner idea is adapted from Cooking Light Magazine.  I’ve been making this recipe for years and it is always a family favorite.  Because you use thin pork chops, it only takes a matter of minutes for the meat to cook making them a perfect weeknight dinner.  During Glenn’s last assignment we would regularly invite the geographic bachelors from his ship over for a home cooked dinner and these pork chops quickly became the most requested meal.  Because I had a very large pan I would triple the recipe to feed the crowd.  But the pork chops work just as well for a fancier meal; I’ve used boneless pork chops and served them as a part of a formal sit-down dinner.  Regardless of the audience, they are always a hit.

BLACKBERRY PORK CHOPS

2 tablespoons olive oil

4 bone-in thin cut pork chops

Salt and pepper

1 small shallot, minced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup Port

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1/3 cup seedless blackberry preserves

  • Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  • Season the pork chops on both sides with the salt and pepper.
  • Add the pork chops to the skillet and cook for 3-4 minutes per side until the chops are browned and no longer pink in the middle.  Remove from the pan.
  • Add the remaining oil to the skillet and heat until shimmering.
  • Add the shallots and garlic and stir until brown and fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Add the Port and stir to remove the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the balsamic vinegar and the preserves and stir until the jam is melted.
  • Return the pork chops to the pan and cook until heated through.

At this point you can reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, and allow the pork to sit for up to 1 hour until ready to serve.

Serves 4

Ricotta & Onion-Port Jam Flatbread

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When is pizza not pizza? When it is flatbread of course. Flat bread is one of my favorite go to foods. It can be served as part of a light dinner, as an appetizer or even a mid afternoon snack. All it takes is some flatbread—pre made or my preference of fresh homemade pizza dough– and the toppings of your choice. You can make them sweet, savory or a combination of the two. Top them with meat, cheese, fruits or vegetables. Really, anything can be a topping for flatbread so you can make individual ones to please your entire family or bake up a variety for a smorgasbord.

This flatbread is one of my favorites and is inspired by the Savory Simple food blog. I’ve used my own pizza dough and topped it with fresh ricotta cheese, crumbled bacon and homemade port infused onion jam. The jam is sweet, savory and decadent and the key to its success is cooking the onions slowly so they caramelize. You can make the jam earlier in the day if you prefer then top the flatbread with it when you are ready to cook. So go ahead and try this recipe then let your imagination decide which direction you go next. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

RICOTTA & ONION-PORT JAM FLATBREAD 

For the flatbread:

1 recipe of your favorite pizza dough

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup onion-port jam

1 cup crumbled bacon

1/4 cup green onions, minced

For the Onion-Port Jam:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 large yellow onions, peeled, quartered and sliced thin

1/2 tablespoon sugar

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 cup water (more if needed)

1/2  cup port wine

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • Melt the butter on low heat in a large skillet.
  • Add the onions, sugar and salt.
  • Sweat the onions, stirring, until they begin to caramelize.
  • Turn up the heat to medium-low. Once the onions have begun to brown, pour approximately 2-3 tablespoons of water into the pan to deglaze, using a spatula to scrape up the brown bits and stir them into the onions.
  • Repeat this glazing and deglazing process until the onions have been thoroughly caramelized and taste both sweet and bitter, approximately 25-35 minutes.
  • Add the port wine and balsamic vinegar to the onions and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring periodically, until all of the liquid has reduced and is coating the onions.
  • Taste and add a bit more salt if desired.

When you are ready to build your flatbreads:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. If your oven has a pizza setting, use that.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper then set aside.
  • Divide the pizza dough into four even portions and working one at a time on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a long oval.
  • Place each piece of dough on the prepared baking sheet taking care to make sure the edges are not touching.
  • Place 1/4 cup of the ricotta cheese on the top of each piece of dough and use a rubber spatula to evenly distribute it across the entire surface.
  • Divide the onion-port jam amongst the flatbreads, spreading it to cover as much of the surface area as possible.
  • Add the bacon and the green onions to each flatbread, evenly distributing them across the top of each one.
  • Bake flat breads for 15-17 minutes or until the crusts are browned and crisp and the toppings are beginning to bubble.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Yields: 4 flatbreads

 

 

Caprice Pasta

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion.  If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

This quick dish brings together the best flavors of a Mediterranean summer.  Ripe tomatoes pair with fresh basil and mozzarella to make a flavorful Caprice salad. Add this to pasta and you have a complete meal.  The balsamic reduction brings a rich sweetness to the dish making it fancy enough for a dinner party but also simple enough for a casual meal.

CAPRICE PASTA

1/2 cup good quality balsamic vinegar

1 pound ziti or other tube-shaped pasta

8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into bite-sized pieces

4 ripe tomatoes, chopped

1 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped

4 tablespoons olive oil

Freshly ground salt & pepper to taste

  • Place the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and heat over medium high heat until the vinegar boils.  Reduce heat to a temperature that allows the liquid to simmer and continue to cook until the mixture is syrupy and has reduced to approximately 1/4 cup.
  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions.
  • Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.  Drizzle the olive oil over the top of the pasta and toss to coat.
  • Add the tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil to the pasta and season with salt and pepper.  Stir gently to combine.
  • Divide amongst four serving dishes and drizzle the balsamic reduction evenly over the top of each bowl.
  • Serve immediately

Serves:  4

 

Pork Tenderloin w/ Blueberry Bacon Ketchup

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I’m a huge fan of using fruit in savory dishes so when I saw this recipe on the Noble Pig website, I knew I had to try it. And when I saw that the blueberry sauce included a hefty dose of bacon, I knew my family would love it as well. After all, everything tastes better with bacon. And it really does.

I’ve increased the amount of bacon and jalapeno pepper in my version of the sauce which results in a richer and thicker blueberry topping, hence the ketchup moniker. With the brown sugar and vinegar the sauce is reminiscent of a chutney; mine is pureed smooth but you can also leave yours in a chunkier form if you prefer. My pork tenderloin is dusted with spices that both enhance the meat and complement the fresh blueberries. If you aren’t a fan of pork, the sauce would also be a tasty topping for boneless chicken breasts that have also been dusted with the spice mixture. However you prepare it, you are sure to love it. So fire up your grill and you are good to go!

PORK TENDERLOIN w/ BLUEBERRY BACON KETCHUP

For the ketchup:

6 slices thick cut bacon, diced

1/2 cup minced red onion

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced

2 cups fresh blueberries

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon stone ground mustard

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

For the pork:

1 1-1/4 pound pork tenderloin

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon olive oil

  • To make the blueberry sauce: fry bacon in a medium skillet over low until slightly crispy; remove bacon to a paper towel leaving the bacon grease in the pan.
  • Saute onion and jalapeno in the bacon grease over medium heat until soft, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the blueberries, sugar, vinegar, mustard, garlic powder, salt, lemon juice and cooked bacon.
  • Simmer until blueberries have split and sauce thickens slightly, about 3 minutes.
  • Transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor; pulse until pureed. Alternatively, pour the sauce into a small bowl and use an immersion blender to puree the mixture until smooth.
  • Return sauce to pan so you can warm it slightly when the pork is done.
  • For the pork: coat a grill with non-stick cooking spray and preheat to medium-high.
  • Combine the salt, pepper, garlic powder, cinnamon and nutmeg in a small bowl.
  • Brush the pork with the olive oil and season the pork on all sides with the spice mixture.
  • Place the pork on the grill and cook turning every 4 to 5 minutes, until cooked through, about 20 minutes.
  • Brush a small amount of the sauce over the meat during the final few minutes of cooking.
  • Remove the pork from the grill and allow to rest for 5 minutes before slicing into 1/2 inch pieces.
  • Serve with the blueberry bacon sauce.

Serves 4

Balsamic Brushed Grilled Vegetables

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If you are anything like my family, you probably grill on a regular basis during the summer months. (We actually grill year around). After all, who wants to heat up the kitchen when the weather is already so hot? And with gardens and markets overflowing with vegetables right about now, grilled vegetables are the perfect accompaniment to any of the proteins you might be grilling. I love the slightly charred flavor that comes with grilled vegetables.

Plain grilled vegetables are nice but when brushed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar they are extra special. You can use any vegetables but the combination of peppers, eggplant, onions and mushrooms are my favorite. If you have a grill basket you can place the vegetables in them before cooking but I find it just as easy to place them directly on the grill. So pick your protein and pick your vegetables and fire up your grill tonight.

BALSAMIC BRUSHED GRILLED VEGETABLES

1/3 cup olive oil

1/4 balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch wedges

1 large green bell pepper, cut into 1 inch wedges

1 large yellow bell pepper, cut into 1 inch wedges

1 purple eggplant, sliced into 1/4 inch rings

1 large red onion, cut into 1/4 inch rings

1 large Portobello mushroom cap, sliced

  • Oil and pre-heat a grill to medium-high heat.
  • Combine the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
  • Place the vegetables on a large platter and brush on both sides with the oil and vinegar mixture.
  • Place the vegetables on the grill and cook for 5-10 minutes, turning the vegetables over and brushing  with the oil and vinegar every 2-3 minutes. Cooking times will vary depending upon your personal preferences.

The vegetables can be served hot, at room temperature or cold.

Serves 4

Caprese Chicken Pasta

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

This dish is fast, easy, and celebrates two of the season’s most flavorful products, fresh tomatoes and basil.  Although I have yet to be able to successfully grow my own tomatoes, they are readily available a markets throughout the area.  And because I always have a container of fresh basil growing nearby, this is one of my favorite, go-to dinners. The components cook in a matter of minutes and taste great both hot and at room temperature so you can either cook it now and enjoy it immediately or let it sit a bit until you are ready to eat.

CAPRESE CHICKEN PASTA

1 pound dried shells, penne, or other small pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces

Salt and pepper

3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, diced

2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced

1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

  • Cook the pasta according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Drain and set aside.
  • Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat.  When the oil is shimmering, add the chicken and the garlic cloves and stirring occasionally, cook until the chicken is lightly browned on the outside and no longer pink on the inside.
  • Turn off the heat and add the tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and thyme to the pan.  Toss well to combine.
  • Serve the chicken mixture over the reserved pasta.
  • Drizzle each dish with the balsamic vinegar and olive oil before serving.

Serves 4

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