14 March 2010

Cookbookyssey #7: Weekend Cooking

Weekend Cooking
by Ricardo
© 2006 Whitecap Books

What is weekend cooking? I assumed it was the kind of cooking that takes a long time, since you have more time on the weekend, but produces something extra special and extra delicious. In fact, I tried two recipes on the same night from Ricardo's Weekend Cooking and was surprised how quick and easy both of them were. Maybe I am just getting better at this. In any case, I did not need to eat two whole dinners that evening but was on such a roll that I created a large collection of delicious leftovers in the fridge.

Recipe #1
Cream of Celery Soup with Walnuts and Blue Cheese

This was my first time ever cooking with leeks. In fact I had to ask the cashier at the market if what I was holding was indeed a leek. Leeks! Tasty. As was the apple and vermouth and spinach and rice -- all the ingredients that don't make it into the title of Celery Soup. Why does celery get all the glory?

1 leek, white part only, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 apple (I used Ambrosia), peeled, cored and chopped
1/4 cup white wine (I used vermouth, as per my cooking instructor's recommendation)
4 cups chicken stock (I used veggie stock, in case of a hungry vegetarian visitor)
1/4 cup long grain rice (I used Basmati)
1 cup spinach
1/2 cup sour cream
salt & pepper
blue cheese, crumbled

Brown leeks in oil over medium heat for about 2 minutes.

Add celery and apple. Let cook a little while longer? (Recipe didn't really say...) Deglaze with wine/vermouth and reduce for 1 minute. Add stock and rice.

Cook uncovered for about 15 minutes; add spinach and cook for another 5 minutes.

At this point the recipe says to transfer to a blender for processing, but I just turned down the heat and used an immersion blender. It's so handy! Then I stirred in the sour cream.

Season with salt and pepper, and then garnish each serving with walnuts and blue cheese. DO NOT LEAVE THESE OUT! They are the best part. If you want to see more, check out this other food blogger's attempt at this recipe. She used buttermilk and pecans.

I was pretty happy with this soup, and pretty full. But still had some Saturday left to kill, so went ahead and started on recipe #2, which promised only 10 minutes prep time and 15 minutes cooking time. And it didn't disappoint! In no time I had a whole second meal:

Recipe #2
Pork Medallions with Raspberries

The German lady in line behind me at the supermarket was very excited about my pork tenderloin purchase; she said that it's her favourite cut, informed me I was getting a great deal and then gave me her recipe for Weiner Schnitzel.

2 pork tenderloins
1 Tbsp olive oil (I forgot to use this and just used butter)
2 Tbsp butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped (I used 2 just to be cRaZy)
1 tsp honey
1 tsp raspberry vinegar
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup fresh raspberries
salt & pepper

Slice each tenderloin into 6 medallions; flour and flatten. Heat butter (and oil if you remember) in an ovenproof skillet.

Brown medallions over high heat, 1 minute per side. Season with salt & pepper and set aside.

Soften onion and garlic in the same skillet over medium heat. Add honey and cook for one minute. Deglaze with vinegar.

Add stock and half of raspberries, and cook for about 2 minutes.

Return medallions to skillet. Cook in oven at 350°F for 8—10 minutes; add remaining raspberries.

Cover medallions in sauce and serve on a bed of asparagus.

Delicious! I believe I exclaimed this several times while my vegetarian guest looked on over his bowl of celery soup. This looks and tastes way too good for the amount of time it took to make.

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