Spicy Pork with Sweet Potato Hash

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One often reads about dry rubs when looking at barbeque recipes, because it’s quite common to dry rub a pork loin or a brisket before being placed in a smoker. But a rub, which is typically a mixture of spices and herbs, doesn’t have to be rubbed onto meat days before serving, or only used when smoking. In fact, in a way, coating a whole chicken with lots of herbs, spices, salt and pepper is essentially a rub. The reason it’s traditionally called a dry rub is that it’s not a paste or a more liquid marinade. Just dry seasoning.

A rub is a wonderful way to add flavor to meat, even meat that takes very little time to prepare. Today I’m cooking two pork tenderloins, and using chili powder for the rub. Yes – just chili powder – the mix used in chile con carne.

The brand of chili powder I like is from Penzey’s. But of course, all you have to do is mix together paprika, cumin, coriander, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, salt, and black pepper, and you’d end up with the same mixture, essentially. Plus, you can adapt it to suit your taste, like add chile pepper powders, for example, like ancho and chipotle.

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The pork I’m using is Berkshire pork purchased from D’Artagnan.

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I first let the pork tenderloins come to nearly room temperature. Meanwhile, set your oven to a good roasting temperature. I have a “roast” setting on my oven, but roasting usually involved about 400 degrees, at least for about 15 minutes, and then the temperature of the oven can be reduced. The important thing with pork tenderloin, as with all meat, is to cook it properly.

I never let pork tenderloin’s internal temperature go beyond 155 degrees Farenheit. Some people don’t like the hint of pink, and go with 165 degrees. That is just personal preference.

Place a little olive oil in a roasting pan large enough to accommodate the tenderloins.
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Generously sprinkle on the chili powder, rotate the tenderloins in the oil, and sprinkle on more chili powder.
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Make sure the tenderloins are coated with oil and the seasoning mixture. I always tuck under the smaller ends of the tenderloins.
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If you were to be picky, this really isn’t a dry rub since since the tenderloins are coated in oil, but because this meat is very lean, I wanted the oil. Plus, it just helps the seasoning stick.

Place the pan in the oven and roast until done.

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Immediately place the tenderloins on a cutting board and let them sit for about 15 minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, make the sweet potato hash by adding a little oil to a large skillet and adding some diced bacon.

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Cook only part way, then add some finely diced onion to the bacon.

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After sauteing the mixture for just a couple of minutes, add grated sweet potato. Season with salt and white pepper.
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Use a medium setting, but adjust the heat accordingly. Toss the sweet potato with the bacon and onions, and then let the sweet potato cook, undisturbed, for a couple of minutes. Turn the mixture over; there will be minimal browning, but the sweet potato is cooking. You know if you’re at too high of heat if the bacon and sweet potato burn.

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Add a little butter and let it melt. After a couple of undisturbed minutes, flip over the sweet potato hash again.
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It should be nicely browned. If you feel more cooking is required, continue at a medium-to-low setting, or place a lid over the skillet. However, if you want any crispness to the hash, give it a little browning right before serving.

Slice the pork tenderloin.
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Serve with the sweet potato hash, and a green vegetable like Brussels sprouts.

I used some of the “jus” from the roasting pan and drizzled it over the pork for extra flavor. It was not oily at all.
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For people who need recipes for simple, quick meals, this one fits the bill. As soon as the oven is preheated, in goes the pork tenderloin with a spicy coating. During the short time in the oven, no more than 30 minutes, the sweet potato hash is done. Easy, flavorful, and fabulous for fall!

Pumpkin Spazele

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My goal in the kitchen is not to be super creative and serve fancy food presentations. That’s just not me. I go to restaurants for that enjoyment. I’m just a self-trained home cook.

Spazele with pumpkin might seem like I’m trying to be creative, but my use of pumpkin began innocently enough, many years ago, for two different reasons. 1. I love pumpkin, and although a fall ingredient, can be used year round. 2. I always used canned pumpkin in my cooking as a way to enrich the food I prepared for my family. Sneaking in the pumpkin is perhaps a better term for what I did – sneaking it into stews, soups, chili, spaghetti sauce, meat loaf – you name it.

So my posting of spazele made with pumpkin is not meant to be show-offy or gourmet. It was just a natural thing for me to do because I became adept at sneaking in ingredients. And pumpkin, is fortunately pretty. Kids tend to be a little more suspicious of green ingredients.

I grew up with spazele because although my mother is French, her father was Alsatian. Spazele are German. They’re also spelled spaetzle. And perhaps even more ways than I realize.

I don’t think my mother ever put pumpkin in them, or anything else, because she always made them the traditional way. But they’re seriously fun to play with. You can add fresh herbs, pesto, tomato paste, cheeses, paprika crème, and just about anything that won’t ruin their cooking integrity. Because they all work.

If you’re not familiar with spazele, they’re kind of like gnocchi’s ugly cousin. I could also call them lazy man’s gnocchi. Either way, they’re simply made by adding spoonfuls of batter to boiling water, very similar to American dumplings.

There are spazele makers that turn out grated-looking “worms” of spazele, but I really like the rustic dumpling look. But taste and texture wise? Spazele are just as fabulous as gnocchi. They’re little puffy pillows of goodness. And simply tossed in brown butter? Dynamite.

With the beautiful orange color and that hint of pumpkin, they should be loved by every one of all ages. So here’s my recipe. Enjoy!
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Pumpkin Spazele

2 eggs
1 cup goat’s milk, heavy cream, milk, dairy or non-dairy
1 cup pumpkin purée


1 2/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 stick unsalted butter
Parmesan
see note below for seasoning options

Place a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and goat’s milk together with the pumpkin purée and salt.

Slowly incorporate the flour into the batter, adding just a little at a time. Whisk to remove any flour lumps, then switch to a spatula. Don’t overstir.

The resulting batter can’t be too thin because it will disintegrate in the boiling water. But you also don’t want too stiff of a batter from too much flour and over whisking because the spazele will be hard and tough. You want a soft, tender spazele.

When the water is boiling, test one spazele if you want to time them. It’s worth doing if you don’t trust yourself, but honestly dumplings like these are very straight forward to cook.

Place a teaspoon of batter into the boiling water. Notice it will fall to the bottom of the pan. After it rises to the surface, scoop it up and place it on a plate.

Cut the spazele in half and study the middle. It should be soft, but not raw or tough.

When you are ready to begin, place uniformly-sized spoonfuls of batter in the water – only about ten or so at a time. Again, they will eventually rise to the surface of the water, at which point I let them cook another 30 seconds.

When the first batch is done, remove them from the water using a spider sieve, and place them in a colander or on a paper towel-lined platter to drain excess water. Then continue with the remaining batter. When cool enough to handle, I also turn over each spazele to drain any water on the top.

When you’re all done, place the spazeles in a serving bowl.

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Brown the butter on the stove.

While still hot, pour over the spazele.


Look at those lovely browned butter bits on the pumpkin spazele.
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If desired, sprinkle with grated Parmesan.

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note: Regarding seasoning, I’ve used a few different ones over the years – Chinese 5 spice, nutmeg, white pepper, and thyme. If you’re serving the spazele as a side dish, season in complement to the protein. Also, I chose goat’s milk for today’s spazele, but cream, or any dairy and non-dairy liquid would work. It’s your choice.

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Acorn Squash Dip

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Of late, my schedule has been erratic for one lovely reason. A grand daughter. So I’m re-posting from last fall – one of my favorite autumnal dips.

Forget chicken wings and nachos! This is what you want to feast on during a football game! Polish sausage dipped into a curried acorn squash dip!!!

If curry scares you, don’t worry, because there are so many ways to flavor this dip. In fact, if you don’t have an acorn squash, you can always use a can of pumpkin or sweet potato!

So here’s my recipe for this dip:

Curried Acorn Squash Dip

1 acorn squash, halved, cleaned of seeds, or a small butternut squash
1 tablespoon butter or olive oil
1/2 onion, very finely chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon or so curry powder, or 1 teaspoon cumin, 1/2 teaspoon coriander, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric, and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon

First of all, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the acorn squash halves in a pan filled with a little water. Bake them uncovered for at least one hour; poke them to make sure they’re cooked through.

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Set them aside to cool. Once they’re cool, remove the squash from the peel and coarsely chop it.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a saucepan. Add the onion and cook over fairly low heat until it’s practically translucent. Add the garlic and stir it in for a few seconds. Then add the squash. Beat it down with your wooden spoon to mix with the onion and garlic, and let it cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. We don’t want “wet” squash.

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Place the cream cheese in a large bowl and warm it up if necessary. Place a ricer over the bowl with the cream cheese, and rice the squash mixture using the disc with fairly small holes.

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When you’re done, whisk the cream cheese and squash together. Add the salt and curry powder. Taste and check for seasoning.

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The dip is delicious served with pieces of Polska Kielbasa, or with blue corn chips. Serve the dip warm.

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note: Like I said, this dip is also good made with pumpkin puree – add a pinch of allspice to it if you prefer it over the curry powder. If you prefer, keep the dip plain with salt and pepper, or add a little dried thyme to taste. Also, you could substitute a creamy goat cheese in this dip. And for my last suggestion, use my white bean dip recipe for a combination white beans and pumpkin dip. Another deliciously easy fall dip!