Poultry & Pork · Uncategorized

The Most Wonderful Time

Well folks, the moment has come. It’s the end of 2010! This year has been another stellar year for us, and we’re immensely thankful you tune in to see what we’re dishing up each week. Right now Chrystal is enjoying a much needed vacay in beautiful Italy, but before she departed we celebrated the holidays here in LA. Like us, a few of our friends didn’t travel to their perspective hometowns to spend Christmas. So, we did what we knew best to do–we gathered together and had a grand meal celebration, which we appropriately titled “A Misfit Christmas Dinner.”

As usual, we do not know how to do a dinner without going slightly overboard. There was a monstrous turkey, pork tenderloin, two kinds of dressings, macaroni and cheese, roasted broccoli and cauliflower, walnut pie, parsnip buttermilk pie and apple crumb pie. We also made several appetizers to start the meal including a caramelized onion blue cheese dip and spiced coleslaw wonton cups. Our friends also brought food–salad, a fruit and vegetable platter, another dressing, collard greens, sweet potatoes, waffles (yes waffles, Caramel Apple Waffles to be exact) and two cakes. We were only a crowd of 10, but we ate like a crowd of 100. Of course, we are lucky to be able to spend the holiday in this manner and with lovely friends, so we take none of it for granted. By the time we were ready to dig in, there was so much amazing food being devoured that we somehow didn’t get shots of the pork, cranberry sauce or any of the desserts. The foods were so spectacular we decided to share these recipes in spite of the missing images.

As is the case for almost every cook out there, not every recipe you attempt will be a winner. The Pear Jalapeno ‘Honey’ below was supposed to be a jelly. The recipe was based on one that popped up first on the internet. It was a pectin-free option that relied on the natural pectin found in fruit, which sounded great. Unfortunately, our version featured pears and not apples that are in the original recipe. As it turns out, pears are much lower in pectin than apples, and the jelly would not set. It never set in fact. After much frustration and several encouraging words from Twitter friends, it came to mind that the very reduced and thickened liquid would still work for our cheese and cracker platter as a drizzle. Crisis averted!

We were lucky to have been contacted by the folks behind Crave! at Work. It is a Los Angeles-based food delivery service that will send fresh produce right to your workplace doorstep. We received a bright green tote bag full of Cara Cara oranges, Comice pears, red pears, juicy cherries and tropical trail mix. With these goodies, we agreed to cook up a recipe for our Christmas dinner that we could enter into the Crave! at Work Holiday Recipe Challenge. The company was nice enough to also throw in an additional offer for us to host a giveaway! If you had received this package of produce, what would you make? Let us know, and we’ll choose a comment at random. You’ll win a Crave! at Work produce tote. You have until Wednesday, January 5th at 12:00 am PST to submit your entry. We’ll announce the winner on Thursday, January 6th. Eligible entrants must reside in the Los Angeles, California area to win.

Have a happy, safe and beautiful New Year!

Pear Jalapeno ‘Honey’ – Approximately 2 1/2 cups (based on Simply Recipes)
4 large Comice pears, peeled and roughly chopped (keep the cores)
4 large red pears, peeled and roughly chopped (keep the cores)
7 jalapeno peppers, chopped (*keep some of the ribs and stems if so desired)
1 large green bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed
3 cups sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 cups apple cider vinegar
3 3/4 cups water
Zest and juice of 2 lemons
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Place all of the ingredients into a deep pot and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 25-30 minutes. Mash the fruit and peppers throughout cooking.

2. Remove the pot from heat and pour the mashed fruit through a very large sieve sitting over another pot. Allow to sit for at least an hour, stirring the mash often to push more liquid through the sieve.

3. Set the strained liquid over medium high heat and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook until the liquid has reduced by about two-thirds and created a thickened, yet pourable honey-like substance, approximately 60 minutes depending.

4. Pour into a large jar and use as a glaze over meat or drizzled over cheese.

*The hottest part of the pepper includes the ribs and seeds. Toss some in if you like spice. We threw in the ribs and seeds of three the peppers.

Spiced Coleslaw Wonton Cups – makes 2 dozen (inspired by Big Girls Small Kitchen)
24 wonton wrappers
2 apples, peeled and sliced
1 shallot, chopped fine
1/4 cup apple cider or orange juice
1 1/2 cups shredded cabbage
1 tablespoon pear jalapeno “honey” (recipe above)
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Salt and pepper, to taste
Olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush wonton wrapper with oil on one side. Arrange wrappers in a mini-cupcake pan, folding in sides to form a cup. Bake for about 8 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from pan and let cool.

2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, flat pan over medium heat. Add apples and shallots and cook for 4-6 minutes. Pour in juice and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until fully reduced. Set aside and let apples cool to room temperature.

3. Whisk together “honey”, vinegar, mayonnaise, and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. In a separate medium mixing bowl, mix dressing with cabbage until well combined. Set aside.

4. Assemble by filling each wonton cup with coleslaw, then topping with an apple slice. Serve immediately.

Pear Orange Butter – Approximately 1 cup
3 large Yali pears, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
2 large Comice pears, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
2 large red pears, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
4 cardamom pods, cracked
1 tablespoon whole cloves
4″ piece fresh ginger, peeled and halved
Zest of 2 Cara Cara oranges
Juice of 3 Cara Cara oranges
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup water

1. Wrap the cinnamon sticks, cardamom, cloves and ginger in cheesecloth and tie with a string. Put all of the ingredients, including the whole spices, into a pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Cook for 20-25 minutes, breaking up the pears with a potato masher or spoon.

2. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer the pears for another 30-45 minutes or until thick and almost all of the water has turned into a syrup. Continue to mash the pears to smaller pieces.

3. Carefully remove the cheesecloth full of spices and pour the pears into a jar. Cool to room temperature, cover and chill until ready to eat. Eat within two weeks.

Blue Cheese Caramelized Onion Dip – serves about 10 (adapted from Delish)
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 3/4 cups shallots, peeled and cut into thin slices
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, optional
5 ounce blue cheese or Stilton, crumbled and at room temperature
3/4 cup mayo
3/4 cup Greek yogurt
Juice of 1 lemon, or about 2 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
Black pepper, to taste

1. Caramelize onions: heat oil in a large, flat pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 4-6 minutes, stirring regularly. Reduce heat to low and let onions cook for an additional 20-25 minutes, or until fully caramelized, mixing in brown sugar, salt and pepper to taste halfway through cooking time. Add more oil if needed. Once the onions are cooked, pour in balsamic to deglaze pan if desired. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

2. Add caramelized onions to a separate mixing bowl. Mix in cheese, mayo, yogurt, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste until well combined.

3. Transfer to a serving dish, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to overnight. Serve with crackers or bread.

Cranberry Cherry Sauce – Makes 1 1/2 cups
12 ounces fresh cranberries
8 ounces fresh cherries, pitted
Zest and juice of 2 large Cara Cara oranges
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Set all of the ingredients into a shallow pan over medium high heat and cook until cranberries pop and sugar melts and thickens, approximately 8-10 minutes. Stir often and mash cranberries and cherries as you go along to speed up the process.

Brown Sugar Rubbed Pork with Dried Fruit Sauce – Serves 8 to 10
2 pound pork tenderloin
4 ounces Tyler Florence Brown Sugar Pork Rub
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 ounces dried apricots
4 ounces Frog Hollow Farms dried peaches
6 ounces dried prunes
1 cup water
1/2 cup bourbon
1/4 cup sugar

1. Rub the pork down with the brown sugar rub, mustard, black pepper and salt, coating all sides of the meat. Let sit for at least an hour or up to overnight for the flavors to absorb.

2. Place the tenderloin in a roasting pan and slide into a preheated oven at 375 degrees. Roast for 30-45 minutes or until cooked through to desired doneness.

3. While the pork cooks, toss the apricots, peaches, prunes, water, bourbon and sugar into a pot and cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens and the water has been absorbed, approximately 8-10 minutes.

4. Serve the pork with a dollop of the dried fruit sauce.

Brown Sugar Ice Cream – Approximately 1 quart (adapted from Amanda’s Cookin)
1 quart half-and-half
2 tablespoons vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Pour the half-and-half and vanilla bean paste into a pot over medium high heat and bring just below a boil. (You do not want the dairy to get too hot, so watch it closely.)

2. As the dairy heats, whisk the eggs, sugars and salt together in a separate bowl. Set aside.

3. As soon as the dairy comes just to a boil, remove from heat and ladle about one cup of the dairy into the egg mixture. Whisk continuously to fully combine. Pour the whisked eggs and sugar back into the pot and turn the heat back on to medium high.

4. Cook the custard for 2-10 more minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture is just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Test this by dunking your spoon into the custard, pulling it out and carefully running your finger down the back of the spoon. If the line down the middle does not fill in with the surrounding custard, remove the pot from heat.

5. Pour the hot custard into a heat-resistant bowl sitting in a larger bowl of ice water. Stir the custard until it becomes cold to the touch. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap, making sure the plastic touches the top of the custard, and chill for at least 2 hours or up to overnight.

6. Once chilled, pour the liquid into your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Click HERE for the printable recipes.

Chrystal is in the running to present a panel discussion on food blogging at Blogging While Brown 2011. Click HERE to give her panel a ‘thumbs up’. Your support is always appreciated!

18 thoughts on “The Most Wonderful Time

  1. What a lovely & beautiful Christmas tree!!

    I have loved all of your food challenges & tasty food througout 2010!! These tasty snacks & appetizers rock my tastebuds too!

    MMMMMMMMM,..A Happy & fun 2011 filled with good food & friends!

  2. Wow, that sounds like the best dinner ever!! I wish I lived in L.A. and could join you at your dinner parties 🙂 🙂 Happy New Year to both of you!!

  3. If I had received a Crave Tote full of produce, I would have had a Recipe of Share. The ingredients are:

    2 Smiles from the Cara Cara oranges I gave to the homeless boy
    3 Embraces from the Comice pears that I gave to his mother
    4 Helping Hands that I got when handing the Red Pears to the old man lying by the bus stop
    5 Kisses of juicy Cherries from the friends who shared them
    1 Never-ending tropical trail mix to guide everyone to peace and happiness.

    The smiles, embraces, helping hands and kisses “produce”d the never-ending trail mix and this is my recipe of “Share.”

  4. Christmas dinner with Amir and Chrystal was simply amazing. Savoring the many wonderfully brilliant treats and entrées that these two talented “chefs-who-eat” created was an opportunity I am overjoyed to have received an invitation to and smart enough to have not missed. Thank you for a wonderful evening as well as the wonderful moments with had with your friends. Happy New Year!!!

  5. It sounds like you had one seriously delicious holiday! All of these recipes sound amazing and i would have been quite pleased to have been sitting at your Christmas table! Happy New Year!

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