pork tenderloin medallions with braised fennel and cider gorgonzola cream sauce

pork-medallions

I came up with this recipe on my way home from my writing group while I was still doing my cleanse—nothing like 6 glasses of lemonade in your system to really appreciate other flavors.  No doubt this lunch will undo any cleanliness I achieved, but it was worth it.  Oh my goodness was it worth it.  

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The fennel and pork work well together like some sort of deconstructed sausage.  And then the mustard and gorgonzola complement it perfectly.  I made the whole dish for around $20, so it’s perfect for a fancy at home dinner if your kids are willing, or even a double date (and it has no garlic, another plus for the date idea).

orange blossom baklava

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Alright, so I am doing a cleanse right now.  Basically, for the last 5 days, and for at least the next five, I drink lemonade made from maple syrup, cayenne pepper, and lemon juice.  Brooke started me on it.
Among the many benefits it provides, it is supposed to be helping me cure cravings for various naughty foods.  It must be day 5 that really lets me have it, because let me tell you.  I have never wanted lasagna, chips and dip, pizza, pasta, soup, cheese, couscous, and whatever else you’re serving more than I wanted it today.  The most terrible thing today was making this warm buttery baklava.  I was able to make it while I am cleansing because I already tried out the recipe a few weeks ago on the women at church, and therefore didn’t have to taste it to see if it was good enough to post.  And I was so good.  I didn’t even lick it, well maybe just a little of the honey that dribbled off.

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My recipe uses orange blossom water.  You could also use rose water.  Both are available through amazon.com, which is where I bought mine.  It makes a very subtle difference in the flavor that is quite lovely.  Wish I could have some right now.

my dream cookbook

family-meals-Oh . . . my goodness.  I have never been this giddy about a cookbook before.  And I have loved many a cookbook.

Family Meals: Creating Traditions in the Kitchen by Maria Helm Sinskey is not a quick fix meal plan book for busy families.  Instead it encourages families to spend time together in the kitchen by giving detailed instructions and recipes to make from scratch.  Some of the recipes include homemade ricotta cheese and homemade pasta and omelettes stuffed with brie and smoked salmon, crab cakes, bread-n-butter pickles, puffy apple oven pancakes . . . sounding good yet?   Most of those I just listed probably wouldn’t appeal to my picky eaters if I made them by myself, but I am hoping that by establishing a stronger tradition of cooking more together, they will eventually come around.  And if not, more for me!

Family Meals completely captures the life I have often pictured for my family—slow paced, relaxed, simple.   I usually envision living that way on a small pumpkin patch somewhere in New England with a golden retriever running around our huge farm we’ll use mainly for horseback riding.  But since it seems that dream will be shelved for some time, I suppose I can do my best for now with this book.

It is packed with beautiful photography and is printed on high quality matte finish paper.  It’s just gorgeous.

lemon cloud cupcakes

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When I was first married, I became mildly obsessed with New York City.  Right after college, quite a few of my friends moved there, and I was envious of their lives in the glamorous city (Of course, they are always quick to tell me how glamorous their lives weren’t.).

I would watch You’ve Got Mail over and over—not for the story, but for sets and locations.  Nora Ephron really portrayed an idyllic New York in that movie.  The special features on the DVD even had a map to all the cool sites around the city.  Of course, the food places were all I remember.   I still want to go to Zabar’s for a black and white cookie and to Gray’s Papaya for a fantastic hotdog.

Around the same time I had this obsession, I watched an episode of Martha Stewart Living that introduced me to the The Doughnut Plant, where they make fresh doughnuts from scratch out of organic ingredients every day.  When I get back to New York one of these days, I will get off the plane and take a taxi straight there.

Though my infatuation with New York is more rounded out after all this time, I must say that I am dying to get one of the cupcakes everyone’s been buzzing about for the last few years.  Was it the Magnolia Bakery that started that big trend? or was it someone else?   Sadly, I have never had a true New York cupcake, but today, I thought I’d attempt to make something that I think comes close.

These are moister than the strawberries and cream cupcakes I posted last September, because I added sour cream to the batter.  Also, I thought I’d add a little something in the middle, as is the new way to make them now (One must be hip when making cupcakes).

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Some people had trouble with the frosting on those strawberry ones, and today I wondered, were they using real butter?  Please.  Use real butter.  We can’t have these tasting like something from a grocery store, now can we?