Sunday, October 18, 2009

Butter and Cream in the Kitsch

Friday Evening's Menu:
Cheese Plate
Roasted Pork Tenderloin in a Mustard-Spice Rub
Grilled Asparagus
Mashed Potatoes
Chimay Red Ale
Banana Pudding

The 1992 Paramount Classic
Captain Ron, starring Kurt Russell

C and I went to Ralphs. The biggest hangup was over the pudding mix. C was most comfortable with the JELL-O brand, but only the Kroger brand had the Banana Creme flavor. We stood, debating. "Kroger has 2 for 1," I offered. C winced again. We futiley tried to compare the ingredients, as if they'd be different. "You could get vanilla," I offered. "No, it's not the same." So we bought the Kroger Banana Creme pudding mix, and made a double batch.

There were about 4 brands of Pork Tenderloin, one of which was unseasoned, which became our friend. 1 1/4 lbs of pork tenderloin for a little more than $5.00. When the idea for tenderloin was proposed, I immediately threw a parade around my house. Since fall is slowly approaching, rainstorm by rainstorm, it's time for warmer, heartier foods, and roasted dishes.
Back in the kitsch, I began the Banana Pudding as C boiled water for the Mashed Potatoes and preheated the oven.
Banana Pudding
(double recipe)
4 cups heavy cream (Heavy Cream, you gasp? Yes! Milk is for sissies!)
2 pkg Banana Creme pudding mix
2 bananas, sliced thin crosswise
2 cups Nilla Wafers, whole
Pour the cream into the mix, and whisk together for 2-3 minutes, until thickened to palatable pudding consistency. Slice two bananas into the pudding and fold. Dump in the Nilla Wafers, fold in, trying not to break any cookies. Scrape down the sides, smooth out the top, or if you've got a second container, transfer the entire mixture then do the same. With the extra Nilla Wafers, make a design on top. That's let to each one's own creative Nilla whims.
Mashed Potatoes
6 small yellow potatoes
1 stick butter
1/2 cup cream
salt and pepper

Put a medium pot of water on the stove set on high to boil. Cut the potatoes into eighths, and plop em into the boiling water. After 20 minutes, check a potato for tenderness, and drain accordingly. Throw them back into the pot, add the butter and begin to mash. Add the cream. Taste it, add your salt and pepper, and other fancy spices that you wish. We didn't do garlic. We didn't do saffron. We just did 'em straight up mashed potatoes (with the skin!)

Roasted Pork Tenderloin in a Mustard-Spice Rub
1 1/4 lb pork tenderloin
1/2 cup mustard mix
(we used a mix of 70% stone ground and 30% sweet-hot)
2 to 3 tsp each dried thyme, rosemary, and oregano
Kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line your baking sheet/pan with tinfoil, unwrap the tenderloin and lay onto your pan. Commence the rubbing of the mustard! Using your hands, cover the meat with the mustard, making sure that the bottom has a small amount, and leaving the bulk on top. Sprinkle thyme, rosemary, oregano and salt on top and press into the meat. Add on more mustard if desired. If the tenderloin is too long for your pan, you can fold either end under, or form the cut into a circle if using a cake pan, or making room for roasting vegetables, etc. Put into the oven. Cook for 20 minutes, and then check for doneness with a meat thermometer. Depending on the oven and the slice of meat, you may need more time. The wrapper for the tenderloin should also include sanitary/food safety guidelines. At doneness, the pork should be about 190 degrees at the center of the thickest section. If you don't have a meat thermometer, use the tried and true method of cutting into the meat and using your best judgment. The skin turns golden brown, and a rich mustard smell fills your apartment. That's also a good sign to check it.

While the pork was in the oven, I began to prepare the asparagus. Sadly, this is not the season for this glorious vegtable. They were the size of a French green bean, very slender and tender. Asparagus season is generally from Mid-April to Mid-June or early July.

If you haven't read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, there is a great section on the wonders of fresh greens and gigantic, plump asparagus, and the true, simple pleasures they bring.
Grilled Asparagus
1 bunch asparagus
1 tbsp butter or olive oil
salt and pepper
Begin by rinsing the asparagus. To find out where to cut the asparagus, take one stalk, grab each end, and bend it from the bottom end until it snaps. Where it snaps is a good guideline for where to cut for the rest of the bunch. If you have time or interest, like I did, you can snap the whole bunch. In a medium frying pan, set the heat to medium-low, add the butter to melt, and then add the aspargus. Toss the aspargus to coat. Then increase the heat to medium-high. Turn the asparagus regularly, and after a few minutes, add the salt and pepper. After about 15 minutes, check for doneness.
The result was a little overdone, but roasted and slightly blackened. Very delicious. I wanted to add lemon juice, but alas, there was none. We had some oven issues, so the asparagus and potatoes were done a full 10 minutes before the pork, so we had time to munch on some Swiss and Stilton, and crack open our Chimay.

It was so fine. Decadent was my word.
So much creammmmm...
and Kurt Russell is still hilarious after all these years. My other favorite Kurt Russell film is Overboard, featuring wife Goldie Hawn, in which he takes advantage of newly-struck amnesia patient Goldie Hawn, convincing her to be wife to him and mother of his children. The 80's. Come back. Bring your cooking tips!

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