Posts Tagged ‘meat’

Porc en Croute

2 porc en crouteFor some reason, wrapping just about anything in puff pastry produces festive results worthy of an elegant, well-dressed dinner table. A piece of salmon, an apple, cheese or a tenderloin of beef or pork suddenly become the center of attention. And rightly so. The delicate puff pasty envelops the food in a rich, buttery blanket of goodness that is hard to resist.

My porc en croute is a wonderful dish to cook on weekends or special occasions. You will want to serve it with fresh seasonal vegetables. Wilted spinach would be great and in the springtime, peas or grilled asparagus are the perfect choice. This is definitely a recipe to keep in mind for Easter!

Porc en croute
Serves 4-6
1porc en croute

  • 600g pork tendorloin
  • fleur de sel
  • freshly-cracked pepper
  • 2 tbsps mild olive oil
  • 1 tsp Herbes de Provence
  • a 13x 11cm piece of puff pastry
  • 4 slices raw ham
  • 10 sage leaves
  • 1 ½ tbsp grainy mustard
  • 1 small egg, whisked, for glazing

Season the pork tenderloin with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a frying pan, and brown the meat on all sides. This should take about 10 minutes. Remove the tenderloin from the pan, place on a plate and immediately sprinkle with the Herbes de Provence on all sides. Leave the meat to cool for at least ten minutes. Preheat the oven to 190 and line a baking sheet with baking paper. Place the puff pastry on a floured work surface and line the middle with the ham, followed by 5 of the sage leaves. Brush the cooled tenderloin with the mustard on all sides and place on the ham and sage. Place the rest of the sage leaves on top of the meat. Fold the pastry on all sides to form a neat parcel. Flip it over onto the baking sheet, seam side down. Brush with the whisked egg. Using a sharp knife, score the pastry in a criss-cross pattern. Make a few air holes using the tip of your knife. Bake the porc en croute for 50 minutes. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before carving.

Stuffed Tomatoes

stuffed tomatoesI honestly thought of calling hubby yesterday to tell him to pick up some take-out on the way home from work. These last few days have been so chaotic and busy that I haven’t had a chance to plans meals like I normally do. It’s usually at 6 in the evening or so that it suddenly starts to dawn on me — I need to get food on the table! The next question of course is “what do I already have in the house?”; trust me, the last thing I want to do is have to run to the shops last minute.

Lunch Date Saturday: East57

East57 AmsterdamHonest. I’m a good girl. I would never use the work ‘fuck’ on social media. Imagine if I offended my followers, or worse, came across as overly enthusiastic. Just imagine.
Well, that happened yesterday, on Instagram. Or more precisely, after my lunch at the recently opened East57 — part restaurant, part wine bar, part café and part ‘make-you-salivate’ delicatessen. The establishment is housed in Casa400, a complex that serves as both hotel and student residence.
Perhaps I should start off by saying that we were originally planning on visiting another new restaurant, also in the Dutch capital. But alas. Upon arrival we encountered an almost ghostly joint. Dead and dismal with chefs that were slightly deaf and not really interested in intruders like us. Here’s a tip, Graceland Bar-B-Q (although granted, I should’ve probably called beforehand), don’t announce on your website that you’re open for lunch, when in fact, you’re not. Yet, anyway. Very uncool to have us drive to you, full of delicious anticipation (and hungry as hell) for nothing.
Not really complaining though. East57 was on my ‘to-try’ list, so it was just a matter of typing a new address into the navigation system and on y va! The drive through Amsterdam (which took us nearly 45 minutes thanks to traffic) would be quickly forgotten if the meal was good and the service pleasant.
We arrived at a spacious, bright location with high ceilings, nonchalantly set tables and attractive counters displaying crates of wine, stacked plates, bowls and cutting boards, and a little further on (on the delicatessen side) wooden vats of seasoned olives, oils, Dutch gourmet cheeses, breads, various charcuterie, fine chocolate and more. Products by respectable food companies such as Brandt & Levie, Vlaamsch Broodhuys, De Gouden Ton, and Tony’s Chocolonely, to name a few.
The menu included fashionable appetizers; soups; trendy salads (quinoa with fennel and roast vegetables; Peking duck with mushrooms, sesame, bean sprouts and goji berries; and sweet potato with olives, chorizo and caramelized onions, to give you an idea); sandwiches (pulled pork is their specialty); hearty mains such as sea bream with lemon, thyme and pearl barley; twelve different kinds of ‘bites’ to pair with your drinks; and five ‘platter’ dishes served on sturdy, wooden chopping boards. There was an equally interesting wine list, all from De Gouden Ton (a.k.a. “the best wine retailer in the Netherlands”), to satisfy the oenophiles among us.
Tempted by the variety of their enticing components, both of us decided on a platter. For hubby the meat and for me for the fish. While waiting we enjoyed a robust Malbec. Normally speaking, not exactly what I would order before a meal, but I needed something to warm me up (I get cold when I’m hungry).
Luckily, the platters arrived quickly, handsomely presented, and with a proper explanation of everything included. Even the wine and champagne were served with the same kind of courtesy and expertise as the food.
East57 AmsterdamHans had a platter with items such as a wedge of chunky pâté, pulled pork and black pudding (the only thing he wasn’t too thrilled about as he is simply not a fan of eating blood).
East57 AmsterdamThe seafood platter had a selection of classics and some of my personal favorites including perfectly grilled slices of tuna served on a bed of wakame, zesty and succulent giant prawns, a seared coquille in a shell lined with a sweet and sour cucumber salad, and an oyster which I bathed in shallots and red wine and gulped down with shamelessly primal pleasure.
East57 AmsterdamMy only complaint was a lack of a bowl of lemon water, or at least a wet cloth to clean my fingers. A must if you’re serving prawns, in my opinion.
After our traditional espresso, we walked around the establishment and chatted with some of the personnel. First we went to the wine bar, located on the top floor and serving nearly one hundred wines that can be paired with a variety of bites. Then the deli where we purchased the makings of an easy dinner (pâté, blue goat’s cheese, a loaf of bread and for dessert, a bar of licorice flavored chocolate). And finally the caffeine corner where you can also get your daily sugar in the form of cakes, pies, muffins and brownies.
Needless to say, I was so impressed with East57 that I used the ‘F’ word (in capital letters and after the word ‘holy’) in one of my Instagrammed photos. I should point out that the Palmer & Co Brut Réserve  that accompanied my meal was equally worthy of using a profanity or two. Hats off to East57 for a kitchen and service that managed to bring out the sailor in me.


The Perfect Steak


I guess you could say that I’ve become, well, yes, addicted to steak. Not just any steak though, but a properly cooked steak. One that’s so tender it melts in the mouth. I recently had the misfortune of buying a less than perfect steak and believe me, even though the cooking was perfect, nothing could salvage it, or my jaw, which hurt tremendously after chewing just a few bites. A typical case of a craving when my trusted butcher was closed.
In fact, that’s where a good steak begins – from a good source. Basically, the first thing you need to do is find yourself a proper butcher. And by that I mean one that sells high-quality, free-range or organic meat, and one that understands his trade. We can basically consult our butcher for anything or ask for any kind of meat and he’ll gladly help us. Please, please, please try to stay away from those plastic-wrapped meat cuts from the supermarket, unless you’re prepared to be disappointed, just like I was when I had a craving and my butcher was closed. I’m not saying that all meat from the supermarket is bad. They have a very decent selection of organic meat these days – it’s just that if you want a good steak, you’re better off looking elsewhere.
Before cooking your steak (we happen to love filet mignon), you’ll want it to come to room temperature, so take it out of the fridge at least half an hour before cooking it. Keep in mind that all of these steps I am about to describe are essential if you want juicy, tender results. I know there are some issues with leaving meat out of the fridge or undercooking it, but this method has been used for ages and I’ve eaten my fair share of steaks with no ill effects.
You’ll want your steaks to be nice and dry, so grab some kitchen paper and dry them off on both sides. Next, heat up a large frying pan and add one tablespoon of mild olive oil and 35 grams of good butter (not margarine or butter for frying, just plain, full-fat, good butter). Season the meat on one side with plenty of sea salt (preferably fleur de sel) and freshly-cracked pepper. Once the fat is sizzling, add your meat and turn down the heat just a little. I like my meat medium-rare, so therefore I’ll give each side about two to three minutes. Depending on your meat’s thickness and your liking, you’ll probably need to give them about 2 to 5 minutes a side. More than that and you’ll be giving your jaw an unnecessary workout.
Try not to touch the meat a lot while it’s cooking. The next step is to turn the meat over. Now whatever you do, do not turn your meat over with a fork! You’ll risk losing precious juices! Instead, use a pair of tongs. Make sure you season the other side of the meat and give it the same amount of time as the first side.
If you want, at this point your steak is almost ready to eat. The hardest part is the 3 to 4 minute resting time. This ensures that the juices spread out nicely inside the meat.
We love a good wine gravy with our steak, so here’s what I do. Once the steaks are cooked, remove them from the pan, put them on a plate and cover them with aluminium foil. Lower the heat to medium and add 100ml of red wine to the pan. Stand back as it might platter a bit! Now add a clove or two of roughly chopped garlic (we like bite), a good teaspoon of grainy mustard (we love truffle mustard) and a small knob of butter.
Bring the heat back up a little and let this reduce while you stir. This will take about 3 to 4 minutes, enough time for your meat to rest. Pour these heavenly pan juices over the meat and serve. I definitely think you’ll want to serve this with the best bread you can get your hands on, or with some thick-cut chips. A salad with a homemade vinaigrette and you’ll be feeling as though you’re eating at a French bistro in Paris! Oh, and don’t forget to add a nice bottle of Bordeaux to go with your meal!