Friday, June 18, 2010

Rosemary Pork Spiedini

Rosemary-- the herb for remembrance. What better way to celebrate Fathers' Day. It's going to be a hot sizzling weekend, so why not grill up some Rosemary Pork Spiedini just for Dad.
Rosemary, an herb originating in the Mediterranean, is highly aromatic and adds a rich resinous flavor to grilled and roasted meats and vegetables. Along the Italian coastline rosemary grows everywhere and sizeable--so large, that women still drape their freshly washed sheets over the large bushes to dry. Still known as ‘dew of the sea’ it is said to be endowed with many virtues. Long ago rosemary and juniper berries were burned to purify the air, and sometimes used as a tea to allay headaches or smoked in the hopes of curing asthma, and an herb that strengthens memory. Rosemary.. for remembrance.

This is a very simple dish to prepare, with amazing flavors from the rosemary, fennel, bay leaves and sage. Chunks of fennel flavored Italian sausage and pork combined with bay leaves, red peppers and onions grilled on fresh rosemary skewers for these delicious kebobs. Just use fresh rosemary stems as skewers, stripping off most of the leaves. Be sure to save the leaves as you'll be making an herbal rub with them.

Rosemary Pork Spiedini

12 oz pork tenderloin or boneless pork chops, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 TBLS herbal rub-- recipe below
1 lb fennel Italian sausage
2 red peppers
1 large red onion
20 fresh bay leaves
10 fresh rosemary branches
olive oil for basting

Toss pork cubes in a little of the herbal rub, about 3/4 teaspoon, mixed well and set aside.

Slice Italian sausage into 1 inch pieces and cut the red peppers into similar-sized pieces. Cut the red onion in half lengthwise, then cut each half into 6-8 segments and separate the layers. You should have enough for 3 on each skewer.

Strip rosemary skewers of all but the top few leaves and make a point at the opposite end with a sharp knife.

Thread on pork, onion, sausage, red peppers and bay leaves. Repeat in this order, twice for each skewer.

Sprinkle skewers all over with the rest of the herbal rub, and brush with extra virgin olive oil and grill over a medium heat for approximately 8 minutes each side, until pork and sausage meat are fully cooked. Serve with a large antipasto and very chilled vino and enjoy! Happy Fathers' day to all the special Dads out there.

Herbal Rub

Combine 1 TBLS sea salt, 4 TBLS rosemary leaves, chopped very fine, 1/4 tsp ground chili pepper flakes, 3 bay leaves, crushed or chopped fine, 6 sage leaves. Now combine these ingredients in a spice mill, mortar and pestle or chop very finely This tastes really great and may be used on any grilled or roasted meats and vegetables to enhance the flavor. This will make approximately 3-4 TBLS.

For dessert, Dad will just love this one. Actually, everyone will love it! I made this dish from The Italian Dish last week and followed the recipe to a tee--only substituting marscapone for half the cream cheese and nectarines and cherries in addition to the star of this dish--strawberries.. Simply scrumptious!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Strawberry Fields Forever

Strawberry season--one of the sweetest times of the year is upon us, which means now is the moment to snatch up their fleeting goodness. And in another month or so, nature's candy store continues to throw open its doors as blueberries begin to ripen on farms. And after that, raspberries and peaches. Each year at this time, I'm reminded about how delicious it is to live in Maine.

I will eat strawberries in almost any form, but one of my favorite ways to enjoy this near perfect fruit is to make a nice strawberry or strawberry rhubarb shortcake. I'll make jellies, jams, fruity toppings, many quarts will go into the freezer for a winter treat and remind me of why I look forward to our early summers' fruitful arrival, or simply sliced to top off my yogurt and granola breakfast. Then just when I think I couldn't possibly eat another strawberry, our South Berwick Strawberry Festival takes place when we always can muster up just one (or two) more scrumptious treats! The town's annual festival kicks off, with 2,654 pounds of strawberries, 60 gallons of whipped cream, and 5,000 biscuits ready to be slathered together in delicious servings of strawberry shortcake at $4 a pop.

So for the last ten days, when we haven't had the drizzles--I've gone strawberry picking. After last years' disastrously rainy season, this year so far has been just perfect for pickin' and we're lucky enough to be surrounded by dozens of organic berry farms, and last nights' dessert.. Strawberry Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Oatmeal Bars

1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups flour, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 1/2 cups strawberry-rhubarb filling (recipe follows)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9-inch square pan.

In a stand mixer, beat the 1 1/2 sticks of butter and 1/3 cup of sugar until light and fluffy. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in the stand mixer and beat until incorporated. Using floured hands, gather the butter mixture into a ball in the mixer bowl. Press the dough into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust has begun to brown at the edges. Remove from the oven to cool slightly while preparing the remaining ingredients.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the remaining 1/4 stick of butter, 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the brown sugar, soda, oats and lemon zest. Pulse until the mixture becomes crumbly.

Spread the 1 1/2 cups of filling over the baked crust. Sprinkle the oat mixture on top of the jam. Bake for 30 minutes or until the oat topping has become golden.

Strawberry Rhubarb Filling

1/2 pound fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/2" pieces
1 pint fresh strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
1 TBL orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
4 tsp cornstarch

In a medium saucepan cook the rhubarb, sugar, orange juice and cornstarch--stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and begins to boil. Boil only two minutes. Stir in the cleaned strawberries and remove from heat. Set aside to cool.