Prior to the lockdown I had two pork tenderloins in my freezer. This was a great opportunity to try a new recipe. I’ve had a wonderful recipe from the Williams-Sonoma website for citrus-grilled pork tenderloin. In addition to the pork, you need fresh orange and lemon juice, olive oil, fennel seeds, minced garlic, fresh rosemary, red pepper flakes, Dijon mustard, pork tenderloins and an orange. My daughter prepared this recipe for us one evening. The only change she made was to eliminate the fennel. Since I neglected to read the recipe beforehand, I didn’t realize the pork needed to marinate for two hours, which I had not done. To compensate for that, I basted the pork with the marinade during cooking. The pork was succulent and tender. The pork came out delicious. Despite marinating for less than required, the meat was flavorful and had a nice subtle citrus flavor. The mustard, rosemary and red pepper flakes really enhanced the taste of the pork.
After rummaging through my refrigerator and trying to organize the extra items from my daughter’s arrival I found two green zucchinis. They were a bit dehydrated from sitting in the refrigerator too long.
Many years ago, after our son was born, we took him to visit my in-laws in Florida. My mother-in-law purchased zucchini muffins from her local Publix food store. They were delicious. When we returned home, I found recipe somewhere (we’re talking 35 years ago) and made it once or twice. I dug it out of my recipe box and prepared it. It uses pantry staples of flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, chopped nuts, eggs, vegetable oil, sugar, zucchini and vanilla. At my daughter’s request I added ½ cup of chocolate chips to the batter. The bread was delicious! I forgot how tasty it was. The zucchini bread was very comforting and not overly sweet. It was delightful on its own or accompanied by your favorite hot beverage.
During this lockdown period, my daughter-in-law celebrated a birthday. While we have stopped exchanging gifts, I can’t resist acknowledging a birthday by making something special that the celebrant enjoys. My daughter-in-law has a fondness for Bucatini all’ Amatriciana. I found a recipe by Lidia Bastianich on her website. I was fortunate to find bucatini pasta at my local Wegmans. Bucatinti is small diameter hollow tube pasta. You’ll also need extra virgin olive oil, an onion, pancetta (I purchased a 4 ounce package of diced pancetta at Wegmans), dried red peperoncino (hot red peppers) or you can use crushed red peppers flakes, 28 ounces of Italian plum tomatoes (Lidia’s preference is for San Marzano) and grated pecorino Romano cheese. The whole meal comes together quite quickly. In fact, I made a double batch, one for my son and daughter-in-law and one for us at home. The onions became meltingly soft, the red pepper flakes gave the sauce a nice kick of heat and the pancetta added a bit of texture. My daughter and her family and my husband and I loved this different tasting pasta dish. This new recipe will be added to our pasta rotation.
Tuesday night is taco night at my daughter’s house; so the tradition continues while staying with us. While my daughter and son-in-law worked, I started to prep the chicken for grilling. I had a terrific marinade for chicken fajitas and decided to marinate the boneless, skinless chick thighs. The marinade is made with vegetable oil, white wine vinegar, fresh lime juice, small diced onion, minced garlic, hot pepper sauce, salt and pepper. The chicken only has to marinate for an hour, which isn’t too bad for a weeknight meal. My son-in-law grilled the chicken and then diced it small for soft shell taco shells. My husband and I haven’t had chicken fajitas in a very long time, so this was a wonderful change of pace.
For our second taco night, my son-in-law prepared skirt steak. He brought it to room temperature before grilling for approximately five minutes per side. The only seasoning he used was salt and pepper. The meat itself was flavorful, silky, and tender. It was the first time I had skirt steak and it won’t be the last. My daughter sautéed some shrimp to go along with the beef. It was a great combination.
We had another bag of shrimp in the freezer and I decided to cook them up for munching on before supper. I found a simple seafood stock recipe many years ago. All you need is a cup of water, ½ cup of celery leaves, one bay leaf, 2 peppercorns, and one teaspoon of salt. These ingredients simmer for five minutes. Add the seafood and simmer for five minutes. I adjust the quantities based on how much seafood I want to poach. For one pound of shrimp, I would probably double the quantities so that the seafood is covered completely.
We have had more than our share of sweets lately and there’s still more to come as I found a recipe for Giant Cinnamon Roll Scone in last week’s NY Times Food Section. Just the other day I was glancing through Charleston Magazine April 2020 issue and I found a recipe for Biscuit Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing. I’ll balance this out with well balanced lunch and supper menus. Since I’m having a hard time locating boneless turkey breast, I’ve grilled a large quantity of boneless chicken breast for sandwiches or salad toppings.
It’s been a busy and interesting having a toddler around. You forget the days when little ones could be temperamental and contrary. They’ll be here for at least another month, depending on the progress of the kitchen. I’ll have more recipes to share with you.
A former teacher, shop-a-holic, empty-nester redefining quick, family approved dinners.