Updated: Apr 28
Easter supper tonight in a pandemic. Thankfully, we most of the ingredients for this fantastic supper on hand. I started prep work and such at a quarter past three in the afternoon and we sat down to eat just around 7:15 pm or so....but I enjoy all of this, so that's okay.
Shelley and I decided on having Pork Tenderloin tonight for supper since we had one on hand. I wanted to try out a couple of recipes for side dishes that I had recently learned about. One of them was roasted eggplant and the other was asparagus but not steamed or boiled; it's seared and very lightly steamed (recipes below).
But first.....a malted beverage to kick things off for me!
The first order of business was to prepare the asparagus purée. I was making this right from the second Masterclass that Gordon Ramsay did and it turned out fantastic. It's a little bit of work to get the final product, but well worth the effort.
The next thing to do after this was to prepare all of the vegetables. After trimming the asparagus and saving the ends for soup stock, I had to collect some lemon zest to incorporate with my salt to make a lemon salt concoction. Then I had to prepare the eggplant according to the recipe to take the bitterness out them. Peel, cut, and prepare the potatoes - prepare the warmed up milk mixture for the potatoes as well. The potato recipe can be found here on my site.
The asparagus recipe calls for some lemon salt. What? Yup. Lemon salt. Never heard of it. Here's what you do: zest the lemons into a mortar and pestle and add the salt. Crush the zest and salt together until fragrant and broken down. Store in an airtight container, in a plastic or ceramic container wrapped tightly with plastic wrap, or in a ziplock bag in a cool, dry place for up to two weeks. I should say that I use Kosher salt when cooking and not the "Sifto" type iodised salt we all grew up with. That salt is 'ok' for some things, but if you're going to cook, then Kosher salt will be the way to go.
1 bunch thick green asparagus 1 bunch white asparagus Fresh coarsely ground black pepper to taste Lemon salt to taste 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 cup vegetable stock
1. Trim the woody ends off all the bunches of white and green asparagus and set aside for stock. Then cut about 1⁄2 inch worth of thin slices off the remaining asparagus, starting from the trimmed end. Slice until both the white and green asparagus spears reach about 5 inches long. Reserve thin slices for asparagus purée.
2. Heat a large cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Season the asparagus spears liberally with black pepper and lemon salt. Add the oil to the hot pan and let it start to smoke. Add the asparagus spears in an even layer along with any remaining seasoning from the tray. Sauté for 90 seconds or until the green of the asparagus brightens and the white begins to char. Flip the spears, add the butter, and shake the pan so the butter can melt to the bottom. Let the butter brown and the asparagus spears char for another 90 seconds.
3. Deglaze the pan with vegetable stock. Turn off the heat and place a folded piece of aluminum foil on top of the asparagus to steam for 2 to 5 minutes. Check for doneness with the edge of your knife. If you feel resistance, let the asparagus simmer on low heat for another 2 minutes. If your knife slides through the asparagus fairly easy, remove from heat and reserve for plating.
Green Asparagus Purée
Scraps from the trimmed green and white asparagus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed 1 tablespoon olive oil 2 tablespoons shallot, small dice or brunoise 1 garlic clove, chopped 4 sprigs lemon thyme, leaves picked 1 to 11⁄2 cups vegetable stock 4 tablespoons heavy cream Maldon salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
1. Melt the butter in a large, shallow saucepan over medium- low heat. Add the shallots and garlic with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sauté for 3 minutes or until translucent and slightly tender. Do not get any color on the shallots and garlic.
2. Add the asparagus slices, season with 2 pinches of salt, a dash of pepper, and lemon thyme (If you don't have lemon thyme, simply use regular thyme leaves with some lemon zest). Stir together with a wooden spoon and sauté for another 3 to 5 minutes or until the asparagus is softened. Be sure not to get any color on the asparagus. The green asparagus should have a vibrant green color—if it starts to gray it is overcooked.
3. Deglaze the pan with enough vegetable stock to submerge the cooked vegetables and let the liquid come to a simmer. Turn the heat off, cover with a lid, and let rest for 21⁄2 minutes. The asparagus should be soft when pinched between your thumb and finger and tender to the bite.
4. Remove the lid and bring the heat back to medium. Add the cream and bring to a boil for 1 to 2 minutes. The purée will separate if the cream is cold when blending. Taste and season with more salt as needed.
5. Transfer the asparagus mixture to a blender. If you still have a decent amount of cooking liquid in the pan, do not pour all of it into the blender. Reserve to begin and add as needed or you may end up with soup instead. Start blending on low speed, then gradually increase to medium and blend for 1 minute to emulsify all the ingredients. The purée should be silky smooth and hold to the spoon when scooped. Taste and season with more salt as needed.
6. If your purée is not coming together, add a few tablespoons of the reserved cooking liquid to the blender to thin it out. If you don’t have extra cooking liquid, use vegetable stock instead. Cool down slightly and pour into an 8-ounce squeeze bottle.
Roasted Turkish Spiced Eggplant With Fresh Basil and Feta Cheese
Two 28-ounce cans crushed San Marzano tomatoes 2 medium Italian eggplants 8 to 10 garlic cloves, sliced in half lengthwise 6 tablespoons olive oil 1 large white onion, small dice 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper 4 teaspoons cumin, ground 3 teaspoons coriander, ground 1 teaspoon cardamom, ground 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated 1 small knob peeled ginger for grating 10 fresh basil leaves Salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pour the canned tomatoes into a sieve over a large bowl and allow to drain for a minimum of 30 minutes.
2. Slice the eggplants in 1⁄2 lengthwise. Use the tip of a paring knife to score the cut side of the eggplant on a bias, moving diagonally across the flesh. Repeat the process, slicing in the opposite direction to create a crosshatched pattern.
3. Generously season the scored side of the eggplants with salt. Place the eggplants, cut side down, on a sheet tray with a wire rack to drain for at least 10 minutes. This will allow the excess water to leach out from the eggplants to remove moisture and bitterness. Pat off the excess water with a paper towel. Poke 4 to 6 garlic clove halves into the score marks. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over each half. Finish seasoning with 3 to 4 twists of fresh black pepper.
4. Heat 2 large cast-iron pans over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil in each. When the oil is smoking, add the eggplants, cut side down. Sear 3 to 5 minutes or until the eggplants turn a dark golden brown on the cut side. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the flesh is tender and easy to remove from the skin and the eggplants have reduced in size. Remove from pans and let rest for at least 5 minutes, until the eggplant is cool enough to handle.
5. Use a large metal spoon to scoop the cooked eggplant from the skins. Place the flesh on the cutting board and mince the eggplant and roasted garlic to make a paste. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to a large nonstick sauté pan set over medium heat. Add the diced onion and sweat for 2 to 3 minutes until translucent. Add 1 more tablespoon olive oil if the onions seem dry or start to color. Season generously with salt and 1 tablespoon cracked black pepper. Add the cumin, coriander, and cardamom and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. The onions will change color due to the color of the spices.
6. Add the eggplant and use a wooden spoon to stir together with the onions. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger and cook for 2 minutes. Add the drained tomatoes and cook over medium heat for 5 to 10 minutes, or until a good amount of moisture has evaporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper as desired.
7. Stack the basil leaves, then roll into a tight log shape. Slice along the width of the leaves to chiffonade. Turn basil 90° and slice through 3 times for a rough chop. Add the basil to the eggplant mixture and continue to cook over medium- low heat for 1 more minute before removing from heat.
8. Transfer the cooked eggplant mixture to two 20-ounce serving bowls. Finish with a sprinkle of feta cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. Garnish with micro sorrel.
Pork Tenderloin with Dark Espresso Balsamic Glaze
1 - 2 pork tenderloins
2 tbsps olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried Italian herb blend
4 tbsps soy sauce
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup water
2 tbsps cornstarch with 4 tbsps cold water
1. Set Instant Pot to SAUTE. Rub tenderloin(s) all over with oil. Season generously on all sides with salt and pepper to taste, then dried herbs and garlic powder.
2. Use tongs to place tenderloin in the pot, turning over every 1-2 mins until browned on all sides. Be sure to let the meat sit and get a nice nut brown colour before moving it. Use the tongs to rub the meat vigorously enough to catch all the little bits of seasonings mixing on the bottom with the oil.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and water - add this to the pot. Put the lid on in the locked position with the steam valve closed. Set to PRESSURE COOK or MANUAL for 15 minutes.
4. When the cooking time is up, allow to natural release for 5 mins, then turn the steam valve to the venting position and remove lid once float valve drops down. Use tongs to transfer pork loin to a cutting board, cover loosely with foil, and set aside to rest. Makes sure your meat rests or it won't be juicy on the inside.
5. Get your cornstarch and water mixture ready now. Switch the pressure cooker to the SOUP setting. Once it's boiling, stir cornstarch mixture into the balsamic 'soup' in the Instant Pot and stir until thickened to a glaze.
6. When ready to plate, slice the tenderloin(s), then serve with balsamic glaze on top. Extra glaze can be stored in a jar in the fridge up to 2 weeks.