Before Christmas, Lee and I finally watched "Julie & Julia" courtesy of Netflix. The movie was great -- how can you not use the word "great" to describe a Meryl Streep movie? (Incidentally, after hearing Meryl's funny acceptance speech on the Golden Globes, I've added her to my list of "people I'd like to be my friend.") Anyway, the movie inspired Lee and I (like every other movie-goer) to consider cooking a Julia Child recipe. In a state of delusion, I thought "how hard can it be?" After a couple days of mulling it over, reality set in and I decided I am in no way capable of pulling off a fancy French recipe a la Julia. While cooking for my family brings me more joy than it used to when I was a single gal, I really need to stick with recipes that are for amateurs. I'm not Julia Child nor do I even strive to be. In fact, dumb down Bettie Crocker and just maybe you can get an idea of my skill level and creativity in the kitchen.
So after saying goodbye to the Julia Child fantasy, I had a spark of genius. In the movie, Julie Powell makes every recipe in Julia's cookbook in one year. Why not do the same thing but with this cookbook:
A coworker gave it to me for Christmas. All 166 recipes in this cookbook are obviously easy and consist of Trader Joe's ingredients. I love Trader Joe's!! I could do this! At some point in our lives, our family may not live in a state where there is a Trader Joe's (just typing those words makes me hyperventilate) so I really need to cook from it now before it becomes obselete (or is sold in our "goodbye California" garage sale). Therefore, my goal is to cook every recipe in it in 2010 and I will document my progress occasionally on this blog (only occasionally because my intention is not to switch this into a cooking or foodie blog -- Nate is way cuter than most foods -- I said most because marshmallow Peeps are pretty darn cute). To those of you not in a Trader Joe's "zone" -- sorry, I offer my condolences and hope they open a store in your state soon. It won't hurt my feelings if you skip reading my TJ cooking posts. So let's jump right in because I've already gotten started...
A couple nights ago, I made a soup recipe using proscuitto pasta, carrots, and peas. It was simple (I'm going to use that word a lot). We liked it -- Lee rated it an 8 out of 10 stars. This could be a good recipe to get Nate to eat some veggies when he's older. I'm sharing this brief review because it demonstrates where I'm starting from -- I never would have thought to put pasta in chicken broth and add other ingredients. My imagination just doesn't go there. So sad. Anyway, here's a photo:
Last night's dinner raised the bar tremendously. I heard things like "man, that was great", "I could swim in that sauce", and "this is a 9.9!" come out of my husband's mouth. Apparently he liked it. So here's a picture (which doesn't do it justice) and the recipe to "Cherry Pork with a Kick":
1 lb. pork tenderloin, cut into 3/4 inch thick medallions
1 Tblsp. olive oil
3/4 C. Trader Joe's Cherry Preserves
3 Tblsp. creme fraiche
dash of Trader Joe's Chili Pepper Hot Sauce or Jalapeno Pepper Hot Sauce
salt and pepper
Season pork with salt and pepper. In a medium saute pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat and saute pork medallions, in batches, until they are browned and nearly cook through, about 6 minutes (I don't know what nearly cook through looks like so I cooked them all the way using my meat thermometer and prayed they wouldn't be dry -- they weren't!). Remove to a warm platter. In the same saute pan, melt the cherry preserves and stir in the creme fraiche. Season to taste with hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Return pork and any accumulated juices to the pan and simmer briefly to marry the flavors.
Yes, I wanted to marry the flavors after eating this dish. It was great. We served it over Trader Joe's frozen brown rice and had steamed asparagus on the side. Heavenly.
This is going to be a great culinary adventure. And hopefully we won't get too fat in the process...