Monday, November 1, 2010

King's Company

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have dinner with your husband's first serious girlfriend? Well, it might be more fun than you think (and not for the reasons you might expect). I remember well the night we were standing in line at Chipotle, a little less than a year ago, when Wes' gaze affixed itself to a woman's backside, and he, ahem, abruptly asserted that the woman a few paces ahead was none other than his ex. Exactly how he came to that conclusion from such an angle I do not care to know. After sharing a face to face introduction with her and her husband (quick sigh of relief) we struck up a conversation that has lasted on and off ever since. Realizing it had been over 6 months since we had invited them to dinner, and always on the look out for a reason to entertain, I decided there was no time like the present and extended the invitation once more. Having another independent, intelligent, yet completely hippi-fied mom friend is a beautiful thing, and by now I am lucky enough to consider the King family (said girlfriend, her husband, and their adorable cherub cheeked baby girl) good friends. What can I say- my husband has fabulous taste in women! ;)

A menu perfect for weeknight hosting when you have less time (and energy) to prepare, the tenderloin is a cinch, ditto the carrots, the fig sauce can be made in advance, and the stuffing get to just sits in the oven and doesn't need to be watched
closely. The tart dough can be made in advance as well, simply roll it out, dump the filling in, and pop on the oven before you sit down to dinner. The best part about this meal is that it makes your entire house smell like the holidays!

Rosemary Tenderloin

(2) 2 lb pork tenderloins
2 TBS olive oil
heaping TBS of fresh chopped rosemary
salt and pepper
vegetable oil for pan

- preheat oven to 425
- season the meat liberally with salt and pepper and rub in the olive oil and rosemary
- in a large oven proof skillet over medium high heat, add about 1 TBS of vegetable oil and then add the pork
- sear on all sides for a couple of minutes each until a nice crust is formed
- pop in the oven for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of your tenderloin and the 'doneness' that you prefer- just slice into the center to check (best served slightly pink)

Savory Fig Sauce

2 1/2 cups port wine
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
8 dried figs
2 sprigs rosemary
2 cinnamon sticks
1 TBS honey
2 TBS butter
salt and pepper

- combine the first 6 ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat until reduced by half, about 30 minutes
- discard the cinnamon sticks and rosemary and puree in a food processor or blender until smooth
- stir in the butter, and salt and pepper to taste

Brown Sugar Carrots

2 bunches carrots, sliced on the diagonal (I the slim kind with the tops attached- the pre packed kind are usually larger so use less if that is what you have)
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 TBS butter
1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste

- place it all in a pot with enough water just to cover and simmer over medium heat until tender

Apple Chestnut Stuffing

1 red delicious apple
1 granny smith apple
1 onion
1 TBS olive oil
1 TBS butter
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 lb mild Italian sausage (Central Market has a great in house version)
7 oz or so steamed chestnuts (Williams Sonoma carries these during the holidays, you'll need about 1/2 the jar)
1 square pan of cornbread (Central Markets cornbread is a great non-fortified nastiness way to go)
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup Parmesan cheese
butter for pan

- preheat the oven to 425
- in a medium pot heat the butter apples, and onion over medium low heat until soft, about 10 minutes
- add the cranberries and wine, and simmer about 5 more minutes, season with salt and pepper, and set aside
- cook the sausage in a large saute pan over medium high heat until browned and cooked through, breaking up any large chunks
- combine the apple mixture, sausage, and cornbread in a very large bowl (I used my soup pot) and add the chicken broth and 3/4 cup of the Parmesan
- pour into a well greased rectangular baking dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper, top with remaining cheese and bake until golden and crusty, about 30 minutes or so

Super Simple Apple Tart

Pastry Dough 1 (which has slightly better flavor)
Pastry Dough 2 (which is nearly indestructible)

2 granny smith apples, chopped2 tsp flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 TBS AppleJack liqueur
2 TBS butter
1 egg mixed with 1 TBS water (for egg wash)
extra sugar for sanding the top (turbinado sugar looks prettiest)

- preheat oven to 400
- combine the fruit, flour, sugar, and liqueur in a medium bowl
- roll the dough out into a circle as if for a pie crust and dump the fruit mixture in the center
- fold the dough up and over the fruit, creating little pleats
- using a pastry brush or your fingers, dip into the egg wash and dab in between the pleats to secure them
- coat the outside pastry thinly with the egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and dot the butter on top of the fruit
- bake for 30 minutes or so, or until golden and slightly bubbly


  1. love the story about Wes' ex!! How great that you all turned out to be good friends! I've run into David's ex (the one he lived with before we met) and while she's very nice and we've had a drink or two, there are definitely no dinner invitations being passed back and forth! lol!

    Also, I fully intend to try that carrot recipe. I can't get Max to eat carrots for anything (he'll eat raw spinach, arugula, steamed cauliflower and broccoli and all kinds of other things...but not carrots. crazy kid!) and I think that might just do the trick! :-)

  2. I wouldn't have the ... whatever it is you need... to spend time with your husband's ex girlfriend. Simply hearing my fiance's ex girlfriend's name almost brings me to tears. Props to you, Jenna. Well done. :)