Monday, January 7, 2013

A New Year, another chance

It's been a while! If anyone is still here, and thanks to those who sent messages of encouragement, I am making some changes in my life that will ultimately result in a happier healthier me. My weight had gotten completely out of control and the age hammer kept beating down any attempts I made at reversing this through the usual routines.  Late last year I came across a Facebook page compiled by a writer whom I follow in other areas of interest such as science, technology and the like. This page is a book called 13 Weeks where Charlie Martin is attempting doing the things that are making a big difference in his health. If you are interested in the science of metabolism and weight loss, I encourage you to check it out and "like" it on Facebook. There is far more to it than I'll talk about here--I know you guys want Food porn! The basic idea is that a calorie is NOT just a calorie and that refined carbs and sugar are the enemy. One thing I will note is that the elimination of gluten has completely eradicated my need for acid reflux meds. I have suffered from GERD for over 20 years and it's gone now just by that one simple step.  Anyway, the page, his PJ articles and the author himself have been a great source of information and inspiration for me in the past couple of months. I started in November and it's gone fairly well, but as some of you know I was knocked over by bronchitis for a couple of weeks and the steroids and what not sure mess with your body functions, hopefully balancing out on the positive side. Today, I've decided that I'll survive. YAY me!

The meal shown here is one I made last spring and I thought it would be interesting to show the original and suggest some slight alterations that would better conform to a low carb way of eating.

On the menu:
Pork Tenderloin with Apricot-Mustard glaze. (You'll need S&P and fresh thyme)
Rice Pilaf
**I'm sure we had a salad or something** (rolls eyes and whistles)
Puff Pastry with Creme Patissierie, fresh strawberries and drizzle of dark chocolate

I'll try to be as authentically chronological as I can be with the exception of the dessert, which well, let's face it-- isn't in my life in that form, but it's still pretty and you might like to make it, n'est ce pas?

Pilaf Prep:
Make rice. I use(d) Jasmine rice in this. Toast some almonds on a sheet tray in the oven at 250 until you can start to smell them and they turn golden. Set them aside. Other ingredients included chopped onions, garlic, and shallots but the photos were so blurry, even I could see they were blurry, that's pretty bad. But the main star on this stage is.... our fun guy friend Mr. Mushroom.

This was one of those mixed wild mushroom packages that have a few oysters, some cremini, and redundant big portabellas, white button and if you're lucky some shitake. Chop em up!
Heat a skillet with butter over medium and sweat the onions and shallots until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped garlic and cook for no more than a minute. Remove the aromatics and set aside, in the same pan heat some more butter, 2 T, add the mushrooms and cook over high heat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and they will release their juices, keeping the heat on high, keep stirring or flipping, depending on your skill level until the juices have been reabsorbed into the mushrooms; they may have a little brown crusty edge, and that's some tasty stuff! Now mix it all together!
Add the cooked rice, toasted almonds, and sauteed aromatics to the pan.

Please nominate me for the worst food photographer on the web. I so dearly want to top a list of something!

To make this less carby.. you could substitute quinoa for the rice, it has slightly fewer net carbs plus a bit of protein. But that would still be higher than the less than  30 net carbs I'm doing. Realistically, I think you could use a mushroom-almond-onion side dish and maybe throw in a few bits of cooked bacon for good measure.

The Pork:
Buy a pork tenderloin (duh). I got the prepackaged one in this case but it's always better if you can find/afford it from a butcher. If you buy the prepackaged, get it "Plain" not marinated in anything, please for the love of all things good, don't buy pre-marinated meat. Thank you. The ends of the tenderloins are tapered so I usually truss them under with butcher's twine to try to even out the thickness... not shown in the photo below.

Let the tenderloins air dry in the fridge if you have time. If not, pat them dry with paper towels and liberally sprinkle with salt pepper and roughly chopped thyme leaves that have been heartlessly stripped off their nuturing little stems by your bare hands! Concerned about aging? Take it out on Thyme, because you can't do anything about time. I digress... This is what they look like:

As you can see my camera skills were no better last spring than last we met. It's on the list of things to do.

Heat a large ovenproof skillet (preferably cast iron) and when hot, add oil with a high smoke point, grapeseed or canola. Place the two tenderloins in the pan and sear all around until nice and golden brown. It gets a little tricky with the thyme, balancing out the searing of meat and not burning the thyme. This should take a bit less than 10 minutes total.  When seared, put the pan into a preheated 400 degree oven and roast until the meat thermometer reads 135 (it only takes about 15 minutes so don't go clean out your sock drawer or anything)  and take the pan out to rest. After about 5 minutes, remove the meat to a platter, cover and continue to rest while you make the glaze.

Glaze prep:

This is equal amounts of Apricot Preserves and grainy deli mustard. You can use whatever you like. The idea is the tang of the mustard a sweet finish of the fruit. Take the pan in which you cooked the pork and deglaze it (while hot) with a little chicken stock, about 1/4 cup scrape up the bits of fond (brown bits) until dissolved in the stock. Add the mustard and apricot and stir around until reduced to a sauce consistency.

I can't have a post without a glare shot now could I?  See the little bits of thyme, and the pork maillard bits, with the tangy sweet mixture? It is really very, very good.

Slice your tenderloin into about 1/2 in medallions and spoon the glaze over, plate the pilaf.

This meat was more done than I like it to be but it was still tender and juicy and very flavorful.

To make this less carby I'd substitute a little balsamic reduction (10g carbs per Tbsp) or a nice vinegar I've been experimenting with from Trader Joe's. Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar. It's really versatile and adds a touch of sweetness without a lot of sugar.

OK on to dessert....

Take frozen puff pastry shells and prepare according to directions.
Make a creme patissiere (I don't know how to type in French on this keyboard) which is a fancy way to say pastry cream. I'm sure I have posted it somewhere in this mess of a blog but it really isn't hard and can be done a day ahead. The only carby bad guy in the recipe is 1/2 c sugar for 2 1/2 c pastry cream. So the cream may come back into my life as some sort of custardy reincarnation. But I am announcing now... that pastry and I have filed for a divorce; it's final by now I'm sure.  It's heartbreaking, I know, all those memories of Pi day pies... But trust me, it's better this way.

Plating the dish involves opening the shell, plopping some pastry cream in, spreading the washed, sliced strawberries  and drizzling with a dark chocolate ganache. I chose the least appealing photo I had on purpose. Because honestly, knowing what that pastry would do to me, makes me not want it anymore.

Anyway, Cheers! to all who read this far. I appreciate you all, welcome suggestions, and will do my best to keep you entertained in a healthier way this year.

--See you soon!

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