Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Roasted Pork Loin

When I was young, my mother made a roasted pork loin fairly often. Back in those days, it was recommended that pork be cooked to 160°F, which rendered it dry and flavorless. And pork had more fat then! So we'd eat tons of applesauce on the side to make the arid meat more palatable. Sometimes it worked.

The 70s are long gone, but the taste of dry pork stays with me. Hence, before now, I have never cooked a pork loin myself. Granted, they don't seem to be easy to find anymore. Supermarkets have plenty of pork chops and pork tenderloins, but I seldom see larger cuts of meat. (The meat selection in most supermarkets sucks, period.) Fortunately, our local Weis market had several big pre-rolled and tied roasts, on sale yet. We bought the biggest one they had--4.77 lb--along with some garlic and fresh sage with which to flavor it.

Making a pork roast is really a super-simple deal. You only need a handful of ingredients and a couple hours in the oven to produce something that's both flavorful and juicy. Forget that archaic 160°F internal temperature requirement! 145°F is all you need. And while most chefs/foodies/know-it-alls will recommend brining the roast before cooking, who really has enough room in the fridge for a container large enough to contain a 5-lb roast AND a gallon or two of brine? Certainly not me. Our roast was plenty juicy when cooked to the proper temperature and allowed to rest for 15 minutes before carving. And it was delicious, subtly perfumed with garlic and sage.

I dare say I'll be making pork roast often now. At least when I can find it on sale. (The pre-sale price was nearly $4 per pound!)

Roasted Pork Loin

1 5-lb boneless pork loin with fat cap, rolled and tied.
7-8 small cloves or 3-4 large cloves garlic
8-10 fresh sage leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Using a long thin knife (like a boning knife), poke holes into both ends of the roast, making some deeper than others. If your garlic cloves are on the large side, cut them into halves or thirds. Wrap each with a sage leaf and, using your finger, poke garlic into the holes. You want the cloves to end up in different parts of the roast, so the flavor of garlic and sage permeates the meat at different points.

Put the roast into a baking pan. Generously salt and pepper the outside of the roast. Place in preheated oven for twenty minutes. After 20 minutes, turn heat down to 350°F. Cook roast for 20-25 minutes per pound total, or until a thermometer inserted into the center of the roast reads 145°F.

Remove roast from the oven and tent with foil. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

Serve with applesauce. We also served roasted asparagus (put in the oven about 15 minutes before pork was done) and pierogi with tons of sauteed onion. So good.


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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Be AMAZING!

Here's an upcoming event for a very worthy group. The $50 per ticket will not only get you some yummy food from places like Clementine and Bosphorous Bistro, you'll also assisting I Am O'Kah with empowering youth toward economic independence.

I Am O’Kah!’s Be AMAZING! Awards Gala May 17 To Support Youth 
Entrepreneurship in Baltimore

Baltimore children and their families who are fighting against socio-economic barriers to success will be beneficiaries of I Am O’Kah! Inc.’s Be AMAZING! Awards Gala and Silent Auction. This Creative Black-Tie preferred celebration will take place Saturday, May 17, from 7:00 to 11:00 PM, at the Maryland Historical Society (201 W Monument St., 21201).

This year’s theme is “Unlock Your Inner Art,” in honor of local champions who have shown their commitment to creativity in their service to the community. With over 300 guests expected, the event will feature live interactive art, music by Marc Avon Evans and VOR Music Group, cocktails and food tastings by Clementine, Tapas Adela, Plates, Diablo Doughnuts, Pho Towson, Bosphorous Bistro, Land of Kush, and Dessert Fantasies as well as a silent auction and guided tours of Maryland Historical Society exhibits.

Hosted by Brandi Proctor of Baltimore's FOX 45 & Walter Maxfield Jones of the Sweet Spot, an awards
presentation will recognize the following honorees for their innovative approach to serving the community:

▪Outstanding Community Leader of the Year - Joseph Manko of Liberty Elementary School
▪Outstanding Woman of the Year - Kate Williams of the Downtown Baltimore Family Alliance
▪Outstanding Man of the Year - Teddy Coates of Black Professional Men
▪Outstanding Educator of the Year - Deana Frank of Elijah Cummings Youth Program
▪Outstanding Organization of the Year - Sarah Hemminger of Incentive Mentoring Program
▪Outstanding Artist of the Year - Brian Kirhagis of Brik Art
▪Outstanding Entrepreneur of the Year - Taharka Brothers Ice Cream Co.
▪Outstanding Student of the Year – Lindsay Bottos, MICA

Tickets at $50/person and event sponsorships can be purchased online at www.iamokah.eventbrite.com. All event proceeds will benefit I Am O'Kah'!'s Financial Rockstar Academy and the Kahdine Ann DaCosta Scholarship for Excellence in Leadership.

For more information about the Be AMAZING! Awards Gala or I Am O’Kah! Inc., contact the foundation’s executive director, Aisha DaCosta, at 443-468-6402 or aisha@iamokah.org, or visit www.iamokah.org.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring Has Sprung at B&O American Brasserie

There's a new chef at B&O American Brasserie: Matthew Kane, who has been at B&O since its 2010 opening. A native Marylander, Kane plans on taking the restaurant back to its brasserie roots. His first menu in that direction features hearty, comforting fare like bone marrow and pork tenderloin combined with seasonal ingredients like ramps and fiddleheads, making a perfect transition from snowy winter into the welcome spring.

I was invited to a media sampling of some of Chef Kane's dishes, presented with a selection of master mixologist Brendan Dorr's cocktail wizardry. Standouts on the menu include Kane's brussels sprouts with a mustard crème fraîche (inspired by a version at Geoffrey Zakarian's now-closed South Beach restaurant, Tudor House), the lovely duck and pork terrine found on that night's house charcuterie platter, and a duo of rabbit that included speck-wrapped loin and rabbit-filled agnolotti. (I don't even like rabbit, but wanted more of this dish!)

We tried five of Dorr's drinks, from a near-classic daiquiri (E.M.H. Daquiri) and lighter version of a Manhattan (Perfect Age) to a lovely tart gin-and-cucumber cooler (Morning Dew), a smoky Mezcal-based bevvie (Burro Mexicano) and a dessert-like Brandy Alexander. I am hard-pressed to name a favorite, although the Perfect Age was really quite nice. Heck, they all were.

So...get thineselves to B&O and taste some of the new stuff.

Forgive my blurry photos...but enjoy the slideshow nonetheless.


B&O American Brasserie
2 North Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
443.692.6172
http://www.bandorestaurant.com/

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Bosphorus Bistro

Several months back, the Minx purchased a Groupon for Bosphorus Bistro. I was curious to check the place out since I had never had Turkish food before and we had been happy with the pizza and sandwiches from their sister restaurant Toss. Also, Bosphorus Bistro is located only about 10 minutes from our home. Bad weather and other commitments prevented us from going for quite a while, but one sunny Saturday, we decided we had to head down York Road and try their wares.

The restaurant is quite dark with strings of lights along the walls to provide a soft glow. We were seated in one of the wood booths along the wall and settled in with the menu. Since our goal at any restaurant is to experience as many different items as possible, we decided to try the mixed mezze platter which allows you the choice four items from the appetizers list. We went with the pink sultan (mainly because the name intrigued us), baba ganoush, kisir, and dolma.

Mixed mezze platter with pink sultan, baba ganoush, kisir, and dolma
The pink sultan was a dip consisting of beets and garlic mixed in labne (yogurt-based cheese). I've never been a fan of beets, but the earthy flavor that normally turns me off seemed mitigated by the garlic and the creamy, tangy labne. I actually found myself enjoying it, especially when scooped onto the fresh pita bread. I'm also not crazy about eggplant, but I'm quite content to devour a well-prepared baba ganoush and the one served at Bosphorus was lemony and slightly smoky. Kisir was new to me: a blend of bulgar wheat, mint, onion, tomato, and pepper. The bulgar wheat gave the dip a hearty, nutty flavor while the other ingredients brought the familiar flavors of the Mediterranean. The tomato especially provided a refreshing brightness. The dolma were dense little packages of rice wrapped in grape leaves. I always love the soft texture of grape leaves.

Lamb Chops
For entrees, I order the lamb chops and Minx ordered the cizbiz kofta. My lamb chops were tender with just the right amount of sear and a fine grilled flavor. Minx's kofta were four savory lamb patties that also had a nice taste of the grill. My chops were herbacious and salty in a good way, while the Minx's cizbiz were well seasoned. Both dishes were served on a bed of buttery rice with mushrooms and a large amount of red and green chopped bell pepper scattered around the edge of the plate.

Cizbiz kofta
For someone who loves rice, I was happy to nom away on the generous portion of slightly sticky rice. However, the large quantity of bell pepper was unnecessary. Both the mushrooms and the peppers were undercooked, existing in that odd textural limbo between not quite crunchy and raw tasting, but not quite soft and sweet either. Minx and I felt that a smaller quantity of vegetables would be fine, especially if they were first finely chopped and/or roasted.

The owner greeted us at the door when we came in and he stopped by during our meal to see how we liked everything. We had a pleasant conversation and he seemed genuinely interested in our feedback about the food and the restaurant. Based on the number of customers who greeted him as they entered the restaurant, it's clear that he is building a clientele of diners who enjoy visiting the restaurant on a regular basis. We are also eager to go back and try some of their other Middle Eastern dishes.

Bosphorus Bistro
5716 York Road
Baltimore, MD 21212
(410) 323-0300

Bosphorus Bistro on Urbanspoon

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