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cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast

The holiday season is well under way and it really shows here in North Brooklyn.

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

Christmas tree stands every few blocks, a giant electric menorah on the corner of Bedford and North 7th, blinking lights lining apartment windows and fire escapes, subway passengers with arms loaded up with shopping bags, inescapable holiday music everywhere you go…
You know, the ushe.

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

Yesterday we stopped at one of those aforementioned Christmas tree stands and I carried our little 3 foot cutie home with one hand. After dinner we drank Dark and Stormys and listened to disco music (instead of the usual holiday tunes) while we gussied her up.

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’ve usually got cookies and cakes and candies (and sugar plums et al) dancing in my head this time of year, but instead I’ve been very concerned about what to make for Christmas dinner lately.

(fret not dear friends, I promise the cookies and cakes are still in the works too!)

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

See, we’ve got big plans on Christmas day this year so I’m getting really excited about making a big fancy dinner.

Working in retail for the past several years has always meant that it’s just me and Russell and the pups for Christmas. These past few years have been totally fun, and really refreshingly casual and stress free, but they haven’t really been occasions to go all out when it comes to the holiday meal.

This year though, my mom and little sister found themselves with no plans for Christmas so they’re piling in the car and coming down to pay us a visit! Let the festivities begin!

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

Mom’s always bummed that she never gets to eat any of the treats I post here on the blog, so I’ve got big plans to make a few of my recent recipes for her while she’s here. I’m going to load her up with enough sugar and sweets and goodies that she won’t even want to look at another blog post for at least a year. Or, at least until the new year that is!

We can’t just live on Christmas cookies for three days though. I mean, we might still try anyway, but I thought I should at least attempt to think of an actual meal to serve on Christmas day.

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

Growing up my family usually served either ham or prime rib on Christmas, but Russell doesn’t really like either of those. Ham tends to be too salty for him, and we always have way too much leftover after dinner anyway. The last time I made a ham for Christmas we were eating ham sandwiches and split pea soup for a week! As for prime rib, I’d be in heaven but Russell doesn’t like meat that isn’t cooked completely through so that’s out too.
Womp womp.

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

My initial thought was to make the pot roast I made a few months back, which would probably make everyone happy (very happy) but I’ve already made that so I couldn’t share it here and where’s the fun in that?
Oh what an exciting life I lead!

Instead I decided to make a pork loin roast. Not just any pork loin roast though, this puppy is butterflied, pounded flat, stuffed with magic, and rolled up jelly roll style before it’s roasted and sliced.

Rolling this back up and tying it with butcher’s twine can be a bit challenging but when you take your first bite you’ll know it was all worth it. The thinner you can pound out the meat the easier the rolling will be, but the pounding can be a time consuming (and noisy) job. The good news is that it’s also a great way to work out any pent-up frustrations after you do your holiday shopping!

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

This roast is truly amazing and I can’t wait to serve it for mom on Christmas. The meat is rich and tender and moist, and the stuffing is flavorful and sweet and earthy all at once. You really can’t ask for a better stuffing for pork than bright jammy dried cherries, tons of fresh herbs, and chewy earthy wild rice. As if the roast wasn’t amazing enough on it’s own, you finish it all off with a pan gravy made from white wine and the liquid leftover from soaking the dried cherries. The result is a rich, bright, and slightly sweet and fruity gravy that is literally the cherry on the sundae!

Are you reading this mom? Is your mouth watering yet?
Can’t wait! Happy Holidays y’all!

cherry and wild rice stuffed pork loin roast | Brooklyn Homemaker

Cherry and Wild Rice Stuffed Pork Loin Roast

1 (3 pound) pork loin roast
salt and pepper
3/4 cup dried tart cherries, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 to 3 stalks celery, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1 cup cooked wild rice (from about 1/3 cup dry)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
1/2 dry white wine, divided
1 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup chicken stock (low sodium if possible)

Preheat oven to 375F.

Trim large pieces of fat from pork roast. Butterfly the meat by making a lengthwise cut down the center, cutting to within 1/2 inch of the other side so that the meat can be spread open and laid flat. Cover the flattened roast with plastic wrap and, working from center to the edges, pound with flat side of a meat mallet (or small cast iron skillet) until meat is a uniform 1/2- to 3/4-inch thick. Remove plastic wrap and generously season meat with salt and pepper on both sides. Set aside to rest while you make the stuffing. Refrigerate if you won’t be making stuffing right away.

Bring one cup of water to a boil in a small lidded saucepan. Add chopped cherries and bring back to a boil. Remove from heat, place lid on pan, and let the cherries soak for 10 minutes.

Heat butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and celery, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Remove cherries from soaking liquid with a slotted spoon and add to onions and celery. Reserve liquid. Add cooked wild rice and herbs and stir to combine. Add 1/4 cup of white wine and reduce until mostly absorbed. Cool stuffing completely before proceeding.

Spread stuffing over pork and roll up as tightly as possible. Seal the seams with toothpicks, leaving enough pick showing that they’ll be easy to remove after cooking. Tightly tie up the roast with cooking twine.

Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven or oven safe roasting pan over medium high heat. Sear roast on all sides, for about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer, uncovered, to a 375F oven. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted into the middle of the roast reads at least 145F, about 80 to 90 minutes.

Remove roast from the pan and transfer to a cutting board tented with foil. Rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. If any stuffing or meat burned onto the pan, try to scrape it up with a wooden spoon but leave it in the pan. There should be at least a few tablespoons of oil and grease in the pan, if not, add a bit more olive oil. Add flour and stir into oil and grease and heat over medium for 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly stir in remaining 1/4 cup of wine, 1/2 cup of reserved cherry soaking liquid, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and thicken for a 2 to 3 minutes. Strain any burned bits of stuffing or pork out of the gravy with a fine mesh sieve.

Remove toothpicks and twine from roast, and slice into 1 inch thick slices. Serve topped with gravy. If desired, serve over a bed of wilted ruby chard or braising greens.

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Casa Neuhaus ceramic knife giveaway!!!

UPDATE: CONTEST HAS ENDED! Winners will be contacted by email

Have you ever worked with a ceramic knife before?

casa neuhaus ceramic knife giveaway | Brooklyn Homemaker

The ceramic material used to make ceramic knives is so hard that the blades rarely need to be sharpened, so they’re a great option for cooks who are intimidated by knife sharpening or just don’t have the time (and these days who does?)

Well – I’ve got great news! Just in time for the holidays, the amazing folks at the Greenpoint, Brooklyn-based Casa Neuhaus have offered to give away one of their ceramic knives to three readers of Brooklyn Homemaker! Can you believe it? Not one… THREE!

casa neuhaus ceramic knife giveaway | Brooklyn Homemaker

They have three knives to offer; a 3 inch paring knife, a 5 inch utility knife, and a 7 inch chef knife, and three lucky winners will win one of these three styles for free!

I’ve had a chance to use these knives myself, and I have to tell you that they’re amazing. They’re super super sharp and haven’t dulled one iota despite the abuse I put them through in my kitchen. Not only that, but they’re also really lightweight and beautifully designed. They’re gorgeous and modern looking with dark blades and stainless steel handles, and they even come with in their own really attractive gift boxes complete with sheathes that fit snugly over the blades to protect them from damage. Most ceramic knives don’t come with a sheath, but since ceramic can crack or chip if knocked around in a drawer, I think this is one of my favorite features!

casa neuhaus ceramic knife giveaway | Brooklyn Homemaker

If you have ever worked with a ceramic knife before, odds are that you’ve used white ceramic. Casa Neuhaus‘ knives have black ceramic blades made of black zirconium oxide. Unlike white ceramic blade, black zirconium oxide offers even more sharpness and durability than traditional ceramic knives. These knives even come with a three-year sharpness warranty that includes a free sharpening service (if needed)!

And hey, if you don’t win but still want one of these knives, they’re very reasonably priced and available through their webstore.

casa neuhaus ceramic knife giveaway | Brooklyn Homemaker

Want to know more?

Here are the basics, from their website:

WHY CERAMIC?

ceramic knife is a knife made out of very hard and tough ceramic, often zirconium dioxide (ZrO2); also known as zirconia. These knives are usually produced by dry pressing zirconia powder and firing them through solid-state sintering. The resultant blade is sharpened by grinding the edges with a diamond-dust-coated grinding wheel. Zirconia is 8.5 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, compared to 7.5 to 8 for hardened steel and 10 for diamond. This very hard edge rarely needs sharpening.

WHAT IS ZIRCONIA?

Zirconia is technically a laboratory manufactured diamond and thats what our knives are, thats why they are so sharp! We even give them a final heat treatment that makes them even stronger than other ceramic knives on the market, hence the dark color.

ANY SPECIAL CARE OR INSTRUCTIONS?

Just follow the following and your knives will last a lifetime:
– Never use them on any kind of bones or frozen stuff. Remember our knives are super sharp and strong but not unbreakable.
– Hand wash them. Don’t put them in the dishwasher. Remember that ceramic doesn’t absorb any taste or smell so just use a wet sponge to clean them.
– Don’t forget to put their cover sheet even if they are in the drying rack.
– Be careful to not drop them on a hard surface. And always use your ceramic knife with a plastic or wooden cutting board.

casa neuhaus ceramic knife giveaway | Brooklyn Homemaker

Contest rules:

Three winners will be chosen, each will win one knife.

Entries will be accepted until, and contest will end on, Monday December 15th, at 6PM EST.

To enter, please follow these links and “like” both Brooklyn Homemaker and Casa Neuhaus on facebook. Then come back and leave the comment “Gimme that knife!” on this post, and tell me what you want to cook with your new knife if you win!

Only one comment per entrant, please.  Sorry, but immediate family is excluded. The winning knives can only be shipped within the contiguous United States, so entrants must live or have a mailing address within the lower 48. Winner will be chosen, using a random number generator, from the total number of comments when the contest comes to a close. Winner will be contacted via email for shipping information.casa neuhaus ceramic knife giveaway | Brooklyn Homemaker

Good luck! And happy holidays from Brooklyn Homemaker and Casa Neuhaus!

 

 

easy fudgy cocoa skillet brownies

I’ve made, and eaten, a lot of brownies in my day.

easy fudgy cocoa skillet brownies | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’ve tried countless recipes, and most of them were pretty good, but none have really made enough of an impression to make it into my recipe collection. I mean, they were brownies, sure, so naturally they were delicious and chocolatey and decadent, but none of them have felt special enough for me to make them a second time. Every time I’ve gotten the itch to make a pan of brownies I’ve searched my cookbooks (or google) and found a new recipe to try.

easy fudgy cocoa skillet brownies | Brooklyn Homemaker

Some have been cake-y, some have been fudgy, some have been light and milky, some deep and dark. Some have been thick and dry, others thin and gooey, some have had nuts, some have had icing, some have had crackled sugary tops.

easy fudgy cocoa skillet brownies | Brooklyn Homemaker

To be perfectly honest, I’m not a much of a fan of cakey brownies, and I definitely don’t like brownies with icing. (If I wanted chocolate cake, that’s what I’d be making.) Nuts I can take or leave, but the one thing I always look for in a brownie is the fudgy factor.

When you search recipes for “fudgy brownies”, most of the recipes you’ll find call for melted unsweetened baking chocolate. I’ve always thought that melted chocolate was essential to make a really rich fudgy brownie, but I don’t usually keep it in the house. If I do have it, it’s probably left over from the last time I made brownies, but the leftovers never seems to be in the right amount to make them again.

easy fudgy cocoa skillet brownies | Brooklyn Homemaker

I’ve also seen quite a few recipes out there that go out of their way to try to recreate the look, texture, and flavor of boxed brownies. Deeply chocolatey with a fudgy (but not-too-gooey) texture and a craggy crackly sugary top. I’ve seen recipes with combinations of oil and butter, brown sugar and white, cocoa and melted chocolate, all in the name of recreating that nostalgic iconic boxed brownie flavor.

The one thing I’ve always found odd though, is that there’s no melted chocolate in boxed brownies. There’s no boxed mix that calls for a combination of butter and oil either. So why must it be so difficult and complicated to recreate something so easy and simple? Why?

easy fudgy cocoa skillet brownies | Brooklyn Homemaker

Last week I came down with the flu and was out of work for a few days. I’m really bad at being sick, and find it nearly impossible to just sleep and nap and lay around all day even though I know full well that I should be resting and recovering. I ended up spending most of my time laying on the couch watching old movies and eating chicken soup, but one day I got a powerful craving for brownies, so I started looking for a recipe that wouldn’t require too much effort and could be made with ingredients I already had in the house. While I was fidgety enough to want to get up and make brownies, I was decidedly not well enough for a trip to the grocery store just for a bar of unsweetened chocolate.

easy fudgy cocoa skillet brownies | Brooklyn Homemaker

I typed “easy cocoa brownies” into the googler, and when a recipe from Bon Appetit came up I figured it was worth a shot. The only real changes I made were to use dutch process cocoa (I didn’t have any natural cocoa), and to bake the brownies in the same skillet used to melt the butter (because I was feeling too lazy to wash a skillet and a baking pan).

Well, guess what. This recipe has definitely made it into my recipe collection. If I must be honest, I’ve already made it again too. Maybe twice more…

Maybe.

easy fudgy cocoa skillet brownies | Brooklyn Homemaker

These brownies are deeply, darkly & decadently chocolatey thanks to the dutch process cocoa, and every bit as fudgy as I hoped they’d be. They’re crazy delicious, super buttery, and have a perfect hint of pleasant saltiness. They’re a little dense and gooey, but I’m totally into that! They even have that iconic crackled crusty sugar top, as well as a really wonderful chewy edge thanks to the heavy cast iron they’re baked in.  Since they’re baked in a round skillet you can cut them into wedges, and that way every slice has a little bit of gooey center and chewy edge.

My favorite part of this recipe though, might have to be how crazy easy they are to make!

easy fudgy cocoa skillet brownies | Brooklyn Homemaker

easy fudgy cocoa skillet brownies

  • Servings: 8 - 16 depending on size
  • Print
adapted from Bon Appetit

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons confectioners (powdered) sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Over medium heat, melt butter in an 8 or 9 inch cast iron skillet. Let cool slightly.

Whisk sugar, cocoa, and salt in a medium bowl to combine. Pour butter in a steady stream into dry ingredients, leaving a light coating of butter in the skillet. Whisk to combine, then whisk in vanilla and eggs, one at a time. With a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, add flour and stir until just combined (do not over-mix). Scrape batter into buttered skillet and smooth the top. (If you don’t have a skillet, you can substitute a parchment lined and buttered 8×8 square baking dish)

Bake until edges look craggy, center rises but doesn’t wobble much, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached, 30-35 minutes.

Transfer skillet to a wire rack to cool completely. If desired, dust lightly with confectioners sugar. Cut into 8 to 16 wedges depending on how much you want. They’re so rich you probably should cut them into 16 wedges, but they’re so good you’ll want to cut them into 8.

vegan sweet corn chowder

Sad sad sadness. Summer is nearing the end.

vegan sweet corn chowder | Brooklyn Homemaker

It’s still hanging on, but not for long. One good thing about this time of year though, is…

vegan sweet corn chowder | Brooklyn Homemaker

CORN!

I seriously love fresh sweet corn at the end of summer. Something about that sweet earthy bursting crunch.

vegan sweet corn chowder | Brooklyn Homemaker

While grilling the whole ear and just rubbing it in salted butter might be the very best way to enjoy corn, there are so many things you can do with corn when it’s in season. One of my ultimate favorite things to do with corn in the late summer is take a whole mess of fresh vegetables and make up a sweet, thick, creamy, earthy chowder.

vegan sweet corn chowder | Brooklyn Homemaker

I think my love of corn chowder really took root a few years ago when I was unemployed for a short time. I used to work for a fundraising walkathon called AIDS Walk New York, and while I absolutely loved being involved with them, they could only offer me work for about six months out of the year. This left me scrambling to find work waiting tables or slinging lattes for the other six months, over and over until I was finally able to find a full time permanent position somewhere else.

vegan sweet corn chowder | Brooklyn Homemaker

One year, a great friend of mine found herself unemployed at the same time that I was laid off from the walkathon. We spent a lot of time together helping each other look for work and prepare for interviews, and trying to keep our spirits up with plenty of food. We actually spent so much time cooking and eating together that we started referring to ourselves as the unemployment supper club.

We would regularly try to find recipes that seemed rich and filling while being relatively affordable. One of my favorite recipes we ever made was a corn chowder that was super thick and rich and decadent with tons of cream and butter and bacon. One of my favorite things about the recipe though, was the unexpected number of vegetables the recipe called for, including sweet potato and red bell pepper. Every year since, I’ve made a variation of this recipe at least once every summer, but this year I thought it might be interesting to see if it would be possible to lighten it up, lose the cream and butter and bacon, but keep it every bit as thick and creamy and decadent.

vegan sweet corn chowder | Brooklyn Homemaker

The only problem with trying to make a chowder without cream or butter is the issue of thickening it. A while back i made a soup with roasted cauliflower and tomatoes, and when I decided to puree it I was shocked at how thick it got, so I thought it couldn’t hurt to try that trick again. Its amazing what a roasted and pureed head of cauliflower can do for a soup. It thickens it up like a dream, but it also imparts a velvety smooth creaminess that you’d expect had come from a boatload of butter and flour. Roasting the cauliflower helps release some of it’s moisture ensuring maximum thickening potential, but also concentrates it’s earthiness, adds toasty brown depth, and curbs it’s cabbagey flavor in a way that changes it from utilitarian thickening agent to “secret ingredient” that no one would suspect if they weren’t told.

I will admit that the flavor of this chowder is quite different from the one I used to make years ago. While the flavors of bacon and butter are definitely not present, they don’t at all feel like they’re missing. If you’re a regular reader you know I’m not afraid of butter or bacon, but I promise you won’t miss them. This soup is bursting with fresh late summer flavors. It’s sweet and earthy and rich and hearty and unbelievably thick and creamy. This is a soup to satisfy carnivores and vegans alike.

vegan sweet corn chowder | Brooklyn Homemaker

Vegan Sweet Corn Chowder

1 large head of cauliflower, cleaned and roughly chopped
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 1/2 tsp coarse kosher salt, divided
1 tsp ground pepper, divided
3 or 4 ears of sweet corn, stripped *see note (or 1 lb frozen sweet corn)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 lb (2 medium) yellow waxy potatoes,  peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1 lb (2 medium) sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
6 cups vegetable stock, divided
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 400. Toss cauliflower with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp salt, & 1/2 tsp of pepper. Spread cauliflower evenly on a parchment lined baking sheet, and roast for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a heavy bottom stockpot over high heat, and sautee corn for 5 to 8 minutes or until it’s just beginning to brown. Remove from pan and set aside.
Turn pot down to medium-high and heat last tbsp of olive oil. Add onions, celery, carrots, bell pepper, 1 1/2 tsp salt, & 1/2 tsp pepper. Sautee for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add potatoes, sweet potatoes, and sautee 5 minutes more. Add 4 cups of stock, thyme sprigs, & browned corn kernel. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
While soup simmers, puree roasted cauliflower in a strong blender with remaining 2 cups of stock. After soup has simmered for 30 minutes, stir in pureed cauliflower. Simmer for 10 minutes more. Scoop out 2 cups of soup, cool slightly, and puree in blender with 1 tsp cider vinegar. Stir back into soup, taste, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary. (If you want soup thicker, puree another cup of finished soup.)

*cooks note: To remove corn kernels from a fresh ear, I hold the ear upright against a cutting board and shave down with a sharp knife, rotating the ear until it’s shaved clean. For this recipe I also scraped off the remaining starchy corn milk with the butt end of the knife and added it after sauteing the kernels.