Plans Altered, Plans Made.

by Michael on August 28, 2010 · 1 comment

I love Saturday. Not for the typical reasons but the reasons I find typical. It usually involves a stop at the Market and prep work for dinner. Nothing makes me happier than planning a menu and doing any preparation I can. That almost always includes an aroma sweeping and filling the house. Not a bad day at all. On certain weekends, it also includes company. In some cases family, and in some cases a dinner party. Tonight was going to be a one of those instances. A dinner party for four. Unfortunately, plans are made to be broken.

We had planned to have two friends over for dinner and drinks this evening. The menu was mapped out and the ingredient list was made. I had two stops to make. The Market and the LCBO. Five minutes into the market and after my pork loin was cut, trimmed and packed and the plum tomatoes and small yellow flesh potatoes in my hand, my phone rang. Something had come up and our friends couldn’t make it. The easy thing to do would be cut the menu down significantly and have a nice and easy dinner for two. I could even freeze the pork for another night. Why? It was a chance to make new plans. Make my wife a Saturday night dinner and share the experience and evening with her.
I went back inside and finished up with the list. On any other day I could spend an hour at the Market  roaming around and enjoying everything on display. Not today. I hopped across the street to the liquor store for a bottle of chardonnay to go with our pork. And I was home before I knew it laying out the food like show-and-tell. They say when you’re handed lemons, make lemonade. I’d rather make lemon meringue pie or lemon-strawberry pudding. So that’s exactly what I had in mind. I altered the menu slightly, just enough so that my day could be spent with her and not entirely in the kitchen. And I revelled in the thought of a dinner for two. Just us.

I started by taking care of dessert first. It had the longest amount of time involved but the shortest amount of prep. I quickly pureed the watermelon with sugar and lemon juice and salt and poured it into the 9″ square pan I had. Into the freezer for an hour for it to set. Next was taking care of the pork so that when the time came I just had to throw it in the oven. The more organized you are, the easier it is. I grabbed the heavy pot and browned the chopped bacon, added the onion and eventually the garlic. Next was the applesauce and within no time it all it had reduced by half. I stirred in the sage and breadcrumbs and stuffed the pork. I tied it with butcher twine and it went in the fridge.

My wife likes an appetizer on a weekend before dinner. It’s a great time to sit with a drink and nosh on something small while the main event is either cooking, simmering or grilling away. It’s also a chance for your palette to warm up. So tonight I roasted some plum tomatoes, already marinated briefly with oil, salt, pepper and garlic, for 30 minutes. It was the perfect time needed for the skin to blister and brown. During the last 10 minutes I sliced my baguette on the diagonal into 8 slices and put them in the oven until browned. I took out the tomatoes to cool and grabbed the toast and spread ricotta on them, seasoned them, added prosciutto, the tomatoes, and basil. We sat and ate and talked. And we waited.

It wasn’t long until the pork was out of the oven resting in foil and the potatoes were caramelizing in the stove. It wasn’t much longer until we were sitting down to our own little dinner party. Wine and food and great company. Truly the only ingredients you need for a great dinner. Luckily for me, I start with one of those every single day.

After dinner was over I had a few minutes of work finishing the dessert. I poured sugar in a small pot, some lemon juice and minced ginger. Set to low, it only took a few minutes for the sugar to fully dissolve. I added the fresh Summer peaches and soaked them in the syrup. The watermelon puree had set up fully at this point so I took it out of the freezer and used my fork to scrape into icy flakes. That’s it. Layer the glass with watermelon flakes, peaches and syrup. The perfect summer dessert. The perfect end to our Saturday night.

Below are pictures from our dinner tonight.

Bruschetta with roasted plum tomatoes, ricotta, prosciutto and basil
Apple-bacon stuffed pork loin with sage and onion. Lemon roasted potatoes.
Watermelon granita with peaches and ginger syrup.

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Rosemary August 29, 2010 at 9:03 am

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