Wednesday, April 1, 2009
dinner for mom and dad
My parents were in town from Florida last weekend. And luckily for me, they didn't want to go to ground zero, or Times Square, or anywhere, really. At first I had a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that they didn't want do much sightseeing. But then I remembered their last visit three years ago, and how, wanting them to fall in love with Brooklyn as much as I had, I planned lots and lots of activities for their very first three-day stay. In retrospect, a week's worth of activities. We went to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens to admire the summer roses, to Grand Army Plaza green market for apple cider donuts, took a blustry late afternoon walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to admire the Manhattan skyline just before dusk, stood on line for pizza at Grimaldi's and walked the Brooklyn promenade. Did I mention this was all in ONE DAY? My parents were near collapse that night, and so were Dan and I.
So no playing cruise director this time around. Instead, I didn't really plan much at all. We took leisurely walks around the neighborhood, ate a few cozy meals in the apartment, and squeezed in a trip to the Natural History Museum. We also managed to check out the Union Square green market and a small swath of Central Park, where Mom squealed like the Beatles Super Fan that she is upon the sight of the Dakota, the former haunt of John Lennon. We also got caught in a hail storm (I hate you, March), but I won't get into that.
On Friday, the night my parents arrived, our friends Mindi and Tom came over after work and I cooked for everyone. There was Neko Case on the stereo, and lots of wine, and pork with roasted grapes, a dish you must try very soon. As I stood in the kitchen, stirring this and that and listening to everyone's voices, I couldn't help thinking about how rare and wonderful it was for my parents to be a part of my normal life, my real life, even just for a few days.
Dinner with Mom and Dad, Daniel, Mindi, and Tom
Pork tenderloin with grapes and shallots
Sweet potato pie
Pork tenderloin with roasted grapes
This is a riff on a recipe I found for veal chops with roasted grapes. Grapes might sound like an odd thing to eat with meat, but when roasted, they break down into a deliciously tart compote.
(Serves about six people)
2 1 lb. pork tenderloins
1 Tbsp. rosemary
1 Tbsp. thyme
1 lb. seedless red grapes
½ cup white wine
3 shallots, thinly sliced
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 450°F. Season pork with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large nonstick ovenproof skillet (I used a cast iron skillet) over medium-high heat. Add pork and sear until all sides are brown, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes. Transfer pork to plate. Cool slightly. Press the thyme and rosemary into the pork, covering the meat evenly. Add about 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Add shallots and grapes and sauté over medium heat, about 5 minutes. Place the pork atop the grape mixture and transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast until the grapes are soft and the meat is cooked through, about 15 minutes (a thermometer inserted into the center of pork should register 150°F, or if you stick a knife into the center of the pork, the juices should run clear). Transfer pork to platter and tent with foil. Let stand 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour the wine over the grape mixture in the skillet. Stir over high heat until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cut the pork on diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Arrange on a platter (or plates) with the grape-shallot mixture on top.