Thursday, June 21, 2018

Grilled Stone Fruit, Prosciutto, and Burrata Crostini

Happy first day of summer! The season of days of endless sunshine, backyard gatherings and barbecues, long lines at the ice cream shops, outdoor concerts, flourishing gardens, picnics, and farmer's market tables abundant with fresh fruits and vegetables has finally arrived. Other than days with high heat and humidity or the occasional days of rain, what is not to love about summer? Some say everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August.

Almost everything tastes better in the summer. Particularly fruits and vegetables. Knowing the season of blueberries, strawberries, cherries, plums, and peaches is short, it's not surprising fruits begin to creatively find their ways into appetizers, salads, as well as, desserts. Three years ago it was the Grilled Peach and Burrata Salad we couldn't get enough of here. Last year the Peach, Tomato, and Burrata Caprese Salad with Basil Drizzle made regular, sometimes, weekly appearances. Even I had to wonder if I knew how to make any other kind of salad. 

This year these Grilled Stone Fruit, Prosciutto, and Burrata Crostini will be another one of the ways I will showcase the deliciousness of the intoxicating taste of ripe peaches and nectarines. Not only do these crostini make great hearty appetizers, they are so versatile they would work well as a light meal. But here's the catch. They beg to be accompanied by a glass or two of wine or prosecco. So if you were looking for a reason to open and share a bottle of our favorite beverage, you now have one!

This is one of those 'not an exact science' recipes. In other words, the kind of recipe where you aren't weighing or measuring everything out. You could almost make them by just looking at a photo. So the recipe below is only meant to give you some guidance. There is no one right or best way to assemble these crostini as the presentation for these Grilled Stone Fruit, Prosciutto, and Burrata Crostini lends itself to lots of creativity and versatility. Your version might look entirely different than mine.

I couldn't resist buying both nectarines and peaches this week. Originally I intended to make these crostini using only the peaches. Then I thought why not use a combination of both peaches and nectarines. Next time I make them I might use only peaches or only nectarines or return to what I will call the 'original' peach-nectarine aka stone fruit combination. Any of these options will work. Fruit indecisiveness aside, I definitely wanted these crostini to be topped with grilled versus freshly cut fruit. (If you haven't yet tasted grilled stone fruit, you are in for an added treat!) And again, you could make these crostini using either grilled fruit (this gets my vote) or freshly sliced fruit. I would encourage you to make them with grilled fruit at least once as there is nothing quite like the taste and flavor of grilled stone fruit.

One of the best things about having a farmer's market in the town where I live is having access to some incredible freshly made breads. The baguettes are irresistible. But wherever you buy your baguettes, look for ones with a dense, sturdy crumb. The 'soft inside' baguettes don't work as well in the making of crostini. I prefer cutting my baguettes in half inch slices on the diagonal versus rounds. However, you can make these crostini using bread cut either way. 

After lightly brushing olive oil on both sides of the bread, put them on the grill to char and crisp. (See note below for an oven preparation.) The bread doesn't need to be warm when you serve these crostini, so you could make up the bread slices earlier in the day but store in an airtight container. If the weather is humid on the day you are planning to make Grilled Stone Fruit, Prosciutto, and Burrata Crostini you might want to first grill the bread, then grill the fruit.

Like summer fruits and vegetables, I can't seem to get enough burrata either. Once a somewhat hard to find cheese, it's now very accessible in many grocery stores. 

After spreading some of the burrata over the grilled bread, top first with a piece of very thinly sliced prosciutto, then with the grilled stone fruit of your choice. Note; Depending on the size of your prosciutto slices, you either cut them into halves or thirds.

A drizzle of balsamic glaze and julienned fresh basil are the crostini's finishing touches. For an added 'wow' presentation factor, serve these crostini on a large white platter. 

The Grilled Stone Fruit, Prosciutto, and Burrata Crostini may be the most impressive, simple, delicious appetizer you make all summer. Luscious grilled peaches and/or nectarines, freshly grilled bread, salty prosciutto, tart-sweet balsamic glaze, and creamy burrata make for the most amazing sweet-savory flavor eating experience. When served on a large white platter they make rustic look elegant. Destined to be one of those 'disappearing' appetizers, they are yet another reason to love summer.

Grilled Stone Fruit, Prosciutto, and Burrata Crostini
Makes 20-22 pieces

2-3 stone fruits (peaches, nectarines, and/or a combination of both), each cut into 8-10 wedges (depending on size)
1 french baguette, sliced on the diagonal in 1/2 inch slices
Olive oil, for brushing bread and fruit
8 ounces burrata, sliced
6-8 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced (cutting each slice into halves or thirds)
Balsamic Glaze, for drizzling
3-4 basil leaves, julienned 

1. Brush both sides of the bread slices with olive oil. Place on a heated grill pan or outdoor grill setting bread on the diagonal. Grill bread until golden on both sides (approximately 2 minutes per side). Set aside.
2. Brush peach and/or nectarine wedges with olive oil. Place wedges on a heated grill pan or outdoor grill. Grill until fruit has grill marks on both sides (approximately 1-2 minutes per side).
3. Spread some burrata cheese over the top of each bread slice.
4. Place a piece of the prosciutto on one side of the bread and two pieces of the grilled fruit on the other. Place crostini on serving platter.
5. Drizzle balsamic glaze over the finished crostini. Scatter the julienned basil over the crostini. 
6. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Notes: (1) Instead cutting the stone fruit into wedges, cut in half and remove pit. Brush each half with olive oil and place on heated grill. Grill fruit halves until slightly charred (3-4 minutes). (2) Use fresh fruit slices instead of grilled ones. (3) Instead of burrata could use goat cheese. Whip 8 ounces of goat cheese with 2 Tablespoon of whipping cream until creamy and spreadable. (4) If you can't find balsamic glaze, bring one cup of balsamic vinegar over medium-high heat to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the vinegar has reduced to 1/4 cup and is thickened and glossy (approximately 15-20 minutes of cooking time). Remove from heat and let cool before using. (5) If you don't have a grill available, make the crostini a preheated 400 degree (F) oven. Bake slices for 12-15 minutes or until crisp.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Spiced Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

The towering stacks of unread and partially read books sitting on my nightstand are finally starting to dwindle down to less overwhelming piles. I wasn't much of a reader until my early twenties. Which may explain in part why I get as much enjoyment from reading a book as I do in holding it, tabbing the pages with passages I want to go back to, and keeping my place with a postcard bookmark. Yes, even in this digital age, I am a hardcover book holdout. I have tried downloading books before, however, the reading experience wasn't the same, at least it wasn't the same for me. The thought of lessening the weight in my carry-on travel bags hasn't been enough of an incentive to get me to abandon my affinity for hard cover books. Nor has waiting for a couple of days for a new book to arrive in the mail made my impatient self envious of those who get access to a book in a matter of minutes. 

Considering how many of my books are long past their 'should have already been read by now' due date, I have unilaterally imposed a conditional, temporary new book purchase moratorium. Which means if I discover a new book, one have a compelling theme or story, or learn one of my favorite authors releases a new book before I finish the books I already own, I will lift the book buying ban. But if a book doesn't meet either of those two standards, it goes on my Amazon wish list. A list that seems to have a taken on a life of its own. Thankfully there isn't a quota on the number of book titles one can save. Or if there is, I haven't hit it yet. 

Unlike books, bananas do have a shelf life. There was an excessive heat warning this past weekend, but when you have perfectly ripe bananas, turning on the oven on a brutally hot day isn't a deterrent. Throwing those ripe bananas away would have felt like I had committed a crime. There were three perfectly ripe bananas sitting in a bowl. Exactly the number I needed for this Spiced Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Icing. Many of the recipes I post on the blog are slight adaptations to ones I have found, ones given to me by friends, or mash-ups of a multitude of recipes. Then there are some I can claim as my very own creations. Ones I can honestly say I have authored. It's a good day in the kitchen when the ingredients you put down on paper transform themselves into something so delicious, so close to (cake) perfection, you want to pinch yourself. I promise not to show you photographs of the bruises my body experienced in the making of this cake.

Cinnamon and cardamom, two of my favorite spice combinations, are one of things making this banana cake different than most others. I had tinkered with the idea of using only cinnamon, but my Swedish DNA wouldn't let me. Not this time anyway. 

The assembly of this cake follows along somewhat traditional cake making guidelines, but with a few caveats. Beginning with beating the butter and sugars together. If you allow at least 5 minutes of whipping time for the butter and sugars you will be rewarded with a light, fluffy, creamy mixture. One perfect the eggs to be added in one at a time. Instead of sifting the dry ingredients, they only need to be whisked together. The whisked dry ingredients and the milk are added in alternately (for a total of five additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture). The mashed bananas are not folded in until the very end. 

The result of, or I should say reward for following all of these steps will be a beautiful, thick cake batter. Based on the texture of the batter alone you know it's baked texture will be something to beholden.

Choosing the size and shape of the cake pan was a decision I didn't take lightly. I considered using a 9"x13" rectangular cake pan, a 10.5" springform pan, and a 10" traditional cake pan. All of these would work (with slight variations in baking times), but the 10" round one won out not for any good reason. Baking time for this sized pan was somewhere between 45 and 50 minutes in a preheated 350 degree (F) oven. The color on the top of the baked cake was spectacular. 

With chocolate, peanut butter, mascarpone, buttercream, and cream cheese icings as possibilities for this spiced banana cake, there was yet another decision to be made. The cinnamon and cardamom actually helped to narrow it down from five to three. Had there not been any spice in this banana cake, there would have been five competing options. So why did I go with the cream cheese icing? Mostly because I do love its' flavor and texture, but partly because I had a healthy inventory of cream cheese in the refrigerator (the cream cheese someone thought would be put to best use in a cheesecake). But honestly, a mascarpone icing would be equally lovely on this spiced banana cake. So if you have a favorite recipe for it, go ahead and make it. Then, technically I suppose, you could claim this cake as one of your creations!

I got a little carried away decorating the cake. My initial vision was to ice the top, creating swirls with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula and topping with some fresh white flowers. And had my grocery store had some beautiful white peonies, I would have stayed with my first thought. But they didn't. So I went with Plan B: pastry bags and an assortment of pastry tubes. Depending on the 'look' you are going for when serving this cake, it can be finished simply or all gussied up. Ether way, this Spiced Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Icing will get everyone's attention when you bring it to the table. And if by chance it is sitting out with other cake options, everyone will be drawn to this one. 

This Spiced Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Icing is everything a great cake should be. It's flavorful, moist, has the most incredible crumb, the perfect sweetness offset by subtle spice, and a great frosting to cake ratio. And lastly, there is something irresistibly nostalgic about it. In other words, if you are a big fan of bananas, this is THE banana cake you want to make. If there was a county or state fair nearby, I would be entering this cake in it. I would use the blue ribbon as a book mark.

I would tell you this cake shouldn't just be eaten for dessert, but it could also be eaten for breakfast. For those of you who subscribe to the thinking 'if a cake is made with fruit' it qualifies as a breakfast food, you and I are kindred spirits. Who knows, we may even have read some of the same books! As a side note, here are some of my recent favorites: "The Great Alone" (Kristin Hannah); "A Gentleman in Moscow" (Amor Towles); "A Woman in the Window" (A.J. Finn); "Little Fires Everywhere" (Celeste Ng); "Before We Were Yours" (Lisa Wingate): "The Female Persuasion" (Meg Wolitzer)"Let Your Mind Run" (Deena Kastor); and "No Barriers: A Blind Man's Journey to Kayak the Grand Canyon" (Eric Weihenmayer)

Spiced Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
8 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup whole milk
3 very ripe bananas (13-14 ounces in weight with skins on), peeled and mashed

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 pound cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/2 pounds confectionary sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla
Generous pinch of kosher salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Spray a 10 inch round cake pan with baking spray and line with parchment paper. Alternately prepare a 9 inch x 13 inch cake pan or 10.5" springform pan. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy (approximately 5-6 minutes).
3. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
4. Mix in vanilla.
5. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and cardamom.
6. Alternately add the dry ingredients and milk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, for a total of five additions. Mix until well blended.
7. Mix in mashed bananas.
8. Pour cake batter into the prepared pan. Smooth top with an offset spatula.
9. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean. Note: Baking time for a cake make in a 9 inch x 13 inch  rectangular pan will have a shorter baking time. Begin checking for doneness at 30 minutes.
10. Remove cake from oven and set pan on a cooling rack. Allow the cake to rest in the pan for 10 minutes.
11. Invent the cake onto a cake stand and/or platter. Allow the cake to cool completely to room temperature before icing.

1. In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese until smooth and fluffy.
2. Beat in vanilla and kosher salt.
3. Initially on low speed beat in sifted confectionary sugar. Once the confectionary sugar is fully incorporated, increase speed to medium-high, beating icing until smooth and fluffy.
4. Spread a thin layer of icing over the top of the cooled cake. Using a pastry bag fitted with the pastry tips of your choice, pipe on remaining frosting. Alternately, spread icing evenly over the top and sides of cake, using an offset spatula or spoon to create a swirled effect on top of the cake.

Notes: (1) Instead of using both cinnamon and cardamom in this banana cake, can use only cinnamon. Increase cinnamon to one teaspoon. (2) Store cake loosely covered in the refrigerator. Serve slightly chilled or remove from the refrigerator at least one hour before serving.

Little Compton, Rhode Island (June 2018)

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Triple Chocolate Milky Fudgy Brownies

Not every day is great, best ever, or outstanding. Some days are really, really good; some are just good enough;, some are not so good; and, some are downright bad. Just as in life, not every brownie is oh-my-god so crazy good; best-ever; mouthwatering; over the top; killer; drop the mic delicious; beyond amazing; or epic. Some of them are just okay; some leave us wondering why we even took a bite; some are overdone; some are underbaked; and, some are just not very good at all. So when we come upon a brownie encouraging us to plant our faces into the entire platter, we realize we have discovered brownie nirvana. And shortly after the first bite of what we consider a 'to-die-for' brownie, we start doing out best day ever happy dance. Who knew that simply indulging in rich, chocolately, fudgy brownies could shift how we perceive the day. These unicorn brownies are like magical 'makes everything better' bandaids. They can make a bad day good or turn a good day into a great one.

Last week I had one of those brownie inspired great days. And I am giving all the credit to these euphoria inducing Triple Chocolate Milky Fudgy Brownies.

The day I discovered Ina Garten's Outrageous Brownies, I thought I didn't need any other brownie recipe in my life. But then I made some Marbled Cheesecake Brownies and decided I could make room in my brownie loving life for another one. Mindy Segal's Chocolate Brittle Brownies (aka Barter Brownies) forced me to reconsider living a two brownie life. Then along came the Raspberry Truffle Brownies and Raspberry Brownies. Well, aren't chocolate and raspberries an almost irresistible flavor combination? With five brownie recipes already competing for my brownie loving attention, did I really need one more? Maybe it was my curiosity over the taste of sweetened condensed milk swirled through a brownie batter made with three kinds of chocolate that had me saying yes, yes, yes.

These Triple Chocolate Milky Fudgy Brownies were either going to be an epic win or epic failure. There is no gray in my brownie world. In an effort to discount my personal bias, I decided to bring them to the Thursday night running group. My overly confident, tentative epic designation turned out to be validated by more than eight runners. Clearly I this used a highly scientific taste testing methodology for vetting these brownies! Based on both their feedback and my own personal high, persnickety brownie standards, I have decided to shift my favorite brownie recipe order of preference. Additionally, it would now be safe to say I have now reached my brownie recipe limit. 

Technically there are three kinds of chocolate in these brownies. Unsweetened cocoa powder and dark or bittersweet chocolate are combined with melted butter before being mixed into the lusicous batter. Dark or bittersweet chocolate chips add even more chocolate flavor and texture to the baked brownies. If you can, use a larger sized chocolate chip in these brownies (I like the Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips). Before assembling the batter, make the butter/chocolate mixture as it will need a little time to cool slightly.

The assembly technique is a bit different from all of my other favorite brownie recipes. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, the granulated sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, kosher salt, instant espresso powder, and eggs are all beaten together until the batter is thick and fluffy. It will take at least eight minutes for the batter to achieve this consistency. After the butter/chocolate mixture is blended in, the flour is folded in (in three additions). Finally, the chocolate chips are hand mixed in. The brownie batter is much thicker than a cake batter but not as uber thick as I thought it might be. 

The idea for the addition of sweetened condensed milk to the brownies actually came from a Stella Parks brownie recipe. Although, originally I was going to make them using dulce de leche. Only I couldn't find the brand I wanted to use. In hindsight, I am glad I made these Triple Chocolate Milky Fudgy Brownies using the sweetened condensed milk first. 

After dropping 12 large dollops of sweetened condensed milk on top of the brownie batter, I used a chopstick (you could also use a butter knife) to gently swirl it in. Some of the sweetened condensed milk will sink into the brownie batter (and you want that to happen). However, be careful not over swirl as you want some of the sweetened condensed milk to be visible on top of the brownies after they are baked.

In a preheated 350 degree (F) oven, it will take somewhere between 45-50 minutes for these Triple Chocolate Milky Fudgy Brownies to bake. When the edges of the pan begin to show some crackling and the center is set (not wobbly), the brownies are ready to be removed from the oven. Once cooled completely, they can be cut into squares or small bites. However, I would highly recommend you place the cooled brownies in the refrigerator to allow them to chill. Not only are they easier to cut, their texture and flavor increases exponentially. 

Some of the sweetened condensed milk will pool into the middle and bottom of the brownie. The taste of the creaminess of the sweetened condensed milk inside the dense, fudgy brownie texture is what makes these brownies so dangerously delicious. 

I tasted these brownies cooled to room temperature and chilled. It took all of my restraint and then some not to eat them warm right out of the pan. Honestly, I think they are at their bestest after being chilled. But I wouldn't refuse to eat one at room temperature.

As with any baked good, we all have our own definition of what makes something epic. Particularly when it comes to brownies. Case in point. My sister and I are perfect examples of two people who share the same DNA, yet who sometimes have very different opinions on cookies, cakes, candies, and, of course, brownies. In spite of not seeing whether or not she agreed with me about these brownies, I am still confident your level of brownie fussiness will permanently change after you take a bite of these. Whether you throw out all of your other brownie recipes or rearrange their order from bestest to goodest, you will want these brownies in your life. Especially if want to turn a bad day into a good day or a good day into a great one!

Triple Chocolate Milky Fudgy Brownies

8 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate (at least 60% cocoa), chopped
2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup (16 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (52 g) light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon instant espresso
4 large eggs, cold from the refrigerator
1 cup (130 g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (6 1/2 ounces) semi-sweet or bittersweet (60% cocao) chocolate chips 
1/2 to 2/3 cup sweetened condensed milk (approximately a half can of sweetened condensed milk)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F). Line a 9" inch square metal baking pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. In a medium sized pan, melt the butter completely. Reduce heat to low and add in the chopped chocolate and cocoa powder. Stir until chocolate is completely melted. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
3. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, add granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, vanilla, instant espresso, and eggs. Beat until thick and fluffy (approximately 8 minutes).
4. Reduce speed to low and pour in slightly cooled, but still warm chocolate mixture. Mix until no chocolate streaks remain.
5. Using a spatula, fold the flour mixture in three additions until well combined.
6. Mix in the chocolate chips.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. 
8. Dollop 9-12 Tablespoons of the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the batter. Using a chop stick or knife, create swirls by dragging the milk through the batter.
9. Bake the brownies for 45-50 minutes or just until center has set. Note: The center will not be as firm as the sides of the brownies. 
10. Let brownies cool completely. Remove from pan and cut into even squares. Highly recommend chilling the brownies before cutting and serving so they are at their fudgiest!
11. You can serve these brownies at room temperature, but they are at their epic best chilled.
12. Store brownies covered in the refrigerator.

Notes: (1) Instead of using sweetened condensed milk could also use Dulce de Leche and/or peanut butter. (2) I used Trader Joe's unsweetened cocoa powder. (3) I used the Ghiradelli bittersweet (60% cocao) chocolate chips. They are a slightly larger sized chocolate chip.

A harbor in Newport, Rhode Island on a gray day and a blue sky day. (June 2018)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Fingerling Potatoes and Red Grapes

On the last day of the recent trip back east, we tried to pack in as much as possible yet not feel hurried or rushed. A leisurely early morning walk in the lush woods helped to set the pace for the hours we had left. With the sounds of birds and rushing water providing a kind of background music, it was impossible not to take in the unspoiled landscapes lying beneath the canopies of the trees. For a brief moment, with the light casting shadows on the trail and on the abundant greenery, it felt magical. Almost as if we had traveled back to another time in history. One much simpler and with limited distractions. Working up a bit of an appetite, we headed out to breakfast before driving to the beach for a last walk along the ocean. After having the woods all to ourselves, we were thrilled to discover, with the exception of a few seagulls, there wasn't anyone else there. For more than an hour we foraged for shells and lucky rocks as we walked along the shoreline. The public beach was our very own private beach. It could not have been a more perfect morning, more perfect end to the trip. Even getting temporarily locked out of house couldn't spoil the day. And yes, that would have been the fault of the most key obsessed person in the group. Me.

Sometimes when I return back from an ocean or mountain view trip, I wonder why I still live in the midwest. A place where neither of these zen-inducing landscapes exist. Unless you squint your eyes and pretend the clouds in the horizon look like a mountain range or drive to a lake having a sandy beach. Although there is a world of difference between a lake and an ocean. Maybe someday I can bring myself to get over the complacency hurdle I have my found myself in. Until then, I will have to figure out how to increase the number of days per year I spend in 'the happy places'.

A few weeks back, a good friend shared and gave rave reviews to the Food and Wine Roast Pork with Fingerling Potatoes and Red Grapes recipe. She made us all laugh when she said only she would consider turning on her oven to a temperature of more than 400 degrees (F) on a sweltering day. Little did she know, several of us would have done the same thing. Having made Lemon Thyme Roasted Grapes as an appetizer before, the combination of roasted pork, fingerling potatoes, and red grapes served in a single dish sounded like the perfect combination of sweet and savory. 

Using the Food and Wine recipe for inspiration, I decided to change it up a bit. Because why not turn a simple sheet pan dinner into a slightly less simple one?

To add even more flavor to the pork tenderloin, I made a marinade using dijon mustard, olive olive oil, chopped rosemary and chopped thyme. From my experience making pork, marinades infuse great flavor into the meat. And this one lived up to all of my marinade flavoring expectations.

After spreading the marinade evenly over the pork tenderloin, it's wrapped and refrigerated for at least 4 hours or up to overnight. If you are making the Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Fingerling Potatoes and Red Grapes for dinner, you can prepare the pork early in the morning or the night before and let the flavor magic happen in the refrigerator.

The overall baking time for this dish ranges from 30-35 minutes, with the most baking time given to the fingerling potatoes and garlic.

Before you begin mixing the potatoes, garlic, freshly chopped herbs, and olive oil together, place the large baking sheet in the preheating 425 degree (F) oven. A hot baking sheet will help to sear the (cut lengthwise) fingerling potatoes. With the potatoes roasting in the oven for 10 minutes, you have more than enough time to sear the pork tenderloin.

Using a cast iron pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Scrape the marinade off the pork tenderloin before placing the pork in the heated pan. Sear the tenderloin on all sides until just lightly browned. The entire browning process takes about 6-8 minutes. Not only does searing add color to the pork tenderloin, it seals in flavor and adds texture.

After giving a quick toss to the roasting potatoes, the seared, salt/pepper seasoned pork tenderloin and thyme/olive oil/red grape mixture are added to the sheet pan. Everything roasts for 20-25 minutes or until the internal temperature of the pork reaches 135-140 degrees (F) when a thermometer is inserted in the thickest part of the pork. 

For the juiciest pork tenderloin, allow it rest 8-10 minutes before slicing into thick 1/2 inch slices. While the pork is resting, keep the potatoes and grapes warm in the oven (immediately reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees after removing the pork from the tray) as they cool rather quickly.

For a casual presentation of the Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Fingerling Potatoes and Red Grapes, return the sliced pork to the sheet pan and serve. For a slightly more dressed up version of this sheet pan dinner, arrange the pork slices, potatoes and red grapes on a large platter.  Note: If you go the sheet pan presentation route, have a basket of some great, hearty fresh bread available as some might want to sop of some of the highly flavorful pan juices or to schmear on the roasted garlic. 

If you ever needed a reason to turn the oven on to 425 degrees (F) on a hot, humid day, this Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Fingerling Potatoes and Red Grapes would be one of them.  In addition, to having great flavors, this simple, yet elegant dinner can be either a weekday and celebratory meal. 

If you have never had roasted grapes before, you are in for a treat as roasting intensifies their flavor to an incredible level of deliciousness. When picking out red seedless grapes at the farmer's market or grocery store, choose medium to large sized ones as you want the grape clusters to remain slightly intact during the roasting process.

Sheet pan dinners have been trending for awhile now and roasted grapes should never go out of style. The added tweaks of marinating and searing the pork tenderloin are ones you shouldn't skip. And consider the freshly chopped herbs non-negotiable ingredients. Fingerling potatoes roast up beautifully. Their crispy edges and creamy centers will cause everyone to fight over any remaining few. The pork tenderloin is tender, juicy, and rich in flavor. In other words, every element in this savory, sweet Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Fingerling Potatoes and Red Grapes works beautifully. Don't let a hot, humid day deter you from turning on the oven to 425 degrees (F) in order to make it. Because this dish is as blissfully perfect as being able to have the woods and beach all to yourself or shared with a few of your friends.

Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Fingerling Potatoes and Red Grapes
Serves 4 to 6

2 Tablespoons dijon mustard 
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Fingerling Potatoes and Red Grapes
1 1/4- 1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes, cut lengthwise
1 1/4 - 1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin
1 to 1 1/4 pounds red seedless grapes, medium to large sized, cut into clusters of 4-5 grapes
8 cloves of garlic, peeled
5 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tablespoon  finely chopped fresh thyme
5-6 fresh sprigs of thyme
Rosemary sprigs and thyme sprigs for garnish
Kosher salt and black pepper

'1. Combine marinade ingredients in small bowl. Stir to combine. 
2. Brush marinade evenly over the pork tenderloin. Place tenderloin on dish. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or as long as overnight.

Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Fingerling Potatoes and Red Grapes
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (F). Place baking sheet in the oven (at least 10 minutes).
2. Toss the grapes with 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and 1 Tablespoon of finely chopped fresh thyme. Set aside.
3. Toss the fingerling potatoes and garlic cloves with 2 Tablespoons olive oil and 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary. Transfer potatoes (cut side down) to heated baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes.
4. While potatoes are beginning to roast, scrape the marinade off the pork tenderloin. Using a cast iron pan sear the pork tenderloin in 2 Tablespoons of olive oil until lightly browned on all sides. Remove pork from pan, season with salt and pepper, and place on the baking sheet with potatoes. Add grape mixture along with several sprigs of thyme to the pan. Return sheet pan to oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until an instant read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the pork reads 135-140 degrees (F). Note: Turn potatoes over before returning the baking sheet back in the oven.
5. Reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees (F).
6. Transfer the roasted pork to a cutting board. Allow to rest for 8-10 minutes. Keep the potatoes and grapes in the reduced temperature oven while the pork is resting.
7. Slice pork into thick (half-inch slices). Arrange pork slices on large platter.
8. Remove potatoes and grapes from the oven. Arrange on platter with the pork. Season potatoes with salt and pepper. Garnish with thyme and rosemary sprigs. 
9. Serve immediately.

Wilbur Woods, Little Compton, Rhode Island (June 2018)