Thursday, November 12, 2009

Dinner Tonight: Arugula Salad with Sweet Potatoes and Feta, Spice-Rubbed Pork Loin with Acorn Squash and Homemade Bread

Tonight, we had the great pleasure of having our fun friends Ms. DiNardo and Mr. Fielder over for dinner. Since they are both great cooks, I wanted to make something seasonal and special for our meal. The November issue of Everyday Food had a couple of things that I thought would go well together.

First, a salad of arugula, feta and roasted sweet potatoes with an orange and white wine vinegar vinaigrette. This was incredibly easy to put together: roast one and a half pounds of sweet potatoes tossed with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, in a 450 degree oven for 15 minutes, then toss with arugula and feta and dress with a mixture of 1/2 tsp. orange zest, 1 Tb. fresh-squeezed orange juice, 1 tsp. white wine vinegar and 2 Tb. olive oil. And, for a salad with only three main ingredients, was really tasty.

The main course was also very simple: pour a marinade of olive oil, brown sugar, cinnamon, chili poweder and cumin over slices of acorn squash. Sear a 3 pound pork loin, then baste it with that same marinade. Then roast the squash and the pork loin on the same pan in a 425 degree oven for 45 minutes, turning the squash and re-basting the pork every 15 minutes. The squash becomes tender and caramelized and the pork gets a most luscious, flavorful crust.

But the part of the meal I was most proud of was actually the bread. I made bread from scratch! And it was ridiculously simple. I used a cookbook called "Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day" and was able to make the bread with just flour, yeast, water and salt using just a bowl, a wooden spoon, and a pizza stone. The authors of the book have created a method that yields a really wet dough that you can pull together in literally just a couple of minutes, that needs no kneading or proofing and that is truly idiot-proof. And the bread! Mr. Fritz cannot get over how great it tasted. It was hearty, salty, airy-yet-substantial and had a great crust. I am so thrilled with the result, I can't wait to try the rest of the recipes in the book! (This time, I used the "boule" recipe) Better yet, the dough (which I made on Sunday) made enough for two loaves. So I'll probably make another loaf on Saturday to use for that evening's meal. Woo hoo!

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