Yesterday when I asked Jay what he thought we should make for our V-day dinner he said, “Pizza?” I immediately shook my head. To me, V-day is a special occasion that deserves hard work and sweat in the kitchen. When I suggested bacon-wrapped pork loin all thoughts of pizza flew out of Jay’s head. “Wow, yeah that sounds amazing,” he said. I continued listing the other items on the menu: artichokes or asparagus with Hollandaise sauce (“Oh! Oh! Can I make the sauce?” he interjected at this point and I nodded), cheese-stuffed mushrooms for appetizers, white chocolate creme brulee for desert, and the best part (for me) non-alcoholic red wine. Yes, that’s right, we are expecting! In about six months we’ll have a little addition who will get to enjoy our kitchen creations.
Now, when I’m making somewhat elaborate dinners I like to prepare things ahead of time and get all my ingredients ready so I’m not scrambling around looking for the white wine while the garlic burns in a pan. First, I sliced the pork loin and laid it out on a piece of plastic wrap. For a video on how to butterfly a pork loin go here. Next, on another piece of plastic wrap, I made a lattice with the bacon by first laying down six strips vertically and then lacing bacon horizontally through the strips. The other thing I made several hours ahead of time was the creme brulee as that needed to chill in the fridge for at least four hours. And if you’re like me and don’t own a fancy brulee torch, then remember to bring out the creme brulee to sit for a few minutes at room temperature before broiling it in the oven.
6 to 8 white mushrooms
oil, I used canola
about 6 cloves of garlic, more or less depending on your taste
1 8oz pkg of cream cheese, softened
about 3tbsp Parmesan cheese
fresh ground pepper, to taste
cayenne pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350F. Carefully remove the stems from the mushrooms but don’t throw them away – finely chop the stems and set aside. Mince the garlic and heat the oil in a pan over medium heat. Throw the garlic and mushroom stems into the oil and cook for about 5 minutes and remove from heat. Add the cream cheese to the pan and stir until smooth and then add the Parmesan cheese, ground pepper, and cayenne pepper. With a small spoon, stuff each mushroom with the filling – there will be a lot of filling, don’t worry, the rest will be in the pork. Dab a bit of softened butter on the bottom of the mushrooms and place them on a baking sheet. Pop the mushrooms in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes or until juices are flowing.
I used a 760g/1.6lb pork loin
approx 12-16 strips of bacon
Leftover cream cheese filling from stuffed mushrooms
A generous splash of Guinness to keep the pork moist while cooking.
Turn oven heat up to about 400F. With the pork all ready to go, all you need to do is spread the cream cheese mixture over the top and then roll it and tie it with string. Place the pork in the centre of the bacon lattice and with the help of the plastic wrap, carefully cover the pork and press the bacon down. Place it in a baking pan (one preferably with a lid) pour some Guinness around the sides and put it in the oven for about 40 minutes to an hour. You can remove the lid halfway through, depending on how brown you want your bacon to be. I think we may have overcooked our pork – the bacon was a little crispy but the meat was amazing inside.
2 russet potatoes, unpeeled, washed, and quartered
a bunch of asparagus – sadly our local store did not have artichokes
While the pork is doing its thing in the oven, boil the potatoes. And while that’s happening you can make the Hollandaise sauce. I would rather just tell you to Google Hollandaise sauce because one recipe and instruction may work for one person but it may not for another. The first and only time I successfully made Hollandaise sauce I used Laura Calder’s recipe but when Jay tried it, he wasn’t as successful. Last night, he used Julia Child’s version and the sauce turned out really well. In Jay’s opinion, it helps if you have another person reading out step by step instructions while you work on the sauce.
For the asparagus, place the stalks in a steamer basket and then over the simmering pot of potatoes. When the pork is ready to be cut, the potatoes will be ready and so will the asparagus as the stalks only need about 5 minutes or so to steam.
For recipe and ingredients go here. As I mentioned before, I don’t have a torch so I used the broiler to burn the sugar coating. Unfortunately my broiler takes FOREVER to heat up and time was a-wastin’ so the sugar did not fully melt and did not have that crackly effect. However, the custard…oh the custard. Please make this. You don’t even really need the crackly sugar on top – the custard is like heaven in a ramekin.
This turned out to be a happy coma-inducing dinner where all we could do was say, “Wow, that was amazing.”
And in case you’re wondering – the non-alcoholic wine tasted like almost unsweetened grape juice. Oh the sacrifices we make.