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Fuller on Food: Coast trip satisfies hunger for more adventure

OCTOBER 02, 2012 7:55 PM • COLUMN BY DON FULLER / FOR THE DAILY NEWS

When we set out on our recent vacation, we decided that our itinerary would be decided only by the places we would be and the route we would take. The vacation would be to relax, find interesting places to visit, and make restaurant choices based on some local reputation.

Judy and I have not played golf in years, but recently dusted off our clubs and took to the driving range to see if our muscle memory would return. We took a combined bag of clubs with us and looked for golf courses with driving ranges. Such a search took us off main roads and into interesting countryside.

But the fun part of our time was seeking out places to have dinner on our overnight stops. Most memorable for me was our last stop at Long Beach. In the Depot Restaurant, we were seated so that I had a partial view of the kitchen. Watching the chef prepare dishes for their customers was almost like watching a ballet performance. His work at making up an order was such that every step was well-rehearsed and no motion was wasted as he moved from one station to the next.

I commented to him that I envied his assurance in preparing each order. He said that after a summer of hundreds of customers, the winding down of this time of year made him much more relaxed and at ease in his kitchen.

The recipes that follow are from the pile I keep for when I have little time for kitchen innovation. To me, pork tenderloin is one of the easiest and most impressive cuts of meat to use for company. The meat is tender. Its mild flavor allows it to be easily complemented by rubs and sauces. The simple glaze of balsamic vinegar is a good start.

You can never have too many recipes for chicken. The chicken salad with some of the season’s fresh tomatoes on the side is a clear winner. Start fresh or use leftover chicken; both work. The ingredients amount is a suggestion. Follow your own taste for what sounds good to you.

The final recipe is a recent find of Judy’s. We had blueberries frequently this summer and any oversupply went in the freezer. This dessert works well with fresh or frozen berries.

Vacation is over, my golf swing still needs lots of work, and with the coming of fall it’s time to experiment with apples, squash, pumpkins, stews and soup. Changing seasons and changing flavors energizes my time in the kitchen.

Balsamic-Glazed Pork Tenderloin

1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin

2 teaspoon olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1 large clove garlic, pressed through garlic press or finely minced

2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar

Prepare the tenderloin by trimming fat and removing the silver skin that covers part of the meat.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat until shimmering and add pork. Sear all sides of the tenderloins. When browned, remove tenderloins from skillet, reduce heat to medium, and add vinegar, garlic, and brown sugar and mix well. Simmer for a few minutes. Return pork to skillet and spoon glaze over tenderloins.

If skillet is oven-safe, put in oven to roast until meat reaches 155 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Otherwise remove the pork to a small roasting pan and then roast until temperature is reached. Because size of tenderloins may vary considerably, time in oven can vary by several minutes. Meat should spring back when pressed with finger when done. Pork can be slightly pink in center when cut and still meet safety standards.

Remove roasted pork from oven and cover loosely with foil. Slice into medallions for serving and then serve immediately.

— Based on a core recipe found on http://www.yummly.com/recipe/

Chicken Salad with Yogurt Dressing

2 medium boneless chicken breasts

3 celery stalks, chopped

2/3 cup pecans, chopped

1/3 cup dried cranberries

2/3 cups red grapes, halved or quartered

2 tablespoons shredded parmesan cheese

In a medium skillet season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and sauté in olive oil until lightly browned and register 170 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Let cool and either shred or cube the breasts,

Toss the chicken with celery, pecans, dried cranberries, grapes and cheese in a large bowl and pour over some of the yogurt dressing, adding only as much as coats the chicken mixture well. Recipe follows.

Yogurt Dressing

2/3 cup non-fat yogurt, preferably Greek

3 tablespoons honey

2 teaspoons cider vinegar

1/4 cup apple juice

1 teaspoon mustard

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1 teaspoon onion powder

Whisk all of the ingredients for dressing together until well-blended.

—Source from a recipe shared, but my copy didn’t include the name of the sharer

Blueberry Cream Tart

Tart Shell

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 egg yolk

1 cup all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Combine butter and sugar and beat until fluffy. Beat in egg yolk. Gradually add sugar and beat until just blended. Form into a ball and flatten, pressing it into the bottom and sides of 9 or 10-inch ungreased tart pan with removable bottom. Bake in oven for 10 or 12 minutes and cool on a rack.

Fillling

3 cups blueberries (fresh or frozen)

1 cup granulated sugar mixed with

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, regular or light

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup whipping cream

Combine blueberries, sugar-flour mixture and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and cook over medium heat just long enough to thicken, about 12-25 minutes. Berries should remain nearly whole (Or microwave mixture in one minute heating sessions until thick.) Let cool.

Beat cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla in a medium bowl until light. Whip cream until stiff in separate bowl and fold into cream cheese mixture. Spread mixture over cooled tart shell and top with cooled blueberry mixture. Refrigerate for 2 hours or longer before serving.

— Adapted from Mary Houser Caditz recipe in “Wandering & Feasting,” 1996

Don Fuller, an avid cook, retired as dean of instruction at Lower Columbia College in 1998. Readers can reach him at The Daily News, P. O. Box 189, Longview, WA 98632 or by e-mail at df1013784@uid.onemain.com.

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