Mack's Corner

This Week

The Curve Ball

When I was 8 - 9 - 10 years old my brother and I played Little League baseball in a church league. (There are 3 or 4 kids that played with us that go to Hope 45 years later.) We were the Pitcher / Catcher duo. If he pitched, I caught. If I pitched, he caught. He was a better pitcher and I was a better catcher…. I was always the biggest kid in the league (I was 6'2" and 220 when I was 13). I was big and strong and slow. Every home run I ever hit had to be out of the park, across the street, in the lake, gone or else I would never make it around the bases. One time I hit one across the street in to the middle of the diamond (near the pitchers mound) of another game on another field and still had to slide in to home to be safe. I had been the catcher because I was too slow to play anywhere else, but the coach needed another pitcher and he knew I could throw hard. The first time I was a little excited. I said to myself "just throw it as hard as you can." All the other teams knew me and when I walked up on the mound they thought it was pretty funny. I did my windup and threw the first pitch over the backstop in to the parking lot…"Just a little high". Everybody laughed, both teams. The kids on the other team were falling down laughing and started yelling things at me. I decided to throw it harder…. POP .. Strike 1. POP ..strike 2 .. POP..Strike 3 ….No more yelling … Next batter, I hit him right in the back with the ball…now fear was starting to build … Next batter … I threw it so far inside that it was 4 feet behind the batter… total fear… then POP..Strike 1 … POP .. Strike 2 .. POP .. Strike 3 …. And that's the way it went, every batter walked up to the plate afraid for his life. I later developed a curve ball that only curved sometimes. I always threw it right at the batter. They even knew it was coming because I had one finger sticking way out on the top of the ball when I threw it. But it didn't matter because there was no telling where it was going. I wanted it to curve and go over the plate, it just didn't. I had kids diving for the dirt every game. I heard one kid say to his coach "How are you supposed to stand up there when he throwing a curve ball that doesn't break?"

God's like that: Sometimes we think he's throwing at us, trying to knock us down.  But he's not the one throwing, we are. He's trying to tell us how to do it but we just throw harder, even knowing that it's all coming back at us and sometimes knowing how it will end. Listen to God, trust him. He's done this before …

I've got my glove if you want me to teach you how to throw a curve ball that doesn't curve … It's easy ..

Cooking 220 - 2 pans, 2 burners, 20 minutes:

I thought I would give you a whole menu for Valentines day. Here's the main part of the Valentine's Day menu. Some of this may sound weird, but trust me, this is one of the best things you'll ever eat.  And it's really easy and Romantic…This comes from Stephan Pyles "New Texas Cuisine" Cookbook with a few changes.

Pork Tenderloin with Strawberry/garlic sauce and blue cheese creamed pine nuts:

For the pork tenderloin:

2 pork tenderloins, 8 - 10 oz each

1 stick of Butter

Olive oil

Salt & Pepper

For the Strawberry sauce:

1 tbsp Butter

2 tbsp minced shallots

2 cloves of garlic minced

4 cups of frozen strawberries

4 tbsp sugar (or more - to taste)

1 cup red wine

1 tbsp chopped basil

2 tbsp unsalted butter (Room temp)

For Pine Nut Sauce:

1/2 cup toasted Pine Nuts

1 cup heavy cream

2 oz Maytag blue cheese crumbled

If you are doing this quick, all at one time you can cook the pork, then in the same pan do the strawberries … but I'm going to tell you how to do it so that you can make the sauces the day before..

For Strawberry Sauce:

In a large pan melt the butter. Add the shallots and the garlic and cook for a minute. Then add the Strawberries and the sugar and cook for 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook down to a sauce consistency (i.e. coats a spoon).

Transfer to a food processor and puree. Pout it through a fine strainer (you have to get the strawberry seeds out)…. ******If you are making this a day ahead, this is where you quit. Put it in the fridge ******* 

So now you are 30 min from dinner, here's how you finish: Put the strawberry sauce in a pan and heat to a light simmer. Add the 2 tbsp of butter and whisk it in. Add the basil and taste it. More sugar? Some Salt? Is it perfect?

For Pine Nut Sauce: 

To toast the pine nuts put them in a large pan over med heat. DON'T LEAVE IT!!! This only takes a few minutes. Either flip the pan Like you were sautéing or use a big spoon the constantly move the pine nuts around and over. When you start to see the pine nuts getting brown, get them out of the pan quick, don't let them burn …

Place the pine nuts and cream in a large flat pan. (you can do this in a sauce pan but you have to watch it or it will boil over and make a big mess. In a large flat pan it's not so critical.)  Boil the cream and reduce by 1/3. It should be a sauce consistency. Add the blue cheese and whisk till melted. This can be re-warmed later but it will tend to separate. Just whisk over low heat to bring it back together.

For the Pork:

First trim the pork of all fat and most of the silver tendons. Then cut it in to medallions. i.e. the tender loin is a long tube. Cut across it in 1/2 inch cuts to make silver dollar size rounds… Lay them all out on a cutting board or baking sheet and salt and pepper both sides.

In a large skillet melt a tbsp of butter and a tbsp of olive oil. Add the pork. Cook till brown and flip over to cook both sides… Do this in batches. Put the cooked pork on a warm plate and cover with foil, keep it warm…Then do the next batch ..  add more butter & oil as needed.

To serve: Put 2 - 3 tbsp of the Strawberry sauce on the plate. Then put 4 or 5 pork medallions on the sauce. Spoon some of the Pine Nut sauce over the pork …. Server Corn Pudding on the side….

So here's the whole menu:

Pork Tenderloin with Strawberry sauce and blue cheese creamed pine nuts
Creamed Corn Pudding
Baked Chocolate Mousse with Mocha sauce…

Here's the schedule:

The day before: Do this in any order
Baked Chocolate Mousse - put in fridge
Mocha Sauce - put in fridge
Strawberry Sauce - put in fridge
Toast the pine Nuts
Valentine's Day: In Order

4 hours before dinner get the Baked Chocolate Mousse out of the fridge.

3 hours before dinner Make the Corn pudding, but don't put it in the oven until 45 Min before dinner.

2 hours before dinner make the Pine Nut Sauce and keep it warm.
Remember if it separates, just whisk it back together.

1 1/2 hours before dinner preheat your oven to 375

1 hour before dinner cut up the tenderloins and salt and pepper

45 min before dinner put corn pudding in oven. Set your timer.

30 Min before dinner put the Strawberry sauce in a pan over low heat and warm.

15 minutes before dinner Cook Tenderloins

Serve Tenderloin with both sauces and Corn pudding on side. Garnish with left over basil.
Serve Chocolate mousse with lots of Mocha sauce. Garnish with powdered sugar.
Think about me when you pass out …

Here's the other recipes..

Baked Chocolate Mousse

5 ¼ oz good dark chocolate finely chopped (this doesn't have to be exact)

3 1/2 oz unsalted butter (7 tbsp)

1 large egg

1 oz Caster Sugar (2 tbsp) - regular sugar works too

Preheat the oven to 325

If you don't have caster sugar and want to use it, just put regular sugar in your food processor and let it run for a few minutes. Don't go too long or you'll have powdered sugar. The reason for caster sugar is that it dissolves faster.

I make this in small ramekins but any baking dish will do. You can also do it in ring molds by making a bottom out of foil…. Whatever you use, spray it with Pam or double butter it and put it on a baking sheet…

Put the chocolate and the butter in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. I put water in a sauce pan, bring it to a simmer, then put a mixing bowl on top of it. Don't let the water touch the bottom of the bowl…Let it melt, stirring occasionally. Keep it warm..

In another bowl whisk the egg and sugar until it is pale and thick and increased in volume. This is a small amount, so you can probably do this by hand if you want… a mixer works too.

Fold the warm chocolate/butter mixture in to the egg/sugar mixture with a rubber spatula. Fold means run the spatula around the side of the bowl and fold the mixture over and in to the middle, over and over.  Never stirring… The idea is to keep the air that you whisked in to the egg/sugar mixture to stay.

Don't over mix! When the mixture is well combined, spoon it in to the prepared ramekins and bake for exactly 8 minutes, No more!!

When they are done they will look wobbly and soft… Cool completely, then put them in the fridge to set. They should be very firm and hard before you try to unmold them (if you plan to unmold them). 

About 4 hours before you want to serve them unmold them. The cool chef way to do this is by heating the outside of the ramekin with a blowtorch (don't hold the torch in one place too long or you'll break the ramekin. Plus remember: the ramekin is hot! Don't pick it up with your bare hand). The other way is by setting them in a roasting pan with about 1/2 an inch of hot water in the bottom (run a small knife around the inside of the ramekin and slam the ramekin on a cutting board). When you do unmold them put them on the plate you plan to serve them on because you won't be able to move it again without messing it up. Leave them out at room temp. You don't have to unmold them, you can serve them in the ramekins. You can actually serve them still cold too….

For the Mocha sauce:
2 cups of heavy cream
2 tbsp Tia Maria (coffee Liqueur, Kahlua works too)
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp coffee extract or 2 tbsp of very strong coffee (espresso works)

In a sauce pan bring the cream and Tia Maria and vanilla to a simmer.
Then take it off the heat and set aside.

In a mixing bowl whisk the egg yolks while gradually adding the sugar.
The yolks will become pale yellow. Gradually pour the hot cream in to the yolks while whisking, then pour that mixture back in to the sauce pan and cook over medium heat until the mixture coats the back of a spoon (remember don't let it get past 160 degrees. Go buy a candy thermometer at the grocery for $1.50 so you don't screw it up. At 170 degrees it turns to scrambled eggs) …

Pour this through a strainer then whisk in the coffee and let it cool.

Creamed Corn Pudding

1 tbsp unsalted butter

2 cups corn kernels

1/2 cup heavy cream

2 large eggs

Pinch of ground cinnamon

1 tbsp diced red bell pepper

1 tbsp diced green bell pepper

1 Serrano Chile, seeded and minced

1 tbsp chopped cilantro

1 tbsp pure maple syrup (use the real stuff if you've got it, but regular pancake syrup works too)

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 375.

Butter a small baking dish (9in x 9in… aprox)

For the corn: Fresh is best. Get 3 - 4 ears, shuck and then with a sharp knife, holding the stem-end in your hand and the pointy end on your cutting board slice down, cutting the kernels off of the cob. Turn 1/4 turn and slice again until you cut all the way around. Try to cut as close to the cob as you can. When you finish, put the corn in a bowl then holding the cob over the bowl push the back of your knife over the cob just like you did when you were slicing off the kernels to kinda "Milk" all the corn juice out of it…… If you don't have fresh corn, use frozen (put it in a pan of boiling water for about 2 minutes and drain) .. canned corn works too, just drain it …

For the bell peppers: The only reason you use red bell Peppers is for the color. So if you're on a budget, get one green bell pepper and use 2 tbsp of that. To cut up a bell pepper, wash it, then slice it down the middle. Pull the seed pod and stem out and wash out all of the seeds. Then with the shiny side down cut it in thin strips. (Hint: any time you are cutting something that has a hard shiny side and a soft inner side, cut with the soft side up and the shiny side down. It's easier and safer.) Now take the strips and turn them sideways so that you will be cutting across them and cut as small as you can…. You'll need 2 tbsp of that…. use the rest to garnish the plate, just put some around the edge ..

For the Serrano Chile: It's just like a small pointy bell pepper, so you do the same thing. Cut the stem end off and slice it down the middle. Scrape the seeds out with your knife. (CAUTION: This is like any hot pepper, don't cut it up and get it on your hands and then rub your eye, it will burn you up. Try not to touch the inside of the pepper, use your knife as much as possible. When you finish, wash your hands..). After you get the seeds out cut it in to tiny strips (shiny side down), then turn the strips and cut across them as small as you can. You'll use all of this …

For the Cilantro: Any time you use cilantro cut what you need from the top. Try to use only leaves and no stems. But don't work too hard, it's not that big of a deal … Chop it up finely.
In a food processor puree 1 cup of the corn and set aside.

In a mixing bowl whisk together the cream, eggs, cinnamon, bell peppers, Serrano, cilantro, and maple syrup. Add the corn puree and the remaining cup of corn kernels and mix together. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour the mixture in to the buttered baking dish and cover it with foil.
Bake for 45 - 50 minutes until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. It should be lightly brown on top.




Posted by Mack Oates at 10:19 AM