Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Saga of the Citrus Marmalade... with Pork Tenderloin and Salmon

I had put together a gift basket of my father’s favorite treats: ginger snaps, shortbread and chocolate truffles, vanilla wafers and fruity fig bars, fancy soup and cheesy crackers, tea and some seasonally-themed coffee.  And, of course, marmalade.  Thinking I would get him something special, I picked out the Three Fruit Marmalade with Seville oranges, grapefruit and lemon.

It was a tough decision between Three Fruit and Orange Marmalade with Champagne.  But as I’ve mentioned before, I really like Mackays Preserves, especially the Three Berry one, and so I opted for the Three Fruit Marmalade.

My parents gobbled up everything over a couple weeks and then reminded me that grapefruit was on their “do not eat” list… due to adverse reactions with their medications.  So they gave the jar of Marmalade back to me.  It was still completely sealed and good as new.  And I thought… I’m sure to find someone else who loves marmalade and would appreciate a simple indulgence.

But then my mother made biscuits.  And my father felt, for certain, that he was safe if he only had a very small dollop of marmalade on each of his biscuits.  So we opened the jar.  And he ate the tiniest portion possible, which didn’t make a dent in 12 ounces of marmalade.

Now I don’t like things to go to waste.  But I’m also not a huge fan of marmalade.  So what to do?  Luckily I found this recipe for Honey Orange Pork Tenderloin by Julianna Grimes from Cooking Light.  It reads as follows:

1/3 cup orange marmalade
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
1½ tablespoons minced fresh garlic
1½ teaspoons honey
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Combine first 5 ingredients, stirring well with a whisk.  Reserve 2 tablespoons marmalade mixture.  Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.  Add oil; swirl to coat.  Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper.  Add pork to pan; cook 5 minutes or until browned.  Turn pork over; brush with ¼ cup marmalade mixture.  Bake at 350° for 10 minutes.  Turn pork over; brush with ¼ cup marmalade mixture.  Bake an additional 10 minutes or until a thermometer registers 150°.  Remove pork from pan; brush with reserved 2 tablespoons marmalade mixture.  Let stand 10 minutes; slice.

I tested out the recipe, and it was fabulously easy and tasty.  Of course, I used the Three Fruit Marmalade, and the lemon and grapefruit definitely brought a stronger citrus flavor and a touch of bitterness that both Walter and I liked.  Our tenderloin was over 1¼ pounds, so we increased baking time by about 6 minutes… basically 3 extra minutes per side.

We liked the recipe so much we decided to try the glaze with salmon.  And it was incredibly easy and tasty.  A couple tips:
  • We used just about 1 pound of salmon fillet and left the bottom skin on;
  • I halved the glaze recipe… which taxed my brain a little (½ of 1/3 cup = about 8 teaspoons);
  • I just poured the glaze, including 1 tablespoon of canola oil, over the fish – no need to sear the salmon – and baked for about 25 minutes.
Voila!  And yum!  We served it with asparagus and deli potato salad for a light dinner.
If you prefer something sweeter, definitely use a plain orange marmalade and consider adding more honey.

Now... I need more marmalade.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Green and Yellow: Alberto Pinto and Kathryn M. Ireland

Last month, Walter and I visited Orchids Galore!: A Love of Living Color at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond.  It was more than a welcome respite from the extended winter-spring we’ve been experiencing.  The Conservatory was just filled with orchid blooms.  Some were romantic lady slippers;
others had flat, bright pansy-faces

or were strangely insect-like.
Many were slightly grandiose and worthy of old-fashioned corsages.
And they came in all sorts of colors: plummy browns,
luscious berries,
racy reds,
lipstick pinks,
and burnt oranges.

But I seemed to be drawn to ones that sparkled emerald and gold, smiled in summery lemon and lime and looked demure, even a bit hazy, in softer shades of jade and primrose.
They seemed to whisper “Spring is almost here” and hint at sunshine-filled days to come.

“Blue” is my predictable response to the perennial favorite-color question.  I tend to dress in varying tones of pink and red and brown.  And when helping others with their interior decorating, blues and greens or ivories and whites usually dominate.  But after our tour of Orchids Galore!, I realized how much I gravitate towards green and yellow in my own home… and in the work of others.
My rooms aren't quite as bold as this interior by Jonathan Adler!

But green and yellow crop up a lot... like in this vintage poster
in our otherwise sandy-red-and-French-blue bedroom.

Or the pretty combination of natural wicker and an olive-dark green print
from Pindler and Pindler that we've had for years.
(The rest of the room is creamy yellow, a couple pinks and red and brown.)

Antique Bavarian plates in the dining room showcase colors from
the Emerald City and Yellow Brick Road... but I think it's Hansel and Gretel, right?

And the guest bedroom sports Roman shades
in this old Laura Ashley paisley that we just love.
Two of my favorite designers: Alberto Pinto and Kathryn M. Ireland often use green and yellow with stunning simplicity.

Born and raised in Morocco, to Argentine parents, Alberto Pinto travelled widely in his youth and quickly established careers in photography and interior decoration.  He opened his own design firm more than 40 years ago.  Based in Paris, he and his team created rooms, even planes and yachts, which epitomized luxury and sophistication.  He was famous for his careful attention to detail and the grand scope of his commissions.
Alberto's dining room in his Parisian home
just glistens in darker-than-forest-green and golden woodtones.
And I don’t think anyone better understood the charm and livability of green and yellow, whether in an English castle, which feels intimate and opulent,
shimmering in a Geneva residence,
contemporary and serene at the Hostellerie de Plaisance in Saint-Emilion
or absolutely glamorous in Kuwait.
Alberto died unexpectedly in early November 2012.  But his sister Linda continues the exacting standards and palatial projects of Agency Alberto Pinto.

Kathryn M. Ireland was born in England, grew up in London and Scotland and moved to the U.S. almost 30 years ago.  After jobs in film and fashion, she started her eponymous line of lovely, somewhat feminine fabrics in 1997.
Kathryn's Quilt in Green
Kathryn’s decor is a little bohemian, pretty (without being too pretty) and completely accommodating.

Like Alberto, Kathryn regularly collaborates with other businesses, so in addition to her full-service interior design studio, she now has a collection of upholstery with Grange and new fabrics with Scalamandre.
a jacquard velvet from Kathryn's collection for Scalamandre

an embroidered linen from Kathryn's collection for Scalamandre
And of course, she has gained a lot more attention as one of Bravo’s Millionaire Dollar Decorators.  You can shop for her textiles and antiques online or in person at her showroom in West Hollywood.

Although the formality of their styles is dramatically different, Alberto and Kathryn have obviously been inspired by other cultures.  They also share a penchant for layering patterns and colors.  They appreciate truly fine craft and know the power of beautiful objects.  Their designs reflect life well-lived.  It’s not really about money.  It’s about good food and friends and family, the chance to create beauty and joy in even the smallest of settings and the willingness to slow down and relish the moment.  It’s no wonder that, despite their world travels, both Alberto and Kathryn have called France home… at least for part of the year!

Of course, yellow and green is a universal combination, effervescent and tranquil: think of sun and grass; stone and leaf; pale moonlight and forest.  But it also seems especially rooted in Paris and Provence, Lorraine and the Loire valley, Aquitaine and Alsace.

Sugar, Sugar by Irene Suchocki
Le Petit Zinc by Irene Suchocki
I realize that few of us can afford the services of Agency Alberto Pinto or Kathryn M. Ireland Textiles and Design, but we can definitely read their books;

Alberto wrote several books, but Orientalism is perhaps the most fabulous.

Timeless Interiors is Kathryn's lastest.
splurge on some pieces of Alberto’s tableware
Bread and Butter Plate from Les Perroquets from Alberto Pinto

Alberto's Envol pattern (Tea Cup and Saucer)

or Kathryn’s fabrics;

Tulip in Nuevo Yellow by Kathryn M. Ireland
Paisley Stripe in Green by Kathryn M. Ireland
Casablanca by Kathryn M. Ireland
and maybe attend an Extreme Balance Retreat, which Kathryn and friends conduct at La Castellane, her estate in southwest France.

I also encourage you to search out photographs by William Curtis Rolf, Rebecca Plotnick and the Robertsons at Obvious State (formerly known as Little Brown Pen).

And for a completely low-budget vacation, watch Midnight in Paris.  The first fifteen minutes is like a green and gold ode to Paris.  Owen Wilson is one of Woody Allen’s most charming characters, literally mesmerized by the city, past and present.  And in a party scene, you can just make out the lovely boiserie panels, in pistachio and gilt, at Deyrolle – the landmark taxidermist and natural curiosity shop.

By the way, Orchids Galore! closed recently, but you can still get your flower fix at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, Orchids of Latin America, through April 21.  And finally, if you have a home project in mind, consider introducing green and yellow to your life!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Beet, Chickpea and Almond Dip

Over the weekend, we were all discussing our Friday meal options during this Lenten season.  My sister has been eating a lot of egg salad.  Tuna and cod and, of course, mac and cheese seem to be favorites.  And although I happened to have an enormous catfish sandwich this past Friday (it was basically the whole catfish, breaded in panko and deep fried… yum!), chick peas have been my go-to ingredient over the last five weeks.

If you are a fan of hummus, you should try this Beet, Chickpea and Almond Dip.  It’s perhaps more Mediterranean than Middle Eastern, and the beets add a mellowness and lovely color.  It makes a great party appetizer or quick dinner with leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.
Beet, Chickpea, and Almond Dip with Pita Chips
Makes about 2 cups
Recipe by Susanna Hoffman from the June 2006 issue of Bon Appetit

1 large (8 ounce) beet, peeled, cut into ¾” cubes
1 cup drained, canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas) from 15½ ounce can
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil plus more for chips
¼ cup slivered almonds
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1½ tablespoons (or more) red wine vinegar
6 7”-diameter pitas

Cook beet in medium saucepan of boiling salted water until tender, about 12 minutes.  Drain; place in processor.  Add garbanzo beans, ¾ cup oil, almonds, and garlic.  Blend until smooth.  Add 1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar and blend well.  Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional vinegar, if desired.  Transfer dip to medium bowl.  Can be made 1 day ahead.  Cover and chill.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Brush pita breads on both sides with oil; sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.  Cut each pita into 8 wedges.  Arrange wedges on rimmed baking sheets.  Bake until lightly brown and crisp, about 12 minutes.  Cool chips on sheets.

Place dip in center of platter.  Surround with chips and serve.

I follow the recipe as written, but I have to admit that jarred beets work well when I’m in a hurry.  Double check that they are plain beets and not pickled ones!  Goodness.  Also, I’m interpreting this recipe as needing ½ pound of beets, which translates to about 1¼ cups.  I add a good amount of pepper and extra vinegar to taste.
The pita chips are absolutely delicious and you’ll run out of them way before you finish your dip.  You could substitute tortilla chips or flatbread.
Beet, Chickpea and Almond Dip is a handy recipe, even when Lent is over, for vegetarian friends, last-minute events and whenever I need a break from meat.  It includes all the tastes you’d expect: a bit tangy, a little nutty, a bit garlicky and sweet.  And I usually have these ingredients on hand.  Try it out for yourself soon!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Yuletide Plantings, Part 2

The legend of the Christmas Rose tells the story of a young shepherdess who wanted to bring a gift to the newly-born Christ Child.  Too poor to afford something grand and luxurious and unable to find even the simplest flower blooming in the dead of winter, she began to weep.  An angel witnessed her distress and took pity.  Miraculously, a plant emerged where her tears touched the ground, and she was able to present its beautiful white flowers to the Baby Jesus.

Of course, the Christmas Rose represents renewed hope, the triumph of grace and mercy over sin and death, and the purity of Jesus and Mary themselves.  Think of the German hymn, Es Ist ein Ros Entsprungen, or its English rendition, Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming, which is usually sung between Christmas Eve and the Epiphany.

In Victorian and modern decorations, the Christmas Rose is often depicted as an almost perfect Tea blossom, sometimes pristine white, sometimes rosy pink, but the plant of lore was most likely Helleborus niger – an evergreen perennial, native to Central Europe and part of the Buttercup family.  Cultivated since ancient times and cherished in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the flowers of Helleborus niger do look like native European species of the Rose.
Two Dog Roses on a Stem and a Lackey Moth Caterpillar
French watercolor, c. 1575, by Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues
from the permanent collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
However, I’ve never seen any Hellebore bloom at Christmas, at least not around here.  They usually refresh themselves about a month later… sprouting new growth and unfurling their faces, shiny white with lots of yellow stamens, and tinges of pink or acid green, that blush as they age.  I can see why they are often linked with St. Agnes of Rome, as a symbol of innocence and renewal, and in celebration of her Feast Day on January 21.

And let’s face it.  Anything that flowers in the middle of winter is a miracle!

We are lucky to have Pine Knot Farms, one of the premiere growers and breeders of Hellebores, right here in Virginia, and they offer several cultivars of the Christmas Rose and great guidance for growing all species of Helleborus.
The star-like Helleborus niger 'Double Fantasy',
Hellebores have gained popularity in recent years for their relatively-easy care, deer-resistant foliage and drought tolerance.  In general, they are happiest in well-drained soil and partial shade in Zones 4-9.  The most spectacular tend to be interspecies hybrids.
H. x ballardiae 'Cinnamon Snow',
H. x hybridus 'Peppermint Ice' and

H. x hybridus 'Shirley's Snow Stars' are all grown at Pine Knot Farms.
Pine Knot Farms is hosting the second half of their annual open house, today and Sunday.  But they also attend plant sales and festivals throughout the Mid-Atlantic, so don’t worry if you can’t make it to Southside Virginia this weekend.

I love cranberries and can eat them any time in any place.  But that bright, tart flavor, often combined with lots of sugar, nuts and a touch of orange or lemon, is most associated with Thanksgiving and Christmas, when the cranberry harvest is coming to an end.

The Cranberry is a low, creeping shrub in the Ericaceae or Heath family and grows naturally in cool, acidic marshes throughout the Northern Hemisphere.  It’s my understanding that all true Cranberries, including Vaccinium oxycoccos (Small Cranberry), native to the northern reaches of the continent and as far south as Idaho and Virginia, and Vaccinium erythrocarpum (Southern Mountain Cranberry), at home in the Southern Appalachians and looking much more like a Blueberry at about 5’ tall, with deciduous leaves and deep carmine berries, are indigenous to North America… although, some of these same species flourish in northern Europe and Asia.

The scientific nomenclature for Cranberry can get tricky.  For example, Vaccinium microcarpum, often called Bog or Small Cranberry, is sometimes listed as its own species, native to Europe, as well as, Alaska and Canada, but the USDA considers it synonymous with V. oxycoccos.  Cranberrry can be identified as subgenus Oxycoccus instead of genus Vaccinium.  So in reading and shopping, you may find the same V. oxycoccos described as Oxycoccus microcarpos or O. palustris.  And a plant like Vaccinium vitis-idaea L. ssp. minus, commonly known as Northern Mountain Cranberry, is actually an American subspecies of Ligonberry, native to New England, the Upper Midwest and Canada.  Close, but not really a Cranberry.  And more than a tad confusing.
Vaccinium macrocarpon 'Stevens' from Edible Landscaping
Here’s what I think is important to know:
The Cranberry has been a vital part of the American diet and culture for millennia;
It thrives naturally in the aforementioned habitat, especially where glacial deposits have left layers of sand and peat;
Vaccinium macrocarpon, also known as Large or American Cranberry, is the most common species used for both commercial and decorative endeavors.  Native to the East Coast, from Quebec to North Carolina, through the Upper Midwest, and then along the Pacific Coast, V. macrocarpon is hardy in Zones 2-7, reaches about 1’ tall and can spread 1’-6’ wide.

And if you’re thinking you need to create a bog in your backyard… never fear.  You can grow Cranberries as an ornamental groundcover in your home landscape.  Pick a sunny spot (with afternoon protection if you live in Zones 6 and 7), amend the soil, much as you would for Blueberries, keep your Cranberries hydrated and enjoy.  Edible Landscaping, a local mail-order nursery with a national following, recommends growing them in hanging baskets or containers where you can better control the soil and moisture content.  I can easily envision a pair of beautiful pots, surrounded by Narcissus ‘Polar Ice’ and Summer Snowflake (Leucojum aestivum), overflowing with evergreen foliage, plus pinkish-white, elongated-bellflowers and, of course, the berries we know and love.
Wouldn't 'Stevens' be lovely in this lichen-green glazed planter from Campania International?

The delicate 'Polar Ice' Daffodil from Brent and Becky's Bulbs
By the way, cranberries for juice, canned sauce and jelly are harvested wet.  You know that iconic scene when the fields are flooded and the berries are corralled in what look like giant islands of red?  But whole Cranberries, like the ones we use for baking, are harvested dry, just as we would in our own gardens.  Well, maybe on a slightly larger scale!

Viburnum trilobum, also known as the American Cranberrybush or High Bush Cranberry, is another garden-worthy native that dons Christmas colors, almost year round.  Of course, it’s not a Cranberry at all.  But it is very pretty and provides four seasons of interest.
Viburnum trilobum 'Redwing', developed by Johnson's Nursery,
is one of the prettiest in bloom and
It blooms when in leaf – large, flat, milky lace umbels, not unlike certain Hydrangea, that appear in May and June.  Hardy in Zones 2-7 and preferring acidic, moist but well-drained soil, V. trilobum can serve as a cool backdrop for your sunny border or filtered shade garden.  Clusters of scarlet drupes (truly the color we think of as cranberry or cardinal red) mature in early autumn.
They are seriously sour but can be made into jellies and jams or left on the shrub where they will linger through winter, eventually softening, darkening, as a lovely foil to maroon fall foliage and an attraction for local birds and wildlife.
All V. trilobum sport Maple-like leaves,
but 'Redwing' glows with new growth of bronzy red.
Once again, take note.  Viburnum trilobum is sometimes identified as Viburnum opulus L. var. americanum or Viburnum opulus ssp. trilobum but should not be confused with the European Viburnum opulus, also known as Cranberrybush or Guelder Rose, which has proven to be invasive in certain states.  Both species, the native and foreign, have varieties named ‘Compactum’.

Powdery mildew and Viburnum Leaf Beetle can be problems for V. trilobum, but otherwise it is an easy-going shrub.  It’s a good replacement for some of my roses.  But in a more suburban setting, I would love to create a small grove of High Bush Cranberries interplanted with Kalmia latifolia ‘Elf’ and ‘Peppermint’
Kalmia latifolia 'Peppermint' from Meadowbrook Nursery in North Carolina. 
and the Kurume Azalea ‘Christmas Cheer’,
Colesville Nursery in Ashland, VA, is both a wholesale grower and retail garden center.
They usually stock 'Christmas Cheer'.
with one or two Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Snowflake’ and H. paniculata ‘Fire and Ice’, for quick succession of spring-summer bloom and appeal throughout the year… all in Yuletide colors.
'Snowflake' is an Oakleaf Hydrangea, but the long blossoms almost look like those of H. paniculata.
Absolutely beautiful flowers, peeling bark and fall foliage if you have the space.
From Meadowbrook Nursery
However, Christmas is a lot more than green, red and white.  It is a season full of richly saturated pigments… sugar-dusted candy and gaudy holiday lights…, the warm, comforting hues of oranges and spice cake, and pale shades just on the cusp of another like shimmering champagne and frosted moonlight.  Why not capture some of these colors, slightly burnished or silvered, fantastical and fun, in your own garden?

I can imagine sun-drenched steps flanked by
Delosperma cooperi ‘Lavender Ice’,
'Lavender Ice' and other varieties of Delosperma can be found at Bluestone Perennials.
Dianthus ‘Cranberry Ice’
'Cranberry Ice' is a favorite at Wayside Gardens.
and Veronica spicata ‘Icicle’;
'Icicle' also at Bluestone Perennials
a sheltered corner with
Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Gingerbread’,
Rare Find Nursery in Jackson, NJ, has an amazing selection of Witch Hazels,
including the slightly more petite 'Gingerbread'.
Callicarpa japonica ‘Snow Storm’,
'Snow Storm' and
Digitalis purpurea ‘Candy Mountain’
'Candy Mountain' are available at Bluestone Perennials.
Visit them in person or via the internet.
and Lilium ‘Star Gazer’ for bits of joyful color, from blossoms, berries and leaves, throughout the year;
or blanket a sunny bank with
Paeonia ‘Snow Clouds’,
'Snow Clouds' can be ordered through Viette Nurseries and
Caryopteris divaricata ‘Snow Fairy’
'Snow Fairy' is still in stock at Bluestone Perennials.
and Echinacea purpurea ‘Fragrant Angel’
If you can't find 'Fragrant Angel' at your local garden center,
check with White Flower Farm.
to mimic snowflakes and twinkling stars in the middle of sunshine-y, summer days.

And if your landscape is usually all green: Boxwood and Hosta, ornamental grasses and Pachysandra, then consider adding Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Snow Queen’
A local grower usually brings 'Snow Queen' to our farmer's market...
at least once we're safely into May.  It's not usually hardy north of Zone 8.
Check with Mr. Jack's Farm in Charlotte, NC, if you can't find it in your town.
or Dahlia ‘Santa Claus’
Dahlia 'Santa Claus' is available through Burpee's catalog or website.
for flamboyantly festive blooms in late summer and fall when other gardens in the neighborhood have completely petered out.