Peach Glazed Pork Loin with Farro and Arugula Salad

I was going to wax poetic in today's recipe blog about Seattle's gorgeous blue sky, but it looks like Mother Nature has thwarted me by covering the sky with that signature Seattle overcast. Not to worry though, because honestly that's one of the great qualities of the Pacific Northwest - somehow it's just as striking under grey skies as it is under blue.
Fortunately, this week's turn of the weather doesn't affect the availability of fresh, summer fruit, peaches in particular, which is the focus of this week's recipe. Pork is one of the best meats to pair with fruit because of its lighter flavor and the addition of a  farro salad adds a great texture a nutritional boost to the whole dish.

Peach-glazed Pork with Farro and Arugula Salad
Makes 4 servings

2-1/2 pints warm water
3 Tbsp plus 1 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp plus 1 tsp Maximus/Minimus Seasoning

3.5 lbs pork tenderloin (about 2 loins), trimmed and each loin cut into 2 pieces

Peach Glaze (recipe follows)

1/2 Tbsp canola oil
1 tsp white balsamic vinegar
Pinch kosher salt
2 fresh peaches, ripe but still firm

Farro and Arugula Salad (recipe follows)

To make the brine, add the salt and seasoning to the warm water. Stir until the spices have dissolved. Add the pork to the brine, making sure to fully submerge. Let sit in the brine for six to ten hours. Make sure not to brine the pork longer than ten hours.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Prepare the grill by oiling it and heating it to medium-high. Place the tenderloin in the center of grill and let cook for 15 minutes or until the internal temperature is 140, turning it over in the middle of cooking. Remove from the grill, place in a baking dish and cover it generously with Peach Glaze, reserving about 4 tablespoons of the glaze. Finish cooking the pork in the oven for 5 minutes or until the internal temperature reads 145°F. Let rest for 5 minutes.

To prepare the peaches, combine the oil, vinegar and salt and set aside. Cut approximately 12 to 16 slices from the peaches and toss in the vinegar mixture.

Prepare the grill by oiling it and heating it to low. Cook the peaches directly on the grill for 4 minutes or until the peaches are nicely caramelized but not overly soft. Set aside.

To plate the dish, divide the farro salad between 4 plates. Smear a little of the reserved Peach Glaze on the plate. Slice each cut of pork into about 5 pieces and place next to the salad. Place the peach slices next to the pork.

Peach Glaze
1/2 cup peach marmalade
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/3 tsp minced fresh garlic
1/3 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
1/3 tsp white balsamic vinegar
Pinch kosher salt
1 tsp lime juice

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well blended. Adjust for seasoning.

Farro and Arugula Salad
1 cup farro
2 cups cold water
3-1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp canola oil

2/3 lbs red onion, medium size, cut into 1-1/2 inch chunks (about 1-1/2 red onions)
2-1/2 tsp canola oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

2/3 lb fresh fennel bulb, stems on but fronds removed, cut into 1-1/2 inch chunks (about 1-1/2 bulbs)
2 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

1/2 jalapeno, veins & stems removed, very thinly sliced into 1/2 inch long pieces
1/2 cup fresh corn kernels, uncooked
1 cup fresh arugula leaves, leaves torn in half
1/4 cup Champagne Vinaigrette*

To cook the farro, combine the farro, water, salt and oil in a wide, shallow braising pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover with a lid slightly askew and let cook for about 20-30 minutes or until the farro is al dente. Strain the farro to remove excess water, pour onto full sheet pan and let cool. (Note: the farro can be made in advance and stored in a refrigerator until the dish is assembled.)

Preheat a convection oven to 425°F.

Toss the fennel and red onion with corresponding oil and seasoning amounts. Place each on its own sheet pan (2 pans if necessary to avoid overcrowding) and roast until soft and lightly caramelized. Set aside to cool. (Note: You can combine the vegetables and roast them together on one sheet.)

Combine the cooled farro, roasted vegetables, jalapeno, and corn in a very large bowl and thoroughly combine. Toss with the arugula and Champagne Vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

*You can buy Champagne Vinaigrette or make your own with the following recipe.

Champagne Vinaigrette
1/2 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp plus 1-1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp plus 1-1/2 tsp orange juice
1 Tbsp plus 1-1/2 tsp champagne vinegar
Pinch freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt

Mix ingredients together in bowl and do not emulsify. Note: Use only fresh lemon juice.

Kurt's Flatiron Faves - Eataly

You can almost see my next Flatiron Fave across 5th Avenue from Madison Square Park and Shake Shack. It's Mario Batali’s Eataly.

When you think of “superstore,” what comes to mind? Walmart? Target? Maybe even Costco or Sam’s Club? Well, Eataly is what I would consider a REAL superstore. It’s not a department store, but it’s like taking a walk through the entire culinary landscape of Italy, from meats to cheeses, from pastas to desserts. Like I said last week, I don’t think it’s inaccurate to call it the DisneyLand of Italian cuisine. I mean, take a look at this map! I half expect to see Land of Lasagne and Linguineland or something. At least a monorail or a gondola to get from one side to the other!

I haven’t spent as much time eating here as I have simply browsing and exploring. The breadth and depth of the offerings here almost lift it to the status of a museum, a comprehensive homage to all things food from Sicilia to Veneto and then some. I’m no expert in Italian cuisine (or geography, for that matter) and that makes Eataly almost that much more entertaining to meander through. The dining area seems like a mish-mash of various different concepts seated together or near each other. I think it’s what “food courts” were intended to be, before the term effectively became a four-letter word thanks to the popularity of shopping malls (and the cheap food associated with them) during the 50s and beyond.

In this case, Eataly is a space where different people can have different dining experiences while seated almost side by side in the same space. It feels like a sincerely modernized old-world market. This makes for some great people-watching while I browse the aisles and displays of seasonal and regional specialties (some of which I only recognize the way I remember characters from some high school reading assignments).

Next week we're going to make our way down back down to 22nd and just east off Broadway, where I'll show you the cozy, convivial, Parisian bistro-inspired Almond restaurant.

View Beecher's and Eataly in a larger map

Sharlyn Melon Gazpacho with Spicy Grilled Prawns

Let me tell you: it is SO FANTASTIC to be back in Seattle and in the Bennett’s kitchen cooking again. Don’t get me wrong. I had an absolute blast in New York the last couple of months, opening the new Beecher’s Handmade Cheese in Manhattan. Now, I've made it back to the Northwest for one of my favorite times of year.

The end of summer is when nature shows us how much more it has to offer than what is available from industrial agriculture. Heirloom varieties abound in August,
and although most people only think of heirloom tomatoes, I get really excited about unconventional types of melon! And not what I call the Bud-Miller-Coors of the melon world: cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon. Those are great and they certainly have their place. But when you look at other melons like hami or guia, you’re really starting to get into the good stuff! On that note, this week’s recipe is a summery gazpacho made from sharlyn melon instead of tomato. It’s got a crisp flavor with a little bit of heat that adds a complexity you don’t always get with gazpacho.

Sharlyn Melon Gazpacho with Grilled Spicy Prawns
Serves 6

Paprika Chile Oil
1 cup olive oil
1 jalapeño, peeled, seeded, chopped
3 Tbsp paprika
½ tsp red chile flakes
2 tsp salt
2 tsp Old Bay

1 1/2 cup poblano or pascilla peppers
1 sharlyn melon, peeled, large chop
2 ears of corn, shucked, stripped
1 Tbsp salt
2 tsp honey
1 tsp lime juice
2 Fresno peppers, seeded, small dice
1 1/2 cup  jicama, peeled, small dice
1/2 mint leaf

2 1/2 pounds or 30 prawns, cleaned, peeled

For the paprika chile oil, combine all of the ingredients, except the salt and Old Bay, together in a sauce pan and bring the mixture to 170°F for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and let sit for an hour before straining it through a coffee filter. Discard the solids and reserve the sauce. (This is our original recipe for the Paprika Chile Oil, but for the purposes of this dish, stir in the salt and the Old Bay.)

Char the poblanos over flame until soft, then remove from the heat and sweat in a covered container for 30 minutes.

While the poblanos are sweating, pulse the melons in a food processor to break them up. Blend the melon until it is mostly smooth, but still has some melon chunks. Do not overblend. Set aside.
Skin the poblanos most of the way, leaving a little of the charred skin. Cut open the poblanos and seed them. Combine the poblanos with the melon in the food processor and blend together. Mix in half of the corn, the salt, honey and lime juice and blend again.

In a small bowl, toss together the remaining corn, Fresno peppers, jicama and mint.
Toss the prawns with approximately quarter cup of the augmented paprika chile oil (depending on the size of your prawns) so they are wet but not dripping. Grill over medium heat for about four minutes a side, enough to cook through and get a little char.

To serve, place the jicama mixture in the center of a large serving bowl and pour the gazpacho around it. Place the shrimp on top of the jicama mixture in the center of the bowl. Serve chilled.

You’ll end up with more of the paprika chile oil than you’ll need for this recipe, but it’s a great flavoring oil to have around! We use it at Bennett’s on our Mushroom Tart and with our Curry Mussels (when we serve them). If you come up with some other great uses for it, let us know in the comments!

Kurt's Flatiron Faves - Shake Shack

NYC - Madison Square Park - Shake Shack
Last week, we came back down the revitalized Broadway to visit the Calexico Taco Cart in General Worth Park. This week, as the sun is setting, let’s head into the middle of the Madison Park, where there’s a bunch of tables and chairs that are illuminated by what seems like countless strings of suspended lights attached to a small-ish building. From that little shelter extends a line of people that sometimes gets so long that it stretches out to the edge of the park onto the sidewalk of Madison Avenue. The building is the first location of Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack.

A little history: Danny Meyer has opened a number of critically-acclaimed restaurants, all known for impeccable service, incomparable culture and innovative cuisine. These include Union Square Café, 11 Madison Park (just across the street from this Shake Shack), Gramercy Tavern (which we’ll visit later) and many others. If you’re counting, he’s gotten 24 James Beard Awards (kind of the Oscars of the restaurant industry) over the twenty-some years he’s been in the business. His approach to business is very people-focus and he attributes his restaurants’ success to making his staff the top priority.

Before Danny Meyer started opening restaurants there, the Flatiron/Gramercy neighborhood was known as unsavory and largely unsafe. Danny Meyer’s opinion was that bringing good business into the neighborhood would make it a better place to work and live, even when everyone thought it was a horrible idea. “A rising tide lifts all boats” was his philosophy in locating restaurants, with Shake Shack opening right in the center of the questionable Madison Park. What used to be a place many people wouldn’t dare to go soon became a place where all kinds of New Yorkers, families included, could come to enjoy quality, wholesome versions of American staples: burgers, hotdogs and shakes.

I wrote in my last post about how the city of New York focused on making public spaces more enjoyable, and I want to emphasize that Danny Meyer’s restaurants, like Calexico Cart from last week, serve as an example of how that type of transformation is never one-directional. Yes, there’s a top-down part that the city plays in developing spaces, investing in public works, etc. But more importantly, there’s the bottom-up, foundational effort from the local business owners and residents that is necessary to really make a difference. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that his ventures have been so successful while being so community minded, both externally and internally.

Next week we’ll cross the street from Madison Park to the brainchild of another culinary mogul, Mario Batali’s Eataly, which I like to refer to as the DisneyLand of Italian cooking. See you then!

View Beecher's and Shake Shack in a larger map

Kurt's Flatiron Faves - Calexico Taco Cart

Coming back down Broadway from last week’s favorite spot, No. 7 Sub, we come to the small General Worth Park at West 25th Street. Right there on the street you’ll see the next place I want to show you, the Calexico Taco Cart.  I have a bit of a soft spot in my heart for street food, not just because of our own Seattle-based food truck, Maximus/Minimus, but also because it makes great food even more accessible to the public at large. Calexico, the winner of the 2008 Vendy awards (the Oscars of the street food world), has since expanded from one cart in SoHo to three carts AND two brick-and-mortar locations, one in Greenpoint and one in Redhook. They brought their second cart to this Flatiron location just after this year’s Madison Square Eats food festival back in June.

For me, Calexico is more than just a taco cart. It’s a symbol of the strides that the Big Apple has made in building a greater sense of community in their outdoor spaces. Years ago, I remember being more nervous than excited to go out on the street in New York. Now, the public spaces seem so much more welcoming, thanks to more food trucks on the streets and sidewalks, and a vibrant, urban park culture.

That’s not an accident, of course. The city of New York has made an amazing effort to cultivate these outdoor spaces. The drive behind this is to strengthen the quality of life within the city by developing a greater sense of community. Instead of a marketing campaign with posters and billboards, they invested in providing and improving spaces where this type of growth happens: public works, outdoor friendly restaurants and retailers, bike transit accommodations, and more.  The city invested in changes people could see every day. The idea was that the more people that come outside to enjoy themselves, the more meaningful the outdoor spaces would become. It’s a “build it and they will come” scenario that has worked really well. I no longer feel like some pachinko ball ricocheting its way through crowds of people; I feel like part of a collective stream of people that might, at any time, literally stop and smell the roses.

Specifically in the Flatiron neighborhood, they’ve made bold moves like closing parts of Broadway itself to car traffic and filling it with public seating. If New York can do it with one of the most famous streets in the world, I can’t help but think, “What’s stopping Seattle?” Imagine, for example, if Seattle were to turn Pike Place or the Westlake Center-Park corridor into a full-on pedestrian-only zone, maybe with more vendors, tables, or even art installations.

Standing on the street by General Worth Park, waiting for some Calexico tacos, I like to admire the bustle of Madison Square Park across the street. It gives me exciting hopes for what the urban outdoor spaces could mean in countering that sense of isolation and lack of community that is often associated with urban living.

Next week, we’ll eat at another example social public space, just across the street in the heart of Madison Square Park: Danny Meyer’s Shake Shack. See you then and bring your appetite!

View Beecher's & Calexico Taco Cart in a larger map

Kurt's Flatiron Faves - No. 7 Sub

Last week, we went north from Beecher’s to The John Dory Oyster Bar in the Ace Hotel on 29th. I think the people behind the Ace must have a handle on what’s good, since the second place on this virtual tour is also part of the Ace, a sandwich shop called No. 7 Sub, just a little south of the Dory itself. 

Like the Oyster Bar, No. 7 Sub is an off-shoot of another New York restaurant, called No. 7 in Fort Greene.  Tyler Kord, the man behind these “No. 7’s,” is known for using interesting ingredients to create multicultural comfort foods. At No. 7 Sub, you can find eggplant parms with jalapeños and BBQ potato chips, ceviche sandwiches, roast beef hoagies with Gouda and pickled blueberries, and more. My favorite has roasted Brussels sprouts, Russian dressing and potato chips in it. Sounds weird, I know, but it is DE-licious.

Although the ingredients come from all over the world, Kord and his partners opened Caputo Bakery in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn to supply bread to No. 7 and No. 7 Sub. It doesn’t get more local than baking all your own bread. Honestly, one sandwich is great, but there are so many interesting flavor combinations that I really recommend going with other people and getting a taste of as many different Kord creations as possible.

Well, it’s time to make our way back to Madison Square Park, where next week I’ll show you around the Danny Meyer burger phenomenon, Shake Shack.

Until then, good eats and good walks!

View Beecher's and No. 7 Sub in a larger map
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My Flatiron Faves

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Lover of big ideas and bold flavors. Food should be like family and friends: honest, fun, and fulfilling.

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