Friends of mine: Miz Sarah
In every close knit group of friends, there has be at least one person who is a super-star host and cook, able to whip up a delicious meal on a whim, when friends drop by for a visit. She (and often he) will have something simmering on the stove, or baking in the oven, and in exchange for the tasty treats, the guests must regale the host with stories and pour a glass of wine.
My friend Sarah is exactly the person described above. Besides being loads of fun and a great friend, she’s also an amazing cook. There is never such a thing as “not enough food” at Sarah’s house, and I’ve never tasted a disaster.
The heart of her sunlit, open apartment in the Upper Haight is the large and bright kitchen. The living room is separated from the kitchen only by a low counter. While she sautes and simmers, it’s easy to keep Sarah company. Potted plants perched atop the refrigerator trail down towards the floor; windowsills are covered with jars and sauce bottles; and a large table sits alongside the kitchen wall for any prep work. Whoever designed the kitchen clearly had an enthusiastic cook in mind.
The rest of the place isn’t too shabby either. It’s not overly decorated, in some thematic catalog way. It’s a cozy, lived-in place peppered with Muppet toys (she’s a fan of Miss Piggy and Kermit), books, knickknacks, clever signs and vintage art prints, including a gorgeous Erte serigraph. The bathroom has a claw foot tub and there are stained glass windows scattered throughout the apartment. After the cut, look at more photos of the apartment & the delicious dinner Sarah cooked for a few of us recently:
Cider brined pork loin with apple-cream sauce
Heat a large pot of water to just under boiling. Sift together:
1.5 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
Mix 1/2 cup milk
Stir wet ingredients into the dry. It should make a thin but sticky dough. Add more liquid if necessary.
Using a colander or a slotted spoon, push the dough through holes into the water, creating small, twisty noodles. These will cook in under 2 minutes – they’re done when they float to the top. Remove from water, strain, and serve with lots of butter and salt.
This is as easy as cooking gets. Half and core a red or green cabbage, then shred it into bite sized pieces.
Melt 2 or more tbsp butter in a heavy skillet, then add as much cabbage as the pan can hold. Saute until tender at medium heat, about ten minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
The first step can be done the day before, or at least 4 hours before preparing pork:
Create a brine by warming 2 cups apple cider vinegar in a pan, and adding 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 white sugar, 3 tbs fresh cracked black peppercorns, and a bay leaf. Stir until salt is dissolved. Then add 4 cups cold water and remove from heat. Submerge a whole pork tenderloin (or pork chops, if desired) and refrigerate for 4 – 24 hours.
When ready to cook, remove pork from brine and pat dry.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pan, and brown the pork loin on all sides until it is about halfway cooked. (If pork is still under 140 degrees at the center, place on a baking dish in a 350 oven for 10 minutes while preparing sauce).
In the same pan, soften
1/2 sliced onion for about five minutes (add more oil if necessary to prevent sticking). Then add
3 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced. Saute 3 minutes more until they begin to soften.
3/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup apple cider
(1/4 cup optional calvados or apple brandy can be added at this point as well)
Heat to a boil, stirring to bring up browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
When it comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, stir in
1/3 cup heavy cream
and return the pork to the pan to heat, making sure pork reaches 150 degrees (but do not boil).
Salt and pepper to taste.
Slice before serving. Cream sauce is especially good on spatzle.
Ta da! Sarah’s pork loin with apple sauce won her a prize at a cook-off that weekend.