Roasted pheasant stuffed with wild rice served with pomegranate and persimmon sauce makes a flavorful winter dish.
The autumn has arrived in Oregon. The once vivid-green forests are now splattered with splashes of crimson, gold and canary. The hardwoods are withdrawing to a deep sleep with a colorful yawn while the evergreen sentries of pine and Douglas fir prepare to stand guard over their sleeping cousins. And I’m beginning to crave apples, cinnamon and cloves — flavors that taste of fall to me.
I spent most of my life unaware that there were people around me who could not tolerate wheat. When we moved to Oregon, we learned that one of our dear friends here is gluten-intolerant. She and her husband moved here from Colorado and have found Oregon a wonderful place to live, especially for someone who is sensitive to wheat. Some restaurants have gluten-free menus, with separate kitchens to prepare the food to prevent cross-contamination, and one of our largest supermarket chains, Fred Meyer, has nearly an entire aisle in their natural foods section dedicated to gluten-free products. So whenever we have a dinner party and the couple are included, we try to make the entire meal gluten-free. It has been an eye-opening experience to learn how many processed foods may harbor wheat gluten, innocuously labeled as modified food starch. This gluten-free version of Alsatian apple cake is just as delectable as its wheat-drenched version. Your gluten-intolerant friends will find it a delicious treat and so will you!
Pork and apples make a perfect marriage. When stewed or baked with apples, the pork takes on the wonderful flavors of apples – sweet, but somewhere lurking in the background is that familiar tart flavor that’s a pleasant surprise.
Vic gave me a copy of The Tra Vigne Cookbook from the Napa Valley restaurant of the same name some years ago. Two recipes captured me immediately — Forever Roasted Pork, and Mozzarella Martinis. The pork recipe can be made any time of the year, but the Mozzarella Martinis are best left to when the very best vine-ripened tomatoes are available. Check back in late summer for Mozzarella Martinis — they’re not what you think.
My inspiration for this post was simply a desire to braise some pork in the wonderful cider from Wandering Aengus Ciderworks in Salem. I settled on combining some ingredients and methods from the recipe mentioned in the previous paragraph with another for Stuffed Pork Chops with Roasted Apples and Calvados from Saveur Magazine. Amazingly, all the ingredients came from Oregon.
One of my favorite and most frequently made creations is Martha Rose Shulman's Alsatian Apple Cake from Supper Club: Chez Martha Rose. It is apple heaven reincarnate; a liberal amount of peeled, sliced apples fused with a pancake-like batter flavored appropriately with vanilla and rum. I make this several times a year and it never fails to evoke praise. I often share the recipe with gratitude and acknowledgment for my source. Enjoy!