Barley & Apricot Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Grains and seeds have always been high on my priority list to cook and bake with. Now, you take barley, a humble grain with good nutrition even though it doesn’t get much credit for it. The first barley grown in North America was in Newfoundland, Canada in 1578. Production moved westward from there to the prairie provinces.

Barley has a chewy texture with a slightly nutty flavor. It absorbs liquids in soups, stews and salad dressings, capturing their flavors. Barley flour gives baked goods a lovely rustic taste and look.

The difference between pot & pearl barley has to do with the milling process. Pot barley has most of the barley bran still intact whereas with the pearl barley, most of the bran is removed. Barley bran is found throughout the kernels so both are still healthy options.

There is absolutely nothing fancy about mushrooms and barley except for its flavor. This recipe combines the duo with dried apricots and almonds to make one amazing stuffing for the pork tenderloin. Yum!

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Barley & Apricot Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
Instructions
  1. In a saucepan, heat oil, add onion & mushrooms; saute until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in barley & chicken broth. Bring to a boil; cover pan & simmer about 15 minutes. Allow cooked barley mixture to cool, then stir in almonds, apricots, parsley, sage & thyme.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F. Slice tenderloin down the center, cutting just slightly more than half way through. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Spoon barley stuffing on one side of the tenderloin then cover with the opposite side. If necessary, tie or skewer tenderloin to keep filling in during baking.
  3. Place tenderloin on a rack in a roasting pan and roast in the oven until inserted meat thermometer registers 160 F. Any excess stuffing can be spooned into a small buttered baking dish & baked for the last 20 minutes to serve as a side.

White Fruit Cake

When most of us think of fruitcake we picture a dense, dark colored, dry loaf of bread packed with dried candied fruits and nuts. History and lore mingle in the telling of the fruitcake story. Many of the earliest recipes date back to ancient Egypt and Rome. Fruitcake also has historical associations with the Holy Land, with its internal bounty being said to represent the Wise Men. Like many other fruit breads and cakes, it has been venerated since Medieval times when fruit in wintertime was an extraordinary treat.

The English fruitcake or Christmas cake reached its heyday in Victorian times when, with the introduction of the Christmas tree and other festive customs and religious traditions exploded into colorful, season-long celebrations. These fruitcakes were made well in advance of the holidays, wrapped in cheesecloth that had been soaked in brandy or rum. Periodically, the cheesecloth was resoaked and the cakes rewrapped to absorb the liquid. The day before Christmas, they were unwrapped, coated with marzipan or almond paste, further coated with royal icing that dried and hardened, then glazed with apricot glaze. These Christmas cakes demonstrated such abundance that over the years, the same kind of cake has been used as wedding cake, as it has the advantage of preserving well for anniversary celebrations. The German Christmas bread called ‘stollen’  is a close kin to fruitcake.

Fruitcake character is largely determined by the wealth of fruit and nuts it contains. Spices are other key ingredients that go back to the Middle Eastern heritage of the fruitcake. Rum and Brandy are very often included in the liquids of the cake which leave their flavor but no alcoholic content because the alcohol is driven off during baking. Any favorite flavor, such as wine, fruit juice or liqueurs can be used. Rather than just adding it to the batter, I prefer to marinate the fruit and nuts in it overnight or longer.

The ‘mail-order’ fruitcakes that became quite popular in America in about 1913, although convenient, probably had a lot to do with our great dislike for this traditional ‘Christmas’ cake. I’m pretty sure this is where the dry part originated. As a kid, it certainly wasn’t my choice for a Christmas treat. I was never one for molasses or raisins and it seemed that was all  I could taste. I probably shouldn’t mention this but on occasion my mother would make an unbaked fruitcake. There were very few things she made that I didn’t like but that topped the list. If I recall it contained molasses, marshmallows and I think graham wafer crumbs  —- yikes!!  Things got a little better when ‘Betty Crocker’ came out with a boxed fruitcake mix that had a white batter. 

It seems like its been decades since fruitcakes were the du jour  dessert to be served at a wedding. These days, the wedding cake need not be a cake at all. Since about 2003, ‘Cheese (Tower) Cakes’ have grown in popularity as an alternative to the traditional fruitcake. It is made by stacking an assortment of round cheeses to resemble a cake which can be served with fruit and crackers. This will also compliment the wine being served. So much for the tradition of a single female wedding guest putting a bit of wedding cake under her pillow at night so she could dream of the person she would marry!

I’m sure your curious as to why I would dedicate a blog to White Fruit Cake. Some years back, I was co-owner of a catering company. At Christmas we were regularly asked for Christmas fruitcake. After a lot of ‘recipe development’ we settled on a white fruitcake recipe that became a signature product for us. To this day, I very often make a batch in about mid November, baking it in little individual loaves. Even though there is just the two of us I make the whole recipe and we enjoy it early on into the next year.


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White Fruit Cake

A tender, light and delicately flavored fruitcake.

Course dessert

Servings
mini loaves


Ingredients

Course dessert

Servings
mini loaves


Ingredients


Instructions
  1. Marinate the first 7 ingredients overnight (I prefer to marinate for at least 24 hrs.) in 1 cup of Rum ( use your own preference as to the type of Rum). Preheat oven to 275 F. Line baking pans with parchment paper.

  2. Cream margarine with sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla & lemon zest.

  3. Combine flour, baking powder & salt. Add gradually to creamed mixture, beating well. Fold in marinated fruit mixture. Carefully divide cake batter into 24 mini loaf pans or 4 - 9 x 5" loaf pans.

  4. Bake for 1 hour for mini loaves & 2 hours for large loaves. Place a pan with 1/2 -inch of water in the bottom of oven while baking; checking periodically that it has not gone dry. If baking fruitcake in large loaves the temperature may be increased to 350 F. for the last 10-15 minutes. I found with the mini loaves it was best to bake them completely at 275 F. When cake tests done, remove from oven & place on cooling racks until thoroughly cooled.

  5. Wrap in Rum soaked cheesecloth & place in a tightly covered plastic container for a least one month before serving. Each week, check to see if you need to add more rum to the cheesecloth.


Recipe Notes
  • Total baked weight of fruit cake is 10 3/4 lbs or 4876 grams.
  • Yield equals either 4 - 9 x 5" loaves or 24 mini loaves.
  • Just for some extra 'Secrets for Perfect Fruitcake' go to whatscookingamerica.net/Q-A/fruitcakesec.htm

Stuffed Burgers

RESHAPING THE BASIC BURGER

It’s only mid May and the enticing smell of the neighborhood barbecues drifts through the air. Spring has felt more like summer due to the high temperatures we are having.

Burgers have long been a summer barbecue staple so why not put a new spin on it. My first thought goes to using the same spice combination for a variety of ground meats such as beef, chicken/turkey, or pork. Next make a filling that would taste great in whatever meat you feel like serving or better still use a variety.

Over the last couple of weeks I did some recipe development  on seven different ideas to simplify  making  ‘Stuffed Burgers’.   In my next few blogs I would like to share these recipes with you.  Here is the list:   > Moroccan            >  Apple-Zucchini Bacon            > Savory-Herb                               > Seafood/Avocado &  Spinach/Cheese Portobello Mushroom Burgers                                                  > Mushroom-Cheese Stuffed Ground Salmon    > Garden Grain Burgers    

The focus of my blog is very often on the ‘Taste of a Memory’  so I decided to start my stuffed burger series with a memory from Morocco.

In 2014, my husband Brion and I enjoyed a holiday travelling Spain, Morocco, and Portugal. I had never really paid to much attention to the interesting flavor of the Moroccan spices before that trip. Since then I have made numerous dishes that included them as we have come to really enjoy that flavor.

Key Moroccan spices include aniseed, black pepper, cayenne, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, ginger, paprika, parsley, saffron and turmeric.      

Morocco is like a tree whose roots lie in Africa but whose leaves breath in European air. This is a metaphor that has been used to describe a country that is profoundly traditional and strongly drawn to the modern. It is this double-sided, seemingly contradictory disposition that gives Morocco its cultural richness. The country is slightly larger in area than California. Unlike most other African countries, it produces all the food it needs to feed its people. Located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the country is rich in fish and seafood. Beef is not plentiful, so meals are usually built around lamb or poultry. Another Moroccan staple is couscous, made from fine grains of a wheat product called semolina. It is served many different ways with vegetables, meat or seafood.

In today’s  Moroccan Burgers, I used beef and turkey patties, stuffing them with a spicy fruit filling. Strange as it seems, Brion and I found mustard   to be a great condiment to use on them.  In keeping with the Moroccan theme, couscous makes a nice side dish however you choose to prepare it. Your comments are most welcome.                                       

Print Recipe
Stuffed Burgers
I used the same spice combination in the basic meat patty recipe for whatever meat I chose to use ( beef, chicken/turkey, pork), to keep it simple. These meat patties were then used to prepare the SAVORY-HERB, APPLE-ZUCCHINI BACON, & MOROCCAN burgers.
Servings
Ingredients
Basic Meat Patties
Moroccan Spicy Fruit Filling
Easy Couscous Side Dish
Servings
Ingredients
Basic Meat Patties
Moroccan Spicy Fruit Filling
Easy Couscous Side Dish
Instructions
Basic Meat Patties
  1. Place ground meat in a large bowl & combine with spices. Mix well. Shape into 8 - 1/4" thick patties. Place equal amounts of prepared filling in center of each of 4 patties. Top with remaining 4 patties & press gently to seal, enclosing filling completely.
  2. Place burgers in a greased foil disposable pan. Preheat barbecue grill to a medium heat, place pan on grates & close lid. Turn burgers once during cooking time, (do not overcook as the meat is only 1/4" thick on each side).
  3. Serve on a Ciabatta bun (or hamburger bun of your choice).
Moroccan Spicy Fruit Filling
  1. Combine dates, apricots, raisins, apple & orange juice in a small bowl. Season with spices. Mix well; set aside to let marinate for a few hours. Divide between 4 burger patties & complete as above.
Couscous Side Dish
  1. Heat 1/2 tsp olive oil in small saucepan. Add next 4 ingredients. Cook & stir until green onion is softened. Add honey. Heat & stir until onion is coated.
  2. Add broth. Bring to a boil. Add couscous & 1 tsp olive oil. Stir. Cover. Remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes without lifting the lid. Fluff with fork; stirring in remaining ingredients adding a bit of butter if it seems to solid. Makes about 2 3/4 cups.
Recipe Notes
  • I found it really made this whole burger idea easy if I made 908 grams (2lbs) of each of the 3 types of ground meat into patties. Portion the meat with a scoop into 56 grams (2 oz.) balls, flatten & place in a plastic container, layered singly between a non-stick waxed paper to freeze.
  • When it comes time to use, take out the number of patties you require for the meal. Prepare the filling of choice, stuff & cook. What could be easier than that for a quick & easy great tasting meal!