Pairing pork with figs and pears may seem a little odd but believe me it tastes great. Pears are one of those fruits that are extremely versatile. Their subtle sweetness and juiciness makes them perfect for recipes from entrees to desserts. Figs could be considered the perfect fruit — low on calories, full of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Figs have always appealed to me since the first time I tasted a ‘Fig Newton’ cookie. Now that seems like eons ago! Figs also bring me back to a place that holds some wonderful memories for Brion & I. In 2014 we visited the eastern side of the Algarve region in Portugal. This coastline is a spectacular site, very similar to the Big Sur coastline of California, USA.
Portugal has an excellent climate for cultivating figs. In the Mediterranean region as well as the Algarve, you can see fig trees almost everywhere. From August until about the end of September, there are plenty of fresh figs ripening on the trees. The only thing, is they have a short harvest time and will go bad quickly once picked. After the season ends you can buy dried figs. Fig jam is a product of fresh figs whereas dried are used for cooking, baking and even in fig liquor.
Portugal possesses great charm in its medieval villages, walled towns and glorious monuments while at the same time embracing progress and modernity with a style all of its own. It was such a memorable experience that will not be forgotten for sure.
There’s very little fuss to preparing today’s recipe and the meat turns out extremely tender.
In a bowl, combine first 8 ingredients; set aside.
Make a lengthwise cut 3/4 of the way through the tenderloin; open and flatten to 1/4-inch thickness. Brush meat with Fig Balsamic dressing & sprinkle with salt & pepper. Spread pear mixture over tenderloin. Roll up from long side; tuck in ends. Secure with toothpicks.
Preheat oven to 425 F. Place tenderloin on a large piece of foil on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Nestle remaining filling around tenderloin, pulling up foil to make sides to keep it close to meat. Brush with Fig Balsamic dressing. Bake, uncovered for 40-45 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into pork reads 160-170 F. Remove from oven & brush with apricot preserves. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with the additional roasted filling.
As May eases into June and the outdoor work increases, it seems like one area you can simplify in your life is in the kitchen. Making good use of your barbecue, along with the fresh produce that is now available, will help do just that.
Pork tenderloin has always been one of my favorite cuts of meat. One of the easiest ways to transform everyday pork into a special occasion main dish. Its the best part of a pork chop without bone or fat and has that melt-in-your-mouth tenderness.
A winner when it comes to versatility in that you can cook it whole, slice it into medallions, butterfly and stuff it, grill, roast, stir fry…..
My recipe today is a roast pork tenderloin served with a nice fruity, raspberry-nectarine sauce. Great little Sunday meal!
In a blender or food processor, place raspberries, nectarine slices, brandy & honey. Cover & process about 1 minute, until smooth.
In a large plastic bag, place flour, salt & pepper. Slice tenderloin into 1/4-1/2" medallions & place in bag. Shake to coat pieces evenly. In a large skillet, heat oil; saute pork medallions about 4 minutes or until no longer pink.
Heat sauce & spoon some on a serving plate. Place pork medallions on sauce; drizzle with additional sauce. Garnish with additional fresh raspberries if desired.
Most of our vacations over the years have been reasonably structured with a focus on a specific country, it’s people and the geographical treasures within. With the world in such disarray lately, we have been keeping a fairly low profile in our travels. Needing a little ‘sea, sun & sand’ it seemed logical that the Dominican Republic would fit the bill. Of course, you first have to go through all the flying trials and tribulations. To simplify things, Brion had us booked on a direct flight so that helped. Nevertheless, after 6 or 7 hours of flying your always happy to land. A couple of years ago we had spent 12 days in the DR so we new what to expect for most part.
For the next 10 days we settled into holiday mode — eat, sleep and walk on those beautiful pristine white sandy beaches. Being in a resort you have endless choices when it comes to food and drink. Brion and I have a shared love of seafood so we took full advantage of that.
For today’s blog it seems fitting to prepare a meal that would combine seafood and pork– both used extensively in the DR. Oysters accented with bacon, maple and apples give this recipe a very unique character.
In a large non-stick skillet saute bacon, onion, apple, garlic & thyme leaves. Cook, stirring often for 7 minutes or until bacon is crisp. Add chicken broth & oysters; cook for 1 minute or until moisture is evaporated. Add bread & toss to coat with cooked mixture; cool to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Slice along the length of each tenderloin almost through to the center, so it opens like a book. Sprinkle evenly with salt & pepper. Spread the stuffing mixture down the length of one tenderloin & top with the remaining tenderloin. Secure the layers with kitchen twine tied at equal intervals. Place the roast on a rack set over a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Stir the maple syrup with the mustard until well combined.
Roast for 30-35 minutes or until it registers 165 F. on meat thermometer when inserted into thickest part of meat & stuffing. Baste the meat with the maple mixture twice during roasting. Broil on the center rack for 5 minutes or until glossy. Let roast rest 5 minutes before slicing.
Stuffing chicken breast with a pate is not a new idea but it’s not one I have made use of too often. Pate always seemed to me, it was kind of an upscale thing you would serve at cocktail parties. Over the years, I have probably made more than my share of liver, salmon or pesto pates for various catering events.
Although pate is believed to have originated in ancient Rome, it is essentially a French dish. The recipes are not always extravagant and widely vary from the humble appetizer to one of the world’s most expensive dishes. Traditionally, pate consisted of baked dishes served in a crust or molded into a ‘terrine’. Terrines are usually a coarser, denser texture, making them more satisfying to serve for a main course.
There are no fixed ingredients for preparing a pate — the choice is yours. Classic choices are chicken liver, oysters, bacon, fresh herbs with various cheeses, all ground into a paste-like consistency. Generally with pate, your ingredients are cooked and cooled then processed into a paste. The mixture is then placed in a mold, covered and refrigerated overnight. In the case of terrines, after prepared, they are baked slowly and then refrigerated for at least 24 hours before slicing and serving.
In France, enjoying pate with a baguette, accompanied by wine and cheese for lunch in an outdoor setting would be most common. Pate and it’s variations are actually a very familiar and integral dish to many countries.
My inspiration for this meal today was the fact I had some Brie cheese that I wanted to use up. It actually tasted even better than I though it would which was probably due to the fresh basil used. I hope you give it a try and enjoy it as well.
Preheat oven to 375 F. Grease a baking dish well & set aside. Between two pieces of plastic wrap, place chicken breast, smooth side down; gently flatten to 1/4-inch thickness. Place 2 breasts in baking dish.
In a food processor, place walnuts, basil & garlic, slowly adding the olive oil, pulsing until mixture becomes paste like. Add brie, cream cheese & egg; pulse to blend. Season with salt & pepper.
Divide mixture between the 2 chicken breasts in baking dish; top with 2 remaining flattened breasts. Spread apricot preserves over each breast. Dot with 'Fig Balsamic' olive oil dressing. Lightly spread to cover apricot preserves. Sprinkle each breast with crushed red peppers.
Bake, uncovered for about 40 minutes or until chicken & pate filling are cooked. Remove from oven, slice each breast in half to make 4 servings.
Today, July 25th,we celebrate my sister Loretta’s birthday.
‘To have a sister like you is like finding a treasure in ones life’. ‘HAPPY BIRTHDAY, LORETTA’, you deserve all the best!’
In the fall of 2001, Brion & I, joined by Loretta, made our first trip to Europe. Before that our holidays had pretty much been in the USA. This was a whole new learning curve that has forever changed the meaning of travel for us. Our destination was France, starting out in Paris, then renting a car and driving to the west coast then on down through southern France.
The hotel we were staying at in Paris looked out over a ‘pedestrian only’ street. When we arrived it was evening and the street was dark and pretty much deserted. The next morning we heard a lot of hustle-bustle in the street below. When we looked out, the sight was just incredible! The street was lined with shops which were now open for business. It was the most beautiful sight to look down on with all its colors and activity. During the next few days we enjoyed everything Paris to the fullest.
Down from our hotel we came upon a little street vendor selling crepes of all things. The taste was amazing! Fifteen years later, they have joined our ‘taste of a memory’ food list, knowing that so much of it was time & place.
Crepes are such a great meal. Simple to make with so many options whether it is a savory or sweet version. One of our favorite savory choices is a Seafood Crepe, which I feature in my ebook, ‘LIVING LARGE ON A LEAN FOOD BUDGET’. For a sweet treat, you might enjoy to try these Strawberry-Citrus Crepes.
Place all ingredients in blender; whirl for 1 minute at high speed. Scrape down sides, whirl for another 15 seconds. Pour into a bowl & cover; refrigerate 1 hour. Heat a non-stick griddle to 350 F. Measure about 3 Tbsp of batter per crepe onto griddle. With back of spoon form batter into an 8-inch circle. Cook until golden on each side then lay on a wire rack to cool.
Gouda Crepe Sauce
In a small saucepan, melt margarine; sprinkle with flour & seasonings. Mix well; add milk & broth, stirring until sauce becomes thickened. Add cheese & blend.
In a large skillet, saute zucchini, onion & garlic in oil for several minutes. Add mushrooms, green pepper & water chestnuts; cook 1 more minute. Combine ginger, soy sauce & water in a cup; add to vegetable mixture along with seafood. Gently stir fry ONLY until seafood is cooked. Reserve 1/2 cup Gouda sauce & add the rest to mixture.
Divide filling between crepes; roll crepes & place on serving plates. Spoon remaining sauce over each of the filled crepes. Place each meal in microwave (covered) for 15 - 20 seconds on high. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds if desired. Serve immediately.
In a small saucepan, combine water, cornstarch, lemon juice, orange juice & sugar; blend well. Over medium heat, bring to a boil, stirring constantly until mixture thickens & becomes clear. Remove from heat & set aside to cool. Slice strawberries either by hand or using an egg slicer. In a small dish, combine yogurt & honey.
In a large bowl, gently fold about 1 1/2 cups citrus glaze together with sliced strawberries (I used about 3 large strawberries per crepe). Lay 12 crepes on work surface & place equal amounts of strawberry/glaze mixture on one half of each crepe. Fold over opposite side then fold in half again. Place 3 crepes on each of four serving plates. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired. Serve Honey/Yogurt on the side as well as any extra citrus sauce you have left from filling.
I have been making crepes for a long time but have never bothered to buy a 'crepe' pan to cook them in. A non-stick griddle has always worked great for me. Using a 1/4 measuring cup, first to pour a circle of batter on the griddle then with the bottom of it, keep enlarging the crepe to the size you want.
Being able to make all your crepe ingredients the day before then putting it all together on the day served is such a bonus.