Easter is synonymous with spring, it represents a time of renewal. The winter months are now in our rear view mirrors and we can look forward to those wonderful summer days. Fresh new buds are on the trees, just waiting to burst out as the season unfolds. Everything speaks of new life and fresh hope. Spring is so unique (even if we still have snow on the ground in our part of the country).
Though ham is traditional in many homes, there are just as many people who would prefer something different for dinner on Easter Sunday. Holiday cooking is all about making a meal that feels more special than what you would cook on a regular basis.
Pork tenderloin is one of my favorite meats due to its tenderness and versatility. This meal started out with an idea to stuff a tenderloin and developed into so much more. I must say, I was even more pleased with the final results when we both enjoyed it.
Braided Pork Tenderloin w/ Pineapple Stuffing
Drain pineapple; reserving 1/3 cup juice. In a large saucepan, melt margarine. Add walnuts, celery & sage; cook stirring until celery is tender-crisp. Stir in green onions, pineapple & reserved juice. Remove from heat; toss in cornbread stuffing mix & set aside.
Using a sharp knife starting 3-inches from end, slice tenderloin lengthwise twice; making 3 equal strips. Carefully take the knife & cut pockets lengthwise every 3-inches in the center of each of the tenderloin strips. Spread the combined rub ingredients over meat & allow to stand at room temperature for about 20 minutes before continuing with preparation.
When meat is marinated, stuff each pocket with pineapple stuffing. Place a strip of bacon along each tenderloin strip. Braid the stuffed tenderloin/bacon by crossing the right section over the middle section then the left section over the new middle section. Continue until you run out of tenderloin.
Insert a wooden or metal skewer into the end of braided tenderloin to keep it together. Tuck in the remaining stuffing mixture in the folds of the braid.
Preheat oven to 425 F. Bake, uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until meat thermometer reads 160 F. Remove from oven & loosely cover with foil. Allow to rest for 3-5 minutes before slicing. Serve with pineapple salsa.
In a large skillet, combine pineapple, sugar, vinegar, lime juice, red onion, cumin, salt & pepper. Bring to a boil & cook over medium-high heat until thickened, 7-10 minutes. If there is still a lot of liquid left, use a slotted spoon to transfer the pineapple to a bowl & continue to cook the liquid over high heat for 5 minutes more, then pour the liquid over the pineapple. Mix in the onions & cilantro. Season with salt to taste.
Soups are for all occasions; from an elegant fruit soup at the start of a meal to a stick-to-your-ribs, homemade chowder or gumbo that is a meal in itself.
Homemade soups need need little attention, cooking by themselves. Most soups freeze well so they are an easy supper to pull from the freezer. At our house, we don’t eat a lot of ham but it’s nice once in a while. Even though there are just the two of us, I like to buy about 1.3 kg. This generally gives me enough for three different meals such as a glazed roast ham supper, pizza and a split pea/ham soup.
Split pea soup has been around for thousands of years. There are records of this soup being made and sold by street vendors in Greek and Roman societies.
This particular recipe has a delicious variety of healthful ingredients. Making it a day in advance allows the flavors to develop nicely. Of course, nothing rounds out a soup meal in winter better than a bread item. Warm, parmesan scones or bread sticks seem to be our favorites since they can be made and baked in about half an hour just before suppertime.
Ham & Split Pea Soup / Parmesan Scones
Ham & Split Pea Soup
In a large stockpot, combine water, split peas, barley, bay leaves, soy sauce, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, sage, & cumin; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover & simmer for about 45 minutes. Add onion & chicken broth. Cover & simmer until onion is tender, about 10 minutes. Discard bay leaves & stir in diced ham.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line baking sheet with a small piece of parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine flour, parmesan, baking powder & soda. With fingers, work in margarine until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in sour cream OR buttermilk until a soft dough forms; gently kneading until no longer sticky.
Place ball of dough on the parchment paper & press into a 5" (12.7 cm) circle about 3/4" (1.9 cm) thick. Score top to make 6 wedges. Bake for about 20-25 minutes. Re-cut into wedges & serve.
There’s something special about pairing turkey or chicken with apples and herbs. It seems to me the whole idea probably stems from ingredients used in stuffing a turkey for Christmas dinner. I’ve tried a few different recipe combinations for these sausage. This one seems to be the one we always enjoy the most.
Speaking of turkey, I’d like to tell you about a very old memory since I brought the subject up. As you know, if you have been following my blog, I was raised on a farm in southern Alberta, Canada. It was dry land farming so it was imperative my folks not only grew grain but also raised animals. Along with cattle, pigs and chickens, my mother raised a few turkeys. On one occasion, my sister and I were making our way across the farm yard on our tricycle. Loretta was the driver with me standing on the back when all of a sudden I was accosted by a huge turkey. With his large wings, he knocked me to the ground and started pecking me for some reason. My mother saw the commotion from the kitchen window and came running to my rescue. Needless to say, from that time on, I have always been leary of animals bearing beeks and feathers. Nevertheless, I do like the taste of turkey.
Turkey/Apple Sausage with Herbed Couscous
Homemade sausage is such a nice change from 'store-bought'.
Turkey - Apple Sausage
Heat oil in skillet; add onion & saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Add apples & saute until until apples are very tender, 3-5 minutes longer. Transfer to a large bowl & cool completely. Add turkey, cracker crumbs, egg & spices; mix well. Divide the sausage into 6 equal portions & roll into approximately 8-inch lengths. When ready to cook, they can either be baked in the oven at 450 F. or lay on a sheet of greased foil & cook on the barbecue.
In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tsp oil; add next 4 ingredients. Cook & stir for about 3 minutes until onion is soft. Add honey; heat & stir for 30 seconds to coat onion. Add broth; bring to a boil. Add couscous & 1 tsp oil. Stir, cover & remove from heat. Let stand for 5 minutes without lifting lid. Fluff. Stir in remaining ingredients.
Dijon - Apricot Mustard
In a small bowl, whisk together Dijon mustard & apricot preserves. Serve with turkey-apple sausages.
- I like to make extra sausage and freeze them for other meals. They come in so handy when your time is short.
- If you prefer a plain couscous instead of spicy, omit cumin & ginger replacing it with dried basil or a spice of your choice.
- This meal is nice to serve with a mixed green salad of your choosing.