HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Many cultures around the world believe the key to a happy, healthy, prosperous & productive year begins with eating certain lucky foods on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. The theory is ‘do good, eat good’ on the 1st day of the year, to begin the New Year right.
It hard to believe we have arrived at the end of another ‘complicated’ year and its time to reflect and assess the year it was. The word ‘new’ brings thoughts of hope and makes us realize how precious time is.
The tradition of eating pork on New Year’s dates back to …. well, no one really knows when. If your a meat eater, chose pork over chicken or beef on New Year’s Day because pigs dig with their snout, representing forward movement or progress, while chickens or turkeys scratch backward, the cows stand still. That’s it, that’s the folklore behind the tradition!
Many European countries such as Germany, Austria, Switzerland & Ireland, eat pork not only because of the belief of moving forward but because fatty meat is also symbolic of ‘fattening’ their wallets. Germans feel that pigs are so lucky that they give marzipan pigs known as ‘Glucksschwien’ or lucky pigs, as gifts to bring good luck in the coming year. They can also be given in other forms, such as little wooden or glass figurines.
With the pandemic situation that seems to be never ending, I think anything that will help in the good luck department is a good thing.
Sage, Dijon Pork Tenderloin w/ Pistachio Couscous
Cook the couscous according to package directions. Add parsley, olive oil, salt and pepper, and pistachios. Stir to incorporate. Taste and adjust for seasonings. Cover and set aside.
Preheat oven to 350º. Spray an 9” x 13” baking dish with cooking spray.
Using a knife poke several holes in the tenderloin about a half-inch deep so marinade can penetrate.
In a small bowl whisk together the shallots, garlic, soy sauce, mustard, honey, juice, sage, salt and pepper, and olive oil.
Pour the marinade over the tenderloin.
Bake uncovered for 45 minutes basting every 10-15 minutes.
Transfer the tenderloin to a large cutting board and allow them to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
Slice the tenderloin and transfer to a serving dish placing atop warmed couscous.
Drizzle the marinade from the pan over the sliced pork medallions & couscous.
There’s something very complex about the taste of sweet and spicy. Have you ever used hot pepper jelly? If not, its a preserve in a jelly form …. somewhere between jam and jelly. The main ingredients are peppers, sugar and vinegar which are combined with pectin to form a preserve.
Hot pepper jelly is such a versatile product, that there is no limit of different ways you can use it, depending on your taste preference.
I was thinking that if this recipe appeals to you and you purchase some of this jelly, here are a few other ways you could make use of it.
- Ham & Turkey Sandwich – use jelly instead of mustard
- Cocktail Meatball Glaze
- Serve on Cornbread – with or without butter!
- Dip for Egg rolls
- On a Bagel with Cream Cheese
- Sauce for Hot Wings or Chicken Tenders
- Topping for Baked Brie Cheese
- Glaze for Baked Ham
One thing about pork tenderloin is it will never disappoint when it comes to tenderness and flavor.
Savory Pork Wellington w/ Pepper-Peach Glaze
Remove silver skin from tenderloin by sliding the knife tip under one end of the silver skin. Keep the blade flat (parallel to the meat) & slide the knife between the meat & the silver skin, pulling up on the sliver skin as you go. Discard silver skin. Remove any excess fat if any.
In a small saucepan, heat jelly, preserves, vinegar, mustard, brown sugar & sage to simmering over medium heat; stirring occasionally. Remove saucepan from heat.
After trimming the meat, brush it all over with a generous amount of olive oil. Place the tenderloin in a skillet that has been heated to a hot temperature previously. Sear tenderloin about 1 1/2 minutes on each quarter turn.
Place meat on a piece of foil paper in a roasting pan. Lightly coat the meat with some of the glaze using a brush so it will spread evenly. Roast tenderloin for about 25-35 minutes depending on the size of your tenderloin.
Insert a probe thermometer into the thickest part of your meat & check the temperature. The pork will continue to cook for about 10 more degrees outside of the oven & then will stop cooking after that. Once out of the oven, Generously brush meat with remaining glaze. Allow to rest between 5 & 10 minutes before slicing.
- I had actually doubled the glaze recipe so we would have some extra since we both enjoy pepper jelly. Strangely enough, it tasted real good not only on the meat but the mashed potatoes we had with it.
CELEBRATING VICTORIA DAY!
Victoria Day is the distinctly Canadian holiday that serves as the official marker to end winter. For Canadians, this is the first long week-end since Easter and a good excuse to celebrate the beginning of the summer season. Camping and barbecuing are the name of the game but this year in view of the pandemic crisis, things are quite a bit more subdued.
In keeping with the spirit of a ‘seasonal barbecue’ on this holiday, Brion & I are having some char siu pork tenderloin.
Char siu is a dish made from seasoned boneless pork. The pork is covered in a sweet, savory glaze and placed on wooden skewers or forks over low heat. Its cooked until tender but not falling apart. The use of the skewers changes how the meat cooks. It should heat slowly and evenly from all sides. The char siu marinade is very distinctive in its flavor.
Many cuts of pork can be used in char siu such as neck meat, pork belly and pork butt. Just about any lean boneless cut will work but I like pork tenderloin the best.
Char siu has been around for many years and was generally roasted over a fire. Nowadays, its either cooked in an oven or on an outdoor grill. No matter which way you choose to cook char siu, the shiny red glaze gives it a very unique look and flavor. Char siu doesn’t have a lot of fancy ingredients or a complicated procedure. Instead, it pairs a tasty marinade with a lean cut of quality meat for a super good meal.
Char Siu - Chinese Roast/Barbecued Pork
Whisk marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Cut pork in half horizontally to make two long, flat, thin pieces about 2 X 1-inches in thickness. Place the pork & marinade in a zip-lock bag. Marinate 24 - 48 hours in refrigerator (3 hours is the bare minimum). Soak wooden skewers in water while meat marinades.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a deep baking tray with foil.
Remove pork from marinade, save marinade. Thread meat onto soaked skewers. The skewers will naturally suspend the meat above the baking tray with plenty of room to ensure that the meat is cooked evenly from all sides. A small amount of water in the bottom of the baking tray will help to keep the meat moist while its roasting.
Pour reserved marinade in a saucepan & combine with the 2 Tbsp of extra honey. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat & cook for 2 minutes until syrupy. Remove from heat.
Around halfway through roasting, baste generously with the reserved marinade. Try to get as much marinade on the meat as possible as it is the key for getting the thick glossy glaze. When finished roasting, the meat should be tender but not falling apart. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
- One of the key ingredients that gives char siu its wonderful taste is hoisin sauce.
- Chinese five spice refers to a mixture of spices used commonly in Chinese cooking. Each brand varies in terms of content.
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.
CELEBRATING FATHER’S DAY!
Honoring your father on Father’s Day doesn’t require his physical presence. I feel what is more important, is just the act of doing it. I am very grateful to have had a father who was such a strong role model in my life. Everything he did was driven by his commitment to provide and care for the family he loved.
My father passed away in 2005 and Brion’s in 2011. Both our Dad’s loved to talk and tell stories from their lives. We often wish we could retrace that time and hear their voices again. It seems you never fully appreciate your parents until they are no longer on this earth. It is so important to appreciate every hour they are in your life.
My special meal to honor them on this Father’s Day, is a nice medley of pork, shrimp and mushrooms.
Seafood Stuffed Pork Medallions with Peppercorn Sauce
Shred zucchini, sprinkle with a little salt & set aside. In a bowl, combine the cheeses, crumbled bacon, egg & seasonings. Squeeze as much liquid from zucchini as possible. Add it to the filling & mix well. Divide the filling between mushrooms. Place a small amount of Zesty Italian dressing in a cup. Dip bottom of each mushroom in dressing & allow to dip off for a few seconds. Place stuffed mushroom caps on a small baking dish making sure they will stay upright. Place in fridge until ready to bake.
In a bowl, combine oil, garlic, oregano, basil, Parmesan, salt & pepper. Add shrimp & toss gently; thread onto skewers. Place on a plate & refrigerate until ready to cook.
Stuffing / Tenderloin
In a saucepan, saute garlic & shallots in 1 Tbsp olive oil for a few minutes. Add a few pinches of salt & pepper; stir in breadcrumbs. Add water; stir till all is combined & transfer to a bowl.
In a bowl, cream together butter & cream cheese. Add 1/2 of the capers, the parsley & stir thoroughly. Add the Gruyere & scallops, stirring gently. Set aside.
'Butterfly' tenderloin & pound making it all the same thickness. Spread stuffing evenly on flattened cut side. Starting with the long side, carefully ROLL the tenderloin as opposed to just FOLDING it over. On work surface, lay out bacon strips side by side. Lay stuffed tenderloin at one end & roll up in bacon strips, placing a toothpick at end of each strip.
Preheat the oven to 400 F. In a skillet, heat remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil, add the roast carefully & saute for about 3-4 minutes on each side to cook the bacon a bit. Place a rack in a shallow roasting pan & lay stuffed tenderloin on it; bake at 400 F. for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 F. & bake for another 20 minutes. Remove from oven, set the roast on a cutting board, cover loosely with foil, & let rest while the shrimp & stuffed mushrooms are cooking. When ready to serve, slice into 1 - 1 1/2" thick 'medallions'.
Increase oven temperature to 400 F. Remove stuffed mushrooms from refrigerator, bake for 20-30 minutes or until filling is golden & mushrooms have softened. Meanwhile, line a baking sheet with foil, place skewered shrimp in oven for the last 6-8 minutes of cooking the mushrooms.
This can be made earlier or while the last items are cooking in the oven. In a hot skillet, add butter, shallots & peppercorns; stir until shallots are golden, about 1 minute. Add broth & thyme sprigs; reduce heat & allow sauce to simmer for a few minutes. Remove thyme sprigs. Add cream & salt & pepper to taste. If you wish to thicken sauce, combine cornstarch & water in a small dish, stirring until smooth. Add a bit at a time to your hot mixture, stirring until desired thickness is achieved.
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!
Barley & Apricot Stuffed Pork Tenderloin
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.
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.
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.
Today, March 21st, our family is honoring the memory of our wonderful father’s birth date. Although it has been 14 years since his passing, he lives on in our hearts. It never ceases to amaze me how many things your parents do that are imprinted on you at childhood. As I grow older, I see and hear my Dad living on through me.
It seems, we never fully appreciate our parents until they are gone. I’m told, ‘its a kid thing’, which doesn’t really seem to make it any better. I think my Dad would have enjoyed this meal I’m preparing today. It has an earthiness about it.
Root Vegetables, the unsung heroes of winter, sometimes have a reputation for being boring but they are anything but that. The perfect combination of hearty, satisfying and comforting, when roasted, the flavors become more complex.
Stuffing for some of us is the main event. I love to stuff anything –meat, vegetables, desserts, breads etc., etc. My goal is to push the boundaries on what filling consists of, so it changes it enough to be unique, but still reminds you of the original.
This roasted root vegetable stuffing is everything you love about stuffing with the added bonus of sweet roasted vegetables. The cracked mustard sauce drizzled over the stuffed pork tenderloin brings it all together.
Roasted Root Vegetable Stuffed Tenderloin
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. In a bowl combine onion, potato & carrots with 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1/4 tsp salt & a dash of pepper. Toss to coat well & place on baking pan. Roast for about 35 minutes or until tender & golden. Remove from oven; set aside.
In a medium bowl, beat eggs. Stir in the parsley, onion powder, garlic powder & 1/4 tsp pepper. Add bread crumbs, Romano cheese & chicken broth. Gently stir in roasted vegetables.
To butterfly pork tenderloin, trim any fat & the 'silverskin' from meat. Using a sharp knife, make a lengthwise cut down the center of the pork roast, cutting almost to, but not through, the other side of the meat. Spread the tenderloin flat between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Pound meat lightly with the flat side of meat mallet to make a rectangle. Remove plastic wrap.
Spoon the stuffing over the tenderloin to within 1-inch of the sides. Roll up in a spiral, beginning with the short side. If necessary, tie meat with string ; place seam side down on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Brush with 2 Tbsp olive oil or melted butter.
Adjust oven heat to 375 F. Roast, uncovered for 45 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 160 F. Prepare Cracked Mustard Sauce; slice tenderloin & spoon sauce over meat. Serve.
Cracked Mustard Sauce
In a small saucepan, cook garlic in butter until tender, but not brown. Stir in flour, mustard & dried thyme. Season with salt & pepper; add vegetable broth & light cream. Cook & stir until thickened & bubbly. Cook & stir for 1 minute more.
Unlike some meats that are best served only as the main entree or at certain times of the year, pork tenderloin is perfect at anytime or occasion. You can grill, roast or bake it, making pork one of the most widely eaten meats across the globe.
Sometimes there is a bit of confusion in regards to pork loin and pork tenderloin. The truth is, they are cut from two different regions of the pig. Pork loins are thicker and are also referred to as ‘white’ meat. True to that name, they do turn white when cooked. Pork tenderloin is usually smaller in size, about 2″ thick. This is the softest part of the whole pig coming from the side under the back bone.
Pork is never served by itself, always being accompanied by various side dishes. I never fail to enjoy cooking pork tenderloin. It’s one of those reliable meats that is always tender, pairs with unlimited ingredients and can be ‘dressed’ up or down.
This particular meal uses a cornbread stuffing with red peppers and pears. Sort of unusual but has good flavor and is easy to prepare.
Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Red Peppers & Pears
Prepare stuffing mix according to pkg directions.
Make a lengthwise cut 3/4 of the way through the tenderloin; open & flatten to 1/4-inch thickness. Sprinkle with salt & pepper, minced garlic & 1/2 of the sliced green onion.
Spread cornbread stuffing over meat. Roll up from long side; tuck in ends. Secure with toothpicks. Slice red pepper & pears. Place in a plastic bag with a small amount of fig balsamic dressing & CAREFULLY turn slices to coat well.
Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a 13 X 9-inch baking pan with lightly greased foil wrap. Place stuffed tenderloin on it & drizzle with fig balsamic dressing. Surround with pear wedges & top with red pepper slices. Roast for 25 minutes or until meat reaches 160 F. on meat thermometer.
Persimmons are definitely an underrated fall and winter fruit deserving of the same hype as pumpkins and squash. Mildly sweet and juicy with a slight crunch reminiscent of a cross between a peach and a pear. Persimmons work well in both sweet and savory applications.
The two most commonly available varieties are Fuyu and Hachiyas. Fuyus are squat and round where as Hachiyas are acorn shaped and have a pointed bottom. When buying persimmons, look for unblemished skin with the green leaves and top still attached. The texture should be like a tomato —firm but with a bit of give without being too soft. Persimmons are usually sold unripe, so leave them on the counter for a day or two until the skin deepens to a rich sunset orange. Aside from eating them fresh, persimmons can also be cooked. They make good jams, puree, tarts and cakes as well as used in baking, being poached or caramelized.
If your following my blog, you are well aware of my love for stuffing pork tenderloin. It’s a meal that never disappoints. Today I am using persimmon and Gorgonzola cheese for stuffing and topping it off with caramelized onions and persimmon wedges. The taste is just wonderful!
Persimmon Pork Tenderloin
Preheat oven to 350 F. & adjust rack to center. In a small bowl, combine rosemary, 1 tsp of thyme, garlic & 1 Tbsp olive oil. Set aside. Slice about 1/2-inch off stem end of each persimmon & about 1/4-inch off bottoms then peel them. Cut one of them into slices, as thinly as possible. Set aside. Cut the second one into approximately 1/2-inch wedges & set aside.
'Butterfly' tenderloin & gently pound meat, to make it all the same thickness. Spread both sides with oil mixture. On a large piece of plastic wrap, lay the bacon slices on it, layering them by about 1/8-inch along their edges, lengthwise. It should be about the length of the tenderloin.
Cover the butterflied tenderloin with persimmon slices, overlapping to fit. Sprinkle the crumbled Gorgonzola evenly over the slices. Staring with the end closest to you, roll up the pork, as tightly as possible. Once the pork is tightly rolled, with the seam side down, use the plastic wrap to help you wrap the bacon around the outside of it.
Place a rack in a shallow roasting pan & lay a piece of foil on top creating sides for it. Lightly oil center of foil; place tenderloin on it & roast for about 45 minutes or until meat thermometer reaches 160 F. & a hint of pink remains.
While meat is roasting, caramelize sliced onion. In a saucepan, heat oil & add onion. Sprinkle with salt; cook & stir about 10 minutes or until moisture is evaporated & onion is soft. Reduce heat; sprinkle with cider vinegar. Cook & stir until golden. Stir in brown sugar; cook & stir until caramel brown in color. Add persimmon wedges. Gently stir until heated through.
Remove meat from oven. Allow to rest for a few minutes before slicing. Slice tenderloin about 1-inch thickness; place on serving dish & top with caramelized onions & persimmons.
Although prunes sometimes get a bad rap, the salty nature of pork and the sweetness of apples and prunes combined is excellent.
The Italian Prune Plum also known as European Plums are free stone and most readily grown for prune production. Their ability to create a high concentration of fermentable sugars not only makes them the ideal candidate for drying but also for making preserves, wine and brandy.
Native to the Mediterranean coastal regions of Italy, Italian prune plums thrive in arid climates. Even though plums adapt to a wide variety of growing regions, they require minimal humidity and rainfall to prevent disease and encourage fruit development during their growing season.
Oddly enough, all prunes are plums but not all plums are prunes. Prune plum varieties have a very high sugar content which enables them to be dried without fermenting while still containing their pits.
This is a nice meal to serve over quinoa along with roasted acorn squash and brussel sprouts.
Roast Pork with Apples & Prunes
Preheat oven to 350 F. In a saucepan, brown onions & tenderloin in hot oil for about 3 minutes. Transfer to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. Combine BBQ sauce, apple juice & thyme; pour over meat & onions. Simmer gently for 10 minutes.
Bake for about 30 minutes. Add apples & prunes & bake for an additional 10-15 minutes. or until pork & apples are tender.