Trouble With Toast

Recipe: Pork Tenderloin with Sauteed Apples and Leeks

November 11, 2010
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As much as I love “the other white meat,” pork tenderloin isn’t the most naturally robust and flavorful cut of meat.  The texture is great, but you have to pair it with something that brings out its potential.  Whenever I cook pork, I can’t help but think of apples, so this recipe (from Fresh Flavor Fast) grabbed my attention right away.  My dinner dates (dad and husband) were not so sure.  Apples and leeks?  Honey and vinegar?  They weren’t as convinced as I was that this would be a delicious fall meal.

Not only was the dinner super tasty, but it was also pretty darn easy.  Broiling the pork allows you to forget about it for a bit and tend to the sauteing.  You don’t have to peel the apples, which eliminates a lot of time and effort.  The whole shebang took less than 30 minutes to put together, which is definitely appreciated after a long day.  Everyone really enjoyed the flavors – even those who were skeptical at the start.

  • 2 pork tenderloins (1 1/2 to 2 pounds total), trimmed of excess fat and silver skin
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 2 leeks, white and light-green parts only, halved lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 3 Gala apples, cored and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices and halved crosswise
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar

Heat broiler, with rack set 4 inches from heat. On a broilerproof rimmed baking sheet, rub pork with 1 tablespoon oil; generously season with salt and pepper. Broil, until pork registers 145 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a plate, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest, 10 minutes (temperature will rise about 5 degrees as it sits).

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat remaining tablespoon oil over medium. Add leeks and fennel seeds; cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are tender, about 6 minutes. Add apples, and cook, tossing, until just beginning to soften, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in honey and vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Thinly slice pork, and serve with apples and leeks.


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Recipe: Orange-Cumin Glazed Pork Tenderloin

September 29, 2010
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Here’s another recipe I tried from The Athlete’s Palate – this one courtesy of Ivy Stark, executive chef at New York’s Dos Caminos restaurant.  Apparently, Chef Stark was a competitive figure skater in her youth, and that fuels her desire to create healthy, delicious dishes.

Pork tenderloin, of course, is another great source of lean protein (and a lovely alternative when you just can’t eat any more chicken).  Everyone knows the nutritional benefits of oranges, but did you also know that cumin is a good source of iron AND an excellent digestive aid?  We’re all about education here at TWT.

The pork in this dish was really tender and flavorful, and I wished I had some rice or bread to soak up the extra sauce.  In terms of side dishes, the table was split on the onion-orange salad – I really enjoyed it and thought it was a great foil to the spicy meat, but my companions felt that it was way too strong (neither of them are huge cilantro fans, which is probably the issue).  Whatever you serve with it, this pork is easy enough to throw together on a busy weeknight, especially if you marinate it in advance.  Enjoy!

  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1-2 canned chilis in adobo
  • Peel from one orange
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 pork tenderloins (1.5 pounds)
  • 2 oranges, segmented (about 2 cups)
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped (about 1/2-3/4 cup)
  • Salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine orange juice, chipotles, orange peel, cumin seeds, and salt in a blender.  Puree until smooth.

Place the pork tenderloins in a shallow dish and pour the orange mixture over them.  Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge at least one hour or up to overnight.  Take the tenderloins out of the marinade, and reserve the remaining marinade.

Put the reserved marinade in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until reduced by half, about 10-12 minutes.  Keep warm.

Place the meat in a shallow baking dish.  Brush with a little of the reserved marinade after 15 minutes.  Bake for a total of 20-25 minutes, or until a thermometer registers 160 degrees in the center of the meat.  Remove the meat from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Toss the orange segments, red onion, and cilantro in a small bowl with a little salt.

Slice the pork and drizzle with reduced marinade.  Serve with orange-onion mixture.

Recipe: Glazed Pork Tenderloin with Pineapple Slaw

April 26, 2010
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I admit, I was skeptical of this Real Simple recipe from the start – after all, it called for a ketchup-based glaze.  Much to my surprise, however, the ketchup (combined with the honey and chili pepper) kept the pork super moist and added a unique and tasty flavor.

This is a great weeknight meal – quick (and there’s not a lot of active prep/cook time), easy, healthy, and tasty.  I personally loved the slaw, but even though I halved the amount of cilantro suggested by the recipe, my dining companions were still a bit overwhelmed by that particular flavor.  So, if you’re not a fan, maybe you can leave the cilantro out altogether and substitute a different herb (basil might work, as it has that same refreshing quality).

If you want to cut the prep time even further, buy pineapple that has already been peeled and cored.  It will be more expensive, but it definitely streamlines the process.  Enjoy!

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 small pork tenderloins (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper
  • 1 small jicama (about 3/4 pound), peeled and cut into thin sticks
  • 1/2 small pineapple—peeled, cored, and cut into thin sticks
  • 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Heat oven to 400° F. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Season the pork with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, turning occasionally, until browned, 6 to 8 minutes.

Make the glaze: In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, honey, and chili pepper. Brush the pork with half of it, transfer the skillet to oven, and roast, turning once, until the pork is cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Brush with the remaining glaze and let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the jicama, pineapple, bell pepper, cilantro, lime juice, the remaining tablespoon of oil, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Serve with the pork.

* Sorry for the lack of photos (in this and other future posts) – my camera went through a little cranky phase, and I lost a bunch of pictures.  Bummer!

Recipe: Sweet and Spicy Asian Pork Shoulder

February 5, 2010
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I am over winter.

Seriously, I feel like it’s been cold and rainy (if not icy and snowy) since Thanksgiving.  And the worst of the weather seems to hit right smack on the weekends, which is when I want to get out and play with my dog and get some fresh air.  Stupid mother nature.

Cold weather is good for one thing – SLOW COOKING.  There is very little better in this world than coming home from a long day’s work and a nasty commute only to find a warm, comforting, good-smelling creation waiting for you in the slow cooker.  And all you have to do is throw some stuff in the Crock-Pot and turn it on!  The slow cooker really is a great weeknight convenience, especially when used to create great dishes like this one.

This recipe could not be easier, and the end product was absolutely delicious.  Sweet and spicy and tender and rich, the pork shoulder was perfectly seasoned and super-duper meaty.  The bok choy added a nice fresh crunch (make sure you don’t add it too early, or it will be overcooked and soggy), and basmati rice soaked up all the juicy goodness.  If you’re looking for something warm you up this weekend, this dish will definitely do the trick.  Stay safe, everyone!

  • 1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chili-garlic sauce (found in the Asian aisle of the supermarket)
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 1/2 pounds pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 medium head bok choy, thinly sliced (about 8 cups)
  • 2 scallions, sliced

In a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker, combine the soy sauce, sugar, chili-garlic sauce, ginger, five-spice powder (if using), ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add the pork and toss to coat. Cook, covered, until the pork is tender, on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours.

Twenty-five minutes before serving, cook the rice according to the package directions.

Meanwhile, skim off and discard any fat from the pork. Gently fold the bok choy into the pork and cook, covered, until heated through, 2 to 4 minutes. Serve with the rice and sprinkle with the scallions.

Recipes: Pork Chops with Sweet Potatoes and Whiskey Sauce

February 4, 2010
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I haven’t had great luck when it comes to cooking with alcohol.

Okay, let me clarify – when I say “cooking with alcohol,” I don’t mean drinking a glass of wine while preparing dinner.  That I do just fine, thank you very much.  Rather, I haven’t mastered the art of using booze in my dishes.  Sure, I can use white wine when making my famous risotto, but anything more advanced than that has given me trouble.  My red-wine braises taste too winey, my attempt at bananas foster went horribly awry, and my recent batch of beer bread had a lousy crust.

As a general rule, I’ll just stick to drinking the hooch rather than cooking with it.  But this recipe manages to incorporate whiskey in an unintimidating way, and the dish turned out to be pretty simple and tasty.  My parents, who swore they weren’t sweet potato fans, gobbled up the tasty carby goodness.  The whiskey sauce was very tasty, though I wish I had more time to reduce it down a little better.  My only other issue was that the chops got a bit overcooked, probably because I added them back to the pan and then realized I needed to thicken the sauce a little more – so next time I’ll wait to re-add the pork until I’m satisfied with the consistency of everything else.  Overall, though, this was another nice weeknight meal courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen – and also another day when I was too hungry to remember to take a photo.  Enjoy anyway! 

  • 1.5 pounds sweet potatoes (about 5 medium), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 boneless center-cut pork chops, about 1 inch thick
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
  • ½ cup whiskey
  • 1 cup chicken stock

Bring potatoes and water to cover by 1 inch to a boil in a large saucepan.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.  Drain and return to pot.  Add ¼ cup cream and butter and mash until smooth.  Cover and keep warm.

Meanwhile, pat pork dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in large skillet over medium high heat until just smoking.  Brown chops, about 4 minutes per side.  Transfer to plate and tent with foil.

Add shallot and thyme to pan and cook until softened, about 1 minute.  Off heat, stir in whiskey, scraping up any brown bits.  Cook over medium heat until whiskey is syrupy, about 2 minutes.  Add chicken stock and remaining cream and simmer until sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.  Return chops and any accumulated juices to pan and cook until sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes.  Serve with potatoes. 

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Recipe: Pineapple Pork Fried Rice

January 13, 2010
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Lately, I crave the savory and the salty WAY more than the sweet (which is funny, since I used to be a chocoholic).  The good news about this recipe, which again comes from America’s Test Kitchen (modified slightly by yours truly), is that it caters to all sorts of cravings.  The meat and the soy sauce (among other things) definitely provide a salty kick , and then the pineapples and hoisin sauce follow up with a nice sweetness.  When you add the nuttiness of brown rice and sesame oil, this fried rice is incredibly complex and satisfying.  And it couldn’t be easier to throw together, especially if you have a nice big wok.

Leftovers were also a tasty treat, which is one of the hallmarks of a successful recipe (for me, anyway) and one I will definitely make again.  You can certainly use real eggs (two beaten, if you do so), and you could switch out the pork for chicken or shrimp or tofu or just veggies (adjusting the cooking time accordingly, of course).  This is a great weeknight meal, so enjoy!

  • 1 pound boneless center cut pork chops, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chili-garlic sauce
  • 4 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 6 scallions, white parts sliced thin, green parks cut into ½ inch pieces
  • ½ cup Egg Beaters
  • ¼ cup hoisin sauce
  • 1 8-ounce can pineapple chunks with juice
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • Two cups prepared rice

Combine pork, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, and chili-garlic sauce in bowl.  Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large wok over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Add pork mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, until well browned, about three minutes.  Transfer to bowl.

Add remaining oil to wok and cook scallion whites until softened, about one minute.  Add Egg Beaters and cook, stirring vigorously, until scrambled, about one minute.  Transfer to bowl with pork.

Add hoisin sauce, pineapple, juice, sesame oil, remaining soy sauce, and rice to wok and cook until heated through.  Stir in pork and egg mixture and toss until heated through.  Garnish with scallion greens and serve immediately. 

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Recipe: Pasta with Butternut Squash, Spinach, and Prosciutto

January 11, 2010
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Before flying home from DC last week, I hit up the local Borders for some foodie reading material.  I was heading for my usual picks (Bon Appetit and Food and Wine) when I saw an America’s Test Kitchen publication that promised nearly a hundred tasty meals (all printed on glossy detachable recipe cards) that could be prepared in 30 minutes or less.  I grabbed it and spent the entire flight clipping the cards and trying to decide which dish to prepare first.

I settled on this pasta dish, since it looked fresh and light (which was exactly what I needed after our gluttonous honeymoon) – I adapted it slightly, and it turned out beautifully.  The sweetness of the squash is tempered by the saltiness of the prosciutto, and vice versa.  There’s no real “sauce” to speak of, but the wine/stock and butter coat the pasta and give it some moisture and flavor (you can also reserve some pasta cooking liquid and add it if you feel that the dish is too dry).  Everyone really enjoyed this quick and healthy weeknight meal, and you can certainly tweak it to suit your taste.

Sorry there’s no photo – this meal was scarfed down way too quickly!  If you’re really curious, it should look something like this.

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
    6 slices deli prosciutto, cut into quarter-inch strips
    1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled & cut into half-inch chunks
    2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
    1/2 cup white wine
    1 cup chicken stock
    1 pound campanelle pasta (I couldn’t find campanelle, so I used farfalle)
    4 cups baby spinach
    kosher salt & freshly ground pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil & cook the pasta according to the package instructions, until al dente.  While the pasta is cooking, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in large skillet, over medium heat.  Add the prosciutto & cook for about 10 minutes, or until brown & crisp.  Transfer to a paper towel lined plate & set aside.

Melt the remaining butter in the same skillet & add the squash.  Cook for 10 minutes, or until softened & beginning to brown.  Add the thyme & cook for an additional minute.  Stir in the wine & simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes.  Add the chicken broth & cook until the sauce begins to thicken, about 4 minutes.

Drain the pasta & pour it back into the pot.  Add in the spinach, the butternut squash mixture & the reserved prosciutto.  Toss until the spinach wilts.  Season with salt & pepper to taste & serve.

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Recipe: Prosciutto Crostini with Lemon-Fennel Slaw

December 22, 2009
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Whew, sorry to leave y’all hangin’ there…life kind of got in the way of blogging for a hot minute, but I do want to continue sharing my cocktail party recipes and stories.  Here goes!

Since my first couple of cocktail party “courses” consisted of nuts and dips, I wanted to bring something out next that was a bit more complex, both texturally and flavor-wise.  These crostini were incredibly easy to prepare, but they had great visual appeal, and their salty-acidic crunch was a refreshing counterpart to the rich and creamy dips.

I am normally wary of fennel, finding its anise flavor a little off-putting (mostly since I don’t care for licorice).  However, this slaw was nicely balanced, largely due to the citrusy notes of the lemon and the parsley.  It really only took me a few minutes to put this platter together, and the dish did a good job of refreshing everyone’s palates.

Do-ahead note: You can toast the baguette slices in advance and then store them in an airtight container for probably a day or two.  Same goes for the slaw, but make sure you refrigerate that.  🙂

  • 24 thin slices baguette (from 1 small loaf)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small fennel bulb—quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 pound thinly sliced prosciutto
  • Heat oven to 375º F. Place the baguette slices on a baking sheet and brush with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Toast until golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the fennel, parsley, lemon juice, the remaining tablespoon of oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Divide the prosciutto evenly among the toasted baguette slices and top with the slaw.

    Recipe: Roasted Pork Loin with Orange-Herb Sauce

    November 5, 2009

    A few weekends ago, when it was chilly and raw and all I wanted to do on a Saturday night was curl up with my critters, I decided to try a dish that just screamed comfort  This recipe came from one of the chef features in a recent Food and Wine magazine, and it called out to me with its piggy goodness and warm, citrusy sauce.

    The dish was delicious, and fairly simple and straightforward to make (if a bit time-consuming).  The meat was nicely browned on the outside, but it also had that consistent moisture and tenderness that comes from roasting.  The sauce was great on the pork AND on the accompanying baked potato.  As a bonus, it filled the house with a lovely herbacious aroma.  It’s not terribly fancy, but it was exactly what I needed on a fall evening.  Enjoy!

    • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
    • One 1 1/2-pound boneless pork loin
    • Salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 1 cup fresh orange juice
    • 1/2 cup chicken stock
    • 1/2 cup dry white wine
    • 5 black peppercorns
    • 1 rosemary sprig
    • 1 oregano sprig
    • 1 parsley sprig, plus 2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves

    In a large bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the oil with the garlic. Add the pork, turn to coat and let stand for 1 hour.

    Set a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400°. In a medium ovenproof skillet, heat the remaining oil. Season the pork with salt and pepper and add to the skillet, fat side down. Cook over moderately high heat until richly browned, 4 minutes. Brown the pork on the remaining sides, then turn it fat side up. Add the orange juice, stock, wine, peppercorns and herb sprigs and bring to a boil.

    Transfer the skillet to the upper shelf of the oven and roast the pork for about 35 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center registers 145°. Transfer the pork to a carving board.

    Strain the cooking liquid into a saucepan and boil until reduced to 1/2 cup, 15 minutes. Season the sauce with salt and pepper and stir in the chopped parsley. Carve the pork and serve with the orange sauce.

    Pork loinPork with citrus herb sauce

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    Eat on $60 – Day 1

    October 12, 2009

    On Sunday, October 3, my husband and I started the Eat on $60 challenge.  For those who are unfamiliar, you can read my intro post here or you can visit running with tweezers for some further background and info.  Basically, in order to draw attention to the food and hunger issues faced by many people in our so-called “developed” country, a bunch of bloggers are attempting to eat on $30 per person for a week.  Most of the participants are actually DOING the challenge from October 11-17, but due to travel and other commitments, we decided to take part during the previous week and then post our experiences after the fact.  The week was incredibly eye-opening, so I hope you’ll stay tuned for all of the stories.  Here goes!

    All weekend, I was thinking about Sunday the 3rd and what the strategy would be for the Eat on $60 challenge.  It was a fairly low-stress start, as we were up at Big Canoe with my parents and were provided a huge, free breakfast to sustain us until the evening.  But, we did have to plan our first (and quite possibly only) trip to the grocery store, so I spent part of the morning looking at the supermarket sale fliers and cutting coupons.  We did our shopping at Kroger, since they seemed to have a number of items on special that I thought would be helpful for the week’s meals.  Among the things we purchased were whole chickens, frozen veggies, potatoes, apples, grapes, cucumbers, eggs, some mixed bone-in pork chops, bread, and some assorted store-brand dairy and condiments/seasonings.  Almost everything in our cart was on sale, or I had a coupon for it, or both.

    Because I ended up using (and accounting for monetarily) a lot of items I already had at home, my total grocery bill for that trip is a bit misleading.  However, I did note a couple of interesting things: 1) I spent WAY more time at the store than usual, because I really had to think about both the menu planning AND price implications of everything I purchased; 2) my cart seemed very empty, because I usually just throw items in there with reckless abandon and don’t worry about how they are going to be utilized; and 3) I spent less on that one trip to the supermarket than I think I ever have before, barring those quick one- or two-item trips for things I forgot.  Also, at the bottom of my receipt, I noticed that the coupons (some of which were doubled) and specials had saved me almost $20.00.

    After our shopping excursion, I set out to make dinner and calculate our totals for the day.  I had seen a recipe in my most recent Cooking Light magazine for pan-fried pork chops and homemade applesauce, which they said could feed four for under $10 (the figure they gave was $2.43 per serving).  The recipe called for bone-in center-cut pork chops, but those were $3.99 per pound!  Instead, I bought 6 mixed-bone-in chops for $5.85, working out to $0.98 per chop.  Instead of pan-frying them, I simply grilled them up with a little bit of salt and pepper (both freebies for this challenge, by the by).  We had to cut a bit more fat off of them than we would have with the center-cut chops, but other than that, there was no noticeable difference in flavor.  The homemade applesauce was REALLY good.  Like, I will make HUGE batches of this when the challenge is over, good.  The tart Granny Smith apples countered the sweetness of the sugar, and the texture was much less watery than pre-made applesauce.

    • 1  tablespoon butter ($0.12)
    • 3  apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped (on sale, $0.50 each for a total of $1.50)
    • 1/2  cup water (free)
    • 3  tablespoons sugar ($0.03)
    • 2  tablespoons fresh lemon juice ($0.17)
    • 1/8  teaspoon salt (free)

    Total for the whole batch: $1.82

    Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add apples to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1/2 cup water, sugar, juice, and 1/8 teaspoon salt to pan. Cover and cook 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender. Mash gently with the back of a spoon.

    Eat on 60 pork and applesauce

    We split the batch into three servings, so the applesauce came out to $0.61 per serving.  Jason and I each had one pork chop and one serving of applesauce, and we both drank water, so the whole dinner ended up costing $1.59 per person.  Not too shabby, and like I said, the applesauce was a delicious surprise.

    Due to the kindness of my parents and a well-planned and well-budgeted meal, we rounded out the day having only spent $3.18.  I went to bed that night feeling satisfied and confident.  At least for the moment…

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