Loin

A while back, I came home to a TD&H created dish for dinner: pork tenderloin. I’d never really had pork tenderloin before, though my friend had assured me it was quite easy and delicious to make. Still, I am dubious around meat when it involves me cooking it, and was even more suspicious of this dish TD&H had whipped up, sans recipe. Boy, was I in for a surprise. This dish was so succulent, so savory and sweet at the same time, so flavorful and full of personality, I knew I had to witness its cooking again, if only to understand its depths.

Fast-forward a few weeks, TD&H and I were inspired to host a dinner party with some friends we had not seen in some time. What a perfect opportunity! Chef took to the kitchen, and worked his magic, which I outline for you here.

Pork Tenderloin ingredientsOur cast of characters:

1 whole onion, cut into big pieces
a few cloves of garlic, diced
extra virgin olive oil
about 1 C chicken stock
2 C soy sauce
1/3 C + 2 T maple syrup
1 can tomato paste
2 T rice vinegar
1/2 T each paprika and cayenne
3/4 T chili powder
2 t cinnamon
1 C jumbo raisins
1 apple, diced (we used honey crisp, my favorite!)
1 T sesame seeds
pork tenderloin

oniongarlicchicken stock

hint: store leftover stock in an ice tray for future use when you only need 1/2 – 1 cups

Step 1:

1. Soften onions in a pot drizzled with olive oil (2-4 minutes) over medium heat, add diced garlic (1 minute)

2. Add liquidey things (i.e. chicken stock, soy sauce, maple syrup, tomato paste, vinegar) and bring to a simmer

3. Add spices: paprika, cayenne, chili powder and mix into the bubbling concoction

4. Add raisins (we prefer the jumbo raisins from Trader Joe’s. I think they add a nice, unique quality and texture to the final dish as they hydrate to become plump and juicy) and apple pieces

5. Continue to simmer until the mixture thickens, so that the bubbles shrink instead of pop, as TD&H puts it

6. Once the sauce begins to thicken, start on the loin. Heat a cast iron (or other oven-safe) skillet in a 400 degree F oven for 10 minutes or so. Remove the skillet from the oven and place on stove (be careful! very hot!).

7. Place the loin in the skillet with a little bit (about 1/2 C or so) of the sauce. Sear on all sides for just a few minutes.

8. Reduce oven heat to 350 F and cook for 20 minutes, or until internal temperature is 145 F.

9. When done cooking, remove from heat. Pour rest of sauce over the meat, and let rest 3-5 minutes so all the juices flow back into the meat.

pork loin sauceOur friends arrived, bearing gifts of wines, cheeses, and desserts. As people trickled in, our humble apartment started to feel more like a home.

cheese with character gotta love this guy: the cheese with all the character, like the cool kid in a leather jacket, reclined against a wall, cigarette hanging nonchalantly out of his mouthtattoo dining bw dinner

We chatted, caught up, shared stories. We attacked the cheese with vigor, refilled our wine glasses, finished up cooking while the last few guests arrived. And then… it was time.

The unveiling of the loin.

Silence came over the room as the last and final star of the main course, The Loin, made its way to the table. As we took our first bites, I was anxious to see how this second version of what was initially an ad hoc creation would compare, how it would be received. Sometimes, silence is the greatest compliment.

unveiling of the loin the boys

And silent it was.

Well, needless to say, The Loin showcased fabulously. We followed up with a delicious dessert, courtesy of Katherine, who used a recipe from Smitten Kitchen (gotta love smitten kitchen).

pork loinpear cakeel finempty plateA great feast with great friends. To be repeated, with frequency and more delicious creations.

El fin.

Happy Pi(e) Day!

Happy belated Pi Day everyone! In honor of this lovely day, I went over to my equally lovely friend Katherine’s house to document her amazing pie process. Katherine taught me my first pie crust, and is that friend of mine who gives me advice on pies and all other things in life.

On the docket for today’s celebration was a pear and Gruyere pie. Savory and sweet? Too good.

Pear and Gruyere Pie Continue reading

Shakshuka

Part of what I love about traveling is getting to try the new food, and being inspired and taking that idea or recipe back home to add to an ever-growing arsenal of recipes to have in my own kitchen. When I traveled to Nicaragua, TD&H and I had chimichurri one night on steak, and ever since we’ve made it with frequency for any dish using meat. Our trips to Turkey have opened the door to countless food revelations, most notably the value of fresh ingredients and a few clutch spices (and lemon and yogurt!). TD&H has been inspired by trips to Costa Rica to make fried plantains on occasion. Then also there are the influences of American cooking; I soon learned after moving east that there are regional differences to barbeque, that people outside of California have not heard of tri-tip (what?!!), and that the Mexican food in California is just unbeatable compared to any other state. I’m currently reading My Life in France about Julia Child’s culinary adventures in Paris, and I think I feel part of what she must have felt; that enjoying and learning how to cook the local food is a gateway into different cultures and experiences.

This shakshuka is not one of those recipes. I’ve tried making this dish a few times. I must confess, I’ve never had shakshuka anywhere other than my own home, so I can’t attest to how authentic mine tastes. I have, however, determined my favorite way to make it, after trying recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem (an amazing cookbook, I highly recommend!), Smitten Kitchen and the New York Times. In this recipe, I’ve pumped up the spices used. Why not? I’ve also added some meat to make it more filling for a main course meal (TD&H needs meat). Typically, in Middle Eastern countries from whence this dish is derived, it is commonly served as breakfast sans meat. Or so I’ve read. Maybe one day I’ll try it in the streets of Tunisia or Israel.

Shakshuka Continue reading

H Mart

While I’ve noticed others in the blogosphere ushering in the Chinese New Year with recipes for potstickers, I had an entirely different reason for making some yesterday. That’s right: The USA vs. South Korea friendly in preparation for the World Cup. We invited some friends over for the viewing. On the menu? Some potstickers and Budweiser. Obviously, very holistic and fair representations of both sides’ culture.

The first step was to take my first trip to a Korean market. My boyfriend and I, from here on out referenced as TD&H (Tall, Dark, and Handsome, yes), were blown away by the variety and quality of fresh produce available (in winter no less!), the meats, and the entire aisle of soy sauces. There was light, dark, thick, thin, charcoal-filtered, and mushroom-infused varieties… quite a bit of decision-making required. I have lamented for years the apparent absence of persimmons where I now live (as opposed to sunny California, where I spent most of my life). Lo and behold, H Mart even had palettes of vibrant, delicious-looking persimmons. Needless to say, we will be returning.

{H Mart haul included: charcoal-filtered soy sauce, bok choy, some mysterious rice wine and red bean mochi}

We got to cooking right away. I’ve made potstickers in the past from a recipe by Molly Yeh that I highly recommend. You can find it here: http://mynameisyeh.com/mynameisyeh/2013/11/the-best-potstickers-ever. I also just love her blog. In the past, I’ve used her recipe for the wrappers as well as the filling. This time around though, pressed for time, I turned to already-made, frozen wrappers I found in the refrigerated aisle at the store.

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{yessss… finally getting the wrapping-part down}

Further inspired by all the great produce, TD&H was motivated to create a fantastic stir fry of sorts using bok choy, mushrooms, shallots, garlic, sesame seed and a sweet and succulent pork bulgogi.

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Pork bulgogi, bok choy stir fry and homemade potstickers

Friends arrived, and we sat down to some delicious food. With the Olympics and the World Cup on the horizon, I am looking forward to more gatherings like this. Maybe by then I’ll have refined my soy sauce palette enough to know what type I’m using.

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Chorizo Chistoso

Chorizo chistoso

I want to dedicate this post to my friend, Ken.

We convinced Ken to come to Panama one night at a bar. We were watching basketball, discussing work and life, and Ken let slip that he had accumulated some absurd amount of leave at work. I’m a strong  believer that you should never have, oh I don’t know, more than 120 hours max of vacation time saved up at any given time. So, we planted the seed of far-off adventures, warm weather, exotic food… and I awoke the next morning to an email from Ken, with his itinerary attached. Date of departure? Less than a week away.

Now, let me rewind. While discussing the trip the night before, the group had got to talking about jokes, or chistes in Spanish. Our dear friend Ken, with his extensive Spanish vocabulary, also let slip that one of the only words he knew was chorizo, which he thought meant joke. Well, from that point on, chorizo was on Ken, and we introduced him as such to our acquaintances in Panama. To top it all off, Ken does actually love chorizo.

Upon returning home to the States, we decided it was only proper, after a chorizo-themed trip, to cook some up. Luckily, Roy Choi’s cookbook L.A. Son, which I received for Christmas, has a recipe that may or may not be Korean fusion chorizo. This recipe is derived from his.

2PepperCollage

Ingredients:

2 ancho chiles, 2 pasilla chiles, 2 jalapeno peppers; seeded (less if you don’t want it to be as hot, but c’mon, it’s chorizo!)
oregano, coriander, paprika, ground cloves, cumin; to taste
1/2 C rice wine vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion (optional)
whatever ground meat your heart desires (recipe calls for pork, but ground turkey or beef are delicious as well)
EVOO, salt, pepper
lime, avocado, hot sauce, salsa, etc. (whatever garnishes make you smile)
and, of course, tortillas!

Directions:

1. Split the peppers and take out the seeds. Roast ’em up over medium heat in a pan to soften them. I recommend turning whatever fans and air vents you may have on full blast. This part of the process is painful, and very sneezy.

Roast peppers

2. Combine the spices and garlic in a food processor. Add the cooled roasted chiles and pulse to a paste – an aromatic, deeply colored, heavenly paste.

MixItUpCollage

3. Combine your meat with the pepper-and-spice paste, as well as the vinegar. Let marinate, covered, overnight in the fridge.

SauteCollage

4. When ready to cook, heat a large saucepan over medium heat. I sauteed some onion first in some olive oil, but it’s really your choice. While the meat cooks, season it with some salt and pepper.

5. Warm up some tortillas (corn are my favorite) and slice up some fresh avocado. Squirt some lime over everything, and whala! You have yourself a meal.

Chorizo dinner

This recipe makes plenty of food to last for at least two meals for a handful of people. For a heartier breakfast, I recommend you enjoy some chorizo, scrambled eggs, and salsa in little corn tortillas. And, if you happen to enjoy some chorizo on  your own, please remember: “You have to live life to its full chorizo.” #mariobatali