Friday, December 31, 2010

Getting Back to Normal

It’s been quite a month. Typically in our house, December is a month filled with fun traditions that we look forward to all year long. However, this December turned out to be a stressful, anxious month, filled with more doctor appointments than I care to think about. Andy’s mystery eye swelling turned out to be a something called an Optical Pseudo Tumor. As the name suggests, it’s not actually a tumor, but a condition that causes severe swelling around and behind the eyes, which in turn causes double vision and a lot of discomfort. Since this is not a common thing, it took a while to diagnose, getting worse by the day. There were some very bad days. After more tests than I thought possible, and so many different doctors, Andy was finally put on steroids to reduce the swelling. Thankfully, they are working, albeit slowly, and he is still experiencing slight double vision and general tiredness of his eyes. Each day seems to be just a little bit better, and the doctors seem happy with the way things are going.

As you can imagine, cooking has been the last thing on my mind. After almost daily doctor appointments that lasted for hours, all I had the energy for was takeout and prepared foods. Actually, my appetite was nowhere to be found, and Andy ended up eating many meals solo. Finally, yesterday (four weeks later), I got back into the kitchen. I had fun, the dish turned out great, and it finally seemed like things are getting back to normal. Except I didn’t take pictures. Oops. So that dish will have to wait. But for now, this is a dish that I made for a Thanksgiving appetizer that I’ve wanted to write about for weeks.

Shrimp Poached in Spicy Asian Broth with Braised Bok Choy

Makes 2 full size servings or 4 appetizer servings

Bok Choy:
2 heads baby bok choy, leaves separated
vegetable oil
splash sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green onion, chopped
white wine

Heat the vegetable oil and sesame oil in a saute pan. Saute garlic and green onions in oil. Add wine to cover bottom of pan and bring to a simmer. Put bok choy into pan and cover. Let simmer, tossing occasionally, until tender. When bok choy is done, remove from pan and roughly chop into bite size pieces. Return to pan and reserve.

Vegetable oil
1 green onion, chopped
1 hot pepper, diced
2 fresh cayenne peppers, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
2 cups seafood stock (I use Penzeys Seafood Soup Base)
splash fish sauce
12 shrimp, peeled

In a little vegetable oil, sauté green onion, peppers, garlic and ginger. Add stock and fish sauce and bring to a simmer. Poach shrimp in broth until cooked through. When shrimp are cooked, add bok choy and braising liquid into broth. Stir to combine and simmer a few minutes longer.

This is a very flavorful, spicy broth that pairs well with the tender poached shrimp and braised bok choy. A bit of heat lingers in your mouth, but doesn’t knock your socks off. A small bowl of this makes a nice start to a meal.

It’s hard to believe this year is already over. 2010 went by so quickly, with the exception of December of course. It’s been a wonderful year full of amazing memories, fun trips, and fantastic food, but we’re both very happy to be moving forward from a very long month.  Thanks to all of you that wished Andy well over the last several weeks.

Here’s to a new year, good health, more amazing memories and fantastic food. And to getting back to normal…

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Should have been…

This post is terribly late and should have been named “I pity the fool…” The giveaway ended Thursday and I said I'd post the winner Friday.  I swear I didn’t just keep it for myself and run.  We do have a winner.  We also have a very unwell husband. 

Remember last weekend when I said we had to take a trip to the ER?  Well…there have been almost daily doctor’s appointments since to try to determine why Andy’s eyes are swollen.  First it was around his eyes, and now it is his actual eyeballs.  Sounds gross?  Looks even worse.  I’ll spare you the photos that I’ve sent to family.  The good news is that doctors seem confused but not horribly concerned about it and are leaning towards allergic reaction.  It will be really fantastic when it’s over.

So do me a favor and imagine that you’re reading something witty and funny about the A-Team and Mr. T saying “I pity the fool” in all his gold-chain glory.  Then imagine that I effortlessly tied it in to the persimmon fool I made with the persimmons that I thought were destined for the garbage.  We’re talking sad, deflated, and mushy.  But I was determined to use them and here’s what came out of it:

Persimmon Fool

Makes 2-4 servings

1 1/2 persimmons, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon brandy
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoons allspice
1/4 teaspoon ginger

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar

gingersnap cookies, crumbled

Stir persimmons, brown sugar, brandy and spices together in a small saucepan.  Let simmer for a few minutes.  Puree roughly (either by hand or with an emersion blender.)  Refrigerate to cool.

Whip cream and sugar together in a mixer to form peaks.  Fold cooled puree into whipped cream.  Sprinkle top of fool with cookie crumbles.

It was only recently that I heard of a fool (puréed fruit mixed with whipped cream), but I loved it before even learning what it was.  The immature 10 year-old in me loves the name and giggles every time I say it.  The adult in me loves the simplicity of fruit mixed with cream. 

This is such a quick and easy dessert and is the perfect light finish to a meal. The persimmons mixed with baking spices and brandy made me think “holiday dessert.”  Throw in the whipped cream and gingersnap crumbles and this is definitely a winner.

Speaking of winners, Lea Ann at Mangos Chili and Z is the winner of my $35 CSN giveaway.  Congrats Lea Ann!

Another winner last week was me.  Becky at Baking and Cooking, A Tale of Two Loves bestowed The Versatile Blogger award upon me.  Thanks Becky…I appreciate it!

Fingers crossed for Andy and his quick recovery.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

A tart (and my first CSN giveaway!)

First, the good stuff…a giveaway! CSN Stores is sponsoring a $35 gift certificate giveaway for one of my readers. If you haven’t checked out the CSN sites, you should. They have everything you can think of, from cookware to briefcases. With Christmas around the corner, I’m sure we could all make use of this gift card. (See the end of this post for the rules.)

Now, some moaning and groaning…it’s been a long week. We’re both still battling our marathon colds. Andy’s has morphed into bronchitis with a side trip to the emergency room for an extremely swollen face. I came home from work and went straight to bed almost every day last week. Hence, no new posts. I am amazed at all of you out there that with kids and jobs and colds who still manage to post great recipes with fantastic photos almost daily. I’ve had no energy for any of it.  

The only notable thing we’ve done is to get our Christmas tree up. The house is decorated, and so is the dog. Meet Febby:

He’s our longhaired miniature dachshund and you can’t see it, but his shirt says, “Ho! Ho! Ho!” Yes, I am one of those people that put shirts on my dog. He has worn many ridiculous outfits, including the requisite hot dog costume. You can’t have a dachshund and not put him in a hot dog costume. As you can see, he also loves pillows and actually uses them like a person. But enough about silly dogs in clothes…

Today was the first time since Thanksgiving that I’ve actually felt like cooking. My uncle brought me a couple of homegrown acorn squash on Thanksgiving and they’ve been sitting on the counter ever since. Every time I saw them, I wondered what to do with them. Since I’ve never tasted acorn squash, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

When I cut it open, (which was a bit of a wrestling match complete with three different knives), I expected it to taste the way it smelled: like pumpkin. But after roasting, I was pleased to find that it has a very nutty flavor, not at all like pumpkin and more like butternut squash. I decided on a savory tart with classic squash-loving flavors: brown butter and sage.

Acorn Squash, Brown Butter and Sage Tarts

Makes 4 mini tarts or 1 large tart

2 pie crusts (for 4 mini tarts) or 1 pie crust (for a large tart)
1 acorn squash
olive oil
3 tablespoons brown butter, divided use
2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon heavy cream
3 eggs
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

sage and thyme roasted seeds, for garnish (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place pie dough into tart pans and press firmly in. Prick sides and bottoms with a fork and bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Turn oven down to 375 degrees to roast the squash. Cut it in half and scoop out the seeds, then coat the flesh side with a little olive oil and place flesh side down on a baking sheet. Roast for about 40 minutes until tender.

Remove squash from oven and when cool enough to handle, scoop flesh out with a spoon (yield should be 2 cups). Put squash, 2 tablespoons brown butter, mascarpone, parmesan, cream, eggs, sage, salt and pepper into a food processor and pulse until well-blended and smooth.

Spread the filling into baked pie shells, enough to be level with top of crust. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20-25 minutes, until filling is set. Remove tarts from oven, and when ready to serve, brush with remaining tablespoon of brown butter and garnish with roasted seeds.

(To roast the seeds, rinse and dry them, then toss with some olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, ground sage and dried thyme. Roast at 375 for 8-10 minutes. Watch carefully…they burn quickly.)

For my first acorn squash dish, I’m very pleased with the way these little tarts turned out. Even Andy (who is not the world’s biggest squash fan), liked them a lot. The squash and the brown butter combine nicely for a very nutty flavor and a hint of sage comes through as you finish the bite.

One tiny problem: they were a little bit dry. I will say it again: I am not a baker (as you can tell from my use of pre-made pie crust.) So to those of you who understand the science of baking, what do I change or add to make the filling a little bit more moist without changing the flavor? Another egg, more cream, more butter? Help!


Here are the rules of the giveaway:

Follow my blog and leave me a comment by 10 PM (PST) on 12/9/10. That’s easy, right? Only one rule. Oh, and you must be a US or Canada resident. (Okay…two rules.)
I’ll pick a number randomly on Friday, 12/10 and contact the winner. Good luck!

Sunday, November 28, 2010


There are some traditions that you don’t mind breaking. Getting out of having to go to the office holiday party, for instance, would not break my heart. But some traditions you look forward to all year long. Our day-after-Thanksgiving tradition is one of those. Unfortunately, we missed it this year. In fact, we pretty much missed the entire holiday weekend thanks to a couple of nasty colds.

What should have happened was this: We wake up, happy as can be, and walk downtown to our favorite bagel shop. After eating toasted bagels dripping with butter, we meander around aimlessly, popping into a few stores like Borders and Apple. (Our downtown is sleepy and the standard Black Friday crowds do not flock there.) When we've had our fill of books and electronics, we do lunch and a little bar-hop to sample a few libations at various establishments. Some more meandering, maybe another hop or two, and we walk home to make our standard day-after-Thanksgiving dinner.'s what actually happened this year: We woke up, both feeling miserable, me without a voice, and coughed and sniffled our way through the morning. We got ready, hoping we could rally for our day. Finally, one of us suggested what the other was thinking: maybe going out was not the best idea. We then both promptly collapsed on the couch, which is where we've been since.

Typically, after my Thanksgiving cooking marathon, I don't feel much like being in the kitchen for a few days. This is when the convenience items make their appearance: Kraft mac 'n cheese, frozen pizza, canned soup, tater tots, etc. (Who am I kidding? Tater tots make regular appearances in this house, regardless of whether I'm tired of cooking or not.) But the one thing I will get back into the kitchen for after Thanksgiving is pasty. This year, it just happened a few days late.

Pasty (or pastie, depending on who you ask) is basically a meat and potato pie, and I am in love with it. It is a simple and homey dish and I have Andy to thank for introducing me to it.

When we first started dating, Andy announced that he would be making pasty one night. It is an old recipe passed down from his mom and very beloved to him. I was a little skeptical when he described it to me. Steak, potato, onion and a pie crust. The end. I made a few suggestions regarding additional ingredients which he did not accept. No, this was his dish, and I would be making no improvements modifications. I watched as he diced the ingredients (and when he wasn't looking I threw in a little parsley anyway). What came out of the oven was fantastically delicious, and is now a fixture in my recipe box.


1 package deep-dish frozen pie crusts (2 shells)
1 - 1 1/2 pounds steak (trimmed of fat)
1 large yellow onion
1 pound potatoes, peeled (we use Yukons)
salt and pepper
handful of chopped parsley 

Defrost pie crusts.

Preheat the oven to 450.

Chop potatoes and onion into a small dice. Cube the steak into similar size (a bit larger is fine). Mix it all together in a large bowl and stir in parsley. Season heavily with salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture into one pie crust and place the other crust on top. Crimp the edges together and make a few slits on the top crust.

Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 90 minutes. (I use a pie crust shield once the crust is brown, and when the top is brown, cover the entire pie loosely with foil.)

The first time I ate this dish, I was shocked at how much I loved it. And even more surprising was how good it was with ketchup. I'm not a put-ketchup-on-everything type girl, but now I can't eat this without it. When I'm really craving pasty, nothing else will do. Obviously, there's not a whole lot to's steak, onion and potato. But they're all cooked together in one happy package and the result is a tender, flavorful filling and a flaky crust. To us, this is the epitome of comfort food.

There are still times when I suggest modifying the recipe, but it's a half-hearted attempt. Even if Andy conceded, I don't think I would change the recipe. He was doesn't need a thing. (But that parsley did give it a little needed color.)

So even though we're sick and several days late, this is one tradition I won't give up easily. Better late than never...


Due to my weeks of insane Thanksgiving testing/prepping craziness, I've continuously forgotten to thank some fellow bloggers. So...some long overdue thanks for some recent awards from Elisabeth @ Food and Thrift Finds, Annie @ Annie's Dish, Danielle @ Runs with Spatulas, and Sandra @ Sandra's Easy Cooking. I appreciate them all! 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Only 6 days left???

This has been one of those weeks where blogging seems like a whole lot of work. I’ve been cooking like crazy in preparation for Thanksgiving, and that hasn’t left a whole lot of time for much else. No time for photographing the food, or writing what I hope to be entertaining stories about each dish. I’ve been a bit of a spaz this year. Usually, by this time, the Thanksgiving menu is set and I’m confident in my choices. But this year, I keep changing my mind…I keep thinking of new and improved ideas, and after trying them out, if deemed tasty enough, I’m left with the dilemma of what to cross off or keep on the list.

Here are a few of my attempts that will definitely NOT be making the Thanksgiving menu:
-Shrimp puffs that resulted in oddly spongy puffs…too much egg, not enough egg?? I don’t know, but I do know I won’t be making them again.
-Baked clams that I managed to dehydrate into a state of clam jerky. Probably not going to be the next hottest food trend.
-Mini crab tarts that were so completely overwhelmed by the pastry shell that the crab was unrecognizable.

So this has been going on for the last couple weeks and I have to admit: I’m exhausted. I will breathe a sigh of relief when Thanksgiving dessert is served and I can relax with a (humongous) glass of wine.

Speaking of alcoholic beverages, that’s about all I really had the energy for tonight. This was our Friday, and when we got home, I just wanted to sit. But I can always rally for a cocktail. (Saying that makes me think of Sandra Lee, who always has “cocktail time.” I’m not her biggest fan, but I have to appreciate her allegiance to the cocktail hour.)

Into the kitchen I went for martini testing once again. (My last martini test kitchen resulted in the yummy Chocolate-Pumpkin Spice Martini.) Here’s what I came up with tonight…this is definitely a job I don’t hate.

Butterscotch Dream Martini

1 part butterscotch liqueur
1 part Frangelico
1 part heavy cream
grated butterscotch chip, for garnish

Combine first three ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into glass. Grate butterscotch chip over top.

This martini is like a milkshake, if milkshakes had a high alcohol content and made you really happy. Definitely more of an after-dinner/dessert drink, but not overly sweet. The combination of butterscotch and hazelnut is divine.

Six days until Thanksgiving?! I swear that next year I won’t be making menu changes at the eleventh hour. But I say that every year…

If I don’t surface before then, Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 15, 2010

A very merry unbirthday…

I recently celebrated my half birthday. Yes, I realize that makes me sound like a 6 year-old, but I love birthdays and I love any reason to celebrate. For this reason, I also celebrate a birthday week and try my hardest to convince Andy that our 1 year, 274th day wedding anniversary really should be commemorated. Andy had never heard of this half-birthday business until he met me, and I don’t know if he would admit it, but I think he kind of likes it. This year, he outdid himself with my half-birthday celebration…

Living only 20 minutes from San Francisco, you would think that we would visit often, exploring new shops and restaurants, and eating our way through the city. But to us, it is a whole lot of work. You have to deal with traffic, and parking, and crowds, and then more traffic. So we hardly ever go. But this day, Andy had planned a half-birthday excursion. First we would go to the Ferry Building Marketplace where I’ve been wanting to go for ages, then to lunch at Pier 23 where I heard they have an amazing roasted crab, and to cap off the day, a trip to CB2 to shop for more tiny dishes that I don’t need but love with all my heart. Talk about a dream day!

Let me just say right off the bat that I am now so enamored with the Ferry Building that I could move in. If they allowed lodgers I would sign up, particularly at Boccalone Salumeria, whose sign proudly proclaims that they sell “tasty salted pig parts.” I wanted to buy two of everything in that shop. 

We also went to Cowgirl Creamery, 

Acme Bread Company, a wine bar, a mushroom shop, a seafood shop, an olive oil shop, and much more.

Anything you could think of, they had it. We could have skipped lunch and eaten our way through the marketplace. But no, I heard a crab calling my name…

Pier 23 (which is down the Embarcadero a ways) is a fun place; very funky and casual with outside seating and great food. I don’t know if I’ve ever eaten something with as much vigor as I ate my oven-roasted whole crab served with the most amazing butter-garlic dipping sauce. There was literally crab flying. Andy picked some out of my hair later that day. I was in the zone, and didn’t say a word until lunch was finished. Needless to say, it was ridiculously good.

After a quick shopping spree at CB2, we headed home very happy. And later, we got to enjoy this:

Cheese from Cowgirl Creamery, spreadable spicy salami from Boccolone, and a fresh baguette from Acme. Best half-birthday. Ever.

Since we had a good amount of cheese left over, there was no way that I was going to have that much Cowgirl Creamery sitting in the fridge without making macaroni and cheese. It was just an opportunity I could not let pass by. I’ve wanted to make my own mac ‘n cheese for awhile now, and I finally had the cheese I wanted to use.

Half-Birthday Cowgirl Creamery Mac ‘n Cheese

8 ounces elbow macaroni, cooked in salted water and drained

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk, heated in a saucepan
1/2 teaspoon pepper

4 ounces crumbled Mt Tam cheese (Cowgirl Creamery)
3 ounces crumbled Red Hawk cheese (Cowgirl Creamery)
1 1/2 ounces grated gruyere cheese
1 1/2 ounces grated white cheddar cheese

1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

For the topping, mix bread crumbs and parmesan cheese together. Reserve.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. When melted, stir in flour and whisk for several minutes until flour is browning and cooked. Whisk in hot milk, and continue stirring over heat until mixture thickens. This will take a few minutes. Once thickened, remove from heat and stir in cheeses and pepper. Stir until smooth.

Combine cheese mixture and cooked macaroni. Spread into a baking dish. Sprinkle reserved topping over the entire dish.

Bake at 375 degrees for about 30 minutes, until topping is golden brown.

(Disclaimer: If you don’t like strong cheese, this may not be the mac ‘n cheese for you. The Mt Tam and Red Hawk definitely have a distinct flavor, which is why I love them so much, but a non-cheese lover may not feel the same way.)

To me, this is the ultimate mac ‘n cheese. It’s creamy and tangy and rich and decadent. I ate WAY too much of it and only slightly regretted it. The top and sides get crunchy, which is the best part to some of us (okay…both of us). For my first homemade mac ‘n cheese, I really couldn’t have asked for better. When you start with such yummy ingredients, it’s hard to go wrong.

Now I can’t wait for my real birthday…Italy, here we come!

Friday, November 12, 2010

I Heart Persimmons

Up until a couple days ago, I had never eaten a persimmon. Persimmon cookies, yes.  A real live raw persimmon, no.  I used to live next door to an enormous persimmon tree that produced so much fruit the neighbors gave boxes and boxes away every year.  For some reason, I always declined their offers.  I had it in my head that I wouldn't like them.  I wish I could get one of those boxes now.

At the farmer's market last week, I bought one lone persimmon on a whim.  I'm trying to use ingredients that I'm unfamiliar with and persimmons fit the bill.  The persimmon guy picked one out for me, gave me a little spiel about how to know when they were ripe, and then into my fruit bowl it went.  And it sat there for over a week.  I kept looking at it guiltily, wondering what it tasted like, and how I was going to use it. It was getting riper by the day and eventually was relegated to the fridge.  The good news is that according to everything I read about persimmons, ripe is the only way to go.  And by the time I made this salad, it was very ripe. 

I wanted to make a dish that really showcased the persimmon, and didn’t hide its flavor.  After slicing it up and tasting it, a simple salad became the obvious choice.  Not knowing where to start with complementary flavors to a persimmon, I consulted The Flavor Bible, one of my favorite resources.  (It’s an amazing book with an index of ingredients that lists complementary flavors for each.)  Based on what I saw in the book, I decided that candied nuts and a creamy cheese were in order. 

Not only is this Fall salad really yummy, it’s also beautiful.

Persimmon Salad with Candied Walnuts and Creamy Sherry Vinaigrette

1 persimmon, sliced
romaine lettuce, chopped
goat cheese, crumbled
candied walnuts (recipe follows)
sherry vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Toss lettuce mixture with vinaigrette.  Top with persimmons, goat cheese and walnuts.

Candied Walnuts:
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 tablespoon sugar

Mix all spices together.  Toss walnuts in a little vegetable oil, then toss with spices.  Roast in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes.  Watch carefully.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper

Whisk all ingredients together.  Set aside until ready to use.  (If you refrigerate this, it will firm up because of the cream.  Take it out ahead of time to allow it to loosen up if making ahead.)

There’s a lot going on here: sweet persimmons, tangy vinaigrette, spicy walnuts, peppery arugula, and creamy goat cheese. (I also added diced chicken breast to this to make it more of a meal, but I wouldn’t even bother next time.)  When I got a bite of everything at once, it was a party in my mouth.  This combination produces an amazing flavor.  The persimmon was definitely the star of the show, and we both wished we’d had more slices. 

As I was eating and getting full, I started offloading some of my salad into Andy’s bowl.  He noted that I was not giving up any of the persimmon.  Next trip to the farmer’s market, at least two persimmons are on the list…one for each of us.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Beware of the Stinky Pork

Let me just preface this story by saying that neither Andy nor I have particularly sensitive stomachs or issues with offensive smells. We have two cats and a dog and are no strangers to disgusting odors.

That being said…you know how when you eat something that doesn’t quite settle well with you, it might take you awhile to eat that certain food again? Well, this experience was so bad that it’s taken me two weeks to even write about it, and I’m sorry to say that I think it will be a very long time before we make pork ribs or tenderloin again.

It all started out so innocently. We were getting ready to prepare the quintessential Football Sunday dinner: a rack of baby back pork ribs that would be barbecued to perfection later that day. Out came the vacuum-packed rack and all the necessary tools, along with our favorite spice rub. Even at 11 in the morning, our mouths were already watering; we could almost taste those juicy ribs.

Then Andy cut open the package and almost threw up.

The stench that overtook the kitchen was unlike anything I have ever smelled. Thinking that maybe it was just that nasty pork juice that accumulates in the bag, we rinsed off the ribs hoping to remedy the situation. Andy bravely took another huge whiff and almost threw up again. I also took a big sniff, apparently not wanting to miss out on the action, and confirmed what we already knew. The pork was rotten, and probably had been for days. The windows flew open and the pork was relegated to the outdoor trash (where it continued to reek until garbage day).

At this point we were not yet completely ruined. We still had a hankering for pork, so we decided to have pork tenderloin instead. Dinnertime came and we opened the package of pork tenderloin. It smelled faintly like the ribs, but not knock your socks off bad. I rinsed it off and still caught a bit of an odd smell. Against my better judgment, I proceeded with dinner. This ended up being a great dish, but I should have trusted my instincts when it came to the smell. We paid for that later…

But don’t let our bad experience stop you from giving this one a chance.

Spice-rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Red Wine and Cherry Sauce

1/2 cup dried cherries (I used Costco’s Kirkland Tart Montmorency Cherries)
1/4 cup diced shallots
1 1/4 cup red wine (plus extra to rehydrate cherries)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Put cherries in a bowl and cover with red wine. Let sit to rehydrate.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, sauté shallots in a splash of olive oil until soft. Add in the rest of the ingredients, including the cherries. Turn heat to high to bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer. Check for seasonings. (Depending on the wine and tartness of cherries, more salt and/or sugar may be needed.) Reduce for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.

8 crispy gingersnap cookies, ground in a food processor (about 1/4 cup)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 pork tenderloin, trimmed

Mix first four ingredients together. Sprinkle rub all over pork and press into the meat. (If you do this ahead and let it sit, the rub will get fairly wet, which is fine. It will crisp back up when seared.)

Preheat oven to 400. When ready to cook, heat some olive oil in an ovenproof pan. When very hot, sear the pork on all sides to create a crust. Transfer pan into the oven and roast until the pork is at desired doneness. (I like my pork a little pink, and roasted it for 12 minutes.) When done, remove and let rest for a few minutes before slicing.

Slice and serve pork with sauce spooned over the top.

Each bite of the spice-crusted pork paired with the bold, tart sauce was delicious. Hints of ginger and cinnamon warmed the dish, reminiscent of holiday flavors. The pork itself was tender and moist. This is definitely a dish I will make again…although in the very distant future.

Turns out I was right about the tenderloin not smelling so good. Our stomachs will attest to that. So even though I loved this meal, I don’t think I could eat it again anytime soon. I’ll need to get the memory of that bad pork smell out of my head before I revisit this one. But we love pork far too much to be permanently scarred. (And this of course excludes bacon. Nothing could stop me from eating bacon. Ever.)