Thursday, September 9, 2010

The only thing stranger than the high-frequency of food posts is the high-frequency of Nick and Natasha hang-outs.  Now, don't get me wrong, we are best friends, but typically we don't see each other 6 times a week.  Just lately we've been loving each other in a real special kinda way.  I think it's getting older: we know that, soon enough, other things (babies) will take priority, so we'd better get it while it's hot.  

So, after last night's less-than-stellar quail experiment, we thought we'd have another dinner (and, obviously, a Jersey Shore viewing.)  And tonight, for the first time ever, my dinner eclipsed Natasha's.  I slaughtered that quail bigtimes.  Suck on that, Natasha.

Pork Tenderloin with Apple-Ginger Mash, Israeli Couscous and Wilted Spinach with Crispy Garlic and Nutmeg. Mmmmmm.

Israeli Couscous.  I've never made it and was a little bit nervous.  While you prepare it like rice, it's actually more like pasta. Tiny little pasta balls.  

5 tablespoons butter, divided
2/3 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup finely chopped shallots
3 cups Israeli couscous
A couple cinnamon sticks
A couple bay leaves
3 3/4 cups low-salt chicken broth
1 cup of dried currants
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup minced fresh Italian parsley

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a medium-sized pot over medium-low heat.  Add pine nuts and stir until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and set aside.

Melt the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in the same pot, increasing your heat a little.  Add the shallots and sauté until toasted, about 10 minutes.  Add the couscous, cinnamon sticks, and bay leaves and stir until couscous browns lightly, stirring often, about 8 minutes.  Add the broth and salt and bring to boil.  Allow to boil for a couple of minutes, stirring a few times. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until couscous is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Mine was a bit starchy, so I rinsed it under hot hot water and drained before stirring in the dried currants, parsley and pine nuts. Salt and pepper to taste.

Apple-Ginger Mash.  I sort of pride myself on sauces.  While I like the protein to be fairly simple and straight-forward (seasoned with salt-and-pepper and maybe an herb of some kind, but rarely marinated or doused in too much pre-cooking), I like to have a flavour-option where sauce or jus is concerned.  Here's how I did this one.

3 shallots, minced
1 large knob of fresh ginger, minced
1 large Macintosh apple, sliced ultra-thinly with a mandolin
1/2 cup of white wine
A healthy splash of apple cider
Another thwack of bourbon or whisky

After searing your pork tenderloin (with fresh rosemary tied-on with twine) spread the minced shallots, ginger and apples in the pan, all around the meat. Slide the whole mess into a 400° oven.  When the pork is cooked (140° or-so) remove from the pan and tent under foil (where the internal temperature of the meat will rise to 150°ish) and place the pan back on the burner.

Add a quarter cup of white white and deglaze the pan. Add the cider and whisky and allow to simmer away.  As the alcohol burns-off the onion, ginger and apples will continue to soften and turn to mush.  After 10 minutes you'll have a caramelized mash and a fluid liquid.  Two choices: Separate them with a sieve, using the mash as a side on the plate, and the jus in individual saucières, plating individually. Or arrange the sliced tenderloin on a platter and pour the slurry (without separating the mash from the liquid) over the top, serving to the table family-style.


A note on the wine: A favourite, Kim Crawford's Sauvignon Blanc ($19.95, LCBO) is a delight.  Sharp and fruity, bright. Pairs beautifully with everything from Ruffles Chips to this pork tenderloin.  

(And, seriously, I'll settle down on the food posts soon.)


  1. Where do you like to find most of your recipes? ... and do you ever cook anything remotely diet friendly?

  2. P.S. That comment sounds kind of antagonistic, it wasn't meant to be! You know I lurve you.

  3. Bitch, please! Diet schmiet. All of my food is perfectly acceptable. It's all real food. What's a bit of butter and booze? My philosophy: As long as you're eating real, fresh things that you made yourself, it's a total freebie.

    I don't really use recipes. I search them to find out the logistics of HOW TO cook things, but then I make up the actual flavourings/seasonings myself. I look up techniques and temperatures, etc.

  4. you seriously should have your own show!!! I don't know where you find the time, energy and ideas for these delicious meals. You are amazing! Julie

  5. I drank a bottle of KC last night. Hooray for wine twins!

  6. You should host a dinner with your fanatic readers.... We could all bring something!!!! LOL


  7. hey there, this looks fantastic (like always)! few-month-reader, first-time-noter here. you mentioned us "lurkers" in a post earlier this summer. I wanted to comment and give this blog some love long ago but just recently upgraded my browser. the comment thing apparently wouldn't work on IE 6 or on my Blackberry. ::fingers crossed::

  8. Hey Anna! Thanks for reading, and writing. Glad to have a new commenter!

  9. Sweetie that meal did slaughter my quail. Damn you quail!
    The next meal I make just has to trump the shit out of your pork tenderloin, and maybe it's gonna be the pork belly that does it.
    Luv ya;)

  10. You just reminded me that I have had Israeli couscous sitting in my cupboard for the last 3 years.

  11. You have lucky, lucky friends. Well, based on previous posts your friends are equally as talented! Deee-licious.

  12. i was chatting to my mom about blogs and then i started talking about 'hunger' blogs..and she's like, 'what are hunger blogs?'. so yeah i dont call food blogs 'food' blogs anymore.
    so basically, the point are a hunger blogger.

  13. well shit. i'm not actually sure what is making me drool more... the food or the photography. you should photograph and write a cookbook.

  14. also, is that a new photo of you on the left?? facial hair win!

  15. Jesus, can I come over for dinner some time?!

  16. I am reading your archives today.
    Your individual saucières are ridiculous. I know need those too, right after I learned how to make sauces like you.
    And your apartment is oh so lovely.

  17. Made last night. Raves all around. The apple-ginger mash was a total blast. Loved it.