Maple Mustard Glazed Pork Tenderloin.

It’s finally getting nice and hot outside, so I wanted to make something we could do on the BBQ. We haven’t had pork in a while, and one of my

Finished Meal

Finished Meal

favourite cuts is the tenderloin–and it’s great on the grill. Only yesterday we had a thunderstorm warning, so I decided to roast it instead. The recipe below was inspire by one I found on http://www.allrecipes.com, for Maple Marinated Pork Tenderloin.

The recipe is simple, and you can follow the link for details. Basically, the marinate consists of maple syrup and dijon mustard with some garlic and salt and pepper to taste. Let the meat marinade for several hours. I let it go overnight, then turned it over in the morning to soak again until I got home from work. Be sure to use some of the marinade to baste it, and definitely be sure to leave it in the fridge.

The recipe above is for the grill, but it’s easily done in the oven as well. Pre-heat the oven to 350° F, and put the meat in a shallow pan. You can drizzle it with some more of the marinade, but it should be discarded or cooked after that; after eight hours of soaking, it’ll be filled with bacteria. Cooking it will kill the bacteria, so if you use “raw” marinade to baste the pork while it’s cooking, make sure you give it long enough to cook. I played it safe and discarded it.

The recipe also called for a glaze, but I decided to make some from scratch instead of reducing and cooking the marinade as suggested. It’s the same recipe as before: maple syrup, then a dollop of mustard, salt and pepper to taste. Only this time, I brought it to a boil and let it boil for about a minute. This reduced the sauce to make it nice and thick. If you draw a line in the pan with a spoon, the glaze should be thick enough that the line stays. Note the picture below: that line was there for several minutes, perfect for a nice thick glaze.

Cook the tenderloin for between 25 and 35 minutes, checking to see when it’s done. It’s pork, so it should be cooked all the way through; you can use a meat thermometer, but we just cut into it. When it’s done, slice it into medallions and drizzle with the glaze–not too much, it’s pretty sweet! We added some roasted veggies and edamame for a complete meal.

The vegetables were easy. I boiled the potatoes and carrots for about two minutes, then drained them. While they were still hot I added a couple tablespoons of butter, and about a tablespoon each of rosemary and fresh dill. Mix it up and put it in the oven when the tenderloin has about ten minutes left. Easy!

As for the Maple Syrup–store bought is fine, but we lie to make our own. It’s incredibly simple.

Just put sugar and water in a pan and bring to a boil–the ratio is always one part water to two parts sugar. Once it boils clear, take it off the burner and add some maple flavouring–or, actually, any kind of flavouring you like. (Use almond extract instead for some tasty syrup for your waffles!) Once it cools, you’ll have a moderately thin syrup; boil it just a tad longer and it’ll thicken easily. Also, if you do equal parts sugar and water and forego the flavouring, you’ll have Sugar Syrup, a perfect sweet addition to any cold, hot or alcoholic drink because it dissolves immediately.

Now, after all that, I should assure you: the dish above looks a whole lot more complicated than it actually was. All of the prep–aside from the initial marinade–was done while the tenderloin cooked, so the meal was on the table in about 40 minutes. Perfect supper for a rainy day!

James

 

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Livvy and James’ Fish Cakes

Ta da!This is another of our favourite quick and simple meals. Olivia and I eat a lot of fish; it’s generally either haddock or tilapia, and we eat it at least once a week. Normally, we just fry it up, add some veggies and rice or potatoes on the side–and don’t forget the Frank’s Red Hot–and it’s a meal done in less than half an hour. Fish cakes take a little bit longer, but mostly in prep–and it’s definitely worth the extra effort.

This is a recipe we made up as we went along, and it works like a charm.

You’ll need:

  • 2-3 fish fillets, chopped into small pieces.
  • 1 1/2 cups of rice, cooked.
  • 4 green onions, chopped.
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten.
  • 1-2 Tbsp flour (you’ll have to eyeball it).
  • 1/2 tsp each of salt, pepper and paprika (substitute other spices for paprika to taste).
  • 1/2-3/4 cup grated cheese.
  • 1 tsp parmesan cheese.
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced.
  • 1 tsp lemon juice.
  • Olive oil and butter for the pan.

For this meal, I used haddock; our other favourite is tilapia, though I imagine cod, sole, or other whitefish would be just as nice. For the cheese, we normally use a rich old cheddar, but this time I decided to split it half and half with havarti. I also forgot about the green onions for the fish cakes, and used our last few for the accompanying salad–so I just used white onion.

  1. First, gather all your ingredients, and mix everything in a large bowl. Don’t over-mix it, but you want to make sure that everything combines nicely.
  2. Add flour as needed until the mixture just starts to clump together. Too much will make them a bit doughy;with too little, they won’t stay together in the pan. Start with 1 Tbsp and go from there. If you can pick up a handful and form it into a ball without it crumbling apart, you’re there.
  3. Put some cooking oil into a hot pan with a touch of butter (which will give it a nice golden colour). Spoon a large tablespoon full of the mixture onto the an and form it into a patty. Don’t put too many in at once! Chances are you’ll need to do batches anyway, so don’t crown the pan–it’ll just make it harder to turn them.
  4. Fry for about 5 minutes on each side, and check for doneness (the fish pieces should be flaky and white).

And that’s it! Depending on how many batches you do, it should only take about a half hour to forty five minutes–the rice will take longer than anything. This recipe will yield about 9-10 medium sized cakes, but you can make them any size you want.

Serve with a salad and some fresh steamed veggies (broccoli, of course!) and you’ve got a quick and healthy meal. You can remove the cheese to make it even healthier.

And don’t forget the hot sauce!

James and Olivia

Pizza with a Twist

Pizza Twist

Pizza with a Twist

Last night we had a hankering for pizza. Olivia has a great recipe for pizza crust–which is really just a simple baking soda biscuit recipe to which we’ve added flax and caraway seeds. We’ll post that another day.

The only thing was, we didn’t have any pizza sauce. We once tried adding oil and herbs to tomato paste and weren’t happy with the result (here’s a food tip, don’t do that). We had some canned tomatoes, so we could have made a nice sauce; but instead we tried something different.

We used a nice grainy dijon mustard. Sounds different, right? It turned out really well, actually, adding a surprising tang to the pizza. And this opens up a whole world of pizza possibilities. All those specialty pizzas you see at various take out joints make sense now: BBQ sauce, pesto or a curry. We’ll look forward to trying them!

 

Olivia and James

 

Chicken Rolled with Aparagus

Chicken rolled with asparagus

Chicken Rolled with Asparagus

A friend of mine posted an experiment she’d tried last week, and it looked delicious.  She said it was really simple–didn’t even use a recipe, per se–so naturally, we had to give it a go!

We started with two large chicken breasts, and sliced them in half along the length–butterflied. This gives you a nice wide surface to roll the asparagus up with. Because of the way I cut them (I’ve never butterflied a chicken breast before) they were a bit uneven, but it worked out well; we ended up with two big servings, and two smaller ones, but they all cooked at the same rate.

Next, we salted and peppered both sides–a touch more pepper on the inside gave it a nice kick in the end–and added a dab of butter. Each breast held four spears of asparagus; any more, and we wouldn’t have been able to fully wrap them. Roll the breast to cover the asparagus, then add a toothpick to hold it all together.A dab of vegetable oil on the asparagus tips helped them get nice and  crisp.

Then we added some dijon mustard, rubbing it on the surface of the chicken. This was the recipe we got from Juliet, and the flavours worked great. I’d like to try this again with different rubs; a Jamaican Jerk, maybe, or honey mustard. I bet this would even work really well done on the BBQ (in a foil pan of course) with a smoky hickory sauce.

These went in the oven at 400° F for 35 minutes. Just for a nice bit of flair, we shredded up some havarti and sprinkled it on top for the last five minutes of cooking. Test it before you take them out–the flesh should be white and the juices run clear. Depending on how thick you cut the chicken, it could take longer or shorter in the oven; just keep an eye on it.

To go with the chicken we just sauteed up some fresh vegetables–including a delicious yellow “Crooknecked Squash” that was pretty much a zucchini–and made a Caesar salad. A simple and delicious simple meal that took less than an hour!

Thanks and credit to Juliet for the recipe and idea. Go find her at Lemon of Choice!

James

Garam Masala Chicken

Olivia has a recipe for a really nice Indian Spiced potato salad, and we’ve been looking for the perfect pairing. We thought to bar-b-Que tonight, but changed our mind when we found this recipe for Garam Masala Chicken at Allrecipes.com.

It’s a simple recipe, and we had all the ingredients at hand–what could be better? So we defrosted the chicken, thinking to do a half recipe (we normally freeze chicken breasts in portions for two).

Unfortunately, we only had one chicken breast. So rather than do a quarter recipe, we decide to get creative.

I won’t reproduce the original recipe here; suffice it to say that we followed it most of the way. The main change was that we cut the chicken into strips, rather than cooking it whole. This reduced the cooking time from twenty minutes closer to ten–which also meant the vegetables were more crispy, the way we prefer them.

We still did a half recipe, but added more veggies instead of the second chicken breast. I imagine that we could have substituted the chicken for more chick peas as well, but we had enough in the salad.

We browned the chicken on both sides, then added the spices and water and let it simmer covered for a couple of minutes. Then we added the sweet peppers; after letting them soften a touch we threw in the rest of the vegetables, and another half teaspoon of masala. We kept adding water to make a sort of sauce with all the spices, and ended up using enough water for a full recipe. We boiled the water to let our “sauce” thicken, just enough that it coated everything nicely. A bit of tossing around, and we were done!

The altered recipe worked well for us, though I’m sure the original is great too. Next time we’d add a bit more salt, a bit more masala, and probably put the tomatoes in just before the dish is finished-nobody likes a mushy tomato.

James

Button Stuffed Cookies

Chocolate Buttons!

One afternoon I was wandering through Shopper’s Drug Mart and saw a package of those chocolate buttons that Cadbury’s and others are making. And a lightbulb went off: what if I used them to make a sort of “reverse Oreo?”

So I made some sugar cookie dough. I got a recipe on line–there are dozens of them–and went to work.

It’s very easy.

  • Make the dough and roll into a log a few centimetres in diameter–just larger than the chocolate buttons.
  • Cool it in the freezer.
  • When it’s cool, it’s easier to cut. Slice the log into coins–not too thick!
  • make your cookie sandwiches. I found that it’s better with two chocolate buttons per cookie. Who doesn’t want more chocolate?
  • Bake according to the recipe.

The end result–very tasty!

That’s it. Prep and baking time was around a half hour, not including the time it too to cool.

Next time I’m trying Caramilk Buttons.

James