Aunt Gloria’s Tourtiere


I got this recipe from my sister. She serves it at Christmas, and so I thought I would try a Canadian Christmas tradition this year. The tourtiere or meat pie came out full of flavor with a flaky crust although a bit dry. I was afraid the water that sprang with the  cooking of the meat would make the crust soggy so I poured it off. I should have left it in because the potato would have absorbed the liquid. I also added 2 teaspoons of President’s Choice Four Peppercorns to the meat mixture. Joyeux noel.

Classic Canadian Tourtière
For Tourtiere
1 large potato or 2 small potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 slices bacon, chopped (thick cut bacon in original recipe)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups sliced button mushrooms, optional
¼ cup dry white wine (I used brandy)
1 1b each ground pork and veal (I used 1 kg ground pork tenderloin)
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper (I added 2 teaspoons Four-Peppercorns)
¼ tsp cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves (can substitute allspice)
All-purpose savory pie dough (recipe after this one)
1 egg yolk

In saucepan of boiling salted water, cook potato until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and return to saucepan, mash and set aside.

Meanwhile, in large saucepan, fry bacon over medium-high heat until softened. Add onion and garlic; cook until softened, about 3 minutes.

Add mushrooms, cook until almost no liquid remains, about 5 minutes. Add wine; cook until almost no liquid remains.

Stir in pork and veal, if using; cook, breaking up with spoon, until browned, 20 to 25 minutes. There will be some liquid in the bottom. Don’t discard.

Add salt, pepper, cinnamon and cloves; cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add potato; cook, stirring, until incorporated, about 5 minutes. Let cool.

For Savoury Pie Dough
Makes enough for 1 double-crust 9-inch pie
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp salt
2/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed (when I don’t have unsalted butter, I use salted butter and cut the salt in half)
1/3 cup cold lard, cubed (I use vegetable shortening instead)
1/3 cup cold water (approximate)

In bowl, whisk flour with salt. Using pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in butter and lard until in coarse crumbs with a few larger pieces.

Add water 1-2 tablespoons at a time, tossing with fork until ragged dough forms and adding up to 1 tbsp more water if necessary.

Divide in half, shape into discs. Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 30 minutes.

On lightly floured surface, roll out 1 disc of the dough to 13-inch circle. Fit into 9-inch pie plate. Fill with meat mixture, mounding it in the center. Trim dough even with rim; brush rim with water.

Roll out remaining dough into 12-inch circle. Fit over filling, pressing edge to seal. Trim to leave ½-inch overhang; tuck under bottom pastry and flute. Cut steam vent in top.
If desired, roll out pastry scraps and cut out festive shapes. Whisk egg yolk with 1 tbsp water; brush over pastry. Press shapes onto pastry; brush with egg wash.

Bake in bottom third of 425 degree Fahrenheit/225˚C oven for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit/200˚C; bake until steaming and pastry is golden, about 30 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Serve with A1 steak sauce.


pork wellington with country gravy


This pork wellington is wrapped in a pork sausage stuffing that is wrapped in a golden, flaky puff pastry. I served it with roasted vegetables.

Pork Wellington
Prep time: 15 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes
Resting time: 10 minutes

1 pork tenderloin, about 2 pounds
1 pound ground pork
1 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped
4 tablespoons onion, chopped
2 teaspoons fennel seed
1 teaspoon chili flakes, more or less to taste, optional
salt and pepper
vegetable oil
Frozen puff pastry, thawed

Brown tenderloin in hot oil. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400˚F/200˚C.
Prepare a baking tray with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, add the ground pork, mushrooms, onion, fennel, chili flakes, if using, and salt and pepper. Mix and set aside.

Roll out puff pastry on a lightly floured board. Spread the ground pork mixture in the middle of the pastry, leaving a 2 inch border all around. Put the pork tenderloin in the center of the ground pork mixture and fold up the long sides. Seal and fold the short ends under the pastry. Turn it seam side down on the prepared baking tray. Brush vegetable oil all over the pastry.

Bake 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden and the pork tenderloin reaches an internal temperature of 140˚F on an instant read thermometer. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Country Gravy
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup flour
2 cups milk
1-2 teaspoons soy sauce, optional
salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and whisk until smooth. Gradually pour in the milk, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and is smooth. Add soy sauce, if desired, to make the gravy brown. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I had leftover mushrooms and onion, so I browned these up and added them to the gravy.

new york revisited: soba noodles with pork and sweet ginger scallion sauce


The last time I made this dish we were living in New York City. For old times’ sake and all that, I made it again, this time without sirloin steak. I used pork tenderloin for tender juicy bites to go with the sesame-soy-ginger-scallion sauce.

Soba noodles with sweet ginger scallion sauce (Modified from Simply Reem)

8-9 oz. dry soba noodles
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1 1/2 cups scallions, chopped fine
2 tablespoons ginger, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons chili oil (substitute 2 teaspoons chili paste with garlic and 1 teaspoon oil)
Coarse salt, optional
Fresh ground black pepper, optional

Mix the scallions, ginger, cilantro, sesame oil, chili oil, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and honey in a bowl. Set it aside for 10 -15 minutes to let the flavors meld. Cook the noodles.

Cook’s Note: To cook soba, rinse the dried noodles first. According to Food 52, this reduces the gumminess of the noodles and they won’t stick together in cooking. Like rice grains, I rinsed the noodles until the water was clear. Bring pot of water to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Cook in simmering water 5-8 minutes or until cooked through. If al dente, cook a few minutes longer. Rinse and drain in cool water.

Toss the noodles with the sauce and sesame seeds. Taste. Add salt and pepper if needed. If too sour, add up to a teaspoon sugar. Serve at once.

OPTIONAL: To make the pork, I thinly sliced about 1 cup of pork tenderloin and marinated it for 10-15 minutes in soy sauce and pepper. Then I stir-fried the pork in a 2 teaspoons of hot oil until cooked through. Toss with the noodles.

pork tenderloin with cherry-thyme pan sauce and cauliflower rice

DSC_0523 (1)

I got this recipe from Epicurious and adapted it here using dried cherries instead of frozen, and seasoning the meat with more than just coriander. I like coriander but the taste can be bland. The only thing I’d change next time is to add a half cup of stock to make more sauce because after the wine was reduced, there was hardly any liquid left. Lest you worry that the meat is undercooked, it continues cooking during the “resting period” and the temperature rises from 145 degrees another 20 degrees when you take the tenderloins off the heat.  You do not want to overcook this. The meat turned out tender and moist (fully cooked) with the sweet taste of cherries and the caress of thyme. I served this with cauliflower rice.

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Rest: 10 minutes

2 pork tenderloins (2 lb total)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced into rings
10 sprigs thyme
1 1/4 cups dry red wine
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/4 cup dried cherries
1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter

In a small bowl, mix the coriander, onion and garlic powders, salt and pepper. Rub into the pork tenderloins.

Heat oil in a large 12” skillet. Reduce heat to medium. Fry the tenderloins 5 minutes on each side for 20-25 minutes or until each tenderloin registers 145˚F on an instant read thermometer. Using a pair of tongs, transfer pork to a cutting board, and let stand 10 minutes. Do not discard the browned bits in the pan.

To the skillet, add onions and thyme and cook until softened and lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Add wine, vinegar, sugar. Bring to a simmer and cook, scraping up any browned bits and stirring frequently until liquid is reduced, about 4 minutes. Stir in the cherries, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and cook 1 minute more. Remove from heat. Add the butter and swirl skillet to combine. Pull out thyme sprigs, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Slice pork into 1/2 inch thick slices and transfer to a large platter. Spoon sauce over the top and serve. Or serve the sauce on the side, if desired.

Cauliflower Rice

1 head cauliflower
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 stalks scallion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper
Lime wedges, for serving

Pull off the outer leaves and core the cauliflower. Wash and let it drain or pat dry with paper towels. In a food processor, pulse half the cauliflower until it is the size of short grain rice or cous-cous.Remove to a bowl and process the remainder.

Heat the oil in a 12 inch deep skillet or wok. Reduce heat to medium and stir fry the scallion and garlic until it is soft, about 2-4 minutes. Add the cauliflower and cover. Uncover and turn the cauliflower occasionally, browning it.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with lime wedges.

bean vermicelli with pork and vegetable stir fry

DSC04878This is the kind of meal you throw together with what is on hand–or whatever you like. That’s pork tenderloin lightly seasoned with salt and pepper then stir-fried. I like to use the tenderest cut of pork here.  Then there’s onion, grape tomatoes, sweet yellow pepper, spinach, and carrots seasoned with a tablespoon of bean sauce. I do the meat and veggies separately then combine them. Meanwhile, the bean vermicelli was dropped in hot water and left to soak until it becomes opaque, about 8-10 minutes. I used two (80g each) packages of bean threads. Drain the vermicelli and eat with meat and veg. This dish is healthy, nutritious, and delicious.

quick and easy tonkatsu Japanese breaded cutlets with red-brown rice, broccoli and carrots

I’ve had so much traffic this weekend for the green onion cornbread post two years ago. I hope the people who dropped in to look will come back again!


Last night, I took a break from grades to revisit an old favorite, tonkatsu, a Japanese breaded pork (or chicken) cutlet served with rice and vegetables. I love it with a special homemade tonkatsu sauce but I had no time to make it this weekend. I took a shortcut and put some fried garlic in a 1/4 cup of barbecue sauce so that made it quick and easy! I used a little oil to coat a nonstick pan but you can use cooking spray instead.

Breaded Cutlets
1 large chicken breast, slice thinly in half then cut each patty in half
1/2 pork tenderloin, silver removed, cut into four pieces and pound flat
1 cup panko breadcrumbs (can substitute ordinary breadcrumbs)
1 egg, beaten with a tablespoon water
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 cup flour seasoned with salt and pepper
cooking spray

2 rice cooker cups brown rice
1 rice cooker cup red rice

Veggie Side
3 cup broccoli florets
1 cup broccoli stems, peeled and sliced thin on the bias
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into rounds and halved
boiling water

I only have one induction burner so I started with the rice. I washed it and set it to cook and forgot it so I could attend to the veggies. I peeled them, cut them up, and set them aside. Then I dipped each cutlet in oil, then flour-salt n’peppa, egg mixture, and finally breadcrumbs.

I fried the cutlets in the hot skillet rubbed with a bit of oil, until they were brown on both sides. Slice cutlets into strips then set aside.

I heated a large pan with water. Then I cooked the carrots and broccoli stems for 3 minutes. I added the florets and cooked them for another 2 minutes. Drain the veggies.

By then the rice was cooked. I heaped the rice into a bowl, topped the rice with meat, veggies, and barbecue sauce. Then we ate. I love the mixture of brown and red rice. It’s nutty and al dente.

Port Tenderloin with Cucumber-Mango Salad


pork tenderloin with cucumber-mango salad

Pork Tenderloin with Cucumber-Mango Salad (from Better Homes and Gardens)
Flavorful and delicate, this tender juicy pork tenderloin makes a light supper with a salad and vegetables and some jasmine brown rice.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Roasting time: 425°F 20 mins
Standing time: 5 mins
Servings: 4


2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons five-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and silver
4 green onions
1 mango, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 small English cucumber, sliced and/or chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and sliced (optional)


Preheat oven to 425˚F.

Make the rub. In a small bowl combine brown sugar, five-spice powder, and salt.  Set aside 1 teaspoon brown sugar mixture. Rub remaining brown sugar mixture into pork tenderloin. Place tenderloin in a foil-lined baking pan.

Roast the tenderloin. Roast, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 155 degrees F. Cover with foil and let stand for 5 minutes (meat temperature will rise to 160 degrees F).

Make the salad. Meanwhile, slice the green portion of green onions into thin strips; chop the white portion. In a medium bowl combine green onions, mango, cucumber, jalapeno pepper (if using), and the reserved brown sugar mixture.

Serve. Slice pork and serve with mango salad.


bolivian spiced grilled pork cutlets with split peas

Now that Andy is here in New York, I am determined to make sure he eats healthy. Living on his own in Bangkok has led to all sorts of unhealthy eating habits–like eating ham hocks. I brought my South Beach Diet cookbooks when I came back from Bangkok in January, so I looked up interesting Phase One recipes. This one, to my astonishment, included a ham hock and pork loin chops. I decided I would make it without ham hock and pork chop. Though I knew that I could use lean pork tenderloin instead of pork chops there is absolutely no substitute for the meaty smoky flavor of the ham hock.  I had read about the concept of umami sometimes called the “fifth taste” that rounds out the four basic tastes: bitter, sour, sweet, and salty. Umami is savory. I decided to add powdered dry porcini mushrooms because it has an earthy savory flavor. To get back the smokiness I added a few generous twists of Trader Joe’s South African Smoke Seasoning Blend. It was perfect.

bolivian spiced grilled pork cutlets with split peas

Bolivian Spiced Grilled Pork Cutlets with Split Peas

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes

Split Peas
2 1/2 tablespoons EVOO
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, chopped fine
1 parsnip, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon powdered dried porcini mushrooms
1 bay leaf
Trader Joe’s South African Smoke Seasoning Blend
1 1/4 cup split peas, rinsed

Pork Cutlets
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons ground cardamom
3 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
zest of 1 lemon (about 3 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

1 pork tenderloin trimmed of fat and silver and cut into eighths

Make the split peas: In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, heat the olive oil. When it is hot, add the onion, celery, and parsnip. When it starts to sizzle, add the garlic. Cook until the vegetables become softened, about 3 minutes. Add the pepper flakes and cumin. Stir and add the chicken broth, umami, peas, bay leaf, and the Smoke. Let it come to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and cook about 45 minutes or until the peas are tender. Remove the bay leaf and discard.

Make the pork cutlets: In a small bowl, combine the cumin, cardamom, coriander, pepper flakes, lemon zest, salt and pepper.  Pound each cutlet flat, about 1 inch 1/2 inch thickness. With your fingers, work a half teaspoon of the rub onto each side of one cutlet. Put the cutlet aside on a plate and repeat with the rest of the cutlets.

I grilled the cutlets in 3 batches for 4 minutes per batch in the George Foreman grill. Alternatively, you can cook the cutlets in a skillet sprayed with cooking spray until done. The cutlets are cooked when they reach an internal temperature of 165˚F. I served these cutlets with the split peas, Tennessee-style cole slaw, and tomato-avocado salsa.

Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Grape Sauce

On I found these recipes for tender succulent pork tenderloin served with a sweet-tart grape sauce, crushed red potatoes and a simple sauteed spinach. Delicious!

Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Grape Sauce

2-4 cups red or green seedless grapes (4 cups in original recipe)
one 1 1/4 pound pork tenderloin trimmed of fat and silver
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped
1/2 cup Madeira wine or white wine (I used rice cooking wine with a teaspoon of sugar)
1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons water, optional
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, optional

Roast the grapes. Position racks in the middle and the lower part of the oven. Preheat oven 425˚F. Line a rimmed baking tray with foil and spread the grapes on top in a single layer. Roast the grapes on the lower rack 25-30 minutes. Shift the grapes in the pan occasionally.  Set aside. Do not turn off the oven, as I did.

Prepare to roast the pork. Rub the salt and pepper into the tenderloin. Heat the oil in a pan with an oven proof handle  (I used my grill pan) and sear the tenderloin on the stove top for 1-2 minutes. Put the pan in the oven for 12-14 minutes, turning the tenderloin once. Remove the tenderloin and put it on a cutting board to rest, tenting it with foil.

Make the sauce. On the stove top, heat a large skillet or use the same pan. I used a skillet because the grill pan was too shallow.  I added the shallots to cook in the juices until wilted, about a minute on medium high heat. Add Madeira or wine and cook down, 2-4 minutes, until it is reduced by half. Add broth, thyme, and mustard. Add the grapes. If desired, thicken the sauce with cornstarch mixed with water. To my mind, it didn’t need it and I was perfectly content with the sauce au jus.

According to the recipe, this makes 4 servings but 2 people can easily finish off one tenderloin. One is not very large. The meat was moist and juicy and went very well with the potatoes and spinach. As per the website, one serving (not terribly exact, I know) is supposed to be 299 calories, 6 g fat, 74 mg cholesterol, and 31 g carbohydrates.

Crushed Red Potatoes

6 small red potatoes, scrubbed and quartered, with the skin on
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream (the corner grocery only had full fat!)
1/4 cup shallots, minced
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
3 tablespoons low fat milk
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Put the potatoes in a saucepan and cover with cold water to an inch above the level of the potatoes. Boil for 10-15 minutes or until fork tender. Drain and crush with a masher or the back of a large spoon.

In a small bowl combine the sour cream, shallots, cilantro, milk and olive oil. Add to the potatoes. Combine well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Going with the 4 servings plan, 6 potatoes is perfect. The potatoes were cooked but still firm enough to chew rather than mashed and creamy.This works out to 122 calories per 1 cup serving and 20 g carbohydrates.

Simple Sautéed Spinach

2 bunches of spinach (one isn’t enough for four servings!)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice (I used lime juice)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Heat the oil in a skillet on high heat. Sauté garlic until fragrant. Add the spinach and toss to coat evenly in oil and garlic. Reduce the heat to medium high and cover the pan. Cook the spinach for 3-5 minutes or until tender. Turn off the heat. Add the lemon juice, salt, and the crushed red pepper. Mix well.

The spinach (can use other greens instead) was slightly sour and spicy, and complemented the saltiness of the potatoes and the sweet-tart flavor of the roasted grape sauce. This is 68 calories per half cup serving and 4 g of carbohydrates.