Main Courses · Pork

Pamplona de Puerco

What an impressive name this one has!  Really, it is  a stuffed pork tenderloin, but its Spanish name sounds so much more … well, MORE!

Though its name may be daunting, this dish is very simple to put together.   Once stuffed and tied, the pork will need to sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours, overnight is better, so plan accordingly.

The trick, as with most meats lies in the cooking part.  That does take practice, and this is a great recipe to start with.  The fix for this if you happen to under-cook it is to slice according to instructions and place in a hot pan for a minute or two, until properly cooked thru.  Simple, and if you don’t panic, your guests will be none the wiser!  LOL

This recipe is from chef Jose Garces, via Tasting Table.  The only thing I did differently was to cut it in half because our butcher had only 2 tenderloins.  2 tenderloin will serve 3 – 4 people.

Pamplona de Puerco, Salsa Criolla, Chimichurri, Corn with Poblanos, Potatoes w/Dill                      and Sautéed Radishes



Pamplona de Puerco

2 pieces pork tenderloin

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

2 ounces provolone cheese, cut into ¼-inch wide strips

1 roasted red peppers, cut into ¼-inch wide strips

2 Tablespoons thinly sliced green olives

2 tablespoons olive oil

Make the pamplona de puerco:

Place the meat flat on a work surface. Using a sharp knife, butterfly the meat along its long side. Continue cutting inward so that the meat unrolls like a carpet, until it reaches a ¼-inch thickness. It should measure around 9-inches by 4-inches. Season the pork liberally on both sides with salt and black pepper. Note: You can also ask your butcher to butterfly the meat for you.

With the wide side in front of you, on the bottom ⅓ of the tenderloin, place a few strips of the provolone cheese, red peppers and green olives.

Gently roll the pork tenderloin into a cylinder, making sure to keep the filling in the center. Using butcher’s twine, carefully tie the pork tenderloin in even intervals. Repeat with remaining tenderloin pieces. Place the tenderloin in the fridge, uncovered, for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight.

Remove the tenderloin from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking.

Meanwhile, prepare a charcoal or gas grill for indirect grilling. Brush the tenderloin pieces with olive oil and place them on the hot side of the grill. Cook the meat, turning often, until it’s brown all over, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove it and place on the cool side of the grill, then cover and it allow the meat to cook until the internal temperature reaches 140°, about another 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the pork from the grill and allow it to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Remove the butcher’s twine and slice carefully into ½-inch medallions. Arrange the meat on a platter and serve with the salsa criolla and chimichurri.



Appetizers and Snacks · Sides

Salsa Criolla

Specifically, this recipe goes with Pamploma de Puerco which will be published on Thursday, but it works as an appetizer with tortilla chips just as well.  Looking for a new topping for taco night?  Or maybe something different to go with your chimichangas? This will work for that too.

This is from chef Jose Garces via Tasting Table.


Salsa Criolla

Salsa Criolla

2 Tablespoons finely diced white onion

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

salt, to taste

1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper

1/2 cup tomatoes, seeds removed and finely diced

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

In medium bowl, combine onion, vinegar and salt.  Let sit for about half an hour to soften the onion a bit.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.  Serve with grilled pork, chicken or beef, or just on its own with tortilla chips

Appetizers and Snacks · Sides

Chimichurri Sauce

This a lively green sauce that goes well with nearly any beef, pork or even just drizzled on bread as an appetizer.   It is also a “must have” for the Tri-tip and Pamplona de Puerco,

This recipe is a compilation of about 20 different ones we have tried.  It makes just over a cup, which should be enough for 2 -4 people.



Chimichurri Sauce

3 Tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)

2 cups parsley, finely chopped

1 cup cilantro, finely chopped

1/2 cup olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Serve.

Salads · Sides

Broccoli Salad

This will be my last post until after the holidays so I will share with you one of my favourite holiday salads.   Introduced to our holiday table many years ago by my sister in law, this became an instant tradition with every Christmas dinner.

For the of us who have people in our lives who resist eating broccoli in any way, shape or form, sprinkle the bacon on top of the salad instead of mixing it in and call it a bacon salad.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!!

This will serve 6 – 8 as a side dish.

Broccoli Salad

Broccoli Salad

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 cups chopped broccoli, from about 1 medium head

1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds

1/4 cup dried cranberries

4 strips bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled

Mix mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar and salt together in medium mixing bowl.  Add broccoli and stir to combine well.

Stir in dried cranberries, sunflower seeds and crumbled bacon.   Transfer to serving bowl and serve.

DO AHEAD – Salad can be made 6 hours in advance, without sunflower seeds and bacon. Toss those in just before serving.

Main Courses · Pasta

Sausage and Mushroom Penne

Twas the weeks before Christmas…and on top of everything else you have to do tonight, your family will want to be fed.   Skip the takeout and try this instead.  Back in November 2008, Gourmet Magazine published this as a 10 minute main.  I tried, but really, it is more of a 20 minute dish.  Even still, fridge to table in under half an hour means you can be sitting down to a healthy home made dinner in the same time it would have taken for takeout to arrive.

Serves 4

Sausage and Mushroom Penne

Sausage & Mushroom Penne

1 lb dried Penne or Fusilli pasta

2 or 3 sweet Italian sausages, removed from casings

2 Tablespoons canola oil, divided

1 lb mushrooms, sliced

1 clove garlic, put thru garlic press, or finely minced

1 cup heavy cream

1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

8 oz mozzarella, shredded

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling water according to package directions.  Reserve 1 cup pasta water when draining.

Meanwhile, in 12″ skillet, cook sausage over medium-high heat in 1 tablespoon of oil until no longer pink, stirring often to break up any large clumps.

Transfer to bowl with slotted spoon, leaving as much fat as possible in the pan, and set aside.  Add remaining tablespoon of oil to skillet, increase heat to high, and add mushrooms and garlic.  Cook stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden.  About 3 minutes.


Drain pasta, retaining 1 cup of the pasta cooking water.  Put drained pasta back into its cooking pot.

Add sausage to mushrooms in pan, and stir in the cream, 1/2 cup pasta water and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.  Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring once or twice until cream is reduced and mixture is beginning to thicken.  About 5 minutes. 

Pour mixture into the pot with pasta, and stir to combine.  Sprinkle in cheese and stir to combine well.  Cook over low heat for 1 minute until cheese has melted and is well incorporated into dish.

Transfer to serving dish and serve hot, with extra Parmesan.


Beverages · Breakfast

De-Constructed Smoothie

I am going to take an unpopular stance today.  I am well aware that everyone, from my friends and family, celebrity chefs to food magazines have embraced the smoothie craze.   Invented by sellers of blenders and diet lifestyles, the world has embraced smoothies as part of an apparently healthy and nutritious diet.

I am also aware that by now, smoothie lovers far and wide have stopped reading this post and moved on to something more supportive of their dietary choices.   To those very few of you who are still reading, thank you!!

Who doesn’t remember their first Nutri-bullet and that smug, oh-so-healthy feeling we all got from sipping that drink in our cars as we battled rush hour traffic in our morning commute?  Honestly, until Nutri-bullet came along, I had no idea that I was supposed to feel so stressed in the mornings that I needed to eat in my car.  I had been in the habit of taking 10 minutes of calm for myself at my own kitchen table to enjoy a light breakfast before the days craziness began.  But, clearly, that was incorrect, so I changed my routine  to fit society expectations.

So, like (seemingly) everyone else,  I started making smoothies, often packing an entire days worth of fruits and or veggies into a single serving.  Wow!!   I thought, thinking how health-smart I was.  After a certain length of time, I began to wonder…’I just drank a serving of yogurt, half cup of apple juice, 1 banana and 1/2 cup of mixed berries.  More  than I would have eaten at a regular breakfast, yet  I was  starving by 9:30 or 10am.   And, why haven’t I lost any weight?

I started doing some research .  Turns out, smoothies are NOT the health elixir that we have been led to believe.   In fact, they can be harmful to your health.

To quote from Colin Campbell from the Centre for Nutrition Studies   “you will consume more calories later because the liquefied energy doesn’t satisfy your appetite as well as the solid food[1]. In addition, you may be changing the rate and effect of nutrient digestion in important ways.”

Of course, the occasional smoothie in your life isn’t going to harm you, but before you embark on a smoothie based weight loss plan, Fitness offers 8 reasons NOT to do this,  including potential digestive issues and the increased risk of developing gallstones because of your liquid diet.

If you add juice to your smoothie for “extra nutrition”,  you should know that some juices on the market contain up to 72 grams of carbohydrates and 60 grams per serving. That’s comparable to about five slices of white bread—or a 20-ounce sugar-filled soda. Meanwhile, yogurt- or sherbet-heavy smoothies are little more than 600-plus-calorie messes with more carbs and sugar than you will find in not one but two candy bars.

As I continued to research this, I found that most smoothie pushers were selling something:  blenders, juicers, protein powders to give your smoothie more staying power, diet plans with tall, fit blonde models as their spokesperson and horror of horrors, even Gordon Ramsay, who was the first I heard to speak out against smoothies is now publishing recipes for them.    Sigh…whatever brings in the bucks, right?

In reality, smoothies are pre-digested food.  Once you have put all those fruits and veggies thru your blender, you have destroyed the fibre content, altered the nutrients and basically given your stomach nothing to do but forward all that sugar directly into your system.  No wonder we all feel so energized after downing one.

I could rail on for days against the smoothie, but I think you get my point:  FOOD YOU ACTUALLY HAVE TO CHEW IS HEALTHIER.   If you are trying to loose weight, chewing your food is an excellent place to start.   For your own sake, please,  ditch your blender at least some times, and layer those ingredients into an 8 oz glass instead.


De-Constructed Smoothie

1/4 cup homemade or pro-biotic yogurt (unsweetened)

3 Tablespoons coconut granola

1 Teaspoon chia seeds

1 teaspoon ground flax

1/2 banana, sliced

4 frozen strawberries, diced

1 teaspoon liquid honey (unfiltered if available)

Layer first 7 ingredients attractively into a glass.  Top with honey.  Sit down at your table and take 5 minutes to really taste your food.  I think you will enjoy it.

Serves 1

Beef · Main Courses

Korean Beef Bowls

This is pretty much straight out of ‘A Pretty Dish’, by Jessica Merchant.   It is a well written book, and we are enjoying our way through it, with some tweaks here and there, of course.

I have increased the sauce from the original recipe as it goes so well with the rice.

You will find it easier to thinly slice the steak, if you pop it in the freezer for about an hour, until it begins to freeze.  Remove from freezer and slice immediately.

Another win for dinner in under an hour, and even with no marinating time, the flavour on the beef is very good.

Serves 2


Korean Beef Bowls

Korean Beef Bowls

1 lb sirloin, thinly sliced

1 Tablespoons white flour

4 Tablespoons brown sugar

2 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

2 Tablespoons regular soy sauce

2 Tablespoons sesame oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 Tablespoon peanut oil (for frying)

2 cups cooked basmati rice

1 large carrot, thinly sliced on the diagonal or julienned for garnish

1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds for garnish

1 scallion, white and green parts, thinly sliced for garnish

Toss sliced beef with flour and set aside.

In another bowl, combine brown sugar, soy sauces, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and pepper flakes.  Stir with fork until sugar is mostly dissolved and mixture is well combined.

Heat vegetable oil in wok or wide deep skillet over high heat.  Add beef and saute for about 2 minutes, until beef is beginning to caramelize and nearly cooked through.

Reduce heat to medium and add soy mixture to pan.  Cook, stirring constantly for 1 to 2 minutes, until sauce begins to thicken.  Remove from heat.

Assemble the dish:  Divide the cooked rice between 2 bowls, top with the meat and sauce.   Garnish with carrot slices and sprinkle sesame seeds and scallions over top.