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.



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.


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.




Chicken · Main Courses

Classic Fried Chicken

Is there anything better?  We all know this isn’t the healthiest meal, which is why we don’t eat it every day.  Or even every month.   So, when you do decide to indulge your craving for fried chicken, why waste your calories on sorta okay chicken from the local take out joint when you can create something so much better in your own kitchen?

I have been using this recipe since the lovely people at Bon Appetit magazine published it in 2012.  I have included their instructions for deep frying in a pan, but I recommend you use your deep fryer instead.  It is a much safer method to get the same result.

Start this a day in advance to let the spice rub work its magic.

Classic Fried Chicken

Classic Fried Chicken

1  3 – 4-lb. chicken, cut into 10 pieces, backbone and wing tips removed
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1/2 cup water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
Canola or peanut oil (for frying)
Place chicken pieces in non-reactive bowl.
Combine next 6 ingredients well and rub all over chicken parts.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.
Remove chicken from fridge and let sit at room temperature 1 hour.
Whisk buttermilk, egg and water in medium bowl.
Whisk flour, cornstarch, salt and pepper in another large bowl or  baking dish.
Following manufacturers instruction, fill and preheat your deep fryer to 350F.
If you do not have a deep fryer, pour oil into 12″ cast iron or other heavy deep sided skillet to a depth of 3/4″.  (Be careful not overfill.  The level of the oil will rise when the chicken is added.) Prop deep -fry thermometer in oil so that bulb is submerged.  Gently heat over medium – high heat until thermometer registers 350F.  Keep a lid and a box of baking soda handy in the event of any splashes

Working with 1 piece at a time (use 1 hand for wet ingredients and the other for dry ingredients), dip chicken in buttermilk mixture, allowing excess to drip back into bowl. Dredge in flour mixture; tap against bowl to shake off excess.

Place up to 5 pieces of chicken in the oil; whatever is a comfortable fit. Fry chicken, turning with tongs every 1–2 minutes and adjusting heat to maintain a steady temperature of 300°–325°, until skin is deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 165°, about 10 minutes for wings and 12 minutes for thighs, legs, and breasts.

Using tongs, remove chicken from skillet, allowing excess oil to drip back into skillet; transfer chicken to prepared rack.

Repeat with remaining chicken pieces; let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving


Main Courses · Pork

Pork Cutlets with Cantaloupe Salad

For me, this was a “way-out-there” dish, but I trust the source so I threw caution to the wind and served it, untried, to friends one evening.  It was a hit;  there were no leftovers.   This is basically unchanged from the original recipe I used.  Some things you just don’t need to mess with.

I did learn that you will need to scrape as much of the marinade off of the meat as you can before grilling so you get a better char on the meat, which is essential to this dish. My first attempt was more steamed meat than grilled.

You can shred the cantaloup for the salad ahead of time, but wait to toss with the rest of the ingredients until the pork comes off the grill.

Serves 4


Pork Cutlets with Cantaloupe Salad


For the Chops

8 thin cut (fast fry) pork chops

salt & pepper

1cup grated cantaloupe

2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 Tablespoons peanut or canola oil

Toss all ingredients together in re-sealable plastic bag and massage well so meat is coated with cantaloupe mixture.  Chill one hour.

Prepare grill for medium – high heat.  Remove pork from marinade, scraping off as much cantaloupe as possible.  Grill, turning once, until browned and cooked thru, about  4 – 6 minutes.   Remove from heat and transfer to serving platter.

For the Salad

4 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal

1 red jalepeno, thinly sliced (your call as to how much you want to add)

2 cups grated cantaloupe

1/4 cup cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

2 Tablespoons fish sauce

2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice.

1/4 cup roughly chopped salted peanuts

Toss first 6 ingredients together and arrange over pork chops.  Top with chopped peanuts & serve.




Main Courses · Soups and Stews

Chipotle Chicken Tortilla Soup

This is a from scratch soup.   Of course, you can speed things up by using commercially made chicken stock if you are pressed for time, but the soup is more satisfying when you make the stock yourself.

You can break this down into smaller steps by making the stock up to 3 days ahead.  Allow to cool to room temperature, then refrigerate, cover once completely cool.  Remove chicken from bones and chill separately. Reheat stock before proceeding with recipe.
Chipotle-spice purée can be made 1 day ahead and chilled.

Actually, there are several short cuts you could take to make this soup, and each of you will figure out those that work best for you.  I have given you the long version, because, after all, this site is all about “fresh cooking”, using as few pre-made ingredients as possible.  The original recipe is from Gourmet magazine, December 2008.  I have made a few changes, but not many.  The recipe is great as written.

This will make 8 – 12 servings, depending on appetites.  Cool completely and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze the leftovers so you have a time saver when your schedule gets out of control.

Chipotle Tortilla Soup


For the stock

1 whole chicken (about 1/1/2 kilos)

3 carrots, roughly chopped

3 stalks celery, roughly  chopped

1 whole head garlic, cut in half crosswise

3 1/2 litres of water

1 small bunch cilantro stems (25 – 30 stems)

1 bay leaf

5 peppercorns

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Put all ingredients in a large stock pot, and bring to boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 3 hours.  Occasionally skim off any foam that forms on top of the broth and discard.

Remove chicken from broth, set aside and allow to cool.  Strain broth through a fine mesh sieve into large bowl.  Discard solids and wash pot and return broth to pot.


Make the Soup

3 whole allspice berries

1 whole clove

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

8 black peppercorns

1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped

2 carrots, peeled, roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1 – 3 Tablespoons chipotles in adobo (depending on your preference for spicy heat)

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup brown rice, not cooked

1 lb sweet potato or camote, cut into spoon size pieces

1  19 oz can canellni beans, drained and rinsed

15 fresh corn tortillas

5 Tablespoons canola oil

Toast the allspice, clove, cumin, peppercorns in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, shaking pan to prevent burning, .  About 2 minutes.

Transfer toasted spices to blender and add onion, carrots, garlic, chipotles, salt and 1 cup of the chicken stock.   Puree until smooth and spices are ground.  About 3 minutes.   If mixture seems too thick to properly puree, add a bit more chicken stock.  (Be careful if chicken stock is still hot).

Add puree to stock in pot, along with brown rice.  Bring to low boil over medium heat.  Simmer, covered, 20 minutes.  Add sweet potatoes and continue to simmer until sweet potatoes and rice are tender – about 15 minutes more.

While soup is simmering, remove meat from chicken and cut or shred into bite-size pieces.  Discard bones.

Add chicken and beans to simmering soup.  Remove from heat once chicken is heated through, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375F, stack tortillas and cut into 1/4 inch strips.  Toss strips with oil, place on 2 baking sheets, season with salt and bake, stirring frequently until crisp and golden.  About 25 minutes.


2 ripe avocados, cubed

2 or 3 limes, cut into wedges

3 medium tomatoes, cut into small dice

sour cream

Spoon soup into bowls, top with avocados, tomatoes and tortilla strips.  Serve sour cream and lime wedges alongside.






Main Courses · Pasta · Pork

Bacon and Charred Tomato Fettuccine

There are several ways to char the tomatoes for this dish, or you can cheat and buy a 28 ounce can of fire-roasted tomatoes from the supermarket!

Stove top – place whole tomatoes in a dry frying pan or on a comal over medium heat until skins blister and darken, turning to get as much char on each tomato as possible.

Oven – cut tomatoes in half lengthwise and place on sheet pan.  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Roast in 350 oven for about 40 minutes until charred and caramelized.

BBQ – rub whole tomatoes with oil and place directly on grill grates over medium heat, turning until charred on all sides and skin is starting to slip off.

This will serve 4 people.


Bacon and Charred Tomato Fettuccine


7 Roma tomatoes

2 Tablespoons olive oil (for charring in oven or on grill)

salt and pepper

1 lb bacon

500 grams fettuccine

1/2 cup grated Parmesan plus more for serving

fresh basil – for serving

Char tomatoes, place in bowl and when cool enough to handle, roughly chop and put back into bowl.  Set aside.

Bring a large pot of well salted water to boil and cook fettuccine according to package directions.

Meanwhile, chop bacon into roughly 1/2 inch pieces and fry, in large frying pan or pot, stirring frequently, until crispy.  Using slotted spoon, remove bacon from pan and place on paper towel to drain.  Pour out (and reserve) all but 4 tablespoons of bacon fat from pan.

When pasta is about 1 minute away from being fully cooked, drain pasta, reserving 1 cup of the pasta water.

Add 1/2 cup reserved pasta water to bacon fat in pan, and bring to simmer over medium heat.  Add fettuccine, using tongs to toss pasta and coat all strands with the bacon fat.  You can add some of the bacon fat you drained off or additional pasta water at this point if pasta looks dry.  Add the tomatoes and any juices in the bowl and continue cook, tossing lightly for 1 minute.

Remove from heat, sprinkle Parmesan and toss again to combine.

Divide mixture among 4 bowls, garnish with fresh basil leaves.  Serve with additional Parmesan.