Pork Tenderloin with Onion Jam and Apple Cider Molasses

June 23, 2013
Pork Tenderloin with Onion Jam and Apple Cider Molasses

Pork Tenderloin with Onion Jam and Apple Cider Molasses

Visually stunning, aromatic, lean and healthy, this menu will become your new “go-to” menu when company is coming for dinner.  Two homemade condiments make this dish a wowee, wowee entree.  They are Apple Cider Molasses and Onion Jam.



Apple cider molasses is made by boiling down a gallon of apple cider until it is thick and syrupy.  It has a surprisingly bright sweet tart flavor,which is fantastic with pork.  Very simple to make, it lasts for months in the fridge.  Next time I make it, I think I will preserve it in small canning jars to make it last even longer.


Caramelized Onion Jam

The onion jam is also simple to make, but a bit of a pain in the eye to peel all those onions.  I like to make a big batch so I have it on hand for recipes like this.  But you can try a small batch for the first time, to see if you really like it.

I peeled eight large sweet onions and chopped them using my food processor.   I did a rough chop.  The onions are then, slow cooked in a big saute pan with a little butter, some salt and a splash of vinegar.  After about an hour and a half the onions will be reduced to a thick, jam-like consistency.  Thanks to the vinegar, the jam lasts a long time in the fridge.  You can use this jam in so many ways; with cream cheese on crackers or crostini, baked with chicken, pork or beef, on pizza or pasta, used in marinades, etc.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin With Caramelized Onions

Grilled Pork Tenderloin With Caramelized Onions

For this pork recipe, I made a marinade with olive oil, the cider molasses, soy sauce, Worcestershire  sauce, Fresno chili peppers (red jalapenos),  salt and pepper, and herbs.  After marinading, I grilled the pork tenderloins.  I reserved the marinade for a finishing sauce.  I added some onion jam to the marinade and cooked it down until it was thick.  I like to add a small pat of butter at the end for glossiness.  The end result is a savory sauce with a hint of sweet, balanced with the tartness from the cider molasses, a little bit of heat for excitement and made rich by the caramelized onions.  You can see from the picture how beautiful the sauce looks on the sliced tenderloin.  For a detailed recipe click here.

Beet and Fennel Salad with Walnuts and Orange Vinaigrette

Beet and Fennel Salad with Walnuts and Orange Vinaigrette

And just to take this menu over the top, I served this gorgeous fennel, orange and beet salad.  The flavors in this salad compliment the pork beautifully.  The salad has roasted beets, fresh sliced raw fennel, orange segments and toasted walnuts.  The dressing is made with orange juice, rice vinegar, and a splash of canola oil.  The trick to keeping this salad looking its best, is to dress the fennel separately from the beets.  Then, ever so gently, mix the two.  Otherwise the red beet juice turns the whole salad red.  It is much prettier when you can see the contrast of the white fennel, the orange segments and the red beets.  Finish it by zesting a bit of orange peel on top.  For a detailed recipe click here.

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Creamy Polenta With Sage Butter

To round out this fabulous company menu, I prepared creamy polenta with sage butter.  I prepared the polenta according to the package directions.  Then, I added fresh chopped sage leaves that had been sauteed in butter.  Of course, I added the butter as well!


Summer Menu With Ribs and Crisp Fennel, Orange and Beet Salad

June 30, 2012

If it’s summer, it has to be ribs for dinner.


Moist and Sticky Barbequed Ribs with Summery Salad

I did baby back ribs and paired them with a luscious summery salad of crisp shaved fennel, juicy orange segments, roasted yellow beets and red onion on a bed of baby arugula.  I made the dressing with fresh orange juice and orange zest, fresh lemon juice, chopped shallots, grated ginger and extra virgin olive oil.  I topped the whole thing off with a few crumbles of feta cheese.  I used fat free feta, but you can use your favorite.

I just read through the new issue of bon appetit, the July 2012 issue.  On the cover is a picture of amazing looking ribs.  So, I was inspired to try their “ultimate do-ahead ribs”.  This is a great recipe for company because you can do the bulk of the cooking several days before the ribs are finished on the grill.

Crisp Shaved Fennel with Roasted Beets and Orange Segments on a bed of Arugula with a sweet tart Ginger Dressing.

First, I rubbed the slab of baby back ribs with a mixture of salt, pepper, brown sugar and ancho chili powder.  You could use any kind of chili powder.  Then,I wrapped the full slab in heavy duty tin foil.  I placed the packet on a cookie sheet and baked them in a 350 degree oven for two hours.  I drained off the liquid the ribs generated into a glass bowl and refrigerated for later. I wrapped the ribs back up in the same foil and put them in the refrigerator.

At this point, you can leave the juices and ribs in the fridge for up to 3 days.  When you’re ready to eat, add the reserved rib juices to store bought barbeque sauce or your own homemade sauce.  Put the cold ribs onto a hot grill and slather them with the sauce/juice mixture.  Turn the ribs over every minute or so and slather on more sauce each time.  Do this for about seven minute or until the ribs are heated through, nicely glazed with some nice char marks.  Delicious!!

Up With People Kids In Town

April 20, 2011

My husband and I had the pleasure of hosting four young men from the international traveling troupe, “Up With People”, while they were performing in Fort Lauderdale.  The boys stayed with us for eight days.  Some folks might think the task of feeding four hungry young men every day for eight days overwhelming, but me?  I was in heaven!

We had two boys from Japan; Hiroaki and Yasuhiro and two boys from Mexico; Packo and Sergio.  All spoke beautiful English, so communicating was no trouble at all.  Each morning David took them into Fort Lauderdale where they did community service work or rehearsed.  Each evening, David picked them up and they arrived at our house tired and hungry.  What a boon for me!  I planned my menu trying to choose things that were universally likable, taking special consideration for the “clean” food style of Japan.

Here is what I served each day:


  • Poached Salmon with Fresh Dill and Lemon
  • Steamed Green Beans with Butter
  • Roasted Multi-Colored New Potatoes
  • Key-Lime Pie

Poached Salmon with Fresh Dill and Lemon

Mixed Roasted New Potatoes


Puerto Rican Pork Roast

Coconut Rice


  • Grilled Chicken Thighs with Crispy Skin
  • Bow Tie Pasta with Chunky Fresh Tomato Sauce
  • Insalata Caprese Salad
  • Roasted Summer Squashes
  • Ice Cream Sundaes

Insalata Caprese

Grilled Chicken with Crispy Skin


  • Salmon Burgers
  • Big-Boy Mac and Cheese
  • Tossed Green Salad
  • Warm Brownies with Chocolate Sauce

Big-Boy Mac N Cheese


  • Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Mango Salsa
  • Sweet Potato Fries
  • Ice Cream Sandwiches

Pulled Pork Sandwich


  • The boys had a concert at the Bank Atlantic Center during a Florida Panthers Hockey game, so they ate dinner on the road.


  • Sister Patti’s Grilled Ribeye Steaks
  • Baked Potatoes with the Works
  • Fennel and Feta Salad with Lemon and Dill
  • Apple Pie

Crisp Fennel With Feta, Lemon and Dill


  • The boys had their big concert and ate during all day rehearsals.  The show was fantastic!


  • The boys cooked for us!
  • Mole Chicken Breast
  • Mixed Vegetables and Rice
  • Japanese Cabbage & Bacon Pancake (Okonomiyaki)

It was an honor and a pleasure to host these fine young men in our home.  We wish them well in their travels and performances.  I heard they were in the Czeck Republic when this article was posted.

Yasuhiro, Packo, Hiroaki and Sergio Cooking

Japanse Pancake with Crispy Seaweed Flakes

Hiroakis Skillfull Flipping

Mixed Vegetables and Rice With Mexican Seasoning

Packo and Sergios Mole Chicken

Fun With Wigs and David's old "Up With People" Albums Yasuhiro, Hiroaki, Sergio and Packo

Mama Mia’s Ultimate Meatballs

February 25, 2011

Spaghetti and the Ultimate Meatball

Are you looking for some comfort food that is upscale enough for company?  These ultimate meatballs are loaded with fresh ingredients and served with a simple fresh tomato and herb sauce over whole wheat spaghetti.  Ha!  So they are good for you too!

Top the dish off with a quick grate of aged parmigiano-reggiano and a sprig of fresh basil and you have a show stopper.

Steaming Hot Spaghetti and Meatballs

You can dish up individual bowls in the kitchen to make sure each dish looks fantastic, or you can serve the whole thing family style at the table.  I used a big wooden salad bowl to give the dish that rustic Italian look.  It was just gorgeous.  And did I mention how delicious this dish is?  Wowee, one of the best things I’ve made in a long time.

I was inspired by Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Meatball show.  He had gone to Italy in search of the ultimate meatball.  He found several locally famous Italian chefs who mentored him on how to make the ultimate meatball.  Each of the chefs had their own special twists, and Tyler gave the recipe his own special twist, and I, of course, gave everything my final twist.  I should have played some Chubby Checker while I was doing all that twisting!   (I had to look that up in Wikipedia.  I am way too young to know who Chubby Checker is.)

I made the meatballs with sirloin, pork and veal.  I sauteed some diced onion and parsley first.  I used a half a loaf of french baguette and took the crust off, then pulled it into small pieces.  I soaked it in some milk for about ten minutes, then drained it.  I mixed the meat, soggy bread, onion, parsley, some fresh chopped basil, some grated Parmesan cheese and FOUR eggs along with salt and pepper.  All the Italian Mama Mia’s said to only mix long enough to pull everything together.  The more you mix, the tougher the meatball.  So, ever so gently, I mixed everything together.

Ready to pop in the oven

Once mixed, I formed a handful of the soggy mixture into good sized balls and rolled them in a dish of dried breadcrumbs.  I plopped the breaded meatballs into a large fry pan with a little olive oil and browned them on two sides.  I removed them from the fry pan and set them into a 9 by 13 glass baking dish.

In a separate saute pan, I made a very simple, fresh tomato sauce.  I used the small tomatoes that come attached to the vine.  I didn’t peel or seed them.  I just cut them up into fairly large chunks and sauteed them in olive oil with garlic, onion and fresh basil.  I didn’t saute for very long, just a few minutes.  Then I poured this mixture all over the meatballs in the 9 by 13 pan.  I topped everything off with fresh mozzarella that I had torn into small pieces.  A final grating of fresh parmigiano-reggiano and the whole thing went into the oven for only 30 minutes.

Just out of the oven

When the meatballs where done, I removed them to a platter and covered them with tin foil.  I scraped all the remaining tomato sauce and tomato bits from the baking dish into a saute pan (the same one I used to make the sauce in the first place).

Meanwhile, I had put a pot of water on for the spaghetti.  I used whole wheat pasta, but you can use whatever kind you like.  Just before the spaghetti was done, I took a couple ladlefulls of pasta water and added it to the saute pan with the rest of the tomato sauce.  I added about a cup of beef stock and a squeeze of tomato paste (or a tablespoon if using a can of paste).  I stirred that all together, then added the cooked spaghetti right from the pot of hot water to the saute pan.  No need to drain the pasta.  Just scoop it up with tongs and add it to the sauce in the saute pan.  Gently toss the pasta with the sauce to completely coat the pasta.

At this point you can arrange some of the pasta in individual dishes and top each with a meatball, some parmigiana and a fresh sprig of basil, or you can arrange a large family size platter or bowl with the spaghetti topped with all the meatballs, a bit of parmigiana and some fresh basil.  Either way, it will be a wowee dish!  I hope your guests enjoy this as much as mine did.

Here is the link for the recipe:

Mama Mia’s Ultimate Meatballs

Christmas Dinner – Pork Rib Roast

December 29, 2010

David gave me the best present ever this Christmas!  He gave me a professional photo studio light set, complete with reflecting umbrellas and 250 watt light bulbs.  Wowee, I about fell out of my seat.  Of course I set the whole thing up immediately, in the dining room.  My dinner guests were extremely good sports and waited for dinner for an hour and a half while I played with my lights.  The food shots on this page are all with the new system.  What do you think?

My Christmas Menu:

Pork Rib Roast, Frenched and Roasted with Rosemary and Garlic

Herb Roasted Potatoes

Mashed Butternut Squash with Butter and Salt and Pepper

Rustic Dressing with Apples, Pork and Calvados (apple brandy)

Steamed Green Beans

Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Cream

Pork Rib Roast With Rosemary and Garlic

Somehow in the flurry of Christmas preparations, I mixed up which pork roast recipe I had planned.  Can you believe it?  I had planned on using a recipe from Williams and Sonoma for Crowned Pork Roast with Calvados Sauce.  I made this a few Christmases ago and it was fantastic.   I was reviewing my own pork rib roast recipe and saw that I usually do it exactly the same way I do a rack of lamb, only I extend the oven time a bit.

Pork Rib Roast with Pan Sauce

So, off to the races.  I mixed up a nice marinade of olive oil, rosemary, garlic, lemon and white wine.  I massaged it into the pork roast entirely,  covered it up with plastic wrap and stuck it in the fridge.  Oops, does that sound like apples and apple brandy?  No, it sounds an awful lot like the rosemary and garlic marinade I put on my lamb.  I had temporarily time traveled back to Easter I guess.  Do I panic?  Heck no, I just decided to make the pork dressing with the apples and calvados instead.  The pork roast was still going to be delicious with the lamb treatment.  Problem solved!

Rustic Dressing with Apple, Pork and Calvados

For the dressing, I used left over french bread that I had cubed and toasted in the oven on low for about half an hour.  I used the left over pork from the frenching of the roast, the process of removing all the meat from the end of the bones.

Most good butchers will either grind this up for you or, at least, give you the scraps.  So I cut it up very fine, browned it with apples, onions,  celery and butter.  I added calvados, apple brandy and chicken stock, then simmered it for a bit before adding it to the french bread cubes.  I like to add an egg to oven baked stuffing.  So, before adding the bread cubes to the meat and vegetable mixture, I cooled it off a little.  Once cooled, I added a beaten egg.  This prevents the egg from scrambling, but still allows the egg to keep the dressing moist and a little custardy.  It came out great.  Very moist, very tender, very delicious!

Herb Roasted Potatoes

I made herb roasted potatoes because they are simple to make and you can’t mess them up.  I had planned on roasted redskin potatoes, but the ones I bought in a big bag were more scraggly looking than I had thought.  I had to peel them.

I have to say, about the only thing I hate to do in the kitchen, is to peel potatoes.  I don’t mind peeling carrots, peeling apples, chopping, dicing, slicing, I just hate to peel potatoes.  Maybe I had too much KP duty in a former life.  Anyway, peel away, I did.  I roasted them by coating with a bit of olive oil, salt and a tiny bit of chopped rosemary.  A little rosemary goes a long way.  I roasted them at 450 degrees for about 25 minutes, turning them halfway through.  Just before serving, I dressed them with a little melted butter.  Wow, very tasty and because they were peeled, they were extremely tender.  No tough pieces of skin that sometimes become leathery.  So, my advice, peel the potatoes!

Butternut Squash

I made the squash the day before.  I bought a few small butternuts.  I cut them in half, seeded them and roasted them, cut side down in a baking dish with a little water in the bottom at 350 degrees for about an hour.  I almost ruined them.  I was taking a little snooze while they were in the oven and my nose woke me up.  Yikes!  Burning squash!  Well, not to worry, my nose always tells me when things are done, even if sometimes, just in the nick of time.  David says I don’t need timers, my nose always tells me what time it is.  Once the squash cooled, I scooped it out of the skin, mashed it with a little butter and salt and pepper and I was good to go.  It reheats beautifully.

I added steamed green beans, the ones I buy from Publix, already cleaned and trimmed in a microwavable bag.  I poked a few holes in the bag, zapped them for 4 minutes and dumped them into a pretty serving dish.  I dotted with a tiny bit of butter and added salt and no pepper – Mum hates pepper.  So, I always serve the pepper on the side at the table.

As for dessert, I made baked Alaska with flaming brandy and homemade cherry sauce from fresh cherries I pitted myself.  Ha Ha!  No I didn’t!  I served Mrs. Smith’s frozen pumpkin pie and it was fabulous!  Give me a break!

Mum - She had a little curl......

Mum was the best sport of all, as always.  She spent the whole day with us and pretended she was enjoying herself while I was photographing all the food for at least an hour and a half.  When I’m in the photo mode, I have to mock up certain dishes so they don’t get cold and overdone when reheated.  The process can get pretty involved, especially with a big menu like this one.  Mum, so patiently, waited while I went through my hi-jinks.  I’m sure she was starving, but she never said a word, except, “isn’t this fun”.  She is a dear!

Pork, Polenta and Plums

October 3, 2010

Panzanella - Tuscan Bread Salad

I was inspired by a fabulous recipe for a Panzanella, which is a Tuscan salad made with fresh tomatoes, toasted bread cubes and any number of herbs and vegetables all drizzled with good olive oil and vinegar.  I had to have this salad!

I had planned on a pork tenderloin roulade (stuffed and rolled), but I decided this salad would be too busy looking, next to a fussy, twirly, stuffed pork roll.

Succulent Slow Roasted Pork

So, Boston Butt pork roast was the obvious substitution.  Yummy, so succulent, so delicious!

I slow roasted it on a bed of rough cut onion, carrots and  celery (the holy trinity of the kitchen).  I poured a bottle of Spanish Naranja Agria (Bitter Orange Marinade) over the roast.  The Cubans make the same sauce and call it Mojo.  My grocery store has at least five different versions and brands of this marinade.  It’s made of bitter or sour oranges, garlic, onions, cumin, salt and pepper.  It makes and excellent marinade or braising sauce for pork.

To go with the pork roast, I decided on polenta.  I haven’t had it in ages and it’s been calling to me.  While sorting through my recipe stacks, I came across a recipe for pumpkin sage grits, which sounded amazing to me.  I morphed that headline into pumpkin polenta with sage and chives.

Way better than grits, don’t you think?

Creamy Polenta with Sage and Chives

The polenta was creamy, cheesy comfort food heaven!  I served it in a rustic wooden bowl with a big wooden serving spoon.  It looked like a magazine shoot.  Too bad I didn’t get a very good shot of it myself, but you must trust me, it was gorgeous.

I topped it all off with a plum cobbler and vanilla ice cream.  I love this cobbler recipe.  The plum mixture has a bit of fresh ginger in it, which provides a nice surprise in your mouth.  Most cobblers use a biscuit type dough for a crust.  This recipe uses a cross between a pie crust and a biscuit.  To flour, sugar and baking soda, you add chilled butter and chilled CREAM CHEESE and the dough is moistened with BUTTER MILK.  Can you stand it?  Doesn’t that sound fabulous?  And to just take the whole thing over the top, course ground turbinado sugar is sprinkled on the crust before baking.  Check out the recipe.  Really easy, really amazing.

Warm Plum Cobbler Waiting for a Dollop of Vanilla Ice Cream

Pork Rib Roast

August 22, 2010

Roasted Yellow Beet Salad with Walnut Oil Vinaigrette

I don’t usually begin my posts with a discussion of the salad, but this salad was so surprising I must begin here.  For quite some time I have been looking for a delicious way to serve beets.  I guess I really don’t like beets, I just like the idea of liking beets.  They have such fabulous color, whether red or yellow.  I buy them, I store them, I look at them, I store them and then I look at them some more.  I really don’t like beets.

So here I was again, having purchased beets, this time the yellow ones.  They had been in my fridge for two weeks (so I could stare at them for a goodly number of times).  I found this recipe for the beet salad at Melissa’s produce site.  I tweaked it a bit to suit myself.  I used champagne vinegar instead of balsamic and I added fresh tarragon.  It was so delicious, I couldn’t believe I was eating beets.  Even Mum, who we all know hates her vegetables, ate up every last bit.  The salad has roasted yellow beets, toasted pine nuts, shallots and feta cheese.  It is dressed in a shallot and walnut oil vinaigrette with fresh tarragon.  Wowee, it was really good!  You must try this recipe. It has a lot of ingredients, but that’s what must be done to beets to make them taste good.

Pork Rib Roast with Garlic and Rosemary

With the amazing beet salad, I served an impressive pork rib roast.  I thought I would try to make it exactly the way I made the lamb rib racks for my birthday.  I did the pork the same way, but added ten more minutes to the cooking time and they came out perfectly.  They were medium rare, and as tender and juicy as could be.  The rosemary and garlic added their usual intoxicating aromas to the gorgeous meal.

Plated Pork Roast with Parsley Potatoes

With all the complexity of the salad and the show-stopping rib roast, I decided I better keep the side dish simple.  So, I served very simple, yet elegant parsley new potatoes.  I quartered and boiled the potatoes until tender.  I drained them and added butter, fresh parsley and salt.  They were delicious.

Tipsy Plums and Raspberries

Fresh plums are in season and I am drawn to their beauty.  I found a great recipe in the August 2010 issue of Food and Wine magazine for “Tipsy Plums & Raspberries. The plums are sliced thin and soaked in Japanese Plum Wine with a dash of ground ginger.  After soaking for an hour or so and just before serving, fresh raspberries are added.  The raspberries fall apart if they soak for too long.  The recipe didn’t call for any sugar, but I sugared the raspberries before adding them.  The compote is served with a sprig of mint and ginger snap cookies on the side.  Really simple, really delicious.

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