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Pork Tenderloin with Stewed Dried Fruits

Still undecided about what to make as your main course this Easter? For us, it’s typically lamb, or sometimes ham, but if you want to try something different, yet festive, easy and delicious, then give this recipe a go. Roast pork and fruit are a delicious pairing and perfect for any holiday or special occasion. It won’t keep you from your guests for long, since it can be prepared ahead of time and takes only a half hour to cook. You can roast the meat while you’re sitting down to pre-dinner drinks with friends and family. Stew the fruit the night before to save time, but even this takes only 15 minutes. I bought an assortment of dried fruits – peaches, apples, pears, prunes and apricots, plus some orange and lemon peel – and covered them with boiling water, a bit of sugar and a cinnamon stick and whole cloves.

The fruit can sit in the fridge overnight, and you can reheat it at the last minute, while the meat is resting. After you slice the meat, arrange the fruit around the sides, and pour both the meat juices left in the roasting pan, and the fruit juices all over the meat.

Buon appetito e Buona Pasqua a tutti.

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Pork Tenderloin with Stewed Dried Fruits
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 pork tenderloins (about 1½ pounds each)
  • Dijon mustard
  • salt, pepper (or herbed salt)
  • herbs de Provence
  • about two cups of mixed dried fruits (apricots, prunes, apples, pears, peaches)
  • water, to cover
  • ½ cup sugar
  • a few strips of orange peel
  • a few strips of lemon peel
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • a couple of whole cloves
Instructions
  1. Bring the meat at room temperature and dry with paper towels.
  2. Smear a little olive oil on the bottom of a roasting pan.
  3. Place the meat on the pan and smear with a light coating of Dijon mustard.
  4. Season with salt and pepper (or herbed salt) and a light sprinkling of herbs de Provence.
  5. Place the meat in a 375 degree oven for 20-30 minutes or until a meat thermometer reaches 140-145 degrees. (The temperature will continue to rise for a bit when you take it out of the oven.)
  6. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 10 minute, then slice.
  7. FOR THE STEWED DRIED FRUIT:
  8. Place the fruit in a saucepan with water to cover.
  9. Add the sugar, the citrus peels, the cinnamon and the cloves.
  10. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes or until fruit is softened.
  11. Remove the citrus peels, the cinnamon stick and the cloves.
  12. Remove from the heat, and serve along the sides of a serving platter with the sliced meat.
  13. Pour the juice from the fruits and any juice from the meat (on the carving board) over the sliced meat.
 

 

 

Squash And The Columbian Exchange

Squash and The Columbian Exchange

OK, you may be wondering “What’s The Columbian Exchange?” And what’s it got to do with this recipe of couscous and butternut squash? Well, for those of you in the U.S., it’s Columbus Day today. Now I know there’s a huge controversy surrounding the Italian explorer’s trips to the Western hemisphere and the “discovery” of America. But this is a blog about food and travel, so I steer clear of geopolitics here. What I will tell you though, is that his travels to the New World starting in 1492 opened the gateway to exchange between Europe and the Americas — some good, like foods, crops and livestock — and some not so good, like communicable diseases and slavery.

We’ll stick to the food exchange on this post.
Can you imagine Italy without tomatoes; Ireland without potatoes or Switzerland without chocolate? No, me either. But the Columbian Exchange, as it has come to be known, introduced those foods to other lands that hundreds of years later have nearly become icons of those nations’ cuisine. In addition to the above examples, for instance, you can thank the Columbian exchange for oranges in Florida and bananas in Ecuador.
Squash made its way from the New World to Europe, which is why I thought this recipe would be perfect to present for Columbus Day. It combines flavors from the west (squash) with spices from the East (cinnamon, saffron). It’s also a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi, an Israeli-born chef whose recipes are enjoyed around the world. Columbus might have missed his goal of finding a sea route to Asia, but his travels kicked off an international exchange that was to alter world cuisine forever.
For those of you living anywhere near New York City, the statue in Columbus Circle pays tribute to the sailor from Genoa. It has stood on a granite column about 70 feet off the ground since 1892, visible to cars and passersby in this busy neighborhood of Manhattan next to the Time-Warner Center.
But if you travel to Columbus Circle now, you won’t see the statue from the street. Instead, climb six stories of stairs, amid scaffolding, and witness Columbus close up in a conceptual art installation by the Japanese artist, Tatzu Nishi. Until Nov. 18, he’s the centerpiece of what looks like a living room in a New York City apartment.
Here’s the big guy himself – all 13 feet of marble. Until now, only the birds had such an intimate view.

 

His feet appear to be resting on a coffee table, surrounded by magazines and newspapers.

 

Have a seat and catch up with the news while Christopher surveys the living room.
The apartment’s wallpaper is designed with iconic American scenes.

 

Want to watch a little TV or read a book? No problem.

 

You’ll have a great view of the Trump Tower apartment building across the street.
While you’re there, savor the view of Central Park from your perch in the sky with Columbus.
Then come home and make this vegetarian dish of couscous with butternut squash and apricots from Ottolenghi – a legacy, if you will, from Columbus.
If you’re in New York and want to visit, you’ll need a ticket. It’s free. Click here to find out more about the artist and the art installation.

Couscous with dried apricots and butternut squash
From “Ottolenghi, The Cookbook”
Printable recipe here
Serves four
(I increased the ingredients by half and made 1 1/2 times the recipe and it served way more than six as a side dish. I would count on at least six servings or more from the base recipe.

1 large (red) onion, thinly sliced
6 tbs olive oil
50g dried apricots – (1/2 cup)
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 2 cm dice
250g couscous (1 1/2 cups)
400ml chicken or vegetable stock (1 1/2 cups)
a pinch of saffron strands
3 tbs roughly chopped tarragon
3 tbs roughly chopped mint
3 tbs roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (go easy on the cinnamon – it’s very assertive – I made 1 1/2 times this recipe and used this amount, but next time I’d use only 1 tsp.)
grated zest of 1 lemon
coarse sea salt and black pepper
(I also added 1/2 cup toasted pecans.)

Preheat the oven to 180d Celsius. (I set it at 400 degrees F.)
Place onion in a large frying pan with 2 tbs oil and a pinch of salt. Sauté over high heat, stirring constantly for about 10 mins (I used less time), until golden brown. Set aside.
Pour hot water from the tap over the apricots just to cover them. Soak for 5 mins then drain and cut them into 5mm dice.
Mix the diced squash in 1 tbs olive oil and spread out on a baking tray to roast. Place in oven for 25 mins, until lightly colored and quite soft. (I cooked it for closer to 45 minutes)
While waiting for the butternut squash to cook, cook the couscous. Bring the stock to the boil with the saffron. Place the couscous in a large heatproof bowl and pour the boiling stock over it, plus the remaining olive oil (3 tbs). Cover with clingfilm and leave for about 10 mins for all of the liquid to be absorbed. When done, fluff with up with a fork. Then add the onions, squash, apricots, herbs, cinnamon and lemon zest. Mix well with hands, trying not to mash the squash to bits.
Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary. Serve warmish or cold.
Pork Loin Stuffed With Prunes And Apricots

Pork Loin Stuffed With Prunes and Apricots

Same old, same old, plain old roast pork? Not this one. It’s gussied up and stuffed with prunes and apricots and easy enough to make for a weeknight meal. I started out with a large boneless pork loin bought on sale, one that would have served at least 12 people. I cut it in thirds and wrapped each piece for the freezer.

Last night I cooked one of the roasts for just me and my husband. It weighed only about 1 1/2 pounds, but there was enough meat leftover for another two meals. That’s because there is very little fat, no bone and it didn’t shrink during cooking. That’s the good news. The bad news is that there is very little fat, no bone and it can easily dry out if you cook it too long. If you brine the roast, even for just an hour, it will guarantee that you won’t end with a piece of shoe leather.

To brine a roast of this size, measure out a quart of cold water. Put about 1/4 of it in a saucepan with 1/2 cup of salt and 1/2 cup sugar, a couple of garlic cloves, some black pepper corns and some herbs. You could use rosemary or sage, both of which work well with pork. Bring the water to a boil and continue to boil for about two to three minutes to dissolve the salt and sugar. Take the pot off the heat and add the rest of the cold water. Put the pot in the refrigerator until the water is no longer warm. Place the pork into the water, turning it around once and store the pot in the refrigerator for at least an hour. You could even do this the night before you cook it if you want.

Take the meat out of the water and pat dry. With a sharp knife, cut a hole into the center of the meat and poke it all the way through to the other side.
Twist the knife while it’s in the center, to create a small stuffing “pocket.”
Stuff pitted prunes and apricots into the hole, using the end of a wooden spoon to poke the fruit into the center.

Cut little slivers along the outside of the roast and put little pieces of garlic into the slits. Sprinkle all over with salt, pepper, and herbs de provence. Place in a small roasting pan greased with olive oil. Add one large onion, cut into quarters. Drizzle everything with more olive oil. Roast at 375 degrees for about one hour or until a thermometer registers about 135 degrees. Remove from oven. The temperature will continue to rise. Cover with foil and let rest for about 10 to 15 minutes before slicing.