Posts Tagged ‘pork’



Pork Tenderloin seasoned with rosemary and fennel seed served with a side of Cannellini beans with slivered garlic and tomatoes.

Pork Tenderloin with Cannellini Beans




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A cooks night out is a wonderful experience.  For a few hours, being away from a flame and out of harm’s way from razor-sharp knives while removed from the demands of meal preparation is a delightful treat.

For me, dining out doesn’t have to be a fancy meal spanning several hours but it has to be good food.  Good food governs my desire accompanied by a hearty brew or a fine wine alongside.  Therefore, I follow the perceived aroma when I review a menu and if I end up at a white cloth eatery or a local order-and-take-out place then that is where my tastes have steered me.

This weekend what I craved was a casual experience with terrific food flavored such that it totally satisfied my palate.  My appetite wasn’t taking precedence here.  My taste buds were in charge.  In San Diego, it is easy to satisfy my requirements.

My dining companions and I ended up in North Park.  We heard there was an arts festival that evening and thought that would be a relaxing and stimulating stroll after our meal.  We’re a motley crew with eclectic tastes so arts and food just seem to fit like a glove.

North Park, San Diego

North Park is dense with fine food establishments from sit down eateries to places where you need to perch on a planter while you eat.  It is an area with restaurants galore, great deserts shops, taverns and bars, even a wonderful coffee spot to end the night, Café Calabria.

We began the night at Carnitas Snack Shack, always a favorite, which specializes in pork (you guessed it) carnitas!

carnitas menu

While we waited for our food, we enjoyed the ambient artwork and the raised bed of vegetables behind our table.

carnitas mural

Our starter was an exquisite Pork Belly appetizer with sweet chili glazed served with a frisee salad.  It was tangy sweet, melt in your mouth memorable, balanced by the slightly bitter flavor of frisee with some fresh radishes to surprise your palate.

 pork belly appetizer

One of my companions (with a mouth the size of a mason jar opening) ordered the Snack Shack Triple Threat Sandwich: pork Schnitzel, pulled pork, bacon pepperoncini, pickle relish, shack aioli served with a sweet corn salad.  I had to participate in an arm wrestling match in order to get a bite; it was that good!

carnitas triple threat sandwich

The last dish we enjoyed was the Carnitas Tacos: two carnitas tacos with guacamole and salsa fresco served with a sweet corn salad.  If you prefer, you can order this as a torta sandwich.  This one made my taste-buds smile and my tummy feel content.

carnitas tacos

We did order the seasoned fries, served with a sinfully good bacon ketchup, but they vanished before I could get a photo.  Let me just say that this food is so good that you should try to get photos before it hits the table or it’s gone in minutes.

After dinner, we strolled the length of the arts festival and encountered some wonderful food trucks.  Too full to taste them we just stood and inhaled their goodness.  This one represents some fine restaurants in the San Diego area.  Great food all around.

indigo grill truck

The evening ended with a visit to a brew market and then a tavern for a glass of chocolate stout to top off the evening.

north park brew market

chocolate stout

One of us, not me, bought a decadent piece of cake at a nearby bakery before we left the area.  It too mysteriously vanished before I could take a shot of it—or get a taste!  But word has it that we should go back so I can get my own piece.

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When the weather is cold and we crave comfort food, this dinner is always a winner!  I don’t remember where I first found the inspiration for this recipe but I do know that I’ve been making it for well, let’s say, over a couple of decades.

This simple recipe never fails me and continually pleases everyone at our tables.  The way I see it, you can never go wrong with a good balance of flavors: sweet ‘n savory combined.  I admit, I’ve never tried to adapt it to poultry because it just seems perfectly suited for a pork tenderloin in every way.

The entire dinner from start to finish never takes more than 90 minutes including cook time, table setting and a couple of quick snapshots.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Mustard-Fennel Seed Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Apple-Onion Sauté

Serve with Frizzled Spinach sautéed in walnut oil with traditional mashed potatoes for a hearty and pleasing winter meal.

1 large pork tenderloin (about 14-18 ounces) 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided

4 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard

2-3 teaspoons fennel seeds

1 large onion, sliced roughly

2 medium Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced

1/2 cup dry white wine (use apple cider if you are avoiding alcohol)

Preheat oven to 450°F.  Season pork with salt and pepper.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.

Add the pork tenderloin and sear until all sides are brown, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes total. Transfer pork to plate.

Cool the pork slightly. Spread mustard over top and sides of pork; then press the fennel seeds into mustard.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet. Add the onion slices and apple.  Sauté over medium heat until everything is golden, about 5 minutes.

Spread evenly in skillet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place pork atop apple-onion mixture.

Transfer skillet to oven and roast until apple-onion mixture is soft and brown and meat thermometer inserted into center of pork registers 145°F, about 15 minutes.

Then transfer the pork to a platter and tent with foil. Let stand 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour the white wine over apple-onion mixture in the skillet. Stir mixture over high heat until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes.

Cut pork on diagonal into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Spoon apple-onion mixture onto plates. Top with pork. Spoon some of the pan juices over the pork.  Add the frizzled Spinach and Mashed Potatoes to the plate and serve.

(*For gluten-free diners, be sure the mustard is a gluten-free brand such as Natural Value Organic Dijon or 365 Organic)

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