Pork Tenderloin with Creamy Tarragon Sauce

Well Happy Almost Weekend! Hope yours will be stellar; mine will bring even more clarifying studying and activities (thank you F and B)! Back up…I spent the first several months of the quarantine cleaning out cabinets, drawers, closets, shelves, counters etc. Now I’ve moved on to the part of the home that I actually SEE daily and live in!!!! Good bye extraneous books, nik naks, patty whacks, and I’m giving the dogs the bones! So here’s another boneless pork for ya!

For Pork:
1 peppercorn pork tenderloin
Bring to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat skillet over medium high heat.
Drizzle olive oil all over bottom of oven proof skillet.
Salt and pepper both sides of tenderloin.
Place in skillet and sear one side for 3 minutes.
Turn over and sear other side for 3 minutes.
Add more oil and 1/2 cup water to skillet.
Transfer to preheated oven and cook uncovered for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to rest out of skillet for 10 minutes.

For Sauce:
1 Tbs unsalted butter
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove minced
1 t fresh ground pepper
1/4 t kosher salt
1/4 cup brandy
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs chopped fresh tarragon
2 t Worcestershire sauce
1 t Dijon mustard

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat.
Add shallot, garlic, pepper, and salt.
Cook 2 minutes until shallot is soft.
Take off heat and add brandy.
Return skillet to medium heat and cook until nearly evaporated, about 1 minute.
Add cream and bring to simmer.
Cook until slightly thickened, about 3 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Stir in tarragon, Worcestershire , and mustard.

Slice tenderloin and drizzle sauce over to serve.

Wonton Cinnamon Crisps with Fruit

Happy Monday! I trust that this “Spring of Vaccinations” is bringing a freshness to you and yours…hope and recovery from 2020, and renewal, with positive refreshing energy changes. And speaking of energy, a couple of weeks back the grands and I joined forces for a bit of energetic fun in the kitchen to make these cinnamon crisps. It’s a “duck for cover” situation when you have 5 year olds mixing cinnamon and sugar free hand, but filled with smiles, love, and giggles. This house wasn’t built on gummy bears alone!

8 wonton wrappers, cut in half diagonally
Nonstick cooking spray
2 Tbs sugar
1/2 t ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups fat free vanilla yogurt
1 cup mixed berries of choice
4 t honey

Preheat oven to 400°.
Mix cinnamon and sugar together in small bowl.
Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray.
Arrange wonton wrappers on baking sheet.
Lightly spray wontons with nonstick cooking spray.
Sprinkle with cinnamon mixture.
Bake 3 to 4 minutes, or until lightly browned and crisp.
Set aside to cool.
Spoon yogurt and berries into dessert dishes.
Drizzle with honey.
Serve with cinnamon crisps.

Note: Cinnamon Crisps will last 3 weeks in zip top bag or sealed container.

Suzi and her Strawberry Bread

I met Suzi, by text and chat, through the Pandemic of Love organization. We’ve never seen each other in person, but had an immediate connection. She is, in a word, amazing. She’s a giver, fun, funny, spirited, a warrior, a survivor…she never quits, wouldn’t dare give up, and conquers it all. Here’s Suzi:

I am a Savannah girl who grew up spending summers with my grandparents, aunts and uncles in Lumberton, Fairmont, and Rowland. I am blessed with very good southern cooking DNA. My family lived in different areas of NC when I was growing up, New Bern and Lake Norman were 2 of my favorites.  
My mother instilled the importance of volunteering in my siblings and me. So, I have spent my life volunteering for a variety of causes and organizations. The Red Cross, Army Family Services, The Brady Campaign & Million Mom March, Junior League, local NPR stations, school and church organizations and more.  
The two closest to my heart have come into my life in just the last few years.  Bethematch.org, because I am a 2 time stem cell transplant patient. I have stage 4 DLBC Lymphoma. I am so very lucky because my 100% match donor was found relatively quickly through the National Registry. Many, especially those of color or mixed race, spend years waiting for a transplant. I am working to register 5000 new donors before reaching my 5th “ReBirthday” June 5, 2023!
The second organization is PandemicOfLove.com. This organization started on March 14, 2020 in the beginning of the global Covid Crisis. It was started by a mom in South Florida who saw friends and neighbors suffering as businesses and schools closed. Family incomes evaporated leaving people without food and means to survive. It is a simple formula of Mutual Aid. Those who need help register for assistance with utilities, groceries, diapers, car repairs etc. Those who have enough, register to help out a neighbor in need. I manage the NC chapters of Pandemic of Love. In North Carolina in 13 months we have matched over 1000 people who connect, and neighbors help neighbors. Globally the organization has matched more than a million people. More than 55 million dollars in direct mutual aid has been given. The organization has chapters worldwide and is completely volunteer driven. We have been featured on The Kelly Clarkson Show, ABC, CBS, chosen as a CNN HERO in 2020, and many print and media outlets. Shelly Tygielski, our founder is a Nationally recognized Mindfulness and Meditation leader.  

2 cups all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup Greek vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 1/2 t pure vanilla
1 1/2 cup fresh chopped strawberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Stir sugars and egg together, mix well. 
Add oil, milk, yogurt, vanilla, and stir together thoroughly. 
Add flour, baking soda and salt; stir to combine-lumpy is ok. 
Fold in berries to combine. 
Do not over mix. 
Pour into parchment lined loaf pan. 
Bake in center of oven. 
Test after 45 minutes by inserting a toothpick and see if the bread is cooked through. 
Every oven is different and honestly every  bread and cake are different!

Pistachio and Halloumi Crusted Chicken

Hello Dinner!

“We’re not losing a lifestyle;
We’re gaining a new place in which to live.”
I can’t find who wrote this, but it’s been in my quotation book for quite a while. But how relevant for our reentry in to the social world today, as we become vaccinated and begin to gather with a couple of pals now. Remain cautious, safe, and well my friends!

And remember, Friday brings Suzi, her amazing story, and her incredible Strawberry Bread!

2 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
1/2 cup shelled pistachios, chopped
1/2 cup shredded Halloumi cheese
1/4 cup Panko
Zest of a lemon
2 Tbs olive oil, divided
1/2 t kosher salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
1 1/2 Tbs light mayonnaise
1 cup cherry tomatoes

Preheat oven to 400°.
Coat small cooking pan with nonstick spray.
Drizzle with 1 Tbs olive oil.
In small bowl, stir together pistachios, cheese, panko, and lemon zest.
Salt and pepper the under side of chicken breasts, and place that side down in baking pan.
Salt and pepper the top side.
Brush mayonnaise evenly all over the chicken breasts.
Sprinkle with the pistachio mixture, and press to adhere.
Drizzle oil over breasts.
Add tomatoes around edges of chicken breasts.
Bake 30 minutes until internal temperature is 165°.
Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Serve with lemon slices on the side.
*This pistachio topping is also excellent on mahi or halibut.
Reduce cooking time to 8 to 12 minutes for fish.

Hasselback Tomatoes

Hello Hello! There’s a surprise guest being featured next Friday…just think amazing person, volunteer extraordinaire (PandemicOfLove.com), deep thinker, lots more, AND she’s sharing her homemade Strawberry Bread Recipe. After all, it is the season of helping others AND of fresh strawberries. I can’t wait for you all to meet Suzi, a very recent friend and wonderful person!

This is a vintage vegetable that remains modern, and will always stand the test of time; and it’s finding a stage again in many forms. I especially love this creation because you can use it year round, since you are cooking the tomatoes. The name is derived from the restaurant where they originally introduced Hasselback Potatoes…the Hasselbacken in Stockholm, Sweden in the 1940’s. And a wise chef later decided to use the same treatment on the tomato. Put some swagger in your veggies!

6 ripe plum tomatoes, cored
8 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
6 Tbs olive oil
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper

Preheat oven to broil.
Adjust oven rack 6 inches from broiling element.
Place wire rack on rim of metal baking pan.
Using serrated knife, slice small bit off long side of bottom of tomato.
(We’re making it sit flatly.)
Place tomato on that now flat side.
Slice crosswise at 1/4 inch intervals, leaving 1/4 inch  at bottom in tact.
Combine half of the Gruyere, basil, oil, panko, garlic, salt, and pepper together.
Carefully open tomato slices, and spoon a bit of mixture between slices (about 2 Tbs per tomato).
Place tomatoes on wire rack.
Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Broil until cheese is melted, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Egg and Sausage Flatbread

Raise your antenna and begin a slow clap! This is a Southern agenda where flavors comingle. Boom…for breakfast, brunch, lunch, or dinner.

1 sheet Phyllo Dough Pastry, thawed overnight in refrigerator
3 Tbs Everything Bagel Seasoning
1 egg beaten
2 Tbs room temperature light vegetable cream cheese
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese
6 oz spicy sausage
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
Fresh tomatoes, sautéed
4 poached eggs
1 Tbs honey, for drizzling
Chives for garnish

Preheat oven to 400°.
Brown sausage and onion together until cooked through.
Drain on paper towel.
Fold all edges of pastry over 1/2 inch to form rimmed edge. 
Brush with egg.
Sprinkle with seasoning, and press to embed.
Spread cream cheese across pastry.
Sprinkle with cheddar cheese.
Top the cheese with sausage and onion mixture.
Top this with sautéed tomatoes.
Bake 12 to 15 minutes until browned.
While that’s cooking, poach the eggs.
Remove the flatbread, top with eggs, and sprinkle with Gruyere.
Bake in oven for 5 more minutes until cheese is melted.
Drizzle with honey.
Garnish with chives and serve!

*Author’s Note: the don prefers scrambled eggs to poached eggs. So you will notice in one of the photos above that I used poached eggs on one half of the flatbread, and scrambled eggs on the other half. Feel free to mix it up in any manner that you desire!

Shrimp Waldorf Salad

One of my MOST favorite paintings ever! There was this horrible oval floral painting, that the don and I were gifted from my paternal grandmother when we married in 1975. Soon thereafter, we found it hanging in the dining room on Forest Hills, where it remained for fifteen years to our dismay. But you know, family…So years later when Torrey and I opened our gallery, the don enlisted her help for a surprise commission from Wayne Trapp for my Christmas gift. Sweet way to rid us of that awful painting. It’s me in a “Walk in the Garden”! Do you dream in color or black and white?

And speaking of walking in gardens…here are lettuce, celery, apple, grapes, cranberries, and a few more added ingredients to make the perfect lunch, brunch, or dinner salad. Artful edges!

Dressing:
1/2 cup Greek yogurt 
1 1/2 t Dijon mustard
2 Tbs honey
1 t cider vinegar 
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
Toss all ingredients together in small bowl. 

Salad:
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted 
1 small head Romaine lettuce, shredded
1 lb cleaned, cooked medium shrimp 
4 small celery ribs, chopped 
1 honey crisp or Granny Smith apple, cored and cut into small pieces 
16 red grapes, halved
1/4 cup dried sweet cranberries
Put lettuce in large mixing bowl. 
Add shrimp, celery, apple, grapes, and cranberries.
Spoon in dressing. 
Toss to coat. 
Divide between 4 plates. 

Blue Cheese Green Beans

Sometimes my dog looks at me with that look, and I think she must know exactly how I feel. But then maybe she just wants the food off my plate.

12 oz package trimmed fresh green beans
1/4 cup chopped leeks
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1/4 t fresh ground black pepper
1 Tbs olive oil

Cook green beans according to package directions.
Sauté leeks in butter 2 to 3 minutes, until edges begin to brown a bit.
Place green beans on serving platter.
Sprinkle with onions, blue cheese, lemon juice, and pepper.
Drizzle with olive oil.

Serves 4 to 6.

Pork Tenderloin Chop with Mustard Sauce

Knock Knock, it’s Peg. A true statement with some potential craziness is headed your way right here, right now. I love sipping bone broth from a mug, especially during allergy (RIGHT NOW), cold, and flu seasons. But I cannot stand meat on a bone. I want it all boneless…fish, chicken, pork, and the twice a year red beef. So, the only pork chop that I will enjoy is one that I slice from a pork tenderloin! Who wants that thin, dry chop on a bone when you can have this yummy thick delicious “chop”?!? Leave your love life to chance, but not your cooking!

Black peppercorn pork tenderloin
1/2 t salt
1/4 t ground pepper
Cooking spray
3 Tbs butter
1/2 cup fat free chicken broth
2/3 cup fat free Half and Half
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
2 t fresh lemon juice
1 cup mushrooms, stems removed
Fresh parsley

Slice pork into 5 or 6 pieces, 1 1/2” thick.
Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
Heat large skillet over medium high heat.
Spray with cooking spray.
Cook pork 5 to 6 minutes on both sides, until cooked through.
Transfer to plate and keep warm.
Add broth to skillet and scrape to loosen browned bits in skillet.
Add Half and Half, mustard, lemon juice, and mushrooms.
Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 6 minutes until sauce is slightly thickened.
Slice each pork piece into thirds.
Place on plate, and top with sauce and mushrooms.
Sprinkle with parsley.

Serves 6.

Roasted Asparagus with Garlic Butter

Zinging into spring with a simple little midweek veggie; heck I’d serve this at a dinner party…oh that’s right, we don’t have those anymore, but SOON!! Nothing unusual about this little asparagus side dish, except its deliciousness. It’s perfect vintage southern and an ideal pairing with any protein. Try it, even if you’ve tried it before. Totally worth every little dancing taste bud that it hits sliding down the throat. Yum! Captured the below pics with the afternoon sun streaming in my westward facing kitchen windows. Perhaps it’s a bright and encouraging sign that we are turning the corner on Covid.

2 lbs thick asparagus, trimmed
1 Tbs olive oil
2 t fresh thyme leaves
3/4 t  Kosher salt, divided
4 Tbs room temperature unsalted butter, divided
1/4 t ground black pepper
4 minced garlic cloves

Place oven rack 6 inches from broiler.
Preheat oven to medium broil.
Place asparagus on rimmed baking sheet.
Pour oil, thyme, 1/2  t salt over asparagus.
Toss gently to combine.
Broil asparagus for 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove and toss asparagus to turn over.
Broil another 3 minutes, until lightly browned.
Transfer asparagus to serving platter.
Place 1 Tbs butter and garlic into skillet over medium high.
Cook until lightly golden.
Place remaining 3 Tbs butter, pepper, and remaining salt in small bowl.
Pour garlic melted butter into bowl.
Stir until combined; will make creamy sauce.
Pour sauce over asparagus and serve.
Serves 4 to 6.