Apple Dijon Pork Tenderloin: My new "holy smokes, company is coming over and I have NO TIME" go-to

Apple Dijon Pork Tenderloin

Apple Dijon Pork Tenderloin

Want to look fancy in a flash?

Well, look no further! This right here is your new secret weapon.

Just a couple of days ago, I busted this little baby out when unexpected but oh-so-welcome guests popped by for a late lunch and it was a hit! I just threw together a big kale salad to serve on the side and, voila! A culinary masterpiece in no time!

Apple Dijon Pork Tenderloin

 Serves 4 to 6

2 pork tenderloins
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 small onions, trimmed, peeled, and sliced into 12 wedges
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon grainy Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Gala apples*, cored and sliced into 10 to 12 wedges
½ cup dry hard cider, dry white wine, or just regular apple cider
½ cup chicken stock

Preheat oven to 425ºF and set a large cast iron skillet over medium/medium-high heat.

Pat the pork tenderloin dry with paper towel and coat each with vegetable oil. Season liberally with salt and pepper and sear the pork tenderloins until evenly browned all over. Transfer the pork to a plate and add the butter to the pan. Add in the onions, season with a pinch of salt, and allow them to cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together the Dijon, grainy Dijon, thyme, sage, and cinnamon and brush this mixture all over the pork tenderloins.

Add the apples to the onions and continue to cook for about 5 to 7 minutes just to give them a little colour. Carefully deglaze the pan with the cider or white wine and nestle in the pork.

Roast the pork for 15 to 17 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 145ºF.

When cooked, transfer the pork to a cutting board, cover it with foil, and allow it to rest for 5 to 8 minutes. Place the onions and apples back onto medium heat and add in the chicken stock. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up any browned bits off of the bottom of the pan and allow it to bubble away until the pork has rested.

Slice the pork and serve it alongside those lovely golden brown onions and apples.

*Any other firm, crisp, and sweet apple will work well here. Gala’s are my go-to but Red Princes are also scrumptious in this recipe!

My Kitchen Go-To: Quick and Easy Shakshuka

Quick & Easy Shakshuka

Quick & Easy Shakshuka

This, right here, is what I like to make when I’m in a bit of a kitchen rut and have no idea what I want to eat for dinner… or breakfast… or lunch… or when I’m having people over for brunch… Really, it’s an anytime dish that is way too easy to make.

Quick and smokey shakshuka with feta and lemon-y, parsley-y couscous is as easy as chopping a few things, boiling water, heating some sauce, and poaching some eggs. A delish anytime meal, lickety-split.

Quick and Easy Shakshuka

Serves 4 

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
½ teaspoon dried chili flakes
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons white wine, optional
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 – 796ml (28oz) can of crushed tomatoes
4 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, divided
2 cups couscous
4 - 8 eggs, depending on how hungry you are
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Crumbled feta cheese, to taste
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and add the onions.  Season with a bit of salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, for about 6 minutes or until the onions start to soften.  Add the finely minced garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes or so just to cook off some of that raw garlic hit. Stir in the smoked paprika, chili flakes, and cumin and allow the spices to toast for about 1 minute or so. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, if using, or add two tablespoons of water.

Add the halved cherry tomatoes and continue to cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until the tomatoes start to break down a bit.  Add the canned tomatoes and stir well to combine.  Cover the pan and lower the heat.  Allow the sauce to simmer away for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in 2 tablespoons of parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. 

Meanwhile, set your kettle to boil and pour your couscous into a heatproof bowl.  When the water has boiled, pour 2 cups of boiling water onto the couscous, season with salt and pepper, stir, and cover tightly with plastic wrap.  Allow this to sit for about 8 to 10 minutes while you finish up your shakshuka.

Using a spoon, make slight wells in the tomato sauce and crack an egg into each.  Cover and cook the eggs over medium-low heat until the whites are firm and the yolks are just slightly cooked but still runny, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Fluff your couscous with a fork, stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and remaining parsley, and divide between four plates.  Top each plate with an egg or two plus a good dose of that sauce and scatter with crumbled feta cheese.

*Personally, I’m a big fan of leftover shakshuka for breakfast after a late night out with too much wine

Croque Monsieur Mac & Cheese: It's like if the world's best sandwich and the most cheesy pasta had a baby

Croque Monsieur Mac & Cheese

Croque Monsieur Mac & Cheese

When I made this little number for my hubs, he told me that I’m an evil genius who must be stopped.

He then voraciously dug into his third serving.

A super cheesy French sandwich with all my favourite flavours + everyone’s favourite pasta dish = all of the carbs and cheese I could ever want on my plate.

Also, two things:

  1. That photo up there is a double recipe. My friends devoured it during our latest game night and there was still enough left over for lunch the next day! In my house, the only thing better than mac & cheese is bonus mac & cheese.

  2. If you are more of a stovetop mac & cheese person, omit the casserole dish and topping and stir the ham into the sauce with the noodles. It’ll be so good.

Croque Monsieur Mac and Cheese

Serves 4

225g dry rigatoni
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk, warmed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon Herbes de Provence
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ cup (30g) grated Pecorino cheese
2 cups (120g) grated Gruyere cheese*
225g sliced deli ham, roughly chopped

For the topping:
1 egg
2 tablespoons whole milk
2 slices white bread, roughly torn into nickel-sized pieces
½ cup (30g) grated Gruyere cheese*
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 425ºF and lightly grease a 9-inch square casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray or room temperature butter.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil then add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the pasta and leave it in the colander until ready to use.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add in the garlic and cook for about 1 minute then sprinkle in the flour. Whisk the flour in and cook, whisking constantly, for about 1 to 2 minutes to toast the roux. While continuing to whisk, slowly pour in the warm milk, salt, pepper, Herbes de Provence, and nutmeg and bring it all to a light boil. Cook, whisking frequently, until thick, about 4 to 5 minutes.

When the sauce is thick, turn the heat down to low and whisk in the mustard, grated Pecorino cheese, and grated Gruyere. Switch to a heatproof spatula or a wooden spoon and carefully stir in the cooked rigatoni making sure that every noodle is well coated. Pour half of the mixture into your prepared casserole dish, scatter on half of the ham, then layer on the remaining pasta and ham and set aside.

To make the topping, whisk the egg and 2 tablespoons of milk in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the torn bread and ½ cup of grated Gruyere.

Top the casserole with this bread mixture and pop it in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly. Allow the mac and cheese to rest for a few minutes before digging in!

*Emmental, Jarlsberg, or regular Swiss cheese will also work well in this recipe - I just love the classic, nutty flavour of Gruyere best!

Breakfast for Dinner: Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes

Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes

Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes

Mardi Gras.  Fat Tuesday.  Shrove Tuesday.  Whatever you call it, there is only one thing to do today: eat all of the pancakes. 

As a kid, my favourite meal was pancakes and “chachiches” (read: garbled baby-speak for breakfast sausages) so Pancake Tuesday has always been a favourite of mine.  To be honest, I think the tradition of tucking into a big old stack of fluffly little cakes for dinner on a mid-winter Tuesday is one of the only unchanged holiday rituals us Berg’s have.  Christmas has been bent to accommodate new families, Easter is spent sans Mama Berg as she usually skidaddles down South for a girl’s trip, and Thanksgiving is kind of just a free-for-all.  Somehow, thankfully, Pancake Tuesday has stood the test of time.

The idea of “Fat” days has been recently expanded by my hubs’ Polish heritage.  He introduced me to “Fat Thursday” where you are meant to indulge in these gigantic Polish doughnuts called Paczki.  Holy bananas, are they ever tasty but do be warned: some that appear to be filled with chocolate are in fact filled with pureed prune.  It’s not a wholly unpleasant flavour but it is quite a shock when you are expecting a rich chocolate ganache and are instead met with the unctuous, I guess sort of sweet, funk of a prune.

As per usual, I digress.  Back to pancakes.

Here is my recipe for my current fave ‘cakes, lemon poppy seed.  The zest of a lemon and speckley little poppy seeds makes this childhood favourite seem just a little more ‘adult’.  Stacking them high and drowning with melting butter and warm maple syrup on the other hand is a total 4-year-old Mary move. 

One can’t be expected to be grownup all the time.

Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes

Makes 10 – 12 pancakes

2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp poppy seeds
1 ½ cup buttermilk
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla
1 lemon, zested
Butter and canola oil, for cooking the ‘cakes

In a large non-stick skillet over low heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and preheat your oven to 200F.

Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and poppy seeds in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, vanilla, and lemon zest.  Pour this wet mixture over the dry and stir about five times to slightly combine.  Pour in the melted butter, placing the pan back over the heat, and stir the pancake batter just until it comes together but a few lumps still remain.

Turn the heat on the pan up to medium and pop a little pat of butter and a splash of oil in there to melt together.  When the butter is bubbling, spoon about a ¼ cup of batter onto the skillet for each pancake and cook until bubbles start to appear on top.  Check the underside to see if they are golden brown and flip.  Cook about another 1 – 2 minutes on the second side and keep the pancakes warm in your oven until all of the batter is used up.

Serve warm with lots of butter, maple syrup, fruit, and maybe some lemon curd!

Notes: If you’re looking for plain old pancakes, just omit the poppy seeds and lemon zest.
If you find yourself with any leftovers, place a small square of wax or parchment paper between each pancake, wrap the stack well with plastic, and pop in the freezer.  To reheat, just use your toaster!