This is my Mom’s Pork Loin.

I grew up in an incredibly food-rich household.  We sat down to dinner as a family every single night after my dad got home from work.  We said grace (because of or despite being Unitarians, not really sure).  And every single night, my mom made a fully balanced, completely delicious and nutritious meal, composed of vegetables, a starch and some protein.

I never ate it.  If you’ve been following along, you know I was a picky, word-class, non-eater.  I’d devour the starch (usually pasta, as I maintain an aversion to rice for whatever weird reason, even to this day), pick at the veggies, and that was that.

Did I mention my mom is a trained chef?

I’m sorry, Mom.  You were right.  Food is awesome.  Especially yours.

Mom’s Dijon and Tarragon Pork Loin with Roasted Broccoli

For the pork–

  • 1 lb pork tenderloin
  • Dijon mustard
  • fresh or dried tarragon
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream

For the broccoli– (inspired by my girl Ina, obvi.  You can do almost ANY vegetable this way, adjusting the time in the oven: Brussels sprouts, asparagus, cauliflower, you name it.  I was hoping for Brussels sprouts tonight, but they were just so…le tired looking at le Safeway.)

  • as much broccoli as you can stand, cut into florets
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • lemon zest
  • optional: lemon juice, basil, pine nuts, parmesan cheese
  1. First, get all your veggies prepped.  If you time it right, you can have both of these dishes coming out of the oven around the same time.  Peel and chop your garlic, cut the broccoli, wash and (important!) dry the florets thoroughly.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a pan that can go from oven to stovetop, rub the pork loin all over with Dijon mustard, sprinkle tarragon, a bit of salt (not too much! there’s salt in the mustard) and a good amount of pepper over the loin.
  3. Spread your broccoli on a separate baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and the garlic.  Give it a good toss – don’t be afraid to use your hands.
  4. Put both the broccoli and the loin in the oven for 20-25 minutes.  Take out the broccoli when it starts to brown at the edges; take out the loin when just slightly pink in the center.
  5. Take the pork out of the dish and let it rest (don’t cut into it just yet).  In the same pan it cooked in, add wine and sour cream, bring to a boil on the stove and reduce.  Be careful not to let the sour cream burn.
  6. Toss the broccoli with lemon zest and Parmesan cheese.  Add a few squeezes of lemon juice, some basil and pine nuts if you please.
  7. Slice the loin, serve with the sauce and veggies.  Think about how fast, easy, and tasty your dinner is!
is it weird to love broccoli this much?
get your broccoli on.
this sauce is #killingit
this sauce is #killingit

The Verdict:

This was fast, easy, healthy, and tasty.  What more could you ask for?

Recreating Germany (on a Plate)

Last night, I returned from a work-related trip to the Motherland.  While my family and I have spent a fair amount of time in Germany, especially growing up and to visit with my grandparents, this was my first trip to Berlin.  So, after two and a half days of full-day meetings, I was ready to eat my touristy way through the city.

German fare is not for the faint (or cholesterol-sensitive) heart.  Germans love pretzels and croissants for breakfast and huge plates of (fried) pork schnitzel and french fries for dinner.  For lunch, they might dig into a huge plate of spaetzle (for the non-acquainted, a soft, egg-based noodle), and wash it down with a massive mug of beer. They have a well established “coffee break” around 4pm, consisting of a strong cup of coffee or a steaming mug of hot chocolate, accompanied by cakes and cookies.  (Side note: during one meeting, our German hosts apologized for the “cake and cookie situation.”  I thought maybe they were apologizing for adding to our expanding waistlines.  Turns out, they thought the variety of cookies and cakes that had been served was sub-par.  I guess eight different types wasn’t enough?!) In between spaetzle and schnitzel, a Berliner might dig into a “currywurst” – a deep fried sausage topped with a mixture of ketchup and curry powder.  If you feel the need for some veggies, your plate may come with a side of cabbage.  Or maybe a couple of cucumbers with some mayonnaise.**

Obviously, after I got home from the airport last night, I just had to re-create some of this for the Husband.

Slow Cooked Pork with Spaetzle and Braised Red Cabbage

  • Our go-to slow cooker pork recipe and ingredients, minus the mozzarella and arugula
  • Spaetzle (or any egg noodle)
  • For the Cabbage:
    • 1 small head red cabbage, quartered and thinly sliced
    • 2 tablespoons butter
    • 1/2 onion, chopped
    • 1 green apple, peeled and cut into thin slices
    • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    • 1-2 tablespoons honey
    • 1 teaspoons salt
    • optional: a dash of caraway seeds
  1. In the morning, get the pork cooking.  Refer back to our go-to recipe, and only go through step two (putting all the ingredients in the crock pot and setting it on low for 8-9 hours).
  2. About an hour and a half before dinner time, get your cabbage going.  Immerse the cabbage (cored and sliced) in a bowl of cold water.
  3. Heat the butter in a large dutch oven over low heat.  Add onions and cook until golden.
  4. Drain the cabbage slices and then add to the pot, along with the sliced apple, the red wine vinegar, honey, salt and (if  you like) caraway seeds.
  5. Cover the pot and cook over medium-low heat for about 60-90 minutes, or until the cabbage is soft.  Do not cook for too long – it will either turn to mush or turn bitter.
  6. About 15 minutes or so before serving, get water boiling for your spaetzle or egg noodles.
  7. Serve the spaetzle topped with pork and a side of cabbage.  Guten Appetit!
das schmeckt gut!
das schmeckt gut!

The Verdict:

Our pork (really, the Husband’s) is a go-to and there’s a reason why: it’s delicious.  Having spaetzle (especially fresh, which I carried on the plane back with me!) was a special treat, and took me right into my mom’s and grandmother’s kitchen.  This was true comfort cooking.  I’ve never made cabbage before, and to be honest, this recipe was maybe a touch sweet.  That being said, it provided the perfect tang and balance to the rest of our German meal!  The big bonus here: plenty of leftovers, which will serve us well this (short) Thanksgiving week.

** My description of standard German fare isn’t entirely fair, to be honest.  Germany – and especially Berlin – seems to be embracing the local and organic food scene a la Brooklyn 2009, with “healthy” cafes popping up everywhere.  I also saw a slew of vegetarian and even vegan restaurants, as well as restaurants from every culinary tradition one could imagine.  After all, Berlin is, at heart, an incredibly dynamic city with a very young and hip feel, even as it continues to sit at the heart of an incredible amount of history.**

Dinner for Four: Slow Cooked Pork Loin with Arugula and Mozzarella

Last night was the first time since starting this blog that we’ve had more than just the two of us at the dinner table.  So we busted out our secret weapon: the crockpot.

The Husband has been a firm believer in the crockpot since before we started dating.  And while I had some doubts initially (doesn’t all the food turn out mushy?), I have joined the ranks of the converted.  Nothing is easier than set it, forget it, eat it.  So that’s exactly what we did, plus a few bottles of wine, to delicious results.

The “recipe” that follows is more of a guideline, than a recipe.  Sadly, we didn’t capture this on camera, as I was too excited to eat and completely forgot…

Slow Cooked Pork Loin with Arugula and Mozzarella

  • olive oil
  • 1.5-2 lbs of pork tenderloin
  • 1-2 cups of chicken broth
  • 1/2 chopped red onion
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ketchup – a couple of squirts
  • about 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 package of French onion soup mix (I know, I know, but it really does add great flavor!)
  • a little something sweet – a dash of honey or a spoonful of brown sugar
  • salt, pepper
  • crushed red pepper
  • arugula
  • (another) 1/2 chopped red onion
  • sliced fresh mozzarella
  1. If you have the time, sear the pork loin in olive oil until browned on all sides before putting it in the crockpot.  It will give it a better, deeper flavor.
  2. Place the pork loin at the bottom of the crockpot, pour the chicken stock over the pork and mix in the rest of the ingredients, through the red pepper.  Set on low and cook for 8-9 hours.  Go to work!
  3. With about 20 minutes to go, warm some olive oil in a saute pan, cook down the onions.  Add some salt and pepper (and if you’re like us, some more crushed reds!), and then a large bunch of arugula – it will cook down significantly!
  4. Slice the loin and serve in a shallow bowl, topped with some of the cooking liquid, a slice of mozzarella cheese, and the greens and onion mixture.  The cheese will melt and the greens will add both a spice and a texture to the pork – which should be delicious on its own!

The Verdict:

The Husband first made this meal for me after I returned from three months of living away from him.  It was delicious then, and it was delicious now.  This is definitely a go-to for easy, relatively elegant, hearty food.