Ingredient: cayenne pepper

Cacao Nib & Fennel Encrusted Pork Tenderloin

This is absolutely scrumptious. If you don’t eat pork, beef works really well here, too.

Cacao Nib & Fennel Encrusted Pork Tenderloin
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Cacao Nib & Fennel Encrusted Pork Tenderloin
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425° F.
  2. Using a mortar and pestle or coffee grinder (depending on hoe fine you want the rub) grind the cacao nibs and fennel seeds, together. Add the brown sugar, cocoa powder, salt cinnamon and cayenne powder. Combine thoroughly. The mortar and pestle will give you a coarser rub and a more pungent flavor. A coffee grinder or food processor will give you a finer rub and a more subtle flavor.
  3. Massage the tenderloin with 1 T. of oil and then rub with the cacao mixture until well coated.
  4. In a large skillet, over a medium-high flame, heat the remaining oil. Brown the tenderloin on all sides, turning often.
  5. Transfer to a roasting pan and cook until a meat thermometer reads 145, about 15 minutes. Pork can cook very quickly so check at 10 -12 minutes. Adjust time for beef.
  6. Once at proper temperature, take out, tent with foil and rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.
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Israel and Hummus

I went to Israel last year. I was on a fabulous Women’s trip that was a little sight seeing and a lot of spiritual education. How could it not be spiritual with 260 women? The trip is based in Jerusalem and there are lots of day trips throughout the country, to Masada, Tel Aviv and Tsfat, among other places. When I left for Israel, I was armed with my laptop and fork. I was going to blog about my spiritual journey and surely the amazing food that would accompany it. Well the best laid plans as they say. I should have made sure to have comfortable dancing shoes and sweat mopping towels.

Our first stop was Tsfat, in the north. It was amazing and beautiful. There were 260 women dancing together and drinking on the northern coast. We were served Israeli salad and hummus with huge, fresh made pitas. We were served beautiful pickled vegetables that had just the right amount of tart and sweet. The entrée came and it was salmon encased in fresh herbs, garlic and olive oil. It was served with simply grilled sweet potatoes and mushrooms. We were tired, hot and hungry and the meal did its job to satiate us. When we were thirsty we had cold water. When we thought we couldn’t stay awake even one more moment, there were fireworks and cold Goldstar beer. And then more dancing and singing, hugging and crying. What an amazing night! And I wrote all about it.

Thanks to chefs like Ottenlenghi, the rest of the world is experiencing Israel’s wonderful food scene. When you walk through the open markets in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem the vibrant colors and aromas are intoxicating. Lunch on our first day was the most amazingly authentic and delicious falafel. I had it loaded with pickles and cabbage and tahini with hummus and French fries. It was exactly what I wanted in an Israeli falafel.

This year my husband will be going on the men’s trip. I’ve done my best to tell him where to go for the best falafel and hummus. To not miss the hidden wine shop in Tsfat. He will find that the shashuka at the hotel is a great way to start each morning and that even Israel has great Chinese food.

Of the 30 different hummus’ I ate while I was in Israel, I came home with this recipe. It is the best one I had and I love the tang of lemon.

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Hummus
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Hummus
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Put them in a large pot with shallots, salt and dried pepper (I like to add a whole peeled carrot, sweetness, but its optional). Cover with cold water by one inch. Bring to a boil and simmer for an hour or two.
  2. Drain, but reserve the liquid. Discard all but the chickpeas.
  3. Puree about half the chickpeas in a food processor with 2 Tablespoons of the reserved cooking liquid. Add the garlic and remaining chickpeas and continue to puree.
  4. While pureeing add lemon juice, tahini, olive oil and spices.You may add additional cooking liquid if needed, but don't let it get runny.
  5. Taste and adjust seasoning. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika. Serve with fresh, warm pita.
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Judge Not, Lest You Be Judged

My daughter had mononucleosis the last two weeks of the school year.  This certainly caused a lot of stress in our home.  I spent quite a lot of time on the phone with teachers and counselors trying to get extensions, exceptions and retakes arranged.  As a result, I was given the unique task of videotaping my daughter’s culinary I final.  You may think, “How fun!”, but it was harder than I thought it would be.

I have taught both my daughters to cook, but not in a formal, culinary, way.  It was always, watching me cook, or making some “family” recipe or something special. I have never approached teaching my daughters to cook  from an instructor perspective, but now I was being asked to watch another teachers work.  It was eye opening to say the least.

I do not want to admonish the teacher, at all.  I have never taught 40 kids at one time. Nor do I ever want to. I spent the hour of videotaping, biting  my tongue.  I wanted to rescue her from mistakes.  I held my breath, terrified that she would cut her finger off, as she moved the knife towards her, rather than away.  Did she wash her hands as often as she should have? Did she change cutting boards? Is that dice bite sized? It was daunting!

#2

By the end of this week, she had received her grade and ended the year with an B in the class (good thing!) and a high B on the final.  It just goes to show that, as parents, we are much harder on our kids.  I am proud of the work my daughter did.

The recipe she cooked was for Bengali Chicken Curry with Rice.  This project was originally assigned as a group project.  Since my daughter wasn’t in class, the recipe was written without her.  When I tasted the recipe, I thought it was good, but could use a little refinement. The photo is of the original recipe, then I offer my changes.  Happy cooking and remember to practice your knife skills!

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Bengali Chicken Curry with Rice
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This recipe comes from West Bengal and is a colorful and flavorful one pot meal. Be sure to dice all your vegetables to the same bite size. It will make it easier for your diners to enjoy a perfect biteful!
Servings
2 dinner entrees
Servings
2 dinner entrees
Bengali Chicken Curry with Rice
Print Recipe
This recipe comes from West Bengal and is a colorful and flavorful one pot meal. Be sure to dice all your vegetables to the same bite size. It will make it easier for your diners to enjoy a perfect biteful!
Servings
2 dinner entrees
Servings
2 dinner entrees
Ingredients
Servings: dinner entrees
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet, over a medium high heat; add the onions and bell pepper. Cook until translucent, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and ginger and continue stirring. Reduce heat to medium flame and add tomatoes. Stir and cook until tomatoes are soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Season with cayenne, curry, garam masala, turmeric and cumin. Stir in reserved tomato juices.
  4. Add the chicken, potates, and stock; Simmer and stir occasionally until potatoes are tender and chicken is no longer pink, about 20 minutes.
  5. Spoon Chicken mixture over cooked rice and garnish with cilantro.
  6. Serve Hot
Recipe Notes

There should be plenty of juices that have thickened from the potatoes.

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New Orleans or N’awlins

Oh my goodness! Over Memorial Day weekend while you were barbecuing, crab boiling or just laying back, I was eating my way through New Orleans!  It was oh so yummy.  lucky you I have taken pictures, reviewed everything and even dug out an old recipe to share with you.  So sit back, loosen your waist band and start reading.

I started the weekend at John Besh’s restaurant Luke. We were able to book the back for our party and the eating ensued. We started with fresh P&J oysters, the crispy brussels sprouts, flamenkuchen and the crab hush puppies. While I thought they were all delicious, the “hush puppies” were more fritters than hush puppies. For dinner we had the Luke Burger, Shrimp and Grits, the Crab BLT, and the market fish.  The grits were amazing!  They were just the right amount of creamy with enough texture to feel the “grit” of the corn. The desserts were okay but to be honest we were so full, it didn’t matter.

Red Fish Meuniere, with crabmeat
Red Fish Meuniere, with crabmeat
Shrimp and Grits
Shrimp and Grits
Soft Shell Crab BLT
Soft Shell Crab BLT

The next day we went for a airboat ride and saw the alligators so it seemed only right that we went to “Daisy Dukes” and had an alligator po’ boy.

Wally Gator
Wally Gator

It was a good thing we did because we were having hotel banquet food.  It was okay as hotel food goes, but we were left unsatisfied at the end of the night.  It was late so of course we headed over to Cafe du Monde for beignets.  It turned out to be the great powdered sugar war of 2015!  Beignets are absolutely heavenly! A couple of tips: eat the beignets hot, they lose something as they cool. Have the chicory coffee.  You can get it hot or iced and do the cafe au lait.  Delicious!

Jambalaya
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A Louisiana Creole dish that came from the Spanish and French influences in New Orleans. It is very similar to a Spanish Paella.
Servings
11 cups
Servings
11 cups
Jambalaya
Print Recipe
A Louisiana Creole dish that came from the Spanish and French influences in New Orleans. It is very similar to a Spanish Paella.
Servings
11 cups
Servings
11 cups
Ingredients
Servings: cups
Instructions
  1. Combine seasoning mix ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. In a large stock pot or dutch oven, melt the chicken fat over medium heat. Add 1 1/2 cups onions, 1 cup of celery,and 3/4 cup green bell peppers. Cook until the vegetables are caramelized, about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. The onions should be a rich dark brown, but not burnt.
  3. Add the hame, sausage and remaining onion, celery and green bell peppers. Continue cooking and stirring for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, garlic, tomato sauce, bay leaves, seasoning mix and Tabasco. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Turn the heat to high, fold in rice until well mixed. Add the stock, cover pot and remove from heat. Let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. Return to medium heat and cook, covered, until rice is tender, about 10 minutes.
  5. Serve with crusty bread and cold beer. Enjoy!
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