Spring Break in NYC and The Other White Meat: Pork Tenderloin

pork tenderloin whole foods dinner recipe

Pork Tenderloin Mise En Place

A good friend spent this past weekend in Vail – at this time of year some of the airlines fly directly from NYC to Vail – Puff Puff. Anyway, she texted me an overview of the scene at the airport: Moms and Dads on Blackberries, kids being tended to by nannies while waiting to board the plane. Yeah, it’s private school spring break in New York. Check your FaceBook or Instagram feed and you’ll see what I mean.

Sean Lowe the Bachelor pork tenderloin

Book Club…

For six months a year, on Monday nights, I have book club (read: The Bachelor Watching). My hosts cook a lovely dinner, we catch up on life and then spend two hours soaking in The Most Dramatic Season Ever.

On one such recent Monday, this UWS couple admitted to me that they were the ‘worst parents ever’. Why? Well, because, GASP! Their son’s spring break was rapidly approaching and they had nothing planned for him. To make it worse, their son is, indeed, in private school and is sure to be the only five-year-old to return after the hiatus without tales of skiing, snorkeling, swimming with dolphins and all around hobnobbing with the rich and famous.

I tried to console them and ease their shame with the story of my own upbringing. OK…I went to private junior high school. There I said it. And, while other families were jetting off to Eleuthera (yes, I had to google the spelling on that) and Jackson Hole and Little Dix Bay, we stayed home. Sure, my mom might take us to the mall (aka The Stamford Town Center). But, for the most part, we spent the two weeks of vacation in the affordable comfort of our own home. And I turned out ok. (Zip it, this isn’t a question).

Staying home for spring break never bothered me. But there were other cost cutting measures that did make me feel different than my well-traveled classmates.

Growing up less fancy than some of my friends may be why I have always been a little prejudiced against cheaper meats…like pork: The Other White Meat.

Truth be told: I don’t like pork. Sure, I love bacon…but that’s not the pork I mean. I’ve never been a fan of the pork chop. It’s not the more interesting or expensive lamb chop. And, until three weeks ago I thought that I hated pork tenderloin…It’s not the fancy beef tenderloin after all.

But, at a recent ‘Book Club’ dinner, my gracious hosts prepared an amazing pork tenderloin that may, if you’re like me, change your mind about the other white meat.

Pork Tenderloin (serves 4)

Tiny apartment tips:

  • Always mise en place – IOW set up your ingredients and take a pretty picture
  • You always have to buy more fresh ginger than you need for any one recipe, so when you buy it, peel it, wrap it in Saran and then put it in a baggie and into the freezer. It’s easier to grate this way and lasts a long long time
  • You’re going to need a meat thermometer…OXO sells a small one that’s tiny apartment friendly. The face has a smaller diameter that fits nicely in a drawer

Ingredients:

  • A 1 – 1.25 lb Pork Tenderloin – I priced these at several UWS locations and found that the ones at Whole Foods are not only very competitively priced at $14.99/lb, but also the prettiest.
  • pork tenderloin asian flare whole foods

    Pretty Whole Foods Pork Tenderloin – but does sort of look like Alien

  • 3 TBSP Freshly Grated Ginger – I go heavy on ginger because I just love it
  • 2 Cloves Garlic – minced
  • 2 TBSP Rice Vinegar
  • 2 TBSP Low-Sodium Soy Sauce…OK, I used the packets from a Shun Lee delivery
  • 3 TBSP Toasted Sesame Oil. Yes, there’s a difference between sesame oil and toasted sesame oil…it’s about $6 – but go for it.

1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk together creating an asian marinade

grated fresh ginger pork tenderloin recipe

LOTS of grated ginger

pork tenderloin marinade asian

My new tiny baby whisk from Sur La Table. LOVE

2. Unwrap the pork tenderloin and place in a ZipLoc baggie

3. Pour the marinade over the pork

pork tenderloin asian marinade

Marinating Pork Tenderloin – pre-fridge

4. Seal the bag and place the marinating pork into the fridge for at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours. I marinated about 5 hours…During the marinating process, flip the bag every hour or so to ensure the meat is evenly marinated.

whole foods pork tenderloin recipe food

Pork Tenderloin, Post 5 Hour Marinade

5. About :20 minutes before cooking, take the pork out of the fridge and temperate (bring to room temperature)

6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees

7. Place the pork tenderloin on a cookie sheet lined with Reynold’s Wrap and into the oven

OXO meat thermometer dinner pork food recipe

OXO

8. Roast for :25 – :30 minutes – until the meat thermometer reaches 145 degrees

9. Remove from the oven and place the pork on a cutting board and cover with tin foil

pork tenderloin asian marinade recipe food

Out of the Oven and Ready to Rest – still sorta looks like Alien

10. Allow the meat to rest for at least :10 minutes..the Pork will continue to cook during this resting period

11. Slice and serve

tender pork tenderloin recipe food dinner

Perfectly Roasted. A little pink is AOK

I gotta tell you, I was a lot skeptical about pork tenderloin. I was even a little nervous when my hosts told me they were serving it for dinner. But this was really good.

I’m not going to try to convince you that staying in NYC for spring break is the same as skiing in Val D’Isere. And, a trip to the Stamford Town Center in March may not be exactly as fabulous as a sun-soaked villa in Nevis.

But, don’t be ashamed of The Other White Meat. When done well, the super-tender asian marinated pork tenderloin can be just as satisfying as other much more expensive competing meats.

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Appropriately Sized and Served on the Side: Lil’ Savory Cheddar Dill Scones

ina garten cheddar dill scones

Savory Smaller Cheddar Dill Scones

One of the things that drives me most crazy is the size of portions at restaurants. And, I’m not just talking about at The Cheesecake Factory. I’m not averse to the giant drinks at the bar there – but, that’s a different story.

The other night I was out to dinner at one of my fave Mexican restaurants in the West Village. I ordered the Baja (read ‘fried’) fish tacos. In a totally wrong way in my head, ordering the fish tacos vs the chicken chimichangas, would be ‘better’ for me. I realize that’s wrong.

mole fish taco

Giant Portion

When the tacos arrived, the plate – probably 10 inches in diameter – was completely covered. It was literally a portion that could serve a family of four if Melissa D’Arabian had anything to say about it. Seriously, there were no fewer than 8 big pieces of Baja fried fish smothered in tomatoes, onions, cilantro, topped with avocado slices and sitting atop 7, yes 7, soft tacos. Ridiculous. Delicious, but ridiculous.

It’s just too much. I mean, does the restaurant think that food for four should be served to just one? And, are they promoting eating that much just by serving it? Does the restaurant have a responsibility for controlling the portions they serve? I think so. And….Don’t get me started on giant sodas, because, sorry, I agree with the mayor here.

In a city where space is at a premium – and our kitchens are tiny – the giant restaurant portions amaze me.

sur la table nyc

It’s like crack for a cook

My niece and nephew sent me a gift certificate to Sur La Table for Christmas. Whenever I shop for kitchen stuff, I have to take into account my tiny kitchen. I have to make choices – I want, but don’t need, another 6qt Le Creuset pot, another All-Clad grill pan, 7 more spatulas, the pasta attachment to my KitchenAid mixer, more wine glasses etc etc etc, ….And, I sort of do want a Scone cutter….But, where would I put any of these things?

Bottom line, is there isn’t room. And, a scone cutter, cuts out big scones. As the boss of my test kitchen, I have a responsibility to serve reasonably sized portions. So instead of a scone cutter, I bought a set of biscuit cutters. Better choice for a few reasons:

  1. They nest like Russian Dolls – one inside the other
  2. You get 5 sizes, not just one – more versatile
  3. They’re a lot smaller than a single scone cutter – controlling your portions and saving you space
  4. They come with a ring that connects them to one another – don’t throw out the ring as it will help you keep them organized in your tiny kitchen

I’m a savory, not a sweet eater. I heart savory scones – rarely a breakfast entree like their sugary cousins, but rather a side dish, an accoutrement to the main course. So, why should we make giant ones?

Lil’ Savory Cheddar Dill Scones (makes 24 baby scones)

Ingredients

  • scones recipe ina garten

    Scone Mise En Place

    2 Cups + 1TBSP Gold Medal all purpose flour

  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1 TSP Salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 TBSP) unsalted COLD butter, diced – dice the butter, then put it in the freezer for :10mins
  • 2 large eggs + 1 egg for egg wash
  • 1/2 Cup heavy cream chilled – measure out the cream and then put it back in the fridge until you’re ready to add it
  • 1/4lb extra-sharp Irish Cheddar cheese – small dice
  • 1/2 Cup minced fresh Dill

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

1. In the bowl of a KitchenAid mixer, combine 2 Cups of flour, the baking powder and salt

kitchenAid mixer scones

Use the Paddle Attachment – and just mix :05

2. Add the cold butter dices and mix on low until the butter is in pea sized pieces

3. In a separate bowl (or, I used a water glass, whatever works) mix together the eggs and heavy cream

4. Add the creamy-egg mix to the buttery flour mix and combine until just blended and a dough forms

cheddar dill scones

Don’t Over Mix!

5. In a separate bowl, toss the dill and cheddar dices with 1 TBSP of flour just to coat

cheddar dill scones

Tossed with Flour

6. Add the coated cheddar and dill to the dough and mix to combine

cheddar dill scones recipe

Mix for just :05 seconds

7. Put the dough on a well-floured surface and knead for about a minute to get all of the cheddar dices and dill-iness well incorporated

8. Roll out the dough to about 1/4-1/2 inch thick – if you were making a traditional scone, you might want them thicker…but again, too much food!

cheddar dill scones

Don’t roll too thin…

9. Using the two inch biscuit cutter I just got from Sur La Table – cut into circles

sur la table biscuit cutters

Space Saving Nesting Biscuit Cutters

10. Place the savory scone circles onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with Reynold’s Wrap Pan Lining Paper and brush them with egg wash (1 egg whisked with 1 TBSP water)

cheddar dill scones

Oven Ready Lil’ Scones

11. Into the oven for :16-:18 mins if you used the 2 inch biscuit cutter, :20 – :25 mins if you used a traditional scone cutter. Just watch the scones – when the outside is browned and crusty and the inside is fully baked, they’re done

scones ina garten recipe

Lil’ Cheddar Dill Scones

These scones are good. Like really good. And, my tiny apartment still smells a little like butter from the baking process. They are in no way low-cal….But, rather a more responsible way to give my guests a little savory delicious indulgence appropriately sized and served on the side.