November 2009 What’s for Dinner – Pork is a Crowd-Pleaser

Let me just get this out of the way, Lesley made dinner plans first.

“We’re going to cook the November meal for some people at our house next weekend,” she says.

“How about I do the same thing at my place and we can compare notes!” say I, inspired.

“Sounds good.”

How was I to know that she’d end up doing a whole ‘nother menu, and now I look like a real asshole. But, the damage is done, and it was such a treat to have Chris and Emily Lacroix over for the Marthable experience. I’m not just saying that because Chris brought a pumpkin creme brulee pie and Emily brought napkins, they truly are cheerful and tolerant company. The only trouble is, if the dinner had turned out badly, they would never in a million years tell me so. You’ll have to take it on faith that their glowing reports and smiles are genuine (and email them later for the real dirt). At any rate, everyone cleaned their plates, and that’s about the best compliment a billionaire magazine cooking/entertaining expert and her humble servant can expect.

Menu:

  • Roasted Cauliflower with Pasta and Lemon Zest
  • Pork Tenderloin and Mustard-Wine Sauce
  • Baby Spinach with Warm Olive Oil and Walnuts
  • Cranberry Compote with Mascarpone and Cookies Pumpkin Creme Brulee Pie!

Roasted Cauliflower with Pasta and Lemon Zest

Pasta as a side….how luxurious. This was so simple. You roast a giant head of cauliflower (broken up into little florets) with red onion slices and capers (I didn’t find that the capers contributed much – skip ’em if you’re not into it), then mix it with pasta and add some parsley, salt, pepper, lemon zest, and stuff. I was supposed to use orecchiette, but small shells were just fine. I could have eaten an entire meal of this, but it was much more satisfying to have it with the pork and the salad. A well-matched medley of flavors. And….I just said “medley,” so I’m going to move on before I embarrass myself.

Pork Tenderloin with Mustard-Wine Sauce

My first experience at Belmont Butchery!

Apologies for the grainy, hastily-snapped photo, but I found my own enthusiasm humiliating, so I tried to act like I was just fiddling with my camera. Anyway, a very helpful young fellow (whose name I unfortunately didn’t get) told me with real sorrow in his voice that they were out of the Martha-required pork tenderloin. Instead, he suggested a hunk of pork loin. It was so pretty and reasonably priced that I said “Wrap it up, my good man” (or “Yes, I will take that”).

It’s a good thing I have an oven probe meat thermometer (All-Clad), because the big fat loin took a lot longer (40 minutes) to get to the required temperature (145 degrees) than the tenderloin was supposed to (15 minutes). As a result, the mustard-wine sauce in the pan reduced so much that it was barely there when the loin was finished, but the finished product was still delicious.

Baby Spinach with Warm Olive Oil and Walnuts

Basically just a simple salad, I did learn a trick from this recipe. Toast walnuts IN OIL and then USE FRAGRANT WARM OIL to dress salad! Economical AND fatty! Seems like it would be a little bland and oily, but it worked well with this meal because the pasta side featured lemon and the pork featured mustard. If you put it all in your mouth at the same time and wish really hard, you’ve got the flavors of a vinaigrette!

Pumpkin Creme Brulee Pie!


We went rogue with this one. Well-known for his meat prowess, Chris offered to bring over this delicious pie, probably so that he could have something to keep him occupied while he watched me inexpertly fumble with the pork. Since the prescribed dessert (mascarpone spread on a cookie with cranberry compote on the top) didn’t seem too interesting to me anyway, I was thrilled to accept. As a bonus, we got a demonstration of his new blowtorch.

The pie was delicious and certainly filled the void that my Thanksgiving f-up had left, gaping and disconsolate, in my soul and stomach.

Everyone was nice enough to give me comments on the dinner, but I was too full and happy to bother to write anything down, so now I forget. The general impression I got was “this dinner was good and satisfying” and “the flavors went well together.” So, special thanks to Emily and Chris for the pie, the company, and for not mentioning the fact that two of our chairs were folding chairs.

Stats and substitutions:

  • Total time, 1 hr. and 40 minutes (much of this due to pork loin’s extended cooking time)
  • Standout course: roasted cauliflower pasta!
  • Leftovers: none
  • Dessert: rejected
  • New dessert: welcomed with open mouths
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2 comments

  1. emily · December 13, 2009

    Glad I was able to contribute my exceptional wine-pouring skills to this lovely meal. Oh, and the napkins!

  2. pjpink · December 23, 2009

    I’m glad you have now experienced Belmont Butchery. They are fantastic!

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