Pan-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Dijon Cream Sauce

IMG_6205Last weekend we were catering for a large group, with multiple meals.  Menus were gone over carefully making sure we weren’t duplicating anything, and that each meal would be memorable on its own.

Dish selection for buffets can be quite difficult, when you’ve got the same group of people back again the next night. The two most useful meats for a buffet are chicken & pork.  If you go to other poultry or red meat, there should be an alternate. Time and space constraints were at play last weekend, as well as sticking to a tight budget.

We served chicken the first night as part of a casual Indian inspired buffet.  The second night was to be a bit more formal, so we did herb crusted pork loin with roasted potatoes, glazed carrots, broccolini, and Waldorf salad after some appetizers and before a dessert of blackberry compote filled Pavlovas with orange cream and pistachio crumb.

The smell of the herb-crusted roasts was fantastic, and we wanted to support that sensation with a great sauce to serve over the cut slices of pork.  I used a Dijon cream sauce that I typically make while deglazing a pork tenderloin pan. It is super easy, and always works.   Pork tenderloin is quick and tender, and can be on the table in about half an hour, which gives you just enough time to cook a side, and make a salad.  Continue reading

Focaccia Bread

IMG_6923Once upon a time, I had been invited to join my sister & her partner at Bishop’s for dinner.  It was a lovely late spring day, and I was so excited to be going to one of my favourite chef’s restaurants.  I had no idea just how much that visit would help me in understanding the true art of customer service in the food industry.

As we were seated, I looked around at the beautifully appointed room, with heavy linens, and lovely tableware, but nothing ostentatious.   It felt like I was in someone’s much loved home.  There was quiet chat all around us, with people enjoying the food, their friends, and their surroundings.  Home.

It wasn’t long before John Bishop himself came and joined the three of us for a few minutes at our table.  Pulling out the fourth chair he became one of our group. He already new the other two, but I was a new face.  He found out we lived on a producing farm, and was instantly interested in all aspects of how we raised our animals, how we sold our meat, and so on.  Through the conversation he also learned that I was a caterer. I don’t usually bring this up to “real chefs” as I am untrained, and tend to put chefs on pedestals, of which I will probably never rise to.

After no more than 10 minutes, he was off to run his room.

We ordered dinner, and enjoyed a small amuse bouche he brought to us.  Before we were served our main meal, he came to the table and asked if I would like to come into the kitchens, and see the workings, how it was all set up, and the like.

We moved from station to station looking at sauces simmering, meat being expertly trimmed and cooked, all while there was a very professional but happy energy happening.

Looking at me with a twinkle in his eye, he asked me to follow him out the back door to the alley, as he wanted to show me something.

On the landing of the turn of the stairs, no more than 8 feet square, there was a very homey patio table with an umbrella and 4 or 5 chairs. He was so excited to show me these.  One of his best customers had called only to find that the restaurant was fully booked for the night.  Not to let her down, he gave her an al fresco option.  He’d asked his wife if she would be able to bring their set from their own home (with children helping) to set up a very special dining experience in the alley way for this treasured client.  We sat for a few minutes enjoying the late evening sun, while we both spoke of both our standards of customer service and how feeding people had brought us to these points in our lives.

As we walked back to the dining room, he asked if I would come and spend three days or so in his kitchen in the near future. I would have loved to, and it was a door I should never have let close.  Regrets? Maybe, but at the time I knew my place was on the farm with my family.   All these years later, it still remains my favourite room in Vancouver.

This recipe for focaccia bread is based on a recipe from Bishop’s.

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Prosciutto Laced Potato & Rutabaga Pie

IMG_6869A few nights ago, the sisters and I decided to have a mini potluck and cards night.  Nothing fancy, just a bit of good food and a game of cards (and maybe a bottle or two of wine). It was so fun to go to the little house in the woods, for such a cozy evening.

I knew that one would be doing chicken, and the other a salad, so decided to go with potatoes.  And some rutabaga.  And some prosciutto.  And butter.  So good, and it hit all the comfort food marks.  I made it earlier in the day, and just put it in the oven to finish just in time to leave.

This dish is very traditional, except for the prosciutto, but why be a traditionalist when you can try something new? After all, they’re just vegetables… Continue reading

Green Pea Cakes with Apple & Fennel Salsa

IMG_6858Today, spring truly feels like it’s on our doorstep.  There are a few days in early spring, when it just feels like spring has really arrived.  Somehow in a matter of days the frogs are louder, and the birds are busier.  The horse pastures are vibrant green, while the crocii have opened up under the bursting forsythia.  The thermometer has moved into the double digits (celsius), and it feels sooo good!  To celebrate spring, and my sister’s birthday, I just felt the need to show it in food.

Just in time for St. Patrick’s, this is a very green dish, with a light, tart salsa in small mounds on top of bright green little pancakes.  I’m sure they should be called something like “Emerald Isles”.   Bonus: they work really well Gluten Free. Continue reading