Roasted Pear Salad with Pumpkin Seeds & Chèvre

IMG_8956A robust winter salad can break the monotony of root vegetables and mash. This roasted pear over crisp greens salad with a sprinkling of seeds makes a lovely starter. We recently served this salad to a group of sixty, and it was so simple to do for a large group, but its taste and presentation make it special.

It is shown here with a light Crème Fraîche dressing, but is also very good served with a Balsamic Maple Dressing. Continue reading

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

Rutabaga with Dijon

IMG_6198The under-loved rutabaga (swede, neeps or yellow turnip) has been part of the European diet since pre-historic times, and been used as livestock fodder since at least the 1400’s. It has fed folks through famine, and kept livestock alive through the winter.  It may be whimsy, but I can easily visualize a young serf walking towards his hovel with a turnip in hand, or a young maid with a wooden pail of turnip heads for her cow.

The tops are highly nutritious food & fodder, but the root is a great source of fiber and vitamin C, as well as many other minerals & vitamins, and keeps really well in your fridge for up to a month.

Some people find the taste of brassicas (of which rutabagas are a family member) bitter to taste.  However, their health benefits are significant enough that including them in our diet is important.  I for one love the taste of rutabaga.  It can be mashed with potatoes (Neeps & Tatties) or with carrots, but it does beautifully on its own.  If just a little tang and sweetness are added, any bitterness falls to the wayside.  So, eat your brassicas & roots, folks, all at once! Continue reading

Herb Crusted Pork Roast

IMG_5394When my parents would visit my younger sister and I in our apartment in the late 70’s (returning to the city from their back-to-the-land adventures on Thetis Island) I would try to make a really sumptuous feast at least once during their visit.  I can remember buying a huge pork roast (in reality it was probably no more than four pounds) to serve one night.  I carefully sliced it through almost to the bone, every couple of inches, and stuffed it with nuts, herbs, and dried fruits.  There wasn’t a recipe to follow, it was just an idea I had.  I stuck garlic slices into it, and salt & peppered the fat.  I roasted it on low until the meat could be pulled from the bone.  I still have no idea what cut of pork it was, but its flavour holds fast in my memory.

Pork does so well when treated to a good crust or stuffing, or the both.  This herb & salt mix takes the humble pork butt roast to an amazing centerpiece.  The butt is full of flavour due to the lines of fat that run through it. The fat pulls the flavours in and through it.  Let it sit at room temperature for one hour after covering it with the seasoning.  It will give the pork a chance to take advantage of all you have offered it. Continue reading