Cardamom & Apple Roast Pork Tenderloin

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This is a dish that I often throw together in the winter. I’ve used all kinds of apples to make it since I visit a u-pick farm every year with my family, Coston Farm in Hendersonville, N.C., and have apples on hand from fall until spring.

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This last fall, my dad and  his wife and his two sisters and their husbands joined us on my little family’s tenth annual trip to the farm.

My boys always buy an apple juice and play checkers on the farm’s rocking chair porch with their dad while they sip them. And of course I still embarrass them by making them stand in front of the farm’s giant growth chart. I have taken pictures of them in front of it every year since my little guy was 3 and this big galoot was 5. Makes me want to cry to see the almost men that they’ve so quickly become.

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My aunt won the unofficial shiniest, reddest apple of the season contest. It was a BEAUTY!

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The last bushel almost made it to the warm season. I tossed the few bruised ones that were hanging around to my flock of chickens earlier in the week.

The apple roast pork is super quick and easy to make. I just slice cored apples and the pork into rounds. zsliceporkwtrmk

Then I layer them and sprinkle on cardamom and salt & pepper.

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Roasting time will vary according to the size of the loin used, but the pan of goodies always comes out of my 350 degree oven,  juicy and tender within the hour.

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The child who doesn’t like savory and sweet combinations, or cooked apples of any kind, picks out his apple slices, but does appreciate the flavor that the apples impart.

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Of course the meat and apples are best drizzled with the pan juices that are left from roasting. And the last time I made this dish, I served it with a spinach salad dressed with friends’ homemade apple cider vinegar and cheesy grits on the side.

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Hot Tamales!

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Oh, are these hot when they come out of the steamer!

I am loving harvest season this year.  It has been a summer and fall of enjoying local produce like never before.

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Baby romaine, and mustard and turnip greens from my last garden harvest of the season.

I have probably eaten my weight in red and blue potatoes, am enjoying having oodles of apples at hand throughout the day for quick, healthy snacks, and have prepared pounds of fresh corn.

When I saw these ears for sale, I knew I wanted to turn them into tamales.

I roasted a Boston butt ahead of time in the oven for several hours with lots of flavorful seasonings to make the pork filling, and used Bob’s Red Mill Organic Corn Flour along with the fresh kernels and natural starch from the ears of corn to make the dough.  Then I served up the tamales with greens from the garden, sour cream, brown rice, and chicken cooked the way I make it for my enchiladas.

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Speaking of enchiladas, these tamales would have been so much better with enchilada sauce, but I didn’t take the time to make it.

Ingredients:

1 c. cooked, pulled pork

12 – 15 wide corn husks

Dough:

2 c. corn flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. pink Himalayan salt

1 tsp. turbinado sugar

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp. cumin

1/2 c. warm water

1 T extra virgin olive oil

1 c. fresh corn kernels cut, scraped from the ear, and coarsely chopped.  Around 1 ear of corn.

Method:

Peel the husks from a few ears of corn after cutting the stem end off.

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Tear one of the corn husks into 3/4″ wide strips to use as ties for the tamales. I find that the lighter, thinner husk closest to the corn ear is more flexible and easier to tie.

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Sift together the corn flour, spices, turbinado sugar, salt, and sugar in a medium sized mixing bowl.

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Work in the oil with your fingers, then the water to make a dough.

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Mix in the corn and its juices.  You can use the back of a knife to scrape the ear and remove the starchy bits, after cutting off the kernels.

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Lay out two corn husks and spread between 1/4 and 1/2 c. of the dough across one section.  Leave one end clear for folding over the dough.

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Lay 1 T. of pork in the center of the dough to make a strip.

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Fold the sides of the corn husks over to form a little package.  Unfold the husks and press the dough edges where they meet around the pork to seal so that the pork is in the middle.

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Fold the husk back over the filling.  Bring the empty end up and over the folded edges and tie the bundle closed with strips of husk.

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Place a rack in the bottom of a large stock pot.

Fill the pot with water to just below the rack.

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Line the pot with the wrapped tamales upright in the pot, closed side down.

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Bring the water to a simmer.

Cover the pot and steam the tamales for 40 minutes, checking periodically to see that the water hasn’t evaporated.  Add water as needed.

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Unwrap those hot tamales and eat them up!

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Yield: 6 to 8

 

 

Autumn Harvest Chicken Salad

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When I was a kid, there were a few dishes I would repeatedly order when my family went out to dinner.  It was a room service chicken salad croissant at The Breaker’s Hotel in Palm Beach that started my obsession with this sandwich.

My dad was a chiropractor in Central Florida.  Lucky us, because though I was just plain proud to be the daughter to someone who helped so many people, the annual series of chiropractic seminars he was required by law to attend was held for several years at The Breakers.  Fortunately for my sister and me, my parents saw fit to drag their kids along on this hotel discounted yearly weekend away, rather than taking the time for themselves.  That meant that while Dad sat through endless hours of seminars, albeit in gorgeously appointed baroque ballrooms, my mother and sister and I pranced around the grounds and nearby Worth Avenue getting some girly, city time away from our mostly swamp, rural home in East Orlando.  Every minute was a well-appreciated splurge.

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I’m certain we were the only guests who viewed one of the highlights of a trip to The Breakers the behind the scenes “tour” we would give ourselves to the top of the Italianate hotel.  I don’t even know if we were allowed up there, but we kids would ascend the shadowy staircase behind my mother to the top of either of the open-air twin towers that crowned the rooftop, after taking the elevator as high as it would go, for one of the most spectacular views in all of Florida.

It was the time of year when we pulled out, or bought if my sister and I had gone through a rapid growth spurt, our best clothes, sometimes including a “fancy” dress for dinner in The Florentine Dining Room.  It helped that we attended private school and Sunday services back home, so already had halfway decent daily wear.  We’d pack our best set of “casual resort wear” for Sunday brunch in The Circle.  I’m 100% convinced that my love (need) for a sun room in my own home came from early mornings in this, the most elegant, sunny place there is to dine.

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The chicken salad.  At The Breakers, you could order it in the 50’s glam, poolside restaurant, or from room service.  It consisted only of mayonnaise -lots of it- chicken breast chunks, coarse black pepper, and celery on a fabulous, fresh croissant.   Yes, I was a child foodie.  These ingredients mattered to me almost as much as the chocolate malt we would enjoy at the hotel’s original soda fountain.  It’s still my favorite way to eat chicken salad.

A close second is chicken salad with lots of apples, nuts, raisins, and celery.  Sometimes I swap the raisins for dried cranberries or cherries.  Or I end up using walnuts, almonds, or pecans.  Other times I add grapes in addition to the dried fruit.  In the old days, the annual batch I would make the week we apple picked would be overloaded with mayonnaise.

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Here is my new, lighter, but even tastier, version.  The pure maple syrup is my favorite change.  I still include a little olive oil based mayonnaise in the dressing, but I’m looking forward to being able to serve this heart-healthier dish to my family more often than the old, heavy recipe.  I’d love to be able to scoop it onto halves of freshly risen and baked croissants, but that would defeat the purpose of creating a lighter chicken salad.  Oak leaf and baby romaine lettuces, harvested from my fall garden, made a beautiful, nutritious accompaniment.

Ingredients:

Salad:

4 c. cooked chicken breast, large dice

3 c. apples.  I used Golden Delicious and Rome.

3 oz. organic raisins

2/3 c. coarsely chopped pecans

1/2 c. medium dice celery

Dressing:

1/2 c. olive oil mayonnaise

1 tsp. pure, organic maple syrup

2 tsp. raw, organic apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp. coarsely ground black pepper

Salt to taste

1/2 c. milk

Method:

Combine the chicken, nuts, apples, raisins, and celery in a large bowl.

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Whisk together the dressing ingredients.

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Mix the dressing into the salad ingredients.

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Yield: 8 to 16 servings

Note:  This was much better the next day after the flavors had combined.  The apples stayed crisp and fresh in the vinegar dressing, and didn’t brown.