Pork Tenderloin with Honey-Goat Cheese Sauce

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I love this blog. I love that we’ve kept up with it for a few years now. I love that I can look back on some of the fun dishes we’ve made and especially that I have a record to refer to when I want to remake a recipe. What I don’t love? Actually writing these posts. I feel like I don’t have all that much to say. And that I frequently say the same thing over and over! (“This dish is amazing!” 🙄🙄) But even though the blog is more for us as a culinary diary than for anyone else, I still feel like I have to say something each time, instead of just posting the recipe. Oh well – we can’t all be brilliant and insightful all the time!

This dish came together quickly and easily. Definitely do-able on a weeknight. I may or may not have set off the smoke detector while searing the pork, despite having the vent hood on high, but otherwise it took me less than a half hour from prep to serving. One tip: keep the goat cheese sauce warm and stir frequently until serving. When goat cheese sauces like this start to cool, they get a little gritty. Still tastes good, but the texture is less desirable. Speaking of tastes good… For some reason I always want a sweet and savory combo when eating pork like this. Just me? This fits the bill, as does pretty much every other pork recipe we’ve shared here (see: Maple & Mustard Pork with ShallotsPork Tenderloin with Fig ChutneyBraised Balsamic Pork with Grapes).

 
Pork Tenderloin with Honey-Goat Cheese Sauce

(Sauce adapted from Half Baked Harvest)
Ingredients:
  • ~1lb pork tenderloin
  • Salt & pepper
  • 6oz goat cheese, room temperature
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper
Instructions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Season all sides of the tenderloin with salt and pepper. Sear all sides in a cast iron skillet over high heat for just 1-2 minutes on each side.
  2. Once the tenderloin is seared, move it in the skillet to the hot oven for ~15 minutes. (You want an internal temperature of 145 degrees, at minimum.)
  3. Whisk together the remaining ingredients (or combine in food processor). Heat in a small saucepan over low heat while the pork is cooking.
  4. Allow the pork to rest for ~5 minutes before slicing. (If you prefer pork on the medium-rare side, remove it at an internal temp of 135-140, since it will cook a little more while resting.) Serve with sauce on top!
Serves 3-4

Homemade Margaritas (Two Recipes!)

Happy Cinco de Mayo! 🇲🇽🇲🇽

As a general rule, Americans aren’t usually celebrating the correct thing when we get excited about Cinco de Mayo. Rumor has it that most Americans think this day is Mexico’s Independence Day, which it is not. Instead Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican victory over France at the Battle of Puebla. But hey… any excuse for delicious Mexican food. Or drink!

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When we decided to make homemade margaritas tonight, Ally immediately thought about the margaritas our favorite Texans make for us. Texans know authentic Mexican better than anyone else in the country who is not Mexican, so we got their recipe – see Texas Margarita below. Since we were talking about tequila and margaritas, Selim had to share his personal recipe as well! Two margarita varieties in one post!

Notice the color of our margaritas, an appealing greenish-brown. Since we hand squeezed (yes, by hand, no electric or plastic juicer, just muscle) the limes, they keep their pale green hue instead of the neon green from marg mixes. Plus, we don’t use traditional white sugar in any of our cooking endeavors, instead we keep turbinado sugar in our pantry at all times, which is a clear brown in color and has way more depth of flavor.

Selim loves tequila (it comes in 2nd after wine, obviously). There are three “kinds” of tequila: joven, reposado, and añejo. Joven means young in Spanish and is often referred to as silver or white tequila. Joven is unaged and is really just the distillate from the agave; think of it being similar to the white grain alcohol before it’s aged in barrels and becomes whiskey. Reposado means rested and this tequila has been aged a minimum of 2 months in oak barrels. Añejo means aged and this tequila has been aged a minimum of 12 months in oak barrels. Barrel aging imparts complexity by adding notes of vanilla, cinnamon & spices, caramel, toffee, and so much more depending on oak type (American or European), new or old barrels, duration of aging, and of course… terroir! For those who have written off tequila as some inferior liquor, think again. To get back to the initial sentence, Selim loving tequila… He likes to highlight the tequila in his drinks, that’s why his pseudo-margarita only has three ingredients. Simply made, yet complex in taste. Always good tequila (we like Espolón), fresh squeezed lime juice, and local (terrior!) honey. Enjoy!

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Texas Margarita

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4+ limes ⇒ 1/2 cup lime juice + 1 strip of peel
  • 1/4 cup orange liqueur
  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • Coarse salt, if desired
Ingredients:
  1. Prepare simple syrup. Over low-medium heat, stir together the sugar and water. Watching closely, after the sugar dissolves, add the strip of lime peel. As soon as bubbles appear, remove from heat and set aside to cool.
    • (You can make a larger batch of simple syrup if desired to keep in the fridge for later use. Just maintain 1:1 ratio.)
  2. Prepare drinks once simple syrup has cooled. Mix together 1/4 cup simple syrup, lime juice, tequila, and orange liqueur. Shake or stir to combine.
  3. Salt the rim of two glasses if desired. Pour drink into glasses over ice.
Makes 2 drinks

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Selim’s Margarita

Ingredients: 
  • 4+ limes ⇒ 1/2 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup tequila
  • 1.5 oz (~1/6 cup) honey
Instructions: 
  1. Vigorously stir tequila into honey – it’s thick.
  2. Add tequila-honey mix to cold shaker with lime juice and shake.
  3. Divide into two chilled coupes glasses. Serve!
Makes 2 drinks

Wine & Honey Brisket

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When I decided to make surprise Hanukkah dinner tonight, I knew I wanted to make latkes and dessert, but what to make for a main dish…? I’ve never made brisket before, but I don’t live under a rock. I know that this cut of meat is beloved by Jewish bubbes and Texas pit-masters alike. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever made a brisket before, but tonight seemed like the perfect night to give it a whirl!

Brisket is a cut that comes from the chest of the cow. It is a tough cut of meat, with a lot of connective tissue to support the cow’s weight. Hence, it requires a long, low, slow method of cooking to tenderize it sufficiently. Those Texas pit-masters like to smoke over low heat for long periods of time, but Jewish cooks traditionally braise it. We love any kind of braised meats, as we’ve mentioned a few times (check out our Braised Balsamic Pork with GrapesKimchi Braised Chicken with NoodlesRed Wine Braised Beef, or Braised Chicken Thighs with Middle Eastern Spices).

This recipe is an interesting mix of sweet and savory. The honey and balsamic add sweetness that balances out the meat and onions. The meat comes out so tender, but the sauce and vegetables really make it. I’m not going to lie – I think I actually liked the onions and the carrots even better than the meat.

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Wine & Honey Brisket

(Minimally adapted from Leite’s Culinara, recipe originating from Modern Jewish Cooking)
Ingredients: 
  • 1 tbsp neutral oil
  • 3 1/2 – 4lb brisket
  • Salt & fresh ground black pepper
  • 3 medium onions, sliced
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • cup + 1 cup red wine
  • tbsp + 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 6 large whole carrots or a few handfuls of baby carrots
Instructions: 
  1. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Generously season both sides of the brisket with salt and pepper. Sear on all sides, several minutes per side.
  3. Remove the brisket from the dutch oven and set to the side.
  4. Deglaze the pan with 1 cup of red wine. Add the onions, garlic, thyme, bay leaves, and 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar.
  5. Cook, stirring occasionally, for ~ 10 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, whisk together the other cup of red wine with honey, remaining 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, and stock.
  7. Nestle the carrots under the onions. Then place the brisket on top of the vegetables. Pour the wine and honey mixture over top.
  8. Cover and place in the oven. Braise for 2 hours. After those 2 hours, stir the vegetables and flip the meat. Re-cover and braise for another 2 hours.
  9. Remove the brisket from the dutch oven. Place on a cutting board and tent foil overtop. Allow to rest for ~15 minutes.
  10. Meanwhile, return the dutch oven to the stovetop. Simmer the pan sauce and reduce it while the meat is resting.
  11. After resting, slice the brisket on the perpendicular. Serve with the onions, carrot, and topped with pan sauce.
Serves 6-8 (the brisket shrinks considerably as it braises)

Honey Baked Peaches

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You know those word association games/tests that psychologists (at least on TV) use to gain deep insight into your psyche? You know the one – they ask you to say the first word that pops into your mind when they say something seemingly innocuous like “mother” and then learn a lot about you depending on whether you reply with “love,” “lipstick,” “lazy,” or “laundry.” (Side note: this is not to say that those are my first four words for my mother; I was just going for some alliteration for your Sunday evening!) Well somehow I got to thinking about this in terms of dessert. If you were said imaginary psychologist and prompted me with “dessert,” these would be my words: “baking,” “oven,” “chocolate,” “sugar,” “sweet,” and “timer.” In my own self-psycho-analysis, I’ve concluded that I somehow only associate dessert with baked goods and a time-consuming process. This is, of course, not true at all. The moral of my story is that I need to branch out a little bit. (I played this game with Selim, and when I offered the word “dessert,” he immediately responded with “chocolate.”)

Tonight’s dessert is a perfect example. The prep-work is literally 2 minutes long, and you’re eating your dessert barely after you even thought about it! All you need is a couple peaches in your fruit bowl and a few standard pantry ingredients, and voila! You have a delicious dessert! Also, I think this is the perfect dessert to bridge summer and fall, aka the month of September. You’ve got the last of a your juicy summer peaches, but baked with some of your favorite fall flavors!

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Honey Baked Peaches

Ingredients: 
  • 2 peaches
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt
  • Honey
Instructions:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Slice peaches in half and remove the pit.
  3. Place cut side up on a foil-lined pie pan.
  4. Drizzle each peach half with some honey.
  5. Stir together all dry ingredients and then sprinkle over top each of the peach halves.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes.
  7. After removing from the oven, drizzle with honey again!
  8. Serve as is or top with some vanilla ice cream or whipped cream!
Serves 2-4