Saturday, July 30, 2011

Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary Maple Sauce

Pork tenderloin is a versatile meat that works well in combination with different flavors and treatments, whether Wiener Schnitzel or Cubed Pork with Pineapple and Bell Peppers. With its many disguises, I’m sure Ron wouldn’t recognize it as the same cut, even if I served it nightly. Pork should be  cooked until a meat thermometer inserted into the centre of your loin or roast registers 150 deg. F. or 66 deg. C. As this recipe does, searing it locks in the juices, helping to keep it moist, tender, and flavorful. 
Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary Maple Sauce:
To Prepare the Meat:
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 lean pork tenderloin, about ¾ lb.
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
¼ tsp. salt
Dash of coarsely ground pepper
To Prepare the Sauce:
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1-½  tsp. canola oil
1-½ tbsp. cider vinegar
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. maple flavoring
2 tsp. snipped fresh rosemary leaves
Rosemary sprigs, as garnish
Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large cast iron or ovenproof skillet. Rub tenderloin with a mixture of mustard, salt, and pepper. Remove pork to sizzling skillet, browning well on all sides. Place uncovered skillet in oven, roasting tenderloin 30 min., or until meat thermometer registers 150 deg. F. or 66 deg. C. Transfer pork to serving plate. Keep warm by foil-tenting 5 min. 
In a small bowl, combine all sauce ingredients except rosemary sprigs. Pour sauce into skillet over medium heat. Bring to a boil, scraping up and stirring in the small browned bits of meat. Remove foil tent from meat, cutting pork into ¾-inch slices. Arrange on serving platter, adding meat juices from carving board to skillet. Simmer sauce 1 min., pouring over meat. Garnish with rosemary sprigs. Serves 2 to 3. 

Brown mustard-rubbed tenderloin in skillet

Prepare sauce ingredients as tenderloin roasts

Tent with foil for 5 min. 

Add sauce ingredients to fat in skillet

Add meat juices to sauce in pan

Slice tenderloin before arranging on platter

Pour sauce over meat and serve
To comment on this or any other recipe, drop me a line at 

Cheese-Stuffed Apricot Bites

You’ll have to make this quickly, before summer’s apricots are completely gone! I tried this dish for the very first time a few days ago, at my friend Judy Peterson’s house. Judy's pal, Judith Nixon, whipped up this treat. It’s one of the best, easiest, and most attractive appetizers I’ve ever eaten! I’ve given you a modest quantity: Make as many or as few as you like!
Cheese-Stuffed Apricot Bites:
6 fresh apricots 
¼ c. softened Gorgonzola cheese (or any creamy blue cheese or mixture of softened cream cheese combined with blue cheese)
36 to 40 pine nuts, toasted (see Note)
Small fresh basil leaves, as garnish
Wipe apricots, leaving skins on (see Note). Halve and remove pits. Dab about a teaspoon of Gorgonzola or creamy blue cheese into cavity that remains. Toast pine nuts, watching to ensure they don’t burn. Sprinkle cheese in each half with 3 or 4 toasted pine nuts. Set a small basil leaf into the cavity of the apricot, immediately beside the cheese.
Note: See How to Toast Nuts in Index.

Note: When you leave the skins intact, your fingers will remain dry and the apricots won’t slip from your hand.

For color,  flavor, and quick preparation, these can't be beat!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Cowboy Beans

Hey, Pardners! After a hard day’s ridin’ the range (wait a second while I spit  - P-tuui!), Ron likes nothin’ better than sittin’ round the fire eatin’ beans! I’ll give you my secret recipe if you promise you won’t share it with anyone. Our wranglers (P-tuui!) eat em every night. My beans are so good that even the horses love em! 

My beans contain a Highly Secret Ingredient. I’ll keep it to myself until - (P-tuui!) - the very end of this recipe. Do not breathe a word to anyone! In fact, if you make these beans for a crowd, I suggest you don’t breathe, at all.

                             This recipe can be made in a slow cooker

Cowboy Beans:

1 lb. side bacon, sliced into 1-in. pieces
2 large onions, coarsely diced
¾ c. light brown sugar 
1 tbsp. instant coffee granules
1 tbsp. dry mustard
1-½ tsp. salt
½ c. water
¼ c. cider vinegar
(Shhhhh! 6 - 14 oz. (398 mL) cans of my Highly Secret Ingredient)

Fry bacon in large skillet over medium heat until almost crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels, saving ¼ c. of drippings in pan. Fry onion until translucent. Add bacon, onion, and remaining ingredients to large slow cooker (see Note). Add Highly Secret Ingredient, stirring well. Set cooker to “low.” Round up some cattle for 6-to-8 hours until beans heat through and flavors are well combined. Serves 12.

Note: If I cut this recipe in half, I sometimes bake the beans in a fancy-schmantzy bean pot at 275 degrees for an hour. Nervous that my beautiful bean pot might break, I never preheat the oven. My Highly Secret Ingredient appears in most of the photos below. Use any brand you like, in the quantity I've recommended. Just so you're clear on exactly what my HSI is, it also appears in the posting just below this recipe. Its time fer me t get mah spurs an go find Ron. Wha-??? Go wash yer mouth out with soap!

Stir onion and fried bacon into slow cooker …

Here comes the Highly Secret Ingredient!

Have a closer look! No one will ever guess!

Any brand will do!

Classified: Top Secret!

Reveal the Highly Secret Ingredient in my Cowboy Beans 
recipe an Ill send a posse after ya!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Jane’s Yam Salad with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette

I’m a simpleton, Dollinks, so let me try to get this straight. My friend Judy Peterson asked her friend Judith Nixon for Judith’s famous Yam Salad with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette recipe. But Judith told Judy, who in turn told me, that Judith’s salad actually came from Jane (The names have not been changed to protect the innocent or guilty, because recipes do get swapped around and often get changed in the process). I may be a simpleton, but I’m also a sleuth, so I set out to determine where this recipe actually originated. It took me all of five minutes to find out. 
The original recipe appears to have been created by American chef, cookbook author, and television personality Sara Moulton, who also happens to be the food editor for Good Morning America as well as the former chef in the executive dining room of the now-defunct Gourmet magazine. Sorry, Jane, Judith, and Judy, but you’ve been caught with hot moi-chan-dice! As has everyone else who’s ever clipped or copied a recipe, myself included.
But Dollinks, you really must see Sara’s blog! You’ll find it at She looks gorgeous, as do her recipes!
Doing a little detective work to ferret out a recipe’s origin is fun. Along the way, I can see that Sara’s original Grilled Sweet Potato Salad With Chile-Lime Vinaigrette over time evolved into the Yam Salad with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette that Jane, Judith, and Judy have embraced. Grilling sweet potatoes sounds like a lot of work. I’m going to use the version that Judy and Judith so kindly passed along, because it sounds so much simpler. And so I thank them and thank Jane, whoever she is. Sara, fellow blogger, rates the biggest thanks of all. Apologies, readers … I’m pressed for time just now and am unable to taste-test this dish, but Judy and Judith swear that it’s delicious. I’m going to take their word for it!
Janes Yam Salad with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette:
To Prepare the Salad:
2 lb. yams, peeled and cut into thirds 
1 - 12 oz. (341 mL) can whole kernel corn, drained (or 2 c. fresh or frozen kernels, cooked)
1 red pepper (capsicum), seeded and diced
1 small jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (see Note)
1 bunch green onions (spring onions), chopped
½ c. cilantro leaves, chopped
Steam yams in a single layer 25 min., turning them over once at the midway point. Quickly cool in ice water. Drain well and pat dry, cutting into small chunks. Add corn, peppers, onions, and cilantro. Toss with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette, as needed.  
Note: Jane/Judith/Judy’s recipe calls for seeding the pepper. Because the seeds are the pepper’s hottest part, I recommend you leave them intact. If you can’t stand the heat, don’t get out of the kitchen … reduce the amount of chili flakes in the Chili-Lime Vinaigrette.
To Prepare the Chili-Lime Vinaigrette: 
6 tbsp. canola oil
3 tbsp. lime juice (use fresh limes, if possible)
1 tsp. chipotle in adobo sauce
1 tsp. hot chili flakes
1 tsp. ground cumin (or ground toasted seeds) 
1 tsp. oregano 
1 tsp. granulated sugar
Whisk well to combine. Makes about 2/3 c.
You’ll find Sara Moulton’s original recipe at 
If youd like to comment on any recipe, Im always happy to hear from readers at

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Judy’s Mango Salad

My friend Judy Rosen makes the best salads I’ve ever tasted! She very kindly allowed me to pinch this recipe after making it for me at lunch last week. Judy served it with a small, perfect slice of heavy bread crusted with sesame seeds, and a slathering of hummus on top (For a delicious Hummus recipe, see my April 16, 2011 blog). I watched as Judy made this. The proportions are “what looks about right,” so I’ve guessed at what she did!
Judy Rosen, 
Salad Genius
Judy’s Mango Salad: 
2 c. fresh baby spinach
2 c. fresh mixed salad greens
1 ripe mango, peeled and cubed (see Note)
8 to 10 very thin asparagus spears, sliced into ¾-in. lengths
⅔ c. natural almonds, untoasted and with skins on
Combine salad greens with cubed mango and chopped, raw asparagus. Toss with 3 to 4 tbsp. Honey-Mustard Dressing (see my blog of July 23, 2011 titled Organic Pea Shoot Salad with Honey-Mustard Dressing) or Honey-Dijon Vinaigrette (see my blog titled Grilled Salmon Salad with Honey-Dijon Vinaigrette on May 8, 2011). Judy used the “Jamaican Mistake” brand of salad dressing, which is very similar to either of my recipes). Speaking of “mistakes,” the biggest one people make with salads is overdressing them. Add a couple of tablespoons … toss, toss, toss! If needed, a little more … toss, toss, toss! Keep going until the leaves glisten but aren’t soaked.
Now the almonds … Judy threw a couple of handfuls into her food processor and whirled them against its steel blade with a pulsing motion. This took just a few seconds. If you don’t have a food processor, use a knife. Some of the nuts became powdery; some were in small chunks. Judy sprinkled the nuts over both our plated salads before setting them on the table. This was the best salad I’ve ever eaten! Large restaurants have salad chefs … Judy should apply!

If you try this salad, join our Anonymous Taste Testers by leaving your comment at 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Marinated Carrot Salad

I love buying fresh summer carrots in quantity: There are so many interesting ways to use them! This crunchy salad is one of my summer favorites. It’s inexpensive and exceptionally good! As I recommended in yesterday’s blog (see Potato Salad with Double Mustard Dressing, July 25, 2011), I prefer steaming veggies to boiling them, so I always steam the carrots in this recipe. Be careful not to overcook them. They require just six minutes in boiling water, or 10 minutes if you’re using a steamer filled with cold water. 
While we’re talking about kitchen gadgets, I have a couple of other recommendations. A weigh scale is a very handy piece of equipment. I have two of them. The smaller one weighs ingredients of just a few ounces or grams with precision; the larger one weighs heavier foods in pounds and kilograms. For really accurate measurements, nothing beats weighing the ingredients in a recipe. Professionals cook that way, as does anyone using recipes that call for British measurements. 
The other tools I’m going to recommend are pretty basic. Buy yourself a good can opener and a quality vegetable peeler! Every person I’ve ever met who claims to hate cooking just “happens to have” lousy tools. If I struggled with a shoddy can opener and a dull peeler, I’d hate cooking too! I also have a small wand with a magnet on one end to lift the lids of cans that for some reason, don't fully open. This tool is principally used in home canning, to lift lids from a boiling water bath. It's a very handy gizmo to keep in the kitchen drawer. 

Do yourself a favor! Splurge! Kitchen tools don’t have to be fancy, pretty, or expensive, but they do have to work ergonomically (a big word meaning “like a damn”). A good tool makes hard work easy. Let the tool do the work so you won’t have to!

This recipe requires extra time for marination

Marinated Carrot Salad (Version 1):
To Prepare Salad:

2 lb. carrots, peeled and cut on the diagonal in ¾-in. slices
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 medium green pepper, in bite-sized chunks

To Prepare Sweet Vinaigrette:

½ - 10-oz. (284 mL) can condensed cream of tomato soup
¼ c. granulated sugar
½ c. canola oil
½ tsp. dry mustard
⅓ c. white vinegar
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. coarsely ground pepper
Cook carrots in boiling water or steamer until tender-crisp. Drain and immediately plunge into ice water to chill. Drain and pat dry. Toss together with onion rings and green pepper. Whisk remaining ingredients together or shake to combine in a covered jar. Pour over carrot mixture. Chill and marinate 5 or 6 hr., allowing flavors to blend. Serve at room temperature. To store, cover and refrigerate up to 4 days. Serves 6-to-8.

Note: Can’t eat onions or peppers? See the Index for a 2013 version of this delicious salad! Check Salads: Carrot (Marinated/Version 2).

Prepare onions ...
Carrots and peppers ...

Have a good-quality can opener and lid-lifter ready!

Combine soup and other ingredients for the marinade.

Chill carrots in ice water to stop the cooking process.

Drain and pat dry.

Pour marinade over carrot mixture. Chill 5-to-6 hr. before serving.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Potato Salad with Double Mustard Dressing

The great thing about this potato salad is that you can transport it to a picnic or potluck without worrying that it will spoil and cause food poisoning - always a concern with unrefrigerated, mayonnaise-based potato salads. I’ve loosely based this salad on a recipe by New York food writer and TV personality Mark Bittman, whose How to Cook Everything book remains a bestseller some 13 years after its release. 
Mark’s cooking instructions for the potatoes suggest bringing a pot of salted water to a boil, cubing the potatoes into bite-sized pieces, and cooking them 15 min. until tender but still firm. I must live in a different universe from his! If I did that, the potatoes would slip their jackets and turn to mush. I greatly prefer steaming waxy-skinned potatoes to boiling them; steaming locks in the nutrients and produces a firmer product. 
Mark’s recipe swims in what I consider far too much dressing, so I’ve doubled the quantity of potatoes. I halve or quarter them, rather than cubing them. Because I don’t want the potatoes to break apart or lose their lovely red skins, I combine the ingredients with two flat spatulas and a delicate touch. Although Mark’s recipe uses olive oil, I’ve used canola. I’ve made this recipe with olive oil, too; truthfully, it doesn’t seem to make the slightest difference to the taste.  
You can steam your potatoes in a pot, but if you don’t already own a steamer, I highly recommend that you buy one! You can steam multiple veggies at a time; some steamers even do rice. The photo shows just one tray of my two-tray steamer; an electric steamer is one of my must-have small appliances!

This recipe can be (optionally) marinated
Potato Salad with Double Mustard Dressing:
3 lb. (about 12) average-sized red-skinned potatoes, jackets on
¼ c. Dijon mustard
¼ c. grainy mustard
½ c. canola oil
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
⅓ c. snipped fresh basil
Pour about 2 c. cold water into bottom of steamer. Add potatoes to steamer tray and set for 20 - 25 min. (check after 20 min.). When potatoes are fully cooked but still firm, briefly chill in ice water. Drain well. Whisk together all remaining ingredients except basil. Pour over potatoes, stirring gently to combine. Sprinkle with basil, stirring just until evenly distributed. 
Note: I like to make this salad early in the day, allowing the flavors to blend. Return to room temperature about an hour before serving. Serves 12.

Choose "average"-sized potatoes

Love me, love my steamer! We're inseparable!

Add fresh basil and transfer from pot to serving bowl

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Don’t Adjust Your Sets!

A reader has drawn to my attention to the fact that if you click on Nicole Parton’s Favorite Recipes using Google, there is often no “Comment” box below my recipes. It also turns out that the comments written below my recipes are invisible to me. This problem originates with Google. Naughty, Google! Naughty! We are simple, unsophisticated folk, in the Time Zone and at the Latitude Where I Live. We do not play in the sandbox known as the Silicon Valley. This explains why I so rarely hear from you, dear readers. The occasional Anonymous comment does slips through: “Give me more recipes containing bacon and chicken!” Signed: Meat Lover

My email address is the bottom of my introductory profile. It is Feel free to send your comments and recipe requests there and I’ll happily read them. Don’t send marriage proposals: I’m taken. Forget the requests for money: I’m broke. And never mind asking me to assume the role of “The Naked Chef”: This blog is sponsored by Google - not ogle. Besides, who wants to cook in a mask and socks? 

PS: There’s a blog out there called “Nicole’s Favorite Recipes.” The last time I checked, this was not I (I was not she? She wasn’t me? Who cares? If she wants to do my dishes, shes welcome to be my guest). Were different people, she and I. Maybe that Nicole has been getting the comments intended for me. As she notes on her blog, that Nicole is under 30. Im a few years older … Let’s just say my tires have been rotated more often than hers. I also have a spare tire, which she probably doesn’t. Speaking of technical things, Ive found a way to make the type size for this blog larger, so you'll no longer have to click to expand it. I know thats been a nuisance. Don’t touch that dial, Dollinks: I am Nicole Parton’s Favorite Recipes. Keep those cards and letters coming in - by email.  xox   Nicole

A Public Service Announcement

We interrupt this program with a message from our sponsor: “Bonjour, Mes Petites Dollinks! I’m Nicole Parton, and I’m looking for a few hundred eager, hungry taste-testers just like … well, just like YOU! Do you eat and drink? If so, you’re perfectly qualified to become an Anonymous Taste Tester for Nicole Parton’s Favorite Recipes! Operators are standing by to take your calls! Whether you’re male, female, young, old, an English sheepdog or a German shepherd (how I love my international readers!), I NEED YOU!
Eats is eats and wets is wets ...

Sample one or more of Nicole Parton’s Favorite Recipes and fame will be yours! Naturally, you’ll have to wear a sign reading: Will Work for Food during your probationary period of employment. You’ve seen these signs in public places … Our happy employees are everywhere! To take advantage of this special offer, click on the “Comment” card below any recipe (Later note: See posting above to learn why I've now deleted these comment cards!) to tell readers what you thought of it. Go ahead and sign yourself “Anonymous,” or leave your first name and city. It won’t be long until you’re rolling in the dough! Even if it is pastry dough! Here are two of our Anonymous Taste Testers, now! How do you like the recipes so far, folks?
I'm bulimic. Do I still get the job?
I'd rather judge American Idol

There you have it! Two ringing endorsements! Be the first on your block to complete the comment card directly below each recipe. I want to hear from YOU! 
Coming up: A whole week of DELICIOUS summer salads! 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Organic Pea Shoot Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing

Fresh, organic pea shoots are a delicious salad surprise for anyone who's never tried them! Sunflower shoots work equally well, and can be substituted for pea shoots. Many grocery stores are starting to sell these; if not, be sure to ask for them! In the time zone where I live, and the shop I patronize, pea and sunflower shoots are sold compacted in small plastic boxes weighing only 75 g or 2-1/2 oz. For the size and weight of the contents, the box comes at a hefty price - about $3. But these shoots literally do "shoot" from the box, making up in volume what they lack in weight. One box comfortably serves two; the recipe below serves four. Admittedly, this salad is on the expensive side, so I tend to make it when I already have goat cheese and small tomatoes on hand.
Organic Pea Shoot Salad:
3 or 4 c. fresh pea shoots, about 150 g or 6 oz. 
4 oz. (113 g) soft, natural goat cheese, in small chunks
12 to 15 cherry tomatoes, halved crosswise
Combine all. Toss with 3 to 4 tbsp. dressing. Serves 4. 
Honey-Mustard Dressing:
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard or stone ground mustard
3 tbsp. honey
6 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and coarsely ground pepper, to taste
Shake all ingredients together in a small, covered jar. Dress just before serving. Store remaining dressing in the refrigerator.
Note: You can also use Honey-Dijon Vinaigrette (see my blog of May 8, 2011, for Grilled Salmon Salad with Honey-Dijon Vinaigrette).

Delicious and nutritious! This simple salad draws raves!

Coming up in tomorrow's blog, an important Public Service Announcement! Ever wanted to be rich and famous? (Me, too, but no luck) Catch tomorrow's blog and learn what opportunities await!