August 8 – August 14, 2022
Sunday: Grilled Pork with Mustard Fruit and Arugula
Monday: Caprese Salad – Salumi Sandwich with Gardiniere
Tuesday: Matzoh Ball Soup
Friday: Merchant of Venice – Pasta at Alta Via
Saturday: Katie and Dave’s dinner party
From the Holy Land to Venice (via Michael Symon)
On Saturday night we had the great meal of the summer at Katie and Dave’s.* Dave grilled veal chops which were better than the $75.00 ones you’ve had at your local fancy restaurant, and he did this while sipping Moscow Mules and talking non-stop to Tim with whom he had entered what I have taken to calling the golfosphere. Dennis and I cannot follow them there, having neither the knowledge nor, truth be told, the interest, but that left us with the ladies which was a fine place to be. And Hilda and Katie provided great hors d’oeuvres. There was a fine potato salad (Katie?) and nifty panzanella (Annie?) and Julie made a dessert that even those of us who don’t eat dessert could not resist. The Steelers won a pre-season game, Tim brought a fine wine, and we drank a lot of Katie and Dave’s stock. Altogether, a memorable evening.
*And Maggie’s. Maggie is their hound, very rambunctious, very strong (if you get in the way of her wagging tail you could be bruised) and absolutely one of the prettiest dogs we’ve ever seen.
And on the previous night we attended the reading of a fascinating re-working of The Merchant of Venice written by our friend Tom and read by fine actors from New York and Pittsburgh. We left the theater hungry for more Shakespeare and for some food. A stop at Alta Via, near home, brought us the finest pasta we have tasted this summer and a sparkling cold martini. Nearly as perfect as the night at Katie and Dave’s
I’ve got to return Mere’s Israeli cookbooks, but let me turn to another dish with Middle Eastern roots and flavors, as translated by the same northern Italians who made life hell for Shylock: Grilled Pork with Mustard Fruit. This was a crowd favorite at Casa Stuarti. But, you say, that’s not much of a crowd. I agree, but it’s the crowd that counts with me. And among that crowd is SWMBO, for whom to cook is at once a great joy and a daunting challenge.
Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Fruit
(adapted from Michael Symon)
Please note that you’re going to need to marinate the mustard fruit for at least 2 days before you cook the recipe. And it is best, though not absolutely necessary, to marinate the pork overnight. Other than that, this is a simple dish with a complex taste that will get you the maximum praise for some of the least work you’ll ever do as a cook.
Timing: 2 days, 35 minutes
This recipe feeds 6 – we used one pork tenderloin and halved the other ingredients (except for the mustard fruit) and easily fed 3.
For the mustard fruit:
1 cup dried apricots
1 under-ripe pear (firm), peeled, cored, and cut into cubes
1 cup red wine
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup whole-grain mustard
½ teaspoon mustard seeds (this ingredient is key – you will find these, easily, in your supermarket’s spice section)
For the Pork
2 pork tenderloins, cleaned and silver skin removed
½ cup fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, toasted and ground (use a spice-grinder or a mortar and pestle, or put the seeds in a plastic bag and whack them with something)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and ground (see above)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 cup arugula for serving
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (optional – for drizzling)
Note: the spices are the key to this dish and you’ll use them in other dishes as well. To be without smoked paprika makes me feel like I’m living at Betty Crocker’s house in the 1950s.
Pickle the Mustard Fruit:
Combine the wine, sugar, vinegar and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir in the mustard, mustard sees and pears. Place the dried fruit in a quart-size glass jar and top off with the hot liquid and pears. Store in the refrigerate for at least 2 days and up to one month.
Marinate the Pork:
Whisk together the cilantro, mustard, coriander, cumin, salt, paprika, lime juice and lime zest. Place marinade and tenderloins in a large, resealable plastic bag and mush around to coat well. Marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature or up to overnight in the refrigerator.
Grill the pork:
Preheat the grill over medium-high. I use charcoal, medium high means having the coals about 4 inches from the meat.
Grill the pork until just under medium, about 3-4 minutes per side. Let rest for 7 minutes. [Note: I can tell whether the meat is cooked by pressing it. If you can’t, cut into it to see – you want some pink, you don’t want to overcook pork because it’s so lean]
Serve the Pork:
Dress the arugula with a little olive oil, then slice the pork and arrange on a plate. Remove ½ cup of the mustard fruit from the jar with a slotted spoon and spoon over top of the pork (we used even more on just one tenderloin – I’d go a little overboard here). Now top with the arugula and serve.
To balance this flavorful, bright dish, I’d suggest a side of rice.