Pork and Cauliflower

Tonight’s dinner is brought to you by purple cauliflower from the Lancaster Farmer’s Market.

I went down to the fish store today to buy some dungeness crab for Christmas Eve. We’ll be making Crab Cioppino for dinner that night – La Vigilia, or the Feast of the Seven Fish. It’s sold frozen 3000 miles from the west coast, so buying it today was a lot better than waiting until the week before Christmas when the fish store is packed with people. I’ve been making room in the freezer.

Driving home, I passed by the farmer’s market so I decided to stop by and see what was there. I don’t shop there often because things can be rather expensive. However, I wanted to see if they had a celery root to make a chicken dish our friend Ann sent to us a few days ago since the local grocery store didn’t have any. They did. And while I was there, I picked up some golden beets, some candied peel for cookies, and a purple cauliflower. And roasted sweet potatoes for Nonna – she really likes their sweet potatoes since they’re roasted on a rotisserie with chickens and get dripped in chicken fat as they spin around and around. What’s not to like?!?

Twenty-five dollars later, I left with my small bags and headed home.

I thought I needed to do something with the cauliflower other than steam it, since the color pretty much leaves it once it hits water. Roasting sounded better. I saw a recipe on the NY Times cooking site that looked interesting, so I thought I’d take a stab at making something similar since I didn’t have all of the ingredients they were calling for. As I’ve said many times, recipes are guidelines and, if nothing else, are there to inspire creativity.

The pork is the same – a recipe that I switched around to suit my needs.

Cauliflower and Almonds

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/4 cup cup roughly chopped almonds
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheese
  • 1/4 cup olive tapenade
  • 2 tbsp chopped Italian parsley
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • salt & pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425.

Drizzle cauliflower with olive oil and sprinkle with red pepper flakes and a bit of salt and pepper. Place on a sheet pan and roast until done – about 25-30 minutes.

Remove from oven and stir in chopped almonds, cheese, and parsley.

Can be served hot or at room temperature.

The pork was equally easy to do. Make a simple spice rub and then fry the individual cutlets in a smoking hot cast iron pan or grill over high heat just a couple of minutes per side.

Pork Spice Rub

  • 1 pork tenderloin, in half-inch slices
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Mix all ingredients and liberally apply to pork slices.

Grill or fry over high heat 1-2 minutes per side, until cooked to desired doneness. Because the pork is in small pieces, you really don’t want to over-cook them, so watch them!

It really came out good – rich flavor and just the right amount of heat. The flavors really went well, together.

The star of the plate, though, was the cauliflower. It’s amazing how a little olive tapenade can so totally change a dish. The original recipe called for adding green olives, but the tapenade worked much better, in my not so humble opinion.

Tomorrow starts the cookie-baking! We’re completely changing things around this year – making only biscotti – lots and lots of different biscotti. The first one will be the newly-created Justin Trudeau.

Details, tomorrow…