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Chutney Marinated Pork Tenderloin with Smokey Cheese Grits

16 Dec


I must admit, I’ve become a pro at putting together homemade Friday night suppers at my house. It’s become a tradition. I put together an idea of a menu, inform my friend (and master sous chef) Margo of the meal and a recommended side, assign wine to my friend Andrew and invite a special wild card guest. With little effort, we all end up stumbling into my kitchen after a long week for much wine, whine, gossip and a delicious homemade meal.

This Friday, after a minor grant writing disaster, I arrived home at 6:15pm with a plan in my head for dinner…. and Margaret and Eric scheduled to arrive at 6:30! Luckily, my house was mostly clean and my friends are low in judgement! Here was my drill for a speedy Friday night dinner by the fire.

On Thursday night, I marinated two pork tenderloin pieces in Plum Hot Chutney from Beth’s Farm Kitchen over night. You can use any hot chutney but this was a delicious gift from my friend Nancy.

On Friday night when arriving home (hunched over with a slight feeling of karpaltunnel from typing all week), preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place marinated pork tenderloin on a roasting pan and roast for about 25 minutes – or until an internal temp registers 140 degrees. Allow to rest.

Meanwhile, cook quick grits according to instructions until creamy. Add goat cheese, to taste, and a good sprinkle of smoked hot paprika. Season with salt and pepper. You might want to add more cheese…this is up to your stress level.

Slice pork and serve over grits with your favorite side or salad. Margaret brought brined and roasted cremini mushrooms with pine nuts and a spinach salad. Enjoy by a fire (made by the friend who isn’t cooking) and a good wine. We enjoyed Rios de Chile wine. Cheers to Friday night suppers with friends. 



Frittatas Two Ways

12 Dec



The star of Winston’s Winter Walk brunch was two egg frittatas with a variety of interesting ingredients. My trick was to purchase as many precooked items as I could and choose easy ones I could prep right before brunch. I recommend starting at the olive bar – olives, roasted red peppers or Piquillo peppers, roasted garlic (The Fresh Market has so much to choose from!).  Then add things that are easy to prep – sauteed mushrooms and quickly steamed asparagus. Pick up interesting cheeses – I used feta and goat cheese but you can add your favorites! With almost no time, you’ll have the perfect combination in a large omelette-like feast!

Here’s how we (I must include my most valuable sous chef, Margaret) did it. Start with a large cast iron skillet. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  On the stovetop, heat about 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter (depending on how seasoned your pan is) on medium until melted.  Whisk 12 eggs with a couple tablespoons of milk. Season eggs with salt and pepper. Add egg mixture to the pan. Allow the bottom the the eggs to begin to firm while you layer your “toppings.” When you can see the edges of the frittata begin to set – move the skillet into your oven. When the eggs are puffed up and set, remove and serve hot! Garnish with fresh herbs!

Greek Frittata topping ideas – black olives, sliced Piquillo peppers, roasted garlic cloves, feta cheese and fresh dill for garnish.

Homestyle Frittata topping ideas – sauteed mushrooms, steamed asparagus, precooked potatoes, goat cheese and parsley or basil for garnish.

All you gotta do is get creative and be sneaky with short cuts. 100% of these frittatas were devoured by Winston’s guests. We call that a ‘home run’.

Tapenade Crusted Standing Rib Roast

2 Dec



It’s seems perfectly obvious that my untraditional Thanksgiving celebration would have surf and turf. A freezing cold November night is the perfect time to share seafood by the firepit. Sharing stories and connections. After which, running inside to warm up with rare beef, turkey and fixings. Oh, and transitioning to red wine.

My family opted for a standing rib roast covered in tapenade from Bon Appetit this year. In the past, we’ve braised lamb shanks, fried whole cornish game hens and even baked entire red snapper in salt. It’s a tradition to play with tradition in the Thompson family. The rib roast would be perfect for a very tradition holiday dinner party, too. Check out the recipe here – we used the recipe more for inspiration and less for specifics.

Belgian Beef Stew

19 Nov


Just when you think you have no time to blog, you find yourself in a jury duty waiting room with an ipad! While practicing this civic duty, I bring you a delicious recipe for Belgian Beef Stew with Carrots and Mushrooms.

This recipe is adapted from a Carbonnade Flemish Beef and Beer Stew from Saveur Magazine. It’s similar in nature to a French Beef Stew – just replace the red wine with a Belgian Ale! I found this recipe very sweet with the addition of dark brown sugar but it will also depend on what beer you select.

I added carrots and mushrooms to stew for a little more substance. You could serve this stew with egg noodles, potatoes or bread but veggies will do the trick too.

Im adding this recipe to my winter stand by recipes. Check it out!

Belgian Beef Stew, adapted from Saveur Magazine

2 lb. beef chuck, cut into 2″ x ½″-thick slices
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
¼ cup flour
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
4 slices bacon, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced lengthwise
4 large carrots, cut into one inch pieces
2 cups Belgian-style ale, like Ommegang Abbey Ale
1 cup beef stock
2 tbsp. dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
3 sprigs thyme
3 sprigs parsley
2 sprigs tarragon
1 bay leaf
2 pints, mushrooms, halved

Season beef with salt and pepper in a bowl; add flour and toss to coat. Heat 2 tbsp. butter in a 6-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add beef; cook, turning, until browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; set aside. Add bacon; cook until its fat renders, about 8 minutes. Add garlic, carrots and onions; cook until caramelized, about 30 minutes. Add half the beer; cook, scraping bottom of pot, until slightly reduced, about 4 minutes. Return beef to pot with remaining beer, stock, sugar, vinegar, thyme, parsley, tarragon, bay leaf, and salt and pepper; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, until beef is tender, about 1 ½ hours.

Befor serving, roast mushrooms (with a touch of olive oil, salt and papper) on a cookie sheet at 425 degrees for about 20 to 30 minutes. Mushrooms should be tender and have some nice color. Stir mushrooms into the stew before serving.

Scallops Gratin

10 Nov



It’s become a weekly ritual that my very busy group of friends gathers in my kitchen at 7pm on Friday evenings with groceries and multiple bottles of wine. There is always an equal ratio of wine to whining plus a good amount of laugher and casual collaborative cooking. We started calling this suppers “family dinners” because they are so easy and laid back that it’s like being at home with family. No dress code, anything goes and all conversations stay in “the vault.” It’s my sanity at the end of crazy weeks in the office and I’m so grateful to have likeminded friends seeking the easy nights on Mendenhall.

This past Friday we prepared a super simple scallop gratin, a green salad with almonds and dried currants, crusty bread and lots of good red wine. The scallop recipe is an adjustment from Ina Garten’s Bay Scallop Gratin. I skipped the Pernod and white wine because I like to cut corners and I used Sea Scallops because I prefer the flavor. Speaking of flavor, I would reduce the amount of garlic if you don’t prefer a very strong  garlic flavor (super intense, Ina!).

I love this recipe because it can be prepared the night before and just baked quickly before friends arrive. It gives just enough time to pop up a bottle of wine and start a fire.

Is it Friday yet?

Scallop Gratin 

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 large garlic cloves, minced (or fewer)
2 medium shallots, minced
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto di Parma, minced
4 tablespoons minced fresh parsley, plus extra for garnish
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 cup panko
2 pound fresh sea scallops
Lemon, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place 6 (6-inch round) gratin dishes on a sheet pan.

To make the topping, place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on low speed, add the garlic, shallot, prosciutto, parsley, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and mix until combined. With the mixer still on low, add the olive oil. Fold the panko in with a rubber spatula and set aside.

Preheat the broiler, if it’s separate from your oven.

Pat the scallops dry with paper towels and distribute them among the 3 dishes. Spoon the garlic butter evenly over the top of the scallops. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the topping is golden and sizzling and the scallops are barely done. If you want the top crustier, place the dishes under the broiler for 2 minutes, until browned. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and a sprinkling of chopped parsley and serve immediately with crusty French bread.

Spicy Brisket Chili

9 Nov



My fireplace lit up for the first time on Halloween night. I love enjoying Fall and Winter meals by the fire. And, chili was a great dish to kick off the season.

Every year I make a new chili recipe on Halloween. This year, I went with Brisket Chili from an Ina Garten recipe. My only change to the recipe would be to season the meat with salt and pepper when browning. This is a super hearty recipe that is perfect with good cheese, scallions, and sour cream on top. Add this one to your list!

Ina’s Brisket Chili

5 pounds beef brisket, cut in 1-inch cubes
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onions
6 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, crushed
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 green peppers, seeded and diced
1 bay leaf
6 cups tomatoes, chopped with their liquid
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup strong coffee
2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans
2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves

Pat the brisket cubes dry with paper towels. Heat the oil in a very large heavy-bottomed pot and quickly brown the meat, in batches, on all sides. Transfer the brisket to a separate bowl and set aside. Saute the onion and garlic in the same oil over medium heat until limp, but not brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the chili powder, pepper flakes, cayenne pepper and cumin and saute for 1 minute. Add the green peppers, bay leaf, tomatoes with their juice, the reserved meat, 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and simmer for 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste and season with salt, to taste. Add the coffee, cover the pot and simmer for 1 more hour.

Add the kidney beans and basil, and warm through. Transfer the chili to a large serving bowl and serve with sour cream, grated Cheddar, diced tomato, tortilla chips and guacamole.

A viewer, who may not be a professional cook, provided this recipe. The Food Network Kitchens chefs have not tested this recipe and therefore, we cannot make representation as to the results.



Halloween Chili Ideas

23 Oct


My favorite tree in Westerwood is at it’s most glamorous right now. It is bright orange and glowing in the sunlight and loosing leaves daily. Winston and I love taking short trips over to stand under the tree and gaze at the orange filtered light. It’s also a reminder of Halloween around the corner. Every year, I make a big pot of chili and invite friends to join me on my front porch for bourbon cocktails and bowls of goodness. This year I’m planning on making a beef brisket chili and I look forward to reporting back. In the meantime, here are a variety of chili recipes if you’re looking to get into the swing of Fall and Halloween!


Pear Pulled Pork with Currant and Caper Cauliflower Slaw

20 Oct



It’s a joke between my friends that ever since my friend Jessica moved away, we’ve been eating a lot of pork. It’s true – we’ve saved up a lot of pork recipes while entertaining and cooking with our kosher friend. Now that she’s gone, we send tipsy texts and devour pork noodle soups and slow roasted pork shoulder. Kidding aside, it’s the perfect time of year for slow cooking anything  and this pear pulled pork is perfect on it’s own or with a tangy cauliflower slaw on a warm roll. This is pretty fancy for a tailgate but would impress plenty of friends at any gathering.

We enjoyed this on Friday night while sipping pear & ginger cocktails on the front porch.

This post is sponsored by the North Carolina Pork Council. 

Pear Pulled Pork

  • 7 lb pork shoulder
  • 2 tablespoons, kosher salt
  • 1yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 pear chopped
  • 1 orange sliced
  • 3 chipolte peppers
  • 1 tablespoon, each, garlic powder, corriander, cumin, fennel, smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

Around 8pm (the night before), put the pork shoulder into a dutch oven. Season generously with salt. Add a chopped onion, a chopped pear and sliced orange. Top with brown sugar and spices. Cook overnight – until about 6am-ish at 225 degrees. This is at your own risk – trust your oven to sleep with it on over night! But, it’s the most simple way I’ve found to cook a whole pork shoulder.

The next day, chop or shred the pork. Reduce the liquid for a sauce – I also like to add some apple cider vinegar to the sauce (if you’re an Eastern BBQ lover).

Cauliflower Slaw from the Smitten Kitchen

1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds
Juice of half a lemon (about 1 tablespoon), plus more to taste
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt, then more to taste
3 tablespoons (30 grams) dried currants
5 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for frying
2 tablespoons (about 25 grams) brined or salt-packed capers
oil for frying
1 small, compact-looking head of cauliflower (about 1 1/4 pounds)
Freshly ground black pepper
3 scallions, thinly sliced (use green and white parts)
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley (optional, mostly for color)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread almonds on a tray and toast them until they’re a deep golden color, tossing them once or twice to ensure even cooking. This will take 10 to 14 minutes. Set aside to cool.**

Meanwhile, place lemon juice, vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Add currants; set aside and let them soak while you prepare the other ingredients.

If using brined capers, drain and spread them on paper towels until most of their moisture has wicked out, about 5 minutes. If using salt-packed capers, soak them in water for 10 minutes to remove the saltiness, then drain, rinse and pat dry on paper towels. Pour a 1/2-inch of olive oil or another oil that you prefer to fry in in a small skillet or saucepan. Heat it over medium-high. When hot enough that a droplet of water added to the oil hisses, carefully add the capers and step back — they’re going to sputter a bit for the first 10 seconds. Once it’s safe to get closer, give them a stir. Depending on how dry they were, it can take 1 to 2 minutes for them to get lightly golden at the edges and then crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels.

Trim cauliflower leaves and cut head into quarters. Using an adjustable-blade slicer (this is mine; it takes up very little room) to cut cauliflower, stem and florets, into 1/4-inch slices. Add to a large bowl.

Scoop currants from vinegar mixture with a slotted spoon and add to bowl with cauliflower, along with almonds, capers, scallions and parsley. Slowly whisk 5 tablespoons olive oil into remaining vinegar mixture in a thin stream. Add several turns of freshly ground black pepper. Pour over cauliflower and other ingredients and turn gently to coat all pieces. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more lemon juice, salt or pepper to taste. Dig in!

Sweet and Spicy Roast Chicken

7 Oct



Large bins of pumpkins are starting to pop up around town. They all say, “it’s Harvest time!” and I personally like their chipper. After a successful fundraiser in Center City Park (with many many pumpkin) I had my own personal kick off to Fall with this recipe for Sweet and Spicy Roast Chicken. My friend Jessica sent this recipe to me last year in honor of the Jewish holidays. We celebrated late (at an absolutely inappropriate time) but with good intentions.

I skipped the boiling of the marinade and blanching of lemons for the sake of time and laziness. I chucked the marinade and lemons into a bag for about 5 hours before roasting. Add onion, dates and carrots and roast away. This dish has great flavor and leaves the house in a desire for a fire and blankets.

Sweet and Spicy Roast Chicken from the NY Times

  • 1 lemon, plus 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more for pot
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezedorange juice
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons whole grain mustard
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  •   Black pepper, to taste
  • 1 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 3 cups sliced carrots (1/4-inch thick)
  • 1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
  •  cup sliced dates
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro or parsley, for garnish
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced, for garnish
  • ¼ cup chopped toasted pistachio nuts, for garnish
  1. Quarter the lemon lengthwise, removing any seeds. Thinly slice crosswise into small wedges and add to small pot of boiling, salted water. Blanch for 2 minutes and drain. Reserve slices.
  2. In a saucepan, whisk together lemon juice, orange juice, oil, mustard, honey, salt, bay leaf, red pepper flakes and black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Let cool.
  3. Put chicken in a bowl and add honey mixture. Add carrots, onion, dates, thyme and blanched lemon slices. Turn mixture several times to coat. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temperature, but preferably overnight in the refrigerator.
  4. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Transfer all ingredients, including marinade, to a sheet pan with a rim. Chicken should be skin side up. Roast until chicken is browned and cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes for breasts and 30 to 40 for legs and wings (remove the pieces as they are done cooking). When the chicken is done, give the carrot mixture in the pan a stir; if the pan looks dry add 2 to 3 tablespoons water. Continue roasting the carrots until they are tender, about 7 to 12 minutes longer.
  5. Spoon carrots over chicken and top with cilantro, scallions and pistachio nuts.

Spicy Pork, Kale and Noodle Soup

22 Sep



This weekend, my friend Margaret and I had a “quiet night in” that turned into an evening of much wine, laughter and a bit of minor mayhem. Those are the best kind, in my opinion, unexpected rolling of hilarity between bottles of red wine, political gossip, skyping with friends far away and cooking. We picked out this recipe for Pork, Kale and Noodle soup early in the day because Margaret had a pound of Massey Creek Farm ground pork on hand and we are both devouring kale right now. It’s also fun to make new recipes with friends – finding replacement ingredients when you just happened to purchase “salted sand lance” instead of fish sauce (lemon juice is a good replacement).

With all that said, have casual nights in the kitchen cooking with friends. You’ll have an unexpected fun time, a delicious meal and a night to remember. This recipe is perfect for the start of Fall.

Spicy Pork and Kale Soup, from Eat Live Run

1/2 lb ground pork

1 tsp chopped ginger

1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns

1/4 tsp lemon zest

3/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp vegetable oil

4 cups chicken broth

4 scallions, sliced thin

1 large bunch curly kale, roughly chopped

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tsp fish sauce

8 oz rice noodles

If you have a mortar and pestle use it to smash together the peppercorns and lemon zest. If not, use the back of a knife on a cutting board (carefully). Do the same thing with the cumin seeds. Place the smashed peppercorns, lemon zest, smashed cumin seeds, red pepper flakes, ginger and garlic in a medium size bowl. Mix well then add the ground pork and mix very well to combine the spices with the pork. Set aside.

In a heavy bottomed pot, add the oil and heat over medium high heat. When hot, add the seasoned ground pork. Sprinkle with salt and break up pork with a spoon. Cook for about 5 minutes, until pork is done.

Add the chicken broth to the pot along with the scallions, fish sauce and soy sauce. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for about 6 minutes to allow the flavors to combine. Add the kale — don’t worry if it seems like a crazy huge amount, it will cook down! — and stir well. Keep simmering for about 10 minutes while you prepare the noodles.

In another pot, cook the rice noodles in boiling salted water. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

To serve the soup, place some rice noodles at the bottom of bowls. Ladle soup on top. Serve with sriracha if you desire but keep in mind that this soup already has a big kick!


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