Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Chinese Ketchup and Garlic Soy Broccoli


Last night I made Ina’s Broccoli with Garlic and Soy Sauce with a  simple rice pilaf and grilled pork tenderloin.  The tenderloin was one of those peppercorn packaged ones, which I shouldn’t admit that I like as much as I do.  They’re so easy and I did make two of the three components for dinner last night from scratch, so I feel no guilt about it.

The broccoli was delicious, but I think next time I’ll roast the broccoli instead of blanching it.  The ratio of garlic and soy were perfect; I’m a little upset this is Ina’s recipe, it seems so obvious that I wish I had come up with it.  I did use less crushed red pepper than the recipe called for and my husband and I just added more at the table.  The adults got hoisin drizzled over our pork; the kids each got little ramekins of “Chinese Ketchup” (hoisin) for dipping.

– Catherine

Are you feeling lucky?


One of the main reasons for cooking a ham on Christmas is so that by the time New Year’s day rolls around, you are left with a ham bone to cook with your lucky beans.  Black eyes peas are traditional in the South but  I  believe, if you eat beans, any kind of beans (except jelly), on New Year’s Day, you are assured a year of good luck.  And, if you eat greens on New Year’s Day, you are assured wealth throughout the year.   I don’t believe in tempting fate, so this is our menu every New Year’s Day:  Lucky beans, greens and cornbread.


We  are a family that likes a good challenge so we powered through all 18 pounds of ham over the week to get to the bone by New Year’s Day.  We had ham and eggs, ham sandwiches, ham potpie, ham biscuits, ham with a side of ham; it didn’t seem to have an end.  We finally reached the bone and  I cooked the beans by  just throwing all of the ingredients in the pot and letting it simmer for a few hours.  My oldest son made the corn bread,  he’s now in charge of a lot of the baking in our house and has produced some mighty delicious breads.   Alongside the beans and cornbread I served kale that had been sautéed with garlic and little balsamic vinegar.  Just to be safe.

We pushed away from the table feeling very lucky and very thankful that the ham was gone.


Lucky New Year’s Day Pinto Beans 

1 ham bone

1 pound dried pinto beans, soaked overnight

1 onion, diced

1 tablespoon of ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 tablespoon chili powder

2 teaspoons of dried oregano

salt and pepper to taste

Add beans, ham bone, onions, garlic, spices and enough water to cover the beans by about 2 inches.  Do not add salt or the beans will be tough.  Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer and cook for 2 – 3 hours until the beans are tender.  Check for seasoning and then add salt and pepper as needed.

Corn bread from The Joy of Cooking   (My dad adds chopped jalapeno to the batter)

1 tablespoon bacon fat, lard, butter, or vegetable shortening

1 3/4 cups stone-ground cornmeal, preferably white

1 tablespoon sugar (optional)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt (3/4 teaspoon if using buttermilk with salt)

2 large eggs

2 cups buttermilk

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Whisk the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl.  Beat the eggs until foamy and then add to the buttermilk.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until blended.  Place the bacon fat in the pan and then put the pan in the oven and heat until the fat smokes.  Pour the batter all at once.  Bake until the top is browned and the center feels firm when pressed, 20-25 minutes.  Serve immediately from the pan, cut in wedges or squares.

Leftovers, though dry, are nice enough if wrapped in foil and re-warmed in a low oven.

Christmas dinner…almost


It was just the four of us for Christmas this year.  We extended an invitation to both sets of grandparents but travel schedules and other social plans didn’t align.  So this Christmas had a whole different tempo.   We didn’t have a schedule.  For anything.  We woke up after the sun came up (the one and only rule of the day), opened presents, enjoyed cinnamon rolls, candy and hot chocolate all day.  We only took  a break to play with toys and video games.

I had big plans for our Christmas dinner that was supposed to be eaten in the dining room with the good china and a table cloth.  We were supposed to have roast ham, corn casserole, roasted vegetables, buttermilk biscuits and  bread pudding with bourbon sauce for dessert.   At some point during the day, I did manage to put the ham in the oven, make a corn casserole and a batch of buttermilk biscuits; but that was it.  Not only did I not set a table, roast vegetables or make bread pudding with bourbon sauce I actually forgot what time I put the ham in the oven.   It may have been in the oven somewhere between six and seven hours when it really only needed about five.  When we finally sat down to eat, the ham was falling off the bone and tasted like a pig roast.  It was cooked just the way I remember my mom making it who had learned the technique from my Great Uncle Paul.  This was lovingly known around our house as the “cook the shit out of it” technique.  It is the best way to cook a ham.   Great Uncle Paul was a true gentleman so I am sure that he didn’t come up with that name.  Mom and dad are too couth to use such coarse language.   I’m pretty sure it was Catherine that came up with that name.  (She has also said that if she were to get a boat, it would be called “Ship Faced”.)

We missed the company of our grandparents on Christmas morning, but still had a really fun day.  We all felt (and ate) like kids on Christmas morning.   We hope to have grandparents visit next Christmas.  Someone will need to make sure we don’t eat too much candy to spoil our dinner or play too many video games.


Christmas Eve Dumplings


We had the Winning Gyoza for dinner Christmas Eve along with another favorite dumpling, Pearl Balls.  Both originated from Deanna Luke’s Chinese Cooking, Pocket Text.  My mom altered the recipe a little by adding green onions, garlic and sesame oil.    Both of these recipes are really  delicious and so festive.


Pearl Balls

1 lb ground pork

2 teaspoons corn starch

1 egg

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons sesame oil

4 green onions, chopped fine

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon mirin

1 clove of garlic

1 teaspoon Siracha (optional)

1 cup of sushi rice, soaked for at least three hours.

Combine all of the ingredients, except the rice.  Measure out tablespoon sized portions of the meat mixture and roll into 24 balls. Roll each ball in the rice until well covered.

Put the balls of meat into a steamer basket that has been lightly oiled.  Steam for 30 minutes until the rice is tender.



1 pound ground pork

1 cup dried shitake mushroom, rehydrated and finely chopped

1 tablespoon green onion, finely chopped

1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon mirin

1 tablespoon soy sauce

3 tablespoon corn oil or light flavored oil

1 tablespoon sesame oil

50 round gyoza skins

Mix all of the ingredients for the filling together. Refrigerate for one hour.

To assemble the gyoza, place 1 rounded teaspoon of filling in the center of the wrapper. Dip your index finger in water and wet the edge of the wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half and seal the edge. Starting from one end and working your way to the other end, pleat the gyoza about 4-5 times. Set gyoza on a sheet pan lined with wax paper or a Silpat mat.


At this point, the gyoza can be frozen. Make sure they are placed in the freezer so that none of the dumplings are touching each other. Once frozen, you can place them in a ziplock bag and pull them out when you are ready to steam them.

To steam the gyoza, place a wok filled about halfway with water over high heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to simmer. Spray a bamboo steamer basket with non-stick cooking spray and fill each layer with the dumplings. Make sure that they are not touching and that the steam can circulate around each dumpling. Put the lid on the steamer basket and steam for 12-15 minutes. Steam frozen gyoza for 16-20 minutes.

Serve with dipping sauce.

Dipping Sauce 

3/4 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup vinegar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

2 hot peppers, chopped with seeds

Mix ingredients and serve with gyoza.

Chinese Five Spice Pork Fried Rice

I don’t claim to be an expert, but I’ll tell you what I know about fried rice.  There’s a common tenet that French cooking and successful fried rice share:  don’t crowd the pan.  Better to cook your ingredients in shifts than to have soggy fried rice.  The  basic fried rice recipe is more a sequence of events using what you have on hand.  First the protein, then the onion and vegetables, then the egg and finally, the rice.

Growing up, my Mom made fried rice often.  The best was her Bacon Fried Rice, which was in the refrigerator when we came home recently after my parents watched our kids for a week.  I don’t know if I was happier to see my kids or those leftovers.

Last night I had leftover Chinese Five Spice Braised Pork, so that’s what I used.

Chinese Five Spice Pork Fried Rice

1 cup chopped braised Chinese Five Spice pork (or deli ham, bacon or ground pork)

1 onion, chopped

1 bunch scallions, white and green parts separated

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 Tbsp freshly grated ginger

2 carrots, diced

1 cup frozen peas

3 eggs, beaten

3 Tbsp soy sauce

4-5 cups cold cooked rice (I use Jasmine rice)

In a wok over high heat, add vegetable oil (I use canola) until hot but not smoking.  Add pork and cook until heated through.  Dump pork onto a large platter large enough to hold all of your ingredients.  Add a little more oil and add the onion and cook for a minute or two until translucent.  Add the white portions of the scallions, garlic, ginger, carrots and peas and cook until the vegetables are cooked through, making sure not to let the onions burn.  Empty the vegetables onto the platter with the pork.  Add a little more oil to the wok and then add the beaten eggs, swirling and lifting to ensure they cook through (same technique as an omelet).  When eggs are cooked, break them up with your wooden spoon and dump them onto the platter with the other ingredients.  Add a couple of tablespoons more oil to the pan and then add the rice, breaking up the larger clumps with your wooden spoon and then letting it cook undisturbed for a couple of minutes.  Stir and then let sit for a couple minutes more, ensuring all the rice gets direct heat on the bottom of the pan.  When the rice has crispy pieces throughout, add the chopped green scallions and the soy sauce and the rest of the previous ingredients.  Stir until combined and all ingredients are hot.  Serve at the table with more soy sauce and Sriracha for the adults.

– Catherine

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