Wednesday, December 14, 2011

L'Ecole de la Maison at the Osthoff

Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Chef Scott Baker checks work stations before students arrive at L'ecole de la Maison   

Rather surprising to find an extraordinary French cooking school residing within the four-diamond Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, but then again, maybe not. Given the interest in food and evidence that many travelers are attracted to culinary classes and tours; it makes sense. The small village of Elkhart Lake (resident population around 1,000) is the quintessential lake resort town. Vacationers descend during the summer and fall bringing a vibrant lifeline to the area. So, building L'ecole de la Mainson in the hotel was a brilliant plan.

Any foodie stepping into the magazine photo feature worthy expanse of granite counter-tops, stainless steel appliances, gleaming white cabinetry, and hanging pots and pans would be ready to roll up their sleeves. But, the school's workshops or one and two day courses also attract couples, girlfriend getaways, tourists, and anyone interested in learning.

At L'Ecole de la Maison you don't sit and watch food being prepared, you pick up a wooden spoon and jump right in. Chef Scott Baker and his team of assistants (kitchen angels in my mind, as they hover around, constantly cleaning) circulate and somehow manage to get everyone started. Each student picks a station where they want to work, and as the class progresses, they find themselves cooking amazing dishes and helping others.  

For example, if you don't know how to work a mandoline, you call "Chef," as if you were on a Food Network, and over comes Chef Baker in his dignified white hat.  He instructs and encourages you and any classmates interested in that skill. "Hold the potato like this," he says and demonstrates. Kathleen attempts and voila- it works! I try and it doesn't go as well. I am assured it is a matter of getting used working with the dangerous but awesome slicing appliance.

"Chef," I ask. "How do you properly mince a shallot?"  He shows me how to hold my knife and places my other hand on a corner of the onion. I am told not make any cuts near that end. Ah, ha.  Mincing, I've got it!

Amber's recipe calls for the use of a pastry bag; she's a whiz.  Poor Irene and Staci have to peel mountains of apples and potatoes. I pretend not to notice, as I already know that skill!  Peter digs his hands and arms in bread dough and, with a flourish, glazes the crust with olive oil. 

One reason this class is different from most is due to Chef Baker's style and temperament.  He is definitely not Gordon Ramsay.  Chef Baker never gets ruffled, even when his clarified butter overly browns. (He was called away to rescue someone.) Instead, he just accepts the annoyance, and teaches frugality. "Don't throw it out, he says," Freeze the mistake to use in soups or stew." And then...he begins the process again.

In three hours, my class made the most smashing array of food. We received detailed recipes so we can attempt to replicate them at home and impress company for the next few years. My group made all these selections:

    Classic French Onion Soup au Gratin
    Lyonnaise Salad with Poached Egg
    French Gougeres
    Coquille St. Jacques au Gratin
    Tenderloin of Beef au Poivre
    Maple Glazed Parsnips
    Swiss Chard Vineyard Style
    Gratin Dauphinoise
    Apple Tart Tatin with Creme Anglaise
    Classic Fougasse
Students eat their work at the end of the class

What was even more amazing than cooking that repertoire, was the fact that we ate it all!  I must say my Coquille St. Jacques tasted as divine as any I have ever sampled. Possibly the best ever.  Each and every dish was a successful sensation; the right mix of spice, texture and taste.

Steak, parsnips, potatoes, and Swiss Chard

I had a blast and learned many new useful techniques. If I lived near Elkhart Lake, about an hour from Milwaukee, I would be a regular at L'Ecole de la Maison.  

For a course schedule, click here. For more information or to register for courses,
please call (877) 804-8630 or email
For information about Elkhart Lake: or call Toll-Free (877) 355-4278

Read this and other food blog articles posted on Wanderfood Wednesdays.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fabulous Key Lime Bundt Cake

Key Lime Bundt Cake from We Take the Cake

The following review was originally written for Worldwide

Oprah Winfrey’s opinion carries a lot of clout and when she picks something as one of her “favorite things,” it usually stands up to any test.  Such is the case with the Key Lime Bundt Cake sent to me from We Take the Cake. 

My cake arrived in their signature decorative pink, green and black cake box carefully cushioned in packing materials. The bundt had a round container of glaze in the center hole- which actually helps prevent shipping problems. I then stirred the container of glaze and drizzled it over the top. The smell of tangy lime permeated the air. 

When cutting, I found the cake’s consistency was uniform and dense, though lighter than a pound cake. As for the taste:  the flavor was very moist, outstanding delicious, and without a doubt one of the best cakes I have ever tasted.  It was not overly sweet but packed with the citrusy kick of key limes. The bakery pours lime juice on the top as the cake cools. Yum! A forkful melts in your mouth with buttery goodness and creates visions of a tropical paradise.

According to the company literature, all products are made from scratch using fresh eggs and dairy products and individually decorated.  They never cut corners or use any mixes.

I hate to admit it, but I don't think I could bake a cake this good. So,  if I want another bite, I will just have to order one from the online service.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Delicious Fun with Gingy at Gaylord Palms

Gaylord Palms Resort is an oasis in the midst of busy Orlando. Stroll along with serpentine paths lined with giant ferns, Cabbage Palms, and verdant greenery and you're walking in a botanical garden, the Louisiana bayou or an island paradise. Orchids, waterfalls, streams-- even a lake with a boat fit inside the hotel atrium. The behemoth structure seems like a biosphere. Why, one could live within the confines for days and never need to go outside.  
Waterfall inside Gaylord Palms Resort

 By Thanksgiving, the resort adds holiday sparkle-- twinkling lights, bows and thousands of poinsettia plants intermingled with the foliage.   The expanse is gorgeous and the gigantic tree simply stunning. 


To further help Floridians and vacationers ignore the 80 degree temperatures and slip into the holiday spirit, Gaylord Palms presents ICE. Visitors meander through a frozen village built in the Gaylord  Convention Center that's kept around 12 degrees. Ice carvers from Harbin, China were brought in to create the magic structures and statues which resemble detailed wax museum figures. This year the theme is Shrek the Halls and it is sooooo cooool !!! 

With Shrek and Donkey in ICE.

After exiting ICE (which means your hands are numb even though you're wearing gloves) sit down and test your decorating skills with Gingy- the gingerbread man made famous in the Shrek movies. Pick a gingerbread house, a gingerbread family or a  gingerbread cottage ornament kit which come with all the candy, icing and accessories needed.  

Working on gingerbread houses.

My friend Chris, her two daughters and I tried to creatively apply gum drops, candy canes, dots and sprinkles to our houses-- laughing all the way. We indulged ourselves in the sticky and delicious fun. I admit I had an edge as I've decorated gingerbread before, but we all had a sweet time together.  

Gingy was proud of our final creations.

The best part--they clean-up your mess!  So, run, run as fast as you can and catch the Gingy- man

Christmas at Gaylord Palms Kissimmee, Florida  

ICE and other activities are open 'til Monday, January 2, 2012 

Visit the website for hours, tickets and special packages. 

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Thursday, November 17, 2011

Georgia Peaches, Pecans and Olive Oil: Oh my!

Georgia Olive Oil

Georgia is known as the Peach State for valid reason. Those delicious fleshy orbs of rosy nectar are truly fit for kings. Give me a fresh Georgia peach pie and I need nothing more- I'll eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

My next most favorite pie is pecan; I know- a dieter's worst nightmare.  But, the crunch of a roasted pecans suspended in congealed syrup brings sweetness to the lips and resplendent dreams of holidays past.  Can't resist that pie either.

However, Georgia olive oil?  Who ever heard of such a thing? I certainly hadn't until I attended a Southern Culinary Traditions press trip offered by Leigh Court at the lovely King and Prince Resort on St. Simons Island.

I first learned about the fascinating history of olives in Georgia (and other colonial cities) from Dr. Mark Hanley of Georgia Olive Growers.  Did you know the first olive trees might have been planted in Charleston as far back as 1670?  The British settlers arriving in 1736 found olive groves near St. Simons Island lighthouse. And, Thomas Jefferson arranged a shipment of over 500 olive trees in 1791.

Dr. Mark Hanley

Jason Shaw of Georgia Olive Farms in Lakeland, Georgia, then spoke about his 20-acre farm, planted with 600 trees per acre, a super high-density technique. This past September he recorded the monumental first commercial olive harvest east of the Mississippi since the late 1800′s. He claimed the groves are a work in progress, but the production seems to be off to a great start. 

For me, the highlight was tasting the golden green oil - extra virgin cold pressed Arbequina premium to be exact.  It coated my tongue with reckless abandon; the taste was clear, crisp and very buttery.

Tasting Georgia olive oil
The oil may not be on the market yet, but keep your eyes open.  Georgia is producing a serious bounty of home grown products, enough to make passionate locavores move to the state. 

Forget investing in the crude fields of Texas or Louisiana, why there's gold in the fields of Georgia.
Georgia Olive Groves

Read this and other food blog articles posted on Wanderfood Wednesdays.

Thanks to Georgia Olive Growers for the above photo.  Credit goes to Ralf Roletschek for the photo of the peaches and  Quinn Dombrowski for the pecan pie photo- both from Wikimedia Commons.   

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sing for Your Supper at the Aria Hotel, Prague

Coda Restaurant- A Restaurant Review


Anyone who knows me would never let me sing for my supper. I'm so off key, I'd be lucky to get scraps.  Fortunately, I didn't have to even hum a tune at the musical themed Aria Hotel in Prague. Instead, I was treated to a symphonic lunch of the finest Czech food in Aria's Coda Restaurant. This meal was certainly one of the high notes on my trip to the Czech Republic.

The Aria, a five-star boutique hotel with 51 rooms, is tucked into the historic area known as the Lesser Quarter, close to the Charles Bridge and just down the hill from Prague Castle.  The property adjoins the Vrtbovská  Gardens, Prague's oldest Baroque gardens and a UNESCO World Heritage site. These formal gardens (frequently missed by tourists) are stunning and a real treat for hotel guests who enjoy an exclusive entrance.

Had the weather cooperated, I would have dined at Coda's 360-degree rooftop terrace overlooking the Old Town, churches and river. Instead, I was seated in the enchanting art-deco restaurant that sustains a musical theme down to the plates. They are imprinted with caricatures of famous musicians.

My prelude was a creamy mushroom soup or “Kulajda“Soup that was made from wild forest mushrooms, dill, cream and poached egg. A few croutons were sprinkled on top to contrast the velvety smoothness. 

My entree was roast duck, a Czech staple known as “Vodňany“ Duck.  Chef David Šašek cooked the poultry to perfection--crispy on the outside and fork tender on the inside.  The duck was harmonized by sauerkraut and potato dumplings, a Bohemian specialty, and tasted like an Old World grandmother's homemade comfort food. Each bite yielding a mouth fulfilling pleasure.  
Chef David Sasek

Although my duck was roasted, Chef Sasek is known for using the French method of 'Sous-vide', a water technique that results in making meat so tender it almost needs no chewing.

Dessert featured gorgeous ruby strawberries that were drenched into aged balsamic vinegar and topped with Chantilly cream. The blend between the sweetness of the berries and the vinegar's pungency was melodious.

For an encore (had I been a hotel guest) I could have basked in the music library of over a 1,000 CD's or listened back to my room.  The Aria has a virtuoso feel, a mixture of classical, opera, jazz and contemporary touches. One could truly escape here, close to the best features of stunningly different Prague.

Read this and other food blog articles posted on Wanderfood Wednesdays.

If you go:
Aria Hotel
Aria Hotel - View from the Mozart Suite
Triese 9
118 00 Prague

Thursday, November 3, 2011

La Truffle Sauvage Wine Dinner: Lake Charles, LA

Restaurant Review
La Truffle Sauvage, Lake Charles, LA

I arrived at a driveway leading to what looked like an upscale brick home and stepped inside to find a restaurant glowing in candlelight. The tables were covered in fine white cloths with centerpieces of slim breadsticks surrounded by low votives.  This was La Truffle Savage Restaurant in Lake Charles, co-owned by Chef Mohamed Chettouh and Arthur Durham.
A banquet table had been set aside with hundreds of wine glasses and the popping of
champagne corks filled the air. Soon a waiter arrived with a tray of the bubbly.
How lovely, I thought; I'm very fortunate to attend this gourmet wine dinner.

Hors d’Oeurves
Copper River smoked salmon, Yukon Gold potato blini
Black Mission fig, Proscuitto di Parma
beef pailliard en crostini
N.V. Lallier, Brut, Grand Reserve, Grand Cru 

I was seated at a table for eight and Jared Cocke, a fine wine specialist was introduced.  He began by speaking about the French champagne we were sipping.  He explained that it came from Lallier, France; was a dry brut, grand reserve, and grand cru from a vineyard known for its chalky white soil. The clear taste was a perfect accompaniment to the hors d'oeurves of smoked salmon, potato blinis with fig and crostini topped with Prosciutto cheese over a slice of beef.

1st Course
Pan Seared Natural Sea Scallop in the Shell
sauté spinach, sweet vermouth sauce
2008 Chablis, Domaine William Fevre, Bougros, Côte Bougerots, Grand Cru

The first course served was a jumbo sized scallop, seared to perfection so it was brown on the outside and still moist and tender on the inside.  The 2008 Chablis, another grand cru, came from a 25-acre vineyard using 100-percent chardonnay grapes. The flavor was crisp, vibrant and clean.  

2nd Course
Morel Mushroom Risotto
shaved White Alba truffle, Pecorino cheese, truffle oil
2001 Michele Chiarlo, Barolo, Riserva, Triumviratum

The next dish was a mixture of tantalizing morel mushroom risotto covered with shavings of white ruffle and Pecorino cheese, and a drizzle of truffle oil.  I could have ended my dinner here; this serving was delicious enough for the entire meal. The creamy kernels were accompanied by a classic pairing: a 2001 Michele Chiarlo, Barolo Riserva, Triumvaratum- a rare wine (that means expensive!) and blend of three vineyards, aged for 10 years.

3rd Course
Pheasant Breast stuffed with Leek & Fennel
ginger parsnip, carrot, zucchini and natural jus
2008 Chambertin, Domaine Louis Jadot, Clos-de-Beze, Grand Cru

This course consisted of a pheasant breast stuffed with leek and fennel and partnered with  parsnip, carrot, zucchini and natural jus. My table had a wonderful discussion on the joys of parsnips- a vegetable none of us had ever tasted growing up. The pheasant roll looked like a complex preparation, tasted non-gamey- more like a chicken thigh and was paired with an exceptional 2008 Chambertin, Jadot, Clos-de-Beze, grand cru.  Apparently only 1884 bottles were made from Pinot Noir grapes that were concentrated and aged.  The wine expert said it had great weight on the palate. My opinion- joyous.

4th Course
Tomato Tartare, Warm Goat Cheese, Kalamata Olive Tappenade
basil & lemon oil
2010 Chateau D’Agueria, Tavel, Rosé

I was getting quite full and thought this would be the course to skip. But happily, I did not, as the flavor combinations were some of the best I have ever tasted. I bite into a scrumptious mound of  tomato tartare with warm goat cheese and a crispy bread slice with dollop of Kalamata olive tapenade. The tomato was tangy,  powerfully vibrant and downright zestful. Just thinking about it, makes me wish I could taste it again. I  sipped pink and sweet yet spicy 2010, Chateau D'Aqueria Rosé.  Bravo.

5th Course
Roasted Lamb Loin
Pomme Anna, braised artichoke heart, asparagus, Bordelaise sauce
2007 Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Cabernet Sauvignon, SLV
The fifth course or main entree arrived as three slices of roasted lamb loin with sides of Potatoes Anna, braised artichoke heart, asparagus and a Bordelaise sauce.  The meat glistened a lovely garnet color and boasted a salt and pepper crust. It simply melted in your mouth.  This exquisite preparation seemed unworldly. The 2007 Stag's Leap Cabernet Sauvignon, SLV, the only wine I was familiar with, blossomed full bodied and the vintage was a great year.  Even I could perceive the cherry notes and loved the aftertaste

6th Course
Warm Peach Tart, Nectarine Gelato
star anise crème anglaise
2006 Gunderloch, Nackenheim Rothenberg, Riesling, Auslese

Dessert came as a colorful plate - slices of peach tart with a dollop of crème anglaise, nectarine gelato
and raspberry accents.  What a light and mildly sweet ending to the decadent meal. Along with it, I lingered on the German Riesling dessert wine with sweet and floral notes.

And if that wasn't quite enough, a dish of fine chocolate truffles appeared to bid us adieu.
Truffles from start to finish--at La Truffle Savage!

Lake Charles is fortunate to have La Truffle Savage and the extraordinary talents of the co-owner/chefs. They insist the restaurant maintain the highest standards and certainly proved themselves with this amazing wine dinner. I would happily return and highly recommend it if you visit Southwest Louisiana.

The evening was a preliminary event of the Lake Charles Rouge et Blanc Wine and Food Festival.
Wow, more wine--I could hardly wait.

Read this and other food blog articles posted on Wanderfood Wednesdays.
La Truffle Sauvage
815 West Bayou Pines Drive
 Lake Charles, LA 70601-7076
Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention and Visitors Bureau

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Veggie Man Cometh

The Veggie Man

A photo on the Kraft Foods newsletter caught my attention --something called the Skeleton Salad and Brain Dip.  I loved the litle man made from of vegetables.. 

Knowing I would be babysitting my grand-daughters the week before Halloween, I kept the picture.  I decided to surprise them and tried to follow the example.   

The above photo was my creation.  I added eyes and mouth to make him more friendly!

The girls were delighted and really got into eating him up!

If you want to encourage your kids or grandchildren to eat their veggies- perhaps the Veggie Man needs to cometh to your house or party. 

Read more food blog stories on Wanderfood Wednesday. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Chocolate Art at Four Seasons Prague

Believe it or not, DNA was the topic of the conversation around the candlelit dining table at the exclusive Allegro Italian restaurant located within the Four Seasons Prague. A decadent orgy of multiple courses, each one a scrumptious blending of the finest, fresh ingredients with a masters touch unfolded. When dessert time arrived, an insatiable desire for chocolate teased our genes. Chef Andrea Accordi, under whose direction the kitchen became the first in the former Eastern Block to be awarded a Michelin star, and his staff arranged a chocolate art presentation at our table. How exotically fabulous.

A white cloth was positioned upon the table amidst an array of nugget-filled containers. An enthusiastic chef drizzled a sweet red liquid in an abstract design which I am told was beetroot sauce, but I would never have guessed. Then, he scattered candied orange and lemon rind around the delicacy, followed by candied kumquats. Rolled pieces of whiskey truffle bonbons were strategically placed as we witnessed awestruck an edible masterpiece sculptured before our eyes.

A small rectangular slice of frozen chocolate mousse was added near the center along with a triangular Earl Gray gelato, further garnished by seductive frozen jasmine foam dollops. Delectable spoonfuls of a chocolate hazelnut blend known as a croccantino adorned the whole along with sprinkled pistachio nuts. Lastly, the lively artistic creation was topped off with warm and heavenly chocolate sauce.

Then, each of us leered at each other, laughed, picked up our spoons and scooped to our hearts desire. A fusion of the finest chocolatier and ice cream shoppe enveloped our palate. An indulgence over the top, but wicked fun and a delightfully interactive way to end an elegant evening.

Read this and other food blog articles posted on Wanderfood Wednesdays.

If you go:
Four Seasons Hotel Prague

Rooms with a View -- The Four Seasons rests on what many call prime real estate- the location with the best views of the city.  (I agree!) Some rooms offer the awe inspiring sight of the Charles Bridge and Prague castle, a scene that's stood the test of time and one that will never lose its magnificence. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Antlers Restaurant: Not for Stuffed Shirts

Restaurant Review
Michigan:  Sault Ste. Marie

Antlers Restaurant attracts a group who like to hang out at the bar. They tend to be outlandish and wild, yet remain in a state of suspended animation. They definitely don't belong in the stuffed shirt preppy crowd. You see, some of Antlers loyal patrons dangle from the rafters and walls-- they are actually taxidermy critters, often sprouting expansive racks. 

The decor of preserved animals far outnumbers the customers who sit among the mounted species: mountain lions, beaver, coyote, a polar bear, mink, squirrels, moose, deer, elk and fish. The menu connects with the theme: venison pie, wild game lasagna and moose tracks sundae. 

The place had a colorful start as the Bucket of Blood Saloon and Ice Cream Parlor, the ice cream part, a cover-up during Prohibition. The place was closed by the internal revenue agents who discovered that it sold only one quart of ice cream a month, and yet took in a profit of $900.

Town legend says many of the Antlers specimens were traded by trappers in exchange for booze. The establishment is so rustic that the old TV show, Gunsmoke, filmed three episodes within its colorful walls.

The saloon's history dates back through four generations and six families of owners, with the Kinney family contributing most of the memorabilia. The current owners, the Szabo and Cunningham families purchased the establishment in 2009.

The restaurant is also loud, known for boat whistles, horns and hair-raising announcements that blare from the PA at regular intervals. St. Patrick's Day is heartily celebrated with green beer and dancing on the tables.

You'll find this fine collection of fur, feathers and fish on Portage Avenue at the south-end of the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The joint is open from 9am to 9pm Sunday – Thursday, Friday and Saturday open till 10pm. Come in for a Soo Stew Canoe on freshly baked bread filled with Michigan gumbo or the Paul Bunyan burger, but be careful what you say. The walls have ears.

Read this and other food blog articles posted on Wanderfood Wednesdays.

If you go:

Antler's Restaurant
804 E Portage Ave
Sault Ste Marie, MI 49783
(906) 253-1728

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Chef Jean-Stephane Poinard cooks for James Beard House

Chef Jean-Stephane Poinard

Should you walk down Cathedral Street in St. Augustine and catch a whiff of sensuous aromas coming from Bistro de Leon, I dare you not to enter. This casual French-style eatery is one of my favorite local restaurants. I enjoy if for the small tables bunched together that create a warm and casual atmosphere. I like buying items from the display case to take home. But, what I truly love is the food prepared by Chef Jean-Stephane Poinard.

Poinard is a 5th generation chef brought up in the gastronomic capital of Lyon, France where his family owned Hotel Restaurant de Paris. He is also  a member of the exclusive Les Toques Blanches Lyonnaises, one of the privileged chefs invited into the rare fraternity of only 100 members.  French home cuisine “la cuisine de meres” is what has propelled Poinard to the top of the elitist gastronomic scene since 1998.

On Friday, November 18, 2011 he will be the honored Chef at New York City’s James Beard House, preparing a 7-course dinner for eighty guests. What an accolade for Chef Jean-Stephane and St. Augustine.

The upcoming event is themed: The FRENCH CONNECTION DINNER ~ Celebrating Beaujolais Noveau. The dinner pairs his dishes with French wines featuring the best of Georges DuBoeuf 2011 Wines.

According to the James Beard Foundation:
“As a member of Les Toques Blanches Lyonnaises, the ultra-exclusive fraternity of chefs led by Paul Bocuse, Jean-Stephane Poinard is an ambassador of modern French cuisine. For this Beard House dinner, Poinard has designed a deliciously diplomatic menu of his rustic French cooking to showcase the 2011 nouveau and cru Beaujolais wines”.

James Beard Menu
Friday November 18, 2011

Mises en Bouche served on trays
(Butler Style)
Tomato « Confite » stuffed with escargots flamed in Pastis, garlic cream
Split peas cream, bacon Veloute and chips
Duet of Salmon «Rillette»
Georges Duboeuf Mâcon-Villages 2010
Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau 2011

Beef tail «confite» ravioles, Fava Beans, Port Jus
Georges Duboeuf Chiroubles 2010
Deboned frog legs served on a tomato garlic French Toast, Watercress Coulis
Georges Duboeuf Chiroubles 2010
Beaujolais Nouveau «Granite», Burgundy blackcurrent cream
Hudson Duck « Pot au Feu », Spicy Jus, Foie Gras in cabagge « Papillotte »
Georges Duboeuf Morgon Domaine Jean Descombes 2010
Cheese board, Datil Pepper Jelly, walnuts bread
Georges Duboeuf Juliénas Château des Capitans 2010
Pear poached in Beaujolais Nouveau and Fall Spices
Georges Duboeuf Juliénas Château des Capitans 2010
Wines Graciously Donated by Les Vins Georges Duboeuf

Friends of Chef Poinard can purchase dinner tickets at the James Beard Foundation MEMBER price of $130, per person (tax & gratuity included). The general public price is $170.

 Call James Beard House reservations department directly at 212-627-2308. Mention the Special Dinner and the unique code word ‘FENNEL’ stating that you are a friend of the Chef for the Member Price as a courtesy. .

 I wish I could attend the New York event, but at least as a Florida resident I can visit nearby Bistro de Leon.

Here's a brief videoto introduce you to Chef Poinard of St. Augustine:

Bistro de Leon
#12 Cathedral Place
St. Augustine, Florida 32084

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Braised Pork Tenderloin With Eggplant, Olives and Capers

Pork Tenderloin with eggplant, tomatoes, olives and capers

My friend Chris raved about the food and recipes she was preparing while on her new diet, so I had to look it up and try for myself. I searched the new Sonoma diet and indeed, the recipes sounded fantastic.  I chose to try a pork tenderloin that you cube and cook with a variety of chopped vegetables. 

I can honestly report this dish was one of the best things I have ever cooked.  Absolutely tender, juicy pork pieces and the most sensational sauce-- the kind of sauce you twirl around your mouth and indulge in the tangy taste. I actually took a jump for joy! This recipe is totally yummy.

I used the fresh herbs called for in the recipe, which I'm sure added to the rich flavor. The preparation is not difficult but does require a lot of chopping. Be sure to use a very large skillet as I seemed to have plentiful amounts. I froze the leftovers and will report back with how they fared.

Braised Pork Tenderloin With Olives and Capers
From The New Sonoma Diet Cookbook
(Serves 6)

Cooking the recipe- before tomatoes were aded.

2 pounds pork tenderloin
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups 1-inch cubes unpeeled eggplant
2 cups chopped onion
1cup chopped celery
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
6 cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon minced)
1 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1cup chicken broth
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup green olives, pitted and chopped
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


1. Trim fat from pork. Cut pork into 1-inch cubes. Season pork with kosher salt and pepper; set aside.

2. In a very large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Add eggplant; cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove eggplant from skillet; set aside.

3. In the same skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Add pork; cook and stir about 3 minutes or until browned. Remove from skillet; cover and keep warm.

4. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet. Add onion, celery, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook and stir for 5 minutes.5. Stir in undrained tomatoes, chicken broth, vinegar, olives, and capers. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 15 minutes or until most of the liquid is evaporated. Return eggplant and pork to the skillet. Cover and simmer about 10 minutes more or until pork is tender. Stir in mint and basil. Sprinkle with parsley.

If the Sonoma diet sounds intriguing to you head over to their website and check it out: The Sonoma Diet Website.

Read this and other food blog articles posted on Wanderfood Wednesdays.