Crunchtime Food Blog

breaded pork tenderloin

We love a theme. Today’s theme, of course, is the Iowa caucus.  While other sites are Bob Dole-ing out football themed recipes, were going straight to the heartland for Iowa’s absolute best food – bar none – the Breaded Pork Tenderloin sandwich.  You heard me right, we bread them, then put them on some bread.  They are delicious.  We have two options here, baked and fried – fried rules the tastebuds, baked rules the waistbuds.

Did I ever tell you the one about the time I ran an Iowa caucus?

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chickpea & kale curry

Right. Chickpea and kale curry was not the dream dinner you were hoping for tonight. And forget getting the kids on board.  Kinda seems unfinished, like it needs lamb meatballs or a ring of bologna on top.  Believe me. This simple, incredibly easy, meatless, hassleless, exotically savory meal is totally, certifiably delicious.

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poulet provencal

El Niño is at the door and he’s not leaving. Good thing we got prepped for this lasting rainy cold weather last year in France. And in France, like in most places, food saves the day. Because we live in Los Angeles, we don’t get too ornery about vacation weather fails. I mean it’s nice that we’re even on vacation, but constant downpours in the city of lights sorta dampened strolling and site-seeing. But don’t cry for me Argentina because the French also figured out indoors, giving us some pretty okay museums and restaurants and umbrella stands.

In Aix en Provence, my sister and fam pumped us like geese full of cheeses, breads, charcuterie, wine and traditional French fare.  We swooned over this poulet provencal dinner that she served with sautéed eggplant and zucchini, and crusty bread.  I’ve made it a few times since on rainy weather days, changing it up to reflect available fridge produce and our appetites, but I never waiver from the seasonings that make this dish recognizably special and oh so French.  Something about fragrant roast chicken that turns a drab musty atmosphere into an aromatic bistro and warms the soul.

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cauliflower, garlic, vinegar

Most of our favorite condiments rely on vinegar – ketchup, pickles, mustard, barbecue sauce, salad dressings. Vinegar’s hit of pungent acidity provides a bitter/salt flavor combo that gets us to really notice the food it presents – like a ringmaster for the greatest bite on earth. Every cool chef in town is trending out with fermented foods and homemade vinegars. Perhaps the coolest around these neighborhoods is hipster-bearded, vegetable-celebrating, consonant-loving Travis Lett, owner/chef of Gjelina restaurant in Venice, whose latest hot spot, Gjusta, earned 2nd place honors in Bon Appetit’s list of 2015 best new restaurants. Lett’s cookbook was a must-have this year for holiday gifts. And who better to turn to now for our New Year’s resolution to eat more vegetables. You can’t imagine how easy it is to make cauliflower come alive beyond traditional roasting – high heat, a splash of vinegar, an herb and some craftiness.

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winter citrus

Somehow, slices of winter’s citrus becomes an acceptable dessert for guests when showered with vanilla bean syrup.  At least no one complained at our 24th annual World Christmas – Cuba style.  Dr. April’s beans and baked rice (recipe coming), a helping hand from the famous Porto’s Bakery, three batches of mojitos using this wacky tool, a Cubano roast pork recipe from Saveur – made up for not roasting a whole suckling pig (face roasting = stomach turning), a jicama slaw, and grilled pineapple/avocado salad filled every last corner of our plates.

It seems wrong that citrus fruits are at peak juiciest in the winter – quite a welcome pack of sunshine to yank us out of our root vegetable rut. With this easy 3-ingredient syrup, you can take already sublime fruits to dessert status in moments.

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