Primalized Pan-Seared Oven-Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Dried Cherry-Port Sauce with Quince Paste

Yeah, the title is a mouthful.  But it tells you just what to expect; a flavor-packed hunk of meat. I modified a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook to make the recipe more primal and subbing in some ingredients that I had on hand. I couldn’t stop “mmmm’ing” the whole way through my delightful meal.  I hope that you find the same experience for yourself! For a veggie side I made roasted, cubed butternut squash that I started roasting a half-hour before starting the pork.

(Please note: this is not 100% primal with the port and quince paste being in the pan sauce.)


2 12 to 16 oz pork tenderloins, preferably fat-capped

1 1/4 tsp salt

3/4 tsp pepper

1 tbsp coconut oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil, set aside. Sprinkle tenderloins with salt & pepper, rub seasoning into the meat. Heat oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat until oil has tiny bubbles. Place both tenderloins in skillet; cook until well browned on each side, about 3 minutes per side. Remove pan from heat and tenderloins from pan to foil-lined baking sheet and place in oven on middle rack. (Start pan sauce while pork roasts). Roast for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, until internal temperature registers 145 degrees F.

Transfer tenderloins to cutting board and tent loosely with aluminum foil; let rest 10 minutes. Cut tenderloins crosswise into 1/2″ thick slices, arrange on serving platter and spoon pan sauce over meat and serve.


1 tsp coconut oil

1 large leek, sliced into 1/2″ thick slices

3/4 cup port

3/4 cup dried cherries (no sugar)

2 tbsp quince paste

3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces

Salt & pepper

After pork tenderloins have been put into the oven, add coconut oil and leek slices to skillet and sauté over medium heat. You may need to add a touch of water if pork bits are still sticking to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until leeks are soft.  Set skillet aside until pork comes out of the oven.

While pork is resting, return skillet to medium-high heat and add port and cherries, simmer, scraping bottom of pan with wooden spoon to loosen an browned bits.  Simmer until sauce is slightly thickened. Add any accumulated pork juices from cutting board, continue simmering until again slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.  Off heat, whisk in quince paste and butter, one piece at a time.  Season with salt & pepper to taste.  Spoon sauce over plated tenderloin medallions.


1 butternut squash, peeled & cubed into 1/2″ cubes

1 – 2 tbsp olive oil

Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Trim both ends of butternut squash. Cut squash in half lengthwise, de-seed and peel.  Cut into cubes and transfer to a mixing bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and add salt and pepper. Turn mixture until cubes are well coated with oil and seasoning. Transfer to a parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheet. Spread cubes evenly on baking sheet, ideally there is a little bit of space between most of the cubes.

Bake for 30 minutes, pull pan from oven and using spatula, turn cubes.  Rearrange so that they are evenly spread out on sheet pan. I like my squash a little crunchy/crispy on the outside and tender on the inside so I cooked mine for an additional 30 minutes. Keep checking your cubes after 45 minutes for your preferred doneness. 

(Once I was done with my meal, I was reflecting on the flavors.  The pan sauce tasted really good on the butternut cubes but I overdid it by pouring some of the sauce onto the cubes in addition to the pork.  I think next time I’ll mince some fresh thyme or make an olive oil mixture with dried thyme while the cubes are roasting and add the fresh herb or oil mixture to the cubes just as they are coming out of the oven.  The thyme would pair extremely well with the pork and cherry/port/quince flavors of the sauce.)


Asian Veggie Bowl with Spicy Lamb Loin Chops-Primal Style

My friend Jena had a really good smelling broccoli slaw with sesame ginger vinaigrette on our drive to Targhee last week.  I love the smell of ginger and sesame oil.  And the sweetness of these types of dressings.  And how I love sweet.  And how I loathe sweet.  I can’t seem to break my addiction!

The slaw thoughts came back to haunt me at the grocery store today. I decided that I was going to mix it up by using steamed broccoli and fresh cucumber.  I did a quick search for primal sesame vinaigrette and came across one by Primal Palate that looked to fit the bill; no sugar and a good array of ingredients to start with.

I then grabbed a pack of lamb loin chops that I thought I could figure out what to do with when I got home.  I was excited to have a dinner that was going to have a front and center veggie with a complimentary meat.

I got the dressing to my liking after a few additions to the Primal Palate recipe.  I got stuck on the lamb though.  I wanted something that was spicy but I didn’t want to replicate what I had done for the broccoli.  I decided upon coriander and cumin with some white pepper, salt & black pepper.  But I wanted something else.  I threw out the question to a new friend and he shot back with “harissa”.  And I had harissa powder in my cupboard!  Harissa is a North African blend of dried peppers.  It has some heat.  And great flavor.

I have to say, the harissa was the icing on the cake, if you will.  It held its own against the lamb flavor (not that lamb flavor is a bad thing when you’ve got good lamb) and it complimented the ginger in the veggie dressing.  The pecans in the veggie bowl had a great cooling effect to the spice of both the sesame ginger vinaigrette and the dry rub on the lamb.


Serves 2

  • 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger root
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp coconut vinegar
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp roasted sesame oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 tbsp tamari sauce
  • 2 cups steamed broccoli florets
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 large cucumber, sliced
  • 1/2 cup roasted pecans

Preheat oven to 350 to roast pecans.  Once oven is hot, roast pecans on a sheet pan for approximately 8 minutes.  Bring water to boil to steam broccoli.  Steam broccoli florets for approximately 8 to 10 minutes, depending on preferred crispness of broccoli.  Once broccoli is done steaming, run under cold water to stop cooking.

While broccoli is steaming, mix the first 9 ingredients together in a mixing bowl.  Set aside to let flavors meld.  Peel and slice cucumber. Slice scallions.  Once broccoli is cooled and well-drained, divide broccoli, scallions and cucumber into 2 bowls.  Crush pecans in hand and sprinkle over the top of vegetables.  Pour dressing over veggies when ready to serve.


Serves 2

  • 2 lamb chops
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp harissa powder
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

Let lamb chops sit at room temp for 30 to 40 minutes.

Measure cumin and coriander seeds into mortar and pestle and grind the seeds to a fine powder.  Add the white & black pepper, salt and harissa to the cumin and coriander.  Mix well.  Lightly coat both sides of lamb chops.

Melt coconut oil in a sauté pan over high heat.  Turn heat to medium high and add lamb chops to pan.  Sauté each side for 3 to 4 minutes (my chops were just over an inch thick).  Cook until preferred doneness.  Let chops rest on a plate for 2 minutes before cutting into them.


Primal Prawns (or Cauliflower) in an Indian Coconut Sauce

I was leery about this recipe.  It seemed too simple to have any flavor.  I’m used to reading and preparing Indian recipes that have at least 12 different spices.  And typically, at least 2 of the ingredients are hard to find in our small Montana city that seems to have a hard time selling even the most basic of gourmet and especially ethnic ingredients.

I was pleasantly surprised.  I’ll be honest though, I almost stopped halfway through the prepping of the dish because I was not impressed with the then flavor of the coconut milk and minced onion/garlic/ginger paste.  But, I continued on thinking that I should give it a good try given that all of the prep was done and thus I had nothing to lose.  I even went so far as to think of possible other renditions with the end result.  Oh ye of little faith!

The subtle cinnamon, cloves and cardamom melded together perfectly with the coconut milk and gingery onion.  I think the absolute trick to this recipe is to give it time to let the flavors do their thing.  As with seemingly all Indian recipes, the dish improves even more after sitting overnight.  The sauce is perfect for the shrimp in that it’s quite flavorful but does not overwhelm the shrimp or cauliflower.  This will be one dish that will continually be on my rotation of Indian go-to’s.

I want to give great credit to Meena Pathak  for the great recipes in COMPLETE INDIAN COOKING.  This recipe is an adaptation of one of her recipes and a second recipe of hers that I’ve created a post around.

Pairs great with a mild Pinot Noir (I find most Indian goes great with Pinot Noirs).


Serves 4 – 6

  • 12 oz chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1″ piece ginger, sliced
  • 2 lb large raw prawns; peeled, cleaned & deveined – or –
  • 1 head cauliflower cut into bite-sized florets – or –
  • a  combination of shrimp & cauliflower
  • salt, to taste
  • 3/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 1″ piece of cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 dried bird’s eye chile
  • 2 oz Greek yogurt
  • 12 fl oz coconut milk or 4 oz coconut cream with 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup water

Place onions, garlic and ginger in a food processor or blender and process to a FINE paste.

Smear the prawns or cauliflower with a little salt and half the turmeric.  Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan and fry the prawns over a high heat until just golden brown.  Remove and set aside.

Add the remaining oil to the pan and add the cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaves.  Reduce heat to medium high and stir spices for 2 minutes or just until they are aromatic and lightly brown.  Reduce the heat to medium, and add the onion/garlic/ginger mixture to the pan.  Stir-fry for approximately 4 minutes.

Add the remaining turmeric and bird’s eye chile.  Sprinkle with a little water and stir well.  Add the yogurt and mix well.  Pour in the coconut milk/coconut cream & water. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes, stirring regularly.  (At this point it is going to come down to preference of thickness.  It can be cooked longer for a thicker consistency if desired.)

Add prawns and cauliflower.  Cook for another 8 minutes for shrimp and 10 minutes for cauliflower (check for doneness of florets).

Indian Night after a Long, Dry Spell

I haven’t been making much Indian since going mostly Primal.  I think it has something to do with not having the rice and naan to go with the curries.  It’s not as though I’ve cut it out completely but it’s definitely not been in my diet as much as it was at one time.

I really enjoy making Indian.  I have accumulated a lot of the spices that are common in Indian and scoff at the “optional” entries in recipes because, 1) I have those ingredients and have a slight superiority complex come out, and 2) I can’t imagine the recipe without them because after having used them I feel like the recipe just wouldn’t be the same without them.  Curry leaves are one of those ingredients that I just can’t imagine going without when listed in a recipe.

I was going through my cookbooks this morning trying to find an Indian recipe for some goat stew meat that I had defrosted.  In addition to a crockpot recipe for the goat, I came across 2 other recipes that I had marked as wanting to try and had all of the spices on hand.  It was a great day to tinker in the kitchen given that we’ve been pretty much snowed in and it’s still too cold to go out and enjoy the outdoors.  At least in my opinion.

The two recipes are adaptations of Chicken in Cardamom Cream Sauce in “Complete Indian Cooking” by Meena Pathak to go with Sweet Potato Chaat in “American Masala” by Suvir Saran.  I felt that the sweet potato recipe would be a great accompaniment/primal substitute for basmati rice.  And I was right!  Both dishes are delish, pair well together and I didn’t even miss the rice.

One note on spices: if you can or have the time, I would recommend freshly grinding the coriander.  It’s an easy spice to grind, the little globes just simply crush in on themselves.  The difference between store bought and freshly ground coriander is significant.  And this can make your dish that much more stellar!

I prepped my Chaat root vegetables and started roasting them when I started the Chicken Cardamom recipe.


Serves 4

  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 3 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp freshly ground coriander
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 12 oz boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2″ to 1″ cubes
  • 200 ml cream
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp coconut sugar
  • salt

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium high heat.  Add cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom pods and bay leaves.  Turn heat to medium and cook, swirling pan occasionally, until they begin to crackle, approximately 10 minutes.

Add the ground coriander and canned tomatoes and fry for 2 minutes.

Add the diced chicken and fry, stirring continuously for 5 minutes.

Add the single cream, ground cardamom, fenugreek leaves and garam masala.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add coconut sugar and salt to taste.  Serve alongside Chaat Roasted Vegetables.

Chaat Spiced Roasted Vegetables

Serves 6

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

  • 3 large parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp roasted cumin seeds, ground
  • 2 Tbsp Chaat masala
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 1 lime

Toast cumin seeds in a small cast iron skillet or frying pan over medium heat.  They are done when they are lightly brown and smell fragrant.  Let cool before grinding.

Prep the vegetables, adding others if you see fit.  Beets might be a good option.  Place vegetables in a large mixing bowl.

Mix the dry spices together in a small mixing bowl.

Drizzle olive oil over vegetables.  Stir vegetables so that they are evenly coated.  Sprinkle some of the spice mixture over vegetables.  Turn vegetables to spread the seasoning evenly on the vegetables.  Do not feel that you have to use all of the spice, I kept some back to use for later.

Line a sheet pan with tin foil or parchment paper.  Spread your vegetables evenly over the sheet pan.  Roast for 15 minutes.  Stir vegetables and roast for another 10 to 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender and lightly brown.  Remove from the oven and squeeze 1/2 to 1 full lime over the vegetables depending on your flavor preference.


My how time has flown by!  I am posting this recipe because I am so jacked that I have been able to re-create one of my favorite comfort foods into a satisfying primal meal, with “ketchup” sauce on top to boot!  I think the ketchup sauce or the threat of lack-thereof because it couldn’t possibly be primal has prevented me from pursuing primal meatloaf sooner.  But I think I hit the jackpot!  Now to get down & dirty.


Serves 6

Preheat oven to 350 degrees


  • 2# grass-fed ground beef
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 3/4 onion, chopped roughly
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp butter

Heat butter over medium heat in a non-stick skillet.  Saute onions until soft and almost translucent.  Add garlic and continue sauteeing until garlic is soft.  Set aside.

Mix remaining ingredients together and add onion and garlic to meat mixture.  Don’t burn your hands on onion/garlic if mixing with hands.  Set mixture aside.


  • 3 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp coconut sugar, crushed
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp French’s yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • Salt to taste
  • Water

Whisk ingredients until smooth, adding enough water to make a wet ketchup-like consistency.

Line a loaf pan with tinfoil.  Press the meatloaf mixture into the pan.  Smear 1/2 of the ketchup sauce on top of the meatloaf.  Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes.  Once done, slice meatloaf into even slices.  Set out remaining ketchup sauce to add more to your meatloaf if desired.


The Flood

I cannot think of a better title. “The Flood”. It’s been my life for the last month. My small burrito shop here in Helena experienced a minor flood on December 10th, 2009 when a sprinkler head froze and then thawed and went off in the middle of the night. It’s now January 11th, 2010 and the burrito shop is still not open.

It’s been one trying last month. I see a light at the end of tunnel. I now have a beautiful new decorative concrete floor in the store. I will have new paint on the walls by Friday. Kleen King has been in and will be in tomorrow and possibly Thursday cleaning up the dust created by the concrete floor install. I will meet with my food and beverage distributors on Thursday to plan for Monday deliveries. My staff have been notified of the long awaited opening date.  On Wednesday, January 20th, Taco del Sol Helena will reopen.

Decorative concrete flooring at Taco del Sol. Now all we need is trim, tables, chairs and customers.

I have to remind myself that in whole scheme of things, this is not a terrible loss. It could have been a lot worse. A lot worse. Through this though, I realize that I am one that needs to feel useful and be the one who knows what to do, and then simply gets it done. Handling the insurance issues and not being able to determine what’ll happen right then and there is beyond my normal scope of experience and being. I have struggled the most with this.

I’ve kept myself busy by hosting a cocktail party right before Christmas, making a few Christmas gifts (definitely less than originally planned-I have a luscious Early Grey with Orange chocolate ganache still sitting in my fridge that was to be made into small gifts), and working in Butte, MT helping a fellow entrepreneur get his Taco del Sol up and running.

Unfortunately, I have not been cooking. And I feel its void in my life. Sometimes I think I am crazy that I like cooking so much and that it means so much to me. But I have just finished the movie Julie & Julia and felt kinship with both ladies. I am not such a freak afterall!

Three months ago I had bought second hand copies of Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volumes 1 & 2 and am ashamed to say that I have yet to open them.  But having now seen Julie & Julia, I have pulled the volumes off of my bookshelf.  Now what I do with them will be up to me.  Maybe I have friends over for dinner and wine, having cooked a complete meal out of the cookbooks.  I like that idea.  And then I will write about it.

I may have fallen off of the horse but I will get back on and pick up where I left off on this blog.  I have a feeling that I will go into a frenzy of cooking once I feel that Taco del Sol is on the right track again and I can concentrate on my food experiences without distraction.  I long for that day.

Winey Goat Soup

My friend Kim and I shared a 1/2 hog and a 1/4 beef from Montana City Meats.   I needed to clear out my freezer to make space in preparation for the bounty of meat that would be arriving.  I pulled out a package of goat stew meat from one of my favorite vendors at the Helena Farmer’s Market, John & Jodi Mann of Sheep Spring Farm and put it in the fridge to thaw.

Well, a week later, I still hadn’t done anything with the meat and was feeling a little desparate to get it cooked up before it went bad.  I looked into my fridge and assessed my situation.  First, I kicked myself for not having pulled out a container of frozen goat stock that I had made last year with a goat shoulder bone.  It would take forever to thaw! 

I looked around desparately for a substitute, not even allowing myself to consider the high sodium, no flavor stock from the grocery store. I locked eyes on a half bottle of wine.  I am a wine snob and refuse to drink a red wine any older than 2 days, even if it’s been vacuum sealed after being open.  Yeah, yeah-I’m a snob.  I decided to give it a whirl and see what would happen if I were to make a wine stock soup. 

I simply poured the wine into a medium saucepan, added some water, and literally went shopping in my fridge. I pulled out parsnips, carrots, celery, panang curry paste, and some fat cut from a tenderloin steak that for some reason I had saved and added all of this to the wine water.

I looked around in my pantry and came up with dried herbs from the garden, bay leaves, and my “ultimate find”-dried morel mushrooms harvested while on a Rock Creek fishing trip 2 years ago.

Winey goat soup ingredients.

I let the concoction simmer on the stove for several hours and in the end was quite pleased with my creation; all pulled together with what I had on hand.  A side note about the fat.  I believe it may have added some depth to the stock.  At the end of the cooking time, I simply pulled out what was remaining and threw it out…. Actually, I lie; I ate it.  And it was good.


Serves 4


  • 1/2 bottle red wine
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp dried thyme, crushed
  • 2 tsp panang curry paste
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, cut into 1″ lengths, those then quartered
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled, cut into 1″ lengths, those then quartered
  • 2 medium celery stalks, cut crosswise in 1/4″ slices
  • 10 dried morel mushrooms
  • 1 lb goat stew meat


Pour wine and water into saucepan and stir to combine.  Bring to boil over high heat.  Turn heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes.  Add the herbs, onion and garlic.  Simmer for another 5 minutes. 

Add the remaining ingredients, turn the heat to high and bring to a strong boil.  Turn heat to low or medium low and simmer gently for your desired cooking time (cook at least an hour but the longer it cooks, the more rich it will become).  Check it occasionally to determine if you need to add more water to keep it “soup” like.  Season with salt and pepper, serve hot.