Especially unexpected presents. The kind that show up out of nowhere in your mailbox. The heavy, overly-taped kind with a vague return address. So exciting!
Don't get me wrong, giving presents is wonderful too. Giving is better than receiving, yadda yadda yadda.
But there's something about the act of standing in the street, racking your brain trying to remember what the heck you ordered and when the heck you ordered it that really gets the ol' ticker humming with excitement.
Side note: do you think it's possible to set up Internet restrictions to limit online shopping during Happy Hour?
Anyway, when I opened my mailbox on Friday to find a mystery package with my name on it, I got that same rush of excitement and suspense. It could have been a box full of unpaid bills and retroactively-written parking tickets for all I knew, but I chose to think I'd be pleasantly surprised.
And I was! Turns out, it was a major award! (Eye-rolling doesn't offend me, don't worry.) As part of being selected as Cooking Light Magazine's Superfast Fan of the Month for April, I was sent a cookbook and several recipe compilations by the editor of CookingLight.com!
They really hooked me up. I was a fan before, but now...I worship. Aaaaaaaand this is the official end to all my bragging.
Roasted pork tenderloin with sweet and savory plum barbecue sauce. Just, so good.
This recipe was very easy and surprisingly fast to put together considering we're roasting a pork tenderloin here. The ingredient list was a little long, although no doubt you'll have most of the ingredients already in your fridge and pantry.
If I know you, and I feel that I do, you'll probably only need to pick up the pork loin, black plums, and the weirdo ingredients: whole cloves and star anise. And don't be discouraged! I searched the grocery store spice rack with dizzy eyes looking for star anise, which I never did find. A very involved husband of mine Googled in the baking aisle that I could substitute anise seed for star anise, and so I did.
And it was lovely. The plums break down in a barbecue sauce made of sweet brown sugar, tangy ketchup, and aromatic Asian spices, making a rich, jam-like sauce that pairs perfectly with the lean, roasted pork. Serve with a side salad and some fresh bread for mopping up that extra plum sauce.
When you make this for the ones you love, and their eyes roll back in their heads in pure delight, that'll be your major award.
Plum Barbecue Sauce
Adapted from Ultimate Summer, by Cooking Light Magazine
Yields 4 servings
Yields 4 servings
4 tbs canola oil, divided
1 c onion, chopped
2 tbs minced garlic
1/4 c packed brown sugar
1/4 c rice wine vinegar
1/4 c ketchup
2 tbs low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper
2 whole cloves
1 lb black plums, quartered and pitted
1 star anise, or 1 tsp anise seed
1 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed
Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil, and swirl to coat. Add the onion and garlic, and saute for 5 minutes.
Add the sugar and next 10 ingredients (through anise), and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes or until the plums break down and the sauce thickens, stirring occasionally. Discard the cloves and the star anise (if using).
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan, and swirl to coat. Sprinkle the pork evenly with salt/pepper. Add the pork to the pan, and saute for 7 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Transfer the pork to a foil-lined pan, and coat with 1/2 c of the plum sauce.