Category Archives: Pork

Inventing Ham & Bacon Vegetable Soup

Ham/Bacon/Vegetable Soup!!

I recently had some friends over for dinner and the pile of black forest ham that remained in my fridge after everyone had left was substantial. There was no way I was going to eat it all and I wouldn’t have any help from B as he was away on tour, so I decided to make a soup.

My first thought was that I didn’t want to make split pea and ham, which is where my mind went first when I thought about ham in soup.  I wanted a vegetable soup of some kind and I had tons of vegetables in my fridge that were becoming green bin bound so I decided to throw it all in a pot and see what would happen.

This is a big deal for me, as those who know me, know that I like recipes..measurements..structure…ORDER DAMMIT! I need ORDER!!!

For a prime example of this, go and read my Kitchen Sink Soup blog entry. No recipe, all gut feeling…my first time making up a soup with B and my head almost exploded! *wink*

Since then, I have come a long way and I have learned that soup is one of the easiest, most malleable things to cook.  If you’re baking and missing an ingredient, often it calls for a panicked trip to the store, but making soup…if you’re out of one thing, throw in something else! Taste, sniff, invent, get creative…soup is awesome!

So, this soup doesn’t necessarily have an exact recipe.  I took pictures of ingredients as I went along to help remind myself what I had added and I kept tasting the stock until it was just right. It’s all a pinch of this, a dash of that…I’ll try to give you an idea how much of each thing I used, but it was really all about the taste and my preferences.

I’ll include most of the pictures I took in this post but I have to warn you, some of them are crap shots! As I grabbed stuff, I’d remember to snap a picture at the last minute so some are a tad blurry.

And, yes, I use a lot of NO NAME brand stuff! 😛

So, first off, I put a pot of water on the stove. I ended up switching to a larger pot than the one in the next picture…I think I used 8+ cups of water….actually, thinking about it now, there was probably more than that….but again, I didn’t measure.

I added a chicken bouillon cube and left the water to boil.

In hindsight, a vegetable bouillon cube might have made more sense…ah well.
Proper stock would have made the most sense…but I didn’t have any and the ham was boneless so I didn’t have the opportunity to make any.

The start of any good soup! (When you don’t have proper stock made of course!)

I looked in my fridge and found one small white potato and one GINORMOUS sweet potato.

Sidenote: I looked up the word “ginormous” and yep, that’s how it’s spelled.  Looks kinda dirty, doesn’t it?

One potato, two potato, three-…nope, just two.

Chopped up both the potatoes into small cubes…well, sort of cubes…and threw those into the pot.

Next up…celery, carrots and an onion.

Additional rogue vegetables

I used the full onion, about half the bag of mini carrots, maybe a little more, and three stalks of celery. Chopped them up and added them to the pot!

While searching for more veg to add…I glanced in the freezer and found frozen corn and peas.  Figured, what the hell!, and added a handful of each!

Then it was time for some spices…(added pepper which isn’t pictured)…as well as…

Added a dash of garlic powder

Salt, salt and more salt!
I added pinches of salt throughout the soup creation process. Add to taste.

Three bay leaves

While the vegetables simmered, I prepped the final ingredient!  The ham!

To give you an idea how much ham I used…

It was at this point in the process that I remembered I had bacon in the freezer.  And of course, bacon goes with ham! Bacon goes with everything!

So I pulled out the package, cut off about an inch and added that to the pot as well.

I figured the soup was on its way to being done, so I left it to simmer for 15 minutes or so.

When I returned for another taste test, I found the broth incredibly lacking. It was bland, had very little body, and weak flavour.

I called my friend Andy for advice, and he pointed me to my cookbooks…specifically The Flavour Bible.  Yeah, yeah…he seems to know my cooking shelves better than me! I had completely forgotten about that book…which will not happen again. So useful! A book to add to your Christmas list!

I looked through the list of Ham Friendly Ingredients, while keeping Andy on the phone for feedback.

To boost the flavour and improve the broth, I added:

A splash of red wine vinegar

Approx a tablespoon of mustard

A good dash of thyme

The flavour was better…albeit a little tart…but the broth was still thin.  So, with prompting from Andy, I added:

Not sure how much got added…perhaps 1/4 cup or so

It worked! It sweetened and thickened the broth!

I continued to taste it between additions….definitely do that to ensure you’re on the right track!

I left it to simmer for awhile…not sure about the time here…maybe 30 minutes or so.
Some of that time I left it uncovered to boil the broth down a bit and help with the thickening.

For dinner that night, I had AN AMAZING bowl of soup!! And I have to admit, I was pretty proud of myself!!

Ham/Bacon/Vegetable Soup!!

I froze a number of portions and have since reheated bowls and it continues to be delicious!

So, to sum up into some type of readable recipe-ish list….

Ham & Bacon Vegetable Soup

 1 white potato
1 sweet potato
3 stalks of celery
1 onion
half a bag of mini carrots or equivalent
2+cups of ham
1 inch frozen bacon cut from the package (what is that…1/3 cup or so? lol)
handful of frozen corn
handful of frozen peas
1 bouillon cube
dash of garlic powder
salt & pepper
3 bay leaves
dash of dried thyme
splash of red wine vinegar
1 tbsp mustard
1/4 unsweetened applesauce

Again, this is all dependant on what you have available in your kitchen!  Get creative, add whatever you want and see what happens!
Who needs a recipe anyway!!! (I cannot believe I just said that!)


Dumple Dumple! … Toronto’s Best Dumpling House

Yesterday, I ate at The Dumpling House in Toronto…still the best dumpling house around in my opinion…with the best Hot and Sour Soup EVER! It has been over a year since I posted my review…but since the food was SO good yesterday, yet again, I thought I would repost for those who may not be aware of this lil dumpling jewel on Spadina Avenue.

At the same time that I was introduced to sushi, I also met gyoza.  Awesome little beef dumplings that are usually on the menu at the sushi restaurants I tend to frequent.  One can’t help but love a dumpling…a little folded piece of dough, filled with yummy goodness!

Gyoza ordered somewhere on Queen St W, Toronto

Gyoza on Queen St, Toronto

I was recently reading some food articles online, and I came across a dumpling article on  This article looks at dumplings from various cultures, as well as offers recipes for all of them.  Many sound utterly delicious…well, except the liver dumplings…sorry, but no thanks. 😉  Some don’t really look like the dumplings I’m used to and others lean toward a ravioli type pasta, although ravioli IS a pocket with goodness inside so, hey, I can accept that they are cousins of the dumpling family.

I hope to spend an afternoon some day soon creating dumplings…but for now, I thought I would share the article with you, as well as pics of my favourite dumpling restaurant in Toronto!

You can find’s article here ——-> Dumpling Recipes from Around the World Continue reading

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin (Warning: Mushrooms relieving themselves, read with caution)

Let me start this post by clarifying that I LOVE pork tenderloin.  It’s the stuffing in this recipe that I didn’t care for and so now I know that I’m not a big fan of savoury.  At least, I think it was the savoury that caused my tastebuds to recoil.  It might have been the sage…or the mix of the two…but somehow I believe it was the savoury.

I’ve never been a big fan of rosemary either and the savoury brought back rosemary-ish memories…so there you have it.

I made this awhile back now…so this post may not be as in-depth as others I have written.  Yep, I’m breaking the whole blog-right-away rule.  Such a rebel! 😉

I also have to apologize for the pictures.  I took them somewhat haphazardly during the cooking process so the composition is questionable and … well, the tenderloins just look…..

It doesn’t matter…lol…You’ll see.

*mutter mutter* I just hope WordPress doesn’t have a strict “No Dirty *Looking* Photos” policy.

Click here for the recipe or scroll to the bottom of the post.

So to begin, you prep your onions, red pepper and mushrooms.  Pretty straightforward…and then you saute them….

So far so good….


At this point, the recipe said to saute them until the mushrooms release their moisture.  I remember thinking ‘huh?’
I know that mushrooms contain a lot of water but I wondered if I’d be able to tell when they were ready.

Yep, it was pretty obvious.  Sort of as though the mushrooms had held it for so long that a little warmth…and voila!  Moisture!  (Yeah, there’s a pee joke in there somewhere!)  It happens in the blink of an eye (doesn’t it always!) so watch for it and be prepared!

Mushroom water!!!!

Once your mushrooms have relieved themselves…add your savoury, sage, salt and pepper…stir and saute a bit longer…followed by removing it from heat and adding of mustard and bread crumbs.

Now that your stuffing is prepped…it’s time for some fun!!

Breaking out my new toy!

I took a few pictures of me and my new kitchen toy…but they were all blurred, or just ridiculous 😉  That was the best of the bunch.

 That was the first time I used my meat tenderizer.  Love shiny things! *grin*

Ooooh, shiny!!

Slice your tenderloins 3/4 of the way through, open them up and smash them!

Okay, more like, flatten them slightly.  The recipe actually said ‘if you wish’ and all I could think was “Who the heck wouldn’t want to hit things with a big shiny silver club-type weapon?!   I mean, really?”

Ready for smashing!!

Once you have flattened tenderloins, start scooping the stuffing.  Pack a thick row of it down the middle of each and then close them up…skewers, string…

I had coloured toothpicks!  (Keep reading, the toothpicks don’t end well!)

Yeah, yeah, I KNOW how it looks! Let it go people! ;P

Once stuffed and skewered/closed/toothpicked…sear both sides in a hot frying pan.

Searing one side....


Searing side two!

Once seared…time for the oven to do its work!  Transfer them to a roasting pan and roast them for 20-25 minutes.

Ready to bake!

In a short time, you have two lovely stuffed pork tenderloins to serve!


With regards to the closing/skewering/tying/toothpicking closed…coloured toothpicks?  Not your friend.  Well, mainly the blue and the red ones…which weeped all over the meal.  Green seemed okay. *wink*  This is a picture just out of the oven…the colour began running down the sides as they cooled.  Oops!

This recipe was actually incredibly easy and fast.  Add a few side dishes and you have yourself a beautiful meal!

Although I have admitted that the stuffing wasn’t to my taste, my dinner guests loved the pork so I have to assume it was a my-tastebuds-against-theirs type situation.
The pork smelled heavenly and with a few herb tweaks, I’m sure I’d find it awesome as well!

Sliced and ready to serve!

NOTE: I also made the apple drizzle, which you will find detailed below.  It was a great addition to the dish…a bit of sweet to partner the savoury.  I highly recommend including it!

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 8 oz fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red pepper, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely diced
  • 1 tsp dried savoury
  • 1 tsp sage leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup fresh whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 2 pork tenderloin
  1. In med skillet, heat 1 tbsp oil over med/high heat.
  2. Saute mushrooms, red pepper and onion for approx 3-4 minutes…until moisture is released from mushrooms.
  3. Add savoury, sage, salt and pepper.  Saute for 1 minute.  Remove from heat.  Stir in mustard and bread crumbs.
  4. Cut tenderloins almost in half lengthwise so it opens like a book.  Pound to flatten slightly if you wish. Lightly pack stuffing down the centre of each tenderloin, leaving 1-inch border around the edges.
  5. Fold tenderloins closed, secure with skewers or string.
  6. Preheat oven to 400F.
  7. Heat remaining oil in a skillet over med/high heat.  Sear both sides of the tenderloins for about 5 minutes.
  8. Transfer pork to a baking pan and roast for 20-25 min or until juices run clear (or use a thermometer and roast until 155F)
  9. Let stand covered with foil for 5-10 min, slice and fan out on serving plate.
  10. Drizzle with pan juices or apple drizzle (below)

Apple Drizzle

In a small pan, mix 1 cup apple juice with 1 tbsp corn starch until smooth.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly and boil 1-2 min until thickened and clear. Stir in pan juices and drizzle over tenderloin.

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