‘Cooking Market Fresh’ offers foodies fantastic meals spiced with local flavor


This week, The Independent reveals the first in a series of cooking programs featuring the culinary talents of our own Food & Living Columnist Chef Renee Morgan.

Cooking Market Fresh was filmed at Parker’s Corner Market last week as curious onlookers watched videographers turn Madja Parker’s kitchen into a film set.

Chef Renee, who spent time working with chefs on The Food Channel’s “America’s Test Kitchen,” walked through the process of preparing a delicious Valentine’s Day meal.

With all of the ingredients available at Liberty Hill’s own Parker’s Corner Market, Renee prepared her Apricot-Stuffed Fennel-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin with Lemon Scented Couscous and Sauteed Spinach.

With Valentine’s Day falling on a week day, skip the long lines at big-city restaurants and spend less than an hour preparing a romantic dinner for two — for about $15.

Find the video at The Independent’s website, www.LHIndependent.com.  

Apricot-stuffed fennel-rubbed pork tenderloin

Apricot-Stuffed Fennel-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin

Serves 2

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup chopped sweet onion

2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

2 tablespoons sugar

1/4 cup brandy

1 cup fennel seed

3 tablespoons whole coriander

3 tablespoons course salt, such as kosher or sea salt

2 tablespoons whole black peppercorn

1 pork tenderloin

1/2 cup dijon

salt and pepper to season, as needed

1. Set oven to 350℉. For filling, melt butter in a saute pan. Add onion and cook until onion begins to turn translucent, about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic and saute another 30 seconds until garlic is fragrant. Add apricots, sugar and salt and pepper. Continue to saute another 2-3 minutes. Carefully add the brandy and light on fire. Occasionally shake pan and allow to burn until the alcohol burns off. Remove from flame and allow to cool.

2. To prepare fennel rub, mix together fennel, coriander, peppercorns and course salt. Grind in a spice grinder. Set aside until you are ready to apply it to the pork.

3. Cut the pork tenderloin in half. With a long cylindrical object, steady the pork with one hand and push the cylinder all the way through the half of the tenderloin lengthwise. Repeat with the second half. Tie off one end, about 1/4 inch from end, of each half with butchers twine. Stuff half the apricot stuffing into the center hole you’ve created in each pork tenderloin half. Tie off the other end of each tenderloin with more butchers twine.

4. With a pastry brush, paint each tenderloin section with dijon on all side and ends. Then apply rub evenly  and liberally all over each tenderloin section, covering completely. Put on a rack set into a roasting pan and cook, uncovered, until a thermometer inserted into meat registers 155℉, about 35-45 minutes. Tent loosely with foil and allow meat to rest 15 minutes before carving. At service, slice off one tied end. Then slice into 1/2 inch medallions.

Lemon Scented Couscous

1 1/4 cup chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1 sprig of fresh thyme

3-4 strips of lemon peel

juice of half a lemon

1 cup couscous

salt, to taste

1. Combine chicken stock, bay leaf, thyme sprig, lemon peel and juice, and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Whisk in the couscous and cover tightly. Remove from the heat and allow to sit, covered, until all liquid is absorbed and couscous is cooked and tender. At service, remove lemon peel, bay leaf and thyme spring. Fluff with a fork to separate grains.

Sauteed Spinach with Garlic and Pine Nuts

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced

large bag of fresh baby spinach

1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted

salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat olive oil in a saute pan. Add the garlic and allow to cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Do not allow to burn. Add spinach and cook until just wilted, tossing frequently with tongs. Add pine nuts and heat through. Season as needed.