In addition to being a writer, I am a personal chef and small scale caterer.
I have always loved to cook. Being in my kitchen, playing loud music surrounded by my cooking tools blows my apron up. And Frank Sinatra has a strong presence on my playlist.
After I sold my design business of 20 years, I decided to do what I love and love what I do. I started a company called table24.
It was A LOT more challenging than I had imagined. It was a lot of work, and it was tiring. But the worst part of it was that I worked alone. All day. In my kitchen. I started talking to my pots and pans (no, really.)
Although I continue to cook for a few families and cater a few parties, usually for friends, I wrapped it up, for the most part, and chalked it up to another life experience.
There were three remarkable rewards from my eighteen months of catering and “personal chef-ing, ” however. One, I became a much better cook. Two, I have compiled enough recipes to write a cookbook (on my bucket list.) Three, and the best of all, I met some wonderful people.
One couple in particular.
I have been cooking for Dr. and Mrs. King for two years. They were my first customers and remain as one of the few for whom I continue.
They are in their early nineties. They are hip and quick and funny. They are educated and have been married for a whole bunch of years. And they are sharp dressers, to boot.
Just yesterday, Mrs. King responded to something I said with a, “You go, girl!” What does that tell you? They have moxie.
Love that. Love them.
I enjoy cooking “old school” dishes for them such as Baked Haddock, Shrimp Scampi, and Pork Tenderloin to name a few. I have become an expert at Scalloped Potatoes and Creamed Spinach, too.
I am convinced that I was born in the wrong generation. Because I love that food, I love Frankie Blue Eyes.
One of the most rewarding parts of cooking for Dr. and Mrs. King is delivering their meals. Sitting in front of the fire, they wait for me to arrive. They always leave the door open. Mrs. King predictably calls, "Well, hello, Mary Lovely!"
We catch up, share a few jokes, and I serve their dinner.
They are genuinely interested in my family and my newest venture. They are kind and supportive. It is so refreshing to be in their presence.
I asked them yesterday if they would adopt me. They said yes. The papers are being drawn as we speak.
So, in the spirit of my wonderful adopted family, The Kings, (and their six amazing adult children,) here are a few of their favorite dishes.
Mixed Green Salad with Goat Cheese
Marinated Grilled Pork Tenderloin
Mixed Berry Tart
Mixed Green Salad with Vinaigrette
- Three cups of mixed greens of your choice (I like either baby romaine or baby arugula)
- 1/2 cup of crumbled goat cheese
- 1/2 cup of blackberries (featured, but you can use craisins, grapes, strawberries, apricot, blood orange)
- 1/3 cup slivered almonds
- One tbs. Fresh cilantro
- Fresh ground pepper
Place the mixed greens in a bowl.
Sprinkle blackberries evenly on top.
Place the goat cheese in the center.
Sprinkle the slivered almonds evenly on top.
(Serves 6-8- you will have some for another day)
- One teaspoon Dijon mustard
- One teaspoon of garlic powder
- Three tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- One tablespoon of goat cheese
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mix all ingredients in a mason jar.
Shake vigorously, drizzle desired amount on salad.
Refrigerate the remainder- when you are ready to re-use, take out at least 30 minutes before.
Marinated Grilled Pork Tenderloin
- One lb Pork Tenderloin
- Two tbs Dijon Mustard
- 1/4 Cup Pure Maple Syrup
- OneTbs Minced Garlic
- One Tbs Garlic Powder Three
- Two Tbs. Minced Shallots
- 3/4 Cup Olive Oil
- Two Tsp Kosher Salt
- One Tsp Fresh ground pepper
Rinse the pork tenderloin and pat it dry with paper towels.
Butterfly the pork tenderloin so that it is roughly the same thickness all around. Set aside.
Mix all the ingredients in a re-sealable bag.
Add the pork to the marinade, and let it sit overnight. (Be sure to shake the ziplock bag on occasion to be sure that the pork marinates evenly.
Heat the grill to 400 degrees. Cook on the first side for 12 minutes. Turn the meat and cook for another 8 minutes or until the thermometer reaches 145 degrees.
Cover with foil and let it rest 10 minutes before serving.
- One Pie Crust (For the sake of time I use frozen pie crust)
- Two Pints of Berries (I use half blackberries and half raspberries)
- One 8 ounce jar of whole fruit jam (I use strawberry or raspberry.)
Cook pie crust in a tart pan according to the directions on the package.
Spread the jam evenly on the bottom of the cooked crust.
Artfully place your berries on top.
Serve with vanilla ice cream or raspberry non-fat yogurt
Yummalicious and lovely, too.
What an easy dinner! Make the salad, dressing, marinate the pork and make the tart in advance. Throw the tenderloin on the grill and dinner is ready in less than thirty minutes.
Enjoy your kids.
That's the dish; Because the table matters.
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