At first glance, coffee and cocoa might not present themselves as a savory combination. Really, we should be seeing some sort of cake recipe here, right?

Nope. Combined with guajillo, fennel, cumin and allspice, this rub becomes deep and richly flavored with smoky, bitter and anise hints. The rub is as simple as it gets, but the flavor is high-class and decadent. Still, this recipe is quick enough for a weeknight dinner or one to save for entertaining on the weekend.

Pairing with a pineapple salsa lightens and brightens the flavors, while the alternative brandy and cream pan sauce continues with those deep, rich flavors. Either is worthy.

The salad also serves to brighten and lighten the meal, and is packed with goodness. It’s a nod to the coming spring and the greens we will soon (or are already) be craving.

Happy cooking and eating to you all.


Serve with either the brandy cream sauce or the pineapple salsa.

2 1/2 to 3 pounds pork loin with some fat left on


1 tablespoon espresso beans

1 whole guajillo pepper, stem and seeds removed and broken into 1/2-inch pieces

1 teaspoon cocoa powder

1 clove garlic

1 teaspoon cumin seed

1 teaspoon demerera or brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon kosher salt


3 tablespoons brandy

1 cup heavy cream

Combine all the spices in a small food processor or spice grinder. Place the pork loin in a small roasting pan and rub all over with the spice mixture. Let rest for one hour (can be prepared a day ahead). Preheat oven to 450 degrees and cook the pork loin for 10 minutes, or until the exterior begins to brown. Reduce the heat to 350 and cook for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer reads 145 degrees. Remove from roasting pan and let rest 10 minutes on a cutting board.

Meanwhile, move the roasting pan to the top of the stove and heat over medium-high heat. Add the brandy and then the heavy cream, whisking or stirring to get all of the little bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil and reduce to thicken slightly, about 4 to 5 minutes. When the sauce is done and the pork has rested, slice the pork thinly. Add any juices to the pan sauce, strain and serve with the pork immediately.

Servings: Six to eight


If you don’t have fresh pineapple for this recipe, don’t bother with the canned, make another salsa instead. The difference is notable.

2 cups finely diced pineapple

1 cup diced orange pepper, about 1 pepper

1 1/2 tablespoons minced jalapeno pepper

1 tablespoon minced cilantro

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons lime juice

Pinch of salt

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Can be made up to one hour ahead.

Makes: About 3 cups


1 small head radicchio, about 12 ounces, cored and cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces (about 3 loosely packed cups)

1 medium head butter lettuce, about 6 ounces, cored and torn into 1- to 2-inch pieces (about 4 loosely packed cups)

3 blood oranges

2/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

2 ounces Manchengo cheese, shaved

Wash lettuces in cold water and dry well. With a knife, trim the peel from the exterior of the oranges and then separate the segments from the membrane. Just before serving, place the lettuces in a large bowl and with your hands gently toss with SOME of the white wine and honey vinaigrette — you won’t need to use all of it. Add the oranges and the walnuts, and then sprinkle the cheese on top.

Servings: Four


When making an emulsion – when fat is incorporated into other ingredients to make a whole rather than two separate layers – it’s always important to add the oil with a delicate hand very slowly in the beginning so as to coax the rest of the ingredients to receive the newcomer.

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/4 cup white wine vinaigrette

1 garlic clove

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Several grinds of fresh black pepper

Orange juice from the center of a supremed orange

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil

Combine all ingredients except the oil in a blender or food processor and whirl until combined well. Drop by drop, add the oil, and then increase to a drizzle and then to a stream. Will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.

Makes: About 2 cups

Anne Mahle of Rockland is the author of “At Home, At Sea.” She can be reached at: [email protected]