Pork Belly with Garlic Chives

I’ve been cooking for almost 40 years. I’ve made many sorts of food and dabbled in many cuisines, but I must say Asian cuisine is one of my favorites. The incredible diversity across the various cuisines is truly inspiring.
 

It’s hard to believe that after cooking all these wonderful dishes, that I\’d never tried to cook with pork belly or garlic chives  What a revelation. The flavors are made for each other and the result was so good, I made it two nights in a row!

 
A quick note, garlic chives can easily be found in any Asian markets, and the ones with the garlic buds are worth serching out. Additionally, garlic scapes and garlic chives are not the same thing, but they are related.
 

 

 
Ingredients 
 
1/2 lb Pork Belly, cut into 1 inch pieces. 
1 Tbsp Soy sauce 
1 Tbsp Shaoxing Rice Wine
1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 inch piece of Ginger Root, minced
4 – 6 Dried Chilies, depending on the heat you enjoy.
1/8 tsp White Pepper 
1 tsp Sugar
1 bunch Garlic Chives, sliced into 2 inch pieces. 
1 tsp Sesame oil 
 
Marinate your pork belly in the soy sauce and rice wine. I marinaded mine overnight, but that\’s not essential.
 
Then bring the marinaded pork belly up to room temp. Bring your oil to just smoking and add your pork and let it brown well. Use your skimmer or slotted spoon to remove the pork from the oil and pour off all but one Tbsp of oil. 
 
Put your wok back on the burner and sauté your garlic, ginger, chilies and eventually your garlic chives at the very end. 
 
Add back the pork belly and finish with sesame oil, white pepper and a bit of sugar.

Baked Egg Muffins

These are easy to make and very tasty. They are low carb and filling. 
 
You have numerous options for what to put inside, but just make sure your ham lining is a drier ham. Or if normal sliced ham, dap with paper towels to remove the moisture. You want the eggs to roast, not steam.
I’ve also made them with smoked salmon, cream cheese and chives and they are wonderful.
 
Ingredients
 
Olive Oil 
6- Eggs
6 slices of Parma or other dry Ham
6 Tbsp grated Parmesan, Gruyere or other cheese. 
Roasted Peppers, sliced. 
Salt and Black Pepper
6 cup non stick Muffin Tin
Baking sheet
 
Preheat oven to 400F, while you prepare the muffins. 
 
Grease the tin with a bit of olive oil. Line the individual muffins with the ham. A bit on the bottom and some around the sides. Add in the grated cheese and roasted peppers. 
 
Gently crack the egg into the tins, trying not to let it overflow. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper and top with a little more grated cheese, if desired.
 

Place on a baking sheet and into the oven for 15-17 minutes. You will know they’re done when they don’t jiggle with a slight shake of the baking sheet. 

 
Remove from oven and let them rest for a minute and gently remove with a spoon by loosening around the edges. Serve immediately.

Roasted Chicken with Tomatoes and Kalamata Olives

I modified this recipe from one I saw in BA. It’s excellent and very easy to make. While the ingredients are basic, the flavor is incredible. As mentioned below, adding feta or goats cheese is a nice way to give even more flavor, but it is very good both ways.
Ingredients 
2 lbs Chicken Thighs, boneless and skinless, trimmed of excess fat. 
10-12 Roma tomatoes, sliced in half. 
1/2 cup Kalamata Olives
6 cloves of Garlic, thinly sliced. 
4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Thyme 
2 tsp Calabrian Chili in oil. If this is not available you can sub with another chili powder like Aleppo or Korean chili powder. Just not too hot. 
Salt and Pepper 
1/2 cup Feta or Goats Cheese, crumbled. Optional
 
Begin by trimming the chicken and cutting each thigh in half. Salt and pepper both sides and allow to rest in refrigerator. 
 
Prepare your tomatoes and then add all ingredients and toss well and let the mixture marinade on the counter. 
Preheat oven to 425F. Place the tomatoes in one layer into the bottom of an oven safe pan (I used a Le Cruset) and arrange the chicken on top. Baste the chicken with the remaining sauce and into the oven uncovered for 40-50 minutes. 
Serve with crusty bread to soak up the juices. Rice can work as well. 
 
Note: You may also use goats cheese, however I’d suggest substituting oregano for the thyme if you choose this route.

Thai Chicken with Basil/ Gai Pad Prik Grapao- Top Thai Dish

Thais’ love fresh basil, and use many different types. Most of us are familiar with Sweet Basil, and this is easy to find in any market. However, it’s the “Holy Basil”, known as Bai Grapao, which is the most flavorful and authentic.

 

This basil has an anise type of flavor and gives this dish an amazing flavor and dimension that just doesn’t taste the same with sweet basil. If you can\’t find the holy basil, a good quality fresh Thai basil will work as well.
 
You should always use fresh basil for this recipe, as the dried variety will not give acceptable results, unless you can find the authentic dried Thai Grapao.
 
Ingredients

¾ lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast, coarsely ground and marinated in about 1 Tbsp. of fish sauce, and 1 Tbsp. of light soy sauce.
1/2 sliced large Onion
1/2 sliced sweet Red Pepper
2 finely chopped Thai Chilies
2 Tbsp. of Peanut or another Vegetable oil
3 cloves chopped Garlic
1 tbsp chopped fresh Ginger Root
4 stalks of fresh Basil, pulled apart just before adding to the dish. Chopping fresh basil causes it to turn black while cooking.
 
Sauce, this will be added at the end.
 
1 Tbsp. Fish Sauce
1 Tbsp Oyster Sauce
1/2 tsp Dark Soy Sauce or Kecap
2 tsp. White Sugar, Brown Sugar or Palm Sugar
 
 
Start the heat under your wok, or a large skillet may also be used. After pan has heated for about 2 minutes, add the oil. Then quickly add the ginger and the garlic. Stir-fry for about 1 minute. 
 
Add the chicken and stir-fry until the pinkness is just gone. This takes only about 2 to 3 minutes. 
 
Add the onions and peppers, and cook until they soften slightly, then add the sauce and the fresh basil and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until the basil starts to release its wonderful fragrance. Serve with steamed Jasmine white or brown rice.

Shanghai Shrimp with Rice Cake (Chao Nian Gao)

This is a dish that I often used to order at Din Tai Fung in LA. Along with their rightfully famous xiaolongbao. I had tried it a few times in China, but not with shrimp.
 

 

After tracking down the rice cakes (who knew there were so many types and shapes), it was a bit of a learning curve to figure our how to prep them for the wok. 
 
I finally settled on boiling them in water with a splash of fish sauce. The big take away, was it only took about 2 minutes for them to cook and they were done when they floated. Additionally once you drain them and start stir frying everything else, they tend to stick together, but quickly release once they hit the wok.
 
Ingredients
 
3 Tbsp Vegetable oil 
1 cup Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced 
2 cups Bok Choy, hard ends removed and cubed and sliced
2 Green Onion, chopped into 1-2 inch pieces. 
2 cloves Garlic, minced
2 cups Rice Cake, see note. 
10-12 large raw Shrimp, cleaned and peeled, tails intact. 
1 Tbsp Shaoxing Wine
 
Sauce Mixture:
2 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce 
1 tsp Dark Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Oyster Sauce
1 tsp Black Vinegar
1 tsp Sesame Oil
2 tsp Sugar 
 
Heat pan with vegetable oil, add green onion, garlic, shiitake and bok choy and stir fry until they wilt. 
 
Add rice cake and stir fry until the rice cakes are cooked through and flexible Add shrimp and stir fry until shrimp just curl. Add a splash of Shaohsing wine to deglaze the wok and then add your sauce mixture and stir fry until rice cakes are soft. Serve with steamed vegetables. 
 

 

 
Note: If rice cakes are dried or vacuum packed, they will need soaking for three hours. For a faster method, cook for 2 minutes in boiling broth or until they float. Drain and reserve.

Pan Pizza, quick and easy.

There are so many options to make your own pizza. I really enjoy my 72 hour cold proof pizza dough, but sometimes I want something faster.

The pizza dough in this recipe is more like a focaccia texture, but that makes it perfect for a pan pizza. It is a recipe from the amazing Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery in NYC. It is from his book “My Bread”.

Ingredients 
3 3/4 cups/500 grams Bread Flour
2 1/2 tsp Instant or Active Dry Yeast
3/4 tsp Salt
3/4 tsp Sugar
1 1/3 cups/300 grams Water, at room temperature. 
2 Tbsp Olive Oil 
Mix all of your dry ingredients together in a large bowl, slowly add your water and mix well with a spoon or spatula until well mixed. About 1 minute. Cover and allow to rise for two hours. 
Turn it out onto a floured surface and form into a ball and allow to rise for another 30 minutes covered with a damp cloth. 
Preheat your oven to 500°F. Once the dough has finished its second proof, oil a half sheet pan well and gently stretch the dough into a loaf shape and place the dough into the pan and use your fingers to stretch it into a thin even layer and a little bit of thicker crust around the edges.
Add whatever ingredients you desire and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until well browned. Slide it onto a cutting board, and slice into squares. 
Note: The pizza above with Parma Ham, Mozzarella and Arugula was particularly good.

Sweet and Savory Oven Roasted Salmon

This salmon was truly amazing. I found so many recipes online, but this one seemed to really bring out the best of the salmon. Butter for richness, honey for sweetness and garlic and thyme for a savory element and a little brightness for the chili flakes.

Ingredients

2 lb Salmon filet. Skin on or off is fine.
2 Lemons thinly sliced, and a 1/4 saved for after cooking.
4 Tbsp Butter, melted
2 Tbsp Honey
1 clove Garlic
1 tsp Thyme
1 tsp Chili Flakes

Salt and pepper both sides of the salmon filet. Lay on a bed of sliced lemons. Spoon over the glaze.

 

Into a preheated 350F oven for 20 – 25 minutes and then turn on broiler for 3-5 minutes, and broil until the glaze sets. Squeeze on the reserved lemon quarter and let it rest for 5 minutes and serve.

Thanks to www.delish.com for the recipe and inspiration.

Caribbean Banana Cake with Lime and Nutmeg

I had been looking at this recipe for a long time, but as I\’ve mentioned, I\’m not much of a baker. Enter quarantine and I have plenty of time to hone my skills.

This comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Warm Bread and Honey Cake by Gaitri Pagrach-Chandra. Her recipes reflect the heritage of her homeland of Guyana and her current home in the Netherlands. It\’s really a special book. 

A few things I learned when making this cake. Firstly, the recipe was vastly more accurate when I weighed the ingredients. Example, I found that 9 oz of AP flour was much more than 1 2/3 cups. My friends who are accomplished bakers say to always weigh if possible. I have tried to adjust the recipe to reflect this, but weighing would really be best.

Secondly, the recipe calls for 35-40 minutes cooking time, but I found in my oven it needed a full 50 minutes. 

Lastly, in the original recipe, she did not call for allowing the cake to rest before turning it out of the pan. I waited 15 minutes and it came out perfectly.

Equipment: 8 inch square pan. I think a normal circular cake pan would work as well, as long as its a similar size.

Ingredients

10 1/2 oz very ripe Bananas, or 2 large or 4 medium
Juice of 1/2 Lime
9 oz / 1 3/4 cups of AP Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp freshly grated Nutmeg
6 oz / 1 2/3 cups Butter, softened 
7 oz / 1 cup Sugar
3 Eggs, removed from fridge to take the chill off.
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 sheet of Parchment Paper

Peel and slice the bananas and mash them and then mix with the fresh lime juice. Preheat the oven to 325F/160 C

Put your parchment paper on a cutting board, and slice around the bottom, to create a piece that will fit inside the pan. Grease the pan with butter, put parchment paper inside the bottom and dust with AP flour.

Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. Set this aside and begin creaming the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Lightly beat the eggs and vanilla extract and add this to the butter/sugar mixture in 1/3 increments. Mixing well between each increment.

Add the bananas and then add in the flour mixture in 1/3 increments using a whisk and gently incorporate. Do not over mix.

Put the batter into your prepared pan and into the oven. Check after 40 minutes and go up to 50 minutes if needed. Its best to check with a sharp knife. When it comes out relatively clean, its done.

Remove cake from the oven and onto a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes. Then turn out the cake, remove the parchment paper and let cool completely before cutting.

Sweet, Sour and Spicy Chicken Thighs

As with most of you, I have time on my hands, so I broke out the slow cooker aka crock pot. I found a recipe online, but wanted to adjust it to be more Asian influenced, almost a Korean BBQ. It was very good and will definetly be on rotation for dinner.
 
 
What I really liked about it, was that it was packed with flavor, but not a sodium bomb. The flavors were balanced and blended well. I served it with steamed jasmine rice and broccoli.
 
Ingredients
 
2 lbs Chicken Thighs, boneless and skinless. Excess fat removed. 
1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1/2 cup Catsup or Tomato Sauce
1/4 cup low sodium Soy Sauce
2 Tbsp Honey
2 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
1 Tbsp Rice Vinegar 
1 Tbsp Shaoxing Wine
1 Tbsp Sriracha
3-4 cloves Garlic, minced
2-3 inch piece of Ginger, peeled and grated. 
1 tsp Toasted Sesame Oil
1/4 cup Green Onions, sliced
2 Tbsp Toasted Sesame Seeds
 
Lightly brown the chicken, then into the slow cooker with rest of ingredients, except green onions and sesame seeds. 
 
 
 
 
Cook on high for 2-3 hours and sprinkle with sliced green onions, sesame seeds and sesame oil and serve over rice.

The NY Times No Knead Bread

Originally developed by Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery. Published by NY Times and food writer Mark Bittman. Incredibly easy and well worth the time. 

This recipe makes one loaf

 
Ingredients 
 
3 cups All Purpose unbleached Flour or Bread Flour
1/4 tsp Instant Yeast
2 tsp Salt
1 1/2 cups, and 2 Tbsp slightly warm Water


In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, yeast and salt. Give it a quick stir to incorporate.
Pour in the water, and with a spoon, stir until blended and all the flour is incorporated. The dough will be rough and shaggy, almost like a scone dough, and fairly sticky. This step only takes one minute. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit out on the counter for 18 hours. If your kitchen is cold, you might need 24 hours. No need for a “warm” spot, room temperature is fine. 
 
 
 
The dough will be ready when the surface is level and bubbly. 
 

Preheat the oven to 450˚, with the enamel pot inside, and with the lid on. While the oven is heating, turn the dough out onto a well floured surface. The dough will be very sticky and stringy. 

 
 
With well floured hands, fold the dough a few times over onto itself, and then shape it into a ball. The shaping of the dough should only take a minute or two. No need to knead.
If you’re using parchment, dust the paper and lay the dough on top. Other wise, let the dough rest on a well floured surface for an additional 30 minutes covered with plastic wrap. Note, Jim calls for a 1-2 hours proof in his book. Just allow it to double in size.
Note: the oven will come to temperature well before the dough has risen, but you really want the enamel pan to be super hot, so that extra heating time is perfect.
About 20 minutes after you have shaped the dough, using a sharp or serrated knife, make cuts about 1/2 inch deep into the top of the bread. Then let it rest the final 10 minutes.
When ready, open the oven and remove the lid of the pot with a cloth or potholder. Either lift the parchment paper, or with well floured hands, carefully lift the dough and lay it into the pot. There is no need to grease the pan. It absolutely will not stick.
 
Using the potholder, replace the pan lid and slide the pot back into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Here is how it looks after the 30 minutes of covered baking.

Then remove the lid and bake for another 15 until the bread is browned and beautiful.

When ready, use a cloth and simply grab the bread out of the pot and place it on a wire rack to cool. Give it 10 minutes or longer to cool before cutting.

Many thanks to astackofdishes.com for their post, which I have slightly modified.