Friday, November 30, 2012

Crispy Pork Belly Rice Bowl

Pork Belly, Shiitake and Kimchee Rice Bowl

Slow Braise Pork Belly Crisping in pan
Pork Belly, a old meat cut enjoyed in a new way. For most people, strips of bacon have been the only way they have eaten or even heard of pork belly. It has now become trendy with food lovers and chefs everywhere. By cooking a big cut of this meat you have more options on how to serve it, but having these large cuts will change the way you have to cook it. I like to braise it in a flavorful liquid using my pressure cooker; what would take hours in a conventional pot takes a third of the time. After it's cooked to a falling- apart tenderness, it can be cut and put in a pan to crisp it. In this recipe I used a mixture of soy sauce, ginger, garlic and sake for the braising liquid. After cooking and crisping it in a pan, I added sauteed Shiitake mushrooms which I spooned over steamed jasmine rice and a big scoop of spicy kimchee finished the dish. I enjoyed, and recommend a cold Asian beer to go with it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Potato Cakes

A favorite side dish for me are potato cakes. They are a easy to make ahead and serve when you are ready for them. The basic idea is to cook any kind of potato till just done, but still with some firmness. When cooled, you break them up into small chunks. At this point any seasoning or filling can be mixed in; try using chopped fresh herbs, chopped bacon, ham or maybe caramelized onions? I like to add diced and cooked sweet potatoes for flavor and a nice color. Once all the ingredients are mixed in, you may scoop into ring molds or some kind of container to form a round and flat shape. Now formed, it's easy to freeze them or just store in the fridge until ready to use. A non-stick or cast iron pan is great for reheating and gives them a nice golden brown color. These in the photo had a filling of sweet potatoes, cooked bacon, caramelized onions and fresh sage and were cooked in butter with more fresh sage. Give them a try -I promise you will like them.

Crispy Potato Cakes cooked in butter with sage

Monday, November 26, 2012

Locally Caught Fresh Squid with Pasta

Fresh Squid Pasta with Tomatoes and Chili Flakes

Today while driving through San Francisco on my way home from work, I had the idea of visiting one of my favorite Asian markets The New May Wah on Clement Street. Great for all things Asian and with excellent seafood too. I had in mind fresh squid caught locally just South of here in the very deep Monterey Bay.
At only $1.99 a pound it was no problem buying a few pounds to take home. After cleaning the squid the question is "How long to cook it?" There are only two ways to cook squid-very quickly, or slowly for a long time because anything in between will be just too tough and chewy. I went with a long, slow braise with white wine, fresh tomatoes, garlic and olive oil that was all tossed in freshly cooked spaghetti. It turned out great and was perfect for a quiet Monday night.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Stuffed Pork Loin with Beet Greens and Sweet Potatoes

Getting ready for Winter with a pork loin chop stuffed with caramelized onions, served with sweet potato mash and braised beet greens. Yes- the tops of beets should never be thrown away, but cooked with maybe a splash of vinegar and a touch of bacon- delicious. The pork is easy to make with a slit cut in the side and stuffed with a few tablespoons of slow cooked caramelized onions then into a hot pan and into a 400F oven to finish cooking. In the same hot oven go the sweet potatoes to cook in their skins till soft, then the potato is scooped out and mixed with cream and a touch of butter.

An Almost Vegetarian Meal

I made a dish tonight using almost all vegetables and grains, but with my weakness for smoked bacon or Italian pancetta I had to add a little. Bacon gives a lot of flavor, and a little bit will go a long way. I started by making a Faro pilaf with sliced yellow onions, garlic, fresh thyme and faro. I sauteed the onion and garlic then added the herbs and faro with water to cover. While this was simmering, I peeled baby carrots, shaved the Brussel sprouts and diced pancetta. This all went into a saute pan to slowly cook till all the vegetables were tender and had a slight char to them. By this time the faro was done and it all goes onto a plate. Good stuff and feeling good about eating my veggies.

Sauted Vegetables and Faro Pilaf

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Just Chicken, Kale and Pancetta

Sometimes less is more. In the case of a quick week night dinner, it's very true. I wanted to cook something using only a few ingredients and I came up with oven-roasted chicken thighs cooked in diced pancetta.
The best part about using chicken thighs, is the richer flavor that I prefer over milder chicken breasts, and they stay moist when cooked. Using pancetta, which is a form of cured bacon that is not smoked, provides lots of flavor, but you have to be careful with it because it can be salty. I suggest either blanching it to remove some of its saltiness, or use it as the only salty ingredient in the dish. After it has cooked in the oven the pan juices become the cooking liquid for the kale, and they absorb all that flavor too. It's a great colorful winter dish that does not require a lot of fuss.

Oven Roasted Chicken Thighs with Kale

Chicken Thighs with Pancetta and Kale

4 organic chicken thighs
1 ounce pancetta, diced
1 bunch Kale, cleaned (I used "Dino")
dash olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350F
2. In a hot pan place a dash of olive oil in and arrange the chicken skin side down.
3. Cook on top of stove for a minute then place in oven for 30 minutes.
4. Add the diced Pancetta to pan, continue to cook for another 15-20 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and keep chicken warm, add kale to pan.
6. Cook kale with the pancetta on stove top till wilted and tender.
7. Arrange the kale on platter or plates, add chicken.

Note: A starch like roast or mashed potatoes works great with it and I hope you are drinking a glass of good wine while it cooks.