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Grilled Pork Belly

 Jun 5, 2009

I was scrounging around in the Asian food market the other day, looking for fresh thai chilis so I could make this. I never did find thai chilis, but I did find out that the Asian market has fresh pork belly. As I have stated before on this site, bacon is its own food group. And pork belly is definitely included in that food group.

For those of you not familiar with pork belly, it is the part of the pig that bacon is made from. It is has been a part of Asian cooking forever, but has only recently become known in American restaurants. There are a lot of ways to cook it, although some sort of braising seems to be the most popular. I love a good braise, but I don’t have time on a Friday to braise. I decided to marinate the pork belly and grill it.

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Spring is Here! Beet Gnocchi

 Jun 1, 2009
 Real Food, Recipes

The stores and markets are full of spring produce! Fresh peas, fiddlehead ferns, fresh favas, asparagus, morels. My refrigerator is full of fabulous things. So on a recent Friday night, I wanted to put together a seasonal meal for my friends. They offered to bring fresh pasta, but I had this recipe, from an old Bon Appetit, in the back of my mind. Because despite the name of my blog, there has not been much beet around here lately. So, I roasted some beets ahead of time and put them in the fridge. The gnocchi are fairly quick. They are a ricotta gnocchi, which have been all over blogdom lately because they were featured on the Daring Cooks challenge. This recipe is quicker and easier than that recipe, and as you can see, the results are a lovely purple color.

I made a sauce of peas, morels, and a little bacon. I added some grassfed meatballs, and Bouchon for 2’s lovely fiddlehead salad. It made quite a meal.

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Puffed Apple Pancake

 May 25, 2009
 Real Food, Recipes

I woke up this morning with a craving for breakfast. Now, I love breakfast. It is definitely one of my favorite meals. But when I saw this recipe for Puffed Apple Pancake in the March issue of Delicious, I just could not resist. These pancakes go by a lot of different names: dutch baby, dutch apple pancake, baked apple pancake. They all mean caramelized apples with batter poured over them and baked in the oven. This is Bill Granger’s recipe, and it did not need much fiddling. I cut it in half to serve 2. You can easily double it and use a larger pan.

This comes together fairly quickly, so I recommend that you have everything ready before you start.

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Foodie Fights – Cauliflower and Raspberry

 May 18, 2009
 Recipes, What I'm Cooking, vegetarian

A few weeks ago, one of my blogger friends sent me a message encouraging me to go to This is a battlefield for competitive bloggers. I don’t like to think of myself as competitive, but who am I kidding? I’m a surgeon. We were born competitive. We dream competitive. I had to do it.

Previous battles have been lemon and potatoes, and rhubarb and coriander. These do not sound so difficult to me. Unfortunately, they asked me, when I signed up for this month’s battle, what food would I throw into the ring. Cauliflower?! I had so much of it in the refrigerator I did not know what to do with it. I belong to an organic food club, and cauliflower and apples have been heavily featured lately. Someone else came up with the raspberries, trust me. What a combination. It set me quite a challenge.

I thought about it a lot. I knew I could easily make a cauliflower slaw with raspberry dressing and be done with it. But, well, did I mention that I’m a surgeon? I can’t just take the easy way out. I needed to come up with something creative, different, unexpected. I hashed over ideas. Could I make cauliflower into a dessert? How about gnocchi, ravioli, a souffle? Ice cream? I’m sure any of these would have worked out. But could I get anyone to eat cauliflower ice cream with raspberry sauce?

On Saturday, inspiration hit. I had been wanting one of those mini cheesecake pans for weeks now. I looked for it at Sur la Table, Target, the King Arthur website. No luck. Even Williams-Sonoma’s website no longer had it. So I went to the Williams-Sonoma in Coral Gables this weekend, to see if they still had one. And they did! And that’s when it came to me – cheesecake! Cauliflower cheesecake. Not sweet. Not heavy. Mini ricotta-cauliflower cheesecakes. But how to include the raspberries? A sauce would be possible, but, well, lame. And how could I be sure it would go well. Be truly delicious. I was not seeking to just meet the criteria, but to create a dish worth eating and enjoying.

So, here it is: a triple-layer ricotta cauliflower mini cheesecake. And believe me, it was delicious. The flavors went well together. It was pretty. It smelled amazing while it was baking.

I made home-made ricotta, because I had been dying to try it since the Daring Cooks challenge made ricotta gnocchi (no, I did not participate this time around, but expect upcoming participation!) You don’t have to. I feel certain grocery store ricotta would be fine. But, really, it was so easy, I’d do it again in a heartbeat. In fact, the next time I make gnudi, I will definitely make it.

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Homemade Puff Pastry

 May 15, 2009
 Fight Back Fridays, Recipes

Here in Miami, we try not to make food that requires the kitchen to be cool and dry. My kitchen usually runs about 80℉ all year round, even when the air conditioning is on. Turn on the oven or open the window and it may get closer to 90℉. So when I decided to make homemade puff pastry, I knew I would have my hands full. I would be lucky to get one turn at a time before the dough needed to be returned to the refrigerator.

However, when @LifebyChocolate challenged me to do it, I figured I had to try. I had certainly made it before, when I lived in New England. As long as it is not raining, you can almost always make puff pastry in New England. In accepting the challenge, I also wanted to keep my puff pastry real. No hydrogenated oils, no crisco, no margarine. I found Italian butter at Whole Foods, and I had a little prairie-raised, grass-fed butter still in the refrigerator. I used organic flour.

I found a recipe in “The Art and Soul of Baking” for a Quick Puff Pastry that only requires 3 turns. Let me tell you, this was no inferior cheat. This looked like and tasted like the real thing.

By the time I finished this project, the kitchen had gone from 81 to 90℉. I could barely get a full turn done before the butter melted.

Then I made the Fresh Tomato Ricotta Tart I posted earlier this week using this pastry. I still have about a pound of puff pastry in the freezer, so be on the lookout for what I do next.

This is my entry for Fight Back Fridays.

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Fresh Tomato Ricotta Tart

 May 13, 2009
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