Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Sticky Asian Glazed Pork Belly Kale and Peanut Salad

I love bacon so it's no surprise that I might be interested in Pork Belly. It's basically bacon in it's pure form.

Now pork belly is a fatty meat but if cooked down to it's pure form it's really just delicious and not that bad. I love the juicy meaty goodness that is a joy to eat. And this recipe draws out the purest form of the  meat from the pork belly. It's got far east flavors and some delicious greens which makes it easy to enjoy as a meal in itself.

I love the salad as a meal concept. I grew up with this from childhood. My parents had encountered this idea when they were stationed in California in the 1960's. It was a new thing back then. At that time it was mostly in the west that were people eating that way. But as this concept continued to expand it became very popular. Wolfgang Puck started a national craze in the 1970's when he created what would be commonly known everywhere as the "Chinese Chicken Salad". It was a green salad with chopped veggies, chicken, almonds, crispy noodles, mandarine orange slices and a delicious dressing with asian flavors. It became the basis for all the main course salads we enjoy today at every restaurant you go to these days.

My salad is a riff on this concept. But to update it I used kale and cabbage and changed up the meat to a stir fried asian pork belly that uses Korean chili paste gochujang to provide a little bit of heat and flavor. I love peanuts and roasted peanut oil and use them as crunch, texture and to flavor the dressing. But I kept the mandarine orange slices for the fun and color and added radishes for color and crunch.

Now pork belly is a labor of love if you make it at home. Basically you roast it in the oven low and slow braising it till you have a delicious piece of meat. Then you cool it down and slice it up and stir fry it in a wok or pan on high heat caramelizing the chili paste and other ingredients into slices of deliciousness.  And nowadays you don't have to roast it if you don't want to because you can find it cooked at many grocery stores. Which makes making this recipe pretty easy.

Give this salad a try and become a summer salad superstar! Enjoy

Sticky Asian Glazed Pork Belly Kale and Peanut Salad

Pork Belly ingredients:

1 pound of pork belly
3 heaping tablespoons of Korean Chili paste
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons prepared BBQ sauce or catsup
2 teaspoons of sesame oil


Take the pork belly and slice it about 1/4 inch thin
Heat a small amount of vegetable oil in a wok or skillet
Add the chili paste, soy sauce, and catsup or BBQ sauce
Stir to combine then add the pork belly slices
Stir fry till the pork is coated in the sauce and continue to cook till the pork becomes crispy and dark in spots. Glazed with the sauce and cooked red and colorful. At the very end add the sesame oil and sesame seeds. Turn heat off and hold till salad is tossed.

For the salad

3 cups curly kale chopped into fine shreds.
3 cups Green cabbage also chopped into fine shreds.
1 carrot shredded
5 radishes finely sliced some reserved for garnish
1 cup of crushed peanuts, 3 tablespoons reserved for garnish
4 or 5 scallions cut on the bias 2 tablespoons reserved for garnish
1 6oz can of mandarin orange segments drained ( handful reserved for garnishing top)

For the dressing

3/4 cup Roasted Peanut oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 heaping tablespoons dijon mustard
1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon water
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3 anchovies filets (optional)

Place in a food processor and mix well till combined.

To prepare the salad place all ingredients in a bowl and toss with the dressing
Place in a serving bowl and top with the pork
Garnish with the remaining scallions, peanuts, oranges segments and radishes. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Jimmy Crack Corn....Mexican Street Corn

Now I have been making this for the past several years with various results but after several different versions I have settled on this one. This corn is good. So good people call it crack corn. I made this for On the Plate when we were doing summer BBQ dinners and people just loved it. Back then in NYC not very many people were familiar with this. However, in California where my business partner was from they had known about this for years. This is not really traditional street corn because I use parmesan cheese and not Cojita cheese which is the real deal. You can use whatever you like this is just easy for me cause I always have a big chunk of parmesan in my fridge. So give this a try for your Summer corn fest. Cheers.

Mexican Street Corn


6 to 8 ears of corn
3/4 cup mayonaise
1/2 to 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese ( Grand Padano)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 tablespoons chili power plus more for garnish
Several shakes of hot sauce
juice of one lime
lime zest and chopped chives or cilantro for garnishing


Peel back the corn husks and reveal the ears
Make sure the hair is gone and thin the leaves out a little
Place a large piece of foil on a baking sheet
Oil the corn and place on the foil with the husks hanging off the sheet
Heat oven to 375
Cover Corn with another foil sheet and seal edges leaving the husks outside the foil
Bake corn for 45 mins to one hour

Mix the mayo with half the cheese, garlic powder, the salt, chili powder, hot sauce and lime juice

When corn is done remove from oven
Slather the corn with the mayo mixture
Then sprinkle with the parmesan cheese
Garnish with more chili powder and lime zest and the cilantro or chives

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Fried Chicken Thighs and Chive Cheddar Parmesan Waffles with Franks Red Hot Cream Gravy

Sometimes you just go with an idea and it turns out amazingly well. So it is with this recipe. I was in the mood for Fried Chicken and decided to try to make a recipe for chicken and waffles I would like. Generally I don't like chicken and waffles but I decided to see if I could prove myself wrong and find a version I like.

This one hit it straight on the head. It's so good I actually thought I had found a new favorite. Give these a try if you want to do some down home old school fried chicken goodness.

Chive Cheddar Parmesan Belgian Waffles ( makes 4-5 waffles)


2 Cups Flour
2 Tablespoons Baking Powder
2 large eggs well beaten
2 cups whole Milk
1 cup grated Extra Sharp White Cheddar
1 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 tablespoons chopped chives ( two reserved for garnish)
Maple Syrup

Mix dry and wet ( including cheese and chives ) ingredients separately
Slowly combine till well mixed
Heat Belgian waffle iron and pour a ladle of mix in and cook till brown and toasty
Hold Warm until ready to use or freeze till another use

Crispy Fried Chicken Thighs  Makes 4 servings

1 chicken thigh per guest
1 cup flour
1 egg
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 to 4 cups peanut oil or other fryer oil
1 small brown paper bags
salt and pepper for seasoning

On a plate season the chicken and place in the fridge for 15 mins
In a bowl mix the egg and the milk
Add the flour and spices to the bag
Take each piece of chicken one at a time and place in the buttermilk mix till coated then place in bag
Shake the four pieces really well till coated
Place on a rack and let sit for 20 mins
Heat oil in a cast iron skillet or pan heat till really really hot
When ready carefully place the chicken into the pan
Turn heat to med low, cover the pan and cook for 30 mins
Then remove lid
Turn heat to high and cook till chicken is crisp
Hold in oven with Waffles till ready to serve

Creamed Hot Sauce Gravy

3 tablespoons chicken fry oil
6 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons butter cut up
1 teaspoons garlic powder
3 cups  of warmed whole Milk
salt and coarse ground black pepper
3 tablespoons Sherry Vinegar
4 tablespoons Franks Hot Sauce ( or to taste )
Water to thin

Heat butter and oil
Add the flour cook about 3 mins
Slowly add the milk whisking constantly
add the spices and cook till thickened
Add the vinegar and hot sauce stir in well 

To serve place the waffle in a bowl and drizzle with syrup
Place chicken on Waffle
Ladle gravy over and sprinkle chives

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Summer Tomato and Ricotta and Basil Focaccia Bruschetta

Summer is the best time to eat tomatoes. I love them. I think that during the warm Summer months when things are a little freer and time slides by a little slower it's only fair to say the the produce makes the season. And I think that tomatoes in particular are an amazingly special gift with their sun kissed skins nearly bursting with juicy deliciousness.

So these little beauties are the star of my summer evening table. I love making bruschetta in general. But when faced with the choice of ingredients I go for the gold with these.

The other obvious part of bruschetta is of course the bread. So the choice for a base is important. I am choosing focaccia because I love it's flaky soft juicy texture and when crisped it is tremendously delicious.

So here's a quick recipe for your backyard this summer. Enjoy!


Fresh Grape or Cherry Tomatoes halved
Ricatta Cheese full fat about 8 oz
between 1 and 2 tablespoons of basil pesto ( you can make or buy this at your grocer)
How much you put in depends on how strong you want the basil flavor
Fresh basil about a bunch
Good quality olive oil ( a great olive oil really makes the difference, spend the money)
1 small loaf of focaccia bread


Cut bread into rectangular segments about 4 inches by 12 inches then slice bread into square slices about 1/2 in thick.
Heat oven to 375
Place bread on a baking sheet and then drizzle a little olive oil and sprinkle with some sea salt flakes
Bake until the bread is a little brown and toasty
Remove from the oven and let cool
Mix the ricotta cheese and pesto together till smooth and creamy
Cut the basil leaves into chiffonade
Mix the tomatoes and basil with just enough olive oil to coat nicely
Top the bread with a good smear of the riccotta
Top the bread slices with the tomatoes and basil mixture
Sprinkle with a little sea salt and serve

Friday, June 12, 2015

Gruyere, Swiss cheese and Dill Pickle Quesadillas with Tomato Soup Crema

One of the best things on the planet to me is any kind of grilled bread and cheese. I mean who doesn't love a really great grilled cheese. Buttery crispy browned goodness mixed with melty smooth delicious creamy cheese. It's delicious.

Well the Mexican version of that great grilled cheese sandwich is or course the quesadilla. Usually stuffed with chili flavored ingredients and other fixings melded together with melted soft delicious cheese.

So having to make lunch the other day I discovered this blend of grilled cheese ingredients with a tortilla shell. I had a few things in the fridge and decided to experiment. Well it came out deliciously. It's a bit of a strange flavor combo I admit. But all together it really is quite amazing. Especially if you like dill pickles.

Gruyere Swiss Cheese and Dill Pickle Quesadillas with Tomato Soup Crema

10 tortillas ( large burrito sized flour)
12 oz grated swiss and gruyere half and half mixed together
6 oz softened cream cheese
6 oz boursin cheese
1 jar dill pickle chips
1 tablesoon dijon mustard


In a small mixing bowl beat cream cheese, boursin and mustard together
Divide evenly on five of the tortillas and spread evenly
Place dill pickle chips around the tortillas about 8 to 10 per tortilla
Sprinkle each with the cheese mixture dividing among the tortillas
Press another tortilla on top of each

In a non stick skillet place a little oil or spray pan with oil spray
Cook each quesadilla till slightly browned and the cheese is well melted
Place on baking tray and keep warm in low oven
Repeat with all the quesadillas
When ready to serve slice each into 8 wedges and plate
Serve with tomato soup crema

Tomato Soup Crema

1/2 can tomato soup concentrate
8 oz of sour cream
1 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese


Mix all ingredients together and let sit for at least 2 hours before using so flavors mary together

Friday, May 8, 2015

A Frenchman and a Mexican walked into a bar.....Creamed Spinach and White Queso Nachos

So it was just Cinco De Mayo and every flipping food blogger is writing up and publishing a recipe about a Mexican dish that will be the new addition to your party table. So that is exactly what this post would have been if I had gotten to it on time. However, I did not so here it is a little late.

So these nachos are really from a restaurant in South Carolina called California Dreaming. At least the idea is. They are the least truly Mexican nacho recipe possible. But they are really dang tasty. So California Dreaming made these nachos pretty well but I will say they were a little on the bland side. So I have taken the idea and souped it up for a new and better Nacho experience.

My idea of the perfect nacho is that there is flavor from the cheese and flavor from the toppings. And somehow if done right they become more than the some of their parts. I also think there should be both cheese sauce and shredded cheese. And as for toppings they should be colorful and fun.

So this recipe uses a queso sauce as well as a creamed spinach sauce shredded jack and romano cheeses and jalapenos, white onion, fresh tomatoes, cilantro, california black olives. Sour cream and Salsa are served on the side. It's kind of amazing. You should try these. Enjoy Ya'll!

Creamed Spinach and White Queso Nachos

1 Bag good quality nacho corn chips ( Chains like Chipotle sell fresh chips by the bag)
Creamed spinach Sauce ( see recipe)
White queso sauce ( see recipe )
1/2 cup grated white cheddar or jack
1/4 cup grated Romano
1/4 cup diced tomatoes
3 tablespoons red onion diced
handful chopped cilantro
4 chopped chopped scallions
1/4 cup canned black olives
Sour Cream
Salsa Fresco

For the spinach ( this makes extra creamed spinach for leftovers)

Creamed Spinach Sauce


1 quart heavy cream
4 ounces of crushed garlic
1 pound frozen spinach thawed and drained really well
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
A pinch or two of nutmeg
A splash of sherry vinegar
2 ounces of butter


Bring the cream to a simmer in a sauce pan over low to medium heat then add the garlic
Reduce cream by half.
Add the spinach, salt and pepper
Heat for approximately 5 mins or so add the butter and the vinegar
Transfer to a blender and blend till smooth
Hold warm

Homemade White Queso Dip


1/2 pound white american cheese
1/4 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 4oz can of green chilies
1 teaspoon of cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper


Place the cheese the milk and the butter in a sauce pan over low heat and cook slowly till melted together stirring frequently to combine
Add in the green chilies, cumin, garlic powder and pepper
Add salt to taste
If it's too thick add a little more milk
Hold warm till serving

To Prepare Nachos

Heat spinach and Queso Sauce separately

On a large platter spread some chips on the bottom then pour some queso over them and spinkle some cheese and olives and scallions over them
repeat layers two more times
Place in oven for till cheese starts to melt
Remove from oven pour some spinach sauce over them
Top with remaining cheese
Broil till the cheese is browned
Remove form the oven and top with remaining toppings
Serve with sour cream and salsa on the side

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Carbonara the Pasta Guilt Left Behind

I can't think of a pasta dish that embodies the essence of round luscious meaty savory goodness more than this pasta dish.  It's a rich dish to be sure and made the traditional way it's probably the epitome of Italian edible decadence. The dish is Roman and was originally what the cooks from the restaurants would make for themselves late night after work and a couple of rounds of wine. An absolute play on the breakfast for dinner theme.

I first had carbonara when I went to Switzerland. It was prepared by one of the local ladies I met there. She was from the Italian part of Switzerland, Tessin. A small but beautiful area comprised mostly of mountain bound lakes and towns bordering Italy proper. The regional dialect there is Italian and the food stems also from the boot of Italy lying just below.

The version she made was a traditional one in which egg yolks are mixed with hot water to keep them from scrambling then tossed with hot pasta, bacon, loads of pecorino romano cheese and finished with a heavy dose of ground black pepper. It's delicious.

The second opportunity I had to try carbonara was at the Magic Pan a restaurant that I worked for during college. They made it in a very American manner using cream instead of egg and adding sauteed onions and mushrooms and some green peas along with the bacon. It actually was more delicious. That's right forgive me my Italian friends but it was.

I have over the years adapted the original Pan recipe to include egg yolks. It's rich it's decadent and it's so good you'll find that no amount of guilt will stop you from wanting to consume the whole plate. So just enjoy and stop feeling badly about eating rich things. If you eat them on occasion there's nothing wrong with it. After all if one is to feel guilty about something they might as well have enjoyed it!

Fettucini Carbonara ala Forrest


4 1/2 ounce Bacon Drippings 
8 tablespoons Mushrooms, quartered/halves
8 tablespoons Sautéed Onions
 8 tablespoons Precooked bacon, 1⁄2" pcs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley Chopped
8 Tablespoons Parmesan/Romano Cheese mix
10oz  Whipping Cream, un-whipped
3 egg yolks 
16 oz Fettuccini, cooked 
Salt to taste
loads of Black Pepper freshly ground


In a sauté pan add the onions, mushrooms, bacon pieces, and cheese mix in a hot pan with the bacon drippings. Heat for several minutes. 
In another pot heat cream
In a bowl slowly add 1/4 cup of cream to the egg yolks and gently mix.
Add the cream and fettuccini and blend well with the other ingredients. 
Heat for several minutes.
Add egg mixture
Add chives
Do not allow the cream to cook too hard or hot or to evaporate—only heat the ingredients thoroughly. Pour the fettuccini onto a heated large oval platter. 
Sprinkle the chopped parsley over the top and serve.