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    Asian Pork Belly

    If you’ve visited my site before you would have noticed that there aren’t many Asian inspired offerings. This one was developed when a gentleman I’ve known through my demonstration efforts happened to mention that he was going to prepare a pork belly and at that moment, or shortly thereafter, I decided to try my hand at coming up with my own version. One might think that this inexpensive protein would be too fatty and hard to prepare but with a little time and effort you can make this one of your standards. This version will take 8 hours to marinate the pork and about 5 hours to cook.

    You will need:

    Pork Belly — about 3 LBS.
    Mirin — ¾ cup.
    Soy Sauce — 2 TBSP
    Hoisin Sauce — 2 TBSP
    Garlic — 2 cloves, crushed.
    Habanero or Jalapeno Pepper — depending on your level of heat tolerance. I used ¾ a habanero.
    Ginger — 1 TBSP, fresh, crushed.

    With fat side up using a sharp knife score the fat cap. It’s best if your scoring is about a half inch apart in both directions this will allow the marinade to soak in. Mix all of the ingredients well and coat both sides of belly. Put it into a non-reactive dish such as a Pyres roasting vessel or a one gallon ziplock or similar bag. If using the Pyrex method you will need to turn the belly a few times during marination. If using the bag format massage it a few times to evenly distribute the marinade. Place belly in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.

    Remove belly from marinade and with a spatula wipe off as much of the marinade as possible reserving the juices. Put belly, fat side down in a cold sauté pan which is large enough to hold the pork. Bring pay up to temperature and sear the belly until you get a nice, rich brown color. Put marinade into a roasting pan then place belly, fat side up into the pan. Cover tightly with foil wrap and roast at 300° for 5 hours. Cut into serving size portions then in a hot sauté pan sear on all sides and serve.

    Tiramisu

    I’ve been preparing this great dessert for many many years. As a matter of fact it has become a tradition that I bring enough to my best friend’s house for Thanksgiving of course it’s great for any occasion. It takes a little time to prepare but this one should make your family, friends and guests melt. This recipe makes enough for a crowd.

    You will need:

    Eggs — 6 separated.
    Heavy Whipping Cream — two pints
    Savoiardi — Two packages. These are Italian lady fingers do not use those spongy ones you find in a grocery store. Make an effort to find them.
    Marsala Wine — About one quarter cup should do, the alcohol will cook out there really isn’t any replacement.
    Mascarpone Cheese — One pint
    Sugar — 1 TBSP
    Espresso or Very Strong Coffee — Make about two cups. You might not use it all it just depends on how much the cookies absorb.
    Dark Chocolate — Enough to shave over the entire finished dessert.

    Start by making the zabaglione. Fill a medium sized pot about 1/3 way up with water. Bring to a steady simmer. Place a stainless steel bowl over the pot and add the egg yolks, using a whisk beat the eggs until they start to turn a very light yellow color, use caution here so the egg yolks to not set, move on and off the heat so that this doesn’t happen, add the sugar and continue to whip until it starts to thicken, add the Marsala wine and whip some more to fully incorporate the wine. Remove from the heat and add the mascarpone cheese then whip to fully incorporate. Set aside to cool. Using a rubber spatula fold the whipped cream into the egg mixture, be careful not to over work as it will deflate, then fold the whipped egg whites in again don’t overwork as to not let it deflate.

    I use a 13×9 pyrex dish to hold the dessert but anything will work. Pour enough coffee into the dish so that you have about 1/8 coverage. Place rows of the cookies on top of the coffee and press lightly so the coffee starts to be absorbed. Put about 1/3 of the egg/whipped cream/egg white mixture over the cookies and spread to cover. Add a layer of cookies and spoon come coffee over each cookie. Repeat until you use up all of the mixture, you might have some cookies left over but that’s OK they make a great snack. I use a vegetable peeler to shave the dark chocolate over the dessert. Use as much or as little as you like

    Cover the dish loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an your but as long as overnight. Enjoy.

    Chicken Saltimbocca

    Saltimbocca translates to “jumps in the mouth” or “hops in the mouth” so I guess you should make extra for your family or guests. There are many recipes out there however I think this one will prove quick and easy for any good cook.

    You will need:

    Chicken Breast — 1 6 or 8 oz/serving cut into cutlets.
    Prosciutto — enough to cover each cutlet (see recipe for more information).
    Fresh Sage Chiffonade (Instructions if needed) — the amount depends on your personal taste for this herb but make sure you don’t use too much as it might be off putting.
    White Wine — a good Chardonnay works well here plan on about 1/2 a bottle more or less.
    Olive Oil — 1 TBSP/cutlet
    Unsalted Butter — 1 TBSP/cutlet
    Shallots &#151 one small to medium bulb finely diced.
    Flour — approx. 2 TBSP

    As you’ve read in the ingredients part of this recipe we call for Chicken Cutlets. If you don’t have the patience or time for this bit you can ask your butcher but why pay the extra when it’s easy to do yourself. Place a chicken breast on a clean cutting surface if you are right handed point the narrow part to the right (reverse for left handed). With a sharp knife, preferably boning, following the angle of the narrow side carefully slice it at a thickness of 1/4″. Continue until the breast is cut, you might have a small piece left at the end. Continue with all of the breasts. Lightly rub a little olive oil over each cutlet, sprinkle with the Sage then cover with a piece of Prosciutto and affix with one or two toothpicks.

    In a sauté pan large enough to hold all or most of the cutlets add the butter and olive oil until the butter melts and the oil shimmers. Using a pair of tongs carefully place the cutlets, Prosciutto side down into the pan and cook just until prosciutto crisps which won’t take long so watch this step. Flip the cutlets and sauté briefly just enough to have the pink color disappear, remove from pan place on an oven proof plate, tent with foil, and keep warm.

    If there isn’t enough oil/butter in the pan add enough to sauté the shallots. When the shallots start to turn opaque sprinkle enough flour to just coat continue cooking until all of the flour is absorbed carefully add the white wine scraping up all the good bits left on the bottom of the pan. If the resulting sauce is too thick add a little warm water if it is too thin combine some softened butter and flour and add to the sauce. Place the chicken cutlets, Prosciutto side up into the sauce and warm through. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

    Veggie Lasagna

    I’ve been asked several times to add more vegetarian recipes to my repertoire so I dug into the basement of my brain to see what I had produced in the past but for whatever reason never put them to print. I remembered this one that I used to prepare for the vegetarian counselors from my camp days. Most of the work is in the preparation, however, it is well worth your while.

    You will need:

    Eggplant — 2 LBS. approx. I used the Italian variety but the classic will do just fine.
    Zucchini — 2 LBS.
    Mushrooms — 2 LBS. Button work fine but crimini will give you a more earthy flavor.
    Red Bell Peppers — 1 LB.
    Green Bell Peppers — 1 LB.
    Onions — 1 LB. Use a sweet variety such as Walla Walla or Vidalia.
    Bechamel Sauce — 1 Quart. Here is an easy recipe to use.
    Italian Tomatoes — 2 32oz. cans diced or crushed. Try to use San Marzano.
    Ricotta Cheese — 1 LB.
    Eggs — 2 well beaten.
    Mozzarella Cheese — 2 large balls
    Lasagna Noodles — 1 LB package. You can use either the cook or no cook variety. If you use the cook version prepare according to directions on the package however you want them just under al denté.
    Basil — 2 TBSP dry or 4 TBSP fresh.
    Oregano — 2 TBSP dry or 4 TBSP fresh.
    Sea Salt/Cracked Pepper — 2 tspn each.
    Olive Oil 8 TBSP which equals 1/2 cup

    I usually don’t peel the eggplant for this recipe but that’s a personal choice, either way won’t affect the taste. Cut it into 1 inch pieces place in a collander over a bowl and salt liberally toss to coat set aside. Cut the zucchini into 1 inch pieces, set aside. Heat oven to 350 degrees then place the bell peppers on a cookie sheet and roast until soft and partially blackened. When they are ready, remove from the oven, place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, set aside. Cut the mushrooms into 1/2 inch pieces, set aside. Dice the onions into 1/2 inch pieces place in a strainer and rinse well, set aside. Using the large holes on a grater grate the mozarella cheese, set aside.

    Heat 2 TBSP olive oil in a sauté pan until shimmering. Place the eggplant into the pan and cook just until browned, put cooked eggplant into a large bowl. In the same pan add 1 more TBSP oil and sauté the zucchini until browned add to the bowl of eggplant. Add 1 more TBSP oil and sauté the mushrooms until browned add to the bowl. Add 1 more TBSP of oil and sauté the onions until opaque, don’t let them brown then add to bowl. Peel the skins off the roasted peppers chop into 1 inch pieces and add to the bowl. Sprinkle one TBSP each basil and oregano and 1 tspn salt and pepper over the cooked vegetables and stir to combine, set aside. In another bowl place the ricotta cheese, egg and mozzarella cheese and stir until well combined.

    Lightly oil a lasagna pan then coat the bottom with crushed tomatoes, just enough to make it about 1/2 inch deep. Add a layer of lasagna noodles then spread enough Bechamel Sauce to cover, then add a layer of the mixed veggies then a layer of the cheese mixture. Add a layer of crushed tomatoes sprinkle with some of the basil and oregano. Repeat this process until all of the ingredients are used ending with the crushed tomatoes as the last layer. Cover the lasagna dish with foil place on a cookie sheet and bake for approximately 45 minutes, checking occasionally to avoid burning. After you remove it from the oven let it cool for about 20 minutes before service.

    I usually have enough left over to cut into nice sized portions and freeze for another day. ENJOY!

    Gnocchi Marsala

    Sometimes things just pop into my head and sometimes something I’ve sampled brings a flood of ideas. This one is a combination of the two. At a demonstration one of the store managers cooked up a large dish of dumplings with mushroom sauce somewhat of a European entrée. I thought about making a similar item and came up with this offering.

    You will need:

    Gnocchi — 1 LB. — If you make your own that’s great however for those that either don’t have the time nor knack there are a few frozen varieties that can be purchased at most stores. If you can’t find frozen some manufacturers make a dried version.
    Mushrooms — 1 LB. — Use either button or crimini or a combination of the two.
    Marsala Wine — 1/4 cup (approx)
    Stock &#151 chicken, veal or vegetable depending on your personal taste, I wouldn’t use beef as it would overwhelm the mushroom/marsala taste.
    Heavy Cream — 1 cup (approx.) — if you want a lighter sauce you can use half and half or milk.
    Shallots — 1 TBSP finely diced.
    Butter/Olive Oil — 1 TBSP each

    Depending on which gnocchi you use timing here is flexible. You want the gnocchi to be ready just as you are about to finish the sauce which will take about 15 minutes or less to prepare.

    Clean the mushrooms of any excessive dirt and cut into pieces that are about the same size as the gnocchi. In a saucepan large enough to hold all of the mushrooms heat the oil and butter over medium/low heat, add the diced shallots and cook just until they turn a little translucent, don’t overcook them. At the mushroom pieces and cook until they give off most of their liquid, add the marsala wine and cook just long enough to burn off the alcohol. You want the sauce to be a little liquid so if it gets a little too dry add some of the stock. Turn off the heat and add the cream/milk stir to combine then add the cooked gnocchi. Enjoy!

    Sweet Potato Soup

    I can’t remember when or how I received a little card with a recipe for Sweet Potato Soup but as I have a tendency to do I decided to tweak it to my liking. I purchased the necessary items and then scrounged around my pantry to see what I could use to more or less recreate this savory soup. This recipe will serve 12.

    You will need:

    Sweet Potato — 2 medium
    Onion — 1 medium sweet like a Vidalia or Walla Walla finely diced.
    Habanero Pepper — 1 small finely diced
    Ginger, Fresh — 2 TBSP finely diced
    Ground Coriander — 4 tsp
    Nutmeg, Fresh — 1 TBSP + more to dust top of serving bowl.
    Chicken Broth 4 cups, unsalted
    Coconut Milk 1 12 oz. can
    Olive Oil2 TBSP

    Preheat oven to 450° with a fork punch holes into the sweet potato all around the tuber then wrap in aluminum foil. Place into oven and bake for one hour. In a stock pot large enough to hold all of the ingredients bring oil to a shimmer, add the spices and saute for about 10 seconds add the rest of the ingredients except the chicken stock and coconut milk. Saute until onions are translucent, add the chicken stock and coconut milk bring to a rapid simmer. When the potatoes are done cut in half and remove the pulp, place into the stock pot and using a potato masher break up any large chunks. Cook until the stock becomes slightly thickened. Carefully transfer about one third of the stock to a blender or food processor and blend thoroughly, it will be necessary to do this in batches. Serve immediately or chill and reheat when ready to serve. Dust the top of the soup with the extra nutmeg. Enjoy!

    Stuffed Chicken Breast

    I suppose you can call this recipe Chicken Cordon Bleu which technically it is here is my version with a little twist. At one of the food demonstrations I provide an associate was passing out samples of that good old snack “string cheese” and handed me one to try. Since I’ve had string cheese before so I decided to take it home and create a recipe. This recipe will take a little effort but is well worth it.

    You will need:

    Chicken Breast — 6 to 8 oz/per serving. boneless and skinless.
    Ham Slice — one/serving, use a good quality of your choice but stay away from those that have water added.
    String Cheese — one stick/serving
    Egg — one large/serving
    Dijon Mustard — one tsp/serving
    Flour — enough to dust breasts
    Bread Crumbs — enough to coat breast – I use a Panko style crumb.
    Plastic Wrap &#151 enough to wrap the breast.

    Using paper towels pat the chicken breast dry then lay flat on a cutting board, place hand flat on top of the breast and with a sharp knife, preferably a boning knife, insert as close to the center of the breast as possible making a slit at least one inch wide. Slowly push blade into breast using your hand to “feel” it go into the bird. Carefully work the blade around the inside of the breast creating a pocket. After you create the pocket, insert your index finger into the pocket to enlarge without breaking through the meat. To make sure that you do not contaminate the chicken use a rubber glove or wrap you finger in cling wrap/plastic wrap. Set aside.

    Place one slice of ham on a work surface, pull apart the string cheese thin enough to cover the slice then tightly roll the ham to form a tight log. Carefully insert the ham log into the pocket of the breast until it is completely inside. In a receptacle large enough and deep enough to hold chicken add egg and dijon mustard and whisk well. In two separate receptacles add flour in one and bread crumbs in the other. Dredge the chicken breast in the flour, dip into the egg/mustard mixture then dredge with the bread crumbs. Place the coated chicken onto a sheet of plastic wrap tucking the thinner part under the thicker part. Wrap tightly and refrigerate for 15 minutes to one half hour. This will help set the coating reducing the possibility of the coating falling off during cooking.

    Place approximately one TBSP of oil, I used olive, into an oven proof sauté pan large enough to hold the breast(s). When the oil starts to shimmer add breasts and brown on all sides. Place sauté pan into a preheated (350 degree) oven and finish cooking. Enjoy!

    Super Easy Hard Boiled Eggs

    You’ve most likely seen or heard tons of ways to cook the perfect hard boiled egg. Some are easy some not so much. This one, my tried and true version, makes it so easy everyone can get the perfect egg, whether it’s one or a dozen.

    Place egg(s) in a high sided pot large enough to hold them all in a single layer. Fill pot with just enough water to cover by two inches. Set a timer for 20 minutes and put on stove with the heat turned to high. As soon as water starts to bubble reduce to medium. Immediately after the 20 minutes has ended carefully drain the water from the pot and then bounce the eggs in the pot to slightly crack them, fill pot with ice cold water.

    By cracking the eggs in the pot it allows the cold water to get under the shell making them easy to remove. That’s it. Done.

    Maple Glazed Baby Carrots

    I developed this simple recipe years ago but never put it into Let’s Eat. I am sure your guests will love it even those finicky kids.

    You will need:

    Baby Carrots — 1 lb bag, alternatively you can use large carrots cut diagonally into bite size pieces.
    Maple Syrup — Approximately 1 cup – use the real stuff here folks not that “pancake syrup” you find in stores, it’s all high fructose corn syrup with no maple anything in it.
    Butter — 5 TBSP make sure you use unsalted.
    Sea Salt/Pepper — to taste.

    The first step is to steam the carrots. Steam until a sharp knife goes in easily about 1/4 way through to what is called just “al dente”. You want to maintain the some of the crunch. In a sauté pan large enough to hold all of the carrots in a single layer heat the butter until just melted. Add the carrots simmer on low until the butter coats the vegetables. Add the maple syrup and simmer until the syrup reduces by half.<.p>

    If you don’t have equipment to steam the carrots add enough water to the sauté pan to just above half their thickness, cover and let cook until most of the water has evaporated add the butter and maple syrup then proceed as stated above. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can do them ahead of time, keep at room temperature until you are about to serve, return to the sauté pan and heat them up.

    Sausage/Mushroom Ragu

    A good ragu is always a welcome addition to anyone’s repertoire. This recipe comes from my desire to use a portion of the Maitake mushrooms that I had freeze dried from the past seasons harvest. Of course if you are fortunate enough to have a fresh supple they can be used as well, additionally a good substitute would be portabella. For purpose of this recipe I’ll use the generic term mushroom(s) instead of being specific. Make a batch and then use some and freeze the rest.

    You will need:

    Italian Sausage — 1½ lbs bulk.
    Fresh Mushrooms — ½ lb. chopped.
    Shallot — 1 medium size finely diced.
    Fresh Oregano — 2 TBSP
    Fresh Marjoram — 2 TBSP
    Olive Oil — 4 TBSP
    White Wine — ¼ cup – a good Chardonnay works well
    Heavy Cream — ¼ cup
    Tomato — 1 26oz can diced or crushed – San Marzano Plum work best.
    Sea Salt/Ground Pepper — to taste

    In a sauté pan large enough to hold all of the ingredients heat two tablespoons of olive oil until it dances/shimmers. Add bulk sausage (if you can’t find bulk at your grocer purchase links and remove from casing) and using a potato masher start breaking up the meat continue sautéing until most of the pink is gone do not brown completely or the sauce will be too dry.

    Remove sausage from the pan, drain and set aside. Add 1 TBSP to the sauté pan heat to shimmer then add the mushrooms. Cook until all of the moisture exuded from them is evaporated. NB: Not all mushrooms have the same moisture content for instance Maitake and Portabella have less than Button or Crimini.

    Remove mushrooms fro the pan and set aside. Add 1 TBSP Olive oil and sauté the shallots until they are just translucent then add the sausage and mushroom to the pan stir to combine. Add the herbs, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Turn heat to medium high and add the white wine, cook until the mixture is somewhat dry. Add the heavy cream, stir well to combine and cook until the mixture is somewhat dry. Add the tomatoes, stirring to combine and cook until they break apart. If you think the ragu is too dry you can add some tomato sauce but not enough to make it soupy.

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