Pork Belly with Aubergine

I’ve been a little annoyed these past months, not being able to find a pork belly piece bigger than a pound and mostly in little, fatty skinless squares.  What am I supposed to do with those?!  When I think of pork belly, I think of this or that, large enough to feed a crowd and still have leftovers for sandwiches and additions to Asian noodle soups.

We were visiting our son in Baltimore this weekend and I was pretty sure I would find a pork belly at Wegmans or get them to cut one for me.  Nope;  little fatty squares was the extent of their butchering knowledge when it came to pork bellies.  I did find a thin, but somewhat meaty, 3lb pork belly in an Asian grocery store and though not ecstatic, I snapped it up and was relieved 🙂

In the pantry, I found a large jar of homemade rub that I assumed was Emeril’s Essence but it wasn’t.  It’s smell and taste called to mind spicy hot tandoori.  I used it anyway and it was fine, though a surprise.  I’ll be sure to use it in my next foray into Indian cuisine.

I had a large aubergine in the refrigerator crisper, along with some orphan pieces of purple onion, red chillies and red bell pepper.  I always have garlic 🙂

I love browned aubergine cubes.  I’m always tempted to eat 1 or 5.

Aubergine prepared like this with savory aromatics is a complete, stand along meal that I have been satisfied eating with only the addition of a chunk of buttered baguette.

Mindful of fading salad greens and tomatoes in the refrigerator, I made a hefty salad including onions, eggs and cheese to be sure that we’d finish it off, no matter what.

So many ways to enjoy pork belly.  That’s why I always want a large piece.  Next time I’ll just go over to the butcher at the Alpine with my “price is no object” attitude.  I’ll have to leave my husband at home 😀

Oven Roasted Pork Belly

3 lb skin on, pork belly


Pork rub

Score the pork skin and rub in salt then the pork rub all over.  Refrigerate overnight, uncovered.

Place the pork belly in a 450 F oven for 30 minutes, decrease the temperature to 350 F and continue to roast for another hour.

Pan Sauteed Aubergine

3 tbsp peanut oil

1 large aubergine, cubed

1 tbsp peanut oil

1/2 red bell pepper, coarsely chopped

1/2 purple onion, coarsely chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, slivered

3-4 red Thai chillies

Brown the aubergine cubes in a large skillet with the 3 tbsp peanut oil.  Remove the cubes from the skillet and set aside.  Add the remaining tablespoon of oil and the bell pepper, onion, garlic and chillies.  Saute until the onion is soft.  Stir in the aubergine and cook until warm.



Posted in American, Appetizer, Asian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Main dishes, Recipes, Salad, side dish, Vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Miso Mushroom Broth with Udon Noodles

Oddly, I found several packages of fresh “udon” noodles in the produce section of Weiss supermarket!  Okay, they weren’t the large, rounded noodles that are found in Asian markets but I didn’t want the store manager, who was obviously thinking outside the box, to be discouraged so I bought two packages.

Planning while shopping, I thought of miso broth with tiny shrimp but there were no tiny shrimp and I had to settle for kamaboko crab chunks.

I did have miso paste at home in the refrigerator and whole dried shiitake mushrooms in the pantry to enhance the broth with their soaking liquid and the re-hydrated mushrooms.

I have pretty pots.  Not bragging but even my ancient black skillets have their own rustic beauty.  I have attractive children too 😀

You can sprinkle this rich, mushroom soup with sliced scallions and, if you dare, a dollop of Huy Fong chili garlic sauce.

Miso Mushroom Broth with Udon Noodles

1 cup dehydrated, whole shiitake mushrooms

2 cups boiling hot water

2 tbsp peanut oil

1 small onion, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 inch ginger chopped

4 cups chicken broth

1/4 cup white miso paste

1 9 0z pkg fresh udon noodles

1 cup of cooked baby shrimp or imitation crab chunks

1 exaggerated handful of baby spinach

Sliced scallions

Soak the mushrooms in the boiling water for 20 minutes to 1 hour, then slice and set aside.  Drain and filter the soaking liquid and set aside.  Fry the onion, garlic, and ginger in the oil until the onions are soft.  Add the sliced mushrooms and stir fry for about 2-3 minutes.  Add the chicken broth, miso paste and  reserved mushroom liquid.  Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the noodles and cook for 3-5 minutes, testing to see if cooked at 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the shrimp/crab and the spinach.

Serve in bowls and sprinkle with scallions if desired.







Posted in American, Asian, Cooking, Food and Wine, Japanese, Main dishes, Recipes, Soup | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Spicy Ginger Garlic Bok Choy Stir Fry

Bok choy is one of my favorite vegetables, especially when I can find the the smaller, mini size.  Usually I split them down the middle vertically, steam a bit and add a spicy sauce.

This time I was interested in a quick stir fry with Thai chillies, ginger and garlic, so I thickly sliced the bok choy horizontally.

Do you ever buy gorgeous looking packages of chops or chicken parts just to find out when you get home that they have hidden the ugly pieces on the bottom?  It’s called the “old  camouflaged rabbit head on the bottom of the package deception” in France.  I don’t know if they have a name for it in the U.S.,  but the chops at the bottom of this package looked as if they were sliced from a live animal on the run.

You know.   Season the chops with salt, pepper and garlic powder, dust with flour and bake with butter in a 425 F oven for 40 minutes, turning once.  I do this a lot 🙂

The odd looking utensil, top right, is an antique, French silver ice cube/sugar cube server.  Or that’s what the friendly and a little high on red wine guys said at the brocante fair in Sens, France

Spicy Ginger Garlic Bok Choy Stir Fry

2 tbsp peanut oil

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 inch fresh ginger, chopped

4-5 garlic cloves, chopped

3-4 whole Thai chillies

6 baby bok choy, thickly sliced horizontally

1/8 cup chicken broth

1 tbsp tamari soy sauce

Heat the oils in a wok, then add the ginger, garlic and chillies.  Stir fry until the garlic is soft.  Don’t burn.  Add the bok choy and continue to stir fry until the leaves begin to wilt.  Immediately add the chicken broth and soy sauce, cover and steam for 5 minutes.



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Easy Oven BBQ Flanken Beef Ribs

Flanken ribs are beef ribs that are cut horizontally across the cow’s rib bones.  You can recognized these by the small bones interspersed with the meat on the long side of the ribs.  This cut is very popular in Germany and can be ordered from a savvy supermarket butcher or perhaps a kosher butcher.

Too lazy to make my own BBQ sauce, I keep looking for a good bottled sauce other than K.C. Masterpiece that used to be my go to for bottled bbq sauces but I think they’ve gone the way of Wolf Brand Chili  😦

C.B. Stubblefield (Stubb), a Korean war veteran opened his first restaurant in Lubbuck, Texas in 1968.  It was a huge success and he became famous for his BBQ and his Sunday Night Jams with well known blues musicians.   He began selling his famous sauce in bottles in 1990.  When I saw his picture on the bottle I didn’t know who he was but thought he looked like someone who knew about BBQ.  Well, he probably did but unfortunately he died in 1995 and I don’t think that any of his 12 children were paying attention when he prepared the sauce.  The sauce was okay but I’ve never tasted Texas BBQ sauce like this before!  His kids are running the business into the ground 😀

Easy Oven BBQ Flanken Beef Ribs

3 lbs beef flanken ribs, seasoned with salt, pepper, onion and garlic powder

Fresh thyme sprigs

Homemade Texas BBQ sauce/whatever bottled sauce you like

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Cover the bottom of a baking pan with aluminum foil.  Place a rack on top and put the ribs on the rack.  Sprinkle with the thyme.  Roast the ribs in the oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on the thickness of the ribs.  Remove the ribs from the oven and coat with BBQ sauce.  Remove the rack from the pan and place the ribs directly on the aluminum foil.  Return the ribs to the oven, turn and brush with sauce every 5 minutes for 15-20 minutes.






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Smoked Turkey and Homemade Dumplings

Of American non-ethnic, regional cooking, I think that the American South has the most original, innovative and delicious cuisine in our country.  Of course I’m biased because both of my parents are from the South (Texas and Louisiana) but facts are facts 🙂  Fried chicken, gumbo, cornbread, cornmeal fried fish, smothered pork chops, sweet potato pie, cobblers, candied yams, chicken and dumplings, etc.  ‘Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery’, it seems as if most Americans agree.  However many of these Southern specialties don’t always transplant well into other regions.  For instance, dumplings become biscuits or gummy, inflated, uncooked lumps of dough.  I had some of these after I left the safe haven of authentic southern cookery and really, I didn’t know where to look.  Bleah.

I can picture my Louisiana grandmother thinly rolling out a simple dough, then cutting it into strips like wide noodles before dropping them into boiling chicken broth.  So tender, they melted in your mouth.  I don’t know what I was thinking!  I’m no kneader or roller but I have a KitchenAid with both a dough hook and roller attachment, but did I use it?  No. Fool that I was.  I was exhausted and bored by the time I kneaded the dough 2 times and felt that everybody who rolled their dough out as thin as my grandmother’s must all be gratefully dead.  Therefore, I didn’t exactly make my grandmother’s dumplings, but they came out okay.  I cut them into irregular diamond shapes and cooked them longer.  I’m going to do this again but with the KitchenAid.

The turkey and dumpling idea was forced upon me when I bought a ridiculously large, smoked turkey leg that I had no idea what to do with and spent sleepless hours between reading in bed and trying to think of something. Finally I arrived at turkey and dumplings that I would proudly make “a ma grandmama.”   Sometimes I hurt myself.  Con (short for imbecile (polite) in French).

Anyway.  This is a great start whether you’re making soup with turkey or chicken.  Add potatoes or rice and then you don’t have to bother to make the dumplings at all 😀

The turkey leg just fit inside my large,  oval Le Creuset.  Pretty cookingware is always good for my morale along with background music.

The smoked turkey leg was quite meaty and flavorful.  Roasted, this would make great sandwiches.

Smoked Turkey and Dumplings

2 1/2 lb smoked turkey leg

2 celery branches, sliced

1 large onion, chopped

2 large carrots, sliced

2 large Maggi chicken cubes

2 bay leaves

3 1/2 quarts water

3 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

1 cup milk

Place the turkey, celery, onion, carrots, Maggi cubes, bay leaves and water in a large covered pot, bring to a boil, then simmer for 1 1/2 hours.  Remove the turkey leg and separate the meat from the bones, skin etc. Coarsely chop the meat and set aside.

Kitchen Aid recommended:  Sift the flour together with the salt into a large bowl, add the egg and milk and mix well.  Knead until smooth, then roll out very thin and slice into strips or any shape you want.  Bring the turkey broth to a boil and add the dumplings a few at a time.

When the dumplings are cooked, stir in the reserved turkey and serve in deep bowls.

















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Bavarian Duck Breast with Cabbage

This is interesting.  The common duck bred for food in the U.S. is the Pekin (Long Island) duck and the breed of choice in Europe is the Muscovy (Barbery) duck.  The Hudson Valley Duck Farm in Ferndale, New York has chosen to specialize in a cross between a Muscovy drake and a Pekin hen, resulting in what’s called a Moulard duck.  Of course the breeds and breeding practices affect the taste (Muscovy duck is gamier and it’s taste is comparable to beef), but I have to say that the Moulard ducks from Hudson Valley taste like duck and that’s a good thing.

In the bottom of the bottom drawer in the refrigerator freezer I discovered a whole frozen duck breast that I bought from the farm God knows when.  It looked good, not like my usual freezer surprises 🙂  The breast was huge and enough for 2 meals so I halved it and returned one half to the freezer for future revels.  I scored the fat and rubbed the breast with my “Bavarian Essence” inspired by a well known Bavarian rub for chicken in Germany.  I also use this rub on pork and whatever else sounds good to me at the time.

I’ve noticed for some time now, years, that what I call purple cabbage and purple onions are called “red” by most people.  Lately, I have felt that perhaps I’ve been wrong all these years and that I might have a touch of color blindness.  I have seen true red Spanish onions but I’ve never encountered a red cabbage, not that I’m denying their existence but I just haven’t seen one.  Yesterday I was admiring the cuteness of my mini, aubergine colored tajine that I found in France back in the day and noticed that it was almost the exact same color as the cabbage and onion!  So whatever “red” cabbage people, I have the picture and aubergine color is purple 😀

Even after cooking, you couldn’t honestly call the cabbage red, just a lighter shade of purple, whatever that is.

Distracted.  Anyway, I love this cabbage.  I, of course, couldn’t have lardons but substituted successfully with diced pancetta.

Another favorite, diced potatoes, red bell pepper and onion.

Bavarian Essence

2 tbsp salt

1 tbsp dill seeds

1 tbsp sage leaves

1 tbsp fennel seeds

1 tbsp coriander seeds

1 tbsp dried rosemary leaves

2 1/2 tbsp Spanish paprika

2 tbsp garlic powder

1 tbsp onion powder

Put all ingredients into a blender and grind into a powder.  Store in a tight fitting jar.

Bavarian Duck Breast

1 duck breast (1/2 really)

Bavarian Essence

Score the fat of the duck breast with a sharp knife and poke the breast a few times on the meaty side with a fork.  Rub with Bavarian essence and refrigerate overnight.

Sear the duck breast in a hot skillet, fat side first, for about 4 minutes, turn and cook the meaty side for 4-5 minutes.  Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.

German Style Cabbage

1/2 cup diced pancetta

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, halved and sliced

1 small head purple cabbage, shredded

3-4 sprigs thyme

1/3 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 -1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp dry mustard

Salt and pepper

Brown the pancetta in a wok.  Add the olive oil and the onion, then cook until the onion is soft.  Add the cabbage and thyme, then stir fry for 3-4 minutes.

Mix the vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper together, stir into the cabbage, then cover and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Pan Fried Potatoes with Red Bell Pepper

1 large red bell pepper, diced

1 small onion, chopped

3 tbsp olive oil

1 lb potatoes, diced

Cook the onion and bell pepper in 1 tbsp of the oil until the bell pepper is crisp tender. Remove from the pan and set aside.  Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, add the remaining 2 tbsp of oil and fry the potatoes until brown and crispy.  Put the onion and bell pepper back into the skillet and cook for another minute, stirring.


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Beef Noodle Bowl with Sweet Potatoes

While at Pete’s Market in Narrowsburg, New York, draining our retirement pension to buy oxtails, I saw some good deals on round steaks that were ready to, or had frankly gone round the bend.  The price was good and there were 1 or 2 that just looked tired of it all but not quite ready to throw in the towel.  I chose one of those and immediately slammed it in the freezer at home, planning some sort of beef stir fry for later.

And, voila, the stir fry that became an udon noodle bowl 😉

Beef Noodle Bowl with Sweet Potatoes

1 1/2 lb round steak, partially frozen, sliced into thin strips

Salt and pepper

1/2 tsp garlic paste

1/2 tsp ginger paste

2 tbsp peanut oil

1/2 tsp garlic paste

1/2 tsp ginger paste

2 leeks, sliced and rinsed of grit

4 – 5 whole Thai chillies

1 tbsp five spice powder

2 medium size sweet potatoes, halved and sliced

2 cans beef broth

2 tbsp soy sauce

5 oz baby spinach

3 bundles of cooked dry udon noodles

Mix the beef strips with salt, pepper, garlic and ginger pastes then set aside for about 30 minutes.

Heat the peanut oil in a large skillet, add the beef and stir fry medium rare.  Remove from the skillet and set aside.

Add the remaining garlic and ginger pastes to the skillet with the leeks and chillies.  Stir fry until the leeks are tender.  Stir in the five spice powder and continue to cook for about a minute.  Add the sweet potatoes, broth and soy sauce, bring to a boil and simmer about 5 minutes.  Add the reserved beef and continue to simmer for an additional 5 minutes.  Stir in the spinach until wilted and remove the skillet from the flame.

Serve with noodles and hard boiled eggs if desired.






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