I was born and raised in Kansas and learned to cook alongside my mother. Now, along with my wonderful husband, I have taken the plunge into the city life in New York. These are my food adventures: in my own tiny kitchen, and in the many restaurants of the city.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Braised Pork Belly, Caramelized Bok Choy, and Sunflower Sprouts in Ginger Lime Dressing

Since I've been away for so long I had to do something a little fancy, right? This was another greenmarket inspired meal. I was wandering around the Grand Army Plaza market after my run last Saturday and kept coming across things that I've never cooked with before. I decided to start picking a few up and see what I could come up with.

Then I came across Flying Pig Farm's tent. And I saw they had pork belly. And I couldn't stop imagining the fatty, rich, crispy meat. I had to have some. After picking up some baby bok choy (it looked so pretty piled up!), some garlic scapes (which I did use last summer for the first time), dill (which I have also used before ;) ), and these gorgeous little sunflower sprouts (nutty, earthy, and crisp) the meal just seemed to form itself immediately in my brain. I love it when a meal comes together like this! And luckily the heat held off so my kitchen wasn't too unbearably hot to leave the oven going for a couple of hours.

The portions aren't huge, but this meal is so rich that you don't need a lot--although it tastes so good that you may be begging for more.

You can remove the skin from the pork belly, if you must, but don't cut off the fat--what's the point (and what's left over??)? If you do not like pork fat #1: I judge you ;) and #2: don't eat pork belly!

Pork Belly Braised in Red Wine and Garlic Scapes
1 (1.3lb) pork belly
1 TB sea salt
1/2 t. fresh ground pepper
1 t. dried onion flakes
1 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. chili powder
1/2 t. cardamom
1/4 t. cumin
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1/4 t. paprika
2 TBS cooking oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
10 garlic scapes, chopped
3/4 bottle of wine (I used Las Rocas Garnacha)

Mix together salt, pepper, dried onion, garlic powder, chili, cardamom, cumin, cayenne and paprika. Rub all over the pork belly and allow to sit in the refridgerator for at least 2 hours. Take the pork belly out and let it sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes before beginning to cook.
Preheat oven to 350.
Heat oil in a dutch oven on the stove over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the pork belly and sear on all sides, about 2-4 minutes per side. Once finished, remove the pork belly to a plate. Add the carrots, celery, onion, garlic and garlic scapes to the dutch oven and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Add about a cup of the red wine to the pot and scrape up any bits that are stuck to the bottom. Return the pork belly to the pan with all of the vegetables, then use the remaining wine to almost cover the pork belly. Bring the wine to a boil, cover the pot with a lid or foil, and transfer to the hot oven.
Cook the meat until it is fork tender (a fork will be able to pull the meat apart). This could take anywhere from 1 1/2 to 2 hours (mine ended up taking about 1 hour 45 minutes). Remove the pork belly to a plate and allow to sit for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Serve on top of the caramelized bok choy and top off with the sunflower sprouts.

Caramelized Bok Choy
2 heads of baby bok choy (1 large regular bok choy would work as well)
3 TB cooking oil
2 TB brown sugar
3 TB fresh dill, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste

Separate the green parts of the bok choy from the white parts. Chop each (keeping them separate) into long shreds about 1/2 inch thick.
Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Once warm, add the white parts of the bok choy and cook until these become fairly tender, about 10 minutes. Add the green parts of the bok choy and stir to coat in the oil. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, then sprinkle on the brown sugar. Allow the bok choy to cook some of it begins to turn brown, stirring occasionally, about 10-15 minutes. Stir in the dill and salt and pepper to taste.

Sunflower Sprouts in Ginger Lime Dressing
1 c. sunflower sprouts
1 t. ginger powder
juice of 1/2 a lime
1/4 t. chili powder
1/3 c. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Mix together ginger powder, lime juice, chili powder, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Toss with the sunflower sprouts and serve on top of the braised pork belly.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Pesto Roasted Chicken and Garlicky Summer Rice

My return to the actual food blogging comes in the form of a very simple meal. It is just too damn hot in my kitchen to be in there for very long lately! I'm hoping to buy a portable AC so I can drag it into the kitchen and bake this summer. I miss central air!!!

I made this chicken because I was looking for a way to finish off the last of my pesto that I froze last summer. (for those that are looking to freeze some pesto there are great little tiny Glad storage containers that probably hold the perfect amount. I can always just pull out one little container and not have to worry about dethawing and then refreezing the rest of it. These containers are also perfect for individual portions of things like panna cotta or to store leftover dressing/sauce). I used chicken thighs because I love the flavor and the moistness of the dark meat, but you could use chicken breasts as well--just adjust the cooking time.

Pesto Roast Chicken
4 chicken thighs
salt and pepper
1/4 c. pesto
1/2 stick of butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 375. Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Then rub down the thighs all over with the pesto. Place the thighs in a baking dish, skin side up, and pour the melted butter over top. Place in the oven, uncovered and cook until juices run clear, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Allow chicken to sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Garlicky Summer Rice
1 stick butter, divided
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large zucchini, thinly sliced into pieces resembling shoestring potatoes
1 c. instant rice
1 c. water

Heat 1/2 stick of butter in a saute pan over low heat. When the butter melts, it will have a layer of "foam" on top. Without stirring, using a metal spoon, skim the foam off of the melted butter. Turn up the heat to medium-high. Add the garlic and allow to cook for 1-2 minutes before adding the zucchini. Cook the zucchini until cooked through, but not too long or the mixture will become mushy (let about 1/3 of the pieces turn clear and let the remaining pieces stay fairly green). Set the mixture aside.
In a small saucepan bring 1 c. of water to a boil with a pinch of salt. Add the rice, stir, cover, and remove from the heat. Allow the rice to sit, covered, for 3-4 minutes.
Once rice is ready, stir in zucchini/garlic mixture and the remaining 1/2 stick of butter and serve.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Where have I been?

Well, I'm not sure if anyone even comes around these parts anymore. It's been so long since my last post that things are dusty and rusty. But there is a reason behind it:
(no, that's not me in the pic ;) ). I found out that I got accepted into the NYC Half Marathon. Since I've been training a lot, I've put off my blog for a bit, but I miss it a lot! I hope to be back very, very soon (I've got a few recipes and pics all ready to go, just need the time to post them!). So, hope to be seeing you all again soon as I miss the food blogging community. And, if you happen to be in NYC on July 27, come on out and cheer me on (I'm going to need the help).