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.
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.
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.
A few weeks ago, one of my blogger friends sent me a message encouraging me to go to foodiefights.com. 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.
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.
I cannot believe it has been almost 2 weeks since I posted. I have never gone that long. To say that the last two weeks have been stressful is an understatement. But I have survived, and I have returned. This week’s recipe is worth the wait.
Recently I was invited to a Saturday night cocktail party. I had been to the farmer’s market that day, and had come home with heirloom tomatoes, green onions, and fresh ricotta. I had frozen puff pastry that I had made previously (and will post this week). I did a quick Google search and came up with this recipe from the Washington Post for Fresh tomato and ricotta tart. I thawed out the puff pastry and set to work mixing ricotta and slicing tomatoes. I had a large yellow and a large red tomato. They were both a little on the wet side. I laid them out on paper towels to dry a little while I rolled out the puff pastry and mixed the cheese.
Today’s entry is for a nice, seasonal ingredient – in Miami! Mangoes are everywhere and my neighborhood – Buena Vista East – is full of mango trees. These were ataulfo mangoes, small oval mangoes with a hook on one end. They are sweeter, smaller, and less fibrous than the more common Tommy Atkins mango.
@bouchon2 posted mango ice cream, and it sounded so good, I had to make it. But I wanted to do something a little different. So I looked for mango ginger ice cream recipes, and I found this one for mango ginger buttermilk ice cream at Laura Rebecca’s Kitchen. I just happened to have mangoes, ginger, and buttermilk in the refrigerator, so I was sold.
This does not require any cooking. It comes together quickly and easily.
I made it on a Sunday night, but I let it ripen in the freezer for 2 days, and then served it for a dinner party with my friends. It was so incredibly good. I don’t think I had ever had mango ice cream before, although I love mango lassi when I go out for Indian food. The buttermilk gave it just the right tang. And of course, buttermilk is low in fat, but still creamy.
I have to be honest. I have enough material to blog every day for the next month. What I don’t have is time to blog and cook. So my choices are stop cooking or only blog the very best of what I cook. That being said, this is without a doubt one of the best recipes I’ve made all month! I apologize that not everyone can get ramps. If you can’t get them, use green onions or spring onions or baby leeks.
This recipe was in Food and Wine April 2008. The original recipe was by Tony Mantuano, who wrote my favorite Wine Bar Food and owns Spiaggia’s in Chicago. I fiddled around with it a little. I didn’t have any mozzarella and I don’t really like it on pizza anyway. I had really good, really fresh ricotta cheese. I had ramps, of course, because in my last post I told you that I mail-ordered them. I ordered 3 lbs of ramps. Who knew how many ramps that really was? And then I also bought Vidalia spring onions. So I will be in oniony goodness for days yet to come.
I grew up in New England, and have only lived anywhere else for about 5 years. You would think I would have eaten ramps before in my life. Especially at Girl Scout camp, where I tried fiddleheads a few times. But no, I wait until I move to Florida, where they don’t grow, to decide I would like to try them. Of course, for a long, long time, I did not eat leeks, onions, scallions, any of those things. Thank God my tastes have changed.
So, anyway, it’s ramp season, but they do not grow in Miami. So, I mail-ordered some from Earthy Delights. I’m sorry, I know it wasn’t very locavore of me. But they are healthy! They have vitamins C and A, iron, fiber, and all those nice anti-cancer sulfur compounds.
This month’s Bon Appétit had some great recipes. I found a few other great recipes, and I made one up – Gnudi with Tomato, Pea, and Ramp Sauce. So I thought I would share them with you.
This is not for everyone, trust me. The taste of raw oats takes a little getting used to. But it is loaded with fiber, probiotics, and antioxidants. It’s low-fat, low glycemic index, and gluten-free. I’ve got the routine down and can have it ready to walk out the door within 5 minutes flat. I keep all the non-refrigerated ingredients in a drawer together, so I don’t have to go looking for them.
You can mix it up with other fibers, other nuts, other fruit, skip the Coconut Butter, however you want it. Use a non-dairy kefir or non-dairy yogurt. I’ve used both soy and coconut milk yogurt.
This blog is about healthy eating. It's not about dieting. You won't see any artificial sweeteners, low-fat recipes, or convenience foods. I enjoy food. Real food. Also, just so you know, I'm picky. You'll figure out what I'm picky about, but here's a few things: no chicken, no bell peppers, no farm-raised fish.