Roast Pork Belly with Garlicky Thyme Gravy

Have you ever had pork belly before? If you’re not sure, perhaps a simpler question will answer it: have you ever had bacon before? Bacon is a cured, (often) smoked, and then thinly sliced pork belly…so that should give you a vague sense of what this cut of meat is about. It can be a tough cut so it requires a bit of time to cook properly (low and slow is the way to go…I could keep rhyming), but when done right, it is incredibly rich and flavorful–oh and the roughly 50% fat striated throughout the meat also doesn’t hurt. This is the cut of meat for pork lovers who aren’t afraid of a succulent meal (if you’re strictly a chicken breast and/or pork tenderloin type, this might be a stretch).

Roast Pork Belly with Garlicky Thyme Gravy

For this particular preparation, rather than braising the belly (commonly done in an Asian style), I chose to roast mine. I started with a strong spice… click to read more…

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Pickled Chili Peppers

While I tend to go all out with dinner, my weekday lunches tend to be fairly simple. I usually roast either a turkey or a chicken on the weekend, shred the meat, and portion it out appropriately for sandwiches. To keep this from being boring, I make small changes to each, whether it be the cheeses, sauces, or toppings–anything to trick myself into thinking I’m not eating the same thing everyday. There’s one thing that is constant though on every such variation of this sandwich though: pickled peppers. I used to think the jarred stuff from the grocery store was fine, but after seeing how simple home-made pickled peppers appeared, I couldn’t help but try it. Now, I can’t have enough of them. These are simply amazing.

Pickled Chili Peppers

Before summer is over and you can’t find good, fresh peppers, you seriously need to try these. Note, this is a fridge pickle and not a leave-it-in-your-pantry-for-months pickle–the salt &… click to read more…

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Vanilla Extract — easy to make and cheap

I hate buying vanilla extract. You get a teeny tiny bottle, it tastes so-so, and it costs way too much. That’s my stump speech for when I run for president. Needs work, right? Anyways, what to do about this dilemma? I mean if you do any amount of baking, you’ve come to appreciate how essential a bit of vanilla extract is–it seems to be in just about everything. Well here’s one small improvement to your grocery budget: make your own vanilla extract!

Vanilla Extract

Of course, if you’ve ever bought vanilla beans from your grocery store, you might be questioning how on earth this could possibly save you any money (e.g. I often find ~2 shrivelly looking vanilla beans in a jar for about $10…yeah, wtf?!). This seems in line with vanilla being one of the top three most expensive spices in the world. A while back though, I had ordered a much larger quantity of vanilla beansclick to read more…

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Chili Molé

I absolutely love chili. Honestly though, who doesn’t? A meaty meal with lively south-western/Mexican inspired flavors are sure to please anyone. Winter brings out the chili cravings in me, but I’ve already shown you a fiery chili once before, so I thought I’d try to mix things up a bit and bring you a new twist on this favorite meal of mine. Rather than the usual approach to chili where the focus is on a variety of dried peppers, I opted to work with a large variety of fresh peppers (so be calm Texans, I know this isn’t an authentic chili!), and to make things a bit more interesting, I also chose to steer this to have decidedly Mexican flavors by working in the major components for a strong set of molé flavors. And so Chili Molé was born.

Now like I’ve said, I love chili, but this one gets a big wow! It beautifully… click to read more…

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Pan Fried Grouper with Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce

My ongoing quest to more regularly eat fish continues, but like with anything, some times, you just have a craving for simple, strongly flavored dish, so this dinner was such a quickie. I was in the mood for something garlicky, so I decided to make a cream sauce that focuses on roasted garlic and poured it over breaded, pan-fried grouper.

Like chicken parmesan, this is simple and delicious. The fish has a nice, crisp, tasty crust with a tender, flaky inside. The sauce, despite its modest appearance, has a creamy, round, full flavor that just explodes with that delicious, nutty, roasted garlic flavor. Unfortunately, your breath won’t help you make any friends in the short-term, but everyone should go on a garlic bender once in a while, right?

  • 1.25 lb red grouper
  • Sauce
    • olive oil
    • 1 head of garlic
    • 1 small shallot
    • 3/4 cup white wine
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • salt
    • pepper

click to read more…

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Creole Beer Battered Fish Fry

Even if you’re iffy about eating fish, I imagine just about everyone is up for a fish fry. I mean what more is there to say about this? Don’t we all have a soft spot in our hearts for deep fried food? (Yes!) For this version, I made a Creole-spiced beer batter that was really strong, spiced, and flavorful, making for a very enjoyable indulgence in what is really simple, summery, Southern-styled comfort food.

I really enjoyed this–the fish was tender, moist, meaty, and fresh while the batter was zesty, spicy, crunchy, and just…well, really damn good! I used a good bit of coarse cornmeal so that the end result would have a really solid grit and crunch about it while the spices have a distinctly Creole flare about them. Underneath all of this is another major player in the beer batter: the beer! I chose to go with an IPA (India Pale Ale) as I love the hoppy,… click to read more…

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