So, hey kids. I’m back. Kinda. Just getting back into the swing of this, and I miiight have a not insignificant amount of recipes I should finally write up.

Basically: unemployment and depression are rough, and getting yourself stabilized after all of the above is even more fun. For now, I appear to be settled enough that I finally feel comfortable getting back to this blog. So. Sorry for kinda disappearing since September, and thank you for sticking with me.

Pork belly is becoming a thing right now, and luckily for me, I have several Asian markets in the Chicago area that do cheap as shit (and well cut) slabs of pork belly. I came across this recipe on Lucky Peach, and decided to give it a shot. One major note – the original recipe calls for you to brown it on top of the time it spends in the oven, but to be very honest, it’s perfect as is after it comes out of the oven.

Momofuku Pork Belly
Makes however much pork belly you want; above was appx 2.5 lbs

Ingredients

  • Desired amount of pork belly (again, above was in one package from their meat counter, about 2.5 lbs I would guess; original recipe said skinless, I got mine with the skin on, didn’t make any large difference)
  • 1 T plus 1 t/lb sea salt
  • 1 T plus 1 t/lb sugar
  • a dash of fresh ground black pepper

The night before you want to make your pork belly, season it with salt and sugar, and a few twists of black pepper from the grinder. Cover it (I used one of the many many containers I have lying around) and let it sit in the fridge overnight.

Day of, preheat your oven to 450. Put your belly in a pan, and then sear at 450 for about a half hour. Turn it down to 275, and let it roast slowly another hour or two (I want to say mine sat for closer to the two hour mark at 275), until it’s nice and tender (but not mushy. ew).

Let it cool to room temperature, wrap it up/put it in a container in the fridge to store, and then warm it and nom as you desire!

 

I tried this recipe on a whim, as there were some really good plums at the Green City Market last weekend, and this seemed like a neat way to make a soup. I could’ve put yogurt in this, but honestly, I just wanted something sweet, so I’ll save that for next time. The resulting soup made for a great dinner last night, and I think next time, I’m gonna double the recipe so there’s more to be had. And plus? It’s simple, it’s quick, it smells fantastic while it’s cooking, and it can be ready pretty damn quick. 

Chilled Plum Soup
Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1.5 lbs plums, halved and pitted
  • 1 c apple juice
  • (1 T ginger, peeled and sliced into chunks, whoops, forgot this)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 T honey (substituted for agave)
  • .25 t sea salt
  • 1 t tarragon leaves
  • (yogurt to serve)

Take all ingredients except yogurt, combine into a pot, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and let simmer for twenty minutes, until the plums are good and soft. Then, take a stick blender and run it through the soup and puree until you have a silky smooth soup. Take the soup out of the pot, put it into a bowl, and chill (if you need it ready to go quick, put it straight into the freezer for under a half hour, otherwise, just let it sit in the fridge). Add yogurt and swirl in, if so desired. 

And then? Enjoy your delicious soup!

Some days, you’ve had a real fucking long week, and you are looking for some real comfort food, but also to turn the comfort factor up to ten by adding some really, really good cheese. This is possibly my new favorite mac and cheese recipe, ever. Getting all the cheese properly grated takes some time, but the end result is so, so worth it.

I picked up most of the cheese from the farmer’s market, and for the brie, I went with a triple cream brie, because yes. I also substituted panko for bread crumbs, because panko are the best version of bread crumbs (light, airy, and they stay crispier longer). It’s also going to last me a good long while, too, because of the sheer amount this makes. 

Cheesemonger’s Mac and Cheese
Lasts a damn long time; at week two of this as a main for lunch

Ingredients

  • 1.5 c coarsely grated gruyere cheese (I used what I had leftover from making toast soldiers, which was about maybe half of a 6 oz block, and a bit of a .33 lb block to top it off)
  • 1.5 c coarsely grated aged sharp cheddar (I used a 6 year aged white from the local farmer’s market, about a third total of a pound block)
  • 1.5 c brie, rinds removed and diced (I cut the rinds off of a pound of triple cream brie and just diced it all up, probably ended up being closer to 2 c)
  • 4 T butter
  • .25 c flour
  • pinch thyme (fresh thyme leaves if you have them, otherwise ground works fine)
  • ~1 t nutmeg
  • 4 c whole milk
  • 1.75 c panko
  • 1 lb penne pasta

Mix your grated gruyere, aged sharp cheddar, and brie together in a bowl, and reserve one cup. Chill both the bowl and the reserved cup. 

Melt your butter in a large pot over medium heat, and as soon as it melts, add in your flour, whisking until the mixture turns golden brown. (You could probably also brown the butter to amp up the flavor even more.)  Add in your thyme and nutmeg, followed by your milk, whisking until it’s thickened and smooth (about four minutes). Add the 3 c of cheese mixture, and stir until the cheese has melted into the sauce, and is smooth.

In another pot, cook your penne according to the directions on the package, and preheat your oven to 375 while it cooks.  After draining the pasta, take a large glass pan and pour the cooked pasta into it.  Pour the cheese sauce over it, and toss to coat. Take that remaining 1 c you had of the cheese mixture, spread it over the top of the pasta and cheese sauce, and then spread the 1.75 c of panko over the dish. Bake for about twenty minutes until the panko start to turn golden brown and the sauce bubbles (see the difference between pictures six and seven). 

(The original recipe has you baking these in separate ramekins, but that seems a bit unecessary to me. In addition, the instructions at the end aren’t that clear as to how long you need to actually bake it – there are two sets of instructions for doing it ahead and doing it day of, and they’re not separated out – but as far as I can tell the twenty minutes at 375 is how long you’re supposed to bake it.)

Looking for a quick, delicious dinner? Try this!  The flank steak was on sale, so it was cheaper than it would’ve been normally, but everything else you should have in your pantry. 

Asian Steak Bites
Lasts 2 lunches

Ingredients

  • 1.75 lbs flank steak
  • .25 c soy sauce
  • 2 T honey
  • 1 T chili paste (I used sambal oelek) 
  • 2 T olive oil

Slice your flank steak into strips, and then into bite size pieces. Place the pieces in a medium sized bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, and chili paste, and pour over the beef, stirring to mix well. Let the beef sit in the marinade for twenty minutes to a half hour.

Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium high heat, and then add the beef, cooking on all sides until browned (about 5 minutes total). Enjoy!

There are two awesome things about this recipe.  One, that the summer veggies are incredibly cheap this time of year at the farmer’s market, if not available in your own garden, and smell amazing while roasting. Two, that the core recipe is incredibly versatile, and can be changed by adding whatever spice you want.  In my case, I had an ex coworker give me a jar of Penzey’s balti mix that I ended out trying with this, and all the spices (there are entirely too fucking many for me to list out individually) played incredibly well with the veggies.

This was also my first time testing out the immersion blender that the amazing paintboxsoapworks got me, and let me tell you, it is AMAZING not having to put all of this in the blender in batches. If you can get one, do it, it’ll make your life so much easier/saner. I probably could’ve gotten it a bit finer, but honestly, this was my first time trying it out, so now I know it for next time!

Roasted Summer Veggie Soup

Ingredients

  • 4 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into two inch pieces
  • 4 large tomatoes, quartered and seeded
  • 2 medium zucchinis, halved lengthwise and cut into one inch pieces
  • 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
  • half of one large onion (yellow or white), sliced
  • 1 T fresh thyme leaves (I didn’t have fresh so I went with 1 t ground)
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 C chicken stock (can substitute vegetable stock to make it vegan)
  • seasoning of choice (recipe recommends .5 t smoked paprika, I went with several shakes of balti seasoning)

Heat your oven to 400, and place your vegetables on the sheet, placing the garlic at intermittent distances. Sprinkle with sea salt, thyme, and pepper, lightly drizzle on the olive oil, and toss to coat everything.

Roast your vegetables for 45 to 50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and caramelized. Add your vegetables to the pot with the broth, your seasoning of choice, and more salt and pepper if you so choose. If using an immersion blender, use in the pot and blend until smooth.  If using a regular blender, pour your broth and veggies in in batches, blending until smooth and uniform.  Either way, heat it through over medium heat to finish.

Have a slice of bread on the side to dip/mop up extra soup, and enjoy a good taste of summer!

Another quick, simple summer dish I did earlier in the week.  Quite good, too, and pretty simple, all things considered.  Also, cheap.  Except for the bread and cheese, you should be able to get the vast majority of this from a garden, or your pantry.

Basil Scalloped Tomatoes and Croutons

Ingredients    

  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1/3 loaf of bread chopped into .5 inch cubes (I used roasted garlic bread, because I ❤ garlic)
  • 2.5 lbs grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t pepper
  • .5 c basil leaves, torn
  • .5 c shredded parmesan cheese

Preheat your oven to 350 (my oven runs hot, so it went to 325).  Heat your olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat, and chop your bread while it heats. As soon as the skillet is heated, add your bread and mix so that it’s coated thoroughly with oil. Stir frequently and cook, until your bread is fairly crispy on all sides (5 mins).  While this is happening, half your tomatoes and mince your garlic, and combine with the sugar, salt and pepper.  As soon as the bread is ready, add your tomato mixture to the skillet and stir and cook for another five minutes.  Remove it from the heat, and stir in your basil. Pour the mixture into a shallow baking dish, and cover with parmesan. Bake for about 35 minutes, until the top is goldenish. Let cool, because tomato juices are REALLY hot. And then, enjoy!