Archived entries for citrus

Citrus Salad with Slow-Cooked Pork Belly and Balsamic Onions

I probably don’t have to tell you that pork belly is all the rage. It shows up on menus these days as frequently as a hamburger does, more often than the now-abandoned molten chocolate cake. It’s as if we’ve all just realized where our beloved bacon comes from and found out that we could justify eating it as our entire meal. Score!

It seems like every cookbook I have has a recipe or six for The Belly, so when I saw that my favorite butcher had some in his case, I snagged it. (And for cheap.)

It’s a project that takes two days but doesn’t actually require any skill. The pork belly cures all day (or overnight) in a mixture of sugar and salt with a few spices, and then braises in aromatic broth until super tender. I called upon my trusty slow cooker for this job, though you could also cook it in a 275 degree oven for seven hours or so. Then you chill the pork belly in its braising liquid until you’re ready to use it—in pork buns or over grits or like this, crisped and served as a luscious topping for a tangy onion-and-citrus salad.

By soaking the onions in a balsamic vinaigrette while you prepare the salad, you’re basically quick-pickling them, as well as infusing the dressing with onion flavor. Toss with some greens and citrus segments, and you’ve got the perfect foil for the rich pork belly.

It’s a decadent, elegant meal, fancy enough for a trendy restaurant, but if you eat it in your sweatpants while sitting in front of the television I won’t blame you.

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For the Cookie Jar: Lemon Ricotta Cookies

I have a thing for lemon-ricotta pancakes. Tender and soft, fragrant and rich, almost a cross between cheesecake (ooh!) and breakfast—they make me a little weak. So when I saw this recipe for lemon ricotta cookies, I knew my walk home would include a stop at the cheese shop for the best ricotta in the neighborhood.

There’s nothing like a pile of lemon zest, a pool of vanilla extract, the oven warming up, and the whir of our new blue stand mixer to make an apartment feel cozy. And the scent of these cookies baking is even better.

For a moment, I considered skipping the glaze, but I’m glad I didn’t. It takes just a second to mix while the cookies are cooling, and it really is essential. In fact, these are better the day after you make them, when the zesty icing has had awhile to sink into the cookie, brightening up the flavor.

Don’t be afraid if these get a little crispy on the edges—in fact, that’s the best part. You shouldn’t take them out of the oven until they’ve gotten a little golden on the bottom.

12DaysCookies_badge-1These cookies were a hit at my office potluck, and they’re also my contribution to the Share Our Strength 12 Days of Sharing virtual cookie jar. My friend Jennifer at In Jennie’s Kitchen is hosting this virtual cookie swap for a good cause. Please consider making a donation—no matter how small—to end childhood hunger. You might even win one of these prizes. Continue reading…

While Supplies Last: Southwestern Salad with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette

Avoid the urge to eat squash just yet, there will be time enough for that. For now, let us all gorge on tomatoes (while supplies last.)

But Maggie, you say, I’ve eaten more caprese salads than I can bear. I just can’t take it anymore!

I know, I know. That’s why you need this recipe now.

Over the years, my brother and I gave my mom a fair number of cookbooks as presents. Some of them were pretty to look at, but quickly shelved. Others moved into the weekly rotation and became family standards. Ray Overton’s Main Course Salads was one of the winners, and his version of this salad was a staple in our household growing up.

You can make this dish as Mr. Overton does, with a drained, rinsed can of corn. Come winter, come spring, when fresh ears of corn are a just a fantasy, go ahead. As tempting as the first pears and grapes and pumpkins are, now is the time for the freshest version of this salad possible. The cumin and chili-powder spiked vinaigrette is zingy and potent. Tomatillos add acidity while the black beans add protein and richness. Try to track down fresh Mexican cheese; there isn’t really a good substitute, though feta would be ok in a pinch.

While we’re talking tomatoes, you should probably consider buying more than you can possibly eat now, and freezing some for colder days. Pop ‘em in a roasting pan first with some olive oil, fresh herbs, salt, and a few garlic cloves and roast at 250 or 300 for a few hours.

You’ll thank me later.

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Orange-Scented Arctic Char: Balcony Grilling Continues

When I resolved to eat lighter in the days leading up to our wedding, I worried a little about the blog. “Who is going to want to read about salad for a month?” I asked my future mother-in law as we discussed my slim-down plan. I wasn’t sure anyone would have any interest in a meal made of zucchini, let alone two.

But the truth is, many of our dinners lately have been delightful surprises. We’ve been enjoying our little balcony, grilling piles of eggplant, tangles of garlic scapes, and leg-of-lamb steaks, trying out a few new recipes and focusing on the simply prepared (and the naturally healthy) bounty of the season. To be honest, it’s been one of the least labor-intensive summers of cooking I’ve had. Nothing wrong with that!

After a long walk the other day, I found myself at Chelsea Market, home of The Lobster Place. Manhattan fishmarkets are mostly disappointing (or maybe I was spoiled growing up in the Northwest) but this one is a gem. I picked up a fresh fillet of Arctic char to throw on the grill. Luckily, since my walk home was about a half an hour, they packed it on ice.

I often prepare my favorite salmon recipe substituting char, but I wasn’t in the mood for a thick soy glaze or pungent wasabi that night. While Matt got started charring some fava beans on the grill, I marinated the fish in a mild blend of freshly squeezed orange juice and zest, a bit of sake I always keep in the fridge, and a dab of yellow miso from the asian market down the block.

After devouring the grilled fava beans—you pop them out of the pods, kind of like edamame—we grilled some leeks brushed with a little teriyaki sauce to serve alongside the fish. I’ve always felt that we should treat leeks as standalone vegetables more often. They were sweet, with crispy edges and soft green-oniony flavor. They were so tasty we ate almost all of them before the fish came off the grill. (And before I could snap a picture.)

But the fish was tender and delicious on its own, fragrant and floral from the orange zest and juice, the marinade boosting the sweet taste of the char. The miso paste added a delicate richness behind the scenes—essential, but barely detectable. It was a terrific summery meal, one I wouldn’t hesitate to bring out at a dinner party, if your grill is big enough to double or triple the recipe.

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A Winner: Asian Marmalade Chicken

I can’t remember ever winning a contest or giveaway, so I was shocked when the lovely Marisa of Food in Jars alerted me that I was the winner of a huge container of her gorgeous blood orange marmalade. I’ve been enjoying spoonfuls of smeared on Sunday-morning bagels and homemade scones, drizzled on frozen yogurt and cornbread, but I wanted to include it in a savory dish, too.

The tangy marmalade perfumed a marinade that reminded me a bit of childhood (back when “Asian” recipes almost always included orange juice). I added a little fish sauce, thinking of the sweet chicken wings at Pok Pok restaurant, and spiked it with just enough Sriracha to warm it up. Orange, ginger, hoisin, and soy may be a retro/Americanized combination, but it proved so delicious that I’m glad I wrote down the measurements as I cooked.

I piled the chicken on top of some fresh steamed spinach and sauteed garlic scapes. Jasmine rice would also be nice on the side. If you can find scapes in your local farmer’s market, you should grab them—they’re also great grilled, a little like garlicky green beans. Plus, they’re kind of adorable.

And now, a peek into the dinner conversation of two nearly-weds enjoying a home-cooked meal and watching the sunset:

Maggie: This chicken is so good! Chicken on the bone is so much better than boneless.
Matt: Yeah, but it’s so much work.
Maggie: It wasn’t too bad…I just dumped it into a marinade and put it in the oven!
Matt: No, I mean it’s so much work to eat.

I thanked him for his tireless effort, and then I made him do the dishes.

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