Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Clay Pot Caramel Pork

Clay Pot Caramel Pork
By Chef Madeleine Dee
Caramel Pork is one of my favorite dishes. I add a few non-traditional ingredients to create a meal that sings with touches of how I like to cook. I find that coconut milk helps the caramel sauce work its magic and adds a smooth dimension of flavor. You could also throw in a little fresh coconut and simmer until tender with the pork. If you don't want to use any coconut milk, just substitute another cup of broth!

Madeleine Dee's Clay Pot Caramel Pork
Serves 4-6

1.5-2 lbs. cubed boneless baby back pork ribs (pork shoulder ok, too)
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
3 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
2 fresh bird's eye chilies, very thinly sliced
2 tbsp. fish sauce
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 heaping tbsp. ground chili paste
Juice and zest of 1 large navel orange
8 oz. unsweetened coconut milk, shaken
2 cups beef broth (chicken ok, too)
1 cup loose palm sugar OR 1 cup granulated sugar
Peanut oil, for stir-frying
Fresh chopped cilantro, for garnish
Toasted cashews, for garnish
4-6 servings cooked Jasmine or brown rice

1. Warm a wok or heavy saute pan over medium heat. Pour in a little peanut oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add in your minced garlic. When the garlic starts to make noise and you can smell it, your oil is ready! Add in the shallots, ginger, green onions, and chilies. Stir-fry until softened and fragrant, then add in the orange juice and zest. Allow juice to reduce by half, stirring frequently.

2. When juice is reduced, raise the heat to high and add in the sugar. Stir constantly until the sugar melts and turns golden brown. Immediately and carefully stir in the coconut milk, beef broth, chili paste, soy sauce, and fish sauce. Mix well until incorporated and smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.

Just for reference, when done, your sauce should look like this:

3. Season the cubed pork with salt and pepper, then brown it on all sides in a traditional clay pot, dutch oven, or thick pot with a lid. When seared completely, add in the caramel sauce, stir to coat, cover with a lid, and allow to simmer until the pork is tender and the sauce is a beautiful deep brown, about 30-45 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent burning. When done, the pork will be very tender.

4. Spoon over warm rice, sprinkle with chopped cilantro and toasted cashews.

 ENJOY! :)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Chocolate and Wine Party!

By Madeleine Dee

Looking for a fun excuse to invite your girlfriends over?

Have a Chocolate and Wine Party! :)

I had one this past weekend.

Here's what to do:

1. Invite your ladies! (6-8 is a great number) 

Ask each gal to bring a different type of wine and/or a funky chocolate bar. I told my guests to feel free to cap their spending at $10, and some ladies brought a homemade snack or another type of candy instead of wine.

If you want to assign different types of wine and chocolate to each girl, that is fine. However, it's neat to see the exciting and unique choices that each lady will make based on her own taste! 

Ask your guests to claim what they plan to bring in order to
 prevent everyone showing up with red wine and dark chocolate!
(Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, and Google+ are great 
places to create a group for this.)

Not every lady needs to bring a bottle of wine (unless you want to have a PARRRRTY), but be sure everyone brings chocolate!

2. On the day of the party, pick up some cheese (I found some with a Merlot rind), great bread, and a raw vegetable platter or two. Be sure to have another option for any non-wine drinkers, like juice, lemonade, or soda.

I picked up 5 of the quirkiest chocolate bars I could find and some crystallized fruit, then laid it out on a pretty cloth. As each of my guests arrived, I clipped off the label from each bar and laid out the chocolate in a pretty display. 

As you chat and perhaps watch a film (we watched Chocolat), you ladies can casually sample the wine and the chocolate at your own pace.

Here's a list of the neato bars we managed to collect:

Milk chocolate with Indian sweet curry and sea salt
Dark chocolate with crystallized ginger
Milk chocolate with coconut crisps
Dark chocolate with dried strawberry and sea salt
Dark chocolate with pear and almonds
Dark chocolate with hot chili
Vanilla bean white chocolate
Dark chocolate with marzipan
Dark chocolate with lemon and black pepper
Milk and dark chocolate coins
White chocolate shells filled with dark chocolate mousse

3. If you don't know that certain pairings will work, be prepared for some "interesting" taste combinations. To help prevent ruined chocolate, eat it BEFORE you drink the wine. That way, if something tastes bad, it will be the wine. :)

Chocolate and wine can be difficult to pair, 
but here are two partnerships that really worked well at my party:

+ Dry, citrusy, crisp Riesling 
w/ vanilla bean white chocolate and milk chocolate with coconut 

+ A red, robust, spicy Zinfandel with berry notes went well 
with raspberry and strawberry dark chocolates

One tip is to make sure that there are similar undertones in both the chocolate and the wine. For example, an especially fruity red wine with notes of cherry or raspberry will typically go well with a dark chocolate laced with bits of the same fruit.

4. At the end of the evening, I sent each lady home with a take-out box filled with a delicious assortment of the uneaten chocolate! 

Any leftover wine can be used for cooking or go towards a romantic evening with your handsome guy. That will make up for him not being allowed to attend your party. Hopefully. :)

Friends are important and life is short. 
Now you have an excuse to throw a party!

Have fun. :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Supremes

By Madeleine Dee
Looking for a pretty presentation for your citrus fruits?

Here's how to "supreme", or segment, an orange:

1. Lay the orange on its side and slice off the top and bottom.

2. Stand the orange up.
(But be sure to send flowers to apologize! Hardy har.)

3. With a very sharp knife (preferably a paring knife), begin to slice off the rind in small pieces, from the top to the bottom, curving around the fruit inside.

4. Continue to slice off the rind until there isn't any left. 
Trim off any that you may have missed.

5. Admire your bare orange. Ooh la la.

6. Hold the orange in your hand and carefully slice into 
both sides of a segment between the lines of white pith. 

7. Get as close to the pith as possible and cut cleanly down to the seeds, then remove the orange piece. Repeat until you've removed all of the segments.

8. Serve your elegant supremes whole, slice them into a salsa, 
add them to a fruit salad... Get creative!

You can do this to any citrus fruit: lemons, grapefruit, tangerines, etc. I suppose you could even supreme limes, but it would require quite a bit of patience! :)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Long Live Your Salad!

Baby Romaine Salad with Fresh Raspberries and Sliced Almonds
By Madeleine Dee

You were so proud of yourself - you made a beautiful salad at home, felt so healthy... Took a few bites, covered it tightly with plastic wrap, put it in the fridge for another time...

A couple days went by. You headed back to the kitchen to munch your gorgeous creation, peeled back the plastic... You were so excited!

But what you uncovered wasn't the same salad you once knew - it was slimy, wilted, fresh no longer. A love affair gone awry. 

You threw your head back and wailed. Life was so unfair! You were gonna be healthy, you really were gonna stay on that diet this time!!

Wanna know what you can do to keep your salads fresher longer?
Do you want to keep that New Years resolution of eating healthier meals?
Well, stop crying. :)

Here's what to do:

1. Don't dress your salad until you want to eat it!
Leftover dressed salad gets soggy and gross in the fridge.

2. Keep small containers of yummy toppings stocked and stored in your fridge!
When you get a little time on a Sunday, grill some chicken, slice some mango, toast some nuts... You get the idea. Keep a variety on hand. You'll always have salads that are exciting to eat, and you'll be much less likely to order a pizza instead. You DO have time. I promise.

3. Buy the freshest and sturdiest greens possible!
Greens like arugula will get funky more quickly than greens like romaine. Pick the freshest lettuces you can find. No bruises, no slime, no gross spots. Be sure to keep them loosely covered. Those bags of chopped salad greens are a great idea, but only if you plan to eat them within a few days of your purchase. Whole lettuces are a better bet.

4. When you cover greens or an assembled salad with plastic wrap, 
poke 2-4 small holes to let some moisture out!
I do this with every bag of greens I buy and every salad I make. Moisture trapped inside of a covered salad is one of the main culprits for the greens going bad, so if you poke some holes in the cover, a lot of that moisture can escape! Doing this step will keep your lettuce fresher (and drier) longer.

Good luck with that resolution! ;)

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Executive Chef and Owner of No Place Like Home in Louisville, KY. Writer, actress, chef, professional cook and professional eater.