1. Pork Belly and Brie Sandwiches

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    Normally I’m not one to post two sandwiches in a row—I like to mix it up and keep things interesting—but this recipe was way too good to save for later.

    Hopefully you’ve jumped on the pork belly wagon at this point, and if you haven’t, it’s time you did. Now that it’s sold at Trader Joe’s, pork belly is both accessible and affordable to everyday cooks. Because it is essentially a meatier bacon, this stuff is extremely rich—and it makes a hell of a sandwich.

    I tried to keep everything on the same page as the pork belly, sticking to equally savory ingredients. The brie melts fantastically over the pork belly and is accented by the creamy avocado and garlicky mayo. Together, I can’t even describe how decadent and hearty the sandwich tasted. You’ll just have to try it to believe it.

    Pork Belly and Brie Sandwiches
    Makes 2 servings

    1 12oz package fully cooked pork belly
    2 tbsp olive oil
    2 ciabatta rolls/loafs, halved and toasted
    1/4 cup mayonnaise
    1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
    1 wedge brie cheese
    1 avocado
    1 cup mixed greens

    Remove the pork belly from its package and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices. Bring a pan with the olive oil to medium-high heat and add the pork belly. Flip the pieces occasionally until they start to turn golden and crispy, about 10 minutes.

    While the pork belly cooks, mix the minced garlic in with the mayonnaise and spread on the insides of the halved ciabatta.

    When the pork belly is done, take it off the heat to cool slightly. Using tongs, carefully layer the pork belly onto the ciabatta. Next cut the brie and avocado into slices, adding them on top of the pork belly. Top these with the mixed greens and replace the top ciabatta halves. Eat in euphoric disbelief.

     

  2. Pear and Brie Salad with Candied Walnuts

    It’s a New Year, which means it’s time for a new look. (Fun fact: the new header image contains 8 varieties of cheese.)

    Now, I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but I think it’s safe to say I hope to do a lot of simple, but delicious, cooking. So, I’m going to start off the year with my mother’s recipe for Pear and Brie Salad. It combines butter lettuce (the best kind of lettuce) with fresh fruit, candied walnuts, and is topped with a delicate lemon vinaigrette.  It’s light, fresh and super easy to prepare.

    Why, I believe that meets all the requirements of my New Year’s resolution.
    Pear and Brie Salad
    Pear and Brie Salad
    1 package butter lettuce or mixed greens
    1 wedge brie cheese
    1 pear
    1 lemon
    1 tbsp olive oil
    1 pinch salt and pepper
    1 ½ cups candied walnuts (recipe follows) 

    Place the lettuce on a plate. Cube the brie and pear and scatter them over the lettuce.

    Cut the lemon in half and squeeze its juice into a small bowl. Add the olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk with a fork until thoroughly mixed. Pour the dressing over the salad, then top with candied walnuts.

    Candied Walnuts
    2 tbsp butter
    1 ½ cups walnuts
    4 tbsp sugar
    1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

    Preheat the oven to 350.

    Melt the butter on low heat in a large pan. Add the walnuts and stir to coat them with the butter. After several minutes, mix in the sugar. Sprinkle the nuts with the cayenne pepper, and stir again. 

    Place the nuts on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.