Let's Dish With Linda Lou

Where You Taste The Love

Crispy Pork Belly

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Pork Belly seems to be one of the most sought-after cuts of meat. The Iron Chef show is who really brought this cut to the forefront. In restaurants today, it’s become one of the hottest items to order.

Once you’ve ordered the Pork Belly, you’ll most likely always order it no matter the style it’s being served. It’s that delicious!  I sometimes think we may be a little slow when it comes to trying new things. Asian cuisine, have for many years, implemented Pork Belly into a variety of their dishes.

I have a great and easy way to prepare Crispy Pork Belly at home so it will come out tender, golden, with a crispy top. This recipe doesn’t require scoring the skin in any way. This will allow you to slice it later and it will retain its integrity. I think it’s worth mentioning, that Shaoxing rice wine is available in most Asian markets today.

If you love Asain cuisine and want to make delicious Asian dishes at home, Shaoxing rice wine should be a pantry staple.

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Kosher Salt

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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 4 to 12 hours
Cook Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time: 13 hours 15 minutes
Yields: 10 large pieces
Equipment: Roasting pan with rack,  9 x 9 glass baking dish, whisk

1 (2-pound) pork belly
1 cup of Kosher salt, coarse grind

1/4 cup of soy sauce, low-sodium
1/3 cup of Shaoxing rice wine
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of pure maple syrup
1/4 cup of orange juice
2 cloves of garlic, minced

Using a paper towel, pat the skin of the Pork Belly completely dry. Whisk together all the marinade ingredients in a bowl and then pour them into a baking dish that’s just big enough to hold the pork belly.

Carefully place the Pork Belly into the baking dish making sure only the meat touches the marinade. The skin on the top must remain completely dry. If the marinade level is too high, then discard any extra by pouring some of it off. Place the baking dish with the pork belly and marinade into the frig for at least 4 hours to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.

Completely line a roasting pan with foil. Pour an inch of water into the bottom of the pan. Place a wire rack on top to hold the Pork Belly.

Remove the baking dish with the marinated pork belly from the frig. While the pork belly is still in the baking dish, spread 1 cup of Kosher salt evenly over the fat cap of the pork belly as seen in the pictures above.  Next, transfer the Pork Belly onto the wire rack. The Pork Belly will cook above the water and the drippings will fall into the water.

Note: If one part of the Pork Belly is slightly lower or shorter on one side, use an oven-safe item to prop up that side so the pork will cook evenly. Bake for around 40 minutes.

Adjust oven temperature to 470-degrees F.

Remove the Pork Belly from the oven. The salt should have formed a crust that can easily be removed. Refer to the side by side picture of the Pork Belly with the removed salted fat cap.

Place the Pork Belly back into the oven and bake for an additional 30 minutes. The skin should be bubbly and crisp.  Using an instant-read thermometer, the internal temperature should be 165-degrees F.

Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before cutting and serving. Crispy Pork Belly is a great appetizer and one I know you’ll make over and over.

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Crostini With Whipped Goat Cheese And Grape Tomato Salad


We know them as crostini, an appetizer consisting of a small slice of toasted or grilled bread topped with grilled vegetables, meats, or cheeses. To tell you the truth, I could eat these every night and never get tired of it. My Crostinis With Whipped Goat Cheese And Grape Tomato Salad.


Sweet Basil (2)




I specifically asked the deli of my local grocery store to slice for me 2-1/2-inch thick slices of Genoa salami so I could dice it up for my salad.







Olive Oil

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Crostini Topped With A Grape Tomato Salad


Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Equipment: 1 (10-cup) food processor, 2 rimmed baking sheet pans, 1 large mixing bowl

1 loaf of Tuscan Garlic Ciabatta bread, sliced (yields 16 slices) substitute plain Ciabatta or a French baguette
2 (1/2-inch) thick slices Genoa salami, 1-inch dice
2 pints grape tomatoes, yellow and red, halved
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, julienned

Ingredients For Whipped Goat Cheese:
8 ounces goat cheese, room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup *E.V.O.O.

Directions For Tuscan Ciabatta Bread:
Preheat oven to 375-degrees F.
Slice ciabatta bread at a 45-degree angle into 1/2 -inch thick slices. Arrange the bread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Brush the top surface of each slice of ciabatta lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Place into the oven on the center rack. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the bread is golden. Take the baking sheet out of the oven and let the toast cool slightly before adding the toppings.

In a large mixing bowl,  add the halved grape tomatoes, minced garlic, red wine vinegar, Kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, chopped tarragon, julienned basil leaves, and diced salami. Toss all the ingredients together, set aside

Directions For Whipped Goat Cheese:
In a food processor, add room temperature goat cheese and cream cheese. Pulse that for a minute. Next, add fresh lemon juice, Kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper, and *E.V.O.O. Process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl.

*E.V.O.O. is an acronym for Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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Tomato, Zucchini, And Goat Cheese Tart

Tomato And Zucchini Tart With Goat Cheese (3)

This Zucchini And Tomato, Zucchini, And Goat Cheese Tart is a great alternative to eating meat. It’s really satisfying and delicious. The jam takes quite a while to make but the good news is you can make it in advance.

First, you want to caramelize the onions. Start with a sweet onion like a Vidalia. Vidalia onions are really the best ones to use for this dish because they’re naturally sweet.

Tip: Invest in a small coffee grinder. Coffee grinders are really inexpensive, and there is nothing better that freshly ground black pepper.

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Olive Oil

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Puff Pastry (2)




Puff Pastry

Tomato And Zucchini Tart With Goat Cheese (2)


Egg Wash



Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 45 minutes
Yields: 2 (9 x 13) tarts 12 servings
Tomato Onion Jam Yields: 2 cups
Equipment: Mandolin, 2 (9 x 13) rimmed baking sheet pans, rolling pin, chef’s knife, pastry brush

Ingredients For Tomato-Onion Jam:
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced in half-moons
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon of  Kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated sugar for caramelizing the onions (optional)
6 Roma tomatoes, seeded and quartered
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cloves, freshly ground (substitute ground cloves)

Ingredients For The Tart:
1 box of Puff Pastry sheets
5 Roma tomatoes, 1/4-inch in thickness
2 zucchinis, sliced, 1/4-inch in thickness
2 yellow squash sliced, 1/4-inch in thickness
1 1/2 cups of roasted red bell peppers, julienned
3 (4-ounce) packages of goat cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons of Kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
Garnish with fresh oregano leaves (substitute julienned basil leaves)

Directions For Tomato-Onion Jam:
In a large non-stick sautèpan over medium heat, add olive oil,  the thinly sliced onions, sugar, 1 tablespoon of Kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Place a lid on the pan to give them a head start in softening, about 5 minutes, remove the lid. Continue cooking the onions, stirring frequently, preventing the onions from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Adjust the heat to medium-low if you see the onions are starting to burn. Cook until they become soft and caramel in color, about 40 minutes.

Next, to the caramelized onions add the quartered and seeded Roma tomatoes, apple cider vinegar, 1 teaspoon of Kosher salt, fresh lemon juice, granulated sugar, light brown sugar, red pepper flakes, ground cinnamon, and ground cloves. Turn the heat up to medium bringing the mixture up to a boil reduce heat to a slow simmer, stirring occasionally until the tomatoes have broken down and jam has thickened and developed a jammy consistency, around 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.
Line 2 rimmed baking sheet pans with parchment paper. Thaw Puff Pastry according to instructions on the package. Once thawed, roll the sheet into approx. 11 x 13-inch rectangle. Transfer the sheet of Puff Pastry onto a lined baking sheet. Prick the center of the sheet of dough all over with a fork leaving a 3/4-inch margin on all sides. This way the center won’t puff up during baking. Repeat this process for the second sheet of Puff Pastry. Transfer the 2 baking sheet pans into the refrigerator to chill the dough, about 15 minutes.

Using a *mandolin, slice the zucchini, yellow squash. Next, using a very sharp knife slice the Roma tomatoes 1/4-inch in thickness.

After 15 minutes, remove the pans from the frig. Divide the tomato-onion jam between the two sheets of dough. Spread the jam all over leaving the 3/4-inch border on all sides. Next, layer the sliced zucchini, yellow squash, and sliced Roma tomatoes alternating them in color. Repeat process for the second sheet pan. Crumble goat cheese over all the veggies. Lay the julienned roasted peppers, here and there, on top. Drizzle the top of each tart with olive oil, then sprinkle each with Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Brush the edges of the Puff Pastry with an *egg wash. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until it’s nice and golden brown in color. Garnish with fresh oregano (or basil leaves) leaves. There you have it my Tomato, Zucchini, And Goat Cheese Tart.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

*Egg wash: Whisk together 1 beaten egg and a tablespoon of water or milk.

*Mandolin: A tool that allows you to slice vegetables in several widths and thicknesses.

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