Melt in Your Mouth Slow Roasted Pork Side with Tamarind Sauce

It is always fun to go to the Chinese superstore. Everything looks so fresh and exotic that your mind always races, thinking about all of the tasty meals, and you always end up with these unusual items in your cart: pork side, shiitake mushrooms, garlic stems and tamarind!

Pork side or belly, not to be mistaken with pork side ribs, is usually cured to give you bacon. In this recipe, it is slow-roasted with one bottle of white wine to give you one of the most delicious main dishes. The slow roasting process allows the flavours of the five spice rub to seep through the meat for the sweetest and the juiciest roasts. While keeping the meat moistened, a bed of shiitake mushrooms and Clementine oranges right underneath the pork side is also slow-roasted, diffusing their citrus and earthy aromas. Yum!

Tamarind is a fruit that I used to snack on when growing up in Madagascar. A pinch of salt, hot chilli powder and you were set! It is actually one of the main ingredients in barbecue sauces, so it is most appropriate here! A very simple tamarind sauce to offset the richness of the pork.

Just perfect served with blanched green beans, fresh noodles –and glass of Symphony!

Ingredients for 4 servings:

2 pounds pork side

2 to 3 tablespoons 5-spice mix (Note: You can find it at any Chinese store or make it yourself by combining fennel seed, star anise, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper)

½ teaspoon Kosher salt

½ teaspoon red peppercorn

Garlic stems (another find from the Chinese store)

6 Clementine oranges

1 cup shiitake mushrooms

1/2 cup cremini mushrooms

1 red pepper

1 bottle dry white wine

2 cup fresh tamarind

1 cup water

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to its maximum temperature.
  2. Finely crush the five spice mix, salt and red peppercorn in a mortar.
  3. Score the skin of the pork using a sharp knife.
  4. Rub the spice mixture into the cuts.
  5. Chop the garlic stems, slice the red pepper, mushrooms and oranges.
  6. Transfer fruit and vegetables into a baking dish and place the pork side on top.
  7. Drizzle with olive oil and put in the hot oven.
  8. After 10 mins, reduce the heat to 325 F and allow to roast for 1 hr.
  9. After that first hour, remove any excess fat from the dish and add about two thirds of the white wine.
  10. Roast for another 2 hrs, regularly basting the pork with the warm wine.
  11. One hour before serving, peel and place the tamarind pods in a small saucepan.
  12. Add water to the tamarind and let simmer for 30 mins over medium-high heat.
  13. Once the tamarind is loosened, transfer onto a sieve and press the pulp through. (Note: Rinse with hot water to recover more tamarind pulp and juice)
  14. Transfer the tamarind puree into the saucepan.
  15. Stir in the rest of the white wine, let simmer over medium heat, until reduced and season to taste.


Homemade Fennel Squash Ravioli with Creamy Madagascar Green Peppercorn Sauce

Another one of my pasta favourite are ravioli. They can be served as a main dish, but here I used them to accompany my Italian herb oven roast beef.

All you need to make ravioli is a basic pasta dough and the pasta machine, but you do not have one, a good rolling pin should work to get a thin dough (and it is excellent exercise too!). To cut the ravioli out into squares, I used a knife, but a cookie cutter also works for fancier designs - I just wanted mine to be as big as my appetite!

From then on, the only thing you need to decide is the filling. The sweet licorice taste of the fennel complements with the smooth and creamy squash, a perfect combination for my whole wheat ravioli. The creamy Madagascar peppercorn sauce is just hot enough to give a kick to this pasta dish.

Ingredients for 3 generous servings:

1/3 basic pasta dough using whole wheat flour

Ingredients for about 2 cups of fennel and squash filling:

1 small acorn squash

1 small fennel bulb

1 small onion

½ cup dry white wine

1 cup romano cheese

Olive oil



Green peppercorn sauce:

½ cup Madagascar green peppercorn (I actually found some at the Italian store, but a gourmet food store should do!)

1 small onion

½ cup cream cheese

1 cup dry white wine

1 lime

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Prepare the basic pasta dough.

2. While the dough is resting, prepare the filling.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 F.

4. Cut the acorn squash into two and remove the seeds.

5. Place cut-side down in a baking dish, add 1 inch of water and bake for 1hr.

6. In the meantime, finely chop onion and fennel bulb, grate the cheese.

7. Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat.

8. Stir fry the onion and the fennel until soft.

9. Add the wine and let simmer for 5 mins until all liquid is evaporated.

10. Once the squash is soft, let cool slightly and scoop into the fennel.

11. Stir in the cheese, remove from heat and season to taste.

12. Let cool to room temperature.

13. Roll the pasta dough as thin as possible and cut into 3 in. x 6 in. rectangles.

14. For each ravioli, spoon some filling on one half of the rectangle, leaving a ¼ inch border along each side. NB: The filling should be cool and hold together to prevent any tearing of the dough.

15. Moisten the border with cold water using a brush or your finger.

16. Fold the rectangle over to cover the filling, pressing the borders together using a fork.

17. Place each ravioli side by side on a floured surface, making sure not to overlap them.

18. Cook the ravioli in boiling salted water for 3 mins.

19. Before serving, heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan, over medium-high heat to prepare the sauce.

20. Stir in the onion until translucent then the cream cheese.

21. After 1 min stir in the wine to loosen the cheese and reduce until creamy.

22. Drain and add the peppercorns.

23. Season and reduce the heat just to let the sauce warm to a low simmer.

24. Serve immediately.


Frangipane Buns

It has been 30°C below zero all week up here, in Edmontonalmost 50°C with windchill! The best way, and of course my favourite, to fight these frigid temperatures is to bake. Nothing is more comforting than letting the warm scents of flour and yeast fill the house. You will find these almond swirls perfect for breakfast – or for gouter! One or two of these goodies and you will be ready to shovel the snow off your sidewalk ...or simply cuddle up in your favourite blanket by the fire.

Ingredients for 12 buns:

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 pkg. active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)

½ cup milk

1/4 cup butter

1 tsp salt

2 eggs, beaten

3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (approx.)


1 cup whole unblanched almonds

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp all-purpose flour

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 egg

3/4 tsp kirsch (or almond extract)

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup sliced almonds

1 tbsp icing sugar

1. Add 1/4 cup warm water to a large bowl and stir in 2 tsp of the sugar.

2. Crumble the yeast into the sweet water and allow to dissolve about 10 minutes.

3. In a small saucepan, heat milk , remaining sugar, butter and salt until butter is melted; let cool to lukewarm.

4. Stir the milk mixture into the yeast mixture along with eggs.

5. Stir in the flour in three parts to form a shaggy dough.

6. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

7. Transfer into a large greased bowl.

8. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 ½ hours.

9. In the meantime, make the frangipane, by finely chopping the almonds in a food processor.

10. Pulse in sugar and flour.

11. Add butter, egg and kirsch to obtain a smooth paste.

12. Punch the dough down and roll the dough into 18 by 14 inch rectangle on a floured board.

13. Leaving a 1-inch border, mound some frangipane on one long side and spread the rest evenly over the dough.

14. Starting with mounded side, tightly roll up and pinch seam to seal.

15. Cut the roll into 12 slices using a serrated knife.

16. Line 13 by 9 inch metal cake pan with double thickness parchment paper.

17. Place the slices, cut side up, in the prepared pan.

18. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

19. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

20. Brush with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the sliced almonds.

21. Bake until golden and rolls sound hollow when tapped on bottoms, 20 to 30 minutes.

22. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes then on a rack.

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