A Word On Food

Pork Fat

Nov 12, 2016


Norman & Janet Van Aken, © 2012

We wanted to give you a recipe that utilizes some of the best pork fat on a pig; pork belly. So …belly up!

Yield: 4 servings

2 pounds fresh pork belly, skinned and trimmed of all except ¾” layer of fat

1 Tablespoon coriander seeds, lightly toasted and coarsely ground

1 Tablespoon fennel seeds, lightly toasted and coarsely ground

½ teaspoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted and coarsely ground

Kosher salt, to taste


Nov 5, 2016

I had been fascinated with this recipe for years. The first time I saw it was in the works of the great Marcella Hazan’s work. I began making versions only recently. Something else must have re-ignited my curiosity. Cooking is like that. You can circle and come back when you are ready to take on a recipe. I find books are the same way. Some books are not ready to meet us, (or really us meet them) until the age in life is at the ‘just so’ intersection. And it was patience that helped me the most on this as I was quite distrustful of the look of that milk as it cooked.


Oct 29, 2016


© 2016 All Rights Reserved by Norman & Janet Van Aken

Hamachi Collar is something most folks wait to enjoy until they are at an Asian restaurant. But you will see that it is quite easy to prepare once you obtain the collar. Collar is known as ‘kama’ in Asian markets.

Yield: Serves 1-2

YIELD: 2 Cups

Hoisin Citrus Soy Marinade:

2 Cups orange juice

3 Tablespoons ginger, peeled and sliced

3 Tablespoons lemongrass, sliced into small thin rounds

TV Dinners

Oct 22, 2016


Oct 15, 2016


© 2016 All Rights Reserved by Norman & Janet Van Aken

Yield: 2-4 as a light salad

4 alligator tenderloins, about 3 ounces each

salt and black pepper, to taste

1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice

3 Tablespoons fresh orange juice

1 small chile, stem discarded, seeds left in if you like it hotter

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/4 Cup AP flour

1 egg

1/4 Cup Half & Half

canola oil or other


Sep 24, 2016


Copyright © by Norman Van Aken, 1999. All rights reserved.

Yield: 8 Cups

For the Soup Base: 

1/3 Cup flour

1/3 Cup butter

2 ounces bacon, diced medium, about 1/2 cup

2 Tablespoons butter

1 red onion, diced medium

2 red bell peppers, stem and seeds discarded, diced medium small 2 stalks celery, cleaned and diced medium small

2 jalapeños, stem and seeds discarded and minced

6 cloves garlic, minced

32 Clams scrubbed clean

Reuben Sandwiches

Sep 17, 2016


© 2016 All Rights Reserved by Norman & Janet Van Aken

Yield: 2 sandwiches

6 ounces of corned beef, (or more as desired). If you prefer pastrami this sandwich becomes a “Rachel”.

melted (or clarified butter), as needed

butter, softened, amount as needed

4 slices Jewish rye bread or pumpernickle

8 thin slices Emmenthaler Swiss cheese

6 Tablespoons good sauerkraut, drained

1/4 Cup Thousand Island Dressing, (recipe below)


Sep 10, 2016



Sep 3, 2016


Norman & Janet Van Aken © 2016

Meringue is not very hard to make but you will need a ‘candy thermometer’ to accurately measure the heat of the syrup you will be making first. A blowtorch is handy too…

Makes enough for 1) 9-inch pie of your choosing.

For the Meringue

1 Cup white sugar

4 large egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

In a saucepan, combine the sugar and 1/4 cup of water and bring to a boil.   Cook over moderate heat until the syrup reaches 243 degrees on a candy thermometer.


Aug 27, 2016

FRIED CHICKEN with a lemongrass soy marinade

© 2016 All rights reserved by Norman & Janet Van Aken

This is a fairly complex recipe but the results are well worth it. It calls for two steps to create deep flavor before you ever reach for the buttermilk. Note that you make a Lemongrass-Soy-Syrup. A portion of that goes into a marinade. But the remainder is free to be used to drizzle on your hot fried chicken like one might do with honey if in that mood. But this one will be a lot more exotic.

Yield: Serves 2-4

Please Don't Tell

Aug 20, 2016


Aug 13, 2016


Norman & Justin Van Aken © Excerpted from, “MY KEY WEST KITCHEN”, Kyle Books    

What soup could be more perfect in the late afternoon of a hot day to fuel a young cook, (that I once was)? It is descended from the Romans and its construction originally could not have originally involved tomatoes at all. Columbus changed that and, to my belly, all for the better. It is one of the few soups that contain a vinegar. Buy a high quality one and your work will shine. Of course with the Stone Crab you are going “Sunday Best”.


Aug 6, 2016


© 2016 All Rights Reserved by Norman Van Aken

Yield: 60 Pieces

60 littleneck clams, well scrubbed and shucked, clam ‘liquor’ reserved

2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil

3 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded and minced

1 red onion, peeled and diced small

½ bulb fennel, finely diced

Heat a heavy pan. Add the Olive Oil.

Now sauté the jalapeños, onion and fennel in a skillet over high heat in the olive oil. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and set aside in a bowl to cool.

Leg of Lamb

Jul 30, 2016


© 2016. All Rights Reserved by Norman Van Aken

This marinade works on a variety of meats; veal, pork and chicken for instance.

Silk Road Marinade:

Yield: 3/4 Quarts

6 peeled and minced garlic cloves

1 1/3 Tablespoons minced ginger

2 Tablespoons minced shallots

3 Tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves

1/2 Cup sherry wine vinegar

1/4 Cup hoisin

1/3 Cup soy

1/3 Cup dark roasted sesame oil

1/3 Cup plum sauce

Onion Rings

Jul 23, 2016

Manchego Crusted Onion Rings

© 2016 All rights reserved by Norman Van Aken

These egg battered onions have a nice sweetness to them that marries with even delicate foods.

2 Spanish onions, thinly sliced

2 eggs, beaten

6 Tablespoons finely grated Manchego cheese

Canola or corn oil for deep-frying

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste