Fire In My Belly – Cookbook Review & A Kicked Up Noodle Ramen

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 When a cookbook offers two recipes to spice up your 10 cent package, okay fine I think it might be up to 85 cents now, of Ramen noodles, you know you have a gem in hand. 

I was recently sent Fire In My Belly:Real Cooking by Kevin Gillespie with David Joachim.  The book is the former Top Chef finalist and James Beard Award semifinalist first foray.  With 120 original recipes and pages filled with beautiful photography, Kevin and David brings you traditional Southern fare with inspired reinventions of classic dishes, all created with the home cook in mind. 

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Some of chapters include “Foods You Thought You Hated”, with recipes like asparagus salad and new and improved liver and onions.  Others are “My Version of Southern Food”, “World Classics Revisited” and “Junk Food.”

I tried out two recipes from the book, Kevin’s recipe for noodle ramen, which I’ve reprinted below and Cast-Iron Skillet Chicken with Farro and Brussels Sprouts.   Both were supremely delicious, easy to follow recipes and a nice change of paces for dinner at home.  I love the mix of Southern flavors Kevin and David bring to the book, but a little healthier, less guilty twist to it.  In the beginning of the book, they describe in detail common ingredients found in the both and cooking methods.  I think this is a wonderful reference for any unseasoned cook that picks up this book.   Each chapter also begins with a personal story and it really helps you get into Kevin’s thought process for the recipe and why he decided to share it with you.   

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Fire In My Belly - Cookbook Review & A Kicked Up Noodle Ramen
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  • 4oz beef top round, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 2 packages Ramen noodles with beef seasoning packet
  • Fresh Ginger, sliced paper thin (10 slices)
  • 1 teaspoon black bean paste
  • 1 teaspoon tamari
  • 1 teaspoon white soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Asian fish sauce
  • 1/2 Sambal Olek chile paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced paper thin
  • 1 lime
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 Shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro
  • 1 scallion, sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoon fresh Thai basil


  1. Place your beef in the freezer for about 20 minutes. You want it frozen just enough so you can easily slice it. Remove and slice across the grain into pieces as thing as you can get with a knife.
  2. Bring the stock, beef seasoning packets, ginger, black bean paste, tamari and white soy sauce to a boil in a medium saucepan.
  3. Fill a second pan with water, about 3/4 of the way and bring to a boil. Add the noodles and cook for 2 minutes, stirring to break them up. Drain and set aside.
  4. Add the fish sauce, sambal olek, salt, cinnamon, cloves, garlic and lime juice (about 2 tablespoons) to the stock - whisk and return to a boil.
  5. Crack 1 egg into a small bowl. Remove the pan from the heat and with a whisk, stir to create a whirlpool in the stock. Pour the egg into the center and stop whisking.
  6. Return the pan to the heat and cook the egg for 4 minutes, then with a slotted spoon transfer the egg to a small plate. Bring the stock back up to a boil and repeat with remaining egg.
  7. Divide the noodles between two bowls. Layer the mushrooms, red onion, some black pepper, cilantro, scallion and a little sesame oil. Tear the leaves of the Thai basil into the bowls. Divide the beef between the two bowls and arrange in a single layer on top. Top the beef with the eggs and ladle just enough of the broth into each bowl to completely cover the meat. The meat will cook in about 1 minute.
Recipe Type: Soup

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Fire In My Belly: Real Cooking by Kevin Gillespie with David Joachim. Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC. ISBN: 978-1-4494-1143-5

FTC Disclosure: I was sent a copy of the book to review, all opinions in this post are of my own. No monetary value was exchanged.

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8 thoughts on “Fire In My Belly – Cookbook Review & A Kicked Up Noodle Ramen

  1. Isabelle @ Crumb

    Great review! I’m going to have to keep an eye out for this book… if those two recipes are anything to go by, it sounds like it’s the kind of cookbook I’d actually use again and again. (The ramen looks good, but the chicken with brussels sprouts looks AMAZING… definitely the first thing I’d try!)

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