Monthly Archives: March 2014

Moist, fall off the bone, oven made baby back ribs with homemade BBQ sauce

Why did I wake up at 5am today? I have a ridiculous internal clock, and I was too lazy to start my ribs last night. When I was a teenager, my friends father seemed like he made ribs every day. Every time I went over there, they were just coming off the grill. I would show up at random times during the day and week. If they weren’t coming off the grill they were in the fridge. It became a funny game, sometimes I would get a random text, ” he just put them on the grill” I’d show up an hour later, and commence giggling and devouring them. Half random luck, half hilarious conspiracy.

A few years later I asked for the recipe. He told me the secret to making that fall off the bone situation, but he clammed up on the sauce. I know, I should be grateful for that sneaky trick. However, I have never been able to recreate that exact flavor. Over time I’ve forgotten. But forgetting has led me to making my very own, awesome, homemade BBQ  sauce. It took me less than 15 minutes to make, and now my ribs have their own secret sauce, and I’m sharing my recipe, cause secrets don’t make friends.

IMG_20140331_190711 Bare bones!!

So whats the secret to that fall off the bone action? Sweating the ribs. After several hours of marinating , pop them into a little enclosed tinfoil house, and oven roast them for 3 hours. Some people say to boil the meat. To them I say, stop removing the flavor from your food. Sweating the ribs allows them to retain their delicious piggy flavor, while melting all of that connective tissues to make them detach from the bone.

Home made BBQ sauce

1 15oz can of tomato sauce

1/2 an onion

4 cloves of garlic

1/3 cup molasses

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup pineapple juice

1 tsp salt

1 heaped tablespoon of whipped honey

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp worchester sauce

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp coriander

Saute your garlic and onions in a little olive oil or butter until blanched. Add your can of tomato sauce, molasses and sugar. Turn the heat up to meduim high and let it simmer while you add in the rest of the spices and ingredients. After about 5 minutes of that high simmer, drop your heat to low and let those flavors meld together for about a half hour.

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At this point generously cover the ribs in your sauce and let them absorb that delicious flavor for a few hours. Once that is up, make your tinfoil rib house, and pop them in the oven at 250 degrees for 3 hours. After your ribs have created their own juice pool, gently remove them from the tinfoil, and place them on a rack. I say gently because at this point the meat should be ready to remove itself from the bone all on its own. Smother them in BBQ sauce, bring the temperature up to 425 degrees and bake them for 30 more minutes, and there you have it. Fall off the bone oven baked ribs!! Serve them up with the left over sauce and enjoy.

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Simple Pan Fried Oysters, with Special Oyster Shooter Aioli

I have a nostalgic love of oysters. I love them fried, in shooters, raw in the half shell with my own favorites additives, and even BBQ’d. My mother is deeply responsible for this. She is the Tom Sawyer of oysters, telling me how good they were, that they were her favorite treat, suggesting I should get my own at Ivars. I also remember my first bite. It actually didn’t taste terrible. I pulled back to look at the other half, and there in its little oyster belly, was a bunch of disgusting green crap. Some say its its stomach contents, some say its the swollen gonads of an oyster ready to spawn. At the time, I really only found it utterly disgusting, and gag worthy. Mom’s response? “Well you aren’t supposed to look at it.” I didn’t eat oysters for a few years, but when I finally ventured back in that direction I absolutely loved them. (Thanks mom!)

Today managed to get a little creative and make my own special aioli. Aioli is gods gift to french fries and fish. I don’t think I’ve ever had an aioli on a fish yet and thought to myself, that it was a mistake. Today’s aioli hit the jack pot. It took the goodness of fried oysters, combined with the sauces from an oyster shooter, to make a lovely little dip for my cornmeal dredged little buddies. Here is the recipe for my aioli Oyster shooter aioli

Pan Fried oysters

2 Jars of extra small oysters

1 cup cornmeal

1/2 cup flour

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp oil or butter

Mix the flour and the cornmeal. Fully dredge each little oyster in the flour and cornmeal mixture. Place them in an oiled frying pan on high, for about 2 minutes each side. Sprinkling the cooked sides with a touch of salt, remove them from the pan and serve them up with my lovely oyster shooter aioli.

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Oyster Shooter Aioli, For Pan Fried Oysters

Aioli is a tricky little wicket. After what feels like hours of beating it to death with a whisk, sometimes you just end up with something gloppy. I’ve stopped using my amazing collection of whisks for aioli. The tennis elbow just doesn’t feel worth it. Instead I use my hand blender, with a whisk attachment. Apparently you can use a food processor too, but I’ve found this to be less than effective. I’ve made my fair share of runny aioli.

I have a few sneaky tricks to help you out though.

1. Chill your eggs and oil. Colder ingredients will help thicken your sauce.

2. Know when to stop adding your oil. I start my aioli by whisking my eggs until they are thick, and then I very slowly drizzle in my oil, stopping every few seconds to get it to where I want it, and then I resume my slow drizzle. If you only put in 3/4 of the oil or even half of your oil its not the end of the world. Making it too runny, beyond repair and running out of eggs and ingredients is!!!!!

3. Don’t use straight olive oil. Its much harder to make stay thick, and the flavor is a little better.

4. Pay attention. If the aioli is getting too thin, quickly whisk up an extra egg, add it to your aioli (stop adding oil) and continue to whisk it until it gets thick again.

5. Don’t add your lemon, herbs, anything acidic, or what ever flavors you put into it until its thick enough.

Lastly, a little voodoo. Apparently constantly stirring it in the same direction is supposed to help…maybe.

Today I picked up some oysters for dinner, and I thought about what sauce to make for them. Sure, cocktail or tarter would be delicious, but where’s the fun in that. I decided to concoct my own flavor of aioli, that combines the bold daring taste of oyster shooters, with the velvety smooth taste of aioli. I pulled out all of my favorite oyster accompaniments, lemon juice, Tabasco, horseradish, and a smidge of Worcestershire sauce.

Basic aioli sauce

4 egg yokes

about 1/2c vegetable oil, 1/4 cup olive oil (mixed and chilled)

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp FINELY chopped garlic

The delicious extras

1/2 tsp horse radish

1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

A few drops of Tabasco

Whisk your eggs until they thicken. Add the salt, while whisking, drizzle a small amount of oil into the eggs, and continue to whisk until it thickens back up. Repeat this until you get your desired amount/thickness, and begin adding in your lemon juice. If you’re making the oyster shooter aioli, add the horseradish, Tabasco, and Worcestershire. If the other ingredients make it too thin, add in your sneaky extra egg yoke, and whisk it until it thickens back up.

 

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Chicken Fajuka. Its a happy little chicken dish.

Every once in a while you pull out of combination of ingredients that come together perfectly to make Chicken Fajuka . Stop googling. Its an inside joke, and a made up word for my favorite new chicken creation. Its a trashcan dish. Meaning you have no idea what to eat, so you pull out a few items residing within your fridge and pantry, that you would otherwise chuck in a few days/weeks/months without having used. I managed to eat in the same region for a few weeks, and much to my amazing luck, I hit the culinary jack pot. I made this lovely dish in 20 minutes, with little to know effort. If you know another name for it please, for the love of god let me know.

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20-30 cherry tomatoes (or tomato melody)

1 finely chopped onion

15 to 20 pitted kalamata or green olives

5 cloves of garlic

5 slices of bacon

6 chicken breast tenderloins

a few sprigs of fresh thyme

a few leaves of fresh oregano

1 cup chicken broth

a splash of wine

salt, pepper, and feta cheese to taste

olive oil

Pasta (or maybe kale if you’re low carbing it)

So, this lovely dish makes no lofty claims on ethnicity. Its american. It has no idea what it is, where it came from, and only knows that most of its ingredients are imported. Probably Italian, some Greek, and maybe a little Spanish (we won’t hold that against it.) Place the olive oil, onions, tomatoes, garlic, olives, and herbs into a pan on high until the onions have blanched .

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In a separate pan, cook your bacon. Remove it and chop it up into half inch pieces. In that same pan, cook your chicken, and then chop it into bite size pieces.

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Once your onions have blanched, toss in your cup of chicken broth and your splash of wine. Allow that to rigorously simmer for a few minutes until the broth has ever so slightly thickened, and throw in your bacon and chicken.

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Allow that to continue to simmer, for a few minutes and serve it over a bed of delicious noodles… or kale.

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Fijian Coconut Bread, Cooking from a memory

Years ago when I was over seas, I met some Fijians. They managed to dazzle my insides with coconut bread. It wasn’t a loaf, and it wasn’t a roll. It resembled a slightly mangled pastry, I’m guessing mainly because it was cooked in tinfoil. We didn’t have a baking pan. So I’ve been scowering the internet for this recipe for longer than I care to admit. Given up, restarted my search and failed, several times. And finally I just decided to figure it out for myself.  After one failed attempt, I found the flavor I was looking for. It wasn’t so much that the bread wasn’t made correctly, its that when they made it for me, they ever so slightly under cooked it. As a general rule cook things to just a tiny bit below perfectly finished to harness in a bit of the moistness. That day I took it out maybe 3 minutes too early and that was where the ticket was hiding. Its kind of what happens when some of the baddest warriors on the planet, make you bread. Impatience, and deliciousness.

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This morning I headed to Trader Joe’s for my weekend shopping, and once again stared at the coconut oil as if it was some kind of mystery oil. This time though I actually bought it. I took it home and stared at it, wondering what the hell to do with it. After a few moments I decided to make the most moist coconut bread ever.

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1/3 cup melted coconut oil

1 can coconut cream

2 beaten eggs

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup coconut flakes

2 cups flour

Combine all  sugar, oil, vanilla, coconut cream and beaten eggs in a bowl. Mix in salt baking powder and coconut flakes. Slowly add in flour until it reaches cake batter consistency. Bake for 1 hour at 350, or until your toothpick comes out clean. Let it cool for 30 minutes, and gingerly devour the whole thing.

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Hydroponics! How I spent my low census day!

I saw an indoor herb farm on here the other night and thought to myself, Ooooh holy hell! I need to get on amazon, and buy that RIGHT friggin NOW!  As I search amazon for the best price, the hydro kit that I keep forgetting about shined a little brighter in its corner of the plant room. Sure, every few months I take it out, dig through it, and question what I should put in it. We have a TON of succulents, But they are in a sense the worlds most virile plants. Sometimes when I’m trimming them I stick the leaves in the dirt, and a few weeks later after I have forgotten about them as well, I find them rooted, and beginning to spring up fresh leaves. How ever, being that I am on a fresh herb kick, and that my mothers house was brimming with fresh growth, I decided to pick a few clones and plop them in my kit. After about 10 daunting minutes it was all set up, PH tested, plant food added and spirting water.

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Olaf even stopped by to check out the sprouts. He managed to abscond with a few of them before I was able to get them into the little pots. 

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Now I’m not saying I cant grow herbs on my own, I’ve just had a crappy track record thus far. My little baby pots have begun to sprout, at least some tiny tiny parsley, and some oregano. Still no sign of my basil, and the thyme only has a few meager sprouts. Only time will tell. A watched planter never sprouts!! 

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Roast leg of lamb in rosemary herb marinade

Today I am stuck at home as my window gets fixed from what we’re calling a stray “road rock” that decided to fling itself at our window. Since the window is about 20 ft up, and is obscenely large, I’m going to be stuck here for a while.  No better time than the present to create a magical marinade for my itty bitty baby leg of lamb.

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Something fishy is happening with this lamb. I know I am certainly not this first kid on this great earth to put anchovies on their lamb. Its not a secret. Its delicious. Don’t worry, its not going to give you that soul extracting, extremely dead fish taste you get from anchovies on your pizza. Its just going to tell the lamb to be a little more flavorful. My sneaky secret is to dry my little salty friends out in the oven first. The worrisome thing that happens with anchovies that have been baked, is they almost turn into a crispy fish dust. Its actually ok to get a little excited about that. I think the bad part of the anchovies magically disappears upon enter the oven (their disgusting souls are in the oil!!!).

I pride myself on my herb marinades. I start them in the morning, walk away for several hours, and come back to herb infused goodness. It works with beef, lamb poultry, I’ve even done it to ribs. The other good part is that you can save a portion for a lovely dipping sauce later. First prep your lamb. Remove that top layer of fat, and make several half inch slits over the top of the roast. Once your marinade is made, make sure to rub as much of it into the slits as you can.

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Marinade

1 cup olive oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup rosemary sprigs

2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

5 cloves of garlic

1/2 of a shallot bulb

a tin of anchovies (I dry mine first in the oven, just bake them for 40 minutes at 250)

1 tbs vinegar

1 tbsp salt

Toss all of these ingredients lovingly into a food processor and blend them together. Save 1/2 a cup for dipping, and pour the rest over your lamb, coating it liberally in the marinade. Stick all of this in the fridge and walk away for a few hours. Take it out an hour before roasting it, so that it reaches room temperature, sprinkle the top with a layer of salt, and pop it in the oven at 375 for approximately 30 minutes/lb, or until the internal temperature at the thickest point reaches 145 (med-rare). You won’t be disappointed. I swear that marinade was handed down from some mythical god, and all you have to do is stick your two favorite herbs in it and you’re golden. Omit the anchovies for all other meats though.

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Creamy Italian Sausage and Kale Soup

Kale is one of the latest and greatest super foods. It lowers cholesterol, fights heart disease, cancer, and is a wonderful source of potassium. However, It tastes kind of like spinach had a torrid love affair with thistle, and together they made a bastard, misshapen little gargoyle of a love child, kale. Its quite tough, not quite like eating a thistle, but really rather rough in texture. Don’t let that put you off. There are many, many ways to beat it into shape.

You can can eat it plain in a salad, bake it into chips, massage it with olive oil and a vinegar (no really give it a loving rub down, it will soften it) saute it with any flavor you want it to pick up, and unlike spinach, it won’t wilt into a stringy mess. This weekend, I tossed it into a soup.

1 lb Ground Italian sausage

6 slices of chopped thick cut bacon

1 chopped raw onion

5 cloves of minced garlic,

1 potato

2 sticks of celery

4 cups chicken broth

Juice of one lemon

1 cup mushrooms

1 cup cannellini beans

1 cup cherry tomatoes

3 or 4 sprigs of fresh thyme

2 tbsp fresh oregano

1 tbsp chili peppers

1 cup heavy cream

several leaves of fresh purple kale

Brown your sausage meat with bacon, onions, garlic and mushrooms. Add the chicken broth herbs, celery, herbs, chili peppers, beans and potatos. Let that simmer for approximately 30 minutes (until the potatoes are soft). Toss in the tomatoes and let the soup simmer until the cherries split. Add in your heavy cream, let it simmer for a few minutes and stir in your kale until it softens.

Serve it up with some fresh grated Parmesan and enjoy!

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