Sorry, brisket fanatics from Texas. My apologies, pulled pork addicts from North Carolina. If I had to pick my last meal on Planet Barbecue (I sure hope I never do), I’d order ribs. Perfect for July 4th celebrations, ribs offer it all: gnawable bones that provide structure and flavor, presenting a broad surface to the smoke and fire. Well-marbled, rich-tasting meat at with a price that remains relatively affordable -- especially when compared to steak.
Ribs possess other advantages. Versatility is one: all the major meats types come in rib form, from the ubiquitous pork and beef to the more rarified lamb, veal, and bison. Ribs can be cooked using a myriad of methods, from direct and indirect grilling to smoking and even spit-roasting. (You’ll find the latter at Brazilian-American rotisserie restaurants, like Fogo de Chao.) Many pit masters use multiple methods -- smoking the ribs for several hours first, for example, then flash-searing the sauce onto the meat directly over a hot fire.
Even rib portion sizes vary widely, from the paper-thin strips of kalbi-kui (beef short ribs) direct grilled on charcoal braziers at Korea town restaurants to the plate-burying slabs we’ve come to expect from barbecue joints in Memphis and Kansas City.
But most of all, ribs are just plain fun to eat, evoking a primal memory of when our cave-dwelling ancestors roasted huge hunks of meats over campfires, ripping them apart with their bare hands. Admit it, part of the pleasure of ribs is that you get to eat them with your fingers.
Generally I'm not one for "themed" food. But a girl's gotta have some fun. So for the 4th of July, I'd like to share a patriotic potato salad made with three kinds of spuds: old fashioned white russet, delicate red-skinned taters, and sassy All-Blue potatoes (which are sometimes labeled purple Peruvian).
This potato salad is just kitschy enough without being tacky. Though I recommend using red-white-and-blue checkered cloths, I don't think sticking sparklers or miniature American flags in the potatoes is necessary.
The potatoes you see here are called All-Blues. They are slightly starchier but the same color as purple Peruvians, which are technically fingerling potatoes -- smaller, thinner potatoes. Apparently, both get their brilliant color from iron. The color will fade when cooked, but try this trick to minimize the fading: add a couple of splashes of white vinegar to the cooking water.
There must be as many ways to make chili as there are shades of Sherwin-Williams paints. There’s no right or wrong way to make chili. It’s all about what pleases your taste buds. And, I’m always willing to give a new twist to a pot of chili.
Dennis Weimann, News Director/Anchor of Lakeland News at Lakeland Public Television sent me an email the other day and shared a chili recipe he had developed. He was planning to make a pot that day. Maybe he’s getting ready for the next United Way Chili Cook-off in Bemidji. I examined the list of ingredients. First, I noticed it had beans and meat. That’s important to me. I can eat a chili with beans and meat or with beans only. I don’t mean to make any of my Texas friends shudder, but I just can’t call it chili if there is only meat with no beans in the pot.
As my eyes moved further down the list of ingredients, I began to see a side of Dennis Weimann that amazed me. I had no idea he was a spice guy. A chili head. A lover of heat.
Why doesn’t somebody make a hamburger bun that also fits a hot dog? It would be hinged. That way, if you had a small family, you would only have to buy one package of buns. Here’s what it would look like...
Once in a great while, I come across a spectacular dish that needs little tinkering because it’s already perfectly healthy and incredibly easy like Swedish Gravlax with Mustard Dill Sauce.
Not the same as the smoked salmon you’d find in a grocery store, but similar to traditional lox you sometimes find in a kosher deli, gravlax is “cold-cured” in salt and sugar. But with the additional seasonings of fresh dill and Aquavit (a Scandinavian alcohol flavored with caraway and other herbs and spices), it has a uniquely delicious taste that somehow makes it more “special” than any deli breakfast food. (That hint of “specialness” may also be because a gravlax appetizer in a restaurant like Marcus Samuelsson’s Aquavit in New York will run you 20 bucks…)
So when in Stockholm for the husband’s “Jack Reacher” premier in December, I was thrilled to see gravlax (or gravad lox) show up at every meal.
A friend of mine from NYC called the other day to ask which pie bakery I preferred. He had guests from Norway stopping by that afternoon for coffee and wanted to offer them a slice of “American pie”.
When he told me a whole pie from a bakeshop would cost anywhere from $35-$65, I suggested he take a quick lesson in pie making and bake one himself. He had 3 hours before they arrived and I was convinced I could help him get a pie, prepped, baked, and on a cooling rack before they rang his buzzer.
I quickly emailed this recipe for Best Ever Blueberry pie and he raced to his local grocery store to pick up everything we needed, (including a pie plate). With the help of Skype, I coached him through the basic steps (he saved time with a ready-made pie crust) and the pie was in the oven in no time.
There's nothing better than the smell of a freshly baked pie and this one is certain to please any guest.
This summer marks my thirty-first year as an attorney. But when I think back to the summer of 1978 it is not a courtroom that I see; rather I recall a brilliant sunny July day barbecuing at the base of the Seattle Space Needle on a Weber grill. About twenty of us from the country’s largest pork producing states were vying for first place in National Pork Cook-Out Contest. Truth be told though the southern states, principally North Carolina, Texas and Tennessee are known for barbecue the big boys of pork are Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Nebraska and Kansas. They were the guys to beat.
For me the event was the culmination of a 2-year grilling odyssey that began in 1976 when I entered the North Carolina State Pork Cooking Championship and came away with a respectable but disappointing third place for Orange Flavored Pork. Despite the loss (and despite my New York Jewish heritage), I knew I had it in me to bring home the bacon so to speak. Though I had always loved pork – mostly in the form of ribs slathered in ‘duck sauce’ from the local Chinese take out joint – I really never really embraced the true pig in me until I had come to Chapel Hill, North Carolina two years earlier to attend law school.
Going out to eat has many pleasures, not the least of which is learning a new trick to add to your own repertoire at home.
Recently at Il Fornaio, during the Lazio Regionale, we had Lattuga Romana alla Griglia or lightly grilled hearts of romaine topped with shaved pecorino pepato and Il Fornaio's creamy house dressing.
The rest of the menu was terrific, but the real stand out was the deceptively simple grilled hearts of romaine.
The dish is easy to make at home. So easy, in fact, you can serve it on the spur of the moment because it takes barely fifteen minutes to prepare.
Three years ago I discovered something at the farmers' market that changed my life: it's called elote (Mexican grilled corn).
Despite the fact that it was only 10:30 in the morning, the aroma of smoky grilled corn lured Jeff and me to a stand where open grills were covered with plump ears of roasting corn. As soon as each ear was cooked it was quickly jammed onto a stick then drowned in a lime-spiked mayonnaise sauce, rolled in crumbly cotija anejo cheese and sprinkled with lime juice and cayenne pepper. Each customer's eyes widened in anticipation when handed this unusual treat.
Since that day, I have learned that the Spanish word "elote" can refer to corn or to grilled corn and that it's a common street food in many parts of Mexico. Like the famed fish taco, grilled corn is classic street food: unpretentious yet remarkable in its unique flavor. It's hot and creamy and salty and spicy, and utterly, wholeheartedly addictive.
by James Moore
The real secret to a great Margarita is choosing the best tequila, so save these for special occasions with just a few friends. Start this recipe the day before your party – it’s worth it. The longer the zest and juice mixture is allowed to steep, the more developed the citrus flavors in the finished margaritas - the full 24 hours is best,...Read more...
by James Moore
I generally don’t care for Sangria, except for when I’m in Spain - it just seems to taste better there. Sangria makes a perfect summer drink when entertaining, because you can make large batches ahead of time.
This recipe is based on one I received during my stay at Le Meridien Barcelona from the General Manager, Gonzalo Duarte Silva. They...Read more...
by James Farmer III
My house wine is sweat tea, but there are a couple concoctions I simply relish as much as tea. One is Mrs. Wilson’s Rosemary Lemonade and the other, a “James Farmer” – this Farmer’s version of an Arnold Palmer.
Dear friends of mine in Montgomery host me and “put me up” (or more so put up with me) when I’m staying in town for the night, and Mrs....Read more...
by Maureen Greer