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.
Did you know July is National Hot Dog Month?
I guess it makes sense since this is the month when Nathan's Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest takes place. I think this year, fifty-nine hot dogs were eaten in 10 minutes and then an overtime round was required because of a tie. Ack! Fifty-nine dogs plus the tie-breaker round...no thanks!
We don't have hot dogs around here very often, but when we do, we like them slathered with chili and cheese. And not just any chili, it has to be sweet and super tangy. I love chili with cumin and cayenne but not on a hot dog. I prefer something that really forces my taste buds to stand up and salute. This is why I came up with this recipe. Hold me.
These chili-dogs have an amazing burst of flavor like you have never tasted before. The tang gives you this awesome puckering sensation in your mouth but in a very good way. It's not overpowering, it's just right.
I have an image of my father wearing a blue and white canvas pin-stripe apron over his clothes that my mother gave him (with good reason), standing over the barbecue in our backyard alternately spraying charcoal fluid (with big effect) on the briquettes and a few moments later spraying, using his thumb as a spray cap, a large bottle of Canada Dry Soda Water filled (and refilled) with water from the hose onto the resulting flames from the barbecue that were threatening to ruin his perfect barbecued ribs. They were perfect which is sort of surprising since my father couldn’t really cook at all. Scrambled eggs and burnt bacon is about all I remember from his repertoire except for the night he exploded a can of baked beans since he’d decided it was okay to heat them in the can (unopened) which he’d placed in a large pot of boiling water and, I think, forgotten about them. Tip: don’t try that at home.
But his barbecued pork ribs were perfect. The secret was the sauce. The secret was that he marinated them religiously overnight (turning them constantly). The secret was that he cooked them perfectly albeit with a strange method that involved alternately kicking the fire up to high temperatures and then knocking it down. It was a method that I still remember and it was before we knew that charcoal fluid is truly bad for you so don’t try that at home either.
I love hearty spicy chili, especially during the winter months. This one is quick to make with just basic ingredients and guaranteed to warm you up on a cold day.
The variety of beans – red kidney, black and pinto – gives the chili a nice “meaty” quality. I think it has a nice balance of heat, but you can add extra cayenne or a chopped jalapeño to add a little more “fire”.
Saturday, July 11th / 2-6pm - The Wiltern, 3790 Wilshire Boulevard (Wilshire and Westerrn), Los Angeles, CA 90010
The “old timers” in Maine always eat salmon and peas for their fourth of July family feast. This tradition was started a long time ago when salmon still came “up river to spawn” and people still rushed in the Spring to plant their peas so they would have the first peas of the year, hopefully by the 4th, if the weather was good. (I still have customers that plant their peas in the fall so they sprout when they are ready come Spring.)
The old tradition is to bake a center cut chunk of salmon at 350 degrees till it is less than moist, (so all the relatives like it) than nap it with a white sauce, better known as a béchamel sauce to which you add in chopped hard cooked eggs. And peas, lot of peas cooked with butter, salt, pepper and a little water. The rule of thumb was to cook them till when you blew on a spoonful they wrinkled.
We've lived in Pacific Palisades for many years, treasuring its small town qualities as a respite from the congestion of the Los Angeles megalopolis. The 4th of July brings out the best in our community. We celebrate Independence Day by getting together with our neighbors, family, and friends. The celebrations begin in the morning with the 5k/10k run, the parade down Sunset at mid-day, an early evening picnic, and conclude with the night-time fireworks at the high school.
To prepare for the picnic, we shop at the local farmers' market, buying as many fresh vegetables and fruits as we can carry. On the 4th we spend the day cooking for the pot-luck picnic we organize with a dozen of our friends. So we'll have a good spot to watch the fireworks, we meet at 6:30pm at the park opposite the high school. We look forward to the picnic because we can catch up with our friends. Even though the picnic is pot-luck, we make extra just in case... Some of our friends who like to cook bring their specialties, like Lesli's mixed berries, while others make a run to Bay Cities or Gelson's and bring containers of deli treats and rich desserts.
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.
At my local farmers' market this past week, I found some thick, hefty ears of corn that had been growing all summer with swollen kernels to match. They reminded me of the juicy ears of corn we had used at Tante Marie's Cooking School in San Francisco when we made a wonderful corn soup with a fresh tomato salsa. As soon as I saw those ears of corn I knew I would make that soup as soon as I got home.
As I visited with each farmer at the market, exclaiming over all the beautiful produce, I was able to buy the tomatoes, onion, garlic, tomatillos and jalapenos that I needed for the salsa that would top each serving of corn soup.
The soup doesn't take long to make. Removing the kernels of corn from the cob is not difficult when you stand each ear of corn on its wide end in a large bowl. Using a sharp knife or an electric knife, cut away the kernels from each ear. I ran into a friend at the grocery store today who told me when he does this job, he props an ear of corn in the middle hole of an angel food cake pan and then cuts the kernels away using an electric knife. The corn drops into the cake pan
3 parts Three Olives S'mores Vodka
Dip the rim of martini glass in chocolate syrup and coat with crushed graham crackers.
Pour Three Olives S'mores into martini shaker filled with ice.
Shake and strain into martini glass.
Garnish with a skewer of three toasted marshmallows!
3 oz. Three Olives Berry Vodka
Shake vodka, cranberry juice and grenadine in a shaker with ice.
Strain into a chilled martini glass.
Pour blue curacao gently down the side of the glass so it settles on the bottom.
Garnish with a lemon twist.
- Recipes courtesy of Three Olives Vodka and Maestro Dobel Tequila
The Fourth of July—or Independence Day as it is more officially known—has always been a celebratory day in my family. It's partly because my birthday is on the 2nd and the local Barnum Parade always takes place around that date. As a kid I remember getting up early and excitedly readying myself for the party and parade. My cousins would come over and we would spread a blanket on the sidewalk to watch the parade. My mother would stay home to prepare fried chicken and potato salad. My dad would grill hamburgers and hot dogs once we got back. And of course the celebration always ended with a great big birthday cake.
For me any celebration, party, or simple gathering cannot end properly without dessert. Dessert may come last in the succession of a meal, but it should never be considered the least important. Even after filling our bellies to the brim with wonderful food, there's always room for dessert. A sweet concoction like cake or ice cream is the ideal ending to an old-fashioned backyard barbecue. You don't want something heavy, but also not something too light. Still it should be rich yet refreshing.
I always take the opportunity to make a special dessert for a special occasion, such as this flag cake. This recipe is a twist on trifle, the classic British no-bake dessert, but assembled like an Italian tiramisu. What could be funnier on a day that celebrates independence from Britain? I can't help but think about all the different cakes I ate every single birthday. This one is probably the most festive.
Yep, the kids have elevated me to the likes of Albert Einstein. Up until yesterday they thought of me as dull, boring, blah. I couldn't be more of a plain Jane to them.
But when I made these FIRECRACKER CUPCAKES and sprinkled POP ROCKS all over them you would have thought I just invited the circus over to perform. I instantaneously became the coolest, hippest and craziest Mom evah. The hooligans couldn't have been more pleased.
What makes me mad is I didn't think of it first. It's so simple. I saw it in the newspaper as a fun way to celebrate the upcoming 4th of July holiday. Brilliant I thought. A firework show in their mouths.
As the kids ate away, their mouths were exploding with candy and their noses and cheeks were covered in whipped cream. Their day could not have been better.
The trick is to pour the POP ROCKS on just before serving or better yet, give each person their own pack. If you are stingy with the POP ROCKS the full effect of this dessert will not be realized. Be generous!
Adults would like them too. It was fun eating the cupcake and having tiny explosions going off in my mouth and throat. A nice reminder of childhood.
"The BBQ oysters were inspired by cookouts I’d have down in New Orleans. My friends and I would pull oysters out of the Gulf, crack them open and throw them on beach fires, and add all kinds of different sauces. Then, when I brought the recipe up to New York, I also was making this BBQ bacon sandwich. I thought, these two would be great together, so I combined the BBQ with the bacon and with the oysters." - Chef Paul Gerard, Exchange Alley, NYC
Oyster Barbecue Sauce:
1 bunch fresh thyme
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh chilies
2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/8 cup tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon pimenton…smoked paprika
Freshly ground black pepper
We’re all bound to go overboard during summer and you know what? That’s fine with me. Because if any season speaks to me about the bounty of food it’s certainly summer.
What I love most about summer cooking is that it gives us certain cooks a pass on formality. A little of this, some of that, it’s a good time to veer just a teeny bit from the exact science of cooking. Perhaps this is because the cooking wildcard known as The Grill can’t be controlled but coaxed, befriended but never bossed.
I’m sure some folks with expensive built-in outdoor gas grills may have better luck with this but me? I don’t have that. I’ve learned to love a flame that acts like a mischievous child — give it the right upbringing and it behaves. Ignore and neglect it and it”ll disappoint you and disappear.
When I head outdoors to cook I’m usually armed with very little other than food & tongs. There might be a spray bottle near to keep flare-ups down but I like to keep it simple during summer. Those big and bold warm-weathered flavors don’t really need a lot of fuss.
Brisket is such a versatile meat. I like it best, slow cooked. I make it in the winter time, slow roasted with red wine, orange marmalade, orange zest, garlic and dried herbs. Yet, in the summer and fall months I like to make it BBQ style and serve it on delicious french bread with a side of Asian Cole Slaw.
The recipe calls for jarred BBQ sauce. Yet over the past few years I have really become even more conscious of what I am feeding my family. I have never bought a jarred salad dressing (even in college). Two reasons why: 1) they taste lousy and 2) there are way too many things in the ingredients list that I can’t pronounce.
And if I can’t pronounce it, I am not going to eat it. I have come to the conclusion that BBQ sauce is no different. I have decided to make my own. I make a big batch of it and use it for grilling, marinating, roasting and my kids like to dip their oven baked chicken nuggets in it.
What do Jerusalem artichokes, horseradish and dandelion greens have in common? You'll never guess. Each has a name that is an English version of a foreign name. The Jerusalem artichoke is a variety of sunflower, and the name is derived from "girasole" which means sunflower in Italian. Horseradish is "meerrettich" in German and because "meer" sounds like "mare" the English called it horseradish. Dandelion comes from the French "dent de lion" or lion's tooth, in reference to the jagged leaves of this bitter yet tasty weed.
Like horseradish, dandelion has quite a bite to it. It can be eaten raw or cooked and like other leafy greens, it is a good source of vitamin A, calcium and iron. But frankly, I'd never cooked with it until this weekend. I found a Jamie Oliver recipe for a potato salad using chopped dandelion greens and I also heard raves about a potato salad with chopped fresh mint, so I decided to combine the two.
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 Susan Salzman
The local farmers market today was filled with several varieties of stone fruit, rhubarb, strawberries, and melons. Melons were everywhere. Red, orange, green, and white. I grabbed whatever I could carry, I couldn’t help myself.
After washing, cleaning and cutting all of my veggies, I stared at the amount (and size of the fruit) that now rested...Read more...