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Even thought it’s currently coming down in buckets outside it’s still summer and that means it’s officially grill season. The smell of barbeque seems to be drifting from every corner so we joined the masses and fired up our grill for some tasty treats. I adore outdoor cooking and keep my grill handy all year round for a quick fix. I was hankering for some old fashion comfort food so decided on BBQ ribs with homemade BBQ sauce, sweet potato fries sprinkled with basil salt served with garlic lemon mayo (I could eat these all by themselves for a meal!), and grilled corn on the cob. A quite simple yet satisfying meal.

If you don’t have a BBQ (that’s a tragedy that you must remedy immediately) I’ve included instructions for oven grilling the ribs.

I promised the lovely Diana I would post these recipes…So cheers to you missy! Enjoy.

No, not cheese silly....Fresh grated horseradish.

No, not cheese silly....Fresh grated horseradish.

Crab-Boiled Country Style Pork Ribs

Recipe Courtesy of Emeril Lagasse

You’ll need:

  • 6 pounds country style pork ribs
  • 1/2 cup liquid crab boil
  • 1 head garlic, cut in 2 pieces
  • 2 ribs celery, cut into 3-inch lengths
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 2 carrots, washed, ends trimmed, and quartered
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons Essence, recipe follows
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Barbecue Sauce:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon crushed and toasted cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated horseradish
  • 1 cup malt or cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce

Essence (Emeril’s Creole Seasoning):

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon dried leaf oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme

Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in an airtight jar or container.

Preparation for ribs:

In a large pot, combine all the rib ingredients and enough water to cover by 1-inch (about 12 cups) and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to a slow boil, cover the pot, and cook for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until ribs are very tender when pierced with a fork.

While the ribs are cooking, prepare the BBQ sauce. In a medium, non-reactive saucepan, over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the onions, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin and cayenne pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the ketchup, horseradish, cider vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce and stir to mix well. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened and the flavors have married, about 20 minutes. Set aside.

GRILL: Preheat grill to around 400. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil. Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the ribs to one of the prepared pans. Blot any excess liquid with paper towels, and discard the vegetables and cooking liquid. Generously coat the ribs with the BBQ sauce. Grill the ribs turning and brushing with the sauce until cooked through and marked nicely.

OVEN ONLY: Preheat the oven to broil. Line 2 baking sheets with aluminum foil. Using a slotted spoon, carefully transfer the ribs to one of the prepared pans. Blot any excess liquid with paper towels, and discard the vegetables and cooking liquid. Spread half of the BBQ sauce over the 2nd lined pan. Lay the ribs flat over the sauce, and spoon the remaining sauce over the ribs to coat generously. Broil until the sauce is caramelized, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Sweet Potato Fries with Basil Salt and Garlic Mayonnaise

Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis

You’ll need:

  • 5 sweet potatoes, cut into about 1 by 5-inch “fries”
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the sweet potato “fries” on a foil-lined baking sheet and toss with the olive oil. Bake until golden, about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile combine the basil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. In another small bowl combine the mayonnaise, garlic, and lemon juice, and stir to combine.

When the sweet potato fries come out of the oven, sprinkle with the basil salt. Serve with the garlic mayonnaise alongside for dipping.

Grilled Corn on the Cob

You’ll need:

  • 4 ears of fresh corn, in their husks

Prepare your grill, gas or charcoal, with direct, high heat, about 550°F.

Remove the visible silks from the tips of the corn and any long pieces inside. DO NOT remove the husks!

Submerge the corn in their husks in cold water for approximately 15 to 20 minutes prior to cooking.

Place the corn in their husks on the hot grill. Cover. Turn the corn occasionally, until the husks are charred on all sides, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove corn from grill. Let sit for 5 minutes. Use a hand towel to protect your hands while removing the silks and charred husks from the corn.

Serve hot, with butter and salt. Or better yet, herb butter. YUM.

What are your favorite flavors of summer? Got any great BBQ recipes or secret tips? Please share!

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Oh, yeah. I’ll been know for taking risks. And when I caught those fresh broad beans eyeing me from across the produce section I knew I must scoop them up even though I had absolutely no plan for these tasty morsels. See, told you – I’m wild.

I ended up making some bean fritters (ala Naked Chef style) with refreshing mint yogurt sauce. (Think falafel here). They were a delightful surprise to the usual (well, nothings really usual around here) weeks dishes.

Whack together some cilantro, mint, cumin, cayenne pepper, fresh broad beans, half a spicy chili, lemon zest, salt, and flour in your Cuisinart and you’re ready to dunk these mini footballs in hot oil for a couple minutes. Crunchy on the outside yet so moist on the inside. And who doesn’t love to dip?

Here’s the short Jamie Oliver video:

If the video doesn’t play: click here

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My brother Joe and his lovely wife, Janet

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Janet for over twenty years. She has an amazing smile that sparkles from across the room, finds humor in even the small things, competes in triathlons AND in addition to be an incredible mom to the sweetest niece and nephew an aunt could want, coach & mentor of young girls, den mother, PTA leader, (uh, yeah, I could keep going on here!) is ALSO a personal chef. So, I must say, I feel fortunate this talented lady is my sister-in-law. After our wedding in Spain last month, my brother and his family joined us in Sweden for a week of sight-seeing, golfing, and lounging out on the lake. Sadly, the latter two didn’t really make it on the agenda….but next time Joe, I promise!

One night hanging out in the Swedish midnight sun (Yes, it’s true. The sun sets at midnight in the height of the summer) Janet made us the most scrumptious salmon cakes. Her clients, including her own family, rave about these fish patties and I can see why. Simple, easy to prepare, and just plain delicious. You’ll love them.

Janet’s Salmon Cakes on Mixed Baby Greens

Makes four servings

You’ll need:

  • 1 lbs salmon
  • 1+ cup white wine
  • 1+ cup cracker meal
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 round tsp Old Bay Seasoning or seafood seasoning (see below for recipe)
  • 1/2 red bell peppers, seeded and finely chopped
  • 20 blades chives
  • 1 tbs dill, fresh
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper sauce
  • 2 lemons, juice and zest
  • Salad greens – mixed baby greens
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1+ tsp chili sauce, such as Siracha
  • 2 tbs dill pickle relish – or chopped dill pickles

Preparation:

1. In covered pan, poach salmon in wine and enough water to just come to the top of fish. Quarter a lemon lengthwise and add 1/4 piece to pan along with a few sprigs of dill and chives. Cover and simmer until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Drain and cool.
2. In medium bowl, flake the cooked salmon with a fork. Add about 1 cup cracker meal and work through with hands. Add the eggs, Old Bay, bell pepper, chives, dill, cayenne pepper sauce, and the zest and juice of 1 of the lemon and continue to blend well. If the mixture is wet, add more cracker meal. Let stand 5 minutes while pan is heating. Form into 4 patties about 1 inch thick.
3. Heat heavy skillet with just enough oil to coat the bottom.
4. Cook until golden brown, about 3 – 4 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towel-lined plate.
5. Combine mayo, and relish and chili sauce to taste in a small dish.
6. Toss salad greens with course salt and the juice of the remaining lemon. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat.
7. To serve, place salmon cake on a bed of baby greens, and top with chili mayo.

Old Bay Seasoning

The exact recipe is a secret, but this is a close approximation.

  • 2 tablespoons ground bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground mace
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Store in an airtight container in a cool place. Makes about 1/4 cup.

July 2008 - Midnight Sun in Sweden

July 2008 - Midnight Sun in Sweden

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Not something I would normally ever in a million years come in contact with back home in my Whole Foods Market, so you can imagine I was a bit jolted when I rounded the corner in the grocery store and laid my big brown eyes on this guy. He was marketing, Polar Bread or Polarbröd as it’s known in Swedish.

Polar Bread originates far north in Sweden – where reindeer are also born and raised. It is a soft flat bread with dimples, sometimes square but usually round, excellent for sandwiches. Extra tasty with a fresh slice of juicy reindeer….Oh, come on! Ease up. I would never consider munching on Santa’s helpers! At least not Rudolph anyway. But apparently, for fifteen pounds, you can get darn close to the red nose leader.

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You know it’s not going to be fat free if it’s got Paula Deen’s name on it. Just make sure you share this treat so it doesn’t all end up on your backside. Wonderfully dense and super moist, this cake’s richness is perfectly balanced when topped with fresh strawberries and a teeny dollop of vanilla cream. I still have a couple slices left, but you’ll need to hurry.

Southwest Georgia Pound Cake

Courtesy of Paula Deen

You’ll need:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (you may use lemon or almond flavoring instead)

Preparation:

Generously grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan. Do not preheat the oven.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Alternately add flour mixture and heavy cream to butter-sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Stir in flavoring.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Put into a cold oven and set the temperature to 325 degrees F. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes without opening the oven door. Bake for an additional 15 minutes if necessary. Remove from the oven and cool in pan for 15 minutes. Invert cake onto cake plate. For a real treat, serve yourself a slice while it’s still warm.

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I’m up to my eyeballs in conversions. Every day, all day long, I am converting something, someway in my teeny tiny head. Miles to kilometers, gallons to liters, inches to centimeters, USD to SEK, cups to deciliters, Fahrenheit to Celsius, acres to hectares, tablespoons to grams, pounds to kilos, feet to meters – when will it end? Luckily, I paid attention in algebra class.

Right now, I can truly see the geeky benefits of a wristwatch that doubles as a calculator.

To help make my journey acclimating to a new country a little smoother in the kitchen, Fattie bought me a cute widget that has some of the conversions I need for whipping up dishes at home but it leaves me wanting more. What I didn’t tell him – but he’s a smart cookie and I’m sure it was no secret – is I usually stick to US recipes, my American cookbooks, favorite cooking sites originating in the states, and that I made damn certain to pack up my measuring cups and spoons in the moving container so I wouldn’t feel so lost and God forbid lose my adoration for cooking when it becomes too mentally challenging just whacking the ingredients into the bowl.

He also surprised me with a shiny scale. Which I must say has come in very handy. I test myself daily. When a recipe calls for say – 125 grams of butter, I’ll eyeball it and slash off a yellow slab that appears to me to be around the intended amount and then weigh it to see how close or off base I am. It has both the metric and the U.S. customary units so I can visually take in how many ounces 125 grams of butter is to my eye. It’s a little game I play in the kitchen. Yes – D is for dork. I know.

Now what I could really use is a KitchenCalc Pro. I’m planning on picking this guy up on my trip to the states next month. I think there’s even a pocket version. Carrying around this puppy in my purse would positively solidify my dorkiness.

Here are a couple conversion sites in case you need an ounce or two of help yourself: Gourmet Sleuth and Online Conversion.

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Seriously. How could anyone think this looks attractive enough to stick in your mouth?

I snapped this prized winning pic the other day while out running errands. The country is littered with these hot dog stands. They are in supermarkets, malls, gas stations, street corners, and pedestrian shopping streets. I just can’t believe someone in their marketing/advertising department had these photos taken, laid out this ad and then with certainty said, “Yup. It’s perfect Sven!! Let’s print up some posters straight away – they’ll be drooling over these puppies!”

In Sweden, they serve hot dogs as you see them here – shoved into this hollowed out tube shaped bun – but they also have this crazy concoction called the “Half-Special’“. (I haven’t actually slipped this masterpiece into my grill – but have seen it on the menus while walking by these joints).

The “Half-Special” is a grilled sausage way-too-long-for-the-bread slapped on an American style bun, with a scoop of mashed potatoes plunked on top. (Yup, you heard me right – mashed potatoes). For the “Full-Special”, you’ll receive two franks, a generous spoonful of spuds, a handful of shrimp salad, and occasionally it’ll be topped off with a just a wee bit of some cucumber mix. (I’m sorry for not having a picture of this heinous dish loveliness – you’ll just have to use your imagination).

I’m all for trying different types of food, have a very diverse palate, and usually jump in with both feet, ready to nibble on new dishes – so I guess I can’t say I’ll never try it……but I can’t say I really want to either.

My apologies to Sweden here – but am I the only one who thinks this sounds totally nasty?

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