Monday, August 10, 2009

.watermelon ribs.

Thursday was Jim's birthday so the girls and I decided to have a small party for him. One of his most favorite foods is bbq ribs. He loves them! I always make the same sauce and thought I would try something different this time.

In my cookbook "Top Secret Recipes", there's a recipe in there for Hard Rock Cafe's Watermelon Ribs. The recipe looked incomplete to me so I changed it up and made it my own. Here's what I did.

You're going to need 2 cups watermelon pulp, so cut the rind off of the watermelon, leaving a lot of the white you don't usually eat. Cube and put in a blender. Puree. It doesn't need to be completely smooth. In fact, if you leave it slightly chunky you'll have tiny sweet chunks caramelized to your ribs. Delicious! Set the pulp aside.

Mince 2 cloves garlic and 1/2 of a small onion. Heat a little olive oil in a large saucepan and saute the onion and garlic for a minute, until fragrant.

Dump in the watermelon pulp, 3/4 cup ketchup, 1/4 cup molasses, a couple shakes liquid smoke, 3 Tbsp white vinegar, 1 cup honey, and a shake or two of crushed red pepper flakes.

This is all you need for the bbq sauce! How easy is that? Now let this simmer on low for at least an hour. The sauce needs to reduce down and let some of that water evaporate out. You should be left with a nice rich and sweet bbq sauce after that time.

Now the sauce can be made days in advance if you need and kept in the fridge. You need to make it at *least* the day before because we're going to marinate the ribs in the fridge overnight.

Normally I use pork loin ribs that are practically boneless and super meaty. I decided to use racks of ribs. They came in this big pack so I cut the ribs into groups of 5 or 6 and put in large ziplocs. Pour in some of the bbq sauce (once cooled) and put in the fridge. Make sure you leave some bbq sauce for grilling!

To make: Heat an oven to 300*. Remove the ribs from the ziplocs and put in a baking dish. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil to lock in all the moisture. Bake for 2 hours.

Prepare your BBQ grill. To finish the ribs, throw them on the grill on medium heat (you don't want the coals too hot). Brush on some bbq sauce. Put the lid on the grill and let that bbq sauce caramelize on the skin of those ribs. Check periodically to turn them and glaze with more sauce. When they're nice and coated and have grill marks, pull from the bbq and serve.

To finish off Jim's birthday dinner I made smashed potatoes, corn on the cob, fresh slices of watermelon, and baked beans. Pun intended - he was HOG happy! LOL

These ribs were delicious. Sweet and tangy with a little kick from the pepper flakes. I'll be making these again!

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

.pan-seared pork chops w/ cream sauce and fried sage leaves.

I know what you're thinking. The title is very wordy. But hey! You can't leave anything out, right?

The newest season of Hell's Kitchen is on again and it always seems to inspire me to cook something uber impressive. Maybe one day I will actually cook something like this for Mr. Gordon Ramsay himself! And maybe... just maybe he won't spit it into the trash on the first bite. I can wish!!!

Do you find yourself making the same kind of pork chop recipe over and over? Do you take the easy way out and use Shake n' Bake? If you want to try something new, that's delicious and impressive (and not too difficult!), I really suggest you try this recipe.

****NOTE: If you haven't noticed, I haven't taken many step by step photos because it's very time consuming. If the recipe is more complicated where you need visuals, I will take more pictures.****

Here are the directions to make this dish-----

Heat a skillet over medium to medium high heat.

Season your pork chops with a little sea salt and fresh black pepper. I bought about 1 1/2" thick chops because the thin ones cook too fast, have less flavor, and are easy to overcook... and when you overcook them, they get really dry. Not what we want. So make sure you get those thick babies!

Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil in the skillet and carefully place each chop in. Sear for 3 minutes on each side. Searing is really important because not only does it give the meat more flavor and color, but it seals in all of the juices. If you don't hear a sizzle when you put the chops in, your pan wasn't hot enough.

When the chops have been seared on all sides, transfer to a baking sheet or baking dish and pop into a 350* oven for 15 minutes. When you remove the chops from the oven, they should be perfectly cooked inside with a slightly pink center. If it's too pink, put back in the oven for 5 minutes more.

Don't freak out. The FDA has come a long way in how they handle and process pork so you don't have to cook it to well done anymore. You will find that the chop is so juicy and moist when you do this. Trust me... it's all good.

Let the chops rest for 5 minutes before plating.

Now for the cream sauce ---

When the pork chops are resting, we're going to make the sauce. Heat the same skillet back up on the burner. Make sure you don't clean the pan because we want all of those little stuck on bits to be in our sauce.

When it's hot, add a pat of butter and melt. Saute a clove of garlic, about 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes (halved), and a small handful of chopped maitaki mushroom. (I used maitaki because that's what I bought at the Farmer's Market this past weekend -- delicious mushroom!!). If you don't have maitaki, use cremini or shitaki. Saute for a 2-3 minutes.

Add 1 cup white wine and whisk, scraping the bottom of the skillet to bring up all of the stuck on pieces. Let the wine reduce in half. Add 1 cup heavy cream. You can use half and half if you wish to cut the fat. Let simmer for a couple of minutes. If the sauce is a little thick, add some chicken tock to thin down a little. Taste and season with sea salt and fresh black pepper. Add a pat of butter and whisk in. Make sure you whisk as it melts so it doesn't separate with the cream.

I served this with risotto (I threw some maitaki mushrooms into the risotto, otherwise, it's the same recipe linked). Put a spoonful of risotto in the center of the plate. Place a pork chop on top of the rice, then spoon some cream sauce over the top of that! Garnish with fried sage leaves.

**To make the sage leaves, heat a little oil in a pan. Drop in fresh sage leaves (about 4-5 per person) and fry until they stop bubbling. Pull from the oil and drain on paper towel.

Printable version:

Monday, August 3, 2009

.blackberry pie for one.

My sister, Ronda, sent me an email the other day with a bunch of links. When I clicked on each of the links, I was taken to various sites that have been making mini pies! Well, that got me hankering for pie and decided to make some that night for dessert.

The instructions on one of the sites required 4oz Ball canning jars but I don't have any so I used my ramekins instead. Nothing like having your very own pie to put a smile on my face.

Before I get ahead of myself, I'll share the link. Not Martha

I made a butter pastry. 2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar mixed together in a bowl. Cut in 1 cup cold butter until the mix is crumbly. Spoon in some ice water until the dough pulls together. Divide into 8 balls. Roll each ball out and carefully line the inside of the ramekin, or ball jar.

Fill the pie up 3/4 of the way with the filling. Since I was in a hurry and didn't have fresh or frozen blackberries on hand, I used a jar of pie filling I had in my cupboard. Blackberry cobbler filling from Cracker Barrel. Mmmmm...

Roll out the other pieces of dough and top each of the ramekins. Trim the edges and then carefully tuck under and crimp. Make sure you put a vent hole in the dough before you put it on the pie because it's difficult to do. You can even use a mini cookie cutter if you want.
Brush the top with eggwash (in a bowl crack 1 egg and add 1 Tbsp water, whisk together) and then sprinkle generously with sugar. Bake at 350* until the tops are nice and golden.
Now if you want to take these out of the molds for serving, wait until they have cooled substantially otherwise the pie will collapse on itself like it did for me. I can be so impatient!
Serve with some vanilla ice cream and garnish with a sprig of mint for final presentation. This recipe will definitely impress your friends and family!