Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My Special Baking Project

Please excuse my absence.  I've been busy making a Fausto.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

2 Year Blogiversary!

Today is my 2 year blogiversary!  My, how things have changed in 2 years.  I know I've been conspicuously absent on this blog lately, but I promise I've been busy.  I've been working on a very special baking project that I hope comes out of the oven around May 4 :)

I still have plenty of delicious recipes to share, so stay tuned!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

All Star Soup

I am loving Top Chef All Stars this season.  Bringing back the best contestants (or biggest characters) to compete against each other was a great idea from the TC producers.  One of the best parts of this season has also been following my friend De's awesome blog, where she gives the play by play with running commentary of every episode.  Its hysterical and whenever I read I'm constantly exclaiming, "That's exactly what I was thinking!  What's up with that?"  To add to the fun of the competition, we all pick 2 contestants to win it all.  One of my picks this season is crazy Carla.  She's a nut, but she's not a jerk like the majority of the chefs.  And I love her style of cooking simple, delicious food.  So I was thrilled a few weeks ago when she won the episode!  The challenge was to create a healthy but filling dish to serve at the US Open.  Carla decided to make a vegetarian African peanut soup, which immediately intrigued me.  We also found out that Carla's a runner, so she knows what kind of fuel athletes need.  The other chefs doubted Carla's choice, thinking it wasn't sophisticated enough.  Don't they know that's what Carla does best?  Taking humble comfort food and executing it so perfectly that she kicks your molecular-foam-freeze-dried-loving butt!  The judges loved her spicy stew and she won a trip to Italy!

This soup worked out so well for Carla, I had to create my own version.  I didn't get much info on what went into Carla's soup, other than that she used sweet potatoes and when she presented it to the judges she called it a "ground nut soup," so I'm guessing she didn't use the peanuts but went with a different nut.  Smart move, since just about any nut is healthier than a peanut.  But I decided to stick with the peanut for my version.  I ground the peanuts in the food processor until they made a peanut butter, but you could also just buy natural peanut butter.
I scoured the internets for African peanut soup recipes, and found that its traditionally made with chicken and often has coconut milk.  Sweet potatoes and chickpeas replaced the chicken in my version.
I used lots of fresh chopped vegetables as the base.
TC judge Gail had commented that Carla's soup was really spicy.  I like a little heat, but probably not as much as Carla used.  I used harissa, which is a North African hot chili sauce that has a little smokiness.  You could use any chile sauce, and adjust the amount to your taste.  I think this would also be delicious with chipotle peppers, usually my go-to for adding heat to dishes.
This soup is perfect for a snowy January.  Warm, comforting and hearty, but still healthy and not too heavy for those of use trying to recover from a gluttonous holiday season.

African Peanut Soup
serves 4 - 6
2 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 Tbs fresh ginger, peeled and grated
3/4 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, or 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1 Tbs harissa, or other chile sauce to taste
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1" cubes
1 x 28 can whole plum tomatoes
1 cup coconut milk
2 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
1 x 15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste
chopped peanuts, cilantro, and sour cream, for garnish
  • If using whole peanuts, grind in food processor until they form peanut butter.
  • Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onion, peppers and carrot and saute until softened, about 8 minutes.  Add garlic and ginger and saute 30 seconds until fragrant.  Add peanut butter and harissa and saute 30 seconds.
  • Add sweet potatoes to pot and let cook for a few minutes.  Meanwhile, pour canned tomatoes with juices into a large bowl and crush with hands or a potato masher.  Add tomatoes to pot and stir.  
  • Add coconut milk, vegetable broth, spices and salt and pepper.  Cover pot and lower heat to a simmer.  Simmer for about 20 minutes, until sweet potatoes are just tender.  Add chickpeas and taste to adjust seasonings.  Simmer another 10 minutes.
  • Serve soup topped with chopped peanuts and chopped fresh cilantro.  Its also good with a dollop of sour cream.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Italian Cooking

At long last and with much ado, I'm finally ready to share with you the extraordinary trip to Italy we took all the way back in October.  During our trip we spent 5 days on the Tuscan countryside, staying at the Castello di Spaltenna in Gaiole in Chianti.
If you look real hard you can see me waving from the top left window.  The highlight of the trip for me was the private cooking class my mother and I took with Chef Simone at the Malborghetto restaurant.  Chef Simone greeted us warmly with warm espresso when we arrived at the restaurant late morning to learn how to prepare a delicious traditional 4-course Tuscan lunch.
The restaurant was not open for dining, they were just starting to prep for their dinner service.  Chef Simone was an amazing teacher.  Warm, friendly and patient, and full of tips and tricks.  I was surprised at how much we learned from him!  Simone invited us into his small and tidy kitchen and we got right to cooking.  The first step was to prepare dessert, which was an Italian classic - Tiramisu.  I've never made it before and was surprised at how easy it was.  We started by separating egg whites and yolks.
My mother beat the whites to a soft peak with some sugar.
I whisked together the yolks and mascarpone cheese, then gently folded in the whites.
Then we started layering the custard with delicate, slightly crunchy Italian ladyfingers quickly dunked in strong espresso.
And that's it!  The Tiramisu needs a couple of hours in the fridge to set, but we whipped it up in just a few minutes.  Next it was time to start the sauce for the pasta course, a hearty Bolognese.  Bolognese is a meat sauce made with very little tomato - the meat is the star.  We started by grinding onions, carrots and celery in a very serious grinder.
For those of us who don't have industrial meat grinders, a food processor will do.  One of the many clever tricks Chef Simone taught us was to soak onions in cold water before chopping to eliminate tears.
We then sauteed the vegetables in olive oil. 
As the vegetables sauteed and softened, we learned another trick.  If the vegetables are starting to brown too quickly, and aren't softened yet - add water!  Simone told us it was a chef's secret that they never talked about because it just sounds too simple.  But its a very obvious way to add moisture without changing the flavor.  Once the vegetables were well softened, we added ground beef.  The chef didn't use a lot of measurements.  For this sauce, he just said to eyeball an equal volume of vegetables and ground beef.
Once the meat was browned, we added a little pureed tomato and red wine, then let the sauce simmer while we moved onto the pasta.  Homemade, of course.  Chef Simone pulled together the dough for spinach-ricotta ravioli like magic.  A little flour, a little water, one egg and some salt kneaded together yielded the most perfect pasta dough I've ever seen.  I was amazed at how sturdy it was as we rolled it out and yet still so light.
My mother and I set up a little assembly line to fill the ravioli with a mixture of frozen blanched spinach and ricotta.  
Ricotta in Italy is different than what we have in the the states.  Its much creamier and smoother.
The ravioli was placed on floured baking sheets and then frozen.  It can go straight from freezer to boiling water, so you can make a large batch ahead of time and just cook them as you need them.

With all this prep done, we moved onto our appetizer.  I have to be honest, I was a little nervous when the chef told us we would be making chicken liver crostini.  I've never had liver before, and it did not appeal to me.  But under Chef Simone's tutelage we put together a warm liver spread that was rich and earthy, with just a mild liver flavor.  You start by sauteing onions in olive oil, and then added whole livers to the pan.  They need to be well cleaned - best to have a butcher do that.
Cook the livers through, then add sweet wine, anchovy paste and capers.  The sweet and salty elements keep the liver from being too overpowering in this dish.  Once everything is cooked, you mash it all together or give it a quick whirl in the food processor and serve with toasted bread. 

Finally, we moved onto the main course.  Yes, there's more food!  This was a very traditional Tuscan dish of white beans and sausage.  Chef Simone had cooked the cannellini beans ahead of time with some herbs and garlic, but he said canned would also do.  This dish was incredibly simple but flavorful.  You just start with some beans, garlic, sage rosemary, sausage (casings removed) and a little tomato sauce.
Simone chops up several heads of garlic at the beginning of the week and stores them in a jar with some safflower oil.  For everything else in the kitchen he uses extra virgin olive oil, of course.

Saute the garlic, sage and rosemary in olive oil and then add the sausage and a little water.
When the sausage is nearly cooked through, add the beans, a scoop of tomato sauce, and salt and pepper.  Cook until beans are soft and start to break down.

And then...it was time to eat!  We started with the chicken liver crostini, served in a little fondue pot-type dish with a candle underneath.
I really was surprised at how much I enjoyed it!  But I had to pace myself, knowing all the food that was to come.  Before the pasta course, Simone brought us back into the kitchen to teach us how to make a parmesan basket to serve pasta in.  You just sprinkle grated parmesan cheese cheese into a small non-stick skillet, melt it over a low heat, and then flip it onto an upside down bowl to form a bowl shape as it cools.
Delicious melted cheese and lovely presentation!
This was easily one of my favorite dishes of our trip.  Delicate pasta with a rich, hearty sauce.  The main course came next, humble beans and sausage elevated to a whole new level.
And of course, the Tiramisu for dessert, dusted with grated chocolate.  I was completely stuffed at this point, but could not help eating all of this!
Cooking in this beautiful, authentic Tuscan restaurant with such a warm and knowledgeable teacher was definitely the highlight or our Italian vacation.
We even got aprons with our names on them!  Thank you, Chef Simone!

Now obviously I've been home for 2 months and have had plenty of time to try out these recipes on my own.  First up had to be the Bolognese.  As I started to gather my ingredients, I realized we didn't have any red wine, an essential component to the sauce.  I ran down to our local Wine Emporium, and was shocked and thrilled to see that they carried the Chianti Classico from the tiny Castello di Spaltenna, where we stayed in Tuscany!
I'm glad we didn't try to lug any of this wine home, knowing that we can pick it up right down the street.  Not having a professional grinder, I chopped my onions, celery and carrots in the food processor.  Much easier than chopping by hand!
For meat, I used ground beef from Hardwick Beef.
After a long simmer with lots of red wine, I served my Bolognese over penne (not quite ready to attempt the homemade pasta) with a parmesan bowl that turned out to be more of a parmesan plate.
We were immediately transported back to the Tuscan countryside.  And now you can be, too!

Chef Simone's Bolognese
2 large onions
4 large carrots
4 stalks of celery
2 Tbs olive oil
1 Tbs tomato paste

2 lbs ground beef
1 - 2 cups dry red wine
1/2  - 1 cup pureed tomatoes
salt and pepper
  • Peel the onions and carrots and cut them into large chunks.  Whir them in food processor with the celery until finely chopped, but not turned to mush.
  • Heat olive oil in large dutch oven over medium hear, and add vegetables.  Saute until softened, about 10 minutes.  Add tomato paste and saute a few more minutes
  • Add ground beef, breaking up large chunks, and saute until just browned.  Add about 1/2 cup red wine and reduce heat to a simmer.  Continue adding red wine as it cooks off.  
  • When meat is cooked through and it starts to look saucy, add pureed tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.  Simmer on low for another 20 minutes or so, add more tomato if sauce starts to look dry.  
  • Serve over your favorite pasta with lots of parmesan cheese.

Buon Appetito!

Next up, I'm going to be making Tiramisu for Christmas Eve.  My parents are hosting the Feast of the Seven Fishes!  Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fall Risotto

Why hello there...remember me?  I used to blog here occasionally.  About food.  I hope you didn't forget about me or give up hope that I would return.  Well for a good chunk of this month I was unable to connect with you because I was eating my way around Italy.  What an amazing place!  But I'm not quite ready to share that trip with you today.  I'm a little rusty on this whole blogging thing, so I'm just going to share with you a tasty, simple fall recipe.

After weeks of eating lots of pasta and not a lot of vegetables, I needed to come home to something slightly more virtuous.  Not that this recipe is light, and its still delicious.  Its hearty, but it is definitely healthy.  And uses the best flavors of the season.

To beef up the healthy factor I passed on the rice and used heart-healthy barley as the base of this recipe.  Then added some fall produce.
Butternut squash, kale, sage, shallots and garlic.  The butternut squash is roasted until soft, so some of it melts into the risotto but there are still some meaty chunks.  
And the bitter kale is such a nice contrast to the sweetness of the squash and another seasonal treat I threw in the mix - dried cranberries!

I have a nice little tip for scraping the seeds out of squash.  I always use a grapefruit spoon.
The serrated edges are perfect for removing all the seed goo that likes to hang onto the squash.  This is also a good tool to remove seeds from chili peppers.

What really makes this recipe luscious and creamy is the addition of goat cheese.  I stirred in a whole log at the end and it also adds a great tang.
This recipe make a huge batch that I've been eating for lunch all week.  It reheats very well.
Butternut Squash and Kale Barley Risotto
1 medium butternut squash, about 1 - 2 lbs
1 medium bunch of kale, tough stems removed, washed and chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
1 large shallot, diced
1 Tbs chopped fresh sage
1 large clove garlic, minced or crushed
1.5 cups pearl barley
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
handful of dried cranberries
4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
  • Preheat oven to 400º
  • Peel, remove seeds and chop butternut squash into 1" chunks
  • Toss with about 1 Tbs olive oil and season with salt and pepper in a large roasting pan
  • Roast squash about 20 minutes, until tender
  • Heat broth in a medium saucepan over low heat until just warm.  Keep over low heat
  • Meanwhile, heat 2 Tbs olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add shallots and sage and saute 2 - 3 minutes.  Add garlic and saute 1 minute more
  • Add barely to pan and toss to coat in oil.  Cook about 1 minute
  • Add 2 ladlefuls of broth to barley mixture. bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to low.  Stir and cover saute pan.  Cook about 5 - 10 minutes, until most of the broth is absorbed.  Continue to add broth by the ladleful and cooking until absorbed..  About half way through cooking, add kale, stir, and cover.  Continue to add broth and cook until kale is wilted and barely is just tender.
  • Stir in cranberries and roasted butternut squash, cooking and stirring another minute or 2.
  • Crumble goat cheese over the top and stir until all the goat cheese is incorporated.

Serve warm and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Labor Party

Our annual Labor Day celebration has become one of my favorite events of the year.  For an entire long weekend, I get to plan a menu and cook every meal for a group of food and drink-loving and appreciating friends.  For some people this might sound like a nightmare, but for me its a dream come true.  I get to design a menu and theme meals using the freshest late-summer produce, explore new recipes, re-invent classics, and feed it all to my wonderful (and drunk) friends who enjoy every bite.  And we get to do all this at my favorite place in the world - our Cape house!
I was especially excited this year because we got to start our weekend early.  The house was empty as of Thursday, so we were able to drive down Thursday night and stay all the way until Monday.  Even with a grumpy gentleman called (Hurricane) Earl attempting to derail our plans.  As of Thursday morning, it was not looking good.  This hurricane was predicted to nail us Friday night with heavy wind and rain.  Our little cottage has been through a lot of storms.  According to family legend it was even picked up and moved down the street during one in the 60s.  My grandfather and his brother rolled it back in place on telephone poles.  Uphill.  With one hand.  In the snow.  With no shoes on.  You get the picture, its been through a lot.  But, you definitely do not want to be inside it when its faced with a storm.  I was quite nervous, but figured we needed to head down to batten the hatches, so we braved it with Colucci and Daisy and drove down Thursday night.  Thank god I had a serious blogger with me.  I totally forgot my fancy camera so many of these pictures are stolen from Daisy.  And check out her adorable and clever posts about the weekend!  Daisy brings the wit, I'll bring the recipes.

We woke Friday morning to a rather lovely day.
And even though it wasn't Saturday, I made a batch of blueberry pancakes and bacon with the last blueberries of the season (tear).
We moved all the furniture off the deck, but it was so nice out all day that we ended up moving it back so we could hang out on it.  We went for walks on the beach and swam.
Colucci assembled the Red Baron and got it in the air.
There was a lot of kite-flying this weekend.
Daisy and I tackled an impossible black and white Ansel Adams puzzle.
And then it was time for more eating and drinking.  Colucci made a batch of delicious Tom Collins, squeezing endless lemons and limes and mixing them with simple syrup, club soda, and gin.
Friday night's dinner had an Italian theme, so I started assembling bruschetta for appetizers.
Please ignore the hurricane hair.
Tomato-Olive Bruschetta
1 baguette, sliced
2 Tbs olive oil, plus more for brushing bread
3 large ripe tomatoes
1 clove of garlic, diced
1/4 cup sliced kalamata olives
2 Tbs torn basil
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
  • Pre-heat oven to 350º
  • Brush both sides of baguette slices generously with olive oil and place them on baking sheet.  Bake about 15 minutes, turning once, until crisp and golden.
  • Meanwhile, chop tomatoes and add them to a medium bowl.  Stir in garlic, olives and basil.  
  • Whisk together 2 Tbs olive oil and 1 Tbs vinegar, pour over tomato mixture and toss.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Spoon tomato mixture over bread slices and serve immediately.
As apps were being served, it started to get dark and ominous outside.
But we drew a line in the sand that Earl would not cross.
We actually just took bets on how high the water would come up.  And I won because I was still convinced that this storm was going to be brutal.  Turns out, it was nothing but a little wind and rain.  Lisa even drove down to join us during the heart of the storm!  But first, dinner is served.
I've posted pictures of my famous seafood lasagna on the blog before, but never shared the recipe.  Its a crowd-pleaser every time.  Its starts with your basic red sauce, ricotta, pasta and mozzarella, but a couple twists make it extraordinary.  First, there are layers of sauteed shrimp, scallops and lobster meat.
Then each slice is topped with a healthy serving of tomato-basil bechamel.
Its rich, savory and decadent.  Perfect served with a ceasar salad made with homemade dressing and croutons.
So at long last and by popular demand...

Seafood Lasagna with Tomato Basil Bechamel
Serves 10
Adapted from Seasoned by the Sea by Cynthia & Robert Ahern
1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb scallops
2 small cooked lobster tails
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp pepper
1 quart tomato sauce
1 lb box no-boil lasagna noodles
2 lbs part-skim ricotta
2 eggs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 cup grated fresh mozzarella
For Bechamel:
4 Tbs unsalted butter
6 Tbs flour
1 1/2 cups seafood stock
1 1/2 cups milk
2 Tbs tomato paste
2 Tbs chopped basil
salt and pepper to taste
pinch of nutmeg
  • Cut shrimp, scallops and lobster meat into bite-sized chunks.  Not too big, not too small.  Heat olive oil in a large saute pan and cook shrimp and scallops for 2 to 3 minutes.  And lobster, oregano, basil and pepper and cook until just heated through.  Remove the seafood and set aside, and drain the liquid and set aside of bechamel.
  • Preheat oven to 350º
  • Mix together ricotta, parmesan, and eggs.  In a 10-by-13 baking dish, begin with a layer of tomato sauce.  Top with a layer of lasagna noodles.  Spread one third of ricotta mixture on top of pasta and top with a third of seafood.  Top with noodles, tomato sauce and ricotta and continue layering until you have 3 seafood layers, then top with a generous amount of tomato sauce.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove foil, sprinkle with mozzarella and cook for another 15 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned.
  • Lasagna should set for about 30 minutes after cooking, so account for that time in your schedule.
While lasagna cooks, make bechamel:
  • In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat.  Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 4 minutes.  Mix together cooking liquid from seafood and seafood stock and pour into roux, whisking to eliminate lumps.
  • When sauce is hot, stir in tomato paste, salt and pepper, nutmeg and basil.
  • Just before serving, stir in milk and heat until hot and thick but not boiling.
  • Serve lasagna cut into squares, topped with bechamel and garnished with fresh basil.
Then go swimming at midnight in a hurricane, if you're my stupid husband.
We weathered the storm, the house stayed in place, and we woke up to a beautiful morning.
And egg sandwiches made with my favorite buttermilk biscuits.
Then enjoyed another fun day of swimming, kite flying, bocce and boating.
To be honest with you, Saturday night's dinner was the meal I was looking forward to the least.  The last couple years, Derek and I have talked about cooking lobster for everyone.  I said I'd be happy to serve lobster as long as I didn't have to put the lobster in the pot.  And did my darling husband say, "of course I'll cook the lobster for you, you do so much for all of us this weekend, its the least I could do"?  Oh, no. He gently reminded me of my former vegetarian belief that if you're going to eat something, you should be able to kill it, and tactfully pointed out how hypocritical I was being by eating the lobster and pawning the murder part off on someone else.  So I had always just refused to serve lobster.  But with my new meat-eating ways, I decided this year I would suck it up and treat everyone to a big lobster feast.  And big it was.
This critter was 10 pounds.  Huge!  I wasn't even sure if he'd fit in the pot.  Oh, but he did.  And I put him in myself.  I stuck him in the freezer for about 15 minutes before cooking to numb him, because that's supposed to be less painful.  Perhaps I should taken a few minutes in the freezer myself.
Yes, there was screaming and crying.  It reminded me of driving the OCV in New Zealand.  But I did it!

And it was worth it because this guy was delicious.  Luckily, Derek took over for the dismembering.
And left quite an impression on the kitchen window.

To serve with the lobster, I went simple and traditional.  Steamed corn on the cob and roasted potatoes.  
I made one of my favorite salads, not traditional New England fare, but still local and seasonal.
Watermelon Feta Salad
5 cups watermelon, seeded and chopped into 1" chunks
8 oz. feta cheese, chopped
1/4 cup sliced basil
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
2 Tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
  • Toss watermelon, feta and basil in a large bowl.
  • Whisk together vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper.
  • Pour over salad and toss.  Serve immediately.
After dinner, we walked over to the Sand Bar to see the legendary Rock King perform, which is also becoming a Labor Day tradition.  Last year, Rock celebrated his 50th year performing at the Sand Bar.  So you can imagine how old his jokes are. 

We returned home to these amazing Lemon Blueberry Ice Cream Sandwiches.
As I was serving Baked French Toast and more bacon Sunday morning, I realized that I might be trying to kill my guests this weekend with fat and calories. 
But Lisa reminded me that I was playing to my audience.  And this audience likes their bacon.

Lunch was, of course, lobster rolls.
And the theme for Sunday's dinner was very near to my heart (and might be clogging it) - Southern food night!  Starting with Pimento Cheese, of course.
I'm cheating with this picture - its from the Kentucky Derby!  But same food, same setting.

Pimento Cheese
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup copped roasted red peppers
3 Tbs mayonaise
hot sauce to taste
salt & pepper
  • Stir together all ingredients in a small bowl, seasoning with hot sauce and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve with celery sticks and Ritz crackers.  Or use as a sandwich spread.
The centerpiece for this meal turned out pretty amazing.  I based it on Smitten Kitchen's recipe for Sweet and Smoky Spareribs.  They cooked low and slow in the oven for 6 hours, and were meltingly tender, perfectly tangy and just a little sweet.
Sweet and Smoky Spareribs
inspired by Smitten Kitchen
Serves 8
8 - 10 lbs pork spareribs
1.5 cups brown sugar
1 Tbs chipotle chili powder
1 Tbs smoked paprika
3 tsp salt
2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 Tbs red wine vinegar
Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees. 
  • In a mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar, chipotle, paprika, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, cloves and ginger.  Mix together with a fork.
  • Place each slab of ribs on a piece of foil large enough to fold into a packet. Sprinkle
  • spice rub over the ribs, patting it in generously on all sides.
  • Turn the ribs meat side down and tightly fold the foil to make sealed packets.
  • Place each packet on its own baking sheet (I had 3) and place it in the oven. 
  • Bake for 4 hours at 200 degrees, then reduce the temperature to 175 for another two hours or until a fork easily penetrates the meat.
  • Open each packet carefully and pour the accumulated juices into a saucepan. Boil the juices and reduce them by half, at which point you will have a syrupy sauce that easily coats a spoon. Stir in paprika and vinegar.
  • Remove the ribs from the foil and serve the sauce alongside the ribs.
On the side, I served more of my biscuits, a peanut lime slaw, white wine braised kale, and baked beans. Well, they weren't exactly baked as I cooked them all on the stovetop.  But you get the idea.  The flavors complimented the ribs perfectly.
Root Beer Stove-Top Beans
2 Tbs canola oil
2 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 19 oz. cans cannellini beans, drained
1 1/2 cups root beer (preferably artisanal)
3 Tbs apple cider vinegar
3 Tbs molasses
2 Tbs tomato paste
2 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 tsp chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onion and saute until softened and starting to brown.
  • Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Add beans, root beer, vinegar, molasses, tomato paste, mustard, chipotle powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper; mix. 
  • Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a low simmer.  
  • Simmer until sauce is reduced and very thick.  Serve hot.  With ribs.
To one big happy family....
Monday had to come and we had to leave the beach once again.  Our delicious drunken weekend is over for this year.  Now I just have to start planning next year's menu.