Good morning all.
My life has been overrun by my part-time job, internship, and now the World Cup. What will I watch when the World Cup is over?
Anyway….We celebrated Father’s Day a few days early this year. Initially, my plan was to make some delicious hanger steak. I’ve seen hanger steak at this one grocery store I often turn to for my foodie needs. However, (as predicted) the store did not have hanger steak in stock when I was, of course, looking for it. So, Plan B? Barbecued beef short ribs.
I started off by rubbing the ribs with a nice spice mix. For two slabs of ribs, I used (adapted from here):
4 TBSP brown sugar
2 TBSP smoked paprika
3 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
I let the ribs sit in the rub all day so all the flavors could marry. If I had things my way, I would’ve smoked these ribs for about 4-6 hours over low heat with hickory wood chips and such. Buuut, I don’t have a smoker. So instead, I opted to braise the ribs first, then finish them on the grill. In a roasting pan with a rack, add 1 16oz bottle of beer and some water so that there is about an inch of liquid in the pan. Place the ribs that you rubbed at least 12 hours ago on the roasting rack and put them in the pan. Cover with foil, and place in a preheated 250F oven. Roast for 1.5-2 hours. Check your ribs after an hour to be sure there is enough liquid. When the ribs are done (the meat on mine was falling off the bones – a challenge to get on the grill, but so worth it), slather (and I mean SLATHER. BATHE those ribs) in some barbecue sauce and grill for about 10 minutes.
While you’ve got some time on your hands as the ribs are braising, you may as well make your own barbecue sauce, right? Well, I did. I had no idea what I was doing, and it thankfully came out really well. I adapted this sauce from a variety of sources in an attempt to combine the best of both tomato-based and vinegar-based sauces. My sauce started out involving about…
1 1/2 cups of apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup of ketchup
1 TBSP molasses
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp paprika
some freshly cracked black pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
2 TBSP brown sugar
Whisk all the ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Then, reduce to a simmer. Cook until the mixture has reduced and thickened to your desired consistency. I think I cooked mine for about 20-30 minutes. It was perfect timing, really. Once I put it in the refrigerator, the sauce thickened up really nicely. The sauce was REALLY vinegary at first, but it sweetened throughout the cooking process. Throughout cooking, I added a few more shakes of paprika for an additional smokey flavor, and a few more shakes of cumin for….well, mostly because I enjoy cumin a lot. The sauce was sweet, but had a nice kick. A perfect blend.
Now that the ribs are figured out, it’s time for the side dishes. I decided to make grilled vegetable kebabs with summer squash, cherry tomatoes, onion, and little bell peppers. To go along with the vegetables, I made a sauce inspired by the chimichurri sauce native to Uruguay and Argentina (and probably other countries, too). It’s an awesome sauce, traditionally made with parsley, garlic, pepper and olive oil. I needed all of my parsley for the crab cakes I planned to make, so I used basil, oregano, and cilantro. The recipe is adapted from here. It turned out really nicely. Cilantro is such a powerful herb, and when combined with garlic, it stands out with such an intensity. I minced the garlic VERY finely (almost to a paste) so it functioned on an aromatic level, as well. (Yesterday, I spread some of the sauce on some bread and made a sandwich with it. I hope to use the rest of the leftover sauce as a marinade — it’d be awesome with chicken.)
Along with the grilled vegetable kebabs, I made some crab cakes. I used the same recipe as in here, except I added a little more mustard and worcestershire sauce. The difference ended up being minimal, but the cakes were still REALLY good.
Completing the compendium of side dishes was some awesome Mexican-inspired grilled corn on the cob, adapted from here. I grilled the corn for about 20 minutes, rotating the cobs every now and then to ensure even cooking.
Then, I deviated from the original recipe a bit and spread only a little butter and mayo on the warm cobs. I felt 1 TBSP of each was waaayy too much. I grated some cotija cheese, sprinkled it on the cobs, and dusted with a little smoked paprika. The cobs were still fairly warm, so the cheese ended up melting slightly. The mayo and cheese added a nice salty bite to the juicy, sweet corn.
And that was that! It was a fantastic and flavorful dinner. I don’t usually like barbecue sauce (I have been rather vocal about my dislike — the bottled nonsense is always way too sweet…), but thought this was deliciously savory, sticky, sweet, spicy, and perhaps most importantly, addictive as all hell. I could’ve eaten an entire rack of short ribs (in all fairness, there isn’t THAT much meat on ribs).
Happy Father’s Day to all, and Happy Summer, too!
Hopefully you’ll forgive me for my disappearance.
I really haven’t cooked at all since I’ve been back home, with the exception of Mother’s Day. Within the last year or so, my Dad and I have successfully joined forces in the kitchen to make good food for my Mom (hi Mom!) – whether for her birthday or Mother’s Day.
This year, I unfortunately had to work the evening of Mother’s Day, but we made an awesomely huge lunch to make up for it.
First up is grilled lamb chops. Yes, lamb. As many of you may have observed, this blog is called everything but the baa. I’ve undoubtedly explained this in the past, but will reiterate here. I try to avoid eating lamb. Not because it tastes badly, but because of how much I enjoy living lambs. I make exceptions for occasions such as these, because lamb is one of my Mom’s favorite things.
Having said that, here is roughly what we did.
I have to say, I highly prefer grilled lamb over roasted. Then again, I find I tend to have a preference toward almost anything grilled. I enjoy the smokey flavor. Initially, we thought the sauce’s recipe called for too much lemon zest so we halved it. Personally, I would have appreciated the full amount, but even with half it tasted wonderfully. The lemon serves two purposes here. The zest functions as an aromatic enhancement, while the juice brightens the intensity of all the herbs. I thought the combination of mint and rosemary with lamb seemed a little tired, and was so happy to find this recipe. The thyme and parsley pair quite well with lamb.
We decided to go with a surf-and-turf theme and make some serious crab cakes. Seafood is one of my favorite food groups (in fact, I think it may be THE favorite), but I make it a point to avoid restaurant crab cakes at all cost. In fact, you should avoid commercial crab cakes as well. It’s well-known that the cakes are nothing but filler (be it bread crumbs, crushed crackers, or whatever other non-crab ingredient they throw in there). I actually quite pride myself on these cakes, adopted from here.
I only had 1 lb. of jumbo lump crab meat, so I adjusted the recipe accordingly. The bottoms were a little crispy, at which I initially freaked out. However, it worked out well, because crispy crab meat is delicious. After they came out of the oil, I set them on a plate lined with two paper towels. Do this, otherwise the oil will sit in the cakes and make them soggy and greasy (and who wants that?). Next time, I would probably increase the amount of Worcestershire sauce a little bit, as well as the mustard. I love the taste of crab (more than lobster, if I’m honest), but I wanted some more of the other flavors in the cakes. Nevertheless, these cakes were great because I was able to control how much filler went into them. Once you make these, there is no going back to those….excuses you get at most restaurants.
And finally, for the vegetable component to the meal, I blanched some green beans and tossed them in olive oil, salt and pepper. Simple, but so good with lamb. The beans were so crunchy and full of vibrancy. In fact, a squirt of lemon juice over them would’ve been great.
And that is that! I made blackberry souffles (first try ever!) for breakfast, but never took pictures. They turned out nicely, but I wasn’t that enthusiastic about them. I guess I expected something different (I’ve never had a souffle before).
Oh, fun fact. I turned 21 this past Tuesday, and to celebrate, I got cannolis instead of a birthday cake. If you are in the Central Jersey area, PLEASE go to this bakery. They have a location in Brooklyn (which is what the site links to), and one on Middlesex Ave in Metuchen. They have some of the finest cannolis I have had the pleasure of eating. Good bakeries are dying out, so SUPPORT THEM (but leave all the cannolis for me)!