Monday, May 21, 2007

Mother's Day a Week Late

As I mentioned last weekend, my mom had to work, so we Mother's Day-ed her today and I tried to fill the meal with things she liked. I remember growing up that dinner from H.R. Ribsters was a big deal, and I distinctly remember her excitement at making these little "Bubbly Pies," (I think they were from a scifi book) that were essentially little blueberry tarts. I'd also made that goat cheese ice cream a few weeks ago, and planned to serve it with the pie (and as I'd hoped, they were great together!)

We all decided that the ribs were good, but "different." I think Dave called them "interesting" but he promised me that wasn't a bad thing. He did hit it on the head when he said that he is used to bbq ribs - flavorwise. These had the char from the oven, but the sauce wasn't very bbq-esque. It was very simple, in fact. Honey, cayenne pepper, and fresh thyme. The simple sauce didn't mask the flavor of the ribs, which was really great.

Because we were starving, I probably rushed the corn cakes, as they were a little too floury. I've made them a few times, each previously a great success. I really enjoy how fresh and summery they are, and I find them a perfect side for any bbq/cookout.

With the sweet potatoes/yams, it calls for Wegmans basting oil - all that is is olive oil with herbs in it, so feel free to substitute what you like. I'd also start checking them at 35-40 minutes, I think 50 is too long and can make for squishy wedges.

The corn cakes are from The Domestic Goddess' site, and the sweet potatoes are a Wegmans recipe.

I'll save the blueberry pie disaster story for Tuesday. Stay tuned!

Thyme-Glazed Baby Back Ribs
From: Happy in the Kitchen: The Craft of Cooking, the Art of Eating
By Michel Richard

2 racks baby back ribs (about 2 pounds each)
1/3 cup fine sea salt, plus additional for sprinkling
1 large leek
5 star anise
2 teaspoons chili flakes
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
8 thyme sprigs, plus 2 teaspoons thyme leaves
2 cups 1-ince chunks onion (about ½ large)
2 cups 1-inch carrots (about 4 large)
1 ½ cups honey
1 cup red wine vinegar
Cayenne pepper
Freshly ground black pepper

Cut each rack of ribs crosswise into 2 pieces, and place in a large stockpot. Add enough cold water to just cover, about 4 quarts. Add the salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. As the water heats, skim off any foam that rises and place it in a bowl. Once no more foam comes to the surface, strain the contents of the bowl through a fine-mesh strained back into the pot, then discard the scum remaining in the strainer.

Meanwhile, cut off the green portions of the leek (discard or reserve for another use) and the root end. Split the leek lengthwise and rinse under warm water to remove any dirt; set aside. Place the star anise, chili flakes, peppercorns, and 4 of the thyme sprigs on a square of cheesecloth and tie into a bundle.

Once there s no more foam in the stockpot, add the spice bundle, leek onions, carrots, 1 cup of the honey, and the vinegar to the pot. Partially cover the pot and reduce the heat to keep the liquid at just under a simmer; there should only be very light bubbling at the edges of the pot. Cook for 45 minutes, or until the meat is tender but not yet falling from the bones. Remove the pot from the heat and cool the ribs completely in the liquid.

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet pan with a Silpat or parchment paper.

Remove the meat from the cooking liquid and drain on paper towels. (Discard the liquid.) Scrape away and discard any silverskin remaining on the underside of the ribs. Dry the ribs completely.

Warm the remaining ½ cup honey in the microwave or on the stove until liquefied. Add cayenne pepper to taste. Brush both sides of the ribs with half the honey and sprinkle with the thyme leaves, salt, and black pepper. Place the ribs meaty side up on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the ribs for about 30 minutes, or until the tops are lightly caramelized and shiny.

Serve a half rack per person, or cut into individual ribs. Place the ribs on a platter, brush with the remaining honey, and garnish with the remaining thyme sprigs.

Serves 4 as a main course or 4 to 6 as an appetizer.


Corn Cakes
c/o The Domestic Goddess

1⁄2 cup flour
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 large egg
1/3 cup milk
2 cups corn kernels
½ Vidalia onion, chopped finely
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
Pinch or two of crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (for frying)
In a bowl, combine flour, salt, pepper, egg and milk until just combined. Fold in corn, onion, chives and parsley.

Heat about 1 1⁄2 - 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in large skillet on medium heat. Drop 1⁄4 cups of batter onto skillet (or more if you want bigger cakes). Flatten slightly with spatula and cook until browned, about 4 minutes per side.

Repeat with remaining batter, keeping cooked cakes warm in oven until served. Serve with maple syrup or hot sauce, depending on what they are accompanying.


Roasted Yams
c/o Wegmans Menu Magazine, Holiday 2003

4 medium yams (about 3 1/4 lbs total), cut in wedges
4 Tbsp Wegmans Basting Oil, divided
1 small (about 1/4 lb) red onion, peeled, halved, thinly sliced
1/4 cup Italian Classics Three Leaf Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
2 Tbsp grated Italian Classics Parmigiano-Reggiano

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place yams in single layer on large baking sheet; toss with 3 Tbsp basting oil to coat. Roast on center rack about 45 min or until tender.

Heat remaining 1 Tbsp basting oil in skillet on medium until oil faintly smokes. Add onion; cook, stirring, about 10 min, until slightly browned and soft. Add vinegar, stirring to loosen browned bits on bottom of pan. Cook 2-3 min to reduce to syrupy consistency.

Remove yams from oven; spoon onion mix evenly over top. Sprinkle with cheese. Roast about 10 min.

Option(s): Garnish with additional cheese, if desired.

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