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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Summer's Last Hurrah

During the week, primarily Daniel or myself prepare our meals separately, with very little help or input from the other. Either I’ll do most of the cooking at night before Daniel gets home, or if I’m working on something at the house, Daniel takes care of it. Saturday evenings are more or less our only opportunity to actually cook a meal together, so often when we do, it can get a little elaborate. However, with the beautiful weather we had this weekend, and with it being Labor Day weekend, we of course had to grill something. And seeing as how this was one of the few truly collaborative meals we’ve gotten to prepare together recently, we will be writing this post together!

Unlike the typical rib connoisseur, my tendency is not toward baby back, rib tip, or any other mainstream pork barbecue cut, instead leaning toward a meaty country-style pork loin rib. These are behemoths compared to the baby back, often served at your neighborhood barbecue joint, unless you happen to live in Memphis or some other barbecue haven which utilizes some variation. My idea for the sauce mixes a recent adventure of ours to the Jazz and Rib Fest here in Columbus, which I recommend if you are in the area next July, and a trip to a tiny barbecue joint in Mobile, Alabama, called Dreamland BBQ. It is one of those establishments that if there is no indicator within a mile of what that building is, you know it is a barbecue joint. The smoke wafts through the floorboards and around the room. From the chunks of fall-off-the-bone chicken to the stacks of white bread they serve it with, I can still envision the big guy sitting by the pit on a bar stool. Anyway, memories are strong entities and gave me something to think about when I was preparing the barbecue sauce.

3 Vinegar Barbecue Sauce

6 oz. can tomato puree

1 C. white vinegar

½ C. apple cider vinegar

2 T. balsamic vinegar

1 t. smoked paprika

1 t. liquid smoke

2 pieces of bacon chopped fine

3 T. canola oil

1 t. chili powder

3 garlic cloves

Salt and pepper to taste

Brown bacon and vinegar in saucepan for a couple minutes. Add vinegars, oil, liquid smoke, chili powder, paprika, and tomato paste stirring until combined. Simmer on low until thicken to desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Country Style Grilled Ribs

3 to 4 Servings

2 ½ # country style pork loin ribs

3 vinegar barbecue sauce (as mentioned above)

Soak ribs in barbecue sauce for at least an hour up to a day. Reserve some sauce for after cooking. Prepare grill for indirect cooking so ribs will not char too bad before being cooked through. Grill for approximately twenty minutes depending on grill’s temperature. Make sure ribs are 165 degrees near the bone before taking them off grill.

Although you can clearly see Daniel’s prowess at the grill, I remain unable to channel an inner Bobby Flay, which makes keeping the oven off difficult sometimes. When it came time to choose a side, all I really wanted to go with the ribs was a piece of corn bread or a biscuit. At first, I decide to give in and just use the oven, but as I pulled out the small cast iron skillet (the only real way to make corn bread), I had a flash back to a camping trip Daniel and I took for my birthday while we were living in Florida.

During the trip, we decided we were going to try to cook, and I had mixed up some corn bread before we left and put it in the cooler, with plans to cook it over the camp fire. It makes a nice mental image imagining the corn bread slowly cooking as the campfire flames lick the edges of the pan. What actually happened however, was that by the time we had pitched the tent, it was extremely dark and I had somehow managed to leave our flashlights behind….so we had to cook in the dark. I have no idea what the corn bread looked like, but judging from the taste, it was probably a black color. Smiling at this memory, I decided to use the iron skillet in a similar manner and try to grill the corn bread.

The result was much better than we anticipated. The sweetness from the red pepper and corn complimented the slight smoky flavor created by grilling, and as you can see from the picture, the corn bread turned out to be just slightly browned on the bottom giving a nice crispy sweet crust as we took our first bite.

Grilled Corn Bread with Roasted Red Peppers

Makes 4 Servings

½ Cup Corn Meal

½ Cup All Purpose Flour

1 Tbsp Sugar

1 Tsp Baking Powder

¼ Tsp Garlic Salt

Dash Salt

1 Egg Yolk, beaten

½ Cup Milk

2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil, Plus 1 tbsp

¼ Cup Frozen Corn

1 Green Onion, Diced

½ Roasted Red Pepper, diced

To grill: Grease small cast iron skillet with 1 tablespoon oil, letting most sit in bottom of the pan. Once grill is ready, place skillet on grill rack and allow to preheat 3-5 minutes before placing batter in pan.

To bake: Grease small cast iron skilled with approx ½ tablespoon oil, wiping sides and bottom of pan with paper towel to remove excess. Place skillet in oven and preheat to 400 degrees.

Blend first six ingredients. Add egg yolk, milk, and vegetable oil and mix until just moistened. Add corn, red peppers, and green onion, and stir just until well distributed. Pour batter into greased pan.

To grill: Leave pan on bottom rack, direct heat, until top appears solid, 8-10 minutes. Remove immediately carefully handling iron skillet, and allow to cool.

To cook: Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove and allow to cool.

Optional: You could add shredded cheese while still warm to top of corn bread and allow to melt while still warm.

As a side with dinner, slaw was a logical pairing with the barbecue since the two go together like apple pie and ice cream. We found a nice big head of purple cabbage at the farmers market earlier that morning. After we got home, we added some vinegar and pickled sweet banana peppers to compliment the vinegary nature of the barbecue sauce and let it marinate until supper that night. It is not a traditional slaw without the mayonnaise, but has a cleaner more earthy taste to round out and complete our colorful tribute to summer.

So, now that we’ve taken you through most of our meal, now its time for my favorite part, dessert! There are few things more refreshing or rewarding over the summer than homemade ice cream, and with the end of peach season so close, I couldn’t resist making a peach ice cream. I could agonizingly describe the rich taste and luxurious texture of the ice cream, but instead I think Daniel put it best after one bite: “Greek yogurt is delicious on its own. With peaches, even better. Make it into ice cream…[takes another bite, closes his eyes].” I think that meant he approved. Enjoy!

Peach & Greek Yogurt Ice Cream

2 Cups Whipping Cream

1 / 2 Cup Sugar

1 Tsp Vanilla

8 Egg Yolks

2 Cup Greek Style Yogurt (whole)

2-3 lbs Peaches, peeled, pit removed, and diced.

First, whisk the egg yolks in a medium sized bowl. Heat whipping cream and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, just until a gentle boil, stirring to prevent scalding.

Slowly pour cream and sugar mixture into egg yolks, whisking constantly to prevent eggs from cooking. Return mixture to stove, add vanilla and cook over low heat until custard thickens. Pour into bowl over diced peaches and mix well. Fold in yogurt until well combined. Refrigerate until cold. Once the mixture is chilled, add to your ice cream freezer. Follow manufacturer’s instructions & freeze until ready.


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