Friday, September 27, 2013

Bring me your finest smoked meats and cheeses

Dry-ish rub for smoked pork ribs

Mix together:
1 Tablespoon salt
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1 Tablespoon fennel seed
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin seed
2 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 T chopped fresh ginger

(Below are instructions for the smoked ribs, but if you don't have a smoker, you can wrap ribs in heavy duty foil and bake in a 275 degree oven for 3 hours or until done. Serve with the bbq sauce and enjoy the delicious!)

Rub onto 2 pounds of  pork ribs.
Hang racks in smoker

with mesquite pellets and hickory chunks.
Smoke for 4-5 hours
 at 225 degrees

My husband urged me to buy the Smokin' Tex many years ago. Having a charcoal water smoker already, I thought an electric smoker wasn't necessary. Boy, was I wrong. I highly recommend the Smokin' Tex. It is probably my favorite kitchen appliance of all time. It's about the size of a small dishwasher and is insulated and simple to use. Since it is insulated, it needs no preheating.Fill the smoker box, set your temp, plug it in and you're free! No more minding the charcoal for hours on end. Trust me, you will never use an oven to cook a turkey again!

The smoked meat and well-seasoned smoker.

BBQ sauce (…the secret ingredient is delicious)

¼ Cup orange juice
½ Cup cherry jam
1 Tablespoon nam prik pao (also called chili paste in soy bean oil)
1 Tablespoon chopped ginger
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder
2 Tablespoons flat beer
3 Tablespoon soy sauce
3 Tablespoons Korean barbeque sauce

Combine all in medium saucepan and simmer until thickened. Before serving, add 2 Tablespoons hoisin sauce.

For a cheater's version, use your favorite bottled barbeque sauce, but add 2-3 teaspoons of five spice powder and some soy sauce to Asian it up.

Cut ribs apart, toss in sauce and throw onto grill or broil in oven until burny. Pace yourself.

Serve with caramelized apple mashed potatoes from Sheila Lukins' Ten. A brilliant cookbook.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Pick me up!

Tiramisu means "pick me up" in Italian. This popular layered dessert had its heyday in 1990s and was seen on dessert menus everywhere. A high school friend of mine with Italian heritage used to own a business making tiramisu for gourmet stores outside New York City. Many years ago, she shared her recipe with me. I used that recipe until two years ago, when I came up with my own, simpler version of tiramisu which doesn't require two mixing bowls and the heavy duty mixer.

It doesn't require any baking and actually gets better as it sits in the refrigerator and the flavors of the cream filling, cocoa and coffee meld. Enjoy!

Tal's Tiramisu

3/4 brick cream cheese, softened (I know, weird amount...toast a bagel or two to use up the can use lowfat cream cheese here with no ill effects)
scant 1/2 Cup sugar
1 egg
1 8 ounce container marscapone cheese 
strong brewed coffee
coffee liqueur
cocoa powder
2-3" deep casserole or baking dish (I like to use one with a cover for easy storage of uneaten tiramisu)

The most difficult ingredients to find in this recipe are the marscapone cheese and ladyfingers. Marscapone, a creamy Italian cheese, has become easier to find now in the gourmet cheese section and the ladyfingers or savoiardi can sometimes be found in the cookie or Italian gourmet sections of larger grocery stores. I once tried to make my own ladyfingers for the recipe and it was too much work and they weren't crisp enough. Don't buy the ladyfingers that are sold in the produce section. They are more like a sponge cake and too soft to hold up in the recipe. I have been known to bring back packages of ladyfingers from France where they are more readily available in the grocery and very inexpensive (not counting the airfare, of course). 

NB: Tiramisu contains uncooked egg so it is not for those who are pregnant or have an aversion to raw eggs (yes, mom, that means you).

For the filling, beat the cream cheese and marscapone cheese with the sugar until combined. Add the egg and continue beating until the mixture is light and the color of butter. I use a handheld mixer for this, no need to pull out the KitchenAid.

Pour about 1 cup of coffee into a shallow bowl that will fit the individual ladyfingers. Add a glug of the coffee liqueur.

Dip the ladyfingers into the coffee mixture one at a time on each side for about one second. You don't want to leave them in the liquid or they will get soggy.

Line the bottom of your casserole with the coffee-dipped cookies.

Using half of the filling mixture, spread a layer of the filling over the ladyfingers.

Add another layer of coffee-dipped ladyfingers and dust with cocoa.
Follow this layer with a layer of the rest of the filling mixture.
Dust the top of the tiramisu with cocoa. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before digging in!

Since this was my husband's birthday dessert, I spelled out his initials with ladyfingers on the top of the tiramisu.

Loving someone means monogramming their food, AND dusting it with cocoa!