Friday, June 26, 2009

The Simple Life

This week I have decided to postpone my summer recipe suggestions in favor of posting a link to a fascinating article than ran in today's Philadelphia Inquirer. The article is about Domenico Scicchitano, a 90 year old man who still lives the old-fashioned, simple lifestyle: Plant, Harvest, Eat. I found the article very touching and inspiring, and encourage you to give it a read. If more of us were to carry even a tiny portion of Mr. Scicchitano's values and traditions, I truly believe the world would be a better place.

By Ginny Smith

Friday, June 19, 2009

Kansas City Sweet-and-Smoky Ribs

Recipe courtesy of How-to-Grill, by Steven Raichlen

If you are planning to serve ribs at this weekend's Father's Day barbecue cookout, or at any other barbecue bash this summer, this is the go-to rib recipe! It makes for some of the best tasting ribs I've ever had.

What I like best about this recipe is the use of a dry rub. While the recipe calls for a light brushing of barbecue sauce, I actually prefer the juicy, sweet and savory coating and flavor of the rib rub alone, and will serve the bbq sauce on the side for dipping. Included below is a link to Steven Raichlen's basic rib rub and barbecue sauce recipes. Another option for a great rib rub is Williams-Sonoma's Memphis Rib Rub. My friend Charlie turned me on to it last year, and I have kept a can of it on hand ever since. And I always swear by Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce.

Also, the ribs work well both with and without the smoked wood chips, in case you don't have any on hand.

Kansas City Sweet-and-Smoky Ribs
4 racks of spareribs (4 to 6 pounds total)
6 cups apple cider, plus additional for spraying the ribs
2 whole lemons (optional), halved
2/3 cup Basic Barbecue Rub or your favorite commercial brand (I prefer Williams-Sonoma's Memphis Rib Rub)
3 cups of your favorite homemade barbecue sauce or your favorite commercial brand

3 cups wood chips (preferably hickory), soaked for 1 hour in apple cider to cover, then drained; spray bottle; rib rack (optional)

1. Trim each rack of ribs or have your butcher do this for you.

2. Place the ribs in a large nonreactive roasting pan. Pour the cider over the ribs. Squeeze the juice from the lemons over the ribs, catching the seeds with your fingers. Turn the ribs a couple of time to coat all over with marinade. If desired, let the ribs marinate in the refrigerator, covered, for 4 to 6 hours, turning several times.

3. Drain the ribs and blot dry with paper towels. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the rub on both sides of the ribs, patting it onto the meat with your fingers. Let the ribs stand in the refrigerator, covered, for 1 to 2 hours.

4. Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. If using a charcoal grill, place a large drip pan in the center. If using a gas grill, place all the wood chips in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and preheat to high until you see smoke, then reduce the heat to medium.

5. When ready to cook, if using charcoal, toss 1 cup of wood chips on the coals. Place the ribs in the center of the hot grate, away from the heat. Cover the grill and cook the ribs for 2 to 3 hours. After 30 minutes, spray the ribs with apple cider and continue to spray every half hour until ready to brush with the sauce. If using a charcoal grill, you'll need to add 12 fresh coals and 1/2 cup wood chips per side after each hour.

6. Lightly brush the ribs with 1 cup of the sauce 20 minutes before the ribs are done. When the ribs are fully cooked, the meat will have shrunk back from the bones about 1/4 inch, and the meat will be tender enough to tear apart with your fingers. But don't overcook; the ribs should have some chew to them. If the ribs start to dry out, wrap them in aluminum foil for the last hour of cooking.

7. Transfer the ribs to plates or a platter. Sprinkle the ribs with the remaining rub and lightly brush again with barbecue sauce. Let the ribs rest for a few minutes, then serve with the remaining barbecue sauce on the side.

You can also cook the ribs in a smoker. Smoke them for 4 to 5 hours at 225°F

This is a wonderful way to prepare baby back ribs. In this case, you'll need to allow 1 to 1 1/2 hours for indirect grilling or 2 to 3 hours for cooking in a smoker.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Pesto-stuffed Salmon

This is a healthy and tasty recipe that cooks up quick and easy on the grill or broiled in the oven.

4 (5 ounce) salmon fillets
Olive oil
Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup pesto (recipe below, or you can use jarred pesto)

Make a slit two-thirds of the way through the center of each salmon fillet making sure not to cut all the way through. Brush both sides of fillets with olive oil. Stuff fillets with pesto. Season tops of fillets with Kosher salt and ground black pepper.

Grilling: lightly oil grilling grates. Heat grill, then place fillets on medium heat. Cook salmon for 7-10, flipping once, until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Broiling: Preheat the broiler. Place salmon on a baking sheet lined with foil. Broil fish about 4-5 inches from the heat for approximately 8-10 minutes, until golden brown.

Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe
2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food
processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not
already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add
the garlic, pulse a few times more.

Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.