Thursday, 28 August 2014

Sticky Orange Brown Sugar Ribs


These are sticky, slightly spicy and sweet. I cook them on the rotisserie of my outdoor grill for most of the way and then finished them in the oven to create a nice sticky lacquer of goodness on the top. If you like ribs you will love these.


You will need:

  • 2 racks of baby back ribs - silver skin on the back removed
  • 2 cloves garlic 
  • 1/2 a jalapeno pepper chopped fine (you can add the whole thing if you want it hotter)
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes
  • 1/2 tsp course salt - like pink Hawaiian Alaea
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • cracked pepper and salt 1/2 tsp of each

Step 1: I always wash and dry the ribs to make sure there are no bits of bone on them and then I remove the silver skin on the back of the ribs. This is a membrane that I simply poke a knife under  then rip the membrane off. If it is too slippery then use a paper towel to grip it. Gross I know!


Step 2: with a knife or a mini processor. Finely mince garlic, a half to a whole fresh jalapeno pepper (depending on how hot you like it) add granulated garlic, ground ginger, chili flakes and salt (I used a course Hawaiian Alaea salt but, you can use whatever you have.)


Step 3: rub the paste over the ribs. Add a sprinkle of your favourite bar-b-q spice rub and let it sit overnight or at least an hour.


Step 4: put on the rotisserie on low for 2 - 2 1/2 hours.  They will baste themselves. 


Step 5: place orange juice, star anise, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, soy sauce, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small pan and cook on low heat until it is reduced and thicker and stickier. This may take 30 minutes.


Remove ribs from rotisserie and slice in one or two rib sections. Brush with glaze every 20 minutes and bake at 325 degrees F for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours until sticky and well cooked. Save a bit of glaze for serving.


serve with additional sticky glaze. You will love them and you will need a bath after!



Monday, 25 August 2014

Chocolate Hazelnut Fudgy Cake Cookies


These are quite simply the best fudgy,chocolaty, cakey cookies I have ever made! They hard on the edges and soft and moist on the inside and they stay moist for days if you should have any left over. There are some very high quality chocolate bars available in your plain old grocery store these days, try a really good bar or two instead of dull old chocolate chips or reaching for the Baker's chocolate for a really fantastic cookie. Big Pete said he could eat these all day.

Get out a glass of milk and enjoy!

You will need:

  • 200 grams of the best chocolate you can find 70% ( Lindt or similar bars are usually 100grams each and not a bad option but, if you can get something really good try it....it's only a small amount!)
  • 1/2 cup softened/room temp unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 eggs room temperature
  • 1 tsp best Vanilla (never use artificial Vanilla its made from a wood by-product)
  • 1/2- 3/4 cup toasted hazelnuts - roughly chopped (I like lots)
  • 1 cup all purpose flour (depending on the chocolate you might need another tbsp or two)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  •  pinch of salt

Step 1: buy some really great bars of chocolate. I bought these in my plain old grocery store in the speciality chocolate aisle (don't use the Baker's chocolate or choc chips if you have some better options. This is the star of the cookie and you will be amazed at the difference it will make. Of course it is still a good cookie with any chocolate but....just sayin!!! (look how pretty that bar is)


Step 2: chop chocolate into large chunks and place in a large bowl over a pot with a few inches of water. Allow the water to simmer on a medium heat for a few minutes. Once it looks like half of the chocolate has melted you can gently stir a few times to incorporate. Remove bowl from pot and let cool on the counter slightly. Be aware that the bowl should be bigger than the pot  and you should not get any steam or water in the chocolate or it may seize up on you.


Step 3: in another bowl add softened butter and sugar. You can mix with a stand or hand mixer but, I am lazy and will avoid washing extra things if possible so I just used a wooden spoon and mixed by hand. Don't worry if it seems too dry, once you add eggs it will be fine.


Step 4: add the eggs and vanilla and beat for 2-3 minutes. I actually changed from a wooden spoon to a whisk at this stage to get it fully incorporated.


Step 5: toast nuts in a dry pan for a few minutes and you can remove some of the skins by placing the warm nuts in a clean tea towel and rubbing them. I take off some of the skins and leave most but you do them as you like. You can be flexible and add a bit more or less nuts. Add nuts and stir into mix.


Step 6: add your slightly cooled melted chocolate and stir to incorporate.


Step 7: add your flour, baking powder and salt and stir until incorporated. It should thicken up enough to glob a heaping tablespoon of thick batter on a parchment lined cookie sheet. If it is too thin add another tbsp of flour until it looks thick enough.


Step 8: with a tablespoon measure out a large blob of batter and using another spoon you can scrape off dough onto sheet. Pile 6 cookie blobs per parchment lined cookie sheet. I got 10 big cookies in total from my mix. Make sure there is lots of room around each cookie.


Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes (no more) - to make a giant soft, gooey cake cookie. You will think the cookie is not done but, I assure you it is better to under bake a cookie than to over bake it. 10 minutes and you should have a puffy, crackled cookie but it will be too soft on the inside. It will harden as it cools on the tray. Don't try to remove to a cooling rack, just leave them for a good 15-20 minutes. They will harden up enough to pick up however, they will still be a delicate cookie with a cakey interior. This is also why they should be exactly 1 tablespoon in size - if you make them too big they wont hold together and will just crumble if you try to pick them up. 1 tbsp size =  10 perfect cookies.

You know you are dying to eat one of these!!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Tuscan Bean and Lentil Soup - Zuppa Tocano


This is a glorious hearty soup with a bit of Italian Sausage, some smoky bacon, beans, lentils, cauliflower and your favorite hearty vegetables. I have topped it with some fresh chopped herbs and some robust exceptional Franci Villa Magra Olive oil which is a robust and peppery extra virgin olive oil from the region. Feel free to add some grated Parmesan and don't forget the crusty bread and the red wine!!


You will need:

  • 2 slices of smokey bacon
  • 2 fresh hot Italian sausages - casings removed
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil - like Amelia Oil from Umbria 
  • 2 leeks- washed and cut into large pieces
  • 1 carrot- washed stem end removed - chopped into large pieces
  • 1 stalk celery -washed cut into large pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic - peeled
  • 1 small onion - peel and chopped into large pieces
  • 1 tbsp dry Italian seasonings - mine has chili flakes in it if yours does not add 1/2 tsp
  • lots of salt and pepper - you will need to taste and re-adjust a few times while cooking
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 1 small can 14oz of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 small can 14 oz of cannelini beans 
  • 1/2 cup french green lentils
  • 1/2 small savoy cabbage - sliced
  • 5 or 6 cauliflower florets - sliced thin
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, chives and parsley - chopped fine
  • a drizzle of great extra virgin olive oil - like a robust and peppery Franci Villa Magra 
  • Parmesano Reggiano cheese - freshly grated at serving
  • a glass of red wine and a heel of crusty bread


Step 1: in a food processor add peeled sausages (casings removed) and bacon - you can place them in the food processor uncooked or cooked. I had some left from the previous dinner.  Puree until finely minced.


Step 2: in a large pot with a drizzle of good oil (ok, I always use a glug!) cook the bacon and sausages until they are crunchy and browned a bit.


Step 3: add leeks, carrot, celery, garlic and onion into food processor pulse a few times until fine but there is still a bit of consistency to the vegetables left. Do not completely puree.

Step 4: add vegetable mix to hot pan and cook for 5 minutes to saute vegetables and cook off most of the water. Add Italian seasonings, hot chili flakes and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. You can and should taste after it has cooked for 30 minutes to re-adjust seasonings if necessary.


Step 5: add chicken stock (or a bottle of beer would work well here) and crushed tomatoes. Stir and add lentils. Cook on low heat (nice steady blip not a heavy boil here!) for 30 minutes.


Step 6: add sliced cabbage, cannelini beans, and cauliflower sliced. Cook another 20 minutes. Add a bit of water if you find it too thick. It should be a hearty bowl of soup though. Taste it and adjust as necessary for salt and pepper. You can also add Kale or chard to this kind of soup.


Step 7: finely chop fresh herbs and add to some extra virgin olive oil like Franci -Villa Magra this is a big robust and peppery olive oil and perfect added at the end as a drizzle.


Serve with a spoon of chopped herbs and a good glug of extra virgin olive oil and a fresh grating of Parmesan. Get the bread and wine and enjoy!! It is hearty and warming with a hint of smokiness.


Monday, 18 August 2014

Strawberry Shortcake Popsicles


When I was a kid there was a frozen treat called the Strawberry Shortcake which you could only get from the guy who drove around your neighbourhood on a bike with a freezer attached to it. You could always tell he was coming because he would jingle this row of bells which were located on his handlebars. They had these fake strawberry crumbles over the outside and I thought they were awesome. I decided to see if I could re-create them in my own home and found it is really quite simple with only 3 ingredients.



You will need:

  • 1 container of fresh strawberries 
  • 1 pint of good quality vanilla ice cream 
  • a few crushed shortbread cookies - store bought or homemade
  • some popsicle moulds and a blender

Step 1: gather all your ingredients. Crumble a few cookies. I just hit them with a bottle while they were in a ziploc bag. This makes it easy to dip the frozen popsicle in as well.  I used 3 cookies.


Step 2: finely chop a few strawberries which totals 1 cup of  chopped strawberries. Remove stems and place the balance of the container into a blender.


Step 3: blend the berries for a few seconds until they still have some consistency to them but, they are basically pureed.


Step 4: add the tub of ice cream and blend until smooth.


Step 5: add the chopped fruit and stir with a spoon. You want the chunks to remain in the pink milkshake. Add half the cookie crumbles to the milkshake and fold in to incorporate. Leave the balance of cookies to dip in the frozen treat once you remove them from the moulds.


Step 6: pour into your favourite mould, add sticks and freeze.


Step 7: when you are pulling out the treat from the popsicle mould you should run the outside of the mould under hot water to slightly melt and loosen your popsicle. This slight melting also helps the cookies to stick to the outside. I just put the popsicle in the ziploc bag and press the cookies on the outside.

They are way better than the ones we ate as kids! Now if I can master the Creamsicle without it tasting artificial Big Pete will be very happy.