Posts Tagged ‘alton brown’

Coconut Cake

Saturday, January 16th, 2010

Here’s the recipe for David’s birthday cake, his favorite cake…Alton Brown’s Coconut Cake. While this recipe is a lot of trouble, it really does seem to be worth it all. Using the fresh coconut gives the most light and true coconut flavor. It’s incredible how much better it is than the typical sweetened coconut you’re used to using. If you like coconut, you owe it to yourself to try this cake.

Alton Brown’s Coconut Cake with 7-Minute Frosting
As seen on Good Eats

Ingredients:

  • 1 coconut, see Cook’s Note

For the cake:

  • Vegetable oil, for cake pan
  • 14 1/4 ounces cake flour, plus extra for pans, approximately 3 cups
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup fresh coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh coconut cream
  • 8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 16 ounces sugar, approximately 2 1/4 cups
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/3 cup coconut water

For the 7-Minute Frosting:

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 12 ounces sugar, approximately 1 3/4 cups
  • 1/3 cup coconut water
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Grated coconut from 1 coconut, approximately 8 to 10 ounces

Directions

Cook’s Note: To open a coconut: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the coconut onto a folded towel set down in a large bowl. Find the 3 eyes on 1 end of the coconut and using a nail or screwdriver and hammer or meat mallet, hammer holes into 2 of the eyes. Turn the coconut upside down over a container and drain the water from the coconut. Store the water in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Place the coconut onto a 1/2 sheet pan and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven. The coconut should have cracked in several places. Using an oyster knife or other dull blade, separate the hard shell from the brown husk. Using a serrated vegetable peeler, peel the brown husk from the coconut meat. Rinse the coconut meat under cool water and pat dry. Break the meat into 2 to 3-inch pieces. With the grater disk attached to a food processor, grate the coconut.

For the cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil 2 (9-inch) cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Oil the parchment paper and then flour the pan. Set aside.

Place the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.

Combine the coconut milk and coconut cream in small bowl and set aside.

Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and using the paddle attachment, cream on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Decrease the speed to low and gradually add the sugar slowly over 1 to 2 minutes. Once all of the sugar has been added, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. Turn the mixer back on to medium speed and continue creaming until the mixture noticeably lightens in texture and increases slightly in volume, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the coconut extract.

With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk mixture to the butter and sugar in 3 batches, ending with the milk mixture. Do not over mix.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the batter, just until combined. Divide the batter evenly between the pans and bang the pans on the counter top several times to remove any air and to distribute the batter evenly in the pan. Place in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 40 minutes or until the cake is light golden in color and reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees F.

Cool the cake in the pans for 10 minutes then remove and transfer to a cooling rack. Once the cakes have cooled completely cut across the equator of each to form 4 layers. Place the 1/3 cup coconut water into a small spritz bottle and spray evenly onto the cut side of the 4 layers. If you do not have a spritz bottle you may brush the coconut water on with a silicone pastry brush. Allow to sit while preparing the frosting.

For the frosting:

Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a 4-quart saucepan over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium to maintain a steady simmer. In the meantime, place the egg whites, sugar, coconut water, cream of tartar and salt into a medium size-mixing bowl. Place the bowl over the simmering water and immediately begin beating with an electric hand mixer set to low speed. Beat for 1 minute and then increase the speed to high and continue to beat for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and beat in the coconut and vanilla extracts for 1 minute. Allow the frosting to sit for 5 minutes before using.

Place approximately 3/4 cup of the frosting on the first layer of cake, sprinkle with 1/2 cup coconut and top with the next layer. Repeat until you reach the top layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake and sprinkle with the remaining coconut. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.

The Baked Potato (Alton Brown Style)

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Oh look, another Alton Brown recipe.

This one is so simple, it hardly deserves a recipe. Except that this really is “The” Baked Potato recipe. It shouldn’t have been anything special, but the texture inside the potatoes was perfect, and they had a great crunchy skin that made you want to eat every bite–like a restaurant potato. If you’re looking for a basic baked potato recipe, I don’t think you’ll ever need a different one.

baked potato

Alton Brown’s Baked Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 1 large russet potato (If it looks like Mr. Potato Head, you’ve got the right one.)
  • Olive oil, to coat
  • Kosher salt

Directions

Heat oven to 350 degrees and position racks in top and bottom thirds. Wash potato (or potatoes) thoroughly with a stiff brush and cold running water. Dry, then using a standard fork poke 8 to 12 deep holes all over the spud so that moisture can escape during cooking. Place in a bowl and coat lightly with oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and place potato directly on rack in middle of oven. Place a baking sheet on the lower rack to catch any drippings.

Bake 1 hour or until skin feels crisp but flesh beneath feels soft. Serve by creating a dotted line from end to end with your fork, then crack the spud open by squeezing the ends towards one another. It will pop right open. But watch out, there will be some steam.

If you’re cooking more than 4 potatoes, you’ll need to extend the cooking time by up to 15 minutes.

Note: Next time, I think I’d use one of my more special salts–the Maldon crunchy sea salt, or the Himilayan Pink Sea Salt that I have. I think this is one of those things where you’d really have a chance to taste the difference in the salt. Sorry about the low quality picture, but you know what a baked potato looks like anyway. This one doesn’t look like anything special, it’s just an easy, serviceable method with solid results. My one disappointment is that this recipe didn’t show up in the new Good Eats: The Early Years cookbook, despite being featured in the second episode. Alton makes baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, and a potato gratin, and only the mashed potatoes (plus a potato pancake recipe that wasn’t on the episode) made it into the book. I thought they were all supposed to be there, so I’m going to have to do a bit more investigating.

Alton Brown Book Signing at Borders in Chicago

Friday, October 16th, 2009

It’s no secret, at all, that we love Alton Brown around here. The recent Good Eats Anniversary special on Food Network called Alton’s classic show “Good Eats” one part Julia Child, one part Mr. Wizard, and one part Monty Python. That’s about the most apt description I can think of. Ten years ago, Alton set out to create a cooking show that would be fun and educational, and I don’t think anyone is doubting that he was successful. Even the shows about things I don’t like (Brussels Sprouts, Okra) are fun to watch. Sometimes, they even make me think, briefly, about trying those things. As I’ve said before, when we’re looking for a go-to recipe, for pretty much anything, Alton’s the guy. Below is a snapshot of all the Alton dishes I’ve made for the blog. The best thing about an Alton recipe is it quickly becomes a standard. Many of the things you see below are made frequently around here.

  • Pancakes
  • Salmon
  • Rice Pilaf
  • Stuffed Pork Chops
  • Pork Wellington
  • Pan Roasted Steaks
  • Pulled Pork Sandwiches
  • Fried Chicken
  • Fajitas
  • Baked Brown Rice
  • Homemade Pizza
  • Stovetop Macaroni & Cheese
  • Chicken & 40 Cloves
  • Baby Back Ribs
  • Cheese Fondue
  • Waffles
  • French Onion Soup
  • Coconut Macaroons

So when we heard that Alton Brown was doing a signing for his new book, Good Eats: The Early Years, we were there. (P.S. Amazon has it for half the price of Borders! If you want it, I recommend you get it there)

ab book2

I plan to review the book in full once I get through it, but from what I’ve seen (Mostly from the time I spent waiting in line!) it looks excellent. The book goes through all of the recipes from Seasons 1 -6 of Good Eats, and provides updates, behind-the-scenes info, and even deleted scene-style additional recipes that didn’t make it into the original episode. I’m excited to look back over some of our old standbys and see what new tips Alton has for us!

Borders, on the other hand, gets a not-so-great review. When we saw Alton at Crate & Barrel a few years ago, there was a crazy-large crowd, but they still managed to let everyone at least have a chance at hearing the discussion/demonstration that he did. We really enjoyed that demo, but in this case, Borders had people waiting in all different sections of the 3 level store. Determined by an unpublished wristband system. We were on the same floor as Alton, and you could hardly hear that he was speaking, except that the group closest to him laughed every now and then. Why not at least broadcast that audio through the speakers over our heads, instead of the innane music we could also barely hear?

Ultimately, David and I were the only ones out of a group of 4 that stayed. The wait was too long, with too little reward it seemed. And I mostly agreed. David and I already had a signed book from the Crate & Barrel appearance, so why wait around? On the other hand, once you’ve waited around for 2 hours, what’s another hour and a half? At least we do have a signed book to show for all that waiting.

Dave’s friend Phil left reasonably early, and his friend Mike left about an hour or so after that. Dave and I stuck it out. When we’d gotten pretty close to the end, AB walked out into the crowd and offered to sign books for children so they could go home. It was a nice gesture, but it also happened right next to us in line–and it was fun to hear his conversations with the little kids.

ab kids signing

When we finally got up to our turn with AB, we introduced ourselves, got our picture taken and were pretty much on our way.

ab signing

Except, in an amusing turn of events, when we mentioned that Mike had gone home earlier (but we were still hoping to get his book signed) Alton added a tongue-in-cheek personal message to his autograph:

ab mike's book

It was all in good fun, I promise.

P.S. I also had a chance to flip through the Cake Wreck’s book while waiting in line, and I feel like buying it for everyone I know for Christmas. It’s such fun, and a great intro to the Cake Wrecks blog. I really wish I’d gone to Jen’s book signing when I had the chance, but Skokie seemed a little far for a Thursday night. *shrug*

Alton Brown’s Rice Pilaf

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

This one’s a weird one for me to write.

I love rice. I love rice pilafs. I love Alton Brown, and am almost never disappointed in his recipes.

But I was kind of disappointed in this recipe.

On the plus side, the directions were clear, and it wasn’t really difficult at all to make. I just didn’t think that the result tasted like much of anything. Kind of a waste of saffron and all the veggies and other ingredients, if you ask me, because I didn’t think it tasted much better than plain rice. The texture was good, though, so I think there’s something to this method. I will probably give this another chance, especially since David liked it just fine. I didn’t dislike it, I was just…underwhelmed.

IMG_2104

Alton Brown’s Rice Pilaf

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, minced
  • 2 pinches kosher salt
  • 2 cups long grain rice
  • 2 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 strips orange zest
  • Pinch of saffron strands, steeped in 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
  • Golden raisins and pistachios for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a heavy, wide, lidded pan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add onion, red pepper, and kosher salt. Sweat the onions and peppers until aromatic, stirring constantly. Add the rice and stir to coat. Continue stirring until rice smells nutty. Add chicken broth, orange zest, saffron and water, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Stir once, then cover pan with moistened dish towel (or tea towel). Place lid on pan and fold towel corners over lid. Bake for 15 minutes. Then rest at room temperature for 10 to 20 minutes without removing the cover. Meanwhile, simmer peas in salted water until heated through or heat in a microwave. Remove lid from rice and turn out onto a platter. Add peas and fluff with a large fork. Add raisins and pistachios.

Note: I followed the directions almost exactly, but I used about 1/2 cup white wine in place of part of the chicken broth–we didn’t have quite as much chicken broth as I thought (oops!). I also skipped the raisins and pistachios, only because I served the rice with Chicken Kiev, and I didn’t think raisins went so well with garlic-herb butter.

French Bistro Steaks with Provencal Butter

Monday, June 8th, 2009

I’ve had my eye on this recipe since I first got the Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics cookbook for Christmas. I think I even pointed it out to David while I was skimming through it around the Christmas tree at Grandma’s house.

Looking for something to make on a lazy Saturday, I flipped through Back to Basics and noticed this recipe right away. I was surprised I’d never gotten around to making it, because really, it was one of the first recipes I earmarked in this book.

When it came time, though, I ended up skipping the whole steak part. We had some good quality New York Strip steaks on hand, so I didn’t feel justified going out and buying the hanger steaks that the original recipe calls for. Plus, we don’t have a grill at our apartment (yet, anyway). So basically, I borrowed Ina Garten’s recipe for Provencal Butter to melt over the steaks, and stuck with our usual method for cooking steaks: Alton Brown’s, shown in this post.

Even so, I have to say that I was impressed. Dave and I were both unsure about the butter on steak thing. I know it’s traditional, I know it’s common, and I know people like it, but it just never sounded that great to me. I’ve been converted. This herb butter brought such great flavor to the steak. When you sliced into the meat, the butter just melted down into every piece. It was really fantastic.

I also got to use my herbes de Provence from The Spice House!

steak

Barefoot Contessa’s French Bistro Steaks with Provencal Butter
Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa: Back to Basics cookbook

For the butter:

  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon capers, drained
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon herbes de Provence

For the steaks:

  • 4 teaspoons herbes de Provence
  • kosher salt and coarsely cracked black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 hanger steaks, 8 to 10 ounces each

For the butter, put the garlic, capers, chives, thyme, zest, and pepper in the small bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter and process until completely mixed. Transfer butter mixture to a piece of parchment and roll it into a log, twisting the ends (like an old-timey piece of candy). Store in the refrigerator.

Heat a gas or charcoal grill.

Drizzle the steaks with olive oil and sprinkle each one with herbes de Provence and salt and pepper. Let sit at room temperature for 10-15 minutes to take the chill off of the meat.

When the grill is hot, grill the steaks for 4 to 5 minutes on each side (for medium rare). Place the steaks on a platter, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes. Slice the meat crosswise diagonally and serve hot with one or two pats of the prepared butter on top.

Note: I’m sure this was not the last time that I’ll make an herb butter like this. We used the leftover butter on baked potatoes, crackers, and slices of bread–it was very versatile. I can imagine 100 different flavor combinations, too!


Cinco De Mayo Fajitas & Guacamole

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

In honor of cinco de mayo, David and I had steak fajitas for dinner. Fajitas have long been one of David’s very favorite foods, especially when we were eating out. These days, I think he prefers the ones we make at home. As we do so often, we borrowed this fajita recipe from Alton Brown. We’ve used this recipe many times without fail.

fajitas

Alton Brown’s Skirt Steak Recipe (Steak Fajitas)
Adapted from the Good Eats Episode “Raising The Steaks

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 4 scallions, washed and cut in 1/2
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar or Mexican brown sugar
  • 2 pounds inside skirt steak, cut into 3 equal pieces
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 green peppers, sliced

1. In a blender, put in oil, soy sauce, scallions, garlic, lime juice, red pepper, cumin, and sugar and puree. In a large heavy duty, zip top bag, put pieces of skirt steak and pour in marinade. Seal bag, removing as much air as possible. Allow steak to marinate for 1 hour in refrigerator.

steak2_11

2. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium high heat. Add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil to the bottom of the pan. Remove steak from bag and pat dry with paper towels. Cook the steak pieces for about 3-4 minutes per side, until cooked to desired doneness. Remove from the pan to a cutting board and tent loosely with foil while the meat is allowed to rest for at least 10 minutes.

3. While meat is resting, add sliced onions and green peppers to the skillet and cook until tender.

4. When steak has rested for at least 10 minutes, slice thinly across the grain of the meat.  Serve with grilled peppers and onions, tortillas, beans, cheese, sour cream–whatever you like.

Note: We also had chips and guacamole. You will not be surprised to learn that we often use Alton Brown’s recipe for guacamole. I know you will not be surprised to hear that. We’ve made it many times, and it always turns out delicious–and much better than anything you’ll find pre-made at your grocery store. Definitely worth the extra trouble. I’ve included the recipe below, because if you want to make guacamole 100% from scratch, this is an excellent place to start.

Alton Brown’s Guacamole

  • 3 Haas avocados, halved, seeded and peeled
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

In a large bowl place the scooped avocado pulp and lime juice, toss to coat. Drain, and reserve the lime juice, after all of the avocados have been coated. Using a potato masher add the salt, cumin, and cayenne and mash. Then, fold in the onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and garlic. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved lime juice. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve.

That being said…

I also want to mention our favorite substitute for “from scratch” guacamole, because it’s another excellent alternative to the pre-made tubs at your grocery store: Frontera Grill Guacamole Mix. This blend of tomatillos, tomatoes, chiles, garlic, and spices comes in a jar, and it couldn’t be easier to turn it into tasty guacamole—just mash 3 avocados with the contents of the jar. It’s a nice work-around if you find yourself in a hurry to make fresh guacamole. We’ve bought three packs of the mix at Costco, but you can also buy individual jars at your grocery store.

guacamolemix

Alton Brown’s Stovetop Mac & Cheese

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

I think we may have bought our last box of macaroni & cheese. I like Kraft Macaroni & Cheese in a pinch, and Velveeta is pretty good, occasionally. They aren’t as good as homemade, of course, but they’re also an entirely different animal than most homemade macaroni & cheese recipes. After all, when it comes to homemade mac & cheese, you’re usually talking about a rich, heavy dish, baked in a casserole, topped with bread crumbs. And there’s nothing wrong with that, except that that kind of macaroni & cheese is almost a meal in and of itself. Sometimes, you want macaroni & cheese to take it’s rightful place as a side dish.

Enter AB’s Stovetop Mac & Cheese. Alton Brown’s Macaroni & Cheese recipe is just as quick and easy as the box variety.True, there are a few more ingredients, but they’re actually ones that we always have on hand.

stovetop-mac-cheese

Alton Brown’s Stovetop Mac-n-Cheese

  • 1/2 pound elbow macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 6 ounces evaporated milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 10 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded

Directions

In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Return to the pot and melt in the butter. Toss to coat.

Whisk together the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir into the pasta and add the cheese. Over low heat continue to stir for 3 minutes or until creamy.

Note: See? That’s it. Just like with the blue box, boil the pasta, add some stuff, and stir. The flavor, however, is much, much better than any boxed macaroni and cheese. It was rich and creamy and deliciously cheesy.

New York Strip Steaks with Blue Cheese Butter Crust

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

We don’t make steaks very often around here, though I’m not entirely sure why. I don’t think it’s the cost, because we’re happy to spend too much money for a fancy cheese or a quality wine. I don’t mind though, because when we do make steak, it’s usually a treat, and this Valentine’s Day was no exception. The meal we threw together was pretty spectacular, actually. I teased you with it in my Valentine’s Day post…here’s our recipe for fabulous New York Strip Steaks with a Blue Cheese Butter Crust.

img_1660_edited

New York Strip Steaks with a Blue Cheese Butter Crust
Adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe for Pan Seared Steaks

For the crumb topping:

  • 3 tablespoons salted butter
  • 2 ounces blue cheese (Something good quality and creamy, like a maytag or gorgonzola–not the dry crumbles sold for salad)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup panko Japanese style bread crumbs

For the steaks:

  • 4 new york strip steaks, 1 1/2-inch thick
  • Canola oil to coat
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Directions

Place 10 to 12-inch cast iron skillet in oven and heat oven to 500 degrees. Bring steak(s) to room temperature.

To prepare the crumb topping, combine butter, garlic, and blue cheese in a small microwave safe bowl and microwave on high at 15 second intervals until the cheese and butter are melted completely. Season with fresh cracked black pepper to taste. Stir in bread crumbs and set aside.

When oven reaches temperature, remove pan and place on range over high heat. Coat steak lightly with oil and season both sides with a generous pinch of salt. Grind on black pepper to taste.

Immediately place steak in the middle of hot, dry pan. Cook 30 seconds without moving. Turn with tongs and cook another 30 seconds, then put the pan straight into the oven for 2 minutes. Flip steak, top with bread crumbs and cook for another 2 minutes. (This time is for medium rare steaks. If you prefer medium, add a minute to both of the oven turns.)

Remove steak from pan, cover loosely with foil, and rest for 2 minutes before serving.

Note: This tasted amazing, though the bread crumbs didn’t get as crispy as I would have liked. The flavor was spot-on, though, and elevated a good steak to something great. Next time, we plan to incorporate a minute under the broiler to crisp up the topping a little bit. Otherwise, I wouldn’t do anything differently.

As an added bit of cuteness, David and I went to Wildfire the night we got engaged, and this steak was a surprisingly good recreation of the filet medallions with blue cheese crust that I had for dinner that night. A nice touch for Valentine’s dinner, I think.


Bourbon-Spiked Baby Back Ribs

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

Yeah, I know we talk Alton Brown a lot around here. And yeah, I know you look at an Alton Brown recipe and can’t help but wonder: “Is it worth all that work?” The answer here is a definitive ‘Yes!’

I’m not sure I can say enough good things about these ribs. They’re the only ribs I want to eat anymore. They’re rich and meaty…the perfect blend of sweet and salty. The pork is tender , but with just the right amount of structure to it. The sauce makes you want to lick every last drop off of the bone, the fork, the plate, your fingers. I’m not kidding. These ribs are amazing. And I know all of the instructions seem intimidating, but this was actually one of the first things that David really cooked. The only difficult thing about this recipe is hanging out in a house that smells like delicious pork for hours and hours before the ribs are ready to eat.

Bourbon-Spiked Baby Back Ribs
Adapted from Alton Brown’s Who Loves Ya Baby Back? Recipe as seen on Good Eats.

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole slabs pork baby back ribs

Dry Rub:

  • 8 tablespoons light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon jalapeno seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon rubbed thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

Braising Liquid:

  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped

To Finish:

  • 1 shot of bourbon (We used Maker’s Mark)

Directions

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

In a bowl, combine all dry ingredients and mix well. Place each slab of baby back ribs on a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil, shiny side down. Sprinkle each side generously with the dry rub. Pat the dry rub into the meat. Refrigerate the ribs for a minimum of 1 hour, but up to 12 hours. In a microwavable container, combine all ingredients for the braising liquid. Microwave on high for 1 minute.

Place the ribs on a baking sheet. Open one end of the foil on each slab and pour half of the braising liquid into each foil packet. Tilt the baking sheet in order to equally distribute the braising liquid. Braise the ribs in the oven for 2 1/2 hours.

Transfer the braising liquid into a medium saucepot. Bring the liquid to a simmer and reduce by half or until of a thick syrup consistency. Stir in the shot of bourbon. Brush the glaze onto the ribs. Place under the broiler just until the glaze caramelizes lightly. Slice each slab into 2 rib bone portions. Place the remaining hot glaze into a bowl and toss the rib portions in the glaze.

Note: You will have dry rub leftover. Use it next time–you’ll be making these again.

As I said before, these ribs are absolutely worth the trouble. I served these with scalloped potatoes, but only because I’m side-dish crazy. You’d probably be just as happy to focus on the ribs.

Crockpot Fondue Vudu

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

Every year, my friends and I celebrate what we like to call “Fake Holidays.” Because we all have family obligations on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, we have taken to having our own private celebration on completely separate dates. For Fake Thanksgiving, we cook a full-out Thanksgiving Feast, usually the weekend before the real event. And for Christmas and New Year’s, we find a weekend that we can all get together, and observe Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day all in the span of about 48 hours. It’s one of my favorite traditions, and rivals real Christmas and New Year’s every time.

For Christmas Day/New Year’s Eve dinner, I decided to make fondue. Since we scraped every last bit of cheese off of the bottom of the pan, I’m going to say it was a hit.

Fondue Vudu
Adapted from Alton Brown’s recipe, as seen on Good Eats.

  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • 8 ounces hard apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon brandy
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 5 ounces (2 cups) Emmentaler cheese, grated
  • 5 ounces (2 cups)  Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated (I used Tillamook Special Reserve Extra Sharp Cheddar)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • Several grinds fresh ground black pepper

Directions

Rub inside of fondue pot or heavy small saucepan with garlic. Pour cider into pot. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, the brandy and salt and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Meanwhile, grate the cheese and toss well with the cornstarch in a large bowl. When the cider just begins to simmer, gradually add the cheese a handful at a time, allowing each addition to melt completely before adding the next. Continue adding cheese and stirring until all cheese is incorporated, about 3 minutes. If mixture starts to bubble, reduce heat to low. The mixture is ready when creamy and easily coats the back of a spoon. Stir in curry powder and pepper. If cheese seems stringy, add some or all of the remaining lemon juice. Transfer mixture to a fondue pot or crockpot for serving.

Note: I followed the procedures from Alton, but I did use different cheese. The recipe called for smoked Gouda, but reading the comments at Food Network’s site made me decide to use something that melts a little better. It was delicious with the extra sharp cheddar. I also swapped Emmantaler for the Gruyere that the original recipe called for. Just a personal preference.

I have a confession to make: I don’t own a fondue pot. Or fondue forks. Or little cans of blue flammable gel. Or any of that. I was pleasantly surprised to find that my new crockpot was the perfect substitute. I set it to low for a few minutes while I made the fondue, so that the bowl was warm when I transferred the cheese from the stove. Once I put the cheese in the crockpot, I flipped the setting to warm, and it was perfect for as long as the cheese lasted (which wasn’t all that long!).

I served this cheese fondue with chunks of crusty bread (a basic french and a roasted garlic sourdough), cauliflour, broccoli, baby carrots, apple slices, pretzels, and par-boiled new potatoes. Because they happened to still be out on the counter, we also dipped the leftover pepperoni slices from the pepperoni and parmesan pinwheels, which made surprisingly delicious dippers.