Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Slow Cooker Sweet and Sour Sticky Baby Back Ribs

Sweet and Sour Sticky Baby Back Ribs

The photos for these slow cooker sweet and sour sticky baby back ribs are actually of the leftovers.

I had invited my son and my grandsons over for dinner.

The ribs had spent eight hours in the slow cooker, 30 minutes resting while the sauce was reduced, 15 minutes under the broiler, and another 10 minutes resting before the kids walked in the door. The boys' favorite dinner ever is ribs.

Me: Hi!
Older grandson: Did you make ribs? Did you make ribs?
Me: Yes!
Their dad: I didn't tell them what you were making.
Me: Are you guys hungry?
Both grandsons: Yes!!!
Younger grandson: I love ribs!!

At this point, who would deprive these cuties of their dinner in order to take a photograph? Not me. Sometimes you just have to go with it, especially when your two favorite boys are hungry-bungry. Plus, they already think I'm weird because I take pictures of food (they usually try to photo bomb my pictures).

Sweet and Sour Sticky Baby Back Ribs

These ribs are definitely sticky, with a sauce of reduced pineapple juice, onion, red bell pepper, ginger, garlic, tomato paste, apricot jam, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and brown sugar. My grandsons declared these "the best ribs ever," and their dad had pretty much a half rack of them.

This is definitely not a "dump and run" slow cooker recipe. There is a lot of prep prior to cooking the ribs, and once the ribs have spent several hours in the slow cooker, you will need to strain and reduce the sauce to baste the ribs in the broiler. It's worth it. Trust me.

Give everyone a lot of napkins. Once everyone has had their fill, hand out a pile of wet paper towels. I guarantee everyone will be very happy. And well fed.

P.S. The leftovers are delicious too.

We served these with rice and an Asian slaw. Killer good.

Sweet and Sour Sticky Baby Back Ribs

6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

2 T vegetable oil
1 large onion, minced
1 finely chopped red bell pepper
3 T minced ginger
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 T tomato paste
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 C apricot jam
6 ounces frozen pineapple juice, or 30 ounces pineapple juice, reduced to 6 ounces
1/3 C soy sauce
5 T rice vinegar, divided
1/4 C packed dark brown sugar
6 pounds baby back ribs (do not remove the membrane on the underside of the ribs)
Salt and pepper
Spray oil
1 T cornstarch
1 T water
2 T minced fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. In a 12 inch skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, ginger, garlic, tomato paste, and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are slightly browned. 
  2. Add the apricot jam, pineapple concentrate, soy sauce, 1/4 C of the rice vinegar, and the brown sugar to the onion mixture and stir. Simmer for about 5 minutes. 
  3. Sprinkle the ribs on both sides with salt and pepper. Arrange them standing on end in a 6 or 7 quart slow cooker with the meaty side of the ribs facing outward. 
  4. Pour the sauce over the ribs and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. 
  5. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack over the foil. Spray the rack with spray oil. Place the ribs, meat side down on the rack and tent with foil.
  6. Skim the fat off of the braising liquid in the slow cooker, and strain it into a large sauce pan. 
  7. Mix the cornstarch and water together, and add it to the braising liquid. Bring the liquid to a simmer, and cook, whisking constantly for about 20 minutes, until the liquid is thickened and reduced to about two cups. Add the cilantro and remaining tablespoon of vinegar. 
  8. Place a rack about 10 inches below the broiler, and turn the broiler on. 
  9. Brush the ribs with the sauce, and broil for 2 to 4 minutes, until they are browned. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and flip the ribs over (I use two sets of tongs to do this). 
  10. Brush the other side of the ribs with the sauce, and broil for about 10 minutes more, basting a few more times to get them good and sticky. 
  11. Move the ribs to a cutting board and tent with foil for about 10 minutes. 
  12. Slice and serve with the rest of the sauce. 
Recipe slightly adapted from Slow Cooker Revolution. The book incorporates several techniques to get the most flavor out of food in your slow cooker. I have been really happy with everything I've made from the book, including the Barbecue Baby Back Ribs, Hearty Beef Stew, Barbecue Beef Brisket, Beginner's Pulled Pork, Tomatillo Taco Filling, and the Shredded Beef Taco Filling. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Baked Eggs with Parmesan and Chives

Baked Eggs with Parmesan and Chives

Baked Eggs with Parmesan and Chives. Baked eggs, why haven't I ever tried them before now?

The egg whites, baked together with the cream and parmesan cheese, are creamy and have an amazing texture and flavor.

Instead of scrambled eggs, these would be such an elegant option for entertaining a group for Sunday brunch. The eggs also stay nice and warm in the individual ramekins, which is also perfect for entertaining a crowd.

Baked Eggs with Parmesan and Chives

I found the recipe for these eggs on the blog A Calculated Whisk. It is written by Becky, who is a first grade teacher living in Boston (one of my favorite cities). She's the owner of two adorable kitties, Cupcake and Furpaws. Her blog has the best pictorial recipe index, which made it easy to admire all of the dishes she has made, and made it really hard to choose what to make for this post!

I am so glad I was assigned Becky's blog for our Secret Recipe Club Reveal Day. Secret Recipe Club, you ask? It's a group of bloggers who bake a recipe from another member's blog once a month. Your assigned blogger is kept a secret until reveal day. Today!

Nice to meet you Becky!  Thank you for introducing me to baked eggs!

Baked Eggs with Parmesan and Chives

Baked Eggs with Parmesan and Chives

Ingredients per Serving

1/2 tsp butter
1 to 2 T heavy cream
1 to 2 eggs
pinch of salt
2 T freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp chopped fresh chives

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place individual sized ramekins on a baking sheet.
  2. Place the 1/2 tsp of butter in each ramekin and place the baking sheet in the oven until the butter melts.
  3. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and add the cream. 
  4. Add the eggs and sprinkle the salt, cheese, and chives over the eggs.
  5. Place the sheet back into the oven and bake for about 12 minutes, until the whites are just barely set. The yolks will still be runny. 
  6. I served them with toasted and buttered homemade sourdough bread. So tasty.


Friday, October 24, 2014

Caramelized Onion and Shallot Braided Bread with Gruyere Cheese and Herbes de Provence

Caramelized Onion and Shallot Braided Bread with Gruyere Cheese and Herbes de Provence

Caramelized onion and shallot braided bread with Gruyere cheese and herbes de Provence. Seriously good bread.

This is a "mock" braid that can be filled with a number of sweet or savory flavors.

For this filling, I used a large red onion and six large shallots, along with dried herbes de Provence. The aroma from the herbes and the onions while they were cooking made me very happy.

Caramelized Onion and Shallot Braided Bread with Gruyere Cheese and Herbes de Provence

If you don't  have herbes de Provence (typically a blend of tarragon, savory, sage, thyme, fennel, dill, chervil, marjoram, rosemary, and basil), you could substitute any number of fresh or dried herbs.

I spread some Dijon mustard down the center of dough, piled on the caramelized onions and shallots, and then topped the onions with about six ounces of Gruyere cheese. After wrapping the filling in the dough with a mock braid, I sprinkled a little more cheese and herbs down the center of the dough.

This bread is wonderful fresh from the oven with a salad and/or soup.

Caramelized Onion and Shallot Braided Bread with Gruyere Cheese and Herbes de Provence

To find other versions of this bread, as well as step-by-step photos for braiding the bread, check out Katie's post at Thyme for Cooking. She is the Kitchen of the Month for the Bread Baking Babes. On her post, there are links for multiple versions of this bread from the rest of the Bread Baking Babes. I'm baking along as a buddy, and this is my take on this wonderful bread.

Caramelized Onion and Shallot Braided Bread with Gruyere Cheese and Herbes de Provence

Ingredients

Dough

455 grams (3 1/2 C) unbleached all purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C water
1/4 C milk
1/4 C vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks

Filling and Topping

1 T butter
1 T olive oil
1 large red onion, halved and thinly sliced
6 large shallots, thinly sliced
1 tsp sugar
1 T herbes de Provence, plus more for sprinkling (mine is from The Spice House)
6 ounces grated Gruyere cheese, plus another ounce for sprinkling
1 T Dijon mustard
1 egg, beaten with 1 T water

Instructions

  1. Whisk the dry ingredients of the bread in the bowl of a stand mixer. 
  2. Whisk the water, milk, eggs, and egg whites together in a bowl and add to the dry ingredients. 
  3. Mix with the dough hook for about 10 minutes on medium low speed.
  4. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover, and allow to rise until doubled, about an hour.
  5. While the dough is rising, prepare the onion filling. In a 12 inch skillet, melt the butter and olive oil. 
  6. Add the onions, shallots, and sugar, and cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat. Add the herbs and continue to cook, stirring regularly, for about 20 minutes more, until caramelized.
  7. When the dough has doubled, place it on a piece of baking sheet sized piece of parchment paper. 
  8. Roll it out to a 12 inch by 11 inch rectangle.
  9. Spread the mustard lengthwise in the middle of the dough into a 3 inch line.
  10. Spread the onion mixture over the mustard. 
  11. Sprinkle the 6 ounces of cheese over the onion mixture. 
  12. Using a sharp knife, make diagonal 1 inch cuts on both sides of the stripe of onion and cheese mixture. 
  13. Lift the parchment with the loaf onto a baking sheet. 
  14. Fold the ends over the filling, and then fold the strips over the filling, alternating from both sides, so that the top of the dough looks like a braid. 
  15. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. 
  16. Cover the loaf loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let it rise until doubled, about 30 to 40 minutes. 
  17. Brush the top of the loaf with the egg wash.
  18. Sprinkle the center of the braid with about an ounce of grated Gruyere.
  19. Sprinkle the top of the cheese lightly with herbes de Provence. 
  20. Bake the loaf for about 45 minutes, until nicely browned and the center registers about 190 degrees F. 
  21. Cool on a wire rack. Serve warm, or cool completely and wrap in foil to serve later.

Inspired by Canadian Living

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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Puff Pastry Pizzettes | Tuesdays with Dorie

Puff Pastry Pizzettes

These little Puff Pastry Pizzettes are made from leftover puff pastry scraps. They are only about two inches across, and are wonderful as appetizers.

Puff Pastry Pizzettes

Puff pastry and I have to break up for a while. I'm a little too attached since I learned how to make my own. I make these things and then I don't share them with anyone even though I intend to. I made 12 pizzettes. I ate four when they came out of the oven, four more for breakfast the next morning, and the other four for lunch. Mr. Kitchen has no idea these ever existed. They are sooooo good!

Puff Pastry Pizzettes

There's one more sheet of this homemade pastry in the freezer, and I have two weeks to use it. I'm thinking a little bit of caramelized onion with gruyere, or maybe cinnamon and apple, or.... any suggestions?

Puff Pastry Pizzettes

Ingredients


Left over puff pastry, store bought, or homemade
Grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
Crumbled goat cheese
Pepper
Olive oil
Basil leaves
Crushed red pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. Roll the puff pastry dough out into 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick sheet on a lightly floured surface. 
  3. Cut the dough into 2 inch circles with a cookie cutter and place them onto the parchment lined baking sheet.
  4. Press a tomato half, cut side up, into the middle of each circle of pastry.
  5. Sprinkle the goat cheese crumbles over the tomato and pastry. 
  6. Grind the pepper over the pizzettes to taste.
  7. Bake until the pastry has puffed and is lightly browned, 10 to 20 minutes (keep an eye on it). 
  8. Immediately brush the tops of the pizzettes with a light coating of olive oil and garnish with a basil leaf. 
  9. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper to taste. 
The Tuesdays with Dorie group is baking these pizzettes this week. We do it because we love Julia Child, Dorie Greenspan, and the amazing book Baking with Julia, from the PBS show of the same name and edited by Dorie. The book, published in 1996, continues to amaze me. It is a collection of recipes from some of the best bakers in the country. Prior to baking one of the recipes, you can typically find a video of Julia and the featured baker making it. Each one of the videos make me smile. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Witch Finger Cookies

Witch Finger Cookies: Karen's Kitchen Stories

I made these witch finger cookies as a treat for my grandsons. Halloween is on their minds of course, and they were coming over for dinner. Yay!!

Witch Finger Cookies: Karen's Kitchen Stories


The youngest (age 6), who thinks nothing of picking up bugs and live lizard tails with his bare hands was a little freaked out by these fingers. He hesitated for several minutes before tasting one. He was particular nervous about the "blood." Fortunately, he finally gave one a try, and promptly ate three.

Witch Finger Cookies: Karen's Kitchen Stories

Making these cookies is super easy and a lot of fun. I attached the almond "fingernails" with egg white, but you could attach them with red jam for an even more "bloody" look.

I added a bit of concentrated green food coloring (think Wicked), but these would probably be just as creepy without it.

P.S. They are quite tasty.

The Creative Cookie Exchange celebrates Halloween! Check out more links to Halloween cookies after the recipe.

Witch Finger Cookies

Ingredients


9 ounces (2 C) all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 C (1 stick) room temperature butter
1 C sugar
1 large egg
1tsp vanilla (I used Vanilla Bean Paste for added vanilla flavor)
1 to 2 drops green food coloring (optional)
28 large pieces of sliced almonds
Egg white or or strawberry jelly for attaching almonds
1/2 C raspberry or strawberry jam

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment. 
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. 
  3. Using a stand or electric mixer, mix the butter and sugar on high speed, until fluffy, about 3 minutes. 
  4. Add the egg, vanilla, and food coloring, and beat until blended. 
  5. Slowly add the flour, and beat on medium low until incorporated. 
  6. Form the dough into a rectangle, and cut with a dough scraper or knife into 28 equal sized pieces. 
  7. Roll each piece into a 5 inch cylinder and place on the baking sheet, about one inch apart. 
  8. Dip the almond slices into the egg white or jelly, and press them into the ends of the cylinders. 
  9. Taking a table knife, make three horizontal cuts where the knuckles would be. Press the cylinders between your fingers to give the fingers shape. 
  10. Bake the cookies for about 16 to 18 minutes, and cool on a wire rack. 
  11. Warm the jam in a small saucepan, and dip the ends of the fingers into the jam. Place the cookies back on the parchment for the jam to cool. 
Slightly adapted from Food Network


The theme this month is Halloween! Spooky, silly, creepy, we’ve got it all! If you are a blogger and want to join in the fun, contact Laura at thespicedlife AT gmail DOT com and she will get you added to our Facebook group, where we discuss our cookies and share links. You can also just use us as a great resource for cookie recipes--be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Chinese Jamaican Stir-Fried Beef and Carrots | Wok Wednesdays

Chinese Jamaican Stir-Fried Beef and Carrots

This Chinese Jamaican Stir-Fried Beef and Carrots recipe is the simplest stir-fry from Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge so far.

The ingredient list is short. Flank steak. Soy sauce. Cornstarch. Salt. Carrots. Onions. Matouk's Calypso Sauce.

Matouk's Calypson Sauce? Oops. I should have looked at the ingredient list about a week ago so I could have hunted down or ordered this sauce.

The ingredients list for Matouk's Calypso Sauce includes pickled Scotch bonnet, prepared mustard, cane sugar, onion, garlic, and celery seed. Sriracha has a similar ingredient list, minus the mustard. And a different chile. 

I ended up adding a bit of mustard to Sriracha and crossed my fingers. I have no idea if what I concocted is even close to Matouk's Calypso Sauce, but this stir-fry was amazing either way.

Chinese Jamaican Stir-Fried Beef and Carrots

The flank steak pieces are marinated for a very short time in the soy, cornstarch, and some of the salt. The carrots are julienned and then stir fried with the onions (I used a sweet onion). The steak is then seared in the hot wok, the vegetables are added back in, and everything is tossed with the hot sauce.

This was so easy and so delicious. I had leftovers for lunch the next day and it was still amazing.

Chinese Jamaican Stir-Fried Beef and Carrots

Participants in Wok Wednesdays have agreed not to post the actual recipe. Instead, we encourage you to check out the award winning book, Stir Frying to the Sky's Edge, by Grace Young. This recipe is on page 78. It's perfect for steak lovers.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Golden Raisin and Fennel Sourdough Pocket Bread for #BreadBakers

Golden Raisin and Fennel Sourdough Pocket Bread: Karen's Kitchen Stories

These Golden Raisin and Fennel Sourdough Pocket Breads may look like muffins, but they are are actual sourdough breads baked in a muffin tin.

Golden Raisin and Fennel Sourdough Pocket Bread: Karen's Kitchen Stories

These are filled with raisins soaked with ground fennel seeds, shaped, and then rolled in cornmeal. The flavor combination is exceptional.

Golden Raisin and Fennel Sourdough Pocket Bread: Karen's Kitchen Stories

The concept of pocket breads comes from Josey Baker, a bakery owner and the author of a new book, Josey Baker Bread. When he was first starting his business, he developed these small loaves for potential customers who didn't want or need to buy a large loaf of bread. His book has several pocket bread flavors, including dark chocolate cherry, chocolate peanut butter (with mini peanut butter cups!), and cheddar chive.

Golden Raisin and Fennel Sourdough Pocket Bread: Karen's Kitchen Stories

The theme for this month's Bread Bakers event is grapes, which could mean grapes, wine, raisins, or anything else grape. I originally intended to bake a bread with fresh grapes, but when I found these pocket breads, I had to try them. This is not your typical raisin bread. The sourdough aroma and flavor is perfect with the cornmeal, fennel seeds, and the golden raisins. And they are so cute, right?

One of my favorite ways to serve these is toasted with melted Havarti cheese. So good.

Golden Raisin and Fennel Sourdough Pocket Bread

Makes 12 Pocket Breads

Ingredients


Raisin Soaker


2 tsp ground fennel seeds
1/2 C (70 g) golden raisins
1/4 C (40 g) cornmeal
1/2 C hot water, about 100 degrees F

Mix the ingredients in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for about 8 to 12 hours. Drain before using. 

Sourdough Pre-Ferment


15 g (1T) active sourdough starter
1/2 C cool water
105 g (3/4 C) whole wheat flour

Mix the ingredients in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for about 8 to 12 hours, until bubbly. 

Final Dough


All of the pre-ferment
1 1/4 C lukewarm water
450 g (3 C) bread flour
12 g (2 tsp) fine sea salt (or regular non-iodized)
All of the raisin soaker, drained
About 3/4 C cornmeal for coating the pocket breads

Instructions

  1. Scrape the pre-ferment into a large bowl.
  2. Add the water, bread flour, salt, and raisin soaker, and mix with a wet hand until combined. 
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes. 
  4. Do four "stretch and folds" of the dough (check out this post for a video of the stretch and fold method), every 30 minutes. 
  5. Cover the dough and let rise until doubled, about 3 hours. 
  6. Spray a muffin tin with spray oil.
  7. Divide the dough into 12 equal parts, about 100 grams each. 
  8. Form each into a ball (the dough will be sticky so flour your work surface and wet your hands). 
  9. Lightly spray the balls with water, roll the formed balls into the cornmeal, and place them, seam side down, into the cavities of the muffin tin. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise until puffy, about 3 hours. 
  10. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. 
  11. Slash the tops of the breads, and spray the tops with water.
  12. Bake the rolls for 5 minutes, open the door of the oven, and spray the rolls once more with water and close the door. 
  13. Bake for another 25 minutes, until nicely browned.
  14. Remove the rolls from the oven and turn them out onto a cooling rack. 

BreadBakers

I'm so excited about this month's Bread Bakers theme, which is all things grapes. Check out the amazing grape-themed breads the #BreadBakers made this month:
#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme.  Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page.

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.

If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.

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