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Oct 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


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


  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. 
Oct 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

For a sweet version of this bread, be sure to try Lemon Braided Bread with Blackberries

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



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


  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

Sharing with Yeastspotting
Oct 13, 2014

Golden Raisin and Fennel Sourdough Pocket Bread

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.
Oct 10, 2014

Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread

Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread from Karen's Kitchen Stories

This cinnamon apple twist bread has these things going for it:

  1. It's beautiful.
  2. It's delicious.
  3. It's impressive.
  4. It's easy.
  5. Your friends will admire you. 
What more do you need?

The dough is rolled up like cinnamon rolls, but instead of slicing the rolled up dough cross wise like the rolls, the dough is sliced lengthwise, and then braided, cut side up, to create this gorgeous swirly bread.

Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread from Karen's Kitchen Stories

These loaves would be perfect for breakfast or brunch. You could also leave off the glaze if you want something a bit less sweet. I think it would be awesome as a hostess gift with the glaze on the side.

The apple filling calls for Intant ClearJel, which is a thickener that is great to use with fruit pie fillings. I happened to have it on hand (of course I did, because you never know, right?). f you don't have it, you can use flour, corn starch, or tapioca.

Cinnamon Apple Twist Bread


13 ounces pastry blend flour (or a blend of 65% all purpose and 35% cake flour)
1 1/2 ounces potato flour or potato flakes
3 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
3 T slightly softened butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 large egg
1 C milk


1/2 C sugar
3 T Instant ClearJel or flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1 C peeled and grated apple (about two large crisp apples), I used Braeburn
1 T lemon juice


2 ounces powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp boiled cider (optional)
1 T apple juice



  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix all of the dry ingredients with a whisk. 
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix for about a minute until the dry ingredients are wet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes. 
  3. Knead the dough with the dough hook for 10 minutes. The dough should be slightly sticky, so add a bit of water if the dough is too dry. 
  4. Put the dough in an oiled bowl and spray the top with spray oil. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 90 to 120 minutes.


  1. Mix the cinnamon, ClearJel or flour, and sugar in a medium bowl. 
  2. Mix the apples and lemon in a small bowl. Toss them with the cinnamon sugar mixture.
  3. Cover and set aside.

Assemble the Loaves

  1. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and press it down gently to deflate it. 
  2. Divide the dough into two equal pieces and roll each into 10 by 12 inch rectangles. 
  3. Spread the filling over each piece and roll, starting with the 12 inch side, into logs. 
  4. Cut each log in half lengthwise, and keeping the cut side up, twist the two pieces like a braid, and press the ends together and tuck them under (see the loaf above). Repeat with the second log. 
  5. Place the twists onto a parchment lined baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until puffy and nearly doubled, about an hour or two. 
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the loaves for 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for about an hour before glazing. 
  7. Using a fork, drizzle the bread with the glaze. 
This recipe was slightly adapted from King Arthur Flour and is the recipe that the bakers of the Avid Bakers Challenge are making for October. 

Oct 8, 2014

Sunny Side Up Apricot Pastries with Homemade Puff Pastry

Sunny Side Up Apricot Pastries with Homemade Puff Pastry

I approached these Apricot Pastries with caution. I did not want to get my hopes up because this recipe involved making my own puff pastry.
Oct 7, 2014

Apple and Ham Pizza

Apple and Ham Pizza | #TwelveLoaves Karen's Kitchen Stories

This apple and ham pizza absolutely made my day.  The combination of the apple, ham, and Havarti cheese is the perfect combination of savory and sweet, and the apples hold up well during the hot bake.

Apple and Ham Pizza | #TwelveLoaves Karen's Kitchen Stories

We had this pizza for dinner with a salad, and I had the lone leftover piece for breakfast the next day. I immediately made it again. So good.

The crust for this pizza is really versatile and easy to work with. The dough is mixed a day in advance and magically rises overnight. The dough recipe yields five pizzas. You refrigerate the dough after shaping it into dough balls, and you can make pizza over two to three days. Woo hoo! I used the rest of the dough to work on my pizza skills, including baking pizza on the barbecue. It was awesome. (I'm pretty sure I drove my friends on Instagram crazy with all of the pizza posts).

Apple and Ham Pizza | #TwelveLoaves Karen's Kitchen Stories

The outer crust gets all airy and bubbly, and the pizza is crispy throughout.

Will I make this again? Oh yeah.

Apple and Ham Pizza | #TwelveLoaves Karen's Kitchen Stories

Apple and Ham Pizza

Overnight Pizza Dough

1000 grams (7 3/4 C) white flour
3 C water at 90 to 95 degrees F
20 g (1 T + 3/4 tsp) fine sea salt
.8 g (scant 1/4 tsp) instant yeast

  1. Hydrate the yeast in a small amount of the measured and heated water in a small container. 
  2. In a very large bowl or 12 quart dough rising bucket, combine the flour and the rest of the water. Mix by hand until all of the flour is wet, cover, and let rest for 30 minutes. 
  3. Scatter the salt over the top of the dough, and add the yeast mixture. Wipe out the container with a piece of the dough to get all of the dissolved yeast. 
  4. Mix the dough by hand by pinching it and folding it alternatively, until the salt and yeast is fully incorporated, about 3 to 5 minutes. 
  5. Cover and let rest for 30 minutes. Stretch and fold the dough twice during the first hour (once after 30 minutes, and once after 60 minutes). 
  6. After the last fold, spray the top of the dough with spray oil, cover the dough, and let it rise for about 12 hours at room temperature. 
  7. When the dough is ready, gently ease it onto a floured work surface. Cut it into 5 equal pieces, about 340 grams each. 
  8. Shape the pieces into balls and place them onto a floured baking sheet. Spray the tops with spray oil, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 6 hours and up to 3 days. 

Apple and Ham Pizza

1 T olive oil plus more for the baking sheet
1/2 thinly sliced red onion
1 T fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
1 pizza dough ball
8 ounces grated Havarti cheese
1 thinly sliced crisp apple, peel on (I used Honeycrisp, but Braeburn would be great too)
4 ounces thinly sliced ham

  1. Place a pizza stone in the middle of your oven and preheat it to its highest temperature.
  2. Rub 1 T olive oil onto a rimmed baking sheet.
  3. Toss the red onion with the thyme, 1 T olive oil, and salt and pepper. 
  4. Place the pizza dough onto a floured work surface and press it down to form a disk. Flip it over, and continue to press it to stretch the dough. Pick it up, and stretch it with your hands. 
  5. Place it over your hands, and work it around with your knuckles to continue to stretch the dough. 
  6. Place the dough onto the oiled baking sheet. Press it into the oil to stretch to to about a 10 inch round. Take the cheese, and press it into the dough. As you add the cheese, the dough should eventually stretch into a 12 inch round. 
  7. Add the onion mixture, top with the apples and the ham. 
  8. Place the baking sheet on top of the baking stone and bake for about 5 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F and continue baking for about 15 to 20 minutes more, until the crust is golden brown. 
The pizza dough recipe was adapted from Ken Forkish's book, Flour, Salt, Water, Yeast. The book is amazing. Trust me. You can also find the recipe here

Oct 5, 2014

Malaysian-Style Stir-Fried Squid and Pineapple | Wok Wednesdays

This Malaysian-Style Stir-Fried Squid and Pineapple dish was created by a chef who grew up with the plain Chinese Hakka style cooking but later learned to love the more spicy and tropical Malaysian style of cuisine. The creator of this recipe, Mei Chau, grew up in Malaysia after her family emigrated from China. She was in charge of making meals for her siblings. While she cooked in the plain Hakka style, she learned to love the spicy Malaysian style food when the family would go out to eat. She eventually moved to New York, where she started her own restaurant, blending the flavors of China, Malaysia, and France.

This dish is another amazing illustration of the Chinese diaspora from Grace Young's book Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge.

The most difficult part of this recipe for this western girl was figuring out what squid to buy. I hit a Korean market first, and saw an amazing array of squid... huge squids... way bigger than called for in the recipe. I was ready to hit my Chinese market, but then decided to stop by a local fish restaurant that has an attached fish market. The price might have been higher, but they cleaned it, chopped it, and answered all of my questions.

The ingredients for this dish include squid, garlic, shallots, pineapple, tomatoes, hot sauce, sugar, salt, and scallions. That's it!

The recipe calls for just 8 ounces of squid, because more than that would cause it to create too much liquid and create a braise. I placed the pieces of squid between paper towels and refrigerated them to make sure they were dry enough for the stir-fry.

The other question mark is the hot sauce. Mei Chau likes to use Lingham's Chilli Sauce, which was not readily available to me. The book suggests Tabasco and sugar as a substitute. I subbed Sriracha sauce and was really happy with the results.

I am participating in Wok Wednesdays. We are stir-frying our way through Stir-Frying to the Sky's Edge by Grace Young. As participants, we don't post the recipe, but encourage you to get the book and support the author. It's worth it. I promise.

Pain Cordon de Bourgogne

Pain Cordon de Bourgogne from Karen's Kitchen Stories

Pain Cordon de Bourgogne is quite magical. A couple of pieces of the dough are twisted together, placed in the bottom of the banneton or brotform, and the shaped loaf is place on top of it. After the loaf is inverted and placed in the oven, the twisted dough "cordon" (cord) creates a natural place for the bread to split open without the need for slashing.
Oct 2, 2014

Peanut Butter Thumbprint Cookies with Salted Peanut Caramel

Peanut Butter Cookies with Salted Peanut Caramel from Karen's Kitchen Stories

These Peanut Butter Thumbprint Cookies would be pretty amazing on their own. Adding the salted peanut caramel takes them to a whole new level. You need to try them.