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Archive for May, 2010

The Ultimate ‘Cue

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Walking outside on a Sunday evening, you can’t help but pick up the subtle yet unmistakable scent of BBQ in the air.  The aroma draws us in, gets our mouths watering, and at the same time throws us back to a million memories of summers past enjoying the company of family and friends over the delicacies of the grill. 

There is something extraordinary about the results we produce from cooking over an open fire, and there is very little as satisfying as a good barbeque.  With the grilling season upon us, here’s a helpful primer in time for Memorial Day.

That said, let’s focus on the quintessential barbecue obsession–the mother of all BBQ, the reason men happily spend hours working a hot grill, the piece d’resistance of carnivores everywhere.  That’s right.  Ribs.  I’m not talking about flanken or braised short ribs.  I’m talking about gooey, sticky, eat-it-with-your-hands and sink-your-teeth-into-it ribs.  I’m talking about the kind you need a stack of napkins for on the side.  Ribs fall into the category of a “patchke” (a project, so to speak); however, there are some “patchkes” that are worth preparing for special occasions, if only once or twice a year.  And these should be on that list!

Preparing good ribs are not difficult, but they are time consuming, so plan ahead.   Allow plenty of time to marinate your ribs.  “Marinades are the lifeblood of barbecue,” writes Steven Raichlen, today’s foremost BBQ guru.  The flavors need the proper time to sit and absorb.  I created this recipe after dreaming about the finger-licking ribs I had as a child, and they are delicious.  Your guests will tell you so, too!  

Brown Sugar & Bourbon Ribs

 

Serves 4.

Getting Started:

  • Before you begin, don’t forget to check your fuel supply.  It would be a shame to prepare such wonderful ribs and then realize that you have no more propane or charcoal to cook them!   
  • Preheat your grill for indirect grilling – this means that the food will not be cooked directly on the heat.  If your grill has 3 zones of heat, set the back and front burners to medium heat and keep the center burner off.  If your grill has 2 zones of heat, set one side of the grill for medium heat and leave the other side off.  Keep the lid closed until the heat registers at around 350 degrees (as opposed to direct grilling in which you would preheat it to at least 500 degrees). 
  • Oil your grill grate just before placing the food on top.  You can use a wad of oil- soaked paper toweling and rub it on the grates with tongs.  Oiling the grates will prevent your food from sticking.
  • Be organized! Have everything you need for grilling ready and on hand at grill- side before you start. (That means your meat, tongs, basting sauce, serving plate, etc.)

 

Ay, there’s the rub!

American-style ribs are marinated by way of a rub, a spice mixture applied to the meat in order to flavor and cure it before grilling.

Ribs

1½ tbsp. dark brown sugar

1 tbsp. kosher salt

1½ tsp. black pepper

¾ tsp. cayenne pepper

1½ tsp. thyme

1½ tsp. garlic powder

¾ tsp. onion powder

1 tbsp. paprika

1½ tsp. dry mustard powder

8-10 beef spare ribs

1 ½ cups (12 oz.) pineapple juice

 

Mix all the spices together in a small bowl.  Rub the spice mixture into the ribs on all sides (I didn’t say “sprinkle”, I said “rub”…with your fingers).  Place ribs into a large baking dish or foil pan, cover, and refrigerate for 4-8 hours, or even overnight (and no, a half-hour is not enough!).  

Getting Tender

These ribs are pre-cooked in order to make them more tender before being finished on the grill.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Pour pineapple juice into the pan.  Cover with foil and bake until the meat is tender, about 45 minutes-1 hour. 

All in Good Baste

There are many different kinds of BBQ sauces in the world and several different styles even just within the United States.  The classic sweet, tomato-based sauce that has come to define “BBQ sauce” is just one type.  Bold flavor contrasts are the benchmark of a great sauce (e.g. sweet vs. sour, smoky vs. fruity), one which will hopefully enhance and finish the dish when brushed on during grilling.   

BBQ sauces with high sugar content, as with the following recipe, should be applied in the last few minutes of grilling because the sugar burns easily.  While your grill preheats, prepare the basting sauce to have at the ready.

Basting Sauce

½ cup dark brown sugar

¼ cup bourbon whiskey

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 tbsp. soy sauce

¼ cup apricot butter or apricot jam

Whisk all ingredients in medium-sized bowl to blend.

Grill Time

Grill ribs in the center of your grill (or where there is no heat), with the cover closed, until heated through and slightly charred, about 6-8 minutes per side. Brush generously on all sides with basting sauce.  Grill until sauce becomes a sticky glaze, about 3 minutes longer per side. 

The ribs are done when the meat is very tender and has shrunk back from the ends of the bone.  Transfer to a platter and serve.  

Long summer days are upon us.  Heed the call of your barbeque favorites, and make some delicious new memories on your grill this summer.  With your tongs in hand and napkins at the ready, let the grilling begin!
By Naomi Ross

 

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Dairy Delights

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

We have been counting for many weeks now, and the anticipation of Shavous — the Jewish holiday commemorating the giving of the Torah — is mounting day by day.   In about one week, we will experience the awe and magnitude of receiving our Holy Cheesecake.  Torah, what I really meant to say was Torah.   Sadly, we often (myself included) forget what the essence of Shavous is all about.   There are many customs which have shaped our enjoyment and celebration of this holiday, one of which is the tradition to eat dairy dishes.  There are many reasons for this custom, the most practical one being the immediate necessity to cook kosher food in the desert after having just received the new laws of kashrut at Mount Sinai.  The Jewish People needed time to prepare meat according to the new laws and to cleanse their pots, pans and plates.  Certainly, there are deeper explanations for the custom as well, all of which are more fully appreciated after a few bites of cheesecake!

After spending almost every festive meal of the year eating either no dairy products or poor imitations, it is easy to get carried away.  You nearly forget just how good the real stuff tastes. The same cookies you make year round with margarine are a different animal when made with real butter.  When planning Shavous meals, I try to choose recipes that will showcase the flavors of pure ingredients while at the same time striving to maintain balance in what could become an overly heavy meal.  Pesto with grated Parmesan, sour cream coffee cake, and cream of broccoli soup are all wonderful choices.  The following recipe for Broiled Halibut with Gingered Grapefruit Bruleé is not difficult to prepare; as always, if you use fresh, pure and good quality ingredients, you don’t need to do much to them in order to yield great results.  PEK’s wild caught Halibut is fresh and firm with a mild taste.  May the pure creaminess and sweetness of this year’s dairy delights remind us of the purity and sweetness of Torah and remain a sustaining taste in our mouths throughout the year.

Broiled Halibut with Gingered Grapefruit Bruleé

This elegant entrée becomes a “winner” with the accompanying Grapefruit beurre blanc, a rich, hot butter sauce made with a reduction of white wine and shallots into which cold, whole butter is blended off the heat to prevent separation. 

 

Serves 4.

For grapefruit beurre blanc:

 

1 pink or red grapefruit

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 shallot, minced

1 tsp. grated gingerroot

1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-sized pieces

 

For fish:

2 pink or red grapefruits

4 6oz. halibut steaks with skin (1 1/2 lbs.) or other firm, white-fleshed fish

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 tbsp. minced crystallized ginger

3 tbsp. sugar

To make grapefruit beurre blanc:
Finely grate 1 teaspoon zest from one of the grapefruits.  Squeeze 1/2 cup juice from the grapefruit.   Place zest and juice into a small heavy saucepan.  Add wine, shallot, and grated gingerroot to the saucepan and stir to blend.  Place pan over medium heat and bring to a boil.  Boil until mixture is reduced by half.  Reduce heat to low and whisk in butter 1 piece at a time, lifting pan from heat occasionally to cool sauce and adding each new piece of butter before the previous one has melted completely (sauce must not get hot enough to separate).   Season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Keep beurre blanc warm in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of hot water.

To make fish:

Cut off the polar ends of the grapefruits with a sharp serrated knife.  Then slice the peel from the sides.  Trim away the white pith.  Working over a bowl, use a gentle sawing motion to cut along each membrane and release the grapefruit sections into the bowl.  (You will be left with an empty mass of membranes – discard!).   Set aside.

Preheat oven to broil.  Prepare a baking sheet, lined with foil.  Pat halibut dry and place fillets on the prepared baking sheet.  Season fish generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Place a single layer of grapefruit segments on the top of each piece of fish, covering the top of the fillet like a blanket.  Mix the crystallized ginger and sugar together in a small bowl (or give a whiz together in the food processor for a few seconds).  Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of the ginger-sugar over each grapefruit/fillet.  Place baking sheet in the top third of the oven, and broil for about 8-9 minutes, or until fish is done (flakes easily and is opaque in the middle) and the grapefruit is caramelized.  Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving plate.  Spoon warm beurre blanc over the fish.  Garnish with a fresh mint sprig.

*Cook’s note:  Fish can stay warm in a 225° oven.  Beurre blanc can stay warm in a double-boiler or even a thermos.

Bonus Recipe!!

To end the perfect Shavuos meal, you need a smash-hit cheesecake, and the following one sure fits the bill.  I’ve converted even the most reluctant guests into cheesecake lovers…and you will too!

Spiked Chocolate Cheesecake

 

Spiked with coffee liquor, this is not a cheesecake for the faint-hearted!

Yields: 12-16 servings

Crust:

1 pkg. Chocolate wafers/sandwich cookies (8 ½ oz. bag of oreos)

6 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Crush cookies in a food processor to make crumbs.  Combine cookie crumbs & melted butter in a medium bowl until well mixed.  Press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides (two inches) of an ungreased 9” spring form pan.  Refrigerate.

Filling:

2 8-oz. pkgs. Cream cheese, softened

2/3 cup sugar

3 eggs

12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted

1 cup whipping cream

2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

1 tsp. vanilla

½ cup coffee-flavored liquor

Preheat oven to 325°.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the cream cheese and sugar.  Beat until smooth.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add whipping cream, butter, vanilla and liquor.  Beat until smooth.  Add melted chocolate and gently fold into mixture until completely combined. 

Wrap the bottom of the crust-lined spring form pan with 3 layers of aluminum foil.  Pour batter into pan.  Place pan into a larger pan/dish and fill with enough water to come up the sides of the spring form pan ¾”.  Place the pan holding the spring form into the oven and bake for 55-65 minutes or until edges are set.  The center of the cheesecake will be soft.  Allow cheesecake to cool, then refrigerate 2-3 hours minimum, preferably overnight.  Garnish with reserved cookie crumbs, chocolate curls or sliced strawberries.  Carefully remove the outer rim of the spring form pan before serving. Serve and enjoy!

By Naomi Ross

 

 

 

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The Conscientious Carnivore

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Ask your average Joe where his chicken came from, and odds are he’ll tell you the name of the supermarket from which he bought it.   Like the “cup-o-soup” or can of tomato sauce, poultry and meats have become yet another product under cellophane and Styrofoam that gets thrown into the shopping cart without much thought, without much consideration.  Though more awareness and thoughtfulness are beginning to affect today’s consumer, the reality of being far removed from our food, of knowing little of the life and death of what nourishes us, can erode our understanding of just what exactly makes for a choice piece of chicken: what makes it particularly flavorful or healthful and the obvious ethical choices implicit in such questions.  My grandmother remembers going on Friday mornings to select the live chicken that would shortly become their Shabbat dinner…my, how much more complicated eating has become. 

For Shlomo Fink, owner of David Elliot Poultry Farm in Scranton, PA., producing good poultry is no mystery.  His family has been doing it since 1941.   David Elliot produces about 10,000 birds per day, a small number in comparison to some of the larger mass-produced poultry factories.  Broilers (really tasty – see my recipe below!), 10 lb. capons, and turkeys abound, but their signature bird is a true kosher Rock Cornish Hen (1 lb. single serving size), sweet and succulent to the last bite.   According to Fink, operating on a small scale is what distinguishes David Elliot Poultry from other products, allowing more dedication and attention to quality and the highest standards of kosher slaughter.  

David Elliot offers an array of “natural” poultry – free of growth hormones and antibiotics.   You might be wondering if this matters and why it is significant.  When birds are kept in cramped, dirty conditions, disease can spread.  To counteract this, the large-scale poultry processing companies administer antibiotics.  Additionally, the high volumes of poultry these companies produce do not leave time for a chicken to grow at a natural pace; instead, they inject it with hormones to make it grow faster.  On a smaller scale, with less crowding and better conditions, all this should not be necessary.  Not surprisingly, healthier chicks taste better; and they just might be better for your health as well. 

You don’t have to be a vegetarian to think about from whence your meat came. With a little thought and by supporting the farms who want to do it right, you are paying homage to the animal that was your dinner and to the Creator Who put it on your plate.      

Park East Kosher is a proud seller of David Elliot Poultry – be sure to inquire when placing an order.

Apricot Glazed Euro-Breast with Savory Stuffing

A Euro-breast (also called “French breast”), a breast quarter deboned with the wing attached, is becoming a popular cut.  Your Park East Butcher is happy to prepare it for you upon request.

Serves 4.

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 cup diced carrots (from 1-2 large carrots)

1 cup diced celery (from about 2 stalks)

1 cup chopped onion (1 medium onion)

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ tsp. dried thyme

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1/3 cup panko bread crumbs (or coarse fresh bread crumbs)

4 broiler Euro-breasts (David Elliot’s)*

3 tbsp. apricot preserves

1 tbsp. white wine

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 

Heat oil in a large skillet.  Add carrots, celery and onion, and sauté for about 7-8 minutes or until vegetables are tender.    Add garlic, thyme, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.  Stir to blend and continue to sauté another 2 minutes.   Remove from heat.  Add the bread crumbs and mix until combined.  Set aside.

Rinse chicken breasts and pat dry.  Season well with salt and pepper.  Stuff approximately 3-4 tablespoons of stuffing underneath the skin towards the bone, making sure the skin contains the stuffing  (don’t overstuff).  Place each stuffed breast in a baking pan.

Mix apricot preserves and wine together in a small bowl.  Brush mixture generously over the skin of each breast.  Place pan in oven uncovered for about 50-60 minutes, until the skin is golden brown, basting with pan juices about halfway through the cooking time.  Serve hot and enjoy!

By Naomi Ross

 

 

 

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