Saturday, August 30, 2008

Frank's Pickled Okra

The Recipe from Cotton Country, a Junior League Cookbook

The Okra

The Long Red Chiles

The Boiling Jars

Garlic and Dill Seed

The Process Begins..

And Continues..

There's One in Every Crowd!

Ten Minutes in a Hot Bath

We're Done!

Wait for three weeks before eating. Make as many as you can. These go fast.
Happy Labor Day!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Best Ribs Ever

Yesterday I posted on something that was good for you.

Today, in honor of Labor Day, which is rapidly approaching, I am going to provide you with a rub for baby back ribs.

Which probably would not wind up in the Good For You column of foods. Or the Best Looking Food in the world column.

Best Tasting Food in the World column, absolutely.
These ribs are one of those things that you make and those that get to eat them remember them for years.

They ask you to make it.

And if you don’t make it often enough, they figure out how to make it themselves and have you over to dinner to remind you about how good they are.

These ribs are messy, taste fabulous, do not involve a grill and, after years of experience, provide the same reaction across the board from every single person after the first couple of bites.

How did you do this? This is amazing.

Well, now you know.


The Best Ribs Ever

The Rub:

2-½ tbsp sugar
3 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp ground cumin
1-½ tbsp ground black pepper
1 tbsp medium hot chili powder
1 tbsp Lawry’s seasoned salt

2 full racks baby back ribs

The Baste:

1-¾ cup cider vinegar
2 tbsp Tabasco
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp Lawry’s seasoned salt
1-½ tbsp ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 300. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Spray with Pam. Rub both sides of the ribs with The Rub.
Heat The Baste ingredients on top of the stove and stir til sugar dissolves. Put ribs in oven and cook for 2-½ hours or til ribs reach temp of 140 degrees. Baste about every 20 minutes.

Totally enjoy!!

Serves 5.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Asian Grilled Salmon with Warm Soba Noodle Salad

In the interest of the good health that seems to be abounding around the Red Brick Ranchero, I’ve been concentrating my culinary efforts on things that are good for you.

Checking the ingredients of this particular effort, we find :

Salmon. Good for you.

Edamame. Good for you.

Garlic. Good for you.

Ginger. Good for you

Soba noodles. Surely they are good for you.

Throw in sautéed red bell peppers, green onions, toasted sesame oil and you’ve got something here.

A meal that‘s, well, good for you. And is too easy.

And tastes divine. For supper and lunch the next day.

Asian Grilled Salmon with Warm Soba Noodle Salad

3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 inch piece of ginger, peeled, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup cooked edamame, ( I used the ones from Costco that are seasoned)
3-4 green onions, trimmed and chopped
2 nice pieces wild salmon, seasoned with a bit of tamari and black pepper
Fresh cilantro for garnish
Toasted sesame oil
Fresh lime
6 ounces dry soba noodles, cooked and drained

Grill the salmon til just done. Heat large skillet with a couple of good swirls of extra virgin olive oil and add the green onions and red bell peppers. Cook about five minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook about five minutes, don’t let it burn. Add edamame and stir til the edamame is hot. Remove from heat then add the cooked noodles and toss well, drizzle with the toasted sesame oil to your taste. Cut the salmon into nice chunks. Put the noodle mix on the plate and top with the chunks of salmon, drizzle with toasted sesame oil and a squeeze of fresh lime and a touch of fresh cilantro.

Dinner for 3!

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Pickle

Sweet with a kick. Slightly sour. A bit of a crunch.


Serve them once, people will follow you all over the house to find out about these pickles.

Making the pickles is so unbelievably easy ,you’ll tell them.

And they won’t believe you.

At all.

They’ll think you bought them.


Didn’t buy the pickles.

Keep a jar in the back of your fridge for snacks, to chop into old fashioned tuna salad, for a sweet bite with a sliced chicken sandwich, chopped and stirred into a sauce remoulade to go with steamed shrimp, to give as a quick hostess gift.

But be prepared.

Those that eat them won’t listen.

The last thing they will believe is that you made them.

Which is all the more reason why you should.

A Pickle
From the Nashville Seasons Cookbook

1 gallon jar kosher dill pickles, drained
2 tbsp alum
5 lbs sugar
10 cloves garlic, peeled
2 bottles McCormick pickling spices
1 cup cider vinegar
½ cup white wine vinegar

Slice the pickles ½ inch thick . Soak in ice water with alum powder for two hours. Keep cold by adding ice.

In original pickle jar put 1 inch layer sugar, 1 inch layer of pickle slices, sprinkle a layer of pickling spices, a couple of garlic cloves and repeat until all pickle slices have been used. Pour vinegar over top and let sit 36 hours.

Stir once a day.

These last indefinitely in the fridge if they’re allowed to.

Makes a gallon of pickles. I know, I know, it makes a lot of pickles. You’ll need them.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Pan Seared Scallops with Fresh Thyme and Summer Vegetables

It’s that time of year when the farmer’s market is filled with fresh vegetables and one’s thoughts turn to…the pig.

I can’t help it. We have been so good this summer. The pig has barely made an appearance at any of our dinners.

Sometimes I feel like I’m running a seafood restaurant.

Tonight I just couldn’t stand it anymore. We had beautiful sea scallops, fresh “peaches and cream” corn, red bell peppers, fresh lima beans.

And all I could think about was the pancetta. Sitting lost and alone in the fridge.

It positively threw itself into the hot cast iron skillet.

The rest is history.

Fabulous edible history.

Pan Seared Scallops with Fresh Thyme and Summer Vegetables

1 pound large sea scallops, patted dry
2 pieces pancetta, diced
A good swirl extra virgin olive oil
Several sprigs fresh thyme
2 ears peaches and cream corn, cut from cob
1 red bell pepper, seeded, diced
1 cup fresh lima beans
2 green onions, diced
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat good swirl of extra virgin olive oil in cast iron skillet. Throw in the pancetta and let it brown til crisp. Remove from pan and let the pancetta drain on paper towels.

Be sure the scallops are as dry as possible and put them in the hot cast iron skillet. Let cook, undisturbed until they are golden brown and caramelized on the bottom. Turn and season with lots of freshly ground black pepper and a bit of coarse salt. Cook a couple of minutes til done and remove to a bowl and sprinkle with fresh thyme bits (stripped from the stem, not chopped).

Add the green onion and red bell pepper and cook for several minutes, until soft. Add the limas and the corn and cook for about five minutes until done. Toss with the scallops and fresh thyme and sprinkle with the pancetta.

Serves 3 generously.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Bread, My New Best Friend

Ok, remember several months ago I announced that I had conquered bread making. That it was something I could do with confidence and provide healthy bread for my family.

Yea yea …whatever, Mary.

I haven’t cracked a bag of flour since then.

Not once.

I work full time. I blog. I have a life.

I haven’t got the time to rise, punch down, rise, punch down.

Until I discovered this. Thanks to cookiecrumb and her knock out blog, I'm Mad and I Eat.

She provided a life changing moment for me.

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois.

I watched the YouTube video.
I was sold. I bought the book.

These guys have got it goin’ on, people. They totally simplify the bread making process using natural ingredients and a brilliant method. It is without a doubt tailor made for someone who works full time and loves to cook but hasn’t had the inclination or the talent or the patience to be a bread baker.

Basically you dump flour, water, salt and instant yeast in a container with a lid. You stir to combine, you don’t knead. Let it sit two hours at room temp. Put in the fridge and it sits. And thinks. For up to fourteen days. When you want some bread, you shake a little flour over the top of the dough, pull up a grapefruit size mound o’ dough, shape it, let it sit 20, preheat the oven, slash it and let it sit 20 and then bake for specified time.



I have, at the present time, two types of bread dough in my refrigerator, the boule and European peasant bread. If I need a baguette, or batard or a quick pissaladiere ( straight from the book and a great Sunday supper), I use the boule.

For sandwiches, panzanella, bruschetta, I use the European.

I’m considering making brioche for Christmas presents.

Me. Brioche.

It’s a miracle.

Buy the book. It will change your life.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Tagliatelle with Six Peppers

Food does not have to be complicated to be considered excellent.

You don’t have to have lots of different ingredients to make an outstanding meal.

You can feature one item, concentrating its flavors so you get the essence of what it’s all about.

Using the brightly colored peppers of summer, crushed red pepper flakes for heat, extra virgin olive oil, spicy fresh basil and a quick grating of Parmigiana Reggiana you have an easy summer supper that is as beautiful as it tastes.

Simple can be legendary.

Tagliatelle with Six Peppers
Adapted from Patricia Wells’ Tagliatelle con Peperoni e Basilica in

1 large red bell pepper
1 large yellow bell pepper
1 large green bell pepper
1 large orange bell pepper.
6 good swirls extra virgin olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of a covered deep 12 inch skillet)
Crushed hot red pepper flakes
¼ cup fresh basil, cut into chiffonade
Freshly grated Parmigiana Reggiana
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Enough Tagliatelle for three people*

Halve the peppers, core them and slice in very thin matchstick pieces. Swirl enough extra virgin olive oil to into the bottom of a deep 12 inch skillet that has a top. Shake a bit of crushed red pepper flakes into the oil, add the peppers and season with a little coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss them well and put the pan, covered over very low heat until the peppers are very soft. This takes about 45 minutes. Don’t let the peppers brown. Stir from time to time and don’t let them burn. They will make a lovely sauce from their juices in the bottom of the pan. You can do this ahead of time and reheat.

Cook the Tagliatelle in a large pot of water until tender and drain.

Put the Tagliatelle in the skillet with the peppers, off the heat and toss to blend. Cover and let sit for three minutes so the sauce is absorbed. Transfer to pasta bowls, top with the basil, grate Parmigiana and you’re ready for a great meal.

Serves 3 generously.

(it's possible to use Papardelle in this as well. It tastes divine either way)