Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream

Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream

I keep yapping about how berry season held us over until stone fruit arrived, and I would be very remiss to exclude raspberries from this little venture. If we’re talking about just outright snacking, I have to admit that raspberries are my least favorite of the four main berries, but I absolutely adore cooking and baking with them. No clue why…

raspberries

So, this ice cream. It was incredibly interesting, and not quite what I was expecting when I read the recipe title. Making chocolate ice cream from scratch generally involves, well, actual chocolate (PSA courteous of Captain Obvious). So I read the recipe title and assumed it contained actual chocolate plus raspberries, and I worried that the assertive chocolate flavor would overwhelm or outshine the more delicate raspberry flavor.

raspberries

Not so. This recipe doesn’t actually call for any chocolate, just good cocoa powder. Which actually relegates the chocolate flavor to a more accompanying background note that complements the raspberries, thus allowing them to be front and center on the taste buds. With each bite there is no mistaking it: the raspberry gets top billing here.

chocolate raspberry ice cream

I would advise churning this ice cream for less time than your ice cream maker suggests. It’s a VERY thick custard, and in my experience, thicker-than-usual custards like to over-churn, and over-churned ice cream is all kinds of inedible nastiness. So watch it carefully, and stop it around 5 or so minutes before you usually do. The major upside of super thick custard is that it yields an incredibly creamy finished product. I hope y’all will enjoy it!

Chocolate Raspberry Ice Cream

Source: The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz

Ingredients:
1 ½ cups heavy cream
5 tbs unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups fresh raspberries
Pinch of kosher salt

Directions:
Whisk together the cream, cocoa powder, and sugar in a large stockpot. Heat the mixture, whisking frequently, until it comes to a full, rolling boil (it may start to foam up). Remove from the heat and add the raspberries and salt. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes.
Puree the mixture in a blender or food processor. If you wish, press the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the seeds.
Chill the mixture thoroughly, then freeze it in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions, but subtract 5 to 10 minutes from the recommended churning time to prevent over-churning. Transfer the ice cream to a freezer safe container and freeze about 2 hours or longer before serving.

Asian-Style Duck Tacos with Plum Pico de Gallo

Asian Style Duck Tacos with Plum Pico de Gallo

I think most of us in the US would agree that peaches tend to be the heavyweight champions of stone fruit season. But if that’s indeed true, then I’d say that plums are the minor league champs, and deserve their day in the spotlight. And I for one get very excited when these underrated champs reach their peak high season! My local grocery store has them on full display, right there on the sidewalk, both black and red varieties looking proud, plump, and delicious.

black plums

I knew I wanted a savory application for the beauties, and thanks to me buying twice as many corn tortillas than I needed last weekend, tacos began to make a lot of sense. (Due to the excess of corn tortillas, we’ve actually been eating a LOT of tacos around here lately).

plum pico de gallo

I must admit, I’ve never before warmed to the idea of “fusion tacos” – but, well, when you’re eating as many tacos as we have been lately, the idea starts sounding better and better. So that’s where Asian style duck tacos come into play. These are reminiscent of a Peking duck. They marinate in a basic Chinese style combination of garlic, ginger, soy, and hoisin.

Asian Style Duck Tacos with Plum Pico de Gallo

The plums actually stand in for, rather than accompany, the traditional tomatoes used in pico de gallo, which gives the salsa a fruitier and very bright taste. Its texture is maybe *slightly* softer than traditional tomato-based pico. But the plums complemented the duck beautifully. I hope y’all will enjoy these!

Asian Style Duck Tacos with Plum Pico de Gallo

Source: adapted from Dos Caminos Tacos by Ivy Stark

Ingredients:
TACOS:
1 large (1 lb.) duck breast, trimmed of excess skin and fat, patted dry
½ cup red wine (I used a pinot noir)
½ cup soy sauce
2 tbs hoisin sauce
½ tbs freshly squeezed lime juice
½ tsp Sichuan peppercorns
2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
1 (2-inch) cinnamon stick, preferably Mexican canela
1 chile de arbol, crumbled or chopped
1 (1-inch) piece of ginger, sliced
¼ medium red onion, coarsely chopped
Slight pinch of kosher salt
4-6 corn tortillas, warmed
Cilantro sprigs, for garnish

PLUM PICO DE GALLO:
½ lb. ripe plums (can be red or black variety), pitted and diced
¼ cup finely diced fresh cilantro
¼ medium red onion, finely chopped
2 tbs finely chopped fresh mint leaves
1 serrano chile, minced (seeded if you want the salsa to be less hot)
1 large garlic clove, minced
½ tbs freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp sugar, optional
Kosher salt, to taste

Directions:
Place the duck breast in a large, resealable plastic food storage bag. In a small mixing bowl, combine the red wine, soy sauce, hoisin, lime juice, peppercorns, garlic, cinnamon stick, chile de arbol, ginger, and onion. Pour over the duck breast and close the bag. Massage the bag so that the duck is completely coated in the marinade. Place in the refrigerator and let marinate at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
Get the duck out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before you plan to start cooking so it can come up to room temperature.
Place a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat and let it get as hot as it’s going to get before you start cooking the duck.
Meanwhile, remove the duck from the marinade and wipe off any excess. Using a VERY sharp paring knife, score the skin on the diagonal in one direction, then rotate the duck and score the skin on the diagonal going the other direction, so you have a cross hatch pattern all over the skin. Season very lightly with kosher salt. Place the duck in the cast-iron skillet, skin side down. Cook until the skin is crackly-crispy and the fat has rendered. This will take about 15 minutes total, and you may need to adjust the heat upwards or downwards, depending on how well the fat is rendering. You want it hot enough to do its thing but not hot enough to burn the duck or cook the inside meat too quickly. Periodically you will need to carefully remove the duck with tongs to a cutting board and drain off the rendered fat. If you don’t do this, you’ll be pseudo deep-frying the duck by the end and it will taste greasy.
Once the fat is rendered, flip the duck breast over and cook on the meat side until its internal temperature reads 130 F, about 10 more minutes. Remove the duck to a plate, loosely tent with foil and let rest for at least 5 minutes.
Prepare the PLUM PICO DE GALLO: combine the plums, cilantro, red onion, garlic, mint, serrano chile, lime juice, sugar if using, and salt. Taste for seasoning, as you may need to add more salt. Adjust as necessary.
To assemble, place the duck on a clean cutting board and slice as thinly as possibly across on the diagonal. Place a few duck slices in each tortilla, then spoon on a helping of plum pico de gallo. Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately. Serve the leftover pico de gallo with tortilla chips if you wish.

Romaine, Blueberry, and Corn Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette

Romaine, Blueberry and Corn Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette

Monday is killing me today, and no, it has nothing to do with the wine I consumed last night! (Actually my lack of sleep had much more to do with cat drama during the night, which I won’t bore you with, but if anyone is a cat whisperer, please do drop me a line. Thanks!)

Romaine, Blueberry and Corn Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette

Anyways, after I stopped forcing stone fruit season to arrive before it intended to do so, I’ve been gobbling up all the berries like they’re going out of season soon. Ha!

Romaine, Blueberry and Corn Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette

About a month ago, I picked up (what was then) the latest issue of Food & Wine, and was immediately intrigued by their idea of using fresh blueberries in a vinaigrette for salad. I’m here to report it is indeed delicious, so I put together a simple and summery salad of romaine, fresh sweet corn, and more blueberries (plus croutons!) to showcase this unique blueberry salad dressing.

Romaine, Blueberry and Corn Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette

I hope y’all enjoy it!

Source: vinaigrette from Food & Wine, July 2015

Ingredients:

VINAIGRETTE:
¼ cup fresh blueberries
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tsp adobo sauce from a can of chipotle in adobo
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

SALAD:
2 hearts of romaine, chopped or torn
1 ear of corn, husks and silks stripped away and discarded, kernels cut off the cob
A couple of generous handfuls of fresh blueberries
Croutons
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:
First make the VINAIGRETTE. In a small saucepan, use a potato masher to mash the blueberries with the sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook, stirring, until thickened, about 8 minutes. Let the mixture cool slightly.
Scrape the blueberry mixture into a bowl and whisk in the oil, vinegar, and adobo sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
To make the SALAD, place the romaine chunks into a large salad bowl, followed by the corn kernels and the fresh blueberries. Season lightly with salt and heavily with black pepper. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss gently to combine. Add more dressing if needed (you can always add more dressing in, but you can’t take it out if you overdress the salad!). Garnish with croutons and serve immediately.

Corn on the Cob with New Orleans “Barbecue” Butter

Corn on the Cob with New Orleans "Barbecue" Butter

New Jersey is nicknamed The Garden State, and until moving to the NYC region, I never knew (or cared – gotta be totally frank here) why. You know why? It’s because of all the gorgeous summer produce those farmers spin out every year! I am suddenly feeling rather lucky to live here and have access to all of this – the tomatoes! The peaches! The corn!

Corn on the Cob with New Orleans "Barbecue" Butter

Once you taste this Jersey sweet corn, you have to take back every single bad thing you’ve ever said about this state. I’m serious. (And if you’re not originally from here and you’ve lived in New York for the past ten years, you *might* (cough, cough) have said something bad about the ol’ NJ).

This corn is so perfect that all it really needs is salt and maybe a pat of butter after grilling it. But that’s a hideously dull “recipe” to blog. And since I try my hardest to keep this space from being the culinary equivalent of watching paint dry, we have to jazz up that corn somehow.

corn on the cob with New Orleans "barbecue" butter

I chose to try out a corn recipe that is reminiscent of New Orleans barbecued shrimp, a classic dish which involves no actual barbecue sauce, but rather spices and an utterly obscene amount of butter. Since corn loves butter, and since the sweetness of corn can take on the very assertive spices of New Orleans quite nicely, this is actually a genius idea. One I didn’t think of myself, I’ll freely admit. Go America’s Test Kitchen!

The cooking method used here is also pretty genius. You’ll need a 9 by 13-inch aluminum roasting pan, and a grill surface large enough to accommodate it. Indoor or outdoor grill, either is perfectly fine as long as it’s big enough. This may be my new favorite corn on the cob recipe. I hope you love it too!

Corn on the Cob with New Orleans "Barbecue" Butter

Source: America’s Test Kitchen Special Collector’s Edition: Best Ingredients, Best Recipes

Ingredients:
6 tbs unsalted butter, softened
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp tomato paste
½ tsp minced fresh rosemary
½ tsp minced fresh thyme
½ tsp cayenne pepper
8 ears of corn, husks and silks removed
2 tbs canola or vegetable oil
Salt and black pepper

Directions:
In a small bowl, use a fork to thoroughly combine the butter, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, tomato paste, rosemary, thyme, and cayenne.
In a 9 by 13-inch disposable aluminum roasting pan, place the butter all over the bottom of the pan, in small spoonfuls. Set aside at room temperature.
Brush the corn evenly with the canola oil, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
Grill the corn over medium-high to high heat (indoor or outdoor grill is fine), until lightly charred on all sides, 5 to 9 minutes. Transfer corn the aluminum roasting pan and cover tightly with foil.
Place the roasting pan on the grill and cook, shaking the pan frequently, until butter is sizzling, about 3 minutes.
Remove the pan from the grill and carefully remove the foil, allowing steam to escape away from your face. Serve the corn immediately, spooning the excess butter in the pan over the individual ears.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Pickled Walnuts and Blue Cheese

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Pickled Walnuts and Blue Cheese

One of my favorite things about summer is, without a doubt, heirloom tomatoes. I await their annual arrival with impatience and once they are finally here I buy them every chance I can. Truth be told, I’m mostly boring with them. Slice them, a sprinkle of salt, and given their size I find that’s a lovely and surprisingly filling side dish to a lean protein.

heirloom tomato salad with pickled walnuts and blue cheese

Obviously I can’t blog that. So I blog my other favorite thing to do with them: salads!! Every summer I hunt down a unique and creative way to showcase these beauties via salads, and when I find one I like, I keep making it every other day until Matt serves the cease and desist request. (He’s not nearly as big a fan of tomatoes as I am).

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Pickled Walnuts and Blue Cheese

But, he did like this one a lot, which means it’s *extremely* tasty. I couldn’t get enough, every time I made it. The first time found us pressed for time, so I skipped the candied walnuts and just pickled regular ones. No. Hunt down or DIY them up candied, it’s so worth it. I also skipped the celery, on account of having forgotten to buy it (d’oh!), and please don’t do that either. It lends not so much flavor but a wonderful crunch that complements the soft texture of the heirlooms.

heirloom tomato salad with pickled walnuts and blue cheese

I really can’t say enough good things about this beautiful salad. If you love, or even like, heirlooms, then this needs to be in your summer repertoire while we can still get ahold of those babies. Enjoy!

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Pickled Walnuts and Blue Cheese

Source: Food & Wine, June 2011 (recipe submitted by Richard Blais)

Ingredients:
½ cup candied walnuts, coarsely chopped
4 tsp sherry vinegar, divided
2 tsp Dijon mustard
3 tbs olive oil
Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
2 lbs. assorted heirloom tomatoes, thickly sliced or cut into large wedges
2 small celery ribs with leaves, thinly sliced crosswise
¼ cup crumbled blue cheese

Directions:
In a small bowl, toss the walnuts with 2 tsp of the vinegar and let stand for 10 minutes.
In another bowl, whisk the mustard with the remaining 2 tsp vinegar and the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Arrange the tomatoes on a platter. Season with salt. Add the celery and its leaves, nuts and cheese. Drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately.

Goat Cheese Pancakes with Fresh Peach Syrup

Goat Cheese Pancakes with Fresh Peach Syrup

Well, it is officially August, but instead of lamenting that summer is almost over (though believe me, I’m tempted to do so) I’d rather celebrate the arrival of stone fruit season! At least in my northeast US neck of the woods. It seems like those peaches, nectarines and plums just aren’t really ripe for use until the beginning of August up here, though rest assured I try to rush them every year.

Goat Cheese Pancakes with Fresh Peach Syrup

So for my first peach dish of the season, I went for brunch. I realized it’s been forever since I made pancakes (the horror), so Matt vehemently happily agreed it was time to rectify that. I can always count on him for support. :)

goat cheese pancakes with fresh peach syrup

The goat cheese flecked throughout the fluffy pancake batter turns out delicious pancakes. They are both sweet and tangy, and the goat cheese plays very well with the sweetness of the peaches. I tested this recipe both ways, and you definitely need the cinnamon in the peach syrup. I was worried it would overpower the peach flavor, but it just brings it out and adds some warmth to the syrup. And without it, the syrup is actually a little bland.

Goat Cheese Pancakes with Fresh Peach Syrup

Enjoy! A perfect way to begin the wonderful peach season! And your morning…

Source: adapted from Cook Without a Book by Pam Anderson

Ingredients:

PANCAKES:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp granulated sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¾ cup buttermilk
1 large egg
2 tbs flavorless oil, like canola, plus more for brushing the skillet
3 oz. crumbled goat cheese

SYRUP:
½ cup honey
2 large peaches, peeled, pitted and chopped
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Pinch of kosher salt

Directions:
To make the PANCAKES: combine the flour, sugar, salt,  baking powder, and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, oil, plus ¼ cup water.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry, all at once, then whisk until just combined. Do not overmix. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the goat cheese crumbles. Set aside to rest for a few minutes while the griddle heats up.
Place your griddle over medium-low heat and give it all the time it needs to heat up. Don’t rush this process, or you’ll be throwing out your first batch of pancakes. It’s ready when you flick a few drops of water onto the griddle and they spit and dance around.
Once ready, brush the griddle all over with canola oil. Ladle the pancake batter, about ¼ cup at a time, onto your hot griddle and cook until the edges are set and you see bubbles forming on top. Quickly flip the pancake over and cook on the other side until just cooked through. I like to test for doneness with a toothpick. Remove the pancakes to a plate and repeat with the remaining batter until done.
While the pancakes are cooking, make the SYRUP: in a medium stockpot, bring the honey and peaches to a simmer over medium heat. Add the cinnamon and salt. Cook until the peaches release their juices and the mixture reduces to a syrupy consistency. This should take anywhere from 2 to 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it, it goes from a perfect syrupy texture to overdone in a blink. Once it’s ready, keep on low heat until you’re ready to use.
To plate, place 2-3 pancakes on a plate and generously ladle the peach syrup over. Serve immediately.

Grilled Venison Chops with Blackberry-Sage Brown Butter

Grilled Venison Chops with Blackberry-Sage Brown Butter

This summer, I learned the hard way, yet again, that stone fruits (specifically peaches, nectarines, and plums) really aren’t ready for prime time up here until August (apricots seem to usually be ready much sooner). I always try to force my will upon the stone fruits sometime in late June/early July, and every time I lose. This year I ceded the issue when I royally screwed up a nectarine crostata that shoulda woulda been delicious if not for unripe, horrifically uncooperative fruit.

So, we’ve been enjoying berries instead. Perhaps it’s the inner contrarian in me, but I absolutely love finding savory recipes for berries, despite the fact that they are so perfect in desserts and drinks. And make no mistake, I love berries in desserts and drinks! But, we’re consuming less sugar these days, so this just fits our lifestyle better, I guess. Fortunately, there are many, many methods of showcasing berries in all their sweet-tart glory that don’t add any sugar and are perfectly at home as your main dish for dinner.

grilled venison chops with blackberry-sage brown butter

Like this one. This one is beautiful. It came together very quickly, yet I would have happily paid $30 in a restaurant for it. This is one of the first recipes I made in the new apartment, (which is why the photography is subpar) as I was dying to try out my brand new indoor grill pan, and it taught me the value of saran-wrapping your smoke detector! Hashtag newer building problems.

Grilled Venison Chops with Blackberry-Sage Brown Butter

No matter. All worth it. Well, for us anyways. I suppose the neighbors may respectfully disagree… I hope y’all enjoy it!

Source: slightly adapted from The Bar Americain Cookbook by Bobby Flay

Ingredients:
4 (8 oz.) venison chops
2 tbs canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 tbs unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 fresh sage leaves, cut into thin strips, plus whole leaves for garnish
12 fresh blackberries, sliced in half

Directions:
Preheat your outdoor or indoor grill pan to high.
Brush both sides of the chops with the oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Place on the hot grill and grill until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Flip the chops and grill 3 minutes on the other side, until you have a nice brown exterior and the inside is between medium-rare and medium. Venison is incredibly lean, so you really, really don’t want to cook them even a second past medium.
When done, transfer to a platter, tent with aluminum foil, and let rest 5 minutes.
While the venison is resting, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the sliced sage leaves and cook, occasionally stirring and turning the leaves, until the edges curl and the butter is dark amber but not black or burnt, about 5 minutes. Add the blackberries to the butter and cook for 20 seconds. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Spoon some of the butter onto 4 large dinner plates. Top with the venison chops, and spoon some of the blackberries and butter over each top. Garnish with fresh sage leaves.

Squid with Burst Cherry Tomatoes

Squid with Burst Cherry Tomatoes

Like many other Gen X Americans, my first experience of squid was in the form of fried calamari with the cocktail dipping sauce. I’d heard of this restaurant appetizer in my teens, but unsurprisingly, I was incredibly reluctant to try it, given the squeamish picky eating and all. Also unsurprisingly, it was my then-boyfriend and now-husband who convinced me to give it a taste.

Squid with Burst Cherry Tomatoes

And so I fell down the rabbit hole. Needless to say, I loved fried calamari and started ordering it whenever I got the chance. It wasn’t until some years later that I thought that maybe I should try squid in non-breaded, non-fried states as well.

We’ve grilled it many times, which is harder than it looks to get the perfect texture, and possibly why I’ve yet to blog grilled squid. I’ve also got in mind a stuffed squid dish I want to try, and rest assured squid is delicious in paella or over pasta.

Squid with Burst Cherry Tomatoes

But (pseudo) stir-frying the squid, I’m very happy to report, is probably one of the easiest methods of cooking this type of seafood out there. It takes almost no time to cook, and a primarily Asian cooking method yielded this beautiful Italian-style quick and healthy dinner. The tomatoes are bright and acidic, yet slightly sweet, and their soft texture plays well against the firmer squid pieces. However… don’t forget the bread. You’ll want it and sorely miss it if you forget to pick any up from the store. Don’t ask me how I know this. Enjoy!

Squid with Burst Cherry Tomatoes

Source: Food & Wine, August 2013

Ingredients:
1/3 cup olive oil
2 ½ lbs. mixed cherry tomatoes
2 large garlic cloves, minced
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 ½ lbs. small squid, cleaned, bodies cut into 1/3-inch rings and tentacles halved
1 ½ tbs white wine vinegar
1 cup lightly packed basil leaves

Directions:
In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the tomatoes, garlic, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes just start to blister, 4 minutes. Stir in the squid and cook over medium low heat, stirring, until the squid turns opaque, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

Adobo Rabbit Tacos

Adobo Rabbit Tacos

Well, we’ve been in our new neighborhood almost a month now, and we’re experiencing the typical trials and errors of learning a new area, including misadventures in new forms of public transportation, taking wrong turns, and just generally not yet knowing where everything is. One of the first undertakings was locating the grocery stores though.

They are very different from my old ones, and now every time we want/need to grocery shop, we face the decision of closer to home but less quality, or further from home and better quality. I hate to admit it, but closer to home often wins. This store isn’t terrible by any means, it’s just lower quality than the other one. Their produce section isn’t the worst I’ve ever seen, but it can leave things to be desired at times, and it seems like no one is ever working the seafood counter. They do have one glorious section in the butcher section though.

Adobo Rabbit Tacos

In between the prepared chopped veggies and the ethically challenged chickens, there are a few cases of high quality and off-the-beaten-path meats from companies I love and trust. You’ll find extremely good andouille sausage, duck – sometimes whole and sometimes in parts, rabbits, pork bellies, and lamb pieces. However, I have learned the hard way that this section changes almost daily, and is very unpredictable in what they’ll have stocked on any given day. So if you see something you want, you really can’t trust that it’ll be there the next week, or even the next day.

Adobo Rabbit Tacos

Which is what prompted me to grab a beautiful whole rabbit simply because they had it, and then figure out what to do with it when I got home. I decided: tacos. They sounded good and I had some corn tortillas about to expire. So why not?

I seasoned the whole rabbit simply with salt, black pepper, and paprika, then roasted it in the oven until cooked through and tender. Shred the meat off the bones (which is a bit more of a particular process than with chicken, but you get the hang of it) and toss in Mexican adobo. Messy and incredible. Enjoy!

Adobo Rabbit Tacos

Source: adapted from Dos Caminos Tacos by Ivy Stark

Ingredients:
1 whole rabbit, 2 ½ – 3 lbs, left whole, inside organs removed and any excess skin trimmed if necessary
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Sweet paprika
Olive oil
4 guajillo chiles, stem, seeds and membranes removed
2 ancho chiles, stem, seeds and membranes removed
3 black peppercorns
3 whole cloves
½ stick cinnamon, preferably Mexican canela
½ tsp cumin seeds
3 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh marjoram or oregano
1 tbs white wine vinegar
8 corn tortillas, warmed
Taco garnishes of your choice (I used guacamole, minced cilantro, and crumbled queso fresco)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 325 F.
Sprinkle the rabbit with kosher salt, black pepper and sweet paprika all over. Brush with olive oil. Drizzle more olive oil all over a rimmed baking sheet. Place the rabbit on the baking sheet.
Roast the rabbit for a total cooking time of 1 hour 15 minutes to 1 hour 30 minutes – check with a meat thermometer, it should read 160-165 F when done. Baste with the oil every 20 minutes, and flip the rabbit halfway through.
Remove from the oven and let cool slightly, just until you can handle it. Remove the meat from the bones and tear it into large shreds. Set aside.
While the rabbit is roasting, make the adobo sauce. Place the dried chiles in a dry saucepan and toast over medium-high heat until fragrant, a few minutes. Pour in enough water to cover the chiles, then bring to a rolling boil. Once it is boiling, shut off the heat, cover the pan, and let steep for 20-30 minutes, until the chiles are softened.
Meanwhile, in a dry small skillet, add the peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon stick, and cumin. Toast over medium heat just until fragrant, shaking the pan several times. Place the spices in a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder.
Lift the softened chiles out of the pan and place them in the blender, along with the dried spices, the garlic cloves, and the leaves from the thyme and marjoram sprigs. Add the vinegar, plus salt to taste, and about 1 cup of the chile soaking liquid. Puree until smooth, adding more soaking liquid if it is too thick.
Place the shredded rabbit into a large bowl, then top with the adobo. Stir to combine thoroughly. If it has gotten cold, rewarm over the stove or in a microwave.
To assemble, spoon some adobo rabbit into a warmed tortilla, then garnish with whatever you choose – guacamole, salsa, cilantro, crumbled queso fresco, a squeeze of lime, pickled jalapenos, chopped raw onion…

Chinatown Baby Back Ribs

Chinatown Baby Back Ribs

Whenever Matt and I travel to another city, one of our top priorities is always Find The Chinatown. Every success has richly rewarded us with a delicious meal, and occasionally we’ll conclude that the Chinatown meal was one of the best of the trip. All this hunting may seem silly seeing as we live in a city that boasts not one but two huge Chinatowns (and I somehow managed to live in New York for about five years before I found out about the second one. It’s okay to judge me; I judge me), but I suppose the heart (or in this case the stomach) wants what it wants.

Chinatown Baby Back Ribs

While I do love the bustling, crazy enormity of New York’s Chinatowns, particularly the Manhattan locale, I’ve found that the smaller ones grab me more. My hands down favorite is London. The neighborhood restaurants specialize in duck, and that meal was one of the best I’ve had in my life. (They took a Peking duck, chunked up the meat, then coated it in egg whites and deep fried it, then coated it in some kind of sauce I’d never tasted before. No words for it.)

Chinatown Baby Back Ribs

I also had quite a memorable trip to Boston’s Chinatown, where I ended up attending the University of Humiliating Hard Knocks, majoring in White Girl Doesn’t Know How to Properly Use Chopsticks when I ordered a whole duck leg in broth. Delicious, don’t get me wrong. Also, an embarrassing mess.

Chinatown Baby Back Ribs

I think next time I should stick to ordering these classic Chinese lacquered ribs, which don’t require chopsticks, thus saving my dignity, and my lap! Or, I can practice my chopsticks skills more; or I could just make these at home. The code has been cracked (thank you Steven Raichlen!) – these are authentic and easy and just all around incredible. A wonderful trip down our Chinatown memory lanes. Enjoy!

Chinatown Baby Back Ribs

Source: just slightly adapted from Ribs, Ribs, Outrageous Ribs by Steven Raichlen

Ingredients:
½ cup hoisin sauce
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ tsp Chinese five-spice powder
¼ cup soy sauce
2 ½ tbs Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1 ½ tbs Asian dark sesame oil
3 garlic cloves, peeled and gently crushed
3 slices fresh ginger, peeled and gently crushed
2 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts divided
1 rack pork baby back ribs, trimmed

Directions:
Place the hoisin, sugar, and five-spice powder in a nonreactive mixing bowl and whisk to mix. Add the soy sauce, rice wine or sherry, and sesame oil and whisk until the sugar dissolves. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and scallion whites. Set one-third of the marinade aside to make the sauce.
Place the ribs in a nonreactive roasting pan or baking dish just large enough to hold them. Pour the remaining marinade over the ribs and spread it all over the rack with a spatula. Turn to coat both sides. Let the ribs marinate, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and as long as overnight, turning them 3 or 4 times. Alternately, you can marinate your ribs in a large resealable plastic food storage bag.
Set up your grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium. Place a drip pan in the center of the grill under the grate.
When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Drain the ribs well and place them in the center of the grate bone side down over the drip pan and away from the heat. Cover the grill and cook the ribs until dark brown and very crisp on the outside but tender inside, 1 ½ to 2 hours. When the ribs are done, the meat will have shrunk back from the ends of the bones by about ¼ inch.
Meanwhile, transfer the reserved marinade to a nonreactive saucepan, let come to a gentle simmer over medium heat, and cook until thick and flavorful, about 3-5 minutes. Let the sauce cool to room temperature, then strain it into a bowl. In the last 15 minutes of cooking the ribs, baste the meat side with some of the sauce to let it laquer up while they finish cooking.
When the ribs are done, transfer them to a cutting board and let rest a few minutes. Use a serrated knife to cut the rack into individual ribs. Brush with a little more of the sauce, then sprinkle the scallion greens on top for garnish. Serve immediately with the reserved sauce.