Tag Archives: Fine Cooking Mag

Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

I have a bone to pick with America’s end-of-year food-centric holidays. Why is it that all the flavors of Thanksgiving are still acceptable to serve at Christmas, except pumpkin? I mean, sweet potatoes, cranberries, Brussels sprouts, green beans, sage, turkey, pecans, apples – they’re all carried over past the fourth Thursday in November, but pumpkin is abruptly dropped and seemingly considered verboten even one day past Turkey Day. Why? I mean seriously, who made that rule?

Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

I’m not accepting this. Pumpkin isn’t that different from the rest, and too many people love it to just wantonly disregard it with such a thud. It should be in our collective repertoire until at least December 25th.

Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

If you agree, then you just have to make this superb pumpkin dessert for your Christmas feast. It’s more work than a typical pumpkin pie, but it’s also much more special, and more than delicious enough to be worth it. One small change I made to Fine Cooking’s recipe: they call for candying raw unsalted pepitas. I didn’t do that for two reasons. One, because it’s yet *another* step in an already involved and time-consuming recipe; and two, because online reviewers said it made the tart too sweet. I was extremely happy with my results. Enjoy!

Bourbon-Caramel Pumpkin Tart

Source: slightly adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine

Ingredients:

CRUST:
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
6 tbs fine cornmeal
1 tbs granulated sugar
½ tsp kosher salt
8 tbs cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp vodka

CARAMEL:
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 tbs unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
½ tsp kosher salt
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup bourbon

FILLING:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
¾ cup plus 2 tbs canned pure pumpkin puree
1 tsp cinnamon
¾ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of kosher salt
½ cup half-and-half

A few handfuls of salted, roasted pepitas, for garnish

Directions:
First make the CRUST: pulse the flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a food processor until combined. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal or wet sand. Combine the egg, egg yolk, vodka and 1 tbs ice water in a small bowl. Add the egg mixture to the processor and pulse until the mixture just comes together, adding more water 1 tsp at a time as needed, up to 2 tbs. Dump the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and use the wrap to help gather the dough into a disk. Wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
On a floured work surface, with a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 13-inch circle. Carefully transfer the dough to a greased 9-inch springform pan, gently pressing it into the bottom and up the sides of the pan without stretching it. Tear any high areas of the dough so that the height is about ½ an inch below the rim of the pan; the edge will look ragged. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.
Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and preheat to 350 F.
Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork at 1-inch intervals, line it with aluminum foil, and fill it to the top with dried beans, gently pressing them against the sides. Bake until the edges are firm, 15 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and beans. Return the crust to the oven and bake, rotating the pan once and popping any bubbles with a toothpick, just until the bottom is firm, about 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes. Leave the oven on.
Now make the CARAMEL: in a 2-quart saucepan, cook the brown sugar, butter and salt over medium heat, stirring until the sugar melts and begins to darken around the edges, about 5 minutes. Slowly whisk in the cream (some sugar may seize) and simmer, whisking occasionally, until smooth and thick, 7-9 minutes. Whisk in the bourbon and simmer, whisking occasionally, another 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof measuring cup. Pour 1/3 cup caramel over the bottom of the cooled crust and spread it evenly with a small offset spatula. Refrigerate at least 15 minutes to set the caramel. Leave the remaining caramel at room temperature.
Make the FILLING: in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg, and then the egg yolk, beating until combined. Add the pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt. Mix thoroughly until combined. Reduce speed to low and add the half-and-half. Mix until just combined.
Slowly pour the filling into the crust. Bake until filling has puffed slightly and its surface no longer appears wet, 35 to 40 minutes. It’s okay if cracks form, they’ll be covered later. Cool the tart on a rack until the filling is completely cooled and warm, about 1 hour.
If the remaining caramel sauce is no longer pourable, warm it in the microwave until pourable. Drizzle the remaining caramel over the custard and spread it evenly. Sprinkle the pepitas around the edges of the top caramel and press lightly. Cover the tart with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours. To serve, run a thin knife around the edge of the tart and remove the side of the pan. Transfer to a serving plate and serve chilled.

Lemon-Glazed Banana and Candied Ginger Scones #BrunchWeek

Welcome to the fourth annual #BrunchWeek hosted by Terri from Love and Confections and Christie from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures! Eight amazing sponsors are helping us host a GIVEAWAY of some incredible prizes for multiple winners. CLICK HERE to enter!

Lemon-Glazed Banana and Candied Ginger Scones

These are some of the best scones I’ve ever tasted, and I hang my head in shame that I’ve been blogging over three years and haven’t ever shared them with you. Brunch Week is the perfect opportunity! (Maybe I should’ve played it off like, oh I didn’t misstep, I was waiting for Brunch Week or something… eh, too late now!).

Lemon-Glazed Banana and Candied Ginger Scones

So these scones. They are probably the flakiest I’ve ever tasted, and this is the rare baked good that calls for yellow bananas, not overripe black ones, so when you grocery shop and buy bananas, there’s no waiting for them to blacken so you can bake with them. You can make these scones the same day you buy the friggin’ bananas! That right there is just very exciting.

Lemon-Glazed Banana and Candied Ginger Scones

The texture is amazing, and the flavor is so perfect. You’ve got sweet banana complemented by spicy ginger, then a tart-sweet lemon glaze is poured over the tops before you dive in. I have to highlight one of our main sponsors, Dixie Crystals here. They sent us all a huge box each of granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar, both of which were used for these beautiful scones. Thank you to Dixie Crystals! Enjoy!

Lemon-Glazed Banana and Candied Ginger Scones

Source: Fine Cooking Magazine, Feb/Mar 2011

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup Dixie Crystals granulated sugar
2 ¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp lemon zest
Generous pinch of kosher salt
6 tbs cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 small barely rip, yellow banana, diced
1 tbs minced candied ginger
¾ cup plus 2 tbs heavy cream, plus more for brushing
¾ cup Dixie Crystals confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ tbs fresh lemon juice
Pinch kosher salt

Directions:
To make the scones, preheat your oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt. Add the butter and use a pastry blender or 2 knives to work the butter into the flour mixture until a few pea-size lumps remain. Stir in the banana and ginger. Add the cream and gradually stir until the mixture just comes together. Knead for no more than 1 minute with your hands if you have a few scraggly bits.
Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and pat gently into a circle about 1 inch high. Using a chef’s knife, cut the dough into 8 wedges. Transfer them to the baking sheet, only spacing them about 1 inch apart (this helps them rise tall and not spread out). Brush the tops with heavy cream, and sprinkle some sugar, preferably raw, on the tops if desired. It’s good but not necessary.
Bake until the tops are golden, 19 to 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Cool the scones slightly, about 3-4 minutes before applying the glaze.
To make the glaze, whisk the confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice and salt together until smooth. Drizzle the warm scones liberally with the glaze. Serve.

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Disclaimer: Thank you to #BrunchWeek Sponsors: Red Star Yeast, Dixie Crystals, Cabot Cheese, Vidalia Onion Committee, Sage Fruits, Nielsen-Massey, KitchenIQ, and Le Creuset for providing the prizes free of charge. These companies also provided the bloggers with samples and product to use for #BrunchWeek. All opinions are my own.

Pork and Sausage Meatballs in Porcini-Tomato Sauce

Pork and Sausage Meatballs in Porcini-Tomato Sauce

“Is it legal for meatballs to taste this good?” – Matt

Let’s hope, because these meatballs may just be the meatballs that will ruin all the other meatballs for you. I don’t know how the crack culinary geniuses at Fine Cooking Magazine came up with this one, I’m seriously living in complete awe of their recipe development prowess, but I’m forever grateful that they did.

Pork and Sausage Meatballs in Porcini-Tomato Sauce

And I’m forever thrilled to share it with you. This one is definitely going in my repertoire with the “Best Ever…” label firmly attached, something I’ll be pulling out to impress company. The slow cooker does most of the work, and you don’t even have to broil or brown the meatballs first (I told you they were geniuses!!).

Pork and Sausage Meatballs in Porcini-Tomato Sauce

Dried herbs, usually a foodier-than-thou no-no, are much of what takes the flavor of both the meatballs and the sauce just soaring. This is one instance where I’m thinking fresh actually isn’t better. The dried herbs really stand out in the long cooking time. Also, porcini mushrooms – ‘nuff said there! Soaking the breadcrumbs in sweet vermouth really makes a difference too – don’t skip that step. Genius.

Pork and Sausage Meatballs in Porcini-Tomato Sauce

I really can’t overstate how much we enjoyed these. I made them twice in one week – the first time because I hadn’t planned on blogging them, then a second time a few days later because I realized what a grave and unpardonable sin it would have been not to. I hope you all enjoy them as much as we did!

Source: Fine Cooking Magazine, Feb/Mar 2015

Ingredients:

MEATBALLS:
1 ½ cups fresh breadcrumbs
½ cup sweet vermouth
1 ¼ lb. ground pork
1 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 large egg
6 tbs grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried sage
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

SAUCE:
1 (15 oz.) can crushed or diced tomatoes, with their juices
¼ cup tomato paste
½ oz. dried porcini mushrooms, crumbled
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp fennel seeds
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Make the MEATBALLS: mix the breadcrumbs and vermouth in a large bowl and set aside for 20 minutes.
Add the pork and sausage to the mixture, breaking the sausage up with your fingers as you go. Add the egg, cheese, sage, oregano, salt, and nutmeg. Mix until just combined. Form into 12 meatballs.
To make the SAUCE, mix the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, dried porcini, oregano, thyme, fennel, pepper flakes, and salt in a 5-6 quart slow cooker until the tomato paste dissolves.
Nestle the meatballs into the sauce. It’s fine if they don’t all fit in a single layer. Cover and cook for 3-4 hours on HIGH or 8 hours on LOW. Once done, the meatballs can stay on the keep-warm setting for up to 2 hours. When you’re ready to serve, gently break the meatballs apart if necessary, and gently turn them all in the sauce. Serve in bowls with plenty of sauce, and with extra Parmesan for garnish, if desired.

Coconut Bread Pudding with Sazerac Sauce

Coconut Bread Pudding with Sazerac Sauce

Over the past eighteen months or so, I’ve purposefully dropped a bit of excess weight, and I’ve done so not by following a standard program that gets advertised on television, but by making some simple lifestyle changes and adjustments. And I’d say the two biggest changes I made were in my exercise habits (as in, now I actually have exercise habits), and my dessert eating habits. I adore baking and making carb-laden and sweet treats, but I’ve learned to focus on the satisfaction and catharsis that comes from making them and less on eating them. Now, I’m more of a dessert taster than a dessert eater.

Coconut Bread Pudding with Sazerac Sauce

Until I made this bread pudding… Holy crap, this bread pudding. This is the dessert that made me unabashedly throw out my newfound healthy attitude towards dessert. I feel I exhibited serious restraint, the kind that deserves shiny medals, to not eat the entire pan in one sitting. I wish I was kidding. I only had one serving a day for two days in a row, which is more dessert than I typically eat, but that was simply the best I could do in the willpower department.

Coconut Bread Pudding with Sazerac Sauce

This is phenomenal, superfluous, amazing dessert right here. This particular sauce is special, boozy, and pairs so beautifully with the coconut in the bread pudding. A Sazerac is a classic New Orleans cocktail made from rye whiskey, Absinthe, and Peychaud’s bitters. The cocktail itself is outstanding, one of my favorites, and I’m very happy but not totally surprised that it translates beautifully to a syrupy sauce for bread pudding.

Coconut Bread Pudding with Sazerac Sauce

I can’t say enough good things here. You must go out and make it, right now!! Enjoy!

Sources: Bread Pudding adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, Feb/Mar 2016; Sazerac Sauce from Louisiana Cookin’

Ingredients:

BREAD PUDDING:
1 loaf stale challah bread, cut into cubes
1 ½ cups sweetened shredded coconut
4 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
½ cup granulated sugar
2 (13.4 oz.) cans full-fat coconut milk, shaken
2 ½ tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp lemon zest
¼ tsp salt

SAZERAC SAUCE:
1 cup water
½ cup rye whiskey
3 tbs absinthe
2 drops Peychaud’s bitters
1½ cups sugar
1 tsp fresh peeled orange zest
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
To make the BREAD PUDDING: grease a 9×13” baking dish. In a large mixing bowl, toss together the bread cubes and shredded coconut until well combined. Transfer to the prepared baking dish. Wipe out the bowl, then add the eggs, egg yolk, sugar, coconut milk, vanilla, lemon zest, and salt. Whisk to thoroughly combine, then evenly pour this mixture over the bread. Use your hands to press down on the bread to submerge it. Line it with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 30-45 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 F and set a rack in the center of the oven. Bring a kettle of water to a boil, then remove from the heat. Remove the plastic wrap from the bread pudding and place the baking dish in a larger baking dish or large roasting pan. Put the baking dish on the oven rack, then carefully pour enough hot water into the larger baking dish to come up about halfway up the sides of the baking dish with the bread pudding.
Bake until the center of the bread pudding springs back when gently pressed with a finger and knife inserted into the center comes out almost clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool in the water bath for 15 minutes, then carefully lift the baking dish out of the water bath. Transfer it to a rack to cool. Serve warm or at room temperature with the Sazerac Sauce liberally drizzled over.
While the bread pudding is baking, make the SAZERAC SAUCE: In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup water, whiskey, absinthe, and bitters. Add sugar, whisking to combine. Add zest, then bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Continue to cook until slightly thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in the vanilla, then cool completely before using. Refrigerate in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.

Bourbon Mint Cranberry Sauce

Bourbon Mint Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce. That classic Thanksgiving staple that I just couldn’t abide as a child. Cranberries were WAY too tart for my little unsophisticated palate back then. But even as I began coming around on cranberries in general (which, to be perfectly candid, began rather unglamorously by drinking Cape Cods in my early twenties), I still eschewed the traditional cranberry sauce because I just didn’t see the point.

Bourbon Mint Cranberry Sauce

bourbon mint cranberry sauce

I mean, you have gravy for the turkey – what’s the purpose behind the cranberry sauce?? A few years ago, I gave in. Now I alternate bites of turkey with gravy and cranberry sauce, because let’s face it – cranberry sauce is just really, really delicious.

Bourbon Mint Cranberry Sauce

While I will never turn down good ol’ regular cranberry sauce, if you add bourbon, I’ll love you even more. This stuff was outstanding. Less sweet than usual (though of course feel free to add as much sugar as you like), with a wonderful stiff alcohol-y bite, tempered by the mint flavor. Possibly my favorite cranberry sauce to date, and in another week I will have a VERY special post for you using up the leftovers. I’m so excited to share that one with you!! In the meantime, give this one a go next Thursday. I promise it will be a big hit. Enjoy!

Bourbon Mint Cranberry Sauce

Source: Fine Cooking Magazine, Oct/Nov 2015

Ingredients:
1 ½ lbs. fresh cranberries
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar, plus more to taste if desired
1/3 cup bourbon
5 big sprigs of fresh mint
Pinch of kosher salt

Directions:
Put the cranberries, sugar, bourbon, mint, salt, and ½ cup water in a 4-quart saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and many of the cranberries pop, about 20 minutes. Taste and add more sugar if you want and cook until dissolved. Cool to room temperature and remove the mint sprigs.
Refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. Return to room temperature before serving.

Jamaican Spiced Pumpkin Pie

Jamaican Spiced Pumpkin Pie

It’s come to my attention that there are people out there who find pumpkin pie boring. Um… what?? This just doesn’t compute in my brain. I’m too big of a lover, and obsessor, and outright fiend for the Thanksgiving staple to truly comprehend this notion. Since I graduated college, not a November has gone by that I didn’t bake one.

Jamaican Spiced Pumpkin Pie

Nowadays I try out different types of pumpkin pie recipes – flirting with different toppings and flavors in the batter. This year, we’re dreaming of the Caribbean. This is a usual pumpkin pie batter, with a few little twists: the sweetened condensed milk is replaced with coconut milk; spiced rum is added in; and there is more ground ginger than ground cinnamon.

Jamaican Spiced Pumpkin Pie

The result is one of deliciousness. This particular pumpkin pie was a touch spicy from the ginger, and had a hint of coconut flavor from the milk. Yet it had all the familiar qualities I love about pumpkin pie – the comforting, warm flavors, the deep cinnamon, the flaky crust.

If you are one of those who have gotten a bit tired of regular pumpkin pie, give this lovely version a try. It might surprise you!

Jamaican Spiced Pumpkin Pie

You might also like: Pumpkin Pie, Completely From Scratch; and Pecan Praline Topped Pumpkin Pie

Source: Fine Cooking Magazine, October/November 2009

Ingredients:
1 unbaked pie crust, fitted into a 9” pie plate, edges fluted or crimped, chilled
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 ¼ cups unsweetened coconut milk, full fat only, stirred or shaken well before using
¾ cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp kosher salt
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tbs spiced rum (I used Captain Morgan’s)

Directions:
Position a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 425 F. Line the chilled pie crust with parchment paper and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Bake 15 minutes. Remove the parchment and pie weights. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 F. Bake the pie until the bottom looks dry but isn’t quite done and the edges are light golden, 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool on a rack while you prepare the filling.
Raise the oven temperature back to 425 F. Set a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet on the center rack and leave it there while you make the filling.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the pumpkin, coconut milk, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg until smooth. Whisk in the eggs and then the rum, until the mixture is smooth. Pour the filling into the pie crust.
Put the pie on the heated baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350 F. Bake until the center of the pie no longer wobbles when the pie is nudged – the center should be jiggly but not liquidy, an additional 45 to 55 minutes.
Transfer the pie to a rack and cool completely before serving.

Beef Ragu over Spaghetti Squash #SundaySupper

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Welcome to Sunday Supper!! The theme this week happens to be Squash Fest. Very open, and given the time of year, some of us are featuring fall vegetables while others have summer squash recipes. I chose one of my favorite kinds of squash, which is just coming in season where I’m at – the spaghetti squash!!

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Now, we should be very clear about one thing: spaghetti squash is not pasta, despite its name, despite the fact that it gets nicknamed “low-carb pasta” and despite that it’s often featured with traditional pasta sauces. I must warn you, if you serve the recipe I’m blogging today to your family and tell them they’re having pasta, you are on the fast track to some major unpopularity in your own home, my friend. Arguing that spaghetti squash tastes like pasta is like trying to convince someone that Taco Bell is real Mexican food – you’ve lost the argument before you even open your mouth.

Beef Ragu over spaghetti squash 103

But, I still adore spaghetti squash. I don’t ask it to be pasta, I just love it for what it is. Its flavor is very “blank slate” which means it soaks up a hearty meaty tomato sauce very nicely. And because this isn’t pasta, it is way lower calorie, which excuses the extra piece of garlic bread and extra glass of wine. Don’t you love my logic? 🙂

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This is honestly one of my favorite meals, and I make it whenever spaghetti squash comes into season. I mean, of course I love me some pasta, and like I said, spaghetti squash could never replace it. But this squash stands proudly on its own merits, and I look forward to this meal all year long. Enjoy! And please be sure you check out my Sunday Supper gang – tons of fall and summer squash recipes today!

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{One Year Ago: Cheddar Pecan Wafers, Naan Bread, Italian Prune Plum Crisp, Blackberry Pie Bars, Pulled Lamb Barbecue Sandwiches}
{Two Years Ago: Whole Wheat Ricotta Raspberry Scones}

Source: slightly adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, Oct/Nov 2009

Ingredients:
1 small to medium spaghetti squash
1 tbs olive oil
1 lb. lean ground beef (I used sirloin)
2 shallots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 (15 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
1-2 tsp dried oregano
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup torn fresh basil
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
Garlic bread, for serving

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 375 F. Oil or grease a 9×13″ baking dish. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Lay the squash halves cut side down in the baking dish and roast for 30-40 minutes, until a sharp paring knife can cut through the skin and into the flesh with no resistance. Turn the squash halves over and let them cool until you can handle them.
Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Drizzle in the olive oil, then add the beef. Crumble the beef with a spoon and cook until no traces of pink remain. Add the shallot and garlic and cook another 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add the wine and cook until it has mostly evaporated. Add the tomatoes, oregano, plus salt and pepper to taste. Add 1/4 cup water and let it all simmer for about 10 minutes.
Using a fork, rake the squash flesh into strands and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with a pinch of salt and pepper, plus a small drizzle of olive oil.
Lower the heat on the ragu to low, toss in the basil and parmesan. Stir to combine.
To serve, mound some squash strands onto a dinner plate, then spoon some ragu over. Garnish with extra basil, if desired, and sprinkle on more parmesan, if desired. Serve immediately.
Makes 4 generous servings.

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Margarita Glazed Baby Back Ribs

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I grew up in Texas (duh), and this past Memorial Day weekend served as a learning experience about growing up in Texas, which was the realization that I have *never* had pork ribs that weren’t smoked. Where I’m from, pork ribs equals barbecue, which equals smoked. Ribs on the grill use wood chips, and even oven baked barbecue ribs have liquid smoke in the ingredient list.

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These ribs are not smoked in any way. Grilled, yes. Smoked, no. So upon taking my first bite, I was so accustomed to that smoky flavor I automatically associate with pork ribs, that my knee jerk reaction was along the lines of “Oh god, what’s wrong with them?! Oh no, I screwed them up!” And then I took a second bite and realized that, no, they are actually quite tasty, and smoking ribs with a more delicate flavor profile such as this might be a bit weird.

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Margarita glazed baby back ribs 190

And then when I realized that these non-smoked ribs were quite the new phenomenon for me, I actually felt a tad silly, but then shrugged and kept eating them, due to the supreme deliciousness and all. It was a lovely switch-up from the regular barbecue types of pork ribs I’m more used to. And of course, you simply must serve these with margaritas. Is that even a choice? Enjoy!

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Some margarita drink ideas: Beer Margaritas; Mesa Grill Margaritas; Apple Cider Margaritas; Blood Orange Margaritas; Frozen Cactus Pear Margaritas; and for dessert – Chocolate Margaritas!
You might also enjoy: Margarita Fish Tacos; Margarita Meringue Pie; Maple Glazed Baby Back Ribs; Kansas City Barbecued Spare Ribs

{One Year Ago: Cherry Almond Galette}

Source: Slightly adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, August/September 2011

Ingredients:

MARINADE:
Juice from 1 medium orange
2 tsp lime zest
Juice from 2 medium limes
¼ cup silver tequila
3 tbs dark agave syrup or honey
3 tbs olive oil
2 tbs orange liqueur
2 tbs soy sauce
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tbs ancho chile powder
1 tsp ground cumin
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 or 2 racks pork baby back ribs (about 1 ½ lbs. each) silver skin membrane removed *

GLAZE/SAUCE:
½ cup silver tequila
½ cup fresh orange juice (from 1 large orange)
¼ cup fresh lime juice (from 2 medium limes)
2 tbs dark agave syrup or honey
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

*This makes enough marinade and glaze for 2 racks of ribs. I used only 1 rack (small apartment sized grill) and then tossed 1 lb. of shrimp with the remainder. I also used half the glaze on the shrimp. You could also cut the marinade and glaze in half for 1 rack of ribs.

Directions:
First, marinate the ribs. In a medium bowl, whisk the orange juice, lime zest, lime juice, tequila, agave, oil, orange liqueur, soy sauce, garlic, chile powder, cumin, 1 tbs salt and 1 tsp black pepper. Cut each rack of ribs in half and place in a large resealable plastic baggie. Pour the marinade over the ribs (or only half the marinade if using only 1 rack) and seal tightly. Shake the bag to make sure all the ribs are coated. Lay the bag in a baking pan in case of leaks. Refrigerate overnight, turning a few times to redistribute the marinade.
Next, grill the ribs. Preheat your charcoal or gas grill for indirect cooking over low to medium-low heat. Remove the ribs from the marinade, shaking off the excess. Pour the marinade into a small saucepan and set aside.*
Arrange the ribs bone side down over indirect heat. Cover the grill and let them go for around 1 ½ to 2 hours. They are ready when the meat is tender and the meat is starting to pull away from the bones, about ¼-inch.
Meanwhile, make the glaze. Add the tequila, orange juice, lime juice, and agave to the reserved marinade. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to maintain a steady simmer. Simmer until it is starting to turn syrupy, about 20 to 25 minutes. If you are not using the reserved marinade, simply add the glaze ingredients, except the cilantro, to a small saucepan and simmer until it looks a little bit syrupy and appropriate texture for glazing meat. This will not take as long, so be watchful.
When the glaze is the correct consistency, shut off the heat and add salt and black pepper to taste, if necessary.
Once the glaze is made, finish the ribs. Increase the grill heat to medium high and generously brush the meat side of each rack with the glaze. Use tongs to turn the ribs over so that the glazed side is down over the direct heat part, 3-5 minutes. Brush the bone side with some glaze, flip, and grill 3-5 minutes more. Transfer the ribs to a cutting board, tent loosely with foil, and let rest about 10 minutes.
Add the cilantro to the remaining glaze and pour into a small bowl or ramekin for passing at the table. Slice the ribs (I recommend a serrated knife – ironically it gets the cleanest, easiest cuts), and let everyone dive in, using the remaining glaze as a sauce.

*If you are hesitant to do this, I understand, and I wouldn’t advise this for pregnant women. You can make the glaze without the leftover marinade and it should still taste fine.

Salade-aux-Lardons Pizza

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This is one of my all-time favorite pizzas. And it’s so perfect to feature on my blog, because it truly illustrates how reformed my once-picky palate has become. Growing up, pizza was always in the “special treats”, or “indulgences” category. We didn’t have it all the time, by any stretch. So as you can imagine, when it was permitted, I wasn’t about to let any veggies get anywhere near my slices! The cheesier and meatier, the better.

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It wasn’t until my late twenties that I started to come around and realize that oh, vegetables on a pizza isn’t some horrific crime against humanity, and that it really can be quite tasty. Not that you’ll ever hear me complaining about the meat lovers variety, but I truly have come around to genuinely appreciate different pizza toppings.

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And now, as a mature adult, salad atop a pizza is honestly one of my favorite things on earth. If only that little kid in the buffet line at Cici’s Pizza, scowling at the mere presence of the veggie supreme pizzas, could see me now…

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So this pizza basically takes the most basic and classic of French salads, which is greens dressed with a mustard-based vinaigrette and sprinkled with crispy bacon, and deconstructs it into a pizza. Dijon mustard is spread on the dough, with Swiss cheese on top. Then crisped, bacon bits are scattered on top of the melty cheese and the greens are dressed simply with vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. When the pizza is cooked completely you take it out of the oven and toss the greens on top, then dive in immediately. (Hey, the French haven’t solved all the world’s problems – the greens will eventually wilt.)

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And you dig in. All those French flavors come together in each bite. And it’s so delicious. I hope y’all enjoy it.

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{One Year Ago: Glazed Donut Muffins}

Source: adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, Issue June/July 2010

Ingredients:
1 lb. ball of pizza dough
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
8 oz. Jarlsberg, or Swiss cheese, grated
6 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium shallot, sliced thin
4 cups baby arugula, or other light greens of your choice
1 tbs white wine vinegar
3 tbs olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper

Directions:
Preheat your grill to medium-high heat. Oil the grate.
Roll out the pizza dough into a large rectangle that will still fit on your grill surface. Carefully transfer the dough to the hot grill and grill for about 4-5 minutes until the underside is getting some good grill marks. Carefully transfer the dough to a baking sheet, uncooked side down.
Spread the cooked side with the mustard, leaving a 1-inch border. Sprinkle the cheese on the mustard.
Transfer the pizza back onto the grill, uncooked side down. Close the lid and cook another 5-8 minutes, until the dough is cooked through and the cheese is melted.
While the dough is grilling, make the bacon bits. Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon pieces and cook, stirring, until bacon is crispy and the fat has rendered. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.
Pour out all but 1 tbs of the bacon fat. Add the shallot to the remaining bacon fat in the skillet, over medium heat. Saute until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside.
When ready to serve, remove the pizza from the grill and sprinkle the bacon pieces evenly over the top. Transfer the shallots to a large bowl. Add the vinegar and olive oil, then the arugula. Toss to combine, then immediately place the salad on top of the pizza. Cut into squares and serve right away.

Shaved Asparagus and Spinach Salad

Shaved Asparagus and Spinach Salad

Welcome to another day in the week of ASPARAGUS!! So, I know that this post may sound a little redundant within my Asparagus Week. I mean, I’ve already posted a recipe featuring shaved asparagus, and then yesterday I posted an asparagus salad. Surely I could have found something different to do with asparagus than putting shaved asparagus in a salad? Yes, I could have, but what can I say? The heart wants what it wants, and when my heart ran across this recipe, it started to pitter-patter quite loudly and eagerly, and I felt involuntarily compelled to follow its lead.

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Fortunately, my heart did not lead me astray at all – this salad is fantastic! It’s so clean and bright and healthy; and I think I could eat this once a week all year, if only supermarket asparagus tasted good all year long. As we all well know, it does not. But this salad should definitely become one of your staples during asparagus season. It’s just so perfect! Easy to throw together, too. Enjoy this one, guys!

shaved asparagus and spinach salad

Shaved asparagus and spinach salad

{One year ago: Cajun Crab Cakes with Jalapeno Tartar Sauce}

Source: lightly adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, April/May 2011

Ingredients:
3 tbs white wine vinegar
2 tbs fresh lemon juice
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs honey
1 tbs finely minced shallot
Kosher salt and black pepper
¾ lb. thick asparagus
3-4 handfuls baby spinach
½ cup toasted, peeled and chopped hazelnuts
2 ½ oz. shaved Pecorino Romano cheese (use your vegetable peeler)

Directions:
First make the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, olive oil, honey, shallot, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Do not snap the tough ends off the asparagus. Place one stalk on a cutting board, and hold it by the tough end. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the asparagus in one long motion. Repeat until you can’t shave any more of the green off; at this point, just snap the tender part from the tough end and discard the tough end. Repeat with the remaining stalks.
Toss the shaved asparagus with 1/3 cup of the vinaigrette and let sit for 10 minutes. You can let it sit longer, but just know that the longer it sits, the more it softens and the harder it is to toss with the rest of the salad ingredients.
Add the spinach and hazelnuts to a large salad bowl, then add the asparagus shavings along with the remaining dressing. Toss to combine, then shave the cheese over top. Serve immediately.