Sweet and Sour Pomegranate Lacquered Ribs

Pomegranate Ribs TasteFood
It’s the end of April and the start to the weekend, so now is a great time to dust off your grill – and here is a recipe to get started. I make these lacquered ribs with a glaze which includes pomegranate molasses, a rich reduction of pomegranate juice and sugar. It’s slightly sweet, slightly tart, with a slick consistency that’s great in marinades, dressings, and sauces. Pomegranate molasses is a staple in Middle Eastern cuisine, but it’s readily available here in the U.S. You’ll likely find it in specialty stores or the international section of your supermarket.
So go on and get grilling!

Sweet and Sour Pomegranate Lacquered Ribs
Serves 4 to 6

Rub:
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne

2 racks baby back pork ribs

Sauce:
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup pomegranate molasses
1/4 cup organic ketchup
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 to 2 tablespoons Sriracha
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh peeled ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine the rub ingredients in a small bowl. Evenly coat the ribs with the rub. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes (or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before grilling.)
2. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat to meld the flavors, 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Prepare the grill for indirect cooking over low heat (about 275° on a gas grill).
4. Grill the ribs over indirect low heat until the meat is tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours, turning and lightly basting with the sauce every hour or so.
5. Increase the grill heat to medium-high. Baste the ribs with the sauce and grill over direct heat until slightly charred and crisp, turning as needed, 8 to 10 minutes.
6. Serve with the remaining sauce for dipping.

Smoky Chipotle Glazed Ribs

Chipotle Ribs TasteFoodThe summer season has ended but grilling season certainly has not. In fact, once autumn rolls around, rich grilled meats are a perfect complement to the cool crisp weather – especially when we’re talking about ribs slathered with a spicy smoky barbecue sauce. For deep flavor, these pork ribs are coated with a robust spice rub and left to marinate before roasting. Then they roast, low and slow, on the grill until the meat is tender and juicy, before getting a good glaze on iwht a chipotle BBQ sauce.

Smoky Chipotle Glazed Ribs
Serves 4 to 6

Rub:
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon ground chipotle pepper

2 racks baby back pork ribs

Sauce:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 chipotles in adobo, minced, with juices
1/2 cup heavy bodied red wine
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt

1. Combine the rub ingredients in a small bowl. Spread the ribs on a rimmed baking sheet and coat on all sides with the rub. You can either grill the ribs immediately, or – better yet – cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. The longer the ribs marinate, the better the flavor.
2. Prepare the grill for indirect cooking over low heat (about 275°F). Grill the ribs until the meat is tender, about 2 1/2 hours, turning occasionally.
3. While the ribs are roasting, prepare the sauce. Heat the oil in a small saucepan and add the garlic. Saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the sauce is thickened and reduced by about half, about 15 minutes.
4. Remove from the grill and cut into individual ribs. Adjust the grill for direct cooking over medium heat. Baste the ribs with some of the sauce and grill until crispy and slightly charred, 6 to 8 minutes, turning as needed. Serve with the remaining sauce. And pass the napkins.

Squash Blossom Pizza with Sweet Peppers, Onion, and Pecorino

squash blossom pizza

The title of this recipe might make this pizza sound pretty fancy, but it really isn’t. Squash blossoms are everywhere at the farmers market at this time of year. I’ve been eyeing them, contemplating ways to incorporate the floppy, sunny flowers into a meal. I’ve had blossoms fried and stuffed, but to be honest, I find them oily and heavy (at least the ones I’ve tried).  So I decided to layer them into a “white” pizza (with no red sauce) and see what happened. The results were resoundingly good and a unanimous hit at the dinner table. The flowers added a subtle, nutty flavor to the crisp and cheesy pizza, rounded out by the sweet Italian peppers, onions, and a kick of heat from crushed red chili flakes. It’s very clear the squash blossoms may be delicate, but they are no shrinking wall flower.

Squash Blossom Pizza with Sweet Peppers, Onions and Pecorino

Make your own dough (recipe here), or purchase prepared dough. For quick dinners I often purchase good quality dough ready to form from my supermarket. For family meals I stretch one package into a large rectangle, but feel free to shape it into 2 smaller pizzas. Makes one (10 x 15-inch) pizza.

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
Salt
1 pound prepared pizza dough
1 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced, about 1/2 cup
1/2 cup thinly sliced sweet red peppers (I used 2 “Jimmy Nardello” peppers)
8 squash blossoms, quartered lengthwise
1 (8 ounce) fresh mozzarella ball, patted dry and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the grill for indirect cooking over high heat (about 500°F for a gas grill) and preheat a pizza stone for at least 15 minutes. (Or preheat the oven to 500°F. Place a pizza stone on the lowest oven rack and preheat for at least 15 minutes).
2. Whisk the oil, garlic, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl.
3. Stretch the dough out as thinly as possible and lay on pizza peel (or rimless baking sheet lined with parchment). Lightly brush with the oil. Sprinkle half of the Pecorino over the pizza. Top with the onions and peppers. Arrange the squash blossoms over the vegetables, then place the mozzarella around the squash. Sprinkle the oregano, chili flakes and pepper over the pizza and lightly season with salt. Top with the remaining Pecorino.
4. Slide the pizza onto the pizza stone. Close the grill lid and grill until the pizza is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Remove and brush the crust with some of the oil. Drizzle any remaining oil over the pizza. Cut into serving pieces and serve immediately.

BLT Salad with Avocado and Grilled Croutons

BLT salad view

Bacon-ends: contemplate that. I spied a bag of bacon ends at the farmers market and had to examine. The bag was hefty, lumpy, and thick with triangular hunks of bacon mounded in vacuum packed togetherness. Bacon indeed, but not the typical neatly fanned skinny slices. You see, when those tidy OCD sliced packages are created, all irregular knobs and ends are discarded in order to produce supermarket packaged perfection. I am here to tell you that you want those ends. They are veritable chunks of heaven for bacon lovers, evoking food craving delirium. Of course I bought them.

BLT saladBLT Salad with Bacon Ends, Avocado and Croutons
Serves 4 as a main course salad

1 1/2 to 2 pounds bacon ends, excess fat trimmed, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 cups coarsely torn bite-size pieces of levain or ciabbata bread
Salt

Dressing:
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salad:
1 large head red leaf lettuce, leaves washed and torn into bite-size pieces
4 small vine ripened tomatoes, cut into wedges
Corn kernels cut from one ear of corn
1 large hass avocado, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

1. Prepare the grill for indirect medium heat (about 400°F for a gas grill). Trim any excess fat from the bacon ends. Cut the ends into 1-inch chunks and arrange  on a grill rack (or grate) set over a grill pan to capture the rendered fat. Grill until the fat is rendered and the ends are crispy golden, about 25 minutes. (You can do this in the oven with a broiler pan, if you like.) Transfer the ends to a plate.
2. Toss the bread in the rendered fat and lightly season with salt. Spread the bread on a grill pan or the grates and grill until golden and crisp, turning as needed. Set aside.
3. Make the dressing: Whisk the vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Add the oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly to emulsify.
4. Place the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Add half of the dressing and toss to coat. Scatter the bacon and croutons over the salad and drizzle with additional dressing to taste. Serve immediately.

Jerk Chicken

Grilled Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Jamaican Jerk is a thick and heady Afro-Carribean marinade chock-a-block full of ingredients. Don’t let the lengthy list of spices and aromatics deter you. All you need is the fire of a grill to unify the flavors and create a spicy-sweet finger licking dinner – perfect for a summer barbecue. The heat in the marinade traditionally comes from Scotch Bonnet peppers (super hot). I’ve modified that with jalapeños – but feel free to go all out with a scotch bonnet (carefully seeded with gloved hands!) if you dare. And remember – as with most meat marinades, the longer the chicken can soak in the marinade, the better the flavor.

Jerk Chicken
Serves 6

Marinade:
6 garlic cloves
4 scallions, chopped
2 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded (optional)
1 (2-inch) knob ginger, peeled, chopped
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

6 chicken legs and/or breasts with skin and ribs

Method:
1. Place the marinade ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process to form a paste. Arrange the chicken in a large baking dish. Rub the marinade all over the chicken and under the skin where possible. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.
2. Prepare the grill for indirect cooking over medium heat. Grill the chicken over indirect heat until charred and golden brown and thoroughly cooked through, 30 to 45 minutes, depending on size and thickness. During the last few moments of grilling, move the chicken to direct heat to char the skin as needed.
3. Serve garnished with fresh chopped parsley.

5 Salads for your Memorial Day Grill Menu

It’s Memorial Day weekend, which not only is the gate to summer, but an excuse to get outside and grill. Here are 5 fresh salads to see you through the upcoming BBQ season, perfect to accompany any grill menu.

pepper potatoes tastefood

No -Mayo Peppery Potato Salad – hard to believe there’s no mayonnaise in this creamy salad, chock-a-block full of peppers, chiles and onion.

fava green saladMixed Greens with Fava Beans and Mint – the essence of late spring on a plate.

Corn Tomato SaladCorn and Tomato Salad – this classic summer salad is sweet, juicy and fresh with the kick of poblano chiles and crisp red onion.

mustard blue potato tastefoodBlue Potato and Mustard Salad – another no-mayo potato salad, napped with olive oil and spiked with fresh mustard leaves. Use blue potatoes if you can find them for color value. Otherwise, yellow potatoes will work too.

fattoush salad tastefoodFattoush Salad – a hearty and fresh Middle Eastern salad fragrant with mint and coriander, composed of crisp greens, crumbled feta and grilled pita bread.

 

Lime Marinated Shrimp Tostadas with Black Bean Salsa and Spicy Rice

Lime shrimp tostadas

This post is tricky. For my East coast readers, I want to offer you a rich and meaty stew, guaranteed to bring warmth and comfort amidst teetering snowdrifts. For my West coast friends, I am tempted to make happy south-of-the-border food in honor of the ridiculous summer weather outside. So here is a compromise: These tostadas are warming and bright, satisfying and fresh. They go equally well in front of a crackling fire with a bracing shot of tequila, or eaten grill-side with a festive shot of tequila. Each of the components are stand-alone good, and when heaped onto a crispy corn tostada shell, it’s a winter (or summer) party on a plate.

Lime Marinated Shrimp Tostadas with Black Bean Salsa and Spicy Rice

Serves 4 to 6

For the black bean salsa:
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
Corn kernels from one ear of corn (or 1 cup frozen corn, defrosted)
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
Juice of one lime
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon hot sauce, to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 small handful cilantro sprigs, chopped

For the rice:
1 cup long grain rice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed and seeded, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of ground cayenne
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (or water)
1 teaspoon salt

For the shrimp:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined

Tostada shells
Lettuce leaves
Tomato salsa or hot sauce
Fresh cilantro sprigs
Lime wedges

1. Combine all of the salsa ingredients, except the cilantro, in a bowl and mix well. Taste for seasoning. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to develop. Before serving, add the cilantro.

2. Prepare the rice: Place the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse under cold water until the water runs clear. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and jalapeño and sauté until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, and cayenne and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the rice and cook, stirring, to lightly toast and thoroughly coat, about 1 minute. Add the stock and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low and cover the pot. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and fluff with a fork.

3. Prepare the shrimp. Whisk 1 tablespoon olive oil, the lime juice, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a medium bowl. Add the shrimp and stir to coat. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in skillet over medium high heat (or prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium heat). Remove the shrimp from the marinade, shaking off any excess liquid, and transfer to the skillet 0r grill. Cook the shrimp until pink on both sides and just cooked through, turning once, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a bowl.

5. To assemble the tostadas, lay a lettuce leaf over a tostada (corn) shell. Spoon some of the rice over the lettuce, then some of the black bean salsa over the rice. Top with 2 to 3 shrimp. Drizzle with a little tomato salsa or hot sauce. Garnish with cilantro leaves and a squeeze of lime. Serve immediately.