Sunday, July 20, 2014

Competition Baby Back Ribs with Apple-Bourbon Barbecue Sauce for a Summer BBQ Party #SundaySupper

Competition Baby Back Ribs with Apple-Bourbon Barbecue Sauce for a Summer BBQ Party #SundaySupper

Hello from Orlando!

I am publishing this dish while I am away at the Food and Wine Conference that I previewed back in May. Since I wrote about it, I have been assigned to promote the Idaho Potato Commission. This past Friday, Coryanne Etienne reported live from the Great Big Idaho Potato Truck interviewing bloggers who shared their favorite potato recipes. Search for the #IdahoPotatoCam hashtag for a recap if you missed it. I'll provide a more comprehensive review when I return.

Speaking of when I return from the conference, this upcoming Saturday is the annual competition, Rib Fest in the Park. Two years ago, I won the competition as a rookie. Last year, thinking if it ain't broke, don't fix it I competed again using the same recipe but lost. The feedback I received from the judges was the sauce was too sweet and they were looking for a little heat to balance out the flavor, so I went back to the drawing board. I kept it simple, pairing apples with pork is classic so there's nothing outrageous from a flavor profile standpoint. In fact, one of my favorite dishes I've already prepared uses it.

Since this is a #SundaySupper event hosted by Jennie of The Messy Baker and Melanie of Melanie Makes (thanks, ladies!), I should point out that there is a difference between barbecue dishes and grilled dishes. The two terms are sometimes inaccurately used interchangeably. As this Yahoo! Shine article explains, both methods use an open flame however barbecue is typically smoked, using low heat, cooking meats over several hours while grilling uses high heat and cooking meats only minutes. It is for this reason that I must confess. I cheat. I do not have an outdoor grill or a smoker but I have found a work around in the smoker bag.

The Challenge

Win the 2014 Rib Fest in the Park

The Source

I adapted the instructions of the smoker bag to a Curtis Stone barbecue sauce.


2 racks pork back ribs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 cup bourbon
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups ketchup
3/4 cup packed golden brown sugar
2 to 4 canned chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, chopped (to taste)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and finely chopped
Juice from 1 lemon


1. Smoke the ribs. Place an oven rack on the very bottom level and preheat the oven according to the smoker bag's instructions. Pat each rack of ribs dry on both sides with a paper towel, then season both sides with salt and pepper. Place each rack into the smoker bag, meat side up, and fold to close. Place the smoker bag on a sheet pan, then place in the oven and cook according to the smoker bag's instructions. (The ones I purchase use 500⁰ Fahrenheit for the first 15 minutes, then the heat is lowered to 375⁰ Fahrenheit for an additional 60 minutes.)

2. Prepare the barbecue sauce. While the ribs smoke, melt the butter in a large saucepan. Once melted, ad the onions and sweat, approximately 5 minutes. Add the garlic to the onions and cook until fragrant, an additional 3 minutes. Add the paprika, dry mustard, then the bourbon and apple cider vinegar and simmer for approximately 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients, then season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce to medium-low and continue to simmer until the sauce thickens, 45 minutes to 1 hour. According to Chef Stone, this can be done up to 2 weeks ahead of cooking the ribs. If doing ahead of time, reheat before using.

3. Finish the ribs. Remove the ribs from the oven and let them stand for 10 minutes. Adjust the heat to 425⁰ Fahrenheit. Remove the ribs from the smoker bag and place back on the sheet pan. Baste the ribs with the sauce and place the ribs back in the oven until the sauce sticks to the ribs, approximately 5 to 10 minutes. Rest the ribs for 5 minutes before cutting the ribs crosswise into individual portions and serve with any leftover sauce.

NOTE: The ribs can be prepared entirely on the grill using direct and indirect heat to regulate temperature control. On the day of the competition, I will most likely prepare steps 1 and 2 at home but complete step 3 on site.


I guess you could say this was a dry run for the competition this upcoming Saturday. In this instance, prepared the barbecue sauce a day ahead of smoking ribs. I also only smoked just the one rack (as the pictures above suggest) because it was just me, Mrs. Stuntman and my daughter eating so I halved the ingredients and only used one chile. The spice was overpowering when I went to taste it the next day so I added in the rest of the brown sugar to balance out the flavors. Unfortunately, I don't know if I won this competition because I am writing this before it occurs but I will update once the results are in. Also, please note that I will have limited ability to moderate comments since I am away. Realistically, I'll be able to get to everyone sometime on Tuesday.

Please check the other dishes brought to this Summer BBQ Party:

Sides and Accompaniments
Main Dishes
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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Roast Pork Tenderlion with Mushroom Marsala Sauce and Roasted Potatoes for a Farmer's Market Dinner Party

Roast Pork Tenderlion with Mushroom Marsala Sauce

Earlier this year, I joined a facebook group of food bloggers that all reside in the San Francisco Bay Area. About a month ago, Renee of Creative Mama, Messy House suggested a farmer's market dinner party. Participants shop for ingredients at their local farmer's market and each prepare one course, not unlike a progressive dinner. This was my original motivation for shopping at the Irvington Farmer's Market where I found the pluots to prepare the ice cream dessert I published about a week ago in addition to the tomatoes and mushrooms I used in the scallop dish I published previously.

I had a couple of issues planning this dish. The first issue I had was with the type of ingredients. One of the questions asked was any diet restrictions bloggers had and several noted a gluten-free diet and was placed in that group. In all honesty, I wasn't prepared to do a gluten free dish, as it's not a niche where I specialize but it turns out that it's not nearly as restrictive as I originally feared. In fact, I discovered many of the dishes I have prepared previously are gluten free and I hadn't realize this, so I must thank Renee for providing the inspiration to learn something new. Gluten free diets are required for those that suffer from celiac disease. Generally, foods-other than many grains such as wheat, rye, and barley-are allowable in their unprocessed form. This includes fresh meats, poultry, fruits, vegetables, beans, seeds, nuts, and eggs. For more information on this diet, I'll refer you to this Mayo Clinic page which can explain the diet in more detail. The second issue I had was completely of my own making. In my excitement of coming home with my farmer's market finds, I prepared this entreé only to discover later that I was assigned the appetizer course, so I must thank Jane of The Heritage Cook for agreeing to switch courses with me.

The Challenge

Use ingredients purchased at a farmer's market in a gluten-free dish. In this case, I used parsley, mushrooms and potatoes.

The Source

I adapted the roasting method found on page 147 of Carla's Comfort Foods: Favorite Dishes from Around the World by Carla Hall with Genevieve Ko to a sauce found on I adapted the potato side from


1 pound Yukon gold potatoes, washed, scrubbed and halved (or quartered, if large)
3 cloves garlic, minced
Leaves from 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 pork tenderloins, approximately 1 pound each
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium shallots, chopped
12 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced thin
1 cup dry Marsala
1 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped


1. Roast the potatoes. Preheat the oven to 425° Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl, combine the potatoes, garlic, rosemary, olive oil then season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat the potatoes then transfer the contents of the bowl onto a foil-lined sheet pan. Roast in the oven until the potatoes have a crisp exterior with a soft interior and browned, approximately 35 minutes.

2. Roast the pork tenderloin. Season the tenderloins on all sides with salt and pepper, then place the tenderloins in an oven-safe skillet and into the oven with the potatoes but on a different rack until the tenderloins reach an internal temperature of 135° Fahrenheit, approximately 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set the pork aside on a plate to allow for carryover cooking.

3. Prepare the sauce and finish the dish. While waiting for the potatoes, melt the butter in the same skillet used to roast the pork on the stovetop over medium heat. Once melted, sweat shallots with a pinch of kosher salt, approximately 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms have browned and the fluid secreted from the mushrooms have evaporated, approximately 3 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the Marsala, scraping any fond, and simmer until almost completely evaporated. Add the chicken stock and reduce by half, approximately 3 minutes. Stir in the cream, parsley and any accumulated fluids from the resting pork then taste, adjusting the seasoning if necessary. Cut the tenderloin into 1 inch pieces. To serve, spoon some sauce onto a warmed plate, then several pork slices on top of the sauce and surround with potatoes.


Both Mrs. Stuntman and I noted the intense flavor of the dish and she requested I prepare it again. Also, I believe all of the ingredients are gluten free. Am I correct?

Please check out the other courses in this Farmer's Market Dinner Party:

Caprese Skewers by The Heritage Cook

Warm Green Bean and Tomato Salad by Creative Mama, Messy House

Side Dish
Loaded Mashed Cauliflower by Nosh My Way

Roast Pork Tenderlion with Mushroom Marsala Sauce and Roasted Potatoes by Crazy Foodie Stunts

Vanilla Bean Infused Cheesecake with Peaches in Dark Rum Sauce by Fearless Dining

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pan-Seared Scallops with Tomao Salsa, Spinach and Mushrooms

Pan-Seared Scallops with Tomao Salsa, Spinach and Mushrooms

One of the issues I had on a prior visit to the Irvington Farmer's Market was that I went not really thinking of what dish could I prepare with (insert produce)? so I went with a different approach this time and brought my copy of The Flavor Bible. As I looked through the offerings, I noticed these cherry tomatoes, and along with some basil I purchased from a different vendor, noticed a flavor affinity of tomato, basil, scallops, and pasta.

Well, things did not go as planned because the basil was used in the chicken salad but I found this dish to use the tomatoes I purchased. One other item I used from the farmer's market was oyster mushrooms in this dish.

The Challenge

Attempt something different. I don't prepare many appetizers here and thought I could use some variety.

The Source

I adapted this dish from Martha Stewart's website. I have issues with it's preparation, however. First, I'd never put the scallop in butter. I use high heat and butter would burn while I waited for the pan to get to the proper temperature. Secondly, cooking a scallop for 3 to 4 minutes per side will result in an overcooked scallop. Third, I advise wilting spinach by just putting the rinsed leaves into a skillet similar to the method demonstrated in my spinach pasta dish because the oil will splatter once wet spinach leaves hit the pan, creating a dangerous situation.


20 grape tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 cup oyster mushrooms, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
3 cups packed spinach leaves, washed thoroughly
4 large sea scallops


1. Prepare the salsa. Cut each tomato quarter in half, then place in a small bowl. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the red wine vinegar, season with salt and pepper, then toss to combine and set aside.

2. Prepare the mushrooms. Heat butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add the mushrooms and season with salt, pepper and sugar. Cook until softened, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the thyme and rosemary. Set aside and keep warm.

3. Prepare the spinach. Put the wet spinach leaves in a large skillet over medium heat and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring until wilted, approximately 5 minutes. Set aside and keep warm.

4. Prepare the scallops and finish the dish. Pat the scallops dry with paper towels, then season both sides with salt and pepper. Place the remaining tablespoon olive oil a medium skillet over high heat. Once the oil smokes, sear the scallops in the pan on one side only, approximately 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and rest to allow for carryover cooking. To plate, spoon some spinach in the center of the plate, then top the spinach with one scallop, seared side up. Surround the scallop by garnishing the dish with the mushrooms and tomatoes.


While I was pleased with the flavors of this dish, I believe the photo above could have been better. I'm still learning and took this picture outside about 1pm on a sunny July day. It's difficult to distinguish the edge of the plate from the pink tablecloth I used due to the glare. Live and learn.

In other news, I haven't addressed one of my favorite TV shows that currently airs in a while, Next Food Network Star. I choose my favorite by answering the question who's cooking show would I watch? and for me, the answer is still Loreal so I'm finding it frustrating that the selection committee seems to be favoring Lenny. To me, it appears the Network has over compensated Paula Deen's absence with Ree, Trisha, and Damaris. What are your thoughts on the matter? Leave a comment below.