Sunday, November 28, 2010

Barbecue Ribs

One of the reasons I started this blog was to share my love of barbecue, barbeque and BBQ. I would consider it my main hobby even though I only make it about once a month. I hate to admit that I am one of those pedantic people who thinks that "real" barbecue is only four or five items.

1) Ribs - All kinds Babybacks, St Louis style, Beef.

2) Brisket - Texas style not anything my grandmother would have recognize.

3) Pulled or Chopped Pork - Pork Shoulder

4) Whole Animals - Pig, Mutton, or Goat. I can dream of doing a whole  hog, the other two not so much.

That's it hamburgers and chickens and hot dogs can go on a grill but barbecue takes time anywhere from three hours to 20 plus depending on the size of the items being smoked.  That is the other essential item to make barbeque, smoke from some sort of wood. Depending on what I am cooking I will go with hickory, apple, cherry, pecan, or alder wood. I stay away from mesquite because it can make food taste bitter really fast and I am not willing to sacrifice meat just to learn how much to use.

So with all this. Let me tell you how I make my ribs. I usually buy the three pack at Costco and then take the thin membrane that is on the back side of each rack.

The first step then is to brush on a mustard slather. The idea of a mustard slather comes from Paul Kirk a professional barbecuer know as the Baron of Barbecue. The slather is brushed on so that the rub will stick to the ribs. This recipe comes from his book Paul Kirk Championship Barbecue.

Art's Mustard Sauce

 1/2 cup French's mustard
1/8 cup pickle juice
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon hot sauce ( I use Texas Pete)

The slather is just a thin layer on the ribs. you will not taste mustard  or pickles in the end result.

Now it is time for the rub. This recipe comes from the book Killer Ribs which has recipes from fairly famous BBQ  joints all across America.  I modify the recipe from Arthur Bryant's in Kansas City. I have been to this restaurant and can tell you it is a spot any barbecue lover should go to.

This recipe is for 12 racks. I change it by using less salt than is in this recipe.

1 cup salt
2/3 cup paprika (I used smoked paprika)
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground mustard
2 teaspoon white pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground celery seeds
2 teaspoons granulated onions
2 teaspoons granulated garlic

Mix the ingredients together. Sprinkle both sides of the ribs. Give them a nice little massage. Put them in the fridge for 8 hours to over-night.

The next day.  Make sure you have the charcoal ready. The smoker I use is a Brinkman $59 special we got from Home Depot. If you use gas, I have no advice I do not know what to tell you. You can do this on a Weber Grill but again I am not going into the details of barbecuing on that. If you own a Weber Smokey Mountain smoker, I hate you just a little because that is what I want one day. (That was a subtle hint to my wife and children in case they read this)

In the smoker you put down a layer of hardwood charcoal. In the chimney starter I will start a holder full of Kingsford. Once they start to ash over I will  add them to the hardwood charcoal. If you want more information on different charcoals go here.

My smoker have water pan in it to keep the meat moist while it cooks.  I put apple juice in the pan to add a little more flavor, but water would be just fine.

Add the ashy charcoal to the hardwood charcoal this is called the Minion Method.

I add two baseball pieces of wood usually hickory and apple sometimes only hickory.

The ribs will take four to five hours to cooks.  The ribs should cook at 225° to 250°. Next open a beer or some wine. Do not open the lid to your smoker. The smoke needs to go on the ribs not in the air. You need to not touch the ribs or smoker.

Two hours in and it is time to add the baste. you will be basting the ribs every half hours after you reach the half way point in cooking. The baste recipe also comes from Paul Kirk Championship Barbecue book.

Memphis Basting Sauce (for three racks)

1 cup water
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup Heinz 57 steak sauce
1/6 cup worcestershire sauce
1/6 cup ketchup
1/12 cup of yellow mustard
1/3 stick of butter
1 and1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon liquid smoke (some say this is cheating, I don't)

Medium heat for 15 minutes. use it warm.

We are almost done.  I believe in making homemade BBQ sauce. I make all different kinds for different meats. My rib sauce come from the Paul Kirk book also.

Memphis -Style Smoky Barbecue Sauce

3 cups ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup mustard
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons liquid smoke
2 teaspoons granulated onion
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (this does add some heat, so it depends on what you are looking for.)

Baste the ribs at the last five minutes with the sauce and dig in. You know the ribs are done when you can hold them up and they bend. Ribs should not fall off the bone but rather have a little tug at the end.

 If anyone makes these let me know how they come out.

The Ribs pictured above are not mine. I will rectify that the next time I make them.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Ready To Start

I heard the news today oh boy.
You can finally download the Beatles catalog at the Itunes store. Now for people of my advanced age this is a biggie, although I do suspect that many of them either have the CDs  or used the Napster back in the day and already have the  songs on their Ipod.
 I do remember being in fifth grade and loving Yellow Submarine (the movie) but really when it comes to the Beatles that about it. While the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were on the radio all the time as I was growing up I just never got into them to the point where I spent my hard earned allowance on their music. Yes I can appreciate that they changes the face of music forever but I just never connected to them on a primal level.
Deep down I am a Modernist in my love of the arts. When Joyce and I started dating we had our first really big argument about how she loves all things classical and i love contemporary things, this argument was fueled by some powerful Zombies (a drink neither of us have ever gone back to, at least yet).

This is just a long-winded way to introduce a band that I think is the greatest at this moment.

Arcade Fire - Wake up

 They only have three albums out so far "Funeral", "Neon Bible", and the recently released "The Suburbs". All three are excellent, but the best is the most recent "The Suburbs" It is actually a bit of a concept album. It theme is that the suburbs are a place that will trap our youth and is necessary to escape, while offering a comfortable place to grow old. The band has two main singers Win Butler and his wife RĂ©gine Chassagne. the band formed in Montreal, but have an international sound and feel that is like no one else.

One more thing . If you want to experience what their music feels like go to The Wilderness Downtown and type in the address of where you grew up. It is quite poignant.

One more clip to give you a taste.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

What kind of Ale goes with Toad in the Hole?

British food was once thought to be fish and chips and meat pies and that was about it. Perhaps that was the way it was, but now London is fast becoming a very progressive town for high and low end delicious food and drink. In order to do research before we left I consulted Yelp and Chowhound to see what might be recommended places to dine. This plus a little serendipity in choosing places made London one of the best eating holidays I ever had.


Bosphorus Kebabs - No website because this is a real hole in the wall in the South Kensington area.  This was the highest rated restaurant on Yelp. They serve the Doner kebab. What is that you ask. It is a Turkish/German specialty that is close to what you might call a pita sandwich, but at a level that is unbelievably good. meat gently sliced into a pile with assorted vegetables and doused with a spiky hot sauce (optional) this was a cheap cheap cheap meal of yumminess.

Wagamama Noodle Bar - They are located all over London serving cheap good ramen noodles and rice dishes. Fun atmosphere, with tasty dishes that won't kill you even with the lousy exchange rate. I had the chilli ramen beef and it was very spicy in that good way that ramen can be. While it was a bit no frills I highly recommend them.

Rocca Di Papa - After traveling to Stonehenge and Bath the tour bus drop us off near our hotel kinda sorta. So we went wandering with the purpose of finding a restaurant. Since we hadn't had Italian yet we decided to try a place just on the vibe the was going on. Rocca was the perfect example of serendipity. 

We ordered a Caprese salad that was quite nice, but it was the pizza that really put this place as one you would want to visit. Joyce and I decided on the Vivaldi. It had artichoke, ham, mushrooms, capers, anchovies and olives. You might think this wold be too salty but no it was perfection. The capers were the small and large kind and the anchovies were such a revelation that I now understand how they are one of the perfect toppings for a pizza. the wine list was excellent, as it is in many of the restaurants we visited in London with Joyce having a beautiful Rose from Sicily and I had a terrific Valpolicella from Italy. All over London you can find great value on wines from Europe and Australia, you do not see many American wines offered at all. 

Tea and Ale

Joyce and I had an agreement each day she would get some sort of tea time event and I in return would get some time with a pint or two of ale.  Two tea places really stick out one of them is Yumchaa in Soho where not only was there a very fine selection of teas but the desserts and sweets (lemon bar) was so delicious. the other great experience was the High Tea service at the National Gallery Cafe, mini sandwiches and sweets and such Joyce loved it.

For me it was the Chandos Pub Opera Room where I was able to drink Samuel Smith on tap. I had Toad in the Hole, which is sausages in a sort of Yorkshire pudding holder. Joyce had a steak and ale pie. Another excellent pub was the Prince Edward pub where I actually saw Prince Charles drive by. I waved but he didn't.

Monday, September 27, 2010

London Calling

Joyce and I took that long flight "over the pond" to spend my furlough week in beautiful London.  As cities go it is one of my favorites of all that I have visited. It was nice also because the wonderful Dr. Burstein had never been there and so I got to visit there with her.

If you have never been I think London is comparable to a larger version of San Francisco, with better transportation. The Subway or "The Tube" was started in 1863. You can get anywhere around London including the airport strictly using the Underground.

The sights are many and plentiful. As you walk around the city you are likely to hear a polyglot of languages such as Russian, Italian, and Arabic. It is a complete international city that is easy for an American like me with a tin ear.

Here are my recommendation for sites to see when you go there:

The British Museum: The first item that we went to see was the Rosetta Stone. When you think that this item was the key to unlocking the mystery of hieroglyphics therefore explaining the writing in the tombs of pharaohs. it is mind boggling. There is a Greek temple and item from Assyria. If you have any interest in ancient history then this is one of the greatest places you can go. it is laid out beautifully and to top it off it is free to enter.

The British Library: Nirvana for library nerds. They have the Magna Carta. The original Alice in Wonderland, which was originally called Alice Adventures Underground. A Gutenburg Bible and ancient texts from world religions. Shakespeare in his own writing and Beowulf. For the music nerds there is collections from Handel and The Beatles.

Before heading over to London, the museum that Joyce and I were most looking forward to visiting was the Tate Modern. This was the major disappointment of our trip. We both love modern art and there is lot of it here, but the way it is displayed seems haphazard and set in such a way that the teaming mobs of people cannot find a decent place to enjoy the art.  The Tate Britain on the other hand was a very nice surprise with a  beautiful layout and some newish art work that was provocative and fun.

Our hotel was right across the street from the Victoria and Albert Museum. It was meh.

The National Gallery was everything you would think a great art museum should be. It is laid out by years and color coordinated so that you can tell what time period you are looking at by the color of the wall.  We had High Tea in the cafe and I will write about the food of London in a subsequent posting.  As for the art? Monet , Van Gogh, Turner (A British artist who really is a revelation when you see his work here and in the Tate Britain) and many more.

We also took a day trip to Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and the city of Bath. All worthwhile sites to see while in the area. Especially Stonehenge, which is much smaller than you might think, but is more spectacular than you can imagine.

one highlight of the trip was a nighttime concert Joyce and I went to at St. Martin's in the Field. If you listen to the classical music radio station they always broadcast concert recorded there with Neville Mariner. Well I think jolly old Neville has passed on, but they still have concerts there all the time. The acoustics are awesome with the small church is awe inspiring. We heard Handel, Mozart, Chopin and Pacobell. If only the Hollywood Bowl would have these kinds of programs we would go much more often. Our seats were such that we could watch the pianist's hands move across the keyboards.

Hunger Games

As a high school teacher librarian, one aspect of my job that I really enjoy is reading books that are aimed at the age group I provide service to. Last year at Woodland Hills Academy I started reading The Hunger Games. The basic premise of the book is that in either some post-apocalyptic world the United States has been divided into 13 districts. Every year each district must send two tributes (age 12-18) to fight in a battle to the death as amusement for the entire country and especially the rich and spoiled folks who live in the Capitol. Taking it cues from Lord of the Flies, 1984, and any other number of classic literature Suzanne Collins has written a book that will appeal to all ages in much the same way adults read Harry Potter or the Twilight series.

The story reminded me of one of my favorite films from Japan called Battle Royale.. In much the same as Hunger Games ,you have students finding creative and very violent ways to kill each other. Followed up by "Catching Fire" and the recently published "Mockingjay" which ended the story. I can heartily recommend this series as one that will captivate you. While it does involve the required teenage love triangle (I'm looking at you Twilight), it is not the major plot point as the main story is how violence can be considered entertainment and how the spark of a revolution can begin with an individual act.

I do not want to give anything away as part of the joy of ready this series is all of the unexpected twists and turns.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Posting Comments

I had a couple people ask how to post comments. After an entry at the bottom there will be something that say comments (0) or another number. Looking forward to people saying stuff.

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Best Thing to Come From Colonialism

Joyce and I decided to go to a little hole in the wall named La Baguette located on Reseda Blvd just north of Sheman Way. Now with a name like that you might be thinking  French bistro or bakery and you would be wrong. La Baguette is a sandwich shop that serves banh mi.

This is not from La Baguette (just to give you an idea)
Banh Mi is a Vietnamese sandwich that combines thinly sliced meat, vegetables perhaps some pate and loads of yumminess. All for the down home price of three dollars to maybe four fifty. Why anyone would go to Subway is beyond me. Yes there is one nearby, but ugh!

So back to Banh Mi. We got the number 1, which is salted pork with crisp vegetables the very nice proprietor recommended adding some Sriracha sauce and this added that little bit of heat. I ordered the number 4 which had barbecue beef. It was sweeter than the number one but just as good.

As for the owner, he was quite the talker and his wife and adorable daughter was there as well. A family run spot for a great meal. Mmmmmm.