Monthly Archives: July 2011

cedar-planked, dry-rubbed pork ribs with baked Walla Walla onion rings

It’s official: hubby and I are hooked on grilling with cedar planks.  Salmon is the classic application for cedar-plank grilling, but we discovered that grilling pork ribs “low and slow” over cedar planks yields pretty tasty results.

We teamed up with my beer-loving brother for this meal, so be sure to check out his post, aptly titled “ribs and beer,” to read about the well-traveled, Belgium IPA that we enjoyed with these ribs.

cedar-planked, dry-rubbed pork ribs

serves 3 (4-5 ribs each)


1 rack of pork back ribs (about 2 pounds)

1 or 2 untreated cedar planks (depending on size, you may need to cut the rack of ribs to fit the planks, as we did)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground coriander

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons ancho chile powder

2 teaspoons dried garlic granules

2 teaspoons dried thyme

3 teaspoons ground cumin


Soak the cedar planks in water overnight.

Prepare the dry rub:  Combine all the dry ingredients, brown sugar through cumin, in a small bowl.

Prepare the ribs:  Rinse the ribs with water and pat dry with paper towels.  Rub the spice mixture onto the fleshy parts of the ribs, using as little or as much dry rub as you like.  Keep any unused rub in a sealed container for future use.

Grill the ribs!  Grill the planked ribs over low heat with the lid closed until the pork is cooked through but tender, a little more than an hour.  (The planks may smoke a bit and they will become very aromatic.)  Remove the planks from the grill and allow the ribs to rest 5 minutes before cutting apart the ribs.  The ribs will be tasty as is, but you can serve them with BBQ sauce (I give you permission, haha).

**You can re-use the planks two or three times more.  Wash the planks with water only to remove any food bits (do not use soap because that will penetrate the wood and taste yucky, I imagine!).  Wrap the planks with plastic wrap and store them in the freezer.  Discard the boards when they’re too charred, warped and/or are no longer fragrant after being soaked in water.

It seems that sweet Walla Walla onions are in the store for only a couple of weeks each summer and then they’re gone.  If you see them at the store, take a break from yellow onions and snatch some up!

Making onion rings is a great way to showcase this onion’s sweet flavor, which is intensified by baking the onion rings in the oven.  This recipe involves the same breading station method that I used to make crunchy tofu sticks, and I credit food blogger Valerie Passonno, who recently raised my awareness of National Onion Ring Day, with the inspiration for this recipe.

baked Walla Walla onion rings

3 -4 servings


1 large Walla Walla onion

1 pint (2 cups) buttermilk

2 eggs

all-purpose flour

panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

canola cooking spray


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare a breading station including four components: (1) buttermilk; (2) flour mixed with a pinch each of salt and pepper; (3) two eggs scrambled with a splash of water and pepper and (4) panko breadcrumbs.  Set up the station with bowls lined up left to right in the order listed above.

To prepare the rings, first slice off the top and root of the onion, so that the top and bottom are flat.  Then, cut the onion into 1-inch slices (you should get only 4 or 5 slices) and use your fingers to carefully press out the onion’s layers.  You should end up with a mound of rings!

Soak the onion rings in the buttermilk.  After about 5 minutes of soaking, start processing the onion rings through the breading station.  To bread the onion rings, use tongs to press both sides of each ring in the flour, then the egg (shake off excess) and then the breadcrumbs.

Line two baking sheets with parchment and place them to the right of the breadcrumbs so that they’re handy for depositing the onion rings as you bread them.  Arrange the breaded onion rings on the baking sheets (try putting very small ones inside very large ones to maximize space) and spray the tops with cooking spray.  Bake the onion rings for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Serve the onion rings with ketchup.  Yum!


beautiful jams

I attended a jam-making workshop this past Saturday and we made these beautiful, delicious apricot and strawberry jams.  I highly recommend the hands-on food preservation workshops put on by Happy Girl Kitchen Co.  I’ll use my new canning skills to “put up” canned peaches and strawberry jam this coming weekend.  I can’t wait!

cedar-planked salmon with horseradish-scallion sauce

I believe some superlatives are in order:

This is the best way to grill salmon.

This is the tastiest cooked salmon that I’ve ever eaten in all my life.

Seriously, this salmon is so damn good.

No exaggeration.  You’ve gotta try this grilling method.  Make enough for leftovers to use in a second recipe, such as salad or pan-fried salmon patties.

cedar-planked salmon with horseradish-scallion sauce

serves 2, twice (use leftovers for a 2nd recipe)

[ adapted from Fine Cooking, June/July 2011, p. 57 ]


1 (2-pound) boneless, skin-on salmon fillet, pin bones removed

1 or 2 untreated cedar planks (depending on size, you may need to cut the fish to fit the planks, as we did)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 lemon, zested

1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped

1 teaspoon granulated sugar

2 tablespoons honey

1 cup plain yogurt

2 scallions, finely sliced (green parts only)

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Soak the cedar planks in water overnight.

Prepare the horseradish-scallion sauce:  Whisk together the yogurt, scallions, horseradish, salt and pepper, to taste.  Let sit at room temperature to allow the flavors to meld.

Prepare the salmon:  Brush both sides of the salmon with olive oil and place the fish on the cedar planks.  Combine the lemon zest, thyme, sugar, honey, salt and pepper in a small bowl, and rub onto the salmon flesh.

Time to grill!  Prepare a gas or charcoal grill fire for indirect cooking with high heat: On a gas grill, heat all burners on high; then turn off all but one burner just before cooking the salmon.  (If you only have one gas burner, like we do, simply reduce the heat to low.)  On a charcoal grill, bank the coals on two opposite sides of the grill.  Arrange the planks over the cooler part of the grill, positioning them so that the thickest part of the fish is closest to the heat source.

Grill with the lid closed until the fish flakes easily with a fork, about 20 minutes.  (The planks may smoke a bit and they will become very aromatic, like a luxurious sauna at the spa!)

The salmon will be super-moist and succulent.  Mmm!!  Serve the salmon with the horseradish-scallion sauce.  A chilled rosé is perfect with this on a hot summer day.

potato salad: a story of divided loyalties (and a recipe)

I recently was at a family gathering in South Dakota, and my Aunt Donna proudly served her traditional potato salad.  It was the recipe that she had learned from her mother.  She clearly went to a lot of effort to make 10 pounds of it.  Everyone raved about it and many had seconds, including my brother’s girlfriend (now she’s a shoo-in to the family).

Aunt Donna's potato salad

I did not eat any of it.

I really wanted to like it, but I knew better than to put some on my plate and deprive someone else of a second helping.  I dislike Miracle Whip, yellow mustard and hard-cooked eggs, and putting these three ingredients together in one salad comprises the trifecta of my picnic nemeses.  I knew this from past experience.  I hoped that my abstention from potato salad consumption would go unnoticed . . .

. . . but my Aunt Pat noticed.  (She notices everything.)  She confiscated my Dupic Family Membership Card and gave it to my brother’s girlfriend.

Just kidding.  But I did have some ‘splainin’ to do:  “I don’t eat that kind of potato salad.”  What kind do you eat?  “Well, I like the kind with vinegar-based dressing.”  [Puzzled look.]  “I don’t really like hard-boiled eggs,” I tried to explain.  Somehow, the discussion of this topic fizzled out, but I was left wondering how I came to like a completely different kind of potato salad.

All my life, I avoided the chilled, yellow, mayonnaisey potato salads.  But if I ever found myself in a German restaurant, it was like, bring on the hot, vinegary potato salad!  Hey, are you going to finish that potato salad?

So I did some “research” on potato salad.  (I googled the interwebs.)  I learned that while there are near infinite ways to make potato salad, there are three broad categories in which most recipe variations fit:

1.  American Potato Salad:  Potatoes dressed with mayonnaise, yellow mustard, hard-cooked eggs and other ingredients.  Served chilled.

2.  Northern German Potato Salad:  Potatoes dressed with mayonnaise and other ingredients.  Served chilled.  (Similar to the American-style salad.)

3.  Southern German Potato Salad:  Potatoes dressed with whole-grain mustard, bacon and a vinegar-based dressing.  Served warm.  (Munich is in Southern Germany.  Perhaps this is why this is the kind of potato salad that is typically served in Oktoberfest-style German restaurants.)

In summary, my relatives enjoy good old American-style potato salad.  God bless them.  I prefer Southern German-style potato salad, or kartoffelsalat, and here’s my beloved recipe:

Carrie’s Southern German-style potato salad (kartoffelsalat)

6 – 8 servings


2 pounds red potatoes, sliced in 1/4-inch half moons

4 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

 4 shallots, minced (about 3/4 cup)

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1/4 cup water

2 1/2 tablespoons coarse-ground mustard

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Put the sliced potatoes in a medium stock pot and fill the pot with enough water to cover the potatoes by about 2 inches.  Cover the pot and bring to a boil.  Drain the potatoes as soon as they are fork tender, about 10 minutes.  Transfer the drained potatoes to a large serving bowl and cover the bowl with a kitchen towel to keep the potatoes warm.

Use the same pot to cook the bacon until crisp over medium-high heat.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towel.

Reduce the heat to medium.  Add the shallots to the bacon drippings and cook until softened and just starting to brown, about 1 -2 minutes.  Add the flour, sugar, vinegar and water, and whisk until combined and thickened, about 1 minute.  Pour the dressing over the warm potatoes and add the mustard, salt and pepper, to taste.  Toss the potatoes to coat with the dressing and then mix in the bacon pieces.  Serve warm.

romanesco-cauliflower purée with shredded chicken and fresh garbanzo beans

I discovered two new veggies this week.  It’s time for show-and-tell!

First, raise your hand if you’ve ever purchased garbanzo beans that were not packaged in a can.  Hmm, yes, I did not expect to see many hands raised.

While shopping at Mi Pueblo earlier this week for my usual Mexican-food staples (unbelievably cheap avocados, jalepeños, cilantro and delish tomato salsa), I saw a large display of what appeared to be loose green grapes.  Upon closer examination (and after reading the sign), I learned that these were fresh garbanzo beans in their pods.  I put down my basket, popped open a pod, plucked out the single green bean and tasted it: mmm, tastes like fresh peas!  I did not know what I would make with these, but I knew I had to purchase some.

fresh garbanzo beans from the Mexican market

a garbanzo bean in its pod

shelled garbanzo beans

I found my second “new” vegetable of the week in our CSA share.  Have you ever seen such a freaky looking vegetable?  It looks like something you’d see the Ferengi eating in an episode of Star Trek: TNG.  

romanesco is related to broccoli and cauliflower

romanesco is green and spiky-spirally!

I googled “green spiky cauliflower” and learned that this is called “romanesco.”  The fact that romanesco is in the same veggie family as cauliflower and broccoli gave me an idea of what to do with it . . .

romanesco-cauliflower purée with shredded chicken and fresh garbanzo beans

serves 4


2 heads romanesco, cored and cut into florets

2 heads cauliflower, cored and cut into florets

1 1/2 cups chicken stock (homemade, if available)

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

3 tablespoons butter

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (breast and leg meat)

1 cup shelled garbanzo beans or peas

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 shallots, minced

red pepper flakes

olive oil


To make the romanesco-cauliflower purée:  Steam the romanesco and cauliflower florets until tender when pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes.  Transfer the florets to a small stock pot and add 1 cup chicken stock (reserve the remaining 1/2 cup stock for the chicken sauté).  Use an immersion blender to purée the florets in the pot, adding more chicken stock if needed to make a smooth purée.  Stir in the cheese, butter, salt and pepper, to taste.  Keep warm.

To make the chicken sauté:  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a lidded sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic, shallots and about 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (more or less, to taste).  Once the garlic and shallots become fragrant, add the chicken and garbanzo beans to the pan and sauté for 1 minute.  Add the reserved chicken stock (1/2 cup) to the pan, cover and allow the chicken and garbanzos to steam in the broth for 3 minutes.  Test a bean for doneness and steam a bit longer with more chicken broth, if necessary.  (The beans should be bright green and slightly firm, not mushy, like cooked fresh peas.)  When the garbanzos are cooked to your liking, remove the lid and sauté the mixture until the chicken is lightly browned and most of the broth is evaporated/absorbed.

To serve:  Spoon a mound of the romanesco-cauliflower purée onto a plate and top with the chicken sauté.

chicken, sweet potato and peach skewers

My little brother, Chad, has a new blog that he has largely devoted to beer and bar reviews.  We decided to try new recipes and beers together and make coordinated blog posts regarding the food and beer pairings.  This post concerns our first such effort.

Summer is here, and it’s time to GRILL!  I prepared chicken skewers and Chad brought two beers to pair with the dinner, including Erdinger Weissbrau Hefe-Weizen Dark and Lagunitas Wilco Tango Foxtrot.  These beers were much darker in color than what I usually drink (when I drink beer and not wine), but I enjoyed them very much with these chicken skewers.  Chad does a good job of describing the flavors and documenting the nerdy beer statistics (e.g., bitterness, alcohol content) on his corresponding blog post, here.

chicken, sweet potato and peach skewers

serves 4

[ adapted from Fine Cooking, June/July 2011, p. 71 ]


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 16 pieces

1 medium sweet potato or yam, peeled and cut into 16 pieces

4 small ripe peaches or apricots, quartered and pitted

1 small sweet onion (such as Walla Walla), cut into 16 chunks

1 cup balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons canola oil

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

4 ounces goat cheese, brought to room temperature and crumbled

8 12-inch wooden skewers, soaked in water (to prevent burning on the grill)


Prepare a medium gas or charcoal grill fire.  Soak the wooden skewers in water (a tall glass or water bottle works well for this).

Prepare the skewers:  Steam the sweet potato pieces until nearly cooked but still a bit firm, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat to cool.  Cut up the chicken, peaches and onion.  Thread the onion, chicken, peaches and sweet potato onto the skewers so that there are two of each ingredient on each skewer.  Arrange the skewers in a single layer on a platter and set aside.

Prepare the glaze/sauce:  Combine the vinegar, honey, oil, a pinch of salt and several cranks of black pepper in a small saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened, about 15 minutes.  Brush half the mixture over the skewers; reserve the remaining mixture.

Prepare the spiced nuts:  Combine the nuts, spices (cumin through nutmeg) and 3 tablespoons of the reserved sauce in a small bowl.  Toss to coat.  Toast the nuts in a toaster oven (or put them under the broiler) until the coating caramelizes.  (Be careful not to burn the nuts!)  Put the spiced nuts and remaining sauce in separate serving bowls and set aside.

Grill the skewers, rotating once or twice during cooking, until grill marks appear and the chicken is cooked through.  Remove the grilled skewers to a clean platter.

To serve:  Place two skewers on each of four plates and drizzle them with the warm sauce.  Sprinkle the skewers evenly with the nuts and crumbled goat cheese.  Serve the skewers with wild rice or another cooked whole grain. . . and try the beers mentioned in this and my brother’s post!  🙂