First the ribs… After a seemingly early spring thaw, winter came back with a vengeance bringing super cold temperatures and another load of snow. Ribs at our house are typically slow-cooked outside in a wood-fueled smoker, but not during the winter. When I checked out at the grocery store with my rack of spareribs, the cashier commented that only a devoted “super-griller” would be willing to stand outside that day and cook ribs. I was happy to respond that I’d be making ribs in the oven!
These ribs cook in a savory caramel sauce that starts by melting sugar, a step that used to terrify me, but I am slowly becoming more comfortable with. The sauce is rounded out with some beer (I used stout) and bourbon along with other savory ingredients.
The ribs, cut into 3- or 4-rib portions, are coated in the sauce and then baked in the pot for a couple of hours, turning occasionally. The pork became meltingly tender, practically falling of the bone.
I opted to serve these “French-Style” with plain white rice, though when Howard read the open page of the cookbook, he wished I’d chosen the suggested Mashed Potatoes. Even though mashed potatoes probably would have been tasty, I thought the rice was the perfect platform for spooning some the sticky sauce.
We both enjoyed the ribs. It’s exciting have new winter option to cook when the smoker is buried under a pile of snow.
Two weeks ago, I made the Wheatberry Salad with Radicchio and Root Vegetables. We had just returned from a week in Florida, and though I made this dish on time, I couldn’t get it together to write about it.
I love roasted root vegetables. Fall and winter, a steady supply of them fill the refrigerator and a “make shift” root cellar. I’m getting to the end of my stockpile, but I roasted a combination of watermelon radish, celery root, parsnips, and carrots, a colorful medley. Radicchio is something I’ve only eaten in salad, so throwing chopped radicchio on top of the root vegetables in the oven for a few minutes to wilt was a new trick.
My salad was based on farro because I’m enamored with Trader Joe’s 10-Minute Farro. The farro is parboiled so it really does cook in just 10 minutes, though I forgot to add a bay leaf when I cooked it for this recipe.
The farro and vegetables are tossed together with a dressing made tangy by the addition of pomegranate molasses. You’ll notice that I didn’t add the pomegranate seeds. Pomegranate seeds in this salad would have violated Howard’s rule prohibiting the mixing of fruit with savory. Also, pomegranates just went out of season here, so I couldn’t find any anyway.
I served this salad as a side with roasted chicken thighs. Another hit that will be repeated.
Finally, there’s the Merveilleux, on the schedule back in February. This was a dessert that just didn’t want to get made. David Lebovitz challenges anyone who doesn’t like meringues because they’ve never tried a merveilleux. I like meringues. The problem is that I’m not a big fan of whipped cream. I really dragged my feet on this one. When I first set out to made these last month, I was out of confectioners’ sugar. Earlier this week, I restocked and made the meringues. When I got ready to make the whipped cream filling/coating, I found that the whipping cream was spoiled. Off to the store again.
I whipped up the cream with a tinge of espresso powder, making it reminiscent of tiramisu. To construct the merveilleux, I sandwiched the cream filling between two meringues, slathered the outsides with more cream, and rolled them in chocolate, before chilling them for a couple of hours. This is one recipe where I wish the book had included a picture. I still have no idea what merveilleux are supposed to look like.
Howard renamed these “Merv Griffins” because it’s easier to say. Neither of us were fans, obviously because we don’t care for whipped cream. I made a half batch of five, so hopefully I can find three friends to share the remainder with before they get soggy.
If you don’t have My Paris Kitchen in your cookbook collection yet, you should add it. So many of these recipes are winners. If you want to try any of these recipes yourself, you can find Pork Caramel Ribs on page 187, the Wheatberry Salad on page 240, and Merveilleux on page 281.
To see what my friends thought of these recipes, check out their posts from Cook the Book Fridays.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Erin go bragh!
Howard was away all week, which worked out well because anything savory with fruit sauce wasn’t going to go over with him anyway. In his absence, a couple of my friends came over to watch a movie, and I made this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe to share with them for dinner first.
I could not find lychees. I looked really hard, but was unsuccessful. I was really hoping I could find them because I have a story about lychees that I wanted to share. I was thinking that if I left out the lychees, I couldn’t tell you the story. However, the more I thought it over, I decided I’d tell the story anyway.
Many years ago, maybe twenty, I worked for a man named Tudor who was from Romania. A real mad scientist type. Our work was in the software field, but he was a physicist by training, and quite brilliant. At the time, my job involved a lot of travel, mostly to Michigan. To be fair, I don’t know what it’s like now, but twenty years ago in the Detroit area, most of the restaurant food on offer was horribly dull. I did a systematic study of side salads, and the uniform result was a wedge of iceberg lettuce topped with one green pepper ring, one wedge of an ice-cold tomato and maybe one slice of cucumber, with dressing on the side.
One of these trips, Tudor was there too. After a long day at the office, we had dinner at a Chinese restaurant near the hotel. I’ll admit that the meal itself was not memorable. As we were finishing up, Tudor starting talking about leeches. He was nostalgically recalling eating them and telling me how delicious they were. He was going on and on. I was confused. I had a hard time imagining that anyone would be excited about eating leeches, especially if they knew what they were. He couldn’t believe my disbelief and that I’d never tried them before. In retrospect, it was a comical exchange. All was revealed when, along with the fortune cookies, the waiter brought a small bowl of fruit that I didn’t recognize. Tudor was thrilled because they had served us none other than his beloved leeches. It turns out that, he had been talking about lychees all along.
I opted to make a pork tenderloin instead of a pork loin. I know that loin and tenderloin are not the same cut of meat and that the cooking technique best for each cut is quite different. Slightly fattier pork loin can handle a slow braise while the lean tenderloin shines with a quick and hot roast. So I changed things up a bit for, hopefully, a similar result.
Rather than braising the pork loin in the sauce, I roasted the pork tenderloin in a hot oven while I made the sauce on the stovetop. The sauce was a tangy sweet-and-sour sauce. The vinegar and lime juice gave it the tang while the honey added sweet and the soy sauce and white wine worked to blend it all together. As I said, I couldn’t find lychees. I only vaguely remember what they were like on that one occasion when I’d had them before. I substituted a can of sliced water chestnuts and a diced Asian pear, plus the called-for sliced mango . I let the sauce simmer while the pork finished cooking.
I served slices of pork topped with the sauce, accompanied by basmati rice and roasted broccoli. One of my friends put sauce on the rice too. Reviews were thumbs up all around. The leftovers made a nice rice bowl: leftover rice topped with pork and sauce and garnished with a few stalks for the roasted broccoli.
If you’d like to know whether the other Doristas liked the pork, check out their links here. The recipe is over on the WBUR website (my local NPR station). Of course, it’s also in Dorie Greenspan’s book Around My French Table.