Yummy Stuff

  • Bourbon, Brown Sugar and Beer Baby Back Ribs
  • Aunt Ray's Country Meatloaf
  • Aunt Ray's French Meatloaf
  • Harira
  • Pickled Yellow Squash
  • Shrimp, Cucumber and Mango Salad
  • Blueberry Tart
  • Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
  • Lemon Thins

    Though these are best made on the grill, you can bake them in an oven and finish them under the broiler for a few minutes. They’re definitely treat food! –K.

    Bourbon, Brown Sugar and Beer Baby Back Ribs

    1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
    1 cup bourbon
    1 cup beer
    1/2 cup soy sauce
    juice of 2 lemons

    Heat ingredients for marinade in a large saucepan until sugar dissolves. Be aware that bourbon is highly flammable, so don’t let it bubble over onto the stove. Let the marinade/barbecue sauce cool as you prepare the ribs.

    Divide each length of baby back ribs in half to make them easier to handle on the grill. If you’re using full-size ribs that are not lean, divide them into pieces of 5 or 6 ribs each, put them into a pot of water and simmer them for 20-30 minutes. Skim off the protein foam as they cook. Remove, drain and cool the ribs until you can handle them comfortably.

    Put the ribs into a heavy-duty zippered plastic bag. Rest in a roasting pan to keep any leaks from making a mess. Pour about 2/3 of the marinade, or enough to cover the ribs into the bag and press or suck out as much of the air as you can. Reserve the rest of the marinade to make the sauce. Marinate the ribs for 3 or more hours at room temperature, turning the bag, as necessary to be sure all areas of the ribs are in contact with the marinade.

    Pour the ribs and marinade into the roasting pan. Arrange the ribs, meaty side down in a single layer. Cook in a covered grill at low to medium heat, keeping the pan as much off the fire as you can. Regulate the heat so the liquid is simmering (about 300 degrees F.) Cook this way for 2 to 3 hours, or till the ribs are tender.

    At this point you can turn the whole thing off, cover it with heavy duty foil and wait till your company comes. Or you can take the ribs out of the pan and put them on the grill over the fire to brown them (10-15 minutes) before serving.

    While the ribs are browning, mix a tablespoon of cornstarch with a little water in a saucepan, add the remaining marinade and stir. Cook unti thickened. Taste and adjust sweetness/sourness to taste by adding more brown sugar or lemon juice. You may want to add a dab of fire—some cayenne pepper or hot sauce. Brush finished sauce over the browned ribs just before serving, and pass the rest of the sauce in a gravy boat.

    These two delicious variations on an All-American tradition are excellent both hot and cold. You might also serve thin slices at room temperature on crackers like paté. The first recipe makes several loaves (after all, it’s four pounds of meat!) You can prepare them and freeze them for cooking later.–K.

    Aunt Ray’s Country Meatloaf
    Preheat oven to 350ª
    3 tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
    1 large onion, chopped
    2/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
    2 grated carrots
    2 lbs. lean beef
    2 tsp. mustard
    1 lb. ground pork (ground turkey may be used instead)
    1 lb ground veal (ditto!)
    2 eggs (substitute 3 egg whites, if you prefer)
    1 tsp. salt (optional)
    1 tsp. freshly ground pepper

    Chop parsley and onion and grate the carrots in a food processor. In a large bowl mix together the chopped vegetables, seasonings, eggs, and bread crumbs. Add the meats and combine thoroughly. Press meat mixture into a loaf pan, making the top surface flat. Run a knife around the edge and invert meatloaf onto a shallow roasting pan. Smooth surface with a spatula. Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, basting occasionally.

    Aunt Ray’s French Meatloaf

    1 lb. ground lean beef
    1/2 lb. ground pork
    1 package of mushrooms, chopped coarsely
    1 large onion, chopped
    2 tsp. each basil and thyme (preferably fresh; if dry, soak in a little wine or water)
    1 or 2 cloves of garlic, minced
    2 eggs
    1 scant tsp. freshly ground pepper
    olive oil for sautéing
    2 tbs. catsup
    2 thin strips of bacon (optional) or about 1/2 - 3/4 cup tomato sauce
    6 to 7 inches of crusty French bread, broken into bits

    In a large bowl combine the meats, bread, eggs and seasonings. Chop mushrooms coarsely in the bowl of a food processor. Sauté in a small amount of olive oil, then add to the meat mixture Mince garlic and onion, sauté in the same pan, and add to other ingredients. Combine thoroughly. Press meat mixture into a loaf pan, making the top surface flat. Run a knife around the edge and invert meatloaf onto a shallow roasting pan. Smooth the surface with a spatula. Pour tomato sauce or place bacon strips on top. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, basting occasionally.

    This North African soup is traditionally used to break the Ramadan fast. Often it combines chicken and lamb. This variation is vegetables in chicken broth. It is delicious and satisfying. --K.


    2 medium onions, chopped
    4 cups of chicken broth
    1 heaping teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger root (or dried ground ginger to taste)
    1/8 teaspoon cayenne
    1 cup peeled and diced carrots
    large chunk of pumpkin or orange squash, diced
    2 or 3 stalks celery, diced
    medium can chopped tomatoes with juice
    1 1/2 cups diced potatoes
    1 cup lentils, washed
    1 can drained chickpeas
    1 or 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    handful of currants
    handful of chopped cilantro for garnish

    Simmer the chopped onions in a cup or two of the broth for 10 minutes. Combine the spices in a cup, add a bit of the hot broth and stir to make a paste. Add the paste to the pot along with the remaining broth and the carrots, pumpkin and celery. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the lentils, potatoes and canned tomatoes. Simmer for 15 more minutes, then add the canned chickpeas, currants and lemon juice and heat for another minute or two. Garnish each bowl with a sprinkling of chopped cilantro.

    This bright yellow pickle is lovely with cream cheese on a tray of hors d’oeuvres. You can eat slices on toothpicks, or put them on crackers spread with cheese. Squash pickles can also be served as a surprising vegetable/salad with curry or meat. I adapted this recipe from one I found on the internet.–K.

    Pickled Yellow Squash

    2 pounds yellow squash, cut into 1/4 inch slices
    2 large white onions, thinly sliced
    1/2 cup kosher salt
    2 cups white vinegar
    1 1/2 cups sugar
    2 tablespoons pickling spice
    or 1 1/2 tablespoon mustard seeds and 1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds
    1 teaspoon turmeric
    hot pepper to taste

    Put the squash, onions, and salt in a large stockpot and cover with cold water. Let stand 2-3 hours. Drain, rinse and return to the stockpot.

    In a pan, combine the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring often. Remove from heat when the sugar has dissolved. Pour over the squash and onions in the stockpot.

    Move the stockpot to the stove and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes until the squash is just tender. The vegetables will shrink slightly and the amount of liquid will be reduced. Pack in jars. Keeps well for months in the refrigerator.

    If you like chutney and red pepper jelly, you’ll love this. It’s great poured over cottage cheese, leftover cold broccoli and all sorts of other things. Try dipping pieces of broiled fish, grilled chicken, etc. into it. –K.

    Thai Hot/Sweet Dipping Sauce

    2 1/2 tablespoons garlic crushed
    1/2 c distilled white vinegar
    3/4 c sugar
    sprinkling of red hot pepper flakes
    1 1/2 tablespoonsg nam pla (thai fish sauce)
    1/2 c water

    Combine in saucepan, simmer until reduced by half. At the end, you may also want to add a /1 tsp cornstarch dissolved in a couple of teaspoons of water to thicken.

    This is absolutely delicious, a wonderful warm weather meal or an elegant luncheon dish served on a Bibb lettuce leaf. –K.

    Shrimp, Cucumber and Mango Salad

    1 1/2 lb large shrimp (about 22 to 24), peeled and deveined
    1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
    1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
    1/2 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 seedless cucumber*, cut into 1/8-inch-thick matchsticks
    3/4 lb firm-ripe mango (or 4 large ripe apricots), cut into 1/4-inch-thick wedges
    1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
    Optional: red & orange sweet peppers cut into triangles
    Thinly sliced celery and sweet onion or scallions

    You can do this the easy way by buying frozen shrimp already cooked. Halve thawed shrimp lengthwise by cutting down the middle of their backs. (If you can only find raw shrimp, slice them in half lengthwise before stirring them into a saucepan of boiling salted water. Cook briefly, for 1 or 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until just done. Drain shrimp in a colander and spread on a large plate to cool.

    Whisk together vinegar, garlic, ginger, and oil, then add shrimp and remaining ingredients and toss to combine well. Season salad with salt and pepper. Chill. Adjust seasonings before serving.

    Makes 4 main-course servings.

    A favorite recipe, given to us by a wonderful cook, Jane Lattes, former head of the volunteer program at the American Museum of Natural History. If fresh blueberries are very dear, you can use two cups of frozen berries baked on the tart and buy only a cup or so of fresh berries to sprinkle on top. –K.

    Blueberry Tart

    For the crust

    Mix the first three ingredients well in the bowl of a food processor. Add cold butter and sprinkle on the vinegar. Buzz briefly to mix.

    1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
    1 pinch salt
    1/4 cup sugar
    1 stick cold butter cut into pats
    1 tablespoon vinegar

    Pat firmly into a 9” round cake pan with a removeable bottom, or one lined with parchment. Pat the dough part way up the sides to hold the blueberries.

    Then combine

    1/2 cup sugar
    1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    2 tablespoons flour

    You’ll need
    3 cups of blueberries
    (2 cups cooked on the crust, 1 cup fresh on top of that)

    Mix the flour/sugar/cinnamon mixture into 2 cups of blueberries and pour onto the crust. Bake at 400° for 50 minutes to 1 hour. NB: If you use a dark metal pan, reduce heat by 25-50° to prevent burning. After removing the tart from the oven pour 1 cup of fresh blueberries on top of the baked fruit and serve warm or at room temperature.

    These are Jim’s favorite cookies in all the world, sweet and crisp. The recipe comes from Lee Bailey’s COUNTRY DESERTS, a wonderful book of old fashioned treats.–K.

    Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

    1 1/2 cups silfted all-purpose flour
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1 heaping tsp. ground cinnamon
    1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
    1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
    1 cup granulated sugar
    1 large egg
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
    1 cup raisins

    Sift together the flour, baking soda and cinnamon. Set aside.

    Cream the butter and sugars until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and whip thoroughly. Add the flour, soda and cinnamon mixture and blend only enough to incorporate it. Stir in the oatmeal and raisins by hand. Refrigerate, covered, for an hour or overnight.

    Preheat the oven to 340 degrees F. Either grease a cookie sheet or line it with bakers’ parchment. Roll walnut-size pieces of dough between the palms of your hands and place the balls on the prepared sheet, allowing space for the cookies to spread. Bake for 15 - 18 minutes, or until cookies are set and the bottom edges are slightly browned. Cool slightly, then move onto wire rack. Makes about 5 dozen.

    These are pretty labor intensive, so I like to make the dough one day and bake them the next. They are Jim’s second favorite cookie in all the land! –K.

    Lemon Thins

    2 sticks butter
    1 1/4 cups sugar
    1 tsp. vanilla
    2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
    1/4 cup lemon juice
    1 1/2 cups flour
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
    1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    Raw sugar for sprinkling

    Cream butter and sugar. Add zest, lemon juice and vanilla and beat till smooth. Mix dry ingredients and blend with sugar mixture. Divide dough in half and turn out each half of the dough onto generous rectangles of waxed paper. Form 2 logs (about 1 to 1 1/2 in wide x 1 foot long) wrap tightly and freeze at least 1 hour or pack in a zippered plastic bag and leave frozen until ready to use.

    Cut logs of frozen dough into 1/8 in thick slices and place about 3 in apart on ungreased baking sheet. Return rest of dough to refrigerator or freezer till ready to slice and bake. Sprinkle cookies with raw sugar.

    Bake at 350 till golden - 7-8 minutes. Let cool slightly on baking sheet before transferring to rack.

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