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Recover the American kitchen.

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Saturday, May 8, 2010


My Mom really does rule. I know most chefs credit Mom for being their first food influences and I am no different. She's no chef but can bake me under the table. Nobody, but NOBODY makes better Christmas cookies than her. Apple pie? Mince meat pie? Still none better. Solid.
Mom showed me at age 10 how to scramble eggs. She let me buy my first cookbook (Julia's) at age 15. Tolerated my insufferable attitude when I started INSISTING I knew more about cooking than her. Patiently letting me fail and then rescuing my first Baked Alaska. Still laughs when I say things like "this didn't suck" and "really Mom? BOILED zucchini"?
When we were little pains in her butt she would make these cookies that are still my absolute favorite. So easy and full of the stuff kids love. Chocolate, peanut butter, sugar and sticky things to lick. I still have the original pan she used and no you may not borrow it, it's going to the grave with me.
So today's bonus edition is what Mom always called her "rice crispy bars" but I call..........


ok really very easy. No baking involved, let the kids help, they'll love you for it.
6-8 cups rice crispy cereal. If you want them crispier use more, if you want them chewier use less
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup corn syrup (the only reason to keep this stuff in your pantry)
1 cup peanut butter. Chunky or smooth, you decide
scant pinch salt
1 package butterscotch chips
half as many semi-sweet chocolate chips
one largish baking pan
1 small bowl
small sauce pan
one big bowl

In your biggest bowl measure out your cereal. HAH' right "measure"
Put all the sugar, pinch of salt and syrup in the pan. Heat gently over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Do not do not do not boil.
Immediately take off heat and stir in peanut butter. Pour mixture onto the rice cereal and gently fold together.
Dump it all into your baking pan and spread out. Off-set palette knives are our friends.
Here's the somewhat tricky part. Chocolate is a funky little monster. Make sure your bowl is really dry and put in both kinds of chips. Heat in the microwave in 30 second increments, stirring between. Once mostly melted just keep stirring until it melts together. The big fancy chef term for this is "carry-over heat". Don't just pop it in and walk away for a few minutes or it will melt too fast and burn. If you taste or smell burnt chocolate you won't forget about it for years. OK stop worrying. Now dump all that melted chip stuff onto the bars and spread it out.
Put the whole thing in the 'fridge for 5 minutes to set. Cut it all up into squares. That's it.
A word of caution. These things have ZERO nutritional value. I think they actually remove nutrients from your body. The good thing is your kids won't ever try Meth' they won't need to.

Monday, May 3, 2010


I love that all my bestest friends cook. Once a year we get together and make a big mess of a RIB-A-PALOOZA. Yay us. This year I made my blackberry-ginger sauced baby-back ribs. It's not about winning, it's about chest hair and saliva and sweat plus big stupid silly fun. Deal.

Chef Nick's Blackberry-Ginger BBQ sauce on baby back ribs

Mise en place
12 oz frozen blackberries, thawed. (one bag)
1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled, minced (seriously if you have no idea what this is, please unfriend me)
splash white vinegar
splash Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 shallot, peeled, minced
1 clove garlic, peeled
1/4 cup honey
some hot pepper sauce. Today I used some rocket Habenero sauce. *optional (shhh'yeah right)
big pinch salt (Kosher)
big pinch black pepper (fresh cracked)

Now, use a peeler to remove the brown part from the ginger. Need a picture? Here's one.

Put all this into a blender or food-processor. Let it whirl around until it's one big liquid mass. Remove to a small pot. Bring to boil, let simmer and reduce by one third.

OK let's talk ribs. My butcher buddy Carlos got me a great price on mine. I used two racks. We need to score these bad boys so they don't split and crack. Drag a sharp knife across the back. Don't be shy.

Rub in kosher salt and black pepper on all sides. Put on your first coat of sauce.

Knowing that I wasn't going to finish the ribs until the next day what I did was pull a catering trick and par-cooked them slowly in a 250 degree oven. Total time was about 3.5 hours. 1 hour back side up first, then flip. Time for the second coat. Back in the oven for remaining time.

After the regular cooking time remove from oven and give one last good thick coat of the sauce
then put the racks under the broiler for a couple of minutes to get some caramelization going. Keeping in mind again I wasn't actually going to throw these on a grill until the next day and I wanted to enjoy the party rather than stand over a grill for very long.