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Lip Smacking Ribs

This Sunday has felt very much like I’ve been in an episode of Man vs Food. For those who haven’t seen Man vs Food, have you been living under a rock for the last few years? Get yourself in front of the telly and find it (it’s on practically every day), then be amazed as the presenter Adam Richman eats enormous amounts of food in food challenges across America and explores regional specialities in the many restaurants/diners he encounters. It’s totes amazing and if you love American food then prepare to love the show. Watching him attempt these challenges gives me a virtual heart attack but at the same time I can’t watch it without wanting to book the next flight across the pond. America no longer needs a tourist board, just Adam Richman. While I haven’t eaten copious amounts of food today, the food I have eaten has been distinctly American. First up, brunch. The Boyfriend and I got in this morning after staying out overnight for a friends birthday and while I was thoughtfully making the bed, he ate the last of the Crunchy Nut Clusters (best cereal ever by the way). Undeterred by the lack of cereal and the stale bread, I raided the cupboards and realised I had all the ingredients needed to rustle up some pancakes. Crunchy Nut who? Using the only pancake recipe anyone ever needs (from Nigellas HTBADG, naturally), adding some ground cinnamon for that extra reminder of holidays in Florida and some slices of banana to fool myself into thinking brunch was healthy, I felt quite smug looking down at The Boyfriends empty cereal bowl. While not quite as cinnamon-ey as I’d like, the bananas were sticky and caramelised, the pancakes fluffy and drowning in maple syrup. Not too shabby for a breakfast that came about from rummaging through the kitchen cupboards.

For dinner I took inspiration from the Jamie’s America cookbook which I highly recommend you buy. Unlike the lies and deception contained in the pages of his 30 Minute Meals book, this cookbook is much more realistic in its approach to food and is one of my favourite books to just flick through for the fun of it. Yep, I read cookbooks in just the same way I would a fiction book and I’m not ashamed! My only condition is that there’s a bit of waffle from the author, I like knowing where recipes come from, who or what inspired a dish and the like. Nigella is the Queen of this, but Jamie does a good job of telling the story behind a dish too. I made his 5 Star Pork Ribs, with a side dish also from the book called Best Baked Beans, and some homemade fries. It’s safe to say I was being a touch ambitious cooking all of this, and while easy to make everything individually, it took a lot of time, a lot of washing up and a lot of effort to do all of them together. Not that I’m one to give up easily when it comes to satisfying my hunger and greed, they’re motivators that never fail. For the ribs, I had to make a rub, a BBQ sauce, steam the ribs in the oven with apple juice then glaze them in the sauce, all while prepping the beans and making a crumbly topping for them. In short (or more accurately, long) the whole meal took 4 hours to make and needed constant babysitting. Not that I am one to complain because it totally paid off. After slow cooking at a low temperature and basting in glaze, the ribs were stunning. The meat came away from the bone with no effort whatsoever, and the glaze was sweet, sticky, spicy and utterly gorgeous, tasting a little like hoi sin sauce which is never a bad thing. Our cheeks and fingers were covered in the BBQ glaze, a sure sign of deliciousness and there were happy faces all round. The beans were a different story. Smoky from the chipotle chilli and with a crunchy topping made up of breadcrumbs, cheddar and streaky bacon, I really liked them but The Boyfriend was less than impressed. We’ve come to the conclusion that unless beans come in a blue Heinz tin, The Boyfriend ain’t interested, whereas chuck in some smoky heat and cheesy breadcrumbs and I’m interested. There’s no accounting for taste I guess! Looking back, I’ve had this cookbook a few years and whatever I’ve cooked from it has been a success. Favourites include meatballs stuffed with cheese, potato and mackerel latkes, peach ice cream, gumbo and chocolate tart. Regardless of your feelings on Jamie and his slightly irritating cheeky chappy persona, his food is always packed with flavour, easy to recreate and satisfying. You can’t say that about every celebrity chef, and as someone with one or two cookbooks, I feel perfectly entitled to say so. We’ll end today on The Boyfriends concise and simple review of dinner: “great ribs, shit beans”. Goodnight!

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Rainy Day Cooking

Rain, some days I do love it and today has got to be one of those days. After nearly 27 years of living in England, I’ve gotten fond of the stuff, more out of necessity than anything else, otherwise one may go mad. Plus it gives me an excuse to get in the kitchen to cook something warming and satisfying to counteract the drizzle of the weather. It’s been a busy weekend and I’ve not had much time to cook, spending my time instead on downing shots and trying to drunkenly befriend the police force, so some rainy day cooking was called for. Note to readers by the way, the police aren’t impressed when you stroke their high vis jackets and try to sympathise with them by despairing at all the drunken idiots preventing them from doing such a fine job. Irony not being my strong point after a few cocktails. I do not remember this incident but unfortunately my friends do.

What food then could help soothe such humiliation? I took a gamble on Baked Potato Soup from America’s Most Wanted Recipes – Favorite Restaurants. Not exactly a snappy title and let’s not even get started on the misspelling of favourite, but a great cookbook nonetheless. I bought this on holiday in Florida a few years ago after having a dawning realisation that once I was home I wouldn’t be able to eat the food I loved on holiday. It doesn’t matter how much you may love sophisticated French food or the traditions of Italian cooking, American food dishes up meals people really want to eat. After all, a great burger is the stuff of dreams and impossible to turn down. There’s no pretension, just tasty food that may also give you a heart attack or embolism if eaten on a daily basis. If you don’t believe me, then you clearly haven’t been watching Man vs Food. This cookbook takes classic recipes from some of Americas biggest chain restaurants and tells you how to make them. So if you want to know how to make Red Lobsters cheddar biscuits, Subways sweet onion sauce, or even KFC’s original recipe chicken then this is the book for you. Unfortunately there is no guide on McDonald’s cheeseburgers or fries, although this is more likely a blessing in disguise. This soup recipe comes from The Hard Rock Cafe, which I’ve been to but did not have this soup. It’s pretty straightforward to make and I can happily say that baked potato soup, despite sounding pretty boring, is delicious and very comforting on a rainy day. However, with comfort comes a big calorie hit, and this soup is no exception. Bacon, potato, cream and cheddar, this soup certainly isn’t good for your waistline but what it lacks in nutrition it makes up for in taste. It’s creamy, thick from the potatoes and has deep salty crunch from the streaky bacon. If you wanted to make this soup a tiny bit healthier you could leave out the cheese as still tasted gorgeous without it, but really, it would be like getting a Diet Coke instead of full fat alongside your Big Mac meal. The damage has well and truly been done. Don’t get up on your English high horse either, stick to American style streaky bacon as you won’t get the super crispy ribbons that shatter under your fingers with English style bacon. Overcome your patriotism just this once, and leave our bacon for glorious weekend bacon sarnies. If you see this book around and love eating out in America I urge you to give this book a go, everything I’ve cooked from it has been very, very edible. Do check out the website as well where you can find this recipe and many more: http://americasmostwantedrecipes.com/h2.html

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Posted by on September 23, 2012 in Books, Cooking, Food, Lunch

 

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