Saturday, September 25, 2010

It's Bar-B-Q Season in the South

Ah yes, now that it’s no longer hotter outside than two rabbits in a wool sock, it’s time to dust off the smokers and get ready for Bar-b-q season. This past weekend, with our team having an away game, necessitated permeating the neighborhood with the sweet aroma of Hickory and Apple woods. The main part of the meal? Ribs.
I love ribs. Real ribs. Don’t bring anything like baby backs or other wanna be ribs. I am talking big spare ribs. So I bought 2 slabs of pork spare ribs and 1 slab of beef spare ribs for this occasion. I lathered them up with a good rub and let them sit in the fridge for around 24 hours before smoking. Then came Saturday morning. Everyone else still asleep from the previous nights festivities (and me still feeling the effects a little), I walked outside with my coffee and was greeted with that familiar fall crisp in the air. It wasn’t cold, but it wasn’t blazing hot either. I labored in front of the smoker for a few hours before everyone else “came to,” and people started arriving for the game. Here’s the result and how to get there:

Bar-b-q Spare Ribs
by: Ryan Burroughs
First make your rub. This can be any mixture, but it needs to at least have sugar (or something sugary), and spices. I don’t always (Read: I never) measure, but these are approximates.

Ryan’s Rib Rub
1/3 cup yellow mustard
½ cup brown sugar
2 tbs. Garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground Cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon Cumin
1 teaspoon Sweet Hungarian Paprika
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon Black pepper 
Mix the above together and brush liberally onto ribs. Wrap ribs in shrink wrap (or vacuum sealer bags if you have them) and seal them. Place in fridge overnight.

The next morning get up and make a nice hot pot of good coffee. Then get ready to make fire. I just use the old fashioned ECB Smoker. This is “El Cheapo Brinkman” to the lay person. They cost $40 at any hardware store and no man that enjoys preparing his meat outdoors like God and Bobby Flay intended should be without one. I won’t go into the details of smoker use, since this is an assumed instinct that all men (and, to be fair, many women) are blessed with. For ribs, I prefer a 50/50 mixture of apple wood and hickory wood chips, over lump charcoal. I find this a nice mild smoky flavor that doesn’t overpower the rib meat, and the lump coal burns very evenly with regards to temperature.

For ribs, rather than the internal temperature rules that apply to most smoking meats, I prefer the 3-2-1 method. I start coals and wood and smoke the ribs at 235 degrees. You will need a nice digital thermometer to read this temp. Make sure it doesn’t touch the meat or the grate to prevent misreads. You can cut the slabs in half to make them more manageable if you need to. I also have a rib rack that stands them vertically so I can fit 4-5 slabs of ribs (enough for around 10-12 people) in the smoker at once. I leave them in for three hours. Then I take them off and wrap them in foil. At this point you can either smoke or bake them (doesn’t matter since they’re wrapped and won’t absorb smoke) at 235 degrees for another 2 hours.

Now here comes the kicker and a slight variation of the ‘1’ part of the 3-2-1 Rule. Unwrap the ribs from the foil. What some people do at this point is put them back on the coals at 235 degrees for another hour. But what I do is put them on my grill and grill on medium-high (about 400 degrees) for about 10 minutes a side to firm the meat up a bit. The key? Brush them with some honey before hand. Sure, this doesn’t sound good. But it gets that nice bark that people love to see, and it cooks off so you can’t really taste it anyways. The result: No leftovers.

Ribs can also be paired with home made bar-b-q sauce for people that want to smother the flavor of all your hard work. While I hate the concept of bar-b-q sauce (because I really like the flavor of smoke and meat), I make a nice mild sauce that even I use on ribs. Just use it conservatively or you will just taste the sauce and none of the 6 hours of labor you just spent.

Fresh off the smoker...

Homemade Bar-b-q Sauce
½ cup Ketchup
2 Tablespoons yellow or spicy mustard
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons of Worchestershire (or Worsishishishisher sauce to most)
1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
½ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper


This can be mixed over low-medium heat. Another nice touch I have been experimenting with is to actually put it in the smoker (use a safe container that’s open) and smoke it too.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wine Review - Josmeyer Riesling (2005)

Josmeyer Riesling -  Grand Cru Hengst (2005)
Notes from
Production Area: Vosges, France. 
"The soil of the 360 meter high slope which dominates this vineyard is essentially a mixture of limestone from the Vosges, chalky marl and layers of red, brown, green and beige sediment hundreds of meters thick. The mother rock is of an orange - yellow hue. Dating as far back as the Jurassic period, the elements vary in density from very fine to very course. The combined calcareous and marl soils tend to produce rich full bodied wines.
There's good richness in this dry white, but it seems slimmer, thanks to the racy structure. Peach, tangerine and mineral notes are in harmony, aligned with the body and the acidity as this glides to a long finish."

This past year I have had the pleasure of touring a few wineries, expanding my pallet and learning about the TLC that goes into the art of producing wine. Each experience was more delightful than the next and over the course of the year I have found a few labels that I would like to share with you. Currently my favorite wine is the Josmeyer Alsace Riesling Grand Cru Hengst (2005), which I was first introduced to in February at a dinner party in Leipzig, Germany. This Riesling is dry yet mildly sweet which is the perfect compliment to dinner. We enjoyed carrot ginger soup along with roasted chicken, mushrooms and rosemary potatoes. The wine also tastes wonderful with fish, sushi, roasted vegetables, pasta primavera with a buttery lemon broth and other lighter dishes. I highly recommend trying it if you are a Riesling fan. This wine is smooth and isn't overbearing. I am by means no expert whatsoever but I absolutely love this wine. This wine is a great gift for a special occasion. The bottle ranges around 22 Euros and in the US for around 50 USD (not our typical 4 euro wines we have been buying all year). For information on distribution follow the link to josmeyer's website

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Oktoberfest Kick Off!

Guess what time of year it is in Germany!!!!!
Check out our video trailer!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Culinary Destination: Mallorca, Spain

This past week Drew and I went on a hiking excursion in Mallorca, Spain for a few days. The views were breathtaking and the contrast of the terrain makes this destination the perfect place to unwind, eat healthy and stay active. The timing couldn't be better! Our visit was the best remedy for the colds we caught right before the autumn weather change in Berlin. The island offers an abundance of native olives, almonds, tomatoes and goats! Overall we weren't impressed with the cuisine, once we found out that much of the seafood is frozen and imported - so no Paella for me. However, we did enjoy the coques de verdures (a pastry with vegetables) and Drew loved the Gató, which is a sweet almond based pastry. The olives were fabulous, the goat cheese was right on target and the wine was aromatic and delightful. We spent our nights in a rented apartment amongst great friends, which was comfortable and enabled us to have most of our meals at home with local ingredients. The days were spent exploring the mountainous coast, hiking, swimming and trekking through old towns and olive groves. We covered the western region of the island - Port de Sóller, Deià and Sa Calobra. It felt like we were on the set of Pirates of the Caribbean with a few altered scenes including donkeys and olive trees. We wandered along many overgrown hiking paths and detoured a few times into local backyards which were made up of olive groves, desert vegetation a few friendly territorial goats. The waters were crystal clear and the glimmering sparkle in the waves was so inviting. OH BTW - Although privado means private we learned that is is just a suggestion (mostly for the goats) while hiking through the mountains...

Upon our return to Berlin, I was inspired to make my own coques de verdures but it pretty much came out like a vegetable tart - either way, it was tasty!

Mallorcan Vegetable Tart:

Dough (by hand):
2.5 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
2/3 cup unsalted butter - room temperature
1/2 cup chilled water


6 Cherry Tomatoes
½ Red Onion
1 clove of garlic
1 jarred red sweet pepper
2 jarred artichoke hearts
2 black olives - I threw in a green one too for color
1 tsp. Parsley
½ tsp. black pepper
1 tbs. olive oil (Spanish for the theme & to support their economy)

Tart Dough

Step 1: Dough Preparation

To create the dough (by hand) mix flour, salt and paprika together in a bowl. Add in the soft butter and knead it into the flour mixture. Once the dough begins to flake add the ½ cup of chilled water. Mix through kneading the dough into a ball.

Step 2: Chill
Form the dough into a ball and wrap it around with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for a half hour.

Step 3: Roll
Remove dough from the refrigerator and roll out as 2 flat discs.

Vegetable Preparation

Step 1: Chopping
Chop up the cherry tomatoes draining them of their juice and seeds. I sliced mine. Chop up the artichoke hearts and jarred red pepper and drain them of excess juice. Chop up the olive and mince the red onion and garlic.

Step 2: Assemble
Take the flat disc of dough and lay it on a pizza stone or glass baking dish. Place vegetables in the center giving them a good mix together to spread the flavor. Fold over the perimeter creating a crust that overlaps the edge of the vegetable center. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle parsley and black pepper on top.

Step 3: Bake
Bake the vegetable tart at preheated 375 degrees for approximately 12 minutes or until golden brown. I usually keep my eye on the oven until the crust is a nice golden color so I think it was around 12 minutes...but keep your eye on the landlord rung the doorbell so I lost track of time :)

Step 4: Serve

Plate and serve with some fresh olives and Spanish wine.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Two Tablespoons: Beer Review - Trappistes Rochefort 10

For my first post here, I decided to go with a beer review.  I realize they always say it’s better to work your way to the best, from the worst.  This way, apparently, you will enjoy the lesser quality experiences more.  Take, for example, the 16 year old who is gifted with a Porsche as his first car.  Once out from under the fiscal wing of his parents, he purchases a Honda.  Honda’s are great cars, but might not be so exciting after one has owned a Porsche.  So he is disappointed with his purchase.  But, despite this clichéd piece of advice, I am giving you the Porsche first, and I will let you decide if you want to stay with the Porsches, or try something else.  But I warn you, whatever else you try will seldom be as delightful as this Porsche of Beers.
    My!  What suspense!  What beer is he speaking of, this Porsche of beers?  I am, of course, referring to Trappistes Rochefort 10, possibly the best example of the Belgian Quadruple I have ever come across.  I have kept a spreadsheet of beers for years, and for 4 years I never rated a beer a “10.”  This rating was reserved for a beer for which I would give up all other beers.  One that truly knocked my socks off.  After trying my first Trappistes Rochefort 10, I marked a “10” in the rating column and was instantly depressed.  For I had found perfection.  And perfection cost $7.00 a bottle.  So I could not afford to give up all other beers and guzzle the “10” like there was no tomorrow.  Why couldn’t Busch Light be the “10?”  Or any other beer that costs 1/12 as much as this one for that matter.  But I digress.
   Belgian Quadruples have been brewed by the Belgian Monks for ages.  They are typically a dark brown beer with a high alcohol content.  Their flavors are extremely complex, and they only improve and intensify as they warm throughout the drinking experience.  A person can notice many more of the complexities and subtleties of this beer when above the 50 degree mark.  One interesting quality of the Belgian Ales (Dubbels, Tripels, and Quads), is that they can be cellar aged, in the same manner as wine.  With most beers, the flavors start to diminish within 6 months of being bottled, rendering aging a non-desirable activity. This particular sample is brewed by Brasserie de Rochefort (Abbaye de Notre-Dame de Saint-Rémy), by actual Monks.  In order for a beer to be called “Trappist Ale,” it must be brewed by monks at a monetary.  It pours dark with a thick foamy head and a great aroma.  The taste is malty and sweet with a mild bitterness.  At 11.3% ABV, it is a strong ale, and you will feel the alcohol.  I strongly recommend serving this in a tulip glass or a goblet, and between 45 and 50 degrees.  If served too cold, you will not taste some of the more subtle complexities.  Some people pair Quads with meats, however, I much prefer to pair it with a nice, mild cheese.  Brie and Havarti are possibly my favorite cheeses to have with such a nice ale, as they will not overpower it.
   So, grab a Trappistes Rochefort 10 for your next special occasion. Drink it slowly and enjoy perfection at $7.00 a bottle.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Flashback to the DDR (GDR) Kitchen

The other night Drew and I decided to participate in Berlin's Lange Nacht der Museen event. We were able to wander freely into more than 80 participating museums until 2 am. Realistically, we were able to squeeze in 5, and I want to share one of our experiences with you - the DDR museum. Normally, we would never pay to go into the DDR museum, mostly because we were told there wasn't anything all to interesting in their presentation. Still, after attending, I recommend exploring the DDR section at the German history museum in Berlin instead. Either way, one display seemed relevant for a blog post - the kitchen of an East German apartment. For those of you who need a brief refresher class in history, the DDR is the Deutsche Demokratische Republik, a socialist state that was formed out of the occupied Russian zone of Germany after World War II. The DDR constructed the Berlin Wall which was intended to be an "anti-fascist" protection wall for East Germany that surrounded and cut off West Berlin from the rest of West Germany. West Berlin remained as a small island within the Soviet partition causing it to be a vulnerable place and the on the front line during the Cold War. During the DDR's 40 years of existence many tried to flee from the eastern block, however here is a glimpse into the life of those who stayed. Women were considered equal in the workforce in East Germany and were encouraged to take on qualified jobs as teachers, nurses and other care management roles. Women were able to further their education through night classes and children 11 weeks and older were automatically able to be enrolled in day care for free (by the government). This made daily life more manageable for a mother's dueling role as professional woman and housewife. Although this seemed rather progressive, men still had the decision making roles within society as well as leading positions in the workforce. Lives were constantly under the microscope by informants of the the Stasi. Neighbors, coworkers, spouses and children were all spying on each other to identify the non conformists of their society.
Many lived in fear by order and would live life simply by the rule to stay off the radar. East Germany was quite poor due to the war reparations therefore, products were often made from the cheapest, most uniform materials available. The picture below shows some of the kitchen tools in a typical DDR kitchen. It doesn't look too far off from what was available in the west, but there was only 1 - 2 choices rather than the variety of consumer products in a market based economy. To this day a few East German products have survived unification. One of my favorite items is the East German Mustard which is only 45 cents in the supermarket. Bautz’ner Senf is quite the treat for any bratwurst or pretzel and what was once state owned, is now in the hands of the a private company as one of the market leaders in mustard brands. The same original recipe is still used and you cannot beat the price. If you would like a further glimpse into East German life, I recommend watching The Lives of Others and Goodbye Lenin (both great movies). Fun fact: Angela Merkel, the current Chancellor is East German and has a degree in Physics. This October 3rd is the 20th anniversary of German Reunification.