I want my baby back baby back, baby back ribs

Our anniversary was last night. Six years. It’s been fun thus far, trust me. We decided to stay around the house this year, so with that in mind, of course my first question was, ‘What would you like me to make for dinner?’. The response was, how about some appetizers and some wine? That was a remarkable idea, however nothing was coming up to mind that would allow a variety of appetizers without spending a lot of time in the kitchen.

Rib PlatterMy solution started by baby back ribs, egg rolls (as we wrapped plenty), stuffed mushrooms, homemade french fries, and a cucumber and tomato salad with olive oil. My main focus in this post however is the ribs.

I started by using my rub to generously season both sides. Once the season is in place, get your hands the ribs and really rub the seasoning into the meat. I then place ribs in a ziplock bag and used about 3 tablespoons of sherry cooking wine added to the bag. I rubbed everything in together, sealed the bag, put it in the fridge, and forgot about it for a while. Actually, every time I opened the fridge I took a peak, and my mouth began to water.

rib seasonedI planned on putting these on the grill a bit later, however in the meantime, I preheated the oven to 325 degrees, and placed the ribs on a pan, foil on the bottom, and covered with foil. These cooked in the oven for 1 hour. I took them out, and let sit until I was ready for the grill, approximately a hour later. The ribs were still warm when the foil was uncovered.

rib grilledThe grill was set to around 350. I placed the ribs on the grill and seared them on both sides. I then lowered the heat and let the sugars from the rub and the ribs begin to caramelize. I love this process. You can almost begin to visualize the meat falling off the ribs. I continued to flip these every fifteen minutes or so for approximately 45 – 60 minutes.

Upon completion, I decided to add some Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce. This stuff was phenomenal. It was a perfect blend of sweet and spice. I like to add my sauce towards the end, still on low heat. I coated the ribs throughout the cooking process around 3 times, then removed them off the grill, served with egg roll, salad, and fresh fries.

In the words of my lovely wife of six years “these are the best ribs I have ever had”. We did not say a whole over dinner, there were lots of ‘ummmmms, ahhhhhs’ which to me always means that the food is really good.

Everyone has their recipe for good ribs, but my philosophy is this:

  • Use a rub and let it set in for hours
  • Slow cook ahead of time before searing and slow cooking on the grill
  • Choose the right sauce

It’s All in the Rub

Whenever you are cooking, especially on the grill, there is one thing that I think you should always use. Rub. Rub is so versatile that you can sprinkle some on vegetables, eggs, and plenty of other food, however because of the word ‘Rub’, I do just that. I rub my meat(s) generously. The all American rub that I have been using is really simply to make and trust me, it is pretty killer.

Ingredients include:

  • 1/3 cup course salt
  • 1/4 packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup paprika
  • 3 tablespoons ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

As you can tell by these ingredients, it is going to be great.
Store these in air tight containers for up to 6 months. Typically this rub could be used with 5-10 pounds of meat.

You could be creative as well and in a creative container give these as gifts. Stay tuned for my Rib recipe which blew the socks of my wife. It’s a good one.

How to make Vietnamese Spring Rolls

There are a few times throughout the year when spring rolls touch my heart. This is one of those times. The smell in the air from flowers and plants blooming, and the cool breeze to name a couple. This past weekend was one of those weekends where the weather was simply amazing; warm and breezy one day, cool the other. These feelings sparked something that I love to make and enjoy eating. Spring Rolls. Sit back and enjoy this recipe and the appetizer. They are fresh and really easy to make.

I make nearly 12 spring rolls and here is what I used.

Ingredients include:

  • shredded carrots (3)
  • angel hair or vermicelli pasta; 1/2 a box
  • shredded green onion (cut lengthwise) 4-5
  • cooked shrimp, sliced in half; nearly 15 (30 when sliced)
  • cilantro (1/2 bunch, chopped)
  • spring roll wrappers (12 or as many as you are going to make)

If you have reviewed the ingredients you can determine a few things; they are healthy, tasty, and easy to chop/dice/slice. Trust me, the only time intensive piece here is soaking the wrapper in warm water to allow softening for the wrapping.

Ready? Here we go.

Get your noodles cooking and boil as the box says. Drain and let cool. Cool is the message here on the noodles as you do not want to put warm or hot noodles in the wrapper.

As the noodles are cooking this is a great time to prepare your ingredients by chopping/slicing your ingredients. Because of the transparent wrapper, you can determine how you want to layout your ingredients. Do you want to guests to see shrimp on the outer layer, lettuce, carrot? You can be as creative as you want here. Keep slicing.
Cooled noodles, and veggies and shrimp ready to go? Good. Get ready to wrap.

When visiting an Asian market, you can find several types of wrappers. I use this type of wrapper. They are cheap, plentiful, and reliable.

Fill a large bowl with warm water. Submerge a wrapper in the water and move it around for a minute or two. You will begin to fill it soften. Please note that if you let it go too long, you might as well toss it because it will most likely tear in the wrapping process. (If it tears while wrapping, do not fear, just eat it.)

O.K. Wrapper is soft. Get it on a plate and lay it flat. Arrange Noodles, green onion, carrot, and cilantro in the mid to lower section of the wrapper. Fold the bottom area of the wrapper of the ingredients and begin to roll. Tuck in the sides, and continue to roll. The wrapper will seal itself.

Continue this process. Do not worry if you tear a few. This is the learning process as to how long you need to soak the water, as well as how much you can stuff these things.

I serve them with a sweet chili sauce. Enjoy.

Pancit Bihon

Another simple dish that is easy to make is Pancit Bihon. This is another recipe my wife shared with me, and I have tweaked to make it my own.

Pancit Bihon Recipe

Pancit is very thin rice noodles. You can make them with meat and vegetables. My recipe includes the following:

  • 1 bag of Pancit Bihon
  • Olive or canola oil
  • 2 large carrots, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 celery, chopped the same size as carrots
  • 1 onion, chopped the same
  • Cooked chicken, shredded, chopped
  • Shrimp, shell or no shell (optional)
  • Salt, Black pepper

Soak the noodles in warm/hot water for nearly 30 minutes. This process softens the noodles. Be mindful that over heating these noodles will kill the dish.

Chop your vegetables and get them ready as this is a pretty fast process. Lightly oil a large wok or cooking dish. Add your vegetables and sauté for 8-10 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the chicken and shrimp (optional) and mix. Salt and pepper the mixture. Drain your noodles, however reserve a half cup of the water. Add the noodles to the mix and with a couple of large spoons, toss and turn to mix everything together. Add about 1/4 cup of soy sauce, and keep mixing. Add more pepper to your liking.

Taste and add more soy sauce, salt or pepper, if needed. Serve immediately. This dish is really good as a leftover as well.