Spareribs with Paprika Sauce

“Hey brother can you spear a rib?”

“Yes I can! Put that rib on a spit, light it up and call it a…  ribbesper/sparerib?”

I was so close to making a catchy song, but the name of the dish just isn’t working. Whether you go with the German origin of ribbesper or our modern sparerib terminology.

I’ll just have to visit this later and figure it out.

Stay tuned on that coming attraction and now enjoy the main attraction provided to you by I Love Spice.

What you’ll need.

  • Spanish olive oil (it’s ok to use regular fyi)
  • 2 lb 12 oz pork spareribs
  • 1/3 cup of dry Spanish Sherry
  • 5 tsp Spanish paprika
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon of dried oregano
  • 2/3 cup of water
  • salt

You may have noticed a Spanish theme in the ingredients. I say ignore that if you already have an equivalent of those ingredients. I do believe regional ingredients differ from the other, but I also know a dish can turn out well even if it’s not a 100% accurate recipe wise. Spoiler alert that I didn’t have all Spanish ingredients and this turned out well.

Our first step is to preheat the oven to 425 and grease a pan big enough for your ribs.

Not your personal ribs, but the ones you bought for this dish. Although, a pan big enough for your personal ribs would work in this case.

The next step is to either cut the ribs into individual ribs or be resourceful like me and buy them cut that way already. I recommended being resourceful unless you’re planning on becoming a professional chef. Even then, though, asking for help from a pro butcher doesn’t seem shameful to me.

After you’ve weighed those decisions down move on and place them in the oven to roast for 20 minutes.

While roasting you can make the sauce by combining sherry, paprika, garlic, oregano, water, and salt together.

When the 20 minutes are up on the ribs, reduce the temperature to good ole 350. As you do so, examine the ribs for fat residue. I’d be surprise if there was none, but you’ll want to pour out that fat residue because we are now ready to coat the ribs with our sauce.

Do make sure to coat each side, but reserve some sauce as well because basting is required in this cooking process.

Roast under 350 for 45 minutes and about halfway through is when you’ll need to baste. Again, don’t use up all your sauce because this will essentially become your bbq sauce as well.

Once the ribs are cooked, the final step is to boil your leftover sauce. Once boiled, reduce the heat to a simmer and allow that to cook until the sauce has been reduced to half. Once reduced pour over the ribs and enjoy!

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Realize I could have cleaned the plate up a bit, but ribs are messy and so is life. Deal with it.

This turned out nicely for me! Despite the sauce it came off as almost a dry rub in taste. Which was not a disappointment in the slightest. I am a huge sauce lover when it comes to all foods, but dry rubs are flavorful and give an earthy tasteful coat without taking away from the natural, chewy juiciness of the meat.

As I mentioned it turned out well despite the fact I didn’t use all Spanish ingredients, but I’d like to make this again with all things Spanish to see if it’s even better that way.

I’m sure it’ll be enjoyable as well and hope those of you reading this try this out!

 

 

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Plum Preserves

I’m going to admit something slightly embarrassing to all of you.

I took the term preserve too literally and didn’t realize that this was actually a jelly or jam if you will. Preserves to me are vegetables and fruits that are preserved. I mean that’s what I call a “preserve.”

This is exactly what jam and jelly are as well, but I interpreted the term for a broader base.

After trying to eat this preserve as a side item, I realized that this was more of a jelly. That and a phone conversation with my boyfriend who is mostly from the south. Why mostly? He moved around a lot as a kid. I’d say he’s a southern boy with a dash of mid-west.

Below our conversation,

“What are you making this time?”

“It’s a plum preserve…it’s kinda like a sweet plum applesauce type of thing.”

Boyfriend pauses for a moment. “….I think that’s a jelly! Ooh I’m excited! I’m pretty sure a preserve is a jelly.”

Being the sweet southern man that he is I’m pretty sure he knew this all along but didn’t want to make me feel stupid. Those southerners like to preserve your pride when they like you. I appreciate it.

Wherever you hail from and whether you enjoy jellies, jams, or preserves then you should try out this plum preserve from Cooking Light. It’s surprisingly easy to make and delicious!

What you need

  • 6 cups of sliced ripe plums (about three pounds)
  • 2 1/4 cups of sugar
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 4-inch cinnamon stick

The first thing you’re going to do is combine plums and sugar in a bowl. Once combined, cover and leave on your room temperature counter for 8 hours.

Then combine all the ingredients, including your plum mixture into a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce your heat so that it only simmers and cover the pot for 15 minutes.

Once those 15 minutes are up, uncover and cook for an additional hour.

While this cooking process occurs be sure to stir and mash the mixture every few minutes or so. When the hour is up you should have a nice even consistency that resembles a jelly.

Pour this into a large bowl to cool and throw away your cinnamon stick.  Once it’s chilled out you can then enjoy your jelly!

This turned out really well and it tasted like apple pie to me. Granted these are plums, but the taste of cinnamon and the slight gooey and chewy plums reminded me of that coveted pie.

Once I realized this was a jelly, I served it with cream cheese on a cracker as you can see below.

I also brought some to work and a co-worker liked it so much she took some to her grandmother. I was told the grandmother approved. She apparently is a preserve connoisseur.

If you haven’t gotten the hint, then let me be east coast blunt and tell you that you need to try this as soon as you can! It’s delicious and so easy to make! You’d be a moron not to try!

Midwest translation, “I think you should try this. It’s good and easy to make.”

Southern translation. “Honey you gotta try this! My grandma used to make preserves for me as a child and I’m telling you this is just so easy to make. You won’t regret it.”

West coast translation, “You should really think about making your own jelly. When you’re in control of your own food intake you can cut out all the preservatives and chemicals that are being forced fed into our body by the food industry. It’s a real comfort to know my jelly is completely organic.”

Plum preserve in a bowl

Jelly and cream cheese

 

Little Cheese Puffs aka Gougère

Gougère is basically a Gruyère cheese biscuit reminiscent of the cheddar biscuits from Red Lobster.  Red Lobster better be careful because the French Farmhouse Cookbook gave me a fun little history tidbit that could possibly lead to a lawsuit.

You see it is believed that the French bought the copyright for these little cheese puffs from the Flemish back in the 14th century. According to the cookbook these two cultures were more interested in dealing with recipes for food than money.

No wonder the French were always having issues with the Brits. Can you imagine?

French King: Knock knock…

British King: Yes?

French King: Hey, so we’ve got this cheese puff recipe, would you like to make a trade for….I don’t know, bangers and mash?

British King: (looks at the recipe, looks at the King, looks back at the recipe) Do you think I’m a fool? Last time foreigners tried to invade us they offered us spaghetti! Get out of here!

French King: Oh! No, we just want to experience the delicacies of…(door is slammed in French king’s face) Well, that was rude! I guess we’ll just have to fight for our recipes!

A couple of weeks later, this happened.

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Thankfully in present time, sharing recipes hasn’t resulted in violence and we can safely spread the cheer of the French cheese puffs.

What you’ll need

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup of water
  • 3/4 teaspoon of sea salt
  • 7 tablespoons of unsalted butter, chilled, cut into chunks
  • 4 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup of grated Gruyère cheese
  • 1/4 cup of minced chives

The first step is to pre-heat the oven to 400 and get your baking sheets out.

Then get some wax paper and sift the flour and nutmeg together on top of the paper.

You are now ready to mix water, salt, and butter in a pan. Heat the pan to medium high heat until the combo starts to boil. Allow that process to go on for 30 seconds and then remove. Add the flour and butter mixture into a bowl you can whisk the mixture in. Whisk away until the dough is no longer sticky. This will take some time and you’ll know when it’s ready when it doesn’t stick to the side as you whisk.

Make sure the dough isn’t warm from the heated butter and then add the eggs, one at a time. Whisk each egg add-in until everything is combined evenly and then add the cheese and finally the chives.

We are finally ready to bake!

Do so, by scooping around a tablespoon of the dough for each puff. Be sure to leave room for the puff to grow so it does not slide into the other. Once you’ve used up the dough, bake in the oven for about 35-40 minutes.

You’ll know they are ready when they are slightly browned and puffy. When this occurs take them out of the oven and the pan and allow them to cool on a wire rack.

Side note, I need to get a wire rack and if you don’t have one, the best option is to remove them from the pan and place on a cool surface. It’s still better to use a rack if you’ve got it though.

I was pleased with the final result. As I implied earlier these are like Red Lobster cheese biscuits only French style. You can’t go wrong with cheese biscuits so really there isn’t much to say.

The only thing I can say is that the Gruyère gives it a slight bitter taste in comparison to cheddar biscuits. The chives balance out the bitter taste and give it a pop of flavor that will add a twist in taste for all you chedder biscuits lovers out there.

So go ahead and give this a go. If not, the French might fart in your general direction.

Cheese Puffs from France

Polenta Alpina aka Polenta of the Alps

For those of you who have never heard of polenta, it’s a cornmeal based dish that is similar to grits.

As a child I used to call it Italian mashed potatoes even though no potatoes are involved. I hadn’t experienced grits yet so it seemed logical to associate them with mashed taters.

This logic is understandable if you knew the way my mother prepared it. She would serve alongside shredded chicken and marina sauce. The sauce was my Italian mashed potato gravy which funny enough is what some Italian-Americans would call their marinara.

This version is more of a Northern Italian style and doesn’t call for any type of gravy, in fact the author Mrs. Catherine Vincenti from my hometown’s Little Italy Festival Town Cookbook instructs us to get “a large bowl of leaf lettuce salad with oil and vinegar dressing, a glass of wine, fresh fruits and cookies, and finish with a strong cup of coffee.”

I like Mrs. Vincenti, so far she’s put the best little hint of flair at the end of her recipe.

What you’ll need

  • 2 cups of cornmeal
  • 6 cups of water
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups of shredded brick cheese
  • 1/2 pound of butter

Cooking the cornmeal is similar to cooking rice and pasta in the sense that you want to put it in a pot of boiling salted water. Once you do that, stir the cornmeal constantly for about a half hour,

You’ll know it’s ready when the corn meal has thickened and is easily scrapped off the side of the pan.

Once this happens you are ready to bake your polenta. This process is similar to lasagna because you will be layering up your cheese and polenta. The first layer is the polenta, then the cheese. Continue to do this until you reach the top where the final layer will be polenta along with some pepper seasoning.

Before you place that polenta in the oven, we have one more topping to add and that topping is butter my friends.

Get your butter and a pan, melt it, and then pour it on top.

Now we are ready to bake and we will do so for a half hour at a temperature of 325-350.

At the end of the day, I prefer my mother’s version of polenta. My Italian people come more from the southern portion of Italy. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the northerners style. My genes just gravitate towards red gravy and slightly spicy dishes.

This is still a good recipe and I had a lot of fun making it with my LA bestie who had never had polenta before. She loved this recipe and I was glad she did, but I still want her to try my mama’s.

The cheese strangely gives the polenta a slight bitter flavor which I’m not used to. My experience with polenta has more of a slightly grainy and sweet flavor that gets a pop of taste when you add the marina in the mix. I’ll still give it an Italian like, despite my preferences.

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Cheesy polenta from those northerners

 

Italianlike

Italian like

Olive Nut Sandwhiches

This olive nut spread comes from Blanche Massie via Tastes of Monroe County. 

I do not have any fun facts or tivia about Miss Blanche. I tried looking her up on Google, but no info was found. As much as I love these local cookbooks, I wish they told us a littl about where the recipes came from. That’s half the fun for me anyway.

The cookbook and presumably Miss Blanche calls this recipe Olive Nut Sandwiches, but I’d call it a cheese dip with an extra side of olive.

What you’ll need

  • 1 8oz package of cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup of mayo
  • 1/2 cup of chopped pecans
  • 1 cup of chopped olives
  • 2 tablespoons of olive juice
  • 1 dash of pepper

Like most spreads the real work is the prep. For this recipe make sure the cheese has softened and the pecan and olives are chopped. After these steps, you just mix everything together.

By the way, the cookbook actually called for salad type olives. I’m not sure what that means exactly.

Kalamata???

I mean that’s what I prefer in my salad. Maybe I missed something in the world of olives, because I don’t know what salad type means. If anyone knows then let me know dear readers.

Once everything is mixed, I recommend putting the spread into a mason jar. You will then keep this mixture chilled in the fridge for 24 hours.

Once that time is up, enjoy the spread with your favorite type of wheat thin or cracker.

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Olive Nut Sandwiches

I love olives, but the olive flavor was strong in this one. I’m not sure if it’s my preference for Kalamata or the fact this calls for 2 tablespoons of olive juice that made it too much for me. It could be one or both.

I’d like to experiment and see if my theory is correct that all I needed was Kalamata olives. I still enjoyed the spread as a whole and I do recommend making this with your own olive preferences whether they be of the salad variety or not. 😉

 

Pumpkin Ravioli

This is another recipe from the cooking class my family and I took together in Bloomington, Indiana.

I have to say it was much easier making my own ravioli with the instructors than on my own. This is why I like taking classes folks. The force is strong with me. I can sense when I’m screwing up and I like having another person go, “Oh no no no….don’t do that! Do this!”

I consider myself independent for the most part, but being taught how to do something is a luxury I’ll take.

What you’ll need

For the ravioli

  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/4 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese grated

Sage cream sauce

  • 1 cup of cream
  • 1 teaspoon chicken base
  • 1/4 cup fresh sage, minced

Making the actual filling is the second easiest part to making this recipe. The easiest is the sauce which I’ll throw at you last.

To make your filling, you will sauté the onion and garlic together in melted butter. Once the onion has gone translucent add in the pumpkin puree and turn off the heat. The cheeses are now ready to be put into the mix.

Stir all of that together until you get a texture that you approve. What that texture is, I’m not sure because it doesn’t say. It just says check texture.

We are now ready to set the mixture aside and prepare the ravioli.

I was going to tell you how I did it, but I did it the hard way. Let me tell you, kitchen gadgets are worth it. Just check out this link.

I do have the pasta maker, but having that ravioli cutter and the little plastic round ice cub tray thing would have made things a lot easier and prettier.

It’s ok. This blog was intended to show my failures as well as wins. I’ve already got ideas for next time.

My way consisted of a jagged bread knife and squashing ravioli filling everywhere. Next time, I just may keep the jagged knife and utilize a round ice cube tray that I currently own.

First lesson folks, if an item says it specializes in something there’s a strong possibility you can find an item that is similar and could do the same thing for way less.

My mom enjoys cutting cake with dental floss. Try it sometime guys, it works.

For other examples, just google life hacks.

Once you get to the step of boiling your ravioli, you should be ready to make the sage cream sauce.

This is one of the easiest sauces you can make. How do you do it? Well, I’ll tell you. Add everything I listed in the cream sauce section into a small sauce pan and heat.  Once it’s warmed up, salt and pepper to your liking.

By the time the pasta is ready, the sauce should be ready. Pour that creamy goodness on top and all your hard work will have a pay off.

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Pumpkin ravioli with sage cream sauce

 

Strong Independent Popcorn Who Don’t Need No Microwave!

When I first came across this recipe from Portlandia, my eyebrow curled up. Really, a popcorn recipe?

Then I remembered that there are such things as cheddar and caramelized popcorn. I tend to be a movie theater popcorn purist. I don’t even like to butter mine. It gets too greasy and if the popcorn is done right from the get go with seasoning and etc, it’s not needed. In my opinion.

I’m a strong independent woman who don’t need no butter, but this recipe is of the nacho cheddar variety and let’s face it, I’m a cheesy person. Maybe it’s time I allow some cheese in my popcorn.

What you’ll need

  • 1/4 cup cheddar cheese powder or a packet of cheese from a mac and cheese mix (but then you don’t have cheese for your mac and cheese and that’s upsetting to me)
  • 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of chipotle powder
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup of popping popcorn
  • 4 tablespoons of butter, melted
  • Salt

In an appropriately sized bowl, mix all your powders and the yeast.

Then in a large pot, heat the oil and then add the popcorn. Cover slightly with a lid and pop the corn over medium heat.

Once the kernels have popped pour the popcorn into a bowl and dump the melted butter on it. Toss until butter has coated evenly, then add half of your powder mixture and toss again. Once you’ve felt it’s been tossed enough, add the rest of the powder mixture and continue more tossing.

Eventually it all be mixed and then you can add salt to your liking and enjoy!

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