The Gut Buster

Eating good, healthy food is an admirable goal. It’s a really good goal.

Sometimes though, it’s just. so. dang. hard. Ya feel me?

Exhibit A: three sticks of butter. When does that ever make sense? Well, a lot of times, that’s when. Just ask Joy the Baker, or Bon Appetit magazine, or Paula Deen, or my Aunt Faye. They’ll tell ya the truth about butter.

Exhibit B: bourbon and homemade vanilla extract? These make sense practically all the time, and I’m not even joking. They are much less problematic than those sticks o’ butter.

Exhibit C: pe-cans? coconut? These are problems, too. I grew up shelling pe-cans, eating ice cream full of pe-cans, pies loaded with them (and not just Thanksgiving day, either), and almost everything sweet is better with pe-cans.

Coconut? Well, I even like coconut in my hair, so I think I don’t need to say anything more here.

So let’s imagine a utopia where all of these things existed at one time. Let’s imagine that such a place was fat-free, calorie-free, and just as tasty. But truthfully, that isn’t the case, as we all know. Truthfully, some things are just meant to bust your gut.

These bars are those things. I can’t even begin to warn you about how ridiculous they are, how sweet and rich and heavy and butter-laden they are. How much they remind me of every Southern pe-can pie I’ve ever eaten, which is to say that they are a-freaking-mazing, each and every little gram of fat contained in them. Which, if you haven’t noticed, is probably a lot.

But some things are worth a splurge. Like maple cheesecake. Red velvet cake. Homemade Oreos (yep!). Rhubarb-Cornmeal tarts.  And now, these: ooey, gooey, buttery “bars” that taste just like your favorite Southern woman’s pe-can pie.

Go ahead, bust a gut. Or three.

Pecan Pie Bars
Adapted from The Pastry Queen; makes 2 1/2 dozen bars

time commitment: 2 hours (includes 1 hour cooling time)

printable version

ingredients
crust
1 1/2 c (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c firmly packed brown sugar
4 c all purpose flour
1 t salt

filling
8 large eggs
6 c firmly packed brown sugar
1/4 c bourbon
6 T unsalted butter, melted
2 T vanilla extract
1 c all purpose flour
1 t salt
2 c unsweetened flaked coconut
2 c pecan halves

instructions
Preheat oven to 350 F.

Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter in a large bowl on medium speed (about 1 minute). Add the sugar and beat about 1 minute, until fluffy. Add the flour and salt; mix on low speed until evenly incorporated but still crumbly. Press the mixture evenly over the bottom of the prepared pan (I used a 9×13″ pan and used about 2/3 of the mix, but the recipe itself calls for 12×17″ pan but I didn’t have one that big. You could probably divide the mixture between two 8×8″ pans as well and just adjust the baking times accordingly and watch more carefully). Bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until it has darkened to a deep golden brown. Leave the oven at 350.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Whisk the eggs and sugar in a large bowl until blended. Stir in the bourbon, butter, vanilla, flour, and salt, then the coconut and pecans. Once the crust is parbaked, pour the filling over the crust, spreading evenly. Bake until set, 25 to 30 minutes (mine baked longer, like 40 minutes, since I poured all of the mix into a smaller pan, resulting in less “surface area” to bake). Cool thoroughly, at least 1 hour. Once cool flip over on wax paper to cut into 3-inch squares or diamonds. (Yields about 2 1/2 dozen bars)

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When in Singapore…

Sadly, I wasn’t the one who got to go to Singapore – this time. Chris headed out there last Friday as he says, to “take care of bizniss”. And although he spent 2 of the 5 days going to and fro, the other 3 were primarily loaded with plenty of Apple-related activity.

He did get to eat to eat plenty of good food, like black pepper crab and all sorts of handmade noodle dishes, and he shopped for durian in the local markets. He admitted that it smelled like shit, and even though it’s fruit, technically, it supposedly has a weird custard-like consistency. Meh. I’ll stick with Asian pears as my “exotic fruits”.

Anywho, he arrived back safe and sound late this week, bloated, jet-lagged, and with a bag of boxed noodle dishes so I can make my own Singapore noodle entrees at home. YUM. I’m definitely glad he’s back, but while he was gone I must say I accomplished quite a bit.

For starters, I mopped. Okay, our detergent-filled robot mopped, but that still meant I had to move rugs around AND put them back. Why, you ask? We’re having a party this weekend. That’s right, Iron Chef San Francisco is about to be in full effect. YES!

I listened to Bjork. And Cake. And I watched a few episodes of What Not to Wear. I even drank a bottle of Pinot while watching Something Borrowed on Saturday night, with Indian takeout in my belly. It was downright awesome. Sometimes a quiet weekend evening is the most perfect thing on earth (especially with lackluster romantic comedies at play).

I went to the San Rafael farmers’ market in search of pink lemons, only to find the three remaining fruits hard and shriveled; the weather was nice, though, and Judy bought dining room chairs – finally! Earlier that weekend, we noshed on plenty of goodies at the SF Street Food Festival, including steamed pork buns, arepas, and something I’ve been craving for weeks – no lie – chocolate babka from Wise Sons Deli.

And then!, inspired by the layers upon layers of said chocolate, and in between Mexican dinner and ice cream with the other Heather – a perfect weeknight catch-up, I finished off my lonely week by making my own babka at home. I even took it in to work the next day for fear I’d eat it all when no one was watching. Or even if everyone was watching, because when something’s this good, who cares, really. There’s no need for class when chocolate’s involved, is there?

 

Chocolate Babka
from Good to the Grain; makes 1 cake

time commitment: ~ 4 hours (a little over an hour active time – most of time is letting dough rise) + overnight chilling in the fridge

oh! a couple of things. this recipe came from one of my favorite cookbooks, which means that a lot of interesting flours are used. I’m sure you can find them online, but I bought my Kamut and millet flours from a bulk market (Rainbow Grocery in SF). Whole Foods probably carries them too. if all else fails, I’m sure you could substitute other flours or even just use all purpose, although the texture and taste will obviously be a little different….

also! i’m serious when I say to put the rolls in randomly (you’ll see). the dough falls into place upon baking and when it comes out, it looks like a perfect gorgeous cake. this bread is amazing like that.

printable version

ingredients
sponge
1 pack active dry yeast
1 c 2% milk
1 T honey
1 c Kamut flour
1/4 c millet flour

dough
2 1/2 c all purpose flour
1 T kosher salt
3 eggs
8 oz (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp

filling
1 c pecan halves
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 c brown sugar
1/4 c sugar
1 t kosher salt
2 oz (1/2 stick) unsalted butter

instructions
make the sponge. pour yeast into bowl of stand mixer. heat milk in microwave so that it’s warm to the touch; pour over the yeast and stir together. add honey, Kamut flour and millet flour, then stir again. add all-purpose flour to the top of the dough, then the salt; do not stir.

let the sponge sit for 30 minutes, until flour cracks. meanwhile sit eggs out to come to room temperature. after 30 minutes, crack eggs and add to the sponge. affix the hook attachment and mix on low until flour is incorporated, scraping down sides.

if dough is sticking to the sides, add 1 extra T of all-purpose flour at a time and stir until dough is forming a cohesive mass and pulling away from the bowl (may take up to 1/2 c). turn mixer to medium and mix for 5 minutes; strop and scrape dough from hook and bowl. mix for another 5 minutes. at this point, the dough should be an elastic mass. add butter 1 T at a time and mix on medium until each is incorporated. afterwards the dough will be shiny and soft.

spray or butter a large bowl, scrape dough into the bowl, cover with a towel and let rise for 2 hours. punch dough down, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

rub a bundt pan with butter or spray and add a bit of sugar to dust. toast pecans in a skillet over medium for about 10 minutes, tossing occasionally. meanwhile, dust top of dough with flour and place, flour side down, onto a floured work surface. dust top with flour and roll into a rectangle 10 x 16 inches. rub butter onto dough or drop into small chunks. combine sugars and salt into a small bowl and spread over dough. once pecans are toasted, slightly break them up and sprinkle over sugar mixture, then add the chocolate.

starting at the wide end of the dough, roll into a tight log, and slice into 13-15 pieces. place pieces randomly into the bundt pan (some upright, some spiral side down, etc), filling in large spaces, until all pieces are added. dump any extra sugar/pecans/chocolate over the top; cover and let dough rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

preheat oven to 350 F. once dough has risen, bake for 40 minutes. remove from oven and let sit for 15 minutes, then place a rack over the top and flip upside down, releasing the bread. if not eating right away, store in airtight container.

Bear Down

I would imagine, firsthand if I were a mother to something other than a cat, that feeling proud of your children when they accomplish something is probably one of the best feelings on earth. I would imagine that, when they finish college, or get married, or when they land the job of their dreams, it’s probably a bit too much to bear – that fullness you might feel inside, that beaming, happy feeling that has you grinning from ear to ear.

I’m not a mother, and won’t be anytime soon, but I know that feeling still. I’m sure it’s a little bit different, but all the while, I am definitely that ‘happy, proud, beaming from ear to ear’ person I described.

Chris (aka Hubs), after somewhere between 3 and 4 years of crunching numbers on Excel, working with probably 20 different groups (some good and downright horrible), and all the while working full-time at a job that has been much less than rewarding, has finished school – once and for all. I was definitely proud when he got into Northwestern’s MBA program, but I’m infinitely “prouder” (and relieved) now that he’s completed it, and with honors.

When I finished culinary school, he took me to Alinea – and I’ll never forget that experience. For a long while, I’ve wondered what I’d get him for his (final) graduation – to not only celebrate his fancy new degree, but to also celebrate the fact that we, both of us, are finally. finished. with. school. forevah. It’s a big deal, I think.

And while I didn’t go the “you finished graduate school therefore I should buy you something professional, like a leather attache case or nice tie so you can look spify when you interview for new jobs” present, I swear I hit the nail on the head this time. I realized that, after almost 7 years of living in this city, we have never forked out the Benjamins (yes, plural) to watch the Bears in action at Soldier Field. And for years, season after season, we’ve promised ourselves to one day, one year, suck it up and buy the tickets. So I did.

Let’s just say that I definitely picked the best game of the season to watch in person – the December 12th Bears vs. Patriots game, the day Chicago got pummeled with snow & extra-frigid temperatures what with the windchill and all making the “feels like” temperature hover solidly in the single digits. The day that left my hands and feet feeling so numb for so long that even a bucket of hot chocolate and “complimentary warming stations” couldn’t remedy – those were the tickets I bought.

And despite all of it, he loved it. And I loved it because I knew he did. It felt good, frigid temperatures and all – watching someone grin with excitement, and that someone being someone you are so incredibly proud of, admirable of, and in love with all at the same time – that’s a feeling that’s hard to put into words.

Ever since that game, the horribly played game, I’ve been craving some more hot chocolate. I had some at work the next day – the kind that comes in the box with the fake marshmallows – and it wasn’t half bad, to be honest. But I’ve wanted to make my own, and I finally did. There isn’t much not to like about a hot chocolate full of all those awesome Indian spices, and it’s definitely a warmer for all the cold days and nights that are sure to come. Having a mug of this at home during a Bears game, a game the Bears are winning (since we are officially division title holders, again)? Priceless.

Oh, and Happy Holidays. Stay warm and stay safe out there, kids!

Chai Hot Chocolate
chiknpastry recipe; makes 2 servings

time commitment: 10 minutes

printable version

ingredients
2 c 1% milk
1/2 c bittersweet chocolate chips OR 6 T sipping chocolate (like Theo)
5 green cardamom pods
1/4 t whole allspice
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 t ground black pepper
1 t g ginger
2 T brown sugar
1/2 t vanilla extract
marshmallows, optional

instructions
Combine first 8 ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer; simmer for a couple of minutes and remove from heat. steep for 10 minutes with cover on. add in vanilla extract.

strain hot chocolate into 2 mugs. top with marshmallows, and snuggle ;).

Dunkable

There is something so entirely comforting about brown sugar. I know that shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the sticky buns and the cupcakes, or the fact that a ‘tag search’ takes you to a handful of other brown sugar-containing sweets and savories. Like waking up in my own bed after a long vacation of hard mattresses and wimpy water pressure, brown sugar is home to me.

Home, and knowing that anything you make with it can’t go wrong, and that it probably has something to do with the simple fact that brown sugar is just sugar with, you guessed it, molasses.

And since I’m currently making my way down the Oregon & California coasts, likely acquiring something similar to the bed sores the old folks at rest homes get, I figured it’s the least I could do to provide a little droolworthy treat and some comfort to you fine folks. And don’t get me wrong – I’ll take the sores, the early morning awakenings, and the creaky springs any day you let me if those days position me directly in front of the Pacific Ocean, its crashing waves, my hair blowing valiantly with the wind, and the sunset view from the Golden Gate Bridge.

I’ll also be happy to take a meal at The French Laundry, or maybe even a slice of toast from Bouchon.

Though I could possibly eat spoonfuls of brown sugar for breakfast, something tells me you might prefer a few more ingredients in the mix, and to remedy that, cookies seem fitting  – do you agree? These aren’t your average chocolate chip cookie, I can promise you that.

Do ya’ll remember me talking briefly about this lovely little book, inside of which I found some lovely little tarts? At some point, I hinted about some other recipes I’ve tried, and this was one of them. And while it’s nearly impossible to compare these to a rhubarb tart, or a buckwheat pancake, or even a scone, these would certainly rank as my number 1 from the book so far, and all they are are chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate chip cookies that are quite likely the best ones I’ve ever eaten, and I have eaten a lot of chocolate chip cookies in my 30 years. They are firm enough to provide good structure, but ooey and gooey on the inside so that they practically melt in your mouth with each chew. Darker than your average choco chip cookie, they are loaded with whole wheat flour and dark brown sugar, and what I like is that the flour is more nutritious than standard flour, so after eating 4 or 5 in a row I liken it to jogging a few miles, and I call it a day. While eating them, I find myself making those noises that are reserved for only the best of foods – the constant mmmmmm’s in differing tones and decibels that if made behind closed doors may be mistaken for something other than eating.

Did I mention that they taste divine? Hearty, but not dense and sweet with a very noticeable molasses note from the dark brown sugar, and a piece of chocolate in every single bite. While the raw dough is every thing I’d want in chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, try to resist and bake these things up, because the smell of them baking is intoxicating, and once you realize how lovely they are dunked into a glass of cold milk, you’ll be hard-pressed to save any for anyone, or anything else.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce; makes ~24

printable version

ingredients
3 c whole wheat flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 1/2 t kosher salt
8 oz cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 c dark brown sugar
1 c sugar
2 eggs
2 t vanilla extract
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
4 oz milk or dark chocolate, roughly chopped

instructions
position two rack in oven in upper and lower third. preheat oven to 350 F. line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

whisk all dry ingredients (flour through salt) in a large bowl. add butter and sugars in bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment. cream butter and sugar together until blended. scrape down sides of bowl. add eggs, one at a time mixing with each addition. add vanilla. add flour and blend on low until just combined, about 30 seconds. scrape down sides of bowl.

add chocolate and mix on low until evenly distributed. scrape down sides of bowl. with a small ice cream scoop, scoop mounds of dough onto baking sheet, about 6 per sheet. bake for ~18 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through baking. let cookies cool on sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to cooking racks. repeat with remaining dough.

How to be Awesome

Do you ever have those moments, rare as they may be (or often, if we are daring enough to admit it), when you say to yourself, “I am so flippin’ awesome!”? I’m gonna go out on a limb here and admit to you, every last one of you, that I definitely have those moments.

Like when I (with a load of help) pulled off a surprise party for Hubs’ 30th last year. That was awesome.

Or when I discovered that when my CTA tracker says the #72 is coming in 6 minutes, I have exactly enough time to toss on my coat, take the elevator (down all 2 floors), and walk 1 block east to grab the Red Eye before the bus gets there. Yep, me = awesome!

I even feel awesome at work sometimes. I can’t remember any specific examples right now, but I’m sure it happens occasionally. For certain, I’ve constructed some genetic revelation or come up with a rare diagnosis for a patient, or found a billing loophole, or whatever. And I’m sure, if those things happened, that they were awesome.

And not to toot my own horn (because I haven’t done that at all in this post…), but these cinnamon rolls aka sticky buns – they are fan-flippin’-tastically awesome. I’ve patted myself on the back enough to leave a mark, I’m afeard.

I’ve had this recipe for a couple of months now, and have needed a good excuse to make these gorgeous sticky buns. Why not Iron Chef Battle Cinnamon, you ask? Well, I thought it would have been too obvious. And given the 25% of scoring that goes to originality, I opted out. I should’ve, though.

So I blame this bout of awesomeness on my student, who just finished rotating with me this week, as well as my tradition of making something for them at the end of their rotation.

These lil’ sticky buns are intimidating at first, but actually quite easy and fun to make. You mix the dough and rest it. You roll it out real long and thin and you spread the filling (which is easily adaptable, by the way) in an even layer. You roll that lovely filling up like a stuffed pretzel, cut them so they look like extra-large gnocchi, and rest again. You bake, and douse them in the silky, rich, buttery Jamaican rum glaze and dump some just-toasted pecans on top. Then you dig in, and bask in your glory.

Because they are awesome. Just like me, and just like you ;).

Buttered Rum Sticky Buns
Adapted from Food & Wine, January 2010; makes 12

printable version

F&W has some really choice desserts. Remember the baklava? They use butterscotch as their glaze, which I’m sure would be lovely. I didn’t have any Scotch whisky, so I improvised and made mine with Jamaican rum, which I think is a perfect substitution. But you there, do whatever you want, and if you try any different versions, let me know how they turn out.

ingredients
dough
3/4 c 1% milk
1 T + 1/2 t active dry yeast
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 stick unsalted butter (6 T softened, 2 T melted)
2 eggs
4 c all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 t kosher salt
1 c light brown sugar
2 t cinnamon
1 c chopped pecans, toasted

glaze
1/2 c dark brown sugar
5 T unsalted butter
3 T dark Jamaican rum
2 1/2 T sweetened condensed milk
2 T water
2 T light sour cream
1 1/2 T corn syrup
1/4 t salt
1/8 t vanilla extract
1/8 t baking powder

special equipment: stand mixer (preferred but not required), standard muffin tin, brush

instructions
Make the Dough: In a glass measuring cup, heat the milk in the microwave until warm, 1 minute. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle, combine the warm milk and the yeast. Add the granulated sugar and the 6 tablespoons of softened butter and mix at medium speed until the butter is broken up, 1 minute. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the flour and salt and mix at low speed until incorporated, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the side of the bowl. Increase the speed to medium and mix the dough for 2 minutes longer. (Note: for me, my dough practically jumped together and I barely mixed at all, and definitely didn’t need to scrape down) Scrape the dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325°. Spray a standard 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out to a 9-by-24-inch rectangle. In a small bowl, mix the light brown sugar with the cinnamon. Brush the 2 tablespoons of melted butter over the dough and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Beginning at a long edge, roll up the dough (into a log) as tightly as possible and pinch the seam. Cut the log into twelve 2-inch pieces and set them in the muffin cups cut side up. Cover and let stand in a warm place for 30 minutes.

Set the muffin pan on a baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the buns are golden brown.

Meanwhile, make the glaze: In a small saucepan, bring the brown sugar, butter, rum, condensed milk, water, sour cream and corn syrup to a boil. Simmer over moderate heat until thickened slightly, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt, vanilla and baking powder.

Unmold the buns. Pour the glaze over the hot buns and sprinkle with the pecans. Let stand until the buns have soaked up some of the glaze and are cool enough to eat, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Icing on the Cupcake

My (pound cake) gramma’s house, the house where my dad chased rattlesnakes, cured tobacco in the barn throughout his summers, and where he to-this-day parks his 1984 Nissan pick-up truck (the same pick-up truck in which I learned to drive stick shift, and the same one I stole Doral ultra-lights from in high school) is flanked by a now non-functioning outdoor wash basin and sink, a swing set, and a pe-can tree that stretches up towards the sun. I remember spending my summers there, and when I wasn’t in awe at my grandmother and her quilting club or climbing the rafters in the tobacco barn, I was picking pe-cans from that tree with my bro.

We loved us some pe-cans, and we may have loved picking them up and filling those buckets even more.

I’ve also been known to fancy a dollop of molasses on a buttermilk biscuit (and gladly licked the dripping syrup before fastening the jar); it seems only natural to be an avid fan of a sugar + molasses marriage, brown sugar.

These things, these humble ingredients, they work perfectly together. Brown sugar + pecans = soulmates.

And just in case the words brown sugar and pe-can aren’t really quite doing it for you, how about the word ‘caramel’? Thought so, it works every time! For me at least, and I’ve been known to eat the caramel topping without even eating the dessert itself, even when involved with a favorite of mine, bread pudding.

But this icing, oh, this icing; it’s madly insanely good. The strange thing is, I used to never be an icing girl. I used to swipe it to the plate, enjoying the cake itself far better. But homemade icing is a monster I cannot tame, and although the one that gets me is usually of the cream cheese variety, I think I found my oh so very close second.

Brown Sugar Pecan Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting
Adapted from Bon Appetit, makes 12

the icing is good as is, but i’ve heard you could leave out the egg yolks, if you like, without it affecting the overall taste or texture. next time, i’ll try that. the icing recipe makes enough for two batches of cupcakes, unless you use ALOT of icing, or unless you eat it from the bowl while you’re frosting (not that anyone would do that, right?!). as for the cupcakes, i added a little more sour cream to the recipe below to moisten them up a bit, and cut back on the baking time.

printable version

ingredients
cupcakes
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 c all purpose flour
1/2 c cake flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t fine sea salt
1 1/4 c coarsely chopped toasted pecans
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c (packed) golden brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 c sour cream
1 t vanilla extract

frosting
1 c sugar
1/4 c water
1/2 c heavy whipping cream
2 large egg yolks
1/2 c (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/8 t fine sea salt
1 c powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 c coarsely chopped toasted pecans

instructions
cupcakes
Put rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 350°F. Spray 12-cup muffin pan with nonstick spray; line with muffin cups.

Whisk both flours, baking powder, baking soda, and sea salt in medium bowl. Stir in chopped, toasted pecans. Beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add brown sugar; beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating to blend between additions. Beat in sour cream and vanilla. Add dry ingredients; beat on low speed just to blend. Divide batter among muffin cups.

Bake cupcakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool.

frosting
Stir sugar and 1/4 cup water in medium saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to med-hi; boil until syrup turns deep amber, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat; add cream (mixture will bubble up and try to harden). Stir over low heat until caramel bits dissolve; may require additional heat, if so – stir over medium heat. Whisk egg yolks in medium bowl. Very gradually whisk hot caramel into yolks. Cool to room temperature.

Using electric mixer, beat butter and salt in large bowl until smooth. Beat in caramel. Add powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Let stand at room temperature until thick enough to spread, about 1 hour.

Spread frosting over cupcakes. Top with a few pecans.

Barbeque: Gooder than Snuff

Have ya’ll ever been to North Kakalaka? Let’s just say, if you haven’t, and if you ever do, a little preparation for the lingo might benefit you or else you may find yourself ‘running around like a chicken with its head cut off’. I am Southern, after all; it’s only fittin’ that I use my manners and translate a few for you :). So here we go.

Hug your neck: this is how we talk about showing affection. “Aunt Faye, that fried chicken looks so good it makes me wanna hug your neck!”

Bless his/her heart: this is what you say in the same sentence before you say something that’s not very nice. “Bless his heart, that boy has a face only a mother could love!”

Fixin’ to: what you say when you’re about to do something. “I’m fixing to warm up some of this tasty leftover barbeque.”

Gooder than snuff: when something is really, really great. “This vinegar-based barbeque sauce you made is gooder than snuff.”

Fit to be tied: angry. “When Ralph dropped that pe-can pie on the floor, Luna was fit to be tied.”

Down yonder: further down the road. “The best barbeque in Duplin County is down yonder on Hwy 13.”

Barbeque: this is not what you non-Southerners use as a verb, which is actually ‘grilling’. Barbeque is a noun, and there are many different barbeque varieties in the South. “The only barbeque I care to eat is from Eastern North Carolina.”

Full as a tick: basically, when you have eaten so much you’re about to explode. “I ate so much barbeque and red velvet cake that I was full as a tick.”

Clearly, this here list is not all-inclusive. Do you know some more? While you’re thinkin’ about it, consider trying your hand at one of my favorite Southern dishes, eastern NC bbq. And don’t you dare consider using another kind of sauce – vinegar-based is the only way to go. Don’t ruffle my feathers, now!

Eastern NC-Style Slow Roasted Pulled Pork
Adapted from Cooking Light, December 2009; serves 16

if you’ve got barbeque joints in your backyard, you may not feel the need to make your own. but up here in the midwest, it’s a necessity. if you do use bone-in, allow extra time to let the pork tenderize even more. if you need less time, boneless works just as well. serve with Southern-style coleslaw – either on the side, on your samich, or both (like me).

printable version

ingredients
2  T dark brown sugar
1  T smoked paprika
1  T chili powder
1  t salt
2  t ground cumin
1  t freshly ground black pepper
1/2  t dry mustard
1/2  t ground chipotle chile pepper
1  (5-pound) boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt), trimmed
2  c water, divided
1 t liquid smoke
1/2  c apple cider vinegar
1/3  c ketchup
vinegar-based Eastern NC bbq sauce (recipe below)

instructions
To prepare pork, combine first 8 ingredients in a small bowl. Rub sugar mixture evenly over pork. Let pork stand at room temperature 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 225°.

Place pork on the rack of a roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Pour 1 cup water in bottom of roasting pan. Place rack in pan. Bake at 225° for 1 hour.

Combine 1/2 cup vinegar and ketchup in a medium bowl; brush pork with ketchup mixture (do not remove from oven). Bake an additional 3 hours, basting every hour with ketchup mixture.

Pour remaining 1 cup water in bottom of roasting pan. Cover pork and pan tightly with foil. Bake an additional 3 3/4 hours or until a thermometer registers 190°. Remove from oven; let stand, covered, 45 minutes.

Shred pork with 2 forks. Serve with sauce.

Vinegar-Based Eastern NC bbq Sauce
chiknpastry recipe; makes 2 cups

printable version (sauce only)

ingredients
1.5 c apple cider vinegar
1 c water
1 T tomato paste
4 T dark brown sugar
1 T crushed red pepper flakes
2 t smoked paprika
1 t chile powder

instructions
combine all ingredients in small saucepan and bring to boil. reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. add more red pepper flake, if desired.