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My Recipes-of-the-Week are featured here on my Home page. You can find 2000 of my kitchen-tested recipes using the Recipes tab, watch over 125 Kitchen Encounters/WHVL-TV segments using the TV Videos tab, join the discussion about all of my creations using the Facebook tab, or Email your questions and comments directly to me--none go unanswered. "We are all in this food world together." ~Melanie

03/03/2021

~Slow-Cooker Buffalo-Style St. Lewis-Style Spareribs~

IMG_9771Try as I might, I can't let more than a month or two go by without either:  succumbing to the craving to deep-fry and eat Buffalo-style chicken wings, or, experiment with a new way to enjoy the sweet-heat of Buffalo-sauced anything.  Today, I decided to try my hand at low-and-slow cooked Buffalo-style pork ribs -- when they were done, I finished them off under the broiler, just to crisp the fat cap and caramelize the sauce a bit.  Remember the famous ad-man line, "pork -- the other white meat"?  Well, I'll be making these again, and often.  Life in the 'burbs -- burp.

IMG_9376What started in 1964 as late-night pub grub at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY, deep-fried chicken wings, is now found in many forms. Truth told, there's not much that Buffalo-style chicken can't do, and applying Buffalo wing sauce as a glaze to oven-roasted chicken leg-thigh quarters, or, stirring it into some previously roasted or poached chicken is the perfect way to transition this iconic game day snack into all sorts of other appetizers, sandwiches, main or side-dish salads, or, main-dish meals.  Trust me, as a lady who loves her deep-fried wings, but, in the privacy of her own home (where she's free to lick fingers, smack lips, pick teeth, and, drip sauce), while different, my Buffalo-Style delicacies are every bit as enjoyable as classic wings.

A bit about the rack of meaty pork ribs I use to make these:

When it comes to purchasing pork spareribs, we cooks almost always have a choice to make: babyback (sometimes labeled "pork back ribs"), or, St. Louis-style (sometimes labeled "breastbone-off, pork ribs").  To the eye, babybacks are smaller (which appeals to many home cooks because they're more manageable), but, please know, this has nothing to do with the size of the pig (meaning, for those spreading false information: they're not taken from baby pigs).

6a0120a8551282970b0263e9553c34200bBabybacks are cut from where the rib meets the spine after the loin is removed.  Each rack weighs about 1 1/2-2 pounds and averages 10-13 curved, 4"-5"-long ribs.  In our house, one rack will feed 2 people. St. Lewis- Style refers to the way the ribs are cut, not a style of barbecue.  They are larger, meatier, and cut from the belly after the belly is removed.  They get trimmed in the style of St. Lewis butchers, by cutting away the breastbone and cartilage to form a rectangular shape.  Each rack weighs about 2 1/2-3 pounds and averages 12-14 flatfish, 6"-7"-long ribs.  When serving these, I plan on one rack feeding 3-4 people.

A bit about the crockpot I use to slow-cook them in:

6a0120a8551282970b0263ec1abf5d200cMeet Crockpot's Casserole Crock. For me, it's my latest acquisition in a long line of slow cookers.  I now currently own ten different brands, models and sizes -- which is odd because, me, not-the-queen-of-crockpot-cooking, uses a slow cooker, maybe, five-six times a year. While Crockpot rightfully peddles this one as a casserole crock (because it is essentially a 13" x 9" x 3" casserole), and, it's intended to make-and-take slow-cooked casseroles (it's got lock-in-place handles and a stay-cool handle for carrying the entire contraption), I saw it as a vehicle for one small rack of St. Lewis-style ribs, to slowly cook in sauce, evenly and in comfort -- spa-style.

My slow-cooker method for Buffalo-style St. Lewis-Style ribs:

IMG_96251  smallish-sized rack St. Lewis-style spareribs, about 3 pounds

Frank's RedHot Ranch, dry seasoning blend, for seasoning ribs

1  12-ounce bottle Frank's RedHot wing sauce

6  tablespoons salted butter

1/2  cup honey

IMG_9601 IMG_9601 IMG_9606 IMG_9606 IMG_9606~Step 1.  To make my special sweet-heat wing sauce from the bottle of wing sauce, in a 2-quart saucepan, place: the contents of the bottle of wing sauce and the butter.  Over medium-low heat, melt the butter into the wing sauce.  Add the honey and whisk until the honey is thoroughly incorporated into the wing sauce/butter mixture.  Sweet heat.

IMG_9631 IMG_9631 IMG_9637 IMG_9637 IMG_9645 IMG_9645 IMG_9653~Step 2. To prep and season the rack of ribs, remove ribs from packaging and pat dry in paper towels.  Flip the rack, bottom side up and place it on a large work surface.   Using a chef's knife or a pair of kitchen shears either remove the flap of meat that's up against the bone or trim it off.  This choice is yours -- I leave it on as I adore these "bonus bites".  Using a sharp-tipped paring knife, gently raise and loosen the membrane (called the silver skin) from the first rib, then, using a paper towel or two to get a grip on the membrane, slowly, but firmly, tear it off.  Next, cut the rack of ribs in half.  Now, lastly, season the ribs liberally on both sides with the RedHot Ranch seasoning -- don't skimp.

IMG_9657 IMG_9660 IMG_9660 IMG_9668 IMG_9668~Step 3. Arrange the ribs to fit in bottom of crockpot, in a single layer, slightly-overlapping the two sections is just fine (and will probably by necessary).  Using a back and forth motion, slowly drizzle 3/4 cup wing sauce over the tops of the ribs. Cover the crockpot. Cook on high for 2 hours, then, low for 2 hours. The tip of a knife or the tines of a fork, when pierced between any two ribs will easily glide through and come out on the other side.  If desired, adjust heat to keep ribs warm for up to 1 hour prior to finishing them as directed in the next step.

IMG_9676 IMG_9676 IMG_9682 IMG_9682 IMG_9689~Step 4. Preheat broiler with oven rack positioned about 5" under the heat.  Line a large baking pan with aluminum foil, then place a sheet of parchment in the bottom of pan.  Open crockpot and remove the ribs, arranging them slightly apart on the baking pan.  Using a large pastry brush generously slather the the tops with additional wing sauce.  Finish ribs off under the broiler for 3-4 minutes, until sauce is bubbly and just starting to to show signs of light browning.  Watch carefully  -- ribs can and will go from lightly-browned to burned quickly.

Serve 'em up atop a bed of my recipe for RedHot-Ranch Slaw:

IMG_9764Slow-cooked to tender perfection & gnawsomely awesome:

IMG_9785Slow-Cooked, Buffalo-Style St. Lewis-Style Spareribs:  Recipe yields one rack of ribs/4 servings.

Special Equipment List:  2-quart saucepan; whisk; paper towels; chef's knife or kitchen shears; paring knife; Crockpot casserole; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; aluminum foil; parchment paper; pastry brush

6a0120a8551282970b0264e2e7a029200dCook's Note: Not everyone is a master of the barbecue or smoker. Newsflash.  Not everyone wants to be. While I'm more than competent on a gas grill, charcoal gives me fits and the smell of smoke gives me a headache. There's more.  When the temperature in the great outdoors is threatening to blow the top off my thermometer, you won't find me outside torturing myself in the blazing heat just to prepare a rack of ribs.  It's the AC for me baby, and, trust me, you're gonna love the ribs I'm making in the cool oasis called "Melanie's Kitchen". Ya gotta try my ~ Broiled & Baked Rack of St. Lewis-Style Spareribs ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

02/28/2021

~ Mom's No-Nonsense Elbow Macaroni & Egg Salad ~

IMG_9748Mom's macaroni salad.  This, now retro, 1950's era recipe is nothing fancy, nothing special, and, certainly not gourmet.  It's simply old-fashioned, pull-a-chair-up-to-the-kitchen-table lip-smacking goodness.  There's more, if one keeps this easy--to-make, creamy-crunchy picnic-and-potluck side-dish staple in their refrigerator, it only takes one scoop from the bowl to a plate to turn anything, from a lunchtime sandwich to a dinnertime pork chop, into a delightful meal.

A bowl of no-nonsense, easy-to-make old-fashioned goodness:

IMG_96933/4  cup high-quality mayonnaise

2  tablespoons ballpark-style yellow mustard

4  tablespoons sweet pickle relish

1/2  teaspoon celery seed

3/4  teaspoon sea salt

1  teaspoon coarse-grind black pepper

6  ounces diced celery (about 1 3/4 cups)

3  ounces diced yellow or sweet onion (about 3/4 cup)

6  large or extra-large eggs, hard-cooked, peeled and chopped

12  ounces elbow macaroni, cooked and drained as directed below

IMG_9695 IMG_9698 IMG_9704 IMG_9705~Step 1.  In a large bowl, use a rubber spatula to stir together the mayonnaise, mustard, relish, celery seed, salt and pepper.  Dice the celery and onion, adding them to bowl as you work.  Add the chopped, hard-cooked eggs.  Fold the veggies and eggs into the mayo mixture. Set aside.

IMG_9714 IMG_9714 IMG_9719 IMG_9719 IMG_9721~Step 2.  In a 4-quart stockpot, bring 2 1/2-3 quarts of water to a boil over high heat.  Add the macaroni, adjust heat to simmer steadily, and cook according to package directions, until macaroni are al dente, about 9-11 minutes -- do not overcook.  Drain macaroni into a colander and rinse under cold running water, to halt cooking process and cool to room temperature.  Set aside to drain, in colander 2-3 minutes.  In the meantime line a large baking pan with parchment paper.  Transfer and spread the macaroni across the parchment-lined pan and set aside for 15-20 minutes, to dry, meaning: not to dry out, just to dry of excess moisture.

IMG_9727 2 IMG_9729~ Step 3.  Add the "dried" macaroni to the bowl with the vegetables and eggs.  Use the spatula to gently fold and thoroughly incorporate the macaroni into the mixture.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate until well-chilled, 1-2 hours or overnight.

Macaroni salad turns any meal (anything from a lunchtime sandwich to a dinnertime pork chop), into a meal: 

IMG_9745Mom's No-Nonsense Elbow Macaroni and Egg Salad:  Recipe yields 2 quarts. 8-12 servings.

Special Equipment List: large rubber spatula; cutting board; chef's knife; 4-quart stockpot; colander; 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper

6a0120a8551282970b0264e2e2ff8f200dCook's Note: For most of us, potato salad conjures up memories of exactly what our grandmothers made.  And, for the most part, those recipes for potato salad do not vary much.  Various quantities of the usual suspects:  potatoes, eggs, celery and/or onion, with a dressing made of mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, pepper, sometimes pickles or pickle relish and/or a dash of mustard, plus, an occasional fresh herb. Voila:  potato salad.  While we all have our favorite recipe or recipes, when offered potato salad at a gathering, this is the kind we Americans expect to be served.  To hasten up chilling any potato salad, try my spread it on a sheet pan method.  Here's another oldie-but-goodie favorite that my mom made often.  Try the recipe for ~ Hellmann's Original Eight-Ingredient Potato Salad ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)

02/26/2021

~ Beer in the Pizza Dough & a Semolina Pizza Crust ~

IMG_9586Experimenting with pizza dough is not something I do often.  Why?  Because one has to be willing to run the risk of sacrificing a pizza in the event it doesn't work.  Let's put it another way, one has to be of the mindset to experiment with a new dough or a variation on an existing one, and (chuckle if you want to but it's really not a laughing matter if you're wed to eating pizza), for a few short hours, one must throw caution to the wind and live dangerously.  I did this today, and, I gotta say, I came through it victorious.  So victorious, this is my new favorite pizza dough recipe.

6a0120a8551282970b026bde9755bf200cIt's worth mention, nine-out-of-every-ten-times, I mix and first-proof my pizza dough in my bread machine.  The bread machine, in 55 minutes from beginning to end, does a superb job with pizza dough, and frees up my hands to prep ingredients for the toppings.  Feel free to proof your yeast, mix, knead and proof your dough in the traditional manner, but, don't tell me it's better. It's simply a different method producing the same result.

Crispy on the outside soft & tender on the inside:

IMG_9578Light as a feather w/a to-the-tooth, New-York-style chew too!

IMG_95203/4 cups + 2 tablespoons at-room-temperature beer

1  tablespoon olive oil

2  tablespoons barley malt syrup

1  teaspoon sea salt

2  cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

1/2  cup semolina flour

1  packet granulated yeast

1 1/2-2 additional tablespoons olive oil, for preparing pizza pan

IMG_9521 IMG_9521 IMG_9528 IMG_9528 IMG_9533~Step 1. Place the beer, olive oil, barley malt syrup and sea salt in the the bread pan of the bread machine. Add the all-purpose flour and semolina flour. Using your index finger, make a well in the top of the flour and add the yeast to it.  Note:  When making any type of bread machine dough, always add the wet ingredients first and the dry ingredients last.

IMG_9534 IMG_9534 IMG_9542 IMG_9544~Step 2.  Insert the bread pan into the machine.  Close lid and push the "select" button.  Choose the "pizza dough" cycle. Push "start".  When the machine signals the dough is done (it will have risen once too), remove pan of dough from the machine.  In my machine this takes 55 minutes.

IMG_9551 IMG_9551 IMG_9551Step 3.  Place 1 1/2-2 tablespoons of olive on on a 12"-round or 13" x 9"-rectangular pizza pan and use a paper towel to oil the inside surface of the pan.  Use a few drops of olive oil to lightly oil your fingertips and use your fingertips to turn the ball of dough out onto the prepared pan.  Allow the dough to rest on the pan about 15-20 minutes.  Note:  This 15-20 minute rest will make dough easy to pat onto pizza pan.

IMG_9558 IMG_9558 IMG_9563 IMG_9563~Step 4.  Using your fingertips and a light touch, pat and press dough evenly across bottos and evenly up sides of pan.  I do this in 3 parts taking 10-15 minutes, allowing dough to rest 3-4 minutes each time before patting and pressing again.  Top your pizza in your favorite way, and, while today's subject is not toppings, FYI, this pizza is topped w/6 slices provolone cheese, 3/4 cup pizza sauce, 2 cups shredded mozzarella and a sprinkling of dried oregano.  Cover the topped pizza with a lint-free cotton (flour-sack-type) towel.  Set aside to proof the pizza a second time:  one, two or three hours -- one hour is good, two hours is better, three hours is best.

IMG_9575~ Step 5. Place pan of pizza on pizza stone on center rack of preheated 350° oven for 12-14 minutes. Using a spatula, lift a corner of the pie up and using your other hand (via a pot holder or mitt), tilt pan and slide pie off the pan onto the stone. Continue to bake for 2-3 more minutes.  Crust will be lightly-brown and cheese will be molten. Using a pizza peel, transfer pizza to a wire rack to cool for 3-5 minutes.

Slice, grab a piece, eat, repeat, repeat again & again:

IMG_9588Beer in the Pizza Dough & a Semolina Pizza Crust: Recipe yields dough for 1, 12" round, or, 1, 13" x 9" rectangular pizza.

Special Equipment List: 1-cup measuring container; bread machine; paper towel; 1, 12"-round pizza pan, or, 1, "13" x 9" baking pan; paper towel; lint-free flour-sack-type towel; pizza stone; large metal spatula; pizza peel; large cooling rack

6a0120a8551282970b0263e8602140200dCook's Note: Wouldn't it be great if the moment the smooth, round ball of pizza dough was kneaded we could slap it on the pan, pat it out, slather it with sauce, layer it with toppings and pop it in the oven? It sure would, but, unfortunately, we can't -- well, we can, but the end result is somewhat less than palatable. "Proofing" pizza dough, meaning, "the time it takes for the dough to rise after it has been kneaded and initially proofed", it's the most important step in the pizza making process.  Sadly, it's all-too-often not taken seriously. Great crust comes to those who wait. ~ How and Why to Proof Pizza Dough Two Easy Ways ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2021)