19 April 2018

Oven Barbecue Pork Ribs

Oven Barbecue Pork Ribs / www.delightfulrepast.com

Oven Barbecue Pork Ribs hadn’t even entered my mind in recent months. But when I was checking out the meat counter at my local natural food store, I saw two packages of pork back ribs on sale for 30% off as this was their sell-by date.

I always make a point of buying humanely raised, non-GMO, antibiotic-free, etc, etc; and that’s a lot more expensive than supermarket meat, so I always look for the sales. And many times that turns my menu plans upside down!

The two packages each had a little slab weighing about 3/4 pound, perfect for the two of us. Then I just guesstimated how much dry rub and sauce I should make, and it worked out perfectly, with no waste.

The ribs turned out soooo good, I kind of don't care anymore that we haven't gotten around to replacing our outdoor grill. They steamed to tender perfection in the foil wrap and then developed the sticky, crusty finish unwrapped.

Of course, barbecued (oven or otherwise) ribs are like meat candy, so I don't eat a large serving or have them very often. 

Mr Delightful was really happy with these ribs, so I'm going to be making them again. They really call for my Perfect Potato Salad, but that wasn't happening, so I diced some potatoes and fried them nice and crispy. And next time, Daddy's Broccoli Salad instead of peas. Are you a rib fan?

Oven Barbecue Pork Ribs / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Oven Barbecue Pork Ribs

(Serves 2 or 3, but recipe can be easily multiplied)

1 1/2 to 2 pounds (0.68 0.91 kilograms) pork back ribs

The Dry Rub

2 tablespoons (0.875 ounces/25 grams) dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground dried chiles (I make a little mixture of my own)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne

The Barbecue Sauce

(Makes about 1/3 cup)

1/4 cup organic ketchup
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon country Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Pinch of cayenne

1 Preheat oven to 250F/120C/Gas1/2. Tear off a piece of 12-inch-wide aluminum foil about 18 inches long, fold it in half and place it in a 13x9x1-inch quarter sheet pan. Tear off a 9-inch long piece for the “lid.”

2 In a small bowl, stir together all the dry rub ingredients.

3 In a small bowl, stir together all the barbecue sauce ingredients.

4 Put the rack(s) of ribs meat side down on foil. Peel off the tough membrane, if there is one, on the bony side of the ribs. Prick the back of the ribs with a knife in several places. Apply dry rub all over. Put the top piece of foil over the meat-side-down ribs and fold the edges to wrap tightly. Place the quarter sheet pan with its package of ribs in the preheated oven for 2 hours.

Note: May be made ahead to this point, refrigerated and finished the next day.

5 Remove from the oven; turn the heat up to 350F/180C/Gas4. Remove the top foil and carefully drain off all the liquid. Brush a third of the sauce on the meaty side, put it back in the oven with the foil open for 15 minutes. Repeat twice, cooking for a total of 45 minutes.

6 Let ribs rest for 5 minutes before cutting apart. 


12 April 2018

Intermittent Fasting 16/8 - It's Not Just About What You Eat, But When You Eat

16/8 Intermittent Fasting (this photo - loose leaf black tea, the only thing I consume during the fasting) / www.delightfulrepast.com
Why a photo of loose leaf black tea? Because it's the only thing I consume during the fast.

Intermittent fasting is something I've been researching for several months (I don't like to rush into things!). Other than my emphasis on sustainable, local, organic whole foods, I don’t follow any particular diet or have a lot of food rules. Just three:
Always interested in maximizing my health and preventing problems before they occur, I’ve always believed something Mark Hyman, MD, said so succinctly: The most powerful medicine is at the end of your fork.

I do a bit of daily exercise, including weight training, to prevent the loss of muscle mass that starts occurring much earlier in life than you might imagine. According to WebMD: Physically inactive people can lose as much as 3% to 5% of their muscle mass each decade after age 30. Even if you are active, you'll still have some muscle loss.

The other key to avoiding muscle loss is maintaining healthy insulin sensitivity. And that is what got me interested in intermittent fasting, specifically 16/8 intermittent fasting.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor of any kind, have no formal education in the field of diet or nutrition and would suggest that anyone who is under a doctor’s care for any condition should consult their doctor about dietary changes as their medication dosages will likely need adjusting. According to Dr Fung (see next paragraph), people who should not fast are those who are: underweight, malnourished, children, pregnant or breastfeeding. And if you’ve ever had any sort of eating disorder, consult your doctor. I'm not an expert, I’m simply telling you what works for me.

But there is plenty of information out there from people who are experts. Here is a YouTube video of nephrologist Jason Fung, MD, being interviewed by Dr Mercola. Especially if you or someone you love is diabetic, please watch this video.

This is not “a diet”—I don’t believe in temporary diets—it is a way of eating that can be done for a time or for a lifetime. So I spent months researching it before deciding to do it. I learned it has many benefits and is really quite easy to do. You can choose any 16 hours to fast, including however many hours you sleep. If you sleep 8 hours, that’s half of it right there.

Since I had already stopped after-dinner evening snacking a few years ago, it was really just a matter of postponing breakfast until 10:00 in the morning. So I do all my eating between 10 am and 6 pm. This might mean packing a breakfast to have at work—something with lots of protein, not Starbucks and a donut!

But no need to get obsessive about it. If the 16/8 schedule won't work for you some days, just make it 15/9 or even 14/10. It's all good!

Intermittent Fasting 16/8 - It's Not Just About What You Eat, But When You Eat / www.delightfulrepast.com
Black tea - my beverage of choice during the fasting hours
(and every other waking hour!)

Benefits of 16/8 Intermittent Fasting

  • Regulates insulin and glucose, lowering the risk of diabetes, obesity, fatty liver disease, fatty pancreas
  • Stimulates metabolism for slow, steady loss of body fat (including that dangerous excess visceral fat) rather than loss of lean body mass
  • Improves lipid profile and heart function
  • Stresses the brain in the same (good) way that exercise stresses the body, reducing amyloids in the brain and lowering the risk of stroke, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dementia
  • Increases human growth hormone and boosts immune system
  • Reduces oxidative stress and stimulates the body to maintain and repair cells and tissues
  • Increases energy level
  • Eliminates food cravings
If this is something you think you might like to try but think it's going to be difficult, I'd just like to tell you it's really quite easy. If you like, you can build up the number of fasting hours gradually. It's compatible with any diet (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, keto ...), compatible with any schedule and doesn't require willpower.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on fasting, dieting, nutrition and health. And don't worry, I'll be back with a really good comfort food recipe next week!


05 April 2018

One-Pan Skillet Lasagne

One-Pan Skillet Lasagne / www.delightfulrepast.com

I was craving lasagne this week but was not inclined to go all out and make my classic Lasagne. And I really wanted to make it a true one-pan thing, so for the first time in my life I picked up some no-boil lasagne. Now I’m kicking myself in the heinie for not trying it sooner!

Just be sure no pieces of the pasta are sticking up out of the sauce when you pop it into the oven because they will come out just the way they went in. Of course, if I’d baked it with the lid on for the first 15 minutes, maybe I wouldn’t have had that one uncooked bit? Next time.

I decided to use cream cheese instead of ricotta because it’s easy to use up the rest of an 8-ounce package of organic cream cheese, but the rest of a 15-ounce container of ricotta would have gone to waste around here this week. And I really hate that!

My favorite thing about one-pan dishes like this? You use just one pan! My regular lasagne would have used the skillet, the big pot and colander and the baking dish. Do you like one-pan dishes?

One-Pan Skillet Lasagne / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Skillet Lasagne

(Serves 4 to 6)

Sure, my full-on classic Lasagne has a few things this doesn’t, but it’s a process I’m just not up for this day/week/month. So this is my quick, no-muss-no-fuss version, meaning it is baked right in the skillet.

The Meat Sauce

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 pound extra lean ground beef
2 tablespoons tomato paste, optional
1 14.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1/2 cup drinkable dry red wine or water
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
A pinch to 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf

The Pasta

4 ounces (113 grams) no-boil lasagne, broken into 3 or 4 pieces

The Cheese

3/4 cup (2.5 ounces/71 grams) shredded Parmesan
3 ounces (85 grams) cream cheese
3 ounces (85 grams) mozzarella or unsmoked provolone slices, cut or torn into about 4 pieces

1 In large oven-proof skillet (I use the All-Clad 5112 Stainless 12-Inch Fry Pan), heat oil and cook chopped onion for about 5 minutes, or until very soft. Add ground beef and cook, breaking up the meat, until it is well browned. Take the time to cook off most of the liquid. With extra lean ground beef, there will be no excess fat to drain off. Stir in the tomato paste, optional, cooking for a few minutes to "toast" it. Stir in remaining sauce ingredients. Bring to a simmer. Simmer, loosely covered, for about 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Taste and adjust seasoning.

2 When you start the simmering, preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Off heat, stir the broken lasagne noodles into the sauce, leaving them sort of spread out flat and evenly distributed throughout the sauce.

3 Sprinkle on the Parmesan. Pinch off little chunks (about 25 or so) of cream cheese and distribute evenly. Add the pieces of sliced mozzarella, tucking some of them in over the chunks of cream cheese and placing some of them on the top.

4 Bake for about 25 minutes, or until crusty and bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing and serving, or just scoop out.

Note: Can be assembled the day before. If I did that, I'd probably pour on about 1/2 cup of water just before putting it in the oven. 

One-Pan Skillet Lasagne / www.delightfulrepast.com

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29 March 2018

Quinoa Chickpea Salad

Quinoa Chickpea Salad / www.delightfulrepast.com

We have one or two nights a week when we need to have a no-muss-no-fuss, almost-no-cleanup-afterward, make-ahead meal. And since it's spring and we really do need to start eating more salads, I’ve been thinking of making one of them a Salad Night.

There’s always quinoa in the cupboard, though I haven’t actually cooked any in months. And there’s always canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans). Together, a cup of quinoa and a can of chickpeas has about 45 grams of protein, making this a great vegan main dish.

And since quinoa is actually a seed rather than a grain, Quinoa Chickpea Salad is a suitable dish for those on grain-free or gluten-free diets. This is really one of those not-a-recipe recipes, so you can add and subtract vegetables and seasonings at will.

What is your favorite salad ingredient?

Quinoa Chickpea Salad / www.delightfulrepast.com

Quinoa Chickpea Salad

(Makes 3 main-dish servings or about 10 side servings)

1 cup (6.35 ounces/180 grams) quinoa
2 cups (16 fluid ounces/473 ml) water
1 15-ounce (425 grams) can chickpeas
1 large (about 12 ounces/340 grams) English cucumber, chopped
12 ounces (340 grams) tomatoes, chopped
1 bunch cilantro, most of stems removed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1 Rinse quinoa in a large fine-mesh strainer with cold water. Pour it into a 1.5-quart saucepan and add the water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Set aside to cool.

2 Put cooled quinoa in a large (at least 3-quart) bowl. Rinse and drain chickpeas in the strainer and add to the bowl. Add cucumber, tomatoes and cilantro. Pour the remaining ingredients directly into the bowl or, if you prefer, make the dressing separately and mix it in. Taste and adjust seasoning.

Quinoa Chickpea Salad / www.delightfulrepast.com

Note: You might also like my Tabbouleh - Made with Quinoa Instead of Bulgur.


22 March 2018

Toasted Teacakes - English Teacakes

Toasted Teacakes - English Teacakes / www.delightfulrepast.com

English teacakes are delightful warm from the oven, but they really come into their own when they’ve cooled and been split and toasted, up to two days later. Here in the US, various cookies and cakes are called teacakes, and in Scotland a teacake involves marshmallow and chocolate.

But in England (most of it, anyway), a teacake is a lightly sweetened and spiced, currant-filled (you can also use sultanas or other dried fruits) yeast bun, usually served toasted and generously buttered. Also enjoyed at breakfast, they are perfect for elevenses and afternoon tea.

I imagine myself in a cozy English cottage toasting them over an open fire. But having neither an open fire nor a set of toasting forks (never mind the English cottage!), I make do with a toaster or broiler.

The teacakes are split and toasted on the cut sides only under the grill (UK)/broiler (US). Fortunately, our two-slice toaster has what the manufacturer calls a bagel button that toasts just one side. Put the cut sides facing out, push down the lever, then press the bagel/teacake button.

Spread your toasted teacake with lashings of organic unsalted butter—no need for jam—and enjoy with a nice cup of tea. Have you ever had toasted teacakes? If not, start the lovely tradition today!

Toasted Teacakes - English Teacakes / www.delightfulrepast.com

Toasted Teacakes – English Teacakes

(Makes 12)

1 (8 fluid ounces/237 ml) milk
3 tablespoons (1.5 ounces/43 grams) cold unsalted butter
3 dip-and-sweep cups (15 ounces/425 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces/50 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons (0.25 ounce/7 grams) instant yeast
1 teaspoon mixed spice*
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (5 ounces/142 grams) currants
1 large egg, room temperature, beaten, 1 tablespoon reserved for eggwash and mixed with 1 tablespoon milk and refrigerated until needed

* Since the mixed spice, a ready-made blend popular in the UK, is not readily available elsewhere, you may have to make your own. The amount to make depends on how frequently you’ll be using it. I usually stir up enough for 3 batches of teacakes, but just multiply these amounts if you’d like to make more: 3/4 teaspoon each allspice and cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon mace or nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon each cardamom, cloves, coriander and ginger.

1 In 1-quart saucepan, heat the milk just until tiny bubbles start to form around the edge of the pan. Add the chunk of cold butter and stir until melted.

2 Measure 1/4 cup (1.25 ounces/35 grams) of flour and set aside. In 2-quart mixing bowl (I use this 2-quart glass measure – makes it easy to see when dough has doubled), whisk together 2 3/4 cups (13.75 ounces/390 grams) flour, sugar, yeast, spice and salt. Stir in currants, separating any that are stuck together. Make a well in the center.

3 Pour the warm milk mixture and beaten egg (don't forget to take out 1 tablespoon of it) into the well. Mix the flour in to form a soft, but not overly wet, dough. The dough should not be sticking to the bowl too much, but come away fairly cleanly.

4 Working from the remaining 1/4 cup (1.25 ounces/35 grams) of flour, lightly flour the work surface and turn the dough out onto it, Clean out the bowl (no need to wash it) and lightly oil it. Knead the dough, using flour from the 1/4 cup, until it is very smooth and silky, about 5 to 10 minutes. Put the dough into the lightly oiled bowl, cover,* let rise until at least doubled, about 2 to 3 hours.

* If you're using plastic wrap, tear off a 15-inch long piece so that you can use it again to cover the shaped teacakes.

5 Line baking sheet (I use this heavy-duty half sheet pan) with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces--I, being who I am, 😁 weigh the batch of dough in grams (on this food scale) and divide by 12.  Shape each piece into a ball. Give it a little roll on the unfloured counter, a motion sort of like moving a computer mouse around, to make a smooth ball.

6 Place in 3 rows of 4 on prepared baking tray. Flatten each gently into a 3-inch disk about 3/4 inch (2 cm) thick. If using plastic wrap, spray with cooking spray the same piece of plastic wrap you used to cover dough, cover* buns lightly and let rise about 1 hour or so. They will not be doubled, just puffy.

* I use this half sheet pan cover for proofing buns.

Toasted Teacakes - English Teacakes (this photo - teacakes proofing) / www.delightfulrepast.com

7 During last 15 or 20 minutes (depending on your oven), preheat oven to 400F/205C/Gas6.

8 Just before popping them in the oven, brush the buns with the reserved eggwash. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove buns from baking sheet and place on wire rack to cool.

9 Then just split, toast, slather with butter, and Bob's your uncle!

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