Saturday, December 18, 2010

Merry Snack-mas!

We're in the middle of holiday party season. I haven't had a chance to finish my shopping and I've had to *gasp* work! I like to have something new each season so that my people using us for party catering can expect something exciting. Here are a couple of things we've done this season.

BLT Cheeseball

Alright so the "L" is really parsley. Cut me some slack. 2lbs cream cheese, 1/2 lb of crispy bacon, crumbled, 1/4 pint of grape tomatoes diced 1 bunch of parsley chopped. Mix together with some kosher salt, a lot of black pepper, and some of your favorite seasoning. Serve with crackers and pretend like it took forever. If you're lazy, you could use the bacon crumbles (not bits!) from the salad section. (Ok. I know this works because I am lazy. There I said it.)

Cranberry Relish

I've added this to balsamic vinaigrette and used it to top my little goat cheese tarts. In a food processor combine 2 cups of fresh cranberries, 6 or 7 basil leaves, 2 whole oranges (not peeled, not de-seeded, whole) pulse until it's pulverized. Add about 1/2 cup of rice wine vinegar, 2 cups of sugar and let it rest for a few days. for the world's easiest pick up food spread gingersnaps with goat cheese and then top with a dollop of cranberry relish.

This week holds a few more parties before our own family celebrates. Hope your holiday is awesome.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Family Traditions

My extended family wholeheartedly believes in tradition. Do something twice and it's considered a tradition. Easter holds the promise of traditional BBQ Chicken. July 4th...more BBQ. We had to break our long standing Christmas Tradition when our families grew to include new babies. So we started our own. Ham and biscuits for breakfast. White beans and home made chili sauce on christmas eve. Wine beginning early Christmas afternoon. My sister's husband drinking enough to be sweet to me by 6:30.

But the ultimate in tradition in the Roark Family is Thanksgiving. Nearly 30 years ago my aunt Ginger began preparing Thanksgiving dinner for the Roark family after she lost her mom on Thanksgiving day the year before. We are seated at a long table with perfect linens, beautiful china, and shiny silver. Each person has an assigned seat that only is adjusted when someone is born or marries into the family. The food. Oh the food.

We'll start: cold cranberry salad, cornbread dressing with cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and gravy (both giblet and faux giblet), english peas, corn casserole, asparagus casserole, sweet potato casserole both with pecans and with marshmallows, sherried fruit, and, of course, turkey.

Perfection. Ginger and her family work for days on the food, and weeks on the silver. It's one of the most perfect days. After lunch we take turns telling what we are thankful for from the past year.

We are blessed. Hope your Thanksgiving is filled with as much food and love and family as mine will be.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Best of the Best

Imagine: over 100 of the best barbeque teams in North America. Smoke filling up the air. The smell of alligator frying. Some old guy with a microphone hollering: get your peaches and cream corn! fresh off the farm! fresh off the grill! And in the background...the Ubon's team doing what can only be considered a performance art piece. Bohemian Rhapsody.

Ok, so we don't know all the words, but we can improvise guitar solos and piano solos and achieve really loud operatic-esque vocals when pressed.

Truth of the matter is that on Friday we had a really awesome hog. It netted us a 7th place. Out of 7. Friday night when it was time to get hog number 2 rolling in as many days, well, we weren't so thrilled with the process. You see, my friend, Beeve retires from BBQ every single time he doesn't win. Sometimes he retires even when he does win. Beeve retired around 6:00 pm and was forced out of retirement like a pig smoking Brett Farve at 6:15. My dad slapped the hog around a little, threatened it. Gave it the Christopher Walken treatment. We performed Bohemian Rhapsody. By 6:30 that hog was on the grill and smoking. 8:00 and we were headed to the Japanese Steak House in Waycross Ga.

Saturday evening brought us a long awards ceremony. Top 10 apple pies. Top 10 Pecan pies. Top 10 Macaroni and Cheese. Top 10 quail egg based mayonnaise. You get the point, right? The thing is, all of the backyard teams were given their awards. and that crowd left. I wanted to stand up and scream: hey! I listened to your kid play the clarinet you stay and listen to mine! (Sorry, I digress.) After nearly 100 awards, we were finally given a trophy for a 1st place hog.

Excited isn't the word! Worst to First!

I'm sad that Beeve and Blondie, Viv and Allen weren't included in the picture above. But my, ain't that bell pretty!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mr. George's Tomatoes are in!

I got home one night this week and found a plastic bag full of tomatoes hanging on my door knob. So after a couple of days of tomato sandwiches and tomato gravy I started worrying about my tomatoes turning. We spent today hanging out and watching cooking channel and Jamie Oliver gave us an inspiring show on tomatoes. So here's what we had for dinner:

Tomato Orzo Gratin

Wash and place in a roasting pan 3 pints of tomatoes. add 3 tbsp of olive oil, 1 tbsp of rice wine vinegar salt and pepper. Roll tomatoes around to coat and roast for about 30 minutes at 350. Peel tomatoes (it's ok if you don't get all the skin...I call that "texture") and put into an oven safe baking dish. Add a handful of chopped herbs (I used basil and parsley). Strain tomato leavings and discard the seeds. Mix a tablespoon of flour into the tomato "juice." Add 1/2 milk, 1/2 cup of gouda and 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Add 1/2 cup of orzo and pour over tomatoes. Cook covered for about 20 minutes. Uncover and top with mozzarella and prosciutto and bake for 10 minutes.

This would have worked without the prosciutto...but what the hell, it was delicious.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Grilled Veggie Orzo

My friend Michele is a massage therapist, yoga instructor, Reiki Master and *gasp* VEGETARIAN! I know..I know. We've found common ground without me force feeding her bacon. She's a beautiful person and an amazing friend. I made tonight's recipe with her in mind.

While red bell pepper, zucchini and yellow squash are roasting on the grill, cook 1/2 cup of orzo pasta (I used whole wheat). Mix together 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tbsp lime juice, salt and pepper. Dice 2 tomatoes and the roasted vegetables and toss with the dressing. Add drained orzo. Toss in a hand full of herbs (I had basil and parsley) and allow everything to get friendly for about an hour.

We had this with a grilled cheese sandwich...provolone, cheddar, jack and havarti. Perfect summer dinner.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Video of the Princess

My friend Anthony Quintano was kind enough to put together this video for me. He is AWESOME. I had no idea when I was begging for his help that dude is a serious professional! (And a super nice fella to boot!) Let me know what you think.

Ubon's at the 2010 Big Apple BBQ Block Party New York City from Anthony Quintano on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Big Apple Barbeque Block Party

Our family is heading out for our favorite event of the year. Today Daddy, Mama, and Reggie left Mississippi pulling our BBQ Trailer. Tomorrow my family...all of us...Jacob AND Ellie...will be hitting NYC.

We've been cooking competitive bbq for more than 20 years. It is so exciting to see a national interest in BBQ. We are honored to be included in the 2010 Big Apple BBQ Block Party. We've got a huge group coming. I can't wait. People I love, People who are dear friends, People I don't even know sharing in the culinary interest of BBQ.

Please come see us.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The very best hamburger I ever had

Occasionally (more often than I'm willing to admit) I totally earn my "Princess" status. Today has been one of those days. I've lounged around, gotten familiar with the Cooking Channel and had people I love cook food that I want. We started our with breakfast at Mama's...homemade biscuits, cinnamon rolls, fried eggs, bacon, sausage, grits, gravy. I had to rush home and get in a nap before my bed tousled hair started to calm down.

Refreshed from my morning nap and in a hurry to catch my afternoon nap, I watched a show on the Cooking Channel. It showcased one of the new hot restaurants in NYC: Minetta Tavern. On my 2nd trip to New York I happened upon this restaurant, and I made it my 1st stop until it closed for renovations 2 years ago. I was having a hard day and when I saw that the Minetta Tavern was closed after more than 25 years I almost cried. I've sworn that I wouldn't go into a hyped up version of my favorite restaurant. that may have changed. The new incarnation is apparently a tavern style steak house. They have a hamburger that's $26. After seeing that burger I decided I would indeed pay $26 for it. OR...


So today, on Super Princess Saturday Doc made me the greatest burger of all time.

He started with 2 Ribeyes, 1 sirloin and 5 slices of bacon. All of those went into the food processor. (*never, ever again will I make a hamburger with grocery store ground beef. This I promise you!) Doc put it into the processor in batches and pulsed it until it "looked right." (He says to give a shout out to the king of the food nerds, Alton Brown. I believe he's outlined this process well.) That's it. That's all you have to do to grind your own meat. After this was formed into patties and put onto the griddle, he basted it with...yep...clarified butter. The burger was topped off with caramelized onions.

Oh delicious meat.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Yazoo City Tornado

Well, the Ubon's family was blessed this weekend. We made it through all of the damage without even a scratch. Our roof has a stick through it but it's small and Mama lost some glass in her turret. Many of my friends are without tonight. Keep our little town in your thoughts as we begin to rebuild.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Jewish Penicillin

15 days after the end of February, also known as March 15, the Ides of March, or spring allergy season in Mississippi. It's beautiful, but I started coughing and wheezing and being generally pitiful.

Mama used to make chicken soup for me when I got sick. After church yesterday I decided to make some for myself with some extra love.

In a large pot I placed a whole chicken, parsley, a sliced lemon, sliced shallots, carrots, celery, salt, crushed garlic, basil and black peppercorns. I let this simmer together for about 2.5 hours. I saved the broth and added 2 bags of frozen vegetables and the meat from the chicken. Into the soup I added a teaspoon of curry, more salt and pepper, more basil and chopped parsley. I let this simmer for another hour and added frozen dumplins and a cup of cream. This cooked for another 40 minutes or so.

My mama made homemade sho' nuff real buttermilk cornbread and my daddy ate 3 bowls. I'm not exactly sure if it cured me, but I promise I feel much better. I'm pretty sure this was 1 matzo ball short of being the perfect Jewish Penicillin.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Loose Caboose Festival in Newton, MS

I saw the first signs of spring this weekend: sunburned scalp, pecan wood smoke, ribs, mahogany colored whole hogs. Ah yes, 28 degree nights and 60 degree days, 18 hours of smoke. BBQ Spring has sprung!

The town of Newton hosted the first contest of the year, the Loose Caboose Festival. What a great contest. The first contest of the year brings out some major heavy hitters: Diamond D, Party Q, 10 Bones, Magnificent Steve, Red Hot Smokers, just to name a few. We found our way into a 2nd place whole hog (that in my opinion was THE hog to compare hogs to), 4th place shoulder and 5th place ribs. Our friends Red Hot Smokers won a Grand Champion with their shoulder.

What a great day! I'd suggest that all of our friends make a plan to come for next year's event. If you're new, or new to the MBN, this is a great contest to start with simply because there isn't a team there who won't help you figure out what you're doing.

I've been thinking about putting together an outline for doing a barbeque on site presentation. Any interest in this?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

What does it mean to be "Southern?"

I had my annual vestry retreat this weekend. We're a very small church with a very faithful congregation. Our Senior Warden is a great guy who drives a long way just to come to church. He's one cool cat. But today he made the comment, "I don't like chicken salad and I don't like sweet tea."

Well, I was taken aback! How can you consider yourself southern and not love chicken salad and sweet tea? I love sweet tea so much that I gave it up for Lent!! Sweet tea is supposed to help me get closer to God! Sweet tea is an art and our birthright as southerners.

I decided to protest my southern yankee friend and make chicken salad for dinner....fancy chicken salad. Here's the recipe.

remove and chop meat from one whole smoked chicken. Chop 3 stalks of cleaned celery. slice 1 cup of red seedless grapes and add. Add 1 package of honey glazed slivered almonds. add 2 tablespoons of chopped parsley. Add 1/2 cup of mayo, 1 teaspoon of curry, salt and pepper to taste.

Then come tell me you don't like chicken salad!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Spicy Mustard

This afternoon my shipment arrived!

I haven’t been able to get it all together to make a much needed trip to NYC. The new sweet baby and the big kid don’t do so well when they are the only 2 at home, so that just wasn’t an option. I’ll make it to New York. We signed our Pitmaster Agreement today so I will be there by June!

All of my pregnancy with Ellie I craved Katz Deli. Please keep in mind that I’ve never been to Katz. Oh, I’ve had my share of New York Delis. (I’m not ashamed to say that I love a boiled egg sandwich from my nearest neighborhood bodega after a hard night of drinking….but we all know that’s not New York Deli.) Something about the way “Katz” rolled off the tongue made me hungry. I threw hints and received a promise or two to shlep a pastrami sandwich back to my home…unfulfilled.

When it became clear that I would be missing my regular February trip to New York, I ordered an overnight shipment from Katz.

*Jewish Rye Bread: There is indeed a heaven.
*Pastrami: Delivered from lackadaisical subpar sandwich meat.
*Chocolate Babka: Sorry cinnamon, you are indeed the lesser babka.
Most of all:

Spicy Yellow Mustard. This perfect blend of tangy yellow mustard and spicy brown mustard has almost made me weep. Damn, just thinking about it makes me want to go into the kitchen and construct a Rye and Mustard sandwich.

I think I will.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Venison Stew with Mushroom Tarragon Porridge.

I think it must be the weather. It’s been cold, cold around here for the last week or so. All I’ve been able to think of for during this cold weather has been steel cut oats. This drafty ole house has been so cold I’ve checked to see if we are living at Hogwarts. JK Rowling always described dinners with very hearty soups and stews that would fight against the cold. So, I suppose nothing is ever original. This recipe might be as close as I get. The idea of porridge isn’t anything new. I doubt the idea for a savory porridge is anything new, but it is new to Mississippi.

This is one of those times when I need to ask you to trust me. It’s going to seem very strange. I didn’t try this with rolled oats or with any quick-type oats, I don’t know that I would. So much of this was textural. I cooked a mushroom porridge and a venison stew. (you’ve seen the stew recipe before.) I served these together in the same bowl. If you’re looking for something different, this is it.

Mushroom Porridge
2 cans beef consume
3 cups of water
1.5 cups of steel cut oats
salt and pepper

bring consume and water to a boil. Add steel cut oats and boil for about 30 minutes. Sautee mushrooms and add to the oats after about 30 minutes. Add fresh tarragon, cream and butter, salt and pepper.

serve with:
Coat 2 lbs of venison (this may be a roast that's cubed or stew meat.) with flour. In a big pot heat 3 tbsp OLIVE OIL. Add beef and 2 large chopped onions and cooked until beef is browned. Once beef is brown add 2 cans BEEF BROTH, 1 cup RED WINE, 3 cups WATER, chopped (large pieces or baby) CARROTS (to taste), chopped POTATOES (large pieces or small red potatoes), MUSHROOMS (I'm using shitake), 2 tbsp UBON'S SEASON T'UP, 2 tbsp THAT OLE THYME, Salt, Pepper to taste. The longer this simmers the better it will be. If you've got a fair amount of flour on your venison that will serve as a roux to thicken.