Make egg-topped waffles in savory variations

Among my favorite food traditions, Easter brunch is a meal that I delight in preparing for family, large groups of friends or just one special person.

Dishes have been as elaborate as home-cured gravlax and as simple as scrambled duck eggs with the season’s peerless morels. But usually, I plan at least one that can be prepared ahead of time and doesn’t require slaving over the stove. That constitutes the gamut of oven-baked French toast, strata, quiche, frittata (a perennially popular topic of this blog) and various other twists on the egg casserole.

Egg-lover that I am, I do tire of dishes that start with big bowls of beaten eggs. Craving something different, I pondered using my waffle iron for this year’s brunch. Failing to entice for most of my life, waffles have earned a place in my repertoire since the appliance debuted in my kitchen two Christmases past.

Now that I’ve smothered waffles in syrup, smeared them with peanut butter and jam and topped them with ice cream, I’ve plotted the addition of bacon bits, maybe topped with an egg and sweet-savory chutney. Yet somehow, that concept just didn’t seem special enough for Easter brunch.

And the classic combination of fried chicken and waffles? Too much work on a leisurely weekend, a point on which I agree with Chicago Tribune writer Nick Kindelsperger.

Acknowledging that waffle batter is a cinch to make, Kindelsperger also confirms that waffles can be made 20 minutes or so in advance and kept warm in the oven. His crunchy cornmeal waffle wouldn’t suffer if it crisped up a bit, particularly once topped with a poached egg. Indeed, these are a perfect foil for oozing egg yolk.

This formula resembles one of my family’s favorite dishes — poached eggs on crispy polenta cakes — closely enough for weekday breakfasts. For this weekend and other special occasions, I’ll borrow or adapt one of Kindelsperger’s suggestions.

The first would be an obvious use for the locally raised pork filling my freezer (or leftover Easter ham), the second a special presentation for garden peas and the third a late-night indulgence with the kimchee that always has a place in my fridge.

SOUTHERN-STYLE: Saute 8 thin slices of country ham in butter until lightly browned. Top each cornmeal waffle with 2 tablespoons of pimento cheese, a slice of country ham, a poached egg and a sprinkle of chopped chives.

LIGHT AND SPRINGY: Saute 2 cups fresh or frozen peas in 4 tablespoons butter until warm. Add a handful of chopped mint and a large pinch of salt. Top each cornmeal waffle with a 1/4-cup of the pea mixture, a poached egg and a sprinkling of crumbled feta cheese.

KOREAN-STYLE: Add half a cup of chopped scallion to the waffle batter; cook as you normally would. Saute 8 strips of bacon until crisp. Remove all but 4 tablespoons of bacon fat. Add 2 cups chopped cabbage kimchee and cook until mixture is lightly browned. Top each scallion cornmeal waffle with 1/4-cup kimchee, a poached egg, a strip of bacon and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Tribune News Service photo

Cornmeal Waffles

2 cups buttermilk or milk

2 eggs

1/3 cup canola oil

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup yellow cornmeal

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and canola oil. In a second bowl, mix together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients on top of wet and stir just until batter looks roughly combined.

Heat a waffle iron to medium-high. Follow directions for your model, but most suggest using 1/3 cup batter per waffle. Cook until golden-brown and crisp. Transfer waffles to a baking sheet placed in a 200-degree oven to stay warm. Repeat with remaining batter.

Make 8 to 10 waffles.

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Coffee-laced pudding riffs on Vietnamese drink

Jokes about the fallout of daylight-saving time have mostly passed. But my exhaustion hasn’t.

Before I had kids and understood real sleep deprivation, I considered Monday following the time change the worst day of the year. Now, I deplore it on behalf of my 3-year-old and 9-month-old boys, who care nothing for clocks but rely on natural sunlight to nudge them toward earlier mornings. The amount of light doesn’t change in a day, of course, but their bedtime suddenly comes earlier while Mom and Dad seemingly rush them through the best daylight hours toward naps and “quiet time.”

Meanwhile, my coffee-drinking extends later into the day, and I only start to feel the clouds clearing from my consciousness about the time I should be winding down for the evening. It’ll take at least another month of lengthening days to put the brakes on my caffeine cravings.

So this coffee-infused dessert is on my to-do list. A spin on traditional Vietnamese coffee made with sweetened-condensed milk, it’s a favorite at Cassia, a Viet-French eatery in Santa Monica, Calif. This recipe yields a large quantity, enough for a crowd or a week of after-dinner treats.

Tribune News Service photo

Cassia’s Vietnamese Coffee Pudding

2 pints sweetened-condensed milk

1 pint milk

1 pint heavy cream

3 vanilla beans, split

1 cup coarsely ground espresso beans

1 3/4 cups prepared espresso

5 eggs

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cornstarch

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

In a large, heavy-bottom pot, heat the condensed milk, milk, cream, vanilla beans, espresso grounds and espresso until liquid scalds. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt and cornstarch.

Slowly ladle 2 to 3 cups scalded milk mixture in with eggs while whisking to temper. Pour egg mixture back into pot and heat over medium heat. Cook, stirring continuously, until mixture thickens to a custard. Immediately remove from heat.

Strain mixture, using a chinois or cheesecloth-lined fine-mesh sieve, into a bowl containing the cubed butter and vanilla extract. Once mixture is strained, use an immersion blender to blend custard until it is very smooth. Cover surface of custard with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate custard until chilled, preferably overnight. This makes a generous 2 quarts custard, which will keep up to three days, refrigerated.

To serve, dollop custard into cups and garnish with lightly sweetened whipped cream and a sprinkling of finely ground espresso.

Makes 20 servings.

Adapted by the Los Angeles Times from a recipe by pastry chefs Zoe Nathan and Laurel Almerinda of Cassia.

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Orange dessert is a foolproof form of custard

Kumquat custard counted among some unusual citrus recipes in the current edition of A la Carte.

But the 1-inch oblong orbs, described in this week’s story, can be hard to track down at some local grocers. They’ll cost a pretty penny, too, hence their pride of place in a special dessert.

An everyday interpretation of citrus-spiked custard is this fool, a throwback to the days before instant pudding, which is similar in texture. Except this dessert, courtesy of Tribune News Service, is lighter and more refreshing.

The ingredients, apart from oranges, almost mirror those in the kumquat custard, but the process is slightly less involved. Instead of baking, the fool cooks until thick, then firms up a bit more in the fridge.

Tribune News Service photo


Orange Fool

4 oranges

3 eggs

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 cups cream

Zest the oranges and juice them. Set zest and juice aside.

Whisk the eggs until creamy, then beat in the sugar until it dissolves. Add the zest and juice.

Add the cream and cook in a double-boiler over medium heat, stirring continuously, until mixture thickens. Do not allow to boil. Refrigerate and serve cold.

Makes 8 servings.

Recipe from “The Pan-Pacific Cookbook: Savory Bits from the World’s Fare,” by L.L. McLaren, 1915

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Blood oranges make striking sauce for pork loin

The food-section spotlight illuminates some unusual citrus varieties this week. Chief among them are kumquats, pomelos and Cara Cara and blood oranges.

Typically drawn to the most exotic-sounding foods, I’m least familiar with the last fruit in the above list. Although I’ve posted several recipes to this blog calling for blood oranges, I rarely encounter them where I habitually shop. When I have purchased them, I was less enamored of eating them out of hand than trying to combine them with other complementary flavors.

The Orange County Register’s story describes the flavor of blood oranges as “raspberry-like.” Based on my experience, I’m more inclined to agree with a recent Detroit Free Press story that assigns a range of sweet to super sweet to sweet-tart for blood oranges.

Regardless, the juice imparts a sensory sophistication absent from navel oranges. The Register’s story suggests a starring role for blood oranges in marmalade.

Similarly a “mostarda” of blood oranges recommends this pork-loin dish from the Free Press test kitchen. Portuguese for “mustard,” the term also can indicate a Northern Italian dish of fruit cooked in a sweet syrup and mustard powder and seed and traditionally served with boiled or roasted meats. Think of it like chutney, one of my personal favorites with pork.

When roasted, some of the recipe’s oranges are meant to squeeze over the finished dish.

Roast Pork Loin With Blood Orange Mostarda

Tribune News Service photo

1 center-cut boneless pork loin (3 1/2 to 4 pounds)

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

4 blood oranges

2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

1 tablespoon chopped, fresh rosemary

1 tablespoon ground coriander

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, as needed

3 red onions, quartered

Juice of 4 blood oranges (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/3 cup sugar

1/3 cup honey

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 sprig fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar

Position racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 350 F. Tie the pork with kitchen twine at 1-inch intervals so it keeps its shape. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, the zest and juice of 1 blood orange, the garlic, rosemary, coriander, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and a few grinds of pepper. Rub all over pork. Set a rack in a large roasting pan; put pork on rack and let stand at room temperature, for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, quarter remaining 3 blood oranges (do not peel). Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet along with the red onions. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Roast pork on lower oven rack until golden-brown and a thermometer inserted into center registers 145 F, for about 1 hour 10 minutes. About halfway through, roast oranges and onions on upper oven rack until softened and just starting to char, for 25 to 30 minutes; set aside until ready to serve. Remove pork from oven and let rest for 10 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, make combine 1 cup water with the blood orange juice, wine, raisins, sugar, honey, mustard seeds, rosemary and 1 tablespoon of the mustard; bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer until thick and syrupy, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove rosemary sprig and stir in the vinegar and remaining mustard. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside until ready to serve. (Mostarda may be made up to 4 hours ahead; reheat before serving.)

Untie pork and slice; transfer to a platter along with roasted oranges and onions. Serve with mostarda

Makes 8 servings.

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Festival pits palates against gamut of chocolate

For the first time in several years, I’m not running the gauntlet of chocolatiers at the Oregon Chocolate Festival.

It’s been my pleasure to serve as a judge for past festivals, chronicled in previous posts. But an entire weekend of chocolate tasting represents something of an overindulgence for me. Chocolate never has and never will rank among my most favorite flavors.

To be fair, there are lots of ways to enjoy chocolate, from lectures to spa treatments, at this weekend’s festival, relocated in its 12th year to Ashland Hills Hotel. The chocolate product competition, though, is the highlight for most festival-goers, who can taste the creations of 30 chocolatiers and another dozen specialty-foods vendors.

New this year is a chocolate dessert competition that solicits silent-auction bids to benefit the local emergency food bank. You could find me vying for Public House’s Chocolate Ganache with Eucalyptus, Burnt Honey and Olives, or Liquid Assets’ Black Truffle Dark Chocolate Molten Lava Cake with Cream Cheese Buttercream and Meyer Lemon Gastrique.

Or if I really need an overindulgence, for old time’s sake, I could try my hand at this “almost perfect” cake created by Chicago Tribune writer Leah Eskin. After losing a favorite recipe, the food writer pushed the envelope on her idea of perfection by adding a praline crumble.

Tribune News Service photo

Revised Chocolate Cake

10 ounces bittersweet chocolate (60-percent cacao)

2 ounces milk chocolate

11 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup sugar, divided

5 eggs, separated

Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean

1/2 cup sifted flour

Chocolate glaze (recipe follows)

Praline crumble, (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a pan on the stovetop, or in a microwave, melt both types of the chocolate with the butter and 1/2 cup of the sugar.

Whisk the egg yolks and vanilla seeds into chocolate mixture. Whisk in the flour.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites with remaining 1/4 cup sugar to glossy peaks.

Fold one-third of egg whites into chocolate batter. Gently and thoroughly fold in remaining whites.

Pour batter into a 9-inch springform pan. Slide into preheated oven and bake until cake is springy, for about 32 minutes. Cool completely. Release cake and invert onto a 9-inch cardboard or cake-pan round.

Set cake (on its round) on a wire rack. Set rack over a rimmed baking sheet, to catch drips. Pour all the warm glaze into a big puddle on top. With an offset spatula, nudge glaze toward edges and let it drip down sides. Sprinkle with the praline. Let set at least 20 minutes.

Makes 12 servings.

CHOCOLATE GLAZE: Chop 4 ounces semisweet chocolate and tumble into a medium bowl. Heat 1/2 cup heavy cream to boiling; pour cream over chocolate. Let rest for 5 minutes. Gently stir smooth. Stir in 1 tablespoon pecan bourbon (optional).

PRALINE CRUMBLE: In a medium saucepan, combine 6 tablespoons sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons water. Bring to a boil. Let bubble without stirring until syrup starts to color, for 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; stir to a light brown, for 1 minute. Stir in 1 cup toasted pecans. Scrape nuts onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Let cool. Slide candied nuts into food processor; pulse to a rubble.

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Lemony elixir squashes ‘Downton Abbey’ blues

Lemon curd isn’t just an essential of proper high tea, as seen on PBS’ popular “Downton Abbey.”

The recipe that ran with this week’s A la Carte story also is a boon to the preserver’s pantry at the height of citrus season. A February 2015 story provided some twists to classic citrus recipes, including a curd made with orange juice and another with coconut milk to qualify it as vegan.

Here’s another interesting option that’s a classic in its own right. Lemon Squash takes its intense flavors from the fruit’s oil, zest and juice.

A squash, writes Cathy Barrow for the Washington Post, is an old recipe, named for an Indian concentrate of fruit juices. Appearing in British preserving books from the early 20th century, it would fit right in at Downton Abbey, where the Crawleys could have stirred it into cups of tea or snifters of spirits.

A presweetened concentrate, squash is a shortcut to exceptional lemonade by the pitcherful. Combine it with sparkling water for instant Italian-style soda. For cold and flu season, make a version with ginger and add to a hot toddy. A version with lime is far superior to prepackaged margarita mixes.

This time of year, when unusual citrus varieties are obtainable, consider the possibilities of Meyer lemons, key limes, kumquats, yuzu and Buddha’s hand.

Barrow recommends organic, unwaxed lemons, or suggests scrubbing conventional lemons, as the rind is integral to the recipe. If you use Meyer lemons, the squash will have a slight floral note.

To zest the fruit, you can use a channel knife, aka citrus stripper, which has a U-shaped blade to create long, thin strips of citrus zest. If you’re going to can the squash, you’ll need clean jars and rings, as well as new lids.

Properly canned lemon squash can be stored at room temperature for up to 12 months. It can be frozen in jars (directly, with plastic lids), leaving 1 inch head space to allow for expansion, for up to 3 months.

Photo by Goran Kosanovic for The Washington Post

Lemon Squash

10 lemons (see explanation above)

3 cups sugar

Use a vegetable peeler or channel knife to zest 4 of the lemons. (You don’t have to be too careful about amount of pith.)

In a large, wide pot over high heat, bring 4 cups water to a boil, then add all the lemons, including zested ones, and strips of lemon peel. (Depending on size of pot, you might have to do this in batches; fruit must be submerged.) Cook for 2 minutes, then transfer lemons to a bowl to cool. In a separate, medium-sized saucepan, reserve 2 cups lemon cooking water and boiled strips of lemon peel.

When lemons are cool enough to handle, cut them in half, then juice them into a large liquid measuring cup, straining and discarding pulp, seeds and spent lemon halves. Yield should be 1 to 1 1/2 cups.

Add the sugar to lemon cooking water and lemon peels in saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat; cook for 5 minutes, then remove from heat. Discard lemon peels or reserve them for candying. Stir in lemon juice until well-incorporated.

Fill 4 half-pint jars, leaving a ¼ inch head space. Wipe jar rims well and place lids and rings, tightening until just secure. Process for 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath, starting timing from moment water returns to a boil. Remove jars from water bath, setting them upright on a folded towel to cool completely. Make sure seals are tight before storing, for up to 1 year.

Makes 32 ounces.

VARIATIONS: To make Lemon Honey Squash, replace 1 cup of the sugar with 1 cup honey.

To make Ginger Lemon Cold-Be-Gone, cut a 1-inch piece of peeled, fresh ginger root into coin-size slices and add them to boiling mixture of lemon water, zest and sugar; discard ginger after cooking. Stir cooled mixture into hot water as a cold soother.

To make a bourbon or cognac sidecar, combine 1 1/2 ounces liquor and 1 ounce Lemon Squash. Serve over ice.

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Unwrap these parcels of precious Oregon halibut

A rare treat from Oregon’s commercial fishery is halibut.

Fishermen have a mere 20 hours in most years to make their halibut haul, about 158,600 pounds in 2014. The fish represented a value of approximately $1,037,000 — 0.7 percent of the entire industry — for the 47 boats who participated in the 2014 season, according to a report by Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

At the southern end of their range, the bottomfish rarely weigh more than 150 pounds. Their Alaskan and Canadian counterparts famously reach 650 pounds and constitute the vast majority of halibut sold and consumed in the United States.

The best way to ensure that halibut hails from Oregon is to purchase directly from local fishermen or fish markets who deal directly with them, rather than strictly with wholesale distributors such as Pacific Seafood. Of course, Alaskan halibut is the standby and widely available flash-frozen and vacuum-sealed.

This halibut recipe, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune, calls for roasting the fillets in parchment and plating the individual packets, so each diner gets to unwrap theirs like a present. It also would be lovely with Pacific albacore tuna loins.

Tribune News Service photo


Halibut With Capers and Dill

Fold 4 large sheets of parchment in half; cut out a big half-heart-shaped piece from each. Open pieces; spray with cooking oil. Combine 1 carrot, cut into matchsticks; 1 onion, peeled and sliced; 1 small zucchini, cut into matchsticks; 4 teaspoons each capers and minced, fresh dill; and 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon zest. Divide among parchment, placing a mound just off fold on one side of heart.

Season 4 halibut fillets (6 ounces each) with salt and pepper; place fillets on vegetables. Sprinkle each fillet with 1 teaspoon vermouth. Close parchment: Starting at top of heart shape, crimp edges, overlapping folds, until you reach the point. Twist point tightly; tuck it under parcel.

Bake parcels on a baking sheet at 400 F, for about 18 minutes. Serve packets on plates; open each packet slightly to release any steam, then let diners open the rest of the way.

Makes 4 servings.

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Any time is a good time to prepare Oregon fish

Intended for all those observing Lent, the headline on this week’s A la Carte story brought a wistful smile to my face. “Fine Time for Fish,” the food section proclaimed.

For me, that’s all the time since I put down roots in the Rogue Valley so many years ago after growing up on the South Coast. The problem, which I’ve lamented year in and year out in this blog, is the scarcity of good-quality fish in this landlocked region.

So I often tote home the best fish I can find in Coos Bay. Fishing, like so many other food industries, is highly seasonal. I kick off the new year with Dungeness crab, indulging until the Pacific pink shrimp season begins in April. Summer, with its calmer seas and brinier bay is the time to enjoy the widest variety, culminating every fall with albacore tuna.

Available at intervals year-round, depending on the weather, are rockfish, such as lincod, sole and sundry species marketed as “snapper.” Tender-fleshed, they lend themselves to all sorts of simple preparations that require just a few minutes of cooking time.

Poaching was overlooked in this week’s food section, but it really is a perfect way to guard against overcooked fish. This recipe, courtesy of the Chicago Tribune, is a play on the classic amandine preparation for fish. Vermouth fortifies the poaching liquid while butter, toasted almonds and lemon finish the dish.

Vermouth-Poached Fish Fillets

Tribune News Service photo

Heat a large, dry skillet over medium heat; add 1/2 cup sliced almonds. Toast, stirring, until golden-brown, for about 2 minutes. Transfer almonds to a bowl. In same skillet, heat to a simmer 1 cup water, 1 cup dry white vermouth and 2 teaspoons salt. Add 2 boneless whitefish fillets to skillet; simmer until fish just turns opaque and flakes easily, for about 5 minutes.

Remove fillets; season with salt and pepper. Top with 2 tablespoons melted butter, toasted almonds and 1/4 cup finely chopped, fresh parsley. Serve with lemon wedges on the side for squeezing.

Makes 2 servings.

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Cream cheese cuts some fat in ‘ultimate’ cookie

A beloved cookie reinvented as custard pie recently appealed to readers of this blog.

Admittedly, the concept is a bit nebulous for kids, who expect cookies to come in familiar, portable, hand-held packages. Custard remains a challenging texture for my almost-3-year-old son. And he hasn’t come around to the merits of pie, period.

So cookies seemed the best course for a belated Valentine’s Day celebration for four kids younger than 3. But it couldn’t be just any cookie. This recipe’s inclusion of cream cheese was guaranteed to impress my son, who loves it spread on toast.

Swapping cream cheese for some of the fat in a typical cookie recipe is one strategy billed as heart-healthy. The other is trans fat-free margarine. But I stuck with butter. I did find that my substitution required extending the baking time by one or two minutes to produce a nicely browned cookie.

The quantity of sugar here yields a very sweet treat, but I didn’t reduce it for fear of compromising the cookies’ structure. My concession: cut the vanilla to 1 teaspoon and substitute another teaspoon of almond extract, which I favor in desserts, particularly those with nuts. Pecans, which I already had in my freezer, stood in for the walnuts. And I went with regular dark-chocolate chips instead of miniatures.

Tribune News Service photo

The Ultimate Heart Smart Chocolate-Chip Cookies

Nonstick spray, as needed (optional)

1/4 cup trans fat-free margarine

1/4 cup (2 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

13/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup miniature chocolate chips

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or coat with cooking spray; set aside.

In a medium bowl, beat together the margarine, cream cheese, brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into sugar mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts.

Drop by rounded tablespoonsful onto prepared baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 24 cookies.

Created by Kelli Gibbs, dietetic intern for Heart Smart, and tested by the Detroit Free Press Test Kitchen.

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Braising in coconut milk refines basic ribs recipe

Ribs are not a cut of meat that typically tickles my fancy.

Maybe it’s because the actual meat on a side of ribs usually is outweighed by the bone, fat and connective tissue. And recipes for pork ribs don’t vary too widely, more often tending toward a barbecue-flavored dish, whether braised, roasted or smoked.

All that doesn’t damper my husband’s enthusiasm for ribs, deemed expensive enough that he waits until the monthly meat sale at Medford’s Food 4 Less to stock our freezer. So when I recently ran across a ribs recipe that looked worth a try, we already had everything on hand.

By everything, I mean the headlining ingredients. Lacking both the garlic and jalapenos for the following recipe, I skipped them, along with the lime juice. But incapable of following a recipe to the letter, I added a few items that do tickle my fancy and seemed to belong.

To the brown sugar rub, I added ground cloves, a likely companion with cinnamon in cuisine inspired by Southeast Asia. I also toasted whole coriander seeds with cumin seeds and a few “grains of paradise,” then coarsely ground them in my mortar and pestle.

When slow cooking fattier, tougher cuts of meat, I like them to render for at least an hour, so I can discard much of the fat. So I deviated in that regard from this recipe, adding the coconut-milk sauce with sautéed onions only for the last hour of cooking and after I poured off much of the liquid accumulated in the slow cooker. That maneuver saved me the step of defatting the sauce after straining it.

Lime juice would have added a bright note, but rice vinegar to deglaze the onion and a tablespoon or so of tamarind paste with the curry paste imparted enough acid.

Next time, I will make a point of finishing these ribs with diced jalapeno, chopped scallions and maybe some fresh mint. Several people already requested the rough-draft recipe. Here it is:

Tribune News Service photo

Coriander-Coconut Braised Ribs

3 1/2 pounds country-style pork ribs

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 1/2 tablespoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons canola oil, divided

Nonstick spray, as needed

1 1/2 cups chopped sweet onion

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced ginger

1 tablespoon red curry paste

2 small jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped

1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk

2 tablespoons lime juice

Trim excess fat from the ribs. Stir together the brown sugar, cumin, coriander, salt, black pepper and cinnamon. Sprinkle mixture over ribs, pressing to adhere.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Working in batches, brown ribs on all sides in hot oil.

With nonstick spray, lightly grease insert of a 6-quart slow cooker.

Wipe skillet clean, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and heat to medium heat. Cook the onion in skillet until tender. Add the garlic, ginger, curry paste and jalapenos; cook for 1 minute. Add the soy sauce and coconut milk, stirring to release any browned bits from bottom of skillet. Pour over ribs in slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 5 hours or until pork is tender.

Transfer ribs to a serving platter; cover with foil to keep warm. Pour liquid from slow cooker through a fine-mesh strainer into a glass measuring cup; let stand for 5 minutes. Skim fat from liquid.

Transfer liquid to a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 6 minutes or until reduced to 1 1/2 cups. Stir in the lime juice. Serve with ribs.

Makes 6 servings.

— From Southern Living, courtesy of Tribune News Service.

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    Sarah Lemon

    Sarah Lemon covers the Rogue Valley’s food scene with an enthusiasm that rivals her love of cooking. Her blog mixes culinary musings and milestones with tips and recipes you won’t find in the Mail Tribune’s weekly A la Carte section. When ... Read Full
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