Winter has been as unpleasant and relentless as any in recent memory. Weeks go by before there is any break in conditions. The one constant this season has been the speed at which the weather changes. The sun breaks through in the morning and with unseasonably warm temperatures and brings with it the promise of a better day. But within hours the wind hustles and pushes in and the snow begins to fall with regularity. For the first time in years, I can hear a chorus of people calling for mercy. Wishing for the end to come.
Although the snow outside is as deep as it’s been all winter, with snow pilled up a good four feet at the edges of the property, there have been small, noticeable changes of late that bring with it promise that the end is near. With each passing day, daylight lingers longer. In the middle of the day you can begin to feel the sun on your face, even if for a minute. And with March around the corner, the signs should only get stronger.
At the beginning of winter, when the temperature dips and the snow falls, I long for comfort food. Foods that are rich, slightly heavy and comforting. But as the season drags on I begin making foods that remind me of summer. Favourites from the grill but cooked inside and low and slow in the oven. The kind of food that acts as comfort food but has me reminiscing for warmer days and backyard get-togethers. Soon enough.
It’s around this time of year when I begin craving for burgers and ribs. Unlike other Canadians, I don’t spend my nights on my back deck grilling in the middle of winter. I wrap up the grill every October and open it back up in May. And right about now, when the short days and cold nights start to sing the same song everyday, I need reminders of what’s to come. Ribs and slaw and cold beer.
I tend to look for sweetness and spice with my barbecue ribs so I went down that path for this version. A good bark with a kick and a good citrus, flavourful sauce to slather it in. A balance that ties it all together.
March is just around the corner. And it won’t be long before daylights savings kicks in and the days seem longer. Hold out hope. But until that day comes, rely on favourites to help you remember. For me, it’s these ribs.
From my kitchen to yours,
Spice-Rubbed Pork Ribs
- 2 racks of baby back ribs
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup sweet paprika
- 1 tbsp. black pepper
- 1 tbsp. salt
- 1 tbsp. chilli powder
- 1 tbsp. cumin
- 1 tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 tbsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
- Remove the membrane (silverskin) from the bottom side of each of the racks of ribs. Place all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix to incorporate. Place both racks in a large roasting pan lined with aluminum foil. Massage the dry ingredients over both sides of the racks. Let rest at room temperature.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 250F degrees. Transfer the ribs to the oven and cook for 2.5 hours. Remove from the oven and preheat the broiler. Brush the ribs with half of the sauce (reserve the rest) and broil for about 5 minutes, or until the top starts to char.
- Remove from oven and let rest for 20 minutes. Brush with the remaining sauce and serve.
- Serves 4-6.
Citrus Barbecue Sauce
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1 tbsp. orange zest
- 2 cups ketchup
- 1/8 cup soy sauce
- 1/8 cup cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. mustard seed, crushed
- 1 tbsp. honey
- good pinch of salt
- 1 tsp. pepper
- 3 scallions, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
- Using a blender, purée the scallions and garlic with half the orange juice until smooth. In a mediums saucepan, combine the other half of the orange juice, orange zest, ketchup, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard seed, honey, salt & pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir in the contents from the blender and bring to a boil and cook for roughly 10 minutes, reduce to a simmer and cook for a further 15 minutes or until the sauce is thickened. Let cool.
It’s been quite some time since I’ve graced the pages of this blog with new content. And I’m sorry about that. The truth is it’s been a combination of matters that has seen this space collect dust and fade away. Our photography business has kept us busy and this year promises to be our busiest one yet. That combined with other commitments and a lack of motivation has contributed to what has been common around here lately. Not much of anything. Nothing consistently at least.
That changes today. 2014 starts now.
I realized that having this space requires dedication and love and passion. And lately that fire within me hasn’t been there. But I feel it coming back. Quickly. I know the days of posting once a month are over. There’s no point having a food blog and giving it half the time and energy it needs.
This is my resolution. This blog will become what I once saw it as. Somewhere to turn to share all the latest developments and recipes and stories. I vow to return this blog to a space on the web where people can come to find great food and lovely images and new content that changes with the seasons. There’s no point wasting any more time and there’s no better place to start than here and now. With this post.
When I started thinking about how to kick things back off, I immediately thought about pizza. It’s incredibly versatile and it finds a place on our table every couple of weeks now. Homemade dough and fresh produce. It works for lunch and dinner and even breakfast. It’s perfect for quiet evenings in and just as ideal when having friends over. It’s also a great party food and we all know the biggest football game is just around the corner.
This pizza has everything I want when I make one at home. Some sweetness, in this case caramelized onions and a hint of fig jam, saltiness from the prosciutto and earthiness which comes from the roasted tomatoes and arugula. It’s balanced out with smoky mozzarella and finished with a drizzle of olive oil. And leftovers are great with an egg on top.
I hope you like this pizza as much as we do. But most of all, I hope you’ll come back time and again to find things rounding into old form.
Happy 2014. From my kitchen to yours.
BRIE & PROSCIUTTO PIZZA
- pizza dough (directions below)
- red sauce (directions below)
- 6 pieces of prosciutto
- 3 tbsp. caramelized onions
- 2 tbsp. fig jam
- 6 ounces smoky mozzarella, grated
- 3 ounces brie cheese, sliced thinly
- 1 cup arugula
- olive oil, to finish
- sea salt and cracked pepper, to taste
- Roll out your dough to a 12″ pizza round.
- Brush olive oil along the edges and spoon out the red sauce over the remaining dough.
- Spread the mozzarella all over the dough, leaving room along the edges for the crust.
- Spoon the onions over the pizza and top with the brie cheese.
- Spread some of your fig jam over the cheese and rip half of the prosciutto, spreading across the entire pizza.
- Place the pizza on some parchment paper and slide onto your pizza stone.
- Bake in a 450F degree oven for 12 minutes, or until the crust starts brown slightly. Remove the parchment paper and continue baking the pizza until the bottom browns and the top turns golden brown, about 5 minutes more.
- Remove from the oven and season, top with the arugula and drizzle the olive oil over top.
- Serves 3-4.
* Use your favourite dough recipe here. I’ve used this recipe from Bobby Flay many times and it’s been fantastic each time. The link can be found here: Bobby Flay Pizza Dough
Pizza Sauce (Red Sauce)
- 2 pounds plum & cherry tomatoes, cored and halved
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tbsp. rosemary
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tbsp. tomato paste
- Preheat the oven to 400F degrees.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the tomatoes cut side up on the sheet. Toss with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt, garlic and rosemary. Roast for 45 minutes, or until softened and slightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
- Transfer the tomatoes to a food processor and pulse until well mixed.. Add in the garlic and tomato paste and puree until smooth.
- Return the sauce to a saucepan and bring up to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the sauce thickens and reduces, roughly five minutes. Season sauce and let cool.
- Makes about 2-2 1/2 cups.