Sunday, May 27, 2012

Holiday Eats: Foolproof Ribs

I got lazy. I admit it. I didn't want to spend 6 hours smoking ribs.  I have and they were wonderful.  This Memorial Day weekend, I have to travel on holiday to a business meeting on Monday.  Today I wanted to have ribs. So. Here's how I did it.

I used two slabs of "St. Louis Style" pork ribs.  Trimmed and leaner than most.  For the initial cook, I use a mixture of basic cooking spices I buy in the form of "Adobo" spice. It is a combo of garlic, pepper, onion, oregano and other spices that give a good base of flavor.  I don't particularly like a complicated "rub" after trying them several times.  Just not my taste.

I split the racks in half, just for ease in handling. I place them, bone side down, in a half-sheet pan lined in foil in a 300 degree preheated oven.  Cook until just done, about 2 hours. Check the internal temp at about 160 degrees. I just jiggle the bone and when they move easily, they are done.

After they stand for about 15 minutes, I use whatever finishing sauce I want and pop them under the broiler until they are hot and the glaze is set.  Next time, Ill get to this stage and put them on the grill for that little "crisping up" I think they could use.  Bon appetit!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Summer Wear: Haspel Seersucker

Haspel has been the name associated with seersucker suits for over 100 years.  The story is all American. The product is classic.  When the heat goes over three digits and the humidity is near mold inducing, slip into one of these suits and know comfort.

Haspel single breasted all cotton seersucker suit.

Beautiful up close. Featherweight. No wonder these suits have become the classic, wearable alternative in Southern climes. Paired with some nice white bucks,, oh yes.

Check out the story on the website.  Haspel has moved into new classic lines and reinvented the company to stay up with the times.  That's how classic menswear evolves, by staying relevant.

Let's Eat: Perfect Salmon Every Time

I love fresh salmon. In the past I've had challenges making it just right.  But I found the holy grail of roasting a whole side of salmon.  Easy Peasy.

In the past I spent a long time skinning the fillet. No more.  Now I line a heavy half-sheet pan with aluminum foil.  Rest the salmon skin side down.  After cooking, you use a heavy spatula or a fish turner to lift the flesh and the skin sticks to the foil! Easy to dispose and even better, cleanup is ridiculously easy.

I started with a whole fillet of Copper River salmon. Fresh. Nice.  Dried dill (I forgot to buy fresh), minced green onion tops (they have a lot of flavor.)

Thinly sliced lemons and a little roasted garlic grey salt and that's it.  Don't over think it.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees while you get the salmon ready.  Pop it in for 12 minutes.  NO LONGER.  It comes out just a tiny bit on the rare side, but after you let it sit, covered with a sheet of foil for 10 minutes, it is perfect.  Really. It's idiot proof.

The finished product. It was DELICIOUS.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Look At This: A Palette

I surf a lot of blogs; I look at a lot of things on the web.  I found a palette that I really liked today at French Essence Vicki Archer. I love these vignettes - they get better and better!

Friday Favorite: A Country Farmhouse

I found a cool blog today. A Country Farmhouse.  Beautifully renovated country home done by a young couple with two small children.  Really nice.  I snagged some photos and here they are.   Enjoy.

Awesome shiny porch with a great view.
Whose kitchen shelves look this good?
Yep. My kitchen always looks this good too.           not.
Everyone loves a claw foot tub, right?
Al fresco.

Thanks! Come back and see us again.  Exit strategy.

Get It For Less: Brooks Brothers Sales

When Brooks Brothers has a sale, sometimes you can get really amazing things for little or nothing.  To wit, this nice very lightweight sport coat.

Very traditional fit, BB "Regent" style single breasted.

 Summer weight in silk, linen and wool.

And now for the good part:  $149 with free shipping, a $399 savings.  Yes, you heard correctly: Saved THREE HUNDRED NINETY NINE DOLLARS!

This is a Summer wardrobe staple.  Easily steamed fresh.  Packable. Wearable. Classic.  Love it already.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


I love getting a "Box Of Awesome" every month... this month: SHAVE..

And it all came in a cigar box too!  I haven't seen one in years.  These guys have the whole packaging thing down pat.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

More Please: Easy Shrimp Salad

When I was a child, one of my fondest memories of a special treat was my family recipe for shrimp salad.  It is simple. It is delicious. It has very few ingredients, so they have to be of the best quality. Fresh Gulf shrimp.  Very fresh vegetables and the best quality mayonnaise.  If  you live in the South, use Duke's.  If not, well, Hellman's is what I use here in Texas.  A home made aioli would be best.

The first thing to remember is to NOT overcook the shrimp.  See previous post about poaching.

Easy Shrimp Salad

1.5# large Gulf shrimp poached, peeled and deveined
3 ribs celery - fine dice
4 or 5 Green Onions - fine dice, white with two inches of the green (as long as its tender)
1/2c - 3/4c  Good quality mayonnaise
1/2 Tsp. Black Pepper
1/2 Tsp. Salt (to taste)

Cut the shrimp in half lengthwise and then into thirds.  Combine all ingredients and adjust seasonings to taste.  I like to let this sit overnight to let the flavors really come together.  Served on a sandwich, or sitting on top of a plate of shredded romaine, this stuff is totally fresh and addictive.

The addition of a squeeze of fresh lemon just before serving is icing on the cake.  Enjoy.

SHRIMP: Nothing Small About The Taste

Perfect Poached Shrimp from Southern Living Magazine

I struggle, as many of us do, with perfectly cooked shrimp. One minute too long and, well, it’s inedible really.  Too short and its sushi (or bait) and not the good kind. I can cook some sauteed shrimp like nobody’s business, but sometimes have a hard time judging how to boil or poach them.  I found this recipe in Southern Living’s online website and snagged it here for you.  This week, they will be used in Shrimp Salad. The old fashioned kind we used to have as a child.  I’ll post the recipe and photos later.

    •    Ice
    •    4 qt. water
    •    1 lemon, halved
    •    1 tablespoon black peppercorns
    •    2 bay leaves
    •    2 teaspoons salt
    •    2 pounds un-peeled, large raw shrimp (26/30 count)

Fill a large bowl halfway with ice and water. Pour 4 qt. water into a Dutch oven; squeeze juice from lemon into Dutch oven. Stir in lemon halves, black peppercorns, bay leaves, and salt; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; add shrimp. Cover and let stand 5 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Stir shrimp into ice water; let stand 10 minutes. Peel and devein shrimp. Store in a tightly covered container until ready to use. Keeps 1-2 days refrigerated.

Courtesy of: Southern Living 
MAY 2012

Mother's Day Special Request: Pineapple Upside Down Cake

My mom remembers her mother's Pineapple Upside Down Cake. Well, actually she remembers the Apricot Upside Down Cake that her mom used to make. So for Mother's Day, I thought, why not?  I snagged a recipe from one of my new favorite sites,

Baking cabinet

I enjoy baking. I have two cabinets in the kitchen devoted to baking supplies and ingredients. It's a little bit of a problem sometimes, just because I believe we have to have a back-up for the back-up as far as supplies go so there are always bags and bags of sugar, flour and other ingredients hanging around calling for us to bake them.

So, the PUD cake goes like this:

I am one of those guys who has to have it ALL on the counter, right?  Everything out and handy before I start.

I used a special PUD cake pan. Never again. Used once. Went straight to the Salvation Army box.  Give me a heavy gauge, dark steel pan any day.  This thing was way too thin and, well.. it didn't produce the prettiest product.

The first thing is to make the caramel that goes on the bottom of the pan. Sugar, one pat of butter and a teaspoon of water over medium heat until it turns dark brown... Mmmm.

Pour the caramel in the bottom of the pan, wait about 2 minutes and put in the pineapple (or whatever) slices.

The batter is simple, sweet and delicious. I used chopped, toasted pecans as my spin on it instead of macadamia nuts. I almost used pistachios, but maybe next time.

After baking, let it cool and invert on a plate.  This needs to be refrigerated and I personally like this cake ICE COLD. Delicious.

It may not be pretty around the edges but my goodness it tastes so good.  I can't wait for dessert after dinner!
 Pineapple Upside Down Cake

1 1/2 C sugar
8 T unsalted butter (1 stick) softened, plus more for greasing pan
1 1/2 c. AP flour
1/2 C whole macadamia nuts, toasted & rough chop (I used PECANS - its a Southern thing)
2 t baking powder
1/2 t salt
2 lg eggs
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/4 t almond extract
3/4 C whole milk
1 can sliced pineapple

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees and lightly butter a 9-inch round cake pan.Iin a saucepan over medium heat combine 3/4 C sugar & 1 T water, stirring occasionally until deep golden brown add 1 T butter. 8-11 minutes.

Pour the caramel into the prepared cakepan. let cool slightly. then lay your pineapple slices on top of the caramel.

Combine the AP, macadamia nuts, baking powder & salt.  Beat 7 T butter & 3/4 C sugar in a large bowl of an electric mixer on medium high heat until fluffy & white.  Add the eggs one at a time incorporating each completely. Beat in the vanilla, almond, & coconut extract.  Alternately add the flour mixture and the milk.  Add in 3 batches each, beginning & ending with flour mixture. Pour the batter into your prepared pan.  Bake 45-50 minutes, let cool 30 minutes then invert on plate.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Bedrooms: Where We Dream

I love my house.  I really love my bedroom.  On the house plans, it is listed as a "Jr. Master Suite" and sits directly over the main floor master.  At only 15' x 21' it is not a huge room, but it accommodates the bed with enough room for a chaise and entertainment center. 

The nightstands hold matching silver "trophy lamps".  Above each are a couple of rare hand colored lithographs depicting the English exploration of China.  I found them years ago at a yard sale and paid not more than $20/ea.  They are framed in very old green gilt frames and original rabbit fur mats! Unique.

This is a tranquil place: A comfortable leather chaise. A big down filled, quilted pillow. A lightweight cashmere throw. A table, a gift from my parents to my grandmother, was built in 1956 and has a tiny drawer  that accommodates two remote controls perfectly.  Underfoot is a "Black Majal"; a hand tied, vegetable dyed wool rug made in Afghanistan in the early '70's.

The pine entertainment center is perfect for an odd assortment of books, family photos, memorabilia and easily accommodates the TV, cable box and DVD player.

The peek into the en suite bathroom.