Saturday, 4 July 2015

Dry-rubbed ribs with bourbon-spiked BBQ sauce

Dry-rubbed ribs with bourbon-spiked BBQ sauce

Heatwave. 4th of July. Summer. What do all these add up to? Barbecue, right? Well, yes. But I have a shocking confession to make. We do not own a barbecue. I know, I know, what kind of food blogger am I? But I have a good excuse – we had to bin the BBQ during the kitchen remodel there was simply nowhere to put it. We were supposed to buy a new one this weekend but what with ballet and piano lessons plus birthday parties to attend... we just didn't manage to.

Despite the lack of BBQ my husband was lusting after ribs and here's the thing: you can make amazing ribs in your oven.  Yes, I admit, they will lack the authentic smoky BBQ taste but, honestly, you won't miss it. Because these babies are just awesome. Finger licking, messy, proper taste of summer awesomeness.

Dry-rubbed ribs with bourbon-spiked BBQ sauce

What's more, they are so easy to make. Rub the ribs with a dry spice mix, stick in the oven for about 90 minutes and that's really pretty much there's to it. The barbecue sauce only takes about 10 minutes to throw together too. If you are the kind of person who prepares things in advance (which I am not unless forced to) then rub the spice over the ribs, cover tightly in cling film and put in the fridge overnight. The barbecue sauce can also be prepared in advance. Be warned this recipe only makes enough sauce for about 1kg (2.2lb) ribs. If you are making more ribs you will need to double the recipe.

Dry-rubbed ribs with bourbon-spiked BBQ sauce

Barbecue sauce
Makes enough for 2 racks of ribs
100g | 3.5oz ketchup
60ml | 2fl oz white wine or cider vinegar
3 tbsp bourbon
2 tbsp soft light brown sugar
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp tamarind paste (or use 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce)
1 tsp garlic granules
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

  1. Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan and stir together. Bring to the boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 10 minutes until sauce is slightly thickened.
  2. Set aside to cool – this can be prepared in advance and kept in the fridge in a sealed jar.

For the ribs
Serves 2-3
2x500g | 1.1lb racks of ribs
2 tbsp soft light brown sugar
1 tsp coarsely ground sea salt
1 tsp dry mustard powder
1 tsp onion granules
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or ancho chilli powder)
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground coffee (do not use instant)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). 
  2. Put all the ingredients for the spice rub in a small bowl and mix together.
  3. Use a knife to get under the thin membrane that covers the bony side of the ribs and pull it off. It should come off quite easily.
  4. Rub the spice all over the ribs, massaging it in so it sticks to the ribs. Place the ribs, meat-side down, on a wire rack set over a baking tray. 
  5. Cover with foil and cook in the oven for 1 hour. Take the ribs out of the oven and brush over with the barbecue sauce on both sides.
  6. Return to the oven, covered, for 15 minutes. Take the foil off and cook for another 15 minutes. Rest for 10 minutes then use a knife to cut between the bones and separate the ribs. Serve with the rest of the barbecue sauce.
Dry-rubbed ribs with bourbon-spiked BBQ sauce
Dry-rubbed ribs with bourbon-spiked BBQ sauce

This post is part of Waitrose #TasteTheSummer campaign

Friday, 3 July 2015

Retro Cocktail Friday: Aperol Spritz and Vodka Negroni

Retro Cocktail Friday: Aperol Spritz and Vodka Negroni

You. Guys. What. A. Week.

I started a new, office-based job. In the middle of a freaking heatwave. I discovered anew how much I hate commuting in London, especially in the middle of a freaking heatwave. As is the law of the universe, Sam got a terrible cold (no, really) coughing his way through the night and getting next to no sleep. Needless to say we got no sleep either. I feel so tired it's almost like jetlag – this kind of half-awake state where you are not sure whether what you are experiencing is actually happening or a half forgotten dream. 

I am glad to be working among real people again – the cat didn't make for scintillating conversation while I was freelancing at home. But at the same time my entire being is rebelling against the fact that it is now so difficult to blog – not just to create and photograph recipes but even to have time to write anything. I was commiserating with the lovely Em of Mbakes yesterday at the Sainsburys Christmas event – it seems that pesky life (and work) is getting in the way of our blogging ambitions. By the way there's nothing more absurd than 'Christmas in July' brand showcases. They usually fall on the hottest day of summer and the intense heat combined with Christmas songs and Panettonne makes for a very surreal atmosphere. The food at the Sainsbury's event was delicious however. I could have set up tent by the cheese counter. 

Retro Cocktail Friday: Aperol Spritz and Vodka Negroni

But anyway it IS Friday which is cause enough for celebration. And having a cocktail in hand makes it so much better. This Cocktail Friday we are going all retro – I blame Mad Men which I started re-watching from the beginning recently. For a series I love so much, I have only watched most episodes once which is almost unheard of – I usually watch or listen to (while I work) the films and TV episodes I like on a loop. I can recite entire episodes of the Gilmore Girls chapter and verse. Mad Men is even better the second time around. Peggy is, of course, the hero of the series not that interloper Don Draper. I ♥ Peggy so much.

The amount of cocktail drinking going on in Mad Men borders on the outright obscene but lets just say it has put me in the mood for Old Fashioneds, Negronis and Gimlets. Campari and Aperol were probably always in residence in a '70s cocktail cabinet and I happen to have huge affection for both – even though my husband pretty much hates them. Their lurid colouring and bitter taste may seem a tad cheesy but there's nothing more refreshing than an Aperol Spritz or a Negroni. You simply have to pretend you are in Lake Como in the early '70s.

Retro Cocktail Friday: Aperol Spritz and Vodka Negroni

Aperol Spritz
Serves 1
60ml | 2fl oz Aperol
80ml | 2.7fl oz chilled prosecco
chilled soda water to top up
slice of orange
fresh ice

  1. The rule, according to the Aperol website, is 3 parts prosecco, 2 parts Aperol and 1 part soda water. Put plenty of ice in a white wine glass (I find this is what makes the cocktail look so dated – use whatever glass you want).
  2. Add the chilled prosecco and top up with soda water. Put a slice of orange in the glass and stir. 
Notes: add a shot of gin if you prefer it a little stronger. I quite like how refreshing yet not very strong it is without the gin.

Vodka Negroni
Serves 1
30ml | 1fl oz vodka (or gin)
30ml | 1fl oz Campari
30ml | 1fl oz sweet vermouth
chilled soda water to top up (optional)
slice of orange
fresh ice

  1. Fill a rocks glass with ice.
  2. Pour the spirits over the ice. Twist a slice of orange to release the aromatic oils in the peel and add to the glass
  3. Add a splash of soda water if you like.
Retro Cocktail Friday: Aperol Spritz and Vodka Negroni