Honey Barbecued Ribs

Summer is officially here, which means that the Fourth of July is just around the corner. If a cookout is on your agenda, do you have an idea what to fix on the grill?

I’m thinking about cooking some barbecued ribs. Nothing says summer like melt-in-your-mouth ribs.

Here’s a barbecued ribs recipe from the Campbell’s, the soup people, that’s easy to make. The ribs are coated with a five-ingredient barbecue sauce that includes ketchup, condensed French onion soup and honey. It sounds finger-licking good.

Honey Barbecued Ribs
1 rack pork spareribs (about 4 pounds)
1 10½-ounce can Campbell’s Condensed French Onion Soup
¾ cup ketchup
1/3 cup honey
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Place the ribs into an 8-quart saucepot and add water to cover. Heat over medium-high heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the meat is tender. Drain the ribs well in a colander.
Heat the soup, ketchup, honey, garlic powder and black pepper in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat to a boil. Reduce the heat to low. Cook for 5 minutes.
Lightly oil the grill rack and heat the grill to medium. Grill the ribs for 20 minutes or until well glazed, turning and brushing often with the soup mixture. Cut the ribs into serving-sized pieces.
Note: Serve the ribs with grilled corn-on-the-cob and a tossed green salad. For dessert serve sliced cantaloupe.

Westend Bistro Burger

There are a lot of people who like to dine at McDonald’s and Burger King. The reason most probably would give is that it’s quick. Another reason that may not seem quite so obvious is that their burgers are perfectly proportioned.

At least that’s the opinion of of chef Eric Ripert, the man behind New York’s award-winning Le Bernardin restaurant and Westend Bristro in Washington. Ripert is among the food personalities who are taking part in The Associated Press’ 20 Burgers of Summer series.

For Ripert, a great burger must be perfectly proportioned. Ripert told AP writer J.M. Hirsch in an e-mail that “All the elements are carefully controlled. The way they cut the pickles, the way they cut the tomatoes, the way they slice the salad, and the size, obviously make those burgers perfect.”

So, with that in mind, Ripert did the same when crafting his "perfect" burger but with great meat. His burger contains mostly ground sirloin. "It’s the fat content and ratio of fat to meat that is very important," he added.

Have your next burger Ripert’s way.

Westend Bistro Burger
28 ounces ground sirloin (85 percent lean)
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
4 challah buns
2 tablespoons butter, softened
4 slices cheddar cheese
4 pickle slices
Ketchup and Dijon mustard, to taste
1 beefsteak tomato, sliced into four ¼-inch-thick slices
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced, soaked in ice water until crisp
4 leaves crisp romaine lettuce, shredded
Heat a grill to medium. Lightly oil the grates.
Form the beef into 4 7-ounce patties. Season with salt and pepper.
Grill the burgers, flipping once, to desired doneness. Cover and set aside.
Brush the insides of the buns with the softened butter and grill until golden. Set aside.
Heat the broiler.
Top each burger with a slice of the cheese, then place under the broiler until just melted.
Place each burger on the bottom half of a roll. Top with a pickle, then ketchup and mustard, then the tomato, onion and lettuce. Finish with the top of the bun.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 889 calories, 327 calories from fat, 36 grams fat (14 grams saturated, no trans), 239 milligrams cholesterol, 82 grams carbohydrates, 60 grams protein, 3 grams fiber, 1,352 milligrams sodium.


Midnight Sandwich

A recent column of mine in the Herald about sandwiches, particularly the Tony O’s Cuban Sandwich that I had at a Minnesota Twins-Atlanta Braves game at the new Target Field in Minneapolis, drew a nice response from several of my readers (www.grandforksherald.com/event/article/id/166220/).

As Twins’ fans know, the sandwich is named after the team’s outstanding hitter from the 1960s and 1970s, Tony Oliva, who hails from Cuba. Eating it was one of the highlights of my first trip to the beautiful ballpark right in the heart of downtown Minneapolis.

One of those people who commented was a friend, Roger Peterson of Grand Forks. While we were talking, he told me about the nice turkey he had bought at Super One’s deli.

That got me to thinking about how much I like turkey sandwiches. But about the only time I get a chance to have one is after a holiday such as Thanksgiving or Christmas, when we cook up a 10- to 15-pound bird. Of course, there’s always leftovers.

My favorite turkey sandwich is one with ham, Swiss cheese and pickles. (The latter three ingredients also are part of a Tony O Sandwich.) In Cuba, they call this a Medianoche sandwich because it is typically eaten at night when you come home late and look in the refrigerator for something to nibble on. (Medianoche means midnight.) An authentic "midnight sandwich" is grilled but to save time, you can just press it.

Here’s the version I like.

Midnight Sandwich
8 slices egg bread, such as challah or Cuban bread
2 tablespoons each: mayonnaise, mustard
4 slices each: ham, turkey, Swiss cheese
4 dill pickles, thinly sliced lengthwise
Spread the sliced bread with mayonnaise and mustard. Layer ham, turkey, cheese and dill pickles on bottom slices of bread; top with remaining slices.
Wrap the sandwiches in foil or plastic wrap; press sandwiches using your hands or a heavy skillet.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutrition analysis per serving: 408 calories, 40 percent of calories from fat, 18 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 76 milligrams cholesterol, 41 grams carbohydrates, 20 grams protein, 1,624 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

Fourth of July Fodder

People who like to grill always are looking for new recipes. And with the Fourth of July, one of the most popular holidays for outdoor cooking just around the corner, I’ve been searching for some new recipes myself.

Just recently, I checked out the Mushroom Council’s website for ideas. One grilling recipe caught my eye right away. It combined pork tenderloin and portabella mushrooms that were enhanced with a honey-smoked barbecue sauce and some mesquite seasoning.

Mushrooms are an inexpensive superfood and ideal for summer because they add flavor (umami) and nutrients (antioxidants and vitamin D) to any dish. Plus, they are fat-free and low in sodium.

Here’s the recipe. If you try it before the holiday, let me know what you think. I still planning my menu.

Quick and Easy Barbecue Pork and Mushrooms
1 whole pork tenderloin, trimmed (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon barbeque sauce, honey-smoked
2 Portabella mushroom caps, sliced into ¼-inch strips
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon grill seasoning, mesquite
Pre-heat grill to 350 degrees. Place pork on a large sheet of aluminum foil. Rub the barbecue sauce on the pork. Spread the mushroom strips around the pork and drizzle oil over the pork and mushrooms. Sprinkle the grill seasoning over the mushrooms.
Fold the sides and ends of the foil up and crimp to seal. Place pork packet on the grill, close cover. Let the pork cook 45 minutes, remove from the grill and let rest 15 minutes. Carefully unwrap the foil and remove the pork.
Cut into 4 sections. With 2 forks, shred the pork. Mix the shredded pork with some of the remaining juices from the foil to moisten.
Top with the mushrooms and serve.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 190 calories, 60 calories from fat, 6 grams fat (1.5 grams saturated, no trans), 75 milligrams cholesterol. 340 milligrams sodium, 6 grams carbohydrate, 1 gram dietary fiber, 2 grams sugars, 26 grams protein.

Bison Bonanza

I spent the better part of yesterday in the kitchen, which is always a pleasure.

Among the things I did was cook two large bison roasts (about 12 to 13 pounds each) in a pair of roasters that we have. Today, I will shred the meat and add it to a blueberry-honey barbecue sauce that was featured here recently.

While I’ve cooked bison roasts before, this was the first time for one that large. Mostly, though, I’ve made bison burgers and bison chili.

I’m a big fan of lean ground meat such as bison, elk and venison. Besides their great flavor, those kinds of meat also are much lower in fat (and cholesterol) than beef or pork.

With that in mind, I’m always on the lookout for recipes that feature those types of meat. Recently, I came across a couple of bison recipes that caught my eye. One is a Mediterranean Bison Burger, and the other is for chili.

The burger recipe takes into account that this type of meat needs care to prevent it from drying out.

To that end, green olives, sun-dried tomatoes and an egg are added to the ground meat. After the burger is cooked, it’s topped with fried onions that have been cooked in balsamic vinegar. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into one of those.

And what can you say about chili recipes? I’ve never had one that wasn’t satifying.

Bison Chili
3 pounds ground bison
2 large onions, chopped
1 16-ounce can peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 25-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 25-ounce can chili beans
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cups ketchup
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced cilantro
1 teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon powdered mustard
In skillet, brown bison. Transfer to large pan or crockpot and stir in remaining ingredients. Simmer at least 1 hour. Ladle into bowls or over baked potatoes. (If serving over baked potatoes, place in oven to bake while chili simmers.) Top with grated cheese if desired.
Yield: Serves 10 to 12.

Mediterranean Bison Burger
1 pound ground bison
8 green olives, chopped
3 sun-dried tomato halves in oil, chopped
1 egg, slightly beaten
½ cup bread or cracker crumbs
¾ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, halved, cut in thin slices
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 buns, toasted
Place bison in a large bowl; break up slightly with fork. Add olives, sun-dried tomato and egg; work together with your hands until just mixed (don’t overwork). Add breadcrumbs, ¼ teaspoon of the salt and pepper to taste; mix until just combined. Form into 4 patties; season them on both sides with ¼ teaspoon of the salt and pepper to taste.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet; add patties. Cook, turning once, until browned on both sides and medium rare, 9 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 tablespoon of the oil in a second large skillet; add onion, seasoning with remaining ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Cook onions until soft and translucent, stirring in balsamic vinegar when almost done, 8 minutes. Serve burgers on buns topped with onions and condiments of your choice.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per burger: 549 calories, 48 percent of calories from fat, 29 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 147 milligrams cholesterol, 36 grams carbohydrates, 35 grams protein, 951 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

Cheese Relish Burger

I’m one of those people who likes cheese on my burgers. It doesn’t matter if they’re cooked in a frying pan, on the Foreman Grill or in a Weber.

I also like condiments. I’m not talking about just ketchup and mustard. I enjoy other things such as onions, pickles and horseradish. I’ve even put potato chips on my burgers, an innovation picked up from my cousins, Gordy and Dick.

So, my interest really was aroused when I came across something called a Cheese Relish Burger from Matt and Ted Lee, brothers who have made careers out of sharing the flavors of the South and are the authors of "The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern."

The burger, which is part of The Associated Press "20 Burgers of Summer" series, is topped with a cheese mixture thats banana peppers, capers, chives and chile flakes.

"A thick slab of melting cheese has always been our favorite addition to a burger," Matt said in an e-mail to AP food writer J.M Hirsch. "But our cravings these days also run to snappier, spicy-sour sensations that temper the richness of the cheese-topped burger and speed us toward a second helping."

"Our favorite new variation on pimento cheese uses Swiss (instead of the traditional Cheddar) and banana peppers (instead of roasted red peppers)," Matt said. "We add capers, chives and chili flakes to torque the flavor up to 11 and to reinforce the crumbly, relishlike texture of the spread."

I can’t wait to try this burger!

Cheese Relish Burger
8 tablespoons cheese relish
1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon canola oil
4 hamburger buns, lightly toasted
4 leaves iceberg lettuce (optional)
1 onion, thinly sliced into rings, optional
Condiments, as desired
Divide the cheese into 4 balls, 2 tablespoons each. Flatten each ball into a thick patty. Set aside.
Form the ground beef into 4 balls and flatten into ¾-inch-thick patties.
Heat a grill to high and brush the rack with the oil. Alternatively, heat a large skillet over high and add the oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Heat until the oil shimmers and begins to smoke.
Reduce the heat to medium, and cook the burgers for 3 minutes on each side. With a spatula, flip again and cook for another 1½ minutes on the first side, then for another 1½ minutes on the second side for medium-rare.
Top each burger with a patty of the cheese relish, cover the grill or pan and cook for 1 minute.
Transfer the burgers to the buns and let rest for 2 minutes. Top each burger with lettuce, onion and condiments, as desired.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving : 416 calories, 175 calories from fat, 19 grams fat (8 grams saturated, 1 grams trans), 90 milligrams cholesterol, 26 grams carbohydrates, 32 grams protein, 2 grams fiber, 390 milligrams sodium.

Cheese Relish
10 ounces Swiss cheese, finely grated
12-ounce jar banana peppers, drained (1 tablespoon of the liquid reserved) and finely minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh chives or scallions
2 tablespoons drained capers, rinsed
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Kosher salt, to taste
In a large bowl, combine the cheese, banana peppers, reserved banana pepper liquid, chives or scallions, capers, pepper flakes and black pepper. Use your hands to knead the mixture together until evenly blended. Season with salt, then mix again. The relish can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
Yield: 2 cups (enough for 16 burgers).
Approximate nutritional analysis per 2-tablespoon serving: 73 calories, 45 calories from fat, 5 grams fat (3 grams saturated, no trans), 16 milligrams cholesterol, 2 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams protein, 1 gram fiber, 106 milligrams sodium.

Authentic Mexican

I’m always a little leery when a sign at a food establishment says "authentic." But after dining at El Metate Authentic Mexican Restaurant (the old Pizza Hut building) in Crookston the other day, I’ve changed my mind.

I visited there with my wife, mother and sister-in-law and was not disappointed. My first clue that we were in for something special was that all of the workers in El Metate were Hispanic.

After sampling some tasty salsa that had a distinct cilantro flavor, we browsed the menu that listed a couple of dozen lunch specials, numerous dinners and desserts. Lynn, my brother Kevin’s wife, ordered quesadillas, while Therese and Mom decided on enchildadas with rice and beans. I had the taco salad.

While I can’t speak for the others, who by the way said they immensely enjoyed their food, my taco salad was superb. It was the best I’ve ever eaten.

I opted for chicken (chunks not ground meat) instead of beef in my salad, which was served in a freshly baked bowl and topped with large dollops of sour cream, shredded cheese and avocado. The sauce that the meat was cooked in was delicious.

I would highly recommend the restaurant. The servers were prompt and courteous, and the premises were neat and clean.

If you can’t make it right away, here are a couple of taco salad recipes that might tide you over.

Avocado Taco Salad
1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon garlic salt
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1 head green leafy lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 head red lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 12-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 6-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 2¼-ounce can sliced black olives, drained
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
2 ripe fresh California avocados, peeled, seeded, cubed
1 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese
1 cup crushed corn tortilla chips
¾ cup prepared Catalina salad dressing
Brown ground beef or turkey in a skillet over medium heat. Add cumin, garlic salt, salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the meat is no longer pink, then drain. Set aside to cool.
In a large salad bowl, combine lettuce, meat, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, olives, green onions, tomatoes, cilantro and avocados. Gently mix together all ingredients and sprinkle cheese over the top.
Just before serving, toss the salad mixture with chips and salad dressing.
Yield: Serves 4 as a main course.
Approximate nutritionalal analysis per serving: 560 calories, 58 percent of calories from fat, 9.1 grams protein, 51.8 grams carbohydrates, 36 grams fat (7.8 grams aturated), 75 milligrams cholesterol, 1,001 milligrams sodium, 3.7 grams fiber.

Taco Pasta Bowl
½ pound ground round
1 15½-ounce can chili beans (do not drain)
1 10-ounce can no-salt added diced tomatoes
2 ounces chopped green chilies
1 10-ounce can enchilada sauce
2 teaspoons chili powder
¾ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups cooked pasta shells
1 cup shredded Colby-Jack cheese
½ cup reduced-fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Cook ground round in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring to crumble; drain. Stir in chili beans, tomatoes, green chilies, enchilada sauce, chili powder, cumin and garlic powder. Simmer 3 to 5 minutes. Add pasta to mixture and heat 3 minutes. Stir in cheese until melted and well blended. Serve in bowls.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 357 calories, 35 percent of calories from fat, 14 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 44 milligrams cholesterol, 38 grams carbohydrates, 18 grams protein, 480 milligrams sodium, 6 grams dietary fiber.

Thai Beef Pasta Salad

It’s official: There’s going to be a Thai and Japanese restaurant opening soon in East Grand Forks.

The restaurant, which will start serving sometime in August, will be at DeMers Avenue and Third Street Northwest, where Paulo’s Mexican Family Restaurant and the Blarney Mill previously were located.

Little Bangkok will be owned by David Scheer, who with his son-in-law, owns five restaurant in Fargo-Moorhead. (Two are Thai, one a sushi bar and two noodle houses.)

As I’ve previously written, it’s been a while since Thai food has crossed my palate. So, I’m really looking forward to the experience.

In fact, it’s inspired me to do a bit of Thai cooking. The recipe I’m going to start out with is a beef pasta salad that contains fresh salad greens, fresh pineapple and chopped cilantro, which I have a ton of growing in my garden (all volunteer). Thai peanut sauce mixed with mayonnaise is the base for the dressing.

Thai Beef Pasta Salad
¼ pound fusilli (cork screw) pasta (about 1½ cups)
4 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons Thai peanut sauce
½ pound deli roast beef, thick sliced (about ¼-inch), cut into cubes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups ready-to-eat salad greens
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
1 cup fresh pineapple cubes
2 tablespoons dry roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro (optional)
Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Cook pasta 10 minutes, or according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, mix mayonnaise and peanut sauce in a medium-size bowl. Drain pasta well and add to the bowl along with the beef; toss well. Taste and season with salt and pepper if needed.
Arrange greens on 2 dinner plates, and spoon on pasta and beef. Top with bell pepper and pineapple cubes. Sprinkle with peanuts and cilantro.
Yield: Serves 2.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 656 calories, 32 percent of calories from fat, 23.3 grams fat (4.6 grams saturated, 7.2 grams monounsaturated), 99 milligrams cholesterol, 44.8 grams protein, 67.5 grams carbohydrates, 7.6 grams fiber, 602 milligrams sodium.

Mountain Man’s Shish Kebabs

If you[re a hunter like me, you probably have a few wild game steaks lurking in your freezer. And your probably always looking for new ways to prepare them.

Well now, I don’t have to look further than a cookbook that a co-worker, Chuck Haga, gave me the other day. It’s called Cabin Cookbook, which was published by Alaska magazine. It contains more than 130 favorite North Country recipes that tell how to cook wild game, fish, fowl and native plants.

While perusing it, I discovered a recipe called Mountain Man’s Shish Kebabs. It calls for using mountain sheep, but as the introduction states, most meat game is interchangeable with what you buy at the butcher shop or grocery store.

The kebabs in the recipes are marinated overnight and cooked over a campfire or grill the next day. According the the cookbook’s authors, once you serve them, people will be asking for seconds, so have them ready.

Mountain Man’s Shish Kebabs
1 pound game meat, cut into ½-inch cubes
¼ cup wine vinegar (or low-bush cranberry juice)
½ cup salad oil
¼ teaspoon each garlic, salt, onion salt, celery salt and cracked pepper
Mix the vinegar, salad oil and spices. Marinate the meat in the mixture overnight. Be sure there is enough of the liquid to cover the meat.
When ready to barbecue the kebabs, thread them on long skewers, alternating the meat with tiny raw onions, green pepper squares and mushrooms, etc. Cook over campfire or charcoal grill until done enough to suit your tastes.






Martha’s Burger

One of the shows I like to watch while working out in the morning is the "Today" show on NBC. A favorite segment is when they have someone demonstrating a recipe or talking about food. I find it very helpful to see people making a particular recipe before trying to do it myself.

Martha Stewart is one of those food experts who is regularly featured, and I really enjoy watching her. She always has an interesting take on cooking.

So, my curiosity was piqued when I found out Stewart was of part of The Associated Press’ "20 Burgers of Summer" series. Stewart’s contribution was a chicken burger with Japanese flavors, including wasabi, ginger and soy sauce. “You will love it,” she said.

What I find particularly appealing is the wasabi mayonnaise and the cucumber-shallot pickles. I love wasabi as well as pickles. I can’t wait to try the burger.

Japanese Chicken Burger
1¼ pounds ground chicken breast
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
Ground black pepper
4 whole-wheat burger buns with sesame seeds
Wasabi mayonnaise (recipe follows)
Cucumber-shallot pickles (recipe follows)
In a large bowl, combine the chicken, ginger, garlic and soy sauce then form into 4 patties.
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium. Add the oil and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan.
Season the patties with pepper. Add the patties to the skillet and cook for about 8 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Cover and set aside.
Heat the oven to broil.
Brush the insides of the buns with a small amount of wasabi mayonnaise. Place the buns mayo-side-up on a baking sheet and toast briefly under the broiler.
Brush the buns with more of the mayonnaise. Place a burger on each bun, then top with the cucumber-shallot pickles.
Note: Don’t press the burger, which compacts the meat.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 586 calories, 338 calories from fat, 38 grams fat (7 grams saturated, no trans), 104 milligrams cholesterol, 37 grams carbohydrates, 28 grams protein, 4 grams fiber, 1,348 milligrams sodium.
Wasabi Mayonnaise
½ cup mayonnaise
4½ teaspoons wasabi powder
In a small bowl, combine the wasabi powder and mayonnaise. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or until needed.
Yield: ½ cup.
Cucumber-Shallot Pickles
½ cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
½ cup water
¼ cup sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon pink peppercorns
1/3 cup pickled ginger
½ English cucumber, cut into ¼-inch slices
1 shallot, cut into ¼-inch slices
In a medium bowl, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, peppercorns and ginger. Mix until the sugar and salt dissolve then add the cucumber and shallot slices.
Refrigerate the mixture for at least 4 hours.
Yield: Makes enough for 4 burgers.