Pulled Pork BBQ with Piquant Sauce and Classic Southern Slaw

Hot, lazy days and nights when you sit out with a fan and hope for a bit of a breeze.  Lightening bugs and children squealing with delight as they catch one in a jar.  Sweet tea and rockers on a porch, family picnics and pork barbecue.

It’s summer in the south.

Coming from the north I had never really had barbecue until i moved here almost 26 years ago.  Ever since that time I first held a pulled pork sandwich in my hand, I have been in love with it.  The vinegar sauce dripping down my fingers, the hot spice subtly controlled by the coolness of the rich coleslaw resting on top.  It was that first bite that made me realize I was destined to live in the south.

I have tried to make it many times over the past years.  Once I almost got it right and then somehow lost the recipe and it’s been a struggle ever since, trying to recreate it.

Until now.

Once again, I have gone back to my friend, Patrick Evans-Hylton’s cookbook “Dishing Up Virginia” and gotten the most incredible tasting recipe for dinner.  It was not what I expected when making it because of the ingredients, but definitely worth keeping it as written.  I want to tell you when you make this, open all the windows and doors because the flavorful scent of pork mixed with onions and garlic wafting throughout the home will make it almost impossible to wait the five hours it needs to cook.   I don’t recall how many times that day I almost dove head first into the oven.

The pork just fell apart, and it was so moist.  I cannot tell you in words how tasty this was.  With every bite I couldn’t wait for the next one.  To quote Patrick from his book and this recipe, ” No doubt other states do remarkable things with barbecue, but this Virginia recipe that combines tradition and time with spice and smoke is unequaled.”  So very true.

Eating dinner with my husband that night, I had the feeling there was a red checkered tablecloth on the table, grandma, grandpa and all the cousins were arriving with their pot luck and the fireflies were lighting up the evening.

Summertime in the south.  It can’t get any better than this.

Lobster Mac and Cheese

There are those days where nothing seems to go the way you want them to.  Sometimes the world is caving in around you and all you want is a good book, a blanket, probably a glass of wine and that comfort food you always turn to in times of trouble.  For me, that comfort has always been macaroni and cheese.

It was always one of my favorite meals when i was little.  Maybe because I didn’t like a lot of what my mom would cook, but this was one thing that I really did.  When I went off to school, I didn’t cook myself, so when I wanted to feel like I was home again, I would make that mac and cheese in a box.  Economically delicious, with that touch of home that I needed.

So last weekend, I was seriously thinking macaroni and cheese when my husband suggested we buy a lobster for dinner.  Of course I always love lobster, but I wanted my comfort food.  And then the light bulb went off over my head and I realized I could have my cake and eat it too, or in this case make Lobster Mac and Cheese.   It was delightfully decadent and comfy all at the same time.

There is nothing better than a good book, a blanket and a glass of wine to make me feel better.  Oh yes…and a nice bowl of Lobster Mac and Cheese.   It’s just like a big hug from your mom, telling you that everything will be okay.

And it will.

Father’s Day

Every year for the last few years, I have wished on Father’s Day I could go buy the proverbial tie for my dad and give him a call.  He isn’t here any more for me to do that but every day I think of how he was as a father that helped make me the person I am today.

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My dad was a man who would shake your hand instead of signing a contract.  He never really had any money but he would give you whatever he could if you needed it.  He was loyal, honest and hardworking.   He wasn’t a loud sort,  but you knew when he had something to say..  He wasn’t the disciplinarian in our home, but you knew if you crossed the line. When I would introduce him to whatever boy I was dating at the time, he would look from behind his newspaper, grunt, and go back to reading.  First and last date.

I remember Sunday mornings with country music playing on the stereo and my dad whistling in the kitchen while he made breakfast.  And if he wasn’t in the kitchen, he would be cooking meat until it was shoe leather on the grill.  He was a New Englander and a true Boston sports fan, and his heart was always with his hometown in Pittsfield, NH.

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My dad was a fantastic dancer.  He would take my mom out on the floor and they would start dancing and by the end of the song,  the entire floor would be standing in a circle, watching them twirl.

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The most important thing was his love for his family and his devotion to friends.  He would protect the ones that meant so much to him with his life if he had to.  He was always there to help family and friends in need, no matter what it was.  Grandchildren only added to the love he had to give and he could always be seen sitting in his favorite recliner with one or two or more sitting on his lap.

So Dad….even though you aren’t with us physically, you are in our hearts every moment of every day.  Your legacy of love continues on.  Happy Father’s Day to one of the best.  I love you Dad.

 

mango tapioca ambrosia

It seems I’m always thinking.  Depending on the day depends on what it’s about and sometime it works, but sometimes it doesn’t.  The one constant thing, however,  is I am always thinking about what I can make and how I will make it.   And that is exactly what happened on the day I was looking through one of my food magazines and saw a recipe for a mango and tapioca parfait.  I wanted to make it.

But I didn’t have a chance to make it as soon as I had hoped to,  which was perhaps, a blessing in disguise. I just couldn’t find small pearl tapioca anywhere!  I honestly think it is a rare commodity in my area, but if you have as much trouble finding it as I did, check your local asian market.  They will have it.  During the search, however, I was looking through my friend, Patrick Evans-Hylton’s new cookbook, “Dishing up Virginia”, and came across his Ambrosia recipe.  I now wanted to make that too.

Here’s where the thinking part came in.  What if I combined the mango parfait with the ambrosia recipe?  Now that was something worth thinking about and I have to say,  this one thought was with me almost every day.  How would I combine them, what would I take out and what would I keep?  For days I had both recipes open on my counter, reading and re-reading.  Thinking, thinking, thinking.

I may have blown a brain cell with all my thinking but I honestly believe I came up with a really great combination.  I have Patrick’s Ambrosia in a whole new way.  I don’t think Patrick would really mind me taking liberties with his recipe, in fact,  I’m almost positive he would love the fact that I did!

So the next time you see a recipe you like (including this one), think about popping a few brain cells, taking a few liberties and see what you come up with.  I think it could be something amazing!

See…..there I go again…. always thinking.  However, I believe this time it worked and it was a good thing.

 

Bacon Marmalade with Piquant Pimento Cheese

I was looking through a magazine the other day and there was a photograph of an appetizer that really interested me and I wanted to try.  It was a jar that was half filled with pimento cheese and topped with a bacon marmalade.  I’m sure there are variations of this everywhere, but I have never seen one.  My only problem was,  there was no recipe.  Thank you to the internet and cookbooks,  it wasn’t an issue.

Let me regress for just a moment.  I have to say that I think bacon should have its own food group.  Let’s face it, everything is better with bacon.  And I know,  even all you diet fanatics will agree with me.  Face it….what’s a few more miles to run when you have bacon on your plate?  You know it’s worth it.  Bacon has found its place in our world.  We have chocolate with bacon, bacon and eggs, bacon candy, bacon wrapped everything……. and now, we have bacon marmalade.  Yes, after making this, I will tell you that this is worth the extra five miles you will have to run. Pair it with pimento cheese and another five or six-mile run and we have a winner….. and you will thank me for it!

The Piquant Pimento Cheese was from my friend Patrick Evans-Hylton’s new cookbook, “DISHING UP VIRGINIA”.  For the past several weeks I’ve had an obsession with making pimento cheese and I’m not sure why because I’ve not been one that really ate pimento cheese.  Having made this however, I am now a huge fan and will use this in so many ways, because it is that good.

The bacon marmalade was adapted from a couple of online recipes, the stronger part coming from Lance Mayhew.  I looked more to his idea because he had bourbon in it and seriously….what could be better than that?    This turned out to be everything I imagined it would.  In this we have bacon smokiness, sweet, salty, and a little kick.  I could not only see this with the pimento cheese on a cracker but on a burger,  with the pimento as a grilled cheese sandwich, on a steak….you name it.

Try this recipe, buy Patrick’s book and definitely combine everything you make with bacon marmalade.  Bacon…the new food group.

 

 

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