Sunday, October 19, 2008

Looking ahead

I apologize for not making anything in awhile. I have had friends visiting the past few weekends, which generally leads to going out to eat a lot and not having time to plan out a meal. My thinking cap has been on however. It is starting to get cooler here in NYC, which opens up the door to soups, stews and pretty much anything that is hot. I have been reading a little about blended soups. That is, making some sort of soup and then pureeing it in a blender so it has a nice smooth consistency.

I am envisioning a BBQ bean blended soup with maybe some pulled pork or brisket mixed in there to give a little bit of texture variation. I really should be cooking more often because it is definitely a money saver over going out to eat, if you don't mind having leftovers.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

BBQ Nirvana

The Restaurant: RUB (Righteous Urban Barbecue)

While I am not a certified reviewer by any means, I will give you the quick and dirty on a scale for A-F.

Food: A- (Amazing BBQ meats more than compensate for relatively average side dishes)

Value: A- Quite affordable especially if you go the a la carte meat route

Service: B+ (Food came out quickly and waiter had solid knowledge of the food)

Overall: A-

A fellow BBQ enthusiast friend of mine was in town last night and we decided to venture out and try a new place in New York City. NYC is not exactly a BBQ hotbed, but there are some gems for sure. The place we went last night is called RUB, which stands for Righteous Urban Barbecue. I had heard that it could crowded so we went on the earlier side at 6:30pm and had no problems getting a table.

There were a lot of options to choose from, but the best choice in my opinion was to get meats a la carte. This is how BBQ really should be. Why get bogged down in a meal that traps you into ordering a couple of side dishes that take up valuable meat space? This place really had it right. I created a mix and match plate of BBQ burnt ends (these are the ends of the BBQ brisket), BBQ brisket and pulled pork (1/4 lb of each). My buddy got 1/2 lb of burnt ends and a quarter pound of the house sausage. We each also got a side of beans, which we had read in a review were good. We also split a 1/4 rack of baby ribs to ensure that we got a taste of everything.

The meats were all excellent. The burnt ends were really flavorful and did not need any sauce. The balance of meat, fat and goodness was just right. The brisket was also strong and exhibited the pink coloring that true smoked meats all have. The pulled pork, though not as strong as the brisket and burnt ends, was still good and paired well with the house sweet and smoky sauce. All the meat was served on butcher paper in the no frills way that makes BBQ such a great experience.

The sausage was excellent as well, with a crisp outside and a moist and well seasoned inside. The ribs were respectable, although they could have been a little bit more meaty. The beans were average, but I think a lot of that had to do with just how good the meats were on their own.

All in all a great experience. Certainly got some new ideas for things to make at home.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Caramel Crunch Bars

I had taken a pretty long lay off from making desserts. I'm not really sure why, but it may have had something to do with it being summer and wanting to focus more on the BBQ meats. I was inspired to try to do a little spin on one of my favorite candy bars, Nestle Crunch. The question was whether or not I could make this delicacy for myself. I have to say this recipe met and exceeded my expectations. The only thing I need to worry about now is making sure I don't eat the whole thing. Fortunately, I can take a lot of my leftovers into the office where I have a solid group to help me eat all of this.

1 20z squeeze bottle of Caramel Sundae Syrup
2 single serving containers (4.6 oz total) of Cocoa Crispies
6 Hershey's Milk Chocolate Symphony bars (about 26 ounces total)

If you thought this was an easy recipe to make you were correct! Pour the cocoa crispies into the bottom of your crockpot and spread out evenly. Break up the chocolate bars into one or two square pieces and distribute evenly on top of the cereal. Set your crockpot to on hour on high.

After about 30 minutes take off the top and shift the the chocolate pieces around. Some will have melted a little more than others. After another 30 min all of the chocolate should be melted. Test it with a fork because it may still appear to retain some of it's shape even though it is completed melted. Stir the chocolate and cereal with a big spoon until the cereal is evenly coated. Spread the cereal out on a sheet of wax paper about 1/4 inch deep and put in the fridge for an hour to cool.

Top the now cooled mixture evenly with your caramel sauce and you are ready to go! As you can see, the caramel does get a little messy so if you are more of straight up crunch bar fan you may want to hold off.
The results actually tastes exactly like a nestle crunch bar, only more chocolaty thanks to the better chocolate and cocoa crispies. Enjoy!