Ahhh, barbecue, that most polarizing and satisfying culinary endeavor. I have gone to great lengths and waited in great lines for delicious barbecue, and have rarely regretted it.
However, sometimes you aren’t in the mood to fight the blue hairs, screaming children of others, and if you’re in Texas – the heat – just for some ‘cue. Sometimes it’s validating to take matters into your own hands.
Now, I am a Texan… well, a New Yorker from Texas… and generally beef is the Bible of barbecue. But I have strayed. Brisket is still generally the king for The Gentleman Caller, but dammit if I don’t love some pork barbecue as well.
We are going to do this step by step. This here is the rub. The perfect dry rub for a pork butt or ribs. This also works brilliantly on pork chops… really any kind of grilled meat. Note that it doesn’t contain any spices that BURN.
Adjust quantities as you need to achieve the yield you want, and let’s go!
What you need:
2 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp black pepper
2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp ground oregano
1 tbsp crushed red pepper
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp Mexene chili powder
1 tbsp finely ground coffee
1/2 tbsp all spice
1/2 tbsp cumin
**For a sweeter meat, you have the option of incorporating 1/4 cup of dark brown sugar. I prefer to pour liquid molasses over the meat as it cooks. That way you can control whether or not it burns. Sugar BURNS.
When I am making my own rubs and blends, I prefer to use bulk spices. My favorite bulk spice purveyor in New York City is International Grocery, 543 9th Avenue, NY, NY 10018. It’s easy to miss, but has been in the same location for decades. They also make hummus and baba in house and it’s spectacular. www.internationalgrocerynyc.com 212-279-1000
If you are in Texas, HEB Central Market sells bulk spices. That’s where I go when I am down South. www.centralmarket.com for locations
Well, kiddos, Yours truly, The Gentleman Caller, is on a CLEANSE. Yes, a CLEANSE. I know, it sounds terrifying, doesn’t it?
It’s actually not that bad. I usually encourage the 80/20 philosophy in life. 80% of the time you eat properly, healthfully. The other 20% GO HOG FREAKING WILD.
Most of what I present to you here are for the 20% times. So while I am on the CLEANSE, I am offering you some healthy alternatives to favorite food items.
A good many people are turned off by the notion of “healthy” and turn their noses up at the mere insinuation of “sugar-free.” Or “fat-free.” Or “gluten-free.” Free your mind from those negative connotations. Would The Gentleman Caller lead you astray?
This bread is not super-sweet. If you want a sweeter bread, use 1 1/2 tsp stevia. The way I am presenting it is more versatile; it’s not necessarily sweet or savory. You could make croutons, or an egg sandwich out of this.
Now go wash your dirty mitts and let’s get cooking!
What you need:
2 very, very ripe bananas
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground stevia
3 tbsp molasses
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp arrow root powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 3/4 cup chick pea flour
*This would be extra delicious with 1 cup of golden raisins. My CLEANSE does not allow raisins, but if yours does, by all means!
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Toast the pecan pieces on a hot sauce pan. You’ll be able to smell the nuttiness ever so slightly. Watch that you don’t overdo it!
Mash them bananas. Mash them to a smooth consistency, and stir in the applesauce. Add eggs, vanilla, and molasses.
Combine salt, stevia, baking soda, baking powder, arrow root flour, nutmeg, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice and chick pea flour in another bowl.
Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients.
Spoon into 4 greased loaf pans. These would also make great little muffins!
Put a piece of aluminum foil on a cookie sheet; place the pans on the foil. The foil is prophylactic. It’s there in case the batter overflows.
Bake for 25 minutes in the 375 degree oven. Checking at 20 minutes won’t hurt. It will probably take 25.
Allow to rest until the pans are cool enough to deal with.
Slice and ENJOY!
If you are dieting or low-carb-ing, this really will take the edge off your cravings. It’s very satisfying and very tasty.
Also, you all know I like to make my own jam, BUT if you want a little more satisfaction, Smuckers makes a very nice sugar-free jam sweetened with sucralose (Splenda). It’s really not bad.
Hello, friends. Happy Super Bowl Eve. What an exciting time. It’s like the sports world’s version of the Tony Awards. Probably with the same amount of performance enhancing drugs. I’M KIDDING.
Today I had the distinct honor of being asked to adjudicate at The Lion King on Broadway’s Annual Chili Cookoff. This yearly event is a staple of Super Bowl time.
And instead of having to COOK, I got to sit on my ass and have delicious, hot food brought to me.
These were some creative entries. One that I especially salivated over was a sparerib barbecue style chili. Ooh, it was rich. So good.
The most creative entry was my old friend, Jon Jordan’s. Jon and I met on Hairspray and he had his mits on my scalp quite a bit. He is the man who makes sure all the hair and makeup at The Lion King are on point. He entered an adorable Asian-style chili with Chinese five spice, served in a Chinese takeout box with green onion. So creative.
The winner was a spicy turkey (we found out after the fact) entry called Hello, Chili! Hello, indeed! Congrats to my new friend Jelani Remy for his victory.
In honor of today’s festivities, I offer you The Gentleman’s Favorite Spicy Chili.
What you need:
1 lb ground beef or ground turkey
half of a white onion, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
1-10 can Rotel tomatoes with green chilis
1-8 oz can tomato sauce
1 tbsp Mexene chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground oregano
1 tsp black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
dash of cayenne, or more if you’re adventurous
1 cup of Mexican beer, such as Corona
2 tbsp masa harina (corn flour like you use for tamales)
1 15 oz can red kidney beans (YES, I am a Texan and I say BEANS), drained
finely chopped white onion, to top
chopped de-seeded jalapenos, to top
chopped cilantro, to top
Note: if you happen to have a can of chipotle peppers open, a couple of spoons of sauce from the can is going to only make this more delicious.
Yields 4 realistic servings.
Put a little olive oil in the bottom of a dutch oven. Heat it up a little, and throw in the onions. Allow them to cook for a few minutes; add the beef or turkey. Brown the meat.
Throw in the garlic.
Drain the fat off the meat if there is standing renderings. Add the Rotel and tomato sauce. Stir together and add all the spices. Stir, cover, bring to a low simmer.
Allow to cook for about 25 minutes covered. Add 1/2 cup of beer. Simmer 25 more minutes, then add the remaining beer.
In a small bowl, mix the masa with 1/3 cup water (or more beer if you like). Bring it to a smooth consistency and pour it into the chili pot.
Taste it. Assess the salt and spice level. Add more water, beer, or masa to bring to the consistency YOU like.
Add the kidney beans and allow to cook about 15 minutes. Allow it to rest before you eat it.
When you place the chili in a bowl to eat, top it with finely chopped raw onion (or scallion would be nice , too), finely chopped jalapeño, and cilantro. Yeehaw!
I really love a good dip. The bad news is most dips are nasty for you. Mayonnaise-laden, cheesy, greasy, bacon-y. Now that I have you salivating, I’m going to offer this healthy alternative with a twist.
I was experimenting and wondered how black eyed peas would work as a chick pea replacement in hummus. I eat so much hummus. And commercial hummus is shockingly expensive given that it’s basically ground up beans.
So here is my budget-friendly, waist line-friendly, time-friendly black eyed pea hummus with zesty jalapeños.
What you need:
15 oz can No Salt Added black eyed peas
one large carrot, or 2 small carrots
8 cloves of garlic
1/3 cup tahini
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons jalapeño salt*
juice of one lemon
1 tbsp cumin
2-4 tbsp chopped pickled jalapeños
*If you don’t like spicy things, use regular salt. Fiesta makes GREAT jalapeño salt. www.fiestaspices.com
Here we go; this is so easy you won’t believe it.
Rough chop the carrot, removing the ends. You don’t even have to peel it, just make sure it is clean. Combine the carrot and the garlic cloves. Stir with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roast in a 350 degree oven, covered, for about an hour.
In a non-stick sauce pan, stir the cumin on high heat for 1-2 minutes. Cumin burns; don’t burn it. This is going to open up the flavors. You can skip this step if you want.
Place all ingredients except remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until it’s coarsely mixed. Then stop pulsing, turn the processor ON and slowly pour the remaining oil in through the feed tube. Allow to process until it’s perfectly smooth.
Stir 2 tablespoons chopped pickled jalapeños into the smooth hummus. (I actually prefer 4 tablespoons, but that gets spicy!)
You are ready to serve! Top with another scoop of jalapeños and a drizzle of robust olive oil. I prefer tortilla chips with this, but pita chips would be great, too.
When I was a kid, we’d make the drive from Alvin to the ranch in Johnson City, TX, in the big grey Buick LeSabre, and we always got there without mom and dad murdering us. This bakery is one of the institutions I credit with allowing me to be alive today to write this article for you.
The Bon Ton Bakery, now known as Weikel’s Bakery (www.weikels.com) located on Highway 71 in LaGrange, TX, was a usual stop on our road trip. Yes, that LaGrange, TX. The one with the infamous chicken ranch brothel. We never stopped there.
But we DID often stop to empty our bladder and fill up our belly at the bakery. They particularly specialized in a Texas treat derived from German and Czech traditions called kolaches. That’s another post. But they also had fantastic cinnamon rolls.
Being a little porker, I always appreciated a sweet roll. Even as an adult, it’s a weakness I still possess. Mind you, not any sweet roll will do.
So, I have spent a few years developing this one: the one that cries out to be eaten as soon as it is cooled down enough not to hurt you. With much fanfare I present The Gentleman Caller’s Sweet Sticky Cinnamon Roll with Maple Cream Cheese Icing.
What you need:
Half recipe of The Gentleman’s Sweet Roll Dough*
1 ½ – 2 cups brown sugar
2/3 cup vanilla bean sugar**
3-4 Tablespoons grated cinnamon
½ cup melted butter
Cream Cheese Maple Icing
*A full recipe will make two pans of cinnamon rolls.
**Vanilla bean sugar: in a jar or container, store a few cups of white sugar with a vanilla bean. Measure your 2/3 cup of sugar when ready to use and add vanilla bean caviar to your liking.
“Exquisite dough, and fortunately Jill got me this beautiful dough cutter for Christmas.This is very straightforward, especially if you watched the video.
Roll the dough out to approximately 16″ x 22”.
Smear that barely softened butter on that dough. After that, grate all the cinnamon. Yes, grate it.
Throw brown sugar and vanilla sugar all over it.
Make a thick layer of sugar and spice, then roll that dough lengthwise. Be careful initially, it’s tender. But the further you get, the easier it is.
It’s time to cut the log into pieces.
Allow to rise again for an hour. Then brush with butter (actual butter).
Bake them for 12 minutes initially. Check them. Do not overcook them. 14 minutes is probably your number, but watch.
I am so careful about instructions sometimes because I know what you’ve done to get to this place. I am never offering you a Pinterest fail.
It’s time to ICE.
The Gentleman Caller’s Maple Cream Cheese Icing
Writers usually don’t tell stories about icing, but I am.
My family members love icing like they love meat, Christmas and possibly their kids.
This sort of loose cream cheese frostings sinks down into a cinnamon roll, but not too deep. I do not enjoy a cinnamon roll with no icing bleed-down into the roll itself.
I recommend that you ice when the rolls are warm, as the video states.
What you need (to ice 1 pan of rolls, double for 2):
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons good maple syrup (If you use Mrs. Butterworth’s and that’s your jam, don’t tell me. Just send me pics.)
A whisper (one squeeze) of lemon juice
2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
In the bowl of a mixer, marry the butter and cream cheese. Beat them until they are well combined and almost fluffy. Add the vanilla, maple syrup, and lemon juice. Make sure the mixture is combined. You’ll likely need to use your rubber spatula and stir it together.
Once that is combined, incrementally add the confectioners sugar, 1/2 cup at a time.
*A hint – I grated a whisper of orange rind into this. My maple syrup wasn’t as robust as I wanted, so I grated some orange rind. Even with a robust maple flavor, you can’t go wrong with this.
Continue to blend that at a high speed until it’s like sinuous pancake batter. Thick.
Once it reaches that consistency, spoon the icing into a ziploc bag. Work it into a corner. Snip the edge of the corner on the diagonal and let the frosting go.