Friday, July 29, 2016

Notes: July 2016

24 June 2016

"Santa Rosa Plum Compote"

Recipe from

This was a good way to preserve excess plums from our one plum tree. By no means is it better than eating the ripe plums right off of the tree. It is probably also not as good as using the plums to make jelly. But it is better than throwing away good fruit and less work than making jelly. 

We were preparing to be away from home for a week towards the end of the plum season and made the compote to use up the plums. The ingredients (plums, sugar, cinnamon sticks, and vanilla) were combined per the instructions; I had just the right amount of plums. Lacking a vanilla bean I substituted 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract. The mixture was brought to a simmer over medium heat, simmered on low for about an hour, cooled, and frozen. 

Upon returning home it was thawed. We ate it as is and served over vanilla ice cream. The compote is tarter than ripe berries and is lacking the fresh sweet taste of ripe fruit. (Some of the fruit was ot quite ripe, perhaps this contributed to the tartness.) Nonetheless, it was good with ice cream and would probably go well over shortcake or angel food cake.

Postscript: I learned from Phil Cosentino that Santa Rosa plums are not grown commercially any more. They used to be the most common plums in the supermarket, but no longer. They have a fragile stem and so fall from the trees easily, thus losing money for the growers.

23 July 2016

"Sweet and Tangy Grilled Country-Style Pork Ribs"

Recipe from Cook's Illustrated, September 2015

This was a quick and easy recipe for grilled pork ribs. Country-style ribs aren't really ribs, they are from the shoulder. I was concerned about finding these in the supermarket so I had them cut to order at Whole Foods. I should have paid more attention because I got "ribs" with much too much fat, my bad. I didn't even try to trim them, there wouldn't have been much left! It turns out the supermarket had plenty of country-style ribs for sale so my concerns were not borne out.

The ribs were treated with a dry rub and refrigerated for 4 hours. They were then browned over direct heat on the grill and moved to the cool side of the grill to cook to an internal temperature of 150°.  Because of all the fat I had some problems with flare ups and the meat was blackened on one side rather than browned. I used Bullseye Barbecue sauce for basting (after browning) and serving rather than making my own sauce.

Despite the poor quality meat and flare ups, these were pretty good. The meat was tender with a little chew and had good flavor. The investment in time and effort was minimal, they were very easy to make and quick to cook, so worth making again, but with better meat.

31 July 2016

"Chocolate Crinkle Cookies"

Recipe from Cook's Illustrated, November 2014

I made a similar cookie once before using a different recipe. I didn't say much about it in my blog but I recall it was pretty good, so it seemed worthwhile to try it again with a different set of instructions.

I followed the recipe and instructions pretty closely. It is nice that a mixer is not required, the relatively-thin dough can be mixed easily by hand. I used Dutch process cocoa, the recipe says either Dutch or natural is OK. I substituted bittersweet chocolate for half of the unsweetened chocolate because I did not have enough of the latter. Finally, I used only 1 teaspoon of the optional 4 teaspoons of instant espresso powder.

The resulting cookies look really good. They have a very thin crisp coating and a soft, sweet interior. Diane thought they were too sweet, perhaps because of the chocolate substitution I made. I thought the coffee flavor was OK, not too strong. The cookies are good and I will enjoy eating them (the recipe makes 22 cookies). But they're not great and so probably not something I will make again, except maybe as a showy holiday cookie.

P.S.  After eating these for a while I am becoming more of a fan. They keep really well, both at room temperature and frozen. They maintain their texture well, even the thin crust.