BBQ Ribs – from the Oven

BBQ RibsI have always loved a good saucy BBQ rib. In fact, in my younger days, I was known to eat an entire slab myself! Of course, that meant ignoring all of the wonderful side dishes, which I would never do now. I don’t have a grill or outdoor brick oven so I decided to look for a ribs recipe that I could make in my oven. I tried one recipe for Memphis style ribs with a dry rub and while my husband liked them, I wasn’t sold.

I like to watch the Cooking Channel and have done it ever since Frances’ husband was a little boy and we would sit together and watch. One of my biggest fans, he would always tell me: “You could do that, Mommy!” He was fortunate enough to find Frances and now he says: “You can do that, Frances!” And unlike me, Frances has been much more successful at getting Matthew to help out in the kitchen.

I’m trying a different recipe that I happened to see on the show Rev Run Sunday Suppers. This is his wife Justine’s recipe that I have tweaked. I’m serving it with corn on the cob and my Green Fatoush Salad. I learned years ago the secret to great corn on the cob from reading the late, great Craig Claiborn. You bring water to boil in a pot large enough to hold your corn. Add a good rounded teaspoon each of Kosher salt and granulated sugar. When the water has come to a boil, add your shucked corn and bring it back to a boil. As soon as it returns to the boil, cover the pot and remove it from the heat. After 5 minutes, you have perfect corn on the cob. We don’t even need butter or added salt when we eat it. Any leftovers (I always make extra) can be refrigerated and later used in salads, cut straight from the cob.

Saucy BBQ Ribs from the Oven adapted from Justine Simmons

Serves 4-5 people with sides and can be doubled. Leftovers can be reheated.



1 rack baby back ribs, cut into individual ribs (about 3.25 pounds)

2 Tablespoons seasoning salt, such as Lowry’s

1 Tablespoon garlic powder

Cracked Black Pepper to taste ( I do 25 cracks)

3 large garlic cloves, chopped

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1 Tablespoon EVOO

1 red onion, cut into chunks

Hickory BBQ Sauce

1 cup of ketchup

1/4 cup of dark brown sugar

2.5 Tablespoons of apple cider vinegar

3/4 teaspoon hickory liquid smoke

generous 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon dried mustard

Pinch of cayenne


  1. Season the ribs with 1 Tablespoon of the seasoned salt, the garlic powder and pepper. In a pot large enough  to hold the ribs without too much crowding, add the butter, EVOO, red onion and garlic. Saute lightly until the onion just begins to soften. Place the ribs on top. Add water to cover by 2 inches and sprinkle in the remaining 1 Tablespoon of seasoned salt. Bring to a boil, cover the pot tightly, reduce the heat and cook, simmering until the ribs are tender – about 1.25 hours. Don’t be disappointed when you see the ribs after they come out of the water. They are rather unprepossessing looking at this point. Trust me – it gets much better.
  2. Meanwhile, make the BBQ sauce: Put all of the ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Transfer the ribs to a rimmed baking pan covered with foil and coat generously with BBQ sauce. Save some of the sauce for a second coat at the end. Cover the ribs with foil and bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Take the ribs out of the oven and turn on the broiler. Brush the ribs with more BBQ sauce and broil, turning once or twice and brushing with more BBQ sauce, until crisped and well done. (I did 10 minutes a side but every oven is different.) Serve hot. The ribs can be made ahead and reheated.

Summer’s Berry Bounty


I eat berries all year long, but I go a little crazy during the peak summer berry months. And other than a great apple pie, I love nothing more than a berry pie. But sometimes I want to try something a little different so I have been making crisps, crumbles and a Blackberry Buckle. I admit it – the name just tickles me.

I found a recipe at Food52, a fun food blog with recipes and one-of-a-kind items for purchase. The author of this cornbread buckle is Janeofmanytrade, a pastry chef out of Williamsburg, VA. The recipe intrigued me because I had never thought of adding cardamom and rose water to my berries. Now I am the kind of person who actually keeps things like pomegranate molasses, rose water and orange blossom water on hand. However, I am also the kind of person whose pantry gets disorganized from time to time. Okay, if I’m being really honest, it only gets ORGANIZED from time to time. For the life of me I couldn’t find the rose water so I substituted orange blossom water instead. The result was wonderful! And it was easy to make. The first night I served it with some vanilla ice cream, but after that – once the flavors became even more pronounced, I didn’t want anything (even great vanilla ice cream) to get between me and my blackberries – all purple and dimpling the cake.

Here’s how I made it.     Blackberry Buckle

Blackberry Buckle

Makes one 10 x 10 inch pan and easily serves 9-12 people

For Cake

4 cups of blackberries

1/2 cup of sugar

zest of one lemon

1 teaspoon rose water (I used orange blossom water)

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

6 ounces of unsalted butter, softened

1.5 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 large eggs

1.5 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cups yellow cornmeal

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk you can add a teaspoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to any kind of milk and let it sit for about 10 minutes. You could also add some plain Greek yogurt to regular milk)

Oatmeal crumb topping

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1 rounded 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

4 tablespoons COLD unsalted butter, cut into cubes

With your fingers, work the ingredients for the crumb topping until the butter is pea-sized and well coated with everything else.


  1. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a bowl, tossing the berries gently.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and lavishly butter and lightly flour your pan. Use a pan that has a good weight to it. Cream the butter, sugar,vanilla and salt until creamy. I used a heavy duty standing mixer, but this could be done by hand.
  3. Add eggs one at a time and scrape the bowl as you go. Sift the flour, cornmeal (as best you can) and the baking powder over the batter and gently fold it in. Slowly add the buttermilk and mix through until no streaks show.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and even out the top.
  5. Pour the berry mixture on top and spread it evenly over the batter.
  6. Sprinkle the oatmeal crumb mixture evenly over the top and bake until a toothpick comes out clean from the cake part. Depending on your oven, this can take between an hour and an hour and 15 minutes.
  7. You can turn this out of the pan after about 20 minutes flipping it over onto a plate, but I couldn’t see the point. I cut it in the pan and served it from there, still slightly warm from the oven. It was wonderful. This will last about 3 days if you can manage to not eat it. I dare you!

Getting in the mood for the 4th of July

I love holidays and the 4th of July is no exception. This holiday has special meaning for me because my father died on July 3rd and I used to think that the fireworks were for him. I have a few traditions that I started. My house goes all red, white and blue, we hang a flag from our terrace, watch the movie musical 1776 and later, after the sun goes down, we stand on our terrace and watch all of the fireworks in the Western suburbs. They cascade across the sky and it always conjures up the Star Spangled Banner for me with “bombs bursting in air.” And for some reason, that I honestly cannot remember, July 4th mostly means Southern cooking. You know – oven fried chicken, cornbread, greens and either my Bourbon Pecan Pie or Blueberry Pie. We’re most definitely NOT from the South – my father’s family was from New England via Kiev and my mother’s family came from New York via The Pale of Settlement. And I have no memories of any childhood traditions for this holiday, but oh well, there you have it.

This year, however, everyone is away. Frances and Matthew will be out of the country and on a separate trip so will my sister and niece and her family. That leaves my 92 year-old mother and my husband. So now you know why I am trying to work myself up into the mood. I hate cooking for just the two of us or even 2.35 if you count my mother and the way she eats. So tonight I am eating some wonderful Rancho Gordo Yellow Eye Heirloom Beans that I slow-cooked in my crockpot and a “mess o’ greens.” I was introduced to this incredible source for great dried beans when Frances and I and our husbands took a trip to Napa Sonoma. We ate dinner one night at the Culinary Institute of America and they were serving some amazing beans. Everything in California is “sourced” and you didn’t just eat meat, but meat from such and such farm that ate only a grass-fed diet and was sung to sleep each night to the melody from Fur Elise. After that wonderful meal, it seemed that everywhere we went had some Rancho Gordo beans. I got a bit carried away this winter and ordered 20 pounds of beans which for two people is quite a lot of beans. So I’m trying to use them now in things that go beyond soup. They are great in soup, especially the Christmas Lima Beans, but that’s still a LOT of beans. I made some wonderful beans last week that I will tell you about another time, but I digress.

Soooooooooooo to get back to the 4th of July, along with this wonderful pot of beans and I have collard greens and kale (they were out of mustard greens) that I cooked slowly with sweet onions and speck, instead of smoked turkey leg or ham hocks and I’ll grill up some garlic chicken sausages for dinner. If I have time when I get home, I just might make a recipe I found for Blueberry Buckle. I’ll let you know how it turns out. And if this doesn’t get me in the mood for July 4th, well at least we ate well!