A Night in Tunisia at Nancy’s Candy & Spice, Lawrenceville, GA

Cooking class with Nancy

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Cooking class with Nancy

 

 

Cooking class with Nancy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good evening everyone. It has been awhile since my last blog post and I must get back to consistency. Earlier this week  I had the pleasure to host a trial run of cooking class  in a joint venture with Nancy Abuaisheh of Nancy’s Candy and Spice located in Downtown Lawrenceville, Georgia.  It’s a delectable shop filled with the scent of aromatic spices from all over the world along with the best tasting sweets that will leave your mouth and senses craving for more.  We had an awesome time sharing and celebrating our passion for food, cooking, friends, fellowship and life. I presented two recipes for the guests that were received with enthusiasm, appreciation and sincerity. I featured a winter green salad with feta cheese, pistachios and chickpeas with lemon vinaigrette. The next recipe is a Mediterranean Cous Cous infused with Saffron and Pomegranate. Here are the recipes from last night.

Winter Garden Salad with Field Greens, Feta, Pistachios with Herb Vinaigrette

  • 2 bags (5oz.) of Organic Field Greens (chilled)
  • 1 can  of chickpeas (rinsed)
  • 3 oz. pistachios (roasted, salted and shelled)
  • 3 oz. fresh feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tbsp. of fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 bottle of herb vinaigrette (good quality)
  • 3 tbsp. of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 oz. of fresh lemon zest
  • Fresh grind sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
  • Add diced tomatoes and sliced English cucumbers (optional)

First place field greens in large bowl. Add chickpeas and pistachios and set aside. Do not mix. This is your salad base. Next take herb vinaigrette (shake vigorously) and place in small bowl. Add chopped oregano, feta cheese, lemon juice and zest with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk everything together for a minute or so.  This is your flavor profile. Add the flavored vinaigrette to the salad base and toss with your hands lightly for a few minutes until greens are coated with vinaigrette. Add a bit of salt and pepper to bring the flavors out. Plate up on chilled salad plates and serve with warm crusty French baguette or warm pita bread. Serve immediately.

Mediterranean Vegetable Cous Cous infused Saffron and Pomegranate

In this recipe if pomegranate is not available use pomegranate juice and add a few ounces in the cooking process with the aromatic vegetables.

  • 1 medium eggplant ( small diced and burped***)
  • 1 small red onion, diced small
  • 1 each of red, green and yellow pepper (small dice)
  • 2 oz. of EVOO
  • 1 pomegranate or 2 oz. of pomegranate juice
  • 1/3 bunch of chopped cilantro
  • 3 each of fresh mint and oregano, chopped
  • ½ tbsp. of cumin and turmeric
  • (1 lb. box) of cous cous
  • 1 qt. of vegetable or chicken broth
  • Cracked black pepper and sea salt to taste
  • The key to the recipe is to build flavor and texture with the cous cous as the highlight

Before cooking the cous cous which takes just a few minutes cook the aromatic vegetables and set aside.

Add EVOO in to medium heated skillet. Add onions, peppers, herb mix and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add eggplant and cook and sauté for additional 3-4 minutes until eggplant begins to take on some browning on each side. Add pomegranate juice and turn off heat and stir liberally to enhance the flavor. Add salt and pepper. Set aside.

In medium pot heat broth and heat to boil about 4 minutes. Add saffron (or turmeric) with ground cumin and stir in for a few seconds.   Add cous cous in a steady stream and quickly stir for a few seconds like you would polenta or cream of wheat. Add additional fresh herb mix about 2 to 3 tablespoons. Place lid on top and remove from heat for 3-5 minutes. Take lid off and fluff cous cous with a fork. Add cooked vegetables and mix with wooden spoon for a few minutes.  As an option you can add diced dried apricots or dried cranberries for an added texture and natural sweetness. Serve immediately.

The burping of the eggplant which means adding salt to the diced eggplant before application will extract the excess of water and moisture within the eggplant that will make the eggplant hold its firmness rather than rubbery and soggy.

We had a great time! If you’re looking for some sweet treats to cap off an evening or Friday stop by Nancy’s Candy & Spice and tell her that Chef Donnell referred you for a special treat. She has some awesome candies. The eggnog coated almonds are to die for amongst her many sweet treats.  So stop by, its worth the trip.  She’s located in downtown Lawrenceville on West Crogan Street next to Dominick’s Italian Restaurant.

Nancy’s Candy & Spice

Nuts, Fried Fruit, Candy and Spices

186 West Crogan Street Lawrencville, GA 30045

770-910-7927 store

nancycandyandspice@hotmail.com

Look for the next post soon!

djc

It’s all about the Ribs baby!

bbq ribs main photo

Today I want to write and discover the most relevant information about the American fascination with these grilled, savory, tender and notorious charcoalist  kingsfordius and hickoriuos (like the wording, lol)  aromatic smell of grilled, succulent pieces of meat with rib bones of the famous livestock animal  that has become a culinary celebrity of recent times serving culinary connoisseur as a favorable jam, a savory jerky, or fried rinds before a favorable broth. There are festivals in its name all across the country. It’s  even on a annual tour (cochon 555) throughout the US! I myself participated in the event in Atlanta a few years ago and its amazing I might add.  What am I talking about? The omnivore itself the pig. The popular animal has brought an awakening to the culinary world.  Because of it butcher shops have  has came back into the  neighborhoods, chefs have made it the highlight of their menus, and livestock farmers have went back into business with raising the popular breeds such as berkshire, iberian, yorkshire and the chestire white form Chester County, Pennsylvania.

pork cuts

Spare Ribs

Spare Ribs

Baby Back Ribs

Baby Back Ribs

Country Style Ribs

Country Style Ribs

Pork Loin Chop

Pork Loin Chop

Rib Tips

Rib Tips

For the past several months I’ve prepared family meals utilizing the various cuts of meat from this vicarious animal while applying different cooking methods like  pan searing, grilling, smoking and plain old bbqing. I’ve often used citrus, garlic, brown sugar, vinegars, rubs and marinades seeking to discover an unknown taste and texture that has loomed in my culinary mind and soul for days at end. I must the taste and flavor that pork ribs give are quite satisfying! I mean some good seasoned and marinated ribs grilled to perfection slathered with a simple concocted bbq sauce with some coleslaw or potato salad and some lite bread ( white bread to some) and Red’s Apple Ale and I’m happy as fat kid with his favorite cake! I must admit everyone has their favorite cut of ribs. The cuts are various. As a kid my Dad always purchased spare ribs which he seasoned up with his blend of spices and parboiled  for a few hours in hot water with onions and beer. Funny combination but after he slow cooked them over a medium heat charcoaled grill for several hours they were the best with kraft bbq sauce (I’m a 70’s kid, that’s what we had back in the day). Other cuts like I’ve come to enjoy like the St. Louis cut ( one of my favorite cuts) that I’ve worked with as a Food and Beverage Manager/Executive Chef at Emory Healthcare here in Atlanta that we seasoned and put on the rotisserie as well as the oven which the customers loved as we served 3 to 4 bone segments and draped them with some Sweet Ray’s BBQ Sauce. They were indeed the bomb with mac and cheese, collard green and fresh baked corn bread muffins. This will put you in the mood for an afternoon nap. Now the cut that everyone raves about are the one and only baby backs that made Chili’s restaurants famous with their barber quartet commercial and the amazing shots of bbq baby back ribs over an open flame. Applebee’s restaurants  also are known for their baby back as well. I imagine that both of this restaurant chains have sold millions upon millions of baby back ribs to their customers over the years. Some other well know restaurants that served these succulent and memorable ribs are Tony Roma’s, Corky’s,  Famous Dave’s, Dreamland BBQ, and JimnNick’s. The country style ribs are one of my favorites because its pretty much all meat with the exception of a little bone, but the tenderness of the meat you can’t beat.  Now let’s not forget the rib-tips. If your from Atlanta you’ve heard the famous commercial from This is It! BBQ & Seafood Restaurant where the owner Shelley Butch Anthony belts out his famous line ” Its the rib tips.” I became acquainted with rib tips while working at the Covington Highway location in Decatur, Georgia early in my culinary  career which I learned a lot about the cooking and smoking process. I didn’t know that these small, yet tender pieces of meat were so good. I tell you he has some good BBQ there which is addictive!

dreamland bbq logofamous dave's logotony  roma's restaurantchili's restaurant

jimnicks logo

sweet baby rays bbq sauce

corky's bbq logo

Slicing St. Louis Cut Ribs for lunch service at Emory University Hospital Midtown

Slicing St. Louis Cut Ribs for lunch service at Emory University Hospital Midtown

Shelley "Butch"Anthony and son Telley  Atlanta's own favorite BBQ Restaurant

Shelley “Butch”Anthony and son Telley Atlanta’s own favorite BBQ Restaurant This is It!

Now lets switch gears and talk about seasoning blends and cooking methods. Everyone and I do mean everyone has a special cut of meat that they go goo goo over or my kids term “Ham” ( an expression fitted for this blog I may add). As you know there are hundreds maybe thousands of bby seasoning blends, rubs (dry and wet), marinades and sauces that are on the market. Some local, regional, nationwide and some made right out of home kitchen ( they’re the best I found).  I’ve come to the conclusion that the simpliest blends and marinades produce the best flavor for you ribs. A rub of granulated garlic, onion, season salt, white pepper, cayenne, salt and cumin brings out the true flavor of pork. Or try a simple marinade of 1 part each of  light brown sugar, soy sauce, and yellow mustard does absolute justice on some ribs. Try and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Many chefs, grillers and home cooks perform murder on coming up with these complex and overdone rubs, marinades and seasoning blends  that has so many conflicting flavors and smells going off you can taste the meat at all. I hope you are not one of these individuals that I’m speaking of. If so there’s hope for you through this post. Keep reading because you’re going to learn today! Find spices and flavors that appeal to you the most. Build two or three flavor profiles that you like such as  sweet and sassy (honey, apple cider vinegar, pepper, salt, seasoned salt, granulated garlic)  or tropical (lime juice, pineapple, cumin, pimento seed, curry, granulated garlic, etc.) or  asian ( light soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, ground coriander, tomato paste, pepper, honey, orange juice). Learn to create your own special magic and perfect it, It will set you and your cooking style apart from the rest of the crowd and people will be drooling to have some your special prepared ribs!

Make your marinade simple with bold  flavors

Make your marinade simple with bold flavors

Find your balance between sweet and savory

Find your balance between sweet and savory

K.I.S.S. =Keep It Simple Stupid

K.I.S.S. =Keep It Simple Stupid

Cooking Methods

For the best method you must ask yourself the question “What type of taste or aroma do I want my ribs to have”? Smoky, charcoal or woodsy aroma and taste in my meat delicacies. Personally speaking nothing beats the aroma and flavor of charcoal (Kingsford is still the best in my experience). Charcoal provides the meat with an  sort of primitive but  simple characteristic of  cooking over an open flame that goes back to ancient times when basically everything that people ate was cooked over an open flame with grates to keep the wild game from falling into the fire. Some of the basic tools needed to start your grilling career or hobby is a decent kettle shaped grill (18or 22 inch will suffice), good charcoal, lighter fluid, charcoal chimney, grill tool set, basting brush,  water bottle ( to calm down flare ups) and some garlic bulbs, onion hulls and fresh rosemary to give your meat a nice aroma while it cooks. Now your on your way. As you get into the fine art of grilling you’ll pick up new items and gadgets along the way such as fancy thermometers, skewers, cedar planks, fruit tree wood chips, marinades, spices, etc. It’s an adventure so pack lightly and keep your eyes and you nose open to new techniques, preparation, and presentation. You will learn from all types of cooks, backyard weekend grillers, chefs, uncles and aunts, old school pit masters and the new school smokers with their fusion style marinades, sauces and flavor enhancers. You can’t possibly go wrong unless you leave your food on the grill and go inside and forgot about  and once you realize you were grilling all your meat has caught on fire and is charred to blackness because you forgot to put the top on and close the vents!!!!! Awg! How many times has that happen to you? It has happen to all of us at some point or another, especially the novices. It’s  a rites of passage for the bbq journeyman or woman. You must survive your learning curve.

Well, there you have it…. Ribs, the cuts, the eateries that made them famous to us, the seasoning and flavor techniques, equipment and products that will take your ribs to the next pigosphere or atmosphere of serene  utopia as you sit down at the table, role your sleeves up and partake of the most succulent, tender pieces of  sweet and savory protein morsels of meat that’s slathered in sweet tangy bbq sauce that makes your lips smack and your tongue form a circle eight as your brain tells you that man  this is it! Simply stated its the Ribs Baby! It’s all about the Ribs baby. Give me some more and pass the light bread and tata salad. You know the vernacular! Until next time!

The Payoff —the finished meat

The Results of Grillin: BBQ Country Style Ribs

The Results of Grillin: BBQ Country Style Ribs

Country Style BBQ Ribs cooked on a lazy Sunday afternoon in October

Country Style BBQ Ribs cooked on a lazy Sunday afternoon in October

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http://www.amazingribs.com/recipes/porknography/pork_cuts.html

http://www.tonyromas.com/

http://www.thisisitbbq.com/index.html

Special Note:  I recently had dinner at JimnNicks in Conyers, GA (my favorite bbq spot) with my wife and  some friends earlier this week and the food and service was very very very good. Sorry I forgot to take pictures while dining on some cheese filled corn muffins, fried green tomatoes, BBQ beef brisket and some baby backs (of course), mac and cheese and collard greens like Grandma’s with some soothing sweet tea and to top it off the the best pecan pie with a flaky crust that’s to die for! We had some much food that we just finished our doggy bag two days ago. The food quality and service was outstanding thanks to our server Sir Zacahry that made it a great experience. Please check them out and tell them Donnell sent you! Until next time….GO GET SOME RIBS AND GETTA QQQQING HERE IN GEORGIA AND ALL AROUND THE COUNTRY!  ITTA MAKE YA FEEL REAL GOOD DOWN ON THE INSIDE !

djc

http://www.jimnnicks.com/

http://www.jimnnicks.com/menus/conyers/drive-thru-combo-meals/