28 March 2010

Estonian Lenten Buns...and bunnies and duckies and tap-dancing Barneys

When I saw our dear Pille's recipe for Vastlakuklid (Estonian Lenten Buns I knew I had to make them. Rich, tender and flavoured with cardamom, how could I not make them?

Well, that was three or four years ago.

Just before each subsequent Easter I have every hope and intention of making her perfect buns. But then...well...I forget. Yes, even though I can recall many conversations word-for-word (ask any of the men I used to go out with), at times I cannot keep a simple, seasonal foodish intention in my mind long enough to follow it through to fruition.

It was almost the same story again this year. Almost.

Long after I declared my Lenten promise a disasterous foray into self-improvement, I remembered the buns. Those lovely, cream and jam-filled buns. Well, if I can't actually get around to 100 pages of pleasure reading every day during Lent, I can get these buns done. Yeah, it was probably safest for those around me that I not give up chocolate, caffeine or anything that keeps my few shreds of sanity firmly within my possession.

Since it's Easter, I also decided to use some of the dough and revisit the
bunny-shaped bread I made a few years ago. I mean, how perfect would it be to make a Lenten bread in the shape of a cute little Easter bunny? Well...

In that last rise, my lovely little bunnies took on lives of their own and turned into...edible instances Gestalt figure-ground principle (yes, those pictures that could be interpreted in more than one way, like the old woman-young woman picture).

Except my tray produced what some people would call bunnies...while other would see...I don't know...a toucan, a little lamb with a bow, a tap-dancing Barney, a mollusc, a duckie...some sort of leaping Pokemon character.

This isn't the first time my yeasted goods have taken on some sort of figurative bent.

Based on this, I'm sure I can come up with some sort of side business as a baker-teacher-cum-therapist: I teach people how to make delicious yeasted breads and when the treats are done, analyse the buns (or doughnuts) to help them lead a happier and less neurotic life...and one filled with tasty, tasty buns.

I'm late in making these (I hope Pille will understand)--they are traditionally eaten the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, much like pancakes are eaten here in Canada. These buns are easy to make have a light cardamom flavour. Split them open and fill them with sweetened jammy cream, jam (apricot, lingonberry or blueberry would work nicely), orange curd or even marzipan.

Vastlakuklid: Estonian lenten buns
adapted from
Pille of Nami-Nami's Vastlakuklid: Estonian lenten buns

Yield 12 buns

250ml (1c) hand-hot milk
6g (1.75tsp) dry yeast
400g (3c less 2.5Tbsp) ap flour
0.5 tsp salt
0.5 tsp ground cardamom (seeds from 4 pods)
100g (0.5c less 1Tbsp) butter, melted and cool
1 egg, lightly beaten

cream or lightly beaten egg (optional)

Dissolve the yeast into the milk. Stir in approximately half the flour until fully incorporated. Cover with cling and let double in volume in a warm, draft-free place (about an hour).

Combine salt, cardamom and the rest of the flour and add to the yeasty mixture. Add the butter and the egg and mix well. Turn out to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, but not tacky.

Return to proving bowl, cover and let double in size.

Preheat oven to 200C/400F; line a baking tray with parchment paper.

Punch down and divide into 12 pieces. Roll the pieces into balls, and place on lined baking tin. Let rise for about 30 minutes or until the buns have doubled in size.

Brush on cream or beaten egg and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and cover with a teatowel while cooling.

Split the buns and fill with sweetened or flavoured cream, jam, curd or marzipan.


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24 March 2010

Spinach, Mushroom and Tomato Tart

I am horrible at this Facebook thing.

I resisted getting an account for ages--my friends know where I am (and if they don't I'm easily found), and I know where they are; between work, this blog and my Twitter account I spend enough of my life staring into an illuminated screen, tapping madly away at a well-worn keyboard; my innate distrust of social networking sites and the horrid marketers that lurk within.

But I have an account, mostly neglected. Like many other social networking sites I'm on, I can go ages without logging in. Often when I do, it's only to respond to a note or a friend request. Also when I do, I'm amazed at all the names the system suggests I connect with.

Take today for example. As I type, the Unseen Facebook Overlords suggest I should connect with 27 people. Normal, I suppose. The thing is, I only recognise two of them. The rest? I haven't a clue.

I imagine some of them to have some sort of connection to the people I've accepted as friends on the site...I also imagine some of them to be the equivalent of eHarmony matches...you know the highly questionable ones that only seem to be compatable because they match your gender preferences and nothing else...but in Facebookland they show up because they have a profile and you have a profile. When I remove someone from the list because there is no connection whatsoever, they are replaced with someone else...also with whom there is no connection whatsoever.


But I do check in when I get a note. And it's one of these notes that led to today's recipe. A friend asked if I had a quiche recipe that used spinach, mushrooms and tomatoes--her latest attempt didn't appeal. Hmmm....I had a tomato tart recipe and a spinach quiche recipe, so I took this as an opportunity to play in my kitchen (as if I really need to be prompted to do that) and developed this recipe.

I didn't know whether to call this a quiche or a tart. I see quiches as bits suspended in eggy cream, whereas here eggy cream binds together the spinach and mushrooms. Not wanting the quiche police (I'm sure they exist, with a rule book filled with yolk to cheese ratios) after me, I went the safer route and christened it a tart.

There aren't any real tricks to this recipe, but I will say quickly zapping the cream cheese into an oozy puddle does make easy work of mixing it into the milk and eggs. The tart itself is subtantial, but not heavy and pairs well with a small bowl of soup or a leafy salad.

Spinach, Mushroom and Tomato Tart
Makes one 20cm/8" tart

fat for frying (olive oil, butter, canola, bacon fat)
90g (0.75c) mushrooms, sliced
1 shallot, minced
1 garlic cloves, minced
300g (10oz) (1 pkg) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
100g (3.5oz) cream cheese, softened
125ml (0.5c) full fat milk

1 Tbsp dijon mustard
a good pinch of dried thyme (0.25-0.5tsp)
2 eggs
1 prebaked pie shell
1-2 tomatoes, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 200C/400F.

Sauté mushrooms, with pinches of salt and pepper, until soft. Add the shallots and stir until translucent. Add the garlic. When they release their scent, add the spinach and sauté for a few minutes. Take off the hob to cool.

Whisk the softened cream cheese, milk, mustard and eggs together until smooth. Add salt, pepper and thyme and mix well. Stir in the spinach mixture.

Pour into pie shell and top with sliced tomatoes and sprinkle, if you wish, with black pepper. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until the eggs have set.

Cool on a wire rack; serve warm.


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20 March 2010

Irish Cream Cupcakes

If I had my camera with me the look would have been captured for all to see.

Not just any look, but the silent glare that simply says "Must you speak so loudly, human?"

No, I didn't get that look from someone wearing a green beer stained "Kiss me I'm Irish" T-shirt.

I got it from my cat.

On the floor, a few feet away from Hagia, two items told a story: to the left were cupcake wrappers, traces of Irish cream glaze left clinging to the paper; to the right, a puddle of cat barf.

Hmmm...I've been here before...sort of. Instead of being helped by My Dear Little Cardamummy down the distilled path of wobbliness, they apparently showed great initiative and helped themselves to discarded cupcake liners from the trash.

Well, they say drunks and other addicts will stop at nothing to get their fix.

Hagia has very...refined...tastes. Ice cream and tuna interest her. Olives, lemongrass and (more recently) bleu cheese keep her by my side. More recently baking--buttery cakes and croissants along with traces of raw flour--cause frantic miaos and pokes.

Being so close to St. Patrick's Day, I decided to create an Irish cream cupcake--a treat that could inspire choruses of "No dear, those are Mummy's special cupcakes." Given she had no interest in other alcohols I've sipped or cooked with (Guiness, wines, liqueurs and the rest) I was more than surprised at her begging for a bit of cake (which she did not get...at least not then). Maybe it's the cream...or perhaps the sugar.

With my luck, it's the whiskey.

These cakelettes are very easy to make. The finished cake has Irish cream's caramelly tones while keeping a buttery-dense crumb and really doesn't need any additional boosting. Yet me being me, I chose to thoroughly embrace the day and gaze the fairy cakes with a thinned Irish cream icing.

Since I'm not a fan of thick icings, the cakes were glazed while still warm--apart from thinning the icing, the flavours to seeped into the cakes and dribbled down the sides and left a thin layer to cool on top. You can, if you wish, cut away any rounded peaks from the cooled cakes and spoon on a thicker icing (vanilla or royal icing would work well) and top with whichever candies, sprinkles or dragees that come to hand.

Irish Cream Cupcakes
yield 12

110g (0.75c +4tsp) cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
125g (0.5c + 1Tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
100g (0.5c) sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
60ml (0.25c) Irish cream liqueur

Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Line a 12-bowl cupcake tin with papers.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugar until light, fluffy and almost pearlescent. Mix in the eggs one at at a time (or as best as you can), followed by the vanilla.

Incorporate half the flour into the batter, scrape down the sides and then continue with the rest of the flour. Pour in the Irish cream and mix until smooth.

Divide between the papered bowls and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the cakelettes have risen, are golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack; decorate as desired.

Irish cream glaze
55g (0.25c) unsalted butter, very soft
30-60g (2-4Tbsp) icing sugar, sifted
1 Tbsp Irish cream liqueur
1 Tbsp cream (heavy or light) or milk (plus more, if necessary)

Beat together the butter and a couple of spoons of the sugar until smooth. With the beaters still going, dribble in the Irish cream and cream. Taste for sweetness--add more sugar or cream (or Irish cream) as necessary for the consistency you prefer.


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16 March 2010

Potatoes and bacon and cheese oh my!: Panhaggerty

My bibliophilia is not a secret.

I love well chosen words, committed to paper, bound in paper or cloth.

I love the scent a recently-printed book releases as I flick through it.

I love the light texture of the paper fibres on my fingertips as turn each page.

Even though my collection numbers in the four-digits (and that's after I lost a few hundred because of a tragic-to-me flood two Christmases ago), like the men I who keep my company, I am rather choosey about the ones I bring home.

I peruse bookshelves, pick up a title and skim its pages. More often than not, it's reshelved. At most I'll spend 30 seconds with a book--like resumés, fundraising asks and online dating profiles, that's all the time an author has to wow me into adding their title to my basket.

The same goes for cookbooks. I read them in the same way as I do novels. Actually, it's more than that. Not only do these writers need to wow me with their food, but they also have to understand the music of language--of food language--before I'll consider adding them to my cookery book collection. They need to weave tales and transport me to their kitchens and times as well as support me on my journey there. Few pass the test.

Which is why when I found myself curled up in one of those wooden armchairs, in one of those ubiquitous big box bookstores, with a cookbook for more than 20 minutes, I knew I had a gem in my hands. When I realised I had a Cheshire Cat-like grin plastered to my face, I knew Colman Andrews' The Country Cooking of Ireland would come home with me.

I spent most of this weekend with the book--reading about Ireland's seafood and cheeses, potatoes and game. I've marked more recipes to try than I have in a very long time. It's not pretentious. It doesn't break down ingredients into molecules, nor does it try an elevate food to an esoteric level. It celebrates food. It celebrates the land and waters. It celebrates the Irish.

What more do I want from a cookery book?

I've marked a number of recipes to try. Some, because the ingredients sound wonderful (filet mignon and mushrooms in whiskey sauce). Others because I've heard of, but never tasted them (colcannon). And still others because their names just make me smile (parapetetic pudding, anyone?).

Panhaggery definitely falls into the last of these categories. And the first. And the second.

I took Colman Andrews' original recipe as a guide, adjusting the amounts of fat and potatoes, adding in some sage and garlic. It's easy satisfying and adaptable. I can see myself making this again, but with sweet potatoes and bleu cheese, or playing with charcuterie.

But really, more importantly, this dish made me smile.

adapted from The Country Cooking of Ireland by Colman Andrews

Serves 6-8 as a side dish

1 Tbsp butter, plus more if needed
100g (3.5 oz) streaky bacon, chopped (four rashers)
1 medium onion, slivered into lunettes
1 garlic clove, minced
black pepper
0.25-0.5 tsp dried sage
225-450g (0.5 lb-1lb) Yukon Gold potatoes (or any boiling potato), (see note)
175g (1.75c) grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 180C/375F.

In a 20cm (8") cast iron frypan fry the chopped bacon in the butter until crisp. Remove the bacon pieces to a kitchen toweling-lined bowl.

Pour off the fat, leaving about a tablespoon in the pan (do not discard fat). Add the onions and garlic. Stir until the onions wilt and begin to caramelise. Mix in a couple of pinches of pepper and the sage. Remove from the pan and mix with the crisped bacon.

Remove the pan from the heat and brush the bottom and sides with oil (adding more from the poured-off reserve, if needed).

With one third of the potatoes, shingle the slices over the bottom of the pan, leaving none of the metal exposed. Layer half the onion mixture overtop the onions and then layer a third of the cheese overtop the onions. Sprinkle with pepper.

Layer half the remaining potatoes on top, repeat as above with the rest of the onions and half the cheese and pepper. Top with remaining potatoes. Dribble the remaining fat over the potatoes, dotting with butter, if necessary.

Pop into the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes or until an inserted knife easily pierces each potato layer.

Turn on the broiler. Sprinkle with the last of the cheese and broil for 1-2 minutes or until the cheese has melted thoroughly.

Note: The quantity of potato depends upon how thinly you slice them and how large the potatoes are. Start with slicing half the potatoes (225g/0.5lb) and judge after the first layer if you need to slice any additional potatoes.


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12 March 2010

Guinness onion soup with bleu cheese croutons

My liquor cubby betrays me. Friends' collections of wines and scotches are on show. Some have bar selections that allows them to live out their mixologist fantasies.

Me? I have a tiny little cubby behind a teak door. Gin, vodka and cognac always have their places; at least one can of Guinness is in the fridge. That's it. That's all. Quite utilitarian in a way. Everything else is incidental and only in when gifted or when needed.

People who know me well aren’t that surprised to know this. I don’t drink that much and when I do it’s usually one of the above, but it’s my taste for Guinness is what throws some people off. It’s an acquired taste, one which I took to immediately.

Friends once mocked my half pint glass of dark liquid, assuming it was a cola and not a “real” drink. I told them it wasn’t and they didn’t believe me. I offered them a sip as proof. Eyes wide, and barely able to swallow, they went back to their rum and Cokes (heavy on the cola).

I can only describe this tar-black stout as meaty, rich, and with flavours that remind me of roasted coffee beans or cocoa beans. And it’s smooth. Very, very smooth.

In the kitchen, my favourite stout gives a depth to chocolate cakes and steaky stews that usually appear near St. Patrick’s Day. This year’s stew’s been sopped up and the cakelettes have yet to appear, but this year I’ve added to my Guinnessy repertoire.

Onion soups topped with cheesy toasts are a weakness: poking the cheesy lake with my spoon, pushing the bread into the broth, the savoury-sweet melange of a hearty broth and sweet onions, made with wine or stout, it’s all good as far as I’m concerned.

I looked at a number of recipes when I came up with this one. The soup part itself is rather easy to muddle through without a recipe—simply caramelise some onions and add a mix of beef broth and Guinness, with some bay leaves and thyme—but versions with bleu cheese croutons held my attention. I cubed the bread and made a batch of croutons to be used and snacked on, but you can simply lightly pre-toast a slice, fit it to the mouth of your soup crock, sprinkle it with blue cheese, a bit of olive oil and a grinding of pepper and then pop it under the broiler for about a minute.

Bleu Cheese Croutons
Per serving

1 stale slice of bread, cubed
1 tsp bleu cheese
olive oil
black pepper

Preheat the broiler or set the oven to 200C/400F.

Stir the bleu cheese into an overflowing tablespoon of olive oil until smoothish. Add a good pinch or two of pepper. Toss the bread in the mixture.

Tumble the cubes onto a foil-lined tray and pour any remaining oil mixture over the bread.

If broiling: set under the broiler for about 60-90 seconds, or until golden.

If baking: bake for about 10-15 minutes or until golden.

Guinness Onion Soup
Yield: approx 1.3L (5c)

1kg (2lbs) medium cooking onions (approx 4-6 onions)
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
olive oil
330ml (1.3c) Guinness (or other stout)
750ml (3c) beef broth
2 bay leaves
0.75 tsp dry thyme
1 tsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar

In a pot, put the onions, garlic, a pinch of salt and some pepper and enough cold oil and butter and cook until the onions are soft and caramelised.

While the onions are browning, reduce the Guinness to about 200ml (a bit more than 0.75c).

Add the reduced stout to the onions, along with the broth, thyme and bay leaves. Bring up to a boil and then let simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. Add sugar and vinegar, stir well and balance flavours to taste.

Serve with bleu cheese or cheddar croutons.


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08 March 2010

Peach-cranberry upside down cake

The dregs of winter.

Neither cold nor warm. More wet than dry. Icy when I leave for work, muddy when I return.

Lazy winter weekends where I clatter pans, meander through books and generally potter about the house no longer satisfy.

I fantasize about plantings for my wee front garden—in my mind it is the Hanging Gardens of Babylon of the north, but in reality it is a plot not quite as wide as I am tall, and about the length of my car, recessed into shade and the home to a colony of miner bees.

My mind fidgets like a Chihuahua on amphetamines. One moment I’m sketching out a book, and then I’m sketching a bowl of fruit. I research yoga and Pilates classes then wonder if I can attend the next presentation in the international governance lecture series.

Winter vegetables and the hearty stews no longer hold my attention and lighter fare leaves me wanting. I fixate on flavours that won’t be palatable for months. I want sweet and yielding fruit, but all I can find are bland rock-hard fruits with more customs stamps than my last three passports combined.

Travelled peaches don’t satisfy, with their bred for travelling distance crunchy flesh. I like leaners—syrupy juices that dribble down my chin, leaving me needing to change my T-shirt. I pick up a peach at the mediumscarymegamart and sniff it. I can’t tell if it’s a fruit or a softball.

That said, my dregs of winter craving is for peaches. Preserved peaches would do, but neither My Dear Little Cardamummy nor I put any up this summer. I’m not considering shop-bought canned peaches. So I’m left sniffing fuzzy softballs, hoping for a sign they retain some hope of the fruit they are desperately trying to convince me.

I don’t know how many peaches I sniffed to find four almost passable specimens. Passable, but not exemplary. If they were eating peaches, I’d be more disheartened than I am. But four peaches aren’t enough for more than a couple of servings of my favourite honey-roasted peach dessert: roasting masques their off-seasonness, and brings out their fruity tastes and scents.

An upside down cake was my solution. The peaches, sliced and prettily layered at the bottom of a cake pan, would have their natural fruitiness revived with the help of a toffee sauce. Strewn with cranberries, any residual sourness would be excused.

I was very happy with the resulting dessert. Unmolded from its springform (although it can be made with a regular round baking tin), the peaches were golden, with warm toffee oozing to the cake plate below. Thanks to lemoned buttermilk, the cake was tangy and tender; its snowy crumb incredibly light.

It may not be summer yet, but with this cake, I’m not too bothered about it.

Peach Cranberry Upside Down Cake
1 20cm (8”) cake

3 peaches, sliced into 1cm (0.5") wedges
a handful or two of dried cranberries
100g (0.5c) sugar
grated rind and juice of half a lemon
150ml (0.66c) buttermilk
0.5 tsp bicarbonate of soda
95g (7 Tbsp) butter, divided
75g (0.3c) brown sugar
145g (1c + 4tsp) cake flour
1tsp baking powder
70g (5 Tbsp) butter
1 egg

Preheat oven to 170F/350F.

Butter an 8” (20cm) round springform cake tin and place a parchment round on the bottom. Layer the peach wedges on the parchment and scatter the dried cranberries over top, letting them settle into whichever nooks and crannies they find.

Rub the lemon rind into the sugar and set aside.

Mix the buttermilk, lemon juice and bicarb together. It will fizz as you get put together the rest of the cake.

Sift flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt together. And again, set that aside.

Make a toffee by melting 25g (2 Tbsp) butter with the brown sugar and a pinch of salt in a heavy-bottomed pan, until it is smooth and liquid. Pour over the layered fruit.

Cream the remaining 70g (5 Tbsp) butter with the lemon-infused sugar, until light. Beat in the egg. Lightly mix in the flour and buttermilk in the usual alternating fashion (dry-wet-dry-wet-dry). Pour over the prepared fruit.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the sides pull away from the pan and an inserted skewer comes out clean.
Note: Obviously, the number of peaches you'll need is entirely dependent upon the size of peaches you have. I used three for this recipe, but you may need more or fewer.


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04 March 2010

The Contraption: Slow Cooker Ribs in Barbecue Sauce

For better or for worse we are attracted to types. And for better or worse, types are attracted to us.

Give me a single, smart (verging on geeky), well-read, musical man who’s interested in politics, science and art and I simply swoon…I, unfortunately, collect men who would be better off with someone who will simply acquiesce to their officious, ill-informed prattle…or someone easily flattered when these men admit to researching conversation via Wikipedia. Really.

Yet there is one commonality amongst the men who like, love and would like to love me: ribs. An unreal weakness for saucy, juicy, spicy, sweet, tangy, meaty ribs.

Hmmm…I’m making a connection here…

Those who’ve tried my back ribs never seem to tire of them—Michael requested them weekly for several months; both he and the exbf chose them as birthday meals. Heck, even my father sent my Dear Little Cardamummy on a mission to find out what I did that made my ribs so much better than hers (that went over well, I can tell you).

I fully admit that my usual method leaves many rib aficionados cowering with horror: I boil rub-massaged slabs with an onion and a bay or two before giving them a lacquer-like sheen in the oven, courtesy of several brushings of barbecue sauce.

When a colleague told me of her slow cooker rib recipe, I was intrigued. Unlike other meat recipes, she didn’t have to pre-cook anything—simply dump and go. The fact they slowly blurbled away in cola before quickly painting them in sauce and tossing them on a grill won me over.

As a fan of Coca-cola ham, I know how tasty pork braised in cola can be. The fizzy drink’s mildly acidic qualities tenderizes meat; it’s caramelly clove-spiky flavour has a natural affinity with pork. In case you need yet another reason to avoid diet pop, I’ve read it works with any brand of cola, but only “regular” versions as diet versions can just ruin the dish.

I adapted
this recipe as I wanted more flavour imparted into the meat during cooking, and mixed the cola with some of the barbecue sauce. The meat was tender-sweet and spicy. Grilling caramelised the sauce and left the ribs sticky and slightly smoky from the flecks of char. Needless to say, I was more than happy with my supper.

Quite honestly, after eight hours in the slow cooker, I couldn’t bring myself to toss the flavourful liquid or the cooked onions, so while the ribs were finishing on my stovetop grill, I simply tipped the liquid, onions and a spoon or two of barbecue sauce into a pot and reduced the liquid to a thick, burnished sauce that clung to the onions. A perfect accompaniment with the ribs or for later use as a topping for burgers or other hot sandwiches.

Barbecue sauces are as varied as the regions they come from. Teryaki and hoisin sauces are used on grilled meats in some Asian countries while Chimichurri is popular in South American countries such as Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay. The US has several distinct regional sauces South Carolina mustard sauces and mayonnaise-based Alabama White sauces. My sauce has no true regional provenance, but combines Kansas City’s thick, sweet tomatoey sauce with a bit of Texan heat.

Barbecue sauce
Yield: approximately 1.5c

1 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
250ml (1c) tomato ketchup
3Tbsp apple cider vinegar
30g (3Tbsp) brown sugar
3Tbsp molasses
0.5 tsp pepper
0.5 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp dry mustard
1 Tbsp rib rub or chili seasoning mix
2 dspn (4 tsp) Worcestershire sauce
0.5 tsp salt
1tsp liquid smoke (optional)

Soften the onions and garlic in the oil. Mix in the remaining ingredients and simmer for about 20 minutes. Let cool to room temp before using.

Cola has been used in cooking in the southern US for ages. Sweet, spiky and slightly acidic, it pairs well with pork and adds to the rib’s smoky-sweetness. Use your favourite shop-bought barbecue sauce or make your own. After spending most of the day on low in the slow cooker, the ribs will be succulent. Serve with a warm onion relish by simmering the braising liquid until thick with the cooked onions and some extra barbecue sauce.

Slow cooker ribs in barbecue sauce
Adapted from
Canadian Parents’ Crock Pot BBQ Ribs

1.3kg (3 lbs) baby back or side ribs
rib rub
125ml (0.5c) cola
375ml (1.5c) barbecue sauce, divided
1tsp liquid smoke (optional)
one onion,
sliced into 1cm rings

Remove silverskin and any excess fat from the ribs before slicing into ifour or five-rib mini-slab portions. Massage rub into the meat and let sit in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.

Mix the cola, half the barbecue sauce and liquid smoke together. Brush each of the slab sides with the sauce before spreading a couple of spoons’ worth of sauce on the bottom of the slow cooker. Layer some onions on top of the sauce, place a slab or two (depending upon the size of the cooker) over the onions, and then continue to layer the onions and the slabs. When done, pour the remaining sauce over top and set the cooker on low and cook for 6-8 hrs.

About 15 minutes before the the ribs are done. Heat up a grill pan or barbecue or oven (350F).

Brush the cooked ribs with plain barbecue sauce and grill each side for 8-10 minutes or roast in the oven for about 20-30 minutes. Serve with additional sauce for dipping, if you wish.


Here's my recipe for rib rub, but you can certainly use whichever recipe or brand you wish.

I've tried these ribs a couple of times, once with my homemade sauce and again with a commercial hickory sauce; and both worked well.


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