Thursday, July 30, 2009

Barbe-quest, Burbanks:

Burbanks is in a strange location. Visible from the highway, but tucked away down a smaller road right next to it. They proclaim themselves to be authentic southern BBQ, and with the blues playing over the speakers, and the pig statue at the entrance, when I visit I am indeed reminded of my Grandparent’s favorite BBQ restaurant in Memphis—the Pig N Whistle. Burbank’s pig statue out front has even suffered similar mishaps to Pig N Whistle’s. Poor piggies, which are now both sans ears and tail.

We stopped by for some barbecue a few weeks ago with my Dad and Stepmom. It’s been awhile since I had been there, and David and I noticed a few changes on our last visit. Julie states that they have changed the recipe for their cornbread, and we concur. It’s not as good as it used to be.

We decided to get the appetizer sampler ($8.99) to start, with onion straws, little potato skins with pulled pork, cheese and green onion, fried green tomatoes and pig “wings” (deep fried ribs).

The pig wings were good, I thought they were a little salty, so I would not get a full appetizer order--one or two is enough. The fried green tomatoes were my favorite.

David also got a side salad ($2.49) beans and a full rack of ribs. ($21.99)

I chose the pulled pork platter, ($13.99) with sweet potato casserole, macaroni and cheese, and instead of coleslaw, cinnamon apples. Apples are the only substitution for coleslaw, and I like them much better. Honestly, the macaroni and cheese was not very good. It is called a “casserole” on the menu, but what I was served was a gluey gloppy mess. The sweet potato casserole, on the other hand, was delicious. I could eat a big bowl of it for dessert. With ice cream. If you visit Burbanks and like sweet potato casserole, you must order it. There is no excuse.

But what about the Barbecue? David and I really wished it was fresher. We are not sure if we got that morning’s batch and it had been cooking for awhile, but the meat wasn’t really tender. It had good smoke flavor, but a real tough, jerky-like texture that was not quite right for good barbecue. I enjoyed the different sauce options and thought they were solid.

Though the barbecue was a little chewy, it’s not something that would cause me to veto a trip to Burbanks, so we may give it another shot closer to dinner and see if the meat’s any different. They also have diet Dr. Pepper, which is another plus.

Burbank's Real Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Friday, July 24, 2009

Beer Festival!

David and I will be attending the Cincy Beerfest, held this Saturday in Roebling point from 2-10 PM. We will be at the VIP session from 4-10 PM.

Those of you who've been reading for awhile may remember our review of the 2nd annual midwinter beer festival.We're hoping that some of the kinks have been worked out and this time around it's a better experience.

All signs bode well, there are lots of draft beers and breweries on the beer list. It looks like it may rain in the afternoon, but we're determined not to let that stop us.

See you there!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

From vending machine to Venice, twinkiemisu:

Food day at the office last month—Mexican. This month? Italian. After considering the multitude of options such as lasagna, hoagies, spaghetti and meatballs, ravioli, penne pasta and salad, I decided that I wanted to bring in tiramisu. As I looked through various recipes for easy tiramisu, I noticed a few anecdotes that kept popping up in recipe comments for an interesting substitution for the lady fingers—twinkies. OK, you have my attention.

Following the idea farther, I came across this recipe for twinkie-misu, involving nothing more than cool whip, instant vanilla pudding, vanilla extract, sugar, instant coffee, kahlua, twinkies, and cocoa powder.
I could handle that.

I made the vanilla pudding, added the vanilla extract, then stuck it in the fridge to thicken. After that, I busied myself carving up twinkies as instructed. I laid them in the pan, cream side up.

I heated up the kahlua, water, and instant coffee mixture, making the coffee a little stronger than normal. I added a few tablespoons of turbinado sugar, and drizzled the mixture over my twinkies.

Next, a layer of pudding.

I repeated the layering process, finishing with layer of cool whip and cocoa powder for presentation. I recomend you refrigerate overnight or stick in freezer for a few hours.

I had some extra twinkies, so I made a smaller pan for testing purposes, which I made presentation side down and stuck in the freezer. I had a subject already, as I was expecting Jeff over for our Monday run. I hoped that he believed I was actually baking when he walked into the apartment and found me surrounded by empty boxes and twinkie wrappers.
By the time we got back, the Twinkie-misu had set. I used tin foil to make sure it did not glue itself to the bread pan, and it came out fairly easily. We tried it, and I can say that this recipe is Nomerati tested and approved. The vanilla goes well with the twinkies and the flavors come together without overpowering eachother. I think the extract is necessary to add a little more flavor to the pudding. Who says twinkies can't be classy?

A last layer of cool whip and cocoa powder.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The morning after:

Cincy Hound also gave us some awesome sausage to make for a post-party breakfast (ok, let's be honest, brunch) the next day.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Off the Chain party with Cincinnati Hound:

David and I met up with Curt McAdams, his wife Phyllis and Jeff for a July 4th party hosted at the House of Hound for one spectacular super awesome grill out.

Though we had emailed before, we had never met in person. We were very happy to have the pleasure of meeting not only Cincinnati Hound, but his lovely family, including crafty wife and artistic and cat loving daughters, as well as his welcoming neighbors.

Jeff, David and I were planning on being there early to get our hands on some ribs cooked by a certified master BBQ judge who also makes his own sauce. Our host was providing sausage and chicken; and various side dishes were being supplied. I had decided that the best thing that I could contribute would be desserts. I had gone on a baking frenzy the day before.

Jeff came over with fantastic mac 'n cheese as well as a delicious chocolate torte. David and I gathered some skewers from Findlay Market, a large ribeye, our beverages and all of my sugar laden creations and headed out to the suburbs.

First order of business upon arrival, after unpacking the food and placing the beer in the fridge—ribs.

Hound brought them out quickly and carved off pieces for us. He also gave David and I a cold Hopslam. Clearly, he knows the quickest way to our nom-loving hearts.

As we bit into the ribs, all conversation stopped. It wasn’t totally silent in the kitchen, there were various nom nomming noises. Jeff looked like he was about to pass out from the blaze of barbeque glory. I know I almost did. They were cooked over both apple wood and hickory, and I could taste both in a delicious smoky combination.

There was also roast turkey and kielbasa sausage smoking on the grill. We got some extra kielbasa as a leftover bonus, and I’ve been snacking on it the past several days.

Hound has lots of cool toys. The large smoker, a separate shiny grill, a fancy pants espresso machine, a restaurant grade Panini maker and lastly, a home theater. Yea, that’s right. His place is like chucky cheez, but better and for foodies.

We sat around the kitchen table crunching on fresh bruschetta and talking about various food items and restaurants for a little while. Jeff, Hound and David enjoyed some MacCallan Scotch, while I stuck with a Stone 13th anniversary ale. It reminded me a lot of their Old Guardian Barleywine, though with more hops and less malt backbone.

At around 5:30, everyone started arriving, including Curt and Phyllis. They brought a yummy tomato pie and Caipirinhas to share. I had one, it’s a devious drink. Check out Curt’s fantastic photostream of the fourth here. I ate some savory tomato pie Phyllis created and some bean dip that one of Hound’s neighbors brought to balance it out.

I then tried Jeff’s creation, with pineapple juice, rum and sugar rim. He had me at the sugar rim.Yummy and boozy.

The chicken and ribeye went onto the grill as we continued to stuff ourselves with delicious food. Hound’s wife made a very yummy festive dessert, with cool whip, pineapple, blueberries and strawberries, which I ate way too much of.

Groaning and holding our tummies, we headed down to check out the nifty home theater. We ended up watching 300 while our bellies dealt with all the food we had consumed over the past 5 hours. I could not think of a better way to spend the 4th than with good food and friends.

Baking Insanity:

David and I were headed to a cookout on Saturday, and after some consideration of what foodstuffs I could bring, I decided on desserts.

I compiled some recipes and stuck with the easy theme. I do not like to cook with baking soda, flour or baking powder—I’m very suspicious of such baking witchcraft. Such recipes require my nemesis, exact measurements.

That said, I knew I could make macaroons. They were a big hit at the cigar party, I figured they would not be too hard to replicate. And Rice Krispie treats were pretty hard to mess up, too. Yes!I could do both.

My newest venture would the 7 layer bar, with graham cracker crust, white, milk and butterscotch Nestle morsels, walnuts and coconut, topped with condensed milk. My coworker Christi had made them for a food day on Friday. They were so delicious I had to try and replicate them.

I drove off to the store and gathered all the baking goods. After I arrived back home and was sorting them into piles in front of David, explaining what went into what, David just shook his head and cocked an eyebrow.

“what?” I asked.

“Diabetes.” He answered.

“shut up.”

The Rice Krispie treats were made first. I discovered that I had not gotten enough disposable pans, so I made two “loaves” of treats.

The macaroons were next. I was a little more careful in my measurements this time, and they seemed to hold up a little better.

I had gotten chocolate chip cookie supplies to make as well. As I looked at the amount of baked goods multiplying like possessed bunnies around me, I decided that I could make those another day.

The macaroons I dipped in milk chocolate and heath bar crunchies, then drizzled with white and milk chocolate.

The 7 layer bars were last. Kate said my macaroons were akin to crack. If those are like crack, then this recipe is similar to black tar heroin.

they will probably kill you

I had leftover chocolate, so I dipped some of the Rice Krispie treats, leaving about half of them plain.

After a few hours, I had a large amount of baked goods to offer. Maybe too much. I resolved that no matter what happened, the 7 layer bars would not be coming back home with me—I was going to let them become someone else’s sweet addiction.