4.17.2014

Root Beer Ribs with Cheesy Polenta

Confession time: I used to drink a lot of diet Coke and Coke Zero — it was an alternative to coffee and it was a quick no calorie pick-me-up. When I mean a lot, I mean at least a can every day and I did this for many years. Sometimes I would down four cans without even realizing it! Luckily, I stopped drinking soda religiously last year. I’ll drink it every couple of weeks nowadays and I plan to keep it that way. But after drinking that crap for so many years, I cannot drink regular (non-diet) sodas. I tend to freak myself out with this fact because I wonder if I’ve damaged my taste buds in some way with all those diet soda chemicals. Anyways…

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I’ve been trying a few different soda based recipes from various, random cookbooks out of curiosity. I bake and cook with non-diet sodas because the aspartame and all the other stuff in diet sodas tend to come out a bit weird in flavor and texture — I’d try to tackle a non funky diet soda recipe for the next recipe post but I don’t want to go back to my old habits. The bad thing about experimenting with something you don’t drink is the leftovers. Even though sodas are so super sugary, they’re actually great for glazing meats once you reduce them down enough. With the help of some leftover root beer, I made these sweet and savory root beer ribs and served it with Cathy Whims’s four cheese polenta.

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4.8.2014

Cod en Papillote with Absinthe

Cod and aniseed pair well together but when I think of aniseed, I think of absinthe — absinthe is an anise-spirit after all. I made an absinthe-brushed cod en papillote with fingerling potatoes and asparagus. It sounds difficult to make but it’s actually pretty easy.

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So what is en papillote? It’s basically a cooking method: you’re wrapping food in parchment paper ([la]papillote) to make a paper package and then baking it. The paper keeps the moisture in so the food stays juicy and tender.

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The only challenging thing about cooking en papillote, in my opinion, is folding the parchment tight enough so you don’t have too much steam escaping. Serious Eats has a great slideshow on sealing parchment paper if you’re a first timer.

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