Cherry Barbecue Sauce

Cherry Barbecue Sauce in a heart-shaped bowl with ribs on brown paper

Rack Em Up
It is officially barbecue season. This means it’s time to talk all things smokey and saucy. I have been in smoker mode lately—mostly because I am still trying to get the hang of my electric smoker.

Don’t come at me for the electric smoker. Yes, real BBQ masters always go with live fire and wood. Truth be told, I like smoked meats, but I wouldn’t say it’s a passion. I’m not getting up at 3 AM to fire up the wood smoker. I’ll leave that to the folks who know what they are doing and enjoy that process. I am happy to hand my money over to them for some juicy brisket anytime.

With the electric smoker, I can smoke some ribs or chicken relatively quickly when I have a hankering. I’ve even smoked some chicken on a Wednesday night after work…and it was glorious. Best part is, when I’m not using it, the smoker is stored out of the way ready to pull out for the next use. Win-win.

Why am I bringing this up you might ask? Because while the smoked meats are the main attraction, I want to talk about the sauce…

I have never met a rib I didn’t like. I like baby backs. I like spareribs. Whatever rack you have cooking I will eat. I will say though that I am a sauce-after-cooking kind of gal. Meaning, I like to put a dry rub on a rack of ribs, cook ‘em, slice them up, and let the person eating the ribs slather on their sauce of choice. That doesn’t mean I won’t eat them the other way. It’s just a preference that does necessitate having a good sauce.

My hands-down favorite sauce for ribs is this one for Cherry Cola Ribs  Cherry and pork go very well together be it ribs or a roasted pork loin. Now that it is BBQ season and fresh cherries are in the market, I’ve been thinking about using fresh cherries in a BBQ sauce. I found this one which uses balsamic vinegar for a little bit of pucker and sweetness.

Cherry Barbecue Sauce Recipe
Adapted from The Recipe Rebel
Yields about 30 servings

This recipe makes quite a bit, but the good news is you can throw this Cherry Barbecue Sauce in the freezer and enjoy the taste of cherries long after the season is over. And, if you want to make it out-of-season, you can always use high-quality frozen cherries. Read more…

Vietnamese Peach Relish

Vietnamese Peach Relish on grilled fish

Relish The Thought
I have a mango salsa that I love to make when we have grilled fish or, better yet—and more likely than not—fish tacos. It adapts this salsa recipe from Macademia-Crusted Yellowtail with Mango Papaya Salsa. Except, I leave out the papaya and double the mango. Nothing against papaya per se. But, I find it is too soft for my taste in a salsa. (That’s just me.)

As much as I dig my usual, it is never a bad idea to broaden your horizons and try something different. And, with the fresh peaches and nectarines coming into the market, I felt inspired. So, I tried something outside my norm. And, I think I have found a new favorite.

Peach Salsa is not a new concept, but this relish recipe is new to me, at least. And, it is less south of the border and definitely more Southeast Asia. This opens up a whole range of possibilities from grilled salmon to Halibut steamed in banana leaves. (Not that I always have banana leaves at hand, but a girl can dream. Don’t harsh my vibe, man…)

I like the funkiness that the fish sauce lends to it, and I am curious to see if a little lemongrass would work too…maybe next time.

This relish screams hot summer nights by the pool with some grilled shrimp skewers and a cold glass of white wine…though you could never go wrong with a Mai Tai if you’re feeling tropical.

Vietnamese Peach Relish Recipe
Adapted from Food and Wine
Yields 3 cups  Read more…

Stone Fruit Summer Salad

A photo of a bowl of Stone Fruit Summer Salad

Senior Salad
My daughter is graduating from high school this week. It goes without saying, that a lot is happening in our household. There have been awards dinners, championship softball games, the final this, and the final that. All of which leads up to the grand finale of the Graduation Ceremony.

The whirlwind doesn’t end there though. What comes next is a weekend of party hopping from house to house to celebrate not only your kid but all of the others who spent hours in your living room and backyard and who are for all intents and privileges, your family too.

So, when asked to bring something to said soirees, I immediately thought of this Stone Fruit Summer Salad that we talked about before. Stone fruits are just now coming into the market and are the perfect way to celebrate the season and your graduates.

Feel free to mix it up with the fruit you choose. The cherries are good right now and add a nice pop of color alongside some sweet fleshy apricots or peaches.

If I am making this for just my family, I will add some toasted pecans, or hazelnuts, or whatever you prefer for some crunch. (I leave them out for big gatherings to avoid problems with nut allergies.)

And even if you aren’t celebrating a graduate, this salad makes for a lovely warm summer evening meal.

Stone Fruit Summer Salad
Adapted from Joanne Weir’s More Cooking in Wine Country
Yields 6 servings Read more…

O Vinegars

A photo of honey white balsamic vinegar for O Vinegars

O Vinegars are sophisticated.
Each has a unique flavor profile that can change the nature of a dish. We like stocking our pantry with a variety of flavors for creative cooking.

O’s Vinegars are handcrafted with love in small batches, in the heart of California wine country, Read more…