Ribs & Biscuits

Photos by Meghan Horvath

Photos by Meghan Horvath

By Amelia Chen

Sometimes the satisfying thing about eating is not just the food itself but the primal nature of eating with your hands, gnawing on bones and just making a huge mess. Wings and drumsticks are perfect meat lollipops for casual Friday nights around the television. Chops are meant to be licked clean at the end of a comforting dinner. But what really satisfies that primal urge for me is a sticky, juicy and tender rack of ribs.

Barbeque can mean different things for different people and, hailing from North Carolina, that usually means pork for me, whether it’s just the shoulder or the entire hog. Or a sticky, juicy and tender rack of ribs.

Like any low and slow meat dish, ribs are incredibly low maintenance. They require a watchful eye once they go in the oven, but the next time you have big plans to study while doing laundry, maybe make some ribs instead. Somehow, I think taking down a rack of ribs is the perfect reward after a couple hours of productive work.

And if you’re a scavenger like myself, save and freeze the bones for a good homemade stock down the road.

Spicy Date Dr Pepper Ribs adapted from Pioneer Woman

6 ounces dates
½ cup sugar
1 can Dr Pepper
5 ounces chipotle peppers in adobo
⅓ cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon distilled vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 packages baby back ribs

Bring all ingredients except ribs to a gentle boil for about 20 minutes or until dates break down and sauce is reduced and thick. Allow to cool completely before blending sauce until smooth. Divide into two portions.

Brush half the sauce on ribs, wrap with foil and refrigerate for eight hours or overnight to marinate.

Preheat oven to 275°F. Place covered ribs on pan and roast for two hours. Remove foil and brush more sauce onto ribs. Increase temperature to 300°F to finish cooking another 30 to 40 minutes. Remove when fork tender and ready to fall off the bone. Serve as with pear walnut biscuits.


Pear Walnut Biscuits

1 ½ cup milk
1 ½ tablespoon distilled vinegar
1 large pear, peeled and cubed
4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup shortening
1 cup roasted walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 475 °F.

Simmer milk with pear chunks until softened. Remove from heat and blend until smooth. Add vinegar and let sit a couple minutes to curdle.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in shortening until coarse crumbs form. Add in walnuts. Slowly pour in milk until it comes together.

Turn out dough on floured surface and lightly knead before rolling out into a rectangle. Cut out rounds with biscuit cutter, being careful not the twist cutter. Bake 10 to 12 minutes.

Cheesy, Garlicky Mashed Cauliflower

Photos by Amelia Chen

Photos by Amelia Chen

By Amelia Chen

I’m probably all alone in this, but I have an aversion towards mashed potatoes. I still haven’t figured out why – call it a repressed childhood memory. But that just means I’ve had to get creative with the mashed root vegetables. Carrots, parsnips and celery root all make great purees and mashes. But why stop there? I’m talking about cruciferous vegetables. Cauliflower in particular.cc

My excitement for this bland albino tree vegetable started when I came across a recipe for cauliflower pizza crust for the low-carb inclined. Then I saw cauliflower fried rice and cauliflower steaks if you’ve had one too many portobello steaks. Cauliflower is incredibly versatile.

So now, whether you are obsessed with mashed potatoes, could really do without them and or are anywhere in between, you’re going to want to try this easy mashed cauliflower. Feel healthy and spring-ready doing so.

Mashed cauliflowerccc
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 head garlic, roasted*
⅓ cup parmesan
¼ cup chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste

Toss cauliflower florets in olive oil and roast for 20-25 minutes at 400F until softened.

Put roasted cauliflower, garlic, parmesan, and stock in processor or blender and blend until smooth.

Serve as a side for beef, lamb, or in this case, pork chops.

*Cut off heads of whole head garlic and drizzle with olive oil. Roast 350F for 30 minutes.cccc


Pumpkin Cheesecake

By Amelia Chen


I’m such a sucker for pumpkin season. And judging by the amount of foods and drinks that highlight pumpkin as the leaves change, so is everyone else. No other fruit masquerading as a vegetable is more iconic than the pumpkin. It can represent fall. It can represent the holidays. It can be sweet. It can be savory. And if you’re like me, who stocks up on canned pumpkin when it’s on sale, then it can really be a year-round treat.

By now people have discarded their Halloween jack-o’-lanterns and all the Thanksgiving pumpkin pies have been made and devoured, but that doesn’t mean you can’t snuggle up by the fireplace (or an electric heater) with a slice of comfort in the form of pumpkin. And what better comfort is there than a creamy, dense, sweet pumpkin cheesecake.

I have a soft spot for cheesecake because it’s the first dessert that didn’t come out of my oven a disaster. It’s deceptively easy for such a luxurious crowd-pleaser, and after several dozen variations, it’s the only dessert I can throw together without the help of Google. Now, making a pumpkin cheesecake every year is the only holiday tradition I strictly adhere to.

Perfect after a dinner of mac and cheese and beer, of course.
It’s winter; you deserve to indulge a little.


Gingersnap cookie crust adapted from King Arthur Flour
¾ cup vegetable shortening
½ cup dark brown sugar
¾ cup sugar (split)
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 large egg
⅓ cup dark corn syrup (or molasses)
2 cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons cinnamon (split)

Preheat oven to 375F.
Beat the shortening, ½ cup sugar, brown sugar, salt, and baking soda together until smooth. Add the egg and syrup. Mix thoroughly. Fold in flours and spices until uniform, forming a stiff dough.
Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Combine ¼ cup sugar with 1 teaspoon cinnamon to making coating.
Form one-inch balls and roll in cinnamon sugar to coat.  Place cookies on sheet with 1 ½ inches between them. Keep the cinnamon sugar coating for finishing garnish.
Bake for 13 minutes for crispy cookies.  Allow to cool completely.pc2


Pumpkin cheesecake
A dozen or so gingersnap cookies
3 tablespoons butter, melted
16 oz of cream cheese (two 8 oz packs)
½ cup sugar
2 large eggs
⅓ cup sour cream
½ cup pureed pumpkin
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground ginger

Preheat oven to 350F.
Place a dish of water on the bottom rack – this will prevent cracking in the cheesecake.
To form the crust, crumble and smash cookies in freezer bag or food processor. Mix with melted butter and
press into base of cheesecake pan. Bake for 10 minutes to set.
For cheesecake base, beat cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time. Mix in sour cream and pumpkin puree. Mix in spices. Pour base over crust. The batter is on the thicker side, so smooth it out with a spatula or lightly shake the pan.
Bake for 40-45 minutes. Let cool completely. Dust with reserved cinnamon sugar and serve.