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TEST NEST August 13

I was very excited to do a BBQ night for the August 13 TEST NEST. Five wonderful testers joined me: Jason Robertson, Morgan Basset, Jeff Johnson, Anna Haymore, and Todd Stevens. Outnumbered, Anna and I had a fun night of being teased…I felt right at home. I was really excited about this menu and enjoyed making a couple BBQ sauces, I still have so many recipes to try.

Mocktail: Saffron Orangeade (4 Stars)

This drink was very yummy and sweet without being over the top sweet. I’ve become a huge fan of infusing herbs into the simple syrup as this recipe called for as well. I’ve found that when I do drinks with this method they rate higher with my testers. I will add a little more saffron next time I make this, as it wasn’t extremely noticeable. The drink was a perfect pairing with the BBQ ribs and main dishes, but wasn’t as complimentary to the tomato salad.

Appetizer: Stacked Tomato Salad (4 Stars)

This is a bold look and taste beyond a caprese salad. For some testers the olive tapenade was a little over powering, but we all loved the idea and it was a great presentation. I can’t find the recipe online for this one but the idea is simple:

Slice tomatoes (go with Heirloom if you can find them) and fresh mozzarella (8 ounces).

Make an olive tapenade or buy one (we thought a pesto or red pepper tapenade would also be yummy).

Stack 1 tomato and mozzarella slice, top with a layer of 1 T. tapenade, repeat, top with a 3rd tomato slice. Drizzle basil dressing made up of ¼ c. white wine vinegar, 2 T. honey, 1 T. Dijon mustard, ¾ c. olive oil and 12 basil leaves.

Main: Slow Cooked BBQ Pork Ribs with a selection of sauces – Traditional (4 Stars) and Tropical Honey BBQ sauce (3 Stars)

The ribs themselves were pretty great. I did a dry rub on them and then threw them in the crock pot with some onions on the bottom. There was a lot of ribs and I barely fit them all in. I browned the ribs prior to slow cooking, and over all they were all tender and juicy. A few of the ribs did turn out a little dry. The Traditional sauce was a definite winner of the two. It was nice and thick and a little sweet. Jeff felt it was too sweet and not smoky enough and Anna wanted a little more kick to it. It has chili powder in the recipe but could definitely use a double serving of it for more kick. The Tropical sauce wasn’t as sweet as the Traditional and while it was still good I will probably throw this recipe. You can also use this same recipe on Brisket and since I don’t have access to a grill I opted for doing a slow cooker method.

Sides: Macaroni and Cheese (throw) and Grilled Zucchini with Blueberry Vinaigrette (3 Stars)

I didn’t realize until we were rating the recipe that it was low-fat. While I think it has some good ideas for keeping the calories low, it just wasn’t creamy or cheesy enough.

I can’t find the recipe for the Blueberry Vinaigrette either, but it suggested drizzling over grilled veggies such as asparagus, bell peppers, red onions and zucchini (maybe next time I’ll make a veggie kabob). You can also drizzle over pan-seared fish (I bet it would be good on Tuna steaks). The recipe is 1 cup frozen blueberries, 1 t. Dijon mustard, 1 roughly chopped shallot, ¼ c red-wine vinegar, ¼ c olive oil, ¼ c water, freshly ground salt and pepper to taste. Testers felt there wasn’t anything special about the taste pairing but the color and concept was great. Maybe go a little less on the vinegar and I think a veggie kabob would be a better way to pair the veggies and flavor.

Dessert: Old-fashioned Peach Pie (4 Stars)

I was surprised that this recipe had a streusel/praline type topping rather than a crust, but it was very good with the extra sugar and nuts. Obviously the flavor of peach pie is only as good as the peaches but I did let the peaches sit for a while in the sugar, flour, lemon juice mixture. The extra brown sugar and butter in the topping really bring out more juice and sweetness in the peaches as well.

5 Comments (Leave a Reply)

  1. MUGS234 (September 8, 2010)

    Once again the conversation rose almost to the level of the food; especially the witty and light-hearted banter regarding whether Schopenhauer's will to live absolves us from any moral responsibility for our choices. Thanks to Jeff for the lucid contemporaneous translation for those of us who don't read German.

  2. jgjinny (September 8, 2010)

    While I will agree with Morgan that the food was fantastic, I only remember giving a lucid, contemporaneous translation of Freud. Amber was off in left field with her definition of the "id." Luckily, I had my German copy of the "Essential Freud." If I hadn't had it, Amber wouldn't have known that she is completely controlled by her id.

  3. mom (September 12, 2010)

    Wish I could have tested the recipes. Your table setting was pretty and I like your dishes.

  4. Anna Haymore (September 15, 2010)

    The first two comments should give you a good idea of how entertaining the evening was. Combined with great food, it made for a really fun night. Thanks, Amber.

  5. Monster Mary (September 15, 2010)

    oh Ains, it sounds like it was a fun one. Frued!

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