Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Wordle of an Upcoming Guest Blog

My writing friend, Holly Cupala asked her writing friends for recipes to post this fall. I sent her a recipe and here is its wordle. Wordle? you ask. It's a fun program that makes a visual display of your words. They call it a "word cloud". Try it on a story and see what words stand out. Those that you use most frequently are larger than others. You may keep changing the design until you have a world cloud you like, but the same premise applies - the more you use a word, the larger it appears. Here is a screen shot of my wordle:

Can you guess what recipe I sent her?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

New Review of She-Smoke by Dish Magazine

Dish magazine just dished out a wonderful review of She-Smoke in their September issue. Reviewer Rachel Gladstone Nemuth said, "Ms. Reinhardt leaves no edible stone unturned in this marvelous barbecue tell-all...". To read the whole review, and to check out Dish Magazine on-line (also available in print), click here.

I've been very lucky to get so many great reviews of the book. One of these days soon, I'll do a round up with links to most of them. Thank you Dish!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Down with dusting, up with cake!

I helped my son make a zucchini car last Sunday at the Fremont Oktoberfest. We didn't go to any boring beer garden, but instead, after the bouncy houses and face painting, we decorated a baby zucchini with buttons, feathers and other flair. Then we raced it, Cub-Scout-Pinewood-Derby-style down a ramp with five other competitors.

If you wonder why I say "we" rather than "he", it's because I think I was more excited than he was. I was always jealous that my brothers got to make those pinewood derby cars in Cub Scouts every year. We never did fun things like that in Bluebirds. Once I got to make a Pioneer recipe for meat pie that turned out very tasty. Another time I won some Malt balls.

One year I joined a Christian version of Bluebirds that made us earn housecleaning badges. That was a real eye opener for me. My brothers were painting their pinewood cars in super-shiny black paint with a red stripe while I was at some lady's house dusting. I quit after they gave me a vacuuming badge. I was eight and even then I knew that was one of the most insulting moments of my life.

So I may have been a little overly zealous in the zucchini car project.

Our zucchini car leaned to the right a little down the ramp. OK, it lurched then stopped completely, but it looked fabulous. I haven't grown zucchini in years but do remember that come harvest time, there is always too much zucchini. I think we'll have to plant some next spring - to eat and to make another car. One that flies straight this time. Maybe. But it will definitely be loaded with flair.

This year, instead of too much zucchini, we have been trying to catch the myriad of plums falling from our tree. It's so sad to see all those lovely plums being eaten by worms or smashed by cars in the alley. But we just couldn't get them all. We did get a good haul a few of the days and I am busy freezing half plums for winter, making plum syrup, and hopefully some preserves if I can get it together. My brother also unloaded about 20 or so pears from his tree. He and his wife canned about a bushel (does one say a bushel of pears?), and he had hopes that I would make a pear tart.

Instead, we combined our harvests and made a plum-pear cake. It's an olive oil cake - great for when you are plum out of butter (heh heh). It tastes like a pound cake, yet has neither a pound, nor a tablespoon of butter. In my book, it's practically diet cake, so admittedly I ate a lot of it. Breakfast cake, tea cake, after dinner cake...I really have no shame when it comes to cake.The recipe is from my neighbor, Olga. I thought it was a sacred family recipe from Russia and was almost afraid to ask her for it. You know how some people get. My great aunt Lou would always leave an ingredient or two out of her recipes. But Olga got it out of a cookbook called Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. (She's a vegetarian, but we don't hold it against her). She makes this cake often and I love it every time.

Harvest Cake (Adapted from the above mentioned Olive Oil Cake recipe)
4 eggs, separated + one egg
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 T finely grated orange and lemon zest
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup + 2 T Olive oil
1 1/3 cups milk
2 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup diced pears and/or plums


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Beat 4 egg whites with 1/3 cup sugar until fluffy (but not as stiff as in meringue), set aside

Beat yolks with rest of sugar, then add vanilla, zest and milk. Add in olive oil.

Sift flour with salt and baking powder.

Mix 1/4 dry ingredients with wet ingredients, repeat until mixed.

Fold in egg whites until just blended.

Fold in fruit.

Pour cake batter into lightly greased cake pan. Bake on 375 degrees for 25 minutes, then turn down to 325 degrees. The recipe stated to cook for 40 more minutes, but my cake was done in 30 minutes. My bunt pan was small, though, and I poured the rest into a single layer cake pan. If you use two small rounds, bake for less time than one large bundt.

Eat your cake for breakfast, tea time, after dinner, or any other time you please. You can vacuum the crumbs another day.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dish Up Literacy at Smokin' Pete's BBQ

Come out to eat this Thursday night to help give children a good, meaty book. Once again, Smokin' Pete's BBQ will participate in Dish Up Literacy night by Page Ahead. All you have to do is eat, drink and be merry. We donate 20% of our total sales to Page Ahead. What's more, we have live music by the Howdy Boys! These long time bluegrass players (with a new name) know how to spin a song.

Page Ahead is "the leading provider of children's books and literacy programs in Washington State." To read more about Page Ahead and the Dish Out Literacy Night, click here. There are restaurants all over the state participating, so chances are you will find a joint near you. Click here to see the list of restaurants. Hope to see you chowing down for literacy at our place or another on the list!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Barbecue Leftovers Week: The Brisket Dip

It's Barbecue Leftovers Week for those of you that stopped by for the first time this week. Next week I will post some of your favorite leftovers, so e-mail me your recipes to:

Today I made a Brisket Dip. We make the dip as a special at Smokin' Pete's BBQ. It always sells out.

Start with a cold chunk of brisket. Remove any large chunks of fat. Slice thin. Admittedly, this works really well with a commercial slicer, as shown, but you can get close to the same result with a sharp knife.

Make Au Jus sauce:

Smoking brisket doesn't give you meat drippings for Au Jus, so I just pick a few of the fattiest pieces from my slices and make a quick beef stock. Here I sauteed some brisket, carrot and celery ends, onion, and parsley with a pinch of salt and pepper. Once fat renders out, simmer for at least 30 minutes. Strain stock and add in one beef bullion cube.

Heat a heavy duty pan to medium high and add meat slices to hot pan. Add in a little of the beef stock to steam it. Meanwhile, toast a good quality baguette. Pile on the meat and dip in your Au jus. Delish!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Barbecue Leftovers Week: Braised Pork with Pears & Cabbage

I often slice smoked pork vs pull it, and when I judge barbecue competitions, I always appreciate the sliced entries. This doesn't mean I give them higher marks based on that fact, but you can't hide mistakes in a slice like you can when it's pulled. Pulled pork can be moistened up with sauce if it was overcooked, or can be pulled finely to hide that it wasn't ready yet. A slice gives you no such cover.

Now we all know, (don't we?), that if you are taking the time to smoke a pork butt (the Boston Butt cut often used to make pulled pork), then you may as well smoke two or three to put away for another day. If you do, consider leaving one butt whole, chill it, and slice in a day or two to make a recipe like this: Braised Pork with Pears and Cabbage. Because the pork is already cooked, the "braising" takes no time at all. It's a perfect fall meal. Apples may certainly be substituted - my brother dropped off a huge bag of perfectly ripe pears that needed to be eaten before they pearished. Dear me, bad pun. Let's get back to cooking.

Braised Pork with Pears & Cabbage
serves 8 (whole butt)


1 chilled pork butt

1 onion, diced

3 cups sliced cabbage (or slaw mix without the dressing)

1 julienned carrot

4 pears, sliced chunky

kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Optional: I kept this simple, as we have a kid pallet in our home. Add a few dashes of balsamic vinegar to the mix for some zing, or one sauteed jalapeno for some kick. I love the combination of hot peppers and pear - they are such polar opposites that they create an interesting balance.

Slice chilled pork butt in thick 1 inch slices. Place in a cast iron or heavy duty pan and heat on medium. Carefully flip. Once the fat is rendered from the slices (you will see it), carefully lift up slices with a spatula, and add in onion underneath. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper.

Onion becomes clear, lift up meat slices like before and add in pear. Lay meat back down and top with cabbage, carrot, more salt and pepper, and cover. Cook until cabbage is fully steamed.

Plate up with in order of the pot from the top: A bed of cabbage, then pork, topped with pear and onion "sauce". If your pork falls apart - oh well - it tastes just as good jumbled together.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Barbecue Leftovers Week: Barbecue Lasagna

Most of us of the barbecue religion wind up with a freezer full of bags of smoked meats by the end of the summer. These make great meals in the fall and winter. And though originally those meats took a long time to cook, the beauty of the frozen bags of meat is that they make delicious meals in no time at all. This week, I am posting recipes from my "regular rotation" of barbecue leftover meals at home. I hope some of you will send me your barbecue leftover recipes that I can post the following week.

We'll start with Barbecue Lasagna. It's a classic use of leftover pulled pork or brisket.

For one 9X13 pan of lasagna
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Either grind up your leftover meats, or finely chop to make approximately 2 cups. If using pulled pork or brisket, first remove any large chunks of fat. Heat in a pan and drain of excess oil. You don't want a greasy lasagna! Smoked chicken is also excellent in lasagna and does not have to be degreased.
Mix 1/2 cup of barbecue sauce (optional) to 3 1/2 cups of tomato sauce - either from scratch or from a jar. If using the "oven ready" lasagna noodles that you layer in uncooked (love those!) , be sure to make your sauce on the wet side. The noodles really soak up the moisture. My lasagna pictured here could have used a little more sauce, but it was tasty.
Next mix 14-16 oz of ricotta cheese, 1 egg, and fresh chopped oregano and basil. Grate 3 cups of mozzarella.

Make your layers. First cover the bottom of the pan with sauce, then top with 3-4 lasagna noodles (not touching if using the "oven ready" noodles - they expand), followed by 1/3 of the ricotta mixture. Top with about 1/3 of the shredded mozzarella. An additional layer of spinach is always nice for color and flavor. Repeat 2-3 times and bake, covered with foil, for approximately 30 minutes. Take off the foil and bake for another 10 minutes until it's bubbling.

Just like meat, lasagna needs to "rest". Let it set for at least 10 minutes before cutting.

As you can see, kids give this leftover a thumbs up.

For a super smoked variation, make lasagna in a disposable foil pan and smoke it at 250 degrees for one hour. Finish it off in a 350 degree oven to get the top to bubble.

Here is a BBQ Chicken Lasagna recipe from Diva Q's blog that is excellent.
E-mail me your barbecue leftover favorites, and I'll post some or all of them next week:

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Last Day of Summer and a Day of Rest

Today summer officially ended. It may not say so on any calendar, and for those of you who have kids that went back to school last week, you may disagree. But for us, summer catering season officially ended today. We did our last outdoor, grillin'-in-the-heat-in-the-park catering for 200, after one last busy weekend full of caterings and large pick ups in the restaurant.

Today Eric and I both cheered and danced. We laughed that we are probably the only people that say "Hooray!" at summer's end, but we haven't stopped since June 1 and we are beat. We need a break so Smokin' Pete's will be closed tomorrow, Monday the 14th, for a day of rest.

Besides, it will give me a chance to get ready for....Barbecue Leftovers Week! I'll post some of my favorite ways to use barbecue leftovers for right on meals.

Friday, September 11, 2009

PNBA Nightcapper Recap

Tonight I had a blast at the PNBA nightcapper party. I signed books with 20 other authors in the room while booksellers made the rounds piling our books into their goody bags. I served pulled pork and a smoked duck salad with pears, apples, currants, and greens in a orange marmalade dressing. The barbecue scents drew in the crowd and I blew through my 100 books in no time. I loved talking to the booksellers. They seemed positive and energized for the coming season -a good indicator that our economy is starting to turn around.

In my corner of the room were other cookbook authors. Next to me was Linda Ziedrich with her two books, The Joy of Jams, Jellies, and Other Sweet Preserves, and The Joy of Pickles. Love that pickle title. It'd be a good band name too. Pickling and preserves are "hot" right now. People like to go back to basics during tight economic times. There is also something about harvest time that makes me want to pick fruit and preserve it for the winter. I make soup, too, out of all the bits in the refrigerator, because, you know, we're hunkering down for the winter. I've been on a soup kick and will put some up on the blog next week.
But I digress....

I met Lisa Schroeder of Mother's Bistro in Portland. Her new cookbook, Mother's Best: Comfort Food That Takes You Home Again, looks amazing. Her shrimp were divine. Smart gal for serving shrimp, for as we know, no crowd can resist the power of shrimp. She gave away all her books too, so we'll swap books by mail.

The best surprise was that there were two SCBWI members representing kid lit. Bonny Becker, showcasing her new bear book, Birthday for Bear, and another, The Magic Ms. Plum, and Doug Keith, for illustrating The Bored Book, by David M. Slater. Bonny's first Bear book, A Visitor for Bear, was named Amazon's Children's Book of the Year, among numerous awards.

I'm pooped. I cleaned up the mess in the hotel room from the tornado of getting ready for this event. I've twittered and blogged and checked all my e-mails. Now it's off to that blissful night of sleep I keep talking about.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

One little ducky, two little ducky...

After waffling on whether or not I'd bring food to the PNBA conference nightcapper event, I decided, "Of course!". Here are my three pretty smoked ducks. They came out perfectly. I just finished pulling them for a duck salad that I'll assemble at the event in Portland, then scoop in endive spears for an appetizer. I am also bringing pulled pork, because it would be sacrilege not to.

The challenge for bringing food was keeping it properly hot without ruining it, given the distance and time. I opted for a chilled salad (smoked duck with apples, currants and ginger, in a orange marmalade dressing), and an easy re-heat (pulled pork with Lexington sauce). My car will be packed to the hilt. Even bringing just a "taste" for 150 is like a full-scale catering in terms of equipment. I may get some looks from the front desk.

I promise to take pictures and post from the road!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A night with independent NW Booksellers...and blissful sleep?

Thursday I have the honor of joining the Pacific NW Booksellers Association for their annual conference. I'll be signing books at the Nightcapper event. It's a fun cocktail-party event where authors are encouraged to do something festive at their signing.

As thrilled as I am to meet the booksellers, I'm secretly even more excited about sleeping in a hotel room all by myself. A whole night of uninterrupted sleep! Poor Eric will be managing the restaurant, multiple caterings, full-time daddy duty (with help from Grandparents) and dual night nights. I will have to pay for this. Dearly. And I'm not sure I'm ready for my first night away from baby girl. But I'll be sure to sip some wine, take pictures to post, and let you know how my night of the big sleep goes.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Last Chance for Summer Grilled Shrimp Salad

Here is the long awaited Grilled Shrimp Salad recipe. I finally bought a new camera card reader, reloaded the photo software, and am armed to post pictures again!

This simple recipe can be made in 10 minutes, 20 if you want to relax and drink a crisp glass of Pinot Grigio while you make it.

1. Clean and remove veins from 1 pound of prawns (16/20 size prawns work nicely). Make a cut down back so that the shell stays on, but will come off easily after grilling.

2. Toss in mixture of 1 tsp coriander, 1 tsp paprika, juice from one fresh lime, fresh cracked pepper and a 1/2 tsp of kosher salt. Let sit while you prep the rest of the salad.

3. Chop fresh pea pods, red onion, carrots, romaine lettuce and red pepper. Chop majority of stems off one small bunch of cilantro, then wash thoroughly, shake dry, and dry further on a paper towel.

4. Make dressing:

1/2 cup rice wine vinegar

1/4 cup sweet Thai chili sauce (I like the Mae Ploy brand)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 dashes salt

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

5. Skewer 4-5 prawns on soaked bamboo or metal skewers.

6. Make fire or preheat gas grill to medium high. Grill prawns about 3 minutes each side, or until they turn pink.

7. Toss salad in dressing. "Unwrap" prawns from shells and legs and lay skewer on top of salad (or remove from skewer but leave in a row for presentation).