Wednesday, August 26, 2009

perfect fall-off-the-bone ribs are a favourite birthday treat - recipe: fall-off-the-bone ribs

I celebrated my birthday last week. In my family, it’s tradition for my mother to prepare our choice of dinner for our b-day get-togethers. It’s always a tough decision – Mom is a great cook and I have so many favourites! This year, I decided on her fall-off-the-bone pork back ribs.

These ribs are effortless and delicious. Many people boil their ribs to ensure tenderness, but the method of cooking them “slow and low” in an oven really does work. It’s easy – all you have to do is cover the ribs with thin slices of lemon, set them on a roasting rack in a roasting pan (with the lid on) and cook them slow (over a long period of time) and low (in a low temperature oven). About twenty minutes before serving, brush the ribs with bbq sauce, turn up the heat and bake them uncovered for a few more minutes.

Our family friend, Helen Howatson, gets the credit for this recipe/method. These delicious, ridiculously easy to prepare ribs have been a hit with everyone I’ve ever served them to. In fact, this was one of the first meals that I made from my husband, David, when we were both living in Toronto. His apartment kitchen was absurdly tiny – I’m not exaggerating when I say that there was about sixteen inches of counter space – not a lot prep room! So, these ribs were the perfect choice, all I had to do was bring over my own roasting pan.

David was impressed – he had no idea how easy they were to make and was amazed that I could create something so delicious in his minuscule kitchen! I served them with regular baked potatoes, but Mom prefers to serve baked sweet potatoes with crumbled goat cheese. I highly recommend this combo – the tangy, creamy goat cheese pairs wonderfully with the sugary sweet potato.

Back Ribs (serves about 4)


  • two racks pork BACK (not side) ribs
  • two lemons, thinly sliced
  • your favourite bbq sauce


  • Preheat oven to 300 F.
  • Place ribs on roasting rack in large roasting pan. Pour about one cup of water into the bottom of the roasting pan (water should not touch ribs). Cover entire surface of ribs with thin slices of lemon. Cover roasting pan with tight fitting lid (or use tinfoil if you don’t have a lid or if the lid isn’t tight fitting).
  • Cook ribs in oven for 4 – 6 hours or until very tender. Remove ribs from oven and remove lemon slices. Turn oven up to 375 F. Brush ribs with your desired amount of bbq sauce.
  • Put ribs back into the (375 F) oven, uncovered for about 15-25 minutes or until hot. Alternatively, brush with bbq sauce and grill on the bbq.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

fruity pavlova is a sweet summer treat - recipe: Barb Wurtele's Pavlova

Early last week, I returned home from work to find two large meringues on my kitchen counter, heavy cream and fresh strawberries in my fridge, along with a voice mail message from my (super sweet) mom. She decided to surprise me with the makings of what would soon be a delicious pavlova. All I had to do was whip the cream, slice the berries, and assemble.

Pavlova consists of one or more meringue layers sandwiched and/or topped with whipped cream and fruit. The dish was created and named in honour of the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova, who toured Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. The jury’s still out on whether an Aussie or Kiwi can be credited with the first recipe.

Mom’s been making Pavlova for years. The “never fail meringue” recipe comes from our dear family friend, Barb Wurtele. Mom is partial to the strawberry version, but I also love it with tropical fruit. We’ve even made it with chopped-up Skor bars. It’s delicious, but I think I prefer the fruit versions.

My fifteen-month-old son John loves it too. Last week was his first taste. The poor guy has been teething pretty badly and he hasn’t had much of an appetite. Desperate to get him to eat something, I mashed up a small scoop of the pavlova with some plain yogurt. John ate every last spoonful. I felt sort of guilty about the sugar, but then my Mom reminded me that the meringue has protein (egg whites), fruit (berries) and cream (dairy). Grandma knows best, right?

ingredients: meringue

  • 4 large egg whites at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 1/3 teaspoons vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/3 teaspoons water

ingredients: pavlova

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, 35 per cent
  • sugar and vanilla to taste (for the whipped cream)
  • fresh fruit of your choice


  • Preheat oven to 400 F
  • Beat egg whites until really stiff. Then add all other meringue ingredients and beat again until stiff.
  • Line two baking sheets with lightly greased parchment paper.
  • Divide meringue in half and form two nine-inch circles about the same size (one for each cookie sheet).
  • Place meringues in the oven and immediately turn off oven. Leave meringues in oven overnight (I suggest that you attach a note to the oven that reads: “do not turn on”).
  • In the morning, remove the meringues from oven and loosen from parchment paper. Whip heavy cream until soft and billowy, adding sugar and vanilla to taste. Spread half of the whipped cream onto one disc of meringue, and top with half amount of fresh fruit. Place second meringue on top, spread with remaining whipped cream and fresh fruit. This can be made in the morning for serving at dinner.

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