Thursday, July 7, 2011

ThrowDown with an Extreme Party Planner!

Get A Fresh Take on Fork Tender Ribs and Creamy, Tangy Slaw
Food TV is in its 7th season of vetting contestants in the reality show FOOD NETWORK STAR. What’s interesting this year (and last) are the food bloggers. Last year’s champion Aarti Parti published a blog and this year, two of the contenders write about food for a living. Sunday nights, I enjoy tuning in. In fact the latest installment of FNS inspired me to challenge this week’s winner to a throwdown. Please don’t send me a cease and desist letter, Bobby Flay, but when I saw contestant Susie Jimenez’s recipe for tangy slaw and pork ribs, I had to put my hat into the ring with my own Beer Basted Baby Back Ribs with Jack Daniels Barbecue Sauce. Susie’s BBQ is described as “spicy”, but I wonder if those flavors—which did manage to impress guest star Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive Ins and Dives—can begin to touch the way I do it…or the way WE do it, if you click on my recipe and learn how cider vinegar, dark molasses and good whiskey form a perfect union. Just pick up 6 pounds of baby back ribs to get started. I’m offering you a foolproof way to prepare moist, tender and never over-cooked ribs—which the panel of FNS judges are quick to wag a finger at!

Food TV Execs Have Good Taste! Would They Like My Slaw?
But I have to applaud those judges. Any Extreme Party Planner would…they settle for no less than EXTREME food—popular dishes that transcend the label of “classic” and shoot for something special. Those spicy pork ribs that won the admiration and respect of a large crowd for the 4th of July challenge were accompanied by a slaw…but not just any slaw…a tangy slaw. My dear readers, you can achieve “tangy” and so much more with a unique twist on Classic Cabbage and Carrot Slaw. How do I do it? Well, I start with the intention of making it good enough that it can be used as a condiment on your favorite BBQ sandwich or burger—or just enjoyed straight off the serving spoon after you’ve mixed your first satisfying batch. The real trick to it, I think, is in the tarragon vinegar, which sounds exotic, but is a popular Heinz product.

Finger Lickin’ Shortcuts
Another shortcut from the shelf? For this slaw, I like (ssh!) pre-packaged, pre-shredded veggies. Shredded broccoli and purple cabbage are great additions. Others include shredded bell peppers and a touch of sliced onion. For a Mexican spin (this is what FNS challenge winner Susie did), you can add thin strips of seeded jalapeno pepper, a sprinkle of lime juice and a dash of ground cumin, garnishing with fresh cilantro instead of parsley.

My own substitutions and sidebars on winning FNS dishes could take me into next week…which is good because I’ll be watching! These contestants have already been through so much, cooking for the whole cast and crew of Cougar Town, creating a gourmet dessert from a vending machine and repeatedly using breakfast, lunch and dinner as a canvas to get their culinary points of view across. If you’re a fan of Food Network Star and see something that didn’t quite “speak to you” on that porcelain 8-inch diameter dinner plate of a canvas, write to me! I’ll spin the plate and put an extreme partier’s spin on things—and I think you’ll be surprised at how chic & cheap that plate can be! Write to me for fresh traditions served up daily, or just leave a comment on my wall about who you’re rooting for!

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