Although we ate it standing up while doing dishes, it was a good one today, on account of our “Ode to the Pig” this morning on CBC. I could not do a pork show without making ribs, but in typical Julie fashion did not make it out to buy them until close to 8 Monday night, which had them coming out of the oven (I always pre-bake ribs on a rimmed baking sheet, covered tightly with foil, at 300F for 2.5-3 hours) at around 11. I didn’t have any barbecue sauce, so was going to make them ginger-soy in the morning. I finished up some stuff and went to bed at midnight.
At 12:10, it occurred to me that maple-rosemary ribs would be pretty fantastic. And why not add the sauce now, so that the ribs marinate overnight? Why not marinate cooked meat, when it’s all about flavour? So I fumbled around for my glasses and padded back downstairs, separated the ribs and put them in a pot with 1/2 cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup soy sauce, a couple squirts of grainy mustard and the leaves pulled from a few stems of rosemary. Then I put it back in the fridge, and this morning put the pot over medium heat, brought it to a simmer and cooked them for about 15 minutes, to rewarm and glaze the ribs. They were like the very best candy; tonight when we reheated the leftovers I found myself running my finger through the bottom of the pot to get every last drip of the sauce. It was late, and M had to go out, so we ate ribs, teeny rainbow Hotchkiss carrots, strawberries and apples. M and I ate the ribs while cleaning the kitchen, and when he left W insisted we eat the fruit, carrots and some cheese outside sitting on a towel (he will sit on a washcloth and call it a picnic).
Maple Rosemary Ribs
Put a rack or two of side or back pork ribs on a rimmed baking sheet and cover with foil; bake at 300F for 2 1/2-3 hours. When cool enough to handle, separate into ribs.
In a large pot, combine:
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. Dijon or grainy mustard
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Add the ribs to the pot and let sit for half an hour or so, or refrigerate overnight (or for up to two days, if well covered so they don’t dry out). When ready to eat, set the pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
Simmer for about 20 minutes, tossing them around in the pot so that the ribs absorb some of the sauce, get glazed and and sticky, and heat through. Serves 4.
And the cake! That was actually lunch, but I had to include it, because it did contribute significantly to our caloric intake for the day. And it’s so pretty. (Two friends were having or recently had birthdays, so I invited them and their juniors over for lunch.) It is actually lower in fat than many cakes, and I didn’t use coconut milk, which is common in coconut cakes and not a bad idea per se, but gets lost, I think, and is ultimately a waste of coconut milk that could be put to better use elsewhere, especially considering the high quantity of saturated fat it contains.
When I make coconut cake I just use a regular white or yellow cake recipe, and add 2 tsp. coconut extract in place of the vanilla. Easy. Same with the frosting – I generally start with a lump of soft butter and add a dribble of extract, then add icing sugar and splashes of milk until I have something spreadable. Is that enough to go on? If not, I’ll add some more precise measurements below.
I kind of wish I had left it a pristine white, but I went and (over)toasted some shredded coconut, and so decided to sprinkle it over top anyway. I like the crunch it adds to the soft, buttery cake.
Creamy Coconut Cake
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 Tbsp. canola oil (optional)
3 large eggs
2 tsp. coconut extract
1 1/4 cups milk
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray two 8” or 9” round cake pans or one 9”x 13” pan with nonstick spray.
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a larger bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer for about half a minute, until it’s pale and creamy. Pour in the sugar (and oil if you’re using it) and continue to beat for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each, and adding the coconut extract somewhere along the way. Scrape down the sides of the bowl whenever it needs it.
Add about one-third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir it in by hand or with the electric mixer on low speed, just until it’s combined. Add about half the milk in the same manner, then another third of the flour, the rest of the milk, and the rest of the flour, mixing just until the batter is blended.
Divide the batter between the greased cake pans and tap the bottoms a few times on the countertop to remove any air bubbles. To prevent a domed top, spread the top of the batter with a spatula, creating a slight dent in the middle and a raised edge. This compensates for the way a cake tends to rise higher in the middle.
Bake for 30-35 minutes for round layers or 40-45 minutes for a 9-x 13-inch cake, until golden, the edges are pulling away from the sides of the pan, and the tops are springy to the touch. Let them cool for about 10 minutes before running a knife around the edge of the pans and inverting them onto a wire rack. Cool completely before you frost them.
1/4-1/2 cup butter, softened (depending on whether you’re watching fat intake or not)
1 tsp. coconut or vanilla extract
3 cups icing sugar
1/4-1/3 cup milk, as needed to achieve a spreadable consistency
In a medium bowl, beat the butter and extract with an electric mixer until creamy. Add about a third each of the icing sugar and milk; beat and continue to add each until you have a spreadable frosting. Makes enough for 1 cake or a batch of cupcakes.