Cooking with Lady Smokey: Spring Is Coming!

After a few winter months hibernating, our A New Turn In The South cookbook club decided it was about time to eat together again. Having celebrated this cookbook together over three or four dinner parties so far, we still have some recipes to try.

My husband Grant, however, really wanted to make his special smoked ribs so our cookbook party took on a few new turns as he decided to go all rogue. He only makes these a couple times a year but he has this recipe nailed. I don’t think I’ve ever shared it before but with grilling season sneaking up on us, it seemed a good time.

Big Smokey’s Babyback Ribs
One rack or two Pork Loin Ribs (membrane removed)

Dry Rub
• ½ cup Sea Salt
• ½ cup Cane Sugar
• 3 Tbsps Chili Powder
• 1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
• 1 Tbsp Onion Powder
• 1 Tbsp Ground Black Pepper


Rub rack of ribs liberally with dry rub and let sit from 3-24 hours before smoking. Smoke on a charcoal or gas grill using indirect heat and soaked hickory chips. Smoke for 2 hours turning every half hour.Try to keep your grill thermometer at 225-275 degrees. Make sauce while ribs are smoking.


• ½ stick Butter
• ½ cup Cider Vinegar
• ½ cup Catsup
• ¼ cup Mustard
• ½ cup Guava Paste
• 3 Tbsp Brown Sugar (more or less to taste)
• a few dashes of Worchestershire Sauce
• a few dashes of Tabasco Sauce
• Salt & Black Pepper to taste


Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add vinegar and blend. Add all ingredients and simmer on low until the guava paste is melted and mixed into sauce. Leave stove on simmer until ready to baste ribs.


When ribs are done smoking, add more charcoal to the grill and finish ribs on the direct grill heat basting and turning until ribs are brown and caramelized (20 minutes). Be careful not to let them char too much…


Let cool for 5 – 10 minutes and serve. Grant likes to cut them in three rib chunks to serve!


To accompany the ribs, we had a whole mess of other dishes from the cookbook that everyone brought. We ended up having several little courses. We started with several delicious cheeses from The Bloomy Rind and Porter Road’s Chicken Rillette which we enjoyed with some homemade pickles, homemade fig jam, and Pimm’s Cups. Next we had the Roasted Cauliflower Soup. That was followed by the Ribs with Collards and then Brunswick Stew with Corn Bread.

Good thing we followed up the next few weeks with lots of salads! I came up with this super easy dressing that worked well over raw kale tossed with chopped carrots and cherry tomatoes but also was delicious over brown rice with sauteed or steamed vegetables.

Lemon Cashew Dressing
• 3 cloves garlic
• ½ cup Raw Cashews
• juice of half a lemon
• ¼ cup water
• ½ tsp or so of Sea Salt
• Freshly ground Black Pepper


Blend all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Viola! Pour over vegetables or toss in a salad.


I also came up with this dressing that’s a little fishy, and similar to a Caesar dressing that I adapted from a NY Times recipe I found. We had it with salmon and potatoes. I boiled a few red potatoes and cooled them. Next I chopped spinach and romaine together. I then added some chopped parsley, sliced radishes, cherry tomatoes, and cut potatoes. I then dressed it with this vinaigrette, tossed, and serve with a piece of pan seared salmon. (Please remember to carefully source your fish, this handy pocket guide is great!)

Anchovy Vinaigrette
• 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
• 3-4 anchovy fillets
• 1 large shallot , peeled and cut into chunks


Combine all ingredients except shallot in a blender, and blend. A creamy emulsion will form within 30 seconds. Taste, and add more vinegar if necessary, about a teaspoon at a time, until the balance tastes right. Add shallot, and turn machine on and off a few times, until shallot is minced within the dressing. Taste, adjust seasoning and serve.


And speaking of the colorful vegetables, we’ve been eating a ton of beautiful beets! My favorite current way has been to saute them in an iron skillet with a little butter, salt, pepper, and Italian herbs and then toss with blood orange segments and currants.

Those blood oranges are so dang pretty that I couldn’t stop thinking about them. I came up with this chicken dish which was beautiful, simple and quite delicious. It is really nice to see so many colors on our plate in the middle of winter.

Chicken with Blood Oranges
Serves 2
• 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
• 1 Tbsp Butter
• 2 Skinless, Boneless Chicken Breasts
• 1 small White Onion, sliced
• 10-12 cloves Garlic, peeled
• 2 Blood Oranges, thinly sliced
• 4-6 sprigs Fresh Thyme
• Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper
• ½ cup White Wine or Chicken Stock (or combination of both)


Preheat oven to 375. Heat an iron skillet on the stove at medium heat. Add olive oil and butter. Add onions and saute until then begin to soften. Add the chicken and garlic and brown for a few minutes on each side. Add the fresh thyme, orange slices, and liquid. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until chicken is done.

Also a nice explosion of color in the midst of the winter blahs was Daniel Romano’s amazing country and western embroidered suit! This Canadian songbird was touring through the South a few weeks back and we were lucky to catch his show at the Basement. He writes some great songs and this fella can sing. He was accompanied by his brother on snare drum and a pedal steel player who also sang, accompanying Daniel on a great Louvin Brothers’ tune. You can buy his new album and see another view of that awesome sparkly suit here.

I will close with this video I found for Daniel’s song, “Time Forgot (To Change My Heart).”


Happy Eating! And don’t forget to go see some live music. It’s good for your soul.