About The Saturday Chef

Midwest, United States
I am NOT a professional chef. I am what I affectionately dub a Saturday Chef—a weekend warrior of the culinary variety, fortified by the education I have gleaned from two high school cooking classes, the Food Network and my own gastronomical experiments. While I’m not ashamed to spend all day making bagels by hand, and proudly call myself a foodie, I’m not a food snob. I enjoy an Extra Value Meal as much as the next girl. My culinary escapades are still relegated to the weekends, but my love for cooking is stronger than ever, galvanized by more successes than failures, and the beautiful fact that the more I cook, the more people there are to feed. So please stay tuned for fun recipes, inevitable disasters and hopefully, a lot of good food.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Just in Time for the Fourth: Kira's Not So Secret Dry Rub

If you know anything about barbecue, specifically Southern barbecue, you know it's a method of cooking steeped in tradition, ritual and secrecy.  Any barbecuer below the Mason-Dixon line preaches "low and slow" and will recite sonnets about smoke rings and brisket bark.  But there is one principle that is absolutely paramount, above anything else: You do not, under threat of death, share your recipes.  It doesn't matter if The King himself is offering his blue suede shoes.  The recipe dies with you.

Well, I'm a Yankee and I like sharing.    

Years ago, I started watching southern barbecue competitions, and I needed some.  It was a mouth-watering, belly-rumbling need.  But I'm up north, and I don't like baseball-sized misquitos and choking humidity.  So f the Yankee can't go to the food, I was going to bring the food to the Yankee. 

My dad was also experiementing with smoking and different types of wood chips and charcoals at the time, so I started thinking about seasonings.  As you know, I have a severe aversion to barbecue sauce (unless it is my own), so I had to think dry, as in dry rub. It's strange to admit, but I committed to this Memphis-style rub because I was (and still am) an...enuthsiastic fan of a certain Memphis-born musician who may or may not have brought sexy back.  This recipe is fantastic, and I have no idea where I got it.  I've been using it for at least four years with nothing less than fabulous results. 

So when you're grilling this 4th of July, whip up this rub and add a little sexy to your next barbecue!

*Who wants to look at a bowl of spices?  Here is a Drunk Chicken with Kira's Not So Secret Dry Rub.  Chicken was washed, dried, rubbed with 2 servings of rub.  It sat for about 15 minutes.  Then placed on a rack with a 2/3 full can of beer.  It was grilled over high heat to lock in flavors and add color, then pushed back to over indirect heat.  And turned once for even color.  Expect some of the sugar in the rub to burn.  Cooked for about 1 hr 35 minutes or until 180 degrees in the breast.  Best.  Chicken.  Ever. 

Kira’s Not So Secret Dry Rub
*Makes 1 slab of Baby Back Ribs

6 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1 to 2 tablespoons chili powder*

¼ to ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper*

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons onion powder

2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Mix spices together in a bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add to ribs, chicken or meat of your choice, and let sit until meat begins to sweat, at least 20 minutes. Sear meat over direct heat for color, then move to indirect heat.

*With the Chili and Cayenne spices, start with a teaspoon or two and add as needed. The spice does fade a bit during the cooking process, but you don't want anything to be overpowering.

Chef's Note: I make four batches of this rub and store it in an airtight container.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fish Tacos with Chipotle Cream

I like a variety of different foods--fried, Italian, French, comfort--but there is nothing more delicious than a wonderfully messy plate of tacos.  I usually make my tacos with ground turkey and leave those unhealthy sauce packets at the store.  For my father's 55th birthday dinner, however, I changed it up a bit and went to the seafood counter for Tilapia, one of his favorites. 

The fish taco is something that has intrigued me since I heard about them, and it has taken more than a few recipes to find a good, simple, healthy one that doesn't require deep frying. 

This Ellie Krieger recipe, with a few Saturday Chef tweaks, is a surprisingly flavorful and filling meal that is of course a bit of a mess, but that only makes it taste better.  The cabbage adds a needed heartiness while the corn supplies a pop of sweetness.  The best part about it is that it can be ready in snap, making perfection for a summer weekday meal or even a birthday celebration for a guy who loves to eat his presents.


Fish Tacos with Chipotle Cream
Adapted from Ellie Krieger's recipe at foodtv.com



2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 pound tilapia filets

Chopped parsley

Chipotle cream:

1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 to 2 teaspoons of adobo sauce


8 (6-inch) corn tortillas

1 1/2 cups shredded green cabbage

½ cup sweet corn (thawed if frozen)


Line a strainer with a paper towel. Place strainer over a bowl and add yogurt. Let sit for 20 minutes to drain excess moisture and thicken.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lime juice, salt and pepper. Pour over fish and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

Place a skillet over medium heat and add a few turns of olive oil. Remove fish from marinate and add to skillet, cooking about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Fish may fall apart a bit which is fine. Once all fish is done, flake with a fork and season with chopped parsley for color and season to taste if needed. I add a bit of seasoning salt and a pinch of cayenne to my fish and reheat in the skillet for 1 minute.

In a small bowl combine the thickened yogurt, mayonnaise, and adobo. You may add some chopped chipotle peppers if you like extra spice.

Heat tortillas according to package directions.

Build tacos as you wish and top with 1 tablespoon of chipotle cream.