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A special dinner for your favorite Valentine

By Paul Kirk CWC, Ph.B., B.S.A.S.
Kansas City Baron of BBQ
Barbecue Guru
Order of the Magic Mop
Ambassador of BBQ
Certified Master BBQ Judge

It’s time for you to fix your favorite Valentine a special dinner.  I know my child bride of 44 years is expecting it.

For an appetizer, I’m fixing Chicken and Peach Wontons, since we both like Asian cooking.

Chicken and Peach Wontons
Nonstick cooking spray
8 oz. minced smoked chicken
3 oz. creamed cheese, softened
1/4 c. pineapple juice
3 Tbsp. minced green onions
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 c. minced, peeled fresh or frozen peaches thawed (I use peach jam)*
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
36 wonton wrappers
Cooking oil for deep fat frying

Dipping Sauce
1-1/2 tsp. dry Chinese mustard
1/2 c. orange or peach marmalade
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. soy sauce

For Filling: coat a large skillet with nonstick spray; heat over med high heat. Cook and stir chicken or turkey until no longer pink; drain. Add pineapple juice, green onion, soy sauce and ginger. Bring just to boiling reduce heat. Simmer uncovered for 4 minutes or until liquid evaporates. Stir in peaches and pepper. Cool mixture slightly.

To fill: Spoon 1 rounded teaspoon of chicken mixture into center of each wonton wrapper. Brush edges lightly with water. Fold the four sides together toward center; pinch corners and seams closed.
Meanwhile heat 2 inches of oil in a heavy saucepan or deep fryer to 365ºF. Fry wontons, 4 at a time for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes or until golden brown, turning once. Remove wontons from oil; drain on paper towels.  Place fried wontons in a single layer on baking sheet. Keep warm in a 300º degrees F oven whiling frying remaining wontons.

Combine all of the ingredients and blend well, the sauce is best made at least 2 hours before serving.
Serve warm. Makes 36 wontons.

This is one of my wife’s favorite dinner.   It’s elegant for dinner parties or a romantic dinner for two. If you desire crabmeat instead of lobster, she likes both. Served with a favorite red wine.

Lobster Colorado
4 (8 oz.) beef tenderloin filets
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
4 slices bacon
1/2 c. butter, divided
1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
8 oz. lobster tail, cleaned and chopped

Preheat a hot grill.   Sprinkle tenderloins all over with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Wrap each filet with bacon, and secure with a toothpick.
Grill steaks to desired doneness, about 7 to 9 minutes per side for medium rare.

While tenderloins are cooking, melt 1/4 cup of butter over medium heat with 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning.  Stir in chopped lobster meat, and cook until done. Spoon lobster meat over cooked tenderloins.
Melt the remaining 1/4 cup of butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, cook until it browns, turning the color of a hazelnut.

To serve, spoon the browned butter over the steaks, and sprinkle with the remaining Old Bay seasoning. Makes 4 steaks.

For a vegetable we will have grilled asparagus with a Balsamic Maple Syrup.

Grilled or Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic-Maple Reduction
1 -1 1/2 lbs. asparagus
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp. sea salt
Fresh ground pepper
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. real maple syrup

Toss the asparagus with shallot, oil, 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper.  Grill turning twice, until tender and browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
Bring vinegar, maple syrup and the remaining 1/8 teaspoons salt to a simmer in a small skillet over medium-high heat until slightly syrupy.  Serve the asparagus with the reduced sauce.
Forget Dessert...that comes later. Enjoy!

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Spicy Peanut Sauce Planked Rack of Lamb

By Steve Collins
The Home Chef

Valentine’s Day is a perfect time to show your sweetheart how much you care. What better than a rack of lamb with some Southeast Asian flavors? These days most racks of lamb come already “frenched”, meaning that the meat and fat on the rib bones is removed. A rack, usually seven (sometimes even eight) rib chops is the perfect size for two people to share. The sauce in this recipe is a variation on Thai peanut sauce. It has a delightful tang. Cook the rack on a plank to impart a subtle smoky flavor which will accent the flavor of the peanut sauce. Although the sauce has a lot of ingredients it’s quick and easy to prepare; the blender does all the work.

1 apple wood plank, soaked for at least an hour (longer is OK)

Spicy Peanut Sauce
2 jalapeño peppers
2 cloves garlic
1/3 c. cilantro leaves
2 Tbsp. fresh lemongrass, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, peeled & chopped
1/3 c. peanut butter
1/4 c. rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. Thai or Vietnamese fish sauce
1 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. peanut oil

1 rack of lamb
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Soak the plank for at least an hour. Prepare a hot grill. Put all the sauce ingredients in your blender and pulse, scraping down the sides and re-blending until you have a smooth paste. Season the rack of lamb with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spread the peanut sauce over all sides of the rack. Save the remainder to serve with the cooked lamb. Place the lamb on the soaked plank and put the plank on the cooking grate directly over the hottest part of the fire. Close the lid and cook for 20 minutes.

While the lamb is cooking, put the remaining peanut sauce in a saucepan, raise the heat to high. When it begins to boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add water as needed to maintain the desired consistency. Stir frequently to make sure the sauce doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.

After 20-minutes, check the temperature of the lamb. An instant read thermometer inserted into the center should read 135 º for rare, 145º for medium and160º for well done. The center meat will be pink. If you prefer more done meat, close the grill lid and continue cooking for a few more minutes. If you’re using charcoal, check that you have enough coals to continue. If needed add more.

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Southern Girls BBQ Roadshow
Recipes from the Road

This recipe is from Julie Owens, owner of local of Ole Tymer BBQ.  This is a customer and family favorite and both her daughters can whip it up just as quick as she can!

Egg Custard Pie
by Julie Owens
7 eggs
2-1/2 c. sugar
1 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 c. self-rising flour
4 c. milk
Mix all dry ingredients.  Then add eggs and whisk.  Pour milk in last and whisk until smooth.  Pour into 2 pie shells and bake in oven on large cookie sheet at 300 degrees until firm in the middle.  (About 45 minutes.) Recipe makes 2 pies.

 (Hint:  Julie rotates pan halfway through cooking and also covered cookie sheet with aluminum lid for last 15 minutes.)

If you'd like to try it without cooking it, you can visit:
Ole Tymer BBQ (Armuchee)
4534 Martha Berry Hwy NE
Rome, GA 30165
(706) 622-2388

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Apricot Pork Preserve Tenderloin for Valentine’s Day

By Kent Whitaker
The Deck Chef

If you’re looking for a Valentine’s Day meal that has a barbecue and grilling footing that does not make you want to take a nap after you eat, then consider this simple dish using Apricot Preserves. We all know that going out to dinner for Valentine’s Day can be a nightmare because that’s when everyone decides to head to restaurants.

However, if you’re in the mood to cook up something without spending hours with your smoker, then look towards something such as pork tenderloin. These babies are packed with flavor, easy to cook, and you can easily prepare a lighter meal just by selecting a small tender loin. Add a side salad, fresh fruit, wine, and some Barry White music and you’re set.

In my opinion, the secret to a great Valentine’s meal is to keep portions small and clean-up to a minimum. After all, you don’t want to slip into a carb coma or eat so much that you can’t dance the night away or simply enjoy some couple time on the couch with a good movie.

Kent’s Apricot Preserve Pork Tenderloin
First, let me say this for my fellow slow-cooking, hickory smoke barbecue lovers. I’ve used variations of this recipe, the sauce that is, with several items on my smoker. These include Boston butts, smoked turkeys, ribs, and more. So feel free to adapt! You can skillet cook, grill, broil, or bake the tenderloin. It’s your choice. I prefer the grill or pan searing and finishing in a pre-heated oven. This method is for inside cooking on Valentine’s Day when you don’t want to worry about getting a grill going when you’re short on time.

1 pork tenderloin, trimmed ( 1 lb. or slightly less)
Olive oil, salt & pepper
1/2 Tbsp. minced garlic with liquid
1/2 c. apricot preserves (chopped, minced, or whole)
1-1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
Dashes of cumin powder
Dashes of chili powder
Dash of water, if needed

Pre-heat your oven to 400°F and get your skillet heated up with a small amount of olive oil. Lightly sear the outside of the tenderloin in the skillet with a few dashes of salt, pepper, and minced garlic. Do not fully cook; just add a golden touch to the outside of the tenderloin. Place the tenderloin in an oven safe dish and drizzle any juices or bits from the skillet on top. I like to slice the tenderloin about a quarter of the way through in 6-8 places depending on the size.

Place the tenderloin in the oven and cook for an additional 10-12 minutes. While the tenderloin is cooking, prepare the remaining ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat as the preserves become a bit liquified. Add a bit of water to thin if needed, but you don’t want too thin of a sauce. Before removing the tenderloin from the oven, spoon the apricot sauce over the top and allow to cook for a minute or two more.

Kent Whitaker is the author of eight cookbooks, ranging from hometown cooking with a culinary history twist to titles for NASCAR tailgating and barbecue. He has also written and illustrated two books for children, is a trained USCG AUXCHEF, and is the winner of the Emeril Live / Food Network Barbecue Contest. His latest book, Bullets and Bread,  is in bookstores nationally and is also available online at, as well as at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon.

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