Fresh Blackberry Cake
Fresh Blackberry Cake

Makes one 10-inch tube or Bundt cake

This dark, spicy cake is adapted from a Kentucky Proud recipe. For a sweeter taste, and a  moister, pudding-like cake, add 1/2 cup sugar to the blackberries and let them stand 30 minutes before adding to the batter. I’ve baked this recipe with both walnuts and pecans, but I’m quite confident black walnuts would boost the flavor profile.

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups fresh blackberries
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 cup raisins – optional

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube or Bundt pan. In a bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and allspice. In another bowl cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the flour mixture and beat just to combine.  Fold in the undrained blackberries, pecans or walnuts, and raisins. Pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan. Run a thin knife around the edges of the cake to loosen from the pan. Place a plate, or cooling rack, over the cake and carefully turn to cake over and onto the plate or rack.  Let cool completely. If desired, frost with caramel icing, a powdered sugar glaze, or simply sprinkle with powdered sugar.…

Kentucky-style Slow-Cooker Pork Barbecue
Kentucky-style Slow-Cooker Pork Barbecue

The best male cook I know is, bar none, the finest barbecue chef in Kentucky. (I know these are probably fightin’ words, but I stand by what I say.) Give him a few slabs of ribs, a beef brisket, or a pork shoulder, and in about 12 smoky, albeit labor-intensive hours, we’re eating fall-off-the-bone-tender barbecued meat. The secret is his patience and willingness to coax the meat into a moist, succulent state. I love him for this skill and have his late father Henry to thank for the many smoker-side cooking lessons. I’ve said it many times, and I’ll say it again, any lesson in a life skill, such as barbecuing (or how to iron a shirt), is a gift that keeps on giving.

Knowing this background you can then understand why a slow-cooker pork barbecue recipe was met with a bit of resistance.  The best male cook I know couldn’t imagine eating pork shoulder that hadn’t spent the latter part of its adult life simmering above hot coals. Despite his protests I persisted with my recipe. The resulting meat was tender, but admittedly not full of smoky flavor. It’s desirable, none the less, for feeding a crowd, or a hungry family, when you’re not able to hang out by the grill or in the dead of winter when it’s just too darn cold to tend the smoke-box. And, trust me, it beats in flavor, cost, and texture the tubs of pork barbecue you buy at the supermarket. So, if for no reason other than these, tuck this recipe in your recipe box.

Just like a true, wood-fired smoking process, low and slow is still the rule. For best results, start either early in the morning or let the pork slow-cook overnight. In my (oblong) slow-cooker, set on low, the pork takes about 11 hours to reach a fork-tender state. The first time you try this recipe I suggest checking the tenderness of the meat after about 10 hours to gauge how quickly, or slowly, your slow cooker cooks the pork. If needed, cover the pork and continue to cook for up to 2 more hours.

The jury’s out on how to eat pulled pork: We’re a sauce-it-when-we-eat-it family. Some like to mix sauce into the whole batch of pork before serving. Some like to sauce the whole batch, and then add more sauce on the top. Because of this, I try to offer a few options on when to sauce the meat.

Summer’s on its way. When you can’t take the time to tend a fire, but want tender, homemade pork barbecue, give your slow-cooker a try. Nothing holds a candle to home-smoked meat, but this works in a pinch, a large pinch of meat piled high on a bun that is.

Kentucky-style Slow-Cooker Pork Barbecue
Makes about 12 servings

Here I use Kentucky’s own soft drink – Ale-8 One®. This spicy soda, unique to Kentucky and bottled in Winchester since 1926, is available in supermarkets and convenience stores …

Kentucky Burgoo Recipe
Kentucky Burgoo Recipe

Makes about 12 servings

It’s that time of year. It’s Burgoo time. What I mean is: Keeneland is open. Keeneland serves Burgoo. It’s almost Derby Week. Everyone who celebrates Kentucky’s national holiday (the Kentucky Derby, the first Saturday in May) think s Burgoo. (And mint juleps, but that’s another story.) I created this recipe on a snowy day in March. It’s not a quick recipe, but one where you first make a broth using beef, lamb, and dark-meat chicken pieces. Then you cook the vegetables in the broth and add the cooked meat. The two-step process ensures tender meat and nicely cooked vegetables. It’s even better reheated, so feel free to make this recipe ahead, and reheat before serving. Incidentally, if you’ve ever wanted to attend a Burgoo Festival, make plans for September 2009.

1 pound beef shank
1 pound boneless leg of lamb
3 to 3 1/2 pounds chicken legs or thighs
1 tablespoon salt
3 quarts water
2 cups finely chopped onion
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups frozen mixed vegetables, or 2 (15-ounce) cans mixed vegetables, drained
One 15-ounce can butter beans, drained
8 ounces frozen sliced okra
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Generous pinch red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped fresh parsley 

Trim excess fat from beef shank and lamb. Place the beef, lamb, and chicken pieces in a 6-quart Dutch oven. Add salt and water. Bring to a boil over high heat, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove the chicken pieces to a plate. Partially cover again, and contine to cook over low heat until the beef and lamb are fork-tender, about 1  1/2 more hours. Remove the beef and lamb to the plate with the chicken. Let the broth cool slightly. Strain and measure the broth. Add water if necessary to make 6 cups. Wipe the sides of the oven with a paper towel to remove any remaining skum or foam reside. It’s not pretty to get this stuff in your stew. So wipe it off and save yourself from having to use another pot, or wash this one.

Pour the 6 cups of broth (and perhaps the broth/water mixture) back into the Dutch oven. Stir in the onion, garlic, mixed vegetables, butter beans, okra, Worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, remove the chicken meat from the bones and set aside. Cut the beef and lamb into 1-inch pieces and set aside with the chicken, and if necessary refrigerating the meat until the vegetables have cooked for 1  hour. After 1 hour of cooking the vegetables,  stir the chicken and meat pieces into the cooked vegetables. Simmer until heated through. Stir in the parsley, and season to taste with salt and pepper.…