[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="With my friends and Midnight Brunch guests Patrice, Topher, Netta and Emily H."]
If you missed it, Mouth of the Border hosted it's second (well, it's 2 and a half-th) Midnight Brunch over the weekend. Here's the photo recap
Planning this menu was a challenge for two reasons. One: I would not know who the guests were until a week before the event. Usually, the guests buy their tickets a month in advance and then I have several weeks to plan around their allergies and food preferences. In this case, I had to plan something that was vegetarian-friendly and didn't have too many exotic ingredients in case of allergies.
Two: The venue I went with had a small prep kitchen and no stove or burners. My options for venues were surprisingly limited as spaces were booked for post-Fashion Week parties and presentations (note to self for next September). I loved the venue, but knew that I had to plan a menu that would work with portable burners and chafing dishes. I probably wouldn't work in a place without a full kitchen again or, if I did, I would do just appetizers instead of a full meal.
Lessons learned! With every event I produce, I learn a lot more about how to make these better. One of the best parts is hearing the feedback straight from my guests on what they like and don't like, and there were two clear winners when it came to the food.
I promised the guests I'd share the recipes for their two favorite dishes for the night, so here they are.
Changes: As an alternative to sake, you can also use a dry sherry or even vermouth. If you'd like a little more sweetness, you can use a sweet sherry. Here, I used port. I wanted to enhance the sweetness but also support the spices in the marinade since I was marinating these ribs for three days. You can marinate these for as little as eight hours overnight, but I really felt the longer marinating time helps keep these sweet, flavorful and juicy.
What I did was have the butcher give me the whole racks, uncut. When I got home, I first rubbed the racks using several tablespoons of Chinese five spice powder (you should be able to find in most grocery stores in NYC). I then cut the racks into individual ribs with a chef's knife and put them into quart-size Ziplock bags.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="350" caption="Spare ribs rubbed in Chinese five spice."]
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="350" caption="Marinating ribs"]
Get good quality bags so the edges of the ribs don't poke through. I made the marinade, and then put about 1.5 cups of marinade in each ziplock bag and stored the ribs in the crisper drawer in my fridge. The recipe above multiplies well, and you probably want to at least double it so you have lots of ribs. It's a good party recipe (obviously, since all the Midnight Brunch guests raved about these!).
Where to buy: You can find St. Louis style spareribs at Bayard Meat Market
You'll want to look for the superfine Spare Ribs or the trimmed spare ribs in the back (the fatty ones will work better).
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="374" caption="Spare ribs at Bayard Meat Market"]
Second favorite dish of the night:
Tres Leches cake.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Dessert: Tres Leches with Mango. Photo Credit: Clay Williams."]
I researched dozens of versions, and I already posted the version that's closest to what I wound up making. Even if you made no changes to this recipe, it would be a winner. Here is the post with a link to Pioneer Woman's recipe
as well as the changes I made to her version for the event.
Let me know if you try one of these recipes! I'd love to hear your thoughts. Also, what dishes or categories of ethnic cuisines would you like to see featured at future Midnight Brunches?
I love sharing details about upcoming tasty trips and adventures, so you won't want to miss a bite. As always, please feel free to chat with me on Twitter, join our group on Facebook and keep up with new posts here by subscribing. You can also follow Midnight Brunch on Twitter.