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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Following Twisted Brisket at the 4th Annual Ribs, Pigs & Watermelons in Huntington Beach, California



As the sun began to rise, we headed out to Huntington Beach to see the Twisted Brisket competition BBQ team in action for the 4th Annual Ribs, Pigs & Watermelons, which is a KCBS (Kansas City BBQ Society) sanctioned event. Rob and Candace Rice hale from Costa Mesa, CA and started Twisted Brisket in 2012. Since then, it’s been a family and friend affair. Everyone has their job and feisty banter goes on as they work. The hardest working family member is Betsy, the smoker. They won the People’s Choice award at Ribs, Pigs & Watermelon in 2014.

7:00am – Twisted Brisket always goes for the People’s Choice and will participate in the public sale of their BBQ and special items they prepare for the crowd. Pig Candy and Twisted Chicken are prepped and put into the smokers. They are normally ready to sell when the gates open. Most teams will wait until all of the turn-ins are done before selling. They also start to check on their pork and brisket – wrapping and adding more seasoning and liquid before returning to the smoker.

9:11 AM – Twisted Brisket and Smokin’ Harts teams toasted with a shot of Fireball Cinnamon Whiskey as a tribute to the people who lost their lives at the WTC attack in 2001. After the toast and shot, it was time to wrap and season the ribs.

10:00 AM – Gates open and Twisted Brisket is one of the only teams selling. They already have a line.

Pig Candy is bacon covered in a brown sugar spice mixture and smoked until it has a beautiful mahogany hue. When right off the smoker, they are crispy and the brown sugar mixture is caramelized on the outside. The bacon comes through along with a sweet, smoky flavor. OCFD (OC Food Diva) Rating: 4.8/5

Twisted Chicken is tender chicken chunks wrapped in bacon and covered in a brown sugar spice mixture. The bacon is crispy and caramelized on the outside. It also acts to seal in the juices on the tender chicken. The bacon adds a smoky, salty, sweet flavor to the chicken – pig candy and chicken all in one! OCFD Rating: 4.3/5

BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse had a couple of their Handcrafted Sodas on tap. Root Beer had a head but dissipated too quickly and it was not very creamy. The flavor was not as intense as a typical root beer. OCFD Rating: 2/5. Orange Cream Soda had a good orange creamcicle flavor. But it definitely needed more carbonation. OCFD Rating: 3.5/5

12:00 PM – Chicken Turn-in. The chicken had a good smoke flavor. They could have used some more time in the smoker for an easier bite. OCFD Rating: 3.8/5; KCBS Score: 175.4288 (#8 out of 58)

12:30 PM – Ribs Turn-in. The flavor profile is reminiscent of sweet and smoky char siu flavor. The outside had a great mahogany color. Slower and lower would make these even more tender and juicy. OCFD Rating: 3.6/5; KCBS Score: 165.1200 (#33 out of 58)

1:00 PM – Pork Turn-in: Money muscle. It had a good smoke flavor and very pronounced smoke ring. It could use a little more salt as the sauce did not push the pork flavor forward enough. OCFD Rating: 4/5; KCBS Score: 157.6456 (#48 out of 58)

1:30 PM – Brisket Turn-in: Sliced brisket with burnt ends. Burnt Ends had a good flavor with a spicy kick on the end of the palate. It had a good smoke ring and smoky flavor from the oak and pecan wood. The chunks were super tender and just melted in the mouth. Sliced brisket had a nice bark. The rub had a good flavor with a spicy kick. It was a little drier than the burnt ends. OCFD Score: 4/5; KCBS Score: 167.4056 (#26 out of 58)

To end the day on a sweet note, Boy Scout Troop 412 from Fountain Valley sold Dutch Oven Peach Cobblers. A big improvement on the flavor of the cobbler this year. Unfortunately, it needed to be cooked a little longer as there was still raw batter on the bottom. The ice cream was a nice, generous touch. OCFD Rating: 4/5

Overall, Twisted Brisket came in 30 out of 58 teams with a score of 665.6000. But they managed to win the BBQ hearts of the public by clinching the People’s Choice award for the second year in a row!

Where you can catch Twisted Brisket this year:

To view more photos, please visit OC Food Diva’s Facebook page.


For more information:

Costa Mesa, CA

Friday, September 25, 2015

Review of In A French Kitchen cookbook by Susan Herrmann Loomis + recipe



Susan Herrmann Loomis, author of On Rue Tatin, celebrates French life and everyday home cooking in France with her new cookbook, In A French Kitchen. The farm-to-table concept made be trendy and new in America, but in France, it is a part of life and engrained within their very being. The attention to seasonal, fresh, and local ingredients is just part of a sophisticated yet simple French meal. Susan’s love of France made her trade her American life of massive chain grocery stores to embrace the lively community markets in Norman town of Louviers, France. In the book, French men and women in Susan’s community share their memories and their love for food, while preparing wonderful French dishes.

Melissa’s culinary team prepared the dishes below with the utmost expertise and care.

In Chapter 2, It All Begins with Mamie, Sausages with Tomatoes and Golden Rice {Rougail Creole} are screaming with creole flavors. It tastes just like a jambalaya without the chicken and shrimp. The hearty flavor works well with the light golden rice. Rating: 5/5

In Chapter 4, Intimacy Amid the Produce, Braised Broccoli {Broccoli Braisé} brings out the sweetness of the broccoli which works well with the garlic. It is the perfect side dish for a steak or chicken cordon bleu. Rating: 5/5

In Chapter 5, Always Salad, Garden Salad with Classic Vinaigrette {Salade Verte Classique} is the perfectly light salad to end a meal with. The vinaigrette is light yet flavorful and pair well with the greens. Rating: 5/5

In Chapter 10, A Dozen Great French Techniques, Sweet Pie Pastry {Pâte Sucrée} (with berries & crème) is simple to make and the perfect pastry (crust) to use for your next pie or tart. It provides the canvas for a sweet, sour, and/or rich, creamy filling of your choice. Rating: 5/5

In Chapter 13, Meal Plans and More Recipes to Get You Cooking Comme les Francais, Mushrooms with Chorizo {Champignons au Chorizo} have a slightly spicy flavor from the chorizo. The meatball-like filling works well with the earthy mushroom. This would make an excellent passed hors d'oeuvres at your next party. Rating: 4.5/5

Mushrooms with Chorizo {Champignons au Chorizo}
Reprinted from In A French Kitchen by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2015, Susan Loomis.
Serves 4


  • 12 good-size mushrooms, cleaned and stemmed
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 rounds Spanish-style chorizo, or other air-cured salami-style sausage (see Note)
  • Fresh herbs of your choice, for garnish
  • Note: If the mushrooms are large, you may need to double the number of rounds of chorizo.



  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. Place the mushrooms in a heatproof baking dish and drizzle about ¼ cup (60ml) water around them. Season with salt and pepper. Bake until they begin to turn tender, about 8 minutes.
  3. Remove the mushrooms from the oven and place a round (or two, if the mushrooms are very large) of chorizo atop each one. Return the mushrooms to the oven and bake until the chorizo is hot throughout, about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the mushrooms from the oven and arrange on a serving platter. Garnish with the herbs of your choice. Let cool for about 5 minutes before serving, as the mushrooms will be very hot.


Just like Susan says, “Cooking like the French, in a French kitchen, is the shortest route to happiness, warmth, pleasure, and delicious times!”

For more information:
In a French Kitchen by Susan Herrmann Loomis

Visit Susan Herrman Loomis’ On Rue Tatin website to learn more and even enroll in a cooking class.

On the search for an ingredient that you can’t find in the store, check out Melissa’s Produce or call +1.800.588.0151.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Ruby’s Diner unveils new shake and teams up with Children’s Miracle Network



Now through September 30, 2015, Ruby’s Diner has a new shake called the Muddy Gummy Goody Shake. For those you who remember “Cup of Dirt” from the 1990s, this will be a blast from the past for you and something new for the kids to get them ready for the Halloween season. It starts with chocolate ice cream blended with crushed Oreos and is then topped with whipped cream and gummy worms. It is nice and creamy creamy with crunchy Oreo bits inside for texture. The gummy worms are sweet and chewy. If you don’t want to eat them, the kids will certainly will. Rating: 4/5.5

Irish Nachos are fried RubySpuds smothered with melted cheddar and jack cheeses, crispy corned beef hash, crumbled thick-cut bacon, sour cream, and green onions. It is the perfect salty, savory flavor balance to compliment the shake. The cheese is gooey. The corned beef hash is a good meaty component. The bacon adds a smoky, salty flavor. The sour cream and green onions add a refreshingly cooling flavor to the mix. Rating: 5/5

Luke’s Story: “In the summer of 2013, Luke and his family began their journey with CHOC Children’s when two year old Luke was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. He endured 84 doses of chemotherapy, over 30 blood and platelet transfusions and spend 114 days at CHOC. Luke is now in remission and back to being an adventurous five year old playing with his two brothers. His family is grateful to CHOC and the family-centered care they received.”

Children’s Hospital of OrangeCounty (CHOC Children’s) is exclusively committed to the health and well-being of children through clinical expertise, advocacy, outreach, education, and research that brings advanced treatment to pediatric patients. CHOC network has two state-of-the-art hospitals in Orange and Mission Viejo, primary and specialty care clinics, a pediatric residency program, and four clinical centers of excellence – the CHOC Children’s Heart, Neuroscience, Orthopedic, and Hyundai Cancer Institutes.

Along with CHOC, Ruby’s Diners and Children’s Miracle Network will be raising funds for Children’s Hospital of Angeles, Rady Children’s Hospital of San Diego, and Kapiolani Medical Center for Women and Children in Hawaii. At your local Ruby’s Diner, you can purchase $1 donation balloons through October 10, 2015. 100% of your donation benefits patients like Luke.

Hurry in to Ruby’s Diner soon before the shake is gone and purchase a donation balloon!

For more information:
3333 Bear St Ste 120
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
+1.714.662.7829
Find a location near you

Ruby's Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato