All the Joys of Summer: Ribs, Corn, and Fruit Crisp (Plus Fresh Bread)


This past Memorial Day weekend I wanted to kick off the summer with new twists on old favorites: baby back ribs, corn, and summer fruit. These are some of my ultimate comfort foods because they take me back to summer barbecues and outdoor dinner parties with my family. They are hands-on foods, both in the making and the eating, and they seem to satisfy some deep-seeded need I have to fill the summer with just plain good food.

Along those same lines, I’ve been wanting to try my hand at bread baking again. For me, making bread reminds me of my grandmother’s kitchen in every possible way, and recently I’ve found myself yearning for the satisfaction that comes from making – and of course eating – homemade bread. I’ve been inspired watching the Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge group as they hone their baking prowess, and a recipe for bread cooked in a Dutch oven from The Pioneer Woman finally pushed me over the edge and into a full commitment to bake bread again.

Between my need for hands-on summer food and the desire to bake fresh bread, my Memorial Day summer BBQ menu came together quickly. I didn’t write any new recipes for this menu because I wanted to test out a whole collection of recipes I’ve been saving for a sunny day. Individually they are all fun and tasty recipes, but when you put them all together, the flavors and textures complement one another to make them even better. Most of the prep for these recipes can be done ahead, so with a little work the night and morning before your dinner there’s plenty of time for some R&R before everyone shows up to partake in the feast.

Main Course

Backyard Baby Back Ribs (from Alton Brown)

Herbed Corn on the Cob (from Gourmet)

Tomato & Cucumber Salad (from Southern Living)

THE BREAD (from Pastor Ryan on The Pioneer Woman’s site)


Blackberry and Peach Crisp (from Woman with a Wisk)

Vanilla Ice Cream

To Drink

Buttonwood Merlot, 2005, Santa Ynez Valley, CA

I didn’t make any substantial changes to any of these recipes and each one work very well. I do have a few notes about the recipes though:

  • This menu works well for 6-8 people. You’ll need to halve the recipe for the corn. All of these recipes scale up and down easily so you can adjust for the number of people you need to serve. I think you could easily serve 12 or 24 people with as little stress as you can serve 6 with this menu.
  • After reading all of the comments on the bread recipe, I decided to add 1 Tbsp. of sugar to the warm water to proof the yeast and I added a Tbsp. or so to the dry ingredients so the yeast would have a little sugar to feed on. I also punched the dough down two hours into the rise. The final loaf of bread was dense but that’s what the recipe intends. It rose beautifully and tasted fantastic.
  • The preparation for the corn on the cob recipe involves pulling the husks of the corn down but not off, removing the silk, slathering the corn in butter and herbs and then putting the husks back on the corn and securing with a strip of husk that you tie around the top of the corn. I used kitchen twine because it was much easier to work with. Also, I’d recommend adding salt and pepper to the corn along with the butter and herbs to round-out the flavor.
  • I made the ribs over the course of two days instead of three as the recipe calls for largely because I didn’t figure out my menu until the day before the meal. I took the ribs directly from the oven to the grill and they worked just fine.
  • I have two ovens so I was able to cook the ribs and bread during the same time frame. If you don’t have two ovens, you have a few options:
    • Start the ribs recipe two days ahead as the directions specify and reheat the ribs on the grill the day of the party. This frees the oven for the bread on the day of the dinner.
    • Put the ribs in the oven to cook first thing in the morning after you’ve made the bread. They only need a couple of hours and will be coming out of the oven about the time the bread needs to go in. You can refrigerate them for a couple of hours and then reheat on the grill just before serving.
    • Along those same lines, if you eat later in the day so you can cook the ribs first, refrigerate them, and reheat them on the grill later.
    • Make the bread the day before. I thought it was great right out of the oven but I bet it would be fantastic sliced and grilled the next day discussed in the bread blog post.
  • I made the crisps in individual ramekins instead of in a single large dish for a prettier presentation. Were I making this for a big crowd, I would skip the ramekins and make a big family-style crisp as the recipe calls for.


The Plan

On big food BBQ days like Memorial Day and 4th of July I like to eat earlier in the day rather than later, so this plan reflects that. You can just as easily serve this menu for dinner and you’ll have even more time between morning prep and dinner to muck about. To make it easier for you to adjust this menu to your own schedule, I’ve added a duration column so you get an idea of about how long each activity takes and a notes column for more information on how the timing of an activity is related to your final meal time. If you need help adjusting this schedule, e-mail me at natanya [@] io [dot] com and I’ll be happy to help.

Time Duration Activity Notes
Night Before 60-90 min Make rub for ribs, cover ribs with rub, and refrigerate
Prep corn
Set out serving dishes
Set table
The ribs do need to be started the night before, or two nights before if you follow the recipe exactly. Prepping the corn, table, and dishes takes about 45 min total if you want to do this on the day of the meal.
8:00 AM 30 min + 4 hours to rise Make bread dough and set in bowl to rise Start bread at least 6 hours before you plan to eat so there’s time for a long rise. You can also make the dough the night before and let it rise slowly in the refrigerator overnight.
10:30 AM 10 min Punch down the dough in the bowl; cover so it can continue to rise
11:30 AM 20 min Preheat oven to 250 degrees for ribs; set out butter to soften for crisps
11:40 AM 10 min Make braising liquid for ribs and prep ribs for oven
11:50 AM 2 hours Ribs to oven to braise The ribs need to go into the oven at least 2.5 hours before you eat to allow for grilling time and resting time. You can cook them several hours in advance as per the recipe.
12:00 PM 30 min Prep crisps and refrigerate
12:45 PM 30 min Preheat oven to 450 for bread
1:00 PM 10 min Shape bread, place in baking pan, and slash with knife
1:15 PM 60 min Bread to oven to bake Remember to take the lid off of the bread after 30 minutes; start checking for doneness 15-20 minutes after you take the lid off. Bake bread at least 75 minutes before you plan to eat.
1:20 PM 20 min Make cucumber and tomato salad This will hold for several hours but make it at least an hour before you plan to eat so the flavors can meld.
1:50 PM 20 min Ribs from oven; make rib glaze As per the recipe, this can be done several hours ahead
2:00 PM 10 min Preheat grill; prep corn steamer Do these two things 30 minutes before you plan to eat.
2:10 PM 20 min Grill ribs; toss with glaze and plate
2:15 PM 10 min Steam corn and plate Make this the last cooking you do before you eat; the corn is best served hot.
2:15 PM 15 min Remove crisps from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature Do this 15 minutes before you plan to eat so you can put the crisps in to cook just as you sit down at the table. If you made the ribs hours before, preheat the oven for the crisps about 30 minutes before you eat.
2:15 PM 10 min Bread from oven and to cutting board; plate tomato and cumber salad
2:30 PM 25 min Crisps to oven and bake
2:30 PM Dinner is served
2:55 PM 5 min Crisps from oven; top with ice cream and plate
3:00 PM Dessert is served


  1. Wow, you are so organized, I couldn’t dream of creating a menu plan like this, I’m a wing-it type of gal in the kitchen and on the grill. Now you have me craving ribs, too. Sheesh.

    • Natanya Anderson /

      I think it’s really a reflection of the control freak in me more than anything. You should see the spreadsheets I use to manage the holidays 🙂 I think we’ll be having ribs again soon – they just scream summer to me.

  2. You are amazing, Natanya! And, I love the pic of the crisp in the ramekin. YUM!

  3. Hi Natanya,

    I saw a link to your blog on one of Michael Ruhlman’s posts about a week ago and decided to check out your blog.

    I just wanted to introduce myself (and my fiancee, Darius). We live in Austin too and we started a food blog a few months ago just for fun.

    Anyway, love the style of your blog and that you’ve included “gameplans” and whatnot.



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