Menu Planning: Toby’s Backyard Birthday BBQ

As mentioned in a previous post, I’ve made a pork themed meal for my husband’s birthday for several years running now. Its always fun to come up with a different concept each year and think through the recipes for each of the courses. Last year’s surprise party was so much fun that I decided to do a scaled down version for a small group of Toby’s friends in our back yard.

I centered the menu planning around the smoked pork ribs that the birthday boy did in our new smoker (yes, my husband cooked his own main menu item, but he didn’t mind!). We’ve been following the pork spare ribs recipe in Franklin Barbecue: A Meat Smoking Manifesto, from Aaron Franklin, the chef behind Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Texas. The rub and the sauce are so good and result in an amazing flavor for the pork, which is just perfectly tender.

The other factor in determining the menu was ease and ability to make some things ahead of time. This is key to my cooking and entertaining these days as this pregnancy progresses!

The night was a big hit with Toby’s friends partaking in the starters for about an hour; then we moved on to the main course, served with sides. Finally, the dessert was served along with some whiskey and homemade plum brandy. The weather was perfect for an outdoor evening of eating, drinking and celebrating the birthday boy!

Here’s the menu I served, along with links to the recipes for each of the menu items:


Bacon, Chive and Caramelized Onion Dip with Potato Chips – The only change I made to the recipe was to use bacon fat, instead of butter, to caramelize the onions.

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Serrano-wrapped Apricots with Manchego and Marcona Almonds – Used one of the alternative suggestions listed in the header for these yummy babies.

Asian Plum Pork Tarts – Followed my Duck Tart recipe but used pre-roasted pork from the Chinese supermarket in place of the duck

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Pork and Basil Stuffed Tomatoes – Honestly, I was a little worried about choosing this recipe as there were no reviews, but I went out on a limb and they were terrific. Easy to make, great to stuff ahead of time and they made a really flavorful side.

Chorizo Manchego Puffs – Made and piped these out a week ahead of time, froze them and then baked them right before serving

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Smoked Pork Ribs – As mentioned above, this recipe is in the Franklin Barbecue cookbook.

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Dark Chocolate Bacon Peanut Butter Cups – I basically followed this recipe, but took several liberties. I used dark chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate and added crumbled bacon to both the peanut butter filling and on top of each cup. These were decadent,  delicious and beautiful!


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