Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ultimate Backyard Barbecue with Broil King Ben!

I may or may not have spent the month of August... and most of September enjoying rather than writing about enjoying the wonders of summer. Luckily I've been keeping notes with the hope of putting up some new and interesting recipes and findings here. 

I had the opportunity to be the chef for the Ultimate Backyard Barbecue event presented by Molson, Shoeless Joe's and oh yeah Broil King, that grill company I work for. A challenging and fun way to show off some of the things you can cook on the grill. Here's the menu and how you go about cooking these dishes. It may seem lengthy, it is, but it’s not as hard to cook as it seems. Try breaking it into pieces. 

Ultimate Rickard’s Backyard Barbecue Menu 


Rickard’s Dark soy maple glazed cedar plank salmon 

A truly Canadian start, Jail Island Atlantic salmon lightly glazed with a mixture of Rickard’s Dark, Ontario maple syrup and soy, aromatically grilled on Canadian red cedar. Served with French bread crisps, cream cheese, and capers. 

Salmon, portions or a whole side, portions cook faster; don't buy cheap fish because it tastes like cheap fish. Discount stickers may indicate a deal on lamb or beef but you can't cut corners with fish. 
Soy Sauce - Kikkoman 
Maple Syrup - The real stuff 
Rickard's Dark beer 
Sesame seeds 
Ground pepper 
1 cedar plank 

Soak the Cedar plank in water for up to 20 minutes, it's not an exact science, the goal is to create wet wood because wet wood doesn't burst into flames! Once your plank is soaked pat the outside dry with a towel and lightly coat one side in olive oil. Place your salmon portion(s) on the plank without letting them overhang, trim if necessary, most sides of salmon are larger than the available planks. Preheat your grill to 250°F - 300°F. Mix 1/4 cup maple syrup, 1/4 cup soy sauce, and 1/4 cup Rickard's Dark beer in a saucepan or pot and put it on high to bring it to a boil. Reduce the liquid until it thickens enough to stick to the salmon as you baste it on. Put your planked salmon on the grill and baste a little of the maple soy glaze atop. As the salmon cooks over the following 20 to 30 minutes baste it a few more times then sprinkle on some sesame seeds and give it a grind of fresh pepper. Good salmon is edible raw, if you don’t like it raw cook it until the white ribbons of fat start to melt and it flakes easily with a fork.

Cut a French bread stick into 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick slices, drizzle on a little olive oil and a grind of pepper. Toast them right on the grill around the salmon, the bread crisps will cook fast and nobody likes burnt toast so don’t leave them unattended. Serve it up with a side dish of capers and cream cheese.

Roasted brie cheese with Rickard’s White marmalade 

Creamy brie with an orange marmalade Rickard’s white reduction accompanied by whole roasted garlic cloves, French bread crisps and spicy salami. 

Take a wheel of Brie and scrape the waxy coating from the outside, don’t cut it off it wastes a lot of cheese unnecessarily. Place the brie in a brie baker or equivalent small baking dish, bake in the grill until the cheese is melted, not too much heat otherwise you’ll end up with greasy pools in your cheese. Take an entire bulb of garlic and cut the top off, you want to expose the tops of each bud, drizzle with a little olive oil and wrap in tin foil, toss it on the grill to bake, depending on the temperature this could take a while. The garlic is cooked when it’s soft to the squeeze. In a pot add a good portion of orange marmalade and a generous pour of Rickard’s White beer. Stir the combination until the marmalade completely dissolves then reduce for 15 minutes. Pour into a ramekin and let stand, it will go back to being a jelly very quickly. Toast more of the same bread crisps as above and serve with a spicy salami, perhaps some slices of parmesan cheese.

Ultimate Backyard barbecue - Mains

Rickard’s Perfect Steak 

Juicy 10 oz. Perfect Steak 28 day aged New York Strips marinated in The Perfect Steak marinade and Rickard’s Red topped with grilled button mushrooms. 

10 oz. New York Strips, or my favourite 6 oz. top sirloin 
Perfect Steak Marinade 
Rickard’s Red beer 
Button mushrooms 
Soy Sauce 
Olive Oil 
Black Pepper 

Toss the mushrooms in a roasting pan with a splash of soy sauce, olive oil, a couple minced garlic cloves, and Rickard’s red beer. Put the pan right on the main grill surface and cook the mushrooms down until they are soft. Separate the mushrooms and their liquids. Keeps the mushrooms in the roasting pan to brown them, put the liquid in a sauce pan and reduce it into a glaze for the steak and mushrooms, aka heat it until there is very little and it’s very rich and thick, season as necessary. Marinade the steaks, defrosted, for 30 minutes at room temperature in a mixture of Perfect Steak Marinade and Rickard’s Red, equal parts. Grill following the Perfect Steak Grilling Guide. Serve mushrooms atop steak, with a drizzle of the glaze reduction. Possibly with a blue cheese butter medallion instead of glaze. 

A what? Partially melt butter so that you can work with it, add blue cheese and mix them together. Spread it onto wax paper and roll into a tube, put it in the freezer for a few minutes then take it out and cut into medallions. Butter loves steak, so does blue cheese, mmmmm steak love. 

Rickard’s White lemon chicken 

Seasoned boneless chicken breasts grilled then braised in Rickard’s White accompanied by grilled lemons, arugula and cranberries. 

Boneless Chicken breasts 
Rickard’s White beer 
Apple cider vinegar 
Olive oil 
Course pepper 
Cayenne pepper 
Course salt 

Take a generous amount of salt and some caraway seeds and heat them in a pan essentially infusing the caraway taste into the salt. Add water, 8 parts water to 1 part salt, dissolve the salt into the water, let cool. This first part is the brine, you’ll want to do this several hours before or even the night before you cook this meal. Once the brine has cooled add it to a re-sealable container with your chicken breasts. It will tenderize and moisturize your chicken, that’s good! 

Next day, remove your chicken breasts from the brine and pat dry. Lightly coat them with olive oil then season with the following spice mix: 
2 tablespoons cumin 
2 tablespoons paprika 
1 tablespoon coriander 
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
1 teaspoon caraway 
1 teaspoon pepper 
1 teaspoon salt 
2 cloves of minced garlic 

Rub the chicken thoroughly and generously with this spice mix. Grill the chicken breasts so that you have the perfect sear marks on them then like braising in the oven add the chicken breasts to a roasting pan in your grill with a little Rickard’s White that you’ve already pre heated. 

Take your pecans and coat them in honey then a little of the same spice as above, toast them in a pan, set aside, or not, I just like seasoned nuts. Cut your lemons in half and grill them for ten minutes face down. 

Finish cooking the chicken breasts in beer, total cook time between grilling and braising should be at max 30 minutes, use a thermometer if you are unsure. Take the braising liquid and reduce it in a pan to a thick glaze. If you’re pressed for time the chicken can spend some time on the warming rack while you prepare the glaze. Make the following vinaigrette: 
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar 
2 tablespoons of olive oil 
A squeeze of honey 
Grind of pepper 

Toss the arugula, cranberries, and pecans in the vinaigrette and place it as the base for your chicken. Slice the chicken breasts and serve a few slices atop the arugula with a drizzle of the glaze on the chicken, serve a grilled lemon half on the side. Give the lemon a squeeze over everything above. Enjoy. 

Ultimate Backyard Barbecue - Sides

Roasted rustic red potatoes with fresh Rosemary and thyme

Course pepper 
Course salt 
Fresh Rosemary 
Fresh Thyme 

Simply cut the potatoes into bite sized pieces, toss them in a roasting pan, coat them with a generous drizzle of olive oil, diced fresh rosemary, thyme, lots of course pepper and some course salt. Cover over with aluminum foil and roast them on the warming rack for up to an hour, taste test for doneness. Don’t be afraid of salt or rosemary in this recipe. 

Prosciutto wrapped asparagus spears with a creamy Rickard’s White sauce. 

1 Orange 
Rickard’s White 

Wrap the asparagus, bundles of 3 or 4 in prosciutto, grill the asparagus, if it starts to wrinkle and wilt you’ve grilled it too long. The sauce whisk ¼ cup of mayonnaise, orange zest, 2 tablespoons of Rickard’s White, 1 tablespoon of juice from the orange, 1 tablespoon of paprika, it should be slightly bitter but accompanies the asparagus well, serve atop like a glaze in other words sparingly. 

Ultimate Backyard Barbecue - Dessert

Grilled pineapple with white wine soaked raisins atop vanilla ice cream rolled in toasted coconut served with a special ingredient. 

EASY ALERT: Take raisins, soak them in white wine overnight in the fridge in a re-sealable container, don’t go crazy on the wine you just want to saturate them. The next day take some unsweetened coconut and toast it in a pan, let cool in the fridge. Cut a pineapple into spears and grill them with a little maple syrup and paprika until they are soft. Cut them into pieces but present them beside the ice cream like a spear. Take your very cold super creamy vanilla ice cream from the freezer, using a good ice cream scoop form it into balls and roll them in your coconut. Sprinkle on some wine soaked raisins… Oh yeah and pour in some Rickard’s Dark beer, like a float, of beer, a beer float. It’s crazy but people do like it because it’s great.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Titles change the destiny of your posts

July 21, 2011:

Well that post has been sitting on my PlayBook for a while, it would be nice if I could blog from the PlayBook but it’s yet another thing it can’t do, like allow me to copy text from an e-mail I've received, or create more than one playlist at a time…

Happy Thursday sports-fans! What a week, found some cool things!!!

Little City Farm – CHECK IT OUT, really want to check out what they do first hand-ish!

Salt Your Weeds! Don’t Spray… I told this to my neighbour the other day and then realized that I’m a history geek, salting the earth isn’t new to me but if you haven’t read about it then it’s new to you. Believe me it’s effective… The best way to kill weeds (and grasses, basically everything green) on a walkway or driveway.

BIXI is coming to Waterloo region… or so I’ve read from the Record, something about RIM already having a few operational stands. Don't know what it is? Check out BIXI here.

I made garlic scape pesto the other day, it was okay but it needs tweaking, and more lemon.  

Anyway, more video for our growing library of grilling video’s around barbecue headquarters. GrillPro and Broil King. We were shooting footage to illustrate the wonderful grilling lifestyle Wednesday and I was charged with the menu but also an acting role. I love skewered foods for quickly feeding a lot of people without plates. I read recently that the more time a meal takes to consume the less you’ll actually eat, the better and more full you’ll feel. In other words if you scarf a dinner in 20 minutes you’re going to crash soon thereafter and you’ve probably ploughed back more than you would have say if you paced yourself / had small portions over a couple hours. Try these stick foods at your next get together, cook a few at a time, make your guest talk rather than inject food into their traps:

Chicken Satays:

Cut 4 large chicken breasts into long thin strips
Cut up ¼ of a bag of frozen mangos into small cubes
Julienne 4 green onions also into long thin strips

Zig zag the chicken, onions, and mangos up a wooden bamboo skewer so that each item, apart from the little mango cubes is skewered several times along its length. Should look like a chicken snake on the skewer. That’s right, CHICKEN SLITHERING SNAKE. Put these into a dish that they can marinade in…


2 tablespoons fresh ginger minced
2 shallots diced
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 minced red chili peppers or 1 tablespoon dried or chili flake
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 tablespoons soya sauce
Drizzle of honey

Mix the marinade up and pour over the chicken, let stand for 20 minutes at room temperature.

Grill, they cook quickly but they are chicken so don’t rush!

Heat up a nice satay sauce and serve away.

Grilled Parmesan Corn

Simple, get two aluminum foil trays... Put melted butter in one and Parmesan cheese in the other, lightly pepper your cheese. Shuck your corn cobs and cut they in half so that you have two small cobs. Skewer them completely through if you can and roll them first in the butter, then in the parm. To the grill! Grill your corn like steak, you want nice golden sear marks in more than one place and their going to take between ten and fifteen minutes to cook.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mmmmmm Pic-in-ic Basket

Picnic baskets are outstanding, you can build up a simple collage of your favorite things and mix and match your flavours. I love cured meats, cheeses, olives, and crackers; try some of these next time your want something savory.

Raincoast Crisps – I haven’t found a flavour that I don’t like, they’re the best.
Almond, blue cheese, or jalapeno stuffed olives – all so good and a great way to accent a martini too!
Cured meats, salami, supressata, shinker mager, etc.
Applewood smoked cheddar – My favorite cheddar, I’m going to make some soon
La Sauvagine – eat your heart out brie cheese
Blue Haze – so blue so good
Fresh cherries – thanks fruitland!


…the Jazz Festival far exceeded my expectations and involved an act-of-too-nice-edness story. We were new, never been to one of these before but excited nonetheless. We got lawn seats, nobody told us that you would need to get there super early and sit inches from another listener sprawled out with lawn chairs and coolers of? So when we showed up late without chairs the abbreviated letters S.O.L. were the only thing that came to mind. I explained it as clearly as that to one person working there, then their boss, then her boss and then I was shown to my new seats, in the Trius Red lounge where we’d have our own chair, a waitress, and an umbrella, now we’re talkin’. They mentioned it would be on the house and I was touched. The jazz was amazing and wine complimented it well. FUN AND 1/2, highly recommended and I shall return!

Still waiting for some member of the flight crew to arrive so that we can fly to Minneapolis (ps. Travelling to Minneapolis really helped me type Minneapolis much more quickly, practice makes perfect.). Tangent over… time to fly!

Ever in Eau Claire??? Eat at the Green Mill, better yet stay at the Holiday Inn next door too because the food is soo good and soo cheap! Some of the better pizzas I’ve had.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Turkey Bolognese

Okay, so this recipe isn't actually bolognese but it does sound better to call it one. The ingredients make it a nice cousin with a killer twist!

(Recipe serves 4)
You'll need:

1 lb. ground turkey
1 heaping tablespoon green curry paste
1 tablespoon of Cumin
Black pepper
2 cloves of fresh garlic
1/2 dozen tomatoes chopped
2 or 3 green onions chopped
1 cup Parmesan cheese

and are you ready for this one...
100 g of Lachsschinken cured pork loin. Genießen Freunden!

and your favorite family size box of pasta or make it fresh, but make it for 4!

Brown you ground turkey in a large sauce pan, as it's cooking slice your Lachsschinken into long thin strips and add it in too. Season with pepper, cumin, and the green curry paste. As it's browning add the green onions and garlic continue to brown everything in the pan. Deglaze with white wine, I used tequila as I'm injured and all out of white wine, and beer... Now add your tomatoes, simmer everything down; I like my sauce saucy so I cook it pretty far down so that the tomatoes start to break but you could just hit it with some heat and have juicy chunks of tomatoes if that's what tickles your fancy. Stir in the Parmesan cheese and serve generously over a heap of pasta.
Serve alongside a spinach salad with strips of Lachsschinken, edamame beans, bean sprouts, paprika and honey dusted walnuts (Glass lock container, ingredients, shake), and Feige's Gourmet Oil and Vinegar Dressing which my mom lovingly brings from Listowel from time to time, it's such a sweet small town find. 2 part meals are always boring so have a nice warm loaf of bread to tear apart and try different dipping plates like red chili flake olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

liebe es zu kochen !

Monday, June 20, 2011

Zoup's up!

Fast food and chain food seem to have the same problem; their food is horrible for you because they're too busy worrying about a business model that can work everywhere with the same caliber of under qualified staff... No offense McDonald's employees but most of you don't have any business in the restaurant business. They make the jobs specific enough and simple enough that anyone can do it with little to no training, effort, or pay, and yet the "quality" is consistent and nobody get's food poisoning, that's really the bottom line for mass food.

However, there are a few chains that I like; had mentioned a few month's back that I'm a sucker for Chick-Fil-A. They just opened up a can 'o Zoup in Waterloo Town Square and I gotta say, I like it... They have a huge soup assortment and although most are loaded with salt and everything else that isn't that great for you in large quantities, their menu is attractive. Their double baked potato soup is great and I'm surprised that they make a lobster bisque, haven't had enough lobster bisque's to say how it is but I like it. Anyway, it's something different which is always nice, it's the first Canadian location also cool, and they have creative salads and sandwiches on their menu which is ingeniously displayed on TV screens behind the counter... Finally someone used TV screens for the menu, I thought McD would do it first but I'm glad it's done, if only tablet menu's were more practical we could do away with print all together...

I'm rambling, I may get onto my theories on print media and Canada Post later... Anywho, remember that every Zoup comes with a big 'ol bun (because it's an American chain and bread is cheap and fills you up!). Although they have lots of soup and cool other menu items, every drink is a fountain Coke product, sweet high fructose corn syrup!.. That's okay you can buy a bottle of Coke water... Most of their locations are in the Northeastern United States; and you can order online to make sure your lunch order is warm and waiting for you when you arrive. Grab a big 'ol bowl of Zoup today!

I've seen some of the early GrillPro YouTube video's, they're pretty good. I love teaching people, so hopefully this can be a nice way to teach people about all of the great grilling products out there... Manufactured by GrillPro... Who I work for... Well, you gotta eat!

Flat Tire


I'm thrilled to announce that I sprained my ankle last night; in other words, this is day one of being a one wheeled man... PS. having one wheel sucks. I have a short attention span and not being able to come and go and ride, and run, and jump as I please is really my idea of hell. I use time off work to work on projects that I didn't have time to work on while I was working, relaxation is not my forte.
I'm sitting in my backyard watching the world go by because right now I'm too slow to catch it, I can hobble about with my crutches but it's no set of working legs. Side note, how do I get my dog to work with me in regards to lawn care? He pees on my grass and the patch he pees on dies while everything around it grows greener than the rest of the lawn. I have a chain of green islands running throughout my backyard... There must be a solution... More to come?

Days later
It's now Monday, I'm doing a poor job at staying down and keeping my foot up... I've been to the beach, a father's day get together and now back to work, aka doing more than I should be. The swelling in my foot tells me I'm doing something wrong and all of the muscles that are pulling the weight for one dead limb are exhausted.
Oh well, I'm coming up with a way that I can cook an entire meal in the kitchen without my whole foot filling with fluid. Good things to come! Dog note, apart from watering each dog urine spot in my backyard immediately after it's created there really isn't a great remedy for dog spotting on my lawn. Some people suggested training him to pee in a specific graveled or pebbled spot but that's not something I'm interested in doing, it's his yard too. I'm not giving the dog pills and the rest of the remedies are too weird to mention... Well he's lucky he's cute...   

Saturday, June 11, 2011


I have a personal policy where I never write anything on a bad day, it's generally negative and not your proverbial best foot forward. Although I'm having a bad day, I had a great time teaching and cooking lunch with some new recruits about barbecue headquarters today. And so here’s how that went, argh!..

Today was a little challenging, we had a few food allergies to contend with and I’m not a big fan of making one thing for the group and another for someone with allergies; we all eat the same thing and work together preparing it. I don’t do all of the cooking in these sessions either, actually I do very little of it. I supervise and instruct as much as possible and then demonstrate where necessary, it’s important for the process and I feel that people take more away from doing rather than watching.

Anyway, we prepared a simple menu: New York strip loin steaks with home made steak spice, a sesame stir fry, butternut squash and roasted garlic mashed potatoes, and grilled pork tenderloin.


I’ve grilled a lot of steak, I spent the first two years working at Broil King grilling and steak was on the menu demo after demo store after store. People love steak and grilling it properly is important. Check out The Perfect Steak for grilling instructions and remember the rule of thumb. Before you start, make sure you have defrosted steaks, do not grill frozen steak. Once your steaks are defrosted pat them dry to remove any excess water or blood then make the following rub:

Homemade Steak Spice:

¼ cup course salt or salt flake
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon of fresh minced garlic
1 tablespoon of fresh minced rosemary
1 tablespoon course ground pepper
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme, I use lemon thyme; easy to grow in Southern Ontario

Mix your spices, coat your steaks in olive oil and generously rub the steak spice on your steak. Let them sit out at room temperature for about 20 minutes while your grill preheats. Grill! 

Sesame Stir Fry

This one is easy on the grill; all of the work is in the vegetable prep:

You’ll need

A grilling wok, holes or no holes both work
Lots of heat, it’s the most important part of a stir fry
Carrots, julienne them
Green onions, julienne them also
Bean sprouts
Snow peas, clean them properly. Remove the head and tough stringy spine.
Chicken, cut into strips
Sesame seeds
Peanut oil
Sesame oil
Chili flakes
Fresh garlic, minced
Fresh ginger, also minced

Coat your chicken generously in peanut oil and toss it in the wok, you want to hear insta-sizzle. The chicken will cook quickly so you’ll want everything else that you’ve prepared before hand nearby. As the chicken is cooking season it with chili flakes and pepper. As you chicken starts to brown add your carrots; wait a few more minutes and add the rest of your vegetables, they all cook at different rates so you’ll want to add them accordingly. For example bean sprouts cook in no time but carrots can take quite a while. As you add the last of you vegetables add your garlic and ginger, a dash of sesame oil and more chili flakes. Don’t over cook your veggies, once the carrots are soft enough to eat you’re pretty much done; nobody likes limp pea pods and dry chicken. Your medley should have a nice golden brown sear on it while maintaining that fresh vegetable crunch.

Butternut Squash and Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Super easy recipe ahoy!

2 lbs. of red potatoes
1 small butternut squash
1 clove of garlic
1/2 cup of milk or cream it’s your health we all know what tastes better
¼ cup of butter

Wash and cut up the red potatoes, leave the skins on they won’t kill you. Put them in a pot completely submerged and boil until they’re soft enough to slide off of a fork after being pierced. While your water is heating peel, core and cube your butternut squash. Lay the cubes out on a baking tray and coat with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes at 375°F turning once at the half. While you're roasting the squash, chop the top off of your garlic clove to expose each bud, then wrap it in aluminum foil and drizzle a little olive oil into the bulb; wrap it up and roast in the oven with the squash. Garlic is roasted when it feels squishy soft. Hold on a minute, Jen just found out what happens when you put hot parsnips in a magic bullet blender, boom!
Alright where was I, everything will probably finish cooking about the same time… Drain and mash your potatoes, mash the squash in also and squeeze the softened roasted garlic into the mix and as you can imagine keep mashing. Side note, Pampered Chef has the coolest potato masher ever! CHECK IT OUT! Add milk and butter, mash mash mash, season with pepper. Done-zo!

Grilled Pork tenderloin

I’ve been using this recipe for quite a few years, nobody complains so I keep using it. Add your defrosted pork tenderloin to a glass locking container or a zipper lock freezer bag. Add a generous amount of sherry, real maple syrup, and the steak spice from above… Steak spice not just for steak. Let this marinade for 30 minutes at room temperature or 1 hour in the fridge. Grill!

At this point you could slice and serve to your guests as a great piece of meat but the following is also fun. Toast some thin slices of French bread, sauté strips of red onion and red pepper in a little olive oil and lemon thyme. Stack it up! Toasted bread on the bottom, slice of pork tenderloin, sautéed vegetables, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze and to top it all off a pinch of alfalfa sprouts. A pretty handy appetizer.

Bon Appetit

Post from: Wednesday June 8, 2011

PS: I'm on YouTube, new line of Broil King Grilling Accessories. Great Stuff, the stone grill set is my favorite!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Mango Lassi?

This recipe is sort of a mango lassi; I say sort of because it's essentially the same ingredients but served more like ice cream less like a milkshake. I love this recipe as it's incredibly easy to make and a nice treat on a hot day. Easily pull this one out as a dessert or simply an afternoon cool down.


1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup frozen cubed mango's
1/2 cup PC Greek 0% Yogurt with Honey

The yogurt really makes this recipe what it is. The Presidents Choice Greek yogurt is very thick and not overly sweetened; both characteristics are important so if you don't have access to a Loblaw's store look for a thick, lightly or unsweetened Greek style yogurt.

Add 1/2 of the coconut and all of the other ingredients into either a blender a magic bullet and blend until smooth. Pour into two small bowls and top with the rest of the coconut.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Flavoured Oil

I made a flavoured oil recently to keep about my kitchen and found out the rules about flavored oils after, glad I did. I've only been using this oil for about two weeks, I researched the topic before posting it up here to avoid contracting foot in mouth disease. Despite what you may think flavored oils are not simply created by adding some raw ingredients to olive oil and letting those ingredients slowly infuse their flavors. In fact leaving raw garlic or chili's in oil at room temperature has about the same effect on the vegetables as leaving them out on the counter to rot. The rotting can produce bacteria or mold that you're probably not interested in ingesting.

A restaurant in Stratford ON I recently visited served olive oil with chili flakes in it alongside their gourmet pizzas. It's nice to have a spicy oil to drizzle over a slice of good pizza so I thought I'd do the same thing at home and dumped some chili's about a quarter cup into a small bottle with a pour spout topper and added about a cup or two of olive oil. Flavour wise it worked, after a couple days of infusing the oil took on some of the chili's colour and a lot of the spice; however, safety wise not so much success. What you should do is add the chili flakes and the oil to a pot with a pour lip and heat the oil, not to the point of boiling, you're just trying to kill any bacteria that may be present; give the oil enough time to take on some of the chili's colour. Add your infused oil to a incredibly clean and dry oil bottle with a seal-able pour spout topper. Don't make a huge amount of oil unless you're going to use it quickly, the shelf life should be from 2-4 weeks and I advise you to keep it in your fridge until you're ready to use.


Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Back at it

Back from a blogging vacation; one of my favorite analogies about life is also one of my favorite analogies about food. Variety is the flavor of life, too bad I don't have time to try everything. Summer just rolled into town I've been loving my local farmers market, commuting to work on my bicycle and obsessively grooming my work in progress yard; also had a little time to enjoy a little sun and a little beer from time to time to time. Aka, the blog, my guitar and for that matter my house plants go to the bottom of the maintenance pile. Never fear I have been cooking and chasing down more random knowledge and no house plants were harmed in the process...  Irreparably...

Random find #1, the Tank Drum. Somewhat of an odd musical instrument but considering you can make one for free why not give it a shot. I built a tank drum this week; it sounds cool, I know my backyard guests are going to have fun playing around with it and I've already had a blast playing it myself. So, check it out, build something. 

# 2, the Matador. A friend of mine carted over a bottle of tequila, pineapple juice and a bag of limes and mixed up a cocktail he found in a book of old man drinks. Old manish or not this sipper is amazingly refreshing and I've always loved to enjoy tequila rather than punish myself with shots. Also found the DrunkMansGuide's Weblog holy alcohol batman, you could get drunk reading it. Check it out.

# 3 I love wood fired pizza, although this isn't a new revelation. Ran into quite a few restaurants who do wood fired pizza lately and I can't help but order it. I love most of all the idea, of the wood fired pizza and the wonderful ambiance that the fire gives to any restaurant or bar. I love the care that goes into combining creative ingredients like goats cheese, pine nuts, grilled chicken, and fresh pesto, all on a thin crisp crust. If you find yourself in the area, the local City Cafe makes great wood fired pizzas for lunch as well as a slew of other amazing baked goods like croissants and bagels.  Find them here.
However, if you get the chance and are looking for something a cut above please visit the Salty Caper in Lake Norman, NC. This place has two really great, really important aspects. Authentic wood fired pizza and an amazing and thoughtful beer assortment; really they don't even need dining room seating just one big bar lined with taps surrounding a wood oven. I loved this place and will absolutely make it a must stop whenever I'm down there.

Anyway, that's all for now have to put together a menu for tomorrow's meeting. Fun recipes to follow including Ham Bone and split pea soup.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Peanut Butter Balls

Quitting sugar is hard, I would say harder in fact than quitting smoking. I've smoked and never been able to say to myself I need to keep doing this every day of my life, then again cigarettes are gross... Sugar on the other hand I could consume until it kills me; although if cigarettes contained sugar I'm sure big tobacco could kill a lot of smiling people. Side note, I wish I could market a product that is know to kill and be comfortable with the outcome; like poison pops, once you pop... you're dead... Not sure that will get off the ground though... Oh well teens can't spell emphysema anyway so I guess tobacco is the only poison they'll gravitate to for its coolness factor.

Anyway, coming to terms with the reality that I can't shake sugar I've come up with / found some easy ways to get it into my life. Eat fruit, duh... We all know fruit contains sugar, lots of it and it's natural. But for those days when you want a sugary treat, not too big but loaded with sugar try the following. At least you can say to yourself that there are far worse things out there for you.

Peanut Butter Balls,

These aren't your grandmothers peanut butter balls, there is no chocolate or smooth processed peanut butter in here... Steer clear the additional chocolate and sugar added peanut butter, this is a hippy friendly treat...

1 cup of natural peanut butter (the PB ingredients should be as follows: Peanuts.)
1 cup chopped dried dates
1 cup chopped dried apricots
1/4 cup toasted unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup chopped nuts, toasted almond slivers are nice, cashews are a also nice but more fatty

Mix it all up in a large mixing bowl and then form golf ball sized balls, then place them on a sheet of wax paper and put them in the freezer. Let them sit for a few hours and enjoy. If you're having a swanky hippy dinner party give everyone a peanut butter ball in a Chinese soup spoon, chic!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Green Curry Turkey Sliders

Made some delicious burger sliders yesterday doing a little product testing @ Broil King. The new burger slider basket and press works very well. Try the below recipe as a crafty and colourful appetizer to impress your guests.

Green Curry Turkey Burger Sliders

A different take on burger sliders, try topping them with the thin slices of roasted red pepper, sliced Parmesan cheese, the relish below, and Sriracha sauce. Don't forget the buns. Enjoy!

- 1 lb. Ground Turkey
- 1 tbsp. Green Curry Paste
- 1 egg
- 2 burger slider buns chopped
- 2 diced green onions
- 1 tbsp. fresh copped ginger
- Fresh diced cilantro
Mix these ingredients together in a large mixing bowl and form them either by hand or with a mini burger press. The press is easy and really helps to keep the burgers size consistent.

- ½ cup cucumber diced
- ¼ cup finely minced red onion
- Splash of rice wine vinegar
- Splash of soya sauce
- Drizzle of sesame oil 

Grill away friends. 

PS. I hate white buns but they were all the local Sobey's had... 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A new direction

I've been ramping up my fitness routine over the past few weeks, to go along with the added demand on my body I've also been eating a little more cautiously. I thought, if I'm going to do this healthy thing whole ass-edly I'll have to exercise harder and eat smarter to meet my goal.

It's hard, cutting my intake of salt and sugar is at times frustrating, I've gone through a few moments of sugar withdrawal which I find hilarious, a stupid addiction really if you think about it. I've always ate wholesome foods for the most part, but I've never paid much attention to the amount of sugar, salt, and carbohydrates I consume in a week. I started to realize about two months ago that no matter how hard I worked out I wasn't going to see any drastic results without a big change in my diet.

Looking at some of the statistics on caloric intake and calories burned throughout the course of a day it became apparent that I couldn't exercise enough each day to burn everything that I was eating. Essentially the average sedentary male (which I'm not) "should" consume 2400 calories a day, which I think is pretty damn high considering doing absolutely nothing burns around 65 to 85 calories per hour or on average 1800 per day, I guess the other 600 calories are for storage. Moreover if you weighed around 170 lbs. and ran your ass off at about 8 km/h for that whole hour you would burn about 600 calories, which is a lot more exercise than most moderately active people want to do everyday. These are also for reference stats from various sites I've browsed, by no means do they apply to everyone. There are a lot of mindless facts about calories to be found online but what made it clear for me was a statement that I heard on "Oprah's All-Stars" show, (don't judge, it's entertaining at times to watch pathetic people ask for common sense advice, common sense is soo uncommon). I think this person was bitching about how they exercise but can't lose weight... Dr. Oz essentially said, to burn the calories that the average person consumes each day you would have to work out as a full time job, period, forget the numbers.

That makes sense without a lot of misleading digits. It's frightening how easy it is to get really, really fat. If you eat out, most portions are way too big but we love the added value of more carbs for less money. Super markets are full of freezers loaded with ready made salt, sugar, and carb loaded icy delights... Worst of all we've created this food mess for ourselves unwittingly. We want more than necessary for next to nothing and we want it to taste great (which for many means sugary and salty because that's what they've trained their brains to believe is the be all and end all of delicious). On my gluten conscious crusade I've noticed that we love starches; I wonder if that's a hangover from the great wars; we have many mouths, how do we feed them all cheaply and easily..? Feed stock, like cattle and sheep.

I don't want to sound like a staple hater but I'm easily enraged by the eating habits of the general populace. Every time I hear someone poo poo salad or greens in favor of french fries or more turkey dressing I want to wait around in their life until that day in their 40's, 50's, or 60's when a doctor says the words cholesterol, blood pressure, or heart disease and say "I told you so fatty better listen now or you're dead" that's harsh but really I feel the same way about drunk driving and smoking. And again, the dead thing scares me immensely; Ben's rule # 238 anything that kills me sucks.

 Thus my diet changes, goodbye starches and gluten, you fat assed delicious ingredients I'll see you on the weekends. Goodbye high fructose corn syrup, and all of your fake sugary friends, unless the sugar comes from fruit I'm not getting it even though I want it. So long salt laden processed food; I don't eat much of you anyway, I'll miss you least. To help me out a little I keep this guy as a glaring reminder of what I don't need, I think it helps...
He hides in my fridge just around the corner of expired sour cream and jar o' capers. He stares at me with that evil grin and whispers things like, eat me, there's just one of me, I'm hollow anyway, what could be the harm... F.U. bunny, nice evil eye...

The dilemma however is that I'm not going to write recipes about salad for lunch and hard boiled eggs throughout the day. You've heard enough about Quinoa and it's hippie appeal. I'm learning new simple recipes and I'm working at getting some things up here. Should have some material this weekend worth writing home about.

Never fear dear reader, more to come!

Had an outstanding baked sea bass last night done up with a Thai marinade and some delicious boiled Brussels sprouts on the side, yum. The bass reminded me how easy it is to cook whole fish but as we ate it, as my buddy called it "Chinese style" (chop sticks in and picking it apart without breaking apart the bone structure), we talked about how socially unacceptable it was to eat a fish like this. It's clean, easy, and there is next to no waste but... We North American's are so used to being fed fake shit that when we're faced with eating something with the face still attached we cringe. Besides, fish cheeks are the best part, and if there's no head there's no cheeks, lame.

Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Pt. 2 rocks by the way, give it a listen

Friday, April 8, 2011

Quinoa Salad

A friend of mine gave me this Quinoa salad recipe; it's loaded with vegetables and really delicious.

Red cabbage
Red Quinoa
Chick Peas
Green onions
Sesame oil
Rice wine vinegar
Grape seed oil
Fresh garlic
Fresh Lemons

Take your cabbage, carrots, onions, and fennel and julienne them into long thing strips. The thinner the better, especially with carrots, cabbage, and fennel. Mix equal portions of the above together in a small mixing boil.

Boil 1 cup of quinoa with 2 cups of water until cooked then move into a bowl and let cool in the fridge. Once cool remove the quinoa, add it to the vegetables and add 1 can of chick peas drained and rinsed.


1/8 cup of grape seed oil
1/8 cup of toasted sesame oil
splash of rice wine vinegar
1 clove of fresh garlic minced
1/2 of a lemon's juice and 1/2 of a lemon's zest
course black pepper

Mix everything together, add more of what you feel it may be missing to desired taste.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Southern Low Country Boil

Saw this recipe on a sister blog; reminds me of an east coast fish boil my dad used to do.

Check it out!

Southern Low Country Boil

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Garden variety withdrawn

I miss the summer, I miss my garden, I miss fresh vegetables and the feeling that goes along with preparing food that I've grown myself. If I were to write a sternly worded letter right now it would probably go as follows.

Dear snow, piss off.
Kind regards,

On a more flowery note, grabbed a large bag of sweet basil the other day for one recipe and had more than enough basil leftover to make one wicked batch of pesto. What I love about pesto is the following; a) it's frickin' delicious, I can literally plow through a batch of it with a bag of tortilla chips in an evening, b) I have most of the ingredients in my kitchen at any time, and c) pesto is super easy to make. If you haven't made pesto before, follow along, if you have I would imagine you've already stopped reading. Check out the chips below, certified GF! If you don't know what GF stands for read on.

I've looked up and followed a pesto recipe once in my life, the rest of the time I just add ingredients until everything tastes right. So, rather than spell out a recipe boring measured portion by boring measured portion I'll give you a recipe like this: ensure that you have a blender or preferably a food processor at hand (it's pretty damn hard to make pesto without one).

Add the following ingredients into your food processor; basil, lots but not all of it; that may come in handy later. A splash of olive oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, fresh garlic; add equal portions of parmesean cheese and nuts. I use cashews in my pesto because pretty much everyone I know acts like a five year old about pine nuts, which you would classically use in pesto. Cashews taste delicious anyway. Grind a little black pepper in and start blending. Take a taste, from a texture standpoint your pesto could have larger chunks of nuts, they're nice when it's being served as a spread for breads or crackers but in this instance you don't want it to be too oily. If you're using the pesto in say a pasta or a vegetarian cannelloni, which I have a great recipe for that I'm not sure if I've posted up here, you'll want it to be a little more oily. Use your taste to shape your pesto, maybe it needs more parm, or more nuts; don't think that you may screw it up because you can always add more of something to round it out. Have fun!

Tried FOOD SHOULD TASTE GOOD Brand tortilla chips; I'm three varieties in and I've been happy with what I've tried so far, they have quite a few flavours including chocolate (dare I try the questionable chocolate tortilla chip?). Oddly what I like most about these chips is the bag; that sounds awful but it's true. I'm a bit of a packaging nerd, I work with it, a lot. They have an entire section on every bag that lists symbols identifying what these chips are and what they are not. It's basically nutritional information for dummies but it jumps out at you immediately; for instance, these chips (the flavors I have at home) are Certified GF (Gluten Free, checked Google, the logo is much like the Gluten-Free Certification Organization logo), they are Kosher, cholesterol free, contain no MSG (although I don't think any chips I can buy now contain MSG), they're an essential source of whole grains, low sodium, and they're not genetically modified. A lot of handy information and no fine print, clever. Summary, these chips taste good and you can feel good about eating them!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Check it out

This site is pretty awesome, 1000 Awesome Things. Oddly enough a coffee commercial told me to check it, smart.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Food conservation

I'm excited to include pictures in this post, not sure why I haven't done so yet, I do have a camera...

I'm not a big fan of wasting food; I like new recipes but at the end of the week there are always ingredients leftover in the fridge waiting to go bad. Pasta sauce is a great way to get rid of over ripened tomatoes, peppers, and mushrooms but there are quite a few recipes that can gobble up your leftover items. Quiche for example.
6 strips of prosciutto, 7 eggs, and 3 types of cheese = a good start
I went into my fridge and found what you see above: 7 eggs, soya milk (we don't normally have dairy milk), leftover Canadian Raclette cheese, Tommee De Groose Ile ripened semi soft cheese, Mouton Rouge sheeps milk cheese, 6 strips of prosciutto, 3 mushrooms, a couple green onions, the last of the fresh thyme and of course mixed baby greens.

So from the freezer I grabbed two pie shells and got to work, I'm not making the shells from scratch for a Saturday lunch.


everything above...
Please try a quiche with lots of raclette cheese it's very strong, I like it in soup and quiche because of it's flavor contrast. I wouldn't buy the other two cheeses again, they have a strong smell but weak taste.

In a small bowl mix 7 eggs and 1 cup of milk / soya milk. Cube up the cheese, you'll need about 100 g of something and mix it into the egg / milk mixture. Season with salt and pepper, I have a smoked salt flake that I like to use for quiche.

Cut up your fresh vegetables and add them as well as the leaves of the thyme into the base of the pie shells, add mixed greens, pour the egg mixture over top. garnish with some more course pepper, Tabasco if you like it spicy, and half strips of the prosciutto. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes at 400 degrees°. Enjoy!

Three meat Weekend

I sent this e-mail recipe list to a co-worker of mine for a get together she was having last weekend. She wanted to prepare three meats to please everyone and some simple sides to fill up the gaps. I hear it was a hit and what I like most is that these recipes are simple enough that you can prepare them all at the same time.

From: Benner
To: Y'all

Hey, here’s what I’m thinking:
Cedar Plank salmon, java steak with blue cheese medallions, and Rickards grilled chicken...

I’ll lay the meats out first and suggest some easy side vegetables, all grill themed all easy to clean up and not too labour intensive.

Cedar plank salmon
- 3 single portions of salmon, or 1 piece big enough for three people (remember your plank is 5 3/4” x 15”, that’s your max size)
- 1 cedar plank
- Fresh dill
- 2 fresh lemons
- Course pepper
- Course salt
Soak the plank in water for :30 minutes; oil plank with olive oil on both sides. Put the salmon on the plank, sprinkle with course salt and pepper. Squeeze the juice of one half lemon overtop. Sprinkle sprigs of dill over the whole salmon also. Place the planked salmon in the barbecue at 250° cooking indirect for up to 40 minutes. Here’s the thing, the salmon will become less pink as it cooks to a point, it will also start to lose the white ribbons of fat between the meat (it’s basically melting). The more white you lose the more dry and flaky it get’s; if you’re fish is fresh and your guest like it moist aim for 30 minutes to 35. If you have a two knob grill put the fish on the low side where the burner is at min temp, have the other one on med-high. Use the burner that’s turned down to periodically heat the plank up and partially char the plank. When it’s done, remove the salmon and plank together, serve it right from the plank on a cutting board or platter, top with lemon slices and you’re golden. See pic.

Java steak and blue cheese butter medallions
- butter
- blue cheese
- before the steak take ¼ cup of butter and melt it until it’s workably creamy not a full liquid, the microwave is good for this in 8 second bursts. Take your creamy butter and work about 50 g of blue cheese into the butter. Put it in the fridge for 2 minutes, you want it like dough now because you’re going to take it out of the fridge and roll it into a tube in wax paper or tin foil. Then put your butter tube in the freezer.

- 4 top sirloin steaks
- ¼ cup of coffee course grind
- ¼ cup of brown sugar
- Course pepper 1 teaspoon
- Course salt 1 teaspoon
- 1 heaping tablespoon of paprika
- 1 teaspoon of mustard powder
Mix these things together in a bowl then rub your defrosted meat down with olive oil, rub in the spice rub above and let them sit on a plate at room temp for 15 minutes. Grill just like the perfect steak, top sirloin is like the filet but cheaper, it is perfect at medium doneness. Serve to your guests with the butter tube from above cut into butter medallions that melt overtop the steak.

Rickards Grilled Chicken
- the sauce recipe is from Rickards but 2 chicken breasts, one for you and one for the jealous people who want to try it.
- ¼ cup of course Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup of maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons of paprika (don’t be afraid to go heavy)
- 1 teaspoon of mustard powder
- 2 buds of minced or crushed garlic
- Course Pepper pinch
- Course salt pinch
Mix these together in a bowl, taste, add what is needed to make it more sweet, more saucy, less saucy, etc.. Put the chicken and the sauce in a Ziplock and let marinade for 30 minutes at room temperature, as always defrosted meat. Grill as you would always grill chicken breasts; remember to season your grids as it keeps the chicken from sticking. Grill for up to 25 minutes, you can cut to check to see if it’s done if you are not comfortable grilling chicken breasts.


Quinoa salad is delicious, I’ve attached a recipe (as this isn't an e-mail qunioa is posted below)

Grilled peppers, mushrooms and zucchini are delicious and have a one sentence recipe. Cut them into grillable pieces, put them in a Ziplock bag, add Italian salad dressing, let marinade for 10 minutes, grill for up to 8 minutes until they’re soft and seared; not black.

Good luck! Call me if you have questions.


Quick post,

Went to Martini's last night for dinner, for those of you that don't live in KW, Martini's is a member of The Charcoal Group, a group of restaurants that produce top notch food in well decorated sometimes ornate environments. Take for example Wildcraft's 2 story wine rack or the 42' TV's in front of your urinal in The Bauer Kitchen (not sure why they did that, there's no way that you can figure out what's on TV other than eye strain).
To the topic at hand; there is only really two reasons that I'm bringing up this restaurant experience.
1) The crème brûlée was prepared perfectly; wonderfully creamy texture, sugary shell and some nice flavor contrasts on the plate. By far the best crème brûlée I've had!
2) Just like Sole their risotto is boring.... Before I beat it up, the pan greens were a nice touch and the tomato fondue, not sure why it's called a fondue; it's more like a well seasoned sauce, anyway it was what made the risotto palpable. The risotto on the other hand was bland, unseasoned, nothing to write home about. But as before, what can you expect of a risotto that was made in less than fifteen minutes. No time to add enough stock to achieve the right amount of salty, no time to toast the rice, no time to make risotto with any love. I hate some of the compromises that need to be made to produce restaurant food. If you have an item such as risotto that needs time, attention, and patience to produce, please take the time to do it properly, I'll wait. Call the risotto a special so that you can make a lot of it throughout the night and take it down once you run out. I've cooked for a lot of dinner parties and a few large events and for my wow items that are meant to excite people, taking the time to make sure it's perfect is essential. Some people may grumble and have another oiled bread or satay skewer; however, having them savor that item when it arrives is well worth it. But I digress, more from the Cobb tomorrow.


Appetizer idea - Dirty vodka martini with three blue cheese stuffed olives, wowza! 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The mysterious Quinoa

I’ve been a tardy blogger of late, truth be told I’ve been busy trying to get back into the swing of things since SLC and I’ve made little to no time to write. However, excuses are like Facebook accounts… Everybody got one.

Spent some time on a quest to find the best recipes involving quinoa. I tried quinoa for the first time a couple of weeks ago and thought it would be an amazing addition to this health, active, lifestyle thing, blah blah blah… This is what you need to know about quinoa. First and foremost quinoa is a pseudo cereal; it’s actually a member of the grass family. Quinoa is unusually high in protein about 12% - 18% and considered a complete protein as it offers a balance of essential amino acids. Plus, I like quinoa because it’s gluten free! (if you’ve read prior posts I’m trying to find gluten free ingredients and products that taste good and I think that quinoa, as an ingredient, gets one satisfied tongue up.) Simplest terms, quinoa, which you’re probably still struggling to pronounce is delicious and nutritious in a big way. Read the whole Wikipedia article if you’re interested in more on quinoa.

Moving on, I tried making a few variations on a quinoa salad. In my mind quinoa was akin to pasta and could be surrounded by the same ingredients as I would put into a cold pasta salad, not the case. I wasn’t really impressed; quinoa isn’t pasta and it just doesn’t fit the pasta salad mould. Quinoa has a lot of the texture characteristics of lentils, that’s the closest thing I can compare it to in my mouth’s mind. Luckily the angels of marketing delivered me a sign one day. As my significant other was shopping at the local Loblaws she noticed that quinoa had graced the cover of the Insiders Guide. Even better she suggested that I check the PC web site, as the Insider instructed, to find 10 quinoa recipes! Okay, I’ll do just that. So I did, and it was good. Check this link to find quinoa on Go to the bottom of the page and check out the new recipes tab.

I would suggest printing them to PDF; what I’ve tried so far is worth saving.

The PC quinoa salad which is featured is great and very good for you; I love the use of cranberries and edamame. Side note, the use of Edamame (code name soya bean) raised one question for me; I grew up in farm country surrounded by hundreds of acres of soya beans, why the hell am I paying $3.99 for a bag of beans that are grown locally every season. I hope that they’re at least Canadian beans but I find it hard to believe that they’re not ripping me off on a common staple. Moreover, I shop at a The Kitchener Farmers Market for a lot of my groceries and I can’t recall seeing anyone selling local or any soya beans... Weird… Need to check Saturday.

Anyway, PC quinoa salad = good!

Also tried the quinoa pancakes, they’re great! Things that you may notice that stand out about them. #1 I can only eat about 4 of them, because they are dense. #2 They’re really easy to cook; because they’re so dense they are much more firm and cook very quickly. #3 they come across as dry, I’m not sure if that’s my fault I could try to cook the quinoa longer, but it’s not a deal breaker. You may not like these if you don’t like to texture of quinoa but then again you’re probably not going to like any recipe that involves quinoa. In summation the only thing that you need to know about the quinoa pancakes is that they are more health than normal pancakes and taste damn near the same.  

Alright, I’m tired of typing quinoa for today. Possibly try cooking your way through the PC recipes; I have high hopes for some of them, especially the quinoa brownies and quinoa gratin.

BTW. Just tried out a Cobb grill today; I didn’t cook from their cookbook, wanted to try something of my own first. I love this grill, it’s head and shoulders above any small portable charcoal grill I’ve tried before. More to come on the Cobb I’d like to do a write up on one of their recipes straight out the book.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Winter Blah

Today is a blah day, following a blah week, I'm tired and trying to avoid getting a cold before I travel. I'm heading out for Salt Lake City Utah Saturday morning to set up and then work the HPBA 2011 expo. HPBA is pretty much the highlight of my travel year, I get to see everything that is new and exciting in the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue world and as the show moves around from year to year we get the chance to spend ten days in a city that we wouldn't otherwise visit.  Interesting new and regional foods to try out too.

I made pulled pork on the weekend that wasn't worth writing home about; 6 hours is just not enough hours to make decent pulled pork. On a positive note I picked up about 8 pounds of pulled pork for a 90th birthday party Tuesday night and it was amazing. Picked it up from a local favorite on mine called Hog Tails, great place to get well made barbecue. Unlike the American south, actual barbecue restaurants are a rare breed in Ontario, I don't think the cardiologists are disappointed...

On the gluten free trail I found something I do like, Glutino makes a gluten free wild berry rice bar that taste great and could easily sub for granola bars. I'll probably check out some other products by Glutino to keep the experiment going in a positive direction.

A friend of mine sent me a great easy quinoa recipe and I thought I'd post it up as I pretty much plowed through the leftovers from saturday's get together when I first tried it. I need to come up with some interesting quinoa creations; ps, quinoa is very visually appealing.

Quinoa Salad by Sara
1 cup quinoa
1 can of garbanzo beans drained and rinsed (can use any kind of bean really, I was going to use
black beans but I ran out of time to soak and cook – they take a long time – canned is ok though
if you are short on time)
1 red pepper chopped
½ cup of sliced garlic stuffed olives
1 can corn – drained

Dressing – (these measurements are approximate – I just kept adding ingredients until it tasted good to

½ cup olive oil
1/3 cup of red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 ½ teaspoons of sugar
2 tsp cumin
Pinch of red pepper flakes

Enjoy, comment, etc!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Training Day

More orientation training today here at barbecue headquarters. I like to keep the menu easy and colorful so that everyone can get a taste for all of the delicious things that you can make on a barbecue.

Today's menu:
The Perfect Steak
Jalapeno Poppers
Grilled chicken sandwiches on egg twist buns
Assorted grilled flatbread pizzas

I've brushed on two of these topics before so I'll leave the details out. Steak is referenced in another post on this blog but you can also follow the link above to see how it's done.
The grilled chicken sandwiches were an idea that I had presented about two weeks ago but hadn't actually tried out yet. They worked out very well:

• Chicken breasts x 4
• Egg twist buns x 6
• Goat cheese x 1 small
• 1 red onion
• mushrooms
• Mango chutney
• Spinach
• Rickards barbecue sauce (Referenced earlier in the blog as Barbecue Sauced)

Prepare your barbecue sauce and coat the chicken breasts completely, let marinade. Before you start grilling your chicken have your onions and mushrooms cut into slices and begin cooking them down in a little butter, salt and pepper, easy on the salt; cook down until golden brown should take almost as long as the chicken. Grill your chicken breast until they are cooked, roughly 20 minutes at 500°F or if you'd like to use a thermometer, the ideal safe and edible temperature for poultry is 170°F. You can at this point either add the goat cheese to the chicken right on the grill to melt it a little or wait and add it after; it all depends on how you want to serve the chicken. I like to slice the chicken before putting it on a bun, it's less of a big lump of chicken on a little bun then. Topping it up with mango chutney, spinach, mushrooms and onions. Done.

Jalapeno pepper poppers are an office favorite and they're pretty easy and cheap. It also helps that GrillPro manufactures a pepper roaster with a coring tool, (ahem, shameless product plug). Anyway, pepper poppers are great and hard to say ten times fast. Follow...

Buy this:

• Roasted red pepper cream cheese - because it's already mixed
• Jalapeno peppers, many are cheap so don't be afraid to load up
• bacon, optional and delicious.

Do this:
Top and core the peppers; seeds are really spicy so you want them out, a good rinse helps too. Stuff the peppers with cream cheese, I haven't found a great way to do it but get creative, the good 'ol butter knife is what I've found works best. Wrap partially cooked half strips of bacon around the tops of the peppers and pin with a toothpick. I say partially cooked because if you use raw bacon it may cook as the pepper does but it will look and feel slimy and blubbery when you finally take the peppers off of the grill, not very appetizing. Pierce the bottom of the peppers so that any extra moisture can escape and not form super hot juice pockets. Place the roasting rack on the grill and roast for 20 - 40 minutes, the cook time will dictate the temperature. You'll want to do this no higher than 350°F otherwise you'll burn the bottoms of the peppers. More time means less spice, when the pepper flesh begins to wrinkle and the cream cheese melts the peppers are effectively done. You can easily put the rack on a cutting board and serve to your guests.

I think that flat breads make an easy base for simple rustic pizza's. Sure using a brick oven and a homemade dough produces the best rustic pizzas but that's not for this blog post. Brush the flat bread with olive oil and add fresh chopped basil and some course pepper and salt. Top with fresh assorted tomatoes, I like grape, cherry, and whatever the mid-sized yellow ones are called, cured sausage, spinach, red onions, brie cheese. This is just one variation there are obviously many others. Bake on the barbecue much like you would bake in the oven; basically 350°F for 15 - 20 minutes. If your grill notoriously burns hot check your pizza mid way through cooking to rotate it clockwise 90°, always bake pizza on the grill indirectly, in other words not directly over the heat.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Tasting a Gluten Free Lifestyle

I've seen a lot in the news recently about how gluten is making us all fat; I've known for some time that there are people who just can't eat gluten, allergies etc., but this is the first attack that I've seen on my personal daily gluten intake. As I like to try new things I'm going to try and cut back on my gluten intake and check out some of the snazzy gluten free food items that are available. For the most part the vast majority of the home cooked food world is gluten free but I have no idea how prevalent it is in boxed foods, research abound!
I just bought a loaf of gluten free bread made from brown rice.... I don't know the manufacturer off hand but let me tell you, this gluten free bread is both expensive (by bread standards) and a poor substitute. Not good with sandwiches or peanut butter, would make a good weapon. It's just too gritty, I felt like I was chewing gravel, that's a bit of an exaggeration but you get my drift. It dries your mouth out and needs to be milled pretty heavily with your teeth before it can be swallowed, every bite is squeaky like raw cauliflower and it's really dense. All in all not my favorite...

Thanks to Mike for a lot of gluten free recipes, the adventure begins.

Valentines Dinner

I would have more to say about a valentines dinner but Monday is volleyball day for both of us and it's hard to cook an incredibly well thought out dinner with around 30 to 40 minutes worth of time to dedicate to it. Dinner was grilled vegetables, much like below... Mushroom risotto and grilled top sirloin.
Forgetting the veggies and the risotto I love top sirloin; top sirloin is an amazing cut of meat that can be incredibly tender like a tenderloin filet without the exceptional cost. They've always been my standby cut when I'm cooking for several people on my own dollar. Quick easy and delicious was the name of the game yesterday so rather than babble on about how to cook the perfect steak try Derrick's review blog, a quick review and all of the necessary links. The Perfect Steak.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pancetta and Butternut Squash Risotto

These two main ingredients are favorites of mine and could probably make an appearance in many more recipes. Pancetta is the perfect salty ingredient, whereas butternut squash, on top of being inexpensive is a nice sweet yet very distinct taste that can add a lot of color (because it's orange) and flavor to a dish.

I'm borrowing this recipe from a friend of mine, the first time I had it, watched the process of making risotto, I was mesmerized. I hadn't had a lot of risotto before then and had never attempted to make it myself. The results were amazing and I have yet to get tired of this recipe, a nice one to pass along to people because it's fairly easy.

• 2 cups arborio rice
• 1 Butternut squash
• 300 g of pancetta, one big piece
• 1 sweet onion - diced
• 1-2 liters of chicken stock
• butter
• Parmesan cheese
• sage
• salt and pepper

Start by peeling and coring the butternut squash, cut the squash into moderately sized cubes and spread them out evenly on a baking sheet. Drizzle a little oil over the lot to lightly coat them and sprinkle some fresh ground pepper and course salt over the squash as well. Roast at 350° for around 20 minutes stirring them around once so that the roast up golden brown and tender. Not mush, we are not done cooking and this isn't a soup.

In a large stainless saucepan add small cubes of pancetta; you'll want to take the big hunk of it and cut it into bite sized cubes, not too small as they will reduce in size in the pan anyway. (you should now put about 1 liter of your chicken stock in a pot to warm it up, you don't need to bring it to a boil but you also don't want to be adding cold stock to hot risotto) Fry the pancetta until you end up with chewy browned meaty bits then remove them from the pan and set aside, leave the drippings in there you'll need them next.

Add your arborio rice to the bacon grease, my apologies, but there's no reason to waste good drippings. You may need to add a little butter because there isn't a lot of liquid that that may have come out of the pancetta. Toast the arborio rice in the butter, you want a nice golden brown on the rice before you start adding stock. Give the rice a head start and then add the diced onion. Onion needs to be golden brown, rice toasted.

De-glaze the pan with white wine and start adding the chicken stock one cup at a time, not one cup after another. Dump one cup of warm stock into the rice and stir making sure you don't end up with large pools, let the stock reduce to the point where it's almost entirely absorbed then add another. Continue this process until you reach your desired doneness. Remember, too much stock means starch soup; instead of adding moisture to the rice making it plump and sticky it pulls the starch completely out of the rice and creates porridge, if you wanted porridge you'd ask for porridge.

Midway through adding the stock take half of your squash and mash it with a fork, no need to go crazy just make it mushy and add to the rice. Near the end of cooking add in the remaining larger pieces of squash and the pancetta. When you think it's finished, tasting is always is your best friend, add in about a cup of Parmesan cheese and a tablespoon of butter, stir. Done, enjoy!

A week in review

Good morning, it's been a busy week of eating but not so much cooking. Traveled to Charlotte Tuesday and along the way got to visit my favorite fast food chain. Let's just say I'm glad that Chick-fil-A is not in Canada because I would go there every lunch. Their staff is courteous, menu simple, clean, and oh yeah everything in the south comes with sweet tea. Their well seasoned chicken-y bits, crisscross cut fries, and plentiful trans fat ladened sauces (although there is no nutritional information on them online so I'm not sure that's a fair assumption, guess it's only sauce, how bad can a couple of ounces of sugar, fat, and preservatives be...) can actually brighten my day. Sweet sweet chicken, those Christian's certainly know what they're doing, I give it a fil-A plus.

But I didn't come here to write about fast food. However, on a related note I flew down out of Buffalo on my way to Charlotte and if you're ever in western New York and have not tried it get a roast beef on a Weck; it's delicious and somewhat of a regional delicacy. Most restaurants I've been to in Buffalo serve it and I've had few that were terrible, although how hard is it to mess up roast beef on a kaiser. I may try to come up with my own variation on a weck, more to come on this topic. Canadian bacon on a weck! maybe...

Pulled off an early Valentines Friday and headed out of a nice romantic dinner at Sole restaurant in Waterloo ON. I like to try someplace new whenever we go out but after living in a city for nearly a decade you find a few places that are your favorites. Sole is a swanky Mediterranean style wine bar and restaurant with a moderately priced but exceptionally well thought out menu. Besides the exceptional decor and staff the food is amazing and I've never been disappointed when going there, save for two things. #1, their wine by the glass menu is fairly limited. I understand trying to up sell the bottle or half liter but really if there are two of us, one red drinker and one white, a bottle of wine is too much wine for just me... at a restaurant... when I have to drive... I can easily drink it to myself but do I want to pay restaurant prices just to drink a bottle of wine, no. #2, classic risotto is boring especially when your average customer doesn't eat a lot of risotto, to them it's just creamy rice, big deal. It would be great if they could spice up the risotto and do a creative Mediterranean take on risotto. I wouldn't normally beat up on the risotto except both my significant other and some random person seated near us both commented on it being unremarkable. (aside, I have a risotto recipe from a friend of mine that could be nominated for employ-meal of the month, I don't know what that means... post later today).

Enough meandering, meat and potatoes content starts now... Dinner for two went as follows, Lebanese chicken and lentil soup for the gentlemen and Caesar salad for the lady, steamed clams for the gentlemen and Promvimi veal scallopini for the lady. Not to dwell on the starters, they were enjoyable; pretty much everything we had expected. The mains were great, I love mussels or clams when they are prepared properly. From the menu "cherry stone clams, white wine, romesco sauce, pearl onions, black olives, cilantro, shards of manchego cheese, naan bread"... A great combination if ingredients, the onions were sweet and a wonderful contrast to the bitterness of the olives and cheese. I appreciated having naan bread to soak up as much of the romesco sauce as possible, more bread please. I was completely stuffed as the portion was more than adequate even though about 1/3 of my clams didn't open, I wasn't upset. A delicious meal and they were nice enough to offer it on the house because of the clams, super nice. The veal scallopini was also delicious, the bright colour of the the shaved asparagus and cherry tomato ragout certainly made it look appetizing. The veal was moist and tender without drowning in sauce. The risotto as mentioned above was kind of blah, it made a nice creamy base to the meal but on its own wouldn't have stood very tall. All in all a dinner worth returning for.

More to come...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Forced Budgeting

I'm practicing something that I don't like called budgeting; budgeting for those of you who don't know is a punishment for stealing in some countries and generally revered by almost every culture. As I'm now "budgeting" I thought it would be a good idea to find some good budget wines. The search is new but promising; if I can buy a wine in Ontario that's less than $20 and absolutely outstanding it's a steal; the 2007 (I think, might have been 2006) Liberty School Cab. Sauv. is one of those wines; although I can't find it anymore. A good wine under $15 is what I'd call a budget wine. Budget wines in my experience have some character flaw, which is probably why the price is low, but in general can be quite enjoyable. Bought a bottle of 2009 Winery of Good Hope Cab. Sauv. Merlot and it was great, a little acidic, beware heart burn victims but all in all everything I'm looking for in a full bodied completely dark red wine. Did I mention that it's under $12?

Good times, gotta go.

Load up the grill

Did some charcoal grilling today, as it's product testing Friday, and that's just what we do on Fridays. Made some peameal sandwiches that were okay but their toppings would have been more suitable with another meat. Dan the man made mango chicken and it was good! Try the following:

Combine in a sandwich:
• egg twist buns
• grilled chicken, lightly coated in course salt and pepper
• shallots and mushrooms cooked down in butter
• brie cheese
• mango chutney
Jalapeno mustard... Not sure where you can get some but it's really good. 
• spinach


Chicken and Peameal

Big Steel Keg, we had 5 chickens and two cuts of Peameal at once when we started cooking.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Easy as... Grilled Vegetables

Did a training session today for a bunch of new recruits here at barbecue headquarters. Part of their training was cooking on a gas grill as most people learn best hands on. Came up with a simple lunch menu that can teach anybody the basics of grilling, while at the same time turn out something delicious.

• red peppers, yellow peppers
• zucchini
• mushrooms
• red onion
• burgers
• Italian salad dressing
• balsamic vinegar
• olive oil
• course salt
• course pepper

Grilling is easy and fun and an entire meal can be created with very little work. Cut the peppers into large slices, obviously remove the core, top, and seed and cut into wide long meaty strips. Cut the Zucchini into long strips either the length of the Zucchini or on an angle all about 1/4" thick, you don't want them so thin that they'll stick to the grill yet thin enough that they'll cook all the way through. Toss those veggies into a Ziplock bag and toss them with the Italian dressing, you can create your own veggie marinade but Italian dressing is ready made for the amateur griller. Another easy veggie marinade is balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and vegetable seasoning; get creative if you don't like these two; many options available. Set them in the fridge.

Take the mushrooms and cut them into slices or if you've already purchased the sliced mushrooms you're ready to go. Cut the onion into thin strips and combine with the mushrooms. All into a foil pan, generous splash of balsamic vinegar, splash of olive oil, course salt and pepper sprinkle.

Preheat your grill to 500°F and toss your burgers on, burgers are a great way to practice grilling meat and getting diamond pattern sear marks; see Perfect Steak Grilling Guide. Once the burgers are on add the tray of mushrooms to a warming rack or unused side of the grill, you want to give them some heat but certainly not as much as the burgers. At about the halfway point of grilling your burgers, it varies depending on the burgers you are using, take the veggies out of the Ziplock with a set of tongs and place them on the grill. veggies only take about 5 minutes to grill at 500°F and take one flip in the middle; you're softening the vegetables on the inside and searing them on the outside. Don't burn the flesh completely because that doesn't taste good yet don't serve them raw either, also gross.

In all there is about 20 minutes of cook time in the above and everything should be able to come off the grill at the same time. Grilled vegetables are great on their own and better with a little crumbled goat cheese and roasted almond slivers on top, both available at the grocery store. The mushrooms and onions can either be eaten alone or as a garnish on the burgers. You could even toast some thick slices of French bread top them with spinach, the mushroom and onion mix and possible a slice of brie cheese. All in all, nice sides to an otherwise tired meal.

Those who love what they do should teach, passion cannot be bound by textbook.