If food is life….

(no discussion there), then this is how we started the New Year.

Drooling aloud and expected…

Cast iron seared sirloins (rare for my mine), broiled lobster with garlic and parsley butter, seared scallops with a vermouth butter drizzle, potatoes au gratin and carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting.

It’s going to be a glorious year.

Advertisements

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.“ Henry David Thoreau

Another year, another Turkey Shoot. If your counting that makes 27 in a row.

As a family we value Thanksgiving more than Christmas. Ours is a weekend long festival of togetherness and love. Souls and loved ones have passed and new blood has joined in to keep us passionate about life and resilient to the scars that the years can create.

My children have never known a year without this gathering and hopefully never will. Time spent in front of the fire talking about what has transpired in our separate worlds and gathering strength from sharing thoughts and stories.

This year a new soul graced us with his presence. Asa, the happiest baby in the world brought his smiles and laughter to the table while Alex and Nicole shared their engagement news with the family. Love reigned abundant as always.

Thanksgiving is always a gift we treasure. Thank you everybody for standing against the tides of time in which we could have lost this experience. Be well for 365 days till the next one.

 

Papa Tait

 

 

“To die, to sleep; To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;” William Shakespeare

I’ve been putting together rub concoctions for a project and thought I would share some of them with you.

As always, recipes are like stop signs. They’re just suggestions.

Have fun with these.

Rubs 

Memphis Dry Rub (Pork or Ribs)

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. dry oregano

1 tsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. black pepper

Carolina Dry Rub (Pork or Ribs)

2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. sugar

2 tsp. brown sugar

2 tsp. ground cumin

2 tsp. chili powder

2 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/4-cup paprika

Texas Rub (Chicken. Beef, Pork)

1/2-cup chili powder

1/2-cup brown sugar

1/2-cup salt

1/2-cup fresh ground pepper

1/4 cup dries mustard

1/4-cup ground cumin

Cayenne to taste

Rosemary Garlic Dry Rub (Chicken)

1/4 cup dried rosemary

2 tbsp. dried oregano

1 tbsp. dried sage

2 tbsp. dried garlic flakes

2 tbsp. kosher salt

2 tbsp. black pepper

Jamaican Jerk Rub (Chicken, Pork, Fish)

2 tbsp. kosher salt

2 tsp. brown sugar

2 tsp. garlic powder

2 tsp. onion powder

2 tsp. ground all spice

1 tsp. crushed dried hot pepper

1 tsp. dried chives

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. black pepper

1 tsp. ground nutmeg

1 tsp. ground ginger

1 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground cloves

Dry Pork Chop Rub

1/3-cup paprika

1/4-cup sugar

2 tbsp. dry mustard

3 tsp. black pepper

2 tbsp. salt

2 tbsp. cayenne

1 tsp. white pepper

“In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.” Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

fireI’ve written about this before but lately it seems to be the predominant thought in my mind. Words like simple, basic, and grounded echo like a drum that wont stop its beat.

Life for me has changed in the past years. I remember sitting down in March and planning vacation time, summer camps and how we were going to occupy the kids for a two-month period without school to monopolize their world. The Christmas planning of gifts and family time divided equally so no ones time or present was greater than the others. Negotiating suppliers, salespersons and senior managers so I proportionately distributed my time to the task that was at hand. It was tiring.

Now I find myself reveling in basic things. The world no longer commands me. My time is my time and I find myself fascinated with what for years I have neglected. Myself.

Yes there are still demands and time needs to be made terms with, but the hurried pace has left me. Some might deem this growing older but I see it as finally maturing. Life gave me the chance to see and appreciate what’s important and appreciate it. The deals can wait. The travel itinerary is a thing of the past. I finally see what’s important.

Leaving the corporate world and filling my life with what I like and what I enjoy has created a framework of joy and independence. I miss the salaries from days gone by, I’m not going to lie, but creating a sense of fulfillment in life far outweighs it.

It may seem that I am about to contradict myself now, but having many small jobs gives me satisfaction that I have never had and gives me the time to do what gives me joy. Simply put, writing and cooking.

The deadlines are mine and not imposed by others. The ideas and concepts come from my mind and the words are the results. Simple, basic and grounded.

Elaborate items have no part in my world, especially when it comes to food. We have taken to hiding basic concepts and tastes with sauces, bacon wraps and wild presentations on plates. The phrase we first eat with our eyes is true, but no matter how beautiful something looks on a plate it’s your pallet that has the last say.

I take stock in Marco Pierre White’s stance, giving up his Michelin stars and going back to simple recipes and styles. The Food Network has made the simple complex and given us the impression that we need to do things their way. I’m here to say that’s a fallacy and marketing ploy.

Simple, basic and grounded. Let the food talk to you and tell you what to do. Walk around the market or grocery store and see what excites you. Be creative, not bound by what others do. Recipes are guidelines not laws. They are to be used to start your journey not be the journey.

That’s what food and words give me: a journey and lessons that I now live by. Look to what’s in your heart, what you like. Make your life and your meals yours not someone else’s.

Be well and eat well

Scott Tait

“We feel free when we escape – even if it be but from the frying pan to the fire.” Eric Hoffer

paella

Creating something from scratch. Remembering the toil and feeling the satisfaction of the results is what I get from cooking. Especially over open flame. We have a tendency these days to feed our bellies and our brains with what ever is at hand or popular for easy gratification and instant fulfillment but is it rewarding? When you think about the amount of time we spend staring at our cellphones or on the Internet deviling into and scoping out things and other peoples lives for momentary indulgence it stands to reason that our concept of food and eating has adopted these habits. The slow and rewarding process of learning a book from cover to cover or building something from its basic components has been lost to us. Immediate results, at hand knowledge and the need for on-the-spot contentedness has made us into fast fix junkies.

So now that I have that off my chest, let’s talk about creating something that takes time, forethought and some effort. Paella. The Valencian dish that some see as a task while others see as a meld of cultures. The word itself means pan. In this world what is simpler than bringing into existence a meal that encompasses meat, chicken, shellfish and rice all in one pan? Doesn’t that feed our need of immediacy and simplicity?

Paella, stews, soups and casseroles fill that voguish need for everything but in a traditional and satisfying dish that takes time to create.

This one is a simple take on the traditional. Assembled for 4 people and cooked on my #BGE over hardwood. Inside is good but outside adds that smoky kiss and sends a salute to Bacchus.

Needs:

1 Chicken breast or 4 thighs (or combination of both) cut into 8 pieces of equal size

1/8-cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 Spanish chorizo sausages cut to same size as chicken

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

½ Spanish onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, reserve some for garnish

½ can whole tomatoes, drained and hand-crushed

Or 8 small cherry tomatoes diced

2 cups short grain Spanish rice

2 cups water, warm

1 cup white wine

Generous pinch saffron threads

8 scrubbed littleneck or pasta clams

8 jumbo shrimp, peeled and de-veined

1 handful of sweet peas fresh or frozen and thawed

Lemon wedges, for serving

Special equipment:

12-inch Cast iron fry pan or your outdoor pan. This works in this size pan, anything smaller will overflow.

Chicken rub:

1-tablespoon smoked paprika

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1-tablespoon onion powder

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to preference

How:

Rub the spice mix all over the cut chicken, cover and place in the fridge for an hour or so to incorporate the flavours.

Outside, get your grill (charcoal or gas) ready with a medium heat.

Heat oil in your pan over medium-high heat. Add the chorizo to the oil in the pan and sauté. If you are using cooked chorizo, you’re just browning it. If it is raw you are cooking till ¾ done. Remove your sausage and add the chicken skin side down to the oil and now chorizo-seasoned pan. Brown the chicken on all sides till ¾ cooked. The chicken and chorizo will finish cooking when the paella is assembled in the hot pan. Salt and pepper to your needs. Remove from pan and reserve.

Now using the same pan make a sofrito (fancy word) by sautéing the onions, garlic, and parsley on medium heat for 2 or 3 minutes stirring occasionally to get the onions translucent. Then, add tomatoes and cook until the mixture comes together and the flavors unite. 2 or 3 minutes should do. Add your rice and stir-fry to coat the grains. You will see them start to give up their hard pale colour. Pour in wine and stir to coat all the rice. About a minute. Add the water and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes, gently moving the pan around so the rice cooks evenly and absorbs the liquid. Distribute the chicken and chorizo evenly throughout the pan. Sprinkle the saffron over the entire contents of the pan. Add the clams tucking them into the rice hinge side down. This way you will see them open and cooked . Give the pan a good shake and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. No stirring from here on. Check the rice for al dente during the last minutes of cooking, when your rice is fluffing up and beginning to take over the pan, tuck in the shrimp as you did the clams. The shrimp will take about 8 minutes to cook. When you’re shrimp is pink, you’re clams are opened and you’ve checked the rice by sampling it, turn up the heat on your grill for 1 minute. You should be able to smell the rice on the bottom toasting.

Now take off the heat and let it rest, covered with foil for 5 minutes. Add your peas and parsley and tuck your lemon wedges into your creation.

Pull any unopened clams from the paella and discard.

It’s best and easiest to serve this family style in the pan in the middle of the table and let everyone help themselves.

Scott’s notes:

In traditional paella the rice on the bottom toasts and firms up. You can impress your friends by telling them it’s called the socarrat.

Make sure the shrimp and clam count matches your family and feeders. You want everyone to have an equal portion.

If you want to serve a gathering, double up the recipe and use a bigger pan.

Be well and eat well.

Scott Tait