“I’ve been on so many blind dates I should get a free dog.” Whitney M. Young, Jr.

I love the food blogging thing. It introduces me to new tastes, new people and new products. One of the benefits and surprises is when you get an email supporting your efforts and offering you support. I keep saying that food is love and I still maintain that Stone Grilled Date and Goat cheese stuffed Chicken breastsphilosophy.  There are things you like and don’t like and it’s not until you try them that you find out.

This month Medjool Dates sent me an email and offered me product to do something with, anything I want!  What could be better than that? Well, I’m still waiting on the liquor companies! Hint, hint!

What can I do with dates on a BBQ? Actually, what can’t I do? You have to get down to thinking with flavours in mind. I was introduced to serving cheese with fresh honey on the side as an accent. The smoothness and bite of a strong cheese offset with a burst of sweetness. It was something I first had in Las Vegas as an appetizer and then ordered it again as dessert. Cheese is and has always been my favourite dessert.

Remembering the flavours I came up with the creation for the grill. Chicken breasts stuffed with goat cheese and dates. Pockets were sliced in the breasts and stuffed with the diced dates mixed with goat cheese that had been smoothed with a little olive oil, then rubbed with olive oil and seasoned for the grill. That would be my granite grill.

Then the appetizer dates stuffed with mascarpone, rosemary and wrapped in prosciutto.  Since everything here was already cooked, they only spent minutes on the grill to crisp up the prosciutto and warm the cheese.

So maybe a little too much date for one meal but when you’re exploring tastes I don’t believe there is too much. I adapted the stuffed dates later in the week. Having run out of prosciutto, I crisped up some bacon, blended it with the mascarpone and stuffed those wonderful little taste explosions.  Imagine the sweetness of the date offset with a little smoky bacon and the perfume of rosemary.

It’s all about exploring flavours.Date Stuffed Chicken breasts with golden honey rice

Be well and eat well

Scott

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“Change is inevitable – except from a vending machine.” Robert C. Gallagher

Getting tired of the same old same old. I’ve tried all my life to keep things interesting. I’ve skydived, taken improv classes, sushi preparation, swing and tango dancing, got a tattoo, travelled by myself, started 2 businesses, and even ran a 5k (not that I could today). I’ve studied fencing, tai chi, kung fu, aikido, and meditated in a Buddhist temple. So now I’m in need of something else? What it is eludes me.

Habanero and garlic chickenI think that’s why I like to cook. I can keep it different, experiment, and travel the world without moving from my backyard. Maybe I just remedied my own conundrum; I am in need of some travel.

So what have you tried lately? Where have you travelled too? Burgers don’t cut it but teriyaki burgers do! Grilled boneless skinless chicken breasts, no! Prosciutto wrapped thighs stuffed with provolone and sun dried tomatoes, yes!

Taking a trip from the regular keeps it interesting and lets you explore your creativity. Watch a new cooking show and get some ideas. Pick up a magazine, ask your mom for some recipes, look at everything in your cupboard and figure out a new way to put it together, have fun!

At New Years a friend gave me a roasted garlic and habanero herb mix and I have been staring at it for 4 months. This past weekend I decided to stop ignoring and take it for a little dance. The mix with oregano, olive oil and softened butter made a wonderful rub both on and under the skin on a whole chicken.

Take a chance, do something different, get rid of the same old same old!

Be well and eat well!

Scott

Twitter @artisanalgrill

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“The Bluebird of Happiness long absent from his life, Ned is visited by the Chicken of Depression.” Gary Larson

Stone grilled chicken breastsChicken is the most consumed protein in the world. Our affair started with Mom’s chicken soup probably out of a can, and then progressed to the Colonel.  As we continued or travels we found sweet and sour, Mac somethings, and finally Buffalo wings.

In our house rotisserie, spatchcock, and fire roasted takes the stage, after all smoke and fire makes everything taste better!

Last night was no different. I’ve taken to cooking everything I can on my granite cooking stones. They give a nice even cook across whatever I try. So over hickory wood, rubbed with sage, seasoning and olive oil the breasts hit the stones! I wanted simple yet flavourful and have been craving a white sauce so the plate consisted of Hickory roasted chicken breasts on a bed of penne tossed with olive oil and garlic and covered in a sage cream sauce. Combining the hickory smoke with the pasta and cream is an amazing team.

The weather in Toronto over the past week has been better. Snow is melting, sun beams are breaking through, and I can get away with a T-Shirt for short term exposure. So the night was primed for outdoor cooking. If I can, I move it outside. Actually even if it’s freezing or raining I still try and take it outside.

Think about what you’re doing tonight? Can part of it be moved outside? Don’t you want the memories of summer tastes now instead of 4 weeks from now? Do you have a jacket? What’s stopping you?

Thursday March 20th is only days away. Start now or start planning the rebirth of your outdoor cooking season!

Be well and eat well!Hickory smoked chicken penne and sage sauce

Scott Tait

Gotta love a publication that loves bacon!

Check out this months edition of Tailgater Monthly!

http://www.tailgatermonthly-digital.com/tailgatermonthly/20131112?sub_id=4MJq89CI9iQr#pg18

WooHoo!

Bacon makes everything better!

Bacon makes everything better!

“Age seldom arrives smoothly or quickly. It’s more often a succession of jerks.” Jean Rhys

Jerk Chicken wings with Mango Hot SauHeat again? I’m afraid so! As I’ve said before it’s really not about the heat, although that’s fun, it’s about the flavor and the feeling released on your senses. Jerk is one of my favourites and always has been. There is a sweetness in the fiery goodness from the All Spice, cinnamon, and brown sugar that permeates the meat to another dimension.

Spicy and sweet has always been in my arsenal. There are plenty of ready-made dry rubs out there to make your life easier but there is nothing like creating your own concoction specific to your personal taste and it’s easy.

My wings were marinated in my own rub and moistened with a little vegetable oil to spread the karma of the Caribbean. Grilled over charcoal and served with a Scotch Bonnet and mango dipping sauce smoothed out with honey and yogurt excited the mouth.   On the side, Orzo and grilled vegetable salad with toasted tortilla strips for crunch.

You have to take bland out of the equation. Good meals with interesting twists and a flavour theme keep the creative juices flowing.

Be well and eat well!

Scott

“Generally speaking, food has to be spicier than it would be if you tasted it on the ground,” Peter Jones

Hot Garlic Drumsticks with Bacon OrzoYou have to try everything. Hot, sweet, savory, strong, smokey, even weird in life. You don’t have to like everything, you just need to try it. After all, if you don’t try something you might miss your new favourite thing, a new direction, a new person, or even a new opportunity. Going through life only doing or trying what you know will never take you down new avenues. Change, stretch, break that envelope that you live in.

Food wise, hot and spicy is a good thing. It wakes up your taste buds and gives them new opportunities to experience. It might be that you aren’t a big fan and that’s OK. You tried and maybe you’ll try again. Look past the hot and see the flavour. That’s what we chili heads do.

Tonight’s offering is chicken drumsticks marinated in garlic, olive oil, and Nando’s Hot Garlic Sauce served on bacon and parmesan orzo. The drums were grilled over charcoal low and slow to keep them juicy.

Be well and eat well!

Scott

“Whether the chicken crossed the road or the road crossed the chicken depends upon your frame of reference. “ Albert Einstein (probably not!)

Spatchcock?  Really?

Wikipedia defines spatchcock or “spattlecock” as, “poultry or game that has been prepared for roasting or grilling by removing the backbone, and sometimes the sternum of the bird and flattening it out before cooking.  So now that you know, let’s just call it flattened or butterflied.  Do we have to give outlandish names to simple acts? Do I go for a meander? Do I quaff beverages? No I go for walks and I drink beer.  We like to attach big words to simple tasks. Confucius said, “Life is simple but we insist on making it complicated.”

So Butterflied Chicken! This method is wonderfully tasty and keeps the chicken moist with another dimension added.

After cutting out the backbone, flatten the chicken and pull, but don’t break, the skin from the flesh.  Mix together ricotta cheese with sage, basil, thyme, oregano, garlic, onion, and salt and pepper. You want enough ricotta to cover the chicken and enough herbs and garlic to satisfy your taste buds. Loosen up this mixture with a little olive oil and pack it under the skin of the chicken. Massage the whole bird with olive oil, garlic powder and salt and pepper.

Place the bird offset over your preferred outdoor appliance with a drip tray underneath (water filled), to catch the drippings. I used the #BGE with the extension grill and the water filled drip pan underneath.

The ricotta (#trestelle) kept the chicken moist and added a surprise under the skin that seasoned the chicken. The bird was served on Roasted Tomato Linguini. Tasty!

So as an effectual stratagem to develop an enticing aftermath, the spatchcock technique is a convention that I would advocate!

In other words, try it, it works! Isn’t that easier!

Be well and eat well.

Scott

Spatchcock chicken

When the spatch hits the fan

 

Ricotta stuffed Spatchcock Chicken on Roasted Tomato Linguini

Ricotta stuffed Spatchcock Chicken on Roasted Tomato Linguini

 

“I want to be strapped to a table, while a family of chickens argues over who gets to eat my legs.” ― Jarod Kintz,

“If you’ll be my Dixie Chicken, I’ll be your Tennessee Lamb, And we can walk together down in Dixieland Down in Dixieland”. This is one of my favourite Little Feat songs. I didn’t do southern chicken, I did stuffed chicken legs!

I’ve been working on my butchering skills and have only seen this preparation a few times, so I thought, why not?

I had a house full of trolls and a whack of chicken legs. My usual got to is to wrap in bacon and smoke over hickory. Tonight I wanted to try something different. My attack plan was simple, if I can get the first leg deboned, I can do it! Honestly, it was simpler than I thought. Creating these little poultry packs of heaven is something I will definitely go back to.

The fridge and the pantry had genoa, bocconcini, chèvre, tomatoes, and spaghettini. So let’s go Italian!

I blended the chèvre into a paste with garlic, red onion, and Italian seasoning. I placed a dollop of paste on a slice of genoa with a whole basil leaf and a slice of bocconcini. Rolled into a little cigar and then inserted it into the drumstick sealing the end with a toothpick. The outside was rubbed with olive oil and Italian seasoning. The little morsels of love were grilled on the cast iron until they were browned.

The meal was served with a tomato, red wine sauce tossed into the spaghettini.

Being able to take a bite without the bone there is a great experience. I’m thinking a bacon and cheddar stuffing next time!

Be well and eat well!

Scott

Where's the bone!

Where’s the bone!

“You block your dream when you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith.” #Mary Manin Morrissey

Where does faith lie? In others? In yourself?  In a 1000 year old doctrine? Everybody has their own view. Mine lies in knowledge. The knowledge that you are doing your best. The knowledge that all the decisions that you have made to this point, right or wrong, have brought you to where you are now. Your path has been decided by them. You have become who you are because of them.

Hope and faith are different. I see hope as waiting for others and the universe to say, “Hey, this guy needs some help.”  Faith is being secure that the path taken will get you to the destination you seek.

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”#RobertFrost @famousquotes

Food.  The ritual of the choices, the prep, the completion, and the taste have been steadfast in my life over the past year. Satisfaction and pride help wash always the troubles of the world.

So let me tell you about my #TeaSmokedChicken Thighs.

Tea is a wonderful addition to smoke. A little oak wood as a base with oolong in a smoke pouch  to add sweetness ups the flavor game to a new level. I use the sniff test before I place any food on the smoker. Hardwood and wood can give off an acrid smell when first lit. I wait till I’m happy with how it smells before I introduce any food to it. After all, if it smells sweet, the smoke will be sweet. If it smells like crap, well?

The thighs were marinated for 3 hours in a mixture of cold oolong tea, soya, honey, and lime zest. Patted dry and placed on the #BGE for some loving slow heat.  When they were halfway through, sliced fennel and red onion were placed beside them on the grill to caramelize.  I saved some of the unused marinade, heated and soaked udon noodles in the broth to loosen them. The fennel and onions were then sliced and added to the noodles. Just before I took off the chicken I glazed with honey and and ginger.

Sweet, smoky, and tasty!

Be well and eat well

Scott

Oolong tea smoked chicken on udon noodles

Oolong tea smoked chicken on udon noodles

“We have normality. I repeat, we have normality. Anything you still can’t cope with is therefore your own problem.” Douglas Adams

I’ve spent the past year deciding where my future and my present lies. The path most familiar and comfortable is not necessarily the one that make you most happy and peaceful.  So you throw yourself against the wall and see if you stick.

As I said at the beginning of my Blog life, food has always been the constant in my life. Creating, relaxing, and showing love to my family and friends. I’ve managed to find peace and appreciation in the friends I’ve found, and the meals I’ve created. Where to go from here? I throw it out to the universe. I’m having fun and I hope that you will continue to too. There is something about taking ordinary ingredients and different views of them from this big world and distilling them into a mouthful of wonderment.

Last night we dined on rotisserie Jerk Chicken and dirty rice with black beans. My favourite marinade base has become yogurt. The chicken soaked in yogurt and my jerk spices for 4 hours. The yogurt having no dominating taste imparts the spices through and makes the meat juicy.  I’ve used it as a medium for chicken, lamb, and now as a base for salad dressings instead of mayonnaise.

Eating well doesn’t mean expensive. It meanings instilling love and passion into what you do.

Be well and eat well!

Scott

Spicy but not too hot!

Spicy but not too hot!