“Know what’s weird? Day by day, nothing seems to change. But pretty soon, everything is different.” Bill Watterson

What do you do when you’re tired of the same old but everyone around you still insist on it. Make it different and wait for the backlash, or make it the same in a new way? After a summer of BBQ, (actually it’s a way of life around here), I get bored of the classic baked potato yet everyone still expects it to make a showing on the table.

Loaded Baked Potato SoupFall has hit quickly in Toronto and the chill is on us. The baseball season is at end and the playoffs are in sight. So using a ball euphemism, I decided to develop a baked potato curve ball.

Taking the task partially outside I created a Full Loaded Baked Potato Soup. Yes extreme, yes filling, and yes wonderfully satisfying. Each year we celebrate a Canadian Thanksgiving outside and on a farm in Northern Ontario. My responsibility, the tailgate! With the temperature dropping I think that this will make a good addition to the food so I decided to experiment first.

When making soup, I prefer to roast off my vegetables first instead of just sticking them in the stock to cook. To me it brings out more of the natural sugars and taste in the base flavour. So not to break my tradition, I roasted off 6 Russets and the carrots for my stock first. When they were soft and ready, I sautéed half an onion and celery in a large stock pot with olive oil until they were soft and translucent. Rough chopped 4 of the potatoes and the carrots and Added them to the pot with, garlic, salt and pepper and 3 bay leaves. Topped the whole thing off with 2 liters of chicken stock and let it simmer for an hour. I threw in two tablespoons of a BBQ rub that I had made to bring some of the outdoor spice and aroma to the soup.

After the hour the stock was blended down to a smooth consistency ( after taking out the bay leaves), placed back in the stock pot and put on low.  The remaining two potatoes were rough chopped into bit size pieces and joined the other happy elements in the soup.  Keep extra chicken stock around and if it’s too thick for you, thin it out to your liking with some extra.

Finished with sour cream, crisp fried bacon, chopped green onion, and shredded cheddar for the fully loaded part.  Take a look. It feels like soup to the mouth but tastes like a baked potato.

Putting a different spin or preparation on an old favourite is a way to break from the norm but still fill the need of the comfort you and your family get from the staple.

I remember a teacher from high school giving me instruction on how to look at a situation.

  1. Leave it the same.
  2. Remove it completely.
  3. Rearrange it.
  4. Take away from it.
  5. Add to it.

That’s how to keep an old favourite from creeping into mundane territory.

What can you do to your standard and give it new life?

Be well and eat well

Scott

PS. I think the family will like this at Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

 

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10 Great Quotations for International Literacy Day

Finishing a good book is more satisfying than finishing a good bottle of wine. You can always read a book again. You can’t re-drink the wine. Thanks for the great post.

Interesting Literature

Today is International Literacy Day! What better time, then, to celebrate some of the wisest, wittiest, pithiest, silliest, and most profound things that writers have ever said about literature and reading? The following are 10 of our personal favourites from the last 21 months of Interesting Literature.

‘A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies,’ said Jojen. ‘The man who never reads lives only one.’

– George R. R. Martin

Parents should leave books lying around marked ‘forbidden’ if they want their children to read.

– Doris Lessing

There is no surer foundation for a beautiful friendship than a mutual taste in literature.

– P. G. Wodehouse

Cat with book

There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.

– Charles Dickens

No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting.

– Lady Mary Wortley Montagu

One always tends to overpraise a long…

View original post 130 more words

The broccoli says ‘I look like a small tree’, the mushroom says ‘I look like an umbrella’, the walnut says ‘I look like a brain’, and the banana says ‘Can we please change the subject?’ Anonymous

We are a comparing society. Coke verses Pepsi, Cascade verses Finish, Ford verses Dodge? We compare politicians, actors, restaurants, even bottled water? My parents, well really my mother always compared things in Canada to how they were in Scotland. “It’s not like it was back home”, or “The ones I grew up were much better than these ones.” There are few things in this world that are unique anymore and when one does surface, there are like products within weeks that we can offer up comparisons to.

Smoked lambWe do the same thing with food. Actually you have to admit these words have come out of your mouth or someone you know more than once. “It tastes like chicken to me.” You know you have. Chicken is like a blank canvas. It takes on the tastes and the profile of what and how we prepare it. Beef and pork can follow suit. Cooking is creative and flows with the artists, or chef’s hand, eye, and palate.

So here is my big caveat. Lamb! No matter how you prepare it, no matter what you enhance it with, the natural flavour of lamb always comes through. That why it’s my favourite protein. From curried to roasted, braised to stew, grilled or smoked you always know its lamb.

Some consider the flavour too strong, others consider it too earthy but I consider it unique and wonderful.

So today I offer you a slow smoked butterflied leg of lamb with roasted beets, Home grown beans with toasted almonds, and a kale and feta salad.

The lamb was rubbed with a mixture of olive oil, garlic, black pepper, Dijon mustard, rosemary, sage, mint and one anchovy. It was left in a re-sealable bag for 5 hours in the fridge and brought to room temperature before it hit the grill.

The Big Green Egg had the beets on to roast over pecan wood for 4 hours at 300f before the lamb hit the smoker. I placed a tin pan of water below the lamb and filled it with the same fresh herbs that were in the rub to give an aromatic moistness to the smoke. When it reached an internal of 150f I switched it to the hot gas grill for a quick sear on the outside for some charring. Left to sit wrapped in foil for 15 minutes and it was ready to devour.

I love lamb. It’s bold and subtle at the same time. Kind of like me : )

Be well and eat well.

Scott

 

They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. Andy Warhol

Life has changed.  For the better?  For the worse?  No answers here. Change is change and its how you deal with it. Let’s just say I’m happy.

Beef RibsI’ve been absent for a while and for this I apologize. My focus has been personal for the last few weeks. I’ve sold my house; my son has an apartment and a full time position embracing the world in a suit and tie. My daughter is back at college finishing her last year and I’m living with my girlfriend. Change no matter what it is is part of life. If you stay stagnant nothing happens and the world and any opportunity pass you by.  You have to make your world or the world decides to handle it for you.

So back to food. What we create and what we are capable of creating is matched by the effort we put into it. I recently took a job with a BBQ restaurant as a smoker. I would prefer Pitmaster, but I’ll take the title.  Cooking in an industrial setting is a little different than cooking for family and friends and the idiosyncrasies of a pellet smoker compared to my BGE is challenging. I like to match my meals with the wood I’m smoking. Fruit woods for pork, hickory or maple for poultry, and pecan or oak for beef.  Using one wood for all proteins is different for me but when you are cooking for the masses, you don’t really have an option.

Then there’s the forward thinking.  Smoking today for tomorrow. How many plates can we expect? What about the food truck’s needs.   How much can I fit in the smoker and not compromise the smoke circulation and temperature? It’s a dance I’m quickly learning.

So back to the food, again. The first thing off the BGE at its new home was beef ribs.  I’ve done them before and have always been disappointed. I finally realised my mistake. They’re not pork, they’re beef, they have different rules.  Beef doesn’t abide by the 3/2/1 system. They need lower and slower and no complex rubs. Just let the meat talk for itself and do what it needs to do. The rub was simple, kosher salt, black pepper, garlic and onion powder, and cumin. The first level of the membrane pulled off and smoked over pecan wood for 7 hours at 250f. Taken off when the meat feels like a balloon filled with water, soft and giving.  I wrapped them in foil and left them to rest. Just before serving I grilled them on the gas grill and basted them with a basic beer based sauce to caramelize the sticky goodness.I love my Beef Ribs!

I also served hickory smoked chicken wings too because it’s all about excess at this point. An avocado and edamame salad topped it off.

This was the first meal I cooked for my new blended family and to bring everyone together. I’ve said before food is love but maybe I should preface that, family is love and food is the binder that brings everyone together at the table. Making it special makes the days end special.

What are you doing tonight or this weekend? When was the last time you brought everyone together and talked about life? Think about it?

I’ll be updating a lot now that I’m settled in.

Be well and eat well.

Scott

 

“Everything in life has an end. Only sausages have two.” German Proverb

It’s been awhile since I posted and I apologize. The house is up for sale and the focus has been on family and stuff.

But tonight, smoke prevailed.

Smoked Sausage with Bacon and Cheese MacSausage is the Picasso of the stuffed meat world. Sausage can be anything you care to mix into the grinder. Different meats, spices, even fruits. I use to get a chicken and pineapple sausage at St Lawrence Market that was to die for. I make a duck sausage stuffing for the turkey at Christmas time. Sausage I believe is as limited as your imagination.

Tonight was a Sea Salt and Black Pepper sausage slow smoked with maple. Nothing fancy in the taste just the flavour of the wood permeating the casing of the lovingly encased pork tubes. Sexy Eh?

Try spraying the sausages with juice, beer, or Coke as they cook. It makes the outer casing firm up while the insides stay moist and juicy. Never poke or break the outer rim. You want to keep all the moisture inside the sausage while cooking. They dry out when you cut or poke.

So what to serve with it. Imaging a bacon and cheese pasta casserole. Ok it was homemade mac and cheese without the elbows. Penne stood in as the elbows were previously occupied.

Smoky love prevailed. Cheesy infatuation was wafting in the air and the trolls in the house disappeared into a food coma. It was a good night.

More frequent posts are on their way along with worldly observations and foodie comments. Maybe some words about moving a house after 23 years of residence too!

Be well and eat well!

Scott

“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

BARBEQUE COMES TO THE BEACH!

So the weekend that was was spectacular!  For the 6th year straight, the air smelled of smoke, the grills were sizzling and the beer was flowing. Music transcended the days and night, and community and visitors occupied Woodbine Parks grass and grounds.  It Beach BBQ and Brew Festivalwas a great way to spend the Father’s Day weekend.

Teams from the US set-up their massive rigs and started burning cherry, hickory, and mesquite woods to begin the low and slow process of everything that is true BBQ. This year the CSBBQA sanctioned the Amateur Ribbers contest. It was wonderful to see dedicated Canadian teams entering the arena and offering up their versions of traditional BBQ.

Friday started with the Firefighters Command Cook-off. Each team was given a t-bone and a beef strip loin. The T-bone had to stay pure to judge their grill technique. Grill marks, taste and tenderness were the key. The loin however was free form and whatever they wanted to create as their side accompaniments was limited by their creative minds. I had the pleasure of being one of the judges and quite honestly, the competition was so close that there was no clear run away from the pack. The four teams represented the North, South, East, and West from the Firefighters community. Every team produced amazing plates, but as always, there needs to be a winner. The West pulled it out with Vlad’s clean and smooth presentation,flavours, and his grilling skills.

Saturday was Grilling Tent time. Ted Reader, Tonia Wilson, and I took to the stage to offer technique, ideas, and advice on how toLet's talk Fatty add some creative twists to the grilling scene. As always, Ted took the crowd through his unique and entertaining recipes and showed why he truly is the King of the Q.  Tonia brought creative sauces and a how to on transforming a boring flank steak giving it life, flavour, and taste. Me, I decided to introduce the crowd to a Fatty. Sausage meat, stuffed with cheese and rolled in a weave of bacon.  Everything disappeared!

Last day, Sunday, were the 2 competitions. The CSBBQA Amateur Ribber Competition and the North American Ribber Competition. I had the pleasure of judging the NA group. All the vendors that there present during the 3 day presented, served ribs, and this year an additional twist. They were asked to serve something out of the box but still utilizing the grills and their BBQ skills. Burritos, sliders, flat bread and pizza creations were all outstanding, not to mention their ribs. Bernie from Camp 31 MC’d the event and showed not only his BBQ knowledge, but his fun and skills at entertaining a crowd.  Ribs and the alternate were served every hour for 6 hours and I was looking for a place to crash as my food coma started kicking in. The winner was Swine Fellows with Jamie and Zack earning the trophy. Honourable mention to all, Bibbs, Hawgs Gone Wild, Camp 31, and Sticky Fingers. Your skills and food were off the cuff!

Chef ToniaThe first Beach BBQ and Brew Fest CSBBQA Ribbers Competition winners were White Bread BBQ. I wished I could have tried your stuff but I was a little full from the rest of the day. Congratulations guys!

I haven’t mentioned the music, the crowd, or the craft beer because if you weren’t there, you missed it. It was all phenomenal!

At the end of the day you realise what the BBQ is all about, community, good food, and fun. The phrase there is no bad BBQ came up during the day and I completely agree. If you like it, if it makes you feel good and you’re having a good time, then its good BBQ.

Kudos to Jen and Jeremy for the organization and the weekend, well done!

Hope to see you hear next year!

Be well and eat well!

Scott

 

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The Weekend Starts Today!

BBQ and BrewsThe weekend starts today!

The Beach BBQ and Brews Festival starts at 3pm this afternoon.

I’ll be there judging the 5th Annual Toronto Fire Fighter Command Cook Off tonight. I have my stretch pants all ready to go.

Saturday the Grilling Tent offers the talents and entertainment of Ted Reader, Chris Doepner, Tonia Wilson, and Me!

Sunday, Father’s Day is the Ribbers Contest.

Music fills the night with Paul Reddick Band with special guest Paul James Friday,  Fire Sound Band,  Frank Ryan  and

Michael White and The White – The Ultimate Led Zepplin Experience on Saturday, and  Lazo and BIG SUGAR finishing out the event on Sunday.

If you haven’t been before, make sure you come and get your fill of BBQ, Craft Beer, Music and community!

It’s a wonderful way to spend Father’s Day!

See You There!

Scott

Can you Smellllll! What the Beach is Smokingggg!

Hey everybody!

This weekend is the Beach BBQ and Brew Festival.
Great Food, great music, and great craft beers!
I’ll be doing a demonstration at the Grilling Tent at 5pm on Saturday June 14.
It’s a wonderful day and a great way to spend Fathers Day!
I hope to see you there!

Festival Hours
Friday June 13th 3:00pm-11:00pm
Saturday June 14th 12:00pm-11:00pm
Sunday June 15th 12:00pm-8:00pm

http://beachbbqandbrews.com/

Woodbine Park is located just north of the Beaches Boardwalk on the North-East Corner of Lakeshore Blvd East and Coxwell Avenue.

Too much smoke! Just a little! What I do for my art!

Too much smoke! Just a little! What I do for my art!

“I will not tease Fatty” Bart Simpson

Who you calling FattyIf you’re from the Seventies, a fatty has a totally different meaning than the one I did the other night!

It’s called a Fatty, or a Bacon Explosion, but whatever you call it, a lot of pork gave up their lives for it. I’ve been trying to find the history of the Fatty and have to say I have come up empty. It seems to be a southern US invention and has its roots in the smoking community. That seems appropriate! In general it’s sausage wrapped in bacon and stuffer with cheese, jalapenos, and onions. I don’t think the Surgeon General knows about this yet because it should come with the warning, “Please consult your doctor before consuming!”

If you haven’t heard of this or experienced it, you have to try it at least once.

Weave a pound of bacon the same way as you would have at summer camp to make a mat or coaster. If you have a macramé practitioner or basket weaver in your family, get them to do it. Assemble the bacon wrap on parchment paper or plastic wrap, (it makes the process easier).  Then spread your sausage meat on top, (7 or 8 de-cased sausages), so that you have an even layer covering approximately ¾ of your bacon mat. Along the one side of the sausage, add your cheese, jalapenos and onion. If you don’t like the heat, just use the cheese.  Then skilfully using the parchment (or plastic wrap), start rolling into a tight uniform tube.  Tightly bind the entire roll with plastic wrap and leave it in the fridge to set-up for at least an hour.

My favourite wood to smoke this with is apple or cherry with a little hickory mixed in. When you’re ready, and your grill or smoker is at about 275f, place the Fatty of the grill (remember to take off the plastic first).  You’ll want to do this offset with a catch pan underneath for the drippings. There is a pound of bacon and sausage cooking there so be aware of flare-up and keep the grease away from the flames. It should take a couple of hours depending on your grill. You’re looking for an internal temperature of 165f.  Just before you take it off and the excessive fat is now in your drip pan, place it over the direct flame to crisp up the bacon. Watch this because you will get flame.

Let your Fatty sit and rest at least 15 to 20 minutes before you slice.

You can serve this as an appetizer or as a main. A little BBQ sauce drizzled on top is wonderful.

Don’t tell your doctor this came from me!

Be well and eat well!

Scott TaitCheese Stuffed Fatty