“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

Advertisements

“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

“Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it. Anything invented after you’re thirty-five is against the natural order of things.” Douglas Adams

I love Douglas Adams. The man, his works and his philosophy on life. I like the fact that his hero was John Cleese. He wrote based on his vision of the world, absurd as it was, but still fitting into a sensibility that that made sense to him. It didn’t matter if others didn’t see it. Eventually they would come around.

I feel for those that see life and living in this world as effort. Effort to work, pay bills, live to others standards. There are only the few, (and I see myself as one) which look to the wonderment of all that is around. Politicians, TV Evangelists, reality TV personalities, and the throngs of others are put in front of us for our amusement. After all, they can’t be real.

Stopping and smelling the roses is now done watching TV. Sit in a coffee shop and watch how many people don’t look up from their phone and iPads. The world is in front of them but they only see what their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter “likes” puts in front of them. They don’t notice the person with two different socks or the lady with the 2-minute dissertation to the barista on how she wants her coffee, (if you could call it that) prepared. And when did we start preparing coffee? You pour coffee; you don’t concoct it like a high school science experiment.

This world offers us so much visually, sensually, and intellectually but we are drawn more and more into directed knowledge and market driven information that we don’t see what’s around us. Have we become that self-centric and lazy in thought that we let others tell us what to watch, like, dislike, and feel?

We live in a hilariously wonderful world. Each person is a unique creation. Every day offers new things to look at and find wonderment that are actual and not directed to us on our digital devices.

Go out and sit in a coffee shop. A local one that someone has invested his or her soul and personality in. Order a coffee not a half/cafe, half foam, buffalo milk, wonton flavoured, cinnamon sprinkled formulation that has no provenance to its origins.

Douglas Adams conceived “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” while lying in a field outside Innsbruck. He was broke, drunk, and really bored of Innsbruck. He had a copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Europe” with his belongings and thought, if they have one for Europe, why can’t I write one for the Galaxy? Adams looked around his world and decided to put down his foresight and absurdity down on paper. “After all” he said, “Have you ever been to Innsbruck?”

I look around my world and see humour and delight on a daily basis. I decide to see these things and they show up. If I look for pain and depression, I’m pretty sure they will show face. It’s my decision. I don’t ignore the other stuff but if that is your constant focus then that’s all you’re going to see. I prefer to smile and laugh.

So if you haven’t read any Adams, I highly recommend it. Buy a book not a file. Hold it in your hands, smell the ink, fan the pages and listen to them ripple. You can’t do that with a file on a screen.

Look around at the world and the people that surround you. Find wonderment, bewilderment and humour.

(In honour of Towel Day 2015)

Be well and eat well.

Scott Tait

The Artisanal Grill

theartisanalgrill.com

BBQ sum, ergo sum!

Forgive my Latin. If you don’t know it says, “I BBQ, therefore I am.”

Everyone defines himself or herself by an action. You play sports, your career, or community service. Maybe being a parent. But you define yourself.

I’ve worn many hats, (I like hats) and I still do, but I define myself with food. Specifically BBQ.

I’ve been busy over these past few weeks, on and off my grill and smoker. I hold a part-time job, write, and cook. I thought I’d share a few of my creations that have come to life over the months and days that have been.

2015-04-19 12.23.30

Curry Rubbed Smoked Lamb.

Curry is one of my secret passions. My father introduced it to me when I was young. His favourite came out of a yellow can in the form of a chicken curry. It was hot, spicy, and burned my mouth. At a young age I couldn’t figure out how anyone could eat it. At this time in my life I have to tame back the spice and heat if I expect anyone else to eat it. The rub is a standard medley of spices, mixed with yogurt and let brake down the meat. So good and so warming. I can’t understand people that shy away from it. Served with toasted coconut rice to add some sweetness.

2015-04-19 19.36.28

2015-04-19 17.27.04

Spiral Shrimp Dogs.2015-04-21 18.01.30

Ok, a little weird but these days’ people put anything on their hot dogs. Why not grilled shrimp?

I spiraled the dogs before grilling so they opened up and created nooks and crannies for your condiments to hide and hold onto. You also open up new surfaces to create a crust to pop in your mouth when you bite down.

Additional toppings added were bacon (of course) and a Jalapeno/Avocado dressing to add a little heat. Don’t mock, try.

Bacon Sushi?2015-04-05 16.59.37

Ok really Bacon and Sausage Maki. Everything was slow smoked on the BGE.

Stuffed with Italian sausage meat, diced onion, sundried tomatoes, and provolone. Think of it as a junior version of a Fatty. Sliced up and presented as individual slices.

It looks like sushi but tastes like BBQ.

Tonight?

Andouille Burgers with grilled onions. Hungry yet?

Be well and eat well!

Scott Tait

The Artisanal Grill

“It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy…Let’s go exploring!” Calvin & Hobbes

Spring is here. I have never wanted a winter to end so badly! When you were a kid you waited in anticipation for the first snow so you could play outside. You yearned for summer to end the school year and start those late night games of hide and seek. You had dread and fear in your heart as autumn approached and you were back in school and breaking in a new teacher. But I never remember wanting spring to arrive so quickly as I did this year.

2014-12-07 09.15.19

Looking outside and staring at the snow mounted on my BGE and BBQ’s has been the most depressing sight for me over these past few months. I have been vigilant and dusted them off from time to time, but the cold and the snow seemed to keep pushing me indoors.

But that’s over now! The Equinox has arrived with a fury breaching this dull gray world back into the light! It’s doubly blessed us with a solar eclipse and an extended view of the Northern Lights. I’m not much for the holistic view of the universe but all these events must mean something.

Speaking of meaning something, I have a Bodhi tree. It’s the tree that Buddha supposedly found enlightenment under as he meditated. When I found it it was reminiscent of the Christmas tree in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Two sticks placed in a pot that needed support. I gave it a new home, water, some nourishment and a home. It flourished under my care and grew. But somehow I forgot that I had left it outside and it experienced the first frost. In my mind I heard Charlie Brown say “Rats! I killed it!” But being determined I brought it inside and left it in the corner for the winter. Every now and then I would see it and offer it some water. Every leaf fell of it and it was back to its original two sticks.

Then, if like an omen of spring a bud would appear and it would show me that it was back. Not dead, just dormant for a while needing a rest and then back with foliage abundant.

I didn’t hold much hope for it this year. I poured my glasses of water on it from the night before sleep and just had a little faith that it was still in there.

You get to an age and wonder in small miracles. Last week Bodhi came back to me. This time with passion and fury! By this the first day of spring, he’s made a complete comeback from his winter hibernation to stand before the world and claim “I AM BODHI! HERE ME ROAR!”

Ok that’s a little over the top but it’s the worlds way of telling me that we all need a little withdrawal and hibernation for a few weeks or months to recharge our batteries before we can once again take life for a ride.

I ‘ve spent some time in humble consideration of who I am and where I’m going. My life has changed drastically over the past year and I am in no way reflective of where I thought I would be at this point in my life. It’s been disheartening and yes depressing. But what I see each spring in that silly little tree is new growth and new opportunity to become something new again. This year it hits a little more to the soul than before. I’ve been through changes, heart wrenching, and soul breaking changes and have come through on the other side. This year they seemed to take a little more out of me. Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s the lack of vitamin D, or maybe, like my Bodhi, I needed to hibernate for a while. I blame the weather.

Whatever it was it’s done! The leaves have broken through and the branch and are once again reaching for the sunlight. Ideas are flowing and the smoke is billowing from the gray matter.

Spring is here and I’ve never been so ready to welcome the path in front of me.

Life is good!

So the food? After all this is all about the food.

I’ve been thinking about food and writing things down for this and other considerations. I have once again found my mojo.

So here are some of the things to be ready for.

Bacon Sushi

Stuffed Bacon

Candied Bacon

Maybe a little to bacon focused so there are new recipes and ideas for

Pork

Beef

Chicken

Fish

Shellfish

Breads

Soups

Stews

And words about life

Oh and there were those Smoked Boneless Beef Ribs I stuffed into Yorkshire Puddings.

Talk soon. Actually, I’ll talk and you can read.

Be well and eat well

Scott Tait

The Artisanal Grill

“The problem with the future is that it keeps turning into the present.” Bill Watterson (Calvin and Hobbes)

So the year is over and the new one has started. Hopefully it was a wonderful one for you. You embraced family and friends and possibly made resolutions.

hobbes

I’ve learned in life that resolutions are easily broken and we forget the changes we wanted to make or the challenges we set before ourselves to conquer in the days before us. But I have set a simple goal for myself and maybe, just, maybe you will want to follow suit.

My life has changed drastically over the past 365 days. New digs, new philosophies, and a better understanding of myself. For years I have read or listened to self-improvement pieces and while not adopting everything, I have found certain words and statements that have stuck in my mind. Norman Vincent Peale wrote the doctrine on positive thinking and one story that he shared was about the man who was “just being realistic.” He listed off all the things that had happened in his life that he thought were realistic. At the end Dr. Peale repeated everything that he had said and showed him that everything he had said was negative. Being realistic means looking at both the positive and the negative. He had only listed off the bad things that had happened to him. I do this, we all do this. We classify negative experiences and events with the word realistic.

There is so much good n this world but we choose to look only to the bad. What about the person that held the door for you today while your arms were full, the amazing dinner that was create with love by your partner, the song that came on the radio just when you were thinking about it. Maybe just the feeling that you are loved! These are all good but we overshadow them with the bad or negative and they disappear from our thoughts in an instant.

So here is my resolution. Find the good in life. Look for that person or thing that brings a smile to my face and shield the bad away. Be happy to watch the birds at my feeder, hug instead of shake hands, and find new ways to influence others around me to find the good.

Here are some of the things I will do:

Smile at strangers

Count my blessing and not my debts

Be aware of the little things and find wonderment in them

Love passionately

Read a book, not a website

Live without fear

Forgive-Hold no grudges

Take a different route to see what’s there and what happens

Eat something I’ve never tried before

Say I love you everyday to my family and myself

So there is my resolution. Simple and easy to follow.

Happy New Year world! It’s going to be an adventure!

Be well and eat well.

Scott Tait

The Artisanal Grill

Turkey on the Smoker? It must be Christmas!

So since Christmas is just a week away, I thought it appropriate to share instructions for brining and smoking your bird outside.

stooge dinner

 

 

 

 

 

Brining.

Brining brings out the best in your bird and keeps the meat from drying out. Using a cooler, bucket, or whatever you have to hold the bird and totally cover it with your brine is what you need. If you can’t source anything, go to your favourite restaurant and see if they will sell you (give you is better, they just throw them out when they have too many piled up) a bucket that their fry oil comes in. Thoroughly clean and wash the bucket and make sure your bird fits. Best way, try it when it’s empty. That way you can fill it with water and see how much brine you’ll need to make.

The brine is easy and lets you embrace your creative side. Fill a stockpot with 2 gallons of water. Add your flavor profile. Or try this for a 12 to 25 pound turkey

2 pounds of kosher salt

2 cups of brown sugar

4 tbsp. black pepper

1 head garlic

1 coarse chopped onion

3 bay leaves

1 bunch of sage (dry is ok)

2 tbsp. oregano

1 quartered lemon (or orange)

Bring the water to a simmer to dissolve the sugar and salt but don’t bring it to a boil. When all the ingredients are combine, turn it off and let it cool.

Place your bird in the container and pour the cold brine over top. Add ice to keep it cool.

The bird will need at least 6 hours in the brine so this is your Christmas Eve project. After 6 hours, take Mr. Turkey out of the brine and wash your bird well under cold water. Place in the fridge overnight. Throw out the brine!

Butter bath!

Make a flavoured butter. This is another creativity opportunity and should be done the day before.

 Combine

½ lb. room temperature butter

1 tsp. granulated garlic

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. thyme

1 tsp. oregano

¼ cup fresh sage (fine chopped or dry will suffice)

Smooth all the flavors together. Place in the fridge till you need it but bring to room temperature just before you need it. It has to be soft.

Turkey Day rules!

Know how big your bird is and how long the smoking (cooking) process is going to take!

Own a thermometer!

Know when dinner is being served!

Prep and know how long your accompaniments are going to take!

Get as much done ahead of time as possible!

Make sure you have enough fuel for the smoker or gas BBQ!

Have your wood chips soaked, pouched and ready to go!

Build a schedule and work it!

Prepping the bird.

Separate the skin from the meat by working your fingers gently between the breast and the skin starting at the cavity opening of the bird but being careful not to break the skin. Gently work the soft butter into the space you just created. This flavored butter will melt into the breast basting it in butter and all those flavors you added to it. Take the extra butter and rub it all over the outside of the bird. If you ran out of butter, massage it with olive oil. Season your bird with salt and pepper. Now stuff your bird with additional sage, quartered onions, garlic cloves and some lemon or orange slices.

Your stuffing should be done separately.

At this point your bird is brined, washed, dried, seasoned, and stuffed with aromatic. You’re ready to go.

Smoking.

Set-up your BBQ for offset cooking and smoking. Meaning if you have 2 burners, only light one of them, if you have 3, keep the center on off and light the outside ones. You want to set up a cooking environment that has no direct heat underneath the bird. Think about it. In your oven there is no direct heat source underneath the bird. Hot air circulates around it. This is what you’re doing outside. If you’re using charcoal, place the lit coal to one side so none will be under the bird. (Note. You’ll have to add more to keep the temperature constant so have a way to light more to add to the coals and minimize the open lid time.)

Pick a suitable wood for the smoke, like oak, pecan, or maple. If you use cherry or apple it is tasty but can create a pink ring under the surface and if you family doesn’t know smoke, they might think it’s undercooked. Soak your chips and make a smoke pack with one part soaked chips and one part dry. The dry will start early and the wet will smolder after the dry is done. Make two or three packs so you’re ready when one is done with a new one.

Place a pan on the unlit area to catch the drippings. Tin foil roast or baking pans are great for this. This gives you a drip pan. Add water, wine, and whatever else you would place around the bird in the oven. This gives you the base for your gravy.

Place your smoke pack on the heated element or on the coals.

Bring your grill to 400 degrees f. Smoke and roast for about 1 hour then turn the temperature down to 325 f. An 8 to 12lb unstuffed bird should take between 3 to 4 hours cooking time, subsequently an 18 to 20lb bird should take about 5 to 6/12 hours. Time can vary by 30 minutes so have a thermometer ready to check internal temperature (you want 165 degrees f) and always from the thickest part of the thigh. . Place the bird breast side down on your greased grill and over the drip pan.

Rotate your bird every 45 minutes or so to brown and cook evenly. Every grill and smoker will behave differently so pay attention and remember if you’re looking, you’re not cooking. Take some of the juices that have accumulated in the drip pan and baste. To minimize open lid time, you can create a secondary baste liquid of heated chicken stock with sautéed bacon, sage, and onions. Have it ready to go. So open the lid, turn the bird, baste the bird, and close the lid.

Pay attention and follow your bird’s path. Outdoor climate will affect the overall time but with patience you can create a Christmas turkey that will astound your family.

The classic French rules say that your cooked bird should stand as long as you cooked it for. I can’t do that but I will let my bird stand for at least 30 to 45 minutes after it’s out of the heat. Cover with tin foil and let the juices work their way back through the meat. If you do this and don’t turn off your grill you’ll have plenty of time to cook your veggies, stuffing, and make your gravy on the BBQ.

Remember planning is everything! Post a picture to my Facebook site of your wonderful accomplishment. But most importantly, have fun with it! I’ve been smoking our Turkeys for 10 years and I’ll never go back to the oven. It makes the difference.

Be well and eat well this Christmas and every day!

Scott Tait

The Artisanal Grill

https://www.facebook.com/TheArtisanalGrill

 

“Dance like nobody’s watching, and live like its heaven on earth.” Mark Twain

So I do the chef thing for a large grocery chain in Canada two or three times a month. They have professional kitchens and I Turkey Satay on the Grillget to stand in front of a crowd, (usually the same crowd), and teach them how to make different and unique recipes to break the mundane traditions that some fall back on for dinner. It gives me and them a chance try different techniques and foods from around the world. And I get paid for it too boot!

The recipes are supplied a week or so in advance so I can try them out before presentation day. It’s an hour to prep and an hour in front of the crowd.  I create a complimentary recipe on the side of the head office one so if it’s pasta I create a salad, soup I devise a bruschetta, if it’s meat I come in hand with a potato or veg. You get the picture.

So last week I was supplied with a recipe for a peanut turkey satay. My accompaniment was a mango and celery root slaw. It seemed keeping with the theme of the main. Or so I thought.

Practiced, prepped and ready to go, two hours before the event I received an email to tell me they had sent me the wrong recipe. The peanut turkey satay had suddenly turned into Lentil Soup? But they thought my slaw would go well with it? Really?

So here I was with my chef jacket in hand going out to present something I had never made before in front of a group of paying customers. Needless to say, watch for me on the next episode of Dancing with the Stars. I learned very quickly how to do the Quick Step!

It’s funny that life throws left-handers at you when you’re expecting a right-hander at the mound.  But you can’t sit out the inning, you half to take your turn at bat, so grilled turkey turned into soup.

Since I didn’t get to present it there, Ladies and Gentlemen,I present to you

Grilled Turkey Satay with Mango and Celery

Turkey Satay and Mango/Celery Root SlawRoot Slaw

Stuff

Skinless Turkey Breast, about 500 g

1 green onion, roughly chopped

1/3 cup (75 mL) Smooth Peanut Butter

1/3 cup (75 mL) lightly packed fresh coriander

2 tbsp (25 mL) fresh lime juice

1-1⁄2 tbsp (22 mL) Thai fish sauce

1 tbsp (15 mL) packed brown sugar

1 tbsp (15 mL) chili paste

1 tsp (5 mL) soy sauce

How

  • Soak 20 8-inch (20 cm) bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes; drain.
  • Cut turkey breast into 20 long thin strips. Thread one turkey strip onto each skewer, leaving 1-inch (2.5 cm) skewer bare at bottom.
  • In food processor, combine green onion, peanut butter, coriander, lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, chili paste, soy sauce and 1/2 cup (125 mL) water. Pulse for 10 to 15 seconds or until sauce is smooth. Divide sauce between two small bowls. Brush one bowl of sauce liberally over turkey skewers; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat barbecue or indoor grill to medium-high heat. Remove turkey skewers from refrigerator; spray each side with cooking spray. Place on grill. Put a strip of foil under bare part of skewers. Cook for 4 to 6 minutes, turning occasionally, or until cooked through and nicely charred, being careful not to burn. Transfer to platter; let stand 1 minute. Serve with remaining bowl of peanut sauce.

Celery Root, Mango, Red Pepper and Fennel Salad (serves 10; approx)

Stuff

2 celery roots

2 fennel bulbs

1 Red Pepper

2 Mangos

1/4 cup Rice Wine Vinegar

2 tbsp brown sugar

1tsp sesame oil

Juice of 1 lemon

Red pepper flakes to taste if you want a little heat

Salt and pepper to taste

How

  • Peel and chop fennel, celery root, red pepper and mango to similar size “match sticks”
  • Combine everything except the mango in your serving bowl.
  • Mix rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, sesame oil, lemon juice, red pepper flake and salt and pepper
  • Toss to coat fennel, celery root, and red pepper with the dressing. Cover, refrigerate and let sit for 20 minutes.
  • Add mango.
  • Toss and Serve.

Oh and if you’re wondering, the Lentil Soup went well too.

If you have to dance, do it as if no one is watching!

Be well and eat well.

Scott

“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!

 

 

 

 

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