Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The 12 Days of Grilling

The 12 Days of Grilling

It seems that my beer Christmas countdown sparked a bit of imagination with Bean. At the end of our family get together this past Saturday, Bean and Anne performed (as in just sang...if they had time there might have been a floorshow too) an original little ditty called "The 12 Days of Grilling". Apparently, Bean and Anne each equally scribed the words which is of course sung in the tune of The 12 Days of Christmas. So, without no further ado, I give you their rendition of The 12 Days of Grilling:

On the first day of grilling my true love gave to me, a spatula from the grilling aisle
On the second day of grilling my true love gave to me, two plates full (for Michael)
On the third day of grilling my true love gave to me, three singing mothers
On the fourth day of grilling my true love gave to me, four hungry men
On the fifth day of grilling my true love gave to me, five golden grills
On the sixth day of grilling my true love gave to me, six pavlovas (for Matthew)
On the seventh day of grilling my true love gave to me, seven mugs of beer
On the eighth day of grilling my true love gave to me, eight mashed potatoes
On the ninth day of grilling my true love gave to me, nine broccoli
On the tenth day of grilling my true love gave to me, ten cookbooks open
On the eleventh day of grilling my true love gave to me, eleven turkeys roasting
On the twelfth day of grilling my true love gave to me, twelve place settings

Twelve place settings, eleven turkeys roasting, ten cookbooks open, nine broccoli, eight mashed potatoes, seven mugs of beer, six pavlovas, five golden grills, four hungry men, three singing mothers, two plates full and a spatula from the grilling aisle....

Nice job you two, nice job.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I'll take "Places I Want to Visit" for $500 Alex

The answer is, "A 2000 square foot walk-in cooler with 30,000 pounds of raw, aging meat".

<BUZZ> "What is the meat locker for Peter Luger's Steakhouse in New York?", Alex!

Last week I stumbled across this New York Time's article about Peter Luger's Steakhouse in New York. Outside of talking about the wonderful thing that is the Porterhouse, the article gives you a link to a 360 degree panoramic shot of the Peter Luger's cooler. I watched it so many times I got dizzy and had to lie down. Just the thought of all of that wonderful meat in one place makes my heart flutter kind of funny.

It turns out they do have an online delivery service. For around $166 you can get 2 (34-36 ounce - each!) Porterhouse steaks. Once again, I am thinking ManNight 2009....or at least some kind of steak get together. A 36 ounce dry aged prime rib Porterhouse. Alex, I'll take "Famous Last Meals" for $1000.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

1 Beer to Christmas

1 Beer to Christmas

New Holland's Dragons Milk.  Another wonderful oak aged beer.  Lucky me.  It was quite enjoyable, even if served in the wrong glasses.

Thanks to Zoë for this fun trip of advent calendar beers.  Bean has already suggested the 12 days of grilling for next Christmas.  Anyway, after such a malty adventure, I think I am looking forward to some really hop heavy beers after the first of the year...or on second thought, maybe I will ride this high ABV oak aged train a little longer.  They really have been good.

I just learned tonight that Boston's is going to have Old Curmudgeon on tap this Friday.  It will be the only one in Ohio.   After enjoying two this week, OC on draft is something I can't afford to miss.

As nightfall looms, I wish everyone a Merry Christmas and happiness where ever you are.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

2 Beers to Christmas

2 Beers to Christmas

When I told Bean that I saw Santa's Butt in my beer fridge, he thought I was kidding.  Oh how wrong he was.

Santa's Butt is a gimmicky seasonal beer that describes itself as a holiday porter.  After having some great beers this past couple of weeks, including a number of good porters, Santa's Butt passes more gas than muster.

A non remarkable nose, a slight hint of chocolate and rather watery mouthfeel puts Santa's Butt where it belongs: out of sight.

Monday, December 22, 2008

3 Beers to Christmas

3 Beers to Christmas

Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout.  Not only is this a great beer to drink, it is a great beer to look at.  Rasputin has a great mouthfeel that sticks around long after the beer is down the hatch.  The chocolate roast taste really stands out.  For another high ABV beer, this one could "almost" go down too fast.

This is my second shot at Rasputin this week.  Mike brought one over last Friday.  Good, good stuff. I hope Boston's has it again soon on draft.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

4 Beers to Christmas

4 Beers to Christmas

Founders' Old Curmudgeon.  First off, although the picture sucks (It is getting a little tiresome to find "new" picture places every night) that is sediment floating around the beer.  Unfiltered at its finest.  I don't know if it is all of the bourbon/oak beer I have been drinking lately, but the OC here certainly tastes of it.  A definitely sippable beer...but for me, only every once in awhile.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

5 Beers to Christmas

5 Beers to Christmas

Samuel Smith's Taddy Porter. This is by far one of my most favorite Porter's. The perfect balance of bitter makes this a truly enjoyable drink.

Wow, if it wasn't for my beer advent calendar countdown I am fairly certain Christmas would have snuck up on me this year.

Season's Grillings!

Season's Grillings

This is the picture that adorned our Christmas cards this year. I took it way back in August and have been sitting on it ever since. We used Qoop through Flickr and were really happy with the final product. I would recommend them to anyone wanting to get prints of their digital media.

This is not the first time I have anthropomorphized a chicken. I also doubt it will be my last. I recently thought I should have added some cornish game hens as elves, but I think Zoƫ would have drawn the line there. I do know that we have inadvertently started a new tradition. We are already planning a card for next year. If I thought it was bad holding this card for four months, I can't imagine having to wait a whole year.

For the record, the chicken was a simple beer can chicken. It was eaten and only had a few pieces of white fluff that had to be removed.

So, from our chicken to yours. Merry Christmas and Season's Grillings.

6 Beers to Christmas

6 Beers to Christmas

Wychwood's Hobgoblin.  I am posting this one in the morning because I enjoyed it, and several others, too much last night.  Enough said.

Friday, December 19, 2008

What's on the Grill #106

Capped & Ready

As a side, I love to grill my oh so favorite jalapeno poppers. They are simple and always good. Take a jalapeno, cut off the top and hollow out the middle with a sharp thin knife. Stuff the cavity of the pepper with cheese. I used cheddar, but only because it was on hand. Tear off a short piece of aluminum foil and rap it around the pepper so that it can support the pepper on the grill. Think of the foil as a fashionable aluminum skirt. Place the top back on the pepper and grill over indirect medium heat for approximately 12-15 minutes.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What's on the Grill #105

Grilled Honey Mustard Whiskey Injected Chicken Wings

Grilled Honey Mustard Whiskey Injected Chicken Wings, or what I like to call, GHMWICW...where both the name and the meal are a mouthful.

Tonight was one of those nights were Zoë told me to go buy a big piece of meat and grill it.  So what did I do?  I bought chicken wings.  Tomorrow night is Ribeye Friday, so I just didn't want to screw THAT up.

I have had whiskey injected wings before, but tonight was the first time I went honey mustard instead of hot sauce.  I injected 10 wings with 2 ounces of Old Grand Dad's Whiskey.  Good stuff that Old Grand Dad's.  After playing nurse doctor with the wings, I injected each of the ten wings evenly with the booze and then covered them in a rub made up of brown sugar, garlic, salt, pepper, mustard, cayenne powder and coriander.  I would give measurements, but I'm not really sure what I did.  I was too busy enjoying my 7th beer to Christmas.

Fill 'er up!

While I let the wings rest in their boozy cocoon of peace, I mixed together 1/4 cup of honey, 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard and 2 tablespoons of butter. 

I preheated the grill to indirect medium high.  After the grill had arrived at temp, I placed the wings over direct heat for about 5 minutes a side.  From there, I moved them to indirect for an additional ten minutes.  Once done, I mixed them with the honey mustard sauce and served.

7 Beers to Christmas

7 Beers to Christmas

Lump of Coal.  This "Dark Holiday Stout" comes from the same UK brewer that puts out the gimmicky beer names of "Bad Elf", "Criminally Bad Elf" and "Santa's Butt".  Like its name suggests, it is very, very dark beer.  It has the taste of roasted malt with a bitter chocolate aftertaste.  Not bad.  This is one lump of coal I would be happy to have in my stocking. 

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

8 Beers to Christmas

8 Beers to Christmas

Old Suffolk English Ale.  Tonight's beer was rather special for two reasons:  First, it tastes great.  It has a sweet fruity nose and a distinctive taste of caramel and oak.  It really is a delightful beer.  Second, last summer we toured the Greene King brewery in Bury St. Edmonds where Keith (UK Keith that is) and I actually stood over the oak vat where half of this beer is fermented. 

Greene King only brews on premise, so whenever you have Old Speckled Hen (they brew for Moralnd), or Old Suffolk, or Abbot, you are tasting Bury St. Edmonds.  Tonight I was not only able to enjoy a great beer, but some great memories too.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What's on the Grill #104

Fragrant Beef Curry with Naan

Fragrant Beef Curry with Naan!  OK, although none of this may sound "grilled", I did in fact use the grill for the entire meal.  The curry took up the side burner and the Naan was grilled on the stone.  Too bad it was 28 degrees outside and sleeting.

The only reason I made curry tonight was because I wanted to make Naan.  About a year ago, Wendy gave us an English bread cookbook put out by the Women's Institute (The WI is the same organization that spawned the group that raised money by dropping their clothes for charity.  Their exploits eventually made it into the movie Calendar Girls).  Anyway, tucked away in this book was a Naan recipe that has been calling my name for some time.

For the curry I turned to a recipe found on Epicurious.

Fragrant Beef Curry
Adapted From Epicurious

2 pounds well-trimmed boneless beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large onions, sliced
6 whole cloves
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 cinnamon sticks
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3 large tomatoes, quartered
3 tablespoons Major Grey chutney
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Season the beef with salt and pepper.  Heat 2 tablespoons in a large pot over high heat.  Brown the beef.  It takes about 7 minutes.  Transfer the beef to a plate or bowl with a slotted spoon.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in the same pot.  Lower the heat to medium and add the onions.  Sauté the onions until tender and brown.  Return the beef to the pot.  Add cloves, garlic, cinnamon sticks, bay leaf and dried red pepper to pot; stir 1 minute. Stir in milk, tomatoes, chutney, lemon juice, ginger, curry powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until beef is tender.

Unfortunately, my side burner has two settings: high and even higher.  Fine temperature control is not what it is made for.  For that reason, I cooked the curry for about 1 1/2 hours.  My simmer was more of a boil.


Taken from Breads and Bakes p.26

<Note imperial measurements>

11 oz white flour
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons easy blend yeast (quick rise)
3 tablespoons natural yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons sunflower oil
150 ml hand-hot water

Stir together the flour, salt and baking powder into mixing bowl.

Stir in the yeast. Add the yogurt, oil and water to form a soft dough.

Knead until smooth and elastic.

Place in a clean (Duh!  Do you really have to spell that out?  When I cook I tend not to look for the next pot on the dirty side of the sink.), greased bowl, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size.

Knock down, divide the dough into four and roll each piece into an oval 8 x 6 inches.  Leave to prove for 15 minutes.

Place your grill stone in your oven and preheat your grill on high, leaving the burners directly below the stone on low.  Let the grill get as hot as you can.  Cook the bread on each side for approximately 3-4 minutes, or until gold and puffy...or so.

Final thoughts:  The curry was surprisingly good.  Although I felt it could have used a little more heat, Wendy thought it was just fine. 

I wished I had read the reviews ahead of time, as many suggested replacing the milk with coconut milk.  I think I will try that on the next round.  We topped our curry with some fresh yogurt and it really complimented the dish nicely.  However, the true winner tonight was the Naan.  It was incredibly easy to make and grill and it soaked up the curry nicely.  I think it would be a great party food too.

9 Beers to Christmas

9 Beers to Christmas

Young's Special London Ale.  I consider this another "big" beer.  A complex balance of malt and hops.  Although, neither one really overtakes my palate and neither really excites me.  However, I do like the label with its silhouettes of the London Eye and Tower Bridge.

Monday, December 15, 2008

10 Beers to Christmas

10 Beers to Christmas

Samuel Smith's Oatmeal Stout.  I have long had a love affair with this beer.  When I envision the perfect drink to accompany a warm fire on a cold night, I immediately think of this Oatmeal Stout.  Another reason to gravitate towards Oatmeal Stout is its healthy sounding name.  I mean if it has Oatmeal on the label, it has to be good for you,  Right!?

Christmas for Grillers

My favorite Christmas ornament:

My Favorite Ornament.

Fitting, isn't it?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Brew day with The Drew

The SetupWe have been planning some time for this joint brew venture and today the planets finally lined up.  We spent six hours together brewing an all grain batch of brown ale.  In total, we brewed about 12 gallons of beer.  Each of us took home 6.  Drew has been brewing all-grain for some time.  This was my first walk through.  By the end of the day, I realized that I really needed to get my mash tun finished!

Besides having never gone totally all-grain, I have never had that much beer in my kettle on my converted stand.  Fortunately, neither of us were whisked off to the ER with 3rd degree beer burns to our lower extremities.  The welds held just fine.  In fact, I wish Drew hadn't brought it up because I found myself spending an inordinate amount of time on the stool.

Stiring the wort
The Drew working the grain

I find it somehow strange that we will always manage to do these "outsideish" activities when it isn't exactly "outsideish" weather.  I find it stranger still (and a lot more funny) that two guys can spend 6 hours in a garage drinking beer with a large steaming Rube Goldberg contraption and no one bothers to give us a second look. 

Getting ready for boil

The day went by fast.  Part of it was due to The Drew's beer fridge.  Like every man, Drew has taken that extra fridge in the garage and converted it to an industrial strength kegerator.  After today, I know he has given me strength to drill holes in our beer fridge (Note: Zoe, if you are reading this...I am just talking about it.  You know, I don't really need to...but if you would like to, I am totally game for it.  Thanks!).  Drew had 3 home brews on tap and they were all good. 

Beer Fridge: OutsideBeer Fridge: InsideHomebrew x3

The entire brew event was a success, although we will not know the truly final word until we taste our work.  I have one more partial extract batch to make and then I am going all grain.  It might take longer, but the entire process is worth it.  Plus, I am just happy to have something in my kegs again.

Almost ready to cool...

11 Beers to Christmas

Entire Butt English Porter

Entire Butt English Porter!  Or as I like to call it, the whole ass.  This is one I have had before.  A very sweet nose.  Chocolate is by far the most noticeable flavor, which is surprising seeing that this porter is made with 13 different malts and chocolate counts for only two of them.  A slight bitter aftertaste, although not a typical strong roast taste as you would expect from the style. 

Saturday, December 13, 2008

12 Beers to Christmas

12 Beers of Christmas

On the 12th day before Christmas, my true love gave to me...12 different beers!  Zoë went "unleashed" at Belmont Party Supply today and brought home my own little advent calendar of sorts.  Bless her.  First Valentines Day, now Christmas.  I can't wait for Flag Day...I'm thinking keg...with a flag on it.

Backwoods Bastard

Founders Backwoods Bastard, a bourbon barrel aged ale.  Bastard indeed.  10.2% ABV.  Even though this ale has a high alcohol content, it doesn't taste like it.  My initial impression was bourbon.  In fact that is really the predominate taste, with a little bit of vanilla somewhere too.  Very good and very drinkable. 


Thursday, December 11, 2008

What's on the Grill #103

Grilled Tamales with Poblano Peppers and Corn

Grilled Tamales with Poblanos and Fresh Corn!  Or, as I like to call, a pain in the ass prepared without fresh corn.  I made them the week before last, and I have just now gathered up the strength to talk about it.  This wasn't exactly the best way to spend a weeknight when you have other things to do. 

About two months ago I bought a package of corn husks with the thought of making tamales.  I was inspired by the corn tamales we had at Bobby Flay's place in Vegas.  I have never made tamales before so I was going into this completely blind.  All I knew is that I had corn husks and I had a mission.

Tamale fixins

I found the recipe on Epicurious and although I read it all the way through, I apparently "glossed" over the 3 1/2 hour total time notation.  Whoops.  Funnier still, at least to me, although the tamales are grilled...that is only 10 minutes of the 3 1/2 hour time table.  Oh well, in my book grilled is grilled.

The Stuffing

In the future, I think I will try some kind of meat stuffing.  Someone I know suggested chorizo, and I love chorizo so that has to be good.  I would also add in a mixture of salsas. 


All in all, I was happy with the finished tamales (even though I had 30 of them...guess I didn't read that part too closely either) and I was even more excited that I got to cook with lard.  I mean how cool is that?  The name may sound bad, but it was pure delight watching that white gelatinous blob melt into the skillet.  My heart almost stopped beating right there.  Lovely.  The final word: tamales good, reading skills bad.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Music to drink beer to

Fullers...illuminated!Fellow blogger, midwife and homebrewer, Jen, has another talent: musician. As a fellow diehard Jonathan Coulton fan, she has written a great ditty about our beloved beverage. It is very Coultonesque and very good. Check it out here.

UPDATE: Just as clarification, Jen the homebrewer/midwife/musician is not this Jen or this Jen. I have already been asked...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Grill Down!

The New ManifoldWell, sorta.  For the last couple months, I have had a problem lightning the number 4 burner with its sparker.  The sparker would spark and gas would flow, but the tube would not light.  Recently, I resorted to firing up the 3 & 5 burners and then just the gas on 4 to get it going.  This patented procedure isn't necessarily safe, but it worked.

Although the 650 is a little over a year and a half old, it is used quite a bit.  I called Weber Customer Service and verified that I was doing everything correct.  I had already disassembled the manifold and burners and cleaned the tubes and the sparker, but still no light.  I had a great CSR who, after going through the standard list of checks, sent me a new manifold.

Although it took about 3 weeks to arrive, it only took me 15 minutes to replace.  I have had quite a bit of experience dismantling the grill for cleaning...and the removal of the occasional "asparagus overboard".  Once you pop off the knobs and front cover, the manifold is released by unscrewing two screws on the far sides of the unit.

Removing the old manifold

From there, I disconnected the main gas line and then then gas lines for the IR burner and side burner.

The main gas lineThe IR and side burner lines

With everything disconnected, the manifold slides right out.  With the old manifold out, I slid the new manifold in and redid the connections.

Making the new connections

Since we are talking gas and tight connections, the soaping of the joints is the most important step.  No bubbles = no unforeseen explosions.

Soaping the connections

With the manifold in place, the cover on and the knobs back in their spot, I was ready for the test light.....and success!  It fired right up. 

With the manifold completely out, I re-inspected the failing burner.  Everything appeared fine:  no unseen obstructions, no damage, no nothing.  Fortunately, Weber has stood behind this grill, and my others, 110%.  The 650 has had some problems since un-boxing day, but they have all been corrected and she continues to perform great.  For that, I am happy and suddenly hungry.

Houston - Debriefed

I thought I would recap a few highlights of the weekend.  On Friday, Matt got us tickets to see the Rockets play.  I am not a huge sports fan and I don't follow the NBA.  The only player I recognized was Yao Ming and that was because I watched the Olympics. 

Game Time

The Toyota Center was a really nice venue, our seats were great and the game was quite good.  On the downside, dinner that night consisted only of two pretzels and beer (Well Miller Lite...can you call that beer?).  We didn't plan that out very well.

Saturday we slummed around the city.  The highlight there was our trip to Spec's, the liquor store.  I have been to some large liquor stores in my time, but this was by far the largest.  Besides some food items, they had aisles and aisles of beer, wine, glassware, beer, wine...you get the picture.


I picked up a brown ale from the Real Ale Brewing Company and some Chang, which is brewed in Thailand.  Seeing Zoë brought me back a Chang T-shirt from Thailand, I felt it only appropriate to familiarize myself with their brew!

Saturday night, after a slight taxi mix-up (I am certain Matthew is well on his way to being blacklisted), we made our way to Ruth's Chris for dinner.  Dinner was an early Christmas gift from Dad, so thanks Dad!  At first I thought I would hit the cowboy ribeye, but I ended up with the bison ribeye.  I am glad I did, because I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Matthew of course was a little put out by my picture taking.  I even toned it down by using my iPhone and he was still embarrassed.  He kept saying he was glad we had a booth and that he hoped people thought we were brothers and not a couple.  You should note that in the picture below, he's not getting ready to eat with that fork, he is getting ready to stick it in my shutter clicking hand.

Buffalo RibeyeStop it!

After dinner, we stumbled walked to the Richmond Arms Pub which was only a short distance away.  At first I thought their wall of 80 beer taps was a joke...until the barmaid started actually pouring beer out of them.  Impressive.  I had Fuller's Porter, which I don't remember having before.  I really liked it.  Although my memory is a little hazy, I am certain I remember a pronounced vanilla taste.  Either that, or I have Vanilla Porter on the brain from here and Jen's most excellent homebrew write-up.

Sunday, we visited Howard Hughes' grave site, which is right next door to Matthew's apartment complex.  Matthew keeps quiet neighbors it seems. 

Goode Company

For lunch, we hit up on Dustin's suggestion, and ate at Goode Company.  Fabulous.  They have several places around Houston.  Our location was what appeared to be an old barn.  The inside was tiny, and looked as if though it had not changed in 40 years.  You order your food cafeteria style and watch the staff slice your meat, right on the spot.  I had brisket, pork, baked beans (with apple), potato salad and their jalapeno cheese bread.  Heaven.  Once you get your food, you head outside and sit at picnic tables.  It was a great meal.  I sat us far away from everyone else, because I tried to save Matthew some photo taking embarrassment.  I think it worked...or maybe not.

Combo Meat Platter

We parted ways in the evening after wasting several hours playing the new Call of Duty game.  I suck, as Matthew continued to point out.   It was a quick, fun weekend and Matthew was a great host.  It just seems like yesterday he was 12 and I was making fun of him for wearing Anne's pink snow boots.  Boy, has time sped by.

Matthew's doing great.  I am proud of him.  I look forward to heading back there again soon.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Deep in the Heart...

of Texas! I am spending the weekend visiting my brother Matt in Houston. Sorry ladies, for the next 3 days I am hanging with him. Vamoose!

As a native Texan, it is sad that I have not been on Texas soil for 36 odd years. It feels good...although it is colder than I wanted it to be. That, and Matt has no coffee pot.

We have a busy weekend planned full of good food and beer. Last night we ate Greek, I had some really nice lamb kabobs, and tonight we are catching a Rockets game. My overal goal, of course, is to cram as much local food into my mouth as possible.

During my morning two mile trek for coffee (Matt had to work this morning), I passed no fewer than 2 Weber kettles in his complex. I feel right at home.

Now, when's lunch?