Monday, August 31, 2009


The Shoulder

My heartfelt thanks to everyone who “voted” for my entry on making pulled pork on a kettle for the Instructable’s Low and Slow BBQ competition.  I learned today I was selected as a finalist!

There are some great entries, so at this point I am just hoping to win one of the cookbooks.  And if I do, I will post a poll as to what my maiden recipe should be.  The official judging ends on the 7th.  I will keep you posted!

Thanks again!


Sunday, August 30, 2009

AleFest…a few thoughts

AleFest is a large beer tasting event held annually in Chicago, Columbus, and Dayton.  It is dedicated as a celebration of craft beer which makes it difficult for me to explain why this was the first year we’ve attended.  Nonetheless, I’m glad we did.  For thirty bucks, you are armed with a commemorative pilsner tasting glass, 20 “tasting tickets”, a map, and 4 hours to cram it all in.  With perfect weather, it really made for an ideal afternoon.

Enjoying AleFest...take note of the OSU fans. At least they are easy to spot in a crowd.

I wish I would have brought my camera, but that would have cut in to more of my tasting time.  Also, I didn’t get “all the guys were the same clothes memo” that Brian and Gary apparently received. 

With over 200 beers represented, you are really spoiled for choice.  Oddly enough,the first line I waited in earned me a glass of…Schlitz.  Yes, Mike attends a craft beer festival to get a taste of Schlitz.  Whoops.  All of the “beer tables” are set up in tents with numbers above them.  Our job was to look at the number of the table and find the corresponding number in the book to figure out what beer was where.  I failed this simple challenge first time out.

On the plus side, I enjoyed some good draft beers including Hobgoblin from Wychwood, The Poet from New Holland, and Founder’s Porter.  I also enjoyed Brooklyn Beer’s Local 1 which I had not tried before.  The key words in the last sentence were “not tried before”.  For the life of me, I could not figure out why the lines were so long at locally established breweries like Magic Hat.  I like Magic Hat’s styles plenty, but I wanted to try things I had not before.

The only downside to the event was the quantity of restrooms port-a-potties.  I think I counted 15.  For an event of several hundred people that only lasts 4 hours in which the primary focus is the consumption of a beverage that makes you want to “hit the loo”, one would think there would be a few more restrooms.  Yes, I’m sure the rental of those things cuts into the bottom line, but so does my dry cleaning bill when I can’t hold it any longer.  I spent at least 45 minutes of my time there waiting in line.  Not good.

We had a great time, even with my bladder issues.  In fact, it was almost too big to really fit everything in.  Arriving late didn’t help either.  The Drew, who was also there, arrived early and told me it was like being a kid in the candy store.  Indeed it was.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

What’s on the Grill #147

Grilled Scallops with Baby Bok Choy and Soy-Ginger Beurre Blanc!  Well needless to say the menu was more of a mouthful than my actual meal.  Translation: I should have made more!  I absolutely love scallops.  Now I wouldn’t recognize a scallop in it’s natural habitat even if I stepped on one.  Seriously, even if that is possible…I honestly have no idea what a scallops looks like outside of how the fishmonger puts them on display.  I highly doubt that when you go diving into the deeps on a scallop hunt, you spot them by the $12/pound plastic stick stuck in the ground.  However, what I do know is that I like them in my stomach.  Enough said.

Grilled Scallops with Baby Bok Choy & Soy-Ginger Beurre Blanc

For my birthday earlier this year, my Dad bestowed upon me Fish & Shellfish, Grilled & Smoked by Karen Adler & Judith Fertig.  I have known my Dad to turn to this book for several years (with great success I might add), but since the only color photograph in the book is on the cover, the book has rarely held my interest past a few page turns.  No, I’m not that shallow, it’s just that my “self-prescribed ADD” like’s to look at succulent picture of food porn.  It’s just how I am.

Grilled Baby Bok Choy

With the book in hand, I finally started to give it a serious look.  Simply put, I was impressed.  This is a grilling book after all which, while huddled in my parent’s kitchen, was a fact that flew right over my head.  When eating with my folks I am usually too busy stuffing my face with appetizers of smoked sausage and cheese then to read fine print indicating things like “grill book” or better yet, “best before 1998” on some old salad dressing.

Grilled Scallops

Alright, enough back story.  I knew I wanted scallops for dinner so I ended up with this recipe.  Why?  Well, I love scallops, I love baby bok choy (and adult bok choy…adolescent bok choy? Not so much.), and I had no idea what beurre blanc was.  Turns out, Beurre blanc is a hot butter sauce with a wine reduction.  Or as I initially identified it, a buttload of butter with some other stuff in it.  Regardless, it’s great, easy, and I suggest you try it sometime.  In fact, try the whole thing. It is really quite simple and really quite astounding.

Grilled Scallops with Bok Choy & Soy-Ginger Beurre Blanc

Fish & Shellfish, Grilled & Smoked

24 sea scallops
3 small heads baby bok choy, bottoms intact cut lengthwise
olive oil
salt & pepper

For the Beurre Blanc:

2 cups dry white wine
2 tbls rice vinegar
2 tbls peeled & grated fresh ginger (this is why I always keep ginger root in the freezer!)
3 shallots, minced
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tbls soy sauce

1.  For the beurre blanc, bring the wine, vinegar, ginger, and shallots to a boil in a medium-size, heavy saucepan over high heat.  Reduce until only 2 tbls of liquid remain.

2.  Reduce the heat to low and whisk in the butter, a piece or two at a time, until you have a smooth, emulsified sauce. Whisk in the soy sauce and keep warm until ready to serve.

3.  Heat up your grill to direct high.

4.  Brush the scallops with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place the scallops and bok choy on the grill.  Note: If you have wide grates, you might want to use a grill screen.  Grill the bok choy about 1 minute per side, just enough to wilt and slightly char the leaves.  Transfer to a platter to keep warm.  Grill the scallops 2-3 minutes per side, until firm & opaque and still juicy, not dry.

5.  Place a half head of bok choy leaves on the plate, then place 4 scallops on the leaves.  Top the scallops with some additional sauce.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Completely Self Serving Post

In order to be totally transparent, if you do not want to help me when a new Weber Smokey Mountain, skip right over this post.  If, however, you feel the slightest urge from deep inside your heart to give a little clicky-clicky love, then please check out my entry on how to grill a pork shoulder on a Weber kettle over at  Voting (I think you have to register to vote) takes place over the next couple of weeks. 
The Sign...
First, my thanks to one of my readers, Steve, for pointing out the contest to me.  Admittedly, I was a little hesitant at entering, only because there are so many different ways to cook a shoulder.   However, I had fun putting the post together and choosing pictures.  Plus, if there was any chance of introducing this type of cooking process to someone who has never grilled before, I was all for it.
If I win, I will take a poll for what should be the maiden cook.  If I lose, I will take a poll on what to cook on the kettle I already own.  At this rate, we are all still winners.  Thanks for reading.  This is my completely self serving post signing off.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Brew Day & Grill Day…all in one

Saturday was yet another brew day.  With the upcoming homebrew contest at the Dayton Art Institute, we had no time to waste.  We had to get our brew going. 

Brew Day in full swing

While Drew, Eric, & I brewed, Dave spent the day building his wort chiller and mashtun. Coupled with Dave’s new burner, all of his “toys” put the rest of us to shame.

Dave crafting his chiller

Dave used 50 feet of 3/8 inch copper versus my 25 feet of 1/2 inch.  The additional surface area on his immersion chiller kills mine.  In fact, I won’t even touch the fact I deployed my older counterflow chiller to “meh” results.

Brew Day also gave a Drew a chance to use his beer gun.  The device allows him to bottle beer from his corny keg.  A quick blast of CO2 followed by beer and voila…bottled beer minus the typical homebrew bottling mess.  Did I mention I need one of these?

The Drew & his beer gun

By the end of the day, the sun peaked out allowing us to enjoy the “grill part” of the day.  Mike again blessed us with his magical deep fried wings.  We also had another onion loaf which was devoured in minutes.  Also, for the first time at brew day, I grilled BBQ cabbage.  Although this might not look like much in the pictures, it is simply divine.

BBQ Cabbage, the beginning

(Based on a recipe from Raichlen’s BBQ USA) Take a medium to large head of cabbage and core out the top to a depth of about 3-4 inches.  In a skillet, sauté a diced jalapeno pepper and half a small onion.  Add approximately 8 ounces of chorizo and cook.  Once done, transfer the meat mixture to a strainer and collect the draining fat.  In a bowl, add the meat mixture to 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese.  Place the meat/cheese mixture in the head of the cabbage and top with more cheese and a tablespoon of butter.

BBQ Cabbage, several hours later

Grill the cabbage for approximately 2 hours.  If the cabbage begins to darken too much, loosely tent some aluminum foil over it.  When you can stick a skewer all the way through the cabbage, it’s done.  Remove from the grill, cut into pieces, and serve.

BBQ Cabbage, the remnants

The true winner of the day, however,  was the 18 lb boneless rib roast Brian picked up.  At first, everyone gave Brian grief for deviating from the Brew Day pork ritual…but that was until they saw the side of cow he brought along for the ride on the rotisserie. 

Brian mounting the meat...

The outside of the beef was seasoned with fresh rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper.  From there, we placed it on the rotisserie and mounted it on the Summit.  I was a little worried about the size.  At one point, I did a 16 pound turkey which just fit.  Fortunately, although the beef weighed more, it was better distributed along the spit.  The only downside was that it was too big for a drip pan.  It looks like I have some cleaning to do later.

18 pounds of roto sliced goodness

The meat turned out good, if not cooked a little too long. This was another example of taking on too much in too small of a window (ie brewing & cooking).  Most of us prefer medium rare meat.  With the size of the roast, the middle should have been much more rare with the not-so rare folks enjoying the ends. Not today, the whole thing was more medium.  But, still good and still amazingly large!

The next brew day is already set for September.  We all can not wait. 

Collecting the run-off

Monday, August 17, 2009

What’s on the Grill #146

Since first talking about Bison back in January, I have done a bit more experimentation (read: eating).  I have had bison sirloin at home: good, bison ribeye at Ruth’s Chris: alright, bison (& turkey=burkey) burgers at home: incredible, bison ribeye at Stone Brewing’s Bistro: sensational, and the other night, thanks to Mike, bison filets at home: smashing.

Bison Tenderloin Filet

Admittedly, I was a little worried after my Ruth’s Chris experience that perhaps bison was not all it was meant to be.  However, the ribeye last month at Stone and the filet from the other night renewed my faith in this thousand plus pound wandering beast.

The biggest benefit of bison is the tremendous health benefit versus beef.  A 8 oz bison ribeye (which yes, is kind of small), only has 10 grams of fat, 4 grams of saturated fat, and 53 grams of protein.  A comparable piece of beef has over twice the amount of fat and saturated fat, and only a slightly higher amount of protein. 

Mike stopped by to bottle beer and brought two fresh bison tenderloin filets that his buddy butcher at Dorothy Lane Market cut for him.  Since bison is so lean, I was really wondering how it stand up as a tenderloin filet.

I am hot and cold on filets because of their inherent lack of fat content, but I have to tell you, I really enjoyed the bison.  Yes, it was lean, but the flavor to me stood out and made it quite enjoyable.  No, it’s not “gamey”, it’s just different…different and good.  I new feel comfortable that there will be much more of this “healthy” meat in my future.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Baked Apple Stuffed with Sausage and Sage: What’s on the Grill #145

Grilled & Smoked Apples Stuffed with Sausage & Sage!  I stumbled across this recipe towards the back of Steven Raichlen’s BBQ USA.  Although I love grilled apples, I was little curious, if not dubious, as to how they would taste stuffed full of sausage instead of butter and raisins.   Thankfully my curiosity paid off, they were great.  According to Raichlen, this dish is a New England tradition.  I now hope to make it a tradition at home.

After an hour on the grill, the apples really take on an interesting medley of taste.  You get a the savory smoky taste of sausage, followed by the sweetness of the maple syrup, surrounded by the tart hint of apple.  To me, it was really neat exploring those flavors.  It was one of those meals where I concentrated on each bite trying to determine exactly what I was eating, even though I already knew.  It was that much of an adventure.

Fortunately the apples are easy to make, so you can experiment with this new treat in your own backyard. I am curious as to what you think.

Baked Apple Stuffed with Sausage and Sage
Adapted from Steven Raichlen’s BBQ USA: 425 Fiery Recipes from All Across America

3 T butterGrilled Apples Stuffed with Sausage & Sage
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 pound of sausage
4 fresh sage leaves, minced (right from the garden!)
salt & pepper
4 T maple syrup
6 large apples

1.  Add 1 T butter to a skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and celery and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes.  Add the sausage and sage.  Increase the heat to high, and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon.  Cook until brown.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

2.  Transfer the stuffing to a strainer set over a bowl to drain off the excess fat (of course in my opinion, is there really such a thing as “excess” fat?!), reserving the fat for basting (now we’re talking!).  Let the stuffing cool to room temperature.

3.  Using a melon baller, corer, knife, or perhaps a very strong finger, remove the core from each apple creating a large cavity (the larger the better).  Just be sure not to cut all of the way through the apple. We want a container, not a sieve.

4.  Spoon the stuffing into the apples.  Next, top of the apples with equal amounts of maple syrup.  Then, top the apple with the remaining butter.

5.  Brush the outside of the apples with the excess fat you collected .

6.  Soak wood chips (I used maple) in water for approximately 30-45 minutes.  Set up your charcoal grill for indirect medium grilling (A gas grill can be used instead too).

7.  Once your grill is at temperature, drop your soaked wood chips on the coals and close the lid.  When smoke appears, place your apples on the grill.  Remember, you are grilling indirect so the apples should not be over the coals.

8.  Grill the apples until soft, approximately one hour.

If you are looking for something different, I can guarantee these apples will do the job.  They can make a great meal by themselves, or serve as a great side.  For me, the apples were a side.  Why?  My main course was this:

Along with this:

Troegs Dreamweaver

Sunday, August 09, 2009

What’s on the Grill #144

Cheese & Jalapeno Stuffed Hotdogs!  With all of this uber hot sticky weather we have been experiencing in southwest Ohio this weekend, I determined that it would be an outdoor day.  Since I knew I was going to be outside, I figured I would not only plan on grilling dinner, but also lunch.

The Setup

For the last couple of weeks, I have been craving a good grilled hot dog.  However, not being content with just having a hot dog, I thought back to a hot dog I saw pictured in Steven Racihlen’s How to Grill.  This stuffed hot dog has been in the back of my mind for several years.  For some reason though, I never made it.  Until now.  This is super easy and puts a delicious twist on an old staple. 

Take a hot dog and slice it down the vertical edge being careful not to slice it all the way through. 

The Slice

Take a slice of cheddar cheese approximately 1/4 inch thick and place it in the slit.  From there, thinly slice some jalapeno peppers and place them with the cheese in the slit.

The Stuff

With butcher’s twine, bind the hot dog together to keep the stuffing intact.

The Tie

Over medium high heat, directly grill the hot dogs for approximately 10 minutes. After you develop some grill marks, you may want to move them over indirect heat to finish.

The Grill

All in all, really, really good.  This is what daytime summer grilling is all about.

Jalapeno & Cheese Stuffed Hotdogs

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

What’s on the Grill #143

Shrimp & Chicken with Chili Paste & Basil!  OK, a word of warning.  If you don’t like spicy food, don’t try this…or at least dial down the chili paste.  My head is still sweating and if you have ever seen a bald head sprout water like the falls going over Niagara, it is not a pretty sight. 

Shrimp & Chicken with chili paste & basil

I feel like it has been forever since I have done a WOTG post, so I am sliding back into this slowly.  By slowly, I mean only using the side burner of the grill.  I have also been on a Thai kick as of late.  The other night I cooked up shrimp, rice, and pineapple and tonight, it’s shrimp & chicken.  We also had Thai takeaway twice while visiting Anne.  I absolutely love Thai food…if that isn’t obvious by now.  For the most part it is incredibly easy to make.  The difficult part is always the preparation.  Since wok cooking is hot, fast, & quick, you have to be ready.  Mise en place is a must.

Mise en place

They say a hot work is the key to great wok cooking.  I am currently bound by the lackluster 12000 BTU of my side burner.  I have hope to plumb in a true wok burner some day. In the meantime, I am thinking about placing the wok in charcoal to boast the temp.  Regardless of the method, it is always a fun way to cook.

The Stir of the Fry

One last thing.  This has been my best year for herbs.  I have a killer stash of basil and Thai basil.  Both were the impetus for wanting to do something with basil.  The pots are literally overflowing.

Shrimp & chicken with chili paste & basil

based on the recipe from Nancie McDermott’s Quick & Easy Thai

3 tbls vegetable oil
1 tbls chopped garlic
1/2 lb shrimp (peeled & deveined thank you)
1/2 lb chopped chicken thighs
3 tbls chili paste (I used Sambal Oelek…seriously consider 1 tbls if heat is an issue)
2 tbls fish sauce
1/3 cup water
1 tsp sugar
1 cup fresh(!) Thai or Italian Basil

1.  Heat the oil in your wok until you toss in some garlic and it sizzles.  Add the rest of the garlic and toss.  Try not to let it burn.  Add in the shrimp & chicken and cook until the shrimp is opaque and the chicken won’t kill you (2-3 minutes).

2.  Add the chili paste, fish sauce, water, sugar. Continue to cook and toss until the fish & chicken is completely cooked and covered in sauce.  Add the basil leaves, toss and serve.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Ready the kettle!

Draining the wortWe learned this week (we, meaning our rag tag bunch of homebrewers) that the annual Oktoberfest celebration at the Dayton Art Institute will host a homebrew competition.  The Drew is already on course with a brew in mind.  I am also fairly certain that I will enter, as will Eric, Dave, and most likely Mike too.
Here are the relevant facts:
Intended for home brewers of beer made with non-commercial equipment, judging will be conducted by a panel of non-professional judges in three categories: Pale Ale/India Pale Ale, Wheat Beers (German or American) and Porter/Stout. The First Place Winner and Runner Up in each category will compete for Best in Show.
To even further reinforce the idea that all forms of creativity are art, each category will also be judged for Best Label, with those winners taking part in the Best in Show judging.  Home brewers are encouraged to design their most creative labels reflective of their personalities and the style of their brew.
The entrance fee is $25 per entry - all proceeds benefit The Dayton Art Institute! Prizes include:
  • One First Place Winner and one Runner Up Winner in each category shall be chosen by the judges.  Each First Place Winner will receive a large Oktoberfest mug and will be eligible for the Best in Show tasting.  Each Runner Up will be eligible for the Best in Show tasting.
  • The winner of the Best Label in each category will receive a small Oktoberfest mug and will be eligible for the Best in Show tasting.
  • A Best in Show winner will be selected based on a second tasting of all First Place, Runner Up and Best Label brews in each category (up to 9 brews).  This tasting will be Sunday afternoon of Oktoberfest weekend, with the formal announcement of Best in Show occurring at 4:00 p.m.  Best in Show will receive a Warsteiner Glass Beer Boot and bragging rights for one year!
My first observation is that there is no do doubt we are using “non-commercial” equipment.  Have you seen my cart?  Second, the categories are great.  I am leaning Porter.  Finally, if anything, I know we can come up with some good labels.  In fact, I can only imagine what Eric will come up with!
So, we shall plan our next brew session quickly.  If you are a local homebrewer, make plans to enter.  Seeing this is the first time out for the competition, let’s make sure there are enough entries to warrant the 2nd Annual Homebrew Competition!  It should be good times all around.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Lego’s, Giraffe’s, & Rockets

Welcome to Lego VegasTaste TestThe Saturn V

I’m back, and as of today life is back to normal.  It has been a whirlwind couple of weeks visiting family in California and Texas.  As summer’s typically go with Bean, we packed a lot in.  This summer even more so.  While in California with Anne we went to Legoland (blah), the San Diego Wild Animal Park (most excellent, even if I was molested by a large male giraffe), Stone Brewing Company (most, most excellent!), a Russian Sub (comrade cool), and Vegas (always fun).  The following week we zipped down to Houston and while visiting Matthew (and somehow Anne ended up there too!) hit an Astros game (a blast) and the Johnson Space Center (Space Center blah…historic mission control, very, very cool). 

This is my idea on how to serve beer at a table:

The best meal of the trip was at Stone, quickly followed by The Brick House in Houston.  The brick house was not haute cuisine, but really, really good pub grub with a “man” influence.  Plus, they had an extensive draft/firkin selection and served the beer at each table in “bongs”.  These “bongs” were large clear cylinders with a tap handle.  This is the first time I have seen something like this and when it come to gimmicks, I’m hooked.

Matt's new grill!

When it goes to cooking/grilling, I am proud to report that I used my first Foreman grill at Anne’s.  We made quick and easy Grilled Chicken Caesar Wraps which were…quick and easy.  At Matthew’s, I was proud to help him assemble his first Weber grill.  He picked up a Weber Sprit 310 which we assembled during a thunderstorm, ant attack, and 93 degree heat.  I wasn’t sure if the water running down my face was tears of pride, or sweat.  It was probably a little of both.