Sunday, February 28, 2010

Salute to Canada!

Salute to Canada

Back in college, I used to enjoy Labatt Blue quite a bit (“quite a bit” is a very subject term and open to debate as to what it actually means).  Whenever I grabbed a bottle of the Blue, I always gave it a two finger “Salute to Canada” for crafting, what I thought at the time, a really good beer.  Well fast forward many years later and I find the Blue good, but without the “really”. 

Well, with the end of the Olympics in Vancouver tonight and the USA v Canada hockey game on now, I couldn’t think of a better time to once again salute the Great White North.  Yes, I know Rush won’t play the Closing Ceremonies, but I have listened to Jonathan Coulton’s Curl endlessly, thanks to a reminder from one of Eric’s tweets.  Thanks for some great games Canada.  Now to make arrangements to actually go see the games in London in 2012.  There, my beer choices take off exponentially!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

What's on the Grill #162

Bacon, Goat Cheese, Bison & Poblano Sliders! A couple weeks ago I stumbled across a post on Cowgirl's Country blog for Hickory Smoked-Meat Stuffed Anaheim Peppers. I'm always looking for something a little different to try, and her creation hit the spot.

I wasn't able to follow her recipe entirely, so I went with what I had, namely: bacon, goat cheese, bison, poblano peppers, & a ravenous appetite. Oddly, the last ingredient is always on hand, especially when the cupboard is bare.

Cracklin Poblanos

First off, (after prepping the grill and having a beer...of course), I placed the peppers on the grill to blacken their skin. In all, with flipping, about 10 minutes over direct medium-high. Once the skins are blackened, I placed them in a paper bag to allow them to steam. When the peppers were cool to the touch, I removed the darkened skin and then cut them in half emptying out the seeds. The peppers will in essence be the "buns".

Ground Bison

For the meat, I took my "go to" bison and mixed it with some rub I had sitting around, along with half a bottle of Hopslam. I was too cheap to put in the whole thing.

After the meat mixture was well combined, I spooned it onto the pepper halves, topped it with goat cheese and wrapped it with two strips of bacon.

Wrapped for the Grill

I grilled the sliders over indirect medium heat for about an hour. Did I mention I actually went old school and fired up a kettle? The cold and snow has made me lazy, so it was nice to at least "think spring" and light up the charcoal.

Bacon, Goat Cheese, Bison, & Poblano Pepper Sliders

Once done, I ate them all. Just kidding, only half of them. They were that good. These will make a great summer appetizer. Thanks Cowgirl for the idea!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Grilling Companion

I extend a special thanks to the guys at Grilling Companion for featuring my Planked Chicken Pesto post on their most excellent site. Thanks to Twitter, we crossed paths. The guys at Grilling Companion have a site that covers the gamut from recipes to grilling news to tips. I have really enjoyed following them, and suggest you do to!


Sunday, February 21, 2010

And then there were 3...

...columns that is. I've been unhappy with the look of my blog for sometime. For awhile, I worked pretty hard behind the scenes to migrate to Wordpress. I even installed a local webserver to play with a new design. As you can see, nothing has happened. Instead, I have settled for a...hold it...a third column. Yeah, good times. What might seem like an easy task (and to many, probably is), turned into a multihour ordeal. CSS and HTML are not my strong points. Thank goodness for Google.

Although free time is nonexistent, I hope to still "freshen" things up a little bit over the coming weeks. Of course my idea of cyberspace freshening up is the equivalent of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. Don't hold your breath for anything dramatic.

Meanwhile (once again cue Ted Knight), it was a great weekend which has again come to an end too soon. Fortunately, Friday started off just Boston's.

Founder's Double Trouble

Founder's Double Trouble


Ahhh, a Leffe

Flying Dog's Gonzo Imperial Porter

Flying Dog's Gonzo Imperial Porter

What's on the Grill #161

Stuffed Salmon

Salmon Grilled in Grape Leaves! In what is apparently my quest to grill Salmon in every vessel imaginable, I stumbled on one more: grape leaves. Interestingly enough, I have had a jar of grape leaves in the cupboard for months. I've been wanting to use them forever and forever arrived this weekend. Phew.

When it comes to off the beaten track grilling, I love to go to Stephen Raichlen's The Barbecue Bible. I remember first picking it up over 10 years ago. I still find myself going to it again and again. Not only does he explore every bit of BBQ in the US, he travels to all points abroad, which is where tonight's recipe comes from.

Salmon Wrapped in Grape Leaves
Adapted from Stephen Raichlen's The Barbecue Bible

8 to 16 grape leaves packed in brine, drained
2 salmon filets (about 6 ounces each)
1/2 cup shelled walnuts
2 gloves garlic, chopped
2 tbls chopped fresh dill
2 tbls chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbls fresh lemon juice
2 paper thin lemon slices

Walnut, dill, & cilantro

1. Rinse the grape leaves under cold water and then place in a bowl with water, allowing them to soak about 20 minutes. Change the water at least once.

2. Meanwhile (in your best Ted Knight voice), rinse the salmon filets under cold water. Place the filets on a cutting board and cut a slit down the long side of the filet. Make the slit about an inch from each end and be careful not to cut all of the way through. Season the filets with salt and pepper.

Making the Pocket

3. Combine the walnuts garlic, dill, cilantro, and lemon juice in a food processor and process to a thick paste. I used my favorite kitchen gadget, my Cuisinart Smart Stick. This thing seriously rocks.

My favorite tool

Spoon the stuffing into the pockets.

Stuffing the Pocket

4. Arrange 2 to 3 grape leaves on your work surface, so that the leaves overlap and form a rectangle (or in my case, a Maple's the Olympics, ehh?). Place the filet on top of the grape leaves and then top the filet with a lemon slice.

Oh Canada...

Flap the grape leaves over the salmon filet to form a packet.

Wrap and hold

5. Preheat your grill to high. Once the grill is ready, oil your grates. I dropped the temp to medium and then placed the grape leaves on the grill. Grill each side for approximately 4 - 5 minutes.

It doesn't look like much...

4. Once done, remove the grape leaves and serve.

This turned out really well. Although I overcooked mine just a tad, I was really happy with the stuffing and taste. This will definitely be on my "do again" list. Even better, it went great with some Duvel I picked up earlier in the day.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

What's on the Grill #160

Planked Pesto Chicken

Pesto Planked Chicken! Well it's mid February here in southwest Ohio and the thrill of winter and experiencing the "changing of the seasons" is about 12 weeks old. In fact, the last time this cold weather and repeated snow was enjoyable was when it was still Fall, 60 degrees, and this winter imagery was just that, a mental image.

The Sun's Temperature

Nonetheless, the path to the grills is well shoveled and I was able to reset the GFI outlet on the deck which had rendered the deck lightless Thursday and required me at the time to grill by iPhone light. The cold weather has unfortunately stifled my creativity too (of course some will argue I have no creativity, but I will ignore my best friends for now). So, when I glanced at a plank grilling book at a bookstore over the weekend, I thought of adapting something different to the grill and voila, I have tonight's dinner.

Everyone knows I hate boneless, skinless, chicken breasts. I would much rather take a fryer, cut it up/spatchcock it/roto it/whatever, than grill a nondescript breast. In fact, I'm slightly embarrassed Slashfood featured this picture in their Drool Over This feature. So, when I decided to grill chicken tonight, I decided to not only cut it up, but to grill it on a cedar plank.

The extra step that made dinner easy, was the pesto I had frozen in ice cube trays. I can't remember where I picked this hack up, but it has paid off time and time again.

Pesto at the ready

Pesto Planked Chicken

Chicken Fryer cut into pieces


Olive Oil

Salt & Pepper

Cedar Plank

1. Take your cedar plank and soak it in water for at least an hour. I talk more about planks here.

2. Preheat our grill to medium high

3. Cut up your chicken into pieces.

1 Fryer = 6 pieces of chicken

4. Rub your chicken pieces in olive oil and then season with salt and pepper.

Smoking Plank

5. Place your soaked plank on the grill over direct heat for approximately 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, the plank should start to smoke and burn. Remove it, and turn it over. Place your chicken pieces, equally spaced on the unburned side and return to the grill over low direct heat/medium direct. In other words, maintain a hood temp of 350ish, but keep the plank over burner(s) on low.

Birds on Board

6. I will cook the breasts for approximately an hour over direct low. Because I cut my own planks, they are fairly thick and can take the low heat for an extended amount of time. If you buy thin planks from the store, you may be forced to go into indirect heat so you don't end up with this.

7. During the last 20 minutes of grilling, smother the breasts with pesto.

8. Serve when the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees.


Pesto is always good on chicken, but the cedar adds a really nice smokey flavor that not only makes this a great dinner, but the base for great pesto chicken salad the next day.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Backyard Brewing Association: The 2010 Season

Brian's Beer

After brewing most of 2009, it is hard to believe it has been 3 months since we brewed. With 10 inches of snow on the ground, it was the joint feeling of everyone involved that nothing would screw up our day.

Hops in!

Obviously this brew session was more garage than backyard. In the end, the weather proved to more of an annoyance than a hindrance. Even though I planned ahead by thawing out all of the garden hoses, I still managed to blow an outside faucet. Whoops. I think I'll fix it when it gets warmer outside.

Cold outside, warm in

The downside of winter brewing

We were excited that Brian made the homebrew leap and chose this weekend for his maiden brew. Nothing brings a tear to my eye more than watching someone assemble their propane burner and brew supplies for the first time. Well, maybe Eric brings a tear to my eye after he eats a bunch of chicken wings all day, but that's a different story.

Drew's big beer
The only time the garage door was actually open

Today marked some pretty ambitious brews too. Drew worked on his massive barley wine, while Dave and I both brewed Double IPAs. When mine is done, it will have used about a pound of hops. I can't wait.

No need for a fridge
Eric on his iPhone

The brewing went really well. The cold temperature coupled with the hot boils provided an erie ambiance as steam rolled throughout the garage. The only thing missing were our monk robes and a cave.

Drew working his kettleSnow = Great ChillingBrian checking the boil

I had some auxiliary propane heat running and thanks to Eric, had a CO detector nearby too. I believe it was Mike who said if he showed up and found us all dead, he was going to pretend he didn't know any of us.


On the food side of things, the weather threw a small wrench into my plans. I could not afford to babysit the brisket on the kettle, so I opted for the...ahem, Summit. Yes, I know the purists will hang me for this, but I had to do it, or we would have never eaten. Fortunately, it turned out quite good. Not as good as the kettle, but still tasty after a long day of brewing.

Onion LoafFry Man MikeChicken Wings

Mike fulfilled his roll as lead fryer whipping us up an onion loaf and chicken wings. I know of no better brew day meal. Between having a successful brew, enjoying great homebrew, and gorging on brisket and wings, there is no better way to spend a cold February day. Although by the end of the night, a warm weather brew day did begin to sound appealing.

Chilling & Cleaning

Saturday, February 06, 2010

It has arrived, & snow will not get in the way!

Unfortunately, thanks to 10 inches of snow, the brisket is on the..ahem, Summit. I just don't have the time to babysit the kettle and my brew kettle in this frigid weather. Purists, please forgive me, but there is beer to brew. Here's hoping for success!