Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Somebody has a new toy...

For some time, I have been wanting to upgrade my Canon EOS 40D.  I have always been incredibly happy with the images over the last four years, but have longed for something a little "more"...oh, and the ability to shoot full HD with real glass too. Well, wait no more.  I am now the proud owner of a Canon EOS 7D.

A new toy

What does this mean for you, dear reader?  Well for me, it means learning where all of the buttons have moved to.  Actually, this is only partially true.  Most of the important buttons are still in the same spot.  There are, however, more buttons!  I'm curious as to which of these my nose will hit errantly.  My nose became an unwanted "assistant" on the 40D.  I hoping with the 7D it sticks to it's day job, facilitating breath.  Anyway, for you, it will hopefully mean better pictures.

It will also mean, as I hinted above, better video.  A steak looks great in a photo, but when you can not only see it sizzling, but hear it too, I think it's pretty neat.

I have a lot to learn about the functionality on the movie side, so in the meantime I can bore you with experiments such as this, how I spent last night at the grill:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hops & Glory

Last month, the fine people at Newcastle offered me a chance to try out their Newcastle Brown Ale Draughtkeg.  Since I was already a huge fun of Newcastle, I leapt at the opportunity.  Since then, I thankfully discovered Belmont Party Supply sells it too.  Win, win!

On Ice

A few weeks ago, I received a follow-up email asking if I wanted to try the Newcastle seasonal Summer Ale, Hops and Glory.  Hops and Glory is not available in Dayton, so I was intrigued.  I had never heard of it before.  However, when a few members of our brewing circle indicated they recently had tried it outside of Dayton, I was little worried as to what to expect.   Their reviews were not rave.

The Geordie Glass

Newcastle provided me with a free six pack.  At the get-go of Man-Brew-Afternoon-Day, several of us tried it.  The verdict?  Actually, pretty good.

Hops & Glory

Although my tasting notes are slim, Hops and Glory had a moderate amount of hop bite, with a citrus notes and almost a sour quality...maybe apple?  This is a summer session beer.  Is this Newcastle Brown Ale?  No.  Is this hard core craft beer?  No.  Is this something you can bring to a Miller Lite crowd and convince there are better things than pissy yelllow beer? Absolutely.

Psssssst

In fact, in the aisles of big brand summer brews, this could really stick out.  It has an interesting enough of a flavor profile to satisfy craft beer drinkers and at the same time not scare off bad beer drinkers.  It's a sort of peace beer bridge.

I can say without reservation, I would pick up another six.  In fact, if heading off to a "non beer" friend, I would hit them first with Hops and Glory, and then work them towards Newkie Brown.  It takes one to lead to the other and I am perfectly fine in starting a foundation with a little Hops and Glory.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Man-Brew-Afternoon-Day

Historically, we have had ManNight, at night and Brew Day, during the afternoon.  Last weekend we mixed it all up and made one huge 12 hour event: Man-Brew-Afternoon-Day.

The Man Trophy

The prerequisites for ManNight are A. Zoe is out of the country and B. We can all get together.  "A." was easily achieved thanks to the Isle of Wight Festival.  "B.", however, proved a bit of a challenge as a hectic weekend messed up schedules.  Even though the Backyard Brewing Society was short on members, we welcomed a new associate and still managed to have a damn good time.  Oh, the prerequisites for Brew Day?  Easy, empty kegs.

Runnings

This years theme was "Old Man Florida".  For inspiration, most of us looked to our fathers.  Before long, I imagine we will just start looking in the mirror.

On the brewing front, I brewed a Fuggle IPA, mostly because I way over bought Fuggle hops by accident last week.  Drew did his first decotion mash, where he heated up part of his mash in order to raise the overall mash temperature.  Typically, we mash at one temperature.  The picture below shows the two distinct temperatures of the grain.  The darker grain is much hotter than the lighter.

Drew's Decotion

The week before last also happened to be my birthday.  In honor, Drew's wife made what is now my favorite cake: The Steak.  After all, how else can you wish someone Happy Beef Day?

Happy Beef Day!

It must be obvious I like my steak medium rare. The cake itself was red velvet.  We don't typically eat a lot of cake, but we sure ate this one.  Absolutely fabulous.

Salsa

Food ranged from our usual fatty, to fresh salsa, guacamole and on the meat front, boston butts and a brisket.

Pork over Brisket

This was my first long smoke on the Saffire.  The minimal use of fuel continues to amaze me.  Using the minion method, I consumed just over half of a 6 pound back of lump for a 10 hour cook.  The temperature gauge, once locked in at 250, stayed put until I was done.

Come and pull me

The food was great and three days later, I have just about exhausted what few leftovers I had.

Although we typically fry something for ManNight, we went the relative healthy route and had a shrimp boil instead.

Shrimp Boil

This may begin to occupy a spot in our usual lineup.  The preparation was easy, as I knocked most of it out ahead of time.  Just a little heat, some boiling water, a little more Old Bay and pow, great finger food.

Pulling a Pint

So, as we completely expected, Man-Brew-Afternoon-Day was a success.

Dining by rain

We had great beer, great food and the laughs and good times only possible with a great group of friends.

Old Man Florida

Sunday, June 19, 2011

What's on the Grill #221: Spareribs, Beef Ribs & BBQ Cabbage

I've been on a bit of a rib kick latey.  Typically when grilling ribs, I am pretty quick to throw down racks of baby backs, but this week I branched out and instead smoked both beef ribs and pork spareribs.

Unlike baby backs, beef ribs and spareribs pack even more meat.  Although because of their size they take slightly longer to cook, they are as every bit tender.  Baby backs do not take a lot of prep work.  However, spareribs take a few more steps.  For an excellent primer on proper sparerib cuts, check out Josh's writeup on The Meatwave.

Rib Bones

It has probably been years since I've smoked beef ribs.  I won't let that happen again.  I found them rich, tender and full of flavor.  They were a nice detour from the baby backs.

Beef Ribs

Even though I smoked the beef ribs a little long, other backyard activities got the best of me, I have no complaints.  They were all gone by lunch the next day.  I consider this the sign of a successful meal.

Part of my rib interest is also part instructional.  I'm putting the Saffire through its paces.

Ready in Red

I can definitely say I can see a marked difference in the smoking on the Saffire, versus my modified smoking with the Weber kettles.  Perhaps this is why over the last couple of weeks I haven't been able to get enough BBQ.  The smoking process on the Saffire is very easy.

Sliced Spareribs

Even though it was fun to experiment with the ribs, I also used the opportunity to BBQ a cabbage.  BBQ cabbage is really a delicious treat and the process, minus the whole hot grill/sharp knife steps, could be summed up in a children's cookbook.

BBQ Cabbage

Take a head of cabbage and cut off the base.

Cutting Cabbage

Using a short, sharp knife, cut a "bowl" in the top of the cabbage.

Making the Bowl

Take a piece of aluminum foil and roll it longwise.  Wrap the rolled foil around the base of the cabbage to support it siting up verticaly.  The cut bowl can than hold whatever topping you would like.  I went with chorizo.  After browning the meat in a skillet (can you really "brown" chorizo?), add the meat to the cavity and if desired, top with cheese.  For some extra wow, brush the outside of the cabbage with any leftover chorizo skillet fat.

Stuffed

BBQ the cabbage over indirect medium heat.  It will take around an hour, or until the cabbage is tender.

BBQ Cabbage

To serve, cut the cabbage into quarters and chop roughly.   Place the meat and cabbage in a large bowl and mix together.

Split

Now my coworkers were less than pleased when they learned I had chorizo and cabbage for dinner and it wasn't because they wanted leftovers.

Regardless of what kind of ribs you grill next, throw a head of BBQ cabbage on the grill.  It's easy, delicious and memorable...in more ways than one.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What's on the Grill #220: Beef Tenderloin injected with Whiskey Butter

For reasons I do not entirely understand, whenever we get together with family we tend to have beef tenderloin.  No mater what state, household or mental condition we are in, beef tenderloin is almost always on the menu.  So, when the parental units were invited over for dinner, what did we have?  You guessed it, beef tenderloin.

When cooking for the masses, tenderloin is about as easy as it gets and if you buy a PSMO from Sam's and butcher it, it is really quite affordable too.

Since we were having tenderloin and I am forbidden from making Dad's recipe, I opted for something different and extreme.  Whenever I throw those two word together, I turn to Ted Reader's King of Q's Blue Plate BBQ.  It's extreme, different and then some.  Ted's recipes are usually 2 or 3 recipes deep, meaning you have to make something else to get what you want.  Although it takes effort and planning, he is really a hard core and fun griller.  My kind of guy.

Beef Tenderloin injected with Whiskey Butter Based on the recipe from Ted Reader,  King of Q's Blue Plate BBQ

1/2 cup + 1 tbsp + 2 tbsp melted unsalted butter 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp whiskey (Ted used cognac...I, sadly, didn't have any) 1 tbsp + 2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme 1 (2-4 lb) tenderloin 2 tbsp olive oil 1/4 of your favorite BBQ rub (Ted used his Smoked Salt Rub, which is awesome) 6 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced 1 lb oyster mushrooms salt and pepper

1.  In a bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the butter, 1/4 cup of the whiskey and 1 tbsp of the thyme.

A boozy syringe

2.  Fill a meat injector with the butter whiskey mixture and inject your prepped tenderloin in as many places as you can.

You won't feel a thing...really

3.  Cover the meat with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge for a couple hours.  About 30 minutes before hitting the grill, remove the meat from the fridge and plastic wrap and cover with the rub.  Allow the meat to come to room temperature.  Prep your grill for direct medium.

Rubbed and Waiting

4.  While the meat is marinating, add 1 tbsp of butter in a pan over medium heat.  Add the shallots, cooking for 3-4 minutes, until tender.  Then add the mushrooms, again cooking for another 3-4 minutes, until tender.  Add the whiskey and deglaze the pan by scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom.  Remove from the heat and stir in 2 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of thyme.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Keep the pan warm until dinner in served.

Grilled Whiskey Butter Tenderloin

5.  Grill the tenderloin over direct heat for about 6-8 minutes a side.  Since I was cooking for different people with different tastes, I put the well done (yes, you may shudder) piece on first.  I added the medium rare piece about 12 minutes later (yes, you may applaud).  For medium rare, remove from the grill when it hits about 130 degrees...allow it to rest for about 5 minutes.  For the well done piece, remove it from the grill when it looks like it lost a fight.

6. After the meat has rested, slice and top with the shallot mushroom mixture.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Sunday Brew

This past Sunday, Dave and I got together for an impromptu Brew Day.  Yes, although only two of us attended, I believe according to the Backyard Brewing Society bylaws it is still technically a Brew Day. Looking back, I'm actually not quite sure how we planned this thing in the first place.  One morning last week, Dave popped into my office and said, "Hey, why don't we brew on Sunday".  I apparently said yes and voila...Sunday morning Brew Day!

Checking Temp

We couldn't have asked for better weather.  The only downside wasn't on us, it was on the animals.  The Castaways, Mary Ann and Ginger, hid out in the grass,

Hunting the Sergenti

while Tessa grabbed the occasional thrown frisbee and looked her usual uncomfortable nerotic self.  Her wet stringy neck coat is thanks to the indoor cat, Moses, who secretly cleans and licks Tessa when humans aren't looking.

Tessa

On the beer front, I brewed a Fuller's ESB clone and Dave put together a Sierra Nevada pale ale clone.  Our originality wasn't running very high.

Collections

As far as note taking goes, I still enjoy using my iOS iBrewmaster app.  The last few updates have brought some great feature enhancements I have been longing for.

iBrewMaster

I can't recommend it enough, especially the multiple hop additions and boil timer.  It is very handy and quite cool.

As readers of this blog can attest to, Brew Days are chock full of brewing, beer and food.  Dave even mentioned not worrying about food when he previously posed the Sunday brew idea.  However, I get hungry.  After a quick dash to the store, i threw some much needed sustenance on the grill, conveniently shaped like hamburger patties.

Burgers

Two burgers a piece, nestled between grilled buns and topped with thick slabs of cheddar cheese and a dollop of mayonnaise.  I believe I ate both of mine in under 5 minutes.

Fast Lunch

What we thought would be a fast morning of brewing, turned into a meandering adventure lasting until early afternoon.  We sat, we talked, we ate and in the end, hope we brewed some really good beer.

Aeration

Sunday, after all, was really a warm up, as a more traditional Brew Day with the Society is in the very, very near future.

Monday, June 06, 2011

What's on the Grill #219: Grilled Caesar Salad

Grilled Caesar Salad has been on my "grill list" for some time.  I thought someone I knew recently posted something similar, although for the life of me I can find the post.  If it was you, let me know!

Romaine

One of the things I love about grilling in the summer (yeah, it's still spring technically, but it feels like summer), is having the time and ability to throw non-typical grill fare over the coals. Years ago, I would have never listed lettuce as a "grillable" food.  Hell, growing up I didn't even list it as an "edible" food, so I've certainly made some progress.

Grilled Caesar Salad

1 head of romaine lettuce
olive oil
salt & pepper

1.  Slice the head of lettuce in half horizontally.  Drizzle both halves with olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.

2.  Over a direct medium heat fire, grill the heads of lettuce, cut side down, until marked and then flip over, about 2-3 minutes a side.

Grilled Romaine

3.  Remove from the grill and top with your favorite caesar vinaigrette dressing.  I turned to this Wolfgang Puck recipe.

A little dressing

Of course, salad is never enough for a meal.  Add in a little pesto spatchcocked chicken,

Spatchcocked on the Kettle

grilled brussel sprouts,

Sprouts

and a beer for a truly all grilled meal...even, with a salad.

Beer and Smoke

Thursday, June 02, 2011

The Saffire Grill

About two months ago, I started work on a new project for Saffire Grills and over the next year or so I will be working with a professional friend on creative content featuring the Saffire.  I'm pretty excited.

The Saffire Grill

As I mentioned before, this is my first exposure to cooking on a kamado grill.  What can I say?  I absolutely love it.  Although grilling over an open flame is grilling over an open flame, there is still quite a learning curve to the nuances of this beast.  I've probably fired it up about every other night the last month and I'm still learning.  So far it's already seen fish, chicken, ribs, wings and a ton of beef.
Much like I've done with almost every grill I've opened, I've documented the un-boxing.  However, instead of just photographs, this time I've also included a video.  Without very adieu, here is The Saffire Grill (to watch in HD, hit the HD button to click through):