Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Creamy Garlic Scape and Basil Pesto with Grilled Chicken and Vegetables

Up until a few weeks ago I never knew what garlic scapes were. Was I ever missing out. These little greens are sure to turn up frequently in my recipes now. When I first found out about garlic scapes they were used to make pesto. People were going nuts over garlic scape pesto so I had to make some.

I found some scapes at the Truro Farmer's Market on Saturday morning. I picked up some carrots and basil as well. A pack of ferocious slugs attacked my basil plants, reducing them to shredded leaves. They are still alive so I am going to transplant them into hanging baskets. I'd like to see the slugs get at them 6 feet in the air!

What you need:
1 handful of garlic scapes
1 handful of basil leaves
Fresh grated parmigiana cheese (no powdery garbage!)
Olive oil

Grilled Chicken:

Yellow Zucchini
Green Pepper
Purple Onion
Red Tomatoes
Orange Carrots

Sorry about not measuring the pesto ingredients. I just used most of what I got at the market.

A keen observer might notice that carrot greens are shown in the above picture but not in the ingredient list. That is because they taste AWFUL. I found some carrot green pesto recipes before I made this pesto so I thought I could throw some in. Nope. The basil was completely overwhelmed, as well as the almonds. I was not impressed. It was still okay, but not as amazing as I had hoped. Round two will not include carrot greens. I repeat, NO CARROT GREENS!

Anyway, chop all the ingredients into small pieces. Maybe 1 inch or less. I didn't do this and it made blending them a real pain. As you can probably imagine, the next step is to blend everything up with a bit of olive oil. Maybe I just have a crummy blender but this was a very lengthy and difficult process. The stuff just wouldn't blend. I didn't want to add water so I used 4 tablespoons of plain yogurt. Still, no blending, even after stirring and pushing the greens around. So I added more olive oil, then more oil, more oil still... After I had used about half of my olive oil I broke down and added about a cup of water, very slowly till the blades caught. Finally! Delicious looking pesto!

Okay, so it doesn't look that great, but it tastes a lot better than it looks. Sorta. Stupid carrot greens, you are the bane of my existence!

Grilling the chicken and veggies is pretty simple.

Heat up the grill, cut veggies, put chicken and veggies on grill.

Of course, this had to go wrong too. As I was filling up my grill with coals I realized I had run out and only had half as many as I would have liked. Not good. The chicken got the prime real estate on the grill so it would cook through. The veggies weren't so lucky. The rest of the grill wasn't hot enough so they cooked but also wilted a bit. they were still pretty good though. I was really surprised with the tomatoes. I don't even like tomatoes but these guys were delicious after being grilled. When the chicken was close to being done I slathered it in pesto. 

There was a bit of collateral damage to a nearby tomato but it turned out okay.

While you grill your veggies you should probably cook the linguine. Boil water, noodles in the water, strain, rinse, pretty standard stuff. Toss the noodles in the pesto and you are good to go! The chicken and vegetables took about 25 minutes I think. You can see when the vegetables are done because they looked cooked.

So that's how you make delicious Creamy Garlic Scape and Basil Pesto with Grilled Chicken and Vegetables. Now here is a picture I drew of Tupac as a fire breathing emu.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Applewood Smoked Pork Back Ribs with Apple Bourbon BBQ Sauce

Tying to update this blog on a tri-weekly basis may have been a little over zealous of me, maybe I should start with one or two updates a week. This guy should count as at least 2 blogs though as it is for both a BBQ sauce recipe and a rib recipe using said BBQ sauce.

BBQ Sauce:
3 Apples
1 Onion
Olive Oil
1 Clove Garlic
1 Tbsp Mustard Seeds (black or regular)
4 Cloves
1 Bay Leaf
2-3 cm Cinnamon Stick
4 tbsp Honey
1/4-1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
2 tbsp Tomato Paste
3 Ounces Bourbon Whiskey
Pork Back (or side) Ribs
Salt and pepper to taste

A lot of commercial BBQ sauces are tomato based. I wanted to build this sauce from the ground up, using as many whole ingredients as possible. I knew I was going to use Applewood chips to smoke the ribs so an apple based BBQ sauce just seemed right. Making the applesauce is pretty simple. Wash, cut and core your apples then throw em in a pot with about 3 cm of water and boil till the apples are soft. 

The reason for three different apples? I couldn't tell say! I read that applesauce should be a blend so I grabbed two of my favorites: Golden Delicious and Pink Lady. The Fiji came into the mix because... well... it was just there. I'm going to experiment with different apples, maybe even go all food labs on this recipe to find out what the best apple ratio is.

While your apples are cooking (big surprise coming...) sauté onions, garlic, salt and pepper! This is going to be blended so don't worry too much about size. Also, you are going to want to dry roast the mustard seeds, bay leaf, cloves, and cinnamon. When they are toasty grind them to a fine powder in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle.

The apples aren't round, the onions are browned, and the spices are ground. Combine everything in a blender and add the honey, tomato paste, and apple cider vinegar. 

You can't really see the honey or the vinegar, but it's in there... somewhere...

Blend this concoction until it is pureed. While the blender is blending you get to do one of my favorite things. De-glaze and flam-be! Add the bourbon to the still hot onion pan. Reduce and then lite on fire. Be careful! Ask for a parent or guardians help. Use a BBQ lighter to stay far away from the flame. Or, as I did, a match taped to a spoon. 


Once the alcohol is burnt off, and maybe some of your hairs, add the puree from the blender and mix it up. I planned on letting it simmer but even on low small bubbles were popping and getting sauce 5 feet up my walls.

It's not the most photogenic sauce, but it sure is tasty. I think I might add some molasses next time to darken it up. Once it cools store it in the fridge for a few days to let the flavors mellow and blend. This is the first time I've ever made this sauce and the first time I've ever made BBQ sauce so it's a miracle it actually turned out. This sauce was great on grilled chicken and made for some amazing burgers when paired with smoked Gouda, basil, garlic scapes and a poppy seed bun (with ketchup and Billy Bee Honey mustard too of course).  Another iteration is sure to pop up sometime. Now its time for ribs!

These ribs are simple and only require a few ingredients:

Apple Bourbon BBQ Sauce

Cut the ribs up. I like individual ribs so you get more surface area on the grill.

Put the ribs in a pot and add a liberal amount of bourbon, at least an ounce or 2. cover with water and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce to simmer for 2.5 hours. It's long, but it makes the most tender, moist ribs I've ever had. Once fully cooked drain the ribs and cover in BBQ sauce. I let the ribs marinate for a day in the fridge but an hour should do it. Fire up the ol' charcoal grill and throw some applewood chips on. I usually use dry chip but this time I soaked them in water for about 30 minutes. This way I could slowly cook the ribs to add a deep smoke flavor. They take about 30-45 minutes to smoke then they are ready to eat. At this point the ribs will look so good you might forget to take a picture of them showing how good they look. Such was the case with my ribs so I am sorry to say, there is no final product, again. Rest assured, I will make them again and pictures will be taken!

So that's how you make delicious Applewood Smoked Pork Back Ribs with Apple Bourbon BBQ Sauce. Now here is a picture I drew of a skeleton pirate with an eyeball for a head.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Grilled Herby Potatoes

Since it's been so long since I posted anything here is another recipe! This one is dedicated to a miss Chelsey Dixon, the most avid follower of this blog that I know of.

I'm going to start listing the ingredients with the best measurements I can come up with at the start of the recipe. Feel free to make substitutions/change amounts. I do it all the time.

2 regular sized potatoes
1 onion
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 springs oregano
3 springs thyme
Rosemary leaves equal to thyme/oregano
Butter, salt, and pepper to taste

There really isn't a whole lot to these potatoes. Slice the potatoes and onion, I usually make round or oval medallions for the potatoes and half moons for the onion. Spread these guys out on some tinfoil. Sprinkle with garlic, oregano, thyme, and rosemary. Lemon thyme also works well and you can add chives for extra greenness.

Add butter, salt, and pepper to taste then fold them up into a little packet and toss on the grill. Potatoes take forever on the grill, especially if you like them crispy. I'd leave them on for at least 30 minutes, flipping halfway.

It's like a crispy potatoey dream.

I have a neat little device for cutting up herbs...

To the untrained eye this may look like an ordinary pair of scissors. HOWEVER, turn them slightly...

Woah! It's like 5 pairs of scissors! In one pair of scissors! I used to have to go Edward Scissorhands on my herbs before I got these guys.

I actually prefer using a knife and a cutting board for large amounts of herbs though. If you aren't as skilled with a knife, or are afraid you'll cut your fingers off, these are a great way to chop herbs. They cut chives into equal pieces every time, a great garnish for any dish with onions (about 83.7%) or mashed potatoes. What couldn't use a few chives though really?

So that is how you make delicious Grilled Herby Potatoes. How here is a picture of some oil I spilled that looks like a duck.

Stuffed Peppers, Mediterranean Style

I told my friend that I would make a dish with Turkey in it for her. I’d like to dedicate this gem to Rizky Sulistyowati, hopefully you can get all the ingredients in Indonesia; otherwise you will just have to come back to Canada so I can make it for you.

I recently discovered a tasty little seed called quinoa (pronounced keen-wa). Quinoa is a most nutritious little seed. I particularly like it because it is packed with protein so it is a good meat substitute for all you crazy vegetarians/vegans out there. I like to add equal parts of quinoa to my rice. 

Since a lot of stuffed peppers use rice as a basis for the stuffing I figured this would be a great place to start.
It takes about 15 minutes to cook the quinoa, the same as most rice save brown/wild rice.  Overcooking the quinoa makes it really soft. I like it slightly undercooked so that it pops as you bite it. Do not be alarmed if you find what looks like little worms in your cooked quinoa. As you cook the seed pods they open up and the sprouts come out. It kind of reminds me of Popplers.

Not so much visually, but the thought of eating something that is about to hatch? Yes.

I’m sure you’ve had enough talk of quinoa though, so let’s get into the rest of the recipe!

3/4 cup Organic Red Quinoa
3/4 cup Rice (use whatever you want, I usually get the 8kg el cheapo bag)
3 Bell Peppers
1 onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 handful of ground turkey
1/2 cob of corn, minus the cob
1/2 tomato, diced
1-2 tbsp chopped oregano
250g feta
1-2 handfuls of spinach

As usual, you are going to want to start off by slicing some onions and let them sweat it out in a wok with a little olive oil on low heat. Add 2 cloves of crushed garlic and salt and pepper to taste. I should really make a post called step 1 and outline this process. Studies have shown that onions, garlic, salt and pepper are the basis to 83.7% of all recipes, but don’t quote me on that. Once this is looking tasty, probably about 7 minutes, move the onions to the edge of the wok and add the ground turkey. Once brown, add the following vegetables:
I don’t think corn would normally be found in a dish like this, but I had a few cobs in the fridge that I needed to eat.

While the vegetables cook clean out 3 peppers. I used a red, green and yellow pepper for contrasting colours. I found the red pepper tasted the best though. Pop these guys into the oven preheated to 350°F for about 7-10 minutes. By the time you need to stuff the peppers they should be ready to go.

Once the vegetables were warm, they don’t really require much cooking, I threw in a handful of spinach and the feta. I like the spinach to wilt just a bit so it doesn’t take up as much space in the pepper.

Grab the peppers, making sure they aren’t still hot, and stuff them as full as possible. At this point you can bake them in the oven or place them on the grill. I used my grill because my oven doesn’t work. I should probably dedicate a post to setting up a charcoal grill as I will be using it a lot this summer and probably well into the winter. Everything is pretty much cooked by now so you really don’t need to bake/grill the peppers for long. I left mine on the grill for about 15 minutes which was just right. In the oven these would probably take 15 minutes or so on 350 deg F.

These are delicious but fresh Tzatziki sauce makes them even better. The sauce is so easy I didn’t even bother to take pictures. You need:

5 tablespoons plain yogurt – the thicker the better
1 tbsp shredded cucumber
1 crushed garlic clove
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tbsp chopped chives

Mix everything together in a bowl and BAM delicious Tzatziki sauce!

So that's how you make delicious Stuffed Peppers AND Tzatziki. Now hear is a picture I made of a giant pepper destroying a city.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cedar Smoked Salmon with Lemon Thyme

On Monday I mentioned that I had made some smoked salmon on the weekend. This is based around how my Dad cooks planked salmon by bonfire. That is a much lengthier process, but will almost undoubtedly find it's way on here eventually. It's pretty simple but it is by far the best way to cook salmon (planking that is) this recipe is a close second though.

Start off by coating the salmon in salt, all kinds of salt. Salt out the WAZOO. We're talking dead sea salty here okay? I used some Cyprus Mediterranean finishing salt. Maybe this wasn't the right application for it since it is a finishing salt and I used it first. I just really like the way the crystals look, I mean, common!
It's like you are in Egypt with all those little pyramids.

Now that you have a nice salty fish you are going to want to let that sit in the sun for a few hours or days, with a fan to circulate the air above it, that's what keeps it fresh. Actually, an even better idea would be to refrigerate the salmon, covering it with a lid, parchment paper, a baby, saran wrap, anything moderately airtight really.  

After an hour or two or more, Dad wasn't really specific on this part, wash the salt off. Obviously, the longer you wait the saltier it gets. I washed my fish after an hour which left it not very salty. This was good because it let the lemon thyme really shine through, but I do like a pretty salty planked salmon every now and again.

I've always like smoked salmon with a bit of lemon. Lemon thyme just seemed like a natural fit. Especially since I just happened to have some in my new herb garden. For some reason the slugs have shown a particular interest in the lemon thyme. Looks like I'll have to pour a beer out for my homies in the garden. Anyhow, back to the lemon thyme, I chopped up five springs, about 7cm long approximately. I rubbed this and about equal parts garlic and fresh ground pepper. One big clove or garlic, fresh ground red, white, green and black peppercorns.

Massage this into the salmon ever so gently. Play soft sounds of the rain forest to ease the salmon into a relaxed state. 

Let the salmon rest while you skewer some shrimp. I'm sorry to bring this about so abruptly, but it was a last minute thing. We had some shrimps and some skewers, the coals were ready, smoked shrimp are delicious, just too many reasons not to do it. It's important that you let the skewers soak in water for at least 30 minutes if they are wooden. If they are metal this isn't as important, or necessary at all. I didn't do anything to the shrimp other than lay them on the salmon after they were skewered. You really don't need to, the smoke gives them a great flavor. Someday, I will smoke some spiced up shrimp for you guys though, someday...

At this point my camera aka cellphone decided to run out of battery power as it so often does when I need it. There really isn't much else to see though. Once the coals are good and hot, I'm assuming here that anyone that reads this can use a charcoal grill. Honestly, I've only used mine like 9 times so I might not be spot on about how to set it up. Rest assured, that post is coming too. 

The coals are lit, the salmon is relaxed, the shrimp is skewered, there's just one thing missing. The smoke! Cedar and salmon are a match made in heaven I think. throw some cedar chips on the hot coals and let them flare up. then, lay the salmon, skin side down, on top of the grill. place the shrimpies on then close the lid. Let this smoke for about 20 minutes. larger fish will take longer. After 20 the coals will probably need some oxygen to keep burning so take off the lid to let the coals breathe. If the salmon is flaky and pink throughout (a different pink than when you started) it's done! It coals even be a bit yellow or brown from the smoke. You might even want to remove the salmon before it is fully cooked as it will cook while resting. 

So that's how you smoke a delicious salmon with lemon thyme. Now here is a picture I drew of a Bearded Fish.


Monday, June 21, 2010

Dark Chocolate Mousse Pie with Ancho Chilies and Honey

Before I get into this recipe I would just like to mention that this is the first time I have ever tempted to make a mousse. It definitely didn't turn out as moussey as it should have, but it still tasted great. That's all that really matter though right? All in all this was a pretty great pie. I'd also like to mention that this is my first entry in an online cook off. So if you like it you should definitely vote for me.  Just go here and select "vote for Kuribo's kitchen" and submit. It's THAT easy. The rules are pretty simple, there are two ingredients, honey and ancho peppers this week, make food, blog it, compete! I came up with this idea while I was thinking what to make for dessert on Sunday just as I fell asleep one night last week.

I should also mention that I made this pie for my Dad on Father's day. Happy Father's Day Dad, and Happy Father's Day to all the other Dad's that may or may not be reading this blog! Now on to the pie!

I wanted a graham crust with a nice honey flavor. Since I've always loved Honey Teddy Grahams I figured they would be perfect.

I smashed up 225g of these little guys in a big bag with a rolling pin.. It ended being about the whole bag, minus a few casualties. I could have just left them in the bag for the smashing, but then you wouldn't be able to see the carnage.

Once all their delicious little bodies have been crushed beyond recognition dump them into a bowl. Add about 3 tablespoons of butter and mix it up till the crumbs form little balls. You want this to be nice and mold-able to line your pie plate. I'm not sure how big this one is, probably 12 or 14 inches.

Roll it, pat it, mark it with a B, put in the over for ba- erp, just bake it in the oven at 375 deg F for about 8-10 minutes. It will look pretty much the same, golden brown, but crispier. Marking it with a B is optional.

You can start making the mousse while the crust is cooking. I basically followed this recipe here. I changed it around a bit though. Instead of using mild red chillies I used ancho chillies, as per the contest rules, I didn't add chocolate liquor and I used brown sugar instead of castor sugar. This could be one reason the mousse was a little flat, the egg whites  seemed to fluff up nicely though, so maybe not. 

One other change I made was that was completely necessary: I had 250ml of cream where the recipe calls for200ml. Thinking it would be used directly in the mousse and not thinking I would use it again (I planned on using cool whip on top) I decided the best idea would be to increase all the ingredients by 10%. As I mentioned early, I've never made mousse before, nor had I read the recipe in its entirety. So I add 62.5g butter, 1.25 tablespoons of crushed anchos (I added more later, probably about 2 tbsp in total), 3.75 egg yolks/whites, etc. So I finish the mousse and realize the cream was for the whipped topping. I didn't need to add 10% extra of each ingredient after all. Awesome! Oh well, I ended up using the whipping cream to make whipped cream to which I added about 3 tbsp of honey. This was definitely a better topping than cool whip. So, how about some tasty pics now?

Some delicious ancho peppers. This is the first time I've ever used/tasted ancho peppers so I'm glad they went well with the dark chocolate. This recipe consisted of a lot of firsts for me; I'm glad it didn't blow up.

Ancho butter going it the Belgium dark chocolate. I'm not sure what the cocoa content was, but it was probably at least 70%, it was quite "dark" tasting.

The egg whites were very happy to be whipped with the sugar. Kind of looks like the Sugar Smacks frog... Kind of... 

This is from just before I put the whipped cream on. If I was sure the whole pie was going to be eaten I would completely cover it in the honey whipped cream to full up the shell a bit. There were only four of us eating the pie and we had already feasted on steak, ribs, smoked shrimp, and smoked salmon (more on that later this week), so I figured whip on individual pieces would be best.We might have had some vegetables too, but I got a little delusional from all the meat. 

The final result!

I've always been a big fan of chocolate pies, this one did not disappoint! The chilies and the dark chocolate were a perfect match. The filling was pretty rich but the lightness of the honey whipped cream and Teddy Graham crust evened it out. 

So that's how you make a delicious Dark Chocolate Mousse Pie with Ancho Chilies and Honey. Now here is a picture of a Mexican frog. Don't forget to vote!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Spinach Salad with Raspberries

Pretend I posted this on Friday.

Starting today I'm going to try to update this beast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Pretty standard for blog updates I think. I really wanted to make some kind of Mexican dish for this post since I am going to a Mexican themed party tonight. Unfortunately, the party is in Halifax and I am on the train to Halifax. Instead I will be buying thirty $0.89 tacos at Taco Bell and this post will be about the spinach salad I've had just about everyday this week for lunch.

I never really thought I liked salad. Then I made a salad and realized I just don't like boring salads with iceberg lettuce. If you want a good hearty salad you have to use spinach. Spinach is where it's at when it comes to salads. Aside from being tasteless, iceburg lettuce is basically just water. There isn't much nutritional value there. With spinach you get great flavor and lots of nutrients, like iron. Popeye was all over the spinach and he's the strongest guy I know.

Back to spinach salad. I'd like to cover the three most important parts of a salad. You gotta have croûtons, dressing, and the vegetable part. I'll start with the croutons since you can toast them while you make the salad to save time.

A lot of salads I've had used those crummy store bought croutons. You know the kind. They are hard and have no taste.If you want a good croûtons you have to make them yourself with fresh bread.

I'm a big fan of the miscellaneous bread bag offered at many grocery stores. Usually you need to go to the market about 30 minutes before closing. This is when they empty the fresh bread bins and sell it at a discount. Sometimes you can get these doughy tresure troves during the day but I wouldn't count on it. Also, I should mention that these are a big ticket item for university students. Many times I have gone to get a sack of bread and found my classmates making the same purchase.

For these croutons I selected the infamous white bun that is common to almost all bread sacks. Multigrain buns would be great too though, any discount bread really. You are going to want to dice this bread into bite size pieces and throw it in a bowl. Give it a little splash of oil and toss it around. I normally use olive oil for this, however, when I was getting my herbs the other day I found a bottle of oil that looked interesting. It's a mixture of red palm oil and canola. Apparently it's healthier than olive oil. I just like the colour so I picked it up. For croutons I found that I prefer olive oil though. Crush a nice garlic clove and add it to the oiled bread chunks. Throw some basil, oregano, salt and pepper into the mix and you are good to go.

I know, this is the only the seond post and its back to basil and oregano AGAIN. I've got some exciting things lined up for this weekend so hold your horses. This is an application where I actually prefer dried herbs as opposed to fresh. Since you are going to bake the croutons the fresh herbs would just dry up anyways.

Pop these bad boys into a preheated oven to like 4oo degrees. By the time you are done chopping up your veggies they should be done. Don't toast them too much, just lightly brown like so.

This way they are crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. They wont disintegrate when you stab them with your fork like most store bought croutons and they will be packed with flavor!

The dressing for this salad is pretty simple. Its just the same red palm oil I used for the croutons and balsamic vinegar. At first I used a 50/50 ratio but this was too vinegary for me. I found 2/3 palm oil, 1/3 vinegar worked well. I really liked thered palm oil here, the coulour and taste are both great. a dash of salt and pepper is nice to add. I tadded some garlic but you don't really need too. I just really like garlic.

Time for the salad. most people make salad in a large bowl. I think this is part of the reason I don't really like most salads. most of the good bits, huddle up at the bottom of the bowl. I like to make my salad on a plate, much like a pizza. I start off with the spinach and add all the ingredients from there.

Leave a little bit of space for a piece of Hickory Smoked Mac & Cheese and you have a meal to rival Chef Lonely Heart's Soup for One.

Dang this salad was tasty. Its like I have a new lease on life... for salads... I really like how the sweetness of the raspberries adds to this salad. The crunch from the almonds is pretty great too. But don't take my word for it... (READING RAINBOW REFERENCE). So that's how you make a delicious spinach salad with raspberry dressing. Now here is a picture I made of the raspberry sailors (and a story!).

After their narrow escape from Banantes, the most feared pirate/banana to ever sail the 7 seas, the rasberry sailors thought they were home free. Unfortunately the nefarious radish shark and his gang of tomato cohorts decided to show up to terrorize the SS. Pepper!