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.