Friday, October 16, 2015

Carnage du Jour - 15 October 15

As you no doubt already know, bratwurst is a staple and a treat chez nous.

Well, leftover brats are a joy - grab a bun and heat them and enjoy, slice them into a cream sauce over pasta and enjoy, add to a quiche or omelette and enjoy, grab one cold from the fridge and enjoy, the list is endless, and each entry ends with "and enjoy."

We had several (purposely) leftover brats in the fridge and somehow the idea of a bratwurst pizza (or bratzza, if you will - or even if you won't) came to both of us, so in the spirit of serendipity, kismet, and/or Providence, that was the next project.

bratwurst pizza with sauerkraut
Not being a baker / doughmaker, I chose to purchase a very nice-looking whole wheat pizza crust at the market, but from then on it was all us:
Brats sliced to replace (much thinner) pepperoni, shredded Amish Swiss cheese to replace the mozz (isn't there a better way to shred cheese than those deadly box graters?!), a sauce of leftover alfredo jazzed up with some Gulden's brown mustard, and sauerkraut to replace any and all vegetable toppings.

You no doubt wonder how it turned out, but given the size of the pizza and the near-total lack of leftovers, we have no doubt that this is  an application which will be repeated here at Cleveland.

Delicious, desirable, and most definitely highly recommended.

Carnage du Jour - 09 October 2015

Surf and Turf - a classic.
Yes, but even classics can use a twist now and again, right? Of course right.

So ...
How about some beautiful wild-caught salmon from Alaska and a couple gorgeous lamb chops? We've got surf and turf there for sure.

"Ah, but with what else?" I hear you ask.
How about bow-tie pasta, lightly dressed with some alfredo sauce, and green peas (my favourite colour for peas)? Oh, and a bit of chipotle bearnaise sauce to go on anything and everything?

If you said "yes" to that, then you answered wisely. This was a delicious meal.

The salmon was dusted with Old Bay and a bit of corn meal, then sautéed on the flesh side first, finishing on the skin side. That happened as the pasta and peas were finishing, as were the lamb chops which got a simple seasoning of salt and pepper, then under the broiler with some red wine in the pan beneath to stop any flare-ups and to impart a bit if extra flavour.

Oh my, everything went together like lines in a Bach chorale - as each flavour expressed itself, it created a suspension  - a space for the next flavour to fill and make itself known.

I had intended to grate a bit of orange zest over the lamb and salmon, but I forgot, and I think it was just as well that I did. That would have been fine, but there really was no need for any more notes (too many notes!) in this savoury composition.

Delicious and highly recommended.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Pastage du Jour - 18 September 2015

When camping in Canada, one wants to eat some classic Canadian cuisine, eh?
What could be more Canadian than poutine? How about Kraft Dinner? (Yes, just as was celebrated by the Bare Naked Ladies, Kraft Dinner.)

Ah, but cooking at a campsite in bear country brings with it some extra considerations. How to clean up? How to dispose of any leftovers? Et cetera?
So, disposable foil baking pans to the rescue!

We brought some nicely salted water to a boil in a 9" foil baking pan over one burner of our handy Coleman propane stove, then added a tad of oil to prevent sticking (never mind what Alton Brown has said on this topic. He's wrong.) and into the water went the noodles.

Once they noodles were cooked through (it took a bit more stirring to make sure they all cooked pretty evenly under these circumstances), we drained the pasta into the lake (where the ducks seemed to think the slightly-flavoured water was quite interesting), and added 4T of butter, the cheese sauce packet, a little bit of milk, and a few tablespoons of herbed goat cheese to make the cheese sauce cheesier and creamier.

With the addition of some leftover pulled pork, this was a spectacular meal eaten in a beautiful setting with a spectacular view.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Carnage du Jour - 23 July 2015

Beef tenderloin.

Yes, that's correct, BEEF tenderloin this time, not pork. While it's not as versatile - beef just has more inherent flavour, I think - it's still a very nice cut of meat.

So, how did we do this one?
First off, it was rubbed with a bit of dry mustard, salt, pepper, and Hungarian paprika.
Next, while those flavours melted into the meat, the fire was started in the Weber (charcoal, of course), and a couple chunks of apple wood were soaked in water.

Once the fire was ready, it was all scooted over to one side of the grill so I could cook the meat with that often-elusive indirect heat.

It took some time, but not really all that much, for the meat to get a nice surface colour and some firmness. Then it was time to check the internal temperature with my trusty instant-read thermometer. (What a handy gadget that is!).
Once we hit 140F (60C), it was pulled off to rest.

We had some lovely rolls - somewhat crusty, a bit yeasty, very tasty - so sandwiches were the order of the day. I took some sour cream, the juice of a couple small oranges, a bunch of crumbled gorgonzola, salt and pepper, and a bit of powdered ginger to make a sauce for the sandwiches. It was delicious (a bit runnier than I would have liked, but it firmed up as it sat), and this will definitely be repeated.

Delicious and highly recommended.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Cornage du Jour - 21 June 2015

I know, my normal usage would be for this to be a Vegage du Jour, but this corn was good enough for its own coinage.

Corn on the cob on the grill.
Sure, it's trendy, it's hip, it's all those things I normally avoid.
Still, it's also delicious, so I had to ignore my normal behaviour and do it anyway.

When I have grilled corn in the past, I have simply soaked the corn (still in the husk) and grilled it until it was done - basically steaming it until it almost smokes from the char on the husk.

I may have noted here in the past that when I boil corn on the cob, I like to add sugar and chipotle powder to the water to give the corn a bit of extra flavour.

The corn we had was partly shucked, so I knew I couldn't do it quite the way I always do, but it wasn't going to be all that different.

It being Father's Day, my flavour consultant, Christian, was in the house.
Something had been said about something or other that made me think of coconut. I have no real recollection of what that might have been, but hold that in mind for a moment.

I decided to soak the partially shucked corn in my normal water with sugar and chipotle before dropping it on the grill. Then inspiration struck.
Do you remember the coconut? Well I did, and I asked Christian to check the combined scent of the flavours, and he concurred: this could be great.

After about a 10 minute (15?) soak, the corn went on the grill (covered, wet husk side down) with some rotation and such - including a final flip to corn side down - until it was steamy hot and delicious.

Oh, did I mention it was delicious? It was.

This is definitely to be repeated, and is highly recommended,

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Carnage du Jour - 02 June 2015

Lamb chops.

Better: lamb chops on the grill.

I was perusing some old carnages des jours passés and came across a few things that made me want to try them again.
Well, almost - I seldom actually repeat a full recipe.

In this case, I've merged and modified a couple different carnages to create this wonderful dish.
  • Start the grill (charcoal, of course).
  • Lamb chops (at room temp before cooking, of course) seasoned with salt, pepper, and curry powder on the first side.
  • While those chops took in that flavour, a bunch of asparagus was drizzled with a bit of olive oil and tossed with some herbes de Provence, then straight on the grill (away from the direct flames, of course).
  • As those green spears approached roasted perfection, on went the chops (seasoned side down, of course) and a second dose of the same seasonings went on the second side.
  • The chops got rotated for nice marks (it didn't really work though) and when they were flipped, I grated the zest of half a lime across the four chops, watching that beautiful green stuff basically dissolve into the juicy surfaces.
A bit of left-over rice was being warmed (it had been cooked in a really delicious mushroom stock a couple days earlier and this was some of the best rice I've ever made), and when the chops came off the grill (the asparagus having preceded them by several minutes), I gave the rice and asparagus one last dose of microwaves to make sure everything was piping hot and served it all up with no butter, no sauces, just the inherent flavours of the ingredients.

Heidi (who likes lamb quite well, but isn't really a lamb chop lover) said it was probably the best lamb she had ever had.

Who am I to argue?
Delicious and highly recommended.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Carnage du Jour - 01 May 2015

Pork Tenderloin.

"Again?" I hear you ask.
"Again," I reply.

Yes, that most versatile of cuts, the pork tenderloin was waiting to be transformed, and transformed it was.
Channeling my inner Jamaican, I whipped up a lovely jerk paste and cut the pork into nice medallions. For a good half hour they sat in that tasty goo, soaking up the allspice and cinnamon and scotch bonnets and goodness knows what all else. Then it was time for the grill.

Over a cheery bed of whitened charcoal, they took little time to reach perfection - cooked through, but with just that hint of pink remaining to let us know there was juice still left in the meat.
To accompany these morsels we had some grill-roasted rutabaga slices and a mixture of a few varieties of rice (brown, red, and wild if I remember correctly).

It wouldn't be dinner at our house without a sauce, though, so I created a sauce of plain Greek yogurt, some lime juice, and quite a bit of cinnamon. It seemed to thin and sharp, though, so I added a dollop of sour cream to smooth and thicken. It was delicious.

Each of the parts of this meal was tasty on its own, and they blended quite happily to make us feel as though we had taken a quick trip to the islands, mon!

Highly recommended.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

RIP Jurgen Gothe

I don't even remember if it was Radio Two yet, but weekday afternoons nearly always found me listening to Disc Drive on CBC where Jurgen Gothe managed to move us all from the classical world to jazz and pop with a great mixture of banter and information.

We just got the news this morning on Radio Two that he had died, and I didn't want the day to pass without acknowledging his influence on my musical taste and knowledge, as well as on my taste and knowledge of wine. He was a gem on the radio and will be well and truly missed.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Carnage du Jour - 09 March 2015

Pork tenderloin. Yes, pork tenderloin again.

I've probably said this before, but this is one of the most versatile cuts in your meat arsenal. You can roast them whole of course, or you can slice them into medallions for a very quick dinner. That latter option is what we chose this time.

First off, a fine dice of red onion and broccoli was sautéed and crisped a bit in some canola oil and then removed.
The pork medallions were then dusted with a bit of beau monde, ginger, and Hungarian paprika. As they browned, I diced a few papadew peppers to add some heat and colour to the mix.
Once the second sides were beginning to brown, back in went the onions and broccoli along with the peppers and a dollop of sour cream.

With a side of mac and cheese and some (formerly) frozen peas, this was a meal to savour.

Highly recommended.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Beverage du Jour - 12 February 2015

What could be more Canadian than this?

Imagine, if you will, a Soda Stream machine, and freshly carbonated litre bottle of cold water, and a bottle of delicious pure maple syrup.

What happened next can only be described as delicious.
Maple pop.
Yes, maple pop.

Maple syrup has about the same sweetness as the various flavoured syrups made for the Soda Stream (I tasted a bit. You're welcome.), so I simply added the same amount as would have come from one of those bottles and, voila!

Tasty good and quite Great White Northern.


Tuesday, February 03, 2015

The FCC Stole My Broadband!

All of a sudden, my internet connection seems so slow.
Until recently, I was thrilled with the speed of my downloads, the steady streaming of audio and video, even the speed of ftp uploads.
Now, I'm relegated to the other side of the digital tracks, the digital boondocks as it were.

Of course, nothing has actually changed.
The FCC has simply decided that "broadband" means 25Mbps and higher, and I'm no longer on the broadband side of the digital divide.

Fortunately, I'm happy with what I have, and I'm even happier not to have to pay for what they think I need. I can't imagine why I'd need 40Mbps unless I were hosting websites at home in violation of my TOS.

25Mbps? Really? That smacks of creating a controversy where none exists. What are they, political appointees?
Oh. Never mind.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Kindle-age du Jour - 24 January 2015

Well, imagine, if you will, my surprise to find that I had neglected to create Kindle versions of two of the books I've published. Perhaps there was even a bit of disappointment mixed into that surprise.

Happily, I've now remedied that situation, and there are Kindle versions of both Bytes Akimbo - Cybersleuth and An Adventure with Guerrillas available for purchase at Amazon (they're also included in the free borrowing program through Amazon Prime).

Please feel free to take a look at them - and perhaps even to purchase one or both. I won't mind at all.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Happy Birthday, Richard Dean Anderson!

Yes, it's the birthday of the man who portrayed everyone's favourite secret agent - Angus "don't call me Stacey" MacGyver.
A great show (despite the laser error in the pilot), and one that still holds up.

How fun was it to see RDA as Jack O'Neill on Stargate SG-1 when Sam told him they had to MacGyver the stargate to get it to work.

It's only a couple months until it's MacGyver's birthday, so make sure you're carrying a paperclip and a Swiss Army Knife on March 23rd!