Thu, 26 August 2010
Salmon Burger, White Spot Style
Makes 4 burgers
White Spot restaurants are a fixture in British Columbia, known for their excellent old-fashioned hamburgers. In recent years they’ve gone a bit upscale, adding more gourmet fare to their classic dishes, including a phenomenal salmon burger. Executive chef Chuck Curry likes to play his recipes close to the chest so I’ve had to recreate this dish based on my experience of eating it, but this comes pretty close to the real thing. If you don’t have the time or the inclination to make the aïoli, substitute with regular commercial mayo doctored with finely chopped fresh basil and a squeeze of lemon juice.
For the burgers:
4 8 oz | 250 g boneless, skinless wild BC salmon fillets (farmed salmon will do, but it’s just not as good)
freshly ground black pepper
1 large, fresh, perfectly ripe beefsteak tomato
1 red onion
green leaf lettuce
4 large sesame burger buns
For the basil aïoli:
2 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp | 25 mL lemon juice
11/4 cups | 300 mL extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup | 50 mL tightly packed fresh basil leaves
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Combine the egg yolks and the lemon juice in the bowl of a food processor; process the mixture for 5 seconds. With the machine running, drizzle the olive oil through the feed tube in a slow, steady stream, processing until the mixture is combined. Coarsely chop the basil and add it to the mixture. Whiz the machine again until the basil is incorporated into the aïoli. Season it with salt and pepper and set it aside. It will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
Cut the tomato into four equal slices and peel and thinly slice enough onion to suit your taste. Butter the buns and set them aside.
Prepare the grill for medium direct heat. Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper and drizzle them with a little olive oil. Make sure the cooking grate is scrubbed clean. In this case, you may want to coat the cooking grate with a little oil just before you put the salmon on. Place the salmon on the grill, cover it, and cook the fish for 3–4 minutes per side, or until the core temperature of the fillet reaches 130˚F | 55˚C.
Take the salmon off the grill and loosely tent it with foil. While the salmon is resting, place the buns, buttered side down, on the cooking grate, cover the grill, and toast the buns for maybe half a minute, taking care not to burn them.
Slather both sides of each toasted bun with the aïoli. Place the salmon filets in the buns and top them with onion, tomato, and lettuce. Serve the burgers with a cold beer or a glass of crisp, fruity white wine.
Category:grilling -- posted at: 4:37pm PDT
Thu, 19 August 2010
Seared Calamari with Fresh Tomato Basil Salsa
Makes 4 servings
The secret to great grilled squid is to use the freshest and smallest you can find, and to cook it over high heat for no more than a minute per side. Any longer and it turns rubbery. In this recipe, the tomato salsa provides a cool, tangy, herbal complement to the hot, garlicky calamari. You also can cook this dish on a plank to give it some extra smoky flavor, but you won’t get the nice charring that happens when you grill it over direct heat.
1 lb | 500 g cleaned squid, equal parts bodies and tentacles
1 Tbsp | 15 mL kosher salt
1/2 cup | 125 mL extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp | 2 mL red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups | 500 mL small, ripe cherry or grape tomatoes
1 Tbsp | 15 mL fresh basil
1 Tbsp | 15 mL rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
salt and freshly ground pepper
Coat the squid in the salt, then rinse it thoroughly with cold water. Pat it dry with paper towels. Slit the bodies and score the inside surfaces with diagonal cuts. Cut each squid into large, bite-sized pieces. Place them in a bowl with 1/4 cup | 50mL of the olive oil, the red pepper flakes, and the garlic. Toss them to coat them and marinate them in the refrigerator for about an hour.
Preheat your grill on high. While the grill is heating, coarsely chop the tomatoes (halves or quarters are fine), slice the basil leaves into fine shreds, and toss them together in a bowl with the vinegar and the remainder of the olive oil. Distribute the salsa between four plates.
When the grill is hot, open it up and gently place the calamari on the cooking grate, taking care not to let the pieces slip through the cracks (you may even want to use a grill-topper with small holes designed for this kind of task). Don’t walk away! Stand at the open grill and tend the squid with a set of good tongs, turning the pieces often so they are cooked quickly and evenly, no more than a minute per side. Remove the squid from the grill and transfer it to the plates.
Sprinkle each serving with just a pinch of kosher salt and a light grinding of pepper. Drizzle the calamari with a little more olive oil and serve it immediately with a crisp, fruity white wine.
Category:grilling -- posted at: 5:30pm PDT
Fri, 13 August 2010
With only a week to go, there are still spaces available in my Barbecue Academy at the Fairmont Banff Springs, which runs August 20 - 22. If you love great food and wine, and want to eat and drink and cook and laugh with me in one of the most beautiful outdoor settings on earth, read on!
My best barbecue event ever
For the past 15 years I’ve been leading grilling and barbecue classes and workshops in Calgary and Vancouver, and even as far away as Texas and Australia. This summer, working in partnership with my friends at the Fairmont Banff Springs, I’ve put together my tastiest, most entertaining event ever.
Barbecue Academy is a sizzlin’ getaway weekend featuring the very best recipes and techniques from my latest book, Barbecue Secrets DELUXE! It’s an entertaining and informative combination of a hands-on workshop and gourmet grilling demonstrations that will supercharge your outdoor cooking skills and introduce you to the smoky world of real, Southern-Style championship barbecue.
Great sponsors are on board
What’s more, I’m proud to report that Barbecue Academy has some world-class sponsors to help bring you a memorable experience. We'll be cooking on genuine Weber equipment – the gold standard of outdoor cooking. And throughout the weekend you’ll taste some of the finest Canadian and global wines, from Sumac Ridge Chardonnay to Ravenswood Zin, and refresh your thirst with cold, crisp Budweiser and Bud Light.
The ultimate barbecue experience
The Barbecue Academy package includes:
An amazing program to take your barbecue skills and your taste buds to the next level
Here’s a more detailed look at the curriculum of this Institute of Higher Grilling:
DAY ONE: Friday, August 20th
“Meat and Greet” 6.00 p.m. – 8.00 p.m.
Join us for a casual opening reception where you’ll meet me and your fellow participants, enjoy delicious appetizers and a sip on a feature signature cocktail from Barbecue Secrets DELUXE!
DAY TWO: Saturday, August 21st
“Secrets of Championship Barbecue” 9.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.
This is the weekend’s main event: an all-day, hands-on southern-style barbecue workshop laced with tall tales and hickory smoke and finished with sweet, tangy sauce. Students will split into teams of two to four, with each team having exclusive use of a brand new Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker for the day. Think of it as my barbecue boot camp, where you’ll learn to prep and cook competition-quality chicken and ribs and get indoctrinated into the ways of the Barbecue Lifestyle. A highlight of the day will be a barbecue feast for lunch featuring classic pulled pork sandwiches and Texas-style brisket with great sides and a lip-smackin’ dessert. At the end of the day, we’ll have a fun contest in which teams will present the meats of their labour to be judged by a specially selected panel according to the rules of championship barbecue. Cheap plastic trophies will be handed to the winners -- just like in a real barbecue contest! Whether you want to do some training to enter a real barbecue contest or want to be a champion in your own back yard, this day will change your life. Here’s what past participants in this workshop have said about it:
“Ronnie is hilarious, knowledgeable and leads a great workshop.”
“It has improved my understanding, my technique, my confidence and my end product immeasurably.”
“This was an exceptional workshop filled with the science, the art and the lifestyle of barbecue.”
DAY THREE: Sunday, August 22nd
“Essentials of Everyday Grilling” 10.00 a.m. – 1.00 p.m
This luxurious three-hour cooking demonstration will feature my best grilled and planked dishes, sides and desserts, all paired with superb Vincor wines, including the classic barbecue-friendly Ravenswood Zin. The menu is varied and extensive; by one o’clock everyone will be completely full and satisfied. Here’s what folks have told me about past grilling demonstrations:
“Excellent, excellent, excellent. Oh yes – exceptionally yummy!”
“Do it! Open your culinary tastes.”
At the end of day three, all participants will receive special barbecue goody bags and official personalized diplomas signifying their completion of the workshop and their new understanding of the tools, techniques, lifestyle and philosophy of Southern-style Barbecue, grilling and plank-cooking.
Before departing, you can enjoy the hotel or the town of Banff in the afternoon. A variety of activities are available to you including a round of golf on the famed Stanley Thompson course, a spa treatment at Willow Stream Spa, a nature “photo walk,” shopping in Banff, or even a fly-in fishing experience on the Bow River.
So, there you have it. Whether you’re a foodie or a barbecue fanatic, a wine lover or an adventure traveler, Barbecue Academy promises to be an unforgettable experience, just waiting to happen for you. All you have to do is enroll, which I suggest you do now, because participation is limited and we're only a week away!
I hope to see you and your companion or gang of friends at Barbecue Academy at the Fairmont Banff Springs in the beautiful Canadian Rockies! If you're on the edge of deciding and want to talk to me directly about the weekend, give me a call at 604-351-1999. To view a video invitation from me, click here.
Yours forever in smoke,
Category:barbecue -- posted at: 3:39pm PDT
Thu, 12 August 2010
Grilled Rice Cakes
Makes 3–5 servings
These traditional Japanese rice cakes are often found, stuffed with tuna or salmon, in Japanese take-out shops. They take on a wonderful, crunchy, chewy texture when grilled, and they go well with any Asian-flavored grilled or barbecued meat. I learned how to make them from Vancouver chef Trevor Hooper’s cookbook, Asian Tapas and Wild Sushi. You can get sushi rice at just about any supermarket these days. If you can’t find it there, look for it at an Asian market or gourmet food store.
3 cups | 750 mL sushi rice
33/4 cups | 925 mL water
neutral-flavored oil, like peanut or canola
Home made teriyaki sauce (see recipe below) or your favorite bottled teriyaki
Place the rice and water in a medium pot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Boil the rice for 2 minutes, then cover it and reduce the heat to medium. Cook it for another 5 minutes, reduce the heat to low, and cook it for 15 more minutes. Do not remove the lid. Turn off the heat and let the covered pot stand for another 10 minutes.
Empty the rice into a bowl and let it stand for 5 minutes, or until it’s cool enough to handle with your bare hands. Have a bowl of cold water handy so you can wet your hands before you form each rice cake.
Wet your hands and grab about 1/2 cup | 125 mL of the rice. Press it together firmly, cupping your hands to shape the rice into a triangular shape, about the size of a modest wedge of pie. Squeeze it tightly so it will stick together well when it’s grilled. Once you have formed all the rice into about 10 neat wedges, the rice cakes can be covered and refrigerated for a day or two before grilling.
To cook the cakes, use a basting brush to paint each one with the oil. Grill them over direct high heat until they are crisp and golden brown, with nice char marks. Drizzle each rice cake with teriyaki sauce. Allow at least 2 per person.
Complicated but Delicious Teriyaki Sauce
Makes about 8 cups | 2 L
This homemade teriyaki sauce, which I have slightly adapted from an old recipe by famed Vancouver chef Trevor Hooper, has dimensions of flavor that make the extra work more than worthwhile. It stores for several months in the fridge, and it’s great as a marinade for meat or seafood, as a sauce for stir-fries, or just drizzled on steamed rice.
11/2 cups | 375 mL sake (Japanese rice wine)
11/2 cups | 375 mL mirin
2 cups | 500 mL brown sugar
4 cups | 1 L Japanese soy sauce
1/2 cup | 125 mL tamari soy sauce
1 small onion, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 2-inch | 5 cm piece fresh ginger, chopped
1 orange, chopped, skin on
1 small pear, chopped
1 small leek, split, washed thoroughly and chopped
Combine all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring the mixture to a low boil. Cook it until it’s reduced by about 20 percent. Cool it, strain it into a large jar or bottle, and refrigerate it. It stores indefinitely in the refrigerator.
Category:grilling -- posted at: 11:42am PDT
Thu, 5 August 2010
While browsing the big T&T Asian supermarket in Vancouver a few weeks ago I was intrigued by some frozen frogs’ legs in the fish department. They’re a popular dish in Cantonese home cooking, where they’re spiced and stir-fried on the bone. They’re also big in France, of course, as well as Italy, Spain, Greece, the Caribbean and even in the Southern U.S., where they are breaded and deep fried.
The ones I saw, which I think were farmed in Vietnam, were inexpensive – four pairs of legs for about five bucks – and despite their cartoonish (some might say macabre) appearance, they also looked plump and juicy and perfect for the grill.
I marched a squad of them home, cooked them up and they turned out great. To me they tasted like a cross between halibut and crab, with a texture like a chicken wing, but much more tender. Really delicious! I shared them with my barbecue teammate Tom Masterson and on a lark we agreed that we should enter them in the chef’s choice category at the National BBQ Championships in Whistler. After some brainstorming, we decided to give them a funny little twist, wrapping their bottoms with prosciutto to protect their modesty and add some great flavour.
But what to name the dish? We’ve had lots of suggestions from friends and other teammates: Rub it and Ribbit, Kermit Gets Porked, Bacon N’ Legs, and Green Legs and Ham. But I like the sound of Prosciutto Pantaloons.
Give this recipe a try and, whatever you call it, I think you’ll find it hoppin’ good eatin’.
Photo by Click Media Works. Used with permission.
Grilled Frogs Legs with Prosciutto Pantaloons
8 pairs of skinless frogs’ legs
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp granulated onion
1 tsp granulated garlic
pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
half cup extra virgin olive oil plus extra for drizzling
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
4 thin slices of Italian prosciutto (buy extra in case the slices rip as you’re wrapping the frogs’ legs)
8 tooth picks
Lemon wedges and fresh dill for garnish
Soak the toothpicks in water.
Place the frogs’ legs in a large baking dish like a lasagna pan. Combine the salt, granulated onion and garlic, cayenne and chopped rosemary and sprinkle the rub on both sides of the legs. In a bowl, whisk together the olive oil, mustard and lemon juice to make a simple vinaigrette. Add half of the vinaigrette to the pan and toss the frogs’ legs around so that the ingredients combine and the legs are nicely coated in the marinade. Reserve the other half of the vinaigrette.
Marinate the frogs’ legs for about 15 minutes, turning them once or twice.
Cut the prosciutto into 1-inch strips. Take a strip of prosciutto and wrap it neatly around the waist of the frogs’ legs to make the pantaloons. Use a toothpick to fasten the prosciutto to the legs.
Preheat your grill to medium-high heat and make sure you scrape the cooking grates. Drizzle a little extra olive oil on the frogs’ legs and place them on the grill.
Cover the grill, turn the heat down to medium, and cook the frogs’ legs for about two or three minutes, until they come away easily from the cooking grate and have nice grill marks. Turn the legs and cook for another two or three minutes. Continue grilling and turning until the thighs are springy to the touch and the meat loses its pink, translucent appearance (just like a chicken breast turns white when you cook it).
Take the frogs’ legs off the grill, remove the toothpicks and place on a platter garnished with fronds of fresh dill and lemon wedges. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette and serve. For extra fun, we presented them at the BBQ championship on a place mat that looked like a stylized lily pad. And, you know, although some of the judges were a bit shocked and reluctant when they first saw them, they loved them and our Grilled Frogs’ Legs with Proscuitto Pantaloons ended up 24th out of 40 or so entries. Not bad for such an unconventional dish!
Category:grilling -- posted at: 5:55am PDT