Sunday, July 29, 2007

Lemon Tart Three Ways

I spent all day Sunday trying to perfect the not so simple lemon tart/lemon square/triangle. Armed with recipes from Martha Stewart, the Barefoot Contessa and Emeril, I created lemon tartlettes, lemon triangles/squares and each with or without meringue. I won't post any of the recipes for none of them have worked for me yet. I'm seeking perfection and so far no. Don't get me wrong, they all taste great but none have that "POP" I'm looking for.

Why am I doing this? Well, this coming Satuday is the 2nd Backyard Event in Southern California. Some BBQ friends and teams are getting together to Que. Not a competition, just a group of ten teams that want to practice as if there was a competition and be judged by real KCBS judges and peers.

The last two competitions found that Lemon Squares won in the dessert category. Let me clarify, there were some fantastic entries with Iron Chef quality presentaions but simple lemon squares took 1st. Maybe I am a day late and a dollar short, but I have to see how I fare.

To top off this competition, I also went out Saturday to purchase plating acoutremonts which includes platters and plate decorations in addition to edible plants such as mint.

I found a couple of other recipes I'm going to try later this week. Each with some slight change which night make this work. Basic recipe is for lemon juice, lemon zest, eggs or egg yolk, with or without butter, with or without flour, candied ginger, bake or slowly thicken over low heat. Who knew there were so many different variants on a theme. By Saturday, I will be ready.

Check out my pictures of to date presentations.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Ziggy- Leave Me Alone, Don't You See I'm Napping

Just a little dog blogging. Ziggy wasn't feeling very well today. I think it is a combination of too many people feeding him table food at Tony's party yesterday plus his eyes appear irritated (? from tearing). I'm not a vet, but I didn't think it would hurt to apply a litlle anti-inflammatory antibiotic eye ointment. Poor baby, hope he feels better tomorrow.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I Taught Him All He Knows About BBQ

My son just turned 23. Instead of someone cooking for him, he chose to cook for his friends.

He smoked 2 pork butts, 2 racks of ribs, grilled chicken wings, hot links and hamburgers. He also made potato salad, coleslaw, salsa and macaroni and cheese casserole. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. I tried to give him some directional assistance, but he wanted to do this all himself.

His Own Recipe For Mac and Cheese
Pulled Pork

Potato Salad (His Recipe)

Cole Slaw

Tony Grilling

Smoked Spare Ribs St Louis cut

He learned most of this by watching me, participating with Four Q BBQ Team at two competitions and experience gained as a Navy cook and currently as a student at the Culinary Institute of America.

Not bad for a first attempt at backyard BBQ'ing on his own.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Tri Tip Prices

(photo courtesy of Ralph's weekly ad)
This weekend, a local Southern California grocery chain, Ralph's, had beef Tri Tip on sale at $1.99 per pound untrimmed (regular price was $4.99/lb). Though untrimmed, there wasn't much fat. This is a great price and all you need is a Value Plus card which is available at all stores.

I was at Costco earlier Sunday morning where trimmed Tri Tip was about $6.94/lb and Smart and Final had untrimmed for about $5.99/lb (gobs of fat on their untrimmed).

Why this great interest in Tri Tip? In a couple of weeks, I'm going to join one of my BBQ team mates (Big Mista) for some BBQ backyard fun. A number of local Southern California BBQ teams will be meeting up to do what is basically a competition practice- "Kick the Tires and Light the Fires". No pressure, just pure fun. We are matching BBQ cooking technicques on Tri tip, chicken, BBQ ribs and "anything but" chicken/ribs/tri tip. In that Tri Tip is not my specialty, I will be cooking a couple a roasts prior to the event to develop my skills.

$1.99/lb Tri Tip is perfect to practice with and also good eats. I did do one roast yesterday (sorry, forgot about pictures) which though tasty and tender still needs to be tweaked so the flavor will "pop" (to quote Big Mista).

I also will be doing the "anything but" category which could be a dessert or meat except for ribs, chicken and Tri Tip. All the food just needs to be prepared on site the day of the event. I haven't formalized what I will prepare for this category yet.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Foiled Smoked Chicken

I often get questions from friends and co-workers on how they can get a smoked flavor in their food when they don't have a smoker and without use of the dreaded "liquid smoke". This process required an outdoor gas grill.

I posted about a year about cheating when preparing a smoked chicken. Since then, I have further developed the concept. This involves a similar process to using a "stove top" smoker similar to the Cameron version substituting the stove top with a gas grill.

What did I do?

I started with a large aluminum pan(full pan) and heavy duty aluminum foil. From the foil, I made an envelope in which I added hickory wood chips (one large handful). The foil pouch/envelope was sealed. I then used a knife to make 5-8 one inch piercings on the top of the pouch. The pouch was then placed on the botton of the aluminum pan. I layered heavy duty foil over the pouch and then placed two square grates on top. This is to keep the chicken from laying directly on the foil.

To mimic a water pan which I use in my Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker (WSM) I took a small aluminum loaf pan and filled it halfway full with water to which I added a couple of sprigs of Rosemary.

I took two whole cornish chickens and cut them through the back to lay flat. The cornish chicken was simply seasoned on the inside with a chicken rub (any store bought rub will suffice). I seasoned the skin side with only salt. The purpose of using only salt was to minimize the possibility of rubbery skin which is a dreaded consequence of smoked chicken. The theory being that the salt draws out the moisture from the skin and increases the potential for a more crisp skin (less rubbery).

The cornish chickens were smoked for about 35-40 minutes. I did keep the inside of the grill temperature at 400 degrees but I did not verify the temperature inside the aluminum pan or the temp of the chicken. My estimate was based on indirectly cooking a chicken on the grill where I usually go for 45 minutes.

I opened the pan and found two beautifully browned cornish chickens. I felt a need to add grill marks so I quickluy placed the cornish chickens skin side down over direct heat for less than 10 seconds.

The cornish chickens were moist with a mild smoke flavor. The skin was tasty and not rubbery.

Yes, you too can have real smoked flavor with a simple smoking process.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

La Caja China at the First So. Calif Brethren Bash 2007

What a great weekend. I got to spend some quality time with some fellow BBQuers at the First Southern California Brethren Bash hosted by Pat in Norco. This was a most anticipated event where we knew we were in for some artery clogging superb BBQ and side dishes.

The highlight of the event was the cooking of a 29 pound suckling pig prepared on the "La Caja China" by Big Brother Smoke. For me, the "pig picking" of the suckling pig was my first ever. I must say, I really enjoyed this.
We had some trouble getting the skin crisp which required a little torch action, but that didn't take away from the enjoyment of it. The meat was moist and very flavorful. Pat and BBS added a mod to the La Caja China which allowed the meat to cook with smoke infused.
A selection of ribs rubbed and seasoned using varying techniques and preps by multiple Brethren. (sorry this is all displayed after we tasted).

Food was continuously being cooked and served. Bacon wrapped pork, habanero sausage, brisket, teriyaki wings, ABTs, fatties, more ribs, cole slaw, peach cobbler, apple cobbler, cake, corn, salsa,Bagna Cauda, chips, Filipino rice, burnt ends, jello shots, margarita's and all with a helping of luv of Q.

See my flickr photos for more highlightsof the weekend. I also encourageyou to visit some of the other links below for photos taken by others attending.

Sylvie's Bash Photos
Thawley's Photos
Big Mista's Photobucket

Brethren Site Forum Thread

Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin
Peach cobbler