Monday, May 25, 2015

Guide to light summer fare on the BBQ: Part 1

No one likes a massive meat fest more then the guys at Smoke Salt and Fire, but every meal can't be gigantic steaks and whole pigs, sometimes you just feel like something a little lighter. Whether you need a quick lunch or a light summer supper on the barbecue your first stop should be your local butchers shop or meat counter. Most butcher offer all kinds of fantastic light summer options.
Hot Macedonian Sausage with olives, feta, green onions and Bordeaux mustard 
Sausages are a summer favorite, with classics like brats and hot Italian available in most grocery stores, but your butcher may  be able to offer you some more creative options.  In the past few weeks our butchers have set us up with wild boar sausage, spicy chorizo sausage and hot Macedonian sausage and we didn't even have to say pretty please.
Of course just having great sausage doesn't make the meal, you have to dress them up. Let's start with the bun, first off stay away from standard grocery store hot dog buns if at all possible, I mean your not a kid anymore, get an adult bun. Head over to your grocery store bakery section, or even better your local bakery, and see if they have something a little better. Recently we picked up some amazing baguette buns at our local bakery, but we've wrapped beautiful sausage in everything from croissants to naan.
Now you're going to need some toppings, get creative here, we went mostly Mediterranean with the toppings for our Macedonian sausage, but then we threw in a Bordeaux mustard twist. We went a completely different direction with our Chorizo, pairing it with some red wine cheddar, an Old Smokey mustard and cilantro. The point is to get creative and make something fun.
Chorizo sausage, on baguette bun.
Burgers and Sliders
Burgers and their smaller cousins sliders are another great summer favorite that's easy to get creative with. Let's start with the meat, first of all you don't need pre-formed frozen patties, making a hamburger patty is the easiest thing in the world, if you ever used Play-doh as a kid you already know the technique. Anybody can make burgers or sliders using grocery store ground beef, but if you want something really special why not ask your butcher to grind some of your favorite cut of beef for you, at SS & F we tend to go for a mix of chuck and brisket, but skirt, flap, rump, short rib and even oxtail can be ground for delicious burgers.
Sliders with a chuck/rump mix by chef Dominic
Kangaroo on top emu on the bottom
Of course you don't have to use beef at all, ground pork, lamb or chicken can also be used for burgers and sliders or you can get even more creative, not long ago Dominic graced us with some fantastic kangaroo and emu sliders. If you have access to it game meat can be another great option for burgers, I've had the opportunity to try, moose, venison and wild duck burgers and they were all fantastic. 
Now for the bun and toppings, as with hot dog buns grocery store burger buns tend to suck so be prepared to get creative bun wise. Kaisers are a great option for burgers, they tend to have more substance and flavour then grocery store burger buns. An even more fun option can be cheese and/or onion buns from your grocery store bakery department or local bakery.  If you don't mind you burger patty hanging out a bit around the edges croissants can be another flakey, buttery delicious bun option for burgers. There are bun options for sliders to, the bakery near me does some fantastic Italian dinner rolls, or why not combined the best parts of breakfast and dinner by serving up some sliders on english muffins? This breakfast staple is excellent for soaking up all that yummy meat juice from a nice juicy slider. 
At Smoke Salt and Fire we believe great cheese is almost a necessity on an amazing burger. While it's important not to feel limited in the types of cheese you can use we recommend staying away from processed cheese slices unless you're specifically going for a very old style burger. That said there are literally hundreds of amazing cheese options, if you want to keep it classic you can go with an old cheddar or a nice jack, but there are other ways to go to. Blue cheeses can be a nice option that often gets overlooked for burgers, Stilton is my personal favorite for burgers. Smoke mozzarella is also great on burgers and a bit out of the ordinary or why not try the mix of gruyere and parmigiano Dominic uses for his sliders.
 Another favorite way to dress up a burger is with bacon, why not see if your butcher has something special put aside bacon wise or even better make up a batch of your own bacon, we have great recipe for red wine bacon or go all out and make you own "King Bacon" to put on your burgers.  
Any way you slice it these barbecue ideas should help to heat up your summer barbecues. Keep and eye out for part 2 of our light summer barbecue guide coming soon, when we'll be looking at how to spice up some more summer barbecue favorites.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Cucumber and Tomato, a great summer salad

Salads are great in summer time, cool and delicious on a hot day. A great side for barbecue or perfect as a meal on it's own. Cucumber and tomato salad is a particular favorite of mine, there's something about the combination of cucumber, tomatoes and green onions in a simple vinaigrette that just takes your breath away.
Cucumber Tomato Salad with rice, olives and pork souvlaki 

1/2 english cucumber
2-4 tomatoes
1 bunch green onions
2 tbsps finely chopped parsley
2 tbsps feta cheese


1/2 cup olive oil
1/8 cup white wine vinegar (you can use balsamic, malt, red wine, cider or white vinegar if you prefer)
1/4 of a lemon
1 tsp seedy mustard (I used Kozlik's Triple Crunch, but any seedy mustard will work)
1 pinch oregano
1 pinch black pepper

Coarsely chop you tomatoes and cucumber into 3/4 inch chunk as see in the picture above and throw them in a large salad bowl.  Chop you green onions into 1/2 inch lengths, discard the root and add the chopped onions to your salad bowl.   Sprinkle in your finely chopped parsley (I like Italian parsley but any fresh parsley will work) and crumble in your feta cheese.  Toss the salad until everything is thoroughly mixed together.
For the dressing add your vinegar and live oil to a small bowl or measuring cup. Squeeze the juice from 1/4 of a lemon into your oil and vinegar, try to squeeze as much lemon juice as you can from your 1/4 lemon, if any seeds get into your dressing fish them out with a fork. Add your seedy mustard and throw in a pinch each of oregano and black pepper, stir the dressing thoroughly and pour on your salad before the oil and vinegar separate.
Toss the salad again to evenly distribute the dressing. Bonus points if you add bacon bits. Serves 4 as a side or 1 as a main.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Red Wine Bacon, a thinking man's recipe

So it would appear my business partner thinks you want foie gras, gold leaf and half a hundredweight of pomp and circumstance with your bacon. Personally I like to think you lot are a little more sophisticated then that. I mean does chef Dominic really think people want bacon that looks like something Mr. T would wear on a chain around his neck? Do you really want bacon that's as spangly as P-diddley's trousers?  I think not.
In all seriousness though I think the bacon Dominic made is magnificent and it's going to be fabulous for an event I'm hoping to organize in the near future, but more on that in a later post.
What you really want is some seriously grown up bacon, you want bacon that's moved on from the breakfast table to take it's rightful place at dinner. You want the kind of bacon that makes people really rethink what bacon is all about, you want red wine bacon.
That's right, I said red wine bacon, amazing winey, garlicky, baconny goodness that takes bacon to a whole new level.


1 pound of pork belly (Ask your butcher to remove the skin at the time of purchase)
1 1/2 tsp Morton's kosher salt
1/2 tsp curing salt #1 (sometimes called Pink salt #1 or Prague salt #1)
1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp of brown sugar
2 tbsp of garlic powder
1/2 cups red wine

1 /12 cups of red wine
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp brown sugar

!. Throw your dry ingredients into a large ziplock bag (I like Glad Zipper locks, but do you boo, most heave duty ziplock type bags will work)
2. Add your wine to the bag and shake thoroughly so the wine is well mixed with the dry ingredients.
3. Put your pork belly in the bag, force as much air as possible out of the bag before sealing and place the sealed bag in the fridge.
4. Store the bag in the fridge for between 1 and 3 weeks to cure, turning the bag over daily to ensure even curing.  I recommend erring towards longish curing times when working with red wine try for at least 10 day to allow the wine to get right in there.
5. Making a glaze, put your glaze ingredients into a sauce pan and and simmer until the red wine starts to thicken and look syrupy.
6. Remove the now cured belly from the bag and rinse under the tap, allow to dry for about a 1/2 hour before smoking
7. I like to smoke over a hickory and apple wood mix between 220-240 degrees, allow about 45 minutes per pound, double that if it's below freezing out. Coat with wine glaze when you put it in, turn the belly over at the half way mark and re-glaze.
8. Remove from the smoker and refrigerate for 24 hours before slicing. (Do not skip this step!!!)

Cooking:  As I mentioned at the beginning this bacon is more at home at the dinner table then at breakfast, though I've found fun ways of including it at breakfast also, there are lots of interesting ways to cook it, when you fry it it turns a deep winey red as it cooks and the wine flavour is very distinctive.  My favorite way to prepare it is to put it over top of a chicken breast in the oven, just cook the chicken as you normally would and lay the bacon on top of it before you put it in the oven, the wine flavour will spread through the chicken in the most delightful way.

I've also enjoyed chopping my wine bacon into lardons and frying them up to throw on top of salad, you have to do something to help salad. ;)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Strawberry Bruschetta

Fresh strawberries, that tangy, sweet taste; dancing in perfect harmony with the lemon soaked tomatoes and the fresh from the garden taste of beautiful thyme. The crunch of the baguette against the smooth creamy taste of the goat cheese makes this an appetizer to impress your friends. Or woo the girl of your dreams. Or make up for doing something stupid to your usually loving partner.

6 Medium size hot house tomatoes.
10-15 Good sized strawberries
6 Lemons
1 Red onion
1 Handful of parsley
1 Sprig of thyme
1 Tbsp of Salt
1 tsp of garlic powder
Vienna loaf or whatever bread you like.
1 Small of soft goats cheese - chilled

Disclaimer: This recipe takes 24hrs! You can rush it but you will not get anywhere near the same flavours!

First the strawberries. Cut them into little cubes by cutting them in half, cutting into strips, then cutting those strips in half. When you have them cut up, throw them in a bowl with the juice of one lemon and the leaves from your sprig of Thyme. Let them sit for 1 minute then throw out any remaining lemon juice in the bowl. Pop them in the fridge and let them sit for 24 hours! When you take them out they should have a bit of the lemon flavour with a nice aftertaste of the thyme. Lovely!

Cut up those delicious looking tomatoes and throw them into a bowl, small cubes is great. Next is the onion, cut up half, very fine and in it goes with the tomatoes. Next is the handful of parsely leaves, cut them up fine and in they go too with the juice from the remaining lemons and the tsp of garlic powder. Stir it up and let it rest beside its starberry friends for 24 hours.

The next day!

Toast your bread or throw it in the frying pan with a little oil and give it a quick fry.

Put a thin layer of the tomato bruschetta on the bread, followed by a thin layer of the starberries then crumble a little of the goat cheese over and  you are done!

Now feed it to your loved one and enjoy the eternal love... or, you're out of the doghouse now. you're welcome.


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Breakfast porn 2: How to make your own amazing tasting breakfast

Do you ever wake up craving something delicious? Or need to make a yummy breakfast to impress that someone special? You can make a delicious and amazing looking breakfast in less then 20 minutes.

Bacon, 4 strips
Eggs, 2
Cheese, cheddar, 1 cup grated
Finely chopped garlic, 1tbsp
1 small onion, finely chopped
Butter 5 tbsps
1 english muffin
1 tomatillo thinly sliced (Optional)
1 tsp Italian parsley (Optional)

Melt 4 tbsps butter in in a large frying pan, when butter is melted throw in your onion and garlic. As soon as the onions and garlic start to go translucent add 2 slices of bacon to you pan.  Cook the bacon until it's done to your liking.  While the bacon is cooking cut the english muffin in half so it's ready for the toaster.

When the bacon is fried the way you like it take it out of the pan and place it on a side plate to rest.  Crack 2 eggs in to the pan you just cooked your bacon in, cooking the eggs in the bacon grease will add flavour. I like my eggs sunny side up, but if you're an over easy person that can work too. If you're adding tomatillos put them in the pan with the eggs as shown in the video.

At this point put your english muffin in the toaster and begin toasting.
When the english muffin is done toasting butter and plate it open, it then add bacon, now use a spatula to remove the tomatillos from the frying pan and put those on top of the bacon, then put the eggs on top of that.  Now cover the whole thing in grated cheddar, I used a 5 year old raw milk cheddar, but whatever you have at hand will work.
Now stick it in the oven under the broiler until the cheese melts, took about 90 seconds in my over, but your results may vary.
If you're trying to impress someone special sprinkle with some finely chopped Italian parsley to give the dish that attractive dash of green.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Dominic's Summer Hot Sauce

 Look at those beautiful peppers! Red! Ripe! Perfect to add that summer kick to everything you cook!

Why is it that peppers remind me of the summer? I think of islands, beaches, the sun, sitting in the shade with a burn, looking like a lobster and getting drunk from something that tastes like a coconut did VERY inappropriate things with a bowl of fruit and a bottle of rum. But let’s leave the beaches and bikinis behind and head to that drum cut in half, coals glowing a loving orange colour and throw on some veg!

For my hot sauce I like spice, but above spice I like flavour! If the reaction is, “Mmm this tastes great… oh my god I need a drink.” I'm doing it right.

My hot sauce starts with a citrus note that fills the mouth and gets it watering, then comes the garlic and onion, adding rich notes of BBQ and the same taste one would get from the first bite of pasta sauce. It finishes sweet and then burns a constant and sharp treat that will last for about 30 seconds on a fresh pallet.

Sounds good? Ok, let’s get those veg on the grill!
I will be using:
1 Head of garlic.
1 Large red onion
Aprox 30 Scotch bonnet peppers
Aprox 8 Red hot chili peppers
6 Lemons
1 Tbsp of brown sugar.

Garlic! Grill it! It turn as soft as butter.
(TIP: Pull off as much of the outside husk as you can.)
(TIP: BBQ, cut in half, serve with crusty bread, olive oil and a nice balsamic as an app.)

Onion! You know what happens when you throw it in a pan with butter, same thing happens on the bbq.
(TIP: Cut an ‘X’ halfway through each end so the heat can get in there.)

Peppers! Throw them on and watch them closely, as they cook, the meat will start to separate away from the waxy outside covering.
(TIP: Experiment! There’s an amazing selection of peppers out there and they taste wildly different, see what combinations you like and what works with your best dishes. I’m using Scotch Bonnet and Red Hot Chili Peppers.)

Got the veg on the grill? 
Great!  Flip those peppers and enjoy something cool to drink while you dream of the sand between your toes.
Done? Awesome! Smell that? Mmm, think of all the dishes that you could add a little spice too.
Jerk Chicken. Fried Chicken. Pizza. Curry. Burgers. Wings. Sauces. Drinks(Caesar+). Desserts. Quiche. Etc.

Pull the veg off and let them cool a little so you can touch them with your hands.
Snip an end off the red hot chilies and squeeze the meat and seeds into your container.
Pull off any stems and throw the scotch bonnets into the container too, seeds and all.
In goes the onion when it’s nice and soft.
In goes the garlic when it too is nice and soft.
Squeeze in your lemons using a wire strainer to make sure the seeds stay out.
Now add 1-2 cups of vinegar and blend with an immersion blender until you have a paste that is super hot!

The next step is completely up to you and how hot you like things. The more vinegar you add, the
less viscous and less hot it will become. If you see my picture of the container I chose, it was 1/4th full of the chili paste and I added 3/4 vinegar.
Add a Tbsp of brown sugar or two and give it a stir.

You’re done! How easy was that!
Now go wash your hands!!
Trust me O_O  

SS & F's guide to making great veggie soup

At Smoke Salt and Fire we may be meat eaters but that doesn't mean we don't appreciate a healthy hearty veggie soup. A good vegetable soup can be one of the worlds great comfort foods and the best part is it's cheap to make because veggies cost way less then meat.
The real trick to making a delicious, filling, satisfying vegetable soup is to build up a strong umami flavour. If you aren't familiar with the term umami it refers to a savory taste often found in meat and fish but also present in some vegetables like tomato and eggplant.  
You're going to need a large pot to get started, once you have that we can start building our flavours.  We'll begin by adding some oil to the bottom of our pot, you can really use any cooking oil here, like olive oil, canola oil or butter, but my favorite oil for starting a soup is sesame oil. Sesame oil adds a strong umami base to the start of our soup that I feel adds depth to the final flavour of the dish.  Once you've added oil and heated it to a medium heat you're going to want to add some onion and garlic flavours to the dish, throw in some finely chopped garlic and onions or scallions or shallots or leeks or any combo there of. Let the onions and garlic saute in the bottom of the pot until they start to become translucent.

While the onions and garlic are sauteing chop up your other vegetables, you should start with carrots and celery as those are going to be the next thing we throw in. Toss in your carrots and celery and let them saute with the onions and garlic for a bit, you'll know it's time to add more ingredients when the carrots and celery start to sweat. If you want to add potatoes to your soup you should throw those in next because they take a while to cook, cut potatoes up fairly small when cooking for soup, large chunks of potato can take too long to cook.  If you're not using potatoes or you've already added them it's time to start adding your other ingredients, you can really add any veggies you like at this stage. I usually add sweet peppers next, my favorite are Sheppard Peppers, a sweet red pepper with a little more flavour then standard bell peppers.
Now you're starting to build a nice flavour profile it's time to pump up that umami flavour. There are lots of vegetables that can add a nice umami flavour to a veggie dish, I can hear the mushroom fans chanting shitaki now, you can also use some types of squash, but my personal favs are tomato and eggplant so we'll chop some of those up and throw them in the pot, I'm also adding some yellow zucchini, for not better reason then I like zucchini.

By this point you're probably starting to see some nice veggie juices in the bottom of the pot, stir your ingredients a bit to make sure they cook nice and even.  Once your veggies start to soften you're going to need to add some liquid, you can use water, or vegetable stock but I like to use white wine or sometimes beer, depending on the flavour I'm going for. If you're going for more of an Asian flavour you may want to consider saki or soju.
If you're using wine to cook with it's okay to use cheap wine but make sure you choose one you'd want to drink, stay away from anything that says cooking wine on the label. There are 2 reasons for this, first whatever flavours are in the wine are going to be intensified when you cook with it, also when cooking with wine you're a fool not to have a glass, so try and pick something cheap you'll enjoy and that matches the flavour profile you're trying to create.
Once you've added your liquid, whether wine, soup stock, water or something else leave the heat at medium until it starts to bubble; then turn it down to low and allow to simmer for about 20 minute. While you're veggies are simmering you can start to think about spice and seasoning, I tend to leave salt for last because many seasonings contain some level of salt and you don't want to over do it.  I usually like to start by throwing in some finely chopped fresh dill, parsley and cilantro, if I have it handy fresh chives can be nice also. If I'm going for an asian feel I might add soy sauce or another asian style sauce. I sometimes like to add Old Bay seasoning, this Southern favorite tastes great in soups, white or black pepper can also add some zing to a soup, as can smoke paprika. If you're looking for more heat then that get some hot peppers, I like those little red chillies from Thailand, but you can use any chillies you really like here depending on the heat level you're looking for.
Finally we need to think about salt, before you add any salt taste your stock so far, some vegetables contain a fair amount of salt also if you've use soy sauce, vegetable stock or Old Bay seasoning those will have added their own salt. Now add salt in small amounts, stir in thoroughly and taste again before adding more salt until you're satisfied with the flavour. Now let it simmer for another 10-15 minutes, at this point you have a terrific veggie stew, with a nice broth and you can happily serve it just like that, but what I like to do at this stage is grab my blender. Blending will bring all your flavours together and make every bite a filling delicious mix.  I find it usually take 3 to 5 minutes of blending to get the consistency I like, but your results may vary depending on your blender and whether you want to blend it smooth or you want it a little chunky.
After that it's just a matter of of serving, once you get you soup in a bowl you may want to do a little something to finish the dish, if you're serving vegans I suggest some finely chopped parsley or cilantro, for others maybe some cheese or even a few bacon bits or if you're me all of the above.
This isn't the only way to make a great veggie soup of course and there are lot's of great variation, but this guide should get you started on the road to some great soups, I hope some of you will be inspired to come up with your own great soups.

Tell us in comments about you favorite soups and recipe creation.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

"The King's Bacon"

With a name like "The King's Bacon" you can't help but imagine a host of elephants made from diamonds, bearing platinum swans between them on a pillow of angel feathers, holding aloft a glowing golden object d'art...

The King's Bacon

But wait! What if this is simply peasant food dressed up and given a name as a joke rather than as homage to an outdated political figure? Much like all the pubs named "The Queen's Legs" or "The Queen and Beaver"?

As with most of the best things in life, this dish is both. Something fancy to make the room fall quiet and have glares of jealousy from your friends, and a jovial dish nestled amongst other gloriously over the top creations like bacon fatties and Turduckens. Great dishes! But are they really worth it?
In the end, you and your guests will decide.

Here is the recipe, God Save The Bacon. I mean Queen. Er, King, sorry.

Let's start with the GOLD:                                                                      Gold leaf: (pic)
Does it have taste? No.
Is it good or bad for you? No.
Is it expensive? No.
Do you need  a special kind? YES!!!

The gold is just here for looks. Nothing fancy about it apart from the shine, and the price.

Call around to local cooking and art stores and ask for 24K edible gold. 24K is pretty much pure gold. Gold is inert and will not affect you; however, if you start to go into lower carats of gold you will encounter more impurities and that's where the problems can occur. Stick to 22-24K and you shall be fine.
(But what about all those South Asian candies covered in silver? Google "Vark" for more info.)

Next: The BELLY!
The following recipe is done per pound. The lovely chunk of bacon in the photos is just under 5 pounds.
1 lb of beautiful pork belly
1.5 tsp of salt (Kosher is a great choice)
.5 tsp of Prague salt (aka pink salt, salt #1) [What's Prague salt?]
3 Tbsp of honey (Brown sugar or maple syrup work great too)
1/3 cup of water, or apple juice, or cider, or get creative

Combine the above with your pork, throw it in a ziplock bag and flip it everyday for a week.

Next: FOIE GRAS PÂTÉ! (You could use calf liver or duck if you prefer)
With your foie gras at room temp, remove the veins in the centre, season with some salt and pepper, add a little Grand Marnier and cover in the fridge for 24hrs.
24hrs later, bring out your little gem and let it warm to room temp over an hour, then put it in your
terrine and place that in a water bath at 130F until the internal temp is 130F.

Pour off the beautiful fat that will have appeared and add it to 2 Tbsp of butter in a frying pan. Add a thinly sliced red onion (or shallots) as well as 2 thinly sliced cloves of garlic and a selection of herbs. Allow the garlic and onion to sauté until perfectly cooked. Drain the fat and save for later.

Put half the foie gras and the veg into a food processor with a bit of the fat (3 Tbsp) and puree until smooth. Add the rest of the foie gras and allow it to purée until you have a consistency that is almost smooth but with very small pieces in it (add fat as needed).

Pour back into the terrine, now lined with parchment paper, and throw into the fridge until completely cool. Back out and between two large pieces of parchment paper, use a rolling pin until it is flat. Then again in the fridge to get cold again.

Time to grab that Pork Belly again.
Rinse it off and pat it dry, then with a VERY sharp knife, cut a pocket the length of the bacon as close to the edges as you can without breaking the skin. (Tough step, take your time.)

Use a knife to pull your cold pâté from the fridge and slowly get it inside the belly in a nice even layer. If it heats up and you end up spreading it like butter, this is just fine.

Next is sewing it up. This can be a little tricky but here's an easy method:
Take a bamboo meat skewer and wrap your cooking twine around once, then wrap it around again above the first wrap. Do this on the tapered part at the end. When you push it through the string should tighten onto itself and hold on as it goes through the meat. Use this technique to sew it up nice and tight.

Ready to smoke some bacon?
I decided to spend a little extra and bought some JD cask that had been chipped and gave a wonderful smell when smoked. I like to smoke at about 220-230F for about 45mins per pound but this is again up to you and you should smoke to taste. Flip the bacon halfway through and don't forget to make sure there's some water in the tray to keep things moist.

Then, back into the fridge for 24 hours! (Don't skip or skimp on this step!!)

Time to play with GOLD.
Your gold will probably come in a small book with the actual leaves of gold on individual sheets. Take out a sheet, align it with a corner and then press it down and push it into the natural bumps of the bacon. Do this gently as rubbing will cause the gold to become wrinkled and will leave gaps. If you have left over gold on a sheet you can add it to any gaps.

Touching up is very tough, the best thing to do is apply new gold rather than to try and move gold or press a flake down. After you're done, use a fine brush to
push down any flakes blowing in the wind.

At this point you're more or less done. All that's left is slicing, but how do you slice it if you can't touch it?
1. Use a VERY sharp knife. Anything else will make life tough.
2.  Make sure your bacon is as cold as possible (no, not frozen).
3. Still moving around? Stick a metal BBQ skewer into it and you will have a little more leverage.
You're done!

Now you can sit back and bask in the golden glow of your own royal bacon, The King's Bacon.

Hope you enjoy!
(Smoke Salt And Fire)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

How to make a tasty and useful bacon weave

Bacon seems to be everywhere these days. It's almost as popular on the Internet as cats and Kardashians, and why not?  It's hard to think of a dish that can't be improved by the addition of some bacon but for the true bacon lover some bacon is just never enough. That's where the bacon weave comes in, whether you want to wrap a whole chicken in bacon, make a bacon bowl, serve up some appetizers on crispy bacon weave squares or whip up a legendary bacon fatty, you're going to need to start with an easy and fun to make bacon weave.

To start with you're going to have to think about how big a weave, do you need a full bacon strip or will a half strip do?  If you're making small weaves for appetizers or side dishes you'll need to cut you bacon down to size.  The smallest practical size for a weave is 3 bacon strips width wide by  3 bacon strips width long.  for the purpose of this demonstration I'm going to use full length bacon strips, because I'm going to use this weave to make a bacon fatty, something we'll be discussing further in a future article.
For the full sized weave I'm going to demonstrate you'll need about a pound and half of bacon, and a cutting board that's at least a bacon strip long and wide.
Start by laying a bacon strip along one edge of the cutting board then place the bacon strips at a 90 degree right angle to the first strip as shown below.

Now fold back every second strip and lay the piece you used to measure across the ends of the unfolded pieces then unfold the folded slices back over the strip you just laid across.
Now fold the pieces that are under your first cross piece over top of it and lay your second piece over top the unfolded strips.
Now repeat the process, alternating which strips you fold back until you've completed your weave.
Now you've completed your weave you'll need to cook it, if you're wrapping something in it just add a few minutes to the cook time of whatever you're making, if you're crisping it up for appetizers bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes, until it looks crisp.  If you're making a bacon bowl form your weave over a bowl made from a heat safe material and follow the baking instructions.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Tantalizing Tahini Sauce

Tahini sauce seems to be everywhere these days, once the preserve of the occasional falafel, this popular middle eastern condiment has become a staple of chefs around the world, enhancing burgers and veggie options alike.  Tahini has even penetrated the local grocery store, but grocery store sauces often seem to lack the flavour of the sauce at your favorite shawarma stand. Fortunately tahini paste, the middle eastern style sesame paste that provides the raw material for that delicious sauce has recently also been appearing in some grocery stores allowing home cooks to make their own delicious tahini sauce at home. This is great for middle eastern recipes or just dipping your favorite snacks in and the best part is you can whip up your own awesome tahini sauce in less then 20 minutes.
This recipe will show you how to make a quick delicious tahini sauce. The sauce will stay fresh in the fridge for about a week.  To make this recipe you'll need a blender, measuring cup and measuring spoons and a container to put the finished tahini in.

Ingredients for an incredible Tahini

1 table spoon finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup tahini paste
The juice of 3 lemons
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tea spoon of fine sea salt or Mortons Kosher salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon finely chopped italian parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Deef fried eggplant with home made tahini
 Okay folks, this one is easy throw all of the above in a blender, make sure you squeeze as much juice as possible out of those lemons, and blend for about 30 to 60 seconds, and you're done. Pour your amazing tahini into a sealable plastic container and you're ready to stick it in the fridge, not that you'll want to, you'll want to grab some chips, or pita wedges or falafel balls or veggie sticks and start snacking.
Snack time

Monday, April 27, 2015

Rice and Okra bubbling

Cooked rice in a nice spicy chicken broth for about 25 minutes, then added okra, peppers, onions, carrots, garlic and chillies.  Let it cook for another 15 minutes.  Delicious.

Quick easy delicious steaks

So we needed to eat something while our bacon was smoking, I know it's a tough life right? We stopped by one if our local butchers, Mr Greek Meat Market 801 Danforth, and picked up some steaks, I grabbed t-bone and chef Dominic and our friend James picked up some nice New Yorks.
 At chef Dominics suggestion we seared them briefly on the grill, 1 minute a side, then sauteed them in butter and garlic, using a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temp while sauteing, I pulled mine when it hit 130 F because I like it fairly rare, chef Dominic and James pulled theirs at 135 F. This is an old technique and not for the totally health conscious, but it's quick and delicious, great for when you're busy with other things and need a fast delicious meal.
When they were cooked we poured the butter and garlic over the steaks, delicious.
We served them with some grilled zucchini and served roasted potatoes. We also added some of chef Dominic's "secret" sauce (don't tell anyone but it's peppercorn ranch dressing)

 This whole meal took less then 20 minutes to throw together and and makes an easy win when friends stop by.  For those who were hoping for bacon, we'll be posting pics soon.