Archive for the ‘Grilling’ Category


Pulled Pork Sandwiches

July 25, 2010

The last in my beer/food pairing re-caps is Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Louisiana Pulled Pork Sandwiches. I was most familiar with Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale. It seemed to be the college keg choice amongst my foodie and restaurant friends. According to Molly, it’s their most popular beer. It’s a beautiful amber color and full bodied. Generous quantities of Cascade hops give the ale its fragrant bouquet and spicy flavor. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is the flagship beer, the one that made Chico, CA famous. It’s been a gold medal winner numerous times at the Great American Beer Festival. I still think my favorite was the Summerfest. I should probably pick some up, because it’s seasonal and at the rate time is flying by this Summer – it won’t be on the shelves much longer.


One pork shoulder roast (5-6 lb.) – aka pork butt, shoulder butt or Boston butt)
1 Tablespoon Paprika
2 Tablespoons Cajun Seasoning
1 Tablespoon Garlic Granules
2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
2 Teaspoons Dried Oregano
2 Teaspoons Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Ground Black Pepper
2 Teaspoons Sea Salt
One large Sheet of Parchment Paper
Aluminum Foil
13″x9″ Metal Pan

In a small bowl combine the spice rub ingredients. Place pork shoulder on a large sheet of parchment. Rub the spices over the entire piece of meat and fold the parchment around the pork shoulder, tightly sealing it. Cut a piece of foil large enough to cover the pork shoulder and wrap it up like a package.

Soak 1 1/2 cups of smoking chips in hot water. Start up the BBQ or smoker to a temperature of 300 degrees F, arranging coals into an indirect heat configuration. Place wrapped pork into the metal pan and place onto the BBQ. Wrap about 1/2 cup of drained smoking chips in aluminum foil, leaving a small opening on one end and place directly onto the coals. Cover the BBQ.

Cook pork shoulder for 1.5 to 2 hours wrapped. Open up parchment and foil and leave pork shoulder sitting in its wrapper. Continue to cook shoulder at a temperature of 250-275 degrees F for 5-7 more hours or until pork is fork tender and almost falling apart. Baste meat with pan juices that have accumulated in the parchment. You will need to add more coals to maintain the proper temperature. Add more smoking chips as needed to keep a nice amount of smoke going. (Chef Dio said change the chips about every 45 minutes).

Allow pork shoulder to rest for 20-30 minutes or until it is cool enough to handle before shredding the meat. Shred meat removing any excess fat and season with a bit of salt and pepper if needed.

The pork was served on buttered/grilled buns with a side of slaw and OMG, it was awesome! There was no drippy sauce, it was just super moist with a wonderful smoky flavor. 

Note: the pork can be BBQ’d 1-2 days in advance. Warm meat in a 300 degree oven for 6-8 minutes before serving. You also might need to take out a small loan if you have a gas BBQ – thinking you’ll be going through a lot of propane, hah!

Yuba John…I know you have that new smoker… hint, hint!

So that’s it for the food and beer pairings. No more cooking classes for a while, so it’s back to me experimenting in the kitchen. I also have a few product reviews coming up.

Hope everyone had a good weekend, I know I did.


Korean Beef Short Rib Bulgogi

July 24, 2010

Dish 3 of the the beer and food pairing was Sierra Nevada’s Torpedo Extra IPA and Korean Beef Short Rib Bulgogi. According to Molly and Sierra Nevada, Torpedo Ale is a big American IPA; bold assertive and full of flavor and aromas highlighting the complex citrus, pine and herbal character of whole-cone American hops.  Torpedo Extra IPA is the newest addition to Sierra Nevada’s year round roster of beers. 

I could definitely taste the ramped up hoppy flavor – 3 times the amount of the other beers we tasted. I learned that when pairing beers and food, the hop bitterness balances the sweetness and richness (fat) in foods and it emphasizes the spiciness (chili heat). 

It was really interesting to learn how the beer flavors interact with the food. The sweetness and maltiness of a beer balances the spiciness and acidity in food. The roasted malt, carbonation and alcohol all balance the sweetness and richness like the hop flavor does. Molly recommended the following book: Tasting Beer – an Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink by author, Randy Mosher. The book has a good section on food and beer pairing.

We switched into food mode after the beer talk.

Chef Dio showed us what Korean Beef Short Rib meat was and then he got started on trimming the beef and making the marinade.

3 lb. thin cut beef short ribs (Korean Style)  – you can get them at Asian markets or specialty markets – he used Prather Ranch organic beef chuck flanken style ribs.
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Teaspoon toasted sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, put through a press
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 Tablespoons Mirin
1/2 Teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Sea Salt to taste
Optional – chili pepper flakes to taste
Canola spray for grilling

Trim off excess fat from the meat. Combine the marinade ingredients and add in the meat. Mix well and marinate for 6-8 hours or overnight. (Chef Dio did ours overnight).

Preheat grill to high heat. Remove meat from marinade and pat dry with paper towel. Spray meat with canola spray and then grill meat for 2-3 minutes per side, slightly charring the meat. Brush meat as it grills with the marinade.

Chef Dio prepared a salad of red leaf lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, cilantro, green onions and kim chee. I thought the meat tasted great. It had a wonderful flavor and teaming it with a light salad was the perfect compliment. A few swigs of the Torpedo Extra IPA and we were onto the next thing.


Pizza and Beer

July 21, 2010

I spent last night at a BBQ/Food and Beer pairing. The Co-op teamed with a rep from Sierra Nevada to present awesome food and beer combos for us to taste. Chef Dio showed us how to make the food and Molly presented the beers. Molly also brought us some cool swag. You can never have enough pint glasses or bottle openers.

I’ll be posting all 4 recipes/pairings this week. First up was one of my favorites – the pizza crust was amazing and I loved the pairing.

Kellerweis and Pizza with Sausage and Caramelized Onions

Sierra Nevada Kellerweis is one of the only American Hefeweizens made using the traditional Bavarian style of open fermentation. It’s a difficult and labor-intensive technique, but it adds uncommon depth and flavor complexity – So Molly says… The hazy-golden hefeweizen is deeply flavorful, refreshing and perfect for a sun-filled day. Molly said that their brewmasters went to Germany and brought the yeast back with them. Someone asked why people put citrus – lemons, orange wedges, etc. in hefeweizen beers and the look of horror on Molly’s face was enough information to know that Sierra Nevada doesn’t recommend doing that. She further went on to actually explain that she knows why people do it and enjoy it… it’s like a mini food pairing. The hefeweizen is a maltier (is that even a word?) beer – so the sweeter taste would work well paired with citrus. I definitely got more of a clove taste from the sample. I thought it went really well with the fabulous pizza.

Pizza and Caramelized Onions and Sausage

Semolina Pizza Dough – (makes two 10-12 inch pizzas)

1 Cup Warm Water – 100 degrees F
1 Package Dry Active Yeast – 2 teaspoons
A Pinch of Sugar
2 1/4 Cups Unbleached White Flour
1/2 Cup Semolina Flour
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil – makes the dough crispy
1 Tablespoon Milk – adds sweetness to the dough
1/2 Teaspoon Sea Salt
1/4 Cup Olive Oil for Brushing on Pizza

Dissolve yeast in water with sugar – give it a good mixing until it’s cloudy. Add white flour and mix well to make a sticky batter. Add semolina flour, 2 Tablespoons olive oil and sea salt. Mix well. Knead dough until it forms a smooth ball (by hand – 15 minutes – by mixer with a dough hook – 8 minutes – it will pull away from the sides and stick to the hook). Place dough in an oil bowl (just give the bowl a good coating of olive oil), cover with plastic and allow to double in size – about 60 minutes. When dough has risen to desired level, take dough out and portion into 2 balls for 10-12 inch pizza or more portions if making smaller pizzas. Let rest for 5 minutes before rolling out.

Chef Dio said that 1 rise is enough. In hotter weather it could take as little as 35-45 minutes.  He also said that the dough freezes well. Just take it out 1-2 hours before you want to make your pizza. He sometimes lets the dough rise overnight in the fridge.

Pizza Toppings
8 oz. Hot Italian Turkey Sausage Links – cooked on the grill and sliced thinly
3 Large Onions, thinly sliced – 1/4 to 1/8 inch
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 lb. Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 lb. Fresh Tomato – remove core and dice
1/2 Cup Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for Drizzling – about 2-3 tablespoons
2 Tablespoons Italian Parsley – finely chopped
Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper – to taste

In a sauté pan – heat the olive oil and caramelize the onions over medium-low heat, stirring periodically. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Caramelizing side note: Chef Dio takes an hour or more to do his onions. They were SUPER sweet… yum! I definitely tend to rush mine – like 25-35 minutes total. He says to take your time on the caramelizing for best results. He does a bunch at a time and freezes them. He said that the salt helps draw out the moisture and they soften quicker.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Roll out dough to desired shape and size. Transfer to an oiled pizza pan or onto a pizza peel (wooden paddle) dusted with semolina. He uses a pizza peel because he then transfers it to a pizza stone or the BBQ. Use a brush to coat the top of the rolled out dough with olive oil. Spread the mozzarella onto each pizza. Top with caramelized onions, grilled sausage slices and tomatoes. Drizzle pizzas with more olive oil and sprinkle on the Parmigiano Reggiano. Season with a bit of sea salt and pepper.

Transfer pizza to oven and bake for 10-12 minutes or until crust is golden brown, crispy and cheese is bubbly. Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes before you slice and serve. Garnish the pizza with more Parmigiano Reggiano and Italian parsley – he also added a little more salt.

The vibe of the class was so different from past classes. Probably because the majority of the people there were very thirsty guys. At one point, the class went out on the back patio to watch a grilling demo and I actually think the guys started grunting. My cooking class buddy Kristen and I were all about the girl power. Could also have been the 4 beer tastings – with refills for people who wanted them.

Such a fun time – I have 3 more beers and recipes to share later this week.


Kielbasa and Apple Kabobs

July 14, 2010

I apparently didn’t get enough sodium from the Pretzel Dogs Friday night – I decided to continue the sodium fest theme through Saturday evening.

I am a huge fan of the kabob. Nothing beats being able to cook everything at once on the grill. I was looking online for different kabob recipes and stumbled upon a Kielbasa and Apple Kabob that really looked interesting. I love that the website has lots of reviews for every recipe. Most of the kabob reviews stated that they were surprised at how good they ended up tasting.

Why not? I knew I wanted to give the recipe a try. Our friends were game for being guinea pigs – so I ran with it.

The Ingredients:

I had a weird setting on the camera and didn’t notice until it was too late – it created a lovely haze on the products, whoops!

1/4 Cup Sugar
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
3/4 Cup Cranberry Juice
2 Tablespoons Cider Vinegar
2 Teaspoons Soy Sauce
1 Pound Fully Cooked Kielbasa or Polish Sausage – cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces – I used 2 lbs.
2 Medium Tart Apples – cut into wedges – I used 3 Granny Smith Apples
1 Medium Sweet Red Pepper – cut into 1-inch pieces – I used a combo of red and orange peppers
1 Medium Green Pepper – cut into 1-inch pieces – I didn’t use green, because I already had the orange and thought the green from the apples would be enough

I prepped my keilbasa, apples and peppers and got them onto the metal skewers.

I was able to make 5 large kabobs out of the ingredients. I got the kabobs covered and placed them into the fridge while I prepped the glaze.

In a saucepan, I combined the sugar and cornstarch.

I gave it a good mixing before adding the cranberry juice, cider vinegar and soy sauce.

Bring the sauce/glaze to a boil – cook and stir for several minutes – I had mine on the burner for about 4 minutes.

The sauce smelled delicious. I used a brush to coat the kabobs before placing them on the grill.

While the kabobs were grilling, my girlfriend Michelle and I were thinking of different combos we could use with the glaze. I thought it would be screamin’ good with chicken and pineapple – she mentioned nectarines and chicken – both of us thought the cranberry juice could be switched out with orange, mango, etc.

I kept turning the kabobs – which became quite comical with my big BBQ mit and tongs – I think I finally got it down on the second to last kabob.

I can’t say enough about the flavor. The sweet and tangy combo of glazed kielbasa and apples were awesome! I loved the texture of the apples. They were just soft enough, but they still had crunch to them.  The glaze/kielbasa combo made me want to eat an entire plate of just that. Yum x’s 10.  I think you could pretty much put the glaze on anything and it would taste good. O.k., maybe not everything… hah!

I made wild rice as a side dish and also had a loaf of rustic European bread – fresh from the bakery.

The dinner get together was a huge success! We ended the evening with a plate of cake samples. Michelle stopped at a local bakery and got a great selection – lemon cooler cake, lady finger and choc. cake, almond cake with berries and raspberry cream torte – not sinful at all.

I love getting together with friends to share lots of laughs and a good meal.


Grilled Zucchini and Roasted Corn Tacos

July 3, 2010

Yep, zucchini girl is at it again, hah!

This is the final recipe from my Summer Taco and Salsa Party cooking class. I saved the best for last – Grilled Zucchini and Roasted Corn Tacos, thinking this has a lot to do with my renewed love of all things veggie… man were these simple and tasty!

Taco Veggies:
2-3 medium Zucchini (Marinated – recipe to follow) – Sliced lengthwise, about 1/4 wide
1 Medium Onion (Marinated) – Sliced into 1/2″ rings – do not separate rings
2 Ears of Fresh Corn
Note: You can pretty much grill any type of veggies – bell pepper, asparagus, I think anything would work.

Marinade Ingredients: – make the day before so the veggies can marinate overnight
1 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Vinegar  (She used Red Wine and said that you could also use balsamic, cider vinegar or raspberry vinegar)
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Teaspoon Sugar
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
Herbs – She used oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage and basil – Chef Gigi mentioned using whatever fresh herbs you have on hand.

Whisk all marinade ingredients together. Slice zucchini and onions and add them to the marinade and refrigerate overnight – this yields the best results.

Chipotle Cream Ingredients:
3/4 Cup Sour Cream
1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
3 Tablespoons Milk – makes it creamier. Make sure you put your liquids into solids – if you put your mayo or sour cream into the milk, it will be lumpy and you can’t fix that.
1 Teaspoon Lime Juice
1 Teaspoon Chipotle Peppers Puree (She used the canned chipotle (smoked jalapeño chiles) in adobo sauce and put two small peppers and some of the sauce in a blender with a little water.
Splash of Tabasco for some more heat – Chef Gigi liked things pretty spicy.
Salt to taste

Mix all ingredients in a blender and refrigerate until usage.

Clean the corn, remove husks and corn silk. Place corn right on the BBQ grill and roast until browned, but not burnt. Chef Gigi didn’t put anything on the corn – just straight onto the grill.  You can grill your marinated veggies at the same time. Remove the corn and veggies from the grill when you think they are ready – cook until just tender. Once they have cooled a bit, cut the kernels from the cob and dice the zucchini and onions. Mix all veggies together in a bowl and scoop into your tortillas.

Garnish tacos with shredded jalapeño jack cheese, pico de gallo, cilantro, fresh lime juice and chipotle cream sauce. The tacos were served using green chili corn tortillas and that  was key –  they were screamin’ good!

For those celebrating the 4th of July, I hope you have a fun and safe time with your family and friends.

I know I plan on doing the same. We are hosting a party at our place – Independence Day, a projected 97 degrees, a swimming pool and a Dad with a 4th of July birthday – definitely good reason to celebrate!

I’ve got tons of groceries to buy, some award-winning chili to make and a bunch of other party prep. I should probably get off this computer.


Layered Quesadilla

June 17, 2010

Three or so weeks ago when I was feeling healthy, we invited another couple over for dinner and they brought a recipe with them for some Foodiddy cookin’.

My girlfriend and I immediately got to work in the kitchen.

Guy Fieri made a “Coyote Quesadilla” on the En Fuego Fiesta episode of his show –  Guy’s Big Bite. – Michelle had tried the recipe before and was amazed that 1 quesadilla fed her family of 4 – not too shabby.

The recipe comes in 4 steps. First you have to make the blackening rub for the chicken. Next up is a wonderful black bean salsa, a chipotle ranch dressing and then the quesadilla creation.

Blackening Spice Rub Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon Granulated Garlic
1 Tablespoon Ground Pepper
2 Teaspoons Onion Powder
2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
1 Teaspoon Paprika
1/2 Tablespoon Salt

Combine all above ingredients in an airtight container – this makes enough to use for probably 4-6 pieces of chicken.

Sidenote: I’m second guessing my purchase of this Pier 1 Imports plate. I think I overpaid for a glorified paper plate, hah! Seriously, it’s a beautiful ceramic plate, but it looks like paper in my photos – might as well just use paper, faster clean-up!

O.k. – back to the recipe. Next up, the black bean salsa.

Black Bean Salsa Ingredients:

15 Ounce Can of Black Beans – Rinsed and Drained – We used low sodium
15 Ounce Can of Low Sodium Corn – Drained
1 Roma Tomato – Seeded, small dice – We used 2 tomatoes
2 Tablespoons peeled and finely diced carrots – Used 2 small carrots
2 Tablespoons finely diced red onion – Used probably double or triple that
2 Tablespoons finely chopped green onion – Used 4 green onions
2 Tablespoons finely diced red bell pepper – Used 1/2 bell pepper
1 Tablespoon finely chopped cilantro leaves – Grabbed a handful
1 Teaspoon lime zest – Didn’t measure
1 Tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 Teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 Teaspoon sea salt
1/2 Teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Gently mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 20 minutes or more.

Super colorful ingredients…

Mixed and ready for chillin’ in the fridge.

Next Step – Chipotle Ranch Dressing/Sauce

1/2 Cup Ranch Dressing – We used a packet and made our own – Michelle said it made a big difference compared to using store bought the first time.
1/4 Cup Sour Cream – used more like a 1/2 cup
2 Tablespoons Chipotle Peppers

Process all ingredients in a blender. We loaded the sauce into a squeeze bottle and stuck it in the fridge.

Finally – time to grill the chicken. The original recipe used an iron skillet with oil – the grill was a nice substitute – no oil needed.  We set it on a really high heat and let the seasoning get nice and black.

We cut the chicken into pretty chunky pieces and began the construction of our three-layered masterpiece.

We also used the BBQ to grill our 3 flour tortillas. Just stuck them on the grill straight out of the package – no prep necessary.

Quesadilla Ingredients:

1 6 oz. Chicken Breast – We used two.
1 Tablespoon Blackening Spice – We just coated and didn’t measure.
6 oz. Refried Beans – We used spicy jalapeño.
3/4 Cup Shredded Mozzarella – No joke, we probably used triple that. I’m now seeing why Michelle’s fed her entire family, hah!
3/4 Cup Shredded Pepper Jack – We used 1/2 the small block
2 Tablespoons Chopped Green Onion
1 Roma Tomato – Diced
3 Large Flour Tortillas
Black Bean Salsa
Chipotle Ranch Dressing

Let the layer building begin.

Layer order on the tortillas – Beans, Cheese, Chicken, Green Onions – next tortilla and repeat the process. After the third tortilla goes on – finish with tomato, cilantro and more cheese – then place into a 425 degree oven for 5 minutes – it took ours about 15 – probably due to the amount of cheese.

Remove from oven, let cool for about 5 minutes and then cut into 4 pieces and serve with the black bean salsa and chipotle ranch dressing.

This was freakin’ amazing! I loved it. Seems like a lot of work, but with someone else in the kitchen, we were able to work at our little stations. I had black bean salsa and chipotle ranch for the rest of the week – perfect for salads!

I give this recipe two thumbs up and will definitely be making it again. Thanks for all of the well wishes – I am feeling better and I hope to resume normal cooking and eating next week. Woohoo!


Family BBQ

May 23, 2010

Saturday was filled with lots of family. It’s not often that Dan’s family gets together. Everyone but us lives in the bay area and occasionally we celebrate Christmas and birthdays – but that’s about it. My sister-in-law and bro-in-law had their second baby on April 14th and are moving to Connecticut in June.  My mother in law’s birthday is right around the corner and it gave us the perfect opportunity to have a BBQ.

Dan has 2 sisters and 1 brother. His brother was unable to make the BBQ, but Dan’s parent’s brought his daughter, our niece, Georgia.

She was very happy to be holding her stuffed Toodee – Yo Gabba Gabba! doll. She was not very happy that she couldn’t spend the day in the swimming pool. (It was too cold for swimming)

My niece Freja became fast friends with Higgy. In fact, I think he’s still alseep from all of the activity yesterday.

While the other kids ran around the house chasing Higgy – Baby Odin slept in his carrier, Grandma and Mom’s arms.

It sure felt weird to have a baby and little kids in the house. We entertained them with coasters, entertainment center knobs, dog toys, pillows, mirrors and just about every non-kid friendly item in the house, hah!

Mental note: probably shouldn’t have sold all of the toys, character sippy cups, placemats, plates, etc. that I used to have for my niece Abby.

While everyone was entertaining the kids, I cooked up a storm. I whipped up my Grandpa’s famous BBQ sauce. There is no recipe, he just threw things together in a sauce pot that looked 100 years old. He used to bring everything to the outdoor kitchen/BBQ area and the smells were out of this world. He introduced me to liquid smoke – smoke in a bottle? Are you kidding me? I remember thinking as a kid – that was the coolest thing ever!

I got my onions, celery and oil ready in the pot. I added my rosemary, garlic, salt, pepper, worcestershire, ketchup, liquid smoke and a little water. The sauce was bubbling up a storm and the house smells reminded me of my Grandpa’s cookin’.

I got all of the chicken breasts on the grill and set the timer for 5 minutes. On my 5 minute check, I realized that the BBQ was no longer hot. Dan asked if we had enough propane – I assured him that we were fine. Whoops! Dan and his Dad headed to the gas station for propane and I freaked out because I had timed the mac-n-cheese just right. I knew I was going to need to add milk to get it creamy again. Bummer.

Crisis averted. The guys were quick in getting the propane and emergency apple juice for the kids – I got the chicken cooking again and everything turned out fabulous.

On the menu:
BBQ Chicken, Mac-n-Cheese (kid style – nothing fancy), baked beans, green salad and rolls.

I was juggling everything and didn’t have time for Foo style photos…


My Mother in law loves anything Disney. She is from Southern California and she has a season pass to Disneyland. My SIL asked if I could get a German Chocolate Cake and do it up Disney style. I ordered the cake from the bakery, headed to Party City and holy kid zone – so much to choose from. I grabbed a couple of Mickey Mouse things and it turned out cute – she really liked it!

All in all, a great family get together. I was exhausted after a long day. I hit the tub for a relaxing soak around 7:30 and I was in bed by 8:30 :). The hostess with the mostess was one tired girl.

There was mention of using Skype for our families to stay more connected. I’m really looking forward to that.