Celebrate National Filet Mignon Day!

Filet mignon with maple rub, fresh vegetables, and mashed cauliflower

Filet Mignon with Maple Rub

While we each sit at our desks at work, Erin and I often end up bantering back and forth via email throughout the day. It usually starts with simple conversation about the day and ends up focused on the topic of food, travel or wine. Today our dinner was already planned; filet mignon, grilled zucchini, and mashed cauliflower. During our bantering, Erin informed me that she had discovered today, August 13th, was, “Nation Filet Mignon Day.”Having already planned to enjoy filet mignon for dinner it became the focus of our discussion for the rest of the afternoon. It was decided that instead of doing any experimenting with creative rubs or crazy cooking techniques, we’d go back to the basics. Simple rub, fresh grilled veggies, and a simple, yet healthy, mashed cauliflower.

I almost always smoke meat first

Filet Mignon – Smoke It First

I almost always smoke meat first, then sear if a crust is desired. Tonight I used sugar maple for a subtle and slightly sweet smoke flavor. Often used for poultry, pork or fish, the sugar maple imparted a great flavor into the beef as well, but also allowed the flavors of the rub to stand out.

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August 15, 2010  |  Posts  |  2 Comments  |  Share

Rhubarb Pie

Rhubarb Pie ala Mode

Rhubarb Pie ala Mode

Everyone has a meal that reminds them of their childhood, a comfort food that makes a person think of home regardless of where they really are. You may think of a rich pasta dish, maybe a casserole made from the simplest of pre-packaged ingredients. For me it has always been the only dessert I truly crave, rhubarb pie. Just this weekend while watching a cooking show I commented how I never understood why great chefs always spent so much time and effort turning something that was not naturally good into a fantastic dish. Now, as I sit and write up our latest rhubarb pie experience, I realize this dessert is one of those dishes. Rhubarb is a very tart, firm and stringy vegetable. It is one of the few food items that we as Americans decided that although it was a vegetable by definition, we’d vote and officially make it a fruit for all intensive purposes.

Rhubarb pie has always been a family tradition at our house. Every summer it was a given that if one of us kids were coming home, a rhubarb pie would be cooling on the stove top when we walked in the door. Often the left overs didn’t make it to the next evening because my brother-in-law would be sneaking in a slice for breakfast. Holding true to how my family usually cooked, there are very few ingredients involved. Nothing fancy, nothing flashy … just a properly proportioned pile of sliced rhubarb, sugar, a hint of corn starch to keep it thick and a dash of salt. Toss the heap into a pie crust and bake until golden brown.

We have yet to jazz this recipe up like we have become known for. It is just so good as it is, I don’t know what would ever need to be changed. Of course, our cooking method is slightly different, we use the big green egg as our baking oven. The slightest hint of outdoor cooking can be picked up from the crispy sections of crust making for the most delicious home made pie that exists. Maybe for fun we’ll play with it from time to time, but I’m confident we’ll always come back to the original, simple, delicious recipe that has been passed down through the family tree.

Rhubarb Pie - Before

Rhubarb Pie – Before

Rhubarb Pie - After

Rhubarb Pie – After

 

 

July 6, 2010  |  Dessert, Posts  |  , ,  |  No Comments  |  Share

Smoked Turkey Bacon

Smoked Turkey Bacon, Eggs, and Toast

Smoked Turkey Bacon, Eggs, and Toast

We’ve all heard it, and to the best of my knowledge most of us know it to be true … Everything is better with bacon. I certainly can’t disagree. I think the only thing that may disagree with such a statement is our heart and arteries. If bacon were good for me I’d eat it twice a day for sure. We do our best to stay healthy most of the time so we often find ourselves looking for creative ways to take something that traditionally is not healthy and crafting a healthier version of what ever it may be. In this case, bacon.

Sure, you can get turkey bacon in a package at the store, it’s usually paper thin and cooks up to the consistency of an ace of spades. Or you can go to a butcher and get fresh cut turkey bacon that is unseasoned. Impart any flavor you desire into it, treat it properly, and you’ve got delicious bacon that will never leave you craving ‘real’ pork bacon. Here is how we do ours.

We happen to have an Amish market close by and they keep thick cut, unseasoned turkey bacon at their butcher counter at all times. We usually get a couple pounds, separate it into a breakfast serving for two (six or seven slices) and food save and freeze it. Thaw it out in the refrigerator the night before and when Sunday morning rolls around … the coals get lit at the same time the coffee pot starts dripping. For those of you that think the grill is only for dinner … it’s actually very peaceful cooking outdoors just as the sun is rising. No lawn mowers, cars or kids causing disturbances … just a thin blue smoke rising from the smoker and birds cheering you on from all directions.

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April 15, 2010  |  Breakfast, Posts  |  , , ,  |  2 Comments  |  Share

Blended Tortilla Soup

BlendTec Tortilla Soup

BlendTec Tortilla Soup

When it comes to kitchen and cooking gadgets we rarely, if ever, hesitate to grab something that would allow us to do more cooking experiments or just have more fun in the kitchen. Something that has been discussed for months is a top end blender capable of doing many things your average blender can’t handle. We’ve been through several blenders and it seems your average off the shelf blender couldn’t even handle chopping ice like we preferred. Today Costco had their demo day on the BlendTec blender and we made a special trip knowing full well that we were going to buy one regardless of what we saw in the demo. During a 10 minute demo we had a delicious smoothie with whole fruit blended into creamy goodness (seeds and all), hot soup blended from nothing but whole, natural vegetables and a little seasoning, and spinach ice cream that left us craving more.

Ok, this is about the food, not the gadgets, but expect to see many more posts about some of our amazing blended creations! Our first meal made completely in the BlendTec was tortilla soup. Not knowing exactly what we were in for, we followed their recipe exactly and it was fantastic. We can’t wait to make more soups! Here is how easy it was.

First we laid out all the ingredients. No need to remove any green leaves from the vegetables, no need to seed anything, and no need to peel the carrots. The seeds and skins are packed with nutrients that are often tossed into the compost bin.

BlendTec Tortilla Soup - The Ingredients

The Ingredients

BlendTec Tortilla Soup - Moments Before Button Push

Pre-blend Soup Situation

All the ingredients are then loaded into the blender except the corn and black beans which are added after the initial blending. Seeing the pieces of corn and black bean in the soup remind you that it is fresh and home made and it provides a perfect texture contrast to the creaminess of the other ingredients that have been completely blended together.

From here we simply hit the ‘soups’ button on the blender. The blender is so powerful it reaches around 28,000 rpm which causes enough friction within the blender that it actually cooks the soup! There is no additional heating elements or anything like that, simple physics and a well designed machine. Don’t believe me? I was skeptical myself, but in the video link below is the proof from our 90 second soup cooking experiment. Notice the steam after the lid is removed in the video below.

Blendtec Recipe and Cooking Instructions

  • 3 Roma tomatoes, halved
  • 2 Tbsp taco seasoning
  • 1 2″x2″ cube of cheddar cheese
  • 1 small slice of jalapeno pepper
  • 3 sprigs cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/3 large carrot
  • 2 Tbsp onion
  • 1 tsp chicken bouillon
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups warm water

Add ingredients in the blender in the order listed above and press the ‘soups’ button. After the cycle is complete (90 seconds) and in any optional ingredients for texture (we used 1/2 cup tortilla chips, 1/2 cup black beans, 1/2 cup corn) and pulse the blender a couple times. Dinner is served!

April 11, 2010  |  Posts, Soup  |  , , , , , , ,  |  4 Comments  |  Share

Wild Goose Breast

 

Wild Goose Breast, Mashed Potatoes with Sun Chokes, & Asparagus

Wild Goose Breast, Mashed Potatoes with Sun Chokes, & Asparagus

Happy Easter! Most holidays we make it a point to celebrate with a special meal. Sometimes we use it as an excuse to cook up an old favorite, and sometimes we see it as an opportunity to experiment with something new. Today we chose the latter and it was a success! A friend recently helped us acquire a large portion of venison and when he delivered it, he slipped in a ziplock full of goose breast that he had hunted last fall. For reasons unknown, it seemed like a great day to try out this wild goose breast.

Because it was new to us, some studying had to be done on how to prepare the goose and a couple hours of internet research did nothing but make me second guess the decision to make this our Easter meal. There were many posts and websites comparing the meat to liver, saying it was too tough to chew, and statements about how it was too gamey to enjoy. The reason behind this is that the wild goose is a migratory bird that travels for thousands of miles each season. In order to do this, their muscles are oxygenated more than 25% than that of your average bird which leaves a chef with a very rich and dense muscle to work with. Fortunately there were also some websites and forum posts that raved about the wonderful unique taste of goose breast and there were many recommendations to ensure success. The decision was made to suspend the gaminess and toughness by treating the goose in stages, and the result was worth the effort.

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Pepper Monkey BBQ is here!

It has been a long time coming, but finally PeppermonkeyBBQ is up and running. There is still a lot being built and developed, but there is no reason for us to wait to start adding content. Although ‘BBQ’ is part of our title, this will be about much more than just BBQ. We will be building up our collection of recipes, both old and new, as well as blogging about our current experiments. We are looking forward to sharing with you as well as you sharing with us … lets light the fires!

March 14, 2010  |  Posts  |  , ,  |  No Comments  |  Share