Burger Essentials

Burger essentials

Burger Essentials

The warmer weather is finally starting to appear and with that comes thoughts of flowers, the smell of fresh cut grass and of course….. BBQ’S. 

Now everyone has their favourite food to make on the BBQ and I’m no different but for those days that are really busy and I want something tasty my fall back is Burgers and as I have said before for every person who makes burgers from scratch there are different recipe ingredients but what is often overlooked are the utensils used to make the patties.

This then is my take on the three most important implements/utensils needed to make burgers from scratch.

First:  A good old fashioned Ice Cream Scoop. Over the years I have found that your normal everyday ice cream scoop holds an ideal 5 ounces of burger meat which means you don’t require a scale.

Second:  Patty Paper is one of those things that are generally only used in restaurants when making burgers however they are just as important to the home cook for the simple reason that the paper makes it easier to thaw and separate the patties come cooking time.

and……

Third:  A Patty Maker saves time and aids in forming patties of equal size and thickness which makes for more even cooking.

There you have it another “Simple but awesome tip from my kitchen to yours.”

Until next time………

                            Bon Appetit

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Chicken Pot Pie topped with Mashed Potatoes

Chicken Pot Pie topped with Mashed Potatoes

Chicken Pot Pie topped with Mashed Potatoes

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: Easy
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Chicken Pot Pie is one of those classic comfort foods that if done right is guaranteed to be a real crowd pleaser. This one is a wee bit different because I didn’t have a lot of time to muck around with a pastry crust for the top so I did the next best thing ( at least to me) and that is I topped it with Mashed Potatoes.

The “short cut” that makes this recipe a real time saver is that I used an already cooked BBQ’d chicken from a local source so all I had to do was to break up the chicken and add it to the broth and veggies, top with the mashed potatoes and finish it in the oven. As an addition I sprinkled shredded Parmesan on top for added flavour before it went back in the oven.

Here’s how we do this one.

Shopping list:

  • 1 cooked BBQ Chicken (about 3 pounds) – skinned and shredded
  • 1/2 large Red Onion – diced
  • 4 Garlic cloves – chopped
  • 6 Yukon Gold potatoes – peeled and quartered
  • 2 1/2 cups frozen Mixed Vegetables
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons Butter
  • 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 4 tablespoons Chicken Dry Rub (see Dry Rubs and Marinades)
  • 3 cups Vegetable Stock
  • 3/4 cup Milk
  • Shredded Parmesan for topping

Putting it all together:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°
  2. Boil the potatoes in a large pot of salted water until just fork tender
  3. In a separate pot melt the 1/2 cup of butter, add the onions and garlic and saute for about 3 minutes.
  4. Whisk in the flour until a Roux is formed. Stir in the vegetable stock, the chicken dry rub and cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the chicken and vegetables and stir until mixed well.
  6. Mash the potatoes with the remaining butter and milk.
  7. Ladle the chicken mixture into individual Ramekins or bowls, top with the mashed potatoes and Parmesan and place in the oven for 3 minutes.

There you have it another “simple but tasty recipe for the grilling season and beyond.”

Until next time…….

                          Bon Appetit

 

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Pit Beef

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Pit Beef

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Google™ PIT BEEF and you will get approximately 600,000 results with 90% of them referring to a juicy roast beef sandwich. When I imagine pit beef my mind congers up images of southern style BBQ/ smokers loaded with beautifully seasoned hunks of meat that are grilled low and slow for hours and then served with gravy and mashed potatoes.

It was this image of southern smokers and having family coming over for dinner that inspired me to do this one and yeah it also gave me a chance to play with my smoker. I will also add that doing this by indirect heat makes for a much better finished product.

COOKS NOTE: Butterflying the roast will allow it to cook more evenly and faster. I left the fat cap on because as it melted it basted the roast and scoring the fat cap allowed the dry rub to penetrate..

Here’s how we do this one.

Shopping list:

  • 5 pound Top Sirloin roast
  • 6-8 large chunks of Mesquite wood
  • 1/2 cup All Purpose dry rub (see rubs and marinades)

Putting it all together:

  1. Butterfly the roast, score the fat cap and liberally rub it all over using the All Purpose rub and place in the refrigerator while the grill heats up.
  2. Heat one side of your grill to 350° and when ready place the beef on the opposite side thereby grilling using indirect heat (this helps to avoid burning the meat).
  3. Periodically place some of the Mesquite on the coals to get a light smoke flavour in the meat. (If using a gas grill place wood chips in a tin foil envelope and poke some holes in it to allow the smoke to reach the meat.)
  4. Grill until the internal temperature reaches 150°.

There you have it another “simple but tasty recipe for the grilling season and beyond”.

Until next time……..

                          Bon Appetit

 

 

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Bacon Wrapped Chicken Thighs

  • Servings: ”6-8″
  • Difficulty: ”easy”
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Bacon Wrapped Chicken Thighs

 

 

This is one of those “simple but tasty recipes for the grilling season and beyond” that can be done either on the grill or in the oven…… turns out great using either method. I chose to do it in the oven because it was a miserable day outside and I didn’t feel like standing there waiting for things to cook.

Here’s how we do this one.

Shopping list:

  • 6 – 8 Chicken thighs
  • 6 -8 slices of Bacon
  • Chicken dry rub (see Rubs and Marinades)

Putting it all together:

  1. Coat the chicken with the dry rub
  2. Wrap a slice of bacon around the chicken thigh
  3. Put in the oven or on the BBQ until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160°
  4. Serve with your favourite side

There you have it another “simple but tasty recipe for the grilling season and beyond”

Until next time………

                        Bon Appetit

 

Gallery

Cheese stuffed cedar planked figs wrapped with Prosciutto

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I thought I would continue the “simple but tasty” apps path with another one I happen to have stolen from Chef Ted Readers dynamite BBQ book and the fact that this one uses a part of the noble pig, in this case Prosciutto, is no mere coincidence. Now to be honest I have never really eaten figs other than in Fig Newton cookies and I have not really seen them outside of an old movie or two where some Bedouin sheikh is lounging on an overstuffed pillow watching some dancing girls and munching on fresh figs but over the past few months I have started to see them being sold in more and more grocery stores and they reminded me of this particular recipe and so I thought I would pass it on to you…… oh and of course this is not the original recipe in Chef Ted’s book since I have tweaked it to my own tastes.

Ingredients:

Untreated 12 inch Cedar plank soaked overnight

1/2 cup creme de cassis

1 Tablespoon cracked black peppercorns

12 Medium to large fresh black or green figs, halved lengthwise

3/4 cup Goat cheese

3/4 cup crumbled Blue cheese

Four ounces sun dried tomatoes, chopped

1 green onion finely chopped

1/2 cup baby spinach, chopped

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 tablespoon fresh Sage, finally chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper

12 thin slices Prosciutto

Liquid honey to drizzle (optional)

Putting it all together:

In a small flat shallow dish put the creme de cassis and sprinkle the cracked peppercorns on top

Add the figs, cut side down, and marinade for about an hour

While the figs are marinating soak the sun dried  tomatoes in hot water until they are reconstituted (about 20 minutes)—— there is nothing like biting into a rubbery piece of sun dried tomato…. well maybe there are a few things but that’s for another day.

Pre heat the BBQ to 450 degrees

In a medium bowl mix all the other ingredients, except the Prosciutto and honey.

Take one half of a fig and place a good amount of the cheese mix on it and then top with the other half and wrap in Prosciutto. Secure with a toothpick

Repeat until all the figs are stuffed and wrapped

Place the figs on a cedar plank and place in the BBQ for five to six minutes or until the cheese starts to ooze

Place on a platter and drizzle with honey if using it.

The great thing about this recipe is that the figs can be assembled a day in advance and brought out to come to room temperature for 30 minutes before grilling.

So there you have it another “simple but tasty recipe for the grilling season and beyond”

So until next time…………

                                                         Bon Appetit

 

Gallery

Revitalize rather than toss (part one)

 

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This post is going to be a little bit different than anything else to date because it does not have a recipe attached nor is it something that just anybody can do and I don’t mean that in a negative way. It’s simply that this post won’t appeal to you if you don’t have an old BBQ sitting around gathering rust.

The BBQ pictured on the left is one of the first charcoal BBQ’s I ever purchased and although it was useful in the beginning it simply didn’t really fill my need and so it was eventually replaced and wound up being relegated to the side of the house where it started collecting rust.

Fast forward a couple of years and what was once my vegetable garden has now become my better half’s domain with plants and bushes and trees”—– Oh My!  So I decided to revitalize my old BBQ and turn it into a Herb garden…. that’s half the finished product on the right which happens to be the bottom part of the “cue”. This kind of project is easy and does not take long as it is a simple matter of clean out the dirt, scrape off the rust and paint it with a colorful Rust Preventative paint. As I said this is the easy part.

If you’re a cook like me choosing the right herb to plant is the hard part and you do need to put some thought into it or you will wind up with a bunch of stuff you can’t use and you have then wasted your money.

When I picked the ones that I wanted I took a look at the things I like to cook and then designed the herb garden to compliment my recipes. I now have things like Pineapple Sage, which is excellent with poultry, Vietnamese Cilantro— Why?— Why Not?, Greek Oregano, Habaneros and Jalapenos—- Okay those last two are not herbs but I like to use hot peppers in some of my dishes and sauces. I have two types of Basil-one for spaghetti sauce and one for pesto and something I have never cooked with in my life but I am ssssssooooooo looking forward to using it—— Tomatillos—- otherwise known as Mexican Tomatoes and I only wound up with these because the lady at the garden center has them growing wild in her garden. Tomatillos make an excellent Salsa Verde (green chili sauce) for which I can use the hot peppers and Cilantro I am growing and then include it in things like Chicken Enchiladas, Green Chicken Tacos or simply as a dipping sauce for homemade Nachos and this is why it is important to match your cooking style with what you grow.

So as you can see Revitalizing something like an old BBQ can open up a whole world of new projects and can make your favorite dishes sing with flavor.

I still have to finish what was the top part of the BBQ and that will be part two of this post so please stay tuned and until next time……..

 

Bon Appetite

 

Gallery

Jamaican Jerk Pork

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What can you say about Jamaican Jerk Pork except that once you eat it everything will be “Irie man” especially if you chase it down with some ice cold Red Stripe beer.

For those of you who are not familiar with Jamaican Jerk it is a cooking method AND a seasoning that originated in Jamaica a couple hundred years ago and has survived the test of time and you know that if it has been around that long it has got to be good. It is also very versatile but the two usual meats to receive the “jerk” treatment are Chicken and Pork.

My favorite is Jerk Pork and so here is my take on a great classic Jamaican dish—- Jerk Pork.

Ingredients:

–              1/4 Allspice berries (roasted in a 350 degree oven for 7-10 minutes)

–              1 Teaspoon nutmeg

–              6 Green onions

–              1 Tablespoon cinnamon

–              1 to 1& 1/2 Scotch bonnet chili peppers (habaneros may be substituted)

–              1/4 cup dark Rum

–              2 Tablespoons salt

–              2 Tablespoons ground pepper

Preparation:

–              Grind the Allspice

–              Place all dry ingredients in a food processor/blender

–              Pulse dry ingredients until smooth

–              Add green onions and chilies and pulse for approximately 10 seconds

–              Add dark Rum and blend until a nice paste is formed.

–              Liberally rub the seasoning on a 4-6 pound Pork Butt

–              Cover and leave in fridge overnight

–              Cook at approximately 300 degrees until the internal temperature hits 160 degrees

I have found that the best cooking method for this dish is slow Indirect Charcoal BBQ’ing because the charcoal adds that extra bit of flavor to an already flavorful dish however if you don’t happen to have a charcoal BBQ then Propane or Natural gas will do just remember to only have one half of the BBQ lit.

I hope you enjoy this “tasty but simple” recipe and I look forward to your next visit.

Bon Appetit

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Grilled corn on the cob

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One of my all-time favorite sides during the BBQ season is corn on the cob.

There is something about that sweet earthy flavor that just brings out the best in any dish you might be making and besides it is also one of the least expensive items you can add to a BBQ menu. I purchased a half dozen large ears the other day for $1.99 and they were great.

Now for many years I have done my corn on the cob in the same way. Shuck the ear put it in boiling water and wait 10 to 15 minutes then slather it in butter, salt and pepper and go through a whole pile of napkins but in recent years that has changed as I am trying, note the word trying, to eat a little bit healthier.

My method for corn on the cob now is to grill it. You still get that great corn on the cob taste but with the added grill flavor and if, like me, you are trying to cut back on the butter and salt then do what I do and make it like Mexican street food and sprinkle Chili powder on it.

Ingredients

–         Half a dozen unshucked  ears of corn

–         Chili powder or butter, salt and pepper (or any seasoning you like)

Method

–         Without uncovering the corn remove the any visible silk

–         Soak the corn in a sink of cold water for approximately 1 hour

–         Heat your BBQ to 350 degrees

–         Place the corn on the BBQ and close the lid

–         Check the corn after approximately 7 minutes and rotate on the grill so it won’t burn to badly

–         Continue to monitor and rotate the corn for approx. 20 minutes.

Less time on the grill will give you a more crunchy cob so grill to your liking oh and— any leftover corn helps to make a killer Roasted Corn Salsa.

Bon Appetit

Hello and welcome

Hello, my name is Paul Sinclair and welcome to Gardens and Grills the site that will bring you simple but tasty recipes for the grilling season and beyond.

Now why “Gardens and Grills” you might ask?  The idea came from the days when my wife and I would spend all day outdoors. Her gardening—- me grilling. Now “grilling” to me is more than a hobby which is evidenced by the fact that at one time I had FOUR BBQ’s and ONE CHARCOAL GRILL/SMOKER.  Regrettably those particular grilling days are gone and I’m down to One Propane BBQ and my Charcoal Grill/Smoker but that has not diminished my enthusiasm, passion, or whatever you wish to call it when it comes to cooking or grilling and I still spend as much time with the BBQ’s as is possible.

Now I started cooking a little later in life, early 40’s to be precise, and to be quite honest when I started I didn’t know a food mill from a grocery bag but with five kids to feed and a wife sick with Cancer I had to learn in a real hurry and somewhere over the last 16 years I found I really enjoyed cooking. In fact the kitchen has become my Fortress of Solitude and if my wife is looking for me she usually looks there first.

The recipes I will be sharing are not all my own creations but they definitely are time proven, tasty and simple and if you are like me you will take these recipes and add your own little twists and tweaks until they are yours. You may notice when going through the ingredients list of the recipes I will post that I try to use as much non pre- packaged food as is possible. That is due to my close proximity to a Farmers Market which makes it easier to get fresh ingredients  and besides, it gets me out of the house and my grandson loves the outing and the “cookies”.

When I’m not in the kitchen I may be found on a golf course or in a pool hall playing in one of two pool leagues that I and my daughter belong to. I guess that’s one of the benefits of being semi- retired and having time on my hands. Oh and…. some day I hope to cross a few items off my “bucket list” and they are to enjoy a culinary tour of Tuscany, or do a CIA Boot Camp (that’s Culinary Institute of America—- not the “other” CIA) in Napa Valley or the East Coast of Canada.

With all that has been said above my goal for this blog, time permitting, is to post one or two recipes a week along with a photo of the finished product and I hope that someone, somewhere, will find their inner foodie and begin their own culinary journey.

I would also like to point out that the awesome header picture for this blog was found in a Homes and Gardens magazine and is not my garden or grill so kudos to Homes and Gardens for such a great shot.

Thank you for visiting and I hope to see you in the future.

Bon Appetite

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