The Grinning Gourmet

A quest to find the best/greatest recipes ever

Yeah i-dren, pork tenderloin is probably de best din’ for jerkin’. All kidding aside, this is just too good, tender, juicy and full of flavour. This has been one of my favorites for a while and it just keeps getting better every time I make it. But before I give away my secrets, here’s a picture of the end result:

Jerk Pork Tenderloin

This is the same marinade that is used in some of my other posts, the new content is just some tips to make this truly special. Jerking is an art, an you can’t rush art, but really this takes no time at all.

Marinate 5 hours to get the taste. I repeat: marinate 5 hours. You can marinate 24 hours if you like but if you do, leave out the soya, the salt and the vinegar (the tenderizing ingredients) for the first 20 hours or so otherwise the pork will turn to sawdust.

I found that fresh grated nutmeg is the way to go (you will taste the difference). This is really easy if you have a good micro-plane. While the micro-plane is out, it’s probably a good idea to fresh grind the cinnamon as well. I always use fresh ground pepper from a pepper mill. Lately I have started to use tellycherry pepper and I find that to be superior to plain black pepper. No need to buy the expensive stuff, I bought mine at Costco. I have not ground my allspice yet, but will try that in the future (grind in a coffee grinder).

In traditional jerk style cooking, smoke is a key ingredient. I have not done this as I use a gas BBQ. But will be trying this soon on the gas grill using a trick from Matt Dunigan Road Grill cookbook.

There needs to be heat, at the very least, a little burn to wake up your papillae, a bit more (a good burn) if your people can stand it. If anyone eyes are tearing, that’s probably too much. I use whole jalapeno and augment with scotch bonnet pepper in a bottle or dry habaneros chopped in the coffee grinder. It’s not easy getting this just right every time.

Now the last thing is cooking, do NOT overcook. The pork tenderloin needs to be a little pink in the middle otherwise it’s going to be dry. I cook at high heat on the BBQ with the lid up to get good char marks but my BBQ does not cook that hot. I flip every 5-6 minutes (4 sides when they are round).

For a side, I suggest the Jerk Sweet Potato fries found in the Jerk Rib recipe.

Now if you do all this and it’s not mouth watering good, then you need to keep working at it cuz it’s so good when you get it just right.

Jerk Marinade

Ingredients

1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup scallions, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons salt (I used one tsp, will try 1 and 1/2 next time)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground Jamaican allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 habanero chile pepper or substitute jalapeno (whole if you like heat) or serrano or crushed (liquid) hot peppers
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp of soya sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar

Makes about 1 cup; enough for about 2 pounds of meat.

Steps

Process all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Put mix in a plastic bag and add meat; knead the bag a few times if you can. An hour before cooking remove the bag from the fridge and lay it on a cooling rack to allow the meat to reach room temperature.

Mash it up (i.e. Break a leg in Jamaican)

Pier’.

I love loads of seasoning on meat, unfortunately I don’t love to over salt so I’ve been looking for a good “Montreal Steak Spice” recipe so I can manage the salt content separately. Anyway, I was visiting my daughter in Kangiqsuallujjuaq last week (in the land of the Inuit) and she has the new “Pied de Cochon” recipe book and I found a recipe for Montreal Steak Spice in it. Here’s a picture of the end result:

Montreal Steak Seasoning

Le Pied De Cochon is a well known restaurant in Montreal which has a reputation for great food.

Now the recipe calls for several ingredients that are coarse (pepper, coriander seed, dill seed) so I used a coffee grinder to process them into a finer form. This worked like a charm, you need to take care not to over do it if you want the proper MSS texture.

The Ingredients

1 Onion, finely diced
10 Cloves of garlic, finely diced
3 small red dried chilies (Thai birds or other) chopped
1/2 cup (115g) of kosher salt (** I leave this out)
1/4 cup (50g) brown sugar (packed)
Leaves from on bunch of rosemary
1/2 cup (45g) coriander seed, cracked
6 Tablespoons (40g) of cracked pepper
1 Tablespoon of dill seed
1 Tablespoon of paprika

Makes 2-3 cups.

Instructions

Preheat oven to 225F (110c)
In a bowl, stir together the onion, garlic, chiles, salt, sugar and rosemary. Spread the mixture on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 2-3 hours or until dry. Turn down the heat if the onions blacken (light brown is OK). Transfer to a food processor to break up clumps. Return the ingredients to a bowl and add other ingredients. Store in the fridge for up to a month.

Like I said, I used a coffee grinder to process the baked mixture and coarse ingredients. I used one tablespoon of dry rosemary and 1 dry habanero pepper as habanero peppers are muy, muy, picante. Next time I will try using onion flakes rather than chopping onions to reduce the drying time.

Enjoy :-)

Pierre.

Loco Hot Cocoa

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We were about to watch a bit of TV last night when Sandra, my significant other, suggested I make hot cocoa. I thought, that was a great idea. She gave me her recipe off the top of her head, one tablespoon of sugar, one tablespoon of cocoa and a cup of fat milk. So I was off.

Hot Cocoa

The idea of using cocoa didn’t thrill me since I have 3 pounds of Callebaut chocolate to use up and so I decided I’d improvise and make hot cocoa using solid chocolate.

So out came my brick of Callebaut chocolate; it’s a monster, initially 2,5 Kg of 58% bittersweet couverture chocolate. I bought the chocolate wholesale at Distribution Alimentaire Aubut in Montreal, a great place to shop for cheese, chocolate and things.

Since this chocolate is tempered, it’s very hard; it took me several attempts to break off 4-5 ounces of chocolate. Don’t laugh, this chocolate is an inch thick and hard like granite. I recommend a hammer and a steel chisel for the job and I’m not kidding.

Anyway, I filled a pot with water and set another pot inside it with the chocolate. Soon it was nicely melted, added 2-3 ounces of 5% milk (light coffee cream) and stirred. The chocolate kind of went grainy in the milk, no bother, it will melt as the milk warms. Added sugar and stirred to try and get rid of sugar grains. No worry, the heat will melt the sugar in time. Added 2 cups of milk and set everything on the burner at medium heat.

At this point, it looked like lousy store bought chocolate milk. As it started to heat it looked less grainy but still looked very watery, nothing special.

So I kept stirring, for another 5 minutes, not much happening; seemingly not even getting hot (our burners are 25 years old). So finally I got fed up and turned the burner up 3 more notches to nearly high and kept stirring. In no time at all the mixture started to boil – boil hard (actually, just one great big bubble); whoa! I quickly lifted the pot off the burner and kept stirring and magically the mixture went all thick and foamy. A minor miracle; you need to see this. (I don’t think you need to set the burner as high as I did, but the mixture must get to a gentle boil)

I poured a couple of cups and served and man, was it good. Like really, really unbelievably good. The consistency was silky, thick and creamy and the taste, well I dare to say, this is the most awesome chocolate treat you will ever have.

Now this is not something you can indulge in every night or every week because it’s really rich and decadent, but once in a while you should treat yourself or people your love to one of these.

The recipe

(per serving)
2 ounces of fine (Callebeaut or other) semi-sweet chocolate
2 tsp of sugar
8 ounces of 2% milk (I enriched 1%)
A dollop of whipped cream or a marshmallow, but I suggest straight up.

Enjoy :-)

Pierre.

I felt like baking last night and I was going to make my favorite Michael Smith brownies but I was mostly out of butter so I found a recipe for Brownie Cookies I had gathered that only called for 1/4 cup of butter. Had I read the whole recipe before starting I might have passed on it, but as it turns out I was really glad I didn’t as they are truly special; perfect for dark fudgy chocolate brownie lovers; I figure these would be a favorite in any good cookie store. Here’s what they looked like:

Jerk ribs

My reluctance was based on the amount of chocolate and butter to flour. My thought was: there is no way this recipe can turn in to a cookie batter, but when I realized that it was too late. Now when you first put everything together you get a soupy batter just like when you make a brownie pan. But if you allow the mixture to cool in the fridge a bit then it hardens and becomes dough like. I used a small ice cream soup to dish out the “dough”, and this worked fine. Out of fear of baking them too much, I baked them for 9 minutes and that left them gooey inside; a bit underdone. But they were great and the best thing is, they are still great the next day as they are mostly chocolate. The recipe is from Jamie at myBakingAddiction. Thank you Jamie!

My substitutions

I was almost out of butter so I used one tablespoon of butter and three of margarine. I did not have any bittersweet chocolate so I melted 13.5 oz of Chippits and 2.5 oz of Lindt 70% chocolate. Btw, you add another cups of chips at the end; hence the decadence. This produced a really nice dark chocolate taste. Allow the cookies to cool completely so they get chewy or as long as you can wait.

The recipe

See: myBakingAddiction

Bon Appétit!

Pierre.

I’m still on a Jerk tear and so, here’s what we had last Sunday:

Jerk ribs

Once again I made the Jerk sweet potato fries and I went with pork this time rather than chicken; Is it just me or do Jerk spices go better with pork? The whole meal was just absolutely delicious; probably the best BBQ I’ve ever done and second best I ever had. Now this recipe calls for finishing by adding your favorite BBQ sauce to the ribs but it’s really not necessary as the marinade is really tasty on its own. I ended up adding sauce on 3 of the racks and leaving the other without. I actually preferred the rack without the extra sauce and my wife liked both equally.

Now while I was preparing things I thought to myself, I bet the potato fries would be even better with home made mayonnaise and so I whipped some up using a recipe by Chuck Hughes a local Montreal chef who kicked Bobby Flays ass on Iron Chef a short while ago (go Chuck!). The sauce is from the same source, his recipe book: Garde-Manger is a good read if you read french. I’m dying to go to his restaurant in old Montreal; waiting for an occasion.

The rib recipe is from Jerk from Jamaica by Helen Willinsky. Don’t let her last name fool you she knows her stuff. This meal was an even greater success than the Jerk Chicken from the previous weekend. For the marinade since fresh hot peppers are hard to find around here I used 1 teaspoon of scotch bonnet pepper (concentrate) and two whole jalapeno peppers and a 3 hours bath in the marinade; that was perfect; medium-high heat just below the pain threshold.

It’s best to start early; marinating takes a few hours and you need to cook very-slowly for 4-5 hours at low heat if you want tender ribs. I used an electric thermometer with a wire just left in the BBQ and 225 degrees got the ribs done too quickly about 1 and 1/2 hours. You may need to go down to 200 degrees or lower.

Jerk Marinade

Ingredients

1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup scallions, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons salt (I used one tsp, will try 1 and 1/2 next time)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground Jamaican allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 habanero chile pepper or substitute jalapeno (whole if you like heat) or serrano or crushed (liquid) hot peppers
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp of soya sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar

Makes about 1 cup; enough for about 2 pounds of meat.

Steps

Process all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Marinate the chicken or pork in the fridge for a 1 to 4 hours. More hours, more heat.

Chuck Hughes’ Barbecue Sauce

Ingredients

3 onions minced
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 cup of coffee (espresso or black)
1 can 165 ml of Coca-Cola
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce minced
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce.
Salt and pepper

Steps

Caramelize the onions in oil in a large pan or pot. Add other ingredients, simmer for 45 minutes.

Jamaican Jerk Ribs

Ingredients

2-4 pounds of ribs
Marinade (single or double)
BBQ sauce (optional)

Steps

Marinate ribs from 1 to 4 hours. Pre-heat BBQ at 200 degrees, place ribs away from flames as they need to cook very slowly for 4-5 hours. When nearly ready add the BBQ sauce and allow to brown over the flame on low, take great care BBQ sauces have a tendency to burn very quickly as they contain sugar.

Dry Jerk Seasoning

Ingredients

1 tablespoon onion flakes
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons ground thyme
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground Jamaican allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dried chives or green onions

Steps

Mix all ingredients together.

Jerk Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients

4 medium sweet potatoes cut in 1/2 inch wedges
1 teaspoon Dry Jerk Seasoning
1 tablespoons of canola oil

If your potatoes are large, you may need to to double the seasoning and oil.

Steps

Mix the oil and seasonings together, toss in a bag with the potatoes and shake and knead. Bake at 375 degrees on an oiled sheet for 25-30 minutes; turnover fries after 15-20 minutes.

Chuck’s Mayonnaise

Ingredients

1 egg
Juice of 1/2 lemon or 1 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 cup canola oil
Salt and pepper.

Steps

Blend or process all ingredients, add oil in a gentle trickle while processing. Process until thick.

So make sure to give this a try and don’t forget to let me know how it goes, bon Appétit!

Pierre.

I’ve been on a Jamaican kick lately and came up with this yesterday:

Keller cookie

The Jerk sweet potato fries are a great addition to any BBQ and the Jerk chicken is wonderful, especially if you dip the chicken bites in the Tamarind-Orange sauce. I’m really hard on myself and I’m really proud of this meal. Next time, I’ll try breast meat as I think it’ll go even better with the dipping sauce. Now don’t let the length of this post scare you, it’s all quick and really easy as there is very little chopping and cleaning and you can double or triple the dry seasonings and have it on hand for the next while; same goes for the dipping sauce.

The recipes are from the book: Jerk from Jamaica by Helen Willinsky and so far it’s proven to be a great book. For this meal I adapted her “Baked jerk chicken wings” recipe; used the sweet potato fries recipe as is and for the glazing sauce I mostly improvised since I was lacking ingredients from Helen’s Tamarind-Apricot sauce.

I started cooking while Sandra, my wife, went shopping, she was to bring home chicken or pork, I had no idea what I was going to get. I wanted to try Helen’s marinade so I prepared that and when Sandra got home with chicken I picked a recipe with chicken and the marinade. Problem was, the only recipe that fit the requirements was baked wings and I had chicken thighs and wanted to grill. Also I didn’t have the required peppers so I used some sweet red pepper and added Ashman’s crushed Scotch Bonnet pepper (from a bottle) to add the required heat.

I used marmalade in place of apricot jam in the tamarind sauce as I didn’t have apricot jam. According to Helen, you use the sauce for dipping, but to improve the pictures I cheated and painted it on the chicken on the grill using a clean brush. Now since the tamarind sauce is full of honey and thus might tend to burn, I painted it onto the chicken 5-7 minutes before removing the thighs from the grill.

Jerk Marinade

Ingredients

1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup scallions, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons salt (I used one tsp, will try 1 and 1/2 next time)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground Jamaican allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 habanero chile pepper or substitute jalapeno or serrano or crushed (liquid) hot peppers
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp of soya sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar

Makes about 1 cup; enough for about 2 pounds of meat.

Steps

Process all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Marinate the chicken in the fridge for a 1 to 4 hours. More hours, more heat.

Pierre’s Tamarind-Orange Sauce

Ingredients

2-3 tablespoons of honey
2-3 tablespoons ready-made tamarind sauce (from indian store)
2 -3 tablespoon ready-made tamarind/date sauce (from indian store)
1 1/2 to 2 tsp of marmalade (or apricot jam) (add to taste)
1 1/2 tsp of Dijon mustard

Makes about 2/3 of a cup.

Steps

Pour the above in a jar and mix. Taste and adjust as needed. It will be a bit harsh on the throat on it’s own but it’s fine with chicken or on those big Indian chips whatever they’re called.

Dry Jerk Seasoning

Ingredients

1 tablespoon onion flakes
1 tablespoon onion powder
2 teaspoons ground thyme
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground Jamaican allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dried chives or green onions

Steps

Mix all ingredients together.

Jerk Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients

4 medium sweet potatoes cut in 1/2 inch wedges
1 teaspoon Dry Jerk Seasoning
1 tablespoons of canola oil

If your potatoes are large, you may need to to double the seasoning and oil.

Steps

Mix the oil and seasonings together, toss in a bag with the potatoes and shake and knead. Bake at 375 degrees on an oiled sheet for 25-30 minutes; turnover fries after 15-20 minutes.

So make sure to give this a try and don’t forget to let me know how it goes, bon Appétit!

Pierre.

Well it’s been a while since I reviewed a chocolate chip cookie but I finally got around to making the Thomas Keller cookie and it’s well, phenomenal!

Keller cookie

To be fair, I have to say I haven’t done any side by side comparison; and I did not use Callebeaut which is what I used in my previous review of 10 cookies, but this is one very fine cookie. Everyone who had one absolutely loved them. When just cooled, they have a very thin crusty shell and are soft and chewy on the inside. There is no doubt, the mouth feel is where this cookie really shines.

The recipe includes 5 ounces of 55% chocolate and 5 ounces of 70% chocolate. Since I haven’t been able to find 55% chocolate, I just used Chipits and Lindt 70% chocolate for the other half and this turned out very well; a nice dark chocolate taste, but not overly strong. The recipe does not include vanilla and that seems fine; I’m not sure you would taste it much anyways as the taste of chocolate dominate this recipe. One last thing, there is a cup of butter for just under 2 and 1/2 cups of flour so that is more butter than most recipes and probably accounts for the moistness and butteryness of the cookie.

As I said above, this is a great chocolate chip cookie, the texture, chew and density is perfect, but with respect to taste I find the chocolate taste masked the cookie batter taste so the next time I make these which will be soon, I will try cutting the chocolate down a bit and see how that goes. Perhaps the vanilla will make it back in too at some point.

Now thinking back at my post last year, I think this cookie eclipsed the David Lebovitz cookie. I will have to try this head to head against the Torres and Debbie Koenig’s best homemade cookie using the same brand of chocolate and see if we have a new king. If you’re interested in these cookies see: Chocolate Chip Cookie Comparison

Thomas Keller Chocolate chip cookie recipe

Note: From Ad Hoc At Home, by Thomas Keller with Dave Cruz, along with Susie Heller, Michael Ruhlman and Amy Vogler. Keller notes that after you chop the chocolate, sift it to remove any tiny fragments to give the cookies a cleaner look. If you like softer cookies, don’t underbake them, just mist them with water before baking.

Makes: About 30 3-inch cookies.

2 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt
5 ounces 55% chocolate, cut into chip-sized pieces (about 1 1/4 cups)
5 ounces 70 to 72% chocolate, cut into chip-sized pieces (about 1 1/4 cups)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup packed dark brown sugar, preferably molasses sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs

1. Position the oven racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.

2. Sift the flour and baking soda into a medium bowl. Stir in the salt.

3. Put the chips in a fine-mesh basket strainer and shake to remove any chocolate “dust” (small fragments).

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat half the butter on medium speed until fairly smooth. Add both sugars and the remaining butter, and beat until well combined, then beat for a few minutes, until the mixture is light and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until the first one is incorporated before adding the next and scraping the bowl as necessary. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed to combine. Mix in the chocolate.

5. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold the dough with a spatula to be sure that the chocolate is evenly incorporated. The dough or shaped cookies can be refrigerated, well wrapped, for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 weeks. Freeze shaped cookies on the baking sheets until firm, then transfer to freezer containers. (Defrost frozen cookies overnight in the refrigerator before baking.)

Baklava

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I was shopping at Adonis with my daughter a couple of weeks ago and we spotted phyllo pastry and ended up making baklava a favorite treat of mine and I am guessing a favorite treat of anybody who likes sweets. It turns out it’s a really easy dessert to make, the only issue is finding the right recipe. It’s more of a construction project than anything else. You add 2 layers to cover your pan and butter the dough and repeat a few times to make a bottom; then you add nuts and again cover with 2 layers of buttered dough and then you make a top 2 layers at a time. The trick is to get the right sweetness and chewiness, turn out the 5 star recipe I chose from allRecipe was not sweet enough and not wet and chewy enough; the texture was much too papery. It was pretty neat making this and I will try again soon with another recipe. Here’s what it looks like:

Baklava picture

So don’t use this recipe:

Baklava

PS: Although I had just bought it, it could it be that my dough was not fresh enough?

Ah, breakfast!

I love something special for breakfast on Saturday mornings, the problem is I really don’t feel like fussing early in the day. So most times the special is bacon and eggs which is dead easy. Still it’s been ages since I’ve had cinnamon buns with cream cheese icing and I was given Alton Brown’s Good Easts #2 recipe book for XMAS and spotted his CB recipe. Mmmmm… Anyways my plans got foiled a few times because I didn’t have buttermilk, I mean who keeps buttermilk around. I’m not so sure why it even exists, I bet the pigs won’t even touch this stuff as it tastes absolutely awful (hence the reason they sell it to us). But finally last night, I remembered to buy some and prepared the buns the night before so I could simply bake them and iced them in the morning. That’s the way to do it. Especially since it takes a couple of hours for the bread dough to rise. Here’ s a picture:

Cinnamon buns

Let me start with some tips while I still have your focus, first get your eggs out early so they can get to room temperature before you start otherwise your dough will be really slow to rise and you may have to go to bed really late like I did. When it’s time to roll the dough, you need to roll on the long size duh! somehow I misread that and rolled the short side which gave me 8 really big rolls. And of course I had snickered when my wife told me to read the whole recipe before starting; reading is so overrated; I like doing things my way. Well they turned out rather huge and if that’s what you want go for it.

So how where they? excellent but I over baked them by a minute so keep a close eye.

Here’s the recipe courtesy of Alton’s Brown:

Dough:

  • 4 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1 large whole egg, room temperature
  • 2 ounces sugar, approximately 1/4 cup
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter, melted, approximately 6 tablespoons
  • 6 ounces buttermilk, room temperature
  • 20 ounces all-purpose flour, approximately 4 cups, plus additional for dusting
  • 1 package instant dry yeast, approximately 2 1/4 teaspoons
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Vegetable oil or cooking spray

Filling:

  • 8 ounces light brown sugar, approximately 1 cup packed
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  • 3/4-ounce unsalted butter, melted, approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons

Icing:

  • 2 1/2 ounces cream cheese, softened, approximately 1/4 cup
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 5 1/2 ounces powdered sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups

Directions

For the dough: in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg yolks, whole egg, sugar, butter, and buttermilk. Add approximately 2 cups of the flour along with the yeast and salt; whisk until moistened and combined. Remove the whisk attachment and replace with a dough hook. Add all but 3/4 cup of the remaining flour and knead on low speed for 5 minutes. Check the consistency of the dough, add more flour if necessary; the dough should feel soft and moist but not sticky. Knead on low speed 5 minutes more or until the dough clears the sides of the bowl. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface; knead by hand about 30 seconds. Lightly oil a large bowl. Transfer the dough to the bowl, lightly oil the top of the dough, cover and let double in volume, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Mix until well incorporated. Set aside until ready to use.

Butter a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently shape the dough into a rectangle with the long side nearest you. Roll into an 18 by 12-inch rectangle. Brush the dough with the 3/4-ounce of melted butter, leaving 1/2-inch border along the top edge. Sprinkle the filling mixture over the dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border along the top edge; gently press the filling into the dough. Beginning with the long edge nearest you, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Firmly pinch the seam to seal and roll the cylinder seam side down. Very gently squeeze the cylinder to create even thickness. Using a serrated knife, slice the cylinder into 1 1/2-inch rolls; yielding 12 rolls. Arrange rolls cut side down in the baking dish; cover tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator overnight or up to 16 hours.

Remove the rolls from the refrigerator and place in an oven that is turned off. Fill a shallow pan 2/3-full of boiling water and set on the rack below the rolls. Close the oven door and let the rolls rise until they look slightly puffy; approximately 30 minutes. Remove the rolls and the shallow pan of water from the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

When the oven is ready, place the rolls on the middle rack and bake until golden brown, or until the internal temperature reaches 190 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, approximately 30 minutes.

While the rolls are cooling slightly, make the icing by whisking the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy. Add the milk and whisk until combined. Sift in the powdered sugar, and whisk until smooth. Spread over the rolls and serve immediately.

Alton’s site is here if you care to visit…

It’s was just too nice to stay in today and since the snow was hard and crusty due to this weeks rain I went mountain biking with friends in the local Kirkland woods. We had great fun in spite of the -10 Celsius temperature. Conditions were rough in many parts with some very fast section. We had a few thrills on some very rough/slippery icy sections. Steve had a slow motion tumble in loose snow 15 yards from the end, nicely done! Of course we all had a good laugh at his expense and unfortunately I didn’t have my video camera out so no souvenir of that moment. Here are a few pictures:

MTB picture




That’s Chris in the front (first time biking in snow, but no slouch on a bike), that’s Steve behind him and John in the back-left. These guys kept dropping me so I’ll need to start working out on my step machine.


MTB picture 1




MTB picture 2




MTB picture 3




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MTB picture 5


I had a video of Steve walking his bike along this stretch but had to delete it as the language was too foul.


MTB picture 6


Of course, Steve’s power bar was frozen hard, he had a tough time with it. Better his teeth than mine.


MTB picture 7




MTB picture 8




MTB picture 9




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Steve’s post ride comments: A little bumpy? Paris-Roubaix is a little bumpy. This was the worst I’ve ever seen. Big, deep, frozen foot/hoof tracks from the thaw, hard to get started if you stopped on a single-track. We managed to find a few decent trails though.

Pierre: Of course you all saw the smiles…

Oh yeah, gourmet blog content:

Made a risotto with Toulouse sausage for supper. Used vermouth rather than white wine and it was not as tasty as usual although I did not use my usual chicken stock so that too could have made a difference. Still rather tasty; the sausages were great. I boiled them this week so they would keep until the weekend. Tonight I sliced them and fried them in olive oil so they would brown. They looked toasted just like home fries and were a great hit. Sorry no picture; we were hungry and we ate everything.

I’ve been making home made pizzas for a while now trying various dough recipes and I think I finally found a recipe/process that leads to a great thick and chewy style pizza . For the dough, I use my adaptation of the Cooks Illustrated pizza dough recipe. This recipe calls for a food processor but you can use a Kitchenaid if you don’t have one or if your food processor can’t comfortably hold 4 cups of flour.

I make the pizza on a 11 by 17″ cookie sheet and use all the dough to make one pizza. I’ve tried a pizza stone but the one I bought cracked in two the first time I used it so that was that. It basically looks like this:

Thick pizza

Now, the issue I’ve been fighting is that the dough I made did not want to stretch to cover the entire pan. As much as I would try and stretch the pizza it would just spring right back and refuse to reach the edges of my pan. So to help it out I would use a rolling pin or work it too much and all this fooling around made for a tough dough. As it turns out the trick to getting the dough to stretch is to process it in the food processor for one and a half to two minutes or for 10 minutes in a Kitchenaid.

Now the great thing about making your own pizza is that you can put whatever you like on it (except pineapple :-) ). I usually make 2 pizzas in one, spicy-hot toppings like merguez on one side and milder toppings for those who are cool on heat on the other. The following are some of our favorites toppings:

  • onion
  • fresh tomato slices (cut in half across cells and squeeze out the water before slicing)
  • green peppers (sometimes red, but green seem to taste better on pizzas)
  • caramelized onions.
  • sausage (pre-cooked (boiled), merguez, Jamaican on my side or basil and tomatoes on the other side )
  • bacon (I part cook before)
  • broccoli
  • spinach (I steam to soften and drain well)
  • Mozzarella as the main cheese
  • Parmesan, goats cheese, edam, …



Caramelized onions and goats cheese is my favorite for thin crust, light on cheese.

The recipe

For this recipe you’ll need:

  • 1 3/4 cups slightly warm water
  • 1 package of instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil , plus extra for brushing dough
  • 4 cups bread flour (or all purpose if you’re in a pinch)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • vegetable oil for oiling bowl



Add flour, salt and yeast into food processor and pulse well (20-30 seconds)

Mix water and oil in a bowl, gradually add to dry mixture while pulsing.

Once all liquid is pulsed in, continue pulsing until you get a dough ball. Once the ball has formed, process the dough (set to on) until the dough is elastic, about 90-120 seconds.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface and form into ball, place ball in oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth until it’s doubled in size about 2 hours.

Once risen, shape by pulling and turning the pizza over a floured surface. Flour the pan lightly to prevent sticking. Transfer dough to the pan and brush dough very lightly with vegetable oil before topping.

Add the toppings, I usually put drier toppings below (onion and peppers) to avoid having the dough become soggy. Although not very tasty, Mozzarella is a great pizza cheese because it’s oil does not separate when heated. I usually add other cheeses for taste, for example parmesan. Although parmesan and cheddar’s need to be use sparingly as their oil leaches out. They work well in small quantities.

Cook at 400 degrees, to be safe check edges and bottom after 20 minutes and remove when nicely browned. Allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Enjoy!

Sometime in April I went mountain biking with friends near Summerstown and on the way back to Montreal the four of us stopped for lunch in Lancaster at G.P. Deli and Bakery. Now before I go on, you need to picture this, Lancaster is not much more than a one corner village and GP Deli and bakery is thus a one corner restaurant.

You know they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. As it turns out they had a decent menu and the hamburger with blue cheese caught my eye. Turns out this was one of the best burgers I’ve ever had and I have to say I’m not a big fan of blue cheese.

Anyway last week I grilled some burgers and topped them with blue cheese and they were a great hit with everyone. Here’s a picture:

Blue cheese burger on BBQ

The recipe

For this recipe you’ll need:

  • Medium lean ground beef
  • Blue cheese slices (generously thick)
  • HP sauce
  • Salt and pepper

Now I guess you could fancy it up by mixing in onions, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce and whatever else you like in the patty but I think the sharp taste of the cheese is going to dominate so I would just go with salt, fresh ground pepper and HP sauce.

Update May 27, 2011: I made these again and I found it hard to slice the cheese so I microwaved some of the cheese for 7 or 8 seconds and this was a bit much. But after cooling for 8-10 minutes it had hardened some and so I mashed it with a fork creating a blue cheese spread. So rather than melting the cheese over the patties I just spread the softened cheese directly on the toasted buns. Tasted great and dead easy.

Now if you’re ever on the 401 between Toronto and Montreal, don’t forget to swing by G.P. Deli and Bakery for a great burger and do say hi for me.

One of my favorite things in life is a night out for live Jazz at Montreal’s Upstair Jazz Bar and Grill. I go there every week or two during the cool months which for once I am happy to say we have plenty. The music is great, the food is great, the people are great and the ambiance is awesome. The place is cozy and comfortable like an old sweat shirt.

We’re a core group of five or six people who drift in there after a couple of hours of walking or cross-country skiing on Mount Royal on Wednesday nights. We’ve been doing this almost 10 years now and it’s still as good as it gets. I guess the spirits help to some extent.

Getting back to the subject matter, they have great burgers and one of my favorite is their Mississippi Chicken Burger as it is really nicely spiced. Medium hot and lots of taste. It’s served with greens and their crispy home made french fries. The fries are served with mayo which is the only way to eat fries, unless you have heart disease in your family.

Some time ago I set out to recreate their burger and I added a trick from Chef Michael Smith on the food network which is to cook the chicken on the BBQ under bricks wrapped in aluminum foil. This crisps the chicken. Here’s a picture of the end product:

Mississippi chicken

Here’s another picture showing the chicken on the BBQ with the bricks:

Mississippi chicken on BBQ

The recipe

Well this is really quick and easy. You require:

A table spoon or two of vegetable oil
3 to 6 breast of chicken
Your favorite Cajun spice mix
Fresh ground pepper
Toasted buns or baguettes
A large flattish dish to hold the chicken

I use Rose Hill Cajun spice mix and I believe it’s what Upstairs uses.

To prepare, cut off loose chicken parts (cook those on the side), slice thick filets in half so they cook faster and more evenly, then dry the chicken pieces with a towel.

Place the oil in the dish, toss in the chicken and lather all parts with the vegetable oil. Sprinkle Cajun spices all around (over and under but don’t overdo it if you want to taste the chicken).

Start your BBQ, when it’s ready, spray the grill with non-stick spray, add the fillets tightly together and lay the bricks on top. It’s a good idea to put thicker fillets together as you can leave these on the grill a bit longer.

To get good charring I usually cook at high temperature for 3-4 minutes and then reduce the heat a bit. Make sure its done but not overdone.

Layer mayo on the baguettes add the chicken, fresh ground pepper and the chicken and you’re done.

I’m pretty sure Upstairs makes their own mayo.

If you like you can add some boston or leaf lettuce and fresh tomatoes, that’s up to you.

Well I have to go now, my better half just came home with Almond croissants and they are one of my favorite treats. Enjoy!

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