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Food, drink and smoking Summer 2016 · 19 August 2016 by colin newell

Best smoking times

Having saved up for a house, back-yard and BBQ for going on 20 years, you can imagine my delight when all of this actually came true!

I now have the house and back yard and a very beat up but serviceable Weber Genesis 3-burner 300 series BBQ that is still cooking away (and over ten years of age…)

And in the first 60 days of living in our house, I BBQ’ed 45 nights! We just started our 3rd year in the house 1 month ago! Amazing. I am a better BBQ chef now but what kind of smoker am I?
Well, I am not a smoker at all – but I could aspire to be.

And if learning how to gas flame BBQ cook is one skill, then learning how to smoke meat is an entirely, ahem, different kettle of fish. But let’s discuss some basics.

Smoking meat to perfection requires much more finesse than many people are aware of. There are two distinct setups when it comes to the arrangement of a smoking system: the vertical setup, and the horizontal setup. In the vertical setup, the fire can be as low as the bottom level of the apparatus, separated from the meat at the top with water and smoking wood in the middle.

In the horizontal setup, the cooking chamber, water, meat, smoking agents, and firebox are all connected. Of course, it is also possible to achieve good smoking results simply by using a regular grill. The source of heat for completing the smoking process can be achieved with a number of different agents, including wood, steam, electricity, gas, and charcoal.

The greatest challenge in being able to achieve a consistent temperature throughout the meat is to be able to maintain a constant, healthy flow of smoke. Generally speaking, those who are new to the art of smoking meat will be best-suited with an electric smoking apparatus.

Generally speaking, indirectly seating through smoking is a method adopted for larger pieces of meat. Naturally, different cuts of meat will have a different amount of time that will be most ideal for dispersing the heat of the smoke across the full surface area and throughout the entire cut.

The attached graphic gives you a great idea how different meats or proteins respond to smoke – or in other words, “when they are done…” It was a neat graphic to look at and the attached image prints well – so use it freely and learn a bit more about “smoking” – smoking of the healthy kind that is!

What you can do is open up the graphic by clicking on it and then right clicking it to save to your desk top.

Or (and this should work better…) Click on this – smoking-times-and-temperature.jpg

Now I need to get out some of those hickory wood chips I have kicking around!

Apologies in advance to my lovely Vegan and Vegetarian friends.


Colin Newell has been writing this blog for over 20 years and you will notice the absence of junk content, click bait, promo links and other rubbish. We are better than that and everyone should demand better content!

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Summer Cooking 2016 Chapter 1 Butter Chicken · 8 May 2016 by colin newell

I am a huge curry fan – the hotter the better. This is a very easy recipe to build – and you can heat it up or cool it off however you see fit.

Marinade:
1 cup plain yoghurt Greek style High fat content
2 TBL lemon juice
2 TSP Tumeric powder
4 TSP Garam Masala
1 TBL chili powder (ground dried chili powder)
2 TSP ground cumin
2 TBL fresh grated ginger
5 garlic cloves crushed
1500g chicken thigh filet cut into bite sized pieces

Curry:
2 TBL vegetable oil
2 minced shallots
2 cups tomato passata (tomato sauce in a glass jar)
2 TBL sugar
2.5 TSP salt
2 cups half/half cream

Instructions:
a.) Combine the marinade ingredients with the chicken in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
b.) Heat the vegetable oil over high heat in a frying pan – (we use a dutch oven)
c.) Add 2 Minced shallots to the frying pan and cook about 2 minutes.
d.) Add the chicken coated in the marinade and cook for around 3 minutes or until the chicken is while all over.
e.) Add the tomato passata, sugar and salt to the mix – turn down heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
f.) Do a taste test to see if it needs more salt.
g.) Add the cream to the mixture – mix to combine – then remove from heat.

Garnish with cilantro leaves – serve with basmati rice.

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Flour and water - be food sufficient - our bread series chapter 1 · 25 April 2016 by colin newell

Sourdough bread by the numbers

When I was a kid and in a farm house of five, my mother probably made 6 to 12 loaves of bread every week – depending on time of year and demand.

She made all of our breads by hand, with flour and water, salt and yeast – sometimes with extras like cheese, spices and herbs – sometimes with flours other than whole wheat or white bread.

It was something that a lot of people did in the 60’s and 70’s – especially if they were on a tight budget. And our house was no exception. And since we had a country kitchen with an old hybrid wood and gas stove it just made sense. The baking also helped heat the house to it was economics 101 at work.

My roll in all of this was picking up 20 Lb bags of flour and running them from the grocery store the 2.5 km home on my bike… which had a big basket on it. Imagine a 20 Lb bag of flour and other dry goods – that was a very, very full basket. I must have made that run 100 times over the years and I never once spilled a grain of flour.

In the kitchen I got to watch – and watch. And watch again. Maybe I got to get some warm water or take the temperature of some water or open the jar of powdered yeast. It was a very rare event indeed if I actually got to stick my hands in the mix. And this was an “all hands” process. There was no commercial mixer. There was no Kitchen Aid machine with the bread hook that I use today. It was all hands, instinct only, physical memory and repetition.

Perhaps ironically, I did get to suggest recipes and flavours for bread. I kid you not. My mother would ask a 12 year old (me) what kind of bread I would find interesting. And as it would turn out, the darker and denser the bread the better. We started simply enough with a medium rye bread. And over time, the breads got darker and darker until, I think, we invented something that my mother called a “Russian black bread…” I am not sure where the ethnicity or the colour came in but it was among the darkest and tastiest of breads I have ever had in my life. It was dark brown, complex, spicy, sweet, chewy and dense all in the same bite – and because it went through a double or triple raise and proof process, the ferment allowed for a very nutritional development of the loaf – that is to say, you could easily live off of this bread for a very long time.

In this upcoming series of blogs I am going to reveal the re-introduction of bread into my life and how I have come to depend on my instincts more than the strict discipline of recipes.

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Cajun Oyster Jambalaya - a slight variation · 13 January 2016 by colin newell

I love the complex, sometimes rich and exotic flavours of Cajun cooking. Unique to Louisiana, it features French, African, Spanish and Native American influences – depending on liberal application of regional spice blends and with the availability of wonderful fresh shell fish these dishes really shine!

Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: About 70 minutes

Makes: 8 servings

Cooking Cajun in the Blenkinsop Valley

1/2 lb. fresh dry andouille sausages, about 2 to 3 depending on size

3 Tbsp Canola oil (approx)

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes

6 tsp homemade Cajun spice (divided; see Note 1 below)

1 large onion, finely diced

4 celery ribs, finely diced

1 medium green bell pepper, finely diced
1 medium yellow bell pepper, finely diced
1 Poblano chile, 2 Jalapeno chile, 2 Serrano chile, 1 Habanero chile and
2 Thai red chiles

2 cups Jasmine rice

4 cups low salt chicken stock

2 bay leaves

• salt to taste

12 large prawns – peeled with tail portion left intact, and deveined (see Note 2 below)
Alternately – 2 standard tubs of fresh Oysters (chopped in 4’s)

Heat oil in Dutch oven or wide pot set over medium-high.
Add the chicken and sprinkle with 1 1/2 tsp of the Cajun spice.
Cook and stir until the chicken is cooked through and nicely coloured, about five to seven minutes.
Lift the chicken out of the pot with a slotted spoon and set in a bowl.

Lower the heat under the pot to medium. And the onion, celery and pepper assortment and cook until very tender and slightly caramelized, about six minutes.

Note – you can dial back on the Habanero and Thai chiles to dial back the heat — because these two kick it up a big notch!

Mix in the rice and remaining Cajun spice and cook, stirring occasionally, for two minutes more.

Mix in the stock, bay leaves, sliced sausage and chicken.

Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a boil. When boiling, cover, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the rice is almost tender, about 18 minutes.

Nestle the prawns or oysters into the top of the rice and cover and cook five minutes, or until the prawns are cooked and the rice is tender. Serve.

Note 1: Cajun spice is available in the bottle herb and spice aisle of most supermarkets.

Cajun spice, in a small bowl combine 4 tsp paprika, 2 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried marjoram, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tsp garlic powder, 2 tsp cayenne pepper and 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Use what you need for the recipe and save the rest for another time.

Note 2: To peel and devein a prawn, hold the tail of the prawn in one hand and slip the thumb of your other hand under the shell between its swimmerets (little legs). Pull off the shell, leaving the very bottom portion of the tail intact. Use a small paring knife to make a lengthwise slit along the back of the prawn. Pull out, or rinse out with cold water, the dark vein. Pat the prawns dry and they are ready to use.

Many thanks to Chef Eric Akis of the Times-Colonist newspaper for this inspiration!

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Christmas Turkey Enchiladas - spicy leftover delight · 5 January 2016 by colin newell

I am a huge fan of authentic Mexican cuisine – can’t get enough of it but I am humble enough to admit that, apart from nachos, I have never learned to cook very much of it at home. Now admittedly, some of the cuisine is pretty complicated and filled with steps – but many, if not all, of the ingredients are readily available locally. So, get out there and give this one a whirl. You can use chicken, beef, pork, some kinds of fish I would imagine, or beans for a vegetarian approach. Let’s get busy.

Ingredients

2 cups cooked shredded Turkey (I have used leftover Christmas turkey breast meat)
1 large red onion, chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup lo-fat sour cream
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3 small (284ml) cans enchilada sauce (La Victoria is my go to)
3 cups shredded cheese (tex-mexican blend)
1 small tin mild green chiles (diced)
Tablespoon of Cumin
Tablespoon of Chile powder
10 flour tortillas

Prepping Turkey Enchiladas

Preparing your ingredients

Chop the onion and parsley, and shred the Turkey.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Step One Heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, stirring all the while.

Step Two Add the turkey to the onions in the frying pan. Add Cumin and Chile powder and stir until combined.

Step Three Pour about 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce over the turkey and onion mixture.

Step Four Add sour cream and parsley. Add diced chiles – stir until combined.

Step Five Once all the ingredients are fully combined, turn off the heat. now add the shredded cheese. I usually add 2 heaping cups. Mix to combine.

Once the cheese is melted and combined with the Turkey sour cream mixture, taste it, and see if it needs anything else – like additionally seasoning or more sauce.

Step Six Now it is time to fill the tortillas and make the enchiladas. pour just enough sauce in a baking dish to cover the bottom of the dish.

Step Seven Take each tortilla and spoon some sauce on the tortilla coating the entire side that will hold the turkey mixture. Then spoon on some of the turkey mixture.

Step Eight Roll up the tortilla and place it in the baking dish.

Repeat steps to make enough tortillas to fill your baking dish, or until the Turkey mixture is all used up.

Step 9 Pour enchilada sauce over the completed enchiladas. spread it evenly over the top.

Step 10 Top with more shredded cheese and garnish with chopped parsley.

Hot out of the oven! Turkey enchiladas.

Now they are ready to place in the oven. cover with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 10 minutes of cooking. Since the turkey is pre-cooked, you only need to bake them long enough for the sauce to start bubbling, tortilla edges are slightly crisp, and the cheese is melted.

We serve with homemade guacamole and a suitable salsa – you can make the salsa yourself if you are so inclined. These yummy enchiladas are great with your favourite strong beer!
This dish can make 10 to 12 single serve enchiladas. Plenty for leftovers!

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Butternut squash soup with vegan option · 3 January 2016 by colin newell

Hearty Butternut Squash Soup

Winter is the best time of the year for hearty vegetarian soup with the option of adding some animal protein if you are so inclined – either way, these are filling and healthy soups during the winter months – here is how we brew up one of our favourites.

Dice 1 medium butternut squash
Dice 1 red pepper
Dice 1 medium onion

Toss together and split between two baking sheets.
Cover each sheet with parchment paper. Divide the veg between the two equally.

Sprinkle tablespoon of Olive oil over each pan and then salt and pepper to your
own preferences.

Mix together elements on each pan.

Get 4 slices of double smoked bacon (optional) sliced into lardons
and then sprinkle over top of the mixture.

Take one garlic, break it into cloves, leaving in their own paper
and divide them equally between the two pans.

Put into 400 degree oven for 30 minutes, toss at half way point.

Get out a big dutch oven bringing it up to medium heat.

Take the two pans out of the oven, removing cloves of garlic and set aside.

Take both veg mixtures less the parchment paper and dump into dutch oven.
Put in a couple of tablespoons of fresh thyme.

Squeeze out the garlic from their bulb into the dutch oven.

Add 2 1/2 to 3 cup of Chicken or Vegetable broth – stirring occasionally
while bringing to boil. Once it reaches the boil, turn off heat and get out your
immersion blender and blend it to your desired consistency.

Add more stock if you want a thinner soup. Return to heat and
take to boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Serve with bread.

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