Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Dinner 2009

Some folks have trouble deciding between ham and turkey for Christmas dinner. I say why not have both! In fact lets have a 22lb ham and 2 12lb turkeys! That's the way we do things around here!

I smoked ham and deep fried the turkeys. As this was my first time doing either, I kept the recipes pretty basic. I'll get crazy with them later!      

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Cheap Vodka Trick!

I meant to mention this in the last post. There are many great cordial recipes that call for vodka. Here is a great way to save a lot of money, and still produce great beverages.

Do you have one of these?

It's not just for water! Run your vodka through it 4-5 times to filter out fuesel oils. Many of the higher end vodkas advertise the number of times it is filtered. Will this turn the generic stuff into grey goose? No, but it will make it much much better, and for mixing in cordials I think it creates a great "sweet spot" between quality and cost.

Holiday Drinks (hypocras & apple pie cordial)

Here are two drink recipes that are easy, delicious and great for holiday parties.

Hypocras is a sweetened spiced wine that was traditionally used as a medicine. It is thought to be named for the Greek physician Hippocrates. Regardless of it's origins or medicinal value, it is a great beverage to serve today. 

Traditional hypocras is made with red wine. However in the interest of breaking free of the mold I like to make a hypocras with white wine, also called a clary (although a clary was normally sweetened with honey, but I digress.) 

Hypocras (Hippocras)
1 4L jug of Carlo Rossi Rhine Wine 
1 and 1/2 cups of white sugar
3 Cinnamon sticks, cracked in half
10 black peppercorns cracked
1 Nutmeg, cracked in half
6 cloves
2 oz fresh ginger root, chopped into small chunks

2-3 cardimom pods, just cracked, or
10 grains of paradise

Remove roughly 12 oz of wine from bottle to allow for sugar and spices. (My prefered method of doing this is to pour it in a glass and drink it! That also gives you the chance to taste it before you doctor it up. )Add all spices, in order above, cap bottle, and shake vigorously to mix, until sugar is no longer seen in the bottom of the jug. Let this steep for at least 24 hours. When ready strain spices through fine strainer or coffee filter and drink. This is good chilled or warm, but best at room temperature in my opinion.

I know I know, Carlo Rossi wine? Seriously? Yep. It's my suggestion. You can use higher end wines if you like, but I haven't seen that they add enough flavor through the spices to justify the much higher cost.

The Rhine wine starts of sweet with a slight hint of apples for before finishing dry. This was about the 3rd white wine I tried when I was seeking a white to make hippocras from. I felt with the apple and sweetness it was a perfect match. The sugar and spices round out the total mouthfeel and contribute to the Rhine’s apple flavor. The end result is a beverage that tastes more like a 9% abv hard apple cider to me than a wine.


This takes a bit more time, but is really worth it, and it makes your house smell great! Here is the recipe

2 gallons organic apple juice
2 cups brown sugar
4 sticks cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 750ml bottle of vodka

Place the apple juice in large pot, and place on medium heat. Stir in sugar and spices. Bring to a boil. Boil until volume is reduced by half. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Mix with vodka and stir well. Place in a container and let age for 1 week for the flavors to blend and mellow. This will get better with age.

Let me know what you think!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Omaha Steaks

So this Friday when I got home I had an awesome surprise! Carrie and her mom had gotten me an omaha steaks package for christmas. So Saturday we had to make steaks! However it was raining cats and dogs all day, probobly not the best day to drag out the bbq and try to get the charcoals going. So I went with the standard back up. A cast iron skillet steak. Here's what I did.

Montreal Top Sirloin Steak
 2 omaha steak's top sirloins, thawed.
1/4 cup olive oil.
2 table spoons of montreal steak seasoning.

Mix olive oil and montreal steak mix in large bowl. Put steaks in bowl and turn to coat. Marinate for 60 minutes in fridge.

Preheat oven to 350.

Get your seasoned cast iron pan really hot. Place it on the stove on high for 5 minutes before adding anything to the pan. once hot, put about a tbs of olive oil. Coat the pan. Add steaks. Let them sit on that side for 2-3 minutes, flip them over with tongs (not a fork) and move the skillet into the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from pan and let rest for 5 before serving. These will be just a bit beyond medium rare.

I like mine rare. So I put them on side for 3 minutes, flipped it for 2, and basically just seared it. It was heavenly. This is subjective so I give you the option.

I also made a 3 potato cheese gratin to go with it.

Here's the recipe for that.

3 Potato and Cheese Gratin
2 - large yukon gold potatoes
2 - large russet potatoes
6 - small red potatoes

2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated cheese
2 tbs minced garlic
1 tbs kosher salt
1 tbs fresh ground black pepper.
1/4 lb velveta cheese * optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil a 9X13 baking pan with olive oil. Cut all potatoes into thin rounds. mix in a bowl so you get an even blend of potato types. Make a layer at the bottom of pan. Cover with some of the cheese, some garlic, and salt and pepper. Place another layer, cover with cheese, garlic, and salt and pepper again. Continue layering until ingredients are gone. Cut the Velveta into small slices and scatter about the top. Pour milk and heavy cream over top and along the sides to coat. Cover with foil. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until top is golden brown.

*Disclaimer. I know Velveta is not cheese. It's cheese food, and thus generally looked down upon. But it creates this crusty golden cheese-like topping that is just goodness.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Venison Italian Meatloaf

Ok so I settled on a venison italian meatloaf. Here's the recipe I used.

2 lbs ground venison
1 lb ground italian sausage
3 tbs oregno
3 tbs basil
1 tbs italian seasoning
6 whole black peppercorns
1 tbs kosher salt
1 tsp bay leaf or 1 whole bay leaf
3 cloves of garlic
2 chopped onions
1 lb rigatta cheese
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
24 oz of spaghetti or marinara sauce
1 lb mozzerella cheese
1 cup parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Take the spices and grind them fine in your spice grinder (really well cleaned out coffee grinder). In the food processor and add the garlic and chopped onions and process until very fine, almost a paste. Add rigotta and half the parmesan cheese and process until mixed. Add the spices and mix throuroughly, scraping the sides with a rubber spatula. Place venison and sausage in a large bowl and gently mix together with your hands. Add the cheese mixture a bit at a time mixing as you go. I added it in 3 additions.Add your breadcrumbs and mix with your hands until well blended. Oil a baking dish or loaf pans with olive oil and place meatloaf inside, pressing into desired shape. Cover with 1/2 of spaghetti sauce. Bake for 45 minutes at 350. Cover with mozzerella cheese and place back into the oven for 15 minutes so that cheese is melted and starting to brown. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes. Serve with extra spaghetti sauce and Parmesan cheese to taste.

I served this with a pasta and sauce and some garlic bread as well. Came out really good. I made a bed of pasta and placed the meatloaf on top. Added a bit more sauce and cheese, and it was killer. This recipe makes a lot! You will have leftovers!

 This could also be done with beef, but I would use a lean cut. If your store has a good meat department (like stater brothers) you can get london broil on sale for like $1.69 a lb quite often. A great trick is to ask them to grind it up for you. I use this in my tacos, enchiladas and chili and it adds a great steak flavor. And its cheaper than regular ground beef to boot!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

What's for dinner, Deer?

So my dad called me today and apparently the guy at his work who has been promising him some venison came though.So we have about 5 lbs of ground venison in the freezer. What to do.. what to do? Chili is always top on the list however I just made a huge crockpot full of chili, so we are both chili'ed out.

Off the top of my head I came up with mexican (tacos, enchiladas, etc) and meatballs.Off to the google search bar!

This one looks promising...
Venison Meatballs with Pasta Ribbons

Or perhaps a Venison Meatloaf?

I'll have to ponder and experiment and let you all know.

1st post

Hi All,

Welcome to Bill's Brew-B-Que blog, where I will regale you with tales of adventures in beer and bbq and maybe some other kinds of cooking. I'm weird like that. I can never stay firmly on topic.

First the Beer. I want to say I'm an avid homebrewer, although I'm not quite sure what the requirements for being "Avid" are. I've been brewing for about 14 months so far and I've made about 12 beers to date.

Batch 1 - Red Eye Irish Red - Oct 2008 - Extract  (3rd Place SCA's GWW Brew comp).
Batch 2 - Black Bear stout - Nov 2008 - All Grain
Batch 3 - Headless Hessian Pumpkin ale - Nov 2008 - Extract
Batch 4 - New Years English style Ale - Jan 2009 - Extract
Batch 5 - Black Oak Kreik Belgian ale with Cherries - Feb 2009 - All Grain (entered in Bruery Batch 50)
Batch 6 - Kvasir Cream Ale - Feb 2009 - Extract
Batch 7 - Valkyrie Vanilla Imperial Russian stout - March 2009 - Extract (1st place + Best in Show @ SCA's GWW Brew comp)
Batch 8 - Heimdal Hefeweisen - May 2009 - Extract
Batch 9 - Gungnir Gruit Ale - July 2009 - Extract (3rd Place SCA's GWW Brew comp)
Batch 10 - Unnamed (yet) Pale Ale - Oct 2009 - Extract
Batch 11 - Unnamed (yet ) IPA - Oct 2009 - Extract (in secondary fermenter now)
Batch 12 - Unnamed (yet) Beire De Garde - Nov 2009 - Extract ( in primary fermentation)
Batch 14 - Unnamed (yet) Big Brown Maple - Not yet Brewed - Extract

I will be posting more on them as I open them up and drink whats left. I think I still have some of the vanilla stout, belgian, the gruit, and the Pale ale left at the moment. The rest are gone.

On to BBQ! I got a small smoker from home depot this year for my birthday, and I have been smoking everything I can get my hands on! I did a turkey for thanksgiving and I plan to do a ham for Christmas dinner. I might get really ambitious and deep fry a turkey using my brewing burner!

The highlight of my brewing career so far was winning a BBQ recipe contest from the Bruery and getting a recipe on the menu at Beechwoods BBQ in Seal Beach. I originally did the recipe as a brisket but they had a brisket on the menu so they did it with ham. Here's the way they describe it:

Smoked Ham Sandwich:
Beer and coffee glazed smoked ham.
Served on an onion bun with smoked
onions, Brie cheese & arugala

I haven't made it down there yet to try it by I do plan to! I'll post the recipe up here shortly.

Welcome to the journey!