Jun
27
2012

Canadian Maple-Glazed Ribs

Perfect for a Canada Day BBQ

Canadian Maple-Glazed Ribs

These massive slabs of beef ribs start out with a flavour-packed spice rub and are then mopped with a sauce which includes beer and maple syrup. I wanted to make something that was a tip of the cap to the Great White North, so—obviously—I began with picking up a case of Molson Canadian. Outstandingly delicious and…mission accomplished, eh?

                                                                                            

Maple-Glazed Ribs

Adapted from Shelburne Farms

Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons garlic powder
2 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon mustard powder
3 packed tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon smoked sweet Spanish paprika
4 pounds beef ribs
1/2 cup beer
1/2 cup Grade B maple syrup*
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup

* – Grade A syrup is your standard table-top variety. Grade B Maple Syrup is suited more for cooking and has a more intense maple flavour for this purpose.

Preparation:

 In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic powder, salt, mustard powder, brown sugar and 2 tablespoons of the paprika. Set aside about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the rub, and rub the rest over both sides of the ribs. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

 Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. With the beefier side down, wrap each rack of ribs in foil like a package. Place them on a rimmed cookie sheet or shallow roasting pan. Cook until the meat is very tender, about 2 hours.

 Take the cookie sheet out of the oven and increase the temperature to 450 degrees F with a rack in the second highest position. Unwrap the ribs carefully, pour off any accumulated fat/drippings, and replace the ribs on the foil in the pan.

 In a small saucepan, whisk together the beer, maple syrup, and cider vinegar. Using a basting brush, mop both sides of the ribs well with the mixture, finishing with the beefier side up. Reserve the remaining sauce.

 Sprinkle the reserved spice rub over the beefier side of the ribs and cook them in the oven for about 10 minutes until glazed and crusty.

 While the ribs are finishing, whisk the remaining 1 teaspoon of paprika and the ketchup into the reserved sauce. Simmer it over Medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes until slightly thickened. Adjust seasoning to taste.

 Cut the ribs to separate them once removed from the oven, and brush liberally with the sauce.

 

 

 

Jun
18
2012

The Best Micro-Breweries of Santa Barbara

The Best Micro-Breweries of Santa Barbara

Nestled between the California mountains and the Pacific Ocean with pleasant weather year-round, Santa Barbara is as appealing a destination as you can find. While droves of tourists flock to this region for its wineries and vineyards, a quiet revolution is taking hold in wine country. Popping up throughout the Santa Barbara region some formidable microbreweries have been building a loyal falling of beer aficionados throughout the state.

Stretching between Bethel to the south and Solvang in the Santa Ynez Valley to the north, Santa Barbara is making itself known for a lot more than just wine - The areas breweries have much to boast about. With nearly a dozen microbreweries within striking distance beer lovers should be circling this region as a must-visit on their map.

Of interest, the first thing you'll notice when visiting any brewery in the region is just how much Californians love their hoppy India Pale Ales (IPAs). A majority of the locally brewed beverages would be classified as IPAs with most definitely leaning to the bitter side of the scale. Some have even adapted the IPA brewing process with local ingredients and dubbed the California Pale Ale. However, each brewery takes its own slight interpretation on this theme and their are plenty of other selections to choose from if IPAs are not your thing.

With the Pacific Coast Highway tracing the shoreline before curling up into the Santa Ynez hills, the picturesque route linking all of the breweries is one you'll love travelling nearly as much as the beer you'll be sampling.   

Ranging in formality from warehouse drop-ins to full service sit-down restaurants, the variety of microbrewers is quite a mix to behold. All are available for having a taste on site or taking home beer by the bottle or growler, and some can be found sold in bars throughout Santa Barbara and California. There is something unique though about visiting a brewer and hearing their tales and meeting their patrons. I've always got a special place in my beer fridge for the various microbreweries I've visited both at home and abroad. It's a bit like belonging to a secret society with delicious benefits. Below you'll find my run-down on the microbreweries and their beers—I highly encourage you to follow in my footsteps! 
 
Island Brewing CompanyCarpinteria, CA
 
 
Located in an industrial warehouse with train tracks that run just beyond the front door, the IBC would seem to be the last place people would head to hang out. However, just a stone's-throw from the beach, this microbrewery with its modest bar is THE place to head to break up a long day in the surf and sun. A super-relaxed hangout that perfectly personifies the West coast. It's always packed with people from the beach enjoying a cold beer and the locals are really welcoming and happy to bend your ear over a brew. 
 
 
Their Pick: Starry Night Stout—chocolatey; Winner of the 2012 World Beer Cup Stout Gold Medal
My Pick: Jubilee Ale—an old style malt ale with caramel overtones
The Scene: Super-chill, always busy. Bar with a few tables & a patio. No food other than pretzels. 
 
 
Hollister Brewing CompanySanta Barbara, CA
 
 
Located in a strip mall on the outskirt of Santa Barbara this restaurant/brewery is definitely the most commercial of the bunch offering a full menu, waited tables etc. Hollister pulls in as many people for their food as their beer. Also serving local McConnell ice cream with seasonal flavours.
 
 
Their Pick: 5th Anniversary—A unique ale brewed with edible wild flowers and fresh local honey. 
My Pick: Hollister Hefeweizen—A 5.0% light Bavarian ale with hints of banana and clove. 
The Scene: Full service restaurant in a strip mall. Delicious food. 
 
 
 
 
Firestone's Taproom has a full service bar and tables with a modest menu of bar food. It's a cozy setting and they are as serious about their IPA's as they are about their famous wine and tires. A number of beers available exclusively to the Taproom. 
 
 
Their Pick: Pale 31—a California Pale Ale that's made them famous. Named for the 31st state. Dry-hopped. 
My Pick: Humboldt Hemp—A beautifully dark mellow brown ale that adds hemp seed in to the brewing process. The darker malts balance perfectly with the American hops. 
The Scene: Bar tables and chairs with a cozy feel. Great stop for a pint and a quick bite.
 
 
 
On a back industrial road located in a warehouse—they've done a nice job of making it a mixed-use space. You are sitting at a bar in a warehouse—but it doesn't feel like it. Authentic bar with brewing tanks as a backdrop. Food such as wood-fired pizza is available but delivered from other locations. Otherwise pretzels are available. 
 
 
Their Pick: Hoppy Poppy—delivers a full in-your-face experience. High alcohol at 6.5%. 3 types of hops are blended to make this beer. 
My Pick: Stagecoach Stout—A dark oatmeal stout with hints of chocolate and espresso. Full-bodied and very smooth. 
The Scene: Great mix of rustic bar and modern microbrewery.
 
 
 
 
Until you've been to Solvang it's hard to describe its charm. This Danish tourist town has street upon street of tourist shops with an extra helping of kitsch. The Solvang Brewing Company is located in the heart of the main strip and has a European bar and restaurant with a full menu. Their dining area is aptly called the Viking Room. If you love hoppy beer—it's up and down their beer menu.
 
 
Their Pick: Dansk Amber—Danish style amber ale. Slightly floral with caramel malt aromas.  
My Pick: Raspberry Lager—light and crisp with a dry finish. Lightly sweet, still with a hoppy finish. 
The Scene: Danish inspired beers. Great patio with a scene of the main tourist drag. 
 
 
The BrewhouseSanta Barbara, CA
 
 
This saloon style microbrewery doesn't pretty itself up for the tourists. Full of locals and old-timers cozied up to the bar you know you've found a gem as soon as you walk in. It has the biggest menu I've ever seen in a bar. Everything from seafood to Mexican to American diner food. 
 
 
Their Pick: Black Death Porter—black ale with habaneros and ghost chilies.
My Pick: Baseball Saison—strong orange colour with citrus and yeast flavours. A Belgian style ale, saisons had to be strong enough to last through all seasons but still quench thirst on the farm. 
The Scene: If you're looking for pretty, you're in the wrong place. If you're looking for the place where locals go for great food and beer—you've found it!
 
Telegraph Brewing CompanySanta Barbara, CA
 
 
While they claim to be staking out a new home, for now  this microwbrewery is really in the middle of nowhere. Located deep in the warehouse district they are open for tastings and purchasing only. No food. If you can corner one of the brewers they have an incredible passion for their art and will capture your heart from the first pint. 
 
 
Their Pick: White Ale—brewed with locally grown chamomille.
My Pick: California Ale—their flagship made with mellow California hops.  
The Scene: Not much of a scene, but the beer is damn good.
 
 
Santa Barbara Brewing CompanySanta Barbara, CA
 
 
This packed restaurant sits on State Street, in the heart of Santa Barbara. Just a short walk from the beach and the pier, it takes up a whole block with a pool hall, bar/restaurant and brewing facilities. The tanks are built right into the old fashioned bar. Tons of TVs if you want to catch a game and packed with locals and tourists alike.   
 
 
Their Pick: Santa Barbara Blonde—Their flagship, a dry pilsner.
My Pick: Gold Coast Wheat—Balanced American style wheat beer with a slightly hoppy accent. 
The Scene: Touristy but not obnoxiously so. Great location. Good multi-use facility.
 
So, next time your friends are itching for a trip out West to go wine tasting, see if you can't steal away for a day or two and check out this hotbed of beer enthusiasts. Shhhh... it's still our little secret! 
Jun
06
2012

Summer Grillin'

Join My Grilling Session at Clevelands House

Summer Grillin'

There are few places I feel as comfortable as I do in front of a grill. It's what I know. It's what I do well. It's just me and the fire and the meat. It's this passion for grilling that lead me down the culinary path I've been on for the past 20 years or so. Sure I cook recipes in the kitchen all the time, but it's outside with tongs in hand that I'm cosmically happy. 

With spring in full swing and summer just beyond the horizon I feel rejuvenated as grilling season is upon us. Sure I grill all year round, but once the weather is hot I'm outside manning the 'Q as often as I possibly can. Happy feeding people and sipping a beer as I grill along my merry way.
 
When I was asked to host a grilling session later this summer at the YMC hosted weekend at Muskoka resort Clevelands House, I was over the moon. Sharing my passion for grilling with you all—what more can a guy ask for?
 
I'll likely spend all summer fine-tuning recipes to share with everyone (all purely in the name of research of course) and preparing some never-fail tips to help you become better backyard cooks. The thing I love about grilling is that once you learn some of the fundamentals of what is taking place on the grill, it's really hard to go wrong. Mixing and matching flavour combinations is simple —because you've already got the basics down pat. 
 
A great example is the hamburger. Learn how to make a great homemade hamburger and you can feed people with different flavour profiles time and again and never get it wrong. Once you know how to create and cook the perfect burger it's only a matter of what toppings your imagination can come up with. 
 
 
Some examples that I've served up recently:
  • The Club Burger topped with grilled pastrami, avocado and spicy mayo 
  • The Jamaican Jerk Burger with sweet pineapple-bbq sauce, jerk aioli and scotch bonnet peppers 
  • The Mediterranean Burger with cumin-spiced beef and harissa sauce
  • An Open-Faced, Smoked Meat Stuffed Burger with Mushroom Gravy

To get you started here are some of my best burger cooking tips:

  It's not done until it's 71. Beef doneness can only be measured one way: internal temperature. It can be as scorched on the outside as a lump of charcoal, if it's not 71 inside, it's not ready to eat.

  Do not buy prepackaged burgers! They are overly processed, frequently frozen, and often contain additives to increase their shelf life.

  Purchase ground beef. You probably do not want the leanest selection available at the butcher or your hamburgers are going to dry out. I like grabbing the medium ground beef which refers to the fat content (about 20%).  

  Keep it simple. I let the great flavour of the meat speak for itself and then spend my time worrying about toppings and fixings. Also, binders (e.g. egg) and fillers (e.g. breadcrumbs) are not needed. Trust me.

  With damp hands, take a handful of beef (about 1/3 pound) and using your hands lightly form into a pattie. Do not over-handle, do not over-press. Once you’re satisfied with the shape, use your thumbs to make a slight dimple in the middle of the hamburger. This will keep your hamburgers from swelling up and resembling meatballs instead of patties.

  Continue forming the hamburgers and place them on a platter. Once done, season with salt and pepper. That’s it.

  When you’re ready to grill your hamburgers, warm your grill up between Medium-High and High. Place the hamburgers on the grill and close it up. We’re going to leave the lid down to (a) keep the heat high to cook the hamburgers and (b) to limit oxygen and thus avoid flare-ups. If you see a lot of smoke suddenly pouring out, you likely have a flare up. Open the grill, move any hamburgers with flames licking at them to another spot and close the grill back up.

 Aim to turn our hamburgers once and once only. They’re going to be ready to turn when you can see browning creeping up towards the top side of the burgers and the top has turned a nice bright red. If you’ve waited long enough, the hamburgers will not stick and will not fall apart when you go to turn them. Depending on your grill, your burgers will probably cook about 4 minutes per side. Do not cut them in half to check doneness, or press them down with your spatula to flatten them, you will lose far too much moisture.

That’s it, voila! You forgot how simple and delicious homemade hamburgers taste, didn’t you? And you’ll likely never purchase the prepackaged/frozen variety again.

So make sure you come to the YMC Family Weekend so you and your husband can learn the finer points of grilling with me in person, at Clevelands House from Aug 23-26, 2012.
 

Join us at the YMC Family Weekend at Clevelands House!

Register ASAP by calling 1-866-645-1902 or via email at reservations@clevelandshouse.com.

YMC Members get 20% Off—Make sure you mention YMC when you call to get your discount.