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Monday, July 25, 2011


Halleluiah!!  It has been slowly raining this morning since around 6 am.   This is notable, since not only have we not had any rain for the last 2 weeks, we have been enduring unbelievably hot and humid weather, which has drained the energy out of everyone, including the dogs.  Not to complain though, since cottage country has provided an incredible oasis for us.  The best times are when we can share the cooling breezes and refreshing water with friends.  We had a great visit this weekend when a couple of friends , Greg and his band mates, dropped by late in the day for a swim and a visit. Always be prepared is our motto, and so we were that day. We were able to jump into action, raid the refrigerator and the garden and come up with a simple feast of chicken and ribs with beans from the garden.  Remarkably, we had lots of leftovers to enjoy the next day.
We hope that you have a week or 2 at a cottage in your future. If you do, we want you to know our secret for successful cottage life!!  Keep your pantry stocked, and always make extra so that you can relax tomorrow and enjoy the day off from cooking, cleaning and planning. So, here are a few tips for enjoying your week at the cottage:

First off, remember that a week at the cottage should be a holiday for everyone, even mom. This doesn’t mean hot dogs and hamburgers every night.

1.       Remember  to multi-task  when putting your menus together. Always grill extra –that includes protein and vegetables. If grilling beer can chicken, use leftovers another night for a grilled chicken Caesar salad. If grilling pork loin, chop up the leftovers, mix it with barbecue sauce and serve barbecue pork sandwiches (Cuban sandwiches). If grilling vegetables, use the leftovers for grilled vegetable, goat cheese and pesto paninis or frittatas. If making steak one night, use the leftovers for steak fajitas the next night.  So, out of 4 menus, we have quickly and easily created 8!
These second day meals are great for picnics, so you can bring them down to the beach, or out in the boat for a real adventure!

      2.       Bring along a pot of mixed herbs to the cottage. It is an especially nice hostess gift if you are arriving as a guest. These are available in grocery stores and garden centres everywhere. You can instantly turn a plain chicken breast or hamburger into something special.

3.       Scout out the local farmers markets on your way into the cottage, or when you go into town for ice-cream or candy with the kids. You may find some interesting local farmers sausage or unique greens for your salads.  Sausage is so versatile, and easy.  It can be used sliced as an easy appetizer, served on a bun with potato salad and a nice mango and roasted red pepper salad as a main course, and reheated in an omelet for breakfast the next morning.
Make up the side dishes at lunch and then you have the rest of the afternoon to join in the activities.
Hamburgers can be better than ordinary- make sure to use the right ground beef, that which contains 20% fat and 80% meat –(in Canada, medium ground beef contains 23% fat, so is a good choice)  this will ensure a juicy, flavourful burger. Season it simply with salt & pepper and a little steak spice. Dress it up with blue cheese and caramelized onions and serve on a toasted bun- yummy!

6.       Grill up a lot of veggies, including peppers, onions, sweet potatoes, zucchini, corn and leeks – fills people up and can be used with entrée, in soup, salad, sandwiches or frittatas.


Try this chicken when you want to have a great meal, plus leftovers for a picnic.  It was cooked on our Broil King Keg.  We cooked it low for about an hour and a half at 200°F, then flipped the chicken, turned up the heat to 300°F for half an hour. The end result was tender, juicy chicken, with a rich, smoky flavor and crisp flavourful skin.  Do not forget to baste it after its been on for 45 minutes. We used a mixture of orange juice and canola oil, which went well with the jalapeno and fresh herbs that we had stuffed under the skin.

Setting up the Broil King Keg
1.       Pour 2-3” deep layer of True’Cue lump charcoal on the bottom of the smoker.
2.       Use 2 True’Cue match-light charcoal starters to ignite the charcoal.
3.       Open the top and bottom vents to the widest position (#5).
4.       Let the coals burn for 10 minutes until the smoker reaches 200°F
5.       Dial down the top and bottom vents to the #2 position
6.       This should maintain a smoker temperature of 225°F for up to  6 hours.

Smoky South-West  Chicken  with Fresh Herbs

2 or 3 3lb chickens


Herb mixture:
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
½ onion minced
½ cup each of thyme, parsley and sage chopped
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp chipotle pepper powder
½ tsp celery salt
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp garlic powder
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup canola oil

Spatchcock the chickens: Remove the backbone by using kitchen shears to firmly cut along both sides of the backbone. Reserve in the freezer for making soup on a cool day. Open up the chickens on a cutting board and flatten it, as shown. This allows for more even cooking and crisper skin.
Massage the flesh lightly, to loosen the skin, then carefully stuff the herb mixture under the skin. Gently rub the flesh with the rub mixture and set aside in the refrigerator for an hour.
Prepare smoker as directed above. When temperature reaches 200-225°F, place 3 chunks of soaked apple wood on the coals.  Place chickens skin side up on the grate, directly over the heat. After 45 minute, begin basting generously with orange juice baste. After 1 ½  hours, open the top and bottom vents to #3 position and allow the temperature to increase to 300°F. Continue to cook and baste for another ½ hour.  

 Skin should be crispy and brown. Remove the chickens from Keg and allow to rest for 15 minutes, tented lightly with foil.



Monday, July 18, 2011

Whole Piglet on the Rotisserie

Our kids are certainly fearless when it comes to grilling.  When Reid was offered a 25 pound piglet he did not hesitate, knowing it would make for an adventurous and delicious summer meal.  Sadly, the day of the big roast Reid had to go to work, so his sister Samantha and her boyfriend Dan took over.  The pig was prepped by stuffing it and then sewing it back up.  Dan proved to be quite adept at the whole process. Then the grill was preheated and Wilbur (as our piglet was fondly named) was placed on a spit to rotisserie cook. 

After a few minutes of trial and error we realized that Wilbur was a bit off balance so the spit was not rotating fully and something needed to be done.  Necessity is the mother of invention, and the resulting spit cage contraption constructed by the engineering team of Ted, Dan, Andrew and David would have made MacGyver proud.  They cobbled together two bases for beer can chicken roasters, 3 extra spit rods, a lot of patience, and a hack saw.  After the construction was complete Wilbur was placed back on the grill and began his low and slow cook.  

 To go along with our delicious meal Lindsay and Norah whipped up a batch of Rhubarb Mint Mojitos as a cocktail, Samantha made her signature guacamole, and we had homemade apple sauce and a plethora of salads  and peas picked  fresh from the garden on the hill.    After stuffing and sewing up a pig it is nice to know that  the rest of your meal can be found in your garden or at least in the produce section of your local grocery store.  In addition to the peas, we were able to harvest the rhubarb and all of the fresh herbs for this meal!!

 However, one of the best parts of having a pig roast is you have plenty of leftovers for pulled pork sandwiches for lunch the next day and even some of Pam’s pulled pork antijitos for an appetizer.  All in all, it was a great way to spend an afternoon trying something new and spending time with friends and family.  

Whole Piglet on the Rotisserie:
Pat dry the pig inside and out with paper towels.  Stuff as described below.

To prepare the barbecue, remove cooking grids and place one large or 2 medium aluminum pans on the bottom of the grill.  Light the rear rotisserie burner and preheat on HIGH. 
 Position  the piglet on the spit, and balance it as well as possible.  See above for the MacGyver rotisserie adaptation.  Cook on MEDIUM-HIGH for 5-6 hours.
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cooking onions, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups stale bread torn into pieces
Large bunch sage, roughly chopped
Large bunch chives, snipped
Large bunch parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons pepper

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Stuff into the cavity of the piglet, and stitch the belly closed.  We used a sharp needle and embroidery floss.

½ cabbage, shredded
1 red pepper, cut into paper thin slices
4 carrots, grated
1 vidalia onion, halved and thinly sliced

½ cup Mayonnaise
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 tbsp white sugar
¼ cup Rice vinegar
 1 tsp Celery salt
1 clove Chopped garlic

In a large bowl, combine the prepared vegetables.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.  Pour over the vegetables and toss to coat.

Kris’ Barbecue Sauce:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic
1 bottle beer
¼ cup cider vinegar
21/2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp yellow  mustard
4 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp Mexican rub
½ tsp cayenne
1 cup crushed tomatoes, pureed
2 tbsp ketchup
½ tsp salt

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil and add the onion.  Sauté until the onion is soft and translucent.  Add the minced garlic, and stir for one minute before adding the rest of the ingredients.  Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour until beginning to thicken.

Dan made a fabulous Asian inspired dipping sauce as an alternative to conventional barbecue sauce.  It was delicious as an accompaniment to the rotisserie pork,  and with the pulled pork sandwiches the next day.
Dan's Dipping Sauce
  1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  2  cloves garlic, finely chopped
  2  teaspoons chopped ginger
  ¾ cup hoisin sauce
  ¼  tablespoon dark soy sauce
  ¼ cup water
  1  teaspoon salt
  1 tablespoon  sesame oil
  1 ½   teaspoons pureed chipotle chillies
  1 tablespoon Honey
  1 ½ teaspoons 5 spice powder

Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high to high heat. Add the garlic and ginger. Stir-fry briefly until aromatic. Turn the heat down to medium and stir in the other ingredients. Heat through and remove from the stove. Cool.

Pulled Pork Sandwiches:
We drizzled the leftover pork with sauce, covered it tightly in foil, and placed it on the smoker for 2 hours for our sandwiches the next day.  They were delicious served with coleslaw.

Pulled Pork Antijitos:
8 ounces red pepper cream cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3 green onions, minced
1 chipotle chili, minced
8 whole wheat flour tortillas
2 cups shredded pulled pork

In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese, cilantro, green onions, and chipotle. Spread over the flour tortillas, then scatter the pulled pork over top, leaving a one inch border around the edge.  Roll up tightly, and slice into 1” pieces. 

Place the rolls on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Heat through on the barbecue or in the oven at 350 for about 10 minutes.

Rhubarb Mojitos:
4 cups rhubarb, cut into 1” chunks
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Bunch mint
Juice of 5 limes
White rum
Sparkling water

In a medium saucepan, bring rhubarb, water and sugar to a boil and simmer until rhubarb is completely soft and falling apart.  Strain through cheesecloth lined sieve. Set aside to cool (syrup may be prepared 2 days in advance).

In a large glass pitcher, muddle together mint and 1 cup of the rhubarb syrup.  Add lime juice, ice, and rum and stir.  Pour into tall glasses with ice and top with sparkling water to taste. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Take A Pike!

Sometimes dinner just falls right into your lap, or in this case, swims right into the net.  This dinner is just one example of how a delicious menu was created when we least expected it.  One lovely day at the cottage, our friend Ian Murdoch was fishing near our dock, when, low and behold he caught something.  Something big.  Something with teeth.  He caught a massive pike!  

After the initial fear wore off (given the fact that we had all just been swimming in that exact area) we needed to figure out what to do with it.  Our first plan was to release it; however, after a long struggle with trying to get it off the hook it looked like the fish was not going to make it.  Mark tried to revive it by keeping it in the water but after some long deliberation, we decided to give in- as the old saying goes, when life gives you a pike, you make dinner. 
We used the Broil King Keg to smoke our Lake Rosseau Pike. The result?  A delicious, slow cooked meal that was stress free (save for the fact that we were swimming with a monster) and allowed us to enjoy each other’s company.  Details on how to set up the Broil King Keg are below.  
It's that easy to smoke a fish!

Combined with the abundance of pike filets we also had enough extra for Teddy to try out a recipe he had just created.  His Smoked Fish and Cornmeal Fritters were a hit and a perfect appetizer.


We paired all of this with Geoffrey’s Spiked Lemonade, which was a deliciously refreshing drink after a long day of fishing and smoking. 
It just goes to show that you can plan and plan a dinner, but sometimes the best and most memorable just catch you by surprise, literally. 

Setting up the Broil King Keg
1.       Pour 3-4” deep layer of True’Cue lump charcoal on the bottom of the smoker.
2.       Use 2 True’Cue match-light charcoal starters to ignite the charcoal.
3.       Open the top and bottom vents to the widest position (#5).
4.       Let the coals burn for 10 minutes until the smoker reaches 200°F
5.       Dial down the top and bottom vents to the #2 position
6.       This should maintain a smoker temperature of 225°F for about 6 hours.
3” of charcoal will burn for 4-6 hours.
4” of charcoal will burn for 6-8 hours. 

Smoked Lake Rousseau Pike

Filets of pike
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup chopped dill
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tbsp salt
2 tbsp freshly cracked black pepper

½ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup canola oil

Smoked Fish and Cornmeal Fritters

3 cups Flaked Smoked Fish
6 garlic scapes, chopped
1/3 Yellow pepper, minced
Small bunch minced Chives
1/4 cup chopped Cilantro
1 chipotle, minced

2 cups flour
1 cup corn meal
2 teaspoons baking soda
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
3/4 cup leftover mashed potatoes

Combine the flaked fish, scapes, peppers, herbs and chipotle in a medium sized bowl and set aside.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, salt and pepper.  Whisk together the buttermilk and leftover mashed potatoes, and stir into the dry ingredients just to combine.  The batter should be the consistency of a gummy muffin batter.

Add enough batter to fish and veggies to bind the fresh ingredients together.  Mix until just combined.
Drop by spoonful into a pan of hot vegetable oil (medium) for 2 minutes per side until browned.  Serve with chipotle mayo, guacamole, or pico de gallo.

Geoffrey’s spiked Lemonade

Simple Syrup:
2 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (8 to 9 lemons)
1 cups fresh blueberries
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 generous handful fresh mint
3 cups ice
1 cup water
1 cup simple syrup
6 ounces vodka
2 ounces limoncello

To make simple syrup, combine water and sugar in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stir until sugar has dissolved, then set aside to cool.

For the spiked lemonade, combine all the ingredients in a large glass pitcher, and serve in tall glasses.