home page recipes page techniques page

Monday, August 29, 2011

Happy Glamping

We weren't exactly roughing it when we set out with our friends for a day of paddling, and a night of camping at the far north end of Georgian Bay, Killarney.  As we piled all our gear as well as appetizers,the fixings for  3 delicious meals, wine, beer, tea, coffee, ice water (really!) and all the condiments from sea salt to maple syrup into our 3 canoes and 1 kayak, there was some concern about whether or not there was room for paddlers.   We have our friend Bev to thank for her amazing organizational skills:  she pulled together the menu and every last piece of equipment and food needed for our Glamping Trip. 

Geoffrey, Nora, Charlie, Samantha, Lindsay and Dan

For dinner Bev's husband, Tim suggested she make a combination of to two recipes: smoked vegetable chilli (from Pan Chancho) and 10th anniversary chili (from Chez Piggy). Both restaurants that inspired the recipe are in Kingston near Kris' cottage. The smoked vegetables take advantage of the season and it is really easy to do.  This combination is particularly significant for Bev and Tim: many many years ago they took a canoe trip with Zal Yanofsky before he started Chez Piggy. Going on a canoe trip this year with chili that is so evocative of summer, Zal and Zal’s daughter Zoe (owner of Pan Chancho) was a bit of a sentimental journey for them.  Served with basmati rice cooked over the fire, this was an outstanding hearty meal enjoyed by all.

 Smoked Vegetable and Beef Chili

Wood chips
1 basket roma tomatoes
Olive oil
½ cup red wine
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
2 tbsp oregano
2 tbsp rosemary
7 cloves garlic
1 tbsp chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2 3-inch sticks of cinnamon
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp ground cumin
2 diced red peppers
2 diced green peppers
2 diced onions
2 diced zucchini
1 very big eggplant, diced
1 lb ground beef
1 lb spicy Italian sausage
2 lb cubed stewing beef
Soak wood chips. Heat the BBQ on lowest setting and add the wood chips
Spread a whole bunch of roma tomatoes in a roasting pan. Add olive oil, red wine, salt, pepper, oregano, rosemary, garlic, chipotle pepper, 2 pinches of cocoa powder, cinnamon sticks, smoked paprika and cumin.
Smoke for a while on the BBQ until they are nicely caramelized, then set aside.
In another pan, toss chopped red and green peppers with olive oil and some salt and pepper. Place the roasting pan on the BBQ and smoke for about 20 minutes. Add chopped onion, diced zucchini, diced eggplant to the peppers and smoke some more… until the vegetables are tender.
On the side burner, in a large skillet,  brown ground beef, pork sausage and cubed beef.
Mix all the vegetables and meat together in a very large pot and let it simmer on low until all the meat is very tender. 

Dessert that night was a new treat:  roasted rice cripsie squares!  Bev had made some particularly gooey and delicious squares, and they were just begging to be browned over the campfire.  Even better than s'mores.

After a night in our tents on the rocks it seemed we only had a few hours of sleep before we started a sunrise campfire in preparation for breakfast!  We had all the fixings for orange slices, pancakes with maple syrup and bacon, and tea and coffee.   But Ted and Tim had an additional plan for something they called Huevos Georginaros:  they reheated the leftover chili and rice together in a skillet, made 4 little depressions into which they cracked eggs, and they poached/baked them in this way.  Yum!  

We're thinking this may have to become an annual event, but next year we'll share the work load with Bev.

Monday, August 22, 2011


Where do you want it Grandma?
You want me to paint more??

For those of you who have been following our blog over the past year, it may seem to you that our lives are filled with non-stop family gatherings, walks in the woods with our dogs and frequent dinner parties.  Well, they are; we have very large families and honestly, there always seems to be something to celebrate! But, let it be known, the hammer came down last week on Wolfe Island, when Kris’s mom Jackie decided that after a relaxing summer, there was work to be done. It is an annual occurrence, we are all familiar with it and were actually wondering when the decree was coming. We all rally ourselves and for a furious 4-5 days, put ourselves at the disposal of “Grandma”, and show her that we have the “right stuff” – grit, determination and a fun-loving nature.  Not to let any occasion go unrecognized, even this event becomes a party. When is it not the right time for a water-fight?

It must be dinner soon.
All work and no play....!!
Luckily,  the usual suspects get to plan and prepare the meal, so…. when there is a hungry group and a loose schedule,we put hamburgers on the menu.  Robust and filling, we prepared some flavourful toppings for our classic, simple beef burgers to make them memorable. So, instead of the usual condiments of tomato, onion and mustard, our families enjoy caramelized onions, pancetta and tangy blue cheese.

Caramelized onions

It’s all about time with savoury caramelized onions. Cook them low and slow and you will be rewarded with a sweet and delicious topping for your burgers. Make lots and serve them over the next few days with cheese, as a pizza topping or a side dish with any meat. Change them up a bit  by adding a splash of balsamic vinegar or red-wine to de glaze the pan during the last 10 minutes of cooking and you will be surprised by the tangy finish.
4 large Vidalia onions, thinly sliced
4 tbsp olive oil ( substitute some butter for a richer flavor)
Salt & pepper, to taste

In a large skillet, combine olive oil and onions and cook on medium-high for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue cooking gently for 45 minutes. Add salt & pepper to taste.


We are developing a line of seasonings/rubs to be used when grilling meats, vegetables and poultry. These flavourful spice blends make simple foods, like burgers, special.  The Perfect Steak Rub is perfect here. If you can’t find them, substitute salt and pepper for now, but keep looking for these products at your grocery and barbecue retailers
4 lbs ground chuck
2 tbsp Perfect Steak Rub

 1 lb rocquefort cheese
1 lb pancetta, thinly sliced and cooked crisply

12 of your favorite buns

Combine ground beef and seasoning gently in a large bowl, and form into 12- 16 patties. Preheat barbecue on MEDIUM-HIGH, then brush or spray grids with vegetable oil.  Place patties on the grids and sear for 2 minutes per side. Reduce heat to LOW and continue cooking for another 2-4 minutes per side(depending on the thickness of the patties) until juicy, but cooked through.  Lightly toast the buns during the last 2 minutes of grilling. Serve with a big leafy green salad and fresh corn on the cob!

Pepper and Briar tried to stay out of the way!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rockhaven Engagement Bash

This weekend we celebrated Teddy and Brian's upcoming nuptials under threatening skies at Rockhaven Island.  There is rather a long history of wild storms married with special occasions at the cottage...we are thinking this is all a good omen.  Fortunately, we were able to enjoy Ginny Aird and Hilary Wilson's (of Evelyn Black Catering) delicious appetizers on the deck, and the rain held off until after the toast, when dinner was served in the kitchen.

On the menu:

Cheesy Bacon Onion Squares
Gravlax with Dill Mustard Sauce
Chili Chicken in an Endive 
Crudites with Curry Dip

Watercress, Endive with Grilled Peaches
Caprese Salad with Balsamic Reduction
Warm Corn Salad with Fresh Summer Vegetables
Country Mustard Seed Potato Salad

Rotisserie Boneless Leg of Lamb with Peach Chutney
Beef Tenderloin  with Hot Mustard Sauce, Creamy Horseradish, and Bearnaise
Pulled Pork with Barbecue Sauce

Cousin Melissa's Blueberry Cake
Mag's Blondies
Bev's Lemon Tarts
Gretchen's Sweet Marie Bars
Christina's Homemade Oreo Cookies

Hilary Wilson and Ginny Aird of Evelyn Black Catering

One of the easiest dishes on the menu was the Rotisserie Leg of Lamb.  Marinating it the day before takes the pressure off.  The day of the party it is just a matter of positioning the meat on the spit, placing a drip pan below, and lighting the rear rotisserie burner.  At a constant low temperature of around 300 F, the lamb can turn and roast for a couple of hours and maintain its tender juiciness. 

Rotisserie Boneless Leg of Lamb

1 boneless leg of lamb, 6-8 pounds 

For the Marinade:
2 fresh cloves of garlic, pressed
1 bunch fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1 bunch fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Whisk together all ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl.  Place the lamb in a resealable plastic bag, and pour the marinade over it.  Press most of the air out the the bag and seal it tightly.  Place in the refrigerator overnight.  See above for grilling instructions. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Campfire Grilling in Killarney


 It seems that this summer has been one long stretch of heavenly days and nights, and the Civic Holiday weekend was no exception.  We took advantage of these fabulous conditions and ventured up to Killarney Ontario at the north end of Georgian Bay for an overnight canoe trip.  But before setting out we explored some of the highlights of the town, our favourite of which was Herbert's Fisheries. This little gem consists of a tired old school bus painted red and white, where they dish out the freshest and most delicious fish and chips we’ve ever tasted.  Herbert’s sits on the edge of the channel, and as soon as the whitefish and perch are delivered by fishing boat, they are filleted in a little annex, then passed through the bus from batter, to fryer and out the window to streams of happy customers.  Next, a quick trip to the Gateway Marina for butter tarts or their famous Granny Cake satisfied the sweetest of sweet-teeth. 

Having been fortified by Herbert’s, we packed up our canoe and paddled out the channel and around George Island until we found our ideal campsite and pitched our tent.  There, on a smooth granite site, we barbecued our dinner and breakfast over a crackling fire.  Pluto accompanied us, and for him it was one of the highlights of his life:  because of our worries about attracting bears we offered up our leftovers to our dog, who had never had a scrap of human food before.  He couldn’t believe his good fortune, and once he dug in, he continued to push his bowl around our campsite in circles until he was sure he had consumed every morsel!

A great trick for weekend meal preparation, whether it is on a canoe trip or travelling up to a cottage, is to prepare your meat with a rub or marinade a few days in advance, pop it into a resealable bag, and throw it into the freezer.  Scoop it up as you head out the door and by the time you get to your destination it is thawed and ready for the grill!  With a few vegetables, a potato and a green salad, a perfectly seasoned dinner is ready in minutes.  

On our little trip we had a very basic menu:  steak, peppers, arugula salad and a grilled corn salad that was prepared in advance of the adventure.  Breakfast consisted of peameal bacon, fried potatoes and some scrambled eggs.  

At the end of the weekend, when we got back to the cottage we feasted on some jerk chicken which would be ideal for the kind of advance preparation we mentioned above:

Island Chicken
For the Marinade:
2 cloves garlic
Masuti and Chloe
2 green onions
1” knob fresh ginger
Handful fresh chives
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Small sprig fresh sage
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon pureed chipotles in adobo sauce
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

6 chicken breast supremes (boneless breast with wing portion attached)

Place everything in a blender and whir until a smooth paste is formed.   Coat the chicken well all over, and allow to marinade for a minimum of ½ an hour, or as long as overnight.  Or place all ingredients together in a ziplock bag and place it in the freezer in anticipation of a future adventure!

We placed the breasts on the smoker over a low fire for 2 hours, but they could just as easily be grilled on MEDIUM LOW on the gas grill for a total of 12 minutes,  turning every 3 minutes for perfect grill marks.   

Another wonderful thing about the Civic Holiday Weekend is the abundance of fresh wild blueberries.  This is a short and precious season, and so it was a great treat to have Mom make a blueberry pie to wrap up our meal. 

Gretchen’s Blueberry Pie

For the Pastry:

2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup vegetable shortening, divided
 ¼ cup cold water

4 cups (1 quart) fresh wild blueberries

½ cup white sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
2 ½ tablespoons corn starch
Zest and juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon butter

In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and salt.  Using a pastry blender, cut in 1/2 cup shortening, and continue blending until the crumbs are the size of large peas.  Add the remaining shortening, and continue to blend and cut in until it resembles coarse meal.  Sprinkle water over the flour mixture, and toss lightly with a fork.  Gather the dough into a ball, and divide into two. 

Roll out one disk and place in the bottom of a 9” pie plate. 
Mix together the sugar, corn starch, cinnamon and lemon zest.  Sprinkle a few tablespoons of this mixture over the bottom crust, then spoon in half the berries.  Sprinkle half the remaining sugar mixture, then the remaining berries.  Top with the remaining sugar.  Drizzle with lemon juice, and dot with butter. 

Roll out the pastry for the top crust and lay it on top.  Pinch the edges together and cut vents for the steam in the top crust. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Beef Brisket to Feed the Masses!


Kris’ mom, Jackie, turned 80 this weekend. This called for a special celebration, shared with her children, grandchildren, sister, brother, nieces, nephews, in-laws, and friends from far and wide! We decided on a party that we knew she would love, including simple old-fashioned games like water-balloon toss, a scavenger hunt and three-legged race, a volleyball tournament and a barbecue with salads, corn on the cob and devilled eggs. It was a great day!


We had no idea who would be here for dinner the next day, so we decided to make a beef brisket on our Broil KingKeg. We would round out the meal with salad, baked beans, baked potatoes and more corn on the cob. This is a perfect menu for feeding the masses, as you can keep adding potatoes and corn as the numbers grow. And believe us, they will, when people smell the low and slow cooking of the brisket throughout the day

Tips for a moist, tender brisket:

·         Low and slow is the name of the game here! 18-24 hours of cooking on the Broil King Keg is required for an 11-14 lb beef brisket.
·         Being organized means that most of the work happens the night before your gathering, which is great when you are expecting a big crowd. This frees your time up so that you can enjoy your family and friends.
·         Purchase a large brisket and be sure that there is a nice fat cap. There is a lot of flavor and moisture there, so leave it on.
·         Coat the whole brisket with your favourite rub, letting it sit for half an hour before placing in the smoker.
·         The cooking temperature of the smoker should be constant at 200-225°F. The waterpan should be kept filled with water throughout the cooking time.
·         Start basting with a mop when you get up in the morning. Mop every hour or so until finished.
·          Cook to an endpoint temperature of 170°F.
Getting started:  
1.   Pour a 6” 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. Alternately, use a chimney starter.  Crumple up 1 or 2 sheets of newspaper in the bottom chamber, and place a cup of lump charcoal in the top chamber. Placing the starter on the pavement, a flat rock or non-igniteable surface, light the newspaper. Within 8-10 minutes, you will have glowing red coals. Carefully lift the chimney starter and dump the coals into the lump charcoal already in the Broil King Keg.
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 12 hours. Add more charcoal as needed.

Smoked Beef Brisket

11-14 lb beef brisket
For the rub:
¼ cup salt
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup coarsely ground black pepper
¼ cup paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked chipotle pepper powder
1tsp cayenne
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp celery salt

For the mop:
¼ cup Jack Daniels
½ cup canola oil

Barbecue sauce

Coat the brisket with the dry rub and let sit for at least ½ hour before placing on the smoker. Once the temperature of the smoker is constant at 200°F, place 3-4 pieces of soaked hardwood chunks on the coals. Place brisket on grids and close smoker. Cook for 11/2 hour per lb, until  very tender (approx. 170°F).  Begin applying mop every hour halfway through the cooking.  Add water to waterpan as required. If desired, brush with barbecue sauce and wrap in foil for the last hour of cooking and let rest until ready to serve. Slice thinly on the perpendicular.