Monday, May 2, 2016

Bourbon-Brined Smoked Turkey Legs & A Boos Board Giveaway

By: The Food Hunter

I've been in the market for a new cutting board for some time now, so when Boos brand agreed to send me a board of my choice I jumped on the opportunity. I love the quality of their cutting boards and with so many styles and shapes to choose from you can never have too  many!

We do a lot of grilling/smoking so the BBQ board seemed to be a great option. This particular board is a heavy two-sided maple board that has juice grooves on one of the sides. It's perfect for carving a succulent roast and beautiful enough to be used as serving board for your grilled food. After a month of using this board, I can honestly say that I am as impressed as I thought I would be with it. I also love that the deluxe board comes with a very nice carving knife and fork. Boos makes quality boards that, in my opinion, can't be beat.

***Want to win one of these fabulous boards? See below for details***

To showcase this fabulous board I borrowed a recipe from Steve Raichlen for Bourbon-Brined Smoke Turkey Legs With Apple BBQ Sauce.

Recipe adapted from Steven Raichlen
Serves: 4
Advance Preparation: 3 to 4 hours for brining the turkey

For the brine:
1/2 cup bourbon (or substitute apple juice)
1/2 cup coarse salt (kosher or sea)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 lemon, sliced into 1/4-inch slices
4 cloves garlic, peeled and gently crushed
2 tablespoons black peppercorns
2 tablespoons mustard seeds
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
8 cups water

For the turkey:
8 turkey legs
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
Apple barbecue sauce for serving (recipe below)

You’ll also need: 1 large container or a jumbo or 2 large resealable plastic bags for brining. About 2 cups wood chips or chunks (apple or pecan work great), soaked for 1 hour in water to cover, then drained.

1) Make the brine: Combine the bourbon, salt, brown sugar, lemon, garlic, peppercorns, and mustard and coriander seeds in a large nonreactive bowl with 8 cups of water and whisk until the salt and brown sugar dissolve.

2) Rinse the turkey legs under cold running water. Put the legs into the resealable plastic bag(s) and add the brine. Refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours, turning periodically to distribute the brine evenly.

3) Set up the grill for indirect grilling and preheat to medium, about 325 degrees F. If using a gas grill, place half the wood chips or chunks in the smoker box or in a smoker pouch and run the grill on high until you see smoke. Then lower the heat. If using a charcoal grill, place a large drip pan in the center, preheat it to medium, then toss half of the wood chips or chunks on the coals.

4) When ready to cook, drain the brine off the turkey legs and blot dry with paper towels. Discard the brine. Lightly rub the turkey legs with the olive oil. Arrange the turkey legs in the center of the hot grate, over the drip pan and away from the heat. Cover the grill and indirect grill the turkey until cooked through, 1 to 1-1/2 hours, adding charcoal as needed To test for doneness, use an instant-read meat thermometer; the internal temperature should be about 165 degrees F.

Note: you can also smoke the turkey in a smoker. You’ll need 2-1/2 to 3 hours at 250 degrees.

Apple BBQ Sauce
adapted from Steven Raichlen

1 cup ketchup
2 cups apple juice
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons mild red pepper or chile powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper

Place the ketchup, apple juice, molasses, cider vinegar, brown sugar, granulated sugar, red pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and celery seed in a large heavy nonreactive saucepan and gradually bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking to mix.

Reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer until thick and richly flavored, about 40 minutes, whisking it often. When it’s properly cooked down, you’ll have about 2-1/2 cups. Season the sauce with salt and black pepper to taste; it should be highly seasoned. The sauce can be refrigerated, covered, for several weeks. Let it return to room temperature before using.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received product and/or compensation for posts featuring this product. As always, all opinions are 100% my own  

Friday, April 29, 2016

Farmer In The House Dinner At Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails

By: The Food Hunter

Last week I had the opportunity to attend one of the famed Farmer In The House dinners, taking place at Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails. For those that don't know, local Arizona farmer, Pat Duncan, hosts a series of dinners each year at some of his favorite restaurants around town.

Farmer Pat Duncan reading us a poem.

Chef & Farmer come together to create a special one night only menu showcasing the fruits and vegetables currently growing at the Laveen farm. Proceeds from these dinners go to the Association of Arizona Food Banks, to help facilitate their commitment to eliminate hunger.

Chef Sean Currid created a fabulous dinner menu paired with two cocktails and three local wines. Lots of planning and work went into the meal and it showed in everything we ate. Chef Currid's attention to detail was outstanding.

Putting the finishing touches on the first course

The event started with a tasty beef and blue appetizer topped with sweet onions. The blue cheese was smoky which added a nice flavor to this small bite.

Our first course was a Hamachi Crudo accented with smoked caviar and radish, and finished with a black garlic vinaigrette. I loved the freshness and subtle hint of smoke in this dish.

My favorite of the night was the ricotta ravioli paired with beets, fennel and crispy spring onions presented on-top a pepper cress puree. The pasta was superb and expertly filled with just the right amount of cheese.

The main course was a delicious herb roasted rack of lamb served with baby leeks and a crispy zucchini flower. The meat was tasty, topped with a sprinkle of sea salt and cooked to perfection.

Chef Currid's use of carrots in our final dish was stunning and delicious. The carrot cake trifle layered with cream cheese and topped with crispy carrots was the perfect ending to the meal.

These weekly dinners are scheduled through the beginning of June at a different location each week. To find out where the next Farmer In The House dinner will be, head over to Duncan's Trading Company. To enjoy a meal cooked by Chef Currid stop into Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails in downtown Phoenix. 

This experience was provided complimentary, all opinions are my own.  

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

South Philly Style Soft Pretzels

By: The Food Hunter

April is National Soft Pretzel month and being a Philadelphia native that is a big deal. Soft pretzels are a huge part of the Philadelphia food culture. Although not invented in Philly, there was a time you could find them being sold out of a push-cart on nearly every street corner. Growing up we had "pretzel boys" who walked up and down the street singing "fresh pretzels" as loud as possible. Soft pretzels were even sold in schools during recess.

In 2003, Governor Ed Rendell (from Philadelphia) declared April 26th National Pretzel Day to acknowledge the importance of this delicious snack to the state's history. It's only natural than that Pennsylvania is the highest producer of pretzels in the nation and Philadelphia residents consume the most pretzels per year.

Most Philadelphians prefer their pretzels perfectly brown, lightly crisp on the outside and chewy inside. Food grade lye is used to accomplish this. Though you can substitute baking soda the results are not the quite the same. The lye changes the pretzel's flavor and color in a way that can't be explained without tasting it.

Eaten on the run, topped with mustard or not, soft pretzels are one of the most recognizable Philly foods.In honor of this fabulous "snack food" I am sharing a recipe for Philly Style Soft Pretzels as part of this month's Progressive Eats dinner.

South Philly Style Soft Pretzels
15 ounces (3 cups) bread flour
1/2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon yeast (active dry)
1.75 teaspoons Kosher salt
1/2 cup food grade lye
Pretzel salt or coarse sea salt

In a mixing bowl (or bowl of a mixer), stir together brown sugar, butter, yeast, 2 cups warm water and half the flour. Add kosher salt and remaining flour and stir just until mixture comes together in a shaggy mass.

Turn out onto counter (or attach dough hook to mixer) and knead for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth and supple. Cut into 12 pieces and let rest 5 minutes.

Roll out each piece into a rope about 22 inches long. (For traditional shape, the ends should be thin and the center fat.) Lift both ends, twist them around each other once, then bring ends back and press them on either side of fat “belly,” at about 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock. Then gently spread out ends of pretzel. Transfer shaped pretzels to an ungreased baking sheet. 

Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes, then refrigerate at least one hour or overnight.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. In a deep bowl, wearing latex gloves, make a solution of 1/2 cup lye and 10 cups water (or 1 part lye to 20 parts water); pour lye carefully into water to avoid splashing. 

Dip each pretzel in solution, turning it over for 10 to 15 seconds, and place back on baking sheet. Sprinkle pretzels with salt. Bake about 15-20 minutes or until deep brown. Remove to a rack and allow to cool.

Welcome to Progressive Eats Pretzel Party, our virtual version of a Progressive Dinner Party.

If you're unfamiliar with the concept, a progressive dinner involves going from house to house, enjoying a different course at each location. With Progressive Eats, a theme is chosen each month, members share recipes suitable for a delicious meal or party, and you can hop from blog to blog to check them out.

We have a core group of 12 bloggers, but we will always need substitutes and if there is enough interest would consider additional groups. To see our upcoming themes and how you can participate, please check out the schedule at Creative Culinary or contact Barb for more information.

Pretzels as an Ingredient

Pretzels from Scratch

Monday, April 25, 2016

Powerhouse Spinach Quinoa Cakes with Dijon Yogurt Dipping Sauce

By: The Food Hunter

Being into health & fitness, I am always looking for new ways to add more protein to my diet. I recently jumped on the quinoa bandwagon and I'll admit I'm loving it. As you may know, quinoa is an ancient grain that contains eight grams of protein per cup and all nine essential amino acids. Eating quinoa before or after a workout is good for energy & muscle repair.

One way I've been enjoying quinoa is combed with baby spinach and Barlean's flax-chia-coconut blend. Formed into patties and lightly fried, this combination is a great way to get an extra nutritional boost. The Barlean's mix not only fuels the body but also supports digestive health and tastes great. Although these healthy quinoa cakes taste great on their own I enjoy them best with a Dijon yogurt dipping sauce.

Powerhouse Spinach Quinoa Cakes with Dijon Yogurt Dipping Sauce

5 ounces chopped baby spinach
1 large egg, beaten
2 tablespoons Barlean's flax-chia-coconut blend
1 cup cooked quinoa
Barlean's Coconut Oil for frying

Heat the coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the spinach, eggs, quinoa and flax chia mix to a medium-size bowl. Mix well and let it sit for a few minutes to blend the flavors.

Form quinoa patties and place in skillet, in batches if necessary. Cook the patties until they’re browned on the outside, 4 to 5 minutes per side, and then flip. Serve warm with Dijon Yogurt Sauce.

Dijon Yogurt Sauce
1/2 cup Stonyfield Greek Yogurt
2 tablesoons Dijon mustard
sat and pepper

Mix ingredients in a small bowl and season with salt & pepper to taste.

  I have an ongoing relationship with Stonyfield as a member of the Clean Plate Club. I receive product, coupons and compensation for posts featuring their products. As always, all opinions are 100% my own

Friday, April 22, 2016

Simple Thymes Cocktail

By: The Food Hunter

Spring in Arizona brings lots of citrus along with sweltering hot weather. Titus Fauntleroy, lead bartender at St. Francis in Phoenix, created the perfect solution. A straightforward cocktail with fresh-squeezed juice and a hint of thyme, The Simple Thymes is a refreshing way to keep cool when things start to heat up outside.

Simple Thymes Cocktail 
(photo by: Shelby Moore)

2 oz Zubrowka Bison Grass Vodka
.75oz  Thyme Simple Syrup
Fresh Grapefruit Juice 

Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Double strain and serve up with a thyme garnish.