Saturday, December 31, 2011

See ya, 2011

Awesome axe kick snagged from this website
I don't think I've ever heard someone say, "Oh, if only this year could last forever," have you? No matter how wonderful your year may have been, it's always time, isn't it, for a new year to begin. 2011 has not been a favorite year for many of us. I heard a commentator say the other night that the theme of 2011 is "When will it ever end?"

Instead of champagne this year, I'm planning on sending off 2011 with an axe kick. Then I may imbibe in some bubbly.

I'll make sure to eat my collard greens and black eyed peas too for a good dose of health and prosperity for 2012.

Happy New Year everyone!

Friday, December 23, 2011

"Fish Friday" Cedar Wrapped Ling Cod

Here's my post on the Char-Broil Live site about cooking Ling Cod in The Big Easy. What I loved about making this dish? It was super fast and delicious. It's also simple. During the slog of holiday dinners, parties, and platters of cheese, it's nice to have a simpler dinner here and there. This dish is heavy on the flavor but light everywhere else.

Read the whole post here (please) and if so inspired, throw me a comment here or on the Char-broil site. I do so love to hear from y'all.

A Practical Wish for the Holidays

My son attended a preschool one year called Nature Kids, housed in the middle of Seattle's largest park, the 534-acre  Discovery Park. The main premise of the preschool was that the kids would go on a hike for most of the day, rain or shine, learning about nature.

The school had all sorts of specially named places they'd hike to: Stick Belong, a place they often gathered large sticks to make a lean-to fort, Owl Logs, a place with fallen trees that could be an instant game of pirate ship, and the Wishing Tree.

The Wishing Tree was my son's favorite. Almost every day, the kids would gallop to one particular tree of many that surrounded an open field and whisper their wish. My son naturally wished for superhero strength, the ability to change into a cheetah, or an invisibility hat he could don to sneak candy whenever he wanted.

One kid, however, wished every time, without fail, for a sandwich. My son reported this to me each time with an incredulous voice, for the boy apparently wished out loud to the Wishing Tree as well.

"But he gets a sandwich!" my son would say, shaking his 4 year old head. "There's a sandwich every day in his lunch!"

The fact that this boy would waste his wish on something so mundane, and on something he'd get within the hour baffled both of us. Even I, a cynical adult, would prefer an invisibility hat to sneak chocolate over a sandwich.

But after a while I got it. The kid was a practical fellow. He wanted his wish to come true.

For those of you that want your wishes to come true this holiday season, I suggest socks. Wish for socks. Sometimes it's better to keep your expectations low and be surprised. After all, they might be really great socks.

For the rest of you...Happy Holidays! May your feasts be plentiful and delicious. May your family be bearable. May it not hurt when you bite your tongue. Do bite it, for the few days you need to. It will make for a far smoother year. May your gifts all fit so that you don't have to enter the post-Christmas fray at the mall, unless you like that sort of thing. May you get amazing socks. May you go easy on the eggnog and be mildly controlled with the chocolate...

And when the din settles down, may you find time to stop, breath and contemplate the new year about to unfold.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

White Winter/Fall Colors

We don't get much snow in Seattle. Most of our "white winter" is an unending white sky. It gets grey plenty too, but today it was that endless white. Here are some images of winter I took today, walking to the post office, contrasted by some fall pictures I took last month. We had a glorious fall, due to incredible blue sky, crisp sunshine days.

I played with the highlights with this one.

What a contrast to the fall...

My son is saying, "Come on, mom!"

My favorite of the fall pics. I have a cheap little point and shoot camera. It's woefully inadequate for a food blog, but it fits in my pocket and helps me capture my kids and fall leaves and stark trees.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Holiday Store is Open!

We've come up with a host of barbecue stocking stuffers this year. Back by popular demand is the BBQ Soap. An olive oil soap, it's scented with sandalwood and hickory, "For when you want to smell fresh out of the smoker!" TM. Also this year we have the Pitmaster's Blend coffee for sale. Truth be told, it is the Tango Blend by Cafe Mam, but we've renamed it Pitmaster's Blend because it's what our pitmaster, Eric, drinks by the gallon. We think it is the best coffee on earth.                 
As always, we sell our spice rub, smoked peppers, sauce gift packs, and signed copies of She-Smoke! We have a new T-shirt design! Big, bold, Ballard. Get 'em while they're hot. Here is one of our cooks, "Falcon", modeling the new T.
Check back to the blog soon as I'll be unveiling a really cool giveaway for the holidays!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Deep Fried Turkey, Hold the Deep Fry

The "Oil-less Turkey Fryer" from Char-Broil arrived just in time for me to test before Thanksgiving. I am one of their bloggers this year on Char-broil live in exchange for a few goodies like this. The products are for me to use or give away. If I want to review them, I can, but without any strings attached. But first, some back story....

I've been intrigued by this little unit for a few years now, having competed on one in a Barbecue Smackdown at Memphis in May in 2010. I'd always wanted to go to MIM, so when Char-Broil invited me to be a guest chef for some fun demos and competitions with some other barbecue personalities, I jumped at the chance.

I'd never touched one before I was thrown into a celebrity grilling competition, and had to learn quickly how to operate it while at the same time realizing that everyone else was cheating wildly, pulling bacon and other ingredients out of their pockets.

Luckily, The Big Easy, as it's called, is really easy to operate. Turn on gas, turn igniter switch and you are good to go. I didn't win the competition, but it was a blast. Next time I'll stuff my pockets with bacon. It was nice to get to know this cooker at home, without the pressure of TV cameras on me.

I decided to make a simple "deep fried turkey", according to the recipe provided in the packaging booklet. I rubbed a 14 lb turkey with peanut oil, and then sprinkled on a rub I made by mixing two commercial rubs together plus some thyme. I didn't need to get finicky about the rub as this was my maiden voyage. It was more about testing the tenderness, the skin, and the cook time than any specific flavors.

First I seasoned the little guy (the grill, not the bird) with vegetable oil, per the instruction booklet. By the way, my preferred oil rag for grills is a clean old sock of Eric's that has finally shredded. I can get an old sock oily, dirty, and then throw it in the compost with a clear conscience that I've both reused an old thing and diverted it from a landfill. We always seem to have a steady supply of tube socks in the process of biting the dust. Eric will try to wear the torn, holey socks out of the rag drawer, so I have to actually rip them to the point that they no longer hold a foot. But I digress....

Here are my comments on The Big Easy:

I cooked my turkey for 4 hours, about 30 minutes too long because the kids were in the bath and I couldn't go out and get it. It came out beautiful, but on the edge of too done. The booklet math recommendation came out to 3.5 hours so it was correct.

The skin: The skin is definitely the highlight of this turkey and cooking method. It was all I could do not to pick the bird bald. Crispy, fried but not oily, and a deep amber color...perfect.

The flavor: I didn't brine the turkey and wish I had. It was a little bland beyond the skin layer.

The texture: This time of year we are up to our necks in turkey at Pete's, so I'm used to the smooth, almost delicate texture of a smoked turkey. The texture was a little tougher, but I attribute this to my overcooking.

Sturdiness and other comments about the cooker itself: I like the basket and little handle lifty thing that comes with. You simply load the basket and drop it down. It was solid enough and sat level, yet once assembled I could carry it out the door and down the steps to the front yard. It was easy to set up and easy to clean.

What I did NOT like: It cooks totally open - you only use the mesh lid at the end, meaning you have this really hot burning thing right at kid level. And by kid level, I mean right exactly at the height and spot a 2-5 year old would stick their hands on or in. It made me very nervous. I got so nervous bringing my almost 3 yr old widely around it that she nearly tripped, out of transferred nervousness, into the burning hot center.

I've come up with a solution. Char-broil should include cones and caution tape with the packaging to section off the grill. And maybe a few English traffic cops to stand around it to make sure no one gets too close to the flame.

Final comments: I like it. I'm keeping it vs giving it away. I wish it came with a lid or cover because the very first night I left it out and of course it rained. I recall the ones we used in the competition had lids, and grill inserts so maybe these are extras one can order.

I'll use it again, though it will most likely be on a less frequent rotation than other grills, due to the open flame/small child issue. I want to try it with a brined turkey. The booklet has some recipes with injections, but no brines.

As for my opinion on injections, I think I've already answered that poetically.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Barbecue Soap Curing

The barbecue soap is unmolded and cut. It will be ready for sale and to ship by December 5th, just in time for the holidays.

I've been making this soap for stocking stuffers since we opened Smokin' Pete's. It's scented with hickory and sandalwood, and is a classic Castille soap recipe (mostly an olive oil base, with some coconut and palm oil). No, I did not render the brisket fat to make it! I used to make soap and bath products with a friend. For a brief while we sold it at crafts fairs and farmer's markets.

The last two years, I've either not made it or made very little, but I've had so many requests this year I made sure to make two big batches.

The only change this year is to the packaging: instead of the tag line "For the manly man that wants to smell fresh out of the smoker!", it will say "For when you want to smell fresh out of the smoker!"

I've always struggled with that line. It always got a lot of laughs, and I liked the rhythm of it, but I didn't like that it was only geared toward men. In honor of the spirit of She-Smoke, I decided to make the packaging equitable for all. Here is what the packaging looks like, but with the "old" line.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's Here! My New Oil-less Turkey Fryer

It's called The Big Easy and Char-Broil claims is has all the taste of a fried turkey, without the oil, mess and imminent backyard explosions we hear about every year on Thanksgiving.

I'm intrigued. I've always been too chicken to fry a turkey (heh heh), and therefore the perfect candidate to try out a gas powered oil-less unit.

First I'll need to assemble and season the little guy. I've bought a 14+ pound Northwest Natural turkey and am planning to try the first recipe in the Charbroil booklet they send. It's very simple - 1 turkey, peanut oil, and herb seasoning of your choice.

How many of you have deep fried a turkey? How many have tried The Big Easy? If you've tried both, please share your comparison in the comments.

Monday, November 14, 2011

7 Do's/Don'ts When Smoking Turkey

Turkey time is a favorite part of the year for me. For one, Thanksgiving dinner is my favorite meal. When asked what I'd choose if stranded on a deserted island, with only one food choice, I say Thanksgiving dinner. Then I'm told that's not fair, I must choose one food, like a mango, to which I reply, that's ridiculous, no one could live off one food, nutritionally, and I stick to my guns. Definitely Thanksgiving dinner with turkey, stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, and gravy...lots and lots of gravy.

I love the hustle and bustle of this week at the restaurant, and I know all of you are making plans, calling relatives and friends, and divvying up the menu. Are you are asked each year to bring a special dish that everyone loves? Is there a dish someone always brings that, oh god, makes everyone silently groan?

If you are on turkey duty, here are some tips for smoking your turkey.

#1 DO start with, if possible, a fresh bird. Fresh birds were slaughtered this season. When you buy a frozen bird, it could very well have been left over from the year before.

#2 DO buy a natural turkey that has not been pumped with any solution. You are going to brine your turkey, so you'll want your turkey free of additives.

#3 DO brine your turkey before smoking. Give at minimum of one hour of brine per pound of your turkey. Usually one day in the brine is best. This will keep your bird juicy during the smoking process. See my post above all about brines.

#4 DON'T get too fancy with your brine. Strong brines, like beer or wine brines, are best for red meat. I find a simple salt brine or citrus brine is best for turkey.

#5 DO rub turkey with olive oil or butter before you add a spice rub. This will help combat the somewhat rubbery skin that can occur from slow and low cooking.

#6 DON'T stuff your smoked turkey. Stuffing lowers the center temperature of the turkey. Because of the low temps for smoking (180-220), stuffing won't allow the bird to get up to a proper safe internal temperature. I'll discuss the stuffing conundrum in my next post.

#7 DO remind your guests, in particular your mother, that smoking causes the meat to turn pink. It's a different pink than a turkey that is undercooked. Undercooked turkeys are pink in the center, closest to the bone. Smoked turkeys are pink throughout.

Those are just a few tips dealing with the very beginning and the very end of smoking one's turkey. I'll discuss the middle part, the cooking part, in my next posts this week.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Brining the Bird 101 (Repost)

This is a repost from a Thanksgiving series I did in 2009. I won't repost the entire series, but brining your turkey before smoking is both essential and simple. Without further ado....
For Turkey Week today the Barbecue 101 class is about BRINES.

What is brine? It is a combination of water or other liquids, with salt and often sugar. Brines add flavor and more importantly, moisture to the meat.

How does it work? For a brine to do it's magic, it must a) fully cover the meat and b) be saltier than the meat itself. The meat draws in the salt, and the liquid with it, to equalize the salt ratio. It makes sense, when you think about it. There aren't "salty spots" in an ocean, or "almost fresh water" areas. Salt water is salt water. I know there is a scientific answer for this, but it's late while I'm writing and I don't want to get on an oceanography google fest tangent. If any of you want to chime in, please do.

What goes into a brine? Water and salt are all you really need, but it's fun to add other flavors. A large turkey isn't going to take on much flavor inside the meat from a rub. That will remain on the skin, or just under as we will discuss in the Thursday recipe. A brine is an excellent way to infuse other flavors into your turkey. Sugar and vinegars are popular. So is beer or other alcohols. I like these on large cuts of pork or beef, but find they overpower turkey.

I get surprisingly traditional at holiday time. I just can't teriyaki my turkey. I love the simple flavors of citrus, garlic, and herbs. Below is a variation of the Citrus and Clove Brine featured in She-Smoke (pg. 63). For examples of other brine recipes, click here. My turkey was pretty big for smoking (14lbs), and I used a 5-gallon bucket so I made a brine batch and a half. If you fill a large plastic bag with your brine and turkey, you can make less brine solution.

Holiday Turkey Brine

2 gallons water
2 cups kosher salt
3 tbls. pepper corns plus 1 tbls. ground pepper
1 red onion, cut into wedges
1 orange, cut into wedges
1/2 grapefruit, cut into wedges
1 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
5 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves

As a general rule, you need to submerge a turkey an hour for every pound, for a maximum of 48 hours. Too long in the brine and the meat can get mushy. Once brining is done, rinse the turkey and pat it dry with paper towels before adding your rub and cooking. The Thursday recipe will cover preparing and smoking a turkey.

Any questions, class? Please post them in the comments so that everyone can benefit from the discussion.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Stuffed Turkey Breast with Orange-Maple Glaze

Whether you want a new turkey breast recipe for a weekday dinner, or have a smaller gathering at Thanksgiving this year, here is a post I hope you'll like that I wrote for Char-broil Live.

The other day a friend of mine bemoaned the fact that she would be having a quiet Thanksgiving this year. She loves turkey dinner with all the trimmings but the thought of “all that work” just for two, and having to process most of the turkey for the freezer, was making her rethink the menu. She wasn’t fishing for an invite. In fact, she was looking forward to her first quiet Thanksgiving in her 42 years.

Read the rest of the post and recipe HERE!

I'll be posting more about turkey and some trimmings this month. If anyone has questions they'd like answered, please e-mail me at julierbq at q dot com and I'll put it on the list to discuss this month!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween Contest

I love Halloween, so here's a little contest. Post your own ghost story in the comments of my Smokin' Pete's BBQ ghost story (previous post), and be entered to win a copy of my book, She-Smoke. Here are the rules: 1) It has to be "real": It can be a local ghost story, one you've heard from a friend or read from a non-fiction book, or it can be your own experience. 2) Comment must be posted by 11:59, Halloween.

That's it! You do not have to believe in ghosts to participate :).

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Spooked by the Smokin' Pete's Ghost

The other night I was working late on a Monday. We recently decided to be closed on Mondays during the fall and winter, to give ourselves and the business a break. I find I love to work in the peace and quiet.

Only the other night, it wasn't at all quiet.

If you've visited our restaurant, you may have seen the sign above on the green bathroom.

That sticker was there before we opened. It was put there while it was a butcher shop and there are a number of supposed sightings of a ghost, or ghosts, in the building.

One worker from the Butcher Shoppe days told me he saw a short man with a black hat standing with his horse in what is now our dining room. A ghost horse? I recall smirking when I first heard it.

Another story goes that after one of the past owner's father died, the green bathroom kept getting locked...from the inside. Hence the sticker.

I've never liked working at night alone at Smokin' Pete's. It's in part because of the stories, and in part because old buildings make noises, but also because of something else. Something not super scary or menacing, but definitely something more.

I heard that something the other night. I was in the bathroom when something, or someone BANGED the door. Hard. It jolted me out of my end of the day brain drain, and immediately all senses went to high alert. This wasn't a door creaking from a sudden gust of wind. The bang I heard was so hard and definite that the door shook, echoing for a few moments after.

"Hello? Who's there!" I called, quickly gathering up my things.


I was outta there faster than you could say "I AM NOT AFRAID."

Don't worry. I've never heard or seen hide nor hair of any ghosts during business hours. But whomever is there likes the place to themselves once the open sign is turned off and the dishes are done.

I understand. Maybe we, me and the ghost that is, can find a way to share the lovely silence on Mondays. Since this Monday is Halloween, I might skip it and work on my ghost personnel issues later.

Have any of your own ghost stories you'd care to share?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Scrap Pile Chili

You may not generate a barbecue scrap pile like a restaurant, but for those of you dedicated to firing up the coals no matter what the weather, you probably have more than a few bags of zipped up meat scraps in the freezer.

What better time of year than to make a big ol' pot of chili from the scraps to garrison your insides from the coming cold?

I love using barbecue leftovers in dishes. All that love and smoke brings an extra layer of flavor. I've featured a number of barbecue leftovers like this barbecue lasagna or a yummy brisket dip. Barbecue tacos are also standard fare in our house.

Today I give you my recipe for Scrap Pile Chili. It doesn't sound pretty, but it tastes so good.

If you've read my blog for any length of time, you know I encourage deviation from all recipes and using what you have, so feel free to tinker.

You'll notice that the ingredients sound like someone was cleaning out the fridge. I was. Much like my Uncle Jack's Clean Out the Fridge Barbecue Sauce. What can I say? I'm a multitasker.

Scrap Pile Chili

Canola oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 fresh jalapenos, seeded, finely diced (*Gloves highly recommended)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup mix of cumin, kosher salt, chili powder, paprika, chili flakes & black pepper
1/4 cup chopped bacon
3 cups mixed barbecue scraps, cubed. Be sure to trim obvious chunks of fat off, but not all of it.
      I used a mix of brisket, pulled pork & chopped up hot links
1 cup salsa mixed with 2-3 cups water (more as needed)

2 cups pinto beans, pre-cooked: I used leftover beans which were fully flavored and spiced. If using canned beans, which you should for this recipe since it's a quick chili, not a proper stew-all-day-chili, bump up the mustard and brown sugar quantities below.
1/2 bottle of mustard
1/2 cup brown sugar

Heat oil to medium high and add onion. Stir until starting to turn clear and add garlic, bell peppers, jalapeno & bacon.

Once bacon begins to brown, add spice mix and meat scraps. Reduce heat to medium.

When meat is fully hot, add salsa, water, beans, mustard and brown sugar. After 30-40 minutes, reduce heat to low.

Simmer for at least an hour, adding water and more salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with sour cream & green onion.

*A note about chopping fresh jalapenos or any fresh peppers. The juices, and in particular, the seeds, carry the most heat. Be very careful when handling and I highly recommend using disposable gloves. After you remove your gloves, still wash your hands thoroughly in hot soapy water.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Little Gordon Ramsay

A few nights ago, I planned to bang out dinner and a blog post while I was at it. The kids waited (im)patiently as I photographed their dinner from 12 different angles. Done, I thought. I'll post the recipe tonight after the kids go to bed.

Unfortunately, dinner didn't have that WOW factor you want in a recipe.

"I'll have to redo this, with some tweaks," I said, after a few bites.

My 5 year old son was a little less forgiving.

"You should do the OPPOSITE of what you did on this dinner."


My son often critiques his meals. We get a daily report card on his lunch. A half sandwich and orange slices don't made the grade. There has to be something special, another layer, to make it memorable. Some fruit leather, or an item not in the usual rotation, like the homemade chicken nuggets I packed today.

Don't get me wrong, he gives us plenty of thumbs ups and "best dinner EVER!" comments. Nor is he what I would call a picky eater. Compared to kids his age, his pallet is wide. You should see him scarf down eel at the sushi bar.

He's discerning, though. He can tell if the cooks at our restaurant put too much pepper in the mac-n-cheese...and he'll tattle on them. He knows when I've tried to sneak in zucchini in the marinara sauce, a vegetable not on his approved list. Overall, the kid's pallet is good. And when he says dinner doesn't cut the mustard, well, he's usually right.

My own little Gordon Ramsay.

So it's back to the drawing board. I'll let you know when I've worked out the kinks, so to speak.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Smokin' a Fatty

We of the barbecue religion love our double entendres, puns, and new ways to slip pork butt into a punchline. Just look at the KCBS roll call - it'll make you smile. The Fatty is no different. It's a standard smoked sausage roll that, I suppose if you've guzzled enough tall boy PBR's, looks like a giant spliff on the grill.

Whatever the name, they are tasty. In looking through recipes from the past two years, I noticed I've been remiss in devoting a diversion for this dish delish.

The concept is simple: Make a sausage roll, wrap it in bacon, sprinkle some rub on it and smoke it. Whether you stuff it with something, what you mix in with your sausage, and what rub you choose generates endless variations, and where the creator can make her mark.

Stuffed Italian Fatty Recipe
1 lb mild Italian sausage, uncased (if using plain sausage, herb it up with some dried oregano, basil & rosemary).
3 oz Queso Fresco (may substitute grated mozzarella)
4 Tbs. tomato sauce
10-14 slices good quality bacon (regular thickness)
Rub of your choice (I made one of paprika, black pepper, ground red pepper, garlic salt, dried basil)
Wax paper or plastic wrap

1) On a flat surface or flat edged cookie sheet, lay a sheet of plastic wrap or wax paper.

2) Roll out sausage, either with hands, or put another sheet on top and roll out with dough pin.
3) Down center crumble the Queso and spoon a strip of tomato sauce.
4) Roll both sides into the center and smooth sausage together. Pinch ends closed. Set aside on plastic or wax paper.
5) Using another sheet of plastic or wax paper, lay out 4-6 strips of bacon in a row, touching. Weave 4-6 strips in a lattice like you would a pie.

6) Place sausage roll on one end and roll lattice over it, using the paper to roll it. Use 2 more strips to lay over the ends, or pinch any lattice overhang to seal sides.
7) Sprinkle with rub of your choice.

8) Fire up your grill and get your smoke on. Smoke indirectly from the flame at 250 degrees for approximately 2 & 1/2 hours. Pull when internal temperature reads 160 degrees.

Let it rest for at least 5 minutes. Slice and serve as a meal or as a tasty appetizer. Excellent cold or reheated the next day.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Smoked Babyack Ribs with Fresh Currant Chutney Glaze

I'm thrilled to be a part of the Char-broil All-Star Bloggers this year. Today they put up my first post, a recipe for smoked babybacks glazed with a sauce using fresh currants. Here is how it begins....

Gorgeous fresh currants at my grocery store drew me in like a kid to a candy store. I realized I’d never seen fresh currants, and they reminded me of huckleberries, a berry I’m quite fond of. I knew I had to make a sauce with them and who knows what else, so I bought a flat...

Read the rest of the post here.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

We need one more day! Smokin' Pete's back open on Friday

Eric was right. There. I said it. When we decided to close for two days to deep clean and reorganize a bit, all was fine. When I said, "Yeah, but the floor really needs to be repainted," Eric replied,
                 "You're crazy. I'll have no part in it."

I'm a bit of a picker. If I see a little paint chipping off, it's a struggle not to pick it. So I rented a giant shot blaster machine and boy, let me tell you, that thing picked the whole floor off!

So we need another day for the paint to dry.

My fault. See you Friday. Could you not wear high heels? Maybe socks. Or those booties real estate agents give you when entering a house for sale. No?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Recipe: Huckleberry Pie

The huckleberries were late this year. So late it's practically fall for a berry that is usually long gone before school starts. I know in the past they've been ripe by the end of June because Eric made a huckleberry tart for my aunt's funeral.

We camped at the end of June and there was hardly a speck of green buds pushing their way out from under the leaves.

July we were slammed with catering and had family visiting from out of town. No chance for berry picking.

"We've missed them for sure," I told Eric when we ran up to Index, WA for a quick overnight camping trip.

But there they were. Red, juicy, and though not as bountiful as last year, plenty enough for a pie and some left over for the freezer, to top cereal and ice cream later.

The kids helped make the pie.

The recipe is simple. If you've read my book or this blog, you know I like simple.

The Filling:
3 1/2 cups huckleberries
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoon corn starch
Mix the sugar and cornstarch together, then carefully coat the berries with it, as huckleberries are more delicate than most berries.

For the pie crust, try my mom's recipe, which is in my book, or use your favorite crust recipe

Mom's Pie Crust
2 cups all-purpous flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
2/3 cup chilled unsalted butter
2 tablespoons shortening
1/4 cup ice water

Mix the dry ingredients together. Cut up the cold butter and shortening with a fork into the flour until it looks like cornmeal. Incorporate ice water a little bit at a time until you can gently form a ball with floured hands. Divide into two balls.

On a floured surface, roll out the first ball to about 1/4 inch thick. Transfer to pie pan. Pat in the dough and prick it in a few places. Pour in filling. Roll out next ball and cut into strips to make a lattice on top. Crimp bottom and top together.

Brush with egg wash and bake in a preheated 425 degree oven until juices are bubbling, about 55 minutes.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Fancy 'Cue: Some wedding shots of the summer

If company picnics in the park are our catering bread and butter, weddings are our dessert. They take much more time, planning, and work, but it's magical to be a part of one of the most memorable days of a person's life.

One of these days, I'll kick off the Smokin' Pete's blog, but until then, I'll share some shots of the summer beyond ribs, brisket and pulled pork. Well, maybe I'll sneak a few of those in too, but here are some of the salads and appetizers we do.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Recipe: Summer Grilled Beef Salad

In honor of the last week of summer, I thought I'd post a favorite dish of mine. I love fresh summer salads, slightly wilted by delicious grilled meats. I made this Marinated Grilled Beef Salad in under 10 minutes, start to finish. Not only is this a fast meal to make when you are out playing late, like you should be, it's light for hot nights and healthy.

I don't usually buy packaged products or already marinated meats, but these boneless Hawaiian style beef short ribs from Trader Joes caught my eye. My first thought was "boneless short ribs, why?", but when I picked up the package I noticed something: the ingredient list was short and all normal food items. No five syllable additives, no high fructose corn syrup. In fact, the marinade sounded like something I'd make.
Sure, it's almost just as easy to marinate the meat yourself with the same 5-6 ingredients on the package, but like I said, we were out late playing in the sunshine. This seemed like a perfect comprimise.

My hunch is that this meat wasn't really from the short ribs, much like "Boneless Country Ribs" aren't really ribs. But the texture, marbling and grain seemed similar at least. I'll have to talk to a butcher and get back to you on that.

I made my charcoal fire good and hot, a two-layer fire with the grill grate close to flames. You can of course grill these with a fully preheated gas grill.

Grill the ribs on high heat, 2 minutes per side approximately, then let the meat rest while you make the salad. The beef came out tender, with a light sweetness from the marinade and, most importantly, not overly salty. So often commercial rubs and marinates are loaded with salt, but these came out nicely balanced.

The salad is simple: Arugula greens with broccoli slaw mix in a light sesame-soy dressing. Again, I make this classic dressing at home, but today for speed and ease, Mr. Paul Newman made it for me. What a guy.

Cut the beef against the grain, diagonally and toss. Mmmm, and not a speck of guilt.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Camp Bacon

Seattle's Child Article by Rebekah Denn

Wow. I realize this published in JUNE for the 4th of JULY issue of Seattle's Child, and it is now the end of AUGUST, but I just read Rebekah Denn's interview with me, so I'm sharing it now. I actually thought it didn't get published, and was too shy to ask why it didn't, but see now I was merely too buried in pork and brisket to find the article.

If you live in Seattle, you know Ms Denn. She is one of those writers that has her finger on the pulse of the Foodieville. She is one of the Big Girls in the Northwest and she does it all with a toddler in tow. We talked and e-mailed about the challenges of balancing family and work and neither of us came up with an answer. Sorry.

I guess we all have to roll with it. We also talked about giving yourself a break when you are trying to be a super barbecue mama. If you want charcoal, cook with charcoal. If you need dinner RIGHT NOW because the kids are so hungry they're spinning out of control and are mixing the entire bin of Leggos in the bathtub with a bottle of Molasses they somehow snuck out of the cupboard...go with gas.

Read more about our conversation here.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Smokin' Pete's BBQ voted Best BBQ by Seattle Weekly

Just coming up for air from a busy busy catering summer to spread the good news: Smokin' Pete's was voted Best BBQ by the Seattle Weekly.

Read the whole scoop here.

In other restaurant news, we are part of the group. Check out their website for all the best Ballard has to offer. Every Tuesday, there are special events during the summer.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Grilling Master Classes at University Farmer's Market this Saturday

I'm really excited to be a part of this event. Come this Saturday for a day celebrating local, farm-direct meats and produce on the grill. Here is the press release. I'm going to be demonstrating with some amazing folks (and I love the title they've given me: "Master She-Griller" I want that on a button):

Grilling With the Masters at U-District Farmers Market

When: Saturday, July 2 9:30 – 1:30 pm

Where: University District Farmers Market (located outdoors at University Heights Center on the corner of University Way and NE 50th)

Celebrate the coming of summer and barbecue season – and watch FREE master chef and producer classes all day long at the market!

The U-District Farmers Market is chock full of farmers and ranchers who raise/produce some of the best meats, poultry and salmon available anywhere in Seattle – all of it local, sustainable and delicious.

On Saturday, July 2, market shoppers can watch fun, expert demos on filleting fish, cutting meat, how to make the perfect hamburger, how to cut a whole chicken, tips on the best types of meat (beef, pork and lamb) for your barbecue...and how to grill it all to perfection.

The Master Line-up:

Becky Selengut, chef and author of Good Fish and the Cornucopiacuisine blog will show shoppers her secret to preparing the perfect fillet of fish. Becky will sign copies of her book which features sustainable seafood recipes from the Pacific coast.
Master butcher, Doreen Nelson, of Smokey Ridge Meats (Chewelah) will be on hand to explain and de-mystify fresh cuts of lamb, pork and beef for the grill and how to get the most value out of cheaper cuts of meat.

Farmer Janelle Stokesberry (Stokesberry Sustainable Farm) is an expert on all things chicken and loves to teach home cooks how to make the most out of every part of the bird. Learn how to cut, quarter and grill a whole chicken.

Farmers Eiko and George Vojkovich (Skagit River Ranch) will be on hand to show folks how to make and grill the perfect hamburger.
Julie Reinhardt, local author of She-Smoke, will be the Master She-Griller, demonstating in-person her mastery of the art of perfect barbecue. Julie is co-owner of Smokin’ Pete’s BBQ in Ballard.
Lissa James of Hama Hama Oyster Company will be on hand to show off her excellent fresh oysters and best ways to grill.
And vegetarians should know that recipes and great grilling tips for veggies and seasonal fruits will also be available.
9:30 – 10:30 am How to Fillet a Fish and Great Grilling Ideas for Fish Becky Selengut

10:30 – 11:00 How to Grill the Perfect Burger Eiko and George Vojkovich – Skagit River Ranch
11:15 – 11:45 How to Cut-up and Truss a Whole Chicken Janelle Stokesberry – Stokesberry Sustainble Farm

12:00 – 12:30 pm Perfect Cuts for Your Grill Doreen Nelson – Smokey Ridge Meats

12:45 – 1:15 Grilling Oysters Lissa James- Hama Hama Oysters

Master She-Griller Julie Reinhardt will be on hand to oversee the grilling and offer expert insider advice all day long!
The University District Farmers Market is open every Saturday, year-round (rain or shine) outdoors at University Heights Center on the corner of University Way NE (the “ave”) and NE 50th. Hours are 9 am – 2 pm.

For more information contact the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance at 206 632-5234 or go to:

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pacific NW Eggfest

I had a ball at the 6th Annual (my 2nd) Pacific NW Eggfest on June 11. I went with a single item - Kalbi Beef Short Ribs, served with rice made on my Egg. Eric cut the ribs for me on the bandsaw in our walk-in at Pete's, so they were thick and meaty. The ribs marinated for a day. They could have used another day, due to their size, but I had plenty of compliments, including "These are the best short ribs I've ever had." I'll take that.

My two neighbors were Egg-o-matic machines. Every time I looked over, they were coming out with a new dish. I think I might have to step up my game next year and at least add a breakfast or dessert item like these: apple crisp, giant pancakes, and my tent buddie's Planked Twinkie Chocolate Marshmallow Bonanza thingy.

For those of you that haven't been to an Eggfest, it is a meeting of Eggheads, cooking on Eggs. In this case it was open to the public for the purpose of selling Eggs. Folks could purchase the grills we cooked on, at a discount. A good deal when you figure we helped season their grill for them.

Brian from Left Hand Smoke was there again, representing the PNWBA, as were the Butt Rub folks. -Brian brought some tasty home-cured bacon, and the Butt Rub dude is shown here with a mouthful of his own biscuits and gravy.
 And the bonus? It's held right across the street from IKEA, so I was able to pick up a few more platters for the shop, along with a giant wheel of Skandinavian cheese and five other things I did not need.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Eggnest in honor of the Eggfest 2011

For the second year in a row, I cooked at the Pacific NW Eggfest. The week prior, Eric made our Big Green Egg a perfect nest.
This old fire pit came with our house and used to have a wishing well roof. It would have needed a lot to make it a working grill, though it does have an ash/access door, but the Egg fits just perfectly in it.

I'd always worried that someone might roll off with our Egg. I know that's silly. The thought of a drug addict rolling a Big Green Egg into a pawn shop is comical. But our neighborhood has had issues with theft. It's getting better, but we've had many things disappear from our yard. Eric knows my paranoia so he made this protective nest as a surprise.

It's the little things, or in this case, the really big heavy things, that keep a marriage fresh.