Light the Grill....Crack a Beer....Crank the Tunes

Light the Grill....Crack a Beer....Crank the Tunes

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Indiana-Style Stromboli/Upland Campside IPA/Freedom Hawk "Into Your Mind"

Not going to lie, ordering a Stromboli for the first time from a Pizza King down here, we were not prepared for what was eventually placed down in front of us. The strombolis we knew were the tubular cousin of the calzone; pizza toppings encased in pizza dough and baked into a puffy stuffed baguette-looking thing.  Down here the pizza toppings are served on a sub roll, more like a grinder. You know what? It was so friggin delicious, we had to recreate it. The key is the sausage, which at Pizza King, is about as granular as fine sawdust. You need this for consistency purposes as it just totally blends into the sauce and cheese that gets added to the saute pan, but also for neatness. You can just press the sausage filling into the bread and that stuff is not going anywhere.  A sprinkling of grilled onions and peppers and a shot of Italian hoagie dressing are the final pieces to this delicacy.  For the beer, this Indiana staple needed a local beer, so once again Upland Brewing was the brewery of choice, specifically their session Campside IPA.  On the stereo one of the year's most highly anticipated albums from one of our favorite all time bands, Virginia Beach's Freedom Hawk's "Into Your Mind" was cranked up nice and loud.

Indiana-Style Stromboli -  Let's start off with the onions and peppers.  Thinly sliced green and red peppers and white onions to be exact.  We hit these up with red pepper flakes and olive oil then toss well to coat.

Next up we get a medium flame going on the grill and toss the marinated veggies onto a grill pan.  Not looking to go too crazy with these, just until they are softened and blackened in some spots before we remove from the heat.

Keep the veggies warm as we turn our attention to the sausage.  We toss a pound of bulk Italian sausage into a saute pan on medium heat.  Using a spatula, constantly break up the meat as it starts to brown and what you'll eventually end up with is a fine crumble.

To the sausage we add a spicy pizza sauce and mix well to combine.

The final addition to the pan is a few slices of mozzarella across the top of the meat and sauce mixture.  Cover the pan, reduce the heat and allow the cheese to melt.

For the bread we are using a take and bake baguette that we slice open while still warm.  On the top half we add some Italian sub dressing.

Time to build.  We take a few heaping scoops of the sausage mixture and press it into the bottom of the bread, followed by the grilled peppers and onions.

Top with the other half of bread and serve with cold beer.  Indiana may proclaim the tenderloin as their trademark sandwich, but for our money, the stromboli is where its at.

Upland Campside Session IPA  - Yet another beer from Indiana's Upland Brewing, and this Campside session IPA may be the best of the bunch.  The beer pours a cloudy pale yellow with a frothy light head. The aroma is wonderfully tropical and hoppy. The mouthfeel is super light, but don't let that fool you, hoppy goodness abounds from the very first sips. At first bitter, then palate cleansing before finally finishing with a peach-like sweetness. It's the epitome of easy-drinking while still being super full flavored.  It was just light enough to wash down the sandwiches with more than enough hoppiness to deal with the spice of the filling.

Freedom Hawk "Into Your Mind" -  This release has been on our calendar for awhile, ever since the release date was made known, actually.  Freedom Hawk makes it onto the very short list of bands that you can put all of their albums on shuffle and not hear a single song that is less than killer.  Without giving too much away, you can add their latest "Into Your Mind" into that mix and the band is still batting a thousand.  With a sound that we can only describe as Skate Park Black Sabbath, the band grooves, funks, and slams its way through 10 blistering tracks with the addicting helium-lunged vocals of singer/guitarist T.R. Morton putting the stamp on the band's trademark sound.  The blistering-est of them all is the road-ready opener "Blood Red Sky" featuring one hell of a riff and a bass line that would make Steve Harris proud.  Toss in some amazing drum work and you can see right from the get go how this trio is firing on all cylinders.  Possibly the best track on the album is "Journey Home" which is another groove fest highlighted by amazing vocals and also featuring a really cool guitar solo.  The tune transitions seamlessly into "Lost in Space" and as the name implies, the track does start out a little space-like with its atmospheric guitar work.  That sound gradually builds into a medium- paced rocker before ending as a full-fledged jam.   "On Your Knees" features a little early 70s bluesy rock swagger thanks to the cool little guitar riff that is featured throughout.   Taking their foot off the collective gas pedal for a track, "Waterfall" allows the engines to cool a bit on this funky yet trippy tune.  Well, until the end of tune that is when the band does what it does best and blows the doors off the joint.   The dark, desert-y "Beyond Our Reach" is made for the Palm Desert roads…at night…in 100 degree heat…in a convertible.  Speaking of desert, the title track starts out as a modern day Doors tune, complete with Morton's best Morrison's impersonation.  It's as psychedelic as it is bluesy before it gets Freedom Hawked into yet another catchy, driving tune.   The down tuned "The Line" delves into some darker territory as well.  The album closes with "All Because of You" and features some cool interplay between the guitar and vocals on this upbeat, summer driving tune.  "Into Your Mind" fits perfectly into the band's discography, keeping things fresh without changing the sound that makes them such a great rock and roll band.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Brown Sugared Pimiento Cheese Stuffed Jalapeño Poppers/Upland Brewing Helios Pale Ale/Low Torque "Croatoan"

Pimiento cheese, so delicious on its own with crackers, but also an amazing ingredient as well.  Tonight we had the wacky idea of using this delicious cheese spread to stuff large seeded jalapeño peppers that are then tightly wrapped in brown sugar rubbed bacon.  We were all set to smoke these, but a hurricane-worthy deluge forced us to bake these until the bacon is crisp then serve them up hot with warmed raspberry jelly for a light glaze.  For the beer, we went back yet again to the local Upland Brewing, throwing back a few of their Helios pale ales with these grilled apps.  On the speakers was the latest from Portugal's Low Torgue, "Crotoan".

Brown Sugared Pimiento Cheese Stuffed Jalapeño Poppers -  Before we get to the peppers, we get to work on the bacon.  We're using thick smoked bacon from the butcher then we liberally sprinkle light brown sugar all over the bacon and press it into the meat.

Next up are the peppers.  We slice in half then core and seed.

Now we take a heaping spoon of pimiento cheese and place it into the hollowed out peppers.

Time to wrap.  Lay a strip of brown sugar bacon down and start at the tip of the pepper, tightly wrap the pepper until the bacon winds up at the stem.

To the oven we go with these, a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes to be exact.

As the poppers are baking, we toss a jar of raspberry jelly into a small saucepan until melted.

At the end of the baking time, the bacon on the peppers will be crisp and browned.  Remove from the baking sheet.

All that is left to do is brush the raspberry jelly on the poppers and serve.   When we think of the term of "sweet heat", this is exactly what we think of.  Add to that the rich and cheesy goodness of pimento cheese that oozes out of each bite, and you've got quite the flavor trinity with this app.

Upland Brewing Helios Pale Ale -  We've featured Indy's Upland brewing ALOT here in the last month or so since we've been down here.  Tonight it was time for the Helios Pale Ale to take center stage.   The beer pours a cloudy yellow pour with a quickly dissipating frothy head. The aroma is fairly faint picking up just a little citrus. The flavor is of crisp tangerine with a bitter hop bite and a little malty sweetness to balance everything out nicely. This is a very crisp, summery easy drinking ale. It was an excellent choice to pair with the spicy and sweet peppers.

Low Torque "Croatoan" -  Muscle car gassed up? Cooler of beer in the backseat? Time to just drive the nation's highways? We've got just the album for you. The latest release from Portugal's Low Torque combines the best of Soundgarden's grunge, with American Pearl's sleaze and Black Stone Cherry's heavy soulful blues. The album opens with the road burning "Sasquatch". It is heavy boogie delivered at a frenetic pace and should come with a warning that the band cannot be held responsible for any speeding tickets incurred as a result of listening to this song. "Stingy Jack" slams like nobody's business with a strong similarity to Dropbox's "Wishbone". It's as catchy as it is heavy. Speaking of heavy, "Bell Witch" is a classic melodic metal tune in the same vein as John Bush-era Anthrax. A huge, gut-punching bass line opens up the In Flames-esque "Storm Hag" before its pounding death-march cadence kicks in.     "Jersey Devil" is a swampy groove fest, with a melodic, ready for the arenas chorus.  The title track is a down tuned boot stomper of a tune, dripping with sludge and topped off with a cool smoky bluesy guitar solo.  "Rougarou" has the hard-rocking, melody-driven feel of Crobot delivered with a little more of a metal snarl.   A slower, jazzy intro starts off "Baron Samedi", but that doesn't last more than a few seconds before the bands comes on with guns ablazing on this heavy hitting affair.   The album ends with the slightly atmospheric and a bit trippy intro to "The Wendigo".   Again, the band doesn't stay in that world very long, instead taking things to more familiar hard rock territory pretty quickly, closing with one of the best tracks on the album.  "Croatoan" is the perfect summer release, at home as much in the car as it is cranked up in the backyard for a BBQ.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Grilled Ribeye Steak and Egg Sandwich with Green Chiles on Grilled Cheddar Bread/Mt. Pleasant Brewing Iron Horse IPA/Death Alley "Black Magick Boogieland"

It's no secret, we're a little partial to our cooking.  But that's a good thing, right?  You wouldn't want to read about these BBQs if we thought our food sucked, would you?  So that being said, this sandwich is hands down one of our favorite things ever made. Let's just break it down shall we?  Fresh baked cheddar bread, grilled in butter.  Seasoned and grilled local grass-fed Ribeye steak, roasted green chiles and a fried farm fresh egg.  Oh yes.  It's a big sandwich that calls for an equally big beer.  Mt. Pleasant Brewing's Iron Horse IPA was just that beer.  For the tunes we turned to the new release from Amsterdsam's Death Valley , "Black Magick Boogieland"

Grilled Ribeye Steak and Egg Sandwich with Green Chiles on Grilled Cheddar Bread - This is a pretty rustic sandwich, not a whole heck of a lot going on in terms of prep or presentation.  We start with the all important steak.  A perfect quality ribeye to be exact.  We trim the fat off then season it up with garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper.

Get a grill going to super hot and as it's preheating, warm some roasted green chiles in a small sauce pan.

Place the steaks over the hottest flame.

We want the steak about medium rare/medium, so just a minute or two on each side is all these need before pulling off and keeping warm.

As the steak is resting, all we have to do is toast the cheddar bread and fry the egg, starting with the bread.   In a non-stick pan add a tablespoon of butter until melted.  Take 1/2 of a cheddar roll and place it cut side down in the melted butter until golden brown.

Place the steak on top of the bread along with a heaping scoop of the sautéed green chiles.

The last step is a perfectly fried egg.  A farm fresh egg cracked into a non-stick pan with melted butter.  Cook uncovered until the whites actually turn white then reduce the heat and cover until the yolk sets.

 The egg gets gently placed atop the green chile covered steak and that's all she wrote.  Try as you might, the urge to cut into this to watch the egg break over the steak will not be overcome.  This dish is truly a masterpiece, one we probably could eat everyday.

Mt. Pleasant Brewing Iron Horse IPA - We love trying out new breweries and today is one of those days with the strong IPA offering from Mt. Pleasant Brewing. The beer pours a cloudy brown color with a foamy thick head. The aroma is strong and malty, with an underlying sweetness on the nose. The flavor is equally strong and boozy. This is one heavy IPA, leaning almost into double IPA territory with its viscous mouthfeel and higher abv. It was exactly what we needed for this rich entree, able to cut through the richness and fattiness of the meal.

Death Alley "Black Magick Boogieland" - Let's just say that the red light district is not the only thing sleazy coming out of Amsterdam as evidenced by this dirty slice of punk-fueled rock and roll by Death Alley on their latest release "Black Magick Boogieland".   The opener "Over Under" starts things off with a barnburner of a riff that features more than a little resemblance to "Breadfan".  Combine that with the vocals of early Anthrax and you've got one powerful lead tune.  The title track slams pretty hard and incorporates a good bit of early 70s Grand Funk-ish heavy groove.  "Bewildered Eyes" is a darker track with the raspy growl of the vocals evoking Warrior Soul.  Picking things up in the tempo department is "The Fever" delivering a shot of punk straight to the veins.   The album's best track is the ultra-smooth "Golden Fields of Love" that features such a cool swagger to it.   The Motorhead-esque "Dead Man's Bones" is the perfect mix of punk and metal.  Even the track name has Lemmy written all over it.  The closing track is "Supernatural Predator" and the band doesn't take their foot off the gas one bit to finish things out.   Admittedly we picked up this album based on the awesome cover art, but were blown away even more by the music.