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

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

Friday, September 4, 2015

Almost Vegetarian Tacos with Hemp and Peanut Salsa/Noble Order Katapult/Doctor Doom "This Seed We Have Sewn"

You think naming some of our dishes is easy? It can be a taxing exercise! Take tonight's Almost Vegetarian Tacos.  We had so many options to choose from; The 98% Vegetarian Tacos, The Pretty Much Vegetarian Tacos, The More or Less Vegetarian Taco… you catch our drift. What makes them not 100% vegetarian you ask?  Chorizo grease.  That's right, you read correctly.  Hey - if we're going to work with tofu on one end of the food spectrum, you can bet we're going to use something from the polar opposite side of the spectrum to make it taste halfway decent.   So we brown up some links of chorizo and remove the sausage then we slice extra firm tofu into thin rectangles and brown them up in the same pan.  We whip up a cool homemade peanut and hemp salsa to spoon on the tofu then top with fresh cilantro, freshly shredded chipotle cheddar and a little sriracha.  Keeping things light, we had cold tallboys of Noble Order Brewing's Katapult kolsch on hand to pair up with the tacos.  On the stereo was the latest full-length from the doomy psychedelic French rockers, Doctor Doom.

Almost Vegetarian Tacos with Hemp and Peanut Salsa - We can start with the salsa which is unique to say the least but goes really well with the flavors we have going on in the tacos.  In a blender combine 1/2 cup of chunky peanut butter with 3/4 cup of milk, a small handful of fresh cilantro, 1 small chopped white onion, 1 dried ancho chile pepper, 1/4 cup of hemp seeds, a drizzle of olive oil, some dried cumin and salt.  Pulse until well blended but still a little chunky.

Cover and chill the salsa so we can move on to the tofu.  Brown a link of chorizo in an ungreased skillet until the fat has rendered.  Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon.

Take a block of extra firm tofu, wrap in paper towel and gently press to remove the moisture.  Slice into planks then into rectangles and add to the pan.  Pan fry until the tofu is a burnt orange color.

Next we char some corn tortillas over an open flame to get them pliable.

 We then nestle a few slices of the tofu on top of the tortillas along with a sprinkle of freshly shredded chipotle cheddar.

A scoop of the peanut hemp salsa goes right atop requiring only a few sprigs of cilantro and a drizzle of sriracha to complete these tacos.  The flavors were amazing, without setting out to, we created a nice little Asian/Mexican fusion with all of these unique flavors that really complemented each other well.

Noble Order Katapult - Back down to Richmond Indiana's Noble Order Brewing tonight and going a little lighter with their take on a classic kolsch.  Katapult possesses a hazy yellow pour with a frothy extra white head. The aroma is appropriately lemony and yeasty for the style. The flavor is crisp, light and slightly sweet with a bitter, tingly finish. It's a fine example of this summery style beer. Those qualities made it pair especially well with the lighter taco fare as well.

Doctor Doom "This Seed We Have Sewn" -  This great psychedelic bluesy band may hail from France but they have roots clearly planted in the Swedish stoner rock soil.  There is the dark doom of Witchcraft mixed with the hooks and catchiness of The Hellacopters and the fuzzy psychedelia of Thulsa Doom making for a cool, rocking jammy concoction.   "The Sun" is the opener and it sets a darker tone with it's horror-like spoken word intro that quickly turns into Kenny Wayne Shepherd-esque hard and heavy blues.  On "Abso-Fuckin'-Lutely" things go a little more into late 60s garage rock thanks to a heavy dose of the organ.  The song grooves along like a mother too.  "Stuck in the Past" again harkens back to the early classic rock-era sharing more than a few commonalities with Derek and the Dominoes. Going for a Police-like "Message in a Bottle" feel complete with the killer bass work is "So Jinxed".  "Relax You're Dead" is an easy-rollicking tune that is jazzy, bluesy and psychedelic all at the same time.  You know those slower, bluesy CoC tunes that Pepper Keenan will croon from time to time, that's pretty much what you get on "At War With Yourself" with a a little Thulsa Doom thrown in.  "Truth in the Dark" dials even deeper into the rock and roll sound catalog.  The harmonies and clean guitar sound combine early 60s surf rock with The Beatles.  The album ends with the minute long auspicious "To Be Continued...".  After this amazing album over and over, we can only hope that's the case.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Spicy Grilled Asian Chicken Salad Sandwich/New Glarus Brewing Spotted Cow/Dozer "In The Tail of a Comet"

We've made it this far into adulthood without ever having had chicken salad pass these lips, then all of a sudden twice in the past couple of weeks we've had chicken salad that tastes like dry chunks of chicken  that has been tossed in a bottle of Hellman's, shaken and then poured out on to cold, hard bread.  Instead of chalking it up to "there's a reason we've avoided chicken salad like the plague all this time", we instead studied why this horrible concoction is always so…..horrible.  Well, we've touched on two culprits; dry chicken and the superfluous use of mayo.  The other tragedy with most chicken salads is the one dimensional taste that can only be described as "creamy".  "How's the chicken salad?"  "It's creamy tasting."  Gross.  So how do we reinvent this cursed dish, you ask?  We start by adding dimensions to it, an Asian flare with soy, ginger, garlic then some water chestnuts for crunch.    Next the chicken itself.  It's marinated first, then grilled before finally being steamed in pineapple juice until the meat shreds apart.  Lastly, it's the what we would call "the binding".  Mayo is more of a co-star in this movie sharing screen time with dijon and sriracha.  The final ingredients include chopped walnuts, white onions and fresh cracked pepper.  All of this goodness goes on top of warm french bread to create something we almost didn't want to call chicken salad.   This light fare begged for an easy drinking ale to go along with it and we were fortunate enough to be the beneficiary of some of the coveted Spotted Cow from Wisconsin's New Glarus Brewing Co.   We went classic with the tunes, all the way back to the Swedish stoner rock kings Dozer's debut "In the Tail of a Comet".

Spicy Grilled Asian Chicken Salad Sandwich - Who's ready to reinvent chicken salad?  Great!  Let's start with the chicken.  We need to whip together a quick marinade consisting of a small can of pineapple juice, a couple of tablespoons of soy sauce and a tablespoon each of crushed ginger and sriracha.  Place the chicken in the mixture and marinate over night.

Fast forward to the next day and get a two-zone fire going on the grill.  Place the chicken over the cool part of the grill and cover, after about 7-9 minutes some cool "tv commercial grill lines" will form and the chicken will be close to cooked through.  Scoot the chicken over the hot coals to finish cooking as well as getting a nice char on them.

Remove the chicken from the grill momentarily and place in a foil packet, pour another small can of pineapple juice on top then fold up the foil and return to the cool side of the grill.  Cover for another 3-5 minutes.

Bring the chicken inside so we can put everything together.  In a large bowl add the chicken breasts and shred with two forks.

Next up in the bowl is one small roughly chopped onion, a small can of diced water chestnuts and a handful of chopped walnuts.

To bind this stuff together we add next a cup of mayo, a 1/4 cup of dijon and tablespoon of sriracha.  Mix well and season with fresh cracked pepper.

Chill the mixture while we bake a take and bake french loaf.  Once baked, slice the loaf in half length-wise.

On the bottom half of the loaf, load it up with the chicken salad.  The only other toppings needed are slices of fresh, ripe tomatoes and sliced fresh jalapeƱos.

Close this baby with the top half of bread and prepare your tastebuds for something amazing.  It may look like chicken salad, but rest assured this ain't your run of the mill cafeteria variety.

New Glarus Brewing Spotted Cow  - The cult following of New Glarus Brewing, particularly their cream ale Spotted Cow, is near Gumballhead craziness without the availability issue (well at least if you live in Wisconsin).  Spotted Cow pours yellow, fizzy and foamy with a sweet malty aroma. The flavor is equally sweet, almost sugary, like a lighter milk stout.  It's light mouthfeel and crispness makes it a made for summer beer and people buy it by the case as their everyday beer.  It paired up perfectly with the light summery sandwich bringing just enough flavor to the table to complement the bigger flavors in the sandwich without coming close to overpowering it.

Dozer "In The Tail of a Comet" - It's been awhile since we travelled back to the rich stoner rock soil of Sweden to crank something up for a BBQ. This time we're traveling in the way back machine, to one of the pioneers of the sound, the almighty Dozer and their classic debut "In the Tail of a Comet". In the late 90s there must have been a huge shipment of sand, down tuned instruments and a ton of beer that made its way from Palm Desert to Oslo. That desert rock torch was passed from the likes of Kyuss and Fu Manchu cross-continent and used to ignite arguably the best stoner rock "sub scene" outside of Palm Desert itself in Sweden.  Dozer's formula is straight forward but no less impressive.  A huge amount of fuzz, infectious riffs, fat grooves and killer vocals.  As far as debuts go, it doesn't get much better than this.  The disc starts off with the hurling asteroid sound of "Supersoul".  This sound would eventually spawn Greenleaf; tunes so fast and so loud that it literally shakes your walls.  "Lightyears Ahead" brings with it a good amount of Hendrix-like psychedelic guitar to go along with a slow and heavy headbanging groove.  As the name suggests, "Speeder" is a cool little road tune with a bluesy groove and a huge, catchy chorus.  "Inside the Falcon" gives a glimpse of another aspect of what would become another part of Dozer's classic sound, the fuzzy psychedelia that conjures up Monster Magnet in their early days.  "Riding The Machine" starts off like "Running Free" with its galloping bass and drums before going straight into fuzzy desert rock territory. "Cupola" is pure punk fury in fifth gear whereas "Grand Dragon" slams things back into first gear with a sludgy, doom tempo, which just goes to show the band's musical prowess.  The album ends with "Captain Spaceheart" and it's a no holds barred barn burner of a tune, ending the album the same way it kicked off, on fire.  Almost 20 years later this album still smokes and the band has still not missed a beat on any of the subsequent releases in their discography, the mark of a truly classic band.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Ultimate Grilled Patty Melt/Upland Brewing Oktoberfest/Black Rainbows "Hawkdope"

Making burgers for a crowd is one of those things that is always a little tricky.  First from a technical standpoint, you only have so much time from when the burgers are pulled off the grill until they are ready to be devoured before they start to cool and dry out, so timing at the grill is key.  Secondly, with so many options for toppings, buns, etc.., trying to just stick to just one theme and having that please everyone is a challenge.  With that in mind, we went the patty melt route, because, truth be told, who doesn't like a patty melt?  Well, full disclosure, we really don't.  The traditional greasy, watery onions, soggy pumpernickel ones anyway.  So we dubbed this The Ultimate Patty Melt by swapping out the pumpernickel for onion rolls and adding a bunch of sharp cheddar, a tangy and creamy dijonnaise and just the right amount of actual grilled onions to go atop a peppery grilled patty.  It may be a little early, but we've already dipped our toe in the Oktoberfest pool and kicked off the season with Upland Brewing's version.  Capping off an awesome night outside was the heavy and sleazy fuzz rock of Italy's Black Rainbows on their latest release "Hawkdope".

The Ultimate Grilled Patty Melt - Let's get right to it, grab a cast iron skillet, a few thinly sliced onions some olive oil and butter and head out to the grill.  Heat up the butter and oil and add the onions and some freshly ground pepper.

Stir the onions carefully until they begin to brown nicely then remove from heat and keep warm.

Next up comes the chuck patties that have been heavily seasoned with fresh cracked black pepper.  These go over the hottest part of the grill and charred on both sides.

This would be a good time to be mindful of flare-ups

Scoot the burgers to the cool side of the grill and drape each patty with two slices of sharp cheddar cheese.  Cover and let the cheese melt for a couple of minutes.

The last piece before we start building the patty melts is the dijonnaise which is just equal parts mayo and dijon whipped together.

Alright, construction time.  Add a little more oil to the cast iron skillet and put the bottom half of the onion roll, inside out, on the hot griddle.  Place the patty on top followed by a scoop of onions.

Next we spread the dijonnaise on the top of the onion roll and place that face down on top of the onions  then flip to brown that side of the bun (confused?  See the picture below).  What you wind up with is a perfectly cheesy, crispy, onion-y and meaty burger that is equal parts grilled cheese and patty melt.

Upland Brewing Oktoberfest - We've been nothing but impressed by this local brewery, so even though it's early in the season we were excited to get their take on this fall beer staple.   The beer pours the classic amber hue but with not as much head and not as much malty sweetness as a traditional Oktoberfest would possess.   The flavors though do line-up with what you might expect, bready notes while maintaining an ease of drinking to it.  The beer is really balanced and a great representation of this awesome autumn lager.  The beer's smooth mailtiness did wonders with the sweet notes in the onions while still being able to cut the richness in the sauce and cheese.

Black Rainbows "Hawkdope" -  Blasting out of Italy's stoner rock scene is the raucous Black Rainbows, a molotov cocktail of punk, sleaze and desert rock.    When Chicago's The Last Vegas released their "Lick Em and Leave Em" debut in 2004, we played the hell out of it back then and were anxious for a follow-up.  That sophomore release did happen, but with a new singer and new sound and that need wasn't filled until now.  "Hawkdope" is that album we've been waiting for.  A perfect mix of Motorhead, Bad Wizard and Fu Manchu to get you through just about any situation; party in the woods, long desert drive, shooting pool at the bar and of course the backyard BBQ.   The disc starts off with the hard charging "The Prophet" combining soaring helium-lunged vocals with the some incredible licks.  The psychedelic punk of "Wolf Eyes" is a hybrid of The Stooges and Hendrix delivered at a breakneck pace.   The title track is another slice of spacey, fuzz rock gold in the same vein as early Monster Magnet and just as heavy.   It's an incredible nine minute jam that showcases just how ridiculously talented the band is musically.  "No Fuel No Fun" is pure, unadulterated desert rock that could easily fit on just about any Fu Manchu album.  "Hypnotize My Soul With Rock and Roll" in a addition to possessing an awesome title, is a huge tune bringing in elements of classic early Rainbow with The Datsuns.   Speaking of desert, "Waiting For the Sun" has that Doors-like bluesy desert feel to it, even though it's not the same "Waiting For the Sun".    The track that really best describes the band's sound is "Killer Killer Fuzz" which again recalls Monster Magnet in their prime.  The album ends with the trance-y "The Cosmic Picker" that incorporates some spoken word samples with some trippy atmospheric music.  "Hawkdope" slams and needs to be played at max. volume to fully appreciate it.