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Canned Smoked Whitefish

Canned Smoked Whitefish

This is a topic close to my heart. It is a passion of mine that started in an effort to preserve the biggest harvest I ever had from my garden. It was the summer of 2001 and I had a 4000 square foot garden over flowing with fruits and vegetables. It was the results of working my way through the hardest struggle of my life.  Months before I lost my youngest son. Deep in the dark lonely hole of grief, I was desperate to find something good in the world. Something to busy my mind. My hands. To have purpose. So I started some seeds under a set of florescent lights that winter.

From those dark days grew a passion that gives me tremendous joy and is where I go to think, or not. And the results is an amazing wealth of fresh produce that I preserve to last the entire year.

Along my preserving journey I have made pickles, jams, jellies, pickles eggs and sausage and my latest experiments have been with smoked fish.

Smoked whitefish on Nutmeg Disrupted

Smoked fish is a flavour of my childhood that takes me back immediately to the kitchen table of my childhood home. It was like Christmas when my Gido would arrive bearing bags of whole smoked whitefish. Truly, it was one of the things I most looked forward to, better then any other gift he could have bought.  They were whole fish, cut down the belly, laid flat then smoked until they were dried yet still had a touch of tenderness to them.  I would gently peel the bones back from the fish and break it apart into flakes, popping the pieces into my mouth and slowly enjoyed the salty smokiness of each bite.

That was 35 years ago yet I can picture it as if it was only last week.

Blessed with friends who had just gone fishing it was easy to get as many as I needed. Everyone who knows me knows I love to smoke fish whenever given the chance. Looking for a better way to handle the fish once smoked I looked into canning it. All you need is a pressure cooker. And hey, that is a fantastic reason to pick up an new kitchen toy! I bought  a 22 quart Mirro pressure cooker at Canadian Tire.

22 quart Miro Pressure cooker

The first step in the process is to prep the fish for the brine. It must be scaled but keep the skin on and all the bones need to be removed.

Preping whitefish for smoking

Brine

3 1/2 quarts of water

1 1/2 cups of brown sugar

1 1/2 cups of coarse salt

2 tablespoons of onion powder

1/2 cup of white sugar

8 cloves of garlic, minced

Combine all of the brine ingredients in a large pot over medium heat. Simmer and stir until all sugar and salt is dissolved.

Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Brining whitefish on Nutmeg Disrupted

Once cool add the whitefish and refrigerate for 12 hours.

Remove the fish from the brine and rinse under cool running water. Pat dry.

Spray the rack from the smoker well with non stick spray. Place the fish on the rack, skin side down leaving a bit of space between the pieces. .

Place the rack on the top setting in the smoker and smoke for one hour.

Have all jars clean and sterlized and in hot water. All lids and rings should be in a pot of water, slightly simmering on low/medium heat.

Fill the canner with the proper amount of water for your model. I used 4 quarts for this application.

Remove the whitefish from the smoker and allow to cool for a few moments.

Filling jars with smoked whitefish

Gently fill the jars with warm whitefish, leaving 1/4 headspace in each jar. Drizzle with a touch of canola oil. I then topped each jar with 2 heaping tablespoons of hot sauce.

Adding hot sauce to the smoked fish

Clean the rims of the jars with a hot clean cloth, add the lids and rings until finger tight. Place on the racks of the pressure cooker.

Loading up the pressure cooker

Place and secure the lid on the cooker. Now crank up the heat!

You want the pressure cooker to get fully pressurized. Once that happens and the cooker begins to let off a steady stream of steam,  start timing for 10 minutes. This is a very important step, do not skip.

Once the 10 minutes has passed add the 10 pound weight and maintain the cooker just under 10 psi for 110 minutes.

After 110 minutes remove the canner off the heat and allow to cool for 1 hour before removing the lid of the pressure cooker.

Remove all jars and allow to cool completely.

You can open a jar and enjoy it immediately.

Canned Smoked Whitefish

I am sure my Gido would have enjoyed this version of preserving Smoked Whitefish.

dad and Gido auctioning in 1969

(my dad about age 22 and my Gido, first & second generation Auctioneers)

Gido in the pineapple fields of Hawaii.

It is amazing when I look back at how many of my memories of him are food related. Though first and foremost he was a businessman it was his garden and the crab apple picking adventures with him I cherish the most.

I don’t know where he got the smoked fish, whoever it was had some amazing skills.

 

 

 

 

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Char-Broil Gratitude Post & the birth of a smoker.

Char-Broil Gratitude Post & the birth of a smoker.

I have been wondering how to start this post for a while now. It came to me quite clearly  a few days ago to just simply share the story I have been telling so many in the journey to build this smoker. Because how else do you let the world know of a company with customer service so outstanding that you want everyone to own their products? Of a company that stepped up way way above and beyond. A company I had the pleasure of working with last spring when they rolled out their Life Is Better Bbqed campaign.

Of course I am talking about Char-Broil.

My replacement Char-Broil BBQ on Nutmeg Disrupted

In the spring of 2015 I did a 3 post project for Char-Broil. They had a Spring campaign going on with Lowes and I was honored to be a part of it. As you know we love BBQ on Nutmeg Disrupted and to work with such an amazing team was a dream come true. I received a gorgeous Char-Broil BBQ from Lowes to review and grill with for the campaign. The BBQ was mine to keep.

Flash forward a few weeks after the campaign wrapped up standing in line at Starbucks…

My phone buzzed, it was a text from my son. A huge storm was rolling into town and a tree was down in the backyard. As I was standing there I was struck with a bit of panic. Tree down. Which tree. No way it could be the 1000+ pound tree beside the deck. Then he sent a photo from the inside of the house through the patio door. All you could see was leaves.

Indeed it was said tree.

I paid for my coffee then quickly made the 70 minute trip home.

A huge maple tree down from a summer storm.

Massive tree down during a summer storm on Nutmeg Disrupted

A bbq crushed by a massive tree on Nutmeg Disrupted

That was what I found when I arrived home.

I was devastated. Yes that is a bold statement to make about a BBQ, but in that moment I was completely devastated. It took a couple of days to get the tree bucked up and retrieve the crushed grill. Almost every inch of it was damaged.

The evening the tree fell I had Tweeted about the storm and the sad fate of my BBQ. I was thankful no one was hurt, had anyone been grilling out back I can’t even imagine how that would have ended. The smoker that was on the deck took a hit and was damaged but the full weight of the tree was on the BBQ.

What happened next was something so unexpected and wonderful.

Within 24 hours of my BBQ misfortune I had been contacted by the marketing company that represented Char-Broil during the Lowes campaign.

Char-Broil had heard about what happened and they wanted to make it right and send me a new BBQ to replace the one that was crushed. Talk about a company standing behind their product! Because I had done some work for them they were willing to replace their product, not because they had to, simply because they wanted to. Now that is a brand I want to stand behind and do business with.

I may have cried a little when I received that news. BBQ is a passion and to have not only my smoker but my BBQ also taken out in a brief moment was a huge loss.

Char-Broil customer service on Nutmeg Disrupted

After the tree was cleared away we took apart the BBQ to salvage any of the good parts. It felt like a such a waste tossing out such a new piece of equipment and the goal now was to repurpose what we could. Immediately it was decided that we would build a smoker. The only pieces not damaged were the handles off the doors, the temperature gage, the logo and the heating element area of the grill, though bent it was still functioning. With the salvaged bits stored away we set off with a plan of building a smoker. We had an idea of what we wanted for the body of the smoker and scoured the ads for upcoming auction sales. Everything we looked at was just not quite what we had envisioned until one day while in Canadian Tire after a year long search we found the perfect body for our new smoker.

Shopping for a new smoker body on Nutmeg Disrupted

The vision has always been to build a large smoker. Something substantial so that we had the area to do a large cook. Having catered weddings and hosted pig roasts we have had the opportunity to use some very large BBQs and we wanted our smoker to not only be impressive but have the power to do the job.

Adding the Char-Broil details to the new smoker on Nutmeg Disrupted

From there everything started to fall into place. In conversation with Brian our butcher we mentioned that we were building a smoker and he gave us a great idea as to what we could use for the racking inside the unit. The heating element was a close fit and with a bit of work the smoker started to coming together.

Fitting the heating element into the new smoker on Nutmeg Disrupted

We did a few small trial runs to work out the kinks and cooked for an event mid summer.

The first offical cook with the new smoker on Nutmeg Disrupted

The smoker has been getting a lot of attention, it is a gorgeous piece of equipment and with every inquiry I share my Char-Broil story.

In closing I want to say a heartfelt thank you to Char-Broil. Not only have you made this girls BBQ dreams continue, you make a product that I love and your customer service is unmatched. Thank you!

 

 

 

 

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Grilled Caesar Salad

Grilled Caesar Salad

Grilled Caesar Salad

It all started when I spotted a photo of a Grilled Caesar salad on Instagram from the Canola Eat Well team. I had heard of grilling romaine before but had never tried it. I love Caesar salad and I BBQ as often as I use the stove so it was high time I grilled some lettuce.

Grilling the romaine makes it very tender and gives the salad an amazing texture. The dressing is so fresh with the perfect hit of garlic and fantastic tanginess from the balsamic vinegar and grainy mustard. The buttery fruitiness of the reggiano is the perfect finish to compliment the dressing.

The recipe looks long with a lot of ingredients but it is actually quick and easy once the mise en place is done. Arranging the ingredients takes more time then preparing the actual salad. You will find that after you make the salad once you will be able to get it together and plated within 15 minutes.

A quick note: make extra croutons. They are so good you may find yourself and anyone else hanging around the kitchen snacking on them while dinner is getting prepped!

Grilled Caesar Salad

Romaine Hearts

2 lemons – zested

2 tablespoons of canola oil

croutons:

cheese bread sticks – cubed

2 tablespoon of canola oil

1 teaspoon of lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder

pinch of dried parsley

pinch of dried basil

salt and pepper

dressing:

2 cloves of garlic – grated

1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon of grainy mustard

2 tablespoons of grated parmigiana reggiano

1 teaspoon of Worcestershire

1 teaspoon of lemon zest

1/4 cup of canola oil

 

For the croutons: Heat 2 tablespoons of canola oil in a pan over medium. Add the cubed bread sticks, tossing to coat. Cook until nice and toasty, 5 – 6 minutes. Add the garlic powder, a pinch of salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons of grated parmigiana reggiano and 1 teaspoon of lemon zest and the dried herbs,  stirring well.  Pour into a large bowl and let cool.

making croutons for grilled caesar salad on Nutmeg Disrupted

For the dressing: In a small bowl combine the grated garlic, balsamic vinegar, grainy mustard, 2 tablespoons of grated reggiano, Worcestershire  and 1 teaspoon of lemon zest. Whisk in 1/4 cup of canola oil. Set aside.

Drizzle the romaine hearts and halved lemons with 2 tablespoons of canola oil.

Grill the romaine hearts and lemons over medium high heat flipping as needed. The romaine is done when it has a nice char on the edges.

grilling romaine hears for grilled caesar salad on Nutmeg Disrupted

To serve place a romaine heart on a plate, slice in half length wise. Top with croutons, dressing, freshly grated parmigiana reggina and finish with squeezing the juice of half a grilled lemon over everything.

grilled caesar salad from Nutmeg Disrupted

 

 

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Mother’s Day Grill

Mother’s Day Grill

Mother’s Day has always been about the food and the most amazing meals. As the years have gone by my dishes have gotten more and more elevated. Now Mother’s Day is one of the most anticipated days on my food calendar!

This year is no exception.

Perhaps Mother’s Day is so great for food because there isn’t the pressure of traditional holiday menus. So on Mother’s Day you can experiment with dishes. Maybe you’ll even start some new traditions.

My Mother’s Day menu changes every year but one thing remains the same. Amazing dishes full of flavour!

This year I went with a varied menu of beef, vegetables, salad and seafood. I found some succulent crab legs that I couldn’t pass up. They were the perfect addition to the menu. And of course, no Mother’s Day meal would be complete without a incredible dessert.

The Menu

I started with marinating thin strips of beef in a combination of soya sauce, maple syrup, crushed garlic, brown sugar and a pinch of cayenne pepper.  I let those sit for an hour. To weave them on the skewers I just folded the meat back and fourth into neat little stacks. I stuck the skewers through the center of each stack and pulled the beef from the top up the length of the skewer. If you  can get the rouladen cuts of beef these work perfectly and saves the work of thinly slicing the beef. If you can not find the rouladen cut chose a nice steak.  Pop the steak into the freezer for 30 minutes before cutting. This makes for an easier job of achieving nice thin strips.

After you are done with the beef put the shrimp on to skewers. Run the skewer through the tail section then the head section for a nice snug fit.

In a small sauce pan place a few cloves of crushed garlic, a squeeze of lemon and 1/2 to 3/4 cup butter. Heat this on the side burner while you are grilling. You can use this to not only baste the shrimp as they are grilling but to dunk the finished crab into.

Set your BBQ to medium heat. Start with the crab legs. I cooked them from frozen. Just set them on the grill and give them a flip every once in a while.

Nutmeg Disrupted grilling crab legs with Char Broil for Mothers Day

 

After about 10 minutes you can add the beef and shrimp skewers. I added a few baby sweet peppers and lemon wedges that were drizzled with a touch of oil to the grill.

Nutmeg Disrupted grilling seafood with Chasr Broil for Mothers Day

 

Grill everything for another 10 minutes, basting the shrimp with the lemon butter.

Place the butter on a hot mat on the table. Remove everything to a large platter to be served family style with fresh salads and crusty bread.

Grilled maple beef skewers with fresh salad for Mothers Day on NUtmeg Disrupted

 

Sweet Dreams

We have the perfect dish to finish off any Mother’s Day feast.

Grilled pineapple topped with Nutella, freshly whipped cream and strawberries. Topped off with a few nuts to add a bit of crunch to this light dessert.

To prep the pineapple cut the top and bottom off. Stand the pineapple up and from top to bottom cut off the skin. Now you can cut it into nice thick slices. Place on the grill cooking until it has nice sear marks and has become tender. Remove to a platter.

Grilled pineapple with nutella & cream on Nutmeg Disrupted

While still warm add generous dollops of Nutella to the slices. Top with whipped cream, slivered almonds and fresh strawberries.

 

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Grilled Vegetable Salad

Grilled Vegetable Salad

For the  first trial run on my new Char-Broil stainless grill I went with something I don’t cook everyday and a fabulous Spring grilling dish. Shish kabobs! The combination of beef and vegetables is absolute perfection.

I love shish kabobs but I have to admit, one of my favorite parts of the kabobs is the grilled peppers. The smokiness of the grilling brings out the sweetness of the tender peppers. Add the amazing flavor of grilled red onion along with a generous drizzle of grilled lemon and oil and you have the fantastic starting of what will be a spectacular grilled vegetable salad. Enjoy with some lightly toasted crusty bread & some wonderful wine it is an amazing anytime meal.

Grilled Vegetable Salad from Nutmeg Disrupted

There are a few ways to grill vegetables.

You can cut them all into similar sizes and put them all on skewers. I prefer metal ones as they don’t burn and come in large sizes so you need fewer to grill more! You can use wood ones as well, just be sure to soak them in water for up to an hour before you plan on grilling. It will not completely prevent the ends from burning but it does slow down the process.

Another option is a grill basket. This can be used to grill smaller vegetables, to save on time or to just make the grilling of vegetables a bit easier when you are working with a full BBQ. Or you can cook your veggies directly on the grates of the BBQ. All they need is a light drizzle of oil before being placed on the BBQ.

The grates on my BBQ are nice and close together to I could put the peppers right on the grilling surface. I did place the Brussel sprouts in a wok shaped grill basket just to catch any of the leaves that fell off while cooking.

Grilling vegetables on Nutmeg Disrupted

To give this grilled vegetable salad an extra layer of flavor I added roasted garlic to the mix in addition to the bacon grilled lemon vinaigrette.

To  prepare the garlic all you need is 3 full heads of garlic, a generous drizzle of oil, salt and pepper and a good sized piece of aluminum foil to wrap up the garlic.

  1.   Trim the tops of the garlic off, leaving the heads in tack. You just want to expose the raw garlic so that the oil can get down inside the bulbs.
  2.   Place the trimmed heads of garlic in the center of the foil and give it a generous drizzle of oil. I used canola oil because of the high heat I’m using for the grilled vegetables.
  3.   Season the heads of garlic with salt & pepper then wrap tightly.
  4.   Place on the top rack of your BBQ then prep all your other vegetables.
  5.   The garlic will take about 40 minutes to be perfectly roasted.

Wash and trim all the vegetables you choose for in your salad. I used baby sweet peppers, zucchini, red onion and Brussels sprouts, with fresh cherry tomatoes stirred in just before serving.

Feel free to use any vegetables you enjoy.  I also grilled a lemon to juice in the vinaigrette.

You’ll also need 5 slices of bacon, chopped and fried until crisp. You can do this on your BBQs side burner as the garlic is roasting. Once the bacon is cooked set it aside and pour the drippings into a small saucepan.

Now you are ready to grill your vegetables.

Place them all in a large bowl or in your grill basket and give them a light coating of oil. Have your BBQ on a medium high heat and use tongs place the veggies on the grill.

That amazing aroma you smell is the garlic roasting! You can take a peak at the garlic; it will have a nice caramelized appearance when it is done. Put it to the side while you finish grilling the vegetables and let it cool.

 Roasted garlic form Nutmeg Disrupted

Place some pieces of crusty bread on the grill to toast lightly as you make your salad. I used a large loaf just torn into nice rustic wedges.

To make the vinaigrette:

  1.         Place the pot with the bacon drippings over low heat on the side burner.
  2.        Take the grilled lemon wedges and squeeze the juice into the drippings. Stir well to combine.
  3.         Take the heads of the roasted garlic and squeeze the bulbs into the pot. Be sure to pour any of the oil remaining in the package into the pot as well.
  4.        Using a fork, mash up the garlic.
  5.        Now pour all that bacon garlic goodness into the grill basket and top with all the grilled vegetable.
  6.        Remove from heat and stir in a handful of cherry tomatoes. The heat from the grilled vegetables will bring out amazing juiciness of the tomatoes.
  7.       Sprinkle the bacon on top.

Grilled Vegetable Salad from Nutmeg Disrupted

Serve with your lightly toasted crusty bread and nice chilled white wine.

Be sure to see all the cool BBQ hints tips & recipes the #lifeisbetterbbqed team have created! We have had a fantastic time putting this all together for you! Next week I’ll be talking about my Mother’s Day menu, all grilled, including dessert!

 

 

 

 

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