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Old 05-26-2011, 08:43 PM   #1
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GCC 4 Seasons - Goodweed of the North

My appetizer is spring themed. And my favorite spring flavor up here the U.P. is pure, unadulterated, maple syrup, grade B. I used this precious and delicious liquid to flavor my Maple-Glazed, Maple-Smoked Country Style Pork Kabobs, with Maple Glazed Grilled Carrots.

Here's how I made them.

Ingredients:
5 country style pork ribs
3 baby carrots
1/2 cup Grade B Maple Syrup
1 tbs. Dark Chili Powder
Dead Sugar Maple branches
7 bamboo skewers

Place the charcoal on one side of a Webber Kettle Charcoal Grill and light. While the charcoal is heating up, cube the ribs into bite-sized chunks. Push the rib chunks onto the bamboo skewers, leaving a small space between each chunks. Lightly sprinkle with salt.

Combine the syrup and chili powder in a suitable bowl. Peel the carrots.

Place enough 1/2 inch thick and 7 inch long maple branches onto the charcoal to cover the top. Place the cooking grill in its place, and place the kabobs on the side with no charcoal. Place the carrots onto the grill as far away from the heat as possible. Brush all food liberally with the syrup/chili powder basting liquid. Cover and close top vent by half.

Smoke for 7 minutes. Remove lid and turn the kabobs over. Again, base liberally and replace lid and smoke an additional 7 minutes. Remove the kabobs and carrots to a platter and baste one more time. Serve piping hot.

The smoky flavor was outstanding on both the meat and carrots. The sweetness of the maple is complimented by both the tangy smoke, and chili powder. The meat was very tender and moist. I really don't know how I could have made this taste any better. My wife agreed. She loved it.

Would I make it again, just try and stop me!

Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North

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Old 05-26-2011, 09:33 PM   #2
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GCC 4 Seasons, Summer, Goodweed of the North

Ok, the appetizer was wonderful But it was outdone by the main course, a delectable and succulent Bacon Enrobed Chicken, with Jasmine Rice and grilled fresh Green Beans, with Pan Baked Special Cornbread.

This chicken came out perfect. Part of this challenge for me was to make everything from inexpensive, readily available ingredients, but turn them into something extraordinary through careful technique. I wanted gourmet grub from cheap food. I accomplished my goal. Here's how I made the main course.

Chicken Ingredients:
4 lb. young, whole chicken (on sale for 79 cents a pound, I bought 4 of them)
2 tbs. Butter
8 slices smoky, thin sliced bacon
Salt
Maple branches

Fire up the Webber Kettle with a divided bed of charcoal on either side, leaving space for a bread-loaf sized drip pan in the middle.
Clean out the chicken wash it. Dry it completely with paper towels. Rub butter all over it. Push the hcicken wings under the back and place onto a poultry cooking rack. Lay bacon side by side, over the bird to completely cover the breast and sides. Place the drip pan between the charcoal beds and fill half way with water. Cover the charcoal with the maple branches. Put cooking grate on top and place the chicken over the drip pan. Place meat thermometer in the thickest part of the bird, with the tip next to the thigh joint. Figure about 12 minutes per pound. Cover, close top vents by half, and set timer for 48 minutes for my 4 pounder. Make sides.

Special Cornbread Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup ap flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg beaten
1 cup melted butter
1 cup milk
1 ear fresh corn

Preheat the oven to 425' F.
Beat together the egg and butter until smooth. Add the dry ingredients into a large bowl and whisk together. Shuck and cut the corn kernels from the cob. Add the milk and butter and stir until smooth. Place in a buttered 10 inch cast iron pan and put into the oven. Bake for 25 minutes. Test by inserting a clean butter knife. If it comes out clean, the cornbread is done. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Jasmine Rice Ingredients:
1 cup jasmine rice
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tsp kosher salt

Place the rice into a fine mesh colander and rinse for two mintues under running water. Stir while rinsing. Add the stock to a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Add the salt and rice. Let it all come to a boil once more and cover. Turn heat to lowest setting. Simmer for 35 minutes. When done, fluff with a fork.

Fresh Green Beans
Wash and inspect green beans. Remove any ends and discard. Place green beans into a steamer and steam over medium-high heat for twenty minutes. Serve with butter.

When the chicken is done (160 on the thermometer), remove from the grill to a platter and grab the drip pan. Use the liquid from the drip pan to make gravy for the rice and chicken. I made my gravy by thickening the liquid with a cornstarch slurry.

Remove the bacon from the chicken and crumble it into the rice. Stir to distribute well.

Remove the chicken breasts from the bird intact and slice sideways across the grain. Serve with the sides.

This main course was spectacular. The chicken was smoky and tender, and juicy. It had just the right amount of salt. I added pepper on my plate as my wife doesn't like it. The gravy complimented the sweetness of the fragrant rice wonderfully. I just love freshly steamed green beans, with a bit of butter.

The chicken was simply amazing. And you know from past contests that when my food isn't up to par, I admit it. This chicken was really amazing. It was tender, and oh-so juicy, with the subtle note of bacon working with the maple-wood smoke to create chicken that I could eat every night for a month. The sweetness of the fragrant, jasmine rice perfectly ballance the tangy smoke of the chicken. The green beans, with their fresh chlorophyll flavor cleansed the palate so to speak. The cornbread was not too sweet, but had a natural sweetness born of the fresh corn kernels distributed through it. It's job was to sop up that gravy until the plate fairly shone as if it was freshly washed.

Could I have improved on this main course, to my tastes, yes. But my wife is allergic to asparagus and can't eat pepper. She loved the main course, and I loved the main course. What more can you ask from a meal?

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
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Old 05-26-2011, 10:18 PM   #3
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GCC The Four Seasons, Autumn, Goodweed of the North

As someone once said, nothing says autumn like pie. And what's my favorite pie, why apple of course. Again, I couldn't make just an ordinary apple pie. This one had to be the apple pie of apple pies. I spent a great deal of time peeling 8 Braeburn apples, slicing each one into the proper sized chunks, and placing the chunks into lemon water. When they were made, I found my largest deep dish pan and made a recipe and a half of pie dough, using every technique I know to make it perfect. I put the pie together and baked it. When I pulled it out, it looked perfect. We let it cool until this morning (it didn't get done until midnight) and had a slice for me and DW. To my horror, it was undercooked. The apples were overly crunchy, and the bottom crust was doughy. I was stunned and disappointed. But I made it right tonight and it is fabulous. Here's how I built this perfect Caramel/Apple Pie.

Ingredients:
4 1/2 cups ap flour
2 1/2 tsp salt
lard
ice water
8 Braeburn apples, peeled, cored, and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
7 oz Kraft Caramel Bits
Cinnamon

place the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk together. Add about a third cup of lard and cut it in. Add more lard until the dough looks like pebbles when the fat is cut in. Add about a third cup of ice water and fold it gently into the dough, just to make everything begin to stick together. Remove half of the dough, shape into a flat circle, and place onto a well dusted work table. Carefully roll the dough from the center out in all directions until it is about 15 inches wide. Center the pie pan upside down on the rolled crust. Carefully cut the dough into a circle three inches larger than the pan rim. The circle edges need to be smooth. Run a thin metal spatula or icing spreader under the crust to make sure it isn't sticking to the table anywhere. Carefully fold the crust in half, and then in half again to make a wedge. Place the point of the wedge onto the center of the pie pan and unfold.

drain the apples. Spread a handful of the caramel bits evenly over the crust bottom. Spread a single layer of apple chunks into the pie. Sprinkle liberally with the sugar, then with the cinnamon, then with a handful of flour. Build the next layer the same way, with caramel, apple, sugar, then flour. Continue this process until the pie is heaping with the mixture.

Set the pie aside and roll out the top crust. Fold it like you did the bottom crust and place the corner in the pie center. Unfold and push the edges between the side crust and the pan. Flute the edges. Cut vent holes in the top crust. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake at 375'F for 1 hour and ten minutes. Remove and let cool.

I baked the pie at 350' for 45 minutes. That's how it was undercooked. I saved it by baking it longer wehn I got home from work tonight. I made a foil protector for the pie edges, and a foil wedge to fill the removed slices area. I preheated the oven to 360 and place the pie in to bake for 20 minutes. It still wasn't done ( I tested a little of the apple filling by removing an apple chunk with a fork). I boosted the temp to 375 and baked for thirty minutes more. It came out perfect, top, filling, and bottom crust. You can save an apple pie. I'm ecstatic.

Critique: Needed to make it right on the first try. But all in all, this pie is great. The braeburn apples kept their texture nicely, and the pie isn't too sweet. The crust, in spite of my best efforts to ruin it, came out very light and flaky (how did that happen!) And apples, caramel, and cinnamon, what else do I need to say. The caramel turned into a really nice sauce, but not soupy, right inside the pie. I don't know how I did it, but this pie is a winner. And my wife agrees (I didn't even have to pay her, except in slices of pie) Here's proof. The first two pictures are of the undercooked pie. The second 2 are just plain yummy. The angle doesn't do the pie justice. It's about three inches thick. It was bulging when it came out of the oven. The apples didn't lose their shape at all.

Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
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Old 05-26-2011, 10:29 PM   #4
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GCC The Four Seasons Winter, Goodweed of the North

Ok. It's cold outside, very cold, and you've just come in from sledding all day in the nearby gravel pits. Your cheeks and chin are numb. Your fingers and toes are aching almost beyond bearing, and you have to wait for your mittens to thaw out before you can even get them off! What do you want more than anything? That's right, a steaming mug of hot cocoa.

So how do we take hot cocoa to the next level? I'm glad you asked.

Ingredients:
4 oz. bar of Nestle's semi-sweet baking chocolate
3 oz. Ghiradelli milk chocolate morsels
3 heaping tbs. Nutella Hazelnut spread
1/4 tsp. salt
12 oz. whole milk
1 level tsp. cornstarch
2 tbs. water
seven miniature marshmallows

Melt the two chocolates over very low heat in a sauce pan, stirring constantly. When the chocolate is creamy smooth, add the Nutella and blend it in completely. When that is done, add the salt, then slowly add the milk while stirring, until all is ultra-smooth. Combine the water and cornstarch into a smooth slurry and drizzle into the hot cocoa while stirring. Bring to a low boil and immediately remove from the heat. Pour into two mugs and top each with 7 miniature marshmallow. Let cool a bit, as this beverage holds its heat.

This is the richest hot cocoa I have ever made. It is silky smooth, but with body. As it was made with a good bit of semi-sweet cocoa, it isn't cloyingly sweet, but rather has a rich, dark chocolate flavor, with a hint of hazelnut magic, and is balanced by the marshmallows.

This isn't the hot cocoa from your childhood. It's better.

Here's what it looks like.

Seeeeya; Goodweed of the North
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Old 05-26-2011, 10:41 PM   #5
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GCC The Four Seasons, Winter, Goodweed of the North

Oops! I failed to attach the pictures for the appetizer and the hazlenut infused hot cocoa. Here they are.

Seeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
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Old 05-28-2011, 01:48 PM   #6
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I want pie!!!!
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Old 05-28-2011, 04:29 PM   #7
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All of your entries are great, as always! Good Job!
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Old 05-28-2011, 04:38 PM   #8
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Lard certainly makes a great pie crust. I like a firm apple filling that's not too soupy nor overly sweet.
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Old 05-28-2011, 05:05 PM   #9
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I thought this thread was going to be about Vivaldi.
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Old 05-28-2011, 05:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by qmax View Post
I thought this thread was going to be about Vivaldi.
Disappointed?

Heading out to dig up some Vivaldi...
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