Archive for BBQ

German Potato Salad

It was 1983. Adolf Kruger, recently of Germany, purchased 10 acres of land in the middle of the Okanagan Valley. There was nothing there. Sage, tumbleweeds, trees, desert. But Kruger wanted to make a winery–wanted to grow the grapes of his homeland–Reisling and Gewurztraminer. Wild Goose–so named because Kruger witnessed a flock of geese taking off one day while surveying his property–became only the 17th winery to receive a licence in the Okanagan, and were the first family-owned winery. Today, Wild Goose produces 12-14,000 cases of wine annually.

I got to have lunch with Adolf a couple weeks back, joined by his son, Roland, as well as Allison Markin and Marc Smith (you can read Marc’s account and see more photos from our lunch here). Although he’s mostly now retired, his sons now run the winery. On May 22 of this year, they opened The Smoke and Oak Bistro, serving traditional German favourites, and old-school BBQ.

The Smoke 'n' Oak platter from @smokeandoak at @wildgoosewines. Kind of like barbecue meets charcuterie, accompanied by great wines. #okanagan #explorebc #winecountry

Chef Sarren Wolfe utilizes old Pinot Gris vines and scraps from wine barrels in the smoker to give the meat an authentic winery twist. The menu consists of smoker favourites, like ribs, hen, brisket, and homemade sausage. Added to that are German foods–specifically the Spaetzle, which Chef Wolfe prepares traditionally, and then jazzes up with whatever is seasonal. The day I was there, it was finished with a zucchini mince and 4 types of oregano from his herb garden. There is also a gluten-free version available.

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Ribs & Spaetzle. The end.

Ribs & Spaetzle. The end.

Chef Wolfe's Traditional German Potato Salad. Based on Adolf's wife's recipe.

Chef Wolfe’s Traditional German Potato Salad. Based on Adolf’s wife’s recipe.

This is not your saucy Texan BBQ. Sauces are primarily vinegar-based, and Chef Wolfe integrates wine into his dishes wherever possible. The brisket, with a cocoa and cumin rub, is smoked for 4.5 hours, the ribs (which were among the best I’ve ever had in my life) are smoked for 3, and the hen, for 2.5.

Chef Wolfe also creates a daily salad with whatever fresh ingredients he has on hand (or has recently obtained at the Farmer’s Market), and there is always a traditional German Potato Salad.german potato salad

 

What makes this salad different from ones you may be used to is the absence of mayonnaise. This is a vinegar-based dressing, and it incorporates bacon fat (OMG yum) and chicken stock into the dressing, as well.

I added my own twist to this recipe by quick-pickling the onions before adding them to the salad. I’m not a fan of raw onions, this takes the edge off them.

Traditional German Potato Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs yellow potatoes (yukon golds or small, new potatoes)
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 4 strips bacon, cut into bacon bits
  • 2 dill pickles, minced & 1/3 cup pickle juice
  • 2 tbsp fresh herbs–parsley, flat leaf parsley, dill or chives
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock (homemade if you have it, otherwise, whatever you got)
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar or maple syrup
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method

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  1. Pickle the onions. Cut the onions thinly into half-moons, using your knife or a mandolin. In a small pot, place 1 cup water, 1/2 cup vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt. Bring up to a boil, just until everything is dissolved together. Place the onions in a ceramic bowl or a mason jar, and pour the hot pickling liquid over. Allow to remain at room temperature while you make the rest of the recipe. 
  2. In a large pot, place the scrubbed potatoes. Add cold water enough to cover, plus an inch. Bring to a boil, and then reduce the heat. Allow to cook about 20 minutes, or until fork-tender. You want them to be done, but not mushy. Drain and allow to cool enough to slice into 1/4″ slices.
  3. In a frying pan, fry up the bacon. When it’s done, drain on paper towels, but reserve 2 tbsps of the bacon fat.
  4. Place the bacon fat, chicken stock, pickle juice, sugar, dijon and pepper in a mason jar, and shake well to combine. Add the dressing to the cooked and sliced potatoes, fried bacon bits, drained pickled onions, pickles, and fresh chopped herbs in a bowl and mix well. Taste and adjust for seasoning (salt and pepper) serve at room temperature, or cold.

 



Best Veggie Burger Throwdown

Let’s face it: nothing quite says “summer” like a good burger done on the grill. If you are a carnivore, your first choice will likely be a big ol’ slab of beef, but if you are vegetarian or vegan, sometimes choices can be, shall we say… less than tasty?

Despite the fact I don’t eat a lot of meat, I’m not a huge fan of tofu. I’ve never been able to cook it so that it didn’t taste like anything but tofu, so I don’t buy it often. There are certainly commercial veggie burger brands on the market: Yves, Money’s and Morning Star (available at Trader Joe’s in the States, or at Pirate Joe’s on 4th), all make palatable varieties. I’ve been known to buy the Costco packs and pull them out of the freezer as needed.

Best ever veggie burger

But I was curious: if I want to make my own. what is the best veggie burger recipe? There are a bunch of options out there, like a tofu, or TVP-based burger, a grain-based burger made with rice, oats or quinoa, a bean-based burger, a nut-based burger, or a mushroom– and vegetable-based burger. Often, recipes will combine a few or all of these together.

The challenge with veggie burgers is often with texture and how well they bind together or hold up to grilling. And they can sometimes be dry.

I gathered four of the finest culinary palates in the city (okay, not really, but they were hungry and willing and honest, and most had been, or currently were, vegetarians), and four veggie burger recipes. I didn’t tell the subjects what the basis of each of the burgers was, or where I had gotten the recipe from. I just made them and served them. They were required to try each burger naked, and then they could add whatever condiments they liked. The tasting team was rounded out by my 11-year-old son/food critic. Each of the tasters scored each burger on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the greatest), rating it on Taste, Texture and then gave it an overall rating. I will add some additional comments on each about how complicated the burger was to make.

The Burgers and the Results:

1. Best Ever Veggie Burger 

Let me say for the record (and I know I’m not alone here), but The Kitchn is one of my all-time favourite go-to food blogs. They seldom steer me wrong.

This burger is a beet-based burger, so we immediately called it “Pink Delight.” For obvious reasons. The beets pair with hearty brown rice and black beans, and are flavoured with onions, garlic, smoked paprika, mustard, cumin and coriander.

“A little soft, liked the cumin.”

“Nicely moist. The colour’s a bit much, though.”

“Works great with the pesto, cumin was great, too.”

“Since I hate beets, I can’t quite love this one. But otherwise good. Moist.” –this last comment from Jen, who sucked it up and took one for the team and tried the burger, despite having a serious beet aversion.

My note: SO MUCH WORK (yup, in capital letters). You have to roast the beets. Then you have to peel them. Then you have to grate them. Then you have to sauté the aromatics. Finally, you puree everything together in the food processor, but yeesh. A lot of work. And my kitchen ended up looking like a scene from a Tarantino movie. 

Total Score: 51

falafel burger

2. Mediterranean Chickpea Burgers from Weber’s Big Book of Burgers: The Ultimate Guide to Grilling Backyard Classics.

The basis of this burger is chickpeas, so we dubbed it the “Falafel Burger.” It’s filled with Mediterranean spices, like cumin, coriander, and fresh cilantro. I also made a pesto/mayo/yogurt spread that went really nicely with this burger in particular. Reactions were unanimous: we all like Falafel. We just don’t want to eat it in a burger.

“Too much like falafel. Not enough ‘heft’.”

“It’s tasty. Reasonably moist. But it’s a falafel, and I wouldn’t want to eat it in a burger bun.”

“Tasty, but a tad mushy. Overall, not bad!”

My note: easy–just huck stuff in blender.

Total Score: 50 (every single person gave this one a 10)

3.The Great Big Vegan Burgers from The Sobo Cookbook: Recipes from the Tofino Restaurant at the End of the Canadian Road.

Everyone took one look at this burger, and immediately agreed it needed to be called “The Hippie Burger.” Not shocking. Tofino is hippie central, and this burger is totally vegan. I was completely smitten with Sobo when I ate there a few months back, and have been avidly cooking from this book since I got it. This is the heartiest of all the burgers–there’s quinoa, portobellos, pumpkin and flax seeds as well as carrots, spiced with cumin, coriander and chilli.

“Dry.”

“Lacks moisture. A bit too crunchy. Better with BBQ sauce. Good in a bun.”

“Best in a bun. Needs sweetness. Exactly what a carnivore thinks vegetarians eat.”

My notes: also a lot of work. Not quite as much as the beet burger, but still a lot to do and many, many steps. Wish I’d pureed it more. The recipe said to leave it chunky, but I don’t think that worked.

Total Score: 35

4. Best. Veggie. Burgers. Ever.

This burger is a nut-based burger, in this case, walnuts. You add some breadcrumbs and eggs to bind, blitz it in the food processor, and bam! Burgers.

“Tasty and satisfying. Goes with a bun and burger condiments.”

“Too sticky.”

“Too pasty. Needs seasoning.”

“Bitter. Pasty.”

My notes: While it was probably the easiest one of the four to make, it was my least favourite to eat. The insides were mushy and pasty and not a very pleasant texture. It didn’t taste good. However, two of my tasters, Jen-the-beet-hater and Michael, said it was their favourite, and the most “burger like” of the four. 

Total Score: 46

The Best Veggie Burger??  By a hair, The Best Ever Veggie BurgerI’ll be making these again, but this time, instead of cooking the beets, I’m going to juice them, and use the pulp to make the burgers. I’ll be back with my adaptation of the recipe if they are a success!
What’s your favourite veggie burger? Share in the comments below–despite the research, I don’t think my search is over!
Big love to Michelle, Jen, Jen-who-hates-beets, and Kristi for being fantastic taste-testers and good sports. 
 
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