Monday, February 17, 2014

Third Sunday Dinner Report February 2014

Happy people eating and enjoying Mesa's wonderful weather.  
     Third Sunday Dinners are always the best.  I enjoy each and everyone and look forward to see who shows up.  We never know how many or who will come to dinner.  I love meeting new people and having new experiences each month.  The weather in Arizona is perfect. It was so wonderful having it outside in the back yard with perfect weather. Amazing.
     Each month my appreciation grows for the opportunities we have to invite people into our home and enjoy them and get to know them.  We have been doing these for over 5 years and it only gets better.
     When deciding what to cook I always try to do things that are easy and yes "cost effective".  The challenge is to be creative and still keep the budget low.  Pasta is a great way to keep the costs down. And there are so many different kinds of pasta and literally thousands of ways to cook it.  So this month pasta it was.  I created a really fun dish,  I have no idea what to call it, but it was great.  I cooked bowtie pasta and and placed it in pans and covered it with a whole grain white sauce.  On top of that I cooked shells and filled them with ricotta cheese and red quinoa.  I covered the shells with red sauce and cheese and baked it.  This dish was prepared on Saturday night so on Sunday I just placed it in the oven a couple of hours before to warm it up.

Bow Tie Pasta cooked and tossed
in olive oil  


Bow Tie Pasta, cooked and tossed in oil.

Shells stuffed with ricotta cheese
and red quinoa
Pasta and Shells topped with red
sauce and cheese.  

   I stuffed the Shells and put them on the pasta.  I covered them with red sauce and cheese.  Everyone thought it was lasagna.

This is the dough for the Rosemary Flat Bread.  Look at the Teff grain in it.  Added so much texture. 

Flat bread on the table ready to dress
with oil, herbs, and salt.  

        We rolled out and baked 13 breads.  Everyone loved it.  Who does not like fresh baked breads.  I had a pizza stone in the oven and each bread baked quickly.  It is a wonderful way to food a large group.

Tossed Salad

Sweet Chard from my garden with Red Quinoa
Freeze Dried Pinapples 

The Table starting to fill up.  

I love this....

The cute blond is my wife and a dear friend.

I am so happy to be here.

Enjoying the Day

Starting to fill up.  

Is it time for dessert yet.

Please don't take my picture.  

The happy couple.  Soon to me my next door neighbors.  I
am so excited.  How lucky for us.  

    Third Sunday Dinners are fun,  that fun and enjoyment always overshadow the work and efforts that come to it.  Each night after everyone is gone and I take a moment to reflect, I am always humbled and amazed at what just took place our home.  How is your Third Sunday Dinner's  coming. Please share with me and the other readers your adventures.   You can comment below.
Chef Brad~America's Grain Guy and Creator of the Third Sunday Dinner Movement.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Smoked Pheasant

Smoked Pheasant with caramalized onions and fresh rainbow chard.

     Recently a dear friend called me and informed me he had been pheasant hunting and wondered if I wanted some.  I have to say I was a little nervous having never eaten them before.  He owns a Traegar Smoker and knows I have one also and figured that since I was a Chef I would know what to do with a Pheasant.  Having never eaten one, I had never cooked one either.  But I am up to a challenge.  So I wanted nervously for him to bring the birds over.

    He brought over several pheasants and some quail like birds,  I cannot remember the name.  So I placed them in the frig and pondered just what I was going to do with them.

    I love my Smoker.  It is amazing.  Traegar Smokers are the best ever.  I have smoked many things, from meatloaf to potatoes, but never a pheasant.  So I did what I always do in these situations, listen to my instincts.  

    The pheasants and other birds were small, so I was worried about dry meat.   So I decided to brine them.  Brining adds a lot of moisture to the meat and takes away the risks of drying out while cooking.  I brined them in a water, Kosher salt,  sugar,  and pickiling spice blend.  I placed the birds in a bucket with the brine and placed it in the frig for the night.

    Next day I turned on the smoker to low smoke for about 10 minutes.  Rinsed the birds off and tossed them in olive oil, and Penzey's sage.  I added a drop of Xagave.  Tossed it and placed the birds on the grill in the smoker.  I smoked them for 2 hours on low and raised the temp to 185 for another hour and raised the temp to 275 for another hour.  Perfect.

     So here I was with perfectly cooked birds and still a little nervous about them.  So I called another friend who is a big game guide in Alaska and asked him if he wanted to share dinner with me.  I knew  he would appreciate the birds.  So my son and I headed over to thier house.  They were really excited and I was surprized to hear that they had never tried pheasant before either.  So we sat down and started in.  Oh my.  I was thrilled.  The first bite was heaven.  Smoked to perfection with a hint of sage.  We devoured them in a few minutes and I have to say a part of me was disapointed that I had shared.  Not really, it was great enjoying food with someone who really appreciated it.

     It was a wonderful experience, Thank you Joe Hatch for thinking of me and sharing  your birds with me.  Thank you McCarey family and my son Chase for feeding my ego and enjoying my food.  And especially thank you Traegar for the best smoker in the world.  

  The Brine,  salt, sugar, and pickling salt in water.  Brining is amazing and I always brine before smoking meats and poultry.

      Rinsed and tossed in Olive oil, sage, and agave.  

On the smoker.  

       Smoked until they had reached 160 degrees internal temp.  Grill marks, make them look even better.

I served it on fresh chard, sautéed onions, garnished with fresh sage.  I loved this adventure.  Smoking foods can be fun and exciting.  I love a challenge and I love trying new foods. On to the next adventure.  Chef Brad~America's Grain Guy