Posts Tagged ‘bbq’

What’s the connection?

Well, Paramount set up shop east of Austin to film portions of the anticipated fourth installment of Transformers. I went to Taylor to check out the digs. The filming ended weeks ago, but the aura of Mark Wahlberg remained, like when you walk by people smoking, the fumes linger in the hot humid air.

It would have been exciting to see Bumblebee up close, or from the barricades a few blocks away, same difference.

transformers 4 bumblebee concept car

The new Bumblebee?

I asked the bartender/waitress in Taylor Café about Transformers, she said much of Taylor was shut down during filming including the café. It’s neat to realize a film was being made about 10 miles from my house! Of course there have been other great films set in Austin, Office Space for example. That’s a whole other topic.

Food. BBQ, specifically, is what I was hunting today. (Man meat aka Mark will have to wait.)

Taylor Café is on the list of Texas Monthly’s BBQ lineup for BBQ week, going on now through Friday.

We tested two plates: ribs and turkey sausage.

Rib BBQ Plate @ Taylor Cafe

Rib BBQ plate @ Taylor Café

Turkey Sausage BBQ Plate @ Taylor Cafe

Turkey Sausage BBQ Plate @ Taylor Café

I’m a sucker for ribs.

These ribs were moist and seasoned well. A good amount of smoke permeating the meat. Quite a bit of fat, but that comes with oinker territory. It didn’t stop Little Sister from picking the bones clean! And then stealing her brothers beans.


He didn’t care, so long as he had the last of the Dr. Pepper.


The turkey sausage was plainly seasoned with pepper, I couldn’t decipher many other spices in them. The BBQ sauce was mildly sweet and very tangy.

The beans were named “crazy beans” by my son because they had quite a bit of black pepper on them. He’s sensitive to spices, what 8-year-old isn’t. I can’t blame him, he’s half Canadian, bland runs in his genetic makeup. Yet he loves beans, go figure.

The potato salad was alright, not convinced it was made in-house. Does that matter?

For less than $20 we had ourselves an evening out, complete with a tour of a Hollywood movie set and Texas rainstorms. Quite an exciting Monday!

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  • 12 – 16 chicken drumsticks
  • 1 cup orange marmalade
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • pepper to taste

Combine everything except the balsamic vinegar in a container with a lid or resealable zip top bag resting in a bowl or casserole dish.  Marinade overnight in the refrigerator, turning to coat a few times.

Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF.

Line a roasting pan with foil.  Pluck the chicken drumsticks from the marinade and place in a single layer in the lined pan.  Roast for 1 hour.

While the chicken is in the oven, strain the marinade into a small pot.  Add the balsamic vinegar and bring to a simmer.  Reduce to a thick syrupy glaze.  Remove the chicken roasting pan from the oven and brush the glaze over the chicken.  Return the pan to the oven for another 20 minutes or until done.

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  • 3 butterflied chicken breasts
  • soy sauce
  • orange marmalade
  • honey

Mix the marinade in a bag, use equal parts soy to marmalade and about 3 tablespoons of honey.

Marinade the chicken in a bag in a spill proof container in the fridge for 24 hours.

Drain the chicken and BBQ over medium hot coals until done.

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We discovered another favorite Chinese BBQ dish at one of our lunch time places in Austin, Din Ho Chinese BBQ off 183.  Number 27 off the menu is a pair of delightful BBQ meats, roasted duck breast and BBQ pork.  The duck had a musky spice and caramel notes from the skin, very tender and not overly fowlish.  The pork, with the red lining and lean meat was also very tender.  I was tempted to order another half pound of it to go (only $7.50).

We also ordered the Orange Beef.  The beef had more fat than the other two meats combined.  The sticky sweet and spicy orange sauce never lets us down, I love it and can’t seem to recreate it at home so this was a good fix for that craving.  My lunchmate, Hubby, had a total brain fart and started eating one of the hot chilies off the beef thinking it was a carrot.  Poor thing.  Must have been preoccupied by his lovely wife when it happened.

My fortune cookie sounded like a message from my late Granny K.

Do not rely on others to make you happy.  You must do it yourself.

Thanks Grandma, and I have taken the reins of happiness by starting my own business.  It’s small and waiting for new customers, but it’s mine and that is my token happy thought every day.

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Hubby caught a Sheepshead on the coast and brought it home to be cooked by yours truly.

I was cleaning the fish when Little Sister stepped out on to the patio and squealed, my attention was split for a millisecond and… POKE!  Right on the top of my right index finger was a globe of crimson.  The fish has gnarly spines pointing towards its tail fin, and I ran my hand straight into them.  If the spines didn’t get me, its teeth surely would have!  You know why it’s named after sheep?  This fish has actual teeth that look like they belong on a four-footed grazer!

I’ll get my revenge on you, Mr. Fish.  I will make you delicious and smokey on the grill! Ha ha!

Fish & Chips

  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • lots of garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup lemon and/or lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp thyme (fresh or ground)
  • 2 Tbsp white wine
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Greek seasoning mix, or just oregano

Mix the above ingredients in a bowl and set aside.

Whole, cleaned fish, cut along the spine to allow access to the fillets keeping the fish whole; cover inside and out with salt, pepper, oil.

Grill on both sides to char the skin, get the smoke to penetrate a bit.

Put the fish on foil, pour marinade over and inside the fish, wrap up and return to grill for about 15 minutes, turning about 10 minutes in.

fish n chips

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Oh bother!

Today is just one of those days.  My head is full of fluff and I feel like Pooh trying to remember where he left his honey.

I have no idea what to make for dinner.  I have no inclination to make dinner.  The moon and stars were not providing any help either.

Can’t I just crawl into the rabbit hole with my blanket?  You can handle dinner tonight, okay?  Last time I checked, there were numbers on your iPhone touch screen, and there is a magnet on the fridge for pizza.

Well, a fire was started in our little fire pit outside.  This contraption was the genius idea of my better half and it was meant to replace the loaner barrel  smoker/BBQ until we could buy a quality grill for ourselves.  I like being able to position myself around the grill, avoiding smoke or flame, whatever the case may be.

Waste not want not, as my dad always said.  There’s no use in wasting a good fire if you have something that can be cooked on the grill.  Chicken was the only item suitable on hand.  I discovered a secret to perfect grilled chicken (mostly because I didn’t want to stand outside for hours watching the grill, and second because I hate any pinkish hue in my chicken – so should you).  I microwaved the pieces of thigh and drumsticks on half power for about 3 minutes per piece on the plate.  Since the microwave cooks from the inside out, this gives you a leg up once the chicken is started on the grill.  Don’t over do it in the microwave or you will have tough meat in the end.

A little sauce, some Montreal Steak spice blend and just keep turning over very hot coals.

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I love ribs.  I can go to town on some finger-licking glazed, smoked, or BBQ pork ribs.  It’s not a pretty sight and not real lady-like to be seen gnawing on a bone, face covered in sticky sauce.  Doubly true whilst pregnant!  I ate a lot of ribs while carrying Big Brother, I can’t believe he turned six on Friday.  Speaking of which, I’ve lost quite a bit of baby weight using a simple trick.  Eat like French women.  There’s a book available that is on my wish list… French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano, although without reading the book I have one simple rule: only eat when I am hungry and stop when I am full.  Listen to your body and drink plenty of water and hot tea.  The hot tea bit is more of a Chinese thing, so my neighbour says, you should drink warm or room temperature drinks to not shock your system.  Green and white teas have additional benefits.

I have a craving for this one Chinese restaurant, Din Ho, where Hubby and I occasionally catch up over lunch.  I saw these ribs on Martha Stewart as part of a Pupu Platter, I didn’t have baby back ribs but these turned out just as delicious.

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baby Back Ribs

  • 6 lb rack of ribs, trim excess fat, divide into 3-4 rib portions
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 TBSP fresh ginger
  • 3 tsp chili powder
  • 3 Tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 cup red plum preserves
  • water (if needed)

Put the marinade in a large zippered bag, mix to combine adding a bit of water if it looks too thick.  Add the pork ribs and refrigerate in a container for 12-24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Reserve the marinade as the ribs are removed to a foil lined rack on a sheet or broiler pan.  Bake for 45 minutes to 75 minutes (it depends on how thick the ribs are and how you portion them), use the reserved marinade as your basting liquid.  Remove from the oven and allow the ribs to rest before cutting individual ribs.

* You could bake the ribs until they are just cooked, then finish them off on the grill.  This is a great way to get ahead of the game if you have guests to feed!  Same applies to chicken, only the chicken should be covered in foil while in the oven to help maintain its moisture.  Grill marks add a delicious touch to both ribs and chicken.

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Another spur of the moment short adventure close to home yesterday in Lockhart.

I finally managed to get everyone in the car early enough on a Saturday morning to get to the farmer’s market at Barton Creek Mall.  This is quite a hike from our house, nearly 30 minutes at 60mph.  Not exactly the closest market and probably the most retail of any I’ve visited.  The only thing we bought were two homemade fruit popsicles at 2.50$ a pop.  There’s not enough sunblock in the world to save me and Little Sister from the summer sun, especially Texas summer sun.  We had to pack up and skeedaddle as soon as the mango popsicles melted and consumed.  I was covered in bits of mango from Little Sister’s hands and face, I’m her napkin.  I wish I had bought some peaches, but there should be plenty in my regular grocery store as many local orchards sell to them.

Hubby mentioned Lockhart after we saw a piece about the best BBQ coming from Lockhart and all the German settlers of that area.  I was all for it.  BBQ here we come!

There were two predominant BBQ joints we saw: Black’s and Kreuz Market. Lines were long because we arrived just in time for the lunch rush, if there’s such thing as rushing in this heat, in this sleepy Podunk town.

(Above: Black’s BBQ       Below: Kreuz Market)

The queue was out the door at Black’s so we doubled back to Kreuz Market.  The motorcycle weekend festival is happening in Austin and it attracts thousands of hogs and their riders every year.  Many bikers venture to surrounding areas, including our suburbia and Lockhart.  A few bikers arrived as we did so I snapped a photo or two.

The Biker Co-patrons

Bikes @ Kreuz Market

Pepper was part of the clan today and she was happy to meet someone smaller than her.  A friendly dog owner was waiting outside the market for her family, attending to the two black and white Chihuahuas she had with her.  Little Sister loves all dogs, and Chihuahuas resemble puppies even as they age.  The lady was once a resident of Lockhart and missed the small town BBQ, we asked what she recommended at Kreuz… beef ribs (which are not common), prime rib and beef shoulder.  We tried the shoulder along with some ham and sausage.  All of it was delicious.

To our most pleasant surprise, a classic car show was happening within some sort of summer festival down town.  I jumped out of the car to quickly take some pictures of the neat old cars.  I thought my dad would appreciate some of these, as he loves antique cars and still has at least one from his collection.  His car looks very similar to this one:

Every little town in Texas has at least one antique shop, Lockhart was no exception.  The last stop of our introductory tour was the Antique store. They had three old carriages in the back storage area.  Those snapshots are included in the slide show below…

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It’s hard to pick a favorite BBQ spot in Austin, there are two that are most memorable and consistently deliver cravable BBQ.

The first one introduced to me was The Salt Lick with the pit front and center as you walk in.  The pit master gingerly cares for your ribs, sausage, and brisket over the smoke-envelopped grills. 

Rudy’s BBQ was the second variety of good ‘ol southern smoked meat.  Each store is actually a gas station, so you can imagine the dress code is über casual, next to non-existent save the general  no shirt, no shoes, no service signs standard on every entrance.  Don’t let the rough and tumble appearance of your co-patrons fool you, this is a very good place to be.

My favorite are the ribs, which should be obvious from the snapshot.  The smoke seeps into the pork and it’s soft under a crust of pepper.  Mouth waters just thinking about it. 

There’s more than ribs, you can find turkey, sausage, and brisket.  Desserts are in a cooler adjacent to the ordering counter.  The roped line zigzagging in front of the counter are lined with glass bottles of Corona, Root Beer and assorted soda pops plunged into ice filled bins.  Rustic picnic tables with red and white checker plastic covers fill the void of the room.

Stay and dine alongside other BBQ lovers or take your bag home with you to make a mess of yourself in private.  Oh, don’t forget to grab a couple of containers of vinegary sauce straight out of the spigot before you head home.

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Basil Serrano Polenta with Smoked Pork Tenderloin


It’s the end of summer, at least we thought it was… It hit 99 degrees today.  So what better day to cook outdoors!  My dear hubby wanted to smoke something and started a fire for me to work with.  I had the foresight to prepare a tenderloin with a marinade sèche straight out of Mastering The Art Of French Cooking by Julia Child (finally I could open up her book again!)  I will always use her recipe for pork because this was beyond delicious, it left you with a mouth-watering flavour of the pork plus my added twist of smoke.  Unbelievable! 

With the tenderloin, I made Polenta for the first time, on the BBQ as well.  Who needs plain boring polenta?  Not me! So I experimented a little: 

  • 2 3/4 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chiffonade
  • 1 Serrano, into slivers

Bring the 2 3/4 cups of water to a boil, meanwhile mix the polenta, sea salt and cold water in a bowl.  Slowly add the polenta to the boiling water, stirring with a wooden spoon constantly.  Once all of the polenta is in the pot, turn down the heat to low and stir in the onion and garlic powders.  Cover with a lid for a few minutes as it will splatter, and trust me it’s HOT.  Cook while stirring for 10-15 minutes.  When the polenta pulls away from the sides of the pot, it’s ready to be poured out into a baking dish.  At this moment, add the basil and Serrano and mix it quickly to distribute them as evenly as you can. Let it cool for 30 minutes in the pan or pie tin to set up.  I used a pie tin because I knew it was going on to the grill, otherwise a baking dish is fine for the oven.  If you bake it off in the oven, it’s about 20 minutes at 350ºF.  On the grill, I covered the tin with foil and popped it on for about 30 minutes over indirect heat.  If you’re not sure it’s done, take out a small slice to see if the bottom is soggy, if it is, put it back for another 10 minutes, uncovered.  In the end it should hold it’s shape all on its own. 

I think the leftovers will be fried and garnished with parmesan cheese… mmm cheese… 

The potatoes you see on the plate were also prepared on the grill.  Super easy: quartered Yukon gold potatoes, halved Roma tomatoes, chucks of onion, about 4 whole cloves of garlic, nice bit of fresh rosemary, good tablespoon coriander seeds, same with sea salt, just enough oil to coat everything.  I had my 5-year-old help me by stirring everything in a huge bowl and grind fresh pepper over top.  Then we put the whole lot into a foil bag (just fold a large piece of foil like an envelope) and covered it with one more layer of foil (I tend to burn the potatoes on the grill since it’s outside and the doors are shut I can’t smell them when they start to char).  I start the potatoes on the heat then move them to the indirect heat once the foil is very hot and you hear them sizzle.  Since they are over indirect heat, they can stay on for the same amount of time as the meat, roughly an hour and a half.  Mind you, I had hot coals, no flame, for this time.  If you are using a gas grill, this amount of time would obliterate the veggies, so use your judgement according to what method you use!  There are lots of variations on potatoes-in-a-bag on the grill (oven works too), use flavours you like and veggies you like.  Heck, you could eliminate the potatoes all together and use bell peppers and squash!  They would be ready in about 20 minutes, or less.  

For the duration of summer, which lasts until Halloween around here, I would like to make it a point to smoke something every other weekend.  Once the grill is ready and the wood is chopped, you can smoke a lot of food with little effort if you plan ahead. 

Happy grilling 🙂

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