Three quick hits from Kansas City

Last month I went to Kansas City with my buddy Dave. We go somewhere every year for an NFL game, and this year it was Kansas City to see the Chiefs play the Ravens. We also had an acoustic duo back in the day which we revived to record a few new songs, and I’ll get to the reason I mention that in a minute.

First, we got off the plane and the rental car dude told us where we should go have some great Kansas City Barbecue–Oklahoma Joe’s. Oh my goodness, those may have been the best ribs I’ve ever had. Also maybe the best onion rings I’ve ever had. Damn. My mouth is watering thinking about how those ribs just melted off the bone.

Chef JimThe next night we had dinner with some of Dave’s relatives that live there. We went to a local pub and I saw something on the menu that caught my eye–charred chicken tenders. But not only could you get plain grilled tenders, you could get them fried like traditional tenders, and THEN grilled. And with Buffalo sauce already on, if you prefer. I could not not try this, and they were remarkably kickass. They were crispy, full of wing sauce flavor and then had this amazing, well, charred taste from the grill. That’s something I need to try at home–maybe next spring when I fire up the grill again.

Chef JimFinally, we recorded at a small studio in Eudora, Kansas–a very small town west of KC and just east of Lawrence. When we decided to get some take-out for lunch, we just had to try the place a few doors down in the center of town–Jasmin Restaurant, known for that all-American combo of….wait for it….Chinese & Mexican. I had a quesadilla and fried wontons, because I could!

I write this to talk about my experience, but also because I want to talk about why I think it’s important to find local gems like that when traveling. Some people like the familiarity of chain restaurants. Not me!


Football season = smoked meats time

One of my favorite things about football season is that while there is a chill in the air outside (for the most part, as even in Wisconsin we have some pretty warm weather through September) is that it’s a great time to break out the indoor smoker my wife bought me a few years ago. And while typically I make chicken wings in my Cameron Indoor Smoker, and occasionally ribs–the first two weeks of the season I went a tad healthier to honor the fact that I’m trying to lose weight.

Last week it was chicken tenders–extremely easy as I put them in the smoker frozen, sprayed with cooking spray and sprinkled with salt, pepper and other spices. The cooking time is minimal compared to the low and slow time needed to “tenderize” wings and ribs. I am pretty sure the chicken smoked for about three hours and came out perfect, albeit maybe slightly overcooked before I finished the tenders on the grill. I mixed up some homemade ranch dip by mixing light mayo, light sour cream, a splash of vinegar, onion and garlic powder and salt and pepper. Perfection.

Then yesterday I made a flank steak in the smoker. And it was made even more perfect by the fact that I was in Nashville this past weekend, and picked up some Loveless Cafe dry rub–an awesome sweet, spicy and savory blend to rub on meat before grilling or smoking it. I had the steak in the freezer, so also put that right in the smoker frozen and rubbed it generously with the spice mix. Then I smoked it for about four hours until tender and slapped it on the grill for about five minutes. Done deal: meat snacks! It’s like homemade jerky, but more like a combination of thick steak and jerky that is nicely smoked and seasoned.


The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Sixties Cookbook Giveaway

Chef JimJust in time for the start of Season 5 of AMC’s hit series Mad Men, you can make some of the drinks the characters drink on the show by checking out a new book from Rick Rodgers and Heather Maclean called The Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Sixties Cookbook, and Mikey’s Kitchen is offering you a chance to win a copy of the book right now.

If you grew up in this era (I sort of did, but was more a kid of the ’70’s than the ’60’s), you will love creating some of the food and drink that your parents or grandparents made back in the day, or that Don Draper, Peggy Olson and company make or consume on the show. Rodgers’ drink recipes are authentic and the PR company shared one with us for an Old-Fashioned using Four Roses Bourbon, below.

Chef JimOld Fashioned
1 sugar cube
2 or 3 dashes of aromatic bitters, such as Angostura
2 1⁄2 ounces Four Roses Bourbon
Soda water
Orange slice, for garnish
Maraschino cherry, for garnish
Lemon zest twist, for garnish
Instructions: Put the sugar in an old-fashioned glass and moisten with the bitters. Crush them together with a muddler. Add the whiskey and fill the glass with ice. Stir well. If desired, fill the glass with soda water. Add the orange and cherry, and lemon twist, if using. Serve.

But being that this is primarily a food blog, I had to sample some of the recipes myself:
Chef JimFlower Drum Song Barbecued Ribs–These were sweet, tangy and delicious and used a method of parboiling the ribs before marinating that I hadn’t tried before.
The Ultimate Meat Loaf–Used potato chips and chip dip mix as time-saving ingredients, but overall lacked flavor and needed ketchup (and tasted like a McDonald’s hamburger after dipping in the ketchup!)
Cold War Beef Stroganoff–This one was heavy on the sour cream and maybe too saucy, but still very tasty.

If your mouth is watering from those recipes (others include fried chicken, piggies in blankets, beef wellington, vichyssoise, or desserts like pineapple upside down cake) or at the thought of enjoying a cocktail while you watch Season 5 of Mad Men, Mikey’s Kitchen is giving one lucky winner a copy of the new cookbook. Click here to enter for your chance to win!

CONTEST ENDS: April 25th


Product review: CASCAL fermented soda

On the surface, it sounds kind of funny and maybe not too appetizing–“fermented soda.” And maybe when you realize that CASCAL is a product endorsed by Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods fame, you might think you’re about to taste something strange. Then again, what do you think wine is? Basically fermented grape juice, right? And it’s also worth noting that there are no odd things in this beverage like, oh I don’t know, Mediterranean bug juice or bull testicle extract. They are basically sodas with fruit flavors, but with a couple of twists. For one, some of the fruits are fermented, giving it a half-sour, on its way to being alcohol flavor; and also there are some flower flavors such as rose and magnolia.

The taste? They are actually really delicious and refreshing. I’m a big fan of flavored, unsweetened seltzer, and since these are not as sweet as soda or even fruit juice infused seltzers, it’s refreshing without coating your mouth with sugar. The brightness of the fermented aspect is nice too without being over the top. My favorites were the Bright Citrus–with flavors of lemongrass, tangerine and pineapple; and the Berry Cassis, with black currant, tangerine and lemon. I wasn’t as crazy about the Ripe Rouge. The cherry and chocolate flavors in that one were nice but were overpowered by the rose flavoring. The same goes for the magnolia in Crisp White, which took over the pear and apricot tastes.

Zimmern offers advice on which flavors go best with which fare–such as Crisp White going well with egg dishes; and Ripe Rouge a nice complement to barbecued ribs. Thankfully, he doesn’t suggest pairing any of them with some of the weird things he eats on the show. So go try CASCAL in confidence if you are intrigued, and I know you are. The stuff is really interesting and for the most part, mighty tasty.


Super Bowl Spread I

A couple years back, I posted some Super Bowl recipes on Grub For Guys. Since I did this in 2009 and 2010, I’ll post the first one for you here to make for the championship games this weekend, and the 2010 version for Super Bowl week. Enjoy!

Grub For Guys’ Super Bowl Spread
Slow Roasted BBQ Ribs, Spicy Salami Sliders, Killer Taco Dip, Veggie Panini, and Savory Cilantro Chili Corn Muffins
By Mike Farley

One of the best things about Super Bowl Sunday, aside from the actual football game and even the commercials, is the license to serve and eat great party food. If you like the standard pizza and wing fare, there is nothing wrong with that. But if you want to go a little above and beyond for your Super Bowl party, I’ve come up with some great finger foods that in some cases will leave you with another hand to hold a cold beer. Most of these are real easy, even the ribs, which are simple but time consuming. But with kickoff at around 6:20 ET, you have all day to prepare anyway. So with that, here we go…..

Slow Roasted BBQ Ribs
Does the thought of making ribs with homemade BBQ sauce intimidate you? I felt the same way, until I watched Guy Fieri and Tyler Florence do it on the Food Network. The key is patience, because the actual cooking process is pretty simple.

Read the rest of this entry »


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