Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Colorado Vineyards are Fallow Winter's First Storm

 Colorado Vineyards are Fallow Winter's First Storm


It only seems right to follow up the Game Hen blog with the winter
scenes of two days later! And so we will visit the tranquil beauty of
the fallow fields, orchards, and vineyards that only one month ago were
being harvested for fruits, grains, and grapes for the crush!

The peach trees stand barren after their year's work. Time to rest and
regain for what will be next year. They stand sullen, unable to do
anything against the elements, and stand to take what winter has to

And in the background the silent giant awaits to afford its protection
once again when beckoned to perform, he will stand and he will swing and
the temperature will change!

Onward I push to another place, and there lay the corn field bare
before, raped of its offering of grain for the year. Left to stand the
winters test.

But here to, the field will offer once more of herself, in late winter
the stalks and leaves that were not collect, but instead threshed by the
combine and spit to the ground, will offer the the pregnant cow a place
to forage and calve as the spring returns to show once again reveal the
cycle nature have set!

But it is time to push on further, closer to home the storm is making
everything quiet, peaceful, the normal hum of life passing has been
dampened, almost silenced. The air is heavy with the smell of the winter
storm. Wet! The whisp of wood smoke as stoves are lit off to fend off
the winters night!

We come upon the vineyard, the vineyard is perhaps most tranquil in the
doldrums of winter.

While every other time of the year something is happening in the
vineyards, pruning, tightening, tilling, weeding, feeding, watering,
cutting, grafting, and of course harvesting. But after the crush, she
has been used for her worth and is left to recoup for the spring time.

The vineyard too, has a solid steel sentinel, dormant, waiting for
springs call to duty! When once again the steel sentinel will spring to
life and whirl, whop whop whop breaking our sleep early and signaling
the return of the growing season and the requirement keep the freezing
nights at bay less the vineyard be hurt by temperatures to low after
growth has budded out!

As I travel closer to home I pass the silent reminders of steel waiting
to be pushed into service as the promise of the seasons change starts to
show itself....... and the cycle will continue!

A water pump waiting to push what the great Colorado has to offer onto
land that is parched and would remain fallow without this offering!

Varied farm equipment waiting to once again perform the service required
to see mother earth come to life and produce!

An old Ford NAA sitting idle, cold and silent, waiting for someone to
throw closed the switch and add fire to her belly. And as the iron warms
she will serve to mend the soils! And allow the cycle to continue.

A gang disc waiting to hook to the tractor and once again scratch
mother earth's back and lay her soil open ready to accept the seeds that
will produce the get for yet another year! And the cycle will continue

Well the first storm blew in! May you find yourself in a warm house with
good drink when it comes in on you!

'Til we talk again, mull and spice some red wine it fits the mood!

Chef Bob Ballantyne

The Cowboy and The Rose Catering

Grand Junction, Colorado, USA

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Colorado Smokin' Game Hens on the Charbroil!

Colorado Smokin' Game Hens on the Charbroil!


Well arrived back in town from New Hampshire late Saturday night. Got up
Sunday to start catching up on the yard, house, firewood, etc. Daughter
driving back to college, son out seeing his girl before she heads back
to college, things to do. One of those days when I want a decent dinner
after the traveling, but I don't want to be slaving in the Kitchen for
hours preparing it. Besides it is 55 F out and not going to have a lot
of these type of days left before winter takes hold and sticks!

So breakout the

and lets cook some of those game hens that were on sale a
few weeks back.

So we fire up the charcoal in the

to get things started.

A few interesting things about this cheapass chef, you will notice in
this picture a lot of bags of chips in storage.

This is not due to the ever prepared chef having plenty of chips on
hand. This is due to a phenomenon called clearance sale. At the end of
the season the smaller stores don't have space to store all this
seasonal stuff that is left. So they start marking it down to move it
out of stock. This Cheapass chef monitors said sales as they progress.
Knowing that most people are not going to want a couple dozen bags, I
watch until the things are like 70 percent off. Then I swoop in like a
cheapass seagull and buy them all. Same with charcoal! Saves me about
$4.50 (USA dollars something like $500 Canadian) per bag. So we get our
cheaply acquired, no scratch that lets say frugally acquired wood chips
and pan them.

This allows me to top the pan with foil and starve the little chips for
air, which gives you more smoke for the amount of, on sale, inexpensive
chips used.

Now I have to go into the kitchen for a quick prep of the lovely little
game hens.

I have them washed and lined up. Now to season and such for the taste.
Since the smoke does most of the work, I am using a few simple
alterations for the birds. Yoshidas gourmet sauce, season all, paprika (Hungarian)
and some Adolf's meat tenderizers. I do two things that help a lot. After
seasoning the birds I spray them with olive oil to adhere the spices to
the outside skin. Then I stuff them. First with some herbs from the
cheapass chefs kitchen window greenhouse thingy! A little rosemary
seemed to fit the taste I am looking for and will contrast the secret
ingredient well!

And the secret ingredient is: Dried Fruits

As you can see the cheapass chef is using the store brand dried fruit.
Hey I am not displaying it, I am stuffing into a birds cavity for flavor
enhancement and moisture. (I just realized this may have a different
meaning in Australia!) Any way I have stuffed the birds with the apples,
prunes, apricots, peaches, and pears. This to my mind matches the game
hens perfectly.

Outside to check the charcoal

The charcoal is ready and the smoke pan hits the firebox of the

to start the magic!

In with the hens

And slam the lids shut. Firebox to 450 F and the cooking chamber should
hold 300 F. A quick lift of the lid shows the smoke pan doing its thing
in the firebox.

And another peek on the cooking side shows the birds and dancing with

In about two hours they come out looking very nice. Sides for today and
nothing fancy, herbed bread stuffing, and a nice carrot and peas
combination. All washed down with

Grande River Vineyards
Sauvignon Blanc! A wonderful New Zealand style
blanc with that zamboni acid affect sauvignon nuts look for! If this was
made a little further west it would be called a Fume Blanc.

Anyway this is how a cheapass chefs hens look when the day is hurried
and the guy is tired!

And this is the table set for dinner. Nothing fancy but we are not
exactly eating terribly either!!!

Til we talk again, fire up some charcoal and smoke something! Won't be
long here in North America and the outside temp is going to go down and
it won't climb for a while!

Uncork a bottle and enjoy!

Chef Bob Ballantyne

The Cowboy and The Rose Catering

Grand Junction, Colorado, USA

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Going Solo in the Kitchen, but Mo was there too!

Going Solo in the Kitchen, but Mo was there too!


So Zane and Mary Lou are away for some down time! Well deserved I might
add! Al is now in full swing of teaching and one of our special clients
has to have lunch. Mike is away at a wedding in Texas so can I put out a
lunch for 12 without burning the kitchen to the ground?

Easy enough chef salad and I have to make a fall dessert. OK have at it!

So first I gather up the mixed greens and layout the plates,

Then I start adding in what I think will be some very cool stuff, so I
cut a little cuke on the bias and place it around the edges, marinate
off a few dozen artichoke hearts with olive oil, balsamic, basil and
sundries'. (The ladies don't want the meat rolled, Al has spoiled them
with cut meats!) So I cut some turkey breast and some ham and lay it on
the salad.

Add in a little avocado, some boiled eggs sliced up, and some sliced
mushrooms. And that completes the basic chef salad. Except I want mine
different. So I had slacked off some smoked salmon, and I took the time
to cook up some lumpia filling. I did a cured pork and shrimp lumpia. I
also put up an oyster sweet sauce for dipping the lumpia into for their
dining pleasure!

Last I place the lumpia on, the sweet sauce in individual serving cups,
salt, pepper and then clean and wrap them.

Next the need the "dessert" as Mary Lou requested. Something fall like
or that reminds them of fall. I think I had the idea and Mo was going to
be here! First plates, I like plates and I think plates are important to
any event. So I picked these up cheap on close out at Wal-Mart.

My idea was to do a cornucopia with some of the fall fruits in and
around it. So I got to work.

Placing the marble chocolate horns down. I then went to building the
chocolate raspberry mousse.

This is a basic mousse with, chocolate, raspberry brandy, Apfel apple
liquor, a little sugar and some cream. Then I whipped the cream with a
little Mexican vanilla, sugar and a slight almond extract was drizzled
into the cream. Folded the two together after cooling the chocolate and
pushed it into the piping bag.

I prepared pears and did a group of spiced apple slices and then topped
it with Mo Mckenna's Brandied Cherries. She gave me a jar of them in
Windsor. And I thought they would be great to finish this dish.

The pear you can not see as I have it sliced thin and inside the horn. I
cover it with the mousse on purpose so the client would discover it
while eating.

Then I thought I would finish it with a little fall Snow Storm.

And there you have it one quick lunch for the Hospice people. All plates
cleaned when I arrived to pick up.

Of course it did not go off without a hitch, I had everything loaded and
was just pulling out to serve when the phone rings. Hospice on the other
end, we have had an additional person add for lunch. Sure but I am going
to be about 10 minutes later on set up. So out of the truck and into the
kitchen I flew. Set up another salad, build another dessert, out the
door over to the site. Three flights of stairs and 5 trips to get it
done. Damn I am getting to old to do this three story catering stuff!

Til we talk again try some of these fall fruits they are fantastic!
Fuji apples are really nice this year and they cook and spice cure well.
Same with the late bosch pears.

Chef Bob Ballantyne

The Cowboy and The Rose Catering

Grand Junction, Colorado, USA