BBQ Cake … regular AND vegan!

Note: Photos will be added, but they don’t seem to want to upload at this point, and I want to get this out…

Saturday September 12th marked the 4th Annual Real Estate Brothers BBQ Competition. Last year I tested a little something out since I knew I’d have time to finish my ACTUAL competition entry (we have 3 hours to cook). So…I BAKED A CAKE!!! It turned out REALLY well. So this year, I decided to go for it AS the entry! I did it a little different, since last year it was a test, and as a gift to my fellow competitors after the event. This year, as opposed to just a chocolate cake with frosting, I added maple (a BBQ favourite) and a “BBQ Sauce” as opposed to chocolate frosting. By BBQ Sauce, I just mean frosting that looks like it…it’s really just coloured frosting that’s a little bit thinner than regular frosting, so it flows like BBQ sauce.

I ALSO added another element to it, which was actually needed! I did two versions. One set was just a regular chocolate cake. The other was both gluten-free AND vegan (and we had at least one person with a gluten allergy). She LOVED the cake, and took a picture of the recipe so she could make it at home! I also had people who sampled BOTH and couldn’t really tell the difference between the two, which was an awesome compliment! The only difference they found was the gluten-free/vegan version didn’t rise as much…but was just as moist.

A few things…

In a way, I think of myself as a version of Alton Brown (host of a few Food Network shows) in that he ‘experiments’ with things. I do too. I try to do things that work conventionally in an unconventional way. (I smoke chickens indoors…not in a smoker…and with no release of smoke. If I haven’t posted that one…I’ll do that soon…) I look at the BBQ as a HEAT SOURCE. So, here’s the tips:

1. You NEED to have control of the heat…not just the temperature itself, but WHERE the heat is coming from. While it’s likely possible that you can do it on a single burner, a dual (or in my case here) QUAD burner is the best. Create heat on one side of the grill, and cook on the other. That way, the bottom of the cake doesn’t get burnt!

2. DON’T put it right on the grill… I roll tinfoil into a tight tube, then roll two tubes together (so they don’t collapse under the weight), and put the cakes on those. This insulates it from the grill, since aluminum doesn’t heat up nearly as much as cast iron or steel grates. Basically, if you look at an oven, you have the heat at the bottom, and you put things to bake on the rack…essentially, you’re creating the rack.

3. Because you are using heat on one side, you’re essentially creating a small convection current within the BBQ. In this case, it will actually take LONGER to bake than you think. Though, the same doneness applies. The cake is done when it starts to pull away a little from the sides, and an inserted toothpick comes out clean. IMPORTANT… once that happens, place it OVER THE HEAT for 2 – 3 minutes. The cake is so moist that you actually DO need to ‘crisp’ up the bottom for a little bit so it comes out whole! If it doesn’t come out whole, what’s left is kinda like fudge…still delicious, but not what was intended. That happened today…and I’m still eating it!

4. LET IT COOL… like all cakes, you need to let it cool before cutting. Unfortunately, I misjudged my time by 15 minutes, and didn’t have time to let one set of cakes cool adequately, and they didn’t cut as well as others. The taste wasn’t affected, but presentation was… I had some ‘leftovers’ (on purpose) and took them home, those cut GREAT!

5. 120 platings in about 15 minutes is HARD! Especially for someone who ISN’T a large scale chef! AND someone working alone!

Cake recipe:
(Makes 2 10″x1 1/2″ Round cakes)

Mix together
1 3/4 cups of all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups cocoa cower
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking power
1 tsp salt

Mix it well, then add:

2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla (or any flavoured extract you want… I used maple…because BBQ!)
1 cup water

Mix this together well, and place into 2 well greased and floured 10″x1 1/2″ pans (works well in 2 9″ x 2″ pans as well)

“Bake” in the BBQ at about 350 degrees and check for doneness at 30 minutes, it likely won’t be done… check again at 40, and every 5 – 7 minutes after that until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Then place it directly on the grill for 2 – 3 minutes, this will help the cake come out clean.

** For the gluten-free version, use a gluten free flour mix**
**For the vegan version, use an egg replacement (but add an extra tbsp of oil)**

“BBQ Sauce” Recipe

Make the frosting a little thinner by adding more milk/coconut milk

1 cup icing sugar
3 – 6 tbsp of milk
2 tbsp of maple extract
4 – 6 tbsp cocoa powder (I made this on the fly and didn’t really measure!)
Red food colouring until it looks like REAL BBQ sauce.

**For the vegan version, use coconut milk**


Another Food Challenge

I’m NOT going to add photos to this… for reasons which will become obvious…

This was challenged by Micheal Dorn (@akaWorf)… he…of course, played Worf on Star Trek:TNG.
While this is not STRICTLY what he wanted, I told him about it on twitter and he said I should still share the recipe. He was looking for vegan and this…simply…is NOT that! Basically, it was a call for an earth based Klingon recipe…

This is based off of two recipes brought together, both parts are seafood. One is an old ‘standard’, and one is a new ‘fad’…though I’m sure it’s likely been done for a while…

First…again…do NOT try this at home. The sauce is fine…but the heart of the dish CAN kill you if not done correctly. NO, it’s not blowfish…but people HAVE died eating this…

This is a recipe for Gagh…the traditional Klingon dish of serpent worms…usually served live…

I’ll go over the sauce for it first since…it’s the less disgusting of the elements.

Sauce: Squid Ink (black)

In olive oil (or butter) sweat down a finely diced shallot and garlic. Add a tablespoon of cider vinegar (or red wine vinegar). Add 2 oz of very fined chopped tomatoes and some chili pepper to taste. Or…you can use 2 oz of salsa (any heat you like…as long as it’s not chunky). Basically…you want a very fine sauce that is entirely black. Add a little sugar if it’s too salty. Finally, add the squid ink (might be hard to find)… 1/2oz to 1oz will be more than enough… let that reduce for 2 – 3 minutes…

Now…for the disgusting part… Live baby octopus.
These will also be hard to find…but you’re not going to make this anyway, so what does it matter?

There is a Korean delicacy of eating live octopus. It’s not entirely safe, but would be if done in the right way…

Take the octopus by the legs, and cut off the head. The head contains the beak which is inedible, and dangerous while alive…
Next, split the legs into small pieces 1 – 2 inches long, up to the last cut that separates the legs, and remaining body can be split vertically. Note…the legs WILL be moving…and will for some time…maybe 30 minutes, maybe a few hours…

Once the sauce is done, mix well with the still moving legs (it…might mix itself!)… and enjoy!

But…you’re NOT going to do this…because the suckers on the legs are still active…and may actually stick to your esophagus…which… could kill you. So…again…don’t do this!

So…what you’re left with in the dish is a squirming pile of black ‘worms’… or…Gagh!

Bloody Ice Cream

Edit…added cast quotes…

I met the cast of the TV show Remedy in January at a charity event. After last weeks episode, one of them made a comment about wanting to have a Remedy flavoured ice cream.

I really hope this show lasts a long time and we can get a Remedy ice cream flavor at the best shops in Toronto #IceCreamDream #RemedyTV

Diego Garcia retweeted that, and I commented to both of them…:

@ElOriginalDiego @sarahallenhere Well…with all the hookups so far this year…the only thing that so far seems to fit is banana! 😉


@ElOriginalDiego @sarahallenhere though blood is also common…so maybe blood orange…

* I do NOT own a ‘best shop’ in Toronto…but…I CAN make a good Ice Cream!*
*If you DO have an ice cream shop in Toronto…and want the recipe… leave a note, we’ll talk!*

**If I FIND this ice cream recipe in a shop…I’mma call a lawyer! lol**

I took that as a challenge! After making a joke about all the sex that’s on the show this year and a banana ice cream, I settled on blood orange because, well, it’s a medical show and there’s a LOT of blood! 🙂

Since this was a test batch, I didn’t really want to spend the money on fresh blood oranges when I have something that is basically the same flavour without the colour… So I used bakery emulsion and orange flower water instead, the colour came from food colouring… In retrospect, with the blood red strawberry topping, I should have made the ice cream more of a fleshtone, which I think I’ll do next time…

Sarah’s response after seeing (and not tasting) the ice cream was awesome:

@Blackbird_2 WHA?????!!!!

and immediately after:

😍@Blackbird_2 made a REMEDY ICE CREAM flavour. Best art inspired by TV ever. #RemedyTV

Thanks Sarah!!

Now…how it’s done…

Ice Cream recipe:

This is very basic and takes only a minute or two to prepare…
It’s my take on a Philadelphia Style Ice Cream…

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 oz White Rum
  • 1 oz (or to taste) Orange bakery emulsion
  • 1 tbsp Orange Flower water
  • 1/2 – 2/3 cup icing sugar
  • Red Food Colouring

Mix ingredients together until sugar is fully blended in. Chill for 20 mins, then churn for 30 mins.

Take out of mixer then freeze.
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I took frozen berries that I’d normally use for a smoothie and threw them in a pot with some rum, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar and white wine vinegar. It was about 60% strawberry, and the rest a mix of blueberries and raspberries, leading to the darker colour… almost like dried blood… It was about 1 cup of berries total…

All of this was done to taste, so I can’t really say how much of each was in it… but be easy on the vinegars…it was only a splash of each…just enough to impart a little flavour…

After that, I blended it with about a tbsp of the heavy cream to lighten it up just a little bit, then sent it through a strainer to get out any remaining chunks…

Then, all you have to do is put some ice cream into a bowl, add the berry ‘blood’ on top and you have…well…BLOODY GOOD ICE CREAM!

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3rd Annual BBQ Competition

So I entered into a friends 3rd Annual BBQ Competition… and I didn’t win… 😦
Oh well!
I won last year, and was 2nd the year before so…I’m NOT complaining! Gotta give other people a chance right?

While it will take me a while to put out the FULL recipe for this… here’s what I did!


This is a ‘Tomahawk’ steak… which is essentially a double or triple sized ribeye (with the bone still attached). A WONDERFUL cut of meat. This, I dry aged in the rig I posted earlier, for 6 days, after having my butcher wet age it for 6 weeks…a bit longer than normal. I’ll write about this later…but… KNOW YOUR BUTCHER. You can get things ‘not on the menu’ if you actually talk to them…  A simple dry rub was added before I smoked it. Then it rested, and only THEN was it seared.
After that, it was sauced (same as the baste used while searing…).
Then it was plated. I think I did 150 or so platings in 35 minutes. I had help with the plating from a friend! Thanks Ash!
I was only asked to do 100…so…the end of the platings weren’t what I wanted to plate…but still pretty damn good!


After all of this…I had a cake for the competitors and the hosts….

And… as you would guess I would do… I made the cake… on the BBQ! It IS a BBQ competition after all isn’t it??

Here’s the result!

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Oh MY was it good…and moist. I used an un-modified cake recipe… and it only took a few minutes longer than it should have…Likely due to the fact that corn was also being made on the same BBQ (they were wide BBQs…but only a single lid…)

I should have the recipes out for this in the next few days. I’ll do one for the sauce (which would be great with lobster, or…as I did last night when hungry… on soft boiled eggs)…and one for the meat…and one for the cake!

Cold Cucumber Soup

Here’s a recipe for something I whipped up MORE than a few times this summer…


– 1 English cucumber

– 6 small pickling cucumbers

– 2 green onions, or 1/4 of a sweet onion

– 1 Tbsp Apple Cider or Red Wine vinegar

– big handful of cilantro

– Cracked black pepper

– Salt to taste (or eliminate with serving suggestion)

You can also kick it up a bit with jalapeno or chilies

Cube the english cucumber and SKIN and cube or slice the pickling cucumbers. Rinse in plenty of water to remove some seeds. Some seeds left won’t be a problem since this will be blended later.
Roughly chop the onions to about 1/2 the size of the cucumber. Same with the cilantro (leaves and stems…remove the roots of course…). Do the same with the hot pepper of your choice if you wish to use it.
Place all of the chopped ingredients into the bowl of your blender, crack some pepper over it and blend until smooth.
Taste and adjust any flavours you want to change…more pepper or salt…

Place in the fridge for a few hours or up to a few days to allow the flavours to combine.

Suggested serving:
Take a small glass (about 4 – 6 oz) and pour an ounce of tequila in it. Swish it around in the glass, making sure you get the rim and pour into the NEXT serving glass. Take the first glass, and rim it with sea salt (black sea salt looks great). Then carefully pour the soup into the glass. Drink the soup like a Ceasar, move the glass around to get the salt. Serving this way would be the reason why you wouldn’t actually salt the soup itself.

Dry Age – DIY

So…it’s apparently been a year since I posted anything here… WOW. I didn’t think it was that long! Oh well…I’m back with something really fun, and something that will make your beef REALLY REALLY tasty.

What I have for you today, is a device to dry age beef. If you’ve never had dry aged beef…you gotta try it! You don’t even need a rig like this to do it… you can get essentially the same thing with a small rack and a plate, but…it being RAW meat, I want to keep it covered. Remember…like us humans, beef is mainly water… What does dry aging do? …it removes WATER! This will concentrate the flavours. It ALSO starts an irreversible process with enzymes that are already in the meat, starting to break it down… kinda like internal natural tenderizing. This is why the meat doesn’t actually ‘dry out’…and will still be tender when cooked. If it wasn’t tender…no steakhouse would do this…

You don’t need a lot of things to make this:
– drill with 1/4″ bit

– marking device for plastic

– plastic container with lid

– ruler

– rack that fits inside container

– papertowel

STEP 1 – Invert the container

 Step 1


STEP 2 – Drill the holes

Step 2
I can’t give you the exact spacing, or number of holes, since that will all vary based on the size of container. Simple rules are that there should be enough holes for decent airflow.

STEP 3 – Starting the aging process

Step 3
Now take the lid and invert it (top side down), and place some paper towels on the lid to absorb liquids. Place your rack on the paper towel. This is a rack I found at the store for doing ribs and chicken… I probably won’t ever use it for that…but it has TWO racks, so you can load up a little more meat…

STEP 4 – Meat Preparation

Step 4

Dry off the steak completely. Top, bottom, sides… make sure you get everything. Flip it over and pat dry. NOTE: the steak I’m using is not really suitable for this… it should be much thicker (about 1 3/4″ – 2″ thick…). This steak is just for demonstration purposes… The steak should also be fresh…and have at least 4 days left before it’s ‘best before’ date…

Step 5
Place in the fridge and let it be! Seriously. You don’t need to do anything! Leave it for 24 hours, then check on it. If there is a lot of juice on the paper towel, replace the paper towel. Once replaced, you’ll likely not have to do that again. Check after another 24 hours. You should be able to see a noticeable difference. Let it go another 24 hours. 72 hours is about the longest you want to go with this. The meat should be ‘tougher’ that when you bought it…but NOT hard. It should rebound when you push down on it a little bit.  You can see my rig takes up most of the bottom of the fridge (the coldest area, the only place you want this…the meat has to stay below 38F). I made this one quite large since I have a BBQ competition coming up next weekend. Yours only needs to be big enough to hold what ever you are going to age…


Now, when you have the steak aged, you might notice a bit of a smell, and might have a bit of a leathery surface in a few spots (the longer it goes, the drier the outside will get… remember…some are aged 4 MONTHS!)

The smell, isn’t much of a problem… if it’s VERY pungent, you might not want to continue cooking. If there are dry bits on it, just cut those off. This would also be the time to trim off any fat you do not want. But remember…fat is flavour AND it will help keep the steak juicy…so don’t cut off too much!



Flavour Infuser – SCIENCE!!!

All of this came out of a discussion with a friend, when I pulled out a recent youtube video of  a NYC eatery smoking single oysters using smoke created in a gravity bong.

So, I tried it. Impressive yes, but a lot of smoke is wasted, and the amount needed to smoke things at home would just be too smokey for a home. So…I wanted to modify it.

As I said, I started by building the gravity bong and looking at what it was doing. And really, all it is is a ‘sucking device’, created by gravity, and a chamber holding the smoke.

So, all I needed to do what create something that sucks. So, originally I was thinking about making a venturi system which would pull the smoke into a secondary chamber to smoke the food to be smoked. Everything I looked at seemed to need way to much airflow to be ‘practical’ in the home. So, I bought a $20 aquarium pump, and reversed the airflow. Instructions on how to do this are available online, it’s usually done by model makers for pressing parts on a much smaller scale that commercial vacuum pump systems.

I ended up adding a third chamber to the mix after thinking about 2 things. One, I didn’t want a lot of smoke going into the aquarium pump. The second thing I wanted was the ability to do not just sold foods, but, liquid as well.
This is still a work in progress. I’m missing one needed clamp to keep the liquid from falling back into the second chamber before suction is applied.
However, for the most part, here it is.  Empty Setup  Here is the basic setup I’m using. Basically, it’s a flask on the left with two aquarium hoses coming out of it into a second flask. Using two is simply to increase the smoke flow to the second chamber. The smoke then flows upward into the third chamber, flowing through an aquarium bubbler to ‘infuse’ the liquid with whatever flavour you’re burning in the first chamber. From the bottom of that chamber is a tube going into the receiving bottle, where the finished liquid is collected. The bubbler on the top of the bottle is connected to the aquarium pump (which has been modified to extract air).

Smoke flow

Here is the smoke entering the second chamber. You can see the two lines of smoke coming in from the two tubes.


Here is a close up of the bubbles entering the third chamber filled with whatever liquid you want to flavour.

Full Smoke

Here’s the full setup full of flavouring smoke. You can see in the second chamber that some of the liquid has fallen down into it. This is why you need two clamps, since liquid and air flows from the BOTTOM of the third chamber. You could also use a back flow valve on the air side of the chamber, and the clamp on the liquid side.


And here is the final product. Once the smoke has gone through the third chamber, all you need to do is apply a clamp to the airflow INTO the third chamber, and release the clamp on the liquid side of the chamber. Then, remove the stopper from the top of the chamber, which will stop the suction created by the aquarium pump. Into the bottle flows the now flavoured liquid.

Questions about Deep Fried Pickles

I’ve had a few questions pop up about my deep fried pickles.
I don’t have step by step photos of how these are done, and I haven’t perfected the recipe to the point where they’re perfect. I still have some of the coating falling off…

Here’s my basic process with them, with a few changes I’ve made that might work a little better…

First step is to cut and chill the pickles. Cut them into long halves, or quarters.  Put them on a baking sheet, and place them in the freezer for 30 mins. While they’re chilling, make up a simple egg wash (one egg, and one ounce of water, mix well, and mix again BEFORE coating). Then, make up the dry mix.  The dry mix is simply panko bread crumbs and dried dill, at about an 7 to 1 ratio.
Once the 30 minutes is up, remix the egg wash. Press the pickles into the dry mix, then press the mix into the dills to make a ‘tight’ coating. This is the point where I fried them. I think THAT was a mistake, so the ‘new process’ will be to put them back in the freezer for another 15 – 20 mins in order to ‘re-harden’.
Heat a fryer to 375f. Carfeully drop in the chilled pickled (don’t over fill the fryer) and cook in batches. If you are doing a lot, and want to keep them warm, when they come out of the fryer, place them on a drying rack and place in a 200 degree oven. They’ll be done when they float to the surface and the coating is a golden brown.

They are good hot or cold, though I prefer them hot (well, warm…)


It’s been a while…

So, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here, and, well, that’s something I DIDN’T want to do. I cook almost everyday, and I figured at the minimum I’d be getting one or two posts a week here. But…that hasn’t happened. Oh well. So, what I think I’m going to maybe do is in weeks where I CAN’T get anything coherent on the page, I’ll just post a bunch of pictures of what I’ve made, and if you want recipes for them, let me know and I’ll post them! We will call this “user content”. 🙂


…and here’s some photos…

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Boiled Lobster with Asparagus, Spinach Quick Salad with Carrot.

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Cream of Asparagus Soup

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“Rustic” Chicken Noodle Soup with hand made noodles.

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Oven Slow Roasted and Smoked Chicken.

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“Gardenish” salad with tomato and lox.