Best of 2012 #13

Sex Drugs and Habanero
I have been slowly perfecting my hot sauce over the past two years and I’m proud to say that I finally bottled and brought my first round of production to market in 2012. The response has been amazing in Canada where it is currently available. I am working on getting my Sex Drugs and Habanero sauce into the USA this year so send me an email if you’re interested.

Sex Drugs and Habanero Hot Sauce

It took almost 2 years to perfect. You may have heard about my love of the habanero pepper and my small (very small) hot sauce operation in Vancouver. (Can you call, shopping in local markets, cooking and bottling a few dozen per year an operation?)
I’ve spent the last couple of years testing the recipe on family and friends and a few willing people in the music industry. It’s burnt a few tongues and egos along the way, but when I bump into people that have tried it they always seem to want more!

So here it is! I’ve been able to produce a few of these big ass (750ml) bottles of the stuff.
If you live in Canada and want to get one for someone you love before Christmas, shoot me a message and I’ll let you know how.

Salmon Avocado Sliders

I guess you could say I’m simply addicted to sliders! Ever since I discovered the tiny buns baked fresh every day here in Vancouver I’ve been topping them with what ever I can get my hands on. Anyone else is slider crazy out there?

Turns out salmon is a good way to go. On this occasion I decided to try ground salmon vs salmon filets. The grilled filets were better in my opinion. I’m not a huge fan of ground fish, but I had to give it a shot. I grilled the salmon skin down on the bbq and I did the ground salmon patties in a cast iron pan on the other side of the grill. The sauce is simple – plain yogurt, mayo, lemon juice and fresh capers. The avocado slice adds some nice creaminess and a touch of green on the plate. Over all a pretty successful little meal with a stack of crisp pop chips. One lesson I learned here is use more sauce! I backed off a little on my sauce portion and it was the wrong way to go.

#1 slider rule for me (no matter what you’re putting in the middle): Sauce must drip out of the sandwich on every single bite, or it’s not a good slider!

Stick to that rule and you can’t go wrong!

Burger Bar Review, Las Vegas

Shortly after playing the amazingly successful Rock Vegas Festival I had the opportunity to put a local burger joint to the test in “Jonny’s Search For America’s Best Burger”.

The contender: Burger Bar at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas

Burger for breakfast? Sure! It won’t be the first time, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

But first things first – a round of Guinness for a band that really shouldn’t be out of bed yet after the shows we’ve just played, but we have a rehearsal space booked and we’re all really looking forward to getting there to work on some new music.

The atmosphere at the Burger Bar could use some help. It seems like they’re trying to pull off half diner, half pub and not really hitting the mark on either. The music = horrible. This is Vegas, so I expect the worst, but the canned dance-a-tronic music being pumped through this place is nearly unbearable. It’s at times like these that great service can really make you forget about the bad music and lack of ambiance, but unfortunately Burger Bar falls short again. Rushed/uninterested service at a snail’s pace. So far, things are not going too well. I order my burger with a positive attitude in anticipation for something great… And the burger does not let me down.

The meat is tasty and cooked perfectly to medium rare. The cheese and bacon are also perfectly melted and cooked and the flavors of each are incredible. I left the bun, sauce and condiments up to the chef and was pleasantly surprised. He chose an onion bun and to serve sliced avocado on the side – interesting. The bun was a little distracting for my taste buds to handle with all of these other amazing flavors – I will steer clear in the future. The avocado looked very lonely and I was intrigued by the chef’s choice to add this as an optional condiment. So, I stuffed in some green layers on the second half of my burger and it was pretty damn good! Definitely complimented the other flavors and brought out an undeniable extra creaminess to this “breakfast burger” – good call chef!

The beef was really the highlight – very flavorful and cooked perfectly. The only disadvantage was simply too much. I encounter this mistake often in burger paradise. Sometimes thicker/bigger is not better. For the perfect burger I believe you need a balance – there must be an ideal “beef to bun to topping” ratio so that all of the flavors come together into perfect burger harmony. This one, unfortunately simply had too much beef. (If you want to know the answer to “Where’s the beef” well, it quite possibly might be at Burger Bar)

I give Burger Bar  out of 5 beers.

The beef was really great, but the balance and the overall experience was a disappointment.

Thank you to all who made great suggestions in the Rock Vegas Fest Burger Contest. The next time I am in town I will be sampling more burgers based on your recommendations.

Until next time… keep grilling it and killin it!

Jonny Hetherington

Croque Madame

After our last tour I flew straight from our final show in Tulsa, OK to Paris via Toronto for a little post tour R&R. This was my first time in France and I loved every minute of it. A friend I have over there actually let me crash on his couch, so I got to see the real Paris from a resident’s point of view. Food high lights for me were the wine, the cheese, the baguettes and this amazing little breakfast I discovered in the brasseries – Croque Madame.
This was my go to meal to fuel me up for a day of exploring the city – amazing with an espresso or three!

Since getting home I’ve done my best to recreate this little gem. Here is one of my first attempts.

Top a toasted halved baguette with shaved prosciutto and shredded padano. Broil in the oven to melt the cheese, top with a basted egg and voila, Croque Madame.
I’ve since improved on this by using 2 slices of bread dipped in egg wash and grilled with the cheese and meat squeezed between.
I’ll post an update the next time I make it.

Summer Salad

If you want to tour the world in a beer and Jack fueled rock band, you’ve gotta eat your fair share of salads to  balance things out.

Salads have become a staple in my diet and nothing goes better with a light summery glass of white wine.

The dressing is key and mine is so simple.
Olive oil, balsamic, Dijon, honey, splash of soy sauce – that’s it.  Sometimes I’ll add the feta juice from the bottom of my cheese container to enhance.
Keeping the favors in the salad balanced is also good a good idea – the best rule is to keep the ingredients to a minimum.
This salad is made up of simple greens, mango, avocado, walnuts and chives.

Toss, eat, enjoy!

Teriyaki Tuna Tower

Good to be off tour for a few days and be near my grill!
Check this out.

I just made this up as I went along.
Slice a potato into think slices and grill on the BBQ. Throw a cast iron pan in there with a little olive oil to start them before transferring to the grill to get the lines.
Blanch some green beans in water for a couple of minutes.
In another pan start some garlic in olive oil. Add soy sauce, a little brown sugar and a squeeze of lemon and add the beans for a minute or two. Sear the tuna cube on all 6 sides in the cast iron pan on the Q. And there you have it. Grilled potato on the bottom with green beans and tuna. I through a few green onions in with the beans too. Drizzle the teriyaki and sprinkle on some sesame seeds.
Squeeze of lemon and your good to go.
Pretty amazing with white wine or cold beer.

I get my guy at the butcher shop to cut my tuna for me, it’s hard to find the right piece per cut. Thanks George!

Marinara Meat Ball Sliders

The trick to sliders in my opinion is presenting the patty as a traditional meat ball rather than a flattened burger patty. The more spherical shape allows the center to stay more rare, so when you put the top bun on and give it that initial “squish”, the juices just come flowing out. You can have a lot of fun with toppings and sauces, but I find the best rule of thumb is to keep it simple. this is marinara sauce (from scratch), shaved grana padano and a few baby basil leaves.
Squish and enjoy as the sauce runs down your hands… you might want to have quite a few napkins on hand.

Filet vs Sirloin

I used to buy cheaper cuts of steak in larger portions until the last few years. Now I specifically buy smaller steaks and almost exclusively tenderloin. I have a guy down the street (George the Butcher) who cuts them fresh for me every time I’m in the mood. On this particular night, I was lured into the thickness of these sirloins that were on special, so I picked them up as well as a small filet.
They looked great, but they were no match for the filet mignon in flavour or tenderness. So I am back  on a strict tenderloin-only policy! I think my taste for cooking time is changing a little too. I used to be a rare to blue rare person, but I think I’m leaning a little more toward medium rare theses days. Something undeniable wonderful happens to the fats when you cook just a little longer than rare. The sides here are my garlic-yogurt new potatoes and candied carrot bunches. The garnish is actually some split flower stems. Getting hungry?

Traditional Chicken Ceasar Salad

I used to work in a catering shop after mornings at high school, where I learned how to make a kick ass caesar dressing. It’s all about room temp egg yolks and the slow drizzle of EVOO. Balance the anchovies, parm cheese, salt, pepper, lemon juice to taste with a dash of cayenne. The rest is pretty straight forward – romaine (gotta dry it in paper towel rolls), homemade bacon bits and shaved red onion. Grill the chicken breasts until the juices flow clear, let sit on a foil wrapped plate for a few minutes, slice and toss in the same bowl you just mixed the salad in. Sprinkle with more Grana Padano, fresh cracked pepper and the squeeze of a lemon wedge. Classic.
Bring on some oaky Chardonnay!