Mac & Cheese of the West

Nothing says Wild West like crispy fried mac and cheese, topped with pulled pork and BBQ Sauce! Check out this specialty from Lynnwood Ranch located near Okotoks, AB. Served from their food truck or straight from your backyard smoker, this recipe is guaranteed to keep guests coming back for more.

INGREDIENTS:
1 lbs Dry macaroni
1/4 lbs Butter
1 L Milk (Whole)
1  lb. Shredded Old Cheddar Cheese
8 Tbsp. Flour
2 tsp sea salt
2 Tsp Onion Powder
2 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce
¼   Cup Pickled Jalapeno’s + Juice

DIRECTIONS:
Cook macaroni al dente.
Use butter, flour and milk to make a basic white sauce. Once heated add onion powder, salt, Worcestershire sauce, Jalapeños and cheese. Melt together, once it is ready add pre-cooked macaroni and mix in thoroughly. Place in a rectangle cake pan approximately two inches in depth. Cool thoroughly in refrigerator.

FINAL STEP
Cut into cake size pieces. Heat skillet to medium heat and melt butter in pan. Place Mac & Cheese pieces into skillet. Brown nicely on both sides. If your heat is right, this process will have heated the pasta throughly. Plate ready Mac & Cheese, top with Pulled Pork & BBQ Sauce.

RECIPE FOR WILD WILLY’S RUB
1 lb. Paparika
6 oz ground pepper
9 oz sea salt
7 oz white sugar
3 oz Chile powder
3 oz granulated garlic
3 onion powder

Mix ingredients together thoroughly, store in sealed in dark dry place.

BBQ SAUCE – Our top two pick’s. Ranch BBQ’s House Sauce (contact Lynnwood Ranch) or Guy Fieri’s Bourbon Brown Sugar BBQ Sauce (found at Costco).

PORK BUTT
Start with four to five pounds. Trim excess fat. Rub liberally with Wild Willy’s Rub. Place in smoker at 225 F for 12 hrs. Cook to internal temp of of 185 F. Once internal temperature is achieved, pork will pull easily. Use two forks. * Tip – If you are new to bar-be-queing pulled pork, just google it for a number of educational videos.

 

About Lynnwood Ranch – Located near Okotoks, AB, Lynnwood Ranch recently celebrated its 25th anniversary in business. The ranch boasts a pristine country setting alongside the beautiful Sheep River and offers a picturesque western-style venue. Hosting events throughout the year, Lynnwood Ranch is excited to present the third annual Smokin’ Q this year, an Alberta KCBS-sanctioned BBQ Pitmaster competition on May 13-14, 2017. They also offer one of Calgary’s most requested food trucks, featuring ranch BBQ mobile vending and catering services within the City of Calgary and surrounding area.

Granola Bar Pie

The ultimate pie in a pinch interpretation.

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Photo by Krista Kay Photography

Admittedly, there may be those high couture ranch chefs who will turn their noses at the thought of crushing up a package of granola bars, tossing the contents in with a fine selection of other pantry and fridge staples, scraping it all into a store-bought frozen pie crust and turning it out as if it were the latest Julia Child creation. Then again, those women aren’t likely driven to ride one, or any number of horses in a day, muck stalls, have little ones tripping around their legs, hold down a full time job, manage the place, or even – all of the above. Not to mention, live 40 minutes from the nearest grocery store. Or, have spouses who think nothing of inviting the half dozen arena hangers-on in for an impromptu dinner. For those of us who find ourselves in these scenarios on a regular basis, last minute inceptions we can whip up from a half-laden pantry are life-savers. This simple pie handily accomplishes just that, while giving a grand nod to the resourcefulness of our great-grandmothers who produced similar delicious creations with nothing more than a bit of flour, lard and molasses (think the ubiquitous prairie staple- shoofly pie).

Please, do us a favor, and don’t set this on the table with a demure whiff of “didn’t have enough time” and “this will have to do” murmuring, but rather, present it in your fanciest pie plate with a flourish of unapologetic pioneer pride, and know that, despite its non-descriptive ingredients, this is one of the tastiest pies your family and guests will ever have the luxury of biting into.

With its gorgeous texture and luxurious flavor, your guests will think you spent hours in the kitchen.

With its gorgeous texture and luxurious flavor, your guests will think you spent hours in the kitchen.

Granola Bar Pie

Tenderflake deep dish or other similar frozen pie crust

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

3/4 cup corn syrup

1/8 tsp salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

3 eggs, lightly beaten

4 Nature Valley Oats ‘n Honey crunchy granola bars (2 pouches, about 3/4 cup), crushed*

1/4 cup quick-cooking or old-fashioned oats

1/4 cup milk chocolate baking chips

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees F

– Place pie crust in nine-inch pie plate, and follow the box directions for prepping the pie.

– In large bowl, microwave butter until melted.

– Stir in brown sugar and corn syrup until blended.

– Beat in salt, vanilla and eggs.

– Stir crushed granola bars, oats, baking chips and walnuts (if using) into mixture.

– Pour into crust-lined pie plate and bake 40 to 50 minutes or until filling is set and crust is golden brown.

– Cool for a bit, and serve warm, at room temperature or chilled with whipped cream or ice cream.

* To easily crush granola bars, use a rolling pin to crush bars prior to unwrapping.

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Photo by Krista Kay Photography

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Photo by Krista Kay Photography

Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

rhubarbcakeA couple of years ago, I purchased a rhubarb plant. I set it temporarily by the compost pile, while I deliberated where to plant it. It was spring. It rained for a long time. Spring turned into summer. Horses, shows and other priorities prevailed. When autumn rolled around, I guiltily pushed the dried up stalk, still in its pot, to the back of the compost pile, out of sight. Finally, sometime before winter I threw the entire plant into the compost pile, on its side, still in its pot. I was fairly certain I’d missed the successful transplanting window by a month, or season, or two.

There may be some truth to the theory that you really can’t kill rhubarb. The following spring, as I was tidying up the compost pile, there it was, on its side, bright green leaves and red stalks pushing out from the dried plant.

This time I didn’t miss the window, and since then we’ve re-discovered rhubarb as one of our favourite springtime treats.

So, good, I decided to make a rhubarb upside-down cake for Wee’s birthday. So simple. The streusel ends up on the bottom of the cake in this case, but it’s still a beautiful thing. I have trouble with upside-down cakes flipping out intact. In this case, it’s appropriate to cool the cake about 10 minutes and then flip it. Too long, and the rhubarb will get sticky.

Streusel 

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

bit of salt

Cake

3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

4 cups (or more if desired) of cut up rhubarb, tossed in enough sugar to coat it.

1 cup sugar (in addition to the sugar used for coating the rhubarb)

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1-1/2 teaspoons of baking powder

1-1/2 teaspoons of salt

1-2 tablespoons orange juice

2 eggs

1 cup sour cream

a bit of orange zest, optional

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Butter a 9 or 10 inch round cake or pie pan (2-3 inches deep)

3. Spread the rhubarb and sugar mixture into the pan.

4. Make the streusel by crumbling together the ingredients.

5. Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. With electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Beat in zest and juice. Add eggs one at a time. Add flour in three batches and equal halves of the sour cream in between, beating until smooth. Your batter should be spreadable, add the second tablespoon of orange juice here if necessary.

Note: if you find yourself short of sour cream, you can substitute plain yogurt. Just let it sit in a strainer for 15 minutes mixed with a teaspoon of baking soda. This will give it the same consistency as the thicker sour cream.

6. Spread the batter over the rhubarb and top it off with the crumbled streusel.

7. Bake about 60 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, run a knife around the edge, and invert onto a pretty cake plate.

rhubarbsliced

 

 

A Chef’s Tasting in Cowtown

Yesterday flowed seamlessly from world-class jumping horses to a western-inspired evening for me. I wrapped up my shift at the Western Horse Review booth at Spruce Meadows Masters and hustled to the Hyatt Regency in downtown Calgary to take part in a special Chef’s Tasting that I had been invited to attend at the newly renovated Thomsons restaurant.

Thomson’s stunning new decor features the western fine art photography of Joanne Meeker – an exclusive set of pieces shot by the photographer at the Diamond 7 Ranch, which is incidentally also the seasonal naturally-raised beef supplier of Thomsons. The oversized sepia portraits of western life, ranching and horses meld beautifully with the brick and sandstone architecture of the dining room and lounge, transforming it into a warm and vintage space.

I landed a seat next to these two cowgirls – Amie Peck (right) and Laura Laing (left). They had just finished a day of riding with Glen Stewart (they clean up well, don’t they!), and were full of inspirations and stories to tell of their journey through the five-day clinic. Laura is the Ranch Manager at the Diamond 7, and Amie is Marketing and Administrating Coordinator. To the left of Laura sits Lindsay Goldthorpe, Marketing Manager for the Hyatt – undoubtedly tweeting about the latest dish we had been served up.

Ah, yes, the food. About the food.

Believe it or not we were served every dish on this menu.

From a B.C. ocean-wise sturgeon (in the plate on the left) with a lemon, pepper & garlic marinade, pea puree, smoked tomato risotto, candied pistachio crumbs and smoked tomato butter. . .

. . . to one of Amie’s favorites, a house smoked Alberta double pork chop, with rosemary and garlic, a celeriac and dried apricot puree, barley, beluga lentils and white beans and finally, a pickled apple.

The dish above features the grass-fed, grain finished beef of Diamond 7. In the background is Chef Darren Keogh who spent a lot of time seriously appraising his diner’s reactions, and asking questions like “how’s the density of the pasta [in the duck confit pasta]?  . . . is it too thick? . . . I worry it is. . ”

No, Chef Darren, the pasta is ala-perfecto.

Being Irish, he also explained the nuances of the rivalry between Cork and Dublin (rather like Edmonton and Calgary, only bloodier), and that one wouldn’t say “awesome” in Ireland, but “sound,” as in “he’s a sound character.”

Rather like we do in horse lingo.

He also shared that his favorite cheesecake is his homemade Toblerone and Bailey’s Cream – a no-bake version he’s forced (grin) to make several batches of every Christmas.

And then it was indeed dessert time. As if we could stuff anymore into our already brimming tummies. But we did. No-one could resist sharing a bit of two versions of creme brulee (one with bourbon!), a flourless chocolate cake with homemade ice-cream and an amazingly sound cheesecake.

When it finally came time to roll my overflowing-with-gratitude-for-beautiful-food-self home, I was gifted with a copy of the book, The Life is Art, A Photographic Journey of Ranching in Western Alberta, again, featuring the photography of Joanne Meeker, and a jar of something labelled Bulls Blood Beet Jam, homemade by Chef Darren himself. Hmmmm, perhaps more on that later.

What I love about Thomsons? Well, in addition to the fact that I actually had the opportunity to share a Chef’s Table with Calgary’s food critic and author, John Gilchrist – a small thrill in itself . . . I think this: the western vibe, and the free-range creativity of the menu – the pride of the restaurant is all about local and sustainable food, and chefs source from a lot of the same producers I’ve featured in the Food of the West column in the magazine, such as Valbella Meats, Noble Farms, Hotchkiss, Sylvan Star Cheese, Highwood Crossing and of course, Diamond 7. It’s a trend which continues to gain traction, and one I feel very strongly about supporting, both when dining out and playing my own version of Chef at home.

Lastly, it might be argued that Calgary rarely feels very bound to its western roots in contemporary times, but last night, amidst the fantastic food, leather bound ranch chairs, rich decor and western art, chatting “horse” with two gals, I truly gained the sense that Cowtown had finally come home – at least to this unique corner of downtown.

The Art, Cake & Whisky Contest

It took Alberta baker Kamla McGonigal four years to perfect her recipe. The fourth generation Calgary native wanted to use whisky, locally distilled from grain at nearby farms as one of the main ingredients in her delectable cakes. Finally after countless hours over an oven, McGonigal developed one of the best tasting and most unique baked-goods available to those with discerning palates – the Alberta Whisky Cake (AWC).

Which is exactly why we picked her as one of our Artisans of the West (in the food category) in the March issue.

But on June 20, disaster struck Alberta Whisky Cake when High River flooded.

This is a picture Kamla sent me on June 24. The shot is of 3rd Ave. The Cakery Bakery, which had been producing Kamla’s cakes, is located on the far left of the photo – it is completely ruined and will have to be refurbished, replaced with new equipment etc. Most of AWC’s  inventory of packaging/printing/labels were stored at the bakery and also destroyed. In addition, Highwood Distillery, which supplied the all-important whisky ingredient, also incurred flood damage.

At that time, Kamla didn’t know when she would be able to supply AWCs again. She had a few dozen in storage, most of which she later donated to a flood fundraising effort. It seemed Alberta was completely out of stock of the unique Alberta Whisky Cakes.

But Kamla is a passionate soul – and determined to get the cakes back into production.

On July 13th, she posted on Alberta Whisky Cakes Facebook page:

“Good morning. I’m headed to the Millarville Farmers Market for the last time this season, with the last of my inventory (until Cakery Bakery is back up & Highwood Distillers rye whisky available again). The kindest thing I can do right now is get AWC bigger & better than ever before – people REALLY want JOBS, not handouts.” ~ Kam

Her farm, west of High River, has a healthy beautiful crop of canola (an important ingredient in the cake) nearly ready to be harvested, and it turns out the Cakery Bakery was covered by insurance, and a rebuilding is in process. It will take 2 to 3 months, and in the meantime, Kamla is using the time to tweak the current product and invent new versions of it. Look for perhaps a fruitcake version, or even, gluten-free in the future of AWC.

One of the unique aspects of the Alberta Whisky Cake is that each comes with an exclusive AWC Unbridled Spirits certificate. This certificate can be presented directly to a select list of AWC artists to receive $35 off of your purchase price, on an individual piece of art valued at $100 or more. These artists are local people who are involved heavily in the arts, and have not yet become renowned or rewarded for their exceptional dedication to their creative work.

Past recipients have included such artists such as Whitney Wilkie – Whittie Girl Leathers (www.whittiegirlleathers.com)

Or, Jane Romanishko – Jane Romanishko (www.janeromanishko.com)

And Neville Palmer – Reflective Eye Photography (www.reflectiveeye.com)

Now the Whisky Baker and Western Horse Review have knotted their tendrils of love for western art and culture together to come up with the Art, Whisky and Cake Contest.

Kamla needs an emerging western artist to showcase when her new set of post-flood AWC’s begin rolling off the production line in a few months and she’s inviting Screen Doors & Saddles and Western Horse Review readers to put forth nominations of your choice.

In the comment section below simply state your nomination of a Canadian emerging western artist. Include the name and if possible, website url, of the artist and a simple line or two detailing why you’d like to nominate this individual. From all of the nominations, Kamla will make a selection of three finalists. These three finalists will be profiled here on Screen Doors & Saddles and on Western Horse Review Facebook and viewers will have the opportunity to vote and ultimately, choose the next AWC Artist!

In addition, we’ll do a random draw from all of the nominations, and the winner will receive an Alberta Whisky Cake, compliments of Kam. I’m sure it will be one of the first cakes to be pulled from the Cakery Bakery’s ovens once they are up and running again.

It’s possible we might be dubbing the first few as “celebration cakes.” For in a small way, we hope this contest symbolizes the hope we extend toward the people of High River and surrounding areas, many of whom have lost so much and are still struggling, and foster feelings of a brighter future!

As Kamla says, “out of hope comes clarity, energy, focus & optimism!” So, go ahead and nominate your favorite up-and-coming western artist in the comment section below. We’re counting on your support and feedback for this contest.

Recipe of the Week ~ The Ultimate Grilled Steak

Photo by Krista Kay Photography

I'm kicking off our Recipe of the Week series not so much with a recipe, but rather, sharing a few thoughts about grilling a great steak. If you found the May/June issue of Western Horse Review in your mailbox recently, or picked it up at the newsstand or your favorite tack store, then you're already privy to the three steps to a great grilled steak I suggested in our Food of the West feature.

These three simple details – 1) bringing your steaks to room temperature and salting them well, 2) building a two-zone fire on your preferably charcoal barbecue, and 3) letting the meat rest, will bring you a lot closer to a juicy and unforgettable steak.

We chose the beef for our barbecue photo shoot from Bar P Ranch, just outside of Nanton, Alberta. Owners, Rob and Tami Palmer operate their family farm with a sustainable philosophy, and raise beef that is grass-finished and free from hormones or antibiotics. The cattle are never fed grain or animal by-products, and the pastures they graze on are not chemically fertilized or sprayed. In my mind, that’s beyond organic – it’s an absolute clean-beef, with a sustainable footprint. Plus, I like the idea that the cattle running on Bar P Ranch pastures are raised naturally and respectfully, in a stress-free and family-farm environment.

It's become paramount to me to care about where my family's food comes from, and how it is raised. An “organic” label in a large chain grocery store just doesn't tell me enough, particularly as I become increasingly aware that there is such a thing as “industrial organic,” and it’s most likely the beef that is pushed in major grocery store chains. I prefer to know exactly what ranch the beef I purchase is originating from, and how it is fed and raised. And, I don’t mind paying a bit more for that. It's all about supporting our local economy too.

Photo by Krista Kay Photography

I’m intrigued with discovering new riffs to the process of grilling steaks, and perfecting what I've learned thus far. One of the important considerations is the cut of the meat, and I'm still learning about the variances of each cut. My favorites these days seem to be rib-eyes and a well-marinated flank steak. For the purposes of our barbecue photo shoot, we grilled all of the above Bar P steaks with fantastic results, but we saved the tenderloins to pan fry, and that, I'm planning to showcase in a future edition of Food of the West. Stay tuned!

Ham Hock & Lentil Spring Stew