Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Real Man Recipes - Thai Cashew Chicken

I've always wanted to share my cooking with people. I love entertaining and cooking for crowds, so I find recipes that I like, tweak them, and share them. I like simple recipes; things that you don’t need to scratch your head and wonder ‘what the hell is that?’ when it comes to ingredients. More often than not, I like to try and make do with what I have in the cupboards. A little culinary ingenuity never hurt anyone.

There’s a great little restaurant here in Thunder Bay called Thai Kitchen. Ever since the first time I ate there I've been trying to replicate their cashew chicken recipe. A buddy of mine went to Thailand a couple of years back, took a cooking class, and came with recipes that have also influenced mine.

So without further adieu, here’s my take on this tasty, authentic and exotic dish that you can whip up in no time, with only a couple of ingredients that you likely don’t already have in your cupboards.

Thai Cashew Chicken

  • 2 large, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 large white onions, chopped roughly
  • 1 can (500g) of whole cashews (don’t be cheap and get the pieces you’ll regret it)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tsp hot pepper seasoning (I use a dried, ground hot pepper medley that my Momma makes for me at her greenhouse, suckers. Regular chili flakes work fine, though you may want to up the dose - as my medley is super hot)
  • 3 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp fish sauce 
  • 1 cup uncooked rice (I like basmati, though I've used jasmine rice and even Minute Rice, in a pinch)
  1. Soak the rice in water if required. I typically soak my basmati rice for about 10-20 minutes before cooking. Just put it in a bowl and cover with water.
  2. Cube chicken and brown in large sauce pan (e.g. a dutch oven, *insert fart joke here*) with garlic powder, salt and pepper, hot peppers and olive oil. Season to taste here guys. Like garlic, add more. Not a fan of super spicy food? Less hot pepper seasoning. 
  3. Boil water in a medium sauce pan/pot and add rice. Add a few dashes of salt. Follow the instructions on the package for rice-to-water ratio and cooking time. 
  4. Toss the can of cashews in with the chicken. Ensure you've got enough olive oil that things aren't drying up in there. Lube is your friend.
  5. Add oyster sauce and fish sauce to 1/3 cup of water and mix. Beat it like it owes you money.
  6. Once chicken is almost cooked through, add the onions and water/oyster/fish sauce and cover with lid, stir occasionally.
  7. Once onions have softened and started to look a little translucent, remove from heat.
  8. Serve rice on to plate with chicken/onions/cashews on top. Season with salt and pepper and additional hot peppers to taste.
         Serves 4.

That’s it. I’m not much of a wine drinker, but this pairs really well with a light glass of white wine; Pinot Grigio or something.

Eat up!

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Real Man Recipes – Classic Brats

Give a man a sausage, he will likely make a bunch of inappropriate jokes; teach a man to cook sausage using this classic recipe, he will shut up and be eternally grateful.

The proper way to cook bratwurst is violently debated. It’s been the cause of 50% of European wars since the middle ages. It’s the number one listed reason for divorce in Germany. Bavarian political parties run on all-brat platforms, and win. All true stories.  

Many swear by the classic Bavarian method of boil and serve while others insist the wurst isn’t wurst unless it is seared over glorious flame.

Enter the Americans - those glorious chefs renowned for improving most any cuisine through the adding of beer and fat.  This recipe, straight out of Wisconsin (the Canadians of the not-so-south), showcases American cuisine at its finest, and is absolutely freakin’ delicious. 

Beware – do not slice or pierce the sausages while cooking, keeping the juices in is key – you’ve been warned.

  • 8 uncooked bratwurst (fresh)
  • 1.5 L of beer – the cheaper the better – or try something hoppy for a different twist
  • ½ cup of butter
  • 3 yellow onions
  • 8 sausage buns
  • Yellow or German mustard
  • Sauerkraut
  • Seasoning salt
  1. Slice onions thinly and place in an aluminum pan.
  2. Add beer to pan, place on barbeque at high heat. Add butter.
  3. When beer is boiling or close to boiling, add sausages. Cook thoroughly.
  4. Move sausages to grill. Grill until golden brown.
  5. Warm sauerkraut on side burner or on the grill.
  6. Serve on sausage bun with mustard, sauerkraut and a sprinkle of seasoning salt.
Bon app├ętit, dudes.  

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Bick's Contest - Win a Big Green Egg!

As Canadians, we are resigned to the reality that our winters are long and our summers short. As such, we find ways to seize summer and make the utmost of its brief glory. Long, hot, hazy days are embraced as we swap our snow pants for shorts and our toques for t-shirts - often ridiculously early at the first hint of warmth.

There are a few telltale signs that herald the arrival of summer in Canada: the firing of sputtering lawnmowers, the filling of long-dormant restaurant patios, and the inevitable invites from friends and family finally breaking their winter hibernation. But two signs stand out above all others: highway traffic swelling with eager cottage-goers on route to cottage country, and the amazing smell of adding burgers to a fiery grill!

Bick's, purveyor of the finest pickles and other garnishes and condiments, were kind enough to invite the good lads from Real Man Travels to experience both these stand-out summer signals (well, the cottage, not the traffic) a couple of weeks ago. We also helped prove that burgers and pickles are truly the perfect pair. More on that in a future post, but we wanted to share a really fun contest they have announced with the chance to win a Big Green Egg BBQ - the ultimate cooking experience! These awesome-looking grills will allow you to signal summer far and wide and become the envy of your griller-hood. To enter, you must Find Bick's a Burger! Click here to learn how you can be entered to win, all while checking out amazing burger recipes.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Savouring the Brewers Plate 2015

For someone who is still learning to love beer, I have to say I am having an exemplary education. I was lucky enough to attend Brewers Plate on behalf of the team here.

I have been to quite a few of the food events Toronto has to offer, and while I have always left them full and happy, I have to say that Brewers Plate was my favourite.

The concept was simple: 20 rock star chefs, 20 rock star brewers, one great event. The 2015 Brewers Plate benefited the Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation. Each of the brewers and chefs had a sign explaining their connection to the greenbelt, and many highlighted Greenbelt grown or foraged ingredients. Everyone was encouraged to wear a concert t-shirt. I own an original Bruce Springsteen 1984 Born in the USA tour t-shirt. So yah, I was pretty excited by that theme. 

Held in the atrium of Corus Key, breweries and chefs were elbow to elbow. The space is really neat (green wall, twisty slide) and the big sliding doors were thrown open highlighting the water-front view of Lake Ontario. For the caliber of the food (lobster tails, ribs, duck, pasta served from a wheel of parmigiana) the line-ups were pretty much non-existent. Though the place was buzzing, we had no problem sidling up at a table and striking up a conversation - the crowd was friendly and fun.

Food Highlights:
  • The fanciest hot dog ever: Brie nacho cheese-style sauce, pickled ramps and mustard seeds (from Globe Bistro)
  • Maple syrup-wrapped cheese (aka, my favourite thing wrapped around my second favourite thing)
  • Smoked duck breast with dark chocolate and blueberry compote
  • Smoked ribs and mustard-y potato salad (with FIDDLEHEADS).

My companion for the evening was Amanda, who was the perfect date in that she’s equally passionate about beer AND the environment. She did the beer tastings as I was the DD. Here is her report:

The Beer Report: 
  • Fav beer of the night: McKinnon's Hefeweizen - great banana nose, clean and crisp taste, not too heavy like some wheat beers can get.
  • Honourable mention: Black Oak team up with ChocoSol to create this iced chocolate beer float thing that shouldn't work, but totally did.
  • Fav drink of the night: Georgian Bay Gin, because  as much as I love delicious craft beer, I love gin and tonics 1000 times more (and I really LOVE craft beer). Plus, gin and tonic garnished with a  lobster skewer? Yeah, I'm middle-classed enough to be impressed by that.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Photo and Video Evidence: Man of the Year 2015

Another year has gone by and another one of our annual Man of the Year camping trips has come to a close. To keep with tradition we documented the struggles and hardships faced in all the challenges and feats of strengths in order to win the coveted title of Man of the Year. For the first time we also made a video, so be sure to watch it! We'd like to thank our friends at Honda Canada for powering our dreams and hooking us up with a Honda Fit to get to the Isle of Man.

A short video (make sure you watch in 720p or 1080p) followed by pictures of our weekend adventure!

Unloading our custom made canoe trailer
Unloading our custom canoe trailer.

Unloading the Honda Fit
Unloading the Honda Fit at the boat launch.

Canoes sitting peacefully on the shore
We made it to the Isle of Man, time to set up and get fishing!

Tent set up with a view of the lake
Scott's tent all set up with a nice view of the lake.

Sam fishing on the shore
Sam trying to catch us some dinner.

Scott fishing on the shore
Scott fighting to reel in his 0.01 pound perch.

Porter sitting on a rock fishing
Who needs a canoe when you have a good sitting rock? Porter fishing like a boss.

Scott caught a bass.
The fish we couldn't keep. Scott caught a fat bass that was unfortunately out of season off the shore.

Porter throwing his washers in washer toss.
Washer toss and beer is next! Porter showing off a champion technique of tossing washers.

Chris playing washer toss
Chris is focused and determined to get a sewer!

Top 3 Washer Toss Champs
Top 3 finishers. Also might be the only photo of Ed from the weekend as he was always behind the camera

The sun setting behind the trees on the lake.
The sun is setting over the lake.

Canoes shore side at dusk
The boats are packed up for the night.

View at dusk across the lake,
The views that we really do this trip for.

Tons of stars over the lake
Starry night.

View of the stars through the trees on our campsite
The stars through the trees on our campsite.

Campfire with a view of the lake
Campfire with a view.

The boys sitting around the campfire
Enjoy the fire boys, tomorrow we crown a champion!

Fishing Technician and Sharpshooter winner Scott.
2015 Fishing Technician and Sharpshooter Champion

Xtreme challenge and Without a Paddle award winner Sam
2015 Xtreme Challenge and Without a Paddle Champion

Washer Toss and Man of the Year 2015 winner Porter
2015 Washer Toss Champion and 2015 Man of the Year!

Porter being knighted Man of the Year 2015
Porter being knighted Man of the Year by the previous years winner Sam.

A final group shot of all of us and our awards
Another year of good friends, good times and memories that will last a lifetime!