Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Antipasto Flatbread on the Big Green Egg

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Alexis and I have been on an antipasto flatbread binge this year. This delicious and easy-to-make flatbread is loaded with artichoke hearts, olives, red onion, roasted red pepper, sliced pepperoncini, grilled chicken, a light amount of cheese, and a sun-dried tomato pesto for the sauce.

Antipasto flatbread pizza on the Big Green Egg

I was inspired by the December issue of Eating Well's Antipasto Sliders.  They were a vegetarian spin on those ham and cheese sliders that you make with pull-apart rolls. We made them as written and they were good but I couldn't help but think they'd be even better with a sun-dried tomato pesto so we made another version of them. The sliders are an excellent idea for heavy hors d'oeuvres.

Monday, February 8, 2021

Event Preview: Mini-Fest at Tuckaway Shores Resort - Indialantic FL

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When I first started out on my BBQ journey, it was the early days of online communities. Instead of social media, #hashtags, and trending, groups of enthusiasts gathered on bulletin boards and forums like a clan of cavemen gathered around a fire in a cave. On the original Big Green Egg Forum, I heard tales of a private gathering of Eggheads (Big Green Egg aficionados) spending a weekend at a beachfront motel cooking great food for each other. 

Because of demand, it was a hard invite to get but I knew that one day, I would get to this legendary Mini-Fest. That finally happened in 2019 and I loved every minute of it. I thought I would preview the 2021 Mini-Fest since it was canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

The Mini-Fest is a weekend-long, end-of-the-Eggfest-season celebration. It is a small group, mostly of long-time Eggfest cooks, that gets together to close out the season.

Differences Between an Eggfest and the Mini-Fest.

Regular Eggfests are awesome. At these regional events, a local distributor and/or organizer hosts an event where teams of Eggheads grill up their best foods to serve to ticket-buying crowds. You can buy demo eggs and eggcessories onsite. Typically the ticket proceeds go to a local charity. They are a ton of fun for the cooks and crowds.

Mini-Fest is different on a number of fronts.

  • It's all about cooking and eating. Mini-Fest is an organic event created by and for Eggheads solely for the purpose of cooking together and for each other. No raffles, no sales, and no stress. 
  • No crowds. The only people you are cooking for is fellow cooks. 
  • Mini-Fest lasts for the entire weekend, morning, noon, and night.
  • No schedule of events. It's just a weekend of freestyle cooking. People cook what they want, when they want, and there is always something to eat.
  • No teams, no competition. This is just individuals cooking for other people. There is a ton of collaboration and sharing. "You've got scallops? I've got some beef tenderloin trimmings. Want to make a surf and turf appetizer for everyone?"
  • Fewer Eggs. Because there is no regional distributor with a supply of demo grills, there are only a handful of users' Big Green Eggs on hand but everyone shares and there's always a grill you can use.
Scallops searing in a cast-iron skillet on a BGE Mini-Max.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Dirty Rice with Cajun Chicken (RIP Popeye's Cajun Rice)

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This weekend, Alexis and I made Cajun Chicken with our quick and easy dirty rice recipe.

We made it because we learned from Southern Living this weekend that Popeye's has discontinued their Dirty Rice, aka Cajun Rice. 

This has long been a personal favorite of mine, as well as Taco Bell's Mexican Pizza, which was also recently dropped from their menu. I mean, I don't eat much fast food anyway, but with these establishments dropping my favorites, I'm starting to take it a bit personally (haha). 

Fortunately, both of these dishes are easy to make at home, and I've had "sort of clone recipes" for years. Here is our version of Dirty Rice. It's not an exact clone; it is more an "inspired by" type thing. 

Dirty Rice recipe similar to Popeye's Cajun Rice

This version has a mild heat to it from the Slap Ya Mama Cajun Seasoning. If you can't tolerate much heat, then drop the Cajun Seasoning to 1/2 teaspoon. If you want more heat, use spicy sausage, increase the Slap Ya Mama, or swap jalapeno peppers for the green bell pepper.

You'll need to cook the rice in a covered pot, so use a large, lidded chef's pan or pot. I used my All-Clad Hard-Anodized 12" chef's pan, but I've also made this in a 3-quart pot as well.

Dirty Rice (aka Cajun Rice)