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  • Doug Ferguson 12:44 pm on May 4, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    In Honor of Cinco De Mayo, Our Top Mexican Food Articles of All Time 









  • Doug Ferguson 11:50 am on April 30, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    SBCB Video: Smoked (then Grilled) Brisket 

    I can’t say I’ve mastered this Weber Smokey Mountain cooker but I’m not giving up.  Last weekend I tried my hand at a beautiful 8lb beef brisket.

    I’ve had a hard time regulating and maintaining the heat.  I’ve added coals periodically but have had mixed success at them igniting consistently.

    Maybe I need one of these bad boys…
















    Anyway, doctor I smoked it for about 4 hours at 225 and then wrapped it in tin foil and grilled it on indrect heat for another 3 hours. Then I sauced it and kissed it with some flames for an additional 30 minutes.

    I give myself a B – on this go around.  But I’m getting there.  Enjoy the Video:


  • Doug Ferguson 6:04 pm on February 1, 2012 Permalink | Reply  

    Super Bowl Preparedness – “The Best Steak Nachos” 

    I know that’s a bold statement, as I’m sure a lot of you have recipes and techniques for making a killer plate of nachos.  But if you look closely at the headline you’ll see I put that in quotes.  Meaning, I’m just quoting my neighbors.  Well, just one neighbor, but still, they’re pretty bangin’.  Give them a whirl this Super Bowl and tell me I’m crazy.

    We in the Northeast have been having an incredibly mild winter so far.  I mean it’s 60 degrees right now in New York and it’s February.  So, what the heck, fire up that grill!

    The key: Don’t do the traditional TGI Fridays move by taking a big mound of chips on a plate and then throwing loads of goopy topping on top.  What always happens is you get a bunch of overloaded, soggy chips on top and naked chips on the bottom.  Very unsatisfying.  No, when you’re making steak nachos, take the time to build each nacho into the perfect bite.  Your guests will be impressed.

    I start with two skirt steaks and throw them into a large ziplock.  Then I make the marinade.  I have a few variations on my skirt steak marinade, this one has more of a Tex-Mex vibe for obvious reasons.

    Mexican Skirt Steak Marinade:

    • 3/4 cups soy sauce
    • 1/4 olive oil
    • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
    • juice of a lime
    • half bottle of Tabsco Chipotle hot sauce
    • tbsp Cumin
    • 1/2 tbsp mexican oregano
    • two shallots or 3 garlic cloves thinly sliced
    • salt and pepper  (at least 5 grinds of coarse black pepper)

    Secure the ziplock and shake it all around to completely mix and cover the steak with all the ingredients.  Place in a casserole dish in case it leaks and place in the refrigerator for 45 minutes to an hour.

    Remove from ziplock and Grill to medium.  Something magic happens with the Soy and the Red Wine Vinegar.  I high flame will start to caramelize it and the results is pure magix.

    Slicing tip:  Slice the pieces crossway, meaning with the grain, so that you have a bunch 3 inch pieces.  Then take those three-inch-long pieces and slice them, fairly thin, AGAINST the grain.  You should have perfectly tender and perfectly sized pieces of steak, ready for tortilla toasting.

    Grate some cheese.  I like to do a mix of orange and white, sharp cheddar.

    Lay out your tortillas (no broken, wimpy chips allowed) across two cookie sheets.  Layer with a piece of steak, a large pinch of grated cheese, a jalapeno and a black olive.  I mix it up in places and leave off the jalapenos on some for the kids and double down for… well, me.

    Cook in a pre-heated, 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes.  Keep an eye on it.  They can burn easily.  If you can time it so they’re perfectly gooey and the chips are a little toasted/browned at the corners, well then you’re just money.

    Serve with a nice selection of hot sauces, lime wedges, sour cream and guacamole.

    Crunch. Yum.

    Thumbs up!  We’re Jets fans but we’ll be rooting for Big Blue this Sunday!

  • Doug Ferguson 2:58 pm on September 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Clams Casino on the Grill – Locavore at the Shore 

    At the beginning of our vacation hurricane Irene had just finished blasting the Northeast Coast and clams were unavailable.

    I was like, for sale “Oh no, buy I can’t spend a Summer vacation without clams.  Raw clams, health deep fried clams, fettucini with clams and the king of all clam recipes, Clams Casino!”

    Is it safe to say I had a relaxing vacation if  ‘no clams at the fish market’ was the most stressful thing I had to endure?

    It didn’t last long, by mid-week they were back fishing and the clams starting pouring into the market.

    Buying local clams at the shore is almost a tradition for us. So when they finally came in I was like, we’re doing Clams Casino.

    But first let me start off by saying my clams casino were off to a bad start that morning.  Some might even say, they’re not real clams casino but the truth of the matter is, I made the bacon for breakfast and totally forgot to buy more.

    They weren’t the same without the bacon.  Yes, #clamfail.

    They were still good though.  I think we need to call them Clams Casinobacon.

    Preparing the breading and grilling them is a piece of cake.  The shucking, eh, not so much.  Oysters are a breeze compared to Clams in terms of shucking but you just have to man up, put your head down and pop those hinges.

    Before you begin shucking though, put them in a bowl of cold water and stir in a 1/4 cup of flour.  After an hour in the fridge the clams will have purged a good amount of the sand they were holding on to.  Not really sure what biological process happens, but it works.  You’ll see the sand at the bottom of the bowl as your proof.

    I think I shucked about 30 or so.  It’s tricky, but when you’re opening them and loosening the clam, try to lose too much of the juice.

    For the breading mixture I minced 5 cloves of garlic and half bunch of parsley.  I tossed that into about 2 cups of panko bread crumbs along with a few glugs of good olive oil and some salt and pepper.   I also grated a big hunk of parmesan in there and mixed.

    Put about a half tablespoon of breading mixture on top of each clam.  Not too much or it will over power the clam.

    This is where you should then top the clam with a little piece of bacon, but remember my #clamfail, right?

    Instead I used a little piece of butter, just to be decadent.

    Grill until brown and bubbly.  Watch out, the clam shells will be hot for a while after they come off the grill.

    Yes, sometimes I act like an idiot.

    Oh, and p.s. my wife is going to kill me for posting this picture, but that’s how I sacrifice for the enjoyment of the Suburban Cookbook readers.

    p.s.s I also made clams with fettucini for the main course.



    • jere 10:20 pm on September 22, 2011 Permalink

      awesomesome recipe need more

    • Isabelle 10:37 pm on September 22, 2011 Permalink

      What liberating konwledge. Give me liberty or give me death.

  • Doug Ferguson 2:33 pm on July 19, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Pizza on the Grill 

    The only trick to pizza on the grill is throwing the dough on raw and waiting until it begins to crisp before you flip it.  Once you flip it, then top it.

    We’ve blogged about perfecting our pizza dough in the past, but this time we bought a few balls from our favorite local pizza place, Arturo’s in Maplewood.  They’re hard to beat at $4 per ball and great for when you are rushing around before your guests arrive and don’t have the luxury of a 2-3 hrs rise time.

    One other tip I have for folks on the “Perfect Pizza Quest”, don’t use sauce, use slices of heirloom tomato instead.  For some reason the sauce I make creates a more soggy pizza on the grill than in the oven on my stone.  I can’t explain why, but it just acts differently.  But if you do go with sauce, I would make sure that it’s super concentrated/reduced.

    Anyway, I went with heirloom tomato slices this time around and it made for a fantastic pizza.  I slice them in half and slightly squeeze some of the water out.  Then I slice them up and salt them gently in a colander to extract a little more moisture.

    For this pizza I also added some caramelized onions, buffalo mozzarella and basil from our garden.

    Once the pizza comes out, drizzle with a really good olive oil and grate some fresh parmesan.  Repeat 4 or 5 times. : )

    • Lloyd Nauss 3:24 pm on July 19, 2011 Permalink

      Hey Doug,

      Try using pesto as the sauce and then add brie or sun dried tomatoes and brie… I also fold the dough in halves or quarters and unfold on the grill with tongs.

    • Doug Ferguson 4:00 pm on July 20, 2011 Permalink

      kind of like a pie-crust, nice!

  • Doug Ferguson 11:09 am on July 1, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    How to Cook For a Large Group on the 4th of July – Skirt Steak Tacos 

    Backyard parties with more than 3 or 4 guests can be very challenging.

    I’m sure you’ve been there, 12 – 20 guests, you’re tending to the grill and orders for medium rare burgers or another veggie dog for Sally keep coming at you and by the time everyone is fed and you’re ready to sit down and have a beer, the party is wrapping up. #nosoupforyou

    But grilling up a bunch of skirt steak and letting your guests build their own tacos gets you into the pool before the sun sets and the beer’s all gone.

    You can prep most of the ingredients ahead of time:

    • Make the salsa
    • Shred the cabbage
    • Warm the tortillas
    • Blend the avocado crema (sour cream, 1 avocado, lime juice, buttermilk)
    • Grate the cheese
    • Wash and Chop the cilantro
    • Cut the limes
    • Marinate the skirt-steak
    • Chill the cerveza

    By the time the guests arrive all you’ll have to do is grill the skirt steak which only takes 15 minutes or so.

    The key to all of this is the marinade.  I marinate the skirt steak for about 2hrs.  I’ve written about skirt steak before and the keys for me is Soy Sauce and Red Wine vinegar.  There’s something about those two ingredients that perform so well when they hit a hot, flaming grill.

    For a big party I’ll do 4 full-slabs of skirt steak and I’ll start the marinade with:

    • 1 cup of soy
    • 1/2 cup of olive oil
    • 1/4 cup Red Wine vinegar

    Since I’m using the skirt steak for tacos I’m going to include:

    • 4 tablespoons of chili powder
    • 4 tablespoon cumin
    • 2 tablespoon coriander
    • 5 smashed garlic cloves
    • 1 jalapeno minced
    • juice of 2 limes
    • couple dashes of Cholula hot sauce

    You could also include a minced chipotle if you wanted to, but since there are kiddies, I usually just set out a variety of hot sauces (Chipotle flavored tabasco for instance) and let folks “self-spice”.

    I can only fit 2 full skirt steak slabs at a time on my grill.  I turn the grill to high and move them around the grill occasionally.  I want to get some really good char on parts of it so there is some texture.  As that red wine vinegar and soy char, they become mouthwatery-ling delicious.

    The cool thing about skirt steak is that in tapers in thickness from one end to the other.  That way you’ve got mid-rare pieces and well done pieces from the same steak.  Perfect for pleasing all your guests.

    Let the steaks rest for 10 mins and then slice on a big board.

    Ring the chow bell.


    p.s. no taco party is complete without an after dinner sip of Patron XO Cafe. ; )

  • Doug Ferguson 3:51 pm on April 19, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Who Says You Can’t Grill on a School Night? 

    As I was leaving the office the other day I stated, “I think I’ll grill some steaks tonight.”  “What?!” A city-living colleague proclaimed, “It’s Monday! You can’t grill on a School Night, it’s… it’s against the rules!”

    Sheesh, settle down there Chachi, I live in the burbs, I can grill whenever I want.

    It was a seriously long winter, so here’s to the smell of grilling meat wafting through the neighborhood once again.  It sure makes the walk home from the train a lot more pleasant.


    And yes, that’s a big bowl of grilled radicchio in the background.  Excellent on the grill with good olive oil and a few squeezes of lemon.


  • Doug Ferguson 3:35 pm on January 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    “Mary Had a Leg of Lamb, Leg of Lamb, Leg of Lamb” 

    Okay, health that’s a terrible headline for a family blog.   That said, I know Mary.  Mary is a friend of mine.  And Mary is an unapologetic carnivore, who particularly likes lamb. ; )

    According to the USDA, on average, Americans consume less than 1lb of lamb per year. Compared to roughly 70lbs of beef per year.  I was pretty surprised by that statistic.

    Lamb is delicious and a great alternative if you’re looking to venture beyond your favorite cut of steak.

    So, I decided we should make lamb last Friday for our 3rd installment of “Snowed-In Dinner PlayDate” with the Dunnings.

    Full disclosure, I was inspired by this episode of Tyler’s Ultimate.  (To me, still the only watchable show left on the Food Network…. although I haven’t seen a new episode in ages so I’m not sure it’s been picked up for more episodes)

    I went to Whole Foods and the smallest, deboned leg of lamb they had was 7 1/2 lbs.  And at $9.99 per lb my knees started to buckle when I saw the tally on the butcher scale.  (I mean I love the Dunnings but come on)

    As a result I immediately think to myself, What’s the butcher/customer protocol on portioning a leg of lamb?

    • So I sheepishly say, “Gee, I don’t think I need that much”.
    • To which the butcher replies, “No problem, want me to cut it in half for you?”
    • “Sure, that would be great.  Can you trim it lengthwise and give me the good half?”
    • “No problem sir”.

    Wow, impressive.  There’s a reason you pay a little extra at Whole Foods.

    I modified Tyler’s Recipe considerably.  First I made the marinade using a greek yogurt base and then I put in a variety of spices.

    Cast Iron Leg of Lamb

    • 1 1/2 Cups Low Fat Greek Yogurt
    • 4 or 5 glugs of good olive oil
    • Tear a big handful of Parsley
    • 2 tbsps chopped fresh oregano
    • 1 tbsps chopped fresh thyme leaves
    • 2 tbsp Dijon Mustard
    • 2 tbsps Garam Masala (I actually use this Sharwood Tandoori Masala which is fantastic) Or your favorite curry powder.
    • 1 tbsp Cumin
    • 1 tsp Coriander
    • 5 Garlic Cloves
    • 6 discs of peeled Ginger
    • Juice of a lemon
    • Lots of Salt and Pepper
    • 4 -6 lb deboned, butterflied, Leg of Lamb

    Dump the yogurt, herbs, mustard, spices, garlic and lemon juice in to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

    Pour over lamb in a big baking dish.  Marinate over night.  (this is important but I never manage to do it.  Try to give it 4 hours at least tho)

    Wipe off excess marinade and let it sit at room temp for 30 mins before cooking.

    Pre-heat a large cast iron skillet on medium, medium-high.  (Could also do this on an outdoor grill of course)

    Cook 20 mins per side until the thickest parts register 130 degrees on a meat thermometer for medium rare.

    Slice on a big cutting board and serve family style.

    ::: SlideShow – Leg of Lamb :::

  • Doug Ferguson 8:58 am on October 29, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

    10 Essential Items for Suburban Living 

    Basically it’s your Suburban starter kit.  Or better yet, prescription your Suburban Survival Kit.  You should actually be issued these supplies upon the closing of your new house.

    #10:  100 Foot Long, Industrial Strenght Hose

    Don’t cheap out on a hose.  They crack, they kink, the couplings don’t fit right and then they break on you.  That green crap you get at target is a waste of money.  Spend a little extra and get a great, farm tested hose.

    Colorite Element ELCF34100 Contractor/Farm Lead Free, Kink Free 3/4-Inch-by-100-Foot Garden Hose, Brick

    #9:  A Metal Bird Feeder

    I’d gone through a half dozen bird feeders before I realized I needed industrial strength.  You’d be shocked at the wear and tear these things go through.  From the raccoons and squirrels to the Blue Jays (They can be nasty) and the chubby Doves (they can be stupid) get a bird feeder that will make it through the seasons.

    Duncraft 18002 Safe Haven Wild Bird Feeder With Metal Seed Tray

    #8: This Wacky Sprinkler Ball

    It’s cheaper than a pool and it waters your lawn at the same time.  I hooked this up and was shocked at the coverage I got.  And the kids think I got it for them, ha!  ; )

    Little Tikes Beach Ball Sprinkler

    #7:  Compound Miter Saw (w/ Laser)

    aka, A Chop Saw.  You just can’t live in a house without this.  Whether you’re repairing crown molding, mending fences or building playhouses, a compound miter saw is a must have.  It will pay for itself within two months.

    Hitachi C10FCH2 10-Inch Miter Saw with Laser

    Check out this sweet playhouse I built with my trusty chop saw.

    #6: A Good Smoker

    Yeah, of course we know you’ll buy a grill.  In fact you’ll probably buy two (propane and charcoal).  But shortly thereafter you’ll realize you’re not really backyard cooking unless you’re smokin’.  The Big Green Egg is pretty pricey, so here’s a nice alternative.

    Char Broil Offset Smoker American Gourmet Deluxe Grill

    #5: Baggo Boards.  aka, Cornhole, Corntoss, etc.

    Probably the most addictive lawn game ever invented.  Tom McCabe brought it to the neighborhood and everybody who has played it has been swooned by the competitive and elusive qualities of this beer-in-hand sport.

    The best boards and bags can be found at

    Here’s a picture of my boards in Orange and Blue.  (Go Gators!)

    And check out Tom’s new book on Amazon which goes on sale Monday.

    #4:  Firepit

    You can build your own with pavers, which is fun, but there are so many inexpensive ones that get you fired up in no time.

    And how cool is this one? It comes with it’s own grate for grilling.
    Landmann USA 28325 Big Sky Fire Ring, Stars & Moons Design

    #3: KitchenAid Mixer

    Two words: Homemade Pizza.  That’s reason enough.  But there is so much you’ll use this for it’s ridiculous.  You can whip cream in about 10 seconds.

    The meat grinder attachment let’s me grind different blends for the best burger.  I prefer 1/3 skirt steak and 2/3 chuck.

    The pasta maker attachment is great too.  Making pasta is not that hard but rolling it out is nuts.  This makes it a snap.  My spinach lasagna with fresh pasta is a holiday favorite.

    KitchenAid KSM150PSWH Artisan Series 5-Quart Mixer, White

    #2: Apple TV

    So this is a relatively new addition to the Suburban Arsenal but has quickly become a game changer.

    I was nonplussed by the first generation Apple TV.  I mean, it wasn’t wifi (who has an ethernet drop behind their entertainment unit?), you had to sync to a hard drive (wtf) and it was expensive ($299).

    Now, the beautiful little hockey puck is wifi and it streams photos, videos and music from any computer hooked up to your network.

    I’ve made dozens of playlists and connected them to a variety of photo directories on my laptop.  Watching pictures of your family on your flatscreen, synchronized to your favorite music is well, enough to get me choked up.

    And the fact that it’s on $99!!!  It’s a no-brainer, must have for every home.  Renting TV Shows and Movies from iTunes is great, but watching on-demand from my existing Netflix account is even better.

    Here’s my one, tiny caveat.  It’s HDMI only, which seems fine, but my receiver (Onkyo) doesn’t output digital audio signals to my Zone 2.  I’ll explain in the next (#1) segment.  Read On.

    Apple TV MC572LL/A (2010)

    And the #1 Essential Item for Suburban Living… Outdoor Speakers for the Patio

    There’s nothing better than having your favorite playlist pumping out to your patio while you enjoy a cold one in front of your new firepit.

    When we bought our first house this was one of my first purchases.  I ran wire down through the floor, across the basement cieling and snaked it up and out the walls towards the patio.

    These JBLs are not waterproof so I made sure I tucked them up under my house’s eave during installation.

    With our second house, things were much easier since I ran speaker wire for the entire family room while the walls were exposed during renovation.

    So back to my little caveat about the Apple TV.  My speakers are hooked up to Zone 2 of my Onkyo receiver.  My Zone 2 can’t handle digital audio signals and HDMI, being digital video and audio, turns the whole thing into a big fail when it comes to rockin out in the backyard.

    It confounded me for hours why the Apple TV wasn’t piping music to my outdoor speakers until I did some google research and finally figured it out.

    I’ll have to figure out some way to transform the digital signal to analog in re-input it somehow.  If anybody has any suggestions, please reply to this post.  I need some schooling.

    But first, go out and buy yourself some outdoor speakers so you can listen to the football games while you’re playing in the backyard with your kids!

    JBL Northridge N24AWII 2-Way, 4

    • Paul 3:36 pm on October 29, 2010 Permalink

      I knew there was something missing in my life…the compound miter saw! (I see my wife rolling on the floor laughing). Nice round-up, esp the Apple TV. Does anyone know if the new Apple TV is better than the old one? Do you have to re-rent the same Pixer movie over and over whenever you want to watch it again?

    • Brenda 3:21 pm on November 6, 2010 Permalink

      When I was out in Ohio (the birthplace of cornhole) last week, I learned about the next evolution of the game: Cosmic Cornhole! It’s played on clear lucite boards with black lights inside to illuminate fluorescent bags. If you’ve got an extra $700 burning a hole in your pocket, check it out at We’ll be over next week to try it out!

  • Doug Ferguson 8:04 am on September 9, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: FirePit, Jets, Rotisserie   

    The Pool Is Closed, But the Fire Pit is Open Baby! 

    Yes, and the Pool is closing this week and that always makes me sad.  But my wife cheered me up by telling me all the great stuff fall brings.

    So here’s a list of some things that you can look forward to as the weather starts to shift.

    • Pretty ladies in Cute Hats and Leather Boots.

    • No more Diving Board Fails. Ouch.

    • Octoberfest.  Even if you’re not going to Germany, treatment make your own Octoberfest.  What a great excuse to invite the neighbors over and drink way too much beer.  Here are two of my neighbors below.

    • Fall Foliage.  (Snore.  I’m scrolling back up to the Octoberfest picture again)

    • The New York F*cking JETS.  That’s right, it’s Go Time.  Screw you Tom Brady, we’re going to wreck you!

    • Grilling over your Fire Pit.  I have this campfire grill that I bought on Amazon and it works fairly well.  It’s a bit tricky with thick cuts of meat.   The key is to get the fire going two hours before you plan on grilling your food.  You want to have a nice bed of white, hot embers.  Otherwise you’ll be chasing the flames with every change of wind direction.  Sausage is easy.  Pork Shoulder, very hard to pull off.

    • There are campfire grills and then there is the AUSPIT!  If you really want to impress the neighbors, get this kickass rotisserie you hammer into the ground next to your fire pit or campfire.   My buddy Tom sent me this link and I think I’m going to pull the trigger.

    Enjoy the fall and leave a comment with your fall festivities.

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