Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Smokin' - The Big Easy® Is Your Entry Into The Big Leagues

Thanksgiving is right around the corner and nothing is going to treat your bird better. How often have you wanted to make big league BBQ but you didn't have the big league equipment to do it. You don't have a 30 foot rig with decals and and a pit master to go with it nor do you have the space to park something like this. Drum roll please - in walks The Big Easy your answer, your ticket, your golden egg. Living in New York City I don't have room for a big rig but if I did you know I would get one so instead I get all my smoking and low and slow bbq action done in my Big Easy. Big turkey day will be here before you know it so whether its a big bird, a small bird or several little birds you want to be ready now.

Hey maybe you don't want to make turkey this year - then don't - no one said you have to so instead make some ribs.
I get my ribs ready by boldly rubbing them down with an exotic mix of chiles and spices.
The tall rack is ideal for ribs, I am also using the optional rib hooks that attach to the basket.
I have the electrical unit because I already have a large charbroil grill with a propane tank and I don't want to have too many propane tanks up on my roof for safety reasons. This unit gets nice and hot. I usually fill the smoker drawer with left over rosemary sticks that I save up.
You know I just had to show you how perfect the ribs are.

I like to switch things up when I make a bbq sauce - this one is a cactus fruit and habanero sauce that is sweet, tangy and tropically spicy.
The Big Easy is awesome. You get a nice smoke ring, you get depth of flavor, you get it cooked perfectly because of the built in thermometer and heat settings, you get to show off. I have made turkey, porchetta, leg of lamb and lots and lots of ribs and every single thing has come out perfectly cooked. If you are short on space but you want to be long on flavor I wholeheartedly recommend you get your hands on a Char-Broil Big Easy. I actually don't know what I would do without it, grilling is one thing but low and slow smoking and making BBQ is something else entirely. You will love it.

Maybe you want to make a leg of lamb - then do it.
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Lamb so Juicy, so flavorful so delicious I want some right now.
What about a nice juicy Porchetta - can't you taste that crispy skin?
Traditional turkey is always a winner  - hands down. Juicy breast, crispy skin, moist and smoky flavor - its making my mouth water just typing this.
So what ever you choose, be it a big turkey a few racks of ribs, a leg of lamb or a crispy skinned porchetta you can bet The Big Easy is gonna make it easy. Don't these fine BBQ's items look awesome. Good BBQ takes time. For something special this Thanksgiving - go with The Big Easy.

*I am a char-broil all-star and I get compensated for my opinion

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Brunch it up brunch it down brunch it all around - Brunch

Brunch, its funny how something that has been around longer than me always seems to find a new crowd that thinks they discovered something new. If you look it up you will find the word BRUNCH was first used in print in 1895, thats a lot of weekends ago, in fact you should look it up and read this nice little article in Smithosonian so I don't have to go into all the details. So with out further ado - here is my brunch for today.

If you have only read my blog once then you would have already found out my love for two things - blossoms and eggs and here we have a little of both.
Look at that delicious Zaatar on that pita bread - that will be a recipe for another day - today I am going to tell you how to make perfect poached eggs.

Perfect Poached Eggs

You need to start with two quarts of water in a deep sauce pan and one tablespoon of white vinegar, I have tried other vinegars and simple white vinegar works the best. 

Bring the water to a gentle boil then turn it down to a simmer, too much violent action in the pot will destroy the beauty of the egg and it won't cook right.

Crack your eggs into a monkey dish, a ramekin or a small tea cup and pour them gently into your water one at a time, I like to only poach two eggs at time if I am not rushed so that I can get a perfect egg.

Once you crack it into the water take a slotted spoon and gently fold it over itself so that it is in a rough quenelle shape.

Let the eggs cook for about 3 minutes for a perfectly cooked white and a nice runny yolk, longer if you like them more cooked less if you like a softer white.

Remove them with a slotted spoon and serve immediately. If you are making poached eggs for the masses then you would drop them into the hot water just long enough to set then you would put them in a cold water bath to shock them - as you are ready to use them you simply warm them up in the hot water to finish the cooking.

Have fun.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Nostalgia, New Mexico and Navajo Tacos

When this time of year rolls around I get incredibly nostalgic for my home state of New Mexico, The Land Of Enchantment. I think about the chile roasting everywhere you turn, I think about the New Mexico State Fair and all the fair food and I think about Navajo Tacos.
I make some dough and let it rest and rise while I get the rest of the ingredients together. This is going to be my "fry bread" and its the base for the taco.
Rehydrating some New Mexico green chile that I roast, peel and then dehydrate so it has a long shelf life.  Then I brown some ground beef and add in lots of garlic and other herbs and spices and beans to make a delicious taco meat. Today I had some radish greens so I sautéed them up till nice and tender.
Roll out, or stretch out some dough into a thin disc and fry it till its golden then pile on the toppings. I make my Navajo Tacos considerably smaller than what is considered the "normal" size since I like them to be more manageable - and - I want to eat more than one. Navajo Tacos - part of my youth, my adulthood and my memories of home.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Another Birthday And Plenty To Be Thankful For - PLUS Moules Frites And Cake On The Equinox

Each and every year when my birthday rolls around I am reminded how little I actually celebrate this day since I feel that I spend so much time celebrating every other day. I instead use this day to reflect and to feel the gratitude that I am here and it is because of my parents that I am. 
When I feel that I have adequately reflected, usually by dinner time, then I get ready to chow down on what ever my favorite thing is at this point. For many years my chosen birthday dinner was sushi, other times its surf and turf so you can easily see a trend - seafood.
Today my choice, after cruising around the fish markets in Chinatown this morning, is mussels and shrimp or Moules Frites, as its more popularly known. I went ahead and added 3 pounds of large Lousiana shrimp because I can. I made some crispy fried potatoes and some hunks of fresh seeded Italian bread to sop up all the delicious, buttery, wine infused juices. If today is also your birthday I wish you a happy one. If today is not then I wish you a happy Equinox.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Summer Salads

The beauty of summer is upon us and with this summer beauty brings summer bounty and this bounty can turn into a salad without you even knowing it.

I picked some fresh salad greens and some nasturtium blossoms and some squash blossoms along with some rattlesnake beans some heirloom tomatoes and a cucumber and I also picked a few sprigs of lemon basil and purple basil to round out the sweetness. At home I had some bacalao and some yucca and some batata (batata is a tropical sweet potato, it is white with a burgundy skin). Since the yucca and batata were already cooked and in the fridge I simply sliced it into little discs and squares and I browned it on both sides in some butter. I made some quick croutons with some fresh ciabatta bread that I picked up this morning by tossing the cubed bread in a little olive oil and some of my seasoned salt, when the yucca and batata were browned I removed them to a plate and tossed the croutons in to brown in the hot pan. I had made some cilantro oil a few days before so that was the base for my simple dressing with white vinegar.
This salad came together quickly since I had mostly everything already prepared. My son likes heaping portions so I made a pretty one for me and a piled a mile high version for him, his got some mozzarella cheese instead of the bacalao since he doesn't care for the saltiness of the fish so much - odd since he likes other salty fish. Make some summer salads - I can't wait to hear what you do.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lets have a Toast to Toast - Bruschetta is summer

What do you do when you want to kick up your summer platters? Make some fancy toast. Brushcetta is exactly the answer.
With summer bounty in full swing we have access to some beautiful produce and what better way to use it then on a piece of simple toast. Here I have some fresh mozzarella, still warm and soft, with some heirloom cherry tomatoes, roma tomatoes and grape tomatoes right off the vine tossed with a little herbed salt that I mix up and a splash of olive oil layered on a crispy and toasted on only one side slice of a bastone loaf that was rubbed with fresh garlic then drizzled with a little extra virgin olive oil then its flecked with a little chiffonade of green and purple basil and finished with some slivers of radish and some nasturtium petals and if you want drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on it before serving. 

The Kamado Smoker and Grill (cookbook review)

If you are looking for a cookbook that takes you from soup to nuts explaining things that both the novice and the seasoned outdoor cook can appreciate then this is the book for you. This book is filled with recipes that everyone can appreciate.
Tips, everyone wants tips and tricks and you will find them numbered and with a nice large banner so you know where they are. Don't know what reverse searing is? You will find the answer in this book.
While the book is loaded with pictures and step by step visual instructions I do think there could have been a few full page images of some of these delicious dishes. All in all this is a great cookbook and you don't necessarily have to have a Kamado Smoker to benefit from all the good advice as these tips and techniques have cross over to any backyard grill set up that you may have. Go out an pick up a copy.

I received a free copy of this book to review and secondly the author is one of my colleagues as a Char-Broil AllStar.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Calabacitas By Any Other Name Is Squash - A Dish Of My Youth

When I was a kid growing up in New Mexico you couldn't get me to eat squash if it was candy coated, dipped in chocolate and disguised as a super hero but you could always get me to eat Calabacitas. You see I didn't know what calabacitas was but I did know that I loved it and I did know that I hated squash. I wouldn't even taste squash if it was offered to me. I grew up in a family that spoke more spanish than english but we spoke english at home since my parents wanted us to grow up that way and squash was one of those english words that I could not possibly put in my mouth. Squash - thats what I did to bugs, thats what happened to toads that didn't make it across the road, squash was an absolutely gross word. Calabacitas, on the other hand had a tasty ring to it, calabacitas had cheese. Well to make a long story short you can imagine my surprise when I saw one of my aunts making calabacitas and she said "and now we add the squash" - the WHAT - I thought - no, don't ruin it but she did it anyway and I saw what she was putting in and it was zucchini - now I am completely confused. What the heck is going on here? It wasn't until I asked what does Calabacita mean that I learned it was SQUASH. I had been eating squash all along and loving it. I still prefer to say Calabacita or Zucchini and if I do eat a squash I use its name like Kabocha and when people say "whats Kabocha" then I have to say "squash" but I use that word sparingly. Enjoy my Calabacitas, its my favorite thing to eat in the summer.
I like to cook everything separately giving each item its own special attention and color and caramelization before combining them together. Its not the traditional way to make it because it is a bit more fussy but thats the way I like to do it - fussy.
Once everything is ready I mix it and today I had some Lambs Quarters, a delicious wild green, so it went into the skillet with my peeled and roasted chiles that I chopped up.
I don't always have fresh oregano but since its one of the herbs we have in abundance in the garden this year I will get to use it more often, what a treat, so a little fresh oregano that I chopped up, some melty cheese - I like muenster, and some warm corn tortillas and you are all set. If you want to add more cheese to your plate then do it because thats what I do.
All thats left to do now is try to get the right proportion of calabacitas to tortilla and just eat and eat until you balance it out- Calabacitas - its what squash wants to be.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Pizza Pie In The Sky

Pizza - who doesn't like pizza and who ever doesnt like pizza is a freak and has no business reading this post so if thats you - toodles.

I made a few pizzas, a clam pizza or two a tomato pie and a garlic pie.

 The greatest thing about this grill his how blazing hot it gets. I have two types of pizza stones and the grill is big enough to accommodate them both and neither one is hotter than the other, they are both blazing hot.
 The only thing left to do now is slice them up, pour a cold beverage and enjoy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tropical Flavors in Sub Tropical Town

It is not a well known fact but New York City is considered sub tropical in the summer time and if any of you have ever been here at that time you would most definitely agree. In order to honor the pending tropical heat wave that will soon be upon us I made some ribs and some big fat prawns.
The ribs were slathered in a garlic and ginger with pineapple and vegetable oil emulsion (I put everything in the blender and it got thick like a mayonnaise) then wrapped up the coated ribs in banana leaves and then in foil and cooked until tender and delicious. The prawns were tossed with a little seasoned salt and thrown directly on the grill near the end of the cooking time for the ribs. 
There is something about the banana leaf that both adds flavor and helps tenderize the meat - its awesome because it feels like super secret trick.
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