Monday, April 14, 2014

Gastro Grilling by Ted Reader: Recipe, Book Review, and a Giveaway



Prolific grilling author, Ted Reader,  has a new grilling cookbook out just in time for the longer days and shorter nights.  



I was curious as to what the "Gastro" would be, since in some "pubs" it has come to mean snooty, overpriced and over produced food with gels and foams.  Ted understands that connotation and put's it out of the way in his opening:

Gastro does not imply pretentious when I'm involved.  Gastronomy means "the art and science of good eating."  There are other definitions in play, but I like this one.  It's simple and the truth and unpretentious, like me and my food.  - Ted Reader

Ted has had amazing grilling and BBQ experiences all over.  For example, just this week he was at Niagra for the Beer n' BBQ festival cooking with other major BBQ players like DivaQ and Dr BBQ.  Great times for sure, but he admits that his real satisfaction comes from grilling in his backyard and that is what Gastro Grilling is about.


Gastro Grilling
Fired-Up Recipes To Grill Great Everyday Meals
by Ted Reader
Pintail (part of Penguin)

Physical description:
Available in soft cover and kindle editions, Gastro Grilling weighs in at 373 pages and sports some 135 recipes.  It is organized into Party Starters, Side Kicks, Sandwiches, Meat, Poultry, Fish & Shellfish, Drinks, and Desserts.  The introduction does a good job of covering the basics and grilling options.  Sometimes the intro section of grilling books can drone on but Ted keeps it light with witty turns of phrase and comments.  Each major section also has mini-intros with general information to supplement the recipes in that section.  I like how that is put together.

Recipes:
Ted is the kind of cook that likes to play with his food.  Much like Adam Perry Lang, Ted's recipes get the cook involved with a lot of stuff to do, which is fun to me.  Things like making a salmon and shrimp stuffing for a bacon wrapped scallop or building a plank box for Love Potatoes come to mind.   There is a lot of wrapping, deboning, injecting, and long marinating periods.   That is my style of cooking so I ate this book up. 

Gastro Grilling also involves playing with toys and gadgets using absolutely vital grilling tools (that's what we'll tell our spouses anyway), which is also something I enjoy.  He utilizes grilling stones, planks, and the like.  He has a really cool way of cooking poultry using two skewers (although it reminds me of the scarecrows in the 1968 Planet of the Apes).  Hell, he even gets you to use a wheelbarrow if you are so inclined.

The first recipe I tried was his Grilled Mojo Chicken.  I didn't have a whole chicken handy so I used the marinade for a family pack of wings.  After they cooked, I tossed them in a jerk compound butter that I had made using 1 stick of butter, 1/2 tsp jerk seasoning, 1/2 tsp seasoned salt, and 1/4 tsp sugar.  I cooked them on one of our kamado grills using a raised/elevated cooking grate.  Quite tasty!

Grilled the wings "raised direct" at 350°F about 18 minutes a side.  See the grates used with the fire pit for an example.  The 4 1/2-inch one is what I use for our 3 kamado grills for a raised grate.

Sweet from the mojo and spicy from the jerk butter, good combo!



Next we grilled Ted's Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms.  Twice.  The first time I used what we had on hand (despite Ted's call for fresh), cheap pre-shredded mozzarella and pre-grated Parmesan cheese with lackluster results.  

The next night we used a fresh ball of mozzarella and fresh grated Pecorino-Romano for a completely different and so much better final dish.  I cooked these on my Char-Broil TRU-Infrared gas grill.   We loved this one. Alexis noted that without the bacon, you could throw this on a toasted kaiser roll for an awesome vegetarian cheeseburger option.

Oh yeah, we added bacon crumbles to the stuffing mixture, two strips worth.  It was "too vegetarian" without it, ha ha.

I covered with a half steam pan to get more browning on top. 

It was supposed to be an appetizer but it filled me up.

We knew that we had to try the Love Potatoes as soon as we saw them.  First, they are cooked in a box made from planks!  That was intriguing.  Think of these as hot crash potatoes, topped with caramelized onions/garlic, and finished off with creamy mashed potatoes.  Instead of using Emmental as called for, we used some Edam cheese that I had smoked a few weeks ago.  Every bit as good as it sounds!
I had to break out the table saw because I only had two planks and needed to shorten them to make the ends.

Plank box soaking for 1 hour prior to grilling.

What Lies Beneath?  Hot crash potatoes and caramelized onions!

My base plank was slightly warped in the package.  When it started cooking, it warped even more, splitting the ends.  No worries, it all worked out.

I topped with more smoked Edam and some of Ted's Bone Dust to finish it.
We also Dad's Grilled Steak featured below, except we used tri-tip instead.  Some of the recipes I can't wait to try are:
  • Brown Sugar Butter Crusted Shrimp with Red & White Cocktail Sauces
  • Baked Sweet Potatoes with Hot Buttered Love Injection
  • Stone Grilled Butter Burgers
  • Smoked & Grilled Beef Ribs with Beer Schmeer

Photos: 
Mike McColl is the photographer and Mia Bachmaier is the principal food stylist.  Both did great work, producing mouthwatering pictures that make you want to try out the recipe.  The book is loaded with quality, full and half page color photographs.  Most are of finished dishes but step by step photos are used in a few places where needed.  

Summary
Gastro Grilling is good for anyone wanting to elevate their level of grilling.  Even if you are just starting out, you will learn a lot from the recipes and techniques offered.  But I think it is ideal for the more advanced grillers, who sometimes yawn at most grilling books.   If you are bored with grilling because you've "done it all", Gastro Grilling will wake up your backyard cooking!

If you have the "set it and forget it" mindset for grilling, then this book probably isn't best suited for you.  But for anyone else, I'd recommend it.

Rank  (Out of 5)
4+ stars:  good cookbook with value added tips, photos, guides, and other content


Recipe Excerpt:  Dad's Grilled Steak
 
Click to enlarge - Reprinted with permission from publisher.

I didn't have a sirloin on hand so I used a tri-tip roast instead.  I also didn't have a wheelbarrow either but I figured that it was just a form of "open pit" so I used my Fatboyz Fire Pit that I had made a few years ago.
I used oak splits and burned them down to coals before cooking.


 I use two different grates.  I start off on the 8-inch tall one when the fire is hotter then switch to the 4 1/2-inch one as the coals start to cool down some. 

Did it for 20 minutes on the tall grate, flipping every 5 minutes.  Then switched to the short one and flipped every 3 minutes.

I was targeting 130°F for a medium-rare finish. 

This would be a great recipe to cook on a camping trip since most campgrounds have tire ring fire pits like this.

Close enough!  The tri-tip took about 35 minutes this way.

Rested and ready to go!
Tender and had a great flavor.  It reminded me of the first way I learned to grill flank steak with a marinade of Burgundy wine, garlic, soy sauce, and oil.

Giveaway:  Ted Reader's Gastro Grilling
Ted's publisher is being kind enough to provide not only a copy of this great new book but also a set of his signature sauces and rubs!

How To Enter and Rules


  1. To enter, leave a comment below telling us when the last time you grilled was.  A tweet about this giveaway with a #gastrogrilling hashtag gets you a second entry.   NOTE:  If you are using the anonymous comment option, please make sure to leave a way to reach you (email,  forum user name, etc) in case you win. 
  2. Giveaway entry period begins as soon as this is posted and ends Sunday, April 27th at 11:59pm. Drawing will be held Monday, April 28th at 7:00pm (All times are Eastern Time zone).  Winner will be announced in an update to this post. 
  3. Comments will be numbered by order received and random.org will generate a random number for the winner.
  4. Limited to residents of the continental United States and Canada unless you wish to pay the extra shipping charges.
  5. I am the final judge regarding any discrepancies, interpretations, grievances, etc about this drawing.
  6. Penguin Group, Pintail, and/or Ted Reader are only sponsoring the prize. They are not responsible for the drawing or the giveaway.
  7. Winner must respond and claim the prize within one week of the winning announcement. If a winner does not claim the prize during the specified time, a reserve winner will be drawn from the original entries.
[Standard Disclaimer]  I received a review copy of the book for free.  

Friday, April 11, 2014

Chicken and Beer Cheese Soup

I suppose that the best description for the weather in East Tennessee lately is "confused".

We have frost warnings one day and a few days later we are enjoying highs in the 80's.  So don't blame me if it is Spring and I am serving a luscious, rich soup that seems more like it belongs in in the cold dark heart of January. 

I am finishing up the last steps of my book and it has been sent off to the design people this week.  I wanted to re-shoot one of the recipes so I ended up with an extra Skillet Grilled Chicken Verde on hand.


My youngest son devoured the legs and wings just for a snack - he's a teenager working out every day getting ready for summer football workouts for high school, so he's allowed to eat like that.  I decided to use some of the leftovers for this Chicken and Beer Cheese Soup.  It's thick and rich and....I need to go work off some of these calories!

For the chiles for this batch I went very mild. I used a 1/2 cup of diced red bell pepper, 1/4 cup of diced poblano, and 1/4 cup of diced Anaheim.  For the cheese, I used a blend of mozzarella, Colby jack, and some of our smoked Fontina cheese. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Green Peppercorn and Blue Cheese Sauce for Burgers or Steaks

Last week I received a care package from the folks at Steakhouse Elite.  The package contained some of their Kobe crafted ground beef, hamburger patties, hot dogs and these tips:

Five Tips For Grilling A Better Burger This Summer
  1. It’s all about the beef: A successful barbeque starts long before you light the charcoal: Begin with the best beef, and you’ll end up with a better burger or hot dog. Steakhouse Elite uses Wagyu beef for a luxurious buttery flavor.
  2. Clean and pre-grease your grill: Preheat your grill, and after the heat has been on the rack for five or 10 minutes, clean the grilling surface with a long-handled wire brush. Then, dip a paper towel in vegetable oil and use barbeque tongs to apply a coating of oil so your food won’t stick.
  3. Carefully cook your burgers: One of the biggest mistakes people make when grilling is to turn their burgers too soon or too often. After placing your burgers on the grill, don’t turn them until the juices rise to the top. The clearer the juice, the more well-done your burger is.
  4. Don’t forget the dogs: Hot dogs are always pre-cooked – the point of grilling them is to heat them thoroughly and produce extra flavor and snap. Roll them lightly on the grill to brown them evenly and achieve a consistent temperature throughout each dog.
  5. Give it a rest: When cooking is complete, remove your burgers and franks from the grill, cover with foil and let them rest for about five minutes before serving. This allows the juices to distribute evenly for maximum flavor.
The products arrived fresh, not frozen, so I didn't want to delay in putting them to use.  I gave our neighbor the ground beef and we used the burgers and dogs.  For my burgers, I wanted to go simple but powerful so I made this sauce to be the only condiment other than a little greenery.  


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Exploding Kamados, Propane Tank Exchanges, and BTU's...Oh My

Spring is officially here.  That means plants are blooming, birds are singing, and all the animals are out establishing their homes.   Us humans?  We are planting, fertilizing, and watering to grow grass that we will turn around and cut down because it grows.  That and we head to hardware stores, patio & pool places, and other grill dealers to refurbish or buy new grills.

Exploding Kamados
I picked up a new kamado grill to use for the photo shoot of the book cover.  It's a Vision Grill's kamado that we bought at a warehouse club.


The Vision Grill is available at a bargain price loaded with a ton of extra features, about half the price of some similarly featured kamados.  My neighbor and fellow Egghead, John, is putting the Vision through testing and I'll have a full review post in the next few weeks.  It looks promising.  

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs, Pizza, and a Party


The college basketball tournament has unquestionably earned its nickname so far this year with all of the upsets and overtime games, hasn't it? Another slew of games is lined up today and I have just the ticket for some game day eats - buffalo chicken meatballs. 


First, with their spherical shape and orange buffalo sauce, the even look like mini-basketballs.  Second, the Buffalo chicken flavor profile is long associated with the big games.  Third, these fantastic treats can be used in a variety of ways - from snacking on them individually, making them into sliders, or using them to create a hearty sub. 

These Buffalo Chicken Meatballs are my first contribution as a member of the Char-Broil All-Stars team and you can see the entire post here at Charbroil Live: It's A Slam Dunk!  Buffalo Chicken Meatballs.