Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Quick Bites: Grilled Cobb Salad with Fowl Play Vinaigrette

We evacuated to the basement last night due to tornado warnings and are expecting more violent storms tonight, so dinner had to be something quick.  I thought a sort of grilled chicken Cobb salad would do the trick.

I was going to whip up a marinade but at the store I saw Fowl Play chicken marinade from our friends at The Shed Barbecue and Blues Joint.  I have tried a few of there sauces and marinades but I hadn't tried that one yet so I picked up a bottle.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Book Review & Giveaway: Sunset's The Great Outdoors Cookbook

I am rather certain that this is the first cookbook that gave me advice on outwitting bears.  I think that's the kind of thing that I would remember.

The Great Outdoors Cookbook is different than the crowd of BBQ and Grilling books because about a third of it is about how to grill amazing meals while camping or hiking.  The book also offers pro tips on everything from building your own pizza oven to, yes, how to outwit bears.

Sunset/Oxmoor House

Physical description:
The Great Outdoors Cookbook comes in reinforced soft cover and is roughly 10 by 9 inches in size.  The book has over 250 pages and these are organized in a rather unique way.   The recipes and content are divided into Campfires, Home Fires, and Inspired Fires.  Instead of the typical glossy white pages, The Great Outdoors Cookbook uses a heavy matte type stock and the pages are full color, even the "white spaces".  That might seem like a small detail but each of the three people that flipped through my copy made comments about how nice that was. 

The Great Outdoors Cookbook is more than just recipes as it is heavily salted with exceptional "how to" sections.  The recipes themselves are not only creative in terms of flavors, many of them offer a good bit of ingenuity for the instructions.

The Campfires section is loaded with recipes for camping and hiking but I couldn't help but think they would also be helpful for tailgating as well.  Forget hotdogs, smores, and burgers, these recipes put five star food in the pic-uh-nic basket, Yogi would approve.  We really liked that most of these recipes are broken up into prep to do at home and how to easily store it for cooking at the campsite.  They include tips like how to forage for food in the wild, basics like how to cook with a Dutch oven, and pro tips like how to pack a cooler.  If you've ever camped, you know that packing is an art and can make your experience so much better.  

The Home Fires section is all about cooking outdoors at home, such as grilling and smoking.  There are more tutorials here such as grilling basics, how to use a Weber Smoky Mountain water smoker, how to use a solar oven, and how to make a fresh bay leaf "cage" for cooking whole fish.  The recipes include starters, burgers and gourmet sandwiches, pizzas, dinners, sides, and desserts.

Finally, the Inspired Fires is aptly named.  The Great Outdoors gives you detailed "how to's"  for several out of this world ideas for live fire cooking that you have probably never done before.   Things like how to build your own open fire pit, how to build a pizza oven, cooking like a gaucho, using a Santa Maria grill, and much more.  For each of these techniques, they prove a full theme menu for that style of cooking.

The first thing we made from the book was the Chicken Enchilada Nacho Bowls.  For this you make a mixture of smoked chicken, enchilada sauce, black beans, corn, and more at home and then easily assemble the rest at the camp site or tailgate.

Next I made the Tarragon-Mustard T-bone Steak, steaks marinated in a mixture of oil, wine, tarragon, and Dijon mustard.  
I picked this recipe mainly because I have tarragon growing in the front yard but this herb is used in Bearnaise sauce so it also just made sense.

Finally, my absolute favorite was the Dutch Oven Cinnamon Rolls.  These were the best homemade cinnamon rolls that we have made, live fire or in the oven.  These instantly made our list for breakfasts at any type of onsite event, like a BBQ competition, since they are "make ahead" for everything except the actual cooking.

These smelled ridiculously good, you might get mobbed if you cook these at a camp ground.

The book includes 125 full color photographs and illustrations which meaningfully supplement the tutorial sections.  The matte finish gives the campground pictures a gritty look to them that feels appropriate for the setting. 
The Great Outdoors Cookbook is ideal for people that hike and camp, but that isn't all.  It is also great for anyone who needs to cook outside away from home, like tailgating.  Both the Campfire and Home Fires sections appeal to folks for general grilling and BBQing at home.  The Inspired Fires would be good for more advanced outdoor cooks who want to take their game to the next level.

4 of 5 stars – good cookbook with value added tips, photos, guides, and other content

Giveaway - The Great Outdoors Cookbook

How To Enter and Rules

  1. To enter, leave a comment below telling us when was the last time you camped out.   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, May 11th at 11:59pm. Drawing will be held Monday, May 12th 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. Sunset and Oxmoor House 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.

The winner of the drawing is Nicole A.  Nicole please contact me because the user account link takes me to a missing Etsy page.  Thanks!
Alternate Winner
Sorry, Nichole, I couldn't reach you with the contact link provided and didn't hear back after posting the announcement.  The alternate winner is:


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Product Review: Thermoworks Thermopop and TimeStick

My Thermoworks family has grown!
L to R:  Original Thermapen, Splashproof Thermapen, ChefAlarm, Thermopop, TimeSticks

A couple of months ago, Thermoworks sent me their new, low priced Thermopop digital thermometer to test out.  About the same time, I had bought a pair of their new TimeSticks.  I got busy in several projects and have used them heavily but I'm just now getting around to writing up my thoughts about these two new offerings. 

Thermoworks Thermopop $24
I consider the Thermopop to be the little brother of the highly vaunted Thermapen.  Like many people, I feel the Thermapen is the fastest and most accurate digital thermometer available to the general public.  But let's face it, not every back yard griller is willing to pony up $89 for the Cadillac of thermometers.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Favorite Grilled Chicken Marinade

The first chicken marinade I ever learned was to soak chicken pieces in a bottle of cheap Italian dressing.  I picked that up from my buddy, Carson.  We'd by whatever chicken pieces were on sale (usually leg quarter or legs), give it the ol' Wishbone marinade, and then grill it on a plain charcoal grill.  After a long day of surfing, that made for some fantastic eating. 

These days Carson and I have both moved on to kamado grills, like the Big Green Egg, and we've moved on to making our own marinades like this one.  This has become one of our favorites and after making this batch, Trevor said he'd even like to vend them at a BBQ contest or festival.   Smart kid, there's probably more money in that than competing anyway.  

The combo of buttermilk and non-fat Greek yogurt create a powerful marinade base with a unique tang and the seasonings add a ton of flavor.   You can add 3/4 teaspoon of kosher salt and the marinade stands on it's own with no additional seasonings other than the marinade.  But I prefer to keep the salt out of the marinade and then give the chicken a good dusting of a basic BBQ rub before grilling.  

grilled chicken legs with a buttermilk marinade

NMT Grilled Chicken Marinade
makes:  enough for 3-4 pounds of chicken pieces
prep time:  10 minutes
cook time:  none for the marinade

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)

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.  

grilled burgers, green peppercorn and blue cheese sauce, steaks