Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cooking Logs

If you don't count fire, meat, and a grill, one of the most useful tools for improving your BBQ/grilling has to be a cooking log.

A bbq cooking log allows you to learn from your successes and "less than successes". I first learned about them from a fantastic website called Amazing Ribs and they freely offer a pdf template for a bbq cooking log. I highly recommend theirs if you want to keep a printed copy.

I don't track most of my cooks in this kind of detail but I do try to record enough of them that I can learn. Here is my set of cooking logs. I wish I had done more because these are great learning experiences, from the good and the bad.

I also keep a spiral bound notebook in the kitchen to record more general notes with less detail. I'm more likely to use that then to be disciplined enough to complete a full cooking log. But both are resources that I consult often when preparing to cook something.

Grove's Cajun Beef Rub

Grove's Cajun Beef Rub

2 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoon Onion powder
2 teaspoon Garlic powder
1 teaspoon Cayenne
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoon White pepper
1/2 teaspoon Black pepper
1 teaspoon Dried thyme
1 teaspoon Oregano

For my beef rub, I like the spices to be coarse, so instead of using store bought onion and garlic powder, I do a coarse grind of dried minced onion and garlic.

Nibble Me This Signature Rubs and Sauces

NMT Basic BBQ Rub
This simple, all-purpose BBQ rub is good with both chicken and pork. I like to use oregano, thyme leaves, parsley, or a blend for the dried herbs.

Makes 1 1/2 cups

1/2 cup smoked paprika
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup turbinado sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup Trade East Garlic Pepper Seasoning
1 tablespoon white sugar
1 tablespoon Lawry's Pepper Seasoning
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons dried herbs of your choice (I use parsley, oregano, and thyme)
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/4 teaspoon celery seed

Mix all the ingredients together and store in an airtight container. Grind for finer texture right before using.

Note:  Updated 3/2015
Changes included increasing brown sugar to 1/2 cup from 1/4 cup, reducing the garlic seasoning by 1 tablespoon, adding the white sugar, adding the Lawry's Pepper Seasoning, increasing chili powder by 1 teaspoon, switching from just chipotle to ancho and chipotle, added celery seed.

NMT Beef Rub V.2

This is more peppery than my original NMT Beef Rub. I merged a Dalmatian style rub with our original beef rub and loved the result. 

½ cup coarse Kosher salt
½ cup coarse Malabar black pepper
1.5 tablespoons granulated garlic
1 tablespoon coarse ground dried onion or shallot
1 tablespoon coarse ground dried red bell pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ancho chile
1 teaspoon dried parsley

We buy the dried shallot online and grind in a coffee/spice grinder. You can buy the dried bell pepper online but we just make our own in a dehydrator and grind in a coffee/spice grinder. 

NMT Beef Rub
When I’m cooking beef steaks, roasts, or brisket, this is the rub that I often use. It’s best when stored with the coarse bits intact, then freshly ground to use as needed. I use Bourbon Barrel Smoke Sea Salt, and I get my dried bell peppers from Penzeys Spices (3/8th inch cut).  

Makes about 1 1/4 cups

2 tablespoons black peppercorns
1 tablespoon green peppercorns
1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried red and green bell pepper flakes
2 1/4 teaspoons dried minced onion
2 teaspoons dried oregano or thyme leaves
2-3 tablespoons coarse smoked salt

Mix all the ingredients together except the salt and process in a spice grinder or pepper mill.  Add in the salt to taste.  I grind the mix fine for using it on small cuts like steaks.  For brisket, I like it very coarse.

The Bourbon Barrel salt is VERY coarse.  If using Kosher salt, I find it is best to mix everything BUT the salt and grind that mix.  Then add Kosher salt to taste, about 2-3 tablespoons.

NMT Cajun Beef Rub
When I think of Cajun seasoning, I think spicy and flavorful but not necessarily "hot".  This also goes well with chicken if you up the salt to 1 tablespoon.  

Makes about ¼ cup

2 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoon Onion powder
2 teaspoon Garlic powder
1 teaspoon Cayenne
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 teaspoon White pepper
1/2 teaspoon Black pepper
1 teaspoon Dried thyme
1 teaspoon Oregano

NMT Burger Mix-In
Many commercially available burger seasonings look like they have thrown the entire spice cabinet into a jar.  I like this one because it is so simple, providing the classic burger flavor without over seasoning it.   It does have salt in it so you want to cook the burgers soon after mixing it in so the salt doesn't draw out moisture from the meat.

Makes about 1/2 cup

1/4 cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
1 tablespoon dried minced onion

Mix all the ingredients together and store in an airtight container. To use, mix in 1 1/2 teaspoons per pound of ground beef.

NMT Blackening Seasoning
Just adding this seasoning to a protein does not make it “blackened”.  Season it with this rub and then cook on fiery hot cast iron, while drizzling the meat with butter.

1/2 Tbsp paprika
1 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp thyme, ground
1/4 tsp oregano, ground
1/4 tsp celery seed

Mix all of the ingredients together and store in an airtight container, for up to six months.

NMT Ba'Cock! All Purpose Chicken Rub
This basic poultry rub is good as is for whole roasted chicken, wings, or pieces.  Add chili powder, cumin, oregano and chiles to take it Southwestern.  Throw in paprika, brown sugar, ground onion and such to go to a BBQ rub.  Makes enough for one whole chicken

1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon turbinado sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried lemon peel

Mix all of the ingredients together and store in an airtight container, for up to six months.

NMT Spicy Poultry Rub
This spicy poultry rub is good for grilling chicken with a bit of a kick to use in sandwiches, tacos, or wraps.

Makes 1/4 cup 

2 tablespoons seasoned salt
2 teaspoons turbinado sugar
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder 
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried orange peel

Mix all the ingredients together and store in an airtight container.

NMT Cherry BBQ Sauce
This sweet and spicy sauce goes well with both chicken and pork.

Makes about 2 cups

3/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Blues Hog Barbecue Sauce
1/2 cup cherry preserves
1/4 cup cherry juice
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons chipotle hot sauce
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tablespoon dried red and green bell pepper (from Penzey's)
1/2 teaspoon dried minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried onion flakes
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon roasted ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon dried lemon peel
1/8 teaspoon liquid smoke
2 or 3 pinches chipotle chile powder
Smoked salt to taste (about 1/2 teaspoon) 

Mix all the ingredients together in a saucepan on the stovetop. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and let simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Blend to a smooth consistency using an immersion blender.  Let cool, place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to one month.  

NMT Basic Brine
This brine will help flavor and add moisture to your poultry and pork. For a quick brine—less than 4 hours—you can increase the salt to 1/2 cup.

Makes 2 quarts

2 quarts distilled water
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon dried minced garlic
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Stir all the ingredients together until the salt and sugar have dissolved.

NMT Beef Injection
I use this mainly for smoking brisket, but also use it for any beef roasts, such as; rib roast, tri-tip, or tenderloin.  Make sure it is cooled before injecting.  Inject with the grain of the meat to avoid leaving track marks.  Bragg's Liquid Aminos is made up of 19 essential amino acids and tastes like soy sauce.  Check the health food or gluten free section of your grocery store.

This injection can also be mixed with a little amber beer (1/2 cup) to make a brisket mop.  

Makes a little more than a cup.

1 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon Braggs Liquid Aminos
1/2 teaspoon finely ground NMT beef rub

Mix all the ingredients together in a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer.  Remove from heat and let cool. 

Monday, December 1, 2008

Products That I Endorse

Disclaimer: This blog receives no payment for advertising or reviews of products or services. I pay/paid full retail prices for these products or services unless otherwise noted.

Big Green Egg

About 3/4ths of what I cook comes off of the Big Green Egg. It is a smoker, a grill, and a wood fired convection oven. This ancient kamado design coupled with modern high tech ceramics make for an amazing device. I could not be more enthusiastic about a product. The company has world class customer service. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the Big Green Egg. It's not cheap, the saying goes, "The Big Green Egg costs more than it should, but it's worth more than it costs".

BigOven Software

My full review can be found here, but this desktop software is cheap, it makes saving recipes from the 'net very easy, and has great features. I've used it since 2004 and if you are considering foodie software, definitely take a look at the free trial version before buying some other product. BigOven also has a free online recipe database and foodie social network.

Billy Bones BBQ
I love their Competition Rub (Green Label), XXX Cherry Rub, and his original BBQ Sauce. Mr. Wall, aka Billy Bones has more BBQ knowledge in his left pinky than I do in my whole body. He is even listed as a 'living legend' in Peace, Love, and Barbecure. But he is one of the most humble, helpful, and laid back people you could ever meet. His spice rubs and bbq sauces are the real deal!

Chok' On Dis Blaz'n Glaze
This is a mouth awakening, spicy glaze that I have found to be perfect with pork chops, chicken wings, and pork roasts (so far). I even used it as a steak dipping sauce. I think a quote from my full review says it best, "The result of cooking with Blaz'n Glaze was kind of like riding the elevator at an old-fashioned department store (what us old folks shopped at before Walmart and the internet), with the various floors being smoky, bold, sweet, and a bit of a kick. I loved it."

Craycourt Cast Iron Grates
These preseasoned cast iron grates are available in 18.5" or 22.5" inch sizes, fitting most round grills. Not only do they offer the benefits of all cast iron grates (even heat distribution and sear marks), the Craycourt grates are modular. They offer options for pizza stones, griddles, and chicken thrones. I have used them repeatedly and love their great design, quality, and performance. (Original sample received free, but if mine disappeared tomorrow, I'd gladly pay full price for a replacement.)


Bacon and Blue Burger
Beef & Barley Stew
Beef Tenderloin Fillet with Gorgonzola Sauce
Beef Tenderloin Fillet with Creole Brandy Sauce
Brick Oven Beef and Swiss Meat Pies
Carolina Style Burger
Chili Con Carne w Beans
Citrus & Ginger Steak Marinade
Dino Bones (Beef Short Ribs)
Dino Bones (Beef Back Ribs)
Easy Meatball Sliders
Fajita Beef Roll Ups
Flank Steak with Chimichurri
Grove's Cajun Beef Rub
Homemade Steak Biscuits
Hot Tubbed Ribeyes with Gorgonzola Butter
London Broil
Peppered Beef Tenderloin with Portobello Marsala Sauce

Ribeye Roast
Roast Beef with Baby Bella-au-jus
Sante Fe Style Beef Enchiladas
Smoked Black Pepper Ribeye Steaks
Smoked Pepper Jack Cheeseburgers
Steak Fajitas , Steak Fajitas #2
Tequila Steaks
Thai Beef Kaboobs (redux)
Thai Skirt Steak
Undergound Deli Meatloaf Sandwich
Wolfgang Puck's Special Spaghetti and Meatballs

Chicken & Poultry
30-20-10 Smoked Hot Wings
Airline Chicken Breast with Basil Butter
Apple Wood Smoked Turkey Breast
Arroz Con Pollo
Artichoke My Chicken
Chickamauga Chicken
Chris' Dip and Flip Grilled Chicken Thighs
Cruze Buttermilk Grilled Chicken
Easy Chicken Paprika
Easy Crust Chicken Pot Pie
Fajita-Bobs (Fajitas on a stick)
Final Four Chicken Fingers
Fire Roasted Asian Chicken
Fire Roasted Sriracha Chicken Wings
Fire Roasted Sriracha Chicken Wings - Sweet Heat Version
Greek Fire Roasted Chicken
Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Hot Brown (Open faced turkey sandwich)
Jamaican Jerk Chicken
Kikkoman Tropical Chicken Packets
Little Bang! Cock (Thai Cornish Hens)
Lemon Pepper Chicken
Loaf Pan Chicken
Not Quite Alice Springs Chicken
Old Bay Wings
Perfect Poultry Rub
Pulled Chicken #1 #2
Roadside Chicken
Smoked Chicken #1 #2
Smoked Chicken Salad
Southwestern Chicken Cacciatore
Spatchcocked Chicken
Sun Dried Tomato Pesto Roasted Chicken
Thai High Thighs

BBQ Pork Loin Back Ribs
BBQueban Sandwich (Cuban)
Blackened Pork Chops
Breakfast Shepherds Pie
Cajun Pork Roast
Cherry Glazed Spare Ribs
Chinese BBQ Baby Back Ribs
Country Style Pork Ribs
Descechos del Cerdo Carnitas (Rib Tips)
Fiesta Pork Chops
Fire Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Asiago Cheese Grits
Florentine Roast Pork Chops
Greek Pork Pinwheels
Honey Roasted Pork
Italian sausage Fettucine
Italian Sausage Sandwich w/ Peppers & Onions
Italian Sausage Skillet Slop
Kiss My Pineapple! Pork Chops
Lisbon Fire Department BBQ Sauce for Pulled Pork
Memphis Style Dry Ribs
Pork with Cashew Ginger Sauce
Pork Chops with Red Pepper Jelly Sauce
Porkus Chopus Maximus
Pulled Pork #1 #2
Sausage and Grits
Sesame Pork Tenderloin
Southwestern Pork Tenderloin with Cumin Mayo
Spinach & Garbanzo Bean Veggie Burger
Sriracha Pork Glaze
St. Louis Style Spare Ribs #1 #2
Stuffed Pork Loin with Tomato Cream Sauce
Stuffed Pork Tenderlicious

Anything But
Asian Veggie Marinade
Avocado-Tomato Toss
Bacon Wrapped Tater Tots
Basil Fried Rice
Bayou Dirty Rice
Black Beans and Rice
Blue Cheese Vinaigrette
Boursin Cheese Mashed Potatoes
Cold Smoked Cheese
Cole Slaw
Corn and Wild Rice Soup with Smoked Sausage
Corn Husk Skewers
Creme Brulee
Croque Madame
Easy Mexican Rice
European Street Style Beer Cheese Soup
Fire Roasted Parmesan Asparagus
Fire Roasted Smashed Tomatoes
Fire Roasted Stuffed Bell Peppers
Franconia Potatoes
French Toast Fatty Sandwiches
Garlic Soup
Gorgonzola Compound Butter
Greek Style Deep Dish Pizza
Green Beans with Onion
Gyro - Alton Brown's recipe Fatty Style
Honey Ginger Carrots
Horseradish Gravy
Huevos Con Chorizo
I Never Sausage (saw such) Rice
Jalapeno Potato Salad
Japanese Steakhouse Style Golden Shrimp Sauce
Mahi Mahi Maui Style
Ministrone de Cipolline
Monte Cristo Sandwiches
MyHOP Cheese Blintzes
Naked Ravioli
"Oh Boy!" Waffles
Pasta Casa Grande
Penne con Piselli (Penne with Peas)
Penne with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Asiago Cheese
Potato Soup
Rioja Style Potato and Chorizo Stew
Roasted Asparagus Salad
Roasted Baby Carrots
Roasted Orange-Ginger Asparagus
Roasted Potatoes with Garlic & Rosemary
Roasted Red Pepper & Feta Sauce
Simple Sesame Noodles
Southwest-ish Veggie Marinade
Spanish Rice
Spinach and Artichoke Bisque
Spinach Maria - Calhoun's
Spinach Maria (Big Fatty's Catering)
Stir Fried Broccoli with Oyster Sauce
Sweet Tamale Charred Corn Cakes
Thai Me Up Stir Fried Noodles
Thai Noodles with Peanut Sauce
Twice Baked New Potatoes
Twice Egged Potatoes
Wok and Roll Veggie Stir Fry

About Me

I'm a 40-something home cook living in East Tennessee with my wife and two boys living at home. I've always had a bit of an addictive personality, throwing myself into my activities. When I was younger it was surfing, cycling, and triathlons. As I've gotten *cough* older I have shifted to martial arts, photography, and cooking.

I have no formal culinary training at all, I just like cooking. It's my therapy at the end of the day. I'm a big fan of "live fire" cooking, meaning cooking over or by flame. Sure I do the normal burgers, steaks, and ribs, but I have more fun cooking things over fire that would normally be done in an oven or on a range top.

I have a Brinkmann's offset smoker and one of their Professional Charcoal Grills. But my weapon of choice is the Big Green Egg, because it can smoke, grill, roast, and even bake as a convection oven.

Here are 25 culinary things about me from a post I did in January 2009:
  1. My full knife set is Henckles but my favorite knife to use has become a Caphalon santako.
  2. I miss my wife working at Williams and Sonoma for the amazing discount that employees get. I can't afford to shop there much these days.
  3. I probably cook 3-4 meals a week on my Big Green Egg.
  4. I am disciplined in all the exercise that I do because I have zero discipline around heavy cream, bacon, and butter. I have a 21 BMI that I don't plan on going up.
  5. I like to wear my mp3 player and dance around while cooking.
  6. I have Kitchenaide and Cuisinart sets of pans and pots. However, my work horse is a pair of el cheapo industrial skillets from Sam's (Bakers and Chef's brand).
  7. I don't have a wooden cutting board.
  8. I love summer because of all the herbs that my wife grows in the front yard. There is something comforting about strolling your front yard for ingredients. Maybe it's because of being on my grandparents farm in North Carolina as a child and loving to pick dinner from their private stock garden.
  9. God knew what he was doing when he made artichokes.
  10. He kind of blew it on brussels sprouts though.
  11. I'm a carnivore, I rarely have a meal without meat. I've been known to have meat as a side dish to meat;)
  12. Cooking is theraputic for me. It is my way of relieving stress.
  13. I have catered three events. That was NOT theraputic and did NOT relieve stress.
  14. My mother is my inspiration for learning to cook although I took a different path and we rarely cook the same.
  15. I'm not real experienced at cooking Fried Chicken of all things. I just don't like dealing with all the oil. I'd rather just spatchcock the bird and throw in on the smoker.
  16. Fire! Fire! I'm Beavis and Butthead when it comes to cooking. I'd flambe ice cream if it were possible.
  17. Sometimes I can't eat what I've cooked until the next day, especially when it's been a several hour long cook. Everyone can be wolfing it down and saying how good it is, but something just makes me loose my appetite. The next day, it's delicious.
  18. I will cry if I ever have to give up my gas oven & range.
  19. I always have a tea towel over my right shoulder while cooking.
  20. I have absolutely zero culinary training other than Food Network and before that PBS.
  21. If I won the lottery, I'd immediately enroll in the CIA or similar school.
  22. My wife is my sous chef.
  23. I miss Emeril Lagasse. Not the caricature from Emeril Live. I'm talking about the dude that he was in his first show. He was great then.
  24. I have a man crush on Alton Brown. Brandi actually stood in line for hours to get him to sign a copy of his most recent book, for me.
  25. I'm a firm believer that if a recipe calls for milk, they meant half and half. If it calls for half and half, they meant heavy cream :)