The recipe for surviving the holidays with your family? Man, I sure wish I knew that. The only wisdom I have to share is this little sanity-saving video that helps to remind us all to keep our perspective. Remember – it could always be worse ;).
It’s 8°F outside and my Big Green Egg is covered with a thick coating of snow, which means it’s probably time for my holiday gift guide. If you’re looking for gifts for your grill geek, here are some goodies that I’ve had a chance to try out over the past year and can highly recommend:
Google Nexus 7 Tablet – this has become my go-to device for checking recipes, updating grocery lists, and checking email. It’s easier to use than a smartphone and easier to carry around than a laptop.
Fat Daddio’s 15-Inch x 2-Inch Cake Pan – this heavy-duty pan fits perfectly inside an upturned large Big Green Egg plate setter, making it an ideal drip pan.
Tagine – I can’t tell you how many uses I’ve come up with for my Emile Henry Flame Tagine. It not only makes a great dutch oven, but I use the base all the time as a casserole dish or serving platter.
Oster Counterforms Blender – this inexpensive blender is a nice alternative to a food processor. I “wet blend” a lot of sauces to save food prep time.
Toastabags – I use these so that I can toast my gluten-free bread in a non-GF toaster, or so that my dear wife can toast her bread in our GF toaster.
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen – Harold McGee’s definitive book on kitchen science is focused on the both the “hows” and “whys” of cooking.
Charcuterie: The Craft of Salting, Smoking, and Curing – Michael Rhulman’s book is the undisputed authority on making confit, salami, prosciutto, pâtés, as well as smoked meats and seafood.
Red Boat Vietnamese Fish Sauce – this artisanal nuoc mam puts the puts the “ooh” in umami.
Microplane Professional Coarse Grater – excellent for grating cheese, garlic, or zesting citrus fruit. Also makes fancy chocolate garnishes.
Stainless Steel Vented Chimney Cap – this Big Green Egg replacement cap from Smokeware easily does the job of both the ceramic cap and the daisy wheel and offers better features than either.
No recipe today – just a photo of a big and juicy cheese burger and a big “Woohoo!” that it’s finally summer here in my neck of the woods.
Winter was long, spring was wet and cold, and it was beginning to look like summer would never get here. But the past few weeks have been glorious – highs in the 80s, lows in the 60s, and bright blue skies as far as the eye can see. Can’t beat that.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m headed out to the deck for a little al fresco dining with my dear wife.
Happy summer to all!
P.S. Gluten-free bun courtesy of Udi’s.
For a tech geek, I have been pretty slow at adopting social media. Until recently I used Facebook mostly as a news feed and if I tweeted you had better be upwind ;).
But I recently have been dipping my toes in the digital waters, and I kind of like it. It lets me give my readers previews of upcoming blog posts. It also gives me a place to post neat pictures or ideas that may not ever make it into the blog,
So here are the places you can find me elsewhere on the great wide interwebs:
Buy the Kindle edition of this blog.
Promote Your Page Too
Or scan this QR code into your Android phone.
Thanks for liking, twittering, buzzing, or stumbling upon me!
Lest you think I spent my entire vacation with my toes in the sand and a drink in my hand – while we were in Cozumel my dear wife signed us up for a cooking class with local chef Josefina Gonzales Luigi. The class offered a truly immersive cooking experience – from touring Josefina’s prolific garden (and playing with her four kitties), to deciding upon the menu, then trying out our Spanish while shopping San Miguel’s mercado for fresh ingredients, and finally assembling the goodies under Josefina’s guidance.
We walked from Josefina’s kitchen over to the market to pick up supplies. The mercado is a block-sized labyrinth of vendors selling everything from fresh meat and produce, to hand-made linens, cooking utensils, and clothing.
When we returned from shopping, Josefina’s assistant had a big batch of refreshing agua de jamaica (hibiscus tea) waiting for us.
1 cup dried hibiscus flowers (found in large bags in the ethnic foods section of most big grocery stores)
3/4 to 1/2 cup sugar, to taste
1/2 gallon water
Put 4 cups of the water and the sugar in a medium saucepan. Heat until boiling and the sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat. Stir in the dried hibiscus flowers. Cover and let sit for 20 minutes. Strain into a pitcher, discarding the flowers
Add the remaining water (or ice and water if you want it cold fast) and chill.
After enjoying the agua de jamaica we started the ceviche right away so it could “cook” while we prepared the rest of the goodies.
1 pound firm white fish, deboned and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 cup onion, chopped
1/2 cup lime juice (about 4 limes)
1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon habañero pepper, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
Because there is a (small) risk of parasites if the shrimp are fresh, you’ll want to boil them before adding them to the ceviche – fill a medium saucepan with 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Add the shrimp to the boiling water, stir, cover and remove from the heat. Let stand for 8 to 10 minutes, or until shrimp are pink and just cooked through. Drain shrimp off into a colander and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.
Put the fish and shrimp in a large, non-reactive bowl. Cover with lime juice and stir well to make sure everything gets coated in lime juice. Let sit in the refrigerator for 20 minutes, Stir and return it to the fridge for another 20 minutes. After 40 minutes in the lime juice the fish should be “cooked” through and change from being pinkish grey and translucent to whiter in color, firm, and opaque. Stir in the onion, cilantro, and chile. Return to the fridge for another 20 minutes to let the flavors develop.
Serve with tortilla chips.
There were 10 other folks in class, and all told we ended up making refried black beans, guacamole, nopale (cactus) salad, red and green sauces, ceviche, margaritas, mango and cucumber salad, achiote sauce, habañero salsa, corn tortillas, and quesadillas. It was quite a meal and a real joy to get to learn from a talented cook and get to use fresh local ingredients.
A huge thanks to my dear wife for setting this up. It was the highlight of our trip and a great way to spend my birthday!
The older I get, the more I realize that gifting stuff just to be gifting stuff doesn’t buy anyone anything. You just end up with more stuff. That, my friends, is not a good thing.
So this is a guide to useful stuff – books, gear, foods, and websites that I’ve really enjoyed and that have helped make grilling more enjoyable.
Ruhlman’s Twenty: 20 Techniques 100 Recipes A Cook’s Manifesto by Michael Ruhlman – not so much recipes, but tools and techniques that have really improved my cooking.
High-Que Luxury Stainless Cooking Grid for Large Big Green Egg – this baby is a massive steak-searing machine. I can’t tell you how much money I’ve saved using this grate to make restaurant-quality steaks at home.
Charred & Scruffed by Adam Perry Lang and Peter Kaminsky – forget everything you ever learned about grilling meat. This book shows you how to break the rules to build more flavor into your food.
Maverick ET732 Wireless Thermometer – this remote thermometer saved my Thanksgiving bird from being way overcooked and that makes it a worthwhile tool to have.
Sweet chili sauce – I’ve used this sweet & spicy sauce as a glaze, dipping sauce and as a base for a barbecue sauce. Mae Ploy is good and ubiquitous, but The Ginger People’s Sweet Ginger Chili Sauce rocks if you can find it.
Real hoisin sauce – the kind made from plums gives you a great blend of sweet, salty and aromatic flavors. Nice as a base for barbecue sauces. This brand is also gluten free.
Allegro Marinade use much like you would soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce to give dishes a savory umami base. Also great straight up as a marinade.
Raw sugar – this minimally processed cane sugar adds not just sweetness, but an almost floral flavor. Sold as Sugar in the Raw, demerara sugar, or turbinado sugar.
Sea salt – I like to think of it as salt with flavor. I buy the coarse-ground sea salt in bulk and run it through a salt grinder (either by itself or with some added herbs and spices) to really kick up the taste of food.
Food52 Genius Recipes – this site is full of really insightful recipes. If you’re looking to make the best fill-in-the-blank whatever, this is the place to start.
Weight Watchers – I am not a joiner and I sure don’t go to meetings, but an online subscription gives me a lot of tools to help me improve my lifestyle.
Amazing Ribs – Craig “Meathead” Goldwyn is a self-proclaimed Barbecue Whisperer and Hedonism Evangelist. His site is a one-stop-shop for barbecue tips, recipes, and techniques.
Happy Holidays to you all!
We are currently enjoying the peace and solitude of the great north woods, so no new food posts this week.
The photo above was taken from the porch of the cabin we’re renting. I was setting up a landscape shot when my dear wife noticed a canoe on the beach. So I was going to wait until they paddled by to add them to the composition.
As I waited, my dear wife asked “Are they setting up a camera tripod in the water?” Sure enough, somebody was shooting an outdoor ad. They had this poor guy in red flannel portaging his canoe back and forth until they got the shot they wanted.
So this is my landscape shot of their photo shoot. Enjoy!
P.S. For all you fellow geeks out there – the photos were transferred from my OM-D camera to my netbook wirelessly via an Eye-Fi card. Then uploaded to the cloud through a Droid mobile hotspot.
What’s a vacation without some grilling? I had the great luck to get to cook up a couple of meals on this neat 1940’s stone grill/fireplace.
No recipe here – just some monster burgers cooked in the great outdoors.