Archive for July, 2010
It doesn’t matter how old you are – there’s still a little kid inside you who just loves roasting marshmallows over a campfire. However, if a campfire is a impractical for your next dinner party, try this simple trick: use your fondue set for tableside s’mores. [Caution: locate your nearest fire extinguisher before attempting, and don’t serve alongside that bottle of 90 proof Brandy.]
To make your s’mores a bit classier, try using premium chocolate (sorry Hershey’s, it’s not me, it’s you). I prefer Seattle-based Theo Chocolate’s Coconut Curry and Fig, Fennel & Almond, though there are hundreds of exotic flavors out there that will easily earn you your Open Flame Artisan Pastry Making merit badge.
If you love chocolate dipped foods, but aren’t quite ready to turn your fondue set inside out, Berries.com offers a variety of chocolate dipped fruits, cake pops and other sweets ready to ship right to your doorstep. And, for the real smores faithful, they even offer chocolate covered smores sandwiches!
Summer has arrived, and that means it’s time to grill. But before you start charring steaks, you’ll need a little equipment. Here are my favorite nerdy accessories for the grillmaster within you.
1. Extra-Long BBQ Tongs. They don’t sound geeky, but this single piece of equipment can mean the difference between retaining your forearm hair or not. Look for locking tongs at least 16” long, with metal ends since plastic and even silicone can melt at grilling temperature.
2. TurboQue Turbo-Charged Smoker. This battery-operated fan attaches to the inside of your grill and turns it into a convection smoker. This means reduced cooking time and extra exposure to smoke from wood chips.
3. Infrared Thermometer. Sure, you could hold your hand above the grill grate and count “one Mississippi… two Mississippi,” but it’s far more geeky to be accurate to .1 degrees Fahrenheit. This non-contact thermometer instantly measures surface temperatures with the pull of a trigger, enticing you to be quick on the draw.
4. Instant Digital Probe Thermometer. While the infrared thermometer will tell you how hot the grill is, it won’t give you a read on the internal temperature of your porterhouse. Use a probe thermometer to quickly check the doneness of thick cuts without having to slice them open. Choose a digital instant read over an analog model, unless you enjoy waiting while your fingernails melt over the fire.
5. Onion Goggles. You may look a little… special… flipping burgers with these on, but if you’re cooking with smoke, or better yet, over a campfire, they are indispensable. The foam-lined glasses are highly effective at keeping the smoke out of your eyes, and keeping girls from ever talking to you. But hey, form follows function, right?
If you caught my post last week on smoking your own salt, you learned how easy it is to turn ordinary salt into an extraordinary seasoning. But did you know that you can pull off the same trick with flour? In this recipe, I’ve smoked Semolina flour – the most common kind used for pasta making. The finished pasta takes on a subtly spicy smoke flavor and is a great match for Morel mushrooms.
If you haven’t noticed, flavored salts are becoming wildly popular. On a recent trip to Whole Foods, I spotted an aisle-end display with no fewer than a dozen varieties: some infused with spices, some mined or harvested from exotic locales, and some smoked. Smoked salts – salts that have taken on the flavor of a particular burnt wood – are an excellent way to add a deep, campfire flavor to dishes. I use them all the time in dry rubs, and as a substitute for the flavor you get from actually cooking over wood. In this video I’m using hickory chips, but another popular option is to flavor your salt with by smoking the wood from old wine barrels. Needless to say, you’ll save a ton of cash on specialty salts, which, of course, you’ll need to import all those ancient wine barrels from Bordeaux!