Thursday, May 25, 2017

PEA SALAD WITH A SMOKY FLAVOR TWIST

Snow peas kissed by smoke adds a delicious flavor to this spring salad combination 

With four select ingredients readily available throughout the year, you can make this flavorful and healthy salad anytime of the year.  Perfect on its own for lunch or as a side dish to beef, pork, poultry, and fish, you’ll find your own variations to keep it unique.

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. of smoked sugar snow peas (see our previous posting on smoking snow peas)
  • 2 mini cucumbers, unpeeled, thinly sliced
  • ½ pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ cup of fresh dill chopped (or use a quality jar dill if fresh is not available)
Dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon zest
  • Salt & fresh ground pepper
Nothing But the Most Fresh Ingredients
Fresh & Savory Ingredients


Preparing The Salad: Add the smoked snow peas to a salad bowl.  Stir in the cucumbers, tomatoes, and dill.  Be sure you stir gently to prevent breaking up the cucumbers and tomatoes.  Stirring will allow some of the char flavor of the peas to reach the juices of the cucumber and tomato.

Adding A Pop of Red Color to the Cucumbers and Peas
Adding Tomatoes


Preparing The Dressing:
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, and lemon zest until smooth.  You will see the dressing thicken as you whisk. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.  Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until coated.

Thickening the Dressing
A Quick Whisk


The Finish:
I simply love this salad for a healthy lunch, snack, or as a side to dinner. Feel free to add some additional crunchy items like pumpkin seeds, dried fruits, or even tortilla shell strips.  And DON’T FORGET to take a picture of your masterpiece and send along to us at SmokinLicious®.

FOREST STEWARDSHIP

This Forest Covers 513,175 acres (801.8 square miles) and includes the Allegheny Reservoir Natural Habitat.

It is likely when you have your heart set on some wood-fired cooked foods that you give little attention to the wood that will be required for that cooking event.  You may have seen smoking wood chips or chunks available in your local box store and decided that you can always pick those up last minute, to be assured your plans aren’t foiled. Or, you simply plan to go with charcoal without considering that this product is made from wood as well.

STOP and ponder this for a moment – Do you realize where exactly those smoking wood products come from?

Unless you are in a direct county of involvement, you likely haven not realized the invasions that are occurring readily to our forests, woodlots, and home landscapes.

To date, here are some of the diseases and infestations we are battling in the United States:

  • Emerald Ash Borer
  • Hemlock Woolly Adelgid
  • Whitebark Pine Beatle
  • Beech Bark Disease
  • Dutch Elm Disease
  • Butternut Canker
  • Asian Longhorn Beetle
  • Dogwood Anthracnose
  • Gypsy Moth
  • Balsam Woolly Adelgid
  • Laurel Wilt disease
  • Sirex Wood Wasp
  • Sudden Oak Death
  • Polyphagous & Kuroshio Shot Hole Borer affecting sycamores, willows, oaks, maples (including Boxelder), and commercial avocado trees.
EVERY state in the US has battled imported forest pests with the hardest hit being New York State followed closely by MA, WI, IL, VA, MI, NJ, OH, and CA.  Every decade, 25 new insect pests are established in the US which can lead for potential decimate of an entire tree species in just decades.
So why if you are a lover of BBQ smoking chips or BBQ smoker wood chunks (smoking using smoker woodchunks or smoker woodchips) or other wood fired foods, should issues with bugs be of concern?  Because cooking by fire is the oldest known cooking method for human kind.  Right now, you may simply enjoy 3 benefits of trees: for shade, for beauty (viewing), and for flavor to foods cooked on your grill/smoker.

But there are many other benefits:

  • Decrease atmospheric carbon by capturing and storing CO2
  • Improve air quality by filtering pollutants and releasing oxygen
  • Reduce storm water runoff and pollutants entering local water bodies
  • Increase property values by 3-7%
The pollutant removal alone that trees are responsible for provides a human health benefit worth $6.8 billion per year!  Trees keep us alive!

As of December 2016, NYS DEC has detected increased prevalence of Oak Wilt in the state which has no known treatment to contain and kill this fungus.  Oak is one of the most popular hardwoods for wood-fired cooking methods.

Please, take the time to source wood for cooking from reputable sources and follow the laws in place in your specific state to ensure we can limit the spread of these pests and diseases, and continue to enjoy the oldest method of cooking: by fire!

SmokinLicious® Premier Manufacturer of Cooking Grilling and Smoking Wood Products for the Culinary Industry 
www.smokinlicious.com 


 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

IS HEARTWOOD REALLY THE ‘HEART’ OF THE TREE?

Cross section of a harvested hard wood tree

Heartwood
By now you’ve come to recognize SmokinLicious®Gourmet Wood Products as the Company that produces it’s cooking wood products from only heartwood.  Yet, there are still many questions out there as to what that means for the individual using our products.  Is heartwood where all the life forces of the tree thrive?

The short answer is, no, but there are benefits to using woods derived from the heartwood of the tree for cooking.  Let’s explore!

Mini molecular-biology course: wood is an organic material that is porous and fibrous.  It contains hundreds of organic compounds but there are three primary compounds responsible for the cell construction in trees: Cellulose which is a glucose that is tasteless and odorless but comprises 40-50% of the cell.  It is crystalline so it provides for the strength of the cell wall.  Hemicellulose is also a glucose and carbohydrate but unlike cellulose, it has little strength and makes up 15-25% of the tree’s cell structure.  Lignin is the cell compound that is responsible for the structural materials in the support tissues of wood and bark, and makes up 15-30% of wood cells.  Lignin is what fills the cell wall spaces between the cellulose, hemicellulose, and pectin components and is crucial for conducting water.  Lignin yields more energy than cellulose when burned.  Most importantly, lignin is what gives wood-fired cooked foods their flavor and aroma.

Now, on to the heartwood.  All wood starts life as sapwood, the living, outermost portion of the tree that is just under the bark.  Sapwood is where water and dissolved minerals are transported from the roots to the crown of the tree.  Essentially, it is where energy for the tree is stored.  As older sapwood cells age and die, they become heartwood, which plays no role with transport of essential nutrients for the tree.  Then what are the benefits to heartwood?

Heartwood is known to be resistive to insects and decay.  An additional benefit is heartwood tends to be darker in color than the sapwood.  Because the cells die off, the moisture level is less difficult to manage than sapwood, meaning it can be dialed in with greater ease.  That’s why traditional firewood can take so long to season (up to a year) as it will contain bark, sapwood and heartwood due to the splitting of the harvested tree.  The combination of these three distinct components can alter the aroma and flavor when used together in cooking, producing a more muddled flavor profile.  This is where the risks for toxicity in cooking reveal themselves.

One of the reasons that SmokinLicious® has specific hardwood species in our product offerings is because the hardwoods we’ve selected tend to have a healthier heartwood to sapwood ratio, are known to have less risk of heartwood rot, and have lignin percentages that are more complimenting to cooking.  We’ve done the hard thinking for you so go ahead and select one of our hardwoods with confidence that you will get a super aroma and taste to your wood-fired menu items!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

SMOKING POTATOES

Smoked Potatoes- A New Flavor Twist
Look at these scrumptous smoked grilled potatoes with a wood flavor
Savory Smoked/Grilled Potatoes
As the #1 crop in the world, available all year, potatoes are a favorite for a variety of reasons.  Get the nutritional benefit of this abundant vegetable by adding flavor in a different way – cooking it over charcoal and hardwood! 

Ingredients:



Simple Preparation For a Simple Vegetable

I’m using small red and white potatoes.  You’ll need a knife and cutting board, as I like to cut these small potatoes in half to allow for maximum wood fire flavoring.  I’m going to use a vegetable grill pan but you can use any heat safe pan whether foil, glass, heat safe ceramic, or cast iron.  Cut each potato in half, and place in the grill pan.



Seasoning and Oil Bring Out the Best

Just 3 simple ingredients are needed before the pan is placed on the grill.  Drizzle three tablespoons of oil over the halved potatoes, then add coarse salt and fresh pepper.  The oil can be grapeseed, walnut, almond, vegetable, or canola, anything you have and prefer.  Mix well to ensure each potato is coated, then let rest to allow the seasonings to penetrate before adding to the hot grill. 



Charcoal Grill Set Up

Time to get the grill ready.  I’ll be using a combination of charcoal and wood – charcoal as the fuel for heat and wood chunks and chips for flavor.  Keeping my intake vents open on the kettle grill, I start a chimney full of charcoal.  Just one chimney will be needed for the actual cooking.  I lay a small line of unlit coals down both the right and left side of the charcoal grate to keep my temperature stable through the cook.  I pour the hot coals in the middle then add two Sugar Maple wood chunks and a handful of Wild Cherry Grande Sapore® wood chips on top of the hot coals.  On goes the food grate and then my vegetable pan of halved seasoned potatoes.



Depth of Flavor Through Smoke

Once the wood is set up and the food grate is on, the pan of potatoes is added.  Put the grill cover on and adjust the lid outtake vent to 1/3 open position.  Now, adjust the lower intake vent to ½ open position.    Let the potatoes cook for about 25 minutes prior to stirring.  You’ll see the golden hue from the maple and cherry smoke vapor.  Be sure to rotate the potatoes on the bottom to the top so that there is even color and flavor to each piece.  The total cook time will be close to an hour but each grill and charcoal will perform differently so be sure to watch closely after the first 35 minutes.  Remove when the potatoes can be pierced easily with a toothpick or knife tip.



Full Flavor With All the Nutrition Intact
With all the nutritional value still intake, these golden, smoky potatoes are ready to eat as is or you can include them in your favorite potato recipes.  I’ll be giving a smoky edge to my interpretation of a potato curry in our next recipe feature.  Take advantage of this popular comfort vegetable and the ease of using a charcoal/wood grill for cooking and give your meals a memorable flavor enhancement.

By Donna J. Grant, M.S., Lead Wood Specialist at SMOKINLICIOUS® GOURMET WOOD PRODUCTS. For additional information regarding this article or other wood cooking questions, please contact her at 1–800–941–5054 or at info@smokinlicious.com.