Thursday, May 31, 2018

WOOD FIRED GUACAMOLE

Wood fired guacamole by grilling the avocado's before you make the guacamole will excite your taste buds! Your quests will wonder how you did this simple recipe by adding only one small step!
Wood fired guacamole by grilling the avocado’s before you make the guacamole will excite your taste buds! Your quests will wonder how you did this simple recipe by adding only one small step!



The single seeded berry, fleshy fruit we know as avocado is loaded with healthy fats, 4 grams of protein, and 975 milligrams of potassium which is nearly twice as much as a banana.  With 18 of the amino acids recommend in daily consumption, you’ll want to include avocado in your diet.
We thought we would take this fruit favorite and add a flavor level for your avocado recipes by wood-firing the avocado.  This simple step will bring all the nutritional benefits of the fruit with a bold new taste.

 

7 Fresh Ingredients

Once you’ve wood fired your avocados on a gas or charcoal grill (see our posting on this technique), you need to gather the following ingredients:
  • 3 wood fired avocados
  • 1 finely grated garlic clove
  • 1 finely chopped Serrano or jalapeno pepper
  • ¼ of a white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
In addition to the above ingredients, you’ll need a blender or a mortar and pestle.  I prefer the mortar and pestle so I can control the level of “mash” that occurs to each ingredient.

 

Layering on the Flavors

First up, you need to mash up the wood fired avocado flesh.  The best guacamole has some chunky quality to it so keep this in mind when you are mashing the flesh.  Once the avocado is mashed up, add the pepper and combine that as well.  You can select the pepper based on whether you want heat or not.  If you prefer a guacamole that has no spice, then add a sweet pepper.

Once the grilled avocado and pepper are mixed, time to add the other ingredients.  First in, chopped onion followed by lime juice, cilantro and salt.  Combine everything well ensuring that any chunks are not too big for any of the ingredients.  Soon you’ll get the aroma of all the fresh ingredients and have an idea just how this is going to taste.

 

PREPARE TO SERVE THE WOOD FIRED GUACAMOLE!

The best part about wood fired guacamole is just how simple it is to make yet the flavors are so fresh and intense.  Select your favorite serving piece.  Once all the ingredients are combined, scrape all the contents from the mortar and place in the serving dish or bowl.  I like to top my guacamole with some smoked paprika so it has a bit of color to the top. Keep in mind, you don’t need to just use this with taco chips.  This is a great topping for a burger or grilled chicken sandwich and even works well with salad greens.  You’ll love how the wood flavor adds another dimension to this favorite food.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

6 TIPS FOR A HEALTHY OUTDOOR COOKING SEASON

This bucolic photo can be yours if you follow our 6 TIPS FOR A HEALTHY OUTDOOR COOKING SEASON
Follow our 6 tips for a healthy outdoor cooking season in 2018!


 Everyone seems to be so much happier during the seasons that allow for outdoor cooking and entertaining.  Whether it’s a planned cooking event or spur of the moment decision, these cooking events turn into an opportunity to relax, kick back and truly enjoy life.

There are steps you should take to ensure that the foods you enjoy outdoors remain safe.  What follows are the top tips for making this your best outdoor cooking season ever, no matter what you elect to cook.

 

Tip #1

There are times when you want to marinate meats and poultry before cooking on your grill or smoker.  Know that foods will only remain safe if you marinate in the refrigerator in a covered container, not with the marinated foods laying out on the kitchen counter.  Also, if you plan to incorporate some of the marinades into a sauce, be sure to reserve some before it is applied to the raw foods.  If there is marinade leftover from the raw food marination, be sure you boil it before using as anything that has contact with the raw food can carry bacteria.

 

Tip #2

You can grill a variety of foods on the same equipment but to know when everything is cooked, you will need to have thermometers.  It’s best to use a different thermometer, marked by color, for each type of food: beef, pork, chicken, fish.  The thermometer should be placed in the thickest part of the meat or poultry to get an accurate internal temperature reading.  Here is a guide on temperatures:
  • Beef, Pork, Lamb, & Veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145°F/62°C
  • Ground meats & sausage: 160°F/71°C
  • Whole poultry, poultry breasts, & ground poultry: 165°F/74°C
  • Hot dogs: Cook until steaming hot
Remember, thicker cut meats and poultry will need to be placed closer to the fire or heat.  Utilize the upper grill grate for those items that are more fragile like thinner fillets of fish, vegetables, fruit, or for heating sauces.

 

Tip #3

You cannot partially cook meats and poultry by parboiling or microwaving and then placing in the refrigerator for grilling the next day.  Although you may think this will lessen the cooking time on the grill, what you’re doing is introducing the potential for everyone to become sick.  The reason?  Partial cooking does not eliminate all bacteria growth.  The reality is, you would be allowing bacteria to continue to grow.

 

Tip #4

Take the time to properly clean your grill or smoker at the start of the outdoor cooking season.  It’s common to close vents on the grill or smoker when you cover it up for the winter season but these aides in stimulating mold growth on the grill grate and/or inside cover and walls.  For that reason, it’s important to scrub down the interior of the grill or smoker using a cleaning mixture; 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water or a bleach to water blend if you’re not opposed to the more toxic bleach.

 

Tip #5

Be sure you start with a hot grill or to cooking temperature smoker.  That means, preheat.  Preheat your grill 15 to 25 minutes before you start cooking to make sure it reaches the right temperature to ensure all bacteria is killed.   Your grill should be 400-450°F for high, 350-400°F for medium-high, 300-350°F for medium and 250-300°F for low heat.   By having a properly heated grill, you will guarantee a moist outcome for your meat and poultry.

 

Tip #6

There are many of us we prefer a good charcoal grill versus gas.  It is important that you understand that there are many more influencers to altering the flavor of what you’re cooking when you cook over charcoal.  Be sure to use an additive-free lump charcoal, which is charred wood.  Conventional briquettes, which are easy to find, may contain wood scraps and sawdust as well as coal dust, sodium nitrate, borax and additives like paraffin or lighter fluid. As for lighter fluid, NO!  Lighter fluid can release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, leave an unpleasant flavor to foods, and pose a serious danger if used improperly.  Skip it altogether.

Without question, our 6 TIPS FOR A HEALTHY OUTDOOR COOKING SEASON should help you on your way to a healthy, memorable outdoor cooking season.  Likely, the best ever!



Thursday, May 17, 2018

WOOD-FIRED APPLES MAKE THE BEST CAKE

WOOD-FIRED APPLES MAKE THE BEST CAKE BECAUSE OF THE UNIQUE FLAVOR BROUGHT OUT BY THE SMOKING PROCESS!
Wood Fired Apple



As the second most consumed fruit in the USA, apples are loaded with antioxidant benefits and have been found to have extensive benefit to the colon due to the high level of gut bacteria present in its polyphenols.  Plus, this is a fruit that is readily available all year long making it an ideal choice for cooking.

We are taking the Gala variety and putting them over a coal fire for wood-fired flavor in our apple pie cake.  Pick your favorite variety of apple and get out the charcoal grill for this fun and simple technique and recipe.

Fire Up the Grill


Fire up the Stok grillAfter purchasing 12 apples of your choice, get the charcoal grill going, so the flames can reduce to hot coals.  That’s all needed for our apple cooking!  Any size charcoal grill will do, including the small portable grill.  I use a chimney started to lite charwood from SmokinLicious® as this is my preferred product when I do a short cook fruit or vegetable item.  The reason?  It is not fully carbonized, so it still releases plenty of flavonoids from the hardwood.  You certainly can use a standard hardwood charcoal but add a chunk or two of SmokinLicious® double filet wood chunks to be sure you get a wood flavor.

While the chimney starter is burning down to hot coals, I peel and thinly slice 12 apples.  I use a Gala variety for my recipe and a Stôk charcoal grill, equipped with an insert system.  I place my sliced apples in the insert vegetable basket for this simple method of wood firing the apples.  Just be sure to spray the basket with non-stick cooking spray to ensure the apples don’t stick.

A Cake by Name

With my hot SmokinLicious® charwood producing steady heat, my 12 Gala apples peeled and sliced thin, I’m ready to place the vegetable basket over the hot coals.  Remember, apples have a lot of water content, so they will steam initially.  The water will attract the smoke vapor and bring great color and flavor.  After approximately 10 minutes, I shake the apple slices in the basket to allow them to rotate for even cooking and color.  You’ll see the edges become bronzed as they cook.   In 20 minutes, these will be ready to go.

wood-fired apples make the best cake

Adding the Ingredients & Cook Time


After the apples are removed from the grill and cooled slightly, add a teaspoon of cinnamon and 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice to maintain color until baked in the oven.  Set those aside and gather together 2 cups flour, 1 cup packed light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 sticks of cold butter cut into 8 cubes.
Our wood fired apples and dry ingredients mixed in the pan ready for baking
Start by combining 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of packed light brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon.  Taking one piece of cold butter at a time, add to the flour mixture, cutting each piece using either an electric hand mixer, 2 knives or a pastry cutter.  You want to have pea-size pieces of butter mixed into the flour mixture.  Press 2/3 of this mixture into a 9-inch spring form pan then add the wood-fired apple slices, spreading evenly in pan.


With the wood fired apple slices nestled in the simple cake batter of flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon, it’s time to top the apples with the remaining 1/3 flour mixture.  Be sure all areas are covered.  Set the spring form pan on the foil lined sheet pan and place in a 350°F oven for 75 minutes.  Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to sit in the spring form pan until cool.  Just run a knife along the edge of the cake to ensure it will separate from the pan’s ring once removed.  Remove the ring when the cake has cooled then sift a ¼ cup powdered sugar on the surface of the cake.

Cake Perfection


Our finished wood fired apple pie cake nicely golden brown
After giving Gala apple slices the lick of smoke from our charwood grill, mix together flour, brown sugar and cinnamon with butter for a great cake batter, and baking everything together, the ultimate in apple pie cake is born.  With a light coating of powder sugar, the wood-fired apple slices pile high for perfection in the single bite.  More like a cobbler batter than cake, you’ll love the simplicity of the construction and the unique flavor a wood fire gives to apples.  Perfect anytime of the year, just like apples are, you’ll be the envy of your neighborhood when you fire up the grill for wood infusion to apples.  Now you must also prove that Wood-Fired Apples make the best Cake – Enjoy!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

MUSHROOMS GO SMOKY-WOOD FIRED

Mushrooms Go Smoky- baby bellas, cremini and shiitake mushrooms are stove top smoked and served over toast with a dolop of ricotta cheese.
Mushrooms Go Smoky with Ricotta cheese on toast




Looking for a great smoky appetizer or snack but don’t want to go to the trouble of firing up the charcoal or gas grill?  Then think stove top smoker and prepare to bring the best out of mushrooms when they get wood fired for full flavor.  I’ll bring you the easy stove top smoker technique that takes less than 30 minutes and then offer up a super easy but full of flavor smoked mushroom toast with kale and ricotta.

 

Stove Top Smoking

Stove top smokers are a great way to get authentic wood fired flavors into foods in an easy, quick method.  There are many options for read-made units though you certainly can use what’s available in your kitchen (see our blog on “The Kitchen Find“).  I’ll be using the unit made by Nordic Ware® that has everything included expect the wood chip product.  For that item, just visit SmokinLicious® and select your favorite hardwood in the Minuto® wood chip product line.  I’m using about 35 grams of my own custom mix of both species and chip sizing.  Equal parts of Red Oak #8, Sugar Maple #6, and Wild Cherry #6 will bring the perfect balance to my fungi selections.

After placing the base of my smoker on the burner, I add the 35 grams of wood chip custom mix.  I line the drip pan with foil to make clean up easier since the mushrooms will render some of their water.  This is placed on top of the wood chip pile.  Then into the grill pan go my favorite gourmet mushrooms – oyster, cremini, baby bella, shiitaki, porcini.  In just 20 minutes, these will be tender and full of smoky flavor that I can use in my toast recipe.

 

Savory Ingredient Prep

While the mushrooms are smoking on the stove top, it’s time to prepare the other ingredients for the recipe that will follow.   First, I’ve purchased a hearty country bread that just needs to be sliced and placed on a sheet pan for toasting.  Once the bread is ready for the oven, I wash and dry about 2 cups of kale leaves and then tear them into bite size pieces.  Next, I season 1-1/4 cups of ricotta cheese with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.  Other ingredients that are at the ready include one garlic clove minced, 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, and 1 dry Arbol chili that I reduce almost to powder to add that hot undertone.  You can also use a Fresno chili or other similar hot chili.  For cooking the toast topping, you’ll also need 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a skillet.

 

Making Toast Topping

With our mushrooms perfectly smoked, I remove them from the smoker pan and set aside.  Into a skillet I place the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and allow to heat.  Once hot, I add the minced garlic and allow to brown for a few minutes.  Next, the smoked mushrooms go in the pan.   Allow these flavors to blend for about 6 minutes, breaking up the larger mushroom pieces.  Finally, add the cleaned kale and chili pepper.  Toss to mix.  In goes the salt, fresh ground pepper, and white wine vinegar.  While that is sitting on low temperature, toast the previously prepared bread slices.  When the toast is done, it will be time to assemble this highly flavorful mushroom toast.

 

The Ultimate Toast Comes Together

With our bread toasted, mushroom-kale mixture infused with garlic and chili, and the ricotta seasoned, it’s time to assemble the toast.  First, take a generous spoonful of the ricotta and spread on the toast.  Then spoon on the mushroom-kale mixture on top of the ricotta.  That’s it!  Don’t let the simplicity of the assembly fool you.  This is one super flavorful appetizer or snack for those of us who go beyond chips and popcorn.  Pick your favorite gourmet mushrooms, favorite country bread, and let the fun begin.  Wood Fired Mushroom Toast with Kale and Ricotta.  This is soon to be your go to appetizer or gourmet snack.

We hope this recipe inspires you to try smoking more ingredients to add a balance of flavor. We’d love to hear what you think of our recipe so leave us a comment and subscribe to get all our postings on techniques, tips and recipes.  Bringing innovation to wood fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, that’s SmokinLicious®. Hope you enjoyed our Mushrooms Go Smoky blog!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

HOT SEARED SCALLOPS!

Scallop is just one of many bivalve mollusks with a similar appearing shell like the clam, mussel, or oyster.  They tend to be found in clear waters where there is sand or fine gravel.  There are variations in sizing depending on how they will be used in a recipe.  Today, we are featuring a simple stove top cooking and smoking technique that produces exceptional wood-flavor and searing to the scallop.  This will be finished off with an orange-lime vinaigrette.

Easy Ingredients for an Easy Technique

If you follow our recipes and techniques, then you know we love to use the plancha on our stovetop with various wood products.  I’ll be using SmokinLicious® Smokin’ Dust® in Alder to bring a complimentary wood flavoring to the scallop while they sear on the plancha.  Here’s what you’ll need for the cooking technique:
  • A plancha or hot griddle surface on the stove top
  • Your choice of Smokin’ Dust® flavor – about 3 tablespoons
  • 1-1/2 pounds of scallop medium to large in sizing
  • High heat oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Salt and pepper

The Hot Sear-FOR HOT SEARED SCALLOPS!

As with any protein that you want to sear, it’s important to remove as much water as possible.  To start, lay out the scallop on a paper towel lined sheet pan and cover the scallop with additional paper towel.  Gently press down on the paper towel covering and then allow to sit for 10 minutes.

While the scallop dry, prepare the plancha by placing three tablespoons of your choice of Smokin’ Dust® on the plancha.  Place the lid on and allow to heat to at least a registered temperature of 300°F on the thermometer.  Remember, the plancha surface will be hotter than that.  When ready, remove the paper towels from the scallops and sprinkle both sides of the scallop with salt and pepper.

Place one tablespoon of oil on the cooking area of the plancha.  Only add the number of scallops that can fit comfortably on the plancha without crowding each other.  Cook the scallop for 1-1/2 to 2 minutes until browned.  It is important that you stay with the plancha, as this is a very hot unit that cooks quickly, much like cooking in a wok.  Additionally, be sure you use the vent hood on your range as well to reduce the smoke vapor.

When you turn the scallops, add a tablespoon of butter to the plancha and baste the scallops.  You will cook the scallops on the plancha until firm in the center an opaque in color.  Remove the cooked scallop to a large plate and tent loosely with foil.  Now continue cooking the remaining scallops in the same manner.  Keep in mind, the plancha will need additional oil after the first two cooks of scallop to keep them from sticking.  There is no need to add additional Smokin’ Dust®.  Just three tablespoons will add plenty of wood flavoring.  When all the scallops are cooked, keep them warm on the tented plate or move to a warming drawer or low temperature oven.  Now on to the Orange-Lime Vinaigrette.

Vinaigrette Ingredients

For the Orange-Lime Vinaigrette you’ll need the following ingredients to produce a ½ cup of vinaigrette:
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • ½ small shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • fine salt
Make the vinaigrette by combining the orange juice, lime juice, shallot, cilantro, and pepper flakes in a bowl.  Slowly whisk in the oils.  Season as needed.

Perfection!

With the scallops seared and smoked to perfection on the plancha and the vinaigrette made, it’s time to plate the flavors.  If you are serving as an appetizer, spread a small amount of the vinaigrette on a plate and add a scallop.  If serving as a first course, spread a small amount of vinaigrette on the plate, add 2-3 scallops, and drizzle with a tablespoon more of vinaigrette.  As an entrée, you get to decide how many of these beautiful scallops will grace the plate.

These flavors work great served with a light pasta like angel hair or with orzo mixed with parsley, feta cheese, and the oil.  The pairings are endless.  Plancha Seared Scallop infused with Wood Flavoring – an explosion of flavor you won’t soon forget.  You must try our HOT SEARED SCALLOPS recipe.