Friday, September 4, 2009

Better Grilling, Better Food

Here are some tips for getting that grilling session off to a great start.

1. Make sure you have enough fuel.
Gas grills: Empty propane tanks can be quite embarassing. If your grill doesn't have a built in scale to indicate when you need propane, try one of these gauges.

Charcoal grills: Check that bag; it's probably not as full as you last remember. If you are planning on grill for a long time (> 1 hour), use charcoal that does not have lighter fluid already on it (ie Matchlight). Adding this to hot coals will catch fire quickly and possibly send someone to the hospital.

2. Preheat the grill and clean cooking grates.

Gas grills: Heating on high for ~ 20 minutes will burn food off of grates making them easier to clean with a brass brush.

Charcoal grills: Once coals are ashed over, place cooking grate and lid on and wait about 10 minutes before brushing grates.

3. Cook at the right temperature using the right method.

Grilling Methods
Direct Heat For foods cooking for less than 30 minutes. Steaks, burgers, vegetables
Gas grill: Using a four burner grill as an example, all four burners would be on for direct heat.
Charcoal grill: Coals arranged in one layer filling grill.

Indirect heat For foods cooking longer than 30 minutes. Typically larger meats.
Gas grill: Only the first and fourth burners would be lit.
Charcoal grill: Coals on each side of grill leaving space in middle for drip pan.

Seafood Direct high heat
Burgers & Steaks Direct medium heat
Boneless Chicken breast Direct medium heat
Bone-in Chicken Indirect medium heat
Ribs Indirect low heat
Vegetable Direct medium to high heat

4. Right tool for the right job

Brass cleaning brush
Long handled spatula
Large set of tongs
Silicone basting brush
Oven mits with long sleeves

I hope these tips help you out. Now get out there and grill!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

By Popular Request: A Grilling Guide

A good friend and blogger extraordinaire has been asking be for a grilling guide. Well, here it is straight from ... Food Network! What?! I don't have a staff to write these things. Besides, if it ain't broke... Without further ado, Food Network's Ultimate Grilling Guide.

Tasteful, Not Labor-full Day

Ready for the three day weekend? I am thinking of just having a lazy day on the couch. Alright, enough with the crazy talk. Does anyone really believe I would miss the "last" grilling day of summer? Who knows maybe some friends will stop by. If you are having trouble deciding what to fix, here are some sites with recipes that are sure to please.

Burgers You can't go wrong with a burger. Sutter Home Winery has been running the Build A Better Burger competition since 1990. They have you covered whether you prefer beef, fish, veggies or the exotic in your burger.

Try out the 2009 finalist recipes before this year's winner is crowned.

Or the grand prize winners from previous years

Hot Dogs They seem to follow burgers everywhere.

Chicago Dog

Emeril's Hot Dog Bar

Venezuelan Hot Dogs

Grilled Dogs with Homemade Relish

Beer Simmered Hot Dog Bites

Cole Slaw

Pecans and Spicy Dressing


Blue Cheese



Ginger-Soy-Lime Marinaded Shrimp a personal favorite
Steamed shrimp from your local seafood market tossed with Old Bay seasoning

Hop over to Food Network and check out their ideas for the day.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Chocolate Love

Who ever wrote the book of love must have smeared the pages with chocolate. Being a self confessed chocoholic, I know the satisfaction of a simple fudge brownie and the extravagant delight of a dark chocolate mousse.
Here is a recipe to satiate your desire to eat that cake batter on purpose. I have adjusted the recipe to use six ceramic teacups instead of ramekins. WARNING: Contents may be addictive. Consume at your own pleasure.

Chocolate Sinkholes

Serves 6 to 8

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 large eggs
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over simmering water, stirring occasionally. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. You can do this in the microwave just by heating 30 - 45 seconds then stirring and repeating until completely melted.
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.

Sift the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt together and set aside. Beat the eggs and vanilla in a medium bowl until frothy. Stir in the chocolate mixture until incorporated. Then slowly stir in the sugar-flour mixture just until everything is combined.

Divide the batter among six 7-ounce ceramic teacups or ramekins. Arrange the custard cups in a baking dish or roasting pan and fill the dish with enough cool tap water to come one-third of the way up the sides of the cups. (This water bath assures that the bottom portions of the cakes remain in a batter state.)

Bake for 34 to 38 minutes, until the tops are firm. Serve warm. I prefer them topped with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup.
Desserts That Have Killed Better Men Than Me
by Jeremy Jackson