Winter Grilling Tips

At our test kitchen we’re always working out of season. That means that we develop turkey recipes all summer for winter publications and then grill all through February for summer magazine articles. (In the picture above that’s recipe tester Rob Heidenreich and test kitchen manager Sabrina Falone’s arm cooking up summer recipes last week).

After years of shovelling snow off the patio to spend the day grilling, we’ve become savvy and safe cold-weather grillers. Here are our tips for cold-weather grilling success:

  1. Gas grills with higher BUT ratings heat up quickly even when it’s very cold so if you’re purchasing a gas grill and know that you want to use it in cold weather, opt for a unit with a BTU rating per square inch that is higher than 125.
  2. If you haven’t used the grill recently, check all gas lines, burners and jets for possible blockages. Insects such as spiders may pick these places to build cocoons for the winter and their homes will prevent fuel from flowing freely to the burners.
  3. Avoid wearing scarves or wide-sleeved jackets that may dangle into the flames and catch fire. Instead, opt for snugly fitted sleeves and a turtleneck sweater or a fleecy neck warmer.
  4. Although the garage may seem like a wind-sheltered, inviting spot to grill, the comfort is not worth the safety risk. Instead, set up the grill at least 10 feet away from the house to avoid the risk of a fire or an explosion that can result when grill flames and stray vapours from the gas furnace, water heater or the lawn mower’s fuel tank meet one another in an enclosed space.
  5. If necessary, brush off all snow on the grill to speed preheating and shovel the surrounding area to prevent a dangerously slippery skating rink from forming under and around your grill.
  6. Position your grill out of the wind to conserve heat.
  7. Many metals and almost all plastics get brittle in very cold weather so handle the knobs on the grill gently to avoid snapping them off.

Hamdog

The story made me think about other incongruous food combinations. Salads used to be simply lettuce with salad dressing. Over time, other raw vegetables made their way into salads. Now, people commonly put meat in their salad. Thus, we have tuna salad, chicken salad, fish salad, and we also have fruit salad. But “hamdog” seems to have crossed some line of respect. It is a presentation of two different critter meats. I say two, but who really knows what critter is in a hot dog?

Would you go to a fine restaurant and order “lambkin?” That would be lamb with chicken. How about “horsenpfeffer” (horse meat and rabbit stew)? They do eat horse meat in some countries. There is no reason why a meat-on-meat culinary creation cannot come to America from any country if the Australians can send us “hamdog.” In fact, the possibilities of what critter meat is in a hot dog expand greatly when you consider what Australian critter meats might be put in one of those.

My mom likes to eat fried chicken livers. Could “hamdog” inspire the combining of organ meats from different animals? If you are a vegan you may puke at the idea of that. Is vegan puke, combined with the puke of a meat-eater an enhancement of nausea? Maybe we had better take a stand. We should tell the Australians not to send “hamdog” to America, before we must learn to live with the “McHamdog.” If they don’t listen to us, we may have to retaliate. We could send them “gizzard-chitterlings,” which would be cooked bird stomach and hog intestines.

Rooftop Grill

If that describes what you’re looking for, you should consider the Cobb Premium Portable Grill. The Cobb does everything I’ve just described, and even more. It’s a great little grill that others have called a complete cooking system, and a “kitchen-in-a-bag.” I can give you some more information.

The Cobb is light, just under nine pounds, and very compact, fitting in an area just a little bigger than one square foot. Think about all the tiny corners you could store a grill like that in, and still leave enough room for all your other gear! When it comes time to get the Cobb out (or put it away!), there’s no lugging a heavy, cumbersome grill around. If a rooftop grill is what you need, the Cobb should be your grill of choice.

But what about what you buy a grill for in the first place… cooking? The Cobb Premium Portable Grill shines there, too. With just one or two of the Cobb’s available accessories, like the griddle, the roasting rack, and the frying dish/wok, you can use your Cobb for everything from roasting a whole prime rib or pork loin, to steaming some fresh beans or asparagus. Use the Cobb’s “secret” flavor well to add flavor and moisture to whatever you cook, and you’ll have your guests begging for more. They won’t believe you turned out their dinner on your rooftop grill!

They surely won’t believe that you did it all using just 8-10 charcoal briquettes, but that’s exactly what the Cobb uses. This little workhorse will burn for a full three hours on just that much charcoal. Where else can you find a grill that will do that? No more buying and lugging home those huge, heavy bags of briquettes. One small bag will last you weeks, or even months.

When it comes time to cleanup, the Cobb’s aluminum and stainless steel construction, and non-stick cooking surfaces, mean you can put the Cobb right in your dishwasher, letting you off the hook. The Cobb’ stainless steel mesh base stays cool-to-the-touch all throughout the cooking cycle, so you can cook on any surface safely and without fear, and even move your Cobb around during cooking. No other rooftop grill has all these features and benefits.

Roast Beef

Choose a cut that is perfect for roasting

The best joint for roasting is rib of beef. There should be plenty of fat on top of your cut, and preferably throughout as well. Even if you don’t like to eat the fat (which I find very strange but each to his own), it will greatly improve the taste and texture of the meat, making it juicy and rich.

Take the joint out of the fridge well in advance

Beef must be around room temperature before you stick it in the oven. Take your joint out of the fridge well in advance – at least 30 minutes, but preferably an hour or two (depending on how big it is). You can spend this time admiring it and thinking how wonderful it will be once cooked!

Season well

Season your joint just before cooking – I use a simple mix of salt and pepper, just rubbed all over the meat. This complements the flavour of the meat.

Seal the meat

The first step to roasting beef is to “seal” the meat so that all juices are kept inside while cooking. Some people advise frying the joint, but I think searing it in the oven is better, as the heat gets to the whole of the surface at once.

Preheat the oven to 250C/475F/Gas Mark 9 – please note this can take a while, so for best results use an oven thermometer to measure the temperature inside. Once the oven is extremely hot, stick your joint in for 15 minutes – regardless of size.

While the meat is searing, delicious sizzling meat smell will start to emerge in the kitchen. Enjoy it!

Types of Barbecue Grills

A hectic week at work gives you enough reason to throw a barbecue party at your place, where, besides your family even close friends are invited. Opting for a barbecue get- together is as much about playing the perfect host as it is about de-stressing and relaxing.

But behind all the enjoyment lies the basic joy of cooking which remains incomplete if the wrong kind of cooking equipment is used. When you decide to throw a barbecue party, there are different types of barbecue grills that you can choose from. Initially, the sheer range of barbecue equipment might confuse you. This is precisely why you should have a fair idea about all possible types of barbecue grills.

On average, the market for cooking equipment offers five different types of barbecue grills to choose from. These types of barbecue grills are charcoal grills, smoker grills, propane grills, natural gas grills and multiple fuel grills. All the mentioned types are adequately suitable to be set up in your backyard. But if you are looking for something inexpensive then you should probably opt for a charcoal grill.

The large variety can demand greater investment, but the small ones are quite inexpensive and can be found close by at the neighborhood departmental store. The cost of small charcoal grills range between $10 and $15, while the larger variety cannot be had at anything less than $60.

If you are in a position to invest more there is no reason why you should not opt for a propane grill. The cost of these grills start from about $100. All the other types are more costly. While a smoker grill cannot be anything less than $130 and the minimum price of a natural gas grill is about $300, the most expensive of all is the multiple fuel grill that can burn a hole in your pocket with about $450.

The comfort with which you can use any kind of grill depends on its functionality. Most people, especially barbecue-lovers are of the opinion that natural gas grills are the easiest to use because one would not require arranging for a different source of power, that is, link it to the home line and that does it!

Following closely is the propane grill, the only requirement for setting up which is propane gas. Generally, the setting up of a propane grill requires drawing the gas from propane tanks. And among all the grills available in the market charcoal and smoker grills are hardest to use because they need regular maintenance and the costs for doing this catapults out of control.

Once you consider that the grill you install needs to fit properly into your backyard much of the confusion with regards to selection gets cleared. Always choose a grill that is neither too difficult to handle (keeping in mind that there may be amateurs around wanting to lend a helping hand!) nor too large for your space.

Choose A Place To Eat

If you are eating with someone for the first time it is unlikely that you will know all of, or any, of their dietary needs. Are they vegetarian, vegan, fruit eaters, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Rastafarian, Sikh? Do they need food free of dairy products or gluten, low salt or fat, without nuts and suitable for diabetes sufferers?

Are you looking for somewhere new that is close by, in the country or the city centre? How do you intend to travel to and from the venue? Is there public transport, or satisfactory parking facilities?

If you are so lucky the meal might be funded out of and expenses claim, but they have limits and it is likely that your boss will not pay for a top priced meal because you did not realise that the eating place was three star Michelin. Set a budget.

Check that it is possible to make a reservation, and if there are any restrictions and limitations depending upon the number in your party. Do they expect some form of payment in advance, how is the booking confirmed by both you and them, by email? What are their cancellation terms both in terms of time and costs?

It is pointless ending up at a burger outlet if you want a romantic meal, and likewise sitting in a candlelit booth if you are with the bank manager. Although the latter might be a good idea if you are desperate for some financing! Does the menu change regularly or is it constant? Both of these options might be important for differing reasons such as, you like change or you want to rely on a particular item being available.

Friends, family or work associates might offer recommendations based upon experiences, good or bad. Search the Internet using your key words, however be aware that a Website will be set up by the organisation, so totally impartiality will not exist. Do not take too much notice of any “Independent Testimonials”, since probably the last thing that they will be is independent – the good ones could be set up by the proprietor and the bad ones people looking for a freebie. Review the food guides published by organisations with professional food inspectors, and are not reliant on comments from the public. Take note that in a year may eating places change ownership and style, so the guide might be out of date before it reaches the book store. Try to visit the premises to see if they are clean and look good and importantly have some customers.

Assuming that you now have details of your requirements and have short listed two or three eating places. Ring the outlets to check the response. How quickly is the phone answered, is the response polite, are all of your questions answered, do the staff appear to be knowledgeable. Complete the exercise with all the short listed outlets and make your decision. After the effort you will have put in, I hope that the new eating place lives up to your expectations.

Steel Cut Oats vs Rolled Oats

Steel cut oats, or Irish oats as they’re often called, are made when the groats are cut into smaller pieces. That’s it. There is no other process. Unlike the rolled variety, which are further processed, these oats look similar to rice and have a more grainy texture when cooked. They are also more chewy and have a nuttier flavor. Some people, however, prefer the mushy taste of rolled oats instead.

Steel cut oats are definitely the best choice for consumers who are more health conscious. They contain no additives and nothing artificial and are usually sold either in tin cans or boxes. They are 100% whole grain, high in fiber, and very nutritious. A popular brand that is sold in the United States is McCann’s Irish Oatmeal.

One of the advantages of steel cut oats is they have to be cooked longer than the rolled brands. This can make them very inconvenient for those of us who are often in a hurry in the morning and need a quick breakfast. While regular oats can be prepared in just a few extra minutes, steel cuts oats often take thirty minutes or longer to fully cook.

On the other hand, they are more flavorful than the rolled oats. The reason being that the process steaming and rolling oats takes some of the taste out of them. So it is a tradeoff between quality and flavor versus convenience. Depending on how seriously you take breakfast, sticking with the old fashioned Quaker brand may be a better solution. Really, it is a matter of personal choice.

If you look at the back of a box of steel cut oats and compare it to a brand of rolled oats such as Quakers, you’ll find that the nutritional labels on each is virtually identical. So while there are a few health advantages to the Irish oats, the overall difference between the two types is negligible. You should simply choose the one that you like best. If you enjoy a chewy oatmeal, then Irish oats are a great choice. If you’re used to rolled oats and don’t want to change, then that is fine also. You aren’t missing much.

Avoid Bones when Eating Seafood

A few years ago I dined with a business associate who ordered Whitebait as a starter. Whitebait are the tiny pencil thin fish coated in milk, seasoned flour, deep fried and eaten whole. My colleague decided to fillet all the fish. It took him a while, to concern the waiting and kitchen staff who were wondering how long it would before serving the main course.

His expectation of a boneless piece of fish was a little extreme. With most people the concern is to remove the hidden, lurking throat assassin – the small pin bone. Ask help from your fish supplier to remove them, and state your concerns about any remaining in the fish you buy. If on your return home you still find a bone in the fillet then try another fish supplier next time.

If help is not at hand then complete the task on your own. You can easily find the bones. They are usually either in the stomach wall or down the length of the fish in the centre of the fillet. Gently feeling around will find them. Using a set of tweezers will remove the smaller bones, with a small filleting knife coming handy to cut out the bones in the stomach wall. You will end up with a totally bone free fillet and be able to cast all your worries aside.

With some types of firm textured flat fish, such as Dover Sole, the fish will not need filleting. You will find that after cooking, the fillet can easily be removed from the carcass of the fish.

Balcony Grill

If you want a balcony grill that does all of that, and even more, you should consider the Cobb Premium Portable Grill. The Cobb is a wonderful little grill that is really a complete cooking system, a “kitchen in a bag.” Here’s some more information about it.

Weighing in at just under nine pounds, with a convenient carry bag, the Cobb Portable Grill takes up a little more than a square foot of space, so no matter where you keep it, there will be lots of room left for the rest of your gear.

Because the Cobb burns very little fuel – up to 3 hours on just eight to ten briquettes – you can get away with keeping a tiny supply of charcoal in your closet or spare room. Whether you do your grilling on a balcony, terrace, patio, or rooftop, the Cobb makes the perfect balcony grill.

No matter what kind of cooking you like to do – smoking, grilling, pan frying, or roasting – the Cobb Premium Portable Grill does it easily. The Cobb is available with accessories – like a frying dish/wok, a roasting rack, a griddle, and a frying pan/skillet – that make any of these cooking chores a snap. The Cobb also has a “flavor well” around the heat chamber that let’s you use your liquid of choice – beer, wine, whatever – to impart that “just right” flavor to your food.

Designed with safety and clean up in mind, the Cobb’s aluminum and stainless steel construction heats up in just minutes, and cools down for cleanup just as fast. Additionally, the Cobb’s mesh base – made of stainless steel – stays cool during the complete cooking process, which lets you place your Cobb on almost any surface. The Cobb really is the ideal tabletop balcony grill! You can even move your Cobb around safely during cooking.

Basmati Brown Rice Pulav

It is the healthy gluten free option which will help you meet all your nutrition requirements without compromising on taste and diet.

Just removal of the outer hull of the rice kernel gives is this variety of rice which has a layer of bran.

Over the few years, It is gained popularity and have a designated place on the shelf in many kitchens. It has become a great pick for those who are health and fitness conscious. However, cooking brown rice is time consuming process. And moreover, people assume that being a healthy option, brown rice has a boring taste.

In today’s fast paced world, where people run on the ticking clock, regular brown rice that takes 60 minutes to cook makes people skip it. It cooks quickly can help in lot many ways and can be a time saver by just cooking in 15-20 minutes.

However, it is slightly differs from Basmati brown rice in certain other ways too. It is long, fluffy when compared to the mushy texture of regular brown rice.

It is grown in Himalayan foothills, have a distinct texture and nutty flavour. These tiny long grains are more lighter than the regular brown rice.

Paired with your choice of favourite vegetables, a dash of spices and raitha as a sider, brown rice can serve as a complete protein and fiber rich meal.

The side hull and bran content in brown rice aids digestion. It gained popularity off late due to its rich nutrient content providing the body essential needs like thiamine, potassium, fiber and magnesium.

The low glycemic rate aids weight loss and even is healthy option for diabetics.

There are many people who find it difficult to stick to brown rice due to its versatile taste.

Here is the delicious recipe of Brown rice pulao just in five easy steps, which will make you swap from white rice to brown basmati organic rice easily.

Note: check the label and select Basmati brown rice as per your preference. It is the best option and it retains all the wheat nutrients.

Before going ahead to the cooking part, wash it thoroughly and for one cup rice you might need to add three cups of water.

Preps:

  • 2 cups Basmati brown
  • 1 finely diced onion, 1 chopped carrot
  • 2 capsicums finely chopped
  • 1 spring onion for garnishing
  • 1/2 cup green peas

Paste:

Take two to three green chillies, 1 dried red chilli, 1 small piece of ginger and a handful of curry leaves, stalks of basil leaves and a few mint leaves. Churn them until it becomes a paste after adding a little amount of water.

Recipe:

Pour 6 cups of water in a vessel, add little salt as per your taste and add two cups of Basmati brown rice. Squeeze half lemon and let it boil until cooked. Remove the excess water once cooked but little firmly al dente. Make sure the rice doesn’t turn out mushy. After straining the excess water, allow the rice to settle down by itself.

On the other side, take all the vegetables except onions in a vessel and add water. Allow the vegetables to boil until cooked but a little firm. Then strain the excess water.

Meanwhile, heat a non stick pan and add oil. Sautee the onions till they turn purplish brown.

Add two cloves in powdered form, 1 pinch cinnamon and two pods of cardamom. Add the paste and stir cook for about two minutes. Add boiled vegetables and put off the flame. Add rice and mix with a loose hand. Add salt as per the taste and lemon if required.

For garnishing purposes, add lemon zest and coriander. Serve the rice with piping of a refreshing chutney in the dish or serve with curd for the delicious taste. Nutritional info:

Per 100 gram serving

81 calories, 1.9% protein and 1.2% fats.