Month: August 2009

Year One of DadCooksDinner

It’s been a great first year. In honor of one of my favorite movies, I’m going to celebrate year one of DadCooksDinner with a set of Top Five lists.Yes, I’m a geek. If you haven’t figured that out, you haven’t been paying attention… Top Five Moments in year one of DadCooksDinner5. Memorial Day WeekendWhen you write a blog that is grilling and rotisserie centered, the opening of grilling season gets you a lot of readers. My average daily readers doubled on Memorial Day Weekend! 4. First question from a readerI got a question about my rotisserie baby back ribs. Holy cow – someone is actually reading! 3. Rotisserie Cornish Game Hens recipe tops google…and is still there, if you google “rotisserie cornish game hens”. You get my most popular post, though the next post is gaining fast… 2. Winning the Taste of Akron Steak Cook Off:I think writing this blog for a year is what got me into the finals. Writing recipes for a year will teach you how to get them to make sense.I …

Pickled Sorta Sour Cucumbers

My brother, Matt (the Doctor!) left these at our cottage this summer. I had a couple on a burger, and then fished a few out of the jar and ate them raw. Then I ate a few more. Then…well, long story short, by the time dinner was done, the pickles were all gone. And I was considering drinking some of the juice left in the jar.*Thanks, Matt! I received a bunch of pickling cucumbers from my CSA, and then I bought some more, to make a jumbo batch of pickles.  I put them in the crisper drawer in my refrigerator, and they sat.  I did all the other pickle recipes for Pickle Week first.  I found, much to my dismay, that cucumbers don’t keep well.  By the time I got to them, all the pickles had turned bad. One batch was furry; the other was slimy. What I have since learned is cucumbers don’t keep well; after 24 hours they start to deteriorate. Make your pickles as soon as you can! This recipe is based …

Pickled Red Onions

Pickled red onions are the one homemade pickle that I have made in the past. They’re a common Mexican side dish, and I’ve often made them to serve with grilled Mexican meals.  Also, I used this recipe to preserve all the small red onions that came out of our garden last year.*That’s something you’ll hear me say a lot this week – pickling is a great way to use the bounty of your garden. We’re getting overrun right now, and pickling is a great way to preserve produce for later in the year. My brother-in-law Travis made some pickled red onions while he was at our summer cottage, and I had them a about a week later on a hamburger. After that, I was putting them on my sandwiches for the rest of the week – they make a great sandwich topping.*Thanks, Travis! This recipe is an based on one from David Lebovitz, who I’ve mentioned before – David is “our man in Paris”. I trust his information on food in the City of Light more than …

Pickled Chile Peppers

Michael Symon and Michael Ruhlman are big names in food circles, but to those of us in Northeastern Ohio, they are hometown boys who made good.*  I was introduced to both of them years ago, when I read an article about Symon, written by Ruhlman, in a local Cleveland magazine. That article became part of Ruhlman’s The Soul of a Chef, the best book about chefs that I’ve read.*We’re a little paranoid around here; whenever someone gets national recognition, their first move is out of Cleveland. When someone decides to stay, even after they’re famous, they hold a special place in our hearts. See Kosar, Bernie. I was excited to read that Ruhlman is co-writing Symon’s first cookbook, Live to Cook. But almost as interesting was the beautiful picture of Symon’s Pickled Chilli Peppers, taken by Ruhlman’s wife, Donna. That picture looks like summer in a jar.*I was a hobbyist photographer for a while, and I am just stunned by the pictures Donna takes for Ruhlman.com. They are some of the most beautiful shots I’ve …

Pickled Dilly Beans

Here is the recipe that started me on my pickling kick: Dilly Beans. This recipe gives you a sweet and dill combination that goes well with the flavor of the beans. I brought my first batch to a friend’s party as an appetizer.* Everyone loved them, but Diane couldn’t keep away from them. We ate the whole quart jar of beans, and Diane ate at least half of them.*Hi, Pam and Dave! Thanks again!I saw this recipe in Cook’s Country magazine, the less uptight, younger sibling of Cook’s Illustrated. It is a good way to use up beans; as you can see in the pictures, I had a lot of beans to use up. I tripled the recipe, and made three quarts of dilly beans.**It’s a week later, and we have a quart and a half left. Did I mention that Diane loves green beans? Recipe: Pickled Dilly Beans Equipment: A clean quart jar with a tight fitting lid (Canning jars or flip top gasket jars are the usual choices.) Ingredients: 1 pound beans, stems …

Basic Technique: Pickling Vegetables

Welcome to pickling week on DadCooksDinner! I’ve been meaning to make some homemade pickles; I make pickled red onions from time to time, and I love them, but I’ve never really branched out into any other recipes.  Then our CSA announced “pick your own” green beans, with no limit.  Diane loves green beans, so she took he kids, and they came back with about five pounds worth.  Oh, and what about those pickle cucumbers I got in the CSA box?  And that gorgeous picture of Michael Symon’s Pickled Chillis on Ruhlman.com?  I was off and running. What I’ve found from this week is that pickling is a great way to save some of the bounty of your garden, CSA or farmer’s market.  If you have an overload of a vegetable, look for a recipe.  You’ll be glad you did.  And it’s easy! I’m doing this pickling mainly for flavor, not long term preserving.  These pickles will only last 2 to 3 months, and they have to be refrigerated.  I could have found recipes for canning …

Grilled Boneless Pork Loin Chops, Brined and Honey Glazed

In this part of the blog I’m supposed have a witty story, where I tell a few jokes.  I should explain why the recipe has some special meaning to me, and why it should have special meaning to you. This is a recipe for grilled boneless pork loin chops. And… after that, I’ve got nothing. I’ve already told you about modern pork being bred so lean that almost all the taste is gone.  Pork loin is a bland, innocuous protein that is easily overcooked.  It shouldn’t be cooked past medium or it dries out. It doesn’t even have a bone you can gnaw on when you’re done with it. I’ve told you how to season pork – you should brine it to get it some flavor and give it a bit of a cushion from overcooking. What does that leave me with? Boneless pork loin is boring.  But if you know that going in, you can help it out.  Use it as a neutral base to build on.  Give it a brine full of flavor, so it’s seasoned …

Grilled Monster Zucchini

At work, there is a cardboard box with “please take me” written on it with magic marker.  In it is a big pile of vegetables.  There are tomatoes, some peppers, and then… next to the box are the zucchini.  These aren’t your normal sized squash. These are Big zucchini. Monster zucchini. Zucchini the size of your forearm, if you’re Arnold Schwarzenegger.**Think “Conan the Barbarian” era Arnold, not “Governator” era Arnold. Whenever I see them, I think of Garrison Keillor’s joke: The only time the inhabitants of Lake Wobegon lock their cars is in the month of August.  It’s so their neighbors won’t fill their back seat with bags of zucchini. They always look too good to pass up, so I take one home.  But what do you do with a 5 pound zucchini?  Why, you grill it, of course!**Or make zucchini bread. But that’s another recipe. Recipe: Grilled Monster Zucchini Equipment: Grill (I used a Weber Summit 650. Here it is.) Herb basting brush: One small bunch of thyme, tied at the stems to use …

Grilled Chicken Wings, Spicy Asian Glazed

As much as I like my grill-roasted chicken wings, the recipe doesn’t make enough wings to serve more than a couple of people. Wings take up a lot of space on the grill, and the indirect cooking method uses up more of the precious space on my Weber kettle. *I really need to get the recently released 26-inch Weber kettle, but that’s another story. One about lust and grills, that ends in tears for my checkbook. I decided to try cooking them with direct heat, so I could use my entire grill surface. What I found is that this is not a recipe for the easily distracted. You get good, crispy wings, but they have to be in almost constant motion. The hot spots and flare-ups you get on a charcoal grill are magnified by the large amount of chicken fat that will drip from the wings. If you lose focus for a minute, the result will be black, charred, and not very appetizing.* *I had a few wings turn out like that, so I …

Julia, Ruhlman and Pollan. Or, why I’m a cook.

I’m a cook. It’s my passion, it’s why I write this blog, and it’s one of the things that gets me out of bed in the morning, instead of just pulling up the covers and hoping the world goes away.* *My first cup of coffee is usually what gets me over that feeling. I was horrified when I read Michael Pollan’s article in the New York Times magazine last Sunday, which finished with a marketing expert saying that home cooking was doomed. We’re all going to be getting prepared food from the grocery store in the future, and we’ll look at cooking like we look at making our own clothes. [Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch, nytimes.com] I was going to write a post on it immediately, but I couldn’t get my thoughts organized enough. That is, until I read Michael Ruhlman’s blog post on the same article: Another segment of our culture who also recognized that we were losing something essential to our humanity learned to cook, out of books, from their moms …

Weber’s On The Grill iPhone App

I just returned from a week’s vacation at my family cottage in Madison, OH.  We had a great time, lounging around on the beach, splashing in the lake, sailing our Sunfish, and (of course, for me) cooking some meals on the grill.  I pack my backup Weber kettle into the trunk of the car, and bring it with me each year. What?  You don’t have a backup Weber kettle?  But…but…how do you grill when you go on vacation? The upside (and downside) to the cottage is that we’re pretty much technology free – no TV or internet connection at all.  This is great for the kids, because it gives them time to detox from their TV and Wii.  The downside is that *I have to detox from the internet. Really, I can quit any time I want.  I use the internet, it doesn’t use me. My surfing was primarily about trying to find recipes on the internet, using my wife’s iPhone and the spotty internet connection you can get on the shores of Lake Erie.  I can cook a lot of different things off the top of my head, but …