Month: June 2010

Lazy Summer 2010

Sunset over Lake Erie A programming note: I will be out of town a lot in July, so DadCooksDinner will be published on a summer schedule until August. New posts will go up on Tuesday and Thursday, with no Monday post unless something really grabs me. Comment approval will be sporadic as well; my internet access will be limited to coffee shop visits.*I have a bunch of posts “in the can”, ready to go for the month…but I was stressing out trying to get more done. My usual three posts a week, done a month in advance adds up to a lot of writing. It dawned on me that this was silly. I write this blog because I enjoy it, not to raise my stress levels. I decided to cut back a bit and enjoy my time off. What’s happening? I’m going on vacation! (Whoo hoo!) I’m spending one week in Chicago, taking the kids to all the museums and hole-in-the-wall ethnic restaurants I can find. Then I’m packing up my Weber kettle and heading …

Things I love: Weber Charcoal Chimney Starter

Things I love: Weber Charcoal Chimney Starter A chimney starter is the best way to start a charcoal fire. Stuff some newspaper in the bottom, fill the top with charcoal, and light it up; thirty minutes later, the charcoal is ready to use. It’s quicker, easier and cleaner than lighter fluid, and the food you cook doesn’t wind up tasting like, well, lighter fluid. The chimney concentrates the heat of the burning paper, and forces it to rise up into the coals.  Once the coals start to light, they add to the heat, until all the coals are lit and ready to go. I’ve used it in almost all weather conditions, from sunny to windy to snowing heavily. The only problems were caused by very high winds, where the fire was blown out before it got the coals started. *Oh, and I don’t use it in heavy rain…but that’s more because I don’t like grilling in a downpour. Why the Weber chimney starter? Two reasons. First, most chimneys are too small. They only hold about …

Kale Chips

I’ve mentioned The real omnivore’s dilemma before – what do you do with all the kale in your CSA? The last time I asked that question, I got a response from reader Maria in an email, saying: You make kale chips, of course! Kale chips are a food blogosphere sensation – everyone has done them.I mean everyone: Other versions are here, here, here, and here.…and here, here and here.  I’ll stop now, you get the point. Normally, I don’t know what to do with all the kale in my CSA; now I was impatient, waiting to get some.  It arrived, and finally I could try the recipe.It just didn’t seem right, after calling it the CSA box dilemma, to go buy some kale from the grocery store. I found out why they are such a sensation – they’re fiendishly addictive. They come out crispy and salty; the roasting gives them a sweet taste at first, and a little bitter bite at the end. They’re so crisp that my first thought was “how am I going …

Napa Cabbage Slaw with Honey Lime Dressing

I got a huge Napa cabbage in my first CSA box last week. I combined it with some of the other vegetables in the box – some radishes and spring onions – to make an early summer version of the slaw that is served with fish tacos. *I share my Crown Point CSA with my friend Pam; we alternate weeks. Her first answer to “what do I make with this random vegetable?” is always “make a slaw”. Turnips? Beets? Kohlrabi? Pam says: slice it thin. **My first thought is usually: steam-saute it. This slaw made a great side dish for a Tex-Mex dinner. It has green, crunchy cabbage, a little heat from the radishes and onions, and the tart, sweet honey-lime dressing. It was a great counterpoint to the spicier dishes in the rest of the meal. This recipe is another example of how to use basic techniques and flavor profiles in cooking.  I knew I wanted the slaw to taste Tex-Mex, so I used lime and honey as the base flavors with my vinaigrette basic technique. …

Cooking Demo: Meet me at the Market, June 24th 2010

Cooking Demo at the Market: June 5 2010 I’m doing a grilling demonstration at the Stan Hywett farmers market next Thursday, June 24th, from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM. If you’re in the area, please stop by and say hello! I am a huge fan of the Countryside Conservancy farmers markets, and I had a great time doing the demo a few weeks ago at the Saturday morning market in the Cuyahoga Valley, and I am looking forward to checking out the market at Stan Hywett – I’ve never been to it before. My theme is “Grilling the Farmers Market”.  I have to check out the vendors at the market, to see what I’ll be able to cook, but I know I’ll be doing grilled garlic toast, and a few other vegetables.  Part of the fun of cooking from a farmers market is finding out what’s available that week. Information about the Stan Hywett farmers market: CVCountryside.org View Larger Map I hope to see you there!

Pressure Cooker French Lentils

Here is another recipe from my tests of the Kuhn Rikon Family Style 12 quart pressure cooker. Lentil stew with rice has been in heavy rotation in my house for the last year or so. It is one of the key recipes in my dinner plan for Meatless Mondays; we have it every two or three weeks. Beans and rice are one of the few vegetarian combinations that fill me up. Most vegetarian meals leave me thinking “that tasted great – where’s the rest of dinner?” I don’t have that reaction when the meal has beans; they’re hearty enough to fill me up.  But, eating lentils every two or three weeks gets a little repetitive.  I’m always looking for variations on beans and rice.*If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you’re probably amazed that someone who posts as many meat recipes as I do eats vegetarian once a week. I’m trying to do what I can to help our planet by eating lower on the food chain. Will I ever become a full time vegetarian? …

Review: Kuhn Rikon 12 Quart Family Stockpot Pressure Cooker

Review: Kuhn Rikon 12 Quart Family Stockpot Pressure Cooker When I wrote about my love of pressure cookers, I said Size Matters. I mentioned that I’d love to try the largest pressure cooker out there – the Kuhn Rikon 12 Quart Family Style Stockpot pressure cooker. Someone at Kuhn Rikon read that article, and they offered to send me one for a review. I couldn’t say “YES!” fast enough. I have been a pressure cooker fan for close to a decade now, and I have heard about the quality of Kuhn Rikon pressure cookers. They are true second generation cookers, made in Switzerland, and are built really, really well. The Family Stockpot 12 quart cooker they sent me is no exception. It is huge, solid, and fits together like (excuse the allegory) a Swiss watch. *Also, the 1/2 and 2/3rds fill lines are marked inside the pot, which is a “why doesn’t everyone do this?” feature. Pressure cookers need head space to come up to pressure. They shouldn’t be filled beyond 2/3rds full. Why doesn’t …

Planet Barbecue Giveaway Winners

I picked the winners to our Planet Barbecue giveaway on Sunday… We have our winners!  Random.org picked comments #10 (Alex), #6 (Pat) and #8 (Chris).  Please email me with your contact information, so I can send you the cookbooks!  Use the “Email DadCooksDinner” link in my profile on the top right of the page I’ve heard from Alex and Pat; their books are in the mail. Chris, you need to contact me by Sunday, June 13th, or I’ll have to pick a different winner for the book.[Update 6/10: Chris contacted me, and the book is on the way.  Thank you, Chris!]

Rotisserie Chicken, Dry Brined

At my farmers market grilling demo, I heard: This chicken is great! What kind of barbecue sauce did you use on it? The answer: no barbecue sauce. The chicken was salted a day ahead of time, I put a sprig of thyme under the skin of the breast, and I cooked it on my rotisserie with a chunk of smoking wood. That’s it! *This recipe was my hook at the market; it reeled people in. When a group of people walked by, I’d lift the grill lid and show the browned chicken rotating over the coals. Every time I did that, I had the attention of the crowd – they’d stop what they were doing and listen to me. Behold: the power of rotisserie chicken! This recipe is all about the art of simple grilling. The salt and smoke enhance the flavor of the chicken, and the rotisserie crisps up the skin. There’s nothing between you and the taste of the bird, so make sure to get a bird with a lot of flavor. I …

Grilling the Farmers Market

Recipes I demonstrated at the market: Rotisserie Chicken (Other versions of roti chicken are here and here) Grilled Butterflied Leg of Lamb (Coming Thursday) Grilled Asparagus Grated Carrot Salad Grilled Garlic Bread Last Saturday was my grilling demonstration at the Countryside Conservancy’s farmers market in the Cuyahoga Valley. I was so excited to have the chance to do a demo at the market; I’ve been going there since Ben was small enough to fit in a Baby Bjorn.*  I loved the chance to help out the market, instead of just shopping. *Ben is nine now, and rolls his eyes when he hears this story. Earlier in the week I picked up my donated meats: chicken from Brunty Farms, and lamb from Great American Lamb. The night before, I seasoned the meat, and packed my grills in the car. I started the morning at 7:45 AM, when I backed my minivan up to my tent in Howe meadow. I had a leisurely hour while I set my grills up and got my charcoal burning. I walked …

Grilled Peppers and Onions

Grilled peppers and onions are my answer to: “I’m grilling. What do I serve as a side dish?” I always have the ingredients in my pantry; when I’m at a loss, I turn to this recipe. They are also a great way to learn how to grill vegetables. I learned the best way to grill most vegetables (medium to medium-low heat, cook until soft) by practicing this recipe. Grilled peppers and onions are very versatile. I’m making them Italian style here, with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. They become Asian with peanut oil and soy sauce; Mexican with vegetable oil and lime juice; Spanish with olive oil and sherry vinegar. In other words, this recipe crosses almost all cultures. It is a classic “what grows together, goes together” pairing. Peppers and onions come out of the garden at the same time; at some point in history, every cook has thought “hey, what if I combine those two…”   After grilling the onions and peppers, I serve them a few different ways: As a relish: I …