COAL-FIRED LEEKS TERRINE begins by cooking the leeks over a bed of hot ember coals!
COAL-FIRED LEEKS TERRINE
Listen to our COAL-FIRED LEEKS TERRINE blog
Considered one of the healthiest foods, leeks join onion and garlic as part of the allium vegetable family. This seasonal delight is commonly used as a soup but I have something else in mind. I’ll be putting these directly on the hot coals and charring them for tenderness and flavor. Then I’ll be layering them in a terrine that includes goat cheese and crème Fraiche. I’ll also provide a dip alternative using the same ingredients to give you two options for these great flavors. Get shopping and pick out about 5 lbs. of vibrant green leeks, and let’s make an appetizer.
The Small Coal Bed
One of the benefits of having a cooking wood company is when we produce our charwood product, I can have the micro pieces saved for my cooking use. By using these smaller pieces, it allows my fire to reduce faster to the hot coal stage. I’m using a Weber kettle for this coal method and include a fine mesh screen on the charcoal grate to prevent the micro pieces from falling through.
I place a Firestarter on the screen, then place my chimney starter over the top. I fill the chimney with my micro charwood pieces and light the base where the Firestarter is. Leave this alone until the coals gray over and are hot. Then pour in an even layer in the charcoal area to be ready for the leeks.
Tasting Notes: I recommend for the best char taste to the leeks that you use hardwood charcoal and not briquets. This will allow you to break apart charcoal pieces easier and get an even coal bed.
Quick Leek Preparation
Leeks are one of those vegetables that are simple to prepare for cooking. First thing, if you’ve purchased with the root ends intact, remove those roots. Even if the roots are removed, still trim the root end to remove the hardened, dried end. Then cut off the dark green tops. Remember to save these parts to flavor soup stock! Wash the leeks to remove trapped dirt and pat dry. Once dry, cut each leek lengthwise in half. Now get a sheet pan and we’ll finish getting the leeks ready for the coals.
With the leeks cleaned and trimmed, it’s time to spread them out on a sheet pan and season with salt and fresh ground pepper. Taking the pan to the grill, place the leeks on the hot coals trying not to overlap any. Let them cook for about 10 minutes before turning to char the other side. Be sure to move around any leeks that are lighter in char color than the others. Total time on the coals will be about 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool briefly.
With the leeks charred and tenderized, it’s time to make the terrine filling. Start by combining 4 ounces of softened goat cheese, 4 ounces of crème Fraiche, 1 teaspoon lemon or lime zest, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Mix these ingredients together well. Line a standard 9×5 loaf pan with plastic wrap so that about 4-inches of wrap overhang the ends of the pan. This will allow for ease in releasing our terrine once it is set.
With the leeks, goat cheese mixture, and loaf pan ready, it’s time to assemble the terrine. Start by adding leeks to the bottom of the loaf pan in a single layer. Then add a layer of the goat cheese mixture. Repeat until the pan is filled, being sure to start and end with a leek layer. Fold the plastic wrap over the finished terrine and place a piece of cardboard cut to size on the covered terrine. Apply canned goods to weigh down the terrine and refrigerate overnight.
Tasting Notes: If you prefer to not make a terrine, you can still use this basic recipe to make molded leek topping. Simply chop the charred leeks into small pieces and add directly to the goat cheese mixture. Combine well and then mold in small bowls, still refrigerating overnight.
After spending the night in the refrigerator, the coal-fired leek terrine is ready to be un-molded. Start by unwrapping the terrine and inverting it onto a serving platter. I like to cut 1-inch slices while the terrine is still firm. Be sure to use a sharp, serrated knife to get through all the leek layers. Then allow softening somewhat before serving with your selections of suitable accompaniments. I am using a hearty pumpernickel bread as well as a crusty Italian bread. Other good choices are radicchio leaves, water crackers, petite bread, and mini pepper halves. This is an easy means of giving your guests a unique appetizer that is healthy too.
Do you have a favorite leek recipe? Tell us in a comment. Bringing innovation to wood-fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.
Our finished Cauliflower rice with Tomato we fire roasted with just a chimney starter!
COAL FIRE CAULIFLOWER RICE WITH TOMATO
With my special chimney starter cooking technique, which you can view in a separate posting, a fresh head of cauliflower was wood fired for a charry flavor. Now, it’s time to take this fabulous flavor and marry it to tomato and spice in a cauliflower rice dish that can be consumed as a main course or a fabulous side dish. A simple recipe that’s full a flavor that you’ll want to enjoy again and again. Plus, you’ll enjoy the added benefits of this super nutritious food due to its low saturated fat and cholesterol and high vitamin and mineral daily needs.
After tenderizing my fresh head of cauliflower on the hot coals of a charcoal fire, I’m going to turn this into a cauliflower rice dish that features tomato, feta cheese and just a hint of jalapeno pepper.
To start, cut your cooked cauliflower steaks into smaller florets and place half in a food processor with a standard blade. Pulse the cauliflower until it is reduced to rice-like particles. Remove from the processor bowl and add into a pot. Continue to process the remaining cauliflower in the same manner. You’ll see the tiny flecks of the charred goodness easily if you’ve prepared white cauliflower. Keep in mind, that one head of cauliflower will produce nearly two quarts of rice before the other ingredients are added, so this can comfortably feed 6 as a side dish or 3-4 as a main entrée.
Tasting Notes: If you care for additional spicy notes, feel free to pulse in some fresh ground pepper or pepper flakes. Just be sure to reduce the amount of fresh hot pepper in the cooking section.
Once the cauliflower rice is made and in the pot, it’s time to add the other ingredients. Start by adding 2 cups of diced tomato and one finely chopped jalapeno pepper. Pour in ½ cup of broth – I’m using bone broth – and stir well. You can adjust the moistness of the finished rice by adding more broth. Add ¼ cup of feta cheese just before serving, allowing the cheese to be heated just a couple of minutes.
Once sampled, you’ll taste the meaty char flavor from the coal cooking technique that is balanced so well by the sweet tomato and slight kick of the spicy pepper. This is hearty enough to eat as a main meal or the perfect accompaniment to your favorite animal protein. Just think what the festive colors can do for this dish if you’re lucky enough to find yellow or purple varieties of cauliflower. [#cauliflowerrice]
Tasting Notes: There are so many variations to cauliflower rice. Use seasonal ingredients to guide you. Options: curry powder, honey, Dijon mustard, & butter; asparagus, mushroom, basil, & coconut milk; black beans, tomato, corn, onion & Verde sauce.
These finished smokey baked apples are a wonderful fall treat! Easy to do on the gas grill with a two-zone cooking method with wood chunks.
SEASONAL SMOKEY BAKED APPLES WITH SWEET STUFFING
Listen to the smokey baked apples blog!
Apple season is here and I’ve found some beauties to make a simple but super sweet and flavorful recipe. And of course, I’m taking it to the grill to let the apple get a kiss of smoke while tenderizing. With so many varieties of apples available, you can pick your favorite and use this filling for the perfect stuffed apple.
In my home state of New York, there are over 25 varieties of apples. Since these can be cold stored, they are available year-round but there is nothing like the fresh harvest. In fact, controlled atmosphere storage was pioneered in New York State.
Whether served as the dessert or a sweet side dish is up to you but either way, you’re going to love the ease of making this dish and consuming all its seasonal goodness. Pick your favorite variety of apple and get ready to stuff them with goodness everyone is going to love! Smokey baked apples done on the grill, cleanup is a breeze!
I’ll be using my gas grill for this recipe so I start by lighting only half the burners on my grill which I’ve added a smoker box that contains 3 hardwood chunks. This will provide for the great smoke flavor to the apples. While the grill heats up to about 375°F, I prepare the Macintosh apples. First, wash and pat dry the apples. You can use an apple corer to remove the core but note you do not want to produce a clean hole through the entire apple. We want to produce an opening for adding the stuffing but we don’t want it to run out of the apples. I like to use a small, sharp knife, cut into the apple stem end about ¾-inch from the stem making a circle. Remove the core membrane and seeds leaving a firm base to the apple for filling.
Tasting Notes: Although I’ve selected Macintosh apples to know any variety will do. Just note, if the apples are significantly larger, you will need to make an additional filling.
With our apples cored, it’s time to make the sweet filling before heading to the grill. First, know I like to use a disposable foil pan to make clean up a breeze. In that pan, I place a roasting rack so the apples will be exposed to radiant heat all the way around the apple. I’m making ten stuffed apple but I will give you the ingredients needed for making eight apples.
Place 1 stick of softened butter in a bowl. Add 1 cup of light brown sugar, ½ cup chopped pecans, and 1-1/2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon. I prefer to mix this with my hand to ensure good distribution of the ingredients. Taking a small amount of the mixed filling, I form a log shape and insert into the apple opening, pressing down to make sure this is filled to the top of the apple. Once all the apples are filled, I head to the grill with my pan.
Tasting Notes: The stuffing for this apple recipe can be easily modified. Feel free to swap the pecan for another nut like walnut, hazelnut or almond. For spices, consider adding ginger, allspice, and clove either in addition to or in place of the cinnamon.
No Fuss Grilling
Once at the grill, I check to ensure my wood chunks are smoking well. I place my pan of prepared apples on the unlit side of the grill and pour enough water into the pan to coat the bottom by about 1-inch. This will allow moisture into the cooking area to get the apples very tender in a short amount of time. I usually check the apples after 45 minutes and rotate the pan if needed. When the apples are tender and the filling browned, these are ready and can be removed from the grill-#grilledapples.
Tasting Notes: Note that if you elect to use a charcoal grill the smoke infusion produced will be stronger. You are encouraged to still use a two-zone set up on the charcoal grill to keep the sugars from burning.
Serve ‘Em Up
Once the apples are tender and the filling browned, it’s time to remove the apples and prepare to serve them. There are many options for an accompaniment to the apples. Today, I’m using a vanilla bean ice cream that I’ve sliced into wedges. Certainly, the apples can be served with whipped topping, another flavor of ice cream, a vanilla custard or pudding, or even a slice of hard or rind cheese. These are best if served warm. Don’t forget, if any filling is left, add to a pureed squash for another great recipe. That’s why I always make extra!
We served our Best Gingerbread from the Grill as a dessert! The grilled smoky flavor was too Tasty for a Gingerbread house!
BEST GINGERBREAD MEETS THE GRILL
Gingerbread is one of those terms that are generic in the definition for a broad category, in this case, something made from ginger, cinnamon, clove, and a sweetener like molasses and sugar. Although “bread” is in the name it can produce great cakes, cookies, bars, and of course, bread.
One of the reasons gingerbread is ideal for cooking on the grill is because it contains bold flavors of spices and molasses. I’ll be taking a traditional recipe for gingerbread and introducing the cooking to the grill that I’m equipping with wood chunks for a unique wood flavoring.
You’re going to love the dense, flavorful result that is the perfect recipe to keep on hand for those unexpected and expected guests.
If you follow my gas grill recipes, then you know I am a fan of the two-zone cooking method. By lighting the burners on only half the grill and placing the food on the unlit side, I can guarantee controlled temperature that allows me to walk away as I do with my indoor oven.
I start by preheating my grill by lighting the burners on just one side. I want a cooking temperature of 325°F so I’ll set the dials to low. On the lit side, I also add a metal smoker box that contains 3 wood chunks. By the time my batter is mixed, the wood chunks will be smoking for the cooking of the gingerbread.
First, I butter and flour an 8-inch square cake pan and set aside (you can use the non-stick cooking spray if you prefer). There is only one mixing bowl needed for this recipe to combine the following ingredients and beat until combined well, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed:
2-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup shortening
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup molasses
¾ cup hot water
1 tablespoon crème Fraiche
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
Once mixed, pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and get ready to put it on the grill.
Tasting Notes: My non-traditional ingredient is the addition of the crème Fraiche. I use this only when making a cake or loaf as if used for cookie batter, this would be too thin. Remember, there are many variations to a gingerbread recipe. Bolder flavors can be produced through the addition of ground clove and nutmeg. For sweeter versions, adding honey or condensed milk. Remember, molasses was used in baking centuries ago as a means of saving money due to the high cost of sugar.
With the batter poured, we are ready to wood grill the cake. Place the prepared pan on the unlit side of the grill, making sure that the grill’s temperature is close to 325°F. Now you can walk away for about 35 minutes. Return at that point to simply rotate the cake pan and ensure the cake is cooking evenly. If the wood chunks are completely black, you may want to add a couple of more. Total grill-baking time will be 50-55 minutes. Remove from the grill and cool the cake on a wire rack. Cut into squares and serve warm or cold.
Tasting Notes: I prefer to serve this version of gingerbread with butterscotch sauce and whipped topping but other choices include melted semi-sweet chocolate, orange sauce, and even a cream cheese frosting.
Our Rich Pumpkin Butter has a slight hint of smokiness!
RICH PUMPKIN BUTTER YOU’LL CRAVE!
I’ve been pumpkin picking! I found a sweet pumpkin that will be perfect for making a pumpkin butter that will have a wood flavoring due to my grill roasting method on the gas grill. When you make pumpkin butter, it’s crucial that you select a variety of pumpkin that is designed to be cooked. My choice was a variety of “cow” pumpkin, known for its super sweet flesh and great creaminess for cooking.
Pumpkin is packed with nutritional value including a high level of Vitamin A and C, antioxidants, folate, and has a low caloric level. And, yes, they are rich in fiber.
Get to the pumpkin patch and find one or two sweet gems to bring to the grill for a wood fired sensation that makes for great pumpkin butter.
I’ll be using my gas grill for this recipe which means two-zone cooking which is really the only way I grill. I need to start by lighting only half the burners on my grill which I’ve added a smoker box to that has three double filet hardwood chunks from SmokinLicious®. This will provide for the great smoke flavor to the pumpkin flesh.
While the grill heats up to about 300°F, I prepare the pumpkins. First, wash and pat dry the pumpkins. With a small, sharp knife, cut into the pumpkin about 1-inch from the stem making a circle. Remove the stem top and scoop out the seeds. You can reserve the seeds to bake or grill, including placing the seeds in a pan on the upper rack while the pumpkins wood roast. Once the pumpkins are clean, drizzle about 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil on the pumpkin flesh and the stem top. Place the pumpkins in a heat tolerant pan. You can grill roast with the stem tops in place or laid in the pan as separate pieces. I’ll be putting my stem tops back on the pumpkins. Now the grill should be pre-heated for wood roasting.
Tasting Notes: Other varieties of sweet pumpkin to consider include will usually be labeled sugar pumpkins or pie pumpkins. However, other names to be on the lookout for include: Baby Pam, Baby Bear, Autumn Gold, Ghost Rider, Lumina, Cinderella, Winter Luxury, and Fairytale.
Dark and Sweet
Once the pumpkins have been cleaned and seeded, it’s time to get them roasting on the grill with hardwood for added flavor. I simply place my pan with the pumpkins on the unlit side of the grill, while my smoker box of wood chunks is placed directly on the heat shields of my lit burners. Next, I let the pumpkins roast at 300°F for 50 minutes without disturbing them. I do a check of the wood chunk pieces after 35 minutes and replenish if they have carbonized or turned black completely, as that means they are no longer producing flavonoids.
Once I can insert a knife point into the pumpkin flesh without resistance, I know the pumpkins are ready. You’ll see that they become a deep bronzy-brown coloring on the outside while the flesh becomes deep orange. I remove the pumpkins from the grill and allow to cool until I can handle them. Then I scrap all the flesh from the skins into a blender.
Creamy Pumpkin Butter
Although this is called a “butter” it technically is a fruit spread that is used like a butter on breads, pancakes, and crackers. To make the butter, add ¼ cup of apple cider to the pumpkin flesh in the blender and blend until a thick paste is formed. To that, add 1/3 cup brown sugar, 3 tablespoons honey, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar, ¾ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ginger, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg and a pinch of ground cloves. Process until smooth. Since I’ve wood roasted two pumpkins, I’m doubling the recipe ingredients.
Transfer the blended pumpkin mixture to a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to low and allow the mixture to reduce by 1/3 and turn dark in color. Total time should be 25 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
I usually refrigerate my pumpkin butter at this point or even divide into individual jars for gifting or just to simplify the quantity put out on the table. Today, I’m serving this pumpkin butter with some hot yeast rolls but there are plenty of other uses. Think about folding it into whipped cream for a mousse-like dessert, use it as an additive to a sauce or soup, or even make your own yogurt flavor by adding to plain yogurt. The best part, you can use different varieties of pumpkin to produce different flavors.
Tasting Notes: One benefit of winter squashes is that there are many flavors that you can add. Although I’ve gone traditional by incorporating cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and clove, you can also consider using turmeric, cumin, chili powder, garam masala, Chinese Five Spice, sage, and even vanilla bean paste. Experiment and you’ll find a flavor blend that is perfect.