Fresh seasonal asparagus

 

EMBER ROASTING FRESH ASPARAGUS ON A HIBACHI OR OTHER CHARCOAL EQUIPMENT

 

Its Asparagus season and that means you should get the most out of this sensational vegetable while it’s fresh!  Learn how easy it is to ember roast this thick skinned vegetable to bring out the fantastic flavor of this vegetable as a side dish, or used as an ingredient in other recipes like a refreshing dip, soup, or stuffing for meat or fish.

SmokinLicious® Grande Sapore® Wood Chips

SmokinLicious® Grande Sapore® Wood Chips

INGREDIENTS:

 

PREPARING TO EMBER COOK:

Clean the Hibachi or small charcoal grill unit of all previous ash, as well as any leftover wood and charcoal.  Add the SmokinLicious® Culinary Wood Products Grande Sapore® Wood Chips in the base of the Hibachi on the charcoal grates. If not using a Hibachi unit, then place the wood chips in the charcoal area of your small charcoal grill. I like to use Wild Cherry Grande Sapore® Chips to bring a balance to the asparagus’ flavor.  Since I plan to use my roasted asparagus as an ingredient in other recipes, I’m using the chips in their natural state rather than soaking in a flavored liquid but feel free to soak in wine, alcohol, juice or other liquid of your choice.

Items need for this recipe

Items need for this recipe

LIGHTING THE FIRE

After loading the Hibachi or other unit with my Grande Sapore® Cherry Chips, I light the chips using a small kitchen size torch.   I let the chips burn down until I have about 2-3 inches of hot embers to cook with.  I need the layer long enough to accommodate the spears of asparagus and deep enough to ensure the embers encircle most of the spear.  I keep plenty of extra Grande Sapore® Cherry chips on hand to ensure I get the depth and size of the ember bed throughout the cooking process.  This includes maintaining a perimeter of unlit chips around the hot embers.

 

PREPARING THE ASPARAGUS

While I wait for the chips to burn down into embers, I start preparation of my fresh asparagus.  First, I gently clean the spears and then trim the bottoms just where they are a bit dried out and tough.  I gently pat dry and leave them in a tray to wait on the fire.  I drizzle some oil over my asparagus spears and sprinkle with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.  The oil will help the seasoning stick to the spears and also ensure an even cook on the asparagus.  Letting the asparagus sit while you wait on the embers allows the seasoning to penetrate the stalks, giving it additional flavor.

EMBER ROASTING FRESH ASPARAGUS TECHNIQUE

Once I have a bed of hot embers, I’m ready to cook!  I won’t be needing the grill grates as asparagus has a nice thick skin so it’s an ideal vegetable to be placed directly on the hot coals.  Prior to adding the asparagus, I add some more wood chips to the outside perimeter of my cooking area so that I will be able to bring in new embers as needed.  In addition to providing new embers, the unlit chips will provide additional heat to the grill as they ignite.

Asparagus cooking directly on the embers

Asparagus cooking directly on the embers

I lay my asparagus spears into the hot embers allowing the coals to wrap around the majority of each spear.

As I’m using very thick diameter spears, I will let the asparagus cook in the embers for about 10 minutes prior to

checking on the char level.  Just like with conventional cooking, you’ll see the asparagus get a brighter green sheen as they cook through.  Once I see a nice layer of char develop to the skin, I will turn the spears with tongs. The oil will also give a nice golden hue.

Ember roasted fresh asparagus

I’ve turned the asparagus spears only as the char develops on each side until they are fully charred and the spears have tenderized. You’ll know the perfect tender level when you prick the spear with a knife tip and it just penetrates.

Now I’m ready to use these beauties in my recipes but only after a few spears are enjoyed as is.  Ah, the perks of cooking over hot embers.  Bon-Bar-B-Que!

Please go to- Smokinlicious Instagram #smokinliciousasparagus for the audio instructional series

Dr. Smokes favorite- SMOKED STRAWBERRY HAND PIE is a great recipe for fresh or frozen Strawberries. The smokiness will add a special twist

Dr. Smoke- ember roasting Fresh Asparagus on the Hibachi is adding a charcoal side burner!

SmokinLicious® Products used in this recipe:

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

More recipes using asparagus:

-Flank Steak Pinwheels with Ember Roasted Asparagus

-Crostini with Smoked Asparagus

-Top 10 Vegetables to Cook in Hot Embers

COAL-FIRED LEEKS TERRINE begins by cooking the leeks over a bed of hot ember coals!

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

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

our cooking bed of coals

#hotcoals

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.

Terrine Filling

The layering of the leeks in the pan and goat chees filling

#leeks

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®.

SmokinLicious® products used in this blog:

Charwood

For more reading related to grilling other items besides #cauliflowerrice with tomato!

For more reading related to grilling other items besides #cauliflowerrice with tomato!

Additional reading:

-SMOKED FAVA BEANS MAKE THE PERFECT DIP OR CONDIMENT

-A SAVORY TAKE ON THE PANCAKE FROM SMOKINLICIOUS®

-STUFFED MUSHROOM APPETIZER FEATURING SMOKED ARTICHOKE HEART

Dr. Smoke-add great flavor when you fire roast Cauliflower rice!

Dr. Smoke-add great flavor when you fire roast Cauliflower rice!

Our finished Cauliflower rice with Tomato we fire roasted with just a chimney starter!

Our finished Cauliflower rice with Tomato we fire roasted with just a chimney starter!

COAL FIRE CAULIFLOWER RICE WITH TOMATO

listen to the audio of this blog posting

#cauliflowerrice

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.

Making Rice

Our charred Cauliflower in the food processor ready to be "riced"

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.

Hearty Flavors

Adding the broth to the cauliflower rice!

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.

SmokinLicious products used:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

For more reading related to grilling other items besides #cauliflowerrice with tomato!

For more reading related to grilling other items besides #cauliflowerrice with tomato!

Additional reading:

-Cauliflower roasted on LP/Gas Grill over wood chunks

-SUCCULENT WOOD FIRED STUFFED TOMATO WITH HERB RICE

-SMOKED BROCCOLI CASSEROLE WITH APPLE & QUINOA

-WOOD GRILLING WINTER SQUASH WITH CUMIN & HARDWOOD

Dr. Smoke-add great flavor when you fire roast Cauliflower rice!

Dr. Smoke-add great flavor when you fire roast Cauliflower rice!

Snapper Gets Wrapped in Corn Husk and is now ready to rest on our bed of coals to get roasted!

Snapper Gets Wrapped in Corn Husk and is now ready to rest on our bed of coals to get roasted!

SNAPPER GETS WRAPPED IN CORN HUSK & COAL FIRED

Summary:

Snapper fish, Northern red snapper, Tilapia, Branzino or fish filets all can be corn husk wrapped! While we did natural fire cooking of fish, the charcoal grill or Kettle grill work for wrapped in corn husk grilling! Snapper gets wrapped in corn husk using a foil covered brick as heat conductor- two-zone cooking method.

listen to the audio of this blog posting

When fresh fish comes in season, whether you catch it yourself or find your perfect catch at the seafood market or store, there is no better way to release the flavor than on the charcoal grill.  I found some splendid snapper fillets that I plan to marinate, wrap in a corn husk, and cook on the coals of my charcoal grill.  Let’s get started!

The Perfect Marinade

The final blended ingredients for this tasty marinade!

 

Fish does not require a lot of marination time so know in the time it takes the fish to absorb the marinade’s great flavors, you can set up the charcoal grill.  I like to lite the chimney starters while I make the marinade.  For that, you’ll need:

  • 6 white fish fillets (tilapia, branzino, snapper)
  • ½ cup finely chopped scallion
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup oil
  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • Salt – 1 teaspoon
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 12 pieces of soaked corn husks

Mix together the scallion, minced garlic, oil, lime juice, paprika, curry powder, salt and black pepper.  Place the fish in a baking dish or in a sealable storage bag and top with the marinade mixture.  Marinate the fish in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour.

Wrapping the Snapper

It’s time to take our marinated fish and encase it in the corn husk.  If you have fish fillets that will fit in a single corn husk, then one will do.  However, if you are doing larger pieces of fish, usually over a few ounces in weight, you will need to place 2 corn husks on a work surface overlapping the husks.  Place one piece of fish on a pre-soaked corn husk wrapping the husk around the fish.  Tie the ends of the husk with meat twine noting that most of the fish is enclosed in the corn husk.  Repeat with the remaining pieces of fish.  You’ll see that what has been made is a steam packet for the fish.  The corn husk is strong enough to allow the extra marinade to stay within the husk and simply tenderize the fish.

Grill Setup

The grill has the Smokinlicious Smoker Wood Chunks around the brick and the snapper wrapped in corn husk on the grill

I’m using a kettle grill with a wire mesh placed in the charcoal area to retain more of my hot coals.  Since I started the chimney starters while preparing the marinade, I pour these into the charcoal area that also holds some unlit charcoal.  On top of the hot coals, I place a couple of wood chunks which will add great flavor.   I’ve also included a foil-covered brick to act as a heat conductor and retention device.  This is a two-zone setup.  I’ll keep the hot coals and wood going on one side of the brick and place my corn husked fish on the other side of the brick.  In less than 20 minutes, these will be ready to go, fully cooked, and full of moisture.

Coal Fired to Perfection

Our finished Snapper wrapped in corn husk opened to show this wonderful method of cooking fish

Know that when you coal or ember cook foods, the temperature even from these small embers is high.  The grill will average between 300-350° F for the cooking.  There is no need to turn the corn husks, just simply monitor to ensure they don’t catch fire.  A spray bottle of water on hand is helpful at this stage.  In the end, the char flavor will penetrate the husk and produce the most fantastic flavor to the fish.  Simply cut the ties from the corn husk ends and enjoy the fish with your favorite sides.  There is nothing like natural fire cooking for fish.

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Single & Double Filet

Additional reading:

-HOT SEARED SCALLOPS!

-CHARRED PEPPER DIP

 

 

 

Dr. Smoke-Snapper Gets Wrapped in Corn Husk and is now ready to rest on our bed of coals to get roasted! Awesome technique for great presentation and flavor!

Dr. Smoke-Snapper Gets Wrapped in Corn Husk and is now ready to rest on our bed of coals to get roasted! Awesome technique for great presentation and flavor

Our fire Roasted Pepper make the perfect Salad with these white beans!

Our fire Roasted Pepper make the perfect Salad with these white beans!

FIRE ROASTED PEPPER MAKE THE PERFECT SALAD

Summary:

Fire roasted peppers by ember cooking on hot coals in our open pit or charring peppers on the grill for this roasted peppers salad. Fire roasted pepper make the perfect salad blog and should be in you roasted peppers salad recipes under healthy foods! The fresh parsley, arugula, added to the white beans are refreshing! You must try this!

listen to the audio of this blog posting

 

If you are a follower or subscriber of ours, then you’ve likely seen our recommendations for charring peppers on the hot coals using an open pit, fireplace, charcoal grill or even gas grill.  It’s so easy yet gives such a flavorful outcome to use in all types of recipes.

I’m giving you a salad recipe that is hearty enough to be a salad entrée or the perfect side for your favorite protein.

Gather Simple Ingredients

Simple ingredients make this wonder salad

I truly believe anyone can do both the charred pepper technique and make this salad without any difficulty.  Here are the ingredients you’ll need to bring the salad to life:

6 charred peppers, skinned, seeded, and quartered

2 anchovy fillets packed in olive oil, minced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons sherry vinegar

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley

1 (15 oz.) can white beans, drained and rinsed

¼ ounce Parmesan cheese, grated

1 cup packed spicy baby greens like arugula or watercress

In addition to the ingredients, you’ll need salt, pepper, a bowl, and whisk.

Vinaigrette Is Key

Making the Vinaigrette

You’ll want to get any larger pepper slices cut down into thinner slices.  Once the peppers are evenly sized, it’s time to season them with salt and fresh ground pepper.  Do this by laying them out on a platter.  Taking a small bowl, it’s time to make the vinaigrette. Start putting the anchovies, garlic, vinegar, oil, and parsley in the bowl and whisk together.  Add the beans and toss to coat with the vinaigrette.  Season the mixture with salt and fresh ground pepper.  You can taste and adjust the vinegar and seasonings until it fits your taste.  Now prepare the serving dish to assemble the salad.

Simple Layers of Flavor

our finished pepper and bean saladWith the peppers charred and vinaigrette made, it’s time to assemble the salad.  Start by laying out the peppers on a platter or serving dish.  Spoon the bean mixture over the top of the peppers and top with spicy greens like baby arugula or watercress.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  That’s it!

This is a perfect side with a great steak, ribs, chicken or fish.  It’s hearty enough to use as a main entrée as well for those looking for a healthier meal.  It’s especially refreshing during the warmer seasons.  Remember, char extra peppers and freeze them so you can pull them out for this fabulous recipe any time of the year.

 

Purchase products:

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Related reading:

-CHARRED PEPPER DIP

-STEPPING UP RADISH SALAD WITH A WOOD-FIRED FLARE

-SPICY-CHAR HUMMUS

-Ember Cooked Sweet Peppers

 

Dr Smoke-Our fire Roasted Pepper make the perfect Salad with these white beans!

Dr. Smoke- Our fire Roasted Pepper make the perfect Salad with these white beans!

Our Ember roasted peppers make an awesome Charred Pepper Dip

Our Ember roasted peppers make an awesome Charred Pepper Dip

CHARRED PEPPER DIP

Summary:

A great smoked appetizers for your charred peppers recipes; our ember bed cooking of peppers provides great flavor. How to roast peppers in a grill, cooking on coals directly, cooking in embers, gas grill, charcoal grill, even cast iron skillet cooking will work for peppers.  Try this charred pepper dip topping.

listen to the audio of this blog posting

Peppers are one of those thick-skinned vegetables that release their ultimate flavor when they are introduced to hot coals.  Many people think that you need special equipment to cook foods in hot coals but really, it’s as easy as having a disposable pan available and a grill.  I’ll give you some options for roasting the peppers and then provide a great recipe to be used as a dip or topping that is quick and so easy.

Multiple Charring Methods

The ember cooking of our sweet peppers

Although you will see me using an open pit method of charring my sweet peppers, you can do this on a gas grill set up with either a disposable foil pan or a cast iron pan or skillet.  You can also use a charcoal grill, lighting a fire and allowing it to reduce to simple hot embers.  A portable fire pit works if you clean out all previous ash and wood pieces to keep the final flavors clean.

Here’s the key to making perfect charred peppers, whether sweet or hot.  You must only use hot embers and you need to have additional hot embers available to keep a consistent temperature and a full bed of coals.

Because peppers are loaded with water, it is easiest to clean the skins and seeds from them once they are fire roasted.  If you cover the charred peppers placed in a bowl with plastic wrap, the skins will pull away easily.  Then you’re ready for your favorite recipes.

Fresh Ingredients Make This Dip

What makes this recipe so great is that there are only a few flavorful ingredients that balance out the charry, smoky flavor of the peppers.  For this recipe, you’ll need the following:

the simple ingredients need

  • 6 charred peppers
  • 1 cup golden raisins, coarsely chopped (6 ounces)
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons salt-packed capers, rinsed and well drained
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh oregano
  • A coarse salt such as sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon Red-wine vinegar

Once the peppers are charred, I like to quarter them before placing in a food processor.  You can use a blender as well if you have a control to pulse the ingredients as you don’t want to thin them too much.  After pulsing the 6 charred peppers, add the raisins, oil, capers, and oregano.  Pulse to combine everything.  Season with salt and vinegar.  This dip can be refrigerated for one day prior to use.

Endless Uses

This dip/topping made from ember-roasted sweet pepper contains all vegan ingredients so its super flavorful while being healthy too.  Here’s the best part – it has so many uses and can be altered for a specific taste.  Use it as a topping for fish, chicken filet sandwiches, or sausage patties and links.  It can be heated providing an option to use it as a hot appetizer or cold.  I’ve served this will flatbread or Naan slices for a snack, appetizer, or lite lunch.  Want some kick to it?  You can add ember fired hot peppers as well or just add a few drops of hot sauce to the mix.  Because this is oil based, it is best to use up any leftovers within a few days, keeping it refrigerated until gone.

Purchase products:

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®, Minuto®, & Piccolo®

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Additional reading:

-SPICY-CHAR HUMMUS

Ember cooked Sweet Peppers

-Ember Cooking/Roasting Garlic In An Iron Skillet

Dr. Smoke- I love ember roasted peppers because they char well! Making a yummy Charred Pepper Dip

Dr. Smoke- I love ember-roasted peppers because they char well! Making a yummy Charred Pepper Dip

Smiling Burnese child before surgery for wide, bi-lateral cleft Lip repair. After surgery photo of same child showing the correction!

Smiling Burmese child before surgery for wide, bi-lateral cleft Lip repair. After surgery photo of same child showing the correction! DINING FOR SMILES EVENT PREPARATIONS

DINING FOR SMILES EVENT PREPARATIONS

listen to the audio of this blog posting

With the goal to repair children’s broken smiles by providing free comprehensive treatment for cleft lip and palate anomalies in under-served areas of the world, Alliance for Smiles,  founded by six members of the  San Francisco Rotary Club, Board member Carl Vahl (Chef Calle) hosted a gourmet, six-course dinner to raise funds for this exceptional cause at the Enchanted Valley Inn.  And SmokinLicious® was right there to lend our support.  We’re going to provide you with a behind-the-scenes look at what goes in to preparing a six-course gourmet meal featuring wood-fired fresh Canadian salmon and wood-fired leg and loin of lamb.

Early Fire Start

Charwood burning in preparation for the grill and food cooking For SmokinLicious®, set up is crucial for a long event that has the menu relying on the perfection of the wood-fired proteins.   That means ensuring plenty of charwood and wood chunks are at the ready.  We keep two chimney starters loaded with charwood to keep a steady flow of hot coals going into the grills.  Since this event’s gourmet menu featured four foods to be wood fired – lamb, salmon, red peppers, and Brussels sprouts –  it’s necessary to get the fires going early so they can burn down to hot coal beds.  That is the key to successful wood-fire cooking.  Don’t cook over flames, only hot coals that will radiate heat throughout the grill.

The Wood-Fired Foods

For this Dining for Smiles event  preparations, we used a kettle grill and small charcoal grill from Stôk®.   Our wood selections included Ash, Sugar Maple, and Wild Cherry to compliment the Chef’s fresh ingredients.  At the ready, digital thermometers, fire gloves, fire extinguisher, ash can, and coal shovel.

Leg and loin of lamb on the grill Chef Calle picked up some sensational rib loins and a leg of lamb for the event.  Since the leg of lamb is the thickest, it will go on the grill about 45 minutes ahead of the loins.  We will maintain a temperature of 300° to 325°F.  My set up includes using a fine steel screen over the traditional charcoal grate to keep the hot coals from falling through.  I also use a disposable drip pan that contains a bottle of Syrah wine, rough cut onion, garlic, and mint leaves.  The leg of lamb will cook over that drip pan so I can collect the drippings for use later.  I probe the leg of lamb as I want to pull the lamb at 123°F internal temperature and rest it in an insulated blanket to the finished temperature of 130°F.

 

The inside of the Salmon waThe Salmon was stuffed with fresh Thyme, lemon slices and seasoned with a pinch of salt pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil s stuffed Fresh Thyme and lemon slices The fishmonger cleaned and gutted the whole 12lb. Canadian salmon but Chef still needs to cut off the gills and fins, and scale the fish.  After that, time for the fun stuffing!  With fresh herbs, lemon slices, and olive oil, this is ready for the grill.  We do make about four slices into the skin of the fish to allow water to steam out otherwise the fish would shrink.   Yes, it is a big fish for our kettle grill but we’ll get it done!  Once on the grill, we will leave the salmon untouched for about an hour before we flip and add some orange butter to the skin and insides.

The Finish

After cooking the lamb for approximately 2-1/2 hours, to an internal temperature of 123°F, it is removed and wrapped in an insulated sheet, then rested in a disposable pan.  The salmon is given one more rub of the orange butter and then it too is wrapped in an insulated blanket and rested until service.  With a combination of sugar maple and wild cherry woods on the salmon and ash, maple and cherry on the lamb, it doesn’t get any better than this for balanced flavor without being too smoky for our guests.

 Whole organic Red Bell pepper purchased from the local Farmers Market, roasting directly on the smoking embers to add a tasty char flavor! Chef wanted a few vegetable items wood fired as well so we started with red bell peppers right on the hot coals for a char finish.  Next, sweet onion into a pan set on the insert opening of the grill.  Once translucent and starting to brown, in go the Brussels sprouts and carrot.  The plan is the ember roasted pepper slices will be added to the salad course while the Brussels sprout medley will go on top of the rice for a flavorful side to the lamb and salmon.

With 18 invited guests attending this intimate event for a cause, the tables are set with a Fall festive theme.  Wine pairings are at the ready for the six courses as we welcome in our guests at 6pm for great conversation and a pre-dinner cocktail.

The Team

It certainly takes a Team to pull off an event like this. Special thanks go out to the Culinary Team of SmokinLicious® as well as the Kintner family and their business 360Rize who filmed the Dining for Smiles event preparations including the aerial view via drone.  Special thanks to our service team, Monica, Renee, Allison, Ashley, and Jackie.  It’s the giving of time that truly makes events like these.  And of course, to Chef Vahl who composed an unforgettable menu of foods and flavors.

Be sure to see our upcoming series on the six-course meal for Dining for Smiles after the event preparations and how it all was received.

Purchase products:

Charwood

Wood Chips- Grande Sapore®

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Additional reading:

-INFUSING WOOD SMOKE INTO BRUSSELS SPROUTS

-SMOKE A TURKEY- LEARN HOW

-GIVE ME THAT BEEF BRISKET!

Dr Smoke- "This is a great cause and desires everyone's support!

Dr Smoke- “This is a great cause for cleft lip repair and desires everyone’s support!

Ember Fired Eggplant on the rack cooking above a bed of hot coals. This technique provides the heat for cooking and the aroma of the wood smoke

Ember Fired Eggplant on the rack cooking above a bed of hot coals. This technique provides the heat for cooking and the aroma of the wood smoke

EMBER FIRED EGGPLANT WITH FETA TARTS

You’ve heard me mention before how great it is to ember or coal fire certain foods, with a good majority of those items falling in the fruit category.  One of the best fruits to use this technique with is eggplant.

Not of Nutritional Value

we selected two nice and plump eggplants for our ember cooking Eggplant, also called aubergine, is part of a flowering plant grown for its edible fruit.  This is a thick-skinned fruit that has a meaty quality to its flesh.  In fact, it can make for a filling meal.  Eggplant contains a lot of water – 92% to be specific!  It is not known to be a contributor for daily nutritional intake.  Despite all that, Eggplant remains a favorite ingredient to cook with.

Nestling is Key

When cooking in the coals, it is best to use medium sized eggplant.  It doesn’t matter what variety you select, the technique for cooking in the coals will remain the same.

Starting the fire

First, you need to start with a good wood fire, using clean hardwood.  In order to do this technique successfully, you need to ensure that there are no flames left in the fire, just hot coals.  You’ll know the coals are ready for the cooking when they are completely grayed over.  If your grilling area is large enough, you can stage a couple of burning wood pieces to provide additional heat to the area.  Just don’t cook directly in those flames.

preparing the hot coals for the eggplant. you want these to burn down leaving only the heat and no flame to burn the eggplant. Ember cooking is only over hot coals.When the coals are ready, make sure the embers are in an even layer and then place the eggplants side by side in the embers.  I like to use a fine screen in the bottom of my charcoal area to aide in heat retention.  Now, leave these untouched for about 10 minutes.  After that time, you can turn the eggplant to ensure all sides get evenly charred.  If you make a large enough fire, you can bury the eggplant completely in the hot coals and not have to do any turning.  That technique will require about 30 minutes of cooking time.

Blackened, Charred Skin Makes It Ready

Once the Ember Fired Eggplant has tenderized in the coals, it’s time to carefully remove it. Cool the eggplant, so it won’t burn and can be handled.  Then, slice each eggplant open from end to end, and gently scoop out the flesh.  Be sure to leave all the charred skin behind.  If you’re ready to use this in a recipe, then no need to do anything more to the eggplant.  If you plan on using it later, you must prevent the eggplant flesh from turning dark by incorporating 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and enough water to cover the flesh.  When finished, it’s best to store the Ember Fired Eggplant in a glass jar, bowl, or other container.

6 Needed Ingredients

To make the Ember Fired Eggplant with Feta Tarts, you’ll need a muffin pan and the following food ingredients:

  • Flesh from 1 medium size coal-fired eggplant
  • ¾ cup crumbled feta cheese (about 3 ounces)
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped pistachios, plus 2 tablespoons for topping the tarts
  • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon red-pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 5 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
  • Extra virgin olive oil for brushing dough and preparing muffin pan

Wood Flavored Eggplant Mixture

removing any char from the fire and then chopping up the eggplant to be added as the tart fillingRoughly chop the wood fired eggplant.  Then transfer to a medium bowl and add feta, 3 tablespoons chopped pistachios, coriander, red-pepper flakes, and mint.  Season with salt and fresh ground pepper and stir gently to combine.

Making the Tarts

Lightly oil the muffin pan cups.  Lay 1 sheet of phyllo dough on a board and lightly brush with oil.  Stack 4 more phyllo sheets on top, brushing each with oil.  Cut the stacked sheets into 6 equal squares.  Carefully, pick up each square and place in a muffin cup, gently pressing in place.  Fill each dough cup with about ¼ cup of eggplant mixture.  Gently fold over the corners of the dough to enclose the filling as a tart.  Brush tops with oil and sprinkle with crushed pistachios.  Then Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes, then serve.

showcasing the finished product! Our ember roasted eggplant within the feta tart- yummy

 

 

 

 

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Additional reading:

-EMBER FIRED ZUCCHINI & RICOTTA GALETTE

-SUCCULANT WOOD FIRED STUFFED TOMATO WITH HERB RICE

TOP 10 VEGETABLES TO COOK IN HOT EMBERS

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Single Filet

Dr Smoke- "Try this because it's a really tasty appetizer and easy to make."

Dr Smoke- “Try this because it’s a really tasty appetizer and easy to make.”

Spicy-char hummus is made by grilling/smoking the hot peppers and then add to your Hummus! Great way to keep the grill flavors when the weather turns colder! Our photo collage shows the different steps to make spicy-char hummus.

Spicy-char hummus is made by grilling/smoking the hot peppers and then add to your Hummus! Great way to keep the grill flavors when the weather turns colder!

HUMMUS TAKES A SPICY-CHAR TWIST

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The centuries old Arabic bean dip has gained in popularity substantially over the past few years in United States.  Part of the draw is the fact that hummus is high in protein and fiber, and low in fat.

Give It A Flavor Twist

I thought I’d take this popular snack and appetizer item and give it a new twist by first showing you how to add a wonderful smoky, char flavor to it.

There is nothing like the flavor of peppers on hot coals.  One of my favorite varieties of pepper are Hungarian, especially the hot ones.  That’s why I’ve elected to bring out my kettle grill, specifically, the Stok brand, and char or ember cook Hungarian hot peppers.  Using a chimney starter, I set up hot coals down the center of the charcoal area and add just one chunk of wild cherry wood from SmokinLicious®.  Once the coals are vibrating heat, I will add my cleaned peppers directly to the coals for a quick method of charring.  The time investment is really in the grill set up, not in the cooking, as peppers cook quite fast on hot coals.

A Spicy-Char Hummus Recipe Like No Other

Once the coals and wood have flavored the peppers, I take these charred beauties and make a Smoked Hungarian Pepper Hummus bursting with the flavors of pepper, fresh parsley, garlic, and cumin.  Whether you elect to use hot or sweet Hungarian peppers, this is sure to become one of your favorite humus recipes.

With the charcoal burning down to hot embers, I prepare the Hungarian peppers.  First, a simple wash the peppers and pat dry.  Then I cut off the stem end and pull out the membrane and seeds. Remember, the more membrane and seeds you leave in a hot pepper, the hotter the flavor will be.  Once de-seeded, these peppers are ready to be nestled in the hot coals.

To The Coals For Char & Flavor

With the Hungarian peppers de-seeded and membranes removed, on to the hot coals they go.  I’ve kept some unlit coals banked to each side of the kettle grill just in case I want to bring in more heat.  Plus, this will allow the coals to be used for other food items while the grill is still hot.  These peppers will only take 5 minutes or so on each side.  I do not disturb the peppers when first placed on the coals for at least 5 minutes, then gentle turn them with tongs until charring occurs on all sides.  Don’t be concerned if the skin becomes very black as it can be easily removed.  Plus, for our spicy-char hummus recipe, these charred beauties will be pulsed to a smooth consistency where the blackened skin won’t be revealed.

Once removed from the grill, I take the peppers and put them in a bowl covered with plastic wrap.  This will help produce moisture to remove any skin you don’t want as part of your recipe.  And speaking of recipes, it’s time to gather our ingredients and start assembling our Smoked Hungarian Pepper Hummus.

Traditional Ingredients Meet Char Flavor

We are stepping up the flavor of hummus by featuring our perfectly charred Hungarian peppers.   To make Spicy-Char Hummus, gather the following ingredients:

  • 2 15 ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed
  • 2-3 charred Hungarian peppers, depending on size
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely diced (you can use minced garlic as a substitute)
  • 1 cup Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium green onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 6 tablespoons Tahini
  • 3 whole lemons, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • ½ cup oil
  • Hungarian sweet paprika or smoked Spanish paprika for garnish

Creamy Hummus Starts With A Boil

Here’s the secret to a truly creamy hummus consistency: cooking the chickpeas before processing.  Take your 2 cans of chickpeas and rinse well under running water.  Then pour into a saucepan and cover the chickpeas with water.  Place on high heat and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to a simmer and allow the chickpeas to soften for 40 minutes.  Add more water if needed to keep the chickpeas covered in liquid through the boiling time.  Then remove from heat, strain the water, and set aside to cool.

Time To Process

To start our spicy-char hummus, first place the rough chopped charred peppers into the food processor.  Add the garlic, parsley, onion and rosemary and process until finely combined.  As soon as the processor starts, you’ll be hit by the strong aromatics in this recipe, which is trademark for traditional hummus.  The total processing time will be just minutes.  Then remove the cover and prepare for the next round of ingredients.

The final ingredients of our spicy-char hummus are added to the food processor: the boiled chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, olive oil, and tamari.  At this stage, we will process until the ingredients form a thick paste,  which will take about 10 minutes.  I always keep water or oil available to thin down the mixture if it should go too thick.  Remember, you want this to be thick but not to the point where it can’t be easily spread.  Once combined, the flavors will reveal themselves best if you store the mixture in an air tight container for at least 24 hours.

Serving Options Are Endless

After letting the processed hummus mixture that includes charred Hungarian peppers, garlic, parsley, onions, rosemary, chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, cumin, olive oil, and tamari rest for 24 hours, it’s now time to serve this highly aromatic recipe.  If using as an appetizer, I like to put the hummus into a bowl, sprinkle with a sweet or smoked paprika, drizzle with olive oil, and add some finely chopped charred Hungarian peppers to the center. I then surround the bowl with slices of baguette, pita chips or triangles, and vegetables.

This hummus goes with so many different things.  In fact, I love to use it as a topping to an Angus burger, or grilled chicken and fish.  It is so versatile that you’ll be sure to find all types of uses for it.  The best part, you’ll have a satisfying, full of flavor healthy alternative that will make this a favorite anytime of the year.

 

Additional reading you may enjoy:

-How To Turn Your LP/Gas Grill Into A Smoker

Ember cooked Sweet Peppers

-EMBER FIRED ZUCCHINI & RICOTTA GALETTE

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Double and Single Filet

Dr Smoke

Dr Smoke- “Liven up your hummus flavors with the smoking/grilling of the Hungarian peppers, especially on a cool temperature day.”

Add a new twist to your Hummus- grill/smoke the hot peppers and then add to your Hummus! Great way to keep the grill flavors when the weather turns colder!

Wood fired stuffed tomato with Rice!

Wood fired stuffed tomato with Rice!

SUCCULANT WOOD FIRED STUFFED TOMATO WITH HERB RICE

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It’s tomato season!  Boy, do we have a great technique for you to try on your charcoal grill as well as a tasty recipe to make- wood fired stuffed tomato.

Bring 8 large tomatoes in from the garden or purchased at the fresh market, clean out the charcoal grill, fire pit, or fireplace, and give a few hours to a great cooking experience and exceptionally flavorful recipe.

Lighting a Fire for Hot Embers

Coal cooking can be a very easy method of cooking foods once you know how to make and manage the fire.  First, I am going to use only hardwood for my fire as I want to produce as much flavor as I can into the cooking area.  For tomatoes, I am using Beech hardwood in the SmokinLicious® Single Filet Wood chunk.  Once lit, I let the wood burn down to hot embers before even thinking about cooking.  Oh, and the lid stays off my grill – I’m using a kettle from Stok®, while the wood burns down.  I wait until the coal bed shows gray embers on top with hot red spots on the bottom.  I’ve used a mesh screen in the charcoal area, to keep all my coals from ending up in the ash collection area, since many will get to be quite small.

Preparing the Tomatoes for Hot Coals

With our tomatoes washed, it’s time to prepare them for the coals.  First, I cut about ¼ of the way around the top.  I’ll be cooking both the body of the tomato as well as the tops.  Next, I add a high heat roasting rack to my raked coals.  Try to make the coal bed as even as possible to keep the tomatoes balanced.  First cooking time will be about 12 minutes before any turning needs to be done.  You will see bubbling juices in the tomatoes which will makes these red beauties even more flavorful.

Coal Firing to Unbelievable Flavor

After placing the tomatoes on the coal rack and leaving for about 12 minutes, it’s time to turn them.  You’ll see how the outer skin will start to flake.  When I get some cooking time on the entire tomato, I separate the cut top from the body and coal roast the tops separately to get a nice char.  Once cooked through, which takes a total time of about 22 minutes, I remove the tomatoes to a cooling rack.  Once cooled enough to handle, it’s time to take all the wood fired pulp out of each tomato leaving the charred skins as the base to my wood fired stuffed tomato recipe.

Fresh Recipe Ingredients

With our fresh tomatoes coal fired over hardwood, it’s time to start on our recipe.  First, we need to remove all the tomato pulp from the charred tomatoes.  You can do this with a spoon or the way I like to do it – with my fingers.  Place the pulp only in a blender keeping as much of the shell of the tomato as possible for our base in the roasting pan.  Then blend until a puree is formed.  Meanwhile gather the other ingredients needed to make wood fired stuffed tomatoes:

  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 8 medium to large tomatoes
  • 2 anchovy fillets mashed
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 small red bell pepper, diced (feel free to use hot pepper as well)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley
  • Fresh ground pepper

Herb Rice Mixture & Anchovy Butter

This recipe allows you to use any rice you prefer.  I like the texture of brown rice for this dish.  As you cook the rice according to the package directions, you can start on the flavor mixture for the cooked rice.  First, combine the 2 anchovy filets with the 2 tablespoons softened butter.  I use a mortar and pestle.  This will be added to the hot rice as soon as it is cooked.  In a bowl, combine the tomato puree, diced pepper, parsley, basil, Parmesan cheese, and fresh ground pepper.  Mix until just combined.

With all the ingredients combined, it’s time to put it all together.  First, to our anchovy butter, brown rice, I add the tomato puree mixture combining well.  Taking the tomato shells, I place them in a roasting pan that has been coated with oil.  Next, comes the rice mixture, layering it in making sure all the tomatoes are covered.  Last, top the rice mixture with the coal fired tomato tops.  Now this pan is ready for a 350°F oven to bake for about 30 minutes.

Preserve the Flavors

After cooking our beautiful tomatoes over hot coals made from 100% beech hardwood, we removed the wood flavored pulp and produced a tomato puree.  To that, we added Parmesan, basil, parsley, red pepper, and fresh ground pepper.  Infusing anchovy butter into hot brown rice, we pour the tomato puree into the rice.  Our wood fired stuffed tomato is made by layering the tomato shells in a roasting pan, then topping with the tomato puree-rice mixture, and the charred tomato tops.  Then bake for 30 minutes in a 350°F oven, this is the perfect dish to serve with rustic bread.  Stock up on your coal fired tomatoes – they can well – so you can enjoy your take on this wood fired stuffed tomatoes.

Now that we spurred your imagination with this recipe, we need your comment and rating, so subscribe and follow us so you don’t miss a thing.   Finally, suggestions are always welcome as well on recipes and techniques you want to learn about.  We are your source for all things wood-fired, providing tips, techniques, recipes, and the science behind the fire.

 

Related recipes and tips:

EMBER FIRED ZUCCHINI & RICOTTA GALETTE

Ember cooked Sweet Peppers

TOP 10 VEGETABLES TO COOK IN HOT EMBERS

HOW TO TURN YOUR CHARCOAL GRILL INTO A SMOKER

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Single Filet

Dr Smoke

Dr Smoke- “Tomato lovers will rejoice with our take on a stuffed tomato that’s coal fired.”

Wood ember roasted Tomato stuffed with Rice!

Wood ember roasted Tomato stuffed with Rice!

 

 

 

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