Our Finished grilled hot cross buns!

Our Finished grilled hot cross buns!

Hot cross buns cooked on the Grill! Click To Tweet

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I know – hot cross buns are traditionally enjoyed during lent and holy Easter weekend.  The basic recipe dates to the 12th century and is known as a sweet dough ball.  Did you know that pretty much any recipe can be made on a grill or smoker, including hot cross buns?

I’m going to take a traditional hot cross bun recipe and make it using the grill with wood chunks for added flavor and the cooking.  Don’t worry that this is a recipe that involves yeast.  You don’t have to know everything about bread making to make this recipe work.  You can add the dried fruit of your choice to customize the flavors as well as selecting the hardwood you like best.

Let’s get started so you can enjoy the SmokinLicious® version of Hot Cross Buns Wood Fired any time of year!

Yeast Makes Dough

our covered yeast and flour mixture wrap to rise

#activedryyeast

These buns start with yeast blooming.  We are using active-dry yeast in our dough which means it must be re-activated in water. Start by pouring water that is between 105° and 155°F into a large bowl and sprinkle 2-1/4 teaspoons of active-dry yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar over the water.  Stir the mixture to dissolve the ingredients and let stand until foamy which will take about 10 minutes.  Then add ½ cup sugar minus 1 tablespoon, 1 cup of warm milk, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, and ¼ cup of softened butter.  Mix well then add 3 cups of all-purpose flour.  Beat with the paddle attachment of a mixer until smooth and elastic.

After beating the initial dry ingredients, it’s time to add the eggs.  Do this step by adding one egg at a time for a total of 3 eggs.  Once the eggs are mixed in, add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 cup of dried fruit of your choice such as currants, raisins, chopped apricots, and/or candied citrus.  I’m including currants in my dough.  Once mixed well, add 3 cups of additional flour ½ cup at a time, until a soft dough emerges.  Next, it will be time to turn the dough out on a work surface.

Tasting Notes:

These are traditionally a drier sweet dough.  That means you want to use dry fruit items in order to prevent the dough from becoming too moist.  Feel free to expand on the options for the fruit and use combinations that are pleasing to your palate.

Patience Is Key

slicing our dough into smaller amounts

#portioningdough

After adding all the ingredients to our hot cross bun dough, it’s time to turn the dough out and begin to proof also known as rising of the dough.  Start by turning the mixed dough out on a lightly floured work surface.  Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, then form into a circle.  Grease a large bowl and place the rounded dough into the greased bowl, turning the dough once to ensure it is coated with the grease on all sides.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm place until double in volume.  This will take about 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

Once the dough has proofed and doubled in size, it’s time to punch it down.  This is a step that releases some of the gas bubbles that have formed by the yeast during the rising time.  Once the dough has the gas released, cover it with a bowl on a dry surface and let stand for 10 minutes.  After that time, divide the dough in half and then quarters.  For each quarter, cut into six equal pieces.  Roll each dough portion into a ball and place on a greased sheet pan, spacing 1-1/2 inches apart.  This is a good time to start the grill by lighting only half the burners and placing a smoker box with wood chunks on the hot side.  We’ll be aiming for a grill temperature of 375°F.

Grill-Baking with Hardwood

Our sheet pan of dough on the grill with wood flavor

#gasgrill #woodchunks

With our grill lit using a two-zone cooking method and wood chunks of maple, white oak, and cherry in the smoker box on the hot side of the grill, it’s time to finish off the hot cross bun dough.  After spacing the dough balls on a sheet pan, I allowed them to rise for about 30 minutes.  Using the white of one large egg and a teaspoon of water mixed together, I brush each of the 24 dough balls with the egg wash.  Using a small, sharp knife, cut a cross in the top of each roll no more than ½ inch deep.  Place one sheet pan of rolls on the unlit side of the grill and cook until golden brown which takes about 25-30 minutes.  I like to rotate my sheet pan ½ way through the cooking time for more even coloring to the rolls.  When finished, transfer the grilled rolls to cooling racks.

Tasting Notes:

I’m using a ½ sheet pan for my cooking but note that standard cookie sheets will work well.  If using the ½ sheet pan, your grill area may not be large enough to accommodate the pan while closing the lid completely.  I simply grill with the lid partially open, adjust my temperature control knobs to ensure the 375°F remains stable.

While the buns are cooking on the grill, you can prepare the icing that will go on top of the finish buns.  Start by mixing together 1 cup of sifted powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, and 1-1/2 tablespoons of milk.  You can adjust the thickness of the finished icing by adding drops of milk if you want it thinner.  Just be sure that when you add this to a pastry bag, you will be able to push it out in a steady stream and don’t find that it pours out on its own.

Tasting Notes:

Here’s my tip for filling a pastry bag.  Tip-I like to use the disposable bags for icings. Click To Tweet I simply roll down the bag about half-way to form a cuff.  I place the pointed side of the pastry bag into the opening of a roll of paper towels.  This allows me to scrap every bit of icing from the bowl without worrying about the pastry bag.  I leave the filled pastry bag in the roll until the buns are cool enough for applying the icing.

The Perfect Sweet Dough Treat with a Kick of Wood Flavor

basket of our hot cross buns

#hotcrossbuns

After making our hot cross bun dough from scratch, allowing the dough to proof, then dividing into our individual buns.  We baked these on the gas grill set up two-zone method: a hot side that we added three hardwood chunks to using a smoker box on the grill grate.  The buns were placed on the unlit side of the grill and baked at 375°F for approximately 30 minutes, rotating the pan just one time.  Once cooled, we added lemon icing crosses to each bun.  We do this by working with twelve buns at a time, lining them up on the sheet pan tightly to each other.  Using the pastry bag of icing, I place a steady stream of icing vertically on each bun, then do the same horizontally for each row, forming a cross.  Allow the icing to set and then serve.

Although hot cross buns are associated with a specific time of the year, SmokinLicious® feels these are a sweet dough treat to be enjoyed any time of the year.  And, they are best when made on outdoor equipment that can include natural hardwood for unbelievable flavor.

Tasting Notes: 

If served warm, you’ll pick up more of the wood smoke flavoring Click To Tweet these buns were exposed to on the grill.  Adding a bit of butter makes them even sweeter!

What’s your favorite dried fruit to add to hot cross buns?  Comment to let us know.   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 recipe:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

For more reading related to

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Dr. Smoke

Dr. Smoke-  the grill is perfect for cooking Hot Cross Buns

This avacado recipe features melted cheese stuffed avacado inside Turkey, wrapped with Zucchini strips.!

This Avocado recipe features melted cheese stuffed avocado inside Turkey, wrapped with Zucchini strips.!

This Avocado Recipe is double stuffed for Yummy Flavor! Click To Tweet

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I love taking a basic recipe and being able to offer variations to that recipe which allows the cook to customize for those being served.  That’s why I refer to this recipe as the Versatile Smoked Avocado Loaf since you will have options in the ground meat or poultry used to surround the cheese filled avocado as well as the cheese and outer covering to the loaf.  This is referred to as a meat wrapped, stuffed avocado recipe.

I’ll walk you through my version which uses Jalapeno cheese, ground turkey, and zucchini ribbons all with whole avocado.  We’ll be smoking these mini loaves of goodness on the charcoal grill using a two-zone cooking set up.  Use my ingredients or customize for your own taste.  Either way – let’s get started.

simple ingredients, avacado, ground Turkey, jalapeno cheese and a zucchini

#meatwrappedavocado recipe

Avocado & Meat Prep

The ingredients I’m using today include 2 lbs. of ground turkey, 4 whole avocado, 1 medium zucchini, and 4 ounces of Jalapeno cheese.  To start, I make zucchini ribbons using a vegetable peeler on the length of the zucchini.  I wrap the zucchini ribbons in a paper towel as zucchini is loaded with water requiring this to dry out a bit before wrapping around our finished loaves.  Time to prep the avocados.

Start by cutting around the circumference of the avocado from stem top to bottom using a sharp paring knife.  Don’t cut into the avocado meat just into the hard, green skin.  Then twist the halves in opposite directions to separate the two halves.  One half will hold the pit of the avocado.  You can easily remove that by hitting the pit with the blade of a sharp knife then pull up which will remove the whole pit in one swipe.  Remove the skin on both halves of the avocado, leaving the avocado meat intact.

Our avacado split in half

#stuffedavocado

Avocado recipe Tasting Notes: Other options for wrapping the loaves include ribbons made of beets, carrot, leek, or eggplant.  You can also wrap these in bacon strips if you don’t mind additional fat and sodium levels.

Assembling the Loaves

With the avocados pitted and skinned, it’s time to stuff them with our jalapeno cheese.  Cut a cube of cheese that will fit perfectly into the pit hole of one half of the avocado.  Place the matching half of the avocado on top to make the avocado whole again.  Now it’s time to season the ground turkey.  Taking about 2 lbs. of ground turkey I add 2 tablespoons of Chinese Five Spice which is a premixed combination of anise, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, and ginger.  I also add 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon chopped mint, and fresh ground pepper.  Mix together well as this seasoned meat will become the wrapping around the avocados.

With the avocados filled with cheese and the ground meat seasoned, it’s now time to wrap the avocado in the meat.  I’ll be making four avocado loaves so I divide the meat into four parts.  Flattening the meat into pancake size, I place one filled avocado in the center of the meat and begin to wrap the meat around the avocado, pressing to fill any holes.  You want the meat to cover the entire avocado in an equal thickness.  Once wrapped, it’s time to apply the zucchini ribbons around the meat.  I’m using zucchini as it has a high water content which will result in extra attraction of the smoke vapor to the finished loaf.  smoke vapor seeks out moisture! Click To Tweet  Simply lay the zucchini ribbons one at a time around the meat loaf, overlapping as you go.

turkey wrapped avacado, now applying the zucchini outter wrap to hold everything together for grilling

Avocado recipe-Tasting Notes:

Avocado and cheese go together so well which gives you so many options for the cheese filling.  There is no limit to the type of cheese you can use just know block cheese rather than shredded or a spread is best.  When it comes to the ground meat, feel free to use any type you prefer: beef, pork, turkey, chicken, lamb, veal.  You can also use a ground fish but may find you need to add a binder like panko bread crumbs to keep it from falling off the avocado.

 Two-Zone Charcoal Smoking

grill demonstrating our two zone charcoal grill set up with wood chunks

#twozonecooking

While I’ve been preparing the meat wrapped stuffed avocados, I’ve had my charcoal grill lit using a two-zone cooking method.  Since there isn’t a lot of meat on each of these loaves, I don’t need direct heat to cook.  I’ve placed my hot coals on one side of the grill and added about four SmokinLicious® double filet wood chunks.  On the unlit side of the grill, I’ve placed a disposable pan to act as a drip pan under the grill grate.  I place my four turkey avocado loaves on the unlit side of the grill grate and allow them to cook for about 45 minutes.  At that time marker, I brush the loaves with a sweet chili sauce and allow to cook for about 15 additional minutes.

After cooking for nearly an hour on a charcoal grill set up with a two-zone cooking method, these turkey wrapped stuffed avocado loaves are perfectly smoked and flavored.  Each loaf can easily feed two or one hearty eater!  With the creaminess of the avocado, the heat of the melted jalapeno cheese, the spiced turkey meat, plus subtle flavors of the zucchini and chili sauce, this is the perfect smoked protein that can be cooked quickly. Click To Tweet There are so many variations that can be done to this stuffed avocado which truly can make this your own creation!

Avocado recipe-Tasting Notes:  

Any equipment can be used for this recipe to add the smoke flavoring.  Just know, you need to use a two-zone cooking method for charcoal grilling, gas grill cooking with wood, or electric smoking.  If using a portable grill, try to grill over hot coals over rather than direct flame.  If using a stove top smoker or plancha, you’ll obviously cook direct method.  And of course, you can always make this recipe without the added flavor of smoke in the traditional oven.

our finished avacado stuffed turkey loaf!

#stuffedavocado wrap

 

 

 

What’s your favorite ingredients for this meat wrapped, stuffed avocado?  Leave us a comment and subscribe for more great recipes, techniques, tips, and the science behind the flavor.  That’s SmokinLicious®.

 

SmokinLicious® products for this recipe:

Wood Chunks- Double Filet

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Dr. Smoke

Dr. Smoke- This avocado recipe features a cheese stuffed avocado wrapped in Turkey! YUM

 

 

Our gorgeous color on our Grilled Prime Rib with wood on the gas Grill- Yum!

Our gorgeous color on our Grilled Prime Rib with wood on the gas Grill- Yum!

GRILLED PRIME RIB THE ULTIMATE WITH WOOD

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#smokinlicious

Yes, prime rib is expensive and likely the reason so many are fearful to take this cut of beef to the grill.  I’m going to take away that fear and show you just how your grill will respect this cut and produce the tender, buttery, crusty outside roast you want.

Although there are different opinions on whether to make a roast with the ribs intact or removed, I am someone who prefers to cook with the ribs in.  I’ll give you tips on doing a boneless version as well if that is your preference.

For now, purchase an 8 lb. or 3 rib roast, get your favorite wood chunks, and get ready to fire up your gas grill using a two-zone cooking method for a prime rib roast you won’t soon forget.

Meat Preparation

Trim off the excess fat and season with Salt! Let site overnight to season

#gasgrill

For the most part, my butcher has done most of the trimming.  I will just remove any remaining fat and ensure all the silver skin is gone.  You should see meat all the way around the roast. In the end, I’ve removed about a pound of additional fat.

At this point, I want to add salt to the meat to reduce the amount of water before cooking and tenderize the inner fibers.  For every pound of meat, I sprinkle a ½ teaspoon of kosher salt.  This is called dry brining and will require that the meat be refrigerated for 24 hours after the salt is applied.  I simply salt and wrap the meat in plastic wrap to prevent liquid from leaking, and place in the refrigerator.  Or, you can salt and place in a non-reactive container and leave uncovered.

Char Crust Rub

While the meat is tenderizing with the dry brine, we want to prepare a char crust to be rubbed all over the outside of the roast just before it goes on the grill.  Combine 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, 1 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves, 2 tablespoons fresh ground black pepper, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 1 teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder, and 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish.  I combine all my ingredients with a mortar and pestle.  If it is a bit too thick, just mix in a little water so more of a paste is formed.  Apply the char rub just before cooking and you’re ready to good.

Tasting Notes:

Feel free to incorporate different herbs and spices in the char crust rub.  Some considerations include: thyme, cinnamon, chili powder, clove, ginger, even cocoa powder.

Smoking on the Gas Grill

two zone cooking with the smoker box on the right over the heat and rib roast on the left

#twozonecooking

I really enjoy cooking a prime cut of beef roast on the gas grill as the two-zone set up makes this low stress.  I prepare my LP/Gas grill by first placing a disposable foil pan under the grill grate on the side I plan to cook on.  This will be my water/drip pan.  I add about ½” of hot water to the pan and place my metal smoker box containing three SmokinLicious® wood chunks on the side I plan to cook on, right under the grill grate.  Now I lite only the burners under the smoker box.  I set these burners to medium heat to start.    Just before I’m ready to grill, I check the temperature readout and adjust my heat setting until I hit my target temperature of 225°F.

Time to add the char crusted rubbed roast to the unlit side of the grill, directly above the drip/water pan.  I insert a thermometer and close the lid.  Basically, for the next couple of hours I just need to monitor that the temperature holds to 225°F and that the water pan has enough water in it.  Only as I get closer to 110°F internal temperature of the meat, do I start to babysit the grill.  This is when I like to brush a bit of butter on the outside of the meat.  It produces great color to the crust.

At 115°F internal temperature, I remove the water/drip pan, meat string ties, and the meat thermometer.  I’m now going to finish the cooking to 130°F internal temperature by direct searing the roast on all sides.  As soon as it reaches or approaches that internal temperature, I immediately get the meat off the grill and serve.

Oue finished roast showing great color and a wood flavoring for and add delite!

#primerib

Tasting Notes:

We all have a guest who insists they want their meat cook further.  If that is the case, you can add a slice directly to the grill for just a minute or two, turning constantly, to give them what they want.  Yes, you will have someone who wants the meat at 145°F or possibly above.

And don’t forget to save the bones to make our smoked beef broth.

Tasting Notes:

If using a charcoal grill, still use a two-zone cooking set up meaning charcoal on only one side of the grill.  Be sure you only cook with hot coals, no flames.

For those looking for a boneless version of this roast, feel free to request a boneless roast from your butcher, or you can remove the bones yourself and cook separately on the grill for tasty riblets.  Essentially, the preparation is still the same as is the overall cooking temperature and finished meat temperature.

What’s your favorite preparation for prime rib?   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 recipe:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

For more reading related to Grilled prime rib and other gas grill techniques

For more reading related to Grilled prime rib and other gas grill techniques

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Dr. Smoke- Try Grilled Prime Rib on the grill and add some Wood chunks for a nice flavor!

Dr. Smoke- Try Grilled Prime Rib on the grill and add some Wood chunks for a nice flavor!

We served our Best Gingerbread from the Grill as a dessert! The grilled smoky flavor was too good for a Gingerbread house!

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

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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.

Smoke coming from our wood chunks! Using a two zone cooking method

#Two-Zone Cooking

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.

Our Batter ready for the baking pan

Quick Batter

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

1 egg

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.

Gingerbread Grilling

Our Batter on the grill cooking and absorbing smoke

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.

 

SmokinLicious® products used in this recipe:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Hope you tried our best gingerbread recipe! If you like more grilling, smoking or ember cooking recipes go to our blogs!

Hope you tried our best #gingerbread recipe! If you like more grilling, smoking or ember cooking recipes go to our blogs!

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-WOOD-FIRED APPLES MAKE THE BEST CAKE

-Our Smoked Carrot Cake

-RICH PUMPKIN BUTTER YOU’LL CRAVE!

Dr. Smoke-Our Best Gingerbread Recipe! Try on the grill this holiday season

Dr. Smoke-Our Best Gingerbread Recipe! Try on the grill this holiday season

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Rich Pumpkin Butter has a slight hint of smokiness!

Our Rich Pumpkin Butter has a slight hint of smokiness!

RICH PUMPKIN BUTTER YOU’LL CRAVE!

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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.

Our two pumpkins for the grill

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.

Quick Preparation

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.

Our two pumpkins on the grill with the smoker box on the heated burners

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

nicely roasted pumpkin for our butter

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.

Our finished pumpkin butter ready for rolls!

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.

 

SmokinLicious® products used in this recipe:

Wood Chunks- Double Filet

Enjoyed our Pumpkin Butter blog read other great recipe and tip ideas from our culinary crew!

Enjoyed our Pumpkin Butter blog read other great recipe and tip ideas from our culinary crew! #smokedpumpkin

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Dr. Smoke- Our Pumpkin Butter recipe is a keeper!

Dr. Smoke- Our Pumpkin Butter recipe is a keeper!

Our winter squash sliced and seasoned with Cumin and ready for the grill!

Our winter squash sliced and seasoned with Cumin and ready for the grill!

WOOD GRILLING WINTER SQUASH WITH CUMIN & HARDWOOD

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Full of color, flavor and packed with nutrients, winter squash makes for exceptional seasonal dishes, whether soups, casseroles, or desserts.  Harvested in the approaching Fall, they are available all winter long due to their firm shells.  With varieties such as sugar pumpkins, acorn squash, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, buttercup, and red kuri, sweetness level is always present.

Naturally low in fat and calories, yet rich in vitamins A, B6, C, and E, you can’t go wrong with any variety you select.

Today, I’ve elected to make cumin squash on the grill using confetti squash, so called due to the beautiful multi-skin coloring.  Note, you may substitute any rounded winter squash available near you for this recipe.

Two-Zone Cooking

Smoke coming from our wood chunks! Using a two zone cooking method

To allow for slow roasting on the grill, I recommend a two-zone cooking set up.  Lite half the burners on your gas grill – if an odd number of burners, decide how many you need for the cooking temperature. The lit burners should be set to medium to obtain a cooking temperature of about 375°F.  Add wood chunks to the lit burner side either directly on the heat shields or in a smoker box.  My smoker box accommodates three double filet wood chunks easily.  The prepared squash will go on the unlit side of the grill.

Tasting Notes: Your choice of hardwood will determine the boldness of the smoke infusion.  I find that the skin of the squash will take most of the smoke vapor so really any hardwood or combination of hardwoods will do.  Be sure to keep extra pieces in case you need to replace halfway through the roasting process.

Seasoning the Squash

Our mixture of seasoning and spices.

To start our recipe, first wash and dry off your squash.  Then cut in half and remove the seeds.  Slice the squash into 1-inch slices and place in a high heat tolerant pan.  Once sliced, prepare to toast 3 tablespoons of sesame seeds in a skillet over medium-high heat until golden brown.  If you’re able to locate cumin seeds, toast 1-1/2 teaspoons of cumin seeds with the browned sesame seeds.  Transfer the seeds to a bowl and allow to cool.

Now prepare the squash seasoning by combining 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1-1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, and ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper.  If you didn’t have cumin seeds, then include 1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin.  Drizzle 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil on the squash slices and sprinkle with squash seasoning.  Toss to coat all the way around the slices.

Grill-Roasting with Wood

With the grill preheated, the wood chunks smoking, and the temperature gauge reading close to 375°F, I place the trays of prepared squash on the grill grates and close the lid.  I allow this to roast for 30 minutes, then I return to the grill, check the wood chunks and add more wood if needed.  Briefly toss the squash to ensure even cooking and close the lid again.

Our pan of squash roasting on the gas grill

Once tender and bronze in color, I remove the squash from the grill and plate to a serving platter.  Total cooking time is about one hour though this is dependent on the thickness of your slices and quantity of squash you’ve added to the pan. Remember, the rind of squash is loaded with nutritional value as well and will be very tender so there is no need to discard it. Consume the entire slice.

Roasting winter squash on the grill with wood is the perfect way to usher in the cooler weather and enjoy all this great flavor.

Tasting Notes:  You can serve this as is or feel free to process the slices into a puree for use in soups or as a filler to pasta or even desserts.  There are many options with grill roasted winter squash.

SmokinLicious® products used in this recipe:

Wood Chunks- Double Filet

For more reading related to winter squash and other grilling/smoking techniques- #wintersquash

For more reading related to winter squash and other grilling/smoking techniques- #wintersquash

Related reading:

-ACORN SQUASH- SWEET & SMOKY

-Smoked Squash & Kale Soup

-EMBER FIRED EGGPLANT & FETA TARTS

-EMBER FIRED ZUCCHINI & RICOTTA GALETTE

Dr. Smoke-add great flavor to winter squash with cumin & wood flavoring!

Dr. Smoke-add great flavor to winter squash with cumin & wood flavoring!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The finished- WOOD GRILLED VERSION OF CHEF WATERS’ GOAT CHEESE SALAD

The finished- WOOD GRILLED VERSION OF CHEF WATERS’ GOAT CHEESE SALAD

 

A WOOD GRILLED VERSION OF CHEF WATERS’ GOAT CHEESE SALAD

listen to the audio of this blog posting

listen to- A WOOD GRILLED VERSION OF CHEF WATERS’ GOAT CHEESE SALAD

Taking a page from Chef Alice Waters, we are making our version of the baked goat cheese salad by wood baking the goat cheese rounds on the grill using a two-zone cooking method and wood chunks for smoky flavor.  Then making garlic crostini for the croutons on the charcoal grill to serve alongside this fabulous salad dish.   A recipe that can be a salad course or an entrée on its own, we also give you an easy way to make this into an appetizer.  Purchase 12 ounces of quality goat cheese in log form and let’s get grilling.

Goat Cheese

Marinate to Start

This dish requires at least 8 hours of marinade time though I like to do mine overnight.   It’s the marinade of oil and fresh herbs that give the goat cheese great flavor.  Cut the goat cheese log into ½-inch rounds.  In the bottom of a glass dish, sprinkle chopped fresh herbs of your choice; today I’m using oregano but most any fresh herb will do.  Place the goat cheese rounds into the dish and pour over a ¼ cup of olive oil.  Turn the cheese rounds over to coat both sides.  Place fresh herb sprigs over the top of the rounds, cover with wrap and marinate in the refrigerator.

Fresh herbs

Tasting Notes: Other fresh herbs work great with this recipe but note that stronger herbs like thyme and rosemary likely don’t need the layers of chopped herbs at the bottom of the dish.  Simply lay the fresh herb springs on top of the goat cheese rounds and marinate in the refrigerator.

Grilling with Wood Chunks

Trays of goat cheese on the grill!

Once the goat cheese has marinated, it’s time to coat it in a mixture of ½ cup plain breadcrumbs and two teaspoons dried herb of your choice.  I’ll be using oregano but other good options include thyme, basil, marjoram, rosemary.  Once coated on both sides, place the cheese rounds on a lightly greased shallow pan.  I’m using mini sheet pans as they work well on the grill, even for a two-zone cooking method.

As this is a cheese dish it is important that a two-zone cooking method is used which means the cheese will be going on the unlit side of the grill.  I’m using a smoker box with three hardwood chunks to provide the smoke flavor to the cheese, with the box placed on the hot side of the grill.  Total time to cook will be about 20 minutes.  You’ll know the cheese rounds are ready once browned and bubbly.

While the cheese is on the grill, prepare the vinaigrette by combining ¼ cup red wine vinegar, salt, and fresh ground pepper.  Whisk in ½ cup of olive oil and set aside.

Greens and Garlic Crostini

Crostini with garlic butter

To go with the goat cheese rounds and salad vinaigrette, I’m making garlic crostini on the charcoal grill.  Using ½-inch slices of a day-old baguette, brush both sides of each slice with melted butter.  Place on a high heat tolerant sheet over hot coals only, no active flames.  Allow the slices to brown and slightly char before turning over.  Once browned on both sides, remove from the grill and brush with the cut side of a garlic clove.  I cut these crostini slices in half at the diagonal to go with the salad.

Tasting Notes:  An assortment of fresh greens can be used for the salad though I like to use a combination of bitters with more savory greens.

Assembling to Enjoy

With all the components made its time to assemble our salad.  Start by mixing the vinaigrette with the greens.  I like to place the garlic crostini on the outside of the salad and the wood-baked cheese rounds in the center of the greens.  This is best served while the cheese is warm.  Here’s another suggestion: this can make for the perfect appetizer if you cut each round in half so they fit on a garlic crostini.  For that recipe, prepare the same but place a few leaves of salad on the garlic crostini and top with a wood baked goat cheese half round.  There you have it!  A super easy salad or appetizer with that signature wood flavor that takes Chef Waters’ recipe to a new level.

SmokinLicious® products used in this recipe:

Wood Chunks: Double & Single Filet

Related recipes:

-FIRE ROASTED PEPPER MAKE THE PERFECT SALAD

-THE EASY METHOD TO COLD SMOKED CHEESE

-RASPBERRIES GO TO THE GRILL– FOR THE ULTIMATE MINI TART APPETIZER

-SMOKED CHEESE & BACON QUICHE FEATURING COLD SMOKED CHEESES

Dr. Smoke- try this-WOOD GRILLED VERSION OF CHEF WATERS’ GOAT CHEESE SALAD on your next party!

Dr. Smoke- try this-WOOD GRILLED VERSION OF CHEF WATERS’ GOAT CHEESE SALAD on your next party!

The classic Chocolate War Cake baked on the Grill- cut in pieces

The classic Chocolate War Cake Baked on the Grill

CHOCOLATE WAR CAKE BAKED ON THE GRILL

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I’m going to show you how easy it is to cook a cake on the gas grill using wood chunks for added flavor.  I simply love how chocolate reacts to smoke vapor and this chocolate recipe of mine is simply outstanding for the grill.

The gas grill was originally intended to provide for a quick cook method but I view this as an extension of the indoor kitchen as the grill really is an oven.  I’m going to turn my grill into a wood-burning oven by incorporating a smoker box that I’ve added cherry wood chunks too.

simple ingredients for this recipes

Why is this referred to as a “war” cake?  During World War I and II, eggs, butter, and milk were rationed.  Although I am including one egg in this recipe, I still consider this a variation of the “war” cake.  You certainly can make any variation you find as there are lots of options available online.

Let’s gather our simple ingredients, heat up the grill, and make perfection in a chocolate cake!

 

Two-Zone Cooking

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 like I do with my indoor oven.

I start by adding two cherry wood chunks to a metal smoker box.  I place this box under the grill grate, directly on a burner heat shield.  Next, I turn those burners on to medium and allow the grill to warm up while I make my cake batter.

The Unusual Batter

The Chocolate Batter mixed and ready for baking

First, I butter an 8-inch square cake pan and set aside (you can use the non-stick cooking spray if you prefer).  I start with the dry ingredients: 1-1/2 cups (7-1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar, ½ teaspoon baking soda and ¼ teaspoon table salt.  Whisk all this together in a large bowl and set aside.

With the dry ingredients prepared, it’s time to start on the wet.  In a medium bowl, combine ½ cup (2 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa powder and 2 ounces high quality, bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine.  Pour over the chocolates 1 cup of hot coffee, whisking to aid melting.  Allow cooling then whisk in 2/3 cup mayonnaise, 1 egg, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.

Tasting Notes: Whenever you bake on the grill, it is important to use a two-zone cooking method rather than direct heat cooking.  This will reduce the risk of burning the batter or producing off flavors, especially if you use a charcoal grill.

Grilling the Cake

With the beautiful chocolate batter finished, it’s time to pour this into the prepared dish.  Note you can use disposable pans or glass, ceramic – any high heat pan works just fine.

I check the cake about ½ way through the 35-minute cooking time.  If I see that there is some uneven cooking occurring, I simply rotate the pan and position where there are no cold spots.  An infrared thermometer will help locate any cold/hot spots.

grilling two zone with wood chunks

After grilling until firm to the touch or, you can do the toothpick test – insert a toothpick in the center and if it comes out clean, the cake is done – I remove the pan from the grill and let cool for 2 hours untouched.  After the cooling time, I invert the cake onto a cutting board.  At this point, you can sift some powdered sugar over the top of the cake or serve with a side of whipped cream.  Any way you serve this, it is going to be loved, with the serving plate cleaned quickly.  Baked on the Grill is fun!

Tasting Notes:  This cake can also be served with some additional fruit flavoring pairings like cherries, figs, raspberry, pear, and strawberryYou still will maintain a 350°F grilling temperature.

 

SmokinLicious® products used in this recipe:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Additional reading:

-WOOD-FIRED APPLES MAKE THE BEST CAKE

-Our Smoked Carrot Cake

-AVOCADO CHOCOLATE PUDDING

Dr. Smoke Baked on the Grill the classic Chocolate War Cake is a real keeper of a recipe!

Dr. Smoke Baked on the Grill, the classic Chocolate War Cake is a real keeper of a recipe!

Look how juicy our Rosemary infused Smoked Beef Shanks are after we removed them from the grill!

Look how juicy our Rosemary infused Smoked Beef Shanks are after we removed them from the grill!

ROSEMARY INFUSED SMOKED BEEF SHANKS FROM THE GRILL

listen to the audio of this blog posting

I’m back with another recipe for beef shanks that takes advantage of seasonal herbs with a simple smoking technique that can be done on your gas or charcoal grill.  I’ve been busy in the kitchen with another seasonal harvest so I’m going to cook my beef shanks on the gas grill using my favorite two-zone cooking method that allows me to step away from the grill.  Of course, I want some wood flavoring in these shanks so I’ll be using cherry wood chunks in a standard metal smoking box.

Simple Seasoning

Rosemary on top of the Beef Shanks for flavoring

It is considered one of the ideal flavor pairings for beef: rosemary.  Similar to sage, it contains more pine and floral notes and is sweeter than other herbs.  You will find many varieties that have some variation to the traditional rosemary flavor.  Here are some of the characteristic flavors: lemon-pine, clove and nutmeg, and even a smoky character in a variety called Sissinghurst Blue.

Beef is predominately a salty flavor with some sweetness.  If the animal is grass-fed than the flavor of the meat will be much fuller.

I’ve placed a grill rack in a disposable foil pan, added some rosemary sprigs from my garden to the rack and then applied a drizzle of avocado oil, salt, and pepper to the shanks on one side, laying the seasoned side on the rack.  Then I repeat the oil, salt, and pepper on the exposed side and apply some rosemary sprigs on top.  That’s it!  These are now ready for the grill.

Tasting Notes: Other seasonal herbs that are perfect for using in place of rosemary include: mint, parsley, dill.  Although I used avocado oil, since you are not grilling over direct heat, you can use other oils such as olive, almond, walnut, grapeseed, coconut, sesame, etc.

Smoking on the Gas Grill

I prepare my LP/Gas grill by lighting only half the burners.  I set these burners to medium heat to start.  Next, I place my metal smoker box containing two SmokinLicious® wild cherry wood chunks on the hot burners, right under the grill grate.  Allow this to heat up and start smoking.  The radiant heat capture in the grill will cook my beef shanks without them having to be exposed to the direct heat.  Perfect way for me to be able to walk away from the grill.  When I’m ready to grill, I check the temperature readout to try to hit between 300-325°F for cooking, as to me, this is the heat level that tenderizes my beef shanks to where I like them.  If the temperature reads higher, I just turn down the burners slightly.  Below, just a tweak up.

beef Shanks with the Bone Marrow ready for the stock pot

I leave the beef shanks untouched for about 35 to 40 minutes at which time, I may need to swap out the charred wood pieces for some fresh in the smoker box.  That’s when I give the beef a turnover.  Just one turn is all you will need.  I like to pull my beef off the grill at about 135°F so that when I get it to the table, it will be at a perfect medium-rare.   I also prefer to slice the beef off the bone and serve the marrow bone with some toasted bread – which can be done on the grill as well – that I’ve merely rubbed with some fresh garlic clove or smoked tomato.  So simple yet so unforgettable in flavor.  The season’s best beef shank and rosemary infused in less than 75 minutes.

Tasting Notes:

Don’t forget to save the bones to make our smoked beef broth.

If using a charcoal grill, still use a two-zone cooking set up meaning charcoal on only one side of the grill.  Be sure you only cook with hot coals, no flames.  Slow cooking these Rosemary infused smoked Beef Shanks will reward your guest and yourself with a wonderful meal!

SmokinLicious products used in this recipe:

Wood Chunks

Related reading:

-SMOKED BONE BROTH FOR HEALTH & FLAVOR

-OVER THE TOP GRILLED & SMOKED BEEF SHANKS

-SMOKED BEEF SHORT RIBS

-GIVE ME THAT BEEF BRISKET!

Dr. Smoke recommends that you should try the Rosemary infused smoked Beef Shanks! Simply Delicious

Dr. Smoke recommends that you should try the Rosemary infused smoked Beef Shanks! Simply Delicious

Try our pan cook zucchini on the gas grill with wood chunks for a flavoring twist

Try our pan cook zucchini on the gas grill with wood chunks for a flavoring twist

PAN COOK ZUCCHINI ON THE GRILL WITH WOOD FLAVOR

listen to the audio of this blog posting

It seems like when August rolls around, people start looking for something new to do with all that zucchini that you either have in your own garden or found at the fresh market.  I’ve got a one pan dish that is easy to construct with the best part being you can do the entire recipe on your LP/Gas grill.

Grab your prized zucchini and get to the grill and I’ll show you how easy this technique and recipe are for a great meal.

Zucchini Prep

Diced zucchini in a disposable pan ready for the two zone cooking method

Two zone cooking method!

Preparing the zucchini is very simple for this recipe as we want all the nutritional value of the skin as well.  After washing, patting dry, and trimming off the ends, cut 1-inch thick rounds and then cut each round into smaller pieces.  For the smaller rounds, you should get 4 pieces and the larger 9.  Place all the cut zucchini pieces into a disposable foil pan.  There’s no need to spray the pan or add any liquid as zucchini has a 95% water content and when cooked, produces 6 oz. of water per every cup.  This will naturally steam away while in our grill pan while tenderizing the zucchini for our dish.  Plus, the high-water level will attract the smoke vapor for great flavor.

The grill set up is the easiest part.  Simply lite the burners on only half the grill.  Place wood chunks either directly on the heat shields located under the grill grate or in a smoker box placed on top of the grill grate of the lit burners.  Allow to heat up for about 10 minutes.  Then place the pan of cut zucchini on the unlit side of the grill and close the lid.

Tasting Notes: You do have an option to slice your zucchini lengthwise into quarters and grill directly on the grate.  Know this will produce stronger wood flavoring to the finished product and you will still need to cut the zucchini down into bite-size pieces.

Ragout Ingredients

Although ragout in Italian traditional means a sauce made from root vegetables and fruits, I felt it was a suitable term for our tomato-jalapeno based sauce.  In addition to your zucchini, you’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 3 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 1-1/2 cups pasta sauce
  • Basil- 2 tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons oregano
  • 2 tablespoons parsley
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 10 oz. tortellini
  • ¼ cup shaved Parmesan and Asiago cheese

After the zucchini has cooked for about 30 minutes, add the diced tomato and jalapeno.  Let that cook for 15 minutes and then add the pasta sauce, basil, oregano, parsley and garlic powder.

Tasting Notes: This can be a spicy dish so if you only like a mild kick add ¾ cup of ricotta cheese when the pasta sauce and herbs are added.

Finale

all our spices added to the pan

All this made in one pan!

The final step to our grilled zucchini with tomato pepper ragout is to add the tortellini.  You may wonder how tortellini will cook without any water.  Essentially, you only need a little liquid with heat to produce enough steam to cook the tortellini.  The best part is you won’t have any pasta that is soggy and unable to hold its form.

After adding about 10 ounces of tortellini – mine happens to be filled with spinach – the ¼ cup of shaved asiago and parmesan cheese are added.  Everything is mixed well and left on the grill until the tortellini are tender.  That’s it!  Everything completely made on the grill and absorbing the great wood flavor from our SmokinLicious® chunks.  This is a great starter recipe that you can easily modify to fit your taste.

Now you need to try to Pan Cook Zucchini on the gas grill with wood!

 

 

 

 

SmokinLicious products used in this recipe:

Wood Chunks- Double & Single Filet

Related reading:

-EMBER FIRED ZUCCHINI & RICOTTA GALETTE

-TORTELLINI GETS A SMOKY MATE

-SUCCULANT WOOD FIRED STUFFED TOMATO WITH HERB RICE

-EMBER FIRED EGGPLANT & FETA TARTS

Dr. Smoke-add great flavor when you Wood Grilled Romaine Lettuce

Dr. Smoke-pan cook zucchini on the gas grill for great flavoring.

 

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