Author Bio: Kent Whitaker, also known as “The Deck Chef,” is an award-winning culinary writer and cookbook author. He’s also penned Young Reader, NASCAR and History titles. The former winner of the Emeril Live Food Network Barbecue Contest also covers football, motorsports, and bass fishing. Kent currently lives in East Tennessee with his wife, son, and a couple of dogs that love when he fires up the smoker or grill. You can reach out to Kent at www.thedeckchef.com, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Many people opt for a private home cooked meal on Valentine’s Day instead of spending too much on dinner out with possibly inflated prices. Hey, there’s nothing wrong with a big dinner out with your Valentine if the budget and schedule allows it. However, many may find a romantic dinner at home more affordable and equally desired. The trick is to make sure the romantic event is different from a normal meal Here are some suggestions followed by a quick and easy recipe for Chocolate lovers! Simple is the ticket during the month for lovers. You want to impress your dinner partner. But that does not mean picking a dish that requires you spending all your time in the kitchen. Nothing says love like waiting for hours while food is cooking. Keep it quick and simple… but new. Keep it fresh. This applies on two levels, fresh foods and a fresh recipe. Avoid bland frozen items and choose a dish that is not something the two of you would eat on a regular basis. Comfort But try to stay in both of your comfort zones. This is not the time to try an exotic recipe for the first time. One, make sure you can cook the dish. Don’t pick something that takes more skill than you can muster, or time than you can dedicate to it. Two, don’t go crazy on something that neither one of you would really enjoy. Portions Size. Dishes are smaller, everything is easier, cooking time is reduced and both of you are more likely to enjoy each other’s company more if you don’t feel the need for a nap after dinner. Clean Up! Are you kidding me? Save the dishes for later. In short, make it simple, realistic and something you know you can cook but don’t all the time then try to add a twist. And even if you just whip up a regular favorite for dinner, which is fine, add something special and fun. Quick [...]
So you’re camping out and getting your cooking gear together! Or, maybe you’re just going to fire up the grill in the backyard and cook for family and friends. Maybe you’re gathering your tailgate supplies for the College and Pro football season. Whichever version of outdoor cooking you’re leaning towards it’s always a great idea to keep a few food safety tips in mind. Hopefully, there won’t be any problems! But here are three safety hacks that are perfect for the back yard, tailgate or the campsite. ONE – Cold and Hot - Safe Temperatures – Digital Thermometers The general rule of thumb that I mention during my chef demos is this; Keep the cold food cold and keep the hot food hot. Use ice to keep cold foods chilled while serving. Such as a bowl of pasta salad resting in a tray of ice. Never mix ice used for consumption with ice used to store food – especially any meat that could drip raw fluids. Also, cook/grill meats to their proper internal temperature. The only way to do this is with a thermometer. Personally, I use Digital Thermometers for a variety of things. I have a Digital Instant Read Thermometer that’s pocket-sized and perfect for camping and tailgating. And I have a Bluetooth Thermometer which sends the chamber temperature of my barbecue smoker to my cell phone. Plus I have a couple of older plain cooking thermometers for backups in case a battery dies. Use your thermometer to check the internal temps so you properly cook items to the USDA recommendation. This takes care of harmful bacteria that may cause illness. Temps differ from meat to meat so I’ve added the USDA Temperature Chart below. Beef, Pork, Veal & Lamb Steaks, chops, roasts 145 °F (62.8 °C) and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes Ground meats 160 °F (71.1 °C) Ham, fresh or smoked (uncooked) 145 °F (62.8 °C) and allow to rest for at least 3 minutes Fully Cooked Ham (to reheat) Reheat cooked hams packaged in USDA-inspected plants to 140 °F (60 °C) and all others to 165 °F (73.9 °C). All Poultry (breasts, whole bird, legs, thighs, and wings, ground poultry, and stuffing) 165 °F (73.9 °C) Fish & Shellfish 145 °F (62.8 °C) Source USDA.gov If the food you are serving was stored in the fridge then that food needs to be kept chilled during serving. Hot food from the grill, oven, grill or stove should be kept warm. Think [...]
About the Author: Kent Whitaker is a culinary writer and cookbook author. He is the winner of the Emeril Live BBQ contest and winner of an American Authors Association Gold medal. Kent’s books are in bookstores nationwide and are available online. Kent lives in Chattanooga. Visit him online at www.thedeckchef.com Sometimes you want something other than a hot dog or burger on the grill and that’s where seafood comes in to play. Seafood, from simple cod fillets to shrimp, clams, oysters, shark steaks, and more are all perfect for cooking over hot coals or open gas flames. The trick is to understand one important thing… grilling seafood is incredibly simple! And that’s where using something as simple as a foil fish boat comes in handy. Unless you grill all of the time and have a wide variety of non-stick grilling baskets you may be hesitant about grilling more delicate white fish fillets directly on the hot grate. The obvious fear that that the fillet will break apart… which it will naturally flake when it’s done. Flakes can turn into large chunks of your meal falling into to fire. Why a Boat and not just a sheet of Foil? What’s a foil fish boat? – all you are really doing is providing a nice surface that you can grill thin and delicate filets on worry-free. A splash of butter or non-stick spray is all you really need. I love foil and this is a recipe and technique that I use to cook seafood and shrimp on the grill. T also works with vegetable burgers and turkey burgers. The point is, you have the smooth surface of a skillet with the smoky flavor from your grill! Here’s where a “boat” comes in handy! By forming a boat or bowl type of shape with your foil you can add additional items in without having to worry about things sliding off. Plus, depending on how thin your fillet is, you may not even need to turn it. Just let the heat from the bottom coals and the refracted heat from a closed cover grill, smoke and bake your fish at the same time. And, if the sides of the foil are long enough you can add the ingredients, fold lightly to seal, and then grill. You’ve just eliminated the worry of serving dried out fillets. Serving shrimp? Toss in the shrimp, sprinkle with seasoning, a few dashes of water and some butter, fold slightly, grill and you [...]
Are you looking for something to cook on the grill over the Memorial Day weekend but want something besides burgers, dogs, or any of the other common dishes? Not that there’s anything wrong with traditional Memorial Day eats… but why not grill some pizza? Yep, you can grill pizza! Think of it this way – why buy an expensive outdoor pizza oven if you already have a covered grill? You can use charcoal or gas along with some wood chips of your choice. I’m not knocking outdoor pizza ovens, I think they are cool and make for great pizza. But, if you’re only going to cook a pizza outdoors a couple of times a year… then save some money and fire up the grill and do something different! No Dough Tossing Skills Needed Don’t worry. You won’t have to learn to toss dough over your head like those cool guys in high-end pizza eateries. But I do think that would be fun to learn, or at least give it a try. Here’s how to get your grilled pizza adventure started. First, you need a covered grill. Then you need some store-bought pizza crusts and your favorite toppings. I suggest using smaller crusts as opposed to the large size simply because they fit on grill racks better and are easy to handle. Plus, each person can custom make their own pizza. If you only can find the large crusts then you may need to cut them in half depending on your grill. If you go with a softer crust such as raw dough, then use a cookie sheet, foil, or a grilling mat to pre-cook it before adding your toppings, sauce, and cheese. Toppings from BBQ to Traditional You can use all of the traditional items like Ham, beef, sausage, pepperoni, Canadian bacon, veggies and more. Plus you need some cheese and some sauce. All of this really boils down to your favorite toppings. I suggest that all of the meat toppings be fully cooked. Then, all you are doing is warming things up and melting cheese! Add sauce to your crust along with the toppings, place it on the grill with low to medium heat, close the lid until everything is golden and the cheese is melted. Remember, the crust is done, chances are you used pre-cooked meat toppings so all you have to do is warm everything up and melt the cheese. Your grill determines on if you cook on the top rack or the grill [...]
Author Bio: Kent Whitaker, also known as "The Deck Chef," is an award-winning culinary writer and cookbook author. He's also penned Young Reader, NASCAR and History titles. The former winner of the Emeril Live Food Network Barbecue Contest also covers football, motorsports, and bass fishing. Kent currently lives in East Tennessee with his wife, son, and a couple of dogs that love when he fires up the smoker or grill. You can reach out to Kent at thedeckchef.com, Facebook, Instagram @thekentwhitaker, and Twitter @thekentwhitaker. Easter is the holiday that kicks off Spring and opens the door for Summer grilling. When it comes to Easter one of the most traditional menu items for many family dinners is ham. So, it makes perfect sense, at least to backyard grilling gurus, that it’s a perfect time to grill some ham. However, grilling a huge ham meant to serve several people may be too much for an Easter dinner for two. That’s the situation we found ourselves in last year. Allyson and I had visited with our out-of-town family the week prior to Easter so on the day of the actual holiday we only had two people to cook for. The solution, switch from a 12-pound ham to a couple of nice center-cut ham steaks! Why do We Eat Ham for Easter? Easter meals traditionally include ham. But why is that? Besides the fact that ham is a tasty dish to serve at a family meal, ham has been an Easter favorite for centuries. A long time ago in Europe and Asian countries, pigs were slaughtered in the fall and early winter, then cured/smoked, and ready to eat when Spring came. What timing! Easter is in the spring holiday and ham is ready to be eaten! That combination which was based on everyday life has carried on as a tradition. What’s a Ham Steak? In case you’re wondering, steak is a term that is used in many countries to describe a nice thick cut of meat or seafood. I guess the beef industry is just better at marketing the term than other producers. A ham steak is a center-cut slice of bone-in ham roast ranging from 1/4 inch to 1 inch thick. The thinner slices are often called breakfast ham steaks. The great thing is that these cuts are most often fully cooked if bought pre-packaged. Just check the label and it will let you know. And, they come brine d with a salt solution or smoke cured [...]
The Puyallup Spring Fair starts on April 11th and runs thru the 14th. This is a pre-fair interview with Stacy Van Horne, Public Relations Manager. We talk a bit about the history of the fair, fair foods and what there is for kids and seniors to do. There is a lot of work that goes into putting this fair up and a lot of imagination. The have The Farm at Sillyville - which is a rather unique idea and very cool. There is Creative Kids Entertainment and Brad's World Reptile Show, and BBQ Playoffs. There are also Fireworks on Friday and Saturday evening. There is a KidZone and a Stunt Show. In Expo Hall they have too. This fair has a lot of everything. It makes you wonder how exactly it differs from the Washington State Fair that is later in the season. Stacy and I talk about that. They are also known especially for Motorsports and Monster Trucks. The fair takes place on the Washington State Fairgrounds. ********************************************************************
The Maricopa County Fair, in Phoenix Arizona runs from April 10th to the 14th at the Arizona State Fairgrounds. This is an interview with Karen Searle, Executive Director about what is old what is new and exciting about this years fair. We talk about the age of the fair, and what is new and exiting about this years fair - what there is for kids ans seniors, and their Community Stage - which is one of the main things this fair known for.
Discover the Fun at the Florida State Fair Pre Fair interview with the Assistant Manager of the Florida State Fair - Mike Rogalsky. We talk about what is new and exciting at this years Fair. We talk about parking, Seniors and what is good for children under 12 to do. Of course we talk about fair food, the exhibit building the animal exhibits, the carnival and a lot of their entertainment.