Even though summer has officially ended, we are still in that transitory phase where it’s warm and yes, still pleasant. I actually prefer this phase because grilling is much more fun. So, a few weekends ago, we invited a few of our close friends over for dinner. There was champagne, there was wine, there were lots of fresh tomatoes from my garden and there were grilled lamb chops from American Lamb Board.Read More
After taking a class at the CIA in NAPA on smoking olives, reading Diana Henry's Salt, Sugar, Smoke (Perhaps one of my all time favorite books by her) and Smoking Hot and Cold by Charlotte Pike , I've been trying different ways to smoke my food. I tried indoors and outdoors, outdoors are honestly, the best because you can let the fumes escape and your furniture won't smell like the aftermath of a fire pit or a dragon lashing. Liquid smoke and smoke guns are good options and a friend of mine, swears by the latter.
I recently got a Traeger smoker/grill which is pretty amazing. It's upped my smoke game up at home by several notches. We've tried steak, pork chops and chicken with a variety of different woods such as cherry to oak to pecan each infusing its own unique perfume on the food it kisses. While, meats are a sure hit when it comes to smoking, you can do a lot more than just that. I recently experimented and smoked young carrots with cherry wood pellets and then served them over a bed of turmeric infused creme fraiche with a little amchur. Amuchur is a tart fruity powder obtained from sundried unripe mangoes, it's also my best friend when it comes to barbecues. While cooking and smoking times, will obviously vary by the type of smoker you use, this method worked rather well for me with my Traeger grill.
And on a related note, if you want to make Kalua Pork at home and also check out my most recent trip to Maui, Hawaii, head over to Taste Cooking!
smoked carrots with turmeric creme fraiche
makes 4 servings as a side
1 lb young carrots, tops trimmed
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 cup creme fraiche
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes of any kind or color
1 tsp amchur
1 tsp red chili powder
flaky salt such as Maldon
Prepare the smoker as per the manufacturer's instructions. Fill the wood pellet chamber with cherry wood pellets.
Set the heat to 350F. Brush the grates with a little oil.
In a large bowl, toss the carrots with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Then place them on the grate of the preheated grill and let them cook for 45 minutes to 60 minutes, flipping them halfway through cooking using a pair of tongs. The carrots will be done when tender and golden brown.
Once the carrots are cooked, remove and transfer them to a tray.
In a medium bowl, whisk the creme fraiche, lemon juice, turmeric, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
To serve, prepare 4 serving plates, place a generous 1/4 cup of the creme fraiche in the center of a plate. Put 4 to 6 smoked carrots in the center along with 1/4 of the halved tomatoes. Dust with 1/4 tsp of the amchur and 1/4 tsp of the chili powder. Sprinkle with a generous amount of Maldon salt and serve.
(Note these instructions are for the Traeger grill, please adjust the method to work with whatever brand you use)
Disclaimer: This post was not sponsored by Traeger. All opinions expressed are solely my own.
It's almost comical that I've thought about this barbecue sauce for a few years now but never had a chance to post it. I blame the short span that the cherry fruiting encompasses, it's never long enough! But this cherry BBQ sauce is probably one of the most ideal marriages when it comes to blending the flavors from the East with the West. Barbecue sauce always makes a compelling argument to use something sweet to flavor meat, growing up in India you learn to never add sweet to savory but a good tangy and sweet BBQ sauce can convince anyone that this is a great idea.
This Indian-inspired version uses a dried red Kashmiri chilies to amp up the heat, coriander to infuse a rich smoky flavor and jaggery (a dark raw brown Indian sugar) for sweetness. But the last ingredient jaggery does so much more, it brings out the heat of the chilies, but also bumps up the tartness of the cherries and sourness of the vinegar. It's one of those raw sugars which really compliments spicy flavors making it a better ingredient than regular brown sugar in this sauce. I highly recommend sticking to jaggery even though you could get away with regular brown sugar, this sauce is all about flavor and taste.
This is one a time batch recipe and you could easily scale this up to can (I haven't tried to can it, because we never have enough left). Use the sauce over meats like you would normally and grill away!
Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this sauce;
- Use the tart and sweet red cherries in this recipe.
- I usually like to marinade the meat/poultry for at least 1 hour before you grill. Rub and massage the sauce into the meat well, so it seeps through the meat. I also sometimes nick the meat with a paring knife to let the flavors get deep into the meat.
- I like to reserve a little bit of the fat from on the leftover chicken to use to grill vegetables.
- I grilled a couple of chicken thighs and vegetables in Finex's cast iron grill pan over the charcoal fire pit. Once the meat is marinaded for at least 1 hour in a cup of the sauce (my ratio is 2lbs of meat to 1 cup sauce), I slapped it on the lightly oiled pan and allowed it to cook until the internal temperature reached 165F. Avoid moving the chicken to much when grilling, to get good charred grill marks and also orevent the meat from sticking to the grates. The grill pan from Finex is great to cook over direct fire as it can withstand the temperature and also heats evenly. I poured some of the BBQ sauce into the little cast iron BBQ pot to keep it warm while I brushed the meat to coat it with the sauce.
indian - inspired cherry barbecue sauce
yields: approximately 4 cups sauce
2 cups pitted cherries (I used the Bing variety) (frozen/fresh)
1 cup whole grain mustard
1 cup ketchup
1 medium-sized white onion (which is approximately 1 cup diced white onion)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Worchesterchire sauce
1 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
4 dried Kashmiri chilies with seeds
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup packed jaggery or dark brown sugar
1. Place all the ingredients, except the jaggery/sugar in a high-speed blender and process until silky smooth. If you want an extra smooth sauce, strain the mixture through a strainer to remove any fibers (you might not need to depending on how strong of a blender you use).
2. Transfer the sauce to a small saucepan and add the jaggery/sugar. Cook on medium-low heat with occasional stirring until the sauce just begins to boil. Remove from heat, taste and adjust seasoning if necessary and keep the sauce aside until ready to use.
Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Williams-Sonoma and Finex. All opinions expressed are solely my own.
There are probably a zillion ways to commemorate the start of an exciting adventure, you can smash a champagne bottle against a boat before it sets out on its journey, you could break a coconut or you could grill, like we do. Yup, grilling has always been a way for us to inaugurate! So to celebrate summer and our home, we grilled, well we've been grilling aggressively every weekend on our terrace in a fire pit. Experimenting with new techniques and flavors but mostly, having fun doing it. Grilling is one of those cooking techniques where the possibilities are endless, from sweet to savory, there's a lot of fun stuff to do!
Sweet corn is good but if you grill it, it tastes even better. It's one of those vegetables which benefits from getting burned and charred. The kernels acquire a whole new depth of flavor when charred, now combine this with a couple of roasted poblanos and some garlic and this is one smoky yet tasty corn side. Several years ago, I got to try a Mexican dish made with roasted corn and poblano peppers in spicy cream and queso sauce. This vegan version is inspired by that delicious dish, it's got all the goodness of spice and heat yet cooling with the smooth and creamy texture of the almond creamer from Califia Farms. Grilling is what gives this dish it's characteristic flavor and it's one of those dishes to make and eat all summer long!
Here are some of tips that you mind find useful when preparing this dish;
- You'll notice I use a two-stage grilling technique here. I first cook the veggies on the grill either in their skin or in a sheet of aluminum foil. Once they're soft and tender, I let them sit on the grill directly and exposed to the fire. This method allows the veggies to cook first and then smoke and char them gently without the risk of over burning.
- Nutritional yeast also adds a nice cheese flavor to the cream. You could also add a vegan queso if you have a favorite but I haven't been too happy with the store bought ones.
- Depending on how hot you like things, you could choose to keep the seeds in the peppers or reduce the number of peppers, it's completely up to you.
fire roasted poblano and corn in almond cream
yields: 4 servings
2 ears of corn in husk
4 poblano peppers
4 cloves of garlic with skin
1 cup Califia unsweetened almond milk creamer
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper freshly ground
1/4 teaspoon toasted cumin seed powder, freshly ground
1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
1. Place the corn in the husk over the hot grill. Place the poblano peppers and garlic cloves on a small sheet of aluminium foil and carefully, place on the grill. Cook and turn the veggies by rotating them every 5 minutes until they start to blister. The corn will start to steam in its own juices. Do this for about 20 minutes, the time might vary a little depending on how close the grill is to the source of heat, so use your judgement here. Carefully, peel the husk off the hot corn, the corn will be soft and tender inside. Place the corn ears back on the grill and allow to char evenly all over but rotating the ears every 3 minutes or so. Remove from grill and keep aside. Place the garlic cloves and poblano peppers on the grill and rotate every 3 minutes until charred. Remove from heat and keep aside. Cover the peppers in aluminum foil and allow to rest for 2 minutes.
2. Using a knife, cut the corn out by sliding the blade against the ear from bottom to top over a bowl.
3. Peel the skin off the poblano peppers and garlic. Remove the seeds from the peppers and discard. Thinly slice the poblano peppers along their length. Transfer the garlic, half of the sliced poblano peppers into a blender along with the almond creamer and nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth. Transfer to a medium-sized mixing bowl, add the corn and remaining poblano peppers. Add salt, pepper, and cumin. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Transfer to a serving bowl, garnish with fresh cilantro and ancho chili powder. Serve at room temperature or luke warm.
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Califia Farms. However, opinions expressed are solely my own.
People evolve and grow over time and so do blogs, it was definitely time for a much needed facelift! I hope thing are working as smoothly and efficiently as possible but if you come across any glitches, I would really appreciate if you could shoot me a quick email or drop a comment so I can fix it. I've also added some new links and stuff like a new Photography Portfolio so please do check that out. There will be some more updates in the future, so stay tuned!
Enough said about hosts and domains, let's get back to more important things, THE FOOD! I cooked up some sweet corn for you and this is my all time favorite way to eat it! Grilled on the cob and lathered with fresh lime juice along with a simple seasoning of sea salt and hot dried chilies, it's quick and easy and good. This is exactly the way you would get corn on the cob in Bombay during hot summers with one difference, it's called "bhuta". I picked up these bicolored corn cobs at the Mountain View Farmer's Market, which has quickly become one of my favorite places to shop at in the Bay Area. Plus, Mountain View is also gorgeous with beautiful gardens and homes, so it's always awesome to drive out there.
If you can't find Kashmiri chilies (a local Indian/International grocery store will carry them), use any other dried hot chili pepper you love to prepare the spice rub. Serve the cob hot!
grilled spicy sweet corn
yields: 4 corn cobs
2 generous tablespoons kosher sea salt
3 dried Kashmiri chilies or 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (you can adjust the amount of chili as per your taste preference)
4 sweet corn cobs, husk and silk removed, cleaned
2 limes, fresh
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (*optional)
1. Grind the salt and chilies in a spice grinder to get a fine powder. Transfer to a small bowl and keep aside until ready to use
2. Grill the corn cob directly on a hot grill. Cook on each side for about 2 minutes or until the kernels begin to take on a shiny golden color and a light char and then rotate until the cob is completely cooked. Remove the corn and keep aside on a platter.
2. Halve the limes with a sharp knife. Dip the exposed, cut end of the lime half into the chili-salt mix. Then using the lime as a brush, lightly paint the hot grilled corn cob with the spice mix. You don't need to overdo the brushing as a little will go a long way here. Garnish with cilantro, if desired. Serve hot and immediately.