29 January 2009

Chicken Wing Shortage Predicted for Super Bowl Weekend? No Problem Make Great Snacks and Appetizers on the Grill Instead

Tropic-Al's: Almost Surfside Dining

Chicken Wing Shortage Predicted for Super Bowl Weekend? No Problem Make Great Snacks and Appetizers on the Grill Instead

Just as I sat down to write this article an news alert came across my computer. It seems there is a shortage of chicken wings this winter. As well the price will higher by as much as thirty cents per wing. That’s an extra $3.60 a dozen or a big down payment on the football pool at the office. Never fearTropic-Al is here! They have moved the Super Bowl to warmer climates to avoid the cold. True football lovers remember the ice bowl at Lambeua field and never put away their grills when the snow flies.
Super Bowl party food should be tasty, quick and easy. This "holiday" is not about food. Leave that to Thanksgiving where the food takes center stage. Super Bowl food should be the cheerleader while the focus is on the game. Kind of like the way wine should complement food. Football is an outdoor sport and Super Bowl food in my opinion is better when cooked outside. Following my simple recipes for grilled Super Bowl fare is just like a tailgate party in yard back yard.
It seems women realized years ago that they would never take their man away from the big game. Football was originally a guy thing and guys, sports and beer always go together. Fortunately beer lends itself as an ingredient to some wonderful appetizers and snack foods.
Pre-game Bean Bites:
First off oil some tortillas with your favorite oil such as olive, canola, vegetable etc. Oil the grill grates as well. Over medium hot flame (medium hot is when the heat makes you pull your hand away at the count of two or three) grill both sides of the tortilla until grill marks appear. Do this on each side. They should still be flexible with a smokey flavor but not crunchy like chips. (That comes later)
Next combine the following ingredients: 1 cup refried beans, 1/4 cup dark beer, two to three table spoons finely chopped fresh chile peppers, three tablespoons fresh cilantro or one teaspoon dried, and one half teaspoon cumin.
Strain 1 cup of your favorite jarred salsa to remove all the liquid junk that takes away from the taste of the salsa or use the salsa from the next recipe.
If using 10 inch tortillas cut them into small circles, you can get up to ten 2 inch circles with a cookie cutter but this is your meal so the size is up to you. Spread the refried bean mixture evenly over each round, top each round with the drained salsa and top with shredded any cheese of your liking.
Now for best flavor place the rounds back on the grill on a well oiled grill pan. This time use indirect heat to slowly heat up the ingredients not grill them. To do this simply turn off the middle burner and turn on the burners either side of the food.
When the cheese is fully melted and the tortillas turn golden brown the delectable pre-game snack is ready.
Three ten inch tortillas will kick off thirty bites.
Dips were the mainstay of the party crowd for decades. But now salsa is king. But like BBQ sauce the best salsa is home made not from a jar! To make salsa even more authentic with our own personal touch smoking or roasting several of the ingredients on the grill makes for an extra point every time. Salsas are not only for use with chips or as dips. They make great toppings for fish burgers and other standard fare.
First Down Roasted Tomato Salsa:
Roast eight tomatoes, three small shallots and one clove of garlic on the grill or in the oven if you can’t stand the cold. The tomatoes should be blackened on all sides but not looking like cinder ash. Many folks remove the skins after roasting but to me this uses up all my time outs in the first quarter. Dice the tomatoes, remove the seeds if you like and let cool. The hardest part is roasting the tomatoes. The rest of the ingredients just get mixed together. Then add the tomatoes and serve.
Mix together the garlic, shallots, three teaspoons of chopped or minced olives of your choice, two tablespoons capers, ½ teaspoon of fresh rosemary with leaves stripped from the stem throwing away the stem. Then add a pinch of salt. I use sea salt exclusively as table salt is bitter and boring.
Next step is to finish by adding a pinch of cayenne or chili powder along with some lemon zest and orange or pineapple juice (1-2 tablespoons). Finish it off with a drizzle of olive oil. Now just add the roasted tomatoes and serve along side chips or your main dish.
Home Made Penalty Flags
It is so easy to make grilled fare for the Super Bowl why ruin your efforts with chips out of a bag?
The choice of what to use for home made penalty flags is endless. Flour tortillas come in a wide range of sizes and flavors. Pita pockets work well here too adding a little extra dimension of flavor and texture. The hardest thing is choosing the "fabric" to make your flags from. Don’t fret though there is no illegal procedure if you follow the easy instructions for making great chips on the grill.
I use a pizza cutter to cut tortillas into chips shaped like a penalty flag or small triangle. Before cutting them however brush them lightly with your favorite oil. I am getting tired of using olive oil and balsamic vinegar for everything so feel free to use your favorite oil. The idea is to brush them lightly so they crisp on the grill and not get soggy from too much oil. Other oils I have used include canola, sesame, and garlic.
If using pita breads split the breads in two leaving the top and bottom sections. Oil the same as the tortillas and cut with a pizza slicer or sharp knife into shapes of your choice.
On a well oiled grill pan place the cut up pieces directly over a medium hot fire. Turn once or twice over a three to five minute period. When the pieces start to brown on both sides they are almost ready to remove. If the turn black they will taste burnt and bitter. Light brown and crunchy is where we want them.
Place your home made penalty flags on a tray and serve next to salsa and dips.
Cheese quesidillas are incredibly easy to make on the grill as well using tortillas as a bottom and top. Just remember to oil both top and bottom tortillas before placing on the grill. Place your favorite cheese or cheese blend on the bottom, maybe add some chopped chives, garlic or tomato. Place the top on and set over medium hot direct heat. With a LARGE spatula carefully flip the tortilla over when golden brown.
When the tortilla is golden brown on both sides and the cheese melted remove from the grill. Slice into wedges if desired and serve hot.
Any Super Bowl party is improved when the food is great and even better when it is grilled with fresh ingredients. With any luck the game will go into overtime to give your guests more time to enjoy your grilled fare even longer.

Tropic-Al's: A Banana Republic in The Catskills

25 January 2009

Time to Teach "CUE"

Tropic-Al's: Almost Surf side Dining

In late February, my favorite seminar, BBQ comes up. Join me in Newburgh as I race through a one hour messy cooking demonstration making rubs, oils and BBQ sauce. It is a fast moving class that can only evoke thoughts of family cookouts in the deep south at my grandparents where we stayed up all night watching a pig slow cooking over a pit of burning embers. No one got any sleep but the results the next day were to die for. Well the pig already had done that for us so all we had to do was enjoy the tasty results.

For more information on our outrageous cooking and gardening classes visit http://www.adamsfarms.com look for the events/seminar link then click on your favorite Adams location for a complete list of upcoming seminars and lectures including Tropic-Al's!

Tropic-Al's: A Banana Republic in The Catskills

05 January 2009

It's Not Grilled But Then Again The Outdoor Kitchen is Froze Up!

Tropic-Al's: Almost Surfside Dining

Happy New Year BBQ nuts! Right now it is 12* outside and the deck is frozen which means no BBQing today. But I have to make something for the church soup and sandwich social next Sunday.

Just right for football playoff time and a winter lunch are chowders. I don't think it matters what kind of chowder. Just the sound chowder conjurs up thoughts of warm soup sipped slowly enjoyed with friends over crusty bread and good talk.

Since we do not like to go to great lengths on Sunday, other than to and from church then the couch for football, this chowder will be an easy one.

So here we go with : Tropic-Al's Corn Chowder with Chiles and Spicy Sausage

For four servings: 1/4 pound spicy sausage with patty form or links. Break the links up and remove the casing. Ground is better since it must look like ground hamburger to work well.

11 oz can of corn (south of the border style) Usually mixed with some red peppers hot or not red will make the corn look south of the border-ish.

3 cups of good chicken broth. I find most broths are to laden with salt so choose a low sodium one if you desire.

Now for the easy part: place the sausage in a skillet and cook to break up the chunks and stir around until there is no pink left at all in the meat. Five minutes should be plenty for four servings.

Then the hard part is adding the corn and broth! Simmer this undeniably difficult recipe for 5-10 minutes to warm through. Serve warm.

Now here is where I would be tempted to add some garlic, fresh parsley, thyme and oregano to the simmer. Go ahead there is no coals waiting to ash over so load up the pot with good stuff nice sliced tomatoes.

On the side serve up crusty bread or nacho chips or tortillas.

Tropic-Al's: A Banana Republic in The Catskills