The Hampton Smoker

What's up wtih what's going down? Does a tree falling on the ocean with no one around make a sound? Barbecue, BBQ, Bar-b-que. It's all in how you sell it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Friday on My Mind

What you see in this picture is perfection--a cupcake from Jessie's Bake Shop in East Hampton, NY. We had their cupcakes at our wedding-- huge, moist cupcakes with the most delicious buttercream icing-- and real icing, not that cloying unbuttery garbage you get most of the time. Mmmmm. Plus we put real baby roses in our cupcakes. Listen to me now-- if you are in the hamptons and you crave a kickass cupcake, go to Jessie's. They don't have a website, but: Jessie's Bake Shop 297 Springs Fireplace Rd East Hampton.

The only icing I've had recently that comes close was from Mother Moose Bakery on Staten Island who also don't have a web site. Anyway, Here are a bunch of pics and notes on what we ate over memorial day, like this smoke-roasted london broil.

The roast was slathered w/ a paste of mustard and rub that included black pepper, garlic powder and a few other simple spices, like paprika. Nothing fancy.

The cooking began friday evening. As soon as we got off the train we walked to the Waldbaums and got a whole bunch of vegetables to grill (on a Tec gas grill that is pretty good) with some sausage. The next day we fired up the smoker and made some chipotles, 2 london broil, 6 chicken legs w/ a cherry glaze, more sausage, cold-smoked cheese (cheddar, velveeta (you heard me) and mozzarella- spelling?), 2 pieces of apple and brown sugar brined pork tenderloin that we served w/ a chipotle-lime crema (oh, yeah!!) and 2 racks of spareribs. We used the velveeta on cheeseburgers the next day w/ some carmelized onions. Whoo boy!

When the pork loins had smoked to a good color, they went into a pan w/ some broth, apple juice, diced apples, diced onion and a little star anise. I put some foil over it and stuck into the vertical section of the smoker to hold a while, along w/ the chicken. I threw the chicken on top of the firebox to grill a bit, too. What a beautiful weekend. And now the porn.....

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Nice and Easy Does It

Folks, I'm sure you're ready to fire up for your own background bbq fiesta but are looking for some ideas or a little guidance. I planned to give you a little how to this morning, but the lovely S'kat and the Food has a great guide to cooking up some tasty ribs.

For another how-to, here's a piece I wrote for the NY Press a few years back:
Intro to BBQ

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Monday, May 22, 2006

Right in Time

So, my birthday just passed on Saturday. I managed to keep it relatively quiet, but I did have a little "surprise" party at work on Friday with some awesome cupcakes from the Buttercup Bakeshop-- including red velvet, which I really like.

To celebrate, I had a day of much needed cheap eats walking in manhattan w/ the wife. It couldn't have come at a better time, which is what made me think of the Lucinda Williams song that gave the title for this post (which is in songs to que by). Awesome stuff, both the song and the day with the wife.

I'd had grand visions and I met the challenge, I guess. To some degree I think I did. I'll admit that I didn't pace myself as well as I could have, and pooped out sooner than I wanted, but within a span of about 2 hours on 23rd st in manhattan, I consumed: pork and chive and chocolate soup dumplings from Rickshaw Dumpling Bar (great chocolate dumlings!!!), a slice of brick oven pizza from Brick Oven Pizza 33 (lovely crust), 2 hot dogs w/ mustard and fries from Chelsea Papaya (nice snap), a slurpee from 7-11 (blend of flavors), and then came home and ate 2 snickers ice cream bars, the braised chuck steak and roasted garlic mashed potatoes below and much, much Read More to find out if I went to the emergency room...
I'm thinking like:

Fortunately, no, I didn't go the hospital, but I should have my head examined because I woke up Sunday and ate choped rib sandwiches for lunch, followed by a pint of cherry vanilla haagen dazs, and then had another snickers ice cream bar, and shortbread girl scout cookies, an order of hunan chicken and brown rice from Grand Sichuan that I didn't eat on Friday, and then brisket for dinner w/ the wife. Oh, and some steamed carrots. Hahahaha. Have to get my vegetables. Here are the rest of the pics, feel free to enlarge them by just clicking. La-di-da....

Where did I put it all?

chocolate soup dumplings!

Oh boy, brisket and chinese food!

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Save The Internet

Save the Internet: Click here
Don't let big business take away the freedom of the internet. Read More Here.

Don't let the internet become one more tool of economic disparity and cultural isolation. Save The Internet.

From the Save The Internet Website: "Right now AT&T and others want to take away your choices and control what you can do and watch online. They're on their best behavior while trying to convince Congress to hand over the Internet. But if their high-priced lobbyists get their way in Washington, the Internet as we know it will be gone. Network Neutrality has always curbed the control of the network owners, invited competition and encouraged innovators. It's what made it possible for entrepreneurs and creative thinkers to prosper online. None of the big ideas that made the Internet the innovative engine it is today came from the cable or telephone companies."

What is Net Neutrality?:
Network Neutrality — or "Net Neutrality" for short — is the guiding principle that preserves the free and open Internet.

Net Neutrality ensures that all users can access the content or run the applications and devices of their choice. With Net Neutrality, the network's only job is to move data — not choose which data to privilege with higher quality service.

Net Neutrality is the reason why the Internet has driven economic innovation, democratic participation, and free speech online. It's why the Internet has become an unrivaled environment for open communications, civic involvement and free speech.

Tags: Net Neutrality, Day Without Food Blogs

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Sweet Charity

I received an email this morning from Joe and Linda of the super-duper-awesome Hot Zone Online Blog regarding their fundraising efforts for people that suffer from autism. Touchingly, this has hit home w/ their family and has led them to do something noble and brave-- Hot Rock For Autism, a fundraising effort for the Autism Society of America. They have a donation page and on their blog they are hosting auctions for some rare items from rock stars-- including Michael Anthony of Van Halen. Cool!

Please take some time to read their message below, and then make a donation which can do something tangible to improve life for other people. Their love for their family is inspiring.

Hello again,

We'd like to draw your attention to a fundraiser we are beginning
today on our hot-n-spicy website, The Hot Zone Online, Blog: If you're not interested in the
auctions, which we're pretty sure most of you will not be, please
visit our First Giving site and consider donating to a good cause:

Some of you may or may not know that on February 22 of this year, Ari
was diagnosed with Autism. If you would like you can read more about
that whole process here:

We think that many people have an outdated idea of what autism is, but
it's important to note that autism is a spectrum disorder that affects
each person differently and to different degrees. Ari has autism and
we love him for his strengths and weaknesses. Like any other child,
we strive to maximize his strengths and minimize his weaknesses.
Sometimes we succeed. Sometimes we fail. We're human. No matter
what, though, we love him very much and hope to see him live a very
full life.

Again, please consider a contribution.

Linda & Joe

Joe & Linda Levinson
The Hot Zone Online Blog

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Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mama Tried

It's Mother's Day, and with my mom still ailing and fighting, I decided to share a trio of tunes about moms, or, by moms, too. Merle Haggard sings "Mama Tried", Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show give us "Sylvia's Mother," a Shel Silverstein classic, and lastly, The Mama's and the Papa's remind us all to "Make Your Own Kind of Music." These are all in Songs to 'Que By which are right here and if you click the Read More! below you can find out about these lovely tartlets I made my mom for dessert-- S'More tartlets...

I came up with these one night when Hiroshi and I were...conceptualizing. These couldn't be simpler, especially with the pre-made tart/pie shells. The pre-made graham crusts are quick and easy, but just don't match the flavor of fresh. They do make it quicker, though, as does the marshmallow fluff topping that got a quick flash under the broiler. The chocolate is a simple ganache recipe w/ some bittersweet, semi-sweet and unsweetened chocolate combined. I chose those three to make sure that this wasn't too cloyingly sweet.

Now, I like my marshmallows burnt all over, but not everybody digs that. Feel free give the top a lighter caramel color if you wish. If you have a torch, feel free to substitute it for the broiler where applicable.

The ganache was based on this formula:

8 oz. Chocolate
3/4 cup Heavy Cream
2 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter
2 Tbsp. Water (for the ganache mixture)

Small bowl of water (to moisten fingers)

Melt the chocolate slowly w/ the water. Once melted, add the butter gradually, stirring to combine well with each addition. Next, add the cream slowly as well, stirring to combine well with each addition. Refrigerate to set up.

After it is well stiffened, remove it from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature. Place 1-2 Tablespoons of ganache into the crust, dipping your fingers in the water to enable you to work the ganache without sticking. Add as much as you like.

Melt 3 Tablespoons of marsmallow fluff in the microwave over medium heat, stirring regularly. Place a dollop-- approx. 1 Tbsp. on each tart, and broil to your desired color. Rest and serve, or refrigerate. Allow the tarts to warm to room temperature when serving.

Ready to roll:

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Thursday, May 11, 2006

Mexican Radio

Last night called for a quick and easy meal after a kind of tough day-- tough week, actually. I wanted to have this ready so that when Amy got home from work we could just eat, watch Top Chef and crash. I miss Lee Anne.

We had most of the ingredients on hand, so this just called for prepping and slicing. We used a basic cooked salsa, and I made some yellow rice. I didn't feel like making tortillas, so I bought a bag. We also used romaine lettuce, refried beans, shredded cheese, sliced grape tomatoes, scallions and chopped orange bell peppers (5/13-- I forgot pickled jalapenos!!). While the rice cooked I cleaned up the living room, lit a few candles, and dinner was served. No muss, no fuss.

Do yourself a favor and check out Hank Thompson's "Standing On The Outside Looking In Now" in the songs to 'que by.

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Tuesday, May 09, 2006

$1,000 Wedding

Update-- It turns out that the bastards that made a copy of my debit card charged more than $1,000 worth of shit at Walmart-- much more than what the bank told me on the phone. Charges are still coming through and my account is in the negative, where it will remain until a) I get paid, or b) the bank gets me the dispute form and credits my account. Grrrrreat. Please email me for the address where you can send your donations....hahaha...uh, seriously....

Meanwhile, for those getting their grills out for the 'season' (it lasts all year for me), here's a recipe for a Cajun Seasoning from a slightly less well known Paul Kirk book. This can be used on many different meats for grilling, bbq'ing, roasting, etc...You could even cut back the salt and add this to a brine for a pork loin or birdie...or just rub it on a steak or chops.

Cajun Seasoning (Yield approx. 3/4 cup)

1/2 cup paprika
2 Tbsp. granulated garlic
1.5 Tbsp. cayenne
2 tsp. dry mustard
2 tsp ground oregano
2 tsp. seasoned salt
1 tsp. ground thyme
1 tsp. fine ground black pepper
1 tsp. toasted ground cumin
1 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. ground marjoram
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg

Combine ingredients in a sifter and sift into a bowl. Blend well and store in an airtight container in a cool dry place.

Source: Smoke It! by Paul Kirk, Courage Books, 2001

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Monday, May 08, 2006

Breaking The Law

I hope you all had a good weekend. My weekend turned shitty real quick when my bank called me to tell me that someone had made a counterfeit copy of my debit card and charged about $500 worth of crap at WalMart, leaving me broke. I hope your cheap imported goods burn your house down you assholes.

It had started with so much promise, too. Hiroshi and I had a late brunch comprised of a sausage fatty that I had smoked a few weeks back, and some rich, chessy eggs.I'm not really a big fan of most breakfast sausage, which is usually greasy, bland and unpleasantly rich, but this really changed my mind. People have been raving about the fattys in bbq circles, but I held off. The mild flavors of the sausage are balanced by the time in the smoke, which grounds the whole flavor profile and adds a strong backbone to replace some of the grease and fat which are rendered in the cooking. I could imagine using this smokey sausage in gravys, stuffed peppers, chili, lasagna or other pastas, lots of places where pork and a little smoke couldn't, almost anything, really.

Check out the new song to 'que by-- The Tom Robinson Band doing "2-4-6-8 Motorway," another lost pop gem.

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Friday, May 05, 2006

If I Had A Boat

Morning, Kiddos. In case you hadn't noticed, Most of the songs that I've been sharing have been on a theme of travel-- we had trains (Wabash Cannonball), Cars (Beach Boys 409 and Dwight Yoakam's Guitars, Cadillacs) and now we have boats-- ta da! So, I updated the Music To 'Que By song w/ Lyle Lovett's If I Had A Boat. Look on the left side of the page under Smoke Signals.

I hope you all have a great weekend. I miss my Wubby, but maybe next weekend we'll burn some wood together. Aint she pretty?

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Thursday, May 04, 2006


In very sad news, Chris Cappell of the Dizzy Pig BBQ Company and his family lost their house in a fire. Apparently, embers from his bbq cooker made their way to the house and ignited the fire. Chris and his wife were running most of their company from their home and, fortunately, will be able to keep going. These are some of the best folks around the bbq world and are always generous in helping out others. If you've been looking for some new spices to give your grilled and bbq'd foods a new spin, I wholeheartedly encourage you to check out their products. I've been using their Dizzy Dust on just about everything but my cereal...hmmmmmm. You'll know that your money is going to a good cause as well. Think it over. Here's their link The Dizzy Pig BBQ Co.

There's a super-cool article over on the Virtual Weber Bullet site about a visit to the Kingsford Charcoal Factory. There's a good overview of the new Kingsford charcoal and how it burns. Very interesting, thorough stuff.

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Monday, May 01, 2006

Here Comes the Sun

Back from a whirwind trip to cook on Wubby. Left Queens at 9pm and was firing up the pit by midnight. Had the 3 brisket flats and a pork picnic on the grates by 1am and hunkered down for a long, long night. I also had 16 chicken thighs and 3 racks of babyback ribs to cook-- along w/ three sauces, cole slaw, macaroni and cheese, cornbread (thanks, WhiteTrash!!), and a compound honey butter to cook for an important tasting on Saturday-- there wasn't much time to waste. I wanted the butts and brisket in a cooler to rest with at least 2 hours to spare-- which meant having them off the pit no later than noon, which was when I wanted my chickens to go in the smoke. The ribs were put on at 8am.

This was one of the most transcendant cooking experiences of my life. There was so much work to do, so little margin of error and yet, once the temperature on the pit settled in at 235 and I was able to just sit and wait a little, the tired feelings bloomed in each joint of my body and the world seemed to swirl in my head as I was splitting down logs of hickory at 3am.

I heard all kinds of animals and things rustling the leaves and clicking down the street, calling to each other in the distance. The wood hissed and crackled occasionally. A train whistle cut across the water and I shivered. Next thing I new, the treetops started glowing and the sun made its tranquil march across the sky.

Hiroshi crashed out at about 5 and told me to give him a half hour of rest. I let him sleep. It was great to be out there to meet the morning with a sweet smell of apple and cherry wood surrounding the yard and sinking into my clothes, my hands and face. This is nirvana, tranquility, the place where all troubles are melted like so much renderd collagen. Bliss.

The meeting went well, by the way, so thanks for all your kind thoughts and words. I have some decisions to make now, but opportunities are out there. Maybe dreams can come true-- it could happen to you.

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