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.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Train in Vain: Subway sightings and weekend bbq

My mom was readmitted to the hospital yesterday with potential fluid around her heart and general discomfort related to various parts of her cancer treatment and the ports they put in to help with the fluid drainage. We hope she's out by the weekend, but who knows.

Last weekend was spent clearing more stuff out from their house in Long Island in preparation for rental or sale to offset the medical expenses. Unless you have experienced it, it is hard to believe/explain the rate at which treatment expenses rack up, not to mention the fights with insurance companies. Those rat fucks. No offense. Anywho....

Here are some food shots from last weekend. We ate WELL, my friends. We were aware that there may not be many more days of cooking and eating at the house. So many memories there. The wife and I were married right across the street.

Wood-Fired Pizza with home-smoked parsley and cheese sausage, mixed peppers and double smoked bacon:

Double Smoked Bacon:

Terriyaki Glazed Pork Tenderloin:

Terriyaki Turkey Cutlets:

Bacon, Ham, Turkey, Pork Tenderloin and Wood:

Part of Brunch:

More Brunch:

Pizza Preparation:

Moist, Juicy Brisket:

Brisket and Country Style Ribs:

Flame-Broiled Steak and Salad:

Anywho...I did meet Sara Moulton on the #6 train going downtown a few days ago. We talked about cooking and I was ashamed of my Food and Wine mag (she works for Gourmet). Little Owl is one of her favorite NYC spots to eat and she had just come back from a trip to Bakersfield, CA where she'd enjoyed the Basque cuisine available there. Her new PBS show is in the hopper and hopefully will hit the air sometime around January or April of '08. She's a Co-Producer/Co-Owner of the show and should be able to maintain creative control and put her stamp on the show, which she was unable to do at Food TV. We both agreed that the NY dining scene is more about the scene than the dining and that 'highbrow' (but not great) dining is simply out of reach of most people and continues to move farther away (thanks to multi-million dollar designs and pr budgets). I could have talked to her about food forever. What a nice, approachable woman. I'd love to do an interview with her....I resolve to try.

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

The End: Burnt ends, that is.....

Folks...been super-duper busy the past week or so. Sorry for the lack of updates since the chocolate.

Last weekend was a spring cleaning weekend and alot of junk got thrown away. While we were doing that, I was cooking up some bbq. Didn't get too many pics, but this one of the burnt ends I made is my favorite: Burnt ends are made by taking the fattier 'point' section of the brisket away from the flat after you have cooked them to near completion on the pit. The point is then cubed, dunked in sauce and the chunks go back on the pit to 'set up.'

We also cooked some chicken and ribs and smoked a turkey breast. I have some cell phone pics of those goodies to post soon. I also am bursting at the seams to tell you about my run in with Sara Moulton who is one of my favorite cookers of food and tv hosts. I can tell you without hesitation that she is every bit as charming, humble and sweet in reality as she seems on tv. More to come....

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Thursday, April 12, 2007

Chocolate: Nestle Chocolatier

I love chocolate. It almost seems to be unnecessary to say it. Who doesn't love chocolate? Well, I know a few people, but they're just plain weird.

From rich, creamy ganache truffles, to smokey Mexican hot chocolate spiked with cinnamon, chocolate appeals to millions of people around the world through myriad forms and uses, both savory and sweet. It is a truly wonderful and flexible ingredient.

That's why I was so touched and excited when I was contacted and asked if I would like to review Nestle's new Chocolatier line of premium baking chocolate. I thought, 'Wow, can this really be happening?' Yup. My ship had come in. I've been awfully slow in getting this written and posted, and for that I apologize, but I've been waiting for a chance to really indulge with this stuff and I finally found both the time, and the recipe this past weekend.

Molten Chocolate Cakes. One of my most prized and decadent dessert specialties. They are surprisingly quick and easy to make and need little more than flour, eggs, butter, chocolate, and sugar, but they deliver on a sinfully unctuous chocolate treat that will satisfy. I have a friend that swears by it for, uhm, 'special occasions.' Anywho, there are lots of recipes and techniques out there for making things like this if you look for them. They are not unlike a fallen Souffle'.

Anyway, on to the chocolate. I used the dark chocolate, 53% cacao bar. There are no artificial ingredients or 'fillers' like Vanillin in the bar, pretty much chocolate and sugar.

Recently, boutique chocolates have boosted their cacao quantities for both health reasons, and because people have become more aware of 'high end' chocolate makers, like Valrhona. To compete, larger manufacturers have upped their antes-- Hershey's with their Cacao Reserve (and the purchase of Scharffen Berger) and Nestle with their new product.

The higher cacao products usually have a variety of notes-- some like tobacco, or even wine. The higher the cacao, the less sugar, usually, which results in the more bitter and complex flavors. The 53% Chocolatier bar is a much milder, more round flavored chocolate with the classic flavor of the brownies or chocolate cakes you remember from your childhood. This is not a bad thing. It unfolds delicately on your palate. While it may lack some of the smokier, coffee-like complexities of some other super-premium chocolates, it makes up for it with a rich, well defined profound flavor all it's own, and excellent melting properties. This may not be a well-aged Cabernet, but it aint no Thunderbird, either.

Let's look at the results:

Oh, yeah! I ate 2.5 of these and I was ecstatic doing it. I'm planning on a few other 'experiments', but folks this is some tasty, fine chocolate. Thoroughly enjoyable, smooth, rich, pleasant flavors like raisins and caramel come out as it melts. Yum.

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Stuck Inside of Mobile with those Memphis Blues Again

Bronchitis. Sucks.

First started feeling junky with a scratch in my throat, then felt like my limbs were full of heavy sand. Exhaustion soon set in.

So I made Chicken Soup.

Oh, did it make me feel better. I like to eat it while it's scaldingly hot, and I just shovel it up, bowl after bowl, until I'm sweating and my nose is running. Not a pretty picture, is it?

Stay tuned for my review of the brand new(ish) Nestle Chocolatier chocolate.

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Friday, April 06, 2007

Double-Double Your Refreshment: A Friday twofer

The rare double post today makes this a good friday, indeed.

Now that my friends at Grub Street have let the cat out of the bag, I can let you know that my friend, Andrew Fischel, of RUB BBQ is in the works to open a bigger, shinier more Vegas version of his RUB restaurant in.....uh....Vegas.

The restaurant is slated to open this summer at The Rio and will be a bigger, more open and colorful version of the restaurant, complete with rotisserie show pits that will most likely carry some piggies on their back. This sounds like the first of many collaborations between Harrah's and Fischel, and I wish them the best with them all.

No word on a new pitmaster (or comment from Paul Kirk who is the bbq mastermind behind the scenes), but I hope Scott stays in NY with us. He's a great cook and a super-cool gentleman.

Also, here's a look at the flashy new sign that the NY outpost has just erected....

Photo: Everett Bogue via Grub Street

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The Joker: Food, glorious food

A few pictures of recent eats....

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Grillin on the Bay: March 31, 2007

This past Saturday was the 2nd Annual Grillin' on the Bay bbq and grilling contest in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn.

I want to thank all of the teams, the judges, the table captains and the spectators that came out to see us. Without you all, there would be no event.

I would also like to to thank our sponsors, RUB BBQ, Porkslap Ale, and the people that donated items for the goodie bags that we gave the cooks-- Plowboys bbq, Hawgeyes bbq, Dizzy Pig, Spicewine Ironworks, Willie B's, Williams' Grillin' Sauces, Waterfront Ale House, and Char-Broil who donated the gas grill that went to the Grand Champtions, The Anchormen. The results are posted on my friend and co-organizer, Robert's, WhiteTrashBBQ.

I would also like to personally thank Steve Farrin and Dave & Nancy Peterson from the New England Barbecue Society for doing a phenomenal job of running the contest and the judging. The entire group has been supportive and enthusiastic. You folks from New England rock! Thanks!

Grillin' on the Bay Slideshow: Click Here!

Also, my man Hiroshi as usual has some kick ass cell phone pics from the contest on his blog, On The D/L

A more thoughtful post will come soon when I'm fully recovered. In the meantime, There are plenty more pictures on the Grillin' on the Bay website--

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