How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Monday, August 22, 2016

Burgers with avocado and tomato salsa

This is an adaptation of a recipe from our Big Green Egg Cookbook (and web site) We made a few adjustments, mostly because we forgot some ingredients.

This was a collaboration meal. Pam made the salsa and James made and grilled the burgers. 

Our first challenge was finding an avocado. We looked for a long time in the produce section of our grocery store before we found the perhaps two dozen that were there. About half of those were hard as rocks, the other half felt like mush. We selected the least squishy among the mushy bin.

Once we had the avocado Pam chopped it, along with a fresh tomato from our local farmer's market, half an onion, and three slices of crisp bacon. To this mix she added a dollop of mayonnaise, juice from half a lemon, a bit of pepper and garlic salt. Pam also added some chopped fresh cilantro even though the recipe didn't call for it because, really, what is salsa without cilantro?! Once everything was thoroughly mixed, she covered it and placed in the refrigerator to chill.

James, meanwhile, fired up the Big Green Egg (from which we got the recipe), inserting the cast-iron grill recommended for such uses. He used ground turkey that was on hand, mixing it with some Trader Joe's garlic seasoning and a little olive oil that happened to be in the mixing bowl. Something to bind the burgers together would have been helpful. Despite getting the grill to reasonably high heat and spraying it with cooking spray, the burgers sagged in the gaps, and had to be extracted, more than flipped, when they were done. Some delicious charred scraps were snapped up by the chef; others fell into the coals.

The overall result, though, was delicious, and we agree with the #BigGreenEgg web site that this is a perfect burger recipe!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Apple of My Egg

Our Egg, actually....

This is the brief story of a nice desert we prepared on the Big Green Egg. We need once again to promise not to make this blog all about the Egg, while posting yet another item about our use of it.

This time, it was for dessert with friends. We decided to try the manufacturer's recipe for smoked apples, which begins with hollowing out each apple and filling it with a sweet mix of raisins, sugar, and spices. We could not figure out how an apple corer would be of any use -- I simply used a paring knife and a small spoon to turn each apple into a bit of a cup.
I decided to forego the recommended half marshmallow capping each of these, and simply put this entire pan in the Egg, once it had reached 325F. The recipe calls for 60-75 minutes at this temperature; I think I went closer to 90, with no ill effect.

The result looks like a mess, but with all that sweetness, nobody even noticed. Especially since I did follow the recommendation to serve these with vanilla ice cream.
All six of us tucked into our apples with abandon -- the mostly gooey sweetness contrasting with the occasional crusty bit that had gone beyond caramelized. Even our daughter who usually eschews raisins enjoyed every bite!
I have no idea how much the success of this dish was owing to the smoke flavor, nor how similar would have been the results from a conventional oven. But we had a nicely cooked dessert in a small kitchen in late summer, with all the heat being outside in the Egg. So we will do it this way again!

Smoking Ratatouille

This post is not exactly a nueva receta, but rather a small adjustment in a vieja receta. (That is, a modified old recipe, not a new one.)
This lid is much more photogenic than the food itself.
A friend who saw this online assumed I was smoking something else.
 Nope -- just the vegetables!
I have written about the importance of ratatouille in my 2011 Ratatatatouille post (as if the word itself were not difficult enough to spell), which links to the only recipe I have used for it -- Weapons-grade Ratatouille

I saw the first eggplant of summer at the farmers market last week, and even though tomatoes are still on the pricey side (the price will plummet at the end of the season), they are fresh, ripe, and local, so we bought a ton of them, and let them get even a bit riper as we waited for a good ratatouille-making day.

Which was yesterday. The recipe calls for hours of stove-top simmering plus a bit of oven roasting. This has always been a bit of a problem for ratatouille, since the best season for getting the vegetables is the worst season for heating up the kitchen.

This year we were lucky: Big Green Egg to the rescue! It allowed me to do the roasting outside, although the roasting pan wreaked a bit of havoc with the temperature control for which the Egg is most famous. I was caught off-guard, because I used the same baking sheet to roast these vegetables that I had used to smoke apples just a few days ago, and I had not had any problems with the apples.

The difference seems to have been with the temperature I was trying to maintain. For the apples, I was able to maintain the egg at 325 for over an hour, even though the pan was blocking most of the internal airflow. For the vegetables, I had gotten the egg to 500, but when I put the vegetables in, the temperature dropped to about 310 and would not go back up. I thought maybe the potatoes I was baking were part of the problem, but apparently they were not, and there actually was no problem. The vegetables seemed to be roasting just fine -- getting crisper than they should have at 310 -- and when I removed the pan, the temperature immediately went to 450. In other words, the temperature in the bottom half of the Egg had been just fine. Once I removed the pan, the Egg was back to normal, and worked very well for the local, coffee-rubbed steak I made for dinner!

As for the ratatouille, we finished simmering it, mixed the vegetables in, and put it in the fridge, so we are having it cold-only; the perfect summer lunch!