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Ginger Fried Rice

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Let the holiday gorge of Prime Rib, sugar cookies, and green bean casseroles come to end! I need a holiday food detox, STAT. I love the holidays but once a year is definitely enough and nothing has “end of the holiday’s” written all over it like fried rice. I’ll make this quick because I know most of you are probably still running around preparing for your New Years Eve’s festivities tonight.

This is a simple dish but not so simple that it makes you feel like you’re coming down too fast from all that decadent holiday food. Plus, be honest with me, are you one of those people that have so many leftover ingredients that you don’t know what to do with them? Don’t lie to me. I’ve seen some of your refrigerators and the game of Tetris you’ve been playing just trying to get the orange juice to fit back on the shelf. This is the answer. Fried rice is a versatile dish that is delicious no matter what you put in it.  I put bacon in this one, but if you’ve got some leftover scraps of chicken (or even prime rib if you can still stomach looking at it) dice it up and throw it in. If you’ve got a few handful of different vegetables that you don’t know what to do with – chop them up and throw those in too.  All of your friends will be wondering how you still have the energy to throw together such a fabulous dish when really all you’ll be doing is getting rid of all the extras you’ve been worrying about spoiling. No need to thank me. I’m here to help.

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I’ll be honest, I’ve only made fried rice a handful of times in my life but every time I do, I’m very happy. I did have to rewrite this recipe a little bit after making it this last time because I fell into what I like to call “The ginger trap”, that is to say, I always forget that a little ginger goes a long way. Really, it does. I love ginger and no matter how many times I try and remind myself to remember not to overdo it, somehow I still have a way of reasoning with myself that maybe just a touch more would be even better. That’s when it turns into ginger overkill. Maybe i’ll add “remember to take it easy with the fresh ginger” to my ever-growing and long list of new year’s resolutions that i’ve already penned for myself. Is it wrong to have more then one resolution? I’ve officially given up on my normal resolution of “stop biting my nails” seeing as I just can’t seem to make it happen, but I do have some other resolutions, both food related and non-food related that i’m looking forward to making a conscious effort to accomplishing. I hope everyone else is looking forward to the new year and everything that it has to offer. Hopefully together we can all make it even better then the last for not only ourselves but for the others around us as well.

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Ginger Fried Rice

The secret to good fried rice is to use day old rice. I’m serious. So if you had a stir fry for dinner last night and have a bit of rice left over – this is a good way to recycle it. Rice preference is up to you – there are tons of different rices that you can experiment with to find your favorite. The other secret is to cook your eggs, and then remove them from the wok, adding them back later to keep them nice and fluffy throughout the dish.  Remember. Day old rice and remove your eggs. Got that? Good, let’s cook.

Ingredients:

  • 2 plus 1 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 5 eggs, beaten, seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 5 thick-cut slices of bacon cut into lardons
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon of minced fresh ginger
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons of dry sherry
  • 5 1/2 cups of white rice, chilled
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
  • 5 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal.

Directions

1. In a large wok, heat 2 tablespoons of peanut oil until very hot. Cook the eggs until just one and then remove them to a paper towel lined plate, about 1 minute.

2. Add the bacon and cook until crispy, stirring occasionally, and remove from wok to the same plate as the eggs. Pour off the excess grease and wipe out the wok.

3. Heat the remaining tablespoon of peanut oil. Add the garlic and ginger and cook for about 45 seconds. Add the onion and cook until golden. Pour in the sherry and cook for about 3 minutes to burn off the excess alcohol and until the sherry is reduced by half. Add the rice and stir. Add the oyster sauce, soy sauce, and sesame oil. Stir. Add the half of the scallions, bacon, and eggs, and stir. Cook until rice is hot throughout then season with salt. Sprinkle with remaining scallions and serve.

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French Onion Soup

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I’ve been MIA in the blog world for a little bit and i’m aware. I’ve come down with a little touch of pneumonia recently and with all the added holiday work and stress, it took me about a week and a half to actually realize I was sick. I’ve been blaming my chest pains on employees who don’t listen so lets just keep this little secret to ourselves. They seem to work harder when they think i’m actually capable of a heart attack at 24.  It’s not as bad as it sounds, though. The doc gave me a good ol’ course of antibiotics and i’ll be back to 100% in no time. Plus, on the bright side, it’s given me another excuse to discuss one of my favorite topics; Soup! French Onion to be exact.

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French onion soup is easy to make. Seriously, you should try it. It’s good. You know how you know it’s good? I went out of my way to buy new soup bowls specifically for this recipe. I don’t buy new cookware for just any recipe. Ask around.  I’m not saying i’ll bake you your birthday cake in a sheet because the cake pans are missing, but sometimes soup in a mug is suffice. Plus, I got them in three different colors. Things are getting fancy in my kitchen. I’ve also  finally mastered my brat of a stove. It’s old. I’m not sure how old, but it’s up there. The first time I attempted caramelized onions, I put them on the stove, left to check my email, only to come back to a burnt mess, realizing later that my back burner doesn’t work properly and has no heat regulation. It serves one purpose: cooking on high. It’s fantastic for boiling water.  The front right burner is a little finicky as well. Only the left half of  it works. It makes for a great simmer. The fact that I can finally navigate this stove without burning or under-cooking food has felt like an accomplishment and one of those useless skills that only I seem to appreciate but there’s nothing really to be done about it.  We rent and I’m not about to buy a new stove myself.

In the mean time, if anyone DOES want  to buy me a new stove for Christmas, I’ll happily repay you in bowls of soup.

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French Onion Soup

Caramelizing onions is easy. You can throw some onions on the stove and go check you’re email, just don’t get impatient. There’s a special place in heaven for slowly cooked caramelized onions.  French onion is even better if it sits overnight so don’t feel that you have to serve it immediately. You can get a lot of longevity out of one pot. Just make sure that you aren’t melting cheese over cold soup. Heat your soup first before constructing your french onion. That way you or your guests won’t be digging into some deliciously melty cheese only to find cold soup on the bottom. This is a really simple and delicious soup to make. Besides the cheeses, I find that I usually have all of these ingredients in my kitchen making it inexpensive dish to make as well.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of olive oil plus 3 tablespoons
  • 3 tablespoons of butter
  • 5 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 1.5 pounds of sliced onions
  • 2 fresh thyme sprigs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup of dry sherry
  • 2 quarts beef broth
  • 1 baguette, sliced (1/2 inch)
  • 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan
  • 1/4 pound of provolone cheese, thickly sliced
  • 1/4 pound of Swiss cheese, thickly sliced

Directions:

For baguette slices: 

Heat oven to 375 F

Heat a small pot over medium heat and add the 1/2 cup of oil and smashed garlic cloves. Simmer for about 40 minutes. Remove from heat and add three tablespoons of butter. Brush baguette slices on both sides with oil mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake for about 5-7 minutes or until golden. Set aside.

For soup: 

Heat a large pot over medium heat and add oil. Add the onions, thyme, salt, and pepper, toss to coat, and cook until the onions are caramelized, about 25 minutes.  If the onions are cooking too fast you can turn the heat down or add a touch more oil. When onions are sufficiently caramelized add the sherry, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until wine has evaporated and the onions are dry. Remove the the thyme springs. Add beef broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer for at least 1/2 an hour. Season to taste.

For Serving:

In a wide soup bowl (or a mug if you’re in a pinch), place a couple of the sliced baguettes, poor the soup over them, top with a slice of provolone, a slice of swiss, and sprinkle with parm cheese. The parm will give the cheeses a nice crust. Place under broiler until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Brussels Sprouts with Red Cabbage and Carrots

Brussels Sprouts with Red Cabbage and Carrots

Brussel Sprouts with Red cabbage and Carrots

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There’s 2 things you should know before I tell you this story. 1.) At first, you’re probably going to think it’s not the best representation as to why you should cook with brussel sprouts, but bare with me,  and 2.) If 8 year old me was a doctor, I’d be terrible at diagnosing.

So, here we go;

When I was in elementary school, I caught a really nasty flu.  I’m talking the kind that leaves you on the couch for a couple of days, with no school, and nothing to entertain you but The Price is Right and re-runs of Judge Judy. While that actually doesn’t sound THAT bad, trust me, it was. (I’ll spare you the details). To make a long story short, right before I had fallen ill, we had Brussels sprouts for dinner, and like any logical 8 year old, I blamed the vegetable for what ailed me. I was having none of it when everyone was trying to explain it to me that it was a virus that sweeping around my second grade classroom. That was preposterous.

Why, then, were all my classmates sick too? Let 8 year old me tell you why.

“Because their Mothers had obviously made them eat Brussels Sprouts too, duhhh.”

How stubbornly witty.

Luckily, I was resilient enough to recover from the Great Brussels Sprouts plague of ’95, but the damage was done, and some sixteen years later, I’m consumed with regret.

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Have you ever accused someone of something that wasn’t true? It’s a terrible feeling. I feel as if I’ve aided in convicting someone who had nothing to do with the crime.

Reparations must be made and so i’m here today to issue a public statement, that I, Karla, was wrong. Yes, I said it, I was wrong. (Don’t tell Jamie. I’ve built a solid foundation for our relationship on never admitting to being wrong.).

My official public service statement is as follows;

My sincerest apologies to the brussels sprouts family. They are extremely delicious and will in no way, or capacity, give you the flu.

Make this recipe.

Brussels Sprouts with Red Cabbage and Carrots

Brussels Sprouts are seriously one of my favorite vegetables (yes, i’ve had a complete change of heart). Not only are they really yummy but they’re really good for you too. A lot of the problem is that there are a lot of people who don’t know how to properly cook them. Overcooking them will give them a terribly tinny flavor and a mushy brussel sprout is just not worth the time. More often than not, I blanch my sprouts first, and then finish them in the pan. If you’re a cabbage lover (or you’re Polish, like me) you’ll love this simple recipe too.

Ingredients

2 cups of Brussel Sprouts halved or quartered, outer leaves removed

2 tablespoons of butter

3 medium sized carrots, julienned

1 cup of shredded red cabbage

half a cup of sliced onion

3 cloves of garlic minced

Directions:

Bring a small pot of salted water to  a boil. Blanch your brussels sprouts in the water for about a minute. Remove the sprouts and shock in a small ice bath or run them under cold water, set aside.

In a medium saute pan, sweat your onions and garlic over medium heat. Add the Sprouts and Carrots and cook for about 3-4 minutes.

Add the red cabbage and continue cooking for about 2 more minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Dulce De Leche

It’s gotta be cold outside or something because all I’ve wanted lately is soup, sweets, and hot beverages.

I’ve been on a steady diet of soups, some recipes of which I’ll share with you soon, and my microwave has made so many cups of tea that it’s begging me to go into the attic to find my tea kettle.

I’ve been doing a fair amount of baking as well, but the problem with baking in this house is that i’m the only one that seems to have an affinity for sweets. I know, you don’t really see where the problem is, but bare with me, I seem to have grown a small nutritive conscience with the nutrition courses I’ve been taking.  There’s only so much cookies, cakes, and candies one can eat by themselves.

Thus, baking in my house goes something like this:

“This recipe looks delicious”

*Makes recipe and immediately stuffs myself with sugary goodness*

“Hmm….this recipe made more then I thought it would”

*Resolves to revise the recipe for smaller quantities*

*Forgets about revisions and eats more sweets*

“I don’t think I can eat anymore…there’s still a lot left”

*Plans to bring the rest to work to share with co-workers*

The next day is the part where I’m running around from task to task and run out the door completely forgetting the Tupperware full of baked goods I packed up and put in the fridge condemning said baked goods to be forgotten for good, only to be found on my weekly refrigerator cleaning. And by weekly I mean bi-weekly. And by bi-weekly I mean when I decide to make tacos, realize the sour creams gone bad, and start looking around for whatever else I should probably throw away along with it.

The point is, I like recipes like this that last for awhile, jar well, and also have multiple applications. Dulce De Leche is simple to make and simple to use. I’ll put it on ice cream, top brownies with it, swirl it in my hot chocolate, mix it with fluff and make cookie sandwiches – the possibilities are really endless.

Dulce De Leche

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of condensed milk.

Instructions:

Remove the label from the can. Using either a hammer and nail or a can opener, puncture to small holes in the top of the can. This allows and pressure building in the can to escape. I haven’t had a can explode on me yet and I don’t plan on having one do it anytime soon. Neither should you.

With the holes facing up, put the can in a sauce pan. Fill with water leaving about a quarter of an inch of uncovered can. You’ll want to leave room so that water doesn’t get into the milk through the holes.

Simmer the can on medium heat for approximately three hours. The process is simple – you’re extracting the water from the milk leaving the fat and sugar behind to caramelize (because who really needs water anyways)…. If you want to have a harder Dulce de Leche simmer for closer to four hours or more.

Remove the can from the water. Cool. Open can. Enjoy.

Chocolate Walnut Fudge

 

The tsunami sized media wave has been unavoidable. I’ll cut right to the chase. Hostess is powering down for good.

And with it, ironically, the only food said to have an infinite shelf-life, the Twinkie, is perishing approximately two weeks before the projected end of the world. Perhaps this is what the Mayans were actually referring to.

Needless to say, the acute malignant nostalgia that comes with the death of such an eternal confectionery god has many a philosophical plebeian examining ones own expiration date.

If the immortal Twinkie is to perish, are we then next?

Fortunately, with the fall of an empire comes the promise of a resurrection via auction block. I’m sure we’ll be seeing the same nutrient deficient snack food back on the supermarket shelf in no time albeit a slightly altered logo.

Have no fear.

But if you do, you can always buy a box of the good stuff on Ebay for about 30 bucks.

I thought about tackling a homemade Twinkie recipe but then realized I never really cared for it in the first place. I made fudge instead. Enjoy.

Fudge is easier to make then you think and will last for a good amount of time. It doesn’t have the promised shelf life of a twinkie, but it’s good for about two weeks in your refrigerator.

Sugar and evaporated milk.

Pay attention to it and stir constantly. And remember, “stir constantly” means “stir constantly” and not “turn on last nights episode of The Walking Dead and get so enthralled in it that you forget something is on your stove until it boils over and creates a horribly sticky mess”. Keep stirring. Constantly.

……

(But seriously, that new chick with the sword is totally bad ass, right?)

Chocolate Walnut Fudge

  • 1 1/2 cups of walnuts, chopped, toasted
  • 16 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli)
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons espresso powder
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 12-ounce can evaporated milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Prepare a 9 X 13 pan with foil.

Preheat your oven to 350 and toast the walnuts for approximately 6 minutes. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine both chocolates, the butter, and espresso powder. Set aside.

In a separate medium sized sauce pan, combine the sugar and evaporated milk. Do not choose a pan too small. You will be boiling the mixture and it will expand. Heat the sugar and milk over medium heat until a thermometer reads 234 degrees. Stir constantly. If you don’t have a thermometer handy, I’d say roughly thirty seconds after the mixture begins to boil will do the trick. Remove from heat and poor over the chocolate mixture. Whisk until smooth. Add the walnuts and vanilla, pour into the prepared pan, and chill for at least three hours.

Remove and cut into desired size squares.

Yummly Yummly Apple Cobbler

 

I’ve been experimenting a lot lately with cobbler. And by experimenting I mean making mass quantities of this recipe and trying to figure out how I can consume it all without gaining weight. I haven’t quite figure it out yet, but what I have figured out it is that I have an immense weakness for this warm, buttery, melt in your mouth dessert. Superman has Kryptonite…I have cobbler.

Want the recipe? I contributed this recipe as a guest post to Yummly, so head over here to get it! I promise you’ll love it.

Roasted Garlic and Tomato Soup

If I had it my way, People would pay me for my services in big bowls of soup.  Until that happens – thank god it’s getting colder out. I officially have a reason to eat soup without the judgement of my boyfriend who has spent the entire summer scoffing at me and my bowl of clam chowder whilst declaring it “inappropriate to eat in 95 degree weather”.

(editors note: personal research shows that chowder is no less delicious at varying climates).

At this point, it should be no secret to you. I love soup. I’ve had dreams of owning a restaurant that solely sells soup. Yes, I realize this presents a problem if I plan to install soup as a form of currency but i’m working on it. Perhaps it could be an establishment where people come to swap soup with others? I think that’s what we’ll call a “problem solved”.

In the meantime, I will reside to my own kitchen for my next fix and while a chowder is nice – when it comes to winter – there’s one other soup that I just have to have; Tomato Soup.

Paired with a grilled cheese, it makes for the perfect classic cold weather comfort food and every season I love hearing people’s ideas for punching it up a bit. At the suggestion of adding roasted garlic – I must admit, I felt silly that I hadn’t thought of it in the first place. Yes, basil is nice but garlic is better. And roasted garlic? EVEN better.

If you’re in a roast happy mood – why not go the whole nine yards and roast some fresh tomatoes as well. Roasted tomatoes make for a nicer flavor then just opening a can or cooking them down and I would suggest it. Don’t be intimidated by all the sites that tell you it’s impossible to get nicely roasted tomatoes without an 8 hour window of time. You can easily crank up the heat a little higher and acquire perfection in less then half the time. Trust me, I did it and it came out great. (Would I lie to you?).

Roasted Garlic and Tomato Soup

  • 8 Roasted plum tomatoes*
  • 2 tablespoons pure olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cups canned plum tomatoes
  • 2 Heads of Roasted Garlic**
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 cup of Cream (if desired). (I desire).
  • Salt and Pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat and saute them until they are golden. Add the wine, raise the heat to high, and reduce until almost dry. Add the stock, canned tomatoes, roasted garlic and roasted tomatoes and reduce by one-quarter. Puree the mixture. I use an immersion blender which makes for a very easy clean up and allows you more control over texture. Add the thyme, honey, cream, and salt and pepper to taste and set aside until just before serving time. Sometimes if I’m in the mood, i’ll add a little feta cheese as a garnish.

*Roasted Tomatoes = Cut tomatoes in half, drizzle with oil and roast at 375  F for about 2 1/2 hours
* Roasted Garlic = Cut the top off the heads of garlic , drizzle with oil and roast in oven at 375 F for about an hour.

Mood Board Monday – Halloween Edition.

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Things I Learned In my High School Art Class and The Art of Plating

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My Favorite table creation, EVER.

When I was in High School, I took every Art class that I possibly could. I love Art.  I’ve always loved Art and being a chef, a lot of times, allows me to tap into some of those skills that have developed from this love. People often ask me where it is that I’ve learned to create such visually pleasing dishes, and while I have been thankful enough to have the ability to have learned techniques from some very accomplished chefs, I more often than not reply, ” In my 10th grade Art class.” A lot of the basic principles of art that you learned as a teenager (in between passing notes to your High School crush and staring at the clock on the wall, of course) will serve you well in the pursuit of becoming a master-plater.

Food, believe it or not, is not just about taste. We eat with our eyes just as much as we do with our taste buds and there’s nothing better then when a well-prepared and flavorful dish collides with stunning presentation. Suffice to say, it’s not as difficult or complicated as some of you may think.

When I first really started getting into cooking – I must admit, I wasn’t overly worried about the presentation of my food as much as I was worried about the fact that all of the components of my dish were prepared properly.  This is somewhat of a golden rule that I still keep to this day and you should too. Before you worry about presentation you must first worry about acquiring the ability to cook and prepare all of your dish’s components properly and also the ability to understand which ingredients are the best to use.  Remember: Even if you are the Picasso of peaches and pears, putting a rotten or ill-cooked piece of fruit on your plate will not leave your client with a fond memory of your dish and will only lead to disappointment upon consumption. You must Learn to enhance colors and not destroy them by the cooking process. You must learn how to create a nice crust on your proteins. You must learn to season well. I could go on forever. Remember: There isn’t a single soul who learned to run before they knew how to walk. Start with the small picture. Pay  attention to your individual ingredients and how they look and taste as a singular item before  treating them all as a unified dish. This will help your dish come together more cohesively. After you do this, plan ahead! I’m not afraid to admit that sometimes I still quickly sketch out what it is i’m hoping to achieve in my finished product and while, more often then not, I don’t exactly finish with the product I initially planned, I find that having an end goal helps to keep focus and keep me on the right track. With my individual ingredients and what i’m striving to achieve in mind – I feel that much more organized and focused.

Cooking isn’t brain surgery. It’s just cooking and we all do it. All you have to do is keep it simple and keep your focus. The same goes when you’re plating. Function is also a serious factor to consider. In catering and in restaurants, plating is about visualization, organization, and rapid execution. You MUST know your audience. First, you wouldn’t create the same dish for Grandma’s 90th birthday party that you would for a dinner party of four New York Socialites. It just doesn’t happen. You also wouldn’t create a dish that takes seven, eight, or nine, steps to plate when you are required to plate the same dish quickly 250 times for a client’s wedding reception. Three would suffice. The dish MUST function well to be executed well. Especially if you are working with other chefs in your kitchen.

Taking function a step further, there are a lot of questions that you can ask yourself pertaining to your garnishes. I am not a big fan of inedible garnishes. I don’t care how pretty they are, there is no function to them. Ask yourself these questions: What is the reason this garnish is on the plate? Is it necessary? Why? How does this tie into the dish as a whole? Adding more to a dish doesn’t necessarily make it better. Remember what I said before about keeping it simple? I meant it.  This means please, please, please, pleassseeeeee keep your tree-like sprigs of rosemary and thyme out of my potatoes and hold the sprinkle of parsley that looks like lawn trimmings. You’re just embarrassing yourself by showing your age with your early 90’s garnishing techniques. I miss Boy Meets World, The Spice Girls, and my Trapper-Keeper, just like the rest of us…but the 90’s are over and it’s time to move on. Keep the dish simple. Keep your garnishes simple and always have a reason for everything that you do.

Most human beings will recognize unity and good composition and most don’t realize how much the human eye as well as the human palette appreciate contrast. Utilize contrast in your dish. Everything should not be a puree just like everything on your plate should not be crunchy. Letting your textures play off one another will enhance your dish just as having different elements of sweet, spicy, hot, cold, etc will. Utilizing odd numbers also helps. I’ve worked with a lot of chefs that swear by the “rule of odds”, and mostly I do too. The rule of odds basically states that objects in odd numbers brings unity to a composition. For example: When plating scallops – use three or five instead of four or six. When there is an odd number of objects one object tends to look framed by the others which in turn looks harmonious and pleasing to the eye. Achieving Unity will always lead you to successful results.

Just because you are done cooking, it doesn’t mean you are done using good technique! Always use good plating technique. For example: when plating fresh greens, “Fluff! Don’t Squish! Be Graceful!” You want to build height and make them look light and airy not big and flat. Working with the right tools and techniques will always help. There are so many different tools that you can use and most of them are common kitchen items. A common ring mold can help you achieve height, a simple paint brush can help give you beautiful strokes of color, a squeeze bottle can help give you precise lines for direction in your dish or just to add a few dots of color. I could go on forever about tools and toys in the kitchen (Any type of Chef store is my proverbial candy store).

While all of this may seem like a lot to take in, I hope that you can take this information and work with it to produce some killer results! Don’t be afraid to experiment! Success never comes without failure. Get in your kitchen and see what works best for you and your style. Start creating dishes that YOU love before you try to please anyone else and the rest will follow, I promise! (Oh, and don’t forget to use clean plates!)

I’m Ten Times Happier When it’s Grill Season….

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There’s no better feeling then trading in your winter jacket for a pair of shorts and your mittens in for a pair of grill tongs. Grilling is the simplest, humblest, and most basic method of cooking food that their is. And it’s just plain awesome. While you don’t have to be a pro to get great results, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite tips to help you reach that level.

1. Season your food early. In fact, season your food before you even think about heating up your grill. Giving salt a little time to dissolve onto your food instead of falling off onto the grill will do wonders for your flavor.

2. Get your grill hot!!! Let it warm up for about 15 – 20 minutes. Patience is a virtue. A hot grill will sear meat on contact creating more flavor through carmelization and will also keep things nice and moist inside.

3. Give yourself enough room to work – nothing is worse then trying to have a relaxing time while grilling then having to run around for tools or ingredients or not having a place to put anything.

4. Keep a reasonably clean grill. Last years food doesn’t make for great additional seasoning to this years food. A grill brush can be your best friend. Use it when the grill is hot not cold, it will be easier that way.

5. Oil up your rack. To prevent sticking and to also help with cleanup later, trying using an oil soaked paper towel and rubbing it over the rack with a pair of tongs. You should even oil a clean grill.

6. Leave an unheated place on the grill. Even if you’re cooking over a single-level fire, leave a small space unheated so that you have somewhere to move food if you have a flare-up or if something is cooking too fast.

7. Remember when you’re mother told you as a kid not to play with your food? Well Mommy was right. When you put food on the grill DON’T PLAY WITH IT. LEAVE IT ALONE. Give it a chance to naturally come away from the grates and not get stuck. If you try to move food before it is seared on the bottom I guarantee you that it will stick. And that’s just not fun for anybody.

8. One of the best 25 dollars I have spent is in purchasing a grill basket. Use it for foods that might fall easily through the cracks or are harder to turn over one by one: Ie Vegetables and even fruit. Even Target or Walmart carry some decent ones. No need to splurge a lot of money on one.

And last but not least…..

9. One of the biggest mistakes that most make is not letting their meat rest before cutting into it. Let your meat rest on a clean plate, covered with foil for about 5-7 minutes so that the juices can redistribute evenly. Trust me, your food is not “getting cold”, you just took it off of a large amount of heat, it is still cooking. I’ve had a lot of people ask me, “well then, how do I know if its done?”. The best way is to learn what your product feels like when it is done. The “longer it cooks, the firmer it gets” is a good rule to go by. The more experience you get, the more you’ll be able to tell exactly what your favorite food should feel like when it’s done and it is an important thing to learn. But, while your still learning, remember: When in doubt, you can always throw undercooked food back on the grill, overcooked food doesn’t have the same luxury. Use the above pictures to show you exactly what meat should feel like through the stages of doneness.

Happy Grilling! We expect an invite!

(Photo credit: http://www.simplyrecipes.com)