Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas Tenderloin

After seeing our daughter hand trim the tenderloin I couldn't wait to get it to the grill. I followed Weber's instructions for a three-zone split fire using a drip pan in the middle to wall the charcoal off to both sides leaving the center as the indirect heating zone.

We cut the tenderloin into two matching halves and I placed them over the coals for the first 10 minutes turning once to get a bit of searing before moving them to the middle of the GrillGrates to complete the grilling. The tenderloin took about 10 minutes longer than Weber estimated and I attribute that to the GrillGrates acting as a flame shield that further protected the meat. Knowing that our clan likes their meat rare, I took the tenderloin off a bit early and gave it a short rest before cutting thick juicy red slices. The trimmed loin fed 8 of us without a slice left and not one plate had any evidence left of a great meal. The meat literally melted in my mouth and the pressure was off. We switched from Pigs Nose (smooth as a Pigs Nose) to Champagne with strawberrys crushed and pureed in the bottom of the glass. The Champagne was so good it carried over to an after dinner treat. There was a StarTrek marathon on TV, the kids retreated to their worlds and we went quietly into space.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Julia Child was in our Kitchen this Christmas

I am so glad that Julia Child visited our kitchen as we prepared a Christmas tenderloin. Julia took the form of our oldest daughter who is one year into medical school. Confession here- I have grilled several tenderloins and never dressed or trimmed them much beyond obvious fat removal. Now I'm reading Julia Child! She explains that you often trim 1/2 weight to dress it out and end up with a great steak for two and kabob meat for later. OK no revelation to some, but it sure was to me. Then my daughter took over as I read her Julia Child's instructions from page 221 of her book The Way to Cook. She hand trimmed the butt end and removed the tendon and membranes. Her cadaver training came in handy and we heard all about it. She only snipped with a knife a couple of times and mostly used her hands. She wants to give me a scalpel to add to my meat preparation tools. Pretty cool. These photos detail the preparation and trimming of the tenderloin. I'm beyond late early adopter on this one! It was fun learning from Julia Child and seeing our daughter prepare our family feast. And the Pig's Nose Scotch was absolutely perfect for the occasion! Since I am now actually reading cook books, I consulted Weber's Charcoal Grilling, The Art of Cookwing with Live Fire for their suggestions on properly preparing my Weber Kettle. I'm finally a student of grilling after 30 years of winging it. Who says old dogs can't learn new tricks?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Mayberry Christmas

Christmas Day 2008. It's late afternoon and I'm taking my first peek at the computer in over 24 hours. I've been back to Mayberry the past few days helping around the house, hanging with friends and family and especially our kids and their friends. It was great to hear my middle child say how the candle light Christmas Eve service was her favorite. It's great being back in Mayberry. Now I'm counting down the time to firing up the Weber to grill a Christmas dinner tenderloin. I've got both of Weber's great grilling books out along with Julia Child to get my game on, or should I say brush up my game. I've done nice expensive pieces of meat over the years and always winged it to fairly good success. Back then, most of the pressure I put quietly on myself. Now that I am in the grilling business the pressure is on from my newly vocal family- particularly my 83 year young mother-in-law who is worried I'll overcook the tenderloin. Meanwhile Susan is fretting over a crust. Back to Mayberry. That is my theme for this blog and our holiday time together. My wife and I were lucky enough to grow up in our own Mayberry's which were small towns in New Jersey and we were even luckier to find Mayberry in a smalltown in Georgia for our kids over 16 years ago. I have nothing but affection for Mayberry and all the Americana it stands for. The bedrock of America is Mayberry- honest, friendly, hard working people who care about everybody in the community. Mayberry is also about innocence, family, faith, hope and joy. Our kids don't get the Mayberry analogy but they will. Time to go prepare the tenderloin.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Greatest Gifts are Friends, Family and Customers!

One year ago my wife and I took the leap off the entrepreneurial cliff again. We had prepared for months and I had the full support of my employer at the time and the support of a great group of friends. Now a year later the support network is even stronger with a whole bunch of new friends like suppliers, new grill industry friends, press, and especially customers. Last week I reached out to this grate group of friends for ideas and advice for holiday grilling and I was delighted by so many grate ideas:
  • French Toast- we're trying that this weekend
  • Apples- partially cored, filled and grilled- ditto
  • Pork loin holiday style- designed for several days of nibbling
  • Even a large bologna roll that was grilled first then cut into thick slices, then add pockets and stuff with cheese and back on the grill! Rocky sent pictures of this grate creation using GrillGrates on a Big Green Egg.
  • Mike Jediny from NJ even mailed us his favorite spice so we can grill his kickin chicken recipe.
Speaking of Mike, he was the fellow who was steam cleaning his GrillGrates and planted the seed for me as we were testing the hard anodized GrillGrates. I just sent Mike a GrateBrush as an early Christmas present. Thanks again Mike and congratulations on bagging two bucks last weekend. Mike also sent in some interesting venison recipes.

Now for a quick Thanksgiving wrap-up. My wife (not I) has oven roasted our Thanksgiving turkey for the past 25 years- stuffed with my favorite sausage stuffing. So when I mouthed off about Alton Brown saying not to stuff the bird I got an earful and a subtle challenge to go ahead and grill it then. So for the first time 'we' grilled our Thanksgiving Turkey.

The bird was super juicy although I dare not rank it above birds of years past... It took just under 3 hours to grill. I had a drip pan under the bird and a separate pan next to it with water (I switched to beer since it was handy) to keep moisture in the grill. I think soaking in brine overnight was the real key.

I will admit to only going 1/2 way by doing it on my gas Charbroil and not the charcoal Weber. The Charbroil held its temperature and I had three of the four burners on as low as possible. Did it taste better off the gas grill? Tough call there. I think I know the answer- use the Weber next time- and I will. Weber put out an interesting survey about grilling Thanksgiving Turkey. Seems 10% of us headed outdoors to grill our birds. That jives with me being a "late" early adopter...

We sure freed up oven and kitchen space. I don't think we'll be roasting too many more Turkeys or chickens for that matter in the oven. I grilled a breakfast pizza early Thanksgiving morning and started the day off well. I also upgraded my carving skills which was overdue. I watched a The NY Times video with a butcher showing a different take on carving the turkey. At least I knew better than to carve at the table! Removing the entire breast and de-boning the dark meat made it a lot easier and the presentation was better too.

Only our middle child was able to get home this year for Thanksgiving. She's not used to being the center of attention- helping in the kitchen, at the grill, at the store. We enjoyed having her all to ourselves, but I think she missed having her siblings around which is a good thing. Friends, family and happy customers. Life is good.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

There are two sure fire ways to get me to stop working...

Invite me fishing, or tell me it's time to get grilling-- like today. Thanksgiving got off to an early start on my patio this afternoon. We've got our Turkey in the brine getting ready for tomorrow's grilling and right now I am one hour into grilling Mike Mill's championship ribs for my daughter tonight. Can you tell we're hooked on this low and slow thing? Ribs are her favorite and she thought our oven baked and only grilled at the end were good! I can't wait to see what see thinks and it gave me an excuse to leave the office early and get the Weber fired up! To top it off this month's issue of the BullSheet from the Kansas City Barbecue Society comes in the mail. Glad I called it an afternoon. Time to grab another cold beverage, check the coals, see if the ribs are sweating, etc.

Friday, November 14, 2008

You Know You're a Yankee

if you have only grilled and never barbecue'd. It finally dawned on me that even though I've lived in the South for 15 years, I've never slow cooked anything unless I was running out of fuel. I certainly took to eating barbecue when we moved south, but I have never done the low and slow thing. After attending a couple of Barbecue competitions recently I've developed a great admiration and appreciation for the low and slow crowd and the wonderful way they practice their art.So when one of the real legends, Mike Mills gave me an assignment to barbecue ribs on my Weber Grill (using GrillGrates of course) I took it to heart. I followed his instructions carefully. It was a great excuse to stay close to home and tend the coals. I also promised Mike, no more charcoal fluid or matchlight either, or pre-baking ribs in the oven... I have to admit that I have new admiration for my Weber Grill too. I (me the Yankee) held my temp in the low 200's for over 4 hours and we had championship ribs. Mike's book even divulges the recipe of his Magic Dust and his 5 Bean side. Word got out around my buddies and I'm having a repeat performance tomorrow, now the pressure is on.

Peace, Love, & Barbecue is a fabulous read and I wholeheartedly agree with the statement that this book is the only barbecue book you'll ever need. Now I have to hide it from my Q buddies, because its their holiday gift if I can keep the secret til then. Thanks Mike and Amy- Peace, Love, & Barbecue!

Here's how I worked the Weber:
  • 1/2 chimmney of lump charcoal.
  • Holey Smoker Box filled with soaked apple chips served as a dam for the coals.
  • Re-start 1/2 chimmney every 45 minutes and wait to add.
  • I had my infrared temp guage and learned how to shoot through the top vent to get temp at the GrillGrate.
  • I refrained from adding coals too often and sometimes the chimney would need re-fueling before the Weber Kettle did.
  • Rotate the meat away from the hot side.
  • Sprinkle Magic Dust during as the Ribs sweat
  • Limit beer consumption to 1 per hour if possible

Monday, November 3, 2008

Peace, Love, and BARBECUE

It's the title of a book and well sums up the world of competitive barbecue and backyard grilling too. It also sums up the weekend we spent at the "Best of the Best" Barbecue competition in Douglas, GA. GOD smiled on us (and Douglas, GA) because we got to meet and learn from some of the best. We grilled all kinds of pizzas and sold GrillGrates while the competition and demonstrations swirled around downtown Douglas. We get some wonderful feedback and ideas made a lot of new friends.

Mike Mills and his daughter Amy literally wrote the book and I was thrilled to hear Mike's ideas and thoughts about GrillGrates. He and another legend, Rocky Danner were sharing their knowledge and doing grilling demonstrations throughout the weekend. Rocky actually grilled with GrillGrates on a Big Green Egg. He grilled a pork loin that he sliced less than 1/2" thick and cut a pocket in one end which he filled with cheese. Then he rolled up the loin and wrapped it in bacon. Rocky said he had over a pound and a half of bacon on the grill and no flare-ups. The pinwheel loins were beautiful and delicious. I'll post photos and recipes as soon as I get them. Such a refreshing weekend to meet so many authentic and friendly people. Peace, Love & Barbecue!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Live from Kansas City!

The weather is bright and sunny and the morning air is filled with smoke. It must be the National Championship of BBQ! This morning the action started early as the teams fired up their grills before dawn getting ready. Over 50,000 people are expected to converge on the Kansas City Royal with the judging done on Sunday morning. Of course I'm here grilling BBQ Pizzas and looking to see how GrillGrates are received by the professional BBQ community. My new friends at Kingfisher Kookers put GrillGrates on their grill!
Grilled barbecue pizza is now at the top of our Grate Pizza list after having so much fun in Kansas City. And I know what to do with leftover chicken or pork, grill pizza of course.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


I love grilling fish. We especially like to grill fish we catch, and this tasty meal of Yellowtail Snapper was delicious and delivered a lot more meat by grilling them whole. Yellowtail Snapper are fun to catch and even better to eat; they filet beautifully but you need a mess of them to make a reasonable meal. We caught some nice size fish recently and we decided to grill them whole, one fish per person. Gutting and scaling the fish is an easy cleaning chore and grilling was a feast for the eyes that became a fun feast at the table too. My dinner companions relished getting every morsel of tender meat from their fish and picked their meal clean to the bone literally. Its amazing how much meat is in the head cavity that normally ends up as chum or food for the sharks and rays. Yellowtail snapper are a beautiful fish in the water, in the cooler and on the grill!

Here's how we grilled the Yellowtail:
  • Gut and scale
  • Make 2-3 slits on each side of the meat
  • Sliced oranges go in the body cavity
  • Lemon Pepper seasoning
  • Marinade with butter 2-3x
  • Grill 3-4 minutes a side, basting a couple of times- low t0 medium/low heat 350F
  • Areas of skin will fall away where you can check for doneness
Nothing for the sharks left from this feast!

Grilled BEETS!

I ate my first Beet, another milestone in my quest to improve my limited vegetable intake. My wife wanted to try Beets on the grill and I had no choice but to truly try it and maybe even like them. Actually these photos are the third time we've grilled beets in the last two weeks. They're growing on me and they sure add color to the meal. For the first time in my life I am actually trying to improve my eating habits and my diet. Beets were a big accomplishment for me!

Here's how we grilled them:
  • We peeled them and quartered them like potatoes
  • Coat with olive oil
  • Like potatoes, beets need 20-30 minutes to cook on the grill and become soft
  • Grill at medium to low heat 350-400F

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Burning Fat

Thats what we told the butcher when we asked for some chunks of trimmed fat to use in a grilling demo. Mary from Cook's Warehouse in Atlanta asked us to come up with a way of demonstrating the flame-up control of GrillGrates. I've demo'd a lot of pizzas, pasta, fish and veggies, but never had really thought how to demo flare-up control. So we put our heads together and came up with the idea of burning fat. Of course we tested the concept first and then did it a couple of times at Cooks Warehouse to show their staff and customers.

Burning fat really shows the mechanism of flare-ups. Juices dripping into the grill or marinades and sauces its all fire starter when it hits the flame or coals. Susan and I enjoyed grilling at Cook's Warehouse in Decatur last Saturday, and I am glad Marc dropped by because I did not even stop to take a picture. Susan made some fabulous pizza and pasta after a trip to DeKalb farmers market. Back home, I got some more fat from the butcher again to take a few pictures and video. This will be a different kind of burning the fat video! Thank you Mary and the crew at Cook's Warehouse. Everyone has been so friendly and supportive, no wonder the stores are so successful! I hope we'll be back grilling at one of the fabulous Cook's Warehouse locations again soon.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Grilled Leftovers

I love leftovers. I have been known to hide good next day meals from my own children. My middle child has developed a taste for leftovers and this summer in particular I found myself hiding stuff from Julia- sorry honey, I love you, but I love left overs too!

This past weekend I got that breakfast fritata and there was enough sliced steak left over for a steak sandwich for lunch to boot. Friday night's grilled dinner for two left me two fine leftover meals on Saturday courtesy of my wife. I am loved and I love leftovers! Grilled leftovers are as good as it gets.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Dinner for TWO- Fill the Grill

We filled the grill last night! I had to leave a little room on the grill for the one steak we planned to split. My wife loves this dinner for two because she uses one of everything:
  • One Potato thickly sliced
  • One Zucchini- sliced into four lengths
  • One Onion- thickly sliced
  • One Red Pepper- sliced into quarters
  • One Skewer of mushrooms, ok she cheated here
  • One Steak
The potatoes went on first, followed 15 minutes later by the the rest of the vegetables. It was a pretty site before the meat hit the grill. Last but not least the sirloin was grilled and taken off on the rare side. I pulled the veggies off first and made a nice looking plate again leaving room for the steak.

I cleared my plate! The potatoes were perfectly roasted and the vegetables were all at their best. I probably had 4 slices of the sirloin, where in the past I would have eaten the whole thing and maybe a few of the onions and mushrooms. My meal was 3/4 plants, 1 /4 beef. I'm shaking my head even as I type!

Dinner for two- with leftovers. Breakfast fritata coming right up.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Limit Time with Grill- WHAT????

The American Institute for Cancer Research recently published an update urging people to change their grilling habits and reduce the amount of grilling they do. Newspapers picked it up and last week ABC news thought it was newsworthy enough after Consumer Reports issues a warning too? Give me a break!

Lets see:
1) Don't burn or char your meat. DUH- most of us actually get this one, nothing new here. I don't char my steaks anyway- I like them seared and rare!
2) Pre-heat meats in a microwave - WHAT? The microwave is likely to go down as the worst invention for cooking, I mean scrambling food molecules.
3) Grill at 325F or less- HUH? I do like my steak seared at least. Above 500F searing does turn into charring but 325F is just not quite hot enough unless you are doing chicken or a roast.
4) Flip meat often to keep surface temp down? I like to keep the lid down and try to keep track of time. Purists say only once, I have to go for the cross-hatch so I flip 4x
5) Place aluminum foil with small holes over the grates to prevent juices from flaring up and depositing carcinogens onto the meat. Sounds more like pan searing than grilling. GrillGrates does act in a similar manner, but we're pitching a juicier outcome
6) Indirect cooking only- that hurts too. Drippings won't burn into HCA's and deposit on the food. Sounds like a stretch, but there seems to be some science to this one.

Come on- grilling is one of the healthiest ways to cook, just don't burn your meats- that is all. Cooking a wider variety of foods and less meat in general is a lot more healthy for you than timidly grilling in foil at 325F! I keep thinking there must not be enough real news for this kind of bunk to occupy prime time.

I realize how much my grilling habits have changed!

Maybe because I've turned the corner on 50, maybe because I'm finally aware of what I eat and how I grill, maybe its my daughter who just started med school, and maybe I'm finally listening to my wife! And of course since bringing GrillGrates to the market, I am more in touch with my grilling habits. It happened slowly and subconciously until yesterday.

What caused this revelation? I came across Mark Bittman's (esteemed NY Times food editor, author and authority) video on What's wrong with what we eat? at I was not prepared to watch a 20 minute speech but I did. By the end Mark's presentation; I understand the serious nature of cow farts and how the nature of our eating habits has come full circle in my lifetime. I had no idea how much meat consumption has skyrocketed over the past 50 years and it appears to be a global trend. Scary thought if the Chinese follow our exponential consumption here in the US. So what? The planet can not support this level of industrial beef production for several reasons and it is simple- we should not eat as much meat as we do. Period. Bittman asserts that food marketing for meats and sweets, and the industrialization of food- particularly beef has driven over consumption and its not just bad for us, its bad for the planet- hence whats wrong with what we eat.

I had a GrillGrate customer email me recently that our website did not have one steak recipe and that our meat section was rather weak compared to the others I still did not put it together and hurriedly put up a Seared not Charred Ribeye Steak Recipe and a couple of YouTube videos.

Then yesterday, as I watched Bittman's speech and I realized I had followed a similar path to Mark (I never met a vegetable I liked until middle age) and only now are my eating habits changing. In the south its called a meat and three, but I was lucky to be meat plus one. Do fries count? Nobody loves a grilled steak or burger more than I do, and for 30 years red meat and chicken were about all I grilled. I was darn good at the chicken too because I mastered the simple fact of turning my grill down from high to as low as the grill would go. Occasionally my wife would give me a foil pouch with some mystery vegetable or onions mostly to not have to cook them indoors.

Now our grill almost always has the veggies and potatoes along side the main meal, which is likely to be salmon or skinless chicken as it is a burger or ribeye. I can't believe how good a turkey burger is, and we're grilling sweat potatoes, onions, carrots, asparagus, fingerlings and more. I'd love to say it was GrillGrates that caused this change, but they did not. They facilitated my transformation but Mark Bittman nailed it- we and our mothers have been bombarded with marketing to eat meat 2-3x a day instead of 2-3x a week! I remember TV dinners with Salsbury steak, hamburger helper and McDonalds night as a kid. It took me 50 years to figure this out? Thanks Mark! And a special thanks to my wife Susan who preserved the family dinner in our house and who cooked good food, not processed food. All I did was grill the meat, now I finally get it and am grilling the whole meal and it involves a lot less meat.
I'll never give up grilled meat, but I am looking forward to finally broadening my horizons and not my waistline!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

AHHHH! The Perfect Burger

Who better to grill the The Perfect Burger with than Suzanne Benoit, of the VORTEX Bar & Grill in Atlanta. The VORTEX Burger has named the best burger in Atlanta 13 years in a row! VORTEX burgers are a juicy two fisted delight. Many trips into Atlanta have a trip to the VORTEX included. Suzanne joined me last week to patty and grill Perfect Burgers with GrillGrates. Over a beer in the backyard we make and sample juicy burgers made the Vortex way on GrillGrates.

The Perfect Burger is still one of my favorite grilled meals and we've expanded into stuffed burgers, turkey burgers, even burger logs with GrillGrates. The thing I like to see is how quickly flare-ups are tamed by the GrillGrates. The VORTEX uses only 80/20 ground chuck which makes for the juiciest possible burger, but also requires care not to get the burger engulfed in flames as the juices drip into the fire.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Grilling Pizzas

As a kid in New Jersey I made pizzas at Tony’s Pizzeria in Bridgewater for a couple of years going through college. Those were the disco years and we delivered pizzas on weekends at midnight to a local disco. I enjoyed loading up my orange Chevy Vega with fresh made pizzas. Tony would change shirts- not me I liked being a pizza maker! Flash forward 30 years and I’m making pizzas again. This time to promote GrillGrates our new product. I discovered MamaMary’s gourmet par-baked pizza crusts as we were putting together a recipe guide. At our first tradeshow, MamaMary’s came to the rescue after we ran out crusts on the second day of a nine-day cash and carry show. (Try taking your spouse to a nine-day show that happens over Super Bowl weekend!) We’ve grilled close to 1000 pizzas using MamaMary’s crusts over the past 6 months since MamaMary's FedEx'd dozens of crusts to us in a frozen Harrisburg. We had a grate show and grilled a lot of pizzas AND we had met and sold our first 150 customers! MamaMary’s is now a marketing partner and we include a coupon for a free package of their crust in every GrillGrate kit. We've heard from many of these first customers who have added more GrillGrates to their grill or bought sets for friends. We also had a super recipe posting from Chef Mike a kayak fisherman. But back to the pizza...

I have to tell you that MamaMary's crusts make fabulous grilled pizza! And its a 15-minute start to finish meal, or appetizer, even breakfast pizzas. You don’t have to be a gourmet doughmeister to grill grate pizza! MamaMary’s crusts crisp up just like Tony’s pizzas did. The partially backed crusts take care of the hard part so all that’s left is the fun of designing, building, grilling and eating your pizza. Just typing this makes we want to fire up the grill!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sausage and Peppers-No Sauce!

Even though I'm not Italian, I've had the benefit of growing up in New Jersey and I worked in a couple of real Italian family restaraunts; so Sausage and Peppers is a staple that I grew up with. Now with my daughter the nutritionist and with prodding from my wife, I am broadening my culinary horizons. This grilled version is nothing like what I grew up on! It's healthier, greener and boy did I get a surprise when we sat down at the table-- no sauce! OK- I complained a bit but have to admit that it was delicious.
  • Grilled Peppers- avoid charring
  • Grilled Sausage- stuffed with spinach and fontina cheese
  • Pasta Swirls
Mix together for a fancy twist on sausage and peppers!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Blogging is yet another thing I thought I'd never do.

Being an entrepreneur in the Internet age, and being 50 years of age is a double whammy for me. My uber-talented web & interactive guy has gone ahead and got me on Facebook (I'll definitely blog about that experience so far) YouTube- Ok I get that now- only used it a couple of times before. And now blogging. Where do you find all the time? Thank God my oldest daughter has helped me with all this social networking stuff- now what to say?