Chef Hosch and Ann are a husband-and-wife team devoted to healthy and gourmet cooking and catering. Ann is gluten intolerant and an occupational therapist, who has worked as a cook and baker prior to meeting Hosch. Chef Hosch is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, N.Y., and brings more than 25 years of experience and passion to his culinary arts. His work as executive chef in hospitals has honed his skills for anyone with special diets as well as cooking for large crowds. Chef Hosch and Ann specialize in creating fabulous foods for all tastes and diets.
Q: Chef, now that winter is over and the weather is finally getting warmer, I want to start using my outdoor grill. Any grilling tips or ideas for something other than the "same old, same old" hamburgers and hot dogs?
A: Outdoor grilling is one of my favorite methods of cooking. Food is cooked on a metal rack over a gas flame or charcoal briquettes. This method adds a unique, flavor that can be enhanced by using different kinds of woods specifically made for grilling. It is quick and easy; especially suited for summertime meal preparation. It cuts down on clean up since the cooking is done outside. An added benefit is that doesn't heat up the house during the hot days of summer.
Grilling is definitely for more than just hamburgers and hot dogs. All types of food, from appetizers to dessert, can be prepared on the grill. There are many types of cookware and utensils available at a reasonable price that make cooking any food on the grill easy.
Before I talk about specific recipes, I want to touch on some grilling basics and important safety guidelines for outdoor grilling.
To be safe using a grill, make sure that the grill is on a level surface. It is best to place the grill on concrete or grass but fire proof deck pads can be used to protect a wooden deck. Do not place the grill under an overhang and make sure it is at least 10 feet away from anything combustible such as walls, tree branches, a gasoline can, grass clippings, etc. Make sure a source of water or a fire extinguisher is nearby.
Do not cook in an enclosed area, such as a garage, because grills produce carbon monoxide. The hood should always be open when lighting a gas grill to prevent any build up of gas. Never lay the gas cylinder on it's side during use because it prevents the pressure relief valve from working properly. Periodically check the hoses for holes or cracks.
Food safety is equally important. Keep food (especially meat) refrigerated until you are ready to grill. Make sure to cook food to the recommended temperature and check with a thermometer to be sure. Steaks, roasts and chops should reach an internal temperature of at least 145 F. Ground meat should be cooked to at least 160 F degrees and poultry to at least 165 F. Fish should reach 145 F or cook until the flesh is opaque and separates easily with a fork.
Most food is grilled at temperatures ranging from 500 F (high) to 250 F (low). Temperatures under 300 F will not brown the food while temperatures over 450 F are too hot to cook almost anything without burning it. The sweet spot for grilling is around 375 to 450 F.
When you are removing cooked food from the grill, never use the same platter that came in contact with raw meat. Be careful not to cross contaminate foods by using cutting boards or utensils for meats then vegetables. Wash your hands after handling raw meat.
If you follow these safety tips, you can be sure of having a positive backyard experience for you and your guests.
The next time you are in a store that sells grilling supplies, check out the useful gadgets and cookware made specifically for outdoor cooking. You will find baskets, griddles, long handled utensils, potholders and many other implements that make grilling easier and enhance the quality and tastiness of the food.
The menu for today's column is salmon, mixed vegetables and red potatoes, all prepared on the grill. This menu is easy to prepare and ready in no time. I use a gas grill with 2 cooking racks and a small and a medium sized grilling basket. Food is cooked using a medium high temperature.
Grilled Red Potatoes
6 small red potatoes cut in halves
salt and pepper
Sprinkle potatoes with salt and pepper and place cut side down in medium sized grilling basket. Place basket on lower rack and cook for 20 to 25 minutes.
1 small zucchini
1 small summer squash
1/2 yellow pepper
1/2 red pepper
All of the above vegetables should be cut into 1 1/2 inch slices. Make sure they are similar in size so they cook evenly.
5 large mushrooms cut in halves
Place in small grilling basket. Spread vegetables out so they are in a single layer and place on the grill when the potatoes have cooked about 10 minutes. The vegetables will take about 10 to 12 minutes to cook.
When they are done, toss in a stainless bowl with 1 tbsp of olive oil; 6 or 7 large fresh basil leaves, cut in pieces, and a clove of garlic, minced.
10 ounce salmon filet seasoned with salt and pepper.
Cook salmon on the top rack of grill for 10 to 12 minutes. Begin cooking the salmon at the same time as the vegetables.
All three items should be done at the same time. Remember to close the hood of the grill during cooking time.
Use your imagination for dessert. Why not try some grilled peaches, pineapple or apples. Fruit can be cut up and cooked in a grilling basket for about 10 to 12 minutes. Drizzle with honey or sprinkle with grated chocolate before serving.
With Mother's Day right around the corner, rather than taking Mom out for dinner, consider treating her to this delicious grilled meal, cooked (and cleaned up) at home.
We would love to know how your grilling adventures turn out!
Chef Hosch and Ann's column prints on the first Wednesday of each month.
Submit comments, experiences and cooking questions to Chef Hosch and Ann by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 850-9843. Visit them on Facebook at Chef Hosch & Ann Catering Inc. for their latest cooking tips, recipes and videos.