Cleaning and Maintaining Your Barbecue and Grill

It can be very easy to allow your barbecuing set to fall into disrepair, and most people don’t really feel that the stakes are very high anyway. Unless you know some simple tips it can also be quite a difficult task which will require a lot of effort.

Firstly, keeping your barbecue station is pretty important. Making sure that any ash left over from old sessions with the barbecue are cleared away is very important as this ash can blow around once your fire starts and get into your food, and it can also impact the amount of oxygen which will reach the fire.

Secondly, you should try to keep your grill clean. Ideally you would do this at the end of every session as the carbon and grime can build up over time and will periodically attach itself to the food you’re cooking and make the food stick to your grill even more.

To clean your grill, the best time is while it is still hot. This is because the grease and oils will still be liquid at this point, which will make the task to rub off the carbon attached to the grill considerably easier. You should also purchase a grill brush, which are designed to be really effective at cleaning barbecue grills; able to withstand heat and really scour the grills clean quickly and efficiently.

Some More Tips on Barbecuing

Part of the charm of a barbecue is that you can make it up as you go along. As long as you pay very close attention to what you’re doing, you can avoid almost any disaster to your food. However, there are a few things which you can do to make your life easier, attain greater control over what and how you’re cooking, and produce better food.

Last week, we talked about how to ensure you had a fire which was perfect for barbecuing, but there are a lot more things that you can do. For instance, one option you have is to not spread the coals throughout the barbecue basin, instead focussing all of them on one side of your grill. This allows you to switch food from being on a very high heat to a slow and gentle cooking temperature; allowing you to quickly sear the meat and vegetables you’re barbecuing and then switch to a slow cooking styles to make sure that it is thoroughly cooked.

Some of the Common Barbecuing Mistakes

It has come a round to that time of year again; the time of year where suddenly everybody looks at the nice weather and thinks that it is time to get the grill out and have a family barbecue, perhaps even every couple of days. Even though there are a lot of people who barbecue regularly, people who make mistakes while grilling are still far more numerous than those who know what they’re doing.

The most important part of getting a barbecue right is the fire and temperature control. If you’re using coals, which will give the best results, then you should pile all of the coals into one location and put your fire accelerant at the bottom of the centre of the pile. If you can avoid using lighter fluid or other gasoline based accelerants then that will mean you can avoid the flavour of gasoline suffusing your food when you begin grilling.

After you’ve started your fire, you should wait for the coals to begin to turn grey before you start spreading your coals out. If there is too black areas among your coals then you’re going to see spikes in temperature which could damage your food as well.

Another important thing is to remember to put your grill onto the fire around 5 to 10 minutes before you start grilling. This is going heat up your grill so that your food cooks more efficiently, and it will also actually reduce the chance of the food sticking to he grill as well.

Making a Perfect Beef Burger

Before you can say you’ve made the perfect beef burger, you should understand that there are really two different types of burgers; those which are thick and those which are thin. Each of them can be perfect within their own right, but depending upon the type of burger you’re making there are a number of differences that you’ll have to take into account.

When cooking the burger, which ever type you’re making, you should try to avoid flipping the burger too often. Ideally, you would limit yourself to one turn on each side. The temperature for a thick burger should be slightly lower than for a thin one, because you’ll want to leave enough time for the insides to be cooked, although this can change depending upon what level of rareness you want for your burger. If you want to turn it into a cheese burger, then after the first flip you should place your cheese on top of the burger and, unless you’re grilling it, cover the lid of your griddle/frying pan and allow the cheese to melt.

The type of bun you use and where exactly you cut the bun in half is also very important to creating a perfect burger bun. If you’re cooking a thin burger you’ll also want a comparatively thinner bun; the ideal height of a bun is around 1.5-2.5 times the thickness of a thick burger, while for a thin burger you’ll want anywhere from 2-3 times the thickness. The bun should also be of fairly thick bread as well, as if it is too thin then it will disintegrate when eaten. The ideal width to cut a bun is to divide its width into ten. From these tenths, you want to cut it so that there are 6 tenths on top and 4 on the bottom parts of the bun; so the top should be slightly larger than the bottom.

After this you should you should lay the burger directly onto the bun and add whatever garnishes and toppings that you want. Some good options are burger sauce, ketchup, onions, lettuce, mustard, bacon and pickles.

Making a Burrito

It wasn’t too long ago that finding Mexican food in the UK was very difficult, but over the last ten years or so, it has been a quickly growing trend. We’ve seen the introduction of fajitas, taco, and enchiladas ready meals, and even the odd Mexican restaurant here and there.

There is a pretty big difference though, between making something from a packet and making it from scratch. Here’s a recipe for a good, vegetarian, bean-based burrito:

What you need to get is half a cup of refried beans (vegetarian), half an avocado, a large tortilla, some pico de gallo (however much you want – it’s what makes it spicy), and some lettuce. Once you’ve gathered these ingredients, you need to heat up the tortilla, to stop it being brittle, and then lay it down. The first ingredient you add is the refried beans, followed by the avocado, then the lettuce, and finally the pico de gallo. After you’ve done this, you just fold up the tortilla, and you have a burrito.

The trick with making a burrito is actually with how you fold it. You actually should be laying the ingredients down after you’ve already planned how to do this, and the best way is by laying them out length-wise across the tortilla, with about an inch left empty on either end. You then take both those sides (the ones with only an inch of space, not the ones with 3-4 inches) and fold them back over onto the ingredients, and afterwards grab one of the sides and fold it all the way over to the opposite side of the tortilla, and then tucking it underneath the ingredients, and finally rolling it. Hey presto! you have a burrito.

High Quality Soup from a Soup Maker

When a lot of people think about certain kitchen appliances, like a soup maker or bread maker, they will think that they are pretty poor. Although this was largely true twenty years ago, and most people would be able to identify from taste whether or not a soup was made with a soup maker or not, the current level of technology means that this is now far harder to do.

Current soup maker models are much better than previous ones, and not only that, they are also a lot cheaper. Typical models will have numerous settings so that you can make a greater variety of soups than ever before, and not only that, you can also set different settings for those different soups for a outcome that you prefer.

Soup makers are in effect a mix of a blender and a kettle. All you need to do is add the assortment of vegetables you want in the soup and water and then turn it on. The soup maker will then cycle between blending and boiling the mixture, until it has finished. Not only will it massively reduce the work involved in producing a soup, the results are also exemplary.

How to Barbecue Fish Properly

Somebody who has never tried this out will not be able to truly understand how difficult it is. The nature of fish meat is that when it gets cooked it starts to flake, and inevitably with a barbecue, the fish will start to get stuck to the grill.

The temptation is there to try and play around with the fish; continuously teasing it from the grill to stop it from sticking, but this temptation must be resisted.

The best way to barbecue fish is simply to wait until it is done. Throughout the cooking process, you should be trying to lift it of the grill; if there is any difficulty with it lifting off it, like there is a bit which has cooked onto the grill, then you should leave it, and eventually it will be cooked enough that it can just lift straight off the grill.

Another important part of the process for perfect barbecuing of fish is to try and cook it at a low temperature, as this will stop it from getting burnt before it has a chance to firm up.

Kitchen Cleanliness: It’s Very Important

Kitchen cleanliness is very important (at the risk of repeating myself). It is important because, of course, a kitchen is where food is being prepared, so where you can you want to limit the growth of bacteria and germs which could be harmful to you and those you’re feeding.

Stopping the spread of germs is something which every chef needs to be concerned with, but pros know that dealing with a mess as soon as it is created is the best way for people to keep their kitchen clean and healthy. There are specialist items which make things like this easier, such as bins which can attach to the counter, which is particularly handy for vegetable peelings. Mostly though, the thing you need to do regularly is wipe down counter tops before and after every use.

Another great product to help keep your kitchenware clean are non-stick frying pans. Hardly anything new and revolutionary, but getting a high quality non-stick frying pan could last you for years and save you hours of scrubbing time over that period. Just remember not to use any cooking utensils which could scratch the surface, as that will make them wear out a lot more quickly.

Making Great Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti carbonara is a much loved dish of Italian cuisine, and is thankfully pretty simple to make. It only requires a few different ingredients in order to make it a great meal, so it is a great option for beginners in cooking and those who aren’t very confident.

  1. To start with, you need to boil spaghetti, ideally ‘al dente’ which is basically spaghetti which is slightly uncooked in the centre, although that isn’t necessary.
  2. While doing this you should fry pancetta ideally, and if not that bacon or ham, until it is slightly crispy, but not too much. A good rule for choosing how much to use is basically half the weight of the spaghetti you’ve used. You should put the pan back on the hob before you combine the ingredients to warm up the pancetta and cook some garlic (the amount of garlic depending upon how much you like garlic).
  3. You also need to prepare the sauce, which is pretty easy as it is just beaten eggs. You should use about 1 egg for every 120grams of spaghetti used.
  4. ¬†After you’ve finished all of the components, you just need to combine all of them together, starting with adding the eggs to the spaghetti, and then top off with cheese and black pepper.