When I (along with other members of the Atlanta Food Bloggers’ Society) was invited by Ray and Luchi Palermo, creators of the QuadCooker, to check out a demonstration of their new creation the HexxCooker I was intrigued (they fed me well for my attendance and this is my honest opinion of the product). (here’s a link to the QuadCooker site for more details) I love my old grill but it never gets as hot as I would like it. The HexxCooker vows to solve that problem. Your normal backyard grill gets to about 550 degrees (maybe…probably not quite that hot) while the HexxCooker reaches up to 900 degrees or more. That high temperature is a result of the quad rock used to form the crucible of the cooker. The special concrete blend that forms the quadrock holds the heat inside and distributes it evenly while staying cool to the touch on the outside. Here’s a quick Instagram video of a demonstration Ray did to show the insulating power of the quadrock. The grates on the HexxCooker are made from laser cut, case hardened carbon steel (smoother than cast iron) to stand up extremely high heat. The grate isn’t non stick but when cooking oil spray is used food released easily from the grate. I was impressed with the product and I’m happy to share it with you.
After a trip to Spain, Ray and Luchi were inspired to develop the high heat cooking HexxCooker after dining on paella. Traditionally paella is cooked over an open wood fire so the rice can absorb the smoke. Once they returned from Spain they began development of a product that would help them recreate the paella they loved. Ray spent some time working on prototypes and came up with the original QuadCooker design. After the success of the original, the QuadCooker creators are now introducing a smaller, more portable version called the HexxCooker. Built from the same materials, the smaller HexxCooker is a powerhouse of heat as well. I must admit, when they said the HexxCooker was portable I gave them a bit of the ole’ side eye. It looks like it should weigh a ton but it really is light enough to bring tailgating or camping.
Our host grilled some steak and sausages for us as appetizers. The high heat of the HexxCooker gave the steak a caramelized crust normally only found in an expensive steakhouse and cooked the sausages quickly while retaining moisture, I was impressed with the results. I wish I’d had an opportunity to cook on the HexxCooker myself to get firsthand knowledge of the product, hopefully soon I can test it out myself. Ray also made fried shrimp in a wok on the HexxCooker, it really is a versatile tool.
Ray was nice enough to share his delicious paella with us and in turn I’m going to share his recipe (with his permission) with you.
Ray Palermo’s PAELLA MENENDEZ SERVINGS: 6
||Place the paella pan on top of the pre-warmedQUAD grill top. Add olive oil to the pan. Once oil is heated, add chicken and pork. Stir the meat with a wooden spoon until browned, approximately 4 minutes. Add Spanish chorizo and sauté for another 1-2 minutes. Add onions and green peppers and cook until the onions are translucent.Add garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add stock, bay leaf, salt,pepper, crushed red pepper, parsley and saffron. Let this mixture simmer for 1-2 minutes. As the mixture comes to a boil, stir in the rice, and then add wine. Cook for approximately 20 minutes, keep checking rice for
doneness. The rice will absorb most of the liquid, stir in additional wine or broth in ½-cup increments if necessary.
Once the rice not quite done but just a little crunchy to the taste (there should still be excess liquid in the pan), arrange the seafood on the surface of the rice. Sprinkle peas and
pimentos over the seafood. Cover the pan with the dome top and allow to steam-cook. Cooking will take approximately 5 minutes. Shellfish should open and shrimp will turn pink when cooked.
Let the paella rest for 5-10 minutes before serving to absorb any liquid.
Full chimney of coal. Hot fire. Quad with the grill and paella pan.
ACCOMPANIMENTS & SIDES
Paella is a meal unto itself; just set the pan in the middle of the table to serve. A mixed green salad would certainly complement the dish.
How old should your kids be when you start teaching them to cook? I’ve been asked this by quite a few people over the years and my answer is this: Start teaching your kids to cook RIGHT NOW. There are are many lessons you can teach your kids even when they are babies…now, don’t give your toddler a knife…that’s bad. Here are a few ways to teach your kids about food, cooking and making healthy choices
Take your kids grocery shopping with you, feed them a snack before you leave the house and bring your patience. Yes, its going to take longer to get through the store but it’s a great time to show your kids all the beautiful produce. Talk to them about all the colors they see as you stroll down the aisle. Some of my favorite days have been at local farmers markets with my kids sampling juicy, red watermelon or crisp apples in the fall. If you can take your kids to a farm, even better. Let them see where their food comes from to help foster a love of pure, clean and unprocessed foods. Teach your kids to wash their hands before (and after handling meat) as well as the produce ) you purchase before they start cooking, food borne illnesses are no fun for anyone (don’t let the water get too hot for their delicate skin. Use separate cutting boards of different colors for meat and produce to prevent cross contamination. A wide, sturdy step stool is your young assistant’s best friend, your little one may not be tall enough yet to reach the sink or counters.
As your kids get older let them help you make their snacks. One of the my kids’ favorite snacks when they were small was honey butter bears. With a cookie cutter I let my kids cut a Teddy Bear shape from a slice of whole wheat toast, spread it with a little softened butter and drizzle with honey. Let your kids help you measure ingredients and talk with them about fractions at the same time, cooking is a great way to work on those math skills. As they get older let the kids increase and decrease recipes for you to teach them how to multiply and divide fractions.
You must use your best judgement when deciding to allow your children to use a knife and the stove. Start with soft fruits and a plastic knife when your kids are in elementary school. Making a fruit salad is a great way to teach knife skills. Teach your kids to make a claw with their fingers tucked in for saftey when holding the food and give the task their undivided attention. Turn the television off, no distractions please. My daughter was about 10 when I taught her how to use a chef’s knife. She’s always been a mature child and has a passion for cooking. My son, however was not allowed to use a chef’s knife until he was 12. I felt he was too easily distracted and needed to mature a bit more before using such a dangerous tool. They must always have permission to knives or the stove and they must be supervised by myself, my husband or a trusted adult.
Meatballs are a great recipe to use for a cooking lesson. The kids get to crack eggs, dice an onion, measure spices, mix goodies like cheese into the ground meat mixture and form even balls with their clean hands. If they are old enough to use the stove (my kids were about 11/12 when I allowed them to use the stove supervised) they can brown the meatballs and simmer them in sauce until fully cooked.
Meatballs makes about 20 – 2 inch meatballs, you can make them any size you like
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds Ground Beef Chuck (80% lean)
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
Sauteed onions over low heat in olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, add garlic, stir and let cool.
In a large bowl put ground beef, eggs, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt and cooled onion garlic mixture and mix together. Form into balls and roast in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until done.
Simmer in tomato sauce (recipe below) and serve with pasta or just eat them for a snack
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1-28ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
Saute onion in olive oil until translucent about 5 minutes, add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add tomato paste and and cook, stirring for about a minute. Add Crushed tomato, dried oregano and salt cook, stirring for about 30 -40 minutes
My kitchen is featured in the September 2014 issue of Atlanta Home Improvement Magazine.
The Saturday before Labor Day is International Bacon Day! Is there a better way to celebrate the fruits of our labor than by eating bacon?!…I don’t think so my friends. These Bacon Cheddar Buns are made with the softest bread recipe EVER and rolled with the most delicious Bacon Cheddar spread. After eating these buns my son gave me possibly the greatest compliment I’ve ever received, he said these buns taste like “PURE LIFE” …now, I don’t know exactly what that means but I’m pretty sure it’s the highest praise he’s ever given to any food item. We’ve taken to calling these “Life Buns”
I have been asked to make these buns once a week. You can refrigerate them for 2-3 days after baking (they won’t last that long but theoretically you could ) they reheat in the microwave in under a minute or in the oven for 5-8 minutes. Great for breakfast or in a lunchbox as well.
For 15 of these buns start with half of the SOFTEST BREAD RECIPE EVER and let the dough rise for an hour. Make a loaf of bread or some rolls with the rest of the dough…or double the Bacon Cheddar spread recipe and make more buns. I used my recipe for homemade cured and smoked bacon but you can use bacon from the grocery store.
Then make this recipe for Bacon Cheddar Spread/Dip
8 ounces bacon
1 tablespoon reserved bacon fat
8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 tablespoon grated raw onion
½ teaspoon granulated garlic
Chop the bacon into ¼ inch pieces. Place bacon into a cold pan, place over medium heat and cook until the bacon is crisp. Remove cooked bacon and let cool, reserve 1 tablespoon of bacon fat.
Shred cheddar cheese in a food processor, add all the other ingredients to the processor and process until well blended and spreadable, about 45 seconds.
Bacon Cheddar Buns Recipe
Divide the dough into 15 sections. Roll a section into an oval about 5 by 2 inches and spread with Bacon Cheddar Spread and roll it up. Repeat with the remaining dough sections. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and let rise for an hour. Brush with milk or egg wash and bake for about 20 minutes. Place a sheet of foil over if they’re getting too dark. Let cool on the pan for about 5 minutes then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
Need even MORE BACON? Check out these posts by my blogger buddies the #BACONMAFIA but let me warn you I will not be held responsible when you drool on your screen.
This Crab Mac & Cheese with a Bacon Crust by EatLaughCreate.com is to DIE for Click here for the recipe
And then there’s this Bacon, Spinach and Chicken Skillet Pizza by ChewsyLovers.com YUM! Click here for the recipe
I want to eat this Turkey Club with Old Bay Mayo for lunch today! Click here for the EatStylePlay.com recipe
This BLT Pasta recipe is perfect for a week night meal Click here for the recipe from thegivinschronicles.com
From MissFoodieFab.com these Brown Sugar Bacon Cinnamon Rolls will make you faint, get up and faint again! Get the recipe
FoodLoveTog.com hit it out of the park with Shrimp with Cheddar and Bacon Polenta Get the recipe
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I’ve got the secret to unbelievably soft homemade bread. If you’ve ever had bread from a Japanese bakery, you know what I mean. It’s velvety in texture and a little sweet, it really is incredible. So here’s the secret…TangZhong a cooked mixture of flour and water is the simple secret to pillow soft bread. Adding TangZhong is a simple step that will change your bread baking game for the better. This recipe makes quite a lot of dough so I usually make a loaf, some rolls and some filled buns. The bread freezes well after baking so you can wrap it well in foil and enjoy it later.
First make the TangZhong and let it cool to room temperature, you can make it a day in advance and store it in the fridge.
1/3 cup flour
1 ¼ cup milk (whole, 2% or skim will all work)
Stir all ingredients together in a sauce pan, whisk until smooth. Cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened, about 140 °, this should take about 3-5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before use. When finished the tangzhong should be the consistency of pancake batter.
SOFTEST BREAD RECIPE EVER
5-5 ½ cups ap flour
¾ cup sugar
½ cup powdered milk
2 envelopes (about 4 ½ teaspoons) active dry yeast
All the TangZhong from the recipe above
¾ cup warm (not hot) milk-about 100-110 Degrees
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) soft butter, plus a bit extra to butter a bowl, the pan and your hand
Start with 5 cups of flour, add the additional ½ cup of flour if your dough has not formed a ball. Combine all ingredients except butter and knead in mixer for about 3 minutes on low. Slowly add soft butter about a tablespoon at a time. Knead for an additional 10 minutes.
Butter a large bowl and butter your hand as well. With your buttered hand, transfer dough to buttered bowl and cover with buttered plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about an hour.
Punch the dough down and divide dough into 3 sections for 3 loaves of bread or divide into 36 sections or smaller for dinner rolls.
For Loaves of Bread
Butter 3- 8 ½ inch loaf pans and line the bottom with parchment paper. On a clean counter press a section of dough out into a square about 8 inches. Roll the dough into a tube and place the dough into the loaf pan. Repeat with the other sections of dough.
Let the dough rise for another hour. Brush the tops of the loaves with milk or egg wash. Bake loaves for about 30-35 minutes at 350° Let cool for 5 minutes in a pan, then remove the bread from the pan and let it cool completely on a rack before slicing.
Divide dough into 36 rounds and place on a baking tray. Let the dough rise for another hour. Brush the tops with milk or egg wash and bake for about 20 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes then remove rolls to a rack to finish cooling
The Taste of Atlanta is a food festival that’s worth the trip (according to Oprah… and me) and its coming soon. October 24-26 to be exact. Over 90 restaurants are expected to participate in this year’s Tech Square events; There will be live cooking demos, an Iron Chef Kids competition, a silent auction benefiting Cooking Matters and TONS more good stuff. During the silent auction last year we bid on a video game truck to come to the house for a party and won. We got it for much less than the going rate and helped a good cause in the process.
The pictures in this post are from Taste of Atlanta 2013. The line up of restaurants may change from year to year but you’re bound to find more than a few tasty treats to enjoy.
If you’re on a budget, start looking around for contests and giveaways for this event early and enter to win; I won Tickets from Miss Foodie Fab last year so it was a cost effective, fun day out with the family. Its also cheaper to purchase tickets online in advance than it is to purchase them at the gate the day of. For event pricing or to purchase tickets to Taste of Atlanta visit this link. You receive “taste coupons” with your paid entry fee and you exchange these for food. You can purchase additional taste coupons during the event.
The food at Taste of Atlanta varies from the Southern style and barbecue which you might expect, to more exotic stuff like Morcilla, the blood sausage in the risotto arancini from The Spence. The Taste of Atlanta is a great opportunity to try a little taste of something new without committing to a full entree.
Wear comfortable shoes and get there early to get the most out of the festival. This is a good event for kids with the Family Food Zone but it can get very crowded so keep the kiddies close to you and have a plan in case you get separated. Kids 13 and under enter the festival for free with a paid adult, but you need to purchase “taste coupons” in order for them to sample food.
Most of all have fun and wear stretchy pants.
Zeal Modern Eatery is a good restaurant in an area with quite a few really good restaurants. Zeal Owner/General Manager Scott Sawant invited the Atlanta Food Bloggers’ Society, of which I am a member, to dine for free at his cozy East Cobb eatery in exchange for our honest opinions. Scott is gracious host and hands on manager whose passion for service was evident. In general there are a few kinks to work out in this 8 month old spot but it has a lot of promise.
We started our evening with super fresh oysters in honor of National Oyster Day. The starters here are the stars of the show for sure. The Tandori Chicken and Lamb Skewers were a big hit at the table. The Charcuterie, with meats from Heywood’s Provisions, ( I’m going to have to give them a visit, they’ve got some good stuff) was fantastic and the Fried Green Tomatoes with Fig Goat Cheese were popular among the foodie bloggers as well.
For the entrees I had a perfectly cooked, if a bit under-seasoned, grilled pork chop. One of my table mates ordered the NY Strip and was very happy with it. Another ordered the Tenderloin topped with blue cheese and was equally as happy. One diner in our group had a chicken breast that was a bit dry. Zeal’s owner, Scott, seemed genuinely interested in our constructive criticism so I have very high hopes for this restaurant.
And then for dessert
Zeal Modern Eatery is worth a second look, I’ll be back to see how they progress and to give the pork chop another try.