Best of 2011: Kingsford U, Tandoori Grilling, Grilled Cocktails, Foodography, Tailgating 2.0 and More…!!!
As 2011 is drawing to a close, I want to take a moment to say damn, what a good year this has been. Every year I push myself a little harder to learn more, and accomplish more with my recipes and with GrillGrrrl.com and I thank all of you who have helped along the way. Thanks for your words of encouragement, advice and feedback to help me to continue to be a better cook, blogger and average gal. I enjoy getting to know all of you, whether it is through this site, the BBQ world or events that put us together. Much thanks for a wonderful 2011 and cheers for an equally great 2012!
One of the highlights of this year was getting to go to Kingsford University and learn new food trends and grilling techniques from Chris Lilly and his partner Ken Hess from Big Bob Gibson’s BBQ, who are 2 of the winningest men in BBQ (with many grand champion titles under their belt). One of the best techniques I learned from that event was Grilled Cocktails. We had a cocktail competition where I, along with Meathead (amazingribs.com) and Chris Grove (Nibblemethis.com) won the cocktail competition with the “Rib Job”. Yes, this cocktail has a dirty sounding name but is the real deal as a bourbon based grilled citrus cocktail with rosemary infused sugar water and a rib as a swizzle stick. Other awesome recipes that came from that weekend included Chris Lilly’s grilled mexican corn, grilled pickles and learning Chris’ techniques for doing brisket.
I also got the chance to meet up with Ken Hess, right hand man and pit master alongside Chris Lilly, to interview him on grilling tips and how to dry age your own meat. How cool!
My dad and I competed on the Too Sauced to Pork Team again this year at Memphis in May, only this time the event was at a different location due to the flooding of the Mississippi River. While there, I competed against Clint Cantwell at the KCBS tent in a girls vs. boys chopped style competition and won! I think my grilled poundcake may have done the trick but never the less, it was a nice feather in my cap and a win for the girls!
I took the grilled Cocktail concept and even used it when the Cooking Channel’s Foodography came to film me for their BBQ/Grilling themed episode. We did a mock Women’s Grilling Clinic where we grilled fish in banana leaves with a mango/avocado salsa, jalapeno lime texas toast and grilled lemonade cocktails. Hey, it’s my five minutes of fame and I’ll take it! 🙂
Along the way I decided to finally get a BGE. At my Women’s Grilling Clinics, I was teaching at the EGG/Weber dealer and many of the women wanted to learn how to cook on an EGG so I finally got one and boy am I glad I did. I made my first pork butt with a mango glaze for pulled pork sandwiches on the egg and they turned out fantastic. Scott and I have had many a great meal off the egg and I truly feel that my grill line up is now complete. I did my first Women’s Grilling Clinic outside of South Florida in Knoxville at Dead End BBQ in Knoxville, TN. It was a great experience to get out of my comfort zone, expand my boundaries, meet new grilling enthusiasts and join the ranks of other fine chefs who have done classes at Dead End BBQ. While there I also got to participate in a Southeast blogger get together in the beautiful Tennessee mountains at Larry from Big Dude’s Eclectic Rambling’sbeautiful house on Lake Tellico, TN.
During all of this, I met up with a producer down here in Miami and we made 2 “webisodes”. We were trying to see how I did on camera and they turned out very good in my humble opinion, and we are gearing up to do a whole series for for grilling season in 2012. One of my sponsors was a Tandoori Grill called the Homdoor grill that allows the home cook to do Tandoori Indian grilled dishes at home without having to have a commercial tandoori oven. It was quite the learning experience as I had to learn how to cook Naan (Indian flat bread) on the clay oven walls of the Homdoor Grill. This was one of my accomplishments I am most proud of for 2011. I created a “Cilantro Lime Beef Satay” recipe for this webisode that is one of my favorite recipes of the year. Cilantro and Lime are one of my favorite flavor pairings.
Some of my favorite recipes from this year include my grilled margarita recipe. This was a spin on the “grilled cocktail” concept learned at KU. Citrus is easy to come by in South Florida and I’m a big fan of anything with limes in it so this is a no brainer cocktail that’s easy to make and loved by everyone! Plus, grilling cocktails is a fun party trick when you have people over.
I’m always looking for new spins on cooking fish and while this was not on the grill I feel it deserves a mention. The Salt Encrusted Fishwas some of the most moist and flavorful fish I have ever had and I was surprised at how easy the process was. You create a salt crust that steams the fish and it cooks a small fish in less than 15 minutes for a fun, exotic presentation.
Avocado trees are aplenty in South Florida, only they are Florida Avocados, not Haas Avocados. They are bigger and one Florida avocado produces about as much fruit as 2-3 haas. When these come in season down here, everyone is giving them away and we eat a lot of guacamole. I really love guacamole, in fact I think it should be it’s own food group. Here is my Fire Roasted Key Lime Guacamole recipeto satisfy all you guacamole lovers out there. Grilled citrus, garlic, tomatoes and avocados plus cilantro make for a winning combination.
As fall approached and grilling season turned into tailgating season, I did a “tailgating 2.0” series highlighting some of my favorite line up of recipes for a tailgate. I featured lots of awesome recipes from my allstart BBQ Blogging friends including Patio Daddio’s County Fair Onion Burgers and Chris Grove’s Atomic Buffalo Turds. Need I say more? I started blogging for the New Times (an alternative newspaper down here in South Florida) and did some fun articles you might enjoy including “The Funniest Competition BBQ Team Names” and “Spatchcocked and Other Interesting BBQ Terminology”. This has been a fun opportunity to do a little more humorous writing since this newspaper prides itself on being different and a little off beat.
As Christmas rolled around, I perfected my Sea Salted Dark Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Bacon. Chocolate and Bacon- that just about says it all.
My South Florida Smoked Fish Dip continues to be the #1 hit on my blog and one of my best loved recipes by friends and family. One of my goals for 2012 is to further perfect smoking fish on my BGE using local woods indigenous to South Florida (sea grape, citrus). One of my other goals is to learn how to do more Indian Inspired cooking and how to make a basic, homemade curry. Now that it’s committed to the web, I can’t back out now! Let’s see at the end of next year if my 2012 recap includes these things! Thanks for a wonderful 2011 – let’s make 2012 the best year yet!!