Top 5 Things to Grill (that aren’t the usual suspects)

With the 4th of July coming up, our thoughts have turned toward grilling. Meat is always welcome. A good burger or brisket perhaps. But what else is there?

Welcome to our list of things to grill that aren’t meat! Assuming we’re all cool with the usual grillable veggies (onions, corn, asparagus, zucchini – ho hum) and the occasional fruit (pineapple or pears, anyone?), we thought we’d explore items that are sure to make an impression at your next BBQ.

#1 – Rice

Yaki Onigiri

Yes. Rice balls. Or cubes. Or whatever shape you fancy. Yaki Onigiri is the bomb. Remember on that season of Survivor when Boston Rob finally won? What food did they fight over? It was the crunchy toasted rice that stuck to the bottom of the pot. In Asia, that toasty/crunchy/grilled rice is a THING. A good thing.

#2 – Watermelon

Grilled Watermelon

What?! Now it seems like I’m messing with you, but there’s something special about grilled melon. Serious Eats has a fantastically simple recipe for grilled watermelon. Mark Bittman also has a recipe, but his is for watermelon burgers with cheese! And here’s a shout out to the other melons out there: cantaloupe and honey dew. They look good in stripes, too.

#3 – Romaine Hearts

Grilled Romaine Hearts

Kristin Schell has a beautifully simple recipe for grilled romaine, and Fine Cooking has one a little more involved that features homemade blue cheese dressing. If you’re feeling adventurous, try other hearty leafy greens: kale, iceberg, radicchio, endive, or baby bok choy. Bittman has a recipe for cabbage, teriyaki style.

#4 – Jicama

Grilled Jicama, Radishes, Scallions, and Chicken with Asian-Style

Get your root vegetables on! Here’s an undervalued veggie with huge potential. Bittman has the above recipe from Cooking Light and another with chili powder and queso, but I like it simple: grilled with a little fresh squeeze lime and some Tajin or shichimi togarashi. You can grill other root vegetables, too: daikon, yams, carrots, and beets.

#5 – Bread

Grilled Bread

Why not? Kebab it with other stuff or grill whole slices. We’re not talking about Wonder Bread but rather rustic loaves, like a ciabatta or batard. City Mama keeps it simple, but if you’re looking to impress, Bon Appétit can help you to gussy it up. Finally, White on Rice Couple‘s ode to grilled bread will make you wonder why bread isn’t #1 on the list.

For something a little sweet–say, for dessert–consider grilling pound cake or angel food cake. It’s like bread, only better. Top with berries and cream.

Got a recipe for something unusual to grill? Let us know!

Cutting Up a Chicken

If you eat chicken, then you should know how to cut up a bird. When I first started cooking, I found this task daunting. I was scared to handle the chicken, let alone hack it up.

The New York Times just posted a great video on cutting up a raw chicken.

If you don’t already know about utilizing joints and fat lines, then this video is for you. You’ll need a decent knife and kitchen shears to copy the method.

Gourmet has it’s own take, which includes tips on using gravity and taking care to keep the “oyster” with the thigh.

If the chicken is cooked, the method is similar.

Let the bird rest for 5-10 minutes. Extra points if you have a chef’s fork.

These are the techniques I use now, but it’s not what I experienced growing up. If you’re a Chinese cook, have one in the house, or simply pay attention at a Chinese restaurant, you’ll notice that joints and fat lines don’t really matter. There’s almost a pure modern grid approach; Chinese cooks just take that chicken and cut it into even-sized pieces. Okay, I’m kind of exaggerating, but truthfully the Chinese method is a little of both: you cut through joints, but you also evenly chop through bone, ending up with more smaller-sized pieces. The real benefit comes from breaking the bones to release the flavor inside.

This technique starts by cutting through (or down both sides of) the breastbone and then removing the backbone, leaving 2 halves of a chicken. Chop to separate the breast from the leg, and chop again but this time through the knee (if chickens have knees…) to separate the thigh from the drumstick. Remove the wing from the breast at the shoulder joint. So far, it’s a lot like the above methods, but here’s where it continues: Chop the thigh, drumstick, and breast crosswise through the bone.

It’s pretty hard to find a video that shows how to do it, but this web page and this web page are helpful. For this method, you’ll need a sharp cleaver and a chopping block. Supposedly a super sharp pair of shears can be used in lieu of a cleaver.

If the chicken is cooked, the Chinese method is to make even more crosswise cuts. You know, like this.

You’ll need to add your own Chinese soundtrack.

One final note: save that backbone! Throw it in a pot with an onion and a little salt. Cover with water, bring to a boil, and then simmer for a couple hours. Ta da! Stock!

Now cook a chicken:

 

2013 is here!

The start of a new year is hopeful. It’s a time of reflection and resolution.

Here at Cookooree, we can only look back and feel blessed to have had the opportunity to build out our service. Looking forward, we have plans for cool new features for 2013.

Happy New Year!

-joanie

Happy Happy New Year!

Wow! It’s 2012! Happy New Year!

There’s nothing like a new year to make you grateful. I’m incredibly blessed to have had the opportunity to finally launch Cookooree, which was years in the making. The dream began 6 years ago as an idea for a fun and easy way to share recipes. Then this past February, I had the incredible opportunity to finally act on the dream and work with Lab Zero, a group of incredibly smart, hard-working, and nice people! In a few months, a private beta was out, followed shortly by a public beta.

If you know anything about Cookooree, then you know that someone named “joanie” posts a lot of recipes. I mean a lot. She’s insane. But she’s also “eating her own dogfood,” which is such a terrible phrase that I think we’ll go with something else, like “eating her own home-cooked food.”

Anyway, using the product every day has made me such a believer in the transformative power of technology to turn a desire to cook into a reality. I’m cooking and learning so much that I feel like I’m in college again! It’s been an amazing personal change in how I live my life and pass on that legacy to my kids.

For me, the difference was Cookooree. I now had a mechanism to easily share and take pride in what I cook. I found that I am motivated by recipes as a form of personal expression, play, and social engagement. I love starting conversations through food. I love making things up. I love taking something complex and making it simpler, which is what I did professionally as a designer for the last 15 years.

We each have our own motivation, and my hope is to continue to develop Cookooree in a way that compels people to not just enjoy looking at food and collecting recipes but to actually do something about it.

Here’s to 2012 and all the things we’ll be cooking!

-joanie

We’re Thankful for You!

I’d like to say thanks to our many users who are helping to breathe life into Cookooree. Your recipes inspire me to cook more and continually improve Cookooree as a way to discover great recipes via the palettes we know and trust.

I’m incredibly thankful to be in a position to thank you all, having finally launched the service a couple months ago after walking around for a couple years mostly thinking about it. The difference between planning and doing is immense, and there’s nothing quite as gratifying as actually using your own product on a daily basis.

Every day the challenge is tough but worthwhile. Our shop is lean, bootstrapped, and every other word that tries to put a positive spin on a lack of resources. We can’t do everything all at once, so improvements are thoughtfully considered and carefully vetted. Thanks for being patient and providing feedback, which informs our decision-making process.

-joanie

Welcome and Thanks

As some of you know, Cookooree entered the world quietly two weeks ago. With a tweet and Facebook post, we went live, and it’s been thrilling to see our friends’ recipes show up on the site.

Recipes are social in that way. They’re meant to be tested, swapped, and handed down, and by all means SHARED! Cookooree is simply providing a collective platform for the myriad of social behaviors people already do in person, over email, or on blogs.

If you haven’t checked out Cookooree, then please do! It’s the best! :) But seriously, Cookooree is the easiest way to share tested and trusted recipes. And it’s loads of fun.

If you’re new to Cookooree, then Welcome! And if you participated in our private beta or are currently using the site, then we’d like to say Thanks! from the bottom of our hearts.

joanie

Links!

Here at Cookooree HQ, we’re suckers for good stories. We believe recipes elicit stories. (To re-write Laurie Anderson, recipes are the campfire around which we tell our stories.) And when we share recipes, we’re connecting our stories together. That’s why we’re happy to announce that when you add a recipe to Cookooree that you’ve adapted from elsewhere, you can now link your recipe to the original recipe. Yay!

Cookooree will also automagically detect URLs in a recipe’s story area (under the photo) and in the About section of your profile page. And you can expect more link love very soon.

joanie

Hello Friends!

We are delighted to have you here on the site, giving it a go-over and (we hope) your recipes.

There are many site features still in development, so here are a few tips to make Cookooree fun now.

1. Your own picture of the dish. This can be tough because if you don’t already have a picture of the finished product of a favorite recipe, then you’ll have to wait to actually make it in order to really complete your recipe. I think of this as a quest: when I have all the components assembled, then I can complete the quest and claim my reward! I’ve actually found myself making something (like my pesto recipe) that I wasn’t in the mood for, just so I could upload a complete recipe. It’s bragging!

2. Your story or memory about the recipe. Everyone has some sort of backstory around the food they make, and I have a lot of fun telling my stories. It’s kind of like Twitter in that it doesn’t have to be long or even helpful; it’s just where your thoughts can go. Reading other people’s stories also gives you insight into the other Cookooree cooks as you browse around.

3. Following people personalizes the homepage so that you see all those people’s recipes. We are still working on making Following more satisfying but for now, click on “People” in the top nav and browse the users (there are still few enough to make this not too cumbersome). Explore the people and their recipes and begin following the people whose tastes you might like. You can follow me, LizDunn, and another founder, joanie, to get started if you like. Joanie’s recipes are seriously the best.

I’ll be posting here about updates to the site as we make them and responding to feedback so please let us know what you think! You can write me at Liz@cookooree.com or feedback@cookooree.com

Thanks for being part of our early community!

Liz