Friday, May 11, 2007

Meet Rick Rodgers

Rick Rodgers has written more cookbooks than just about anyone I know. He's also an award-winning cooking teacher and chef. At this year's IACP conference he was one of the presenters of the The Vanishing Cookbook presentation that I recapped.

He's just recently written the Kingsford Complete Grilling Cookbook where he shares his expert tips and recipe ideas. You can meet Rick and pick up a signed copy of his new book at the Mountain View Costco on Saturday May 12th from 2 - 3 pm. With grilling season kicking into high gear any minute now, this book would make a great Mother's Day or Father's Day present.

What are backyard grillers doing wrong?
Cooking everything over direct heat. Think of your grill as an outdoor oven. You don't cook everything at 300 degrees or 500 degrees. Most grillers are used to cooking directly over the coals, at very high temperatures, which is a great way to incinerate your food! Consider the 4 grilling techniques--direct heat, indirect heat, banked coals, and using pockets, where your dig empty spots in the coals so the fat will drip into the pocket instead of onto the coals.

What does every griller need at their side?
First of all, get rid of the backyard barbecue set you bought for Father's Day! Pick the tools you need individually:

* A long spring-loaded tongs with good grip
* A silicone brush for basting
* A flat turner for burgers, be sure the plate is flexible
* Dedicated oven mitts
* A second pair of tongs for the coals
* A metal thermometer with the glass dial and metal prong, drop it through the lid to get the temperature

No squirt bottle is necessary if you know how to manipulate the coals properly.

How do you spice up the sides?
Make interesting versions of what people expect to have, like coleslaw and potato salad. For instance I make coleslaw with grated granny smith apples, some apple juice concentrate and poppy seeds.

When it comes to potato salad I've been making a Spanish style one lately with sherry vinegar, roasted peppers, saffron and artichoke hearts.

Another good side is mac and cheese which works for most vegetarians and kids. And cook it on the oven, not everything everything has to be cooked on the grill.

What's your favorite recipe from the book?
The backyard barbecue ribs. The challenge is to get them juicy and tender without resorting to boiling or baking them. In this recipe you cook them on the grill wrapped in foil for an hour and 15 minutes then take them out and put them on the grill for a finishing glaze; that way they cook in their own juices.

What books are you working on now?
New additions of Thanksgiving 101 and Christmas 101 are coming out. I love being able to teach people things and make a contribution towards their peace-of-mind. New addition of my Slow Cooker book as 101. We're putting together my fondue and dips book together as Party Dips 101 and a big book called Cooking 101. I'm also doing a quartet of seasonal cookbooks.