Monday, July 7, 2014

Southwest-Style Smoked Barbecue Brisket

To download a copy of the recipe for Smoked Barbecue Brisket, click HERE. 


During a recent trip to the southwest (Oklahoma and Texas), I noticed that many of the touchstone moments involved food. This was especially true for foods that were the real versions of the pale imitations we get here in the northeast. Since having the burrito served at El Chico’s in Waco, Texas, I haven’t had the New York version since, or wanted to. 


Another good example is barbecue. In the northeast, barbecue usually consists of a meat cooked in barbecue sauce, then covered with more sauce. The sauce is the star of the show, and the meat is a supporting player. My first real barbecue (the brisket sandwich at Rudy’s) showed me that the meat needs to be able to stand on its own flavor; if it’s not independently delicious smoked meat with just a little bit of sauce for support, it’s not barbecue. The brisket was the hero of the story; the sauce was its trusty sidekick.

If the thought of smoking meat conjures images of food television shows featuring smokers the size of tractor trailers being operated by people whose days and nights are devoted to finding the perfect wood combination, fear not. Small, stove-top smokers make this wonderful cooking method available to home cooks like us. And while stove-top smokers aren’t complete substitutes for the full size ones, they do a pretty good job if you use them right. (See Cook’s Notes below for some comments on using the stove-top smoker.)

Some Cook’s Notes before we begin to make our smoked barbecue brisket:

  • Portions of this recipe are adapted from Emeril Lagasse's “Texas-Style Smoked Brisket”.

  • These instructions are based on a Camerons stove top smoker. Method for using other models may vary. Check the instructions. (If necessary, you can even use a search engine to find instructions on how to make your own.)
  • Since smoking time in a stove-top smoker is usually less than for a full-size smoker, wood chips that work well in full size smokers may not work as well on the stove-top. Hickory and Mesquite are both good choices for a stove top smoker.
  • Since the brisket requires very little attention while coming to room temperature, while smoking, and even while in the oven, this time can be used to prepare side your side dishes. (I served mine on fresh baked herbed rolls and with honey slaw on the side. You’ll find the herbed roll here and the honey slaw recipe here. (If you have any trouble downloading or copying the recipes, just send me a note and I’ll be happy to e-mail you a cookbook-style copy of either or both.)

This recipe makes about 4 servings.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • For the wet rub: 2 Tbsp brown sugar; 2 Tbsp paprika; 2 Tbsp salt; 1 Tbsp garlic powder; 1 Tbsp onion powder; 1 Tbsp black pepper; 1 Tbsp horseradish (prepared is ok, fresh-made is better); 1 Tbsp hot sauce; 1 Tbsp Worcestershire; and 2 tsp ground cumin.
  • 2 lb beef brisket
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Other equipment needed: stove top smoker; 1-1/2 Tbsp wood chips (hickory or mesquite is recommended); cooking spray; meat thermometer.

First, we’ll make the rub and marinate the brisket:

In a bowl, thoroughly combine the rub ingredients.

Set the brisket on a sheet of plastic wrap and rub the mixture onto the brisket.

Wrap the brisket tightly in the plastic wrap. Place on a baking sheet and place in the refrigerator to marinate 6 to 8 hours.

When the brisket has finished marinating and you’re ready to start smoking, prepare the stove-top smoker as follows. (Also see Cook's Notes above.)

Place 1-1/2 Tbsp of wood chips in a small pile in the center of the smoker base.

Cover the drip tray with foil, and place it on top of the wood chips inside the smoker base. Spray the wire rack with cooking spray, and place it on top of the drip tray. After the brisket has finished marinating, remove it from the refrigerator and, after letting it come to room temperature, place it on the wire rack.

With the lid slightly open, place the smoker on one burner of the stove over medium heat. When the first bit of smoke appears, close the lid and let the brisket smoke for 90 minutes.

When the smoking time is almost done, begin preheating the oven to 275 degrees F.

After the smoking is complete, it’s time to complete the cooking process.

Remove the brisket from the smoker and wrap in aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet and roast until tender and an instant-read thermometer registers an internal temperature of 185 to 195 degrees F., or until the meat is tender. This will probably take about two hours, but watch the temperature and give it whatever time it needs. Cook by temperature, not by time.

Remove the meat from the oven and let rest for 20 minutes. When the brisket has finished resting, trim the surface fat from the brisket. The fat is good for cooking, but not so good for serving.

Carve the meat against the grain.



To download a copy of the recipe for Smoked Barbecue Brisket, click HERE. 

All that’s left is to add your sides and serve your brisket on a plate or as a sandwich with a good barbeque sauce. (Cowboy hat or baseball cap with a reference to something from the southwest is optional, but highly recommended.)

Please visit again for the next next great-tasting, home-cook friendly recipe post. (Spoiler alert: In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting the recipe for a cool, refreshing summer dessert you’re going to think is just peachy. Oops…have I said too much?) Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Apple Cinnamon Streusel Dessert Pizza

 To download a copy of the recipe for Apple Cinnamon Streusel Dessert Pizza, click HERE.

I’m ba-a-a-a-a-a-ck

Although I “retired” from posting weekly recipes back in August, it remained my hope to continue to post recipes on an occasional basis. It took seven months, but this weekend I once again got to cook with a camera in one hand and a pen in the other.


A long time staple of pizza chain restaurants, dessert pizza is not a new concept. Made at home, by you, with the kind of attention to detail and ingredients a mass-production chain restaurant could never provide, however, it can be brought to a higher, and frankly pretty delicious, level. (Even the recipes you’ll find on-line often use canned apple pie filling for the topping. I don’t get that. Isn’t having a dessert that’s fresher and better than the one you buy from a chain restaurant the reason you’re making it yourself in the first place? But I digress…)

Of course, if your household is anything like mine, a dessert pizza will probably be used as a breakfast pizza. Dessert pizza just sounds more grown-up; in private, we know better.

Some Cook’s Notes before we begin:

  • This recipe makes a 16 inch pizza. For smaller or larger pizzas, adjust the amounts of each ingredient proportionately. 
  • For a less sweet dessert, reduce the amount of sugar in the apple-cinnamon topping.

This recipe makes one 16” pizza (approximately 12 portions).

Here’s what you’ll need:

For the pizza dough base: 1 pizza dough (purchased or home made); 1 Tbsp melted butter substitute

For the Apple-Cinnamon Topping: 4 Granny Smith apples; ¼ cup sugar; ½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed; 2 Tbsp AP flour; ¼ tsp salt; 1/4 tsp nutmeg; ½ tsp ground cinnamon; 1/8 tsp lemon zest; 2 tsp lemon juice

For the Streusel: 1-1/4 cup all purpose flour; 1/2 cup white sugar; 6 Tbsp brown sugar; 2-1/2 Tbsp firm textured butter substitute, very cold; 3 Tbsp flavor-neutral oil

For the Icing: 1-1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar; 3-1/2 Tbsp skim milk; 3/4 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Lightly coat a pizza pan with butter substitute.

Pat the dough into a pizza pan.

Coat the pizza dough with 1 Tbsp melted butter substitute.

Peel and cube the apples.

Combine the apple-cinnamon topping ingredients.

Spread the apple-cinnamon topping mixture all around buttered crust.

Combine streusel ingredients with a fork. (Avoid using your hands, since your body heat will soften the butter substitute.)

Top the pizza with the streusel mix. (You’ll probably have some streusel mix left over.)

Bake for about 13 minutes until crust is lightly browned. When done, let it cool to warm or room temperature.

While the pizza is cooling, combine icing ingredients. (The amount of milk shown is approximate. Start with a little less, and add a little more at a time until the mixture has a drizzle consistency.)

Drizzle the icing on the pizza.

Cut into slices to serve.

To download a copy of the recipe for Apple Cinnamon Streusel Dessert Pizza, click HERE.

Whether you enjoy this easy-to-make sweet treat for dessert, Sunday morning breakfast, or as a naughty midnight snack doesn’t matter. Just enjoy it!

You never know when the next great-tasting, home-cook friendly recipe will be posted, so please look in once in a while! Till then, stay well, keep it about the food, and always remember to kiss the cook. ;-)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Baked Alaska Flambé, and a Special Announcement

Special Announcement

Once upon a time, fueled partly by watching aspiring food-show hosts presenting their show concepts on The Next Food Network Star and thinking about what mine might be; partly by reading “Beard on Food,” a collection of the great master’s weekly newspaper columns; and partly by the ego-bruising realization that almost all of the recipes in my thick recipe notebook had other people’s names on them, I set some goals: begin creating my own recipes; share those recipes on a new blog that would make process and how the food makes you feel as important as how the food tastes; get disciplined enough to do the above on a weekly deadline; and keep all of that going for three years.

That was in August of 2010 - three years ago. I’ve met those goals, and another I hadn’t expected:  gotten to know wonderful people, some of whom have become quite dear to me (you all know who you are), and to all of whom I am very grateful for your kind acceptance and endless encouragement of my efforts. The time commitment has been great, and that’s ok; when life treats you well, it gives you the opportunity to work hard at something you deeply love to do. And so it is with great pride and great gratitude that, going forward, I’ll now be changing over to posting recipes on an occasional basis, rather than on a weekly basis. (You knew I couldn't give this up completely. :-) )

Now let’s cook!

Baked Alaska Flambé

To download a cookbook style copy of the recipe for Baked Alaska Flambé, click HERE.

Baked Alaska may sound like a complicated dessert dish. In reality, it couldn’t be simpler: caked topped with ice cream, covered in a basic meringue and briefly browned in the oven.

To make it even better, in this recipe we reduce the fat by replacing the ice cream with low fat frozen yogurt, and baking a simple, reduced fat pound cake to use as the base. The pound cake is the only part of the whole process that involves any real cooking, and if you’re truly determined not to cook, you can even buy a pound cake already made. (Of course, a purchased pound cake is probably not going to be low fat.) In fact, the process of making a Baked Alaska is almost like that of making a salad: you don’t cook it, you assemble it, hopefully with some finesse. Although it takes most of a day to make, don’t be put off; what you’re really doing is putting a few simple things in a bowl, placing the bowl in the freezer for a few hours, doing some more simple things to it, putting it back in the freezer for a few hours, doing some more simple things to it, putting it back in the freezer for a few hours, and then baking it for five minutes.

You can, of course, serve Baked Alaska right out of the oven and have a wonderful dessert, but you (and your guests) would be missing half the fun.  Few things get and hold people’s attention as effectively as does setting their food on fire, so this recipe also shows you how to put your special dessert  over the top with a flambé.  (There’s no need to worry about the flambé burning the meringue. Research at Cornell University found that, although the temperature of the flame itself can be quite hot, the surface temperature of the food under the flame never exceeds the boiling point of water, which is not high enough to cause additional browning. For a look at the science behind the process, check out this great article:

Some Cook’s Notes before we begin:

  • It is important that the pound cake ingredients be at room temperature as described; otherwise, the cake can get too heavy.

  • If using 80 proof rum (or any other 80 proof liquor), heating it in a shallow pan before trying to set it aflame is very important to doing the flambé. Higher alcohol liquors, such as 151 proof rum – can be ignited at room temperature. Liquors that are 80 proof need to be heated before they’ll flame. (The alcohol content of beer and wine is too low for either of those to be used in a flambé.)

  • Aside from it being easier to ignite as noted above, 151 proof rum will burn longer than 80 proof liquors because of its higher alcohol content.

  • If serving the Baked Alaska with the flambé, be sure to have a clear path to the serving table before lighting the rum.

This recipe makes about eight servings.

Here’s what you’ll need:

For the filling: 40 reduced-fat vanilla wafers;  1 pint low-fat cherry frozen yogurt (or other desired flavor); and 1 pint low-fat blueberry frozen yogurt (or other desired flavor).

For the pound  cake: 2 cups sugar; ¾ cup firm-textured butter substitute, room temperature; 1-1/2 cup AP flour; ½ cup pastry flour; 2 tsp baking powder; 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract; juice and zest of 1 lemon; 1 cup fat-free Greek yogurt, room temperature; 5 egg substitute eggs, room temperature.

For the meringue: 3 egg whites (from fresh eggs, not egg whites from a carton); pinch of salt; 6 Tbsp sugar; pinch of cream of tartar; ½ tsp vanilla.

For the flambé (optional, but highly recommended for a strong serving effect): ½ cup rum (151 proof is recommended, but 80 proof will work too)

Let’s start by preparing the pound cake.

Set the butter substitute, egg substitute and Greek yogurt out for about an hour to get to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Using an electric mixer or stand mixer with the paddle attachment, mix the sugar and the butter substitute until creamy.

Slowly add remaining pound cake ingredients and continue mixing till combined.

Pour the batter into a buttered two-pound loaf pan.

Bake until browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, about 1-1/2 hours, turning the pan half-way for more even baking. When done, set aside to cool completely.

While the pound cake is baking, prepare the filling as follows:

Place the vanilla wafers in a food storage bag and, using a rolling pin, crush them into crumbs.

Line a 2-1/2 quart bowl with foil. Put the cherry frozen yogurt into the lined bowl and press the surface until even.

Cover the top with half of the vanilla wafer crumbs.

Put the blueberry frozen yogurt on top of the crumbs and spread out until the surface is even to form the second layer.

Cover the top with the other half of the vanilla wafer crumbs. Place the bowl in the freezer for about two hours until frozen hard.

When the frozen yogurt in the bowl is hard, prepare the cake base as follows:

Slice about half of the pound cake into 1” thick slices. (If you need more pound cake to make the base, just cut one or two additional slices.) Remove the crusts from the pound cake slices. (Save the cut crusts for a snack later; nothing goes to waste!)

Cutting the pieces as needed to fit, place them on top of the frozen yogurt in the bowl to form the cake base. Be sure the entire top surface is covered with pound cake. Place the bowl back in the freezer for another two hours.

When it’s almost time to take the bowl out of the freezer again, start preparing the meringue.

Place the egg whites and salt in a chilled bowl and beat with chilled beaters until very stiff peaks form.

Gradually beat in the sugar until smooth and glossy.

Add the cream of tartar and vanilla, and beat until stiff.

To apply the meringue:

Line a baking sheet with parchment.

Place the lined baking sheet upside-down on top of the bowl with the frozen filling.

Turn the bowl and baking sheet over together so that the baking sheet is now on the bottom and the upside-down bowl is on top.

Remove the bowl, then carefully peel off the foil to expose the frozen yogurt.

Use a spatula to apply the meringue to the top and sides of the cake assembly.

Be sure to bring the meringue all the way down to the parchment. Place in the freezer for at least two hours. (The meringue will get firm, but will not freeze solid.)

To finish the Baked Alaska:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Lightly score the surface of the meringue by gently running the tines of a fork in each direction. Place the Baked Alaska in the oven until the meringue is lightly browned, about five minutes.

The Baked Alaska can now be sliced and served as is. For a more dramatic serving, prepare the flambé as follows:

Pour the rum into a shallow, heat proof pan. Only if you’re using 80 proof rum, warm the rum in a small, shallow pan to 110 degrees, the temperature of moderately hot tap water. (Do not warm 151 proof rum.) Light the rum on fire and carefully pour or spoon a little over the Baked Alaska. Turn down the lights, and serve immediately while flaming.

To download a cookbook style copy of the recipe for Baked Alaska Flambé, click HERE.

I’ll see you again with more great tasting, home-cook friendly recipes some time in the future, so be sure to keep an eye out here or, better yet, you can send a Friend Request to me on Facebook at Kissingthecook Recipes.

Every week for the past three years, I’ve closed each post by asking you to stay well, to keep it about the food, and always to remember to kiss the cook. By all means, keep doing so. But this time, the cook – this one, at least – with heartfelt thanks to everyone who has been part of this glorious adventure in food and life itself - wants to give you a big kiss right back.

Happy cooking!