Steak and cauliflower cooked in charcoal – but don’t use cheap briquettes.
Photograph: Katherine Anne Rose for the Guardian
Dirty food, to most people, is burgers served in doughnuts, deep-fried birthday cakes or some diabetes-inducing culinary challenge served in a hubcap.
Thankfully, we’ve moved on. It’s no longer 2014. This summer, for me, is going to be all about dirty barbecue.
This has nothing to do with the other dirty food. This is way more literal. The late, great Josh Ozersky cooked me some dirty steaks last year.
If I’m honest, Ozersky had had a few bourbons and they could have been a little better, but he learned this trick from my mentor and United States barbecue guru Adam Perry Lang, who also taught me a few years ago.
He calls it “clinching”.
Most people fear the meat will burn, but it won’t. Photograph: Katherine Anne Rose for the Guardian
Dirty cooking is awesome in its simplicity. Instead of using fancy grills and barbecues, just grill the food directly in or on the hot charcoal. The most important thing is to use decent charcoal.
Don’t use cheap briquettes and dispense with chemical lighter fuels, too.
Get some nice charcoal online or from your local butcher that is made from wood and nowt much else – there are plenty of companies that sell additive-free briquettes.
You don’t even really need a barbecue, just charcoal, air and something to cook. I
f you have a normal barbecue, use that without the grill. Or you could “acquire” something like a metal shopping basket, placed on a few house bricks and filled with charcoal.
You could probably use a cake cooling tray on some concrete or an old colander. Be innovative. All you need is something to put the charcoal in, air to get to the coals and a base that won’t go up in flames.
When you eat your Smarties do you eat the red ones last?” “How do you like your coffee? Crisp!” “Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t!” “Double your pleasure, double your fun!” “Taste the rainbow”.
You know what I’m talking about – snack food – and if the weather doesn’t let up, there may be more snacking happening than is advisable (hello, Fudgeos!)
Snack foods I believe are taking over the planet. They’ve certainly commandeered the grocery stores.
While all the good stuff can be found on the outside aisles of most supermarkets, the inner lanes look like set designs for a Willie Wonka sequel.
There are dozens of options for the serious snacker just on the potato chip shelves alone – barbecue, salt and vinegar, lightly salted, sour cream and onion, ketchup, baby back rib and the Lay’s Canadian contest winner for 2013, Maple Moose flavor (which I hear is being pulled because we really did not favour the flavour).
We like to think that we invented snacking – but the phenom has been with us for quite some time.
In the first decade of the last century, those World Fairs were starting to introduce all kinds of new foodstuff to a hungry public.
Hamburgers, hot dogs, waffle cones, Dr. Pepper and cotton candy (your carnival food staples) were making an impact not only during the expos, but certainly afterwards.
Pizza, our beloved fast food staple, first came to North America in 1905 when Lombardi’s opened its doors in New York City in 1905.
“America’s most famous dessert,” according to the Ladies Home Journal, jiggled its way onto plates back in 1897; Jell-o was a quick hit with strawberry and cherry flavors, while coffee and cola did not last out the year (Jell-o trivia alert – the company offered each new immigrant stopping at Ellis Island in New York harbour in 1903 a free bowl of the dessert as a “Welcome to America!” gift).
One candy that came from that decade that frankly should have gone the way of coffee Jell-o are those icky chalk conversation hearts that some poor soul still thinks is okay to give at Valentine’s.
The next decade saw the invasion of the Oreo cookie, originally sold as part of a three-pack (the other two were the Mother Goose and the Veronese, but they were soon let go as the real star was the chocolate sandwich cookie).
Oreos were sold in glass jars for twenty-five cents a pound.
Lifesaver candies also made their debut in 1912, but they did not get their hole-in-the-middle until 1925, which begs the question – how were they a lifesaver without the hole in the middle?
By the 1920s snacks were just gaining their stride. Prohibition was sucking the fun out of a lot of things, so naturally candy and chocolates stepped up to the plate.
Oh Henry’s, Mounds, Mike and Ike’s, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Nestles Drumsticks and Popsicles all became popular with a public whose sweet tooth was in full development.
Marshmallow Fluff and Kool-Aid rounded out the decade (and apparently many a behind).
Things were tough in the 1930s. The Great Depression was in full swing. Companies were motivated to create affordable food from cheap products and they were quite successful.
Twinkies, Snickers, Frito’s and Lay’s potato chips got their start during the height of the crisis.
Just a side note on potato chips – according to popular lore, in 1853, millionaire Cornelius Vanderbilt was lunching at a restaurant in Saratoga Springs (and acting like a royal pain in the you-know-where).
He ordered french fries but sent them back because he thought they were too thick – he did this little stunt no less than three times.
The by-now furious chef whipped out a potato peeler and proceeded the shave slim strips off a potato; he immersed these discs in hot oil, making them super crispy.
He doused them in salt and served them personally to the snooty millionaire who ate every one of them declaring they were the best thing he had eaten in years. The chef called his creation Saratoga chips and thus was born the potato chip industry.
A mint julep is traditionally made of four ingredients: mint, bourbon, sugar and water.
In the use of sugar and mint, it is similar to the mojito. In preparing a mint julep, a fresh mint sprig is used primarily as a garnish, to introduce the flavor and aroma through the nose.
If mint leaves are used in the preparation, they should just be very lightly bruised, if at all. However, proper preparation of the cocktail is commonly debated, as methods may vary considerably from one bartender to another.
Mint juleps of the past were typically served in silver or pewter cups, and held only by the bottom and top edges, which is a maneuver that allows frost to form on the outside of the cup.
In Kentucky, the difference between a glass and a cup are quite different.
The Kentucky Mint Julep Cup can trace its origins to early American silversmiths, and has remained to be a symbol of achievement, esteem and prestige.
In fact, people have proudly used their cups to celebrate personal events outside of the Derby itself.
Glasses were created after Derby-goers kept stealing the paper cups that their mint juleps were typically served in.
In 1939, Churchill Downs (the racetrack which is famous for hosting the derby) fixed the issue by creating the Kentucky Derby Mint Julep Glass that allowed for people to keep -and pay for- the souvenir that’ll help them remember their visit to the Kentucky Derby.
Today, you can also find them served in old-fashioned glasses, or highball glasses with a straw.
The mint julep was first introduced as a prescription, back in the the late 1700′s – many pieces of older literature described using the cocktail to help ease sore stomachs.
Years later, U.S. Senator William Clay, from Kentucky, introduced the drink to Washington, D.C. during his stay in the big city.
Yet it was probably the derby which helped transition the drink from a medicine, to a cocktail used for big, classy celebrations.
It is not necessary to buy a Yorkshire-pudding tin to make an authentic Yorkshire pudding.
What you actually need is a 30cm by 20cm rectangular tray, the kind now sold as tray-bake tins for things such as Mary Berry’s millionaire’s shortbread or lemon-drizzle squares.
The true Yorkshire pudding, says Peter Brears, “is always made in a rectangular dripping tin and cut into squares just before it reaches the plate”.
Brears is the author of Traditional Food in Yorkshire (Prospect Books) – less a cookbook (though it does include recipes) than a brilliant social history of how they ate in Yorkshire in the 19th century.
The perfect pudding, according to Brears, has a high crisp rim and a “deeply rippled centre”.
The round puddings that are now deemed the classic version were originally called “Yorkshire puffs” and were a way to save on oven space, as cooks dropped spoonfuls of batter into the hot fat around the roasting meat.
Quite why batter pudding – which was made in various forms all over Britain – should be so closely associated with Yorkshire isn’t clear. The first written recipe is by Hannah Glasse in 1747, who seasoned the batter with grated nutmeg and ginger and cooked it under a joint of “beef, mutton or a loin of veal” as it spit-roasted before the fire.
Yorkshire pudding remains one of the glories of a Sunday lunch: crispy outside and custardy inside.
It’s one of the few dishes – soufflé being another – that elicits a gasp when it arrives at the table.
Authentic or not, I like to make them in a muffin tin (three eggs, 120g flour, 300ml milk and a pinch of salt for 15 minutes in a hot oven), preheated with oil for maximum puff.
Some serve the pudding as a sweet course, with golden syrup and cream, but I see the battery crevices as the perfect vehicle for meaty juices.
Traditionally, the pudding and gravy were served as a first course, like pasta, with the meat and vegetables to follow.
A roast dinner that includes Yorkshires as well as roast potatoes is a double-carbohydrate feast.