Review: New Tailgating Items for 2011

Tailgating BannerCan the Packers repeat?  Which SEC team will win the BCS Championship this year?  Will we ever see another football player as good as Cam Newton again?  Will the NCAA give Miami the death penalty this time or just another slap on the wrist?  What will you be making on opening day?  Since the NFL is done with their petty squabble and college teams are on the field cracking skulls it’s time to gear up for fall tailgating.  I have put together a list of some of the neatest new items to help get you ready for the upcoming season.  Let’s check them out:

Lawhorn’s Signature SeasoningsLawhorn’s Signature Seasonings – this is a straight foreword blend, nothing fancy but with the terrific aroma of  black pepper.  Too many seasoning blends treat black pepper as an afterthought.  Not with Lawhorn’s.  It is where it belongs, front and center.  The reason I recommend Lawhorn’s is because of its versatility.

Need a Cajun dish?  It’ll do.  Need a BBQ rub?  It’ll do that to.  Need a good flavorful burger shake?  It’ll knock that out of the park.  It’s great on steaks too.  Multitasking is a great thing in any kitchen but when you’re tailgating the importance of finding one thing that does several tasks is crucial.  Lawhorn’s allows you to limit the spice cabinet to just one thing.  I did a much larger review of Lawhorn’s about a month ago.

For more info click HERE.

SFQ - The Original San Francisco-Style Barbecue Sauce SFQ Sauce – this is a phenomenal BBQ sauce from the Bay Area that encapsulates the very essence of San Francisco’s incredible food scene.  Cooked in small batches and deepened with dark chocolate and coffee this Left Coast spin on the Kansas City style of sauce is truly one of the best things I’ve tasted in 2011.

Even better, it is a gluten-free, vegan sauce made with all natural, mostly local ingredients including organic, vine-ripened tomatoes and organic, oak-aged red wine vinegar, chocolate, coffee, molasses, chilies and spices. Contains NO high fructose corn syrup.

For more info click HERE.

Truck Stop Honey Brown AleTruck Stop Honey Brown Ale – In April I went to a special surf-side dinner to help commemorate the first anniversary of the Gulf Oil Spill and to celebrate the local volunteers who did more to help save the Gulf than BP and the Federal Government combined.  The menu was featured only Gulf Coast ingredients which included two beers from Alabama’s Back Forty Beer Company.

Their pale ale, Naked Pig, was crisp with a slightly bitter, hoppy finish.  It was quite nice.  But the Truck Stop Honey Brown Ale was a revelation.  It is my new favorite beer and what’s tailgating without beer right?  I’m not the only one impressed with Truck Stop as it was awarded a Silver Medal at the 2010 Great American Beer Festival in Denver, CO.

For more info click HERE.

aFire KOKO Charcoal – Charcoal made out of coconuts?  That’s right.  Koko Charcoal by aFireAccording to aFire, “Coconut charcoal is made from the inner hard shell of a coconut. The combination of hard fiber and charcoal creates a high-performance fuel that burns longer.”

I test drove a case of Koko this summer and I was very satisfied.  I used it to slow smoke a brisket to make one of my favorite tailgate recipes, The Big Tex (watch the video HERE).  The charcoal burns longer and hotter so you use less of it.  Additionally aFire is a company bringing a green focus to the grilling industry.  This charcoal is made with no binders or additives giving it a pure smoke that lets the natural flavor of the food shine through.  No chemical aftertaste.

For more info click HERE.

Deep South Propane Cookers – This spring I was a judge at a gumbo cook-off on Dauphin Island off the coast of Alabama.  That was my first introduction to the amazing propane cookers being fabricated by Deep South Cooking Outfitters.  These cookers are the brainchild of owner Gene Fox, a championship gumbo and chili cooker.

Deep South Cooking Outfitters INCNot finding exactly what he wanted on the market Fox decided to design his own propane cooker just for competitions that featured a low-set, high-pressure burner perfect for holding his 20 gallon pot at just the right height and an elevated, small burner for cooking rice or using as a saute station.  Not only did his custom cooker work great but several of his fellow competitors expressed interest in buying one for themselves.  And thus are new ventures begun.

Gene’s Deep South Cookers are hand-made to order with heavy gauge steel that is welded not bolted together.  As if this weren’t enough Gene will also custom decorate your cooker with whatever design you want, also cut out of steel.  These are big boy cookers.

For more info click HERE.

If these prove a little out of your price range don’t worry, Deep South is also a retailer for Bayou Classics cookers and grills which brings me to the next new item.

The Bayou Classic Cypress Grill – Ceramic grills are all the rage these days and for good reason – it’s amazing technology. There are quite a few Bayou Classic Cypress Grillbrands to choose from with the most famous being the Big Green Egg but for my money the Cypress Grill is the best.

The folks at Bayou Classic took all the things that made the Big Green Egg so phenomenal and improved on it.  The Cypress Grill has a reinforced steel henge so your lid doesn’t flop off every other year.  They also have a cool-to-the-touch steel handles instead of the wooden handles that warp and rot.  The Cypress Grill also has two ceramic inserts giving you greater control for indirect cooking and temperature control.

The other improvement?  Cost.  Where a similar Egg might run you as much as $1200 the Cypress Grill can be bought for under $800 (with free shipping).  Oh, and they are a hell of a lot prettier, too.

For more info click HERE.

The Go Galley Portable Outdoor Kitchen – The Go Go GalleyGalley is for serious tailgaters and therefore comes with a serious price tag ($2599).  I have tailgated football games from Auburn, Alabama to Norman, Oklahoma and everywhere in between; seven states and over two dozen stadiums.  The Go Galley is the absolute best rig I’ve seen for all your tailgating needs.

I’d kill a drifter for a Go Galley but since there aren’t any handy I guess I’ll just have to start recycling aluminum cans or something.  Words just can’t do this thing any justice so check out this video:

For more info click HERE.

There you go, Tailgate Warriors, some of the best new gear for the 2011 season.  Now get out there and make a play!

Fall Recipe: Sweet Potato Hash Browns

Here’s a unique recipe for fall that I used to run when I was the chef at Mars Hill Cafe.  This was one of our most popular side dishes:

Sweet Potato Hash Browns
Recipe Type: Side
Author: Stuart Reb Donald
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 2-3
  • 1 large or two small sweet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 tablespoon canola oil
  1. Shred the sweet potato with the shredding attachment of a food processor or use a box grater. Toss the sweet potatoes with corn starch and coat thoroughly.
  2. In a ramekin or small bowl combine the cinnamon and cayenne.
  3. In a large saute pan or griddle heated to 400 degrees add the canola oil. Place four equal sized mounds of hash browns and spread using the side of a spatula in a chopping motion.
  4. Cook until hash browns are golden brown then flip.
  5. Season the cooked side with cinnamon/cayenne mixture and cook just until second side is golden brown.

Each serving contains 108 calories, 1 gram of fat, 25 grams of carbohydrates and 2 grams of protein.

Sweet Potato Hash Browns

Easy Thanksgiving Recipe: Pumpkin Curry Soup

Here’s a unique recipe for Thanksgiving:

Pumpkin Curry Soup

  • 1 15 ounce can organic pumpkin
  • 1 cup organic chicken stock
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon Curry powder (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh minced ginger (optional)
  • two tablespoons raw local honey
  • toasted pumpkin seeds

With a whisk, combine all ingredients (except pumpkin seeds) in a large stock pot and bring to a simmer (takes about 15 minutes) then serve.  Taste and if the soup is still a little bitter add more honey one tablespoon at a time until it cuts the bitterness but doesn’t make the soup too sweet.  Garnish with pumpkin seeds. Naan is also a nice addition.

Fish Dish: Coconut Curry Ahi Over Udon

I was excited to find that my local market has started stocking Full Circle all natural, wild caught, US fish in its freezer section.  I live on the Gulf Coast and can get fresh Gulf seafood but these are not indigenous fishcicles.  So I have decided to share this culinary voyage with you.  I won’t be providing recipes per se but instructions on how I fixed each Fish Dish.

Fish Dish: Coconut Curry Ahi Tuna Over Udon

Ahi Tuna

I had my first Thai dish about 2 years ago but it has quickly become my favorite Asian cuisine.  I am in love with the sweet/hot contrast especially in the red curry coconut sauce, although I do love all of the curries.  Thai generally comes in three temperatures: hot, hotter, and holy s%@#!  I was afraid that the powerful flavor of the curry would overwhelm a more delicate fish so I chose the Ahi tuna for this recipe.

I brought 2 quarts of water to a boil and seasoned it with salt and a couple of small pieces of fresh ginger.  In the water I boiled my Udon noodles until done.  I set the Udon to the side and finely diced the ginger.  My next task was to saute onions, chilies, carrots and the ginger in a little olive oil simply seasoned with salt and pepper.  I removed the veggies and in the remaining oil I added my tuna.  I cooked the tuna just long enough to brown the side (about 2 minutes) then I turned it over.  I then added enough curry-coconut sauce to come half-way up the filet, reduced the heat and let simmer, covered, about 10 minutes.  In essence I poached the tuna in curry sauce.

The curry sauce is frighteningly easy to make.  First add a few tablespoons of canola oil to a medium-hot pan.  Next add a few tablespoons of red curry paste (available at that Asian market you’ve been wanting to go into but haven’t had a reason to yet.  You’re welcome).  Stir, heating through and then pour in a can of coconut milk.  Combine and simmer for a few minutes.  Jar and refrigerate until you are ready to use it.  NOTE: The more curry you use the hotter it will be.

Plating: Udon first, then tuna, pour the sauce over both, top with veggies and I garnished mine with almond slivers, and roughly chopped fresh basil and cilantro.  A squirt or two of freshly squeezed lime juice adds a little pop to the dish.

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Stuart in 80 Words or Less

Stuart is a celebrity chef, food activist and award-winning food writer. He penned the cookbooks Third Coast Cuisine: Recipes of the Gulf of Mexico, No Sides Needed: 34 Recipes To Simplify Life and Amigeauxs - Mexican/Creole Fusion Cuisine. He hosts two Internet cooking shows "Everyday Gourmet" and "Little Grill Big Flavor." His recipes have been featured in Current, Lagniappe, Southern Tailgater, The Kitchen Hotline and on the Cooking Channel.

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Stuart’s Honors & Awards

2015 1st Place Luck of the Irish Cook-off
2015 4th Place Downtown Cajun Cook-off
2015 2nd Place Fins' Wings & Chili Cook-off
2014 2015 4th Place LA Gumbo Cook-off
2012 Taste Award nominee for best chef (web)
2012 Finalist in the Safeway Next Chef Contest
2011 Taste Award Nominee for Little Grill Big Flavor
2011, 12 Member: Council of Media Tastemakers
2011 Judge: 29th Chef's of the Coast Cook-off
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Wing Cook-off
2011 Cooking Channel Perfect 3 Recipe Finalist
2011 Judge: Dauphin Island Gumbo Cook-off
2011 Culinary Hall of Fame Member
2010 Tasty Awards Judge
2010 Judge: Bayou La Batre Gumbo Cook-off
2010 Gourmand World Cookbook Award Nominee
2010 Chef2Chef Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2010 Denay's Top 10 Best Food Blogs
2009 2nd Place Bay Area Food Bank Chef Challenge
2008 Tava: Discovery Contest Runner-up


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