At Inspired Occasions we are constantly searching for new and innovative dishes to wow and amaze our client's and their guests.
This website is designed to take you on a journey by bringing you into our kitchens to observe our culinary creative process from conception to final presentation.
As we create each new dish we will define our inspiration, discuss challenges, present our solutions and post some great pictures along the way.
So join us in the Inspired Occasions Research and Development Test Kitchen for some amazing new dishes! I guarantee an amazing journey!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Smoke'n Summer

Is there a symbol of the summer?  Is it a shimmering pool surface about to be broken by the wild screaming cannonballs of children, or a cold glass of ice tea sweating in your warm hand?  My summer always starts with an ice cold margarita and ends with some sweet and smoky goodness from my grill.

Every one of my summers has had a theme.  Whether it is a song that we played all the time, a drink we always made or an activity we always were participating in, every summer has been unique.  Last summer was my "M" summer, Margaritas, Mojitos, and Mint Juleps.  My roommate and I would throw pool parties every Friday, Fiesta Friday if you will, and have all the components for the drinks laid out across our bar.  For those with limited mixology training we had recipes hanging on the wall.  I would make beef and chicken tacos with all the toppings, queso fresco, pickled jalapenos, guacamole, salsa, fresh flour and corn tortillas.  We would drink, swim and eat till the sun went down then do it all again next week.

This summer's theme is centered around my grill.  I wanted to take some classic dishes and twist them into something new.  Isn't that what it's all about?

The first creation actually came about because of one of my co-workers named Jessie.  Jessie loves chicken.  I cannot say that enough, that boy eats chicken every single day!  Whether it's fried, grilled, smoked, or baked he is eatin' him some chicken!  So one day he comes up to me with a case of chicken leg quarters and told me to do something new to them, something that he has never had before.  Challenge accepted.  We rubbed the legs down with a spiced chamoula rub (cayenne, paprika, and cumin) mixed with our good friend David Peaks seasoning salt, (Salt, rosemary, pepper, onion powder, granulated garlic, and thyme) then added a bit of brown sugar to sweeten the pot.  We then smoked the chicken for four hours low and slow, then as they walked out of the smoked we placed them on a hot grill just to crispen the skin and a nice char to the spices.  After the grill we drizzled the chicken with extra virgin olive oil, chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice.  The smoke and the heat were in perfect harmony while the light fresh flavor of the lime and cilantro kept the flavor roller coaster rolling!  Jessie was pleased, so much so that he bought another case of leg quarters and asked me to do the whole case!

This one’s for all the gluten free people out there, taco pasta!  Arrowhead meat company now sells corn pasta that tastes very much like a corn tortilla.  So that got us all thinking, why couldn't we take a traditional street taco and create a fun and different pasta?!  We started with a wonderful herbed olive oil marinated tenderloin taco with sautéed red onions tossed with lime juice and fresh cilantro.  We marinated the tenderloin overnight a mixture of sautéd garlic, red chili flake, oregano, black pepper, and a pinch of salt in olive oil.  Then it was grilled adding bits of char and smoke to the meat.  We tossed the meat and onions with the corn pasta then topped everything with queso fresco and some more fresh cilantro.  The pasta was the perfect stand in for the traditional corn tortilla, adding both a rich corn flavor and a wonderful pasta texture.  This might become my new summer treat!

But how can we all celebrate summer without a cool refreshing beverage to help beat the heat!  So we decided to take on of our favorites, the margarita, and make it a bit more interesting.  Introducing the Grilled and Smoked Margarita.  We started by smoking the salt, this added a fun and deep dimension to the salt.  To get the flavor of the grill all the way through this cocktail we grilled limes and used the juice in the margarita mix.  The margarita is then complete with a smoked salt rim and a grilled lime wedge garnish.  Perfect for those hot summer days and nights!  Cheers!

Stay tuned for more inspired dishes from Lon Lane's Inspired Occasions Research and Development Department!

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