Know Your Fire Fridays: Ancient Grilling

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One of the oldest cooking techniques in existence, the art of grilling meat on a skewer was derived from medieval Turkish soldiers who used their swords to cook meat over open fires. An Adana kebabi from the south of Turkey is a savory mixture of minced lamb, cumin, cayenne, black pepper, dried oregano and mint. The meat is shaped into a long cylindrical shape like a long hot dog or sausage, then pierced onto a long metal skewer and grilled in one piece. It is served removed from the skewer and cut up.

Adana is named after the 5th largest city in Turkey, Adana. There are very strict guidelines and inspections that must be passed by The Adana Chamber of Commerce in order to be an authentic Adana kebabi vendor.

Adana kebabi has to be made from the meat of a male lamb. The skewered meat, must be roasted on fireless, charcoal embers exclusively from oak wood. The skewers are frequently turned during grilling using caution so the melting fat is not dripped on the embers causing a flair up. The Adana is served on flat bread by pressing the meat off the skewers after cooking; when wrapped and served in a flat bread, it's called a Dürüm. Authentic accompaniments served with adana include; charred tomatoes, green or red peppers, onions and parsley seasoned with sumac or lemon pepper seasoning, and warm hummus.


Adana or Kiyma Kebabi

Makes 4 servings | George Hirsch Lifestyle

1 pound ground lamb or ground beef 

1/4 teaspoon ground red (cayenne) pepper

1/2 teaspoon each; ground cumin, dried oregano

1 Tablespoon each: fresh parsley and fresh mint

1 egg white

Fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Pinch Sea salt

Olive oil

2 fresh lemons, quartered

Fresh Mint 

1 cup plain Greek yogurt, optional. Or, serve with Tzatziki Sauce

Mix the meat with the cayenne, cumin, oregano, parsley, mint, black pepper, and salt in a bowl. Add the egg white and continue to combine until the mixture is well blended.

Grease skewers with cooking spray or oil. If possible, use long, flat metal skewers. Divide the meat mixture into 2-4 (depending on the length of skewer), 2 inch wide thick sausage shapes. Push the skewer through the middle, lengthwise, and squeeze the mixture up and down the skewer, spreading it evenly. Repeat with the other skewer. 

Cover and place in refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes. This will help the meat hold together. When ready to grill, brush the outside of meat with olive oil.

Preheat the grill to high. 

Place skewers on very hot grill. Grill 5 minutes, turning frequently, or until cooked through. Serve immediately with sides of yogurt, fresh lemon, fresh chopped mint, and an onion & parsley salad.

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Pumpkin Ravioli

Ravioli, a pasta whose name derives from the verb "to wrap" (ravvolgere).

George Hirsch Pumpkin Ravoli

A century ago stuffed pasta with vegetable-based fillings were eaten on Fridays and during Lent. The meat-stuffed varieties, on the other hand, were a day-after treat made with the leftover meats from Sunday dinners or festive meals. Autumn is the perfect time to stuff-it with fall squash or what has become a viewer favorite from my TV series - pumpkin.


Uncooked ravioli will freeze well for a two months, when stored flat in single layers.

Make mini ravioli for soups.

Ricotta Pasta Dough | George Hirsch Lifestyle

3 1/2 to 4 cups all purpose flour, variable

10 ounces ricotta, well drained

2 whole eggs, beaten

1 egg yolk, add to beaten eggs

1/4 teaspoon salt 

To Mix By Hand:

Mound 3 1/2 cups of the flour and salt in the center of a large wooden cutting board or use a large deep bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour, add the ricotta and eggs. Begin to mix all ingredients by hand folding the flour round and round. 

The dough will come together when half of the flour is incorporated. At this point, start kneading the dough with both hands, using the palms of your hands. 

Once the dough comes together, remove the dough from the bowl and scrape up and discard any leftover bits. Lightly flour the board and continue kneading for 6 more minutes. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky. If too sticky add a little more flour.

Wrap the dough in plastic, refrigerate overnight or allow to rest for at least one hour. Because of the eggs, the Ricotta Dough should be cooked or frozen within three days.

Roll or shape as desired. 

From here you can prepare ravioli, fettuccini, pappardelle, or endless variety of shapes. 

Divide the dough into four pieces. Lightly dust a large wooden board with flour and roll slightly by hand, repeat dusting with flour flipping dough over as you make it thinner and thinner. The trick is to use just the right amount of flour, too little it will stick, too much and the pasta will become tough when cooked. 

A pasta dough machine with metal rollers and cutters is ideal to give you variety of options. But with a little practice by hand, you’ll roll the dough like a pro. 


George's Pumpkin Ravioli Recipe
Makes four-six servings | George Hirsch Lifestyle 

4 pre-made pasta sheets or 1 recipe George’s Ricotta Pasta Dough

For the Pumpkin Filling:
1/2 cup can pumpkin
1 cup fresh ricotta, well drained
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
2 egg yolks
1 whole egg
Pinch fresh nutmeg
Fresh ground black pepper
Optional,  1 Tablespoon dried bread crumbs if filling is too moist

To Fill Ravioli: 
Lay out pasta sheet on a lightly floured board. Cut into two inch squares with a knife or pastry cutter. Put 1 Tablespoon pumpkin filling in the center using either a pastry bag or a small spoon. Leave a 1/4-inch border all around the filling. Moisten borders with water and top with remaining rounds of dough. Press all the air out and seal firmly by pressing all around with fingertips. Place raviolis on a lightly floured board or baking sheet and lightly sprinkle the tops with fine corn meal to keep from sticking. Repeat until you run out of dough and/or filling. 

Prepare the sauce, then cook the ravioli, by boiling in lightly salted water until tender, about 3 minutes. 

Butter & Sage Sauce:
6 Tablespoons butter
1 clove garlic, peeled and sliced
3 fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup pecan pieces
Parmesan cheese to taste 

Heat a sauté pan and melt butter. As butter begins to brown add garlic clove, pecans and sage leaves. Remove ravioli directly from water and place in sauté pan to coat with butter. Add about 2 Tablespoons pasta water to sauce. Serve on a warm platter with  with olive oil and Parmesan cheese. 

10,000 Year Old Soup

No, I'm not serving you yesterday's broth, just talking about tortillas. Masa is made from maize. The making of tortillas dates back approximately 10,000 BC, according to Mayan legend. Tortillas are really not much different today. I think a tortilla soup is ideal to serve up on occassions from a gameday party to even a church supper. The ingredients are universally available along with it's wide appeal. I've prepared this recipe around the globe with several variations including fish, shellfish, beef or pork.

Taking the time to pre-grill the chicken, sausage and vegetables in this recipe makes a great flavor enhancer to this soup. After-all, when tailgating, the entire soup would be prepared on a grill. I've also included instructions for this recipe to be fully cooked indoors, in case the snow happens to bury your grill, or just dig that grill out!


Corn Tortilla Soup

Makes 4 servings | Adapted from Know Your Fire cookbook

1 pound boneless chicken thighs*

2 chorizos or spicy sausages*

Olive oil

2 ears of corn or 1 cup frozen corn kernels

1 sweet onion, *thickly sliced

2 red bell pepper, *halved and seeded

2 jalapeño peppers, *split and seeded

3-4 plum tomatoes, *halved

1 head caramelized garlic, pureed

3 scallions, chopped

1 Tablespoon cumin

1 cup tomato sauce

6 cups chicken broth

1 Tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon hot sauce

3 (8-inch) corn or flour tortillas

fresh ground pepper to taste

1 cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded

* Chop into small pieces if not pre-grilling the chicken, chorizos and vegetables. Then add into soup pot as instructed below.

Pre heat the grill to medium high.

Brush chicken thighs with olive oil. Grill chicken and chorizos 7-8 minutes on each side. Remove, cool and cut into half inch pieces.

If using fresh corn, grill the corn. And, if grilling vegetables - brush with olive oil and grill 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove, cool and chop into small pieces. Or, if not grilling vegetables chop into small pieces for the next step.

Pre heat a large soup pot to medium temperature. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, all the vegetables, chicken, chorizo, tomatoes, cumin, and tomato sauce. Cook for 5 minutes. 

Add chicken broth, bay leaves, and hot sauce. bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, on a low temperature grill place the tortillas on grill and toast lightly on both sides. Cut the tortillas into strips 1 inch long and 1/4 inch wide. Tortillas may also be cut into strips and lightly toasted in a hot oven- if not toasting on a grill. Add 3/4 of the tortilla strips to the soup during the last 5 minutes. Remove the bay leaves and season with pepper and cilantro. 

Serve hot soup topped with cheese and remaining tortilla strips. 

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Concept for a combined farm, restaurant and retail store. Is this a trend or the future of shopping and dining? Well, both. Concept was released last week at the Nordic Exceptional Trendshop in Denmark by the Agropolis Team.  

Their belief is - we can source our food in 90% less water, 80% less space, and 100% less pesticides to grow the world’s food supply. And, a place where food is not transported a single mile to reach the consumer. 

Although the technology is not new, their concept takes hydroponic, aeroponic, and aquaponic farming one step further by combining the farm within the retail store and restaurant is. Can you imagine going into your local grocery store and picking fresh fruits and vegetables grown right on premise? Sustainability taken one step further. Nutrients from fish in aquaculture tanks will feed the plants, and the store becomes an entire ecosystem. An on site restaurant also serves produce from the urban farm.

This notion is not new by the standards of many cultures of eating local and seasonal. There is a big movement today to eat local, with restaurant chefs leading the way. Chefs are very passionate about the location of their food source and even growing their own. Many of my colleagues/friends feel it's the only way. A prime example is friend, Chef Joseph Realmuto of Nick & Toni’s Restaurant in East Hampton, New York. This field-to-table way of cooking has been Nick & Toni's philosophy for years. 

Business, technology, farming and chefs - Agropolis is not just for the extreme environmentalists but also for those who simply enjoy fresh food. Looking forward to seeing this come to life.

images, Agropolis Farm

George Hirsch TV Segment: Chef Joe Realmuto - Nick & Toni's