Our Updated Guide to World-Class Grilling | Expert Grill Tips

Our Updated Guide to World-Class Grilling | Expert Grill Tips

When you’re a branch of the most award-winning custom kitchen design firm of the 21st century, the way you cook is very important. And when summer at the shore is your favorite time (and place) of the year, “getting your grill game” up to par is a must!

5 steps to becoming a better grill cook this summer! (Photo: Gyfjonas via Wiki Commons)
5 steps to becoming a better grill cook this summer! (Photo: Gyfjonas via Wiki Commons)

Making the leap from “throwing a few things on the barbecue” to becoming a grill master seems daunting. But like any journey worth taking, you shouldn’t look at it as a “leap” at all. Every skill is learned and mastered over the course of thousands of baby steps. It’s the same lifelong process that led Peter Salerno (CMKBD) to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a master craftsman and artisan. From his father’s cabinetry business in Sicily to Peter’s award-winning custom design firm in America, Peter’s journey to becoming a master wouldn’t have happened if his father hadn’t taken the first step so many years ago.

Using the Salerno backstory as inspiration, let’s break the journey to becoming a grill expert into smaller steps and look at what YOU can do to become a better grill cook this summer!

Expert Grilling Step 1: The Proper Grill

Peter Salerno is an avid grill enthusiast, with stellar grill equipment at his home, beach house, and award-winning showroom in Wyckoff, New Jersey. From Weber grills to Miele grill tops to La Cornue rotisseries, Peter understands that world-class grilling begins with world-class grill appliances.

Regardless of your budget, there is generally a ‘best option’ at most price points for grill hardware. Whether you choose gas, charcoal or pellet is entirely up to you and your personal taste; there are reputable reviews and ratings of every style readily available online. But whether you inevitably choose Weber, NexGrill, Kenmore or another brand, the type of grill is every bit as important as the brand.

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You’re going to get a much different taste experience off a pellet grill, for example, than you would off charcoal. That doesn’t make one better than the other; it’s simply about your preference. Do you like the woodsier taste a pellet grill may provide, or the traditional smoke of a charcoal grill? Do you prefer the clean efficiency of a gas grill? There is no right answer to those questions – the only “correct” answer is what suits you best.

Each type of grill brings its own perks and its own unique cleaning and maintenance regimen; make sure you read up on these as well!

Expert Grilling Step 2: The Proper Ingredients

All else being equal, a great steak is going to taste better than a mediocre one. (Obviously, you can foul up a great steak as easily as a poor one, but let’s focus on the upside here!)

There really isn’t a ton to say here. It’s worth buying better quality raw ingredients. Spring for the fresher, in-season vegetables. Spend a few more dollars on the right cut of meat, or the higher-quality seasoning.

Expert Grilling Step 3: The Proper Technique

Learning how to grill properly is the most intimidating step in this process; don’t be scared! The Internet has made the journey from novice to expert grill cook so much simpler.

Start with the Epicurious Guide to GrillingWe love it. It’s a soup-to-nuts (or in this case, burger-to-chop) guide to grilling techniques and ingredients, from some of the best amateur and professional grillmasters today.

Get yourself a great Bluetooth or WiFi thermometer. Seriously. There are some amazing Bluetooth applications out there that gauge the temperature of your grill AND the internal temperate of what you’re grilling. Whether you’re cooking with the grill top open or closed, you can monitor the process of your meal no matter where you are. Gone are the days when you had to hover over your grill like a vulture, out of fear you’ve over-cooked!

We love the Weber iGrill 2 Bluetooth Thermometer; unless you’re on a smaller budget, it’s currently our favorite product on the market. If you’re looking for a WiFi-based alternative rather than connecting to Bluetooth, we suggest the ThermoPro TP20 Wireless Meat Thermometer

Expert Grilling Step 4: The Proper Accompaniments + Sides

Don’t just slather a ton of sauce on your beautifully grilled meat, vegetables or vegan substitutes! The right sides, dressings, dips and garnishes can make or break your summer grill meals.

We found an awesome treasure trove of Grilling Dips & Sauces courtesy of Patricia C. Wilson. We strongly encourage you to jump over to Patricia’s site and take a look at her grilling dips and sauces; there are some really unique, simple preparations that are going to ‘wow’ your dinner guests!

There’s also a wonderful piece on the Williams-Sonoma blog courtesy of their Test Kitchen chef, Belle English. Belle encourages us to “just buy the sauce or rub” – sometimes, there’s no reason to over-think the process! Belle does go on to provide some highly valuable advice on what sauces and rubs to pair with different types of meats, and how to incorporate them into your meal’s preparation.

Expert Grilling Step 5: The Proper Company

Well-prepared food is like any beautiful creation; it’s best when shared with others and consumed by people who will appreciate it! Expert grilling is meant to be shared with family, friends and loved ones.

So now that you’ve taken the first steps to improving your “grill skills”, it’s time to gather the people you care for around a big table, spread out some big family-style dishware, and have a summer grill celebration to remember!

Food Inspires Design | 5 WordPress Food Blogs We Follow + Love

Food Inspires Design | 5 WordPress Food Blogs We Follow + Love

The best kitchen designs are inspired by the food created within them.

Food is a muse for master chefs, avid home cooks and hobbyists alike – but it’s also an inspiration for kitchen design experts the world over. Peter Salerno (owner of Peter Salerno Inc., our parent company) is not only an award-winning international custom kitchen designer, but an avid cook and food connoisseur. (Peter’s first cookbook, complete with expert wine pairings, is due out later in 2019.)

Peter Salerno's pumpkin fettucine with creamy sausage sauce.
Peter Salerno’s pumpkin fettucine with creamy sausage sauce.

“It’s important for a kitchen to be as functional as it is luxurious,” Peter explained to us in a recent meeting. “If its owners don’t get a fantastic cooking experience out of their kitchen, then who cares how beautiful it is?”

In order to stay inspired by food, we keep a close eye on some of WordPress’ finest food, recipe and cooking sites. Some are well-traveled, while some are wonderful hidden gems in the deep and varied ocean of food blogs and online recipe collections.

5 WordPress Food Blogs We Follow + Love

Polenta & Baccala

Oh, how we love this gem of a website. Polenta & Baccala (stylized polenta e baccala) is an invitation to cook with Graziano, who creates authentic Italian recipes coupled with marvelous photography and detailed preparation instruction. Besides the rich content and beautiful photography, the blog is presented on a visually stimulating layout.

There’s no guesswork needed with the recipes at Polenta & Baccala. From preview to preparation, creation to consumption, Graziano provides the perfect “map” to all his dishes to cooks of any experience level. Couple this with Graziano’s photography expertise and his very real credentials (a native northern Italian now living in Hungary), and we promise you’ll be spending plenty of time perusing polenta e baccala for recipes and food inspiration.

Homemade mozzarella from Peter Salerno's kitchen.
Homemade mozzarella from Peter Salerno’s kitchen.

Cooking With a Wallflower

It’s important to remember that self-expression comes in all forms. While the statement one can make with food is loud, often the person preparing these artistically resounding meals is quite introverted. Such is the case with Cooking With a Wallflower, a charming (and delicious) blog run by Andrea, a dental hygienist with a passion for food.

We enjoy Andrea’s perspective on food, and creating a fulfilling work-life balance between her occupation and her passion for cuisine. Cooking With a Wallflower offers a highly pleasing blend of recipes and life experiences, which reminds us that the heart and soul of every kitchen is the person who uses it.

In Diane’s Kitchen

In Diane’s Kitchen is so appealing because it’s so real. Recipes are constructed with real life in mind. “What to do with those holiday leftovers?” “How can I make that recipe I saw on TV with the modest kitchen accessories I own?” Diane brings these answers to the table, crafting simple recipes that often provide amazing “bang for the buck” in terms of great rewards with minimal effort and/or skill required.

Websites like In Diane’s Kitchen help keep kitchen inspiration rooted in reality, which is an important aspect of any designer’s process. Like Diane’s recipes, a good kitchen designer knows that ease of use and simple application are of incredible importance in our daily lives.

Peter Salerno's homemade black pepper pappardelle.
Peter Salerno’s homemade black pepper pappardelle.

Foods That Blog

Sometimes, you just want to stare at some pictures of delicious food. For food photography that looks good enough to eat, we turn to Foods That Blog – a place we consider to be source material not only for food trends and food photography, but also design inspiration!

The richness and variety of color and texture in Foods That Blog’s photography can serve as a muse for holistic kitchen design. It’s also helpful to observe what styles and preparations of food are on the rise, as these dishes help signal trends in kitchen appliances and overall kitchen setup.

Cooking Without Limits

Food Photography & Recipes. A simple tagline for a simple, effective blog. Cooking Without Limits pairs a minimalist layout with simple, clean photography and to-the-point recipes to create a user-friendly experience. We love how conversational Cooking Without Limits is; each recipe is an invitation into this cook’s personal kitchen, experiences and tastes.  Every recipe comes with a story, and we love that – after all, your kitchen is where so many of your life’s stories are created!

What is YOUR favorite recipe, cuisine, or food photography blog or website? Leave a link in the comments and tell us why!

Fall in Love With White Truffle Season in Italy

Fall in Love With White Truffle Season in Italy

Fall is truly an adventure in Italy’s Piedmont region, as locals, foodies and tourists alike begin the hunt for white truffles. 

October to early December marks the Italian truffle season – especially the elusive and highly prized white truffle, which routinely sells at upwards of $1,000 a pound!

Peter Salerno's homemade white truffle and pasta dish.Peter Salerno's homemade white truffle and pasta dish.
Peter Salerno’s homemade white truffle and pasta dish.

According to Essential Italy, a leading Italian travel site: “Although truffles are generally found in the regions of Piedmont, Molise and Emilia Romagna, there are plenty to be discovered elsewhere. Tuscany, Umbria and Le Marche are perfect places to visit if you’re hoping to make the most of the truffle season.”

Very few of our acquaintances love Italian cuisine and the fine art of cooking white truffles more than Peter Salerno, the owner and founder of Peter Salerno Inc. (the most award-winning North American kitchen and bath design firm since 2002).

October-December is white truffle season in Italy's Piedmont.
October-December is white truffle season in Italy’s Piedmont.

Together with the fine staff at Urbani Truffles on West End Avenue in New York City, Peter Salerno developed his own white truffle and pasta dish to celebrate the Italian Piedmont’s white truffle season. Check out some exclusive photos of Peter’s trip to Urbani, as well as his finished dish!

More information from our friends at Essential Italy (we URGE you to read their full article!):

If you are in Tuscany in Autumn, one truffle-based event to try is the San Miniato Truffle Fair, known as the La Sagra del Tartufo Bianco. Held in the beautiful medieval hill town of San Miniato in November, the event usually takes place over several weekends – most typically the last three weekends of the month.

Tuscany is home to around 25% of Italy’s white truffle produce so there will be plenty to go around and it’s the go-to region if you are new to truffles. The festival is also a great place to visit for a day out with food and craft stands, as well as entertainment and restaurants that allow you to try their truffle menus. Other festivals in Tuscany include ones held in San Giovanni d’Asso, near to Siena, held on the second and third weekend of November, with a truffle museum open on the weekends.

October-December is white truffle season in Italy's Piedmont.
October-December is white truffle season in Italy’s Piedmont.

The go-to Italian regions for white truffle season are the Italian Piedmont (or Piemonte) region, Le Marche, Tuscany and Umbria. For the ultimate white truffle experience, check out the towns of Acqualagna, Alba, Volterra and Pietralunga, among others!

Feel free to share your favorite white truffle recipes, cooking tips, photos and experiences in the comments section below!

Peter Salerno's homemade white truffle and pasta dish.
Peter Salerno’s homemade white truffle and pasta dish.

Delish Features Memorial Day Recipes To Drool Over

Delish Features Memorial Day Recipes To Drool Over

Avid readers of “Design Your Lifestyle” know that 2 recipe blogs make us salivate like none other – Delish and Epicurious.

Since our inception, we’ve relied on Delish and Epicurious more than any other sources for food tips, recipes, drink recipes, and seasonal menus that always fit the bill and ‘hit the spot’. And boy, has Delish delivered once again with its Memorial Day Recipes feature page.

BBQ in style with Delish's Memorial Day Recipes!(Photo: Gyfjonas via Wiki Commons)
BBQ in style with Delish’s Memorial Day Recipes!(Photo: Gyfjonas via Wiki Commons)

From the Delish team:

We wanted to make a space that was for everyone — people who liked to eat more than they actually liked to cook. We created a place that was as much about delicious, easy recipes as it was about food as a fun lifestyle and cultural phenomenon. We produce nearly 200 recipes a month, but we’re also creating videos about our favorite brands, restaurants, and stores, or celebrities and their eating habits. Plus, we’re all about telling the crazy food stories you won’t find anywhere else.

How could we not love that mission statement? (And if that’s not enough, check out their Pinterest page – we dare you not to get hungry and make a recipe immediately.)

The thing we love most about the Delish Memorial Day Recipes feature is that it’s drawn from the real world. We’re not saying that some people don’t adorn their Memorial Day dinner table or cookout table with “deconstructed crawfish etouffee” or “artisanal curated something-or-other with lemongrass foam”. We’re just saying that most people eat burgers, hot dogs, salads and sides.

BBQ in style with Delish's Memorial Day Recipes!(Photo: Gyfjonas via Wiki Commons)
BBQ in style with Delish’s Memorial Day Recipes!(Photo: Gyfjonas via Wiki Commons)

And this is precisely the foundation of the Delish Memorial Day “menu” of recipes. The splashy lead article, 43 Insane-Slash-Brilliant Things To Do With Hot Dogs“, hooked us from the beginning. Simple summer pastas, summer salad recipes, kebabs and homemade condiments follow the charge, and soon you may find yourself like us…

(“Did I really just spend 52 minutes looking at Memorial Day recipes? Yup, I sure did.”)

Vegetarians and vegans, fear not – Delish has you covered for Memorial Day as well, with grilled veggie recipes that are more than satisfying.

So if you’re at a loss for Memorial Day cooking ideas and need some recipes for inspiration, head over to the Delish Memorial Day Recipes site and get searching! (We’ll give you a call in a day or two if you get carried away.)

Exclusive Culinary Institute of America Recipes: A Sneak Peek!

Learn Culinary Institute of America Recipes And Tips!

No, don’t worry – this list of “CIA Secrets” won’t get you in any trouble! Recently, Peter Salerno (of our parent company, Peter Salerno Inc.) and his son Anthony took a trip to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, to experience a day of cooking and culinary craftsmanship with master chefs.

While each chose to take a separate CIA cooking class, both learned incredible CIA chef recipes that they will certainly use for the rest of their lives. Anthony attended the Under the Sea (seafood) course, while Peter Salerno chose the Mediterranean Cuisine cooking class.

Peter Salerno and his son Anthony at Culinary Institute of America in New York.
Peter Salerno and his son Anthony at Culinary Institute of America in New York.

We know what you’re thinking – isn’t the Culinary Institute of America just for aspiring chefs? No! There’s an exclusive section of the CIA website for “Enthusiasts”  that promises “CIA classes to satisfy your culinary cravings”. You don’t have to enroll in a full course of study – take individual classes that fit your passions!

From Boot Camp Culinary Vacations to cooking and baking classes to wine and beverage courses, the “Enthusiasts” program is a real winner. Check out their locations here.

Both Peter and Anthony raved about their experience at the Culinary Institute of America – not to mention they each brought home enough food for days!

Peter Salerno was so enamored with the recipes he learned at his CIA Mediterranean Cuisine cooking class, he’s sharing two of them with you today:

  • Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Golden Raisins
  • Paella with Quail, Shrimp and Chorizo

Both dishes are fresh takes on classic Mediterranean fare, and Peter and his family were thrilled with the results. We hope you are too! Please enjoy these recipes and share them with your loved ones.

CIA Chef Recipe: Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Golden Raisins

CiA chicken tagine recipe

CIA Chef Recipe: Paella with Quail, Shrimp and Chorizo

CIA paella with quail recipe

CIA paella with quail recipe

From Peter Salerno’s Kitchen: Homemade Cavatelli Recipe [PHOTOS]

From Peter Salerno’s Kitchen: Homemade Cavatelli Recipe [PHOTOS]

Peter Salerno’s Personal Recipe for Homemade Cavatelli

Peter Salerno's ingredients list for his secret family homemade cavatelli recipe!
Peter Salerno’s ingredients list for his secret family homemade cavatelli recipe!

With the holidays approaching, Peter Salerno and his family are spending more and more time in his custom designed, award-winning kitchens than ever. But sometimes instead of designing kitchens, Peter is at home in his own kitchen designing authentic, homemade Italian meals.

Last weekend, Peter and his family (wife Tracy, son Anthony and daughter-in-law Eve, daughter Gabrielle and son-in-law Brian) gathered for a delicious homemade Italian dinner, which included the Salerno family recipe for the perfect cavatelli.

Now, the Salerno family recipe for cavatelli is supposed to be a well-kept secret – but it’s the holidays, and Peter Salerno felt like sharing just a “little bit” of the family recipe. (Just like his award-winning kitchen designs: what good are they if they’re not shared with others?)

So Peter’s sharing his surprisingly simple list of ingredients for the perfect homemade cavatelli recipe with you here, as well as some pictures from his preparation of the dish. As for the preparation steps themselves? Well, those may have to come at another time. After all, Peter’s parents might have something to say about that!

Peter Salerno’s Homemade Cavatelli Recipe Ingredients

  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 lb. ricotta cheese

Peter Salerno's ingredients list for his secret family homemade cavatelli recipe!

 

From humble beginnings as strips of homemade dough on the Salerno kitchen counter…

Peter Salerno's ingredients list for his secret family homemade cavatelli recipe!

 

The beginnings of Peter Salerno’s delicious homemade cavatelli recipe begin to take shape (literally!)…

 

Peter Salerno's ingredients list for his secret family homemade cavatelli recipe!