Cooking with Chef Lia
Written by Lia Soscia for Greenlight Long Island Magazine
Summer is here and with it brings endless opportunities for cooking fabulous foods for picnics, boat trips, road trips and barbeques. Seasonal cuisine is rich with salads, grilled meats and fruit. What's better than enjoying all those fresh foods than at your favorite outdoor spot.
I find cooking outside, grilling vegetables and meats an enjoyable and rewarding culinary experience. You get to enjoy the fabulous aromas, mingle with friends while you cook and enjoy the view. My favorite part is that you get an opportunity to bring many friends to the table without all the indoor dining room limitations. (I don't know about you, but having 20 people over for dinner in my dining room is impossible!) Outdoor dining on the patio or at a park lends a certain atmosphere where people truly savor the entire eating experience.
Recently there have been a plethora of cookbooks that specialize in recipes for the great outdoors. Here are a couple titles that can give you some alternative ideas from the traditional barbeque fare:
It's important to keep in mind that during the summer months, it is especially important to take extra precautions and practice safe food handling when preparing perishable foods such as meat, poultry, seafood and egg products. The warmer weather conditions provide a perfect environment for bacteria and other pathogens in food to multiply rapidly and cause foodborne illness. Follow the suggestions below to help fight bacteria and reduce the risk of foodborne illness this summer. (Courtesy of the Partnership for Food Safety Education)
Wash, Wash, Wash Your Hands (as in Row, Row, Row Your Boat)
Always, wash your hands with hot, soapy water before and after handling food.
When marinating for long periods of time, it is important to keep foods refrigerated. Don't use sauce that was used to marinate raw meat or poultry on cooked food. Boil used marinade before applying to cooked food.
Hot, Hot, Hot
When grilling foods, preheat the coals on your grill for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the coals are lightly coated with ash.
Use a meat thermometer to insure that food reaches a safe internal temperature.
Where's the Beef? Chicken and Fish?
Hamburgers should be cooked to 160º F, while large cuts of beef such as roasts and steaks may be cooked to 145º F for medium rare or to 160º F for medium. Cook ground poultry to 165° F and poultry parts to 170° F. Fish should be opaque and flake easily.
Stay Away from that Same Old Plate
When taking foods off the grill, do not put cooked food items back on the same plate that previously held raw food.
A full cooler will maintain its cold temperatures longer than one that is partially filled so it is important to pack plenty of extra ice or freezer packs to insure a constant cold temperature.
And for those of you that enjoy boating on Long Island, here are recommendations on how to safely handle your foods while out on the water:
For more detailed food safety information you can also visit www.fightbac.org.
Chef Lia Soscia is a personal chef and owner of Home Cooking Consultant Personal Chef Services on Long Island. She has been cooking for almost 30 years for friends and family. Lia's Personal Chef Services include home meal preparation, cooking lessons & parties, recipe research and more.
If you have any questions or need help with summer food safety, please visit Chef Lia at www.ChefLia.com or write her at Lia@ChefLia.com. She looks forward to hearing your comments and questions. And continue to check back for more "Cooking With Chef Lia," only in Greenlight Long Island Magazine.