Traditional recipes

'Bug Chef' Serves Creepy Thanksgiving in Times Square

'Bug Chef' Serves Creepy Thanksgiving in Times Square

Cranberry cockroach relish is on the menu

Wikimedia/Chaerani

Eating bugs could be a new trend, but is Thanksgiving really the time to test it out? "Bug Chef" David George Gordon thinks so, and he’s set up shop in Times Square to prove it.

According to NBC, Gordon samples of stuffing, relish, and dessert in front of the Ripley’s Believe It or Not in Times Square all weekend. Anybody who eats one of his bug-filled dishes gets into the museum for half-price, but the bragging rights that come from eating cockroach relish are probably a significant enticement.

"We have cranberry cockroach relish, we have stuffing with chestnuts and crickets, and then we have dessert — we have chocolate-covered chapulines — those are very small grasshoppers from Mexico — that have been seasoned with chile and lime and salt," Gordon said.

According to Gordon, he actually has a harder time getting New Yorkers to try his bugs than people from other areas. New York might be cosmopolitan, but the city is comparatively low on insects, so its residents are more squeamish around bugs.

"New Yorkers are very, very cautious about insects, so it’s hard to get a New Yorker… to eat something like an oven-baked cockroach or even an oven-baked cricket," he said.


Smoking Meat for Thanksgiving – FAQ

As Thanksgiving USA approaches, I know that many of you may still have questions about smoking the turkey and ham for Thanksgiving this year so I have compiled a few of the most asked questions and answers to hopefully help you out a little before the big day.

I get so many questions this time of year, that I just cannot answer all of them. If you have sent in a question and it does not get an answer, try posting it at the forum.

Please note that my rubs and barbecue sauce are now available in 2 formats-- you can purchase the formulas and make them yourself OR you can buy them already made, in a bottle, ready to use.

Some folks will tell you to not brine a store bought turkey but, for the life of me, I am not sure why not. I have been brining store purchased turkeys for many years and some of them with as much as 12% solution added and it is NEVER too salty. I am not a big “salt” guy so I would not like it or recommend it if it wasn't good.

The process they do at the factory does not result in a salty turkey.. not even faintly so. The brining you do at home does a much better job and if you follow my instructions of using 1 cup of kosher salt to 1 gallon of water for an overnight (10-12 hour) brine, it will be a more juicy, moist and tasty bird than it can ever be otherwise.

My recommendation is that you try to find a fresh, no solution added turkey if possible. If you can't find that, then shoot for a turkey that has 8% or less solution added.

Once you do it one time, you will most likely never eat an non-brined turkey again.

As most of you know, I do not recommend smoking a turkey that is larger than 12 lbs.. 14 lbs is pushing it. This is due to the fact that the larger turkey takes too much time to reach a safe temperature at the low temperature. It is risky at best and in my opinion, is raising the chances that your family and guests could get a food borne illness.

To make it safe, keep the turkey on the small side (12 lbs is about right) and if you need more turkey, just smoke multiple turkeys figuring on about 2 lbs of raw weight per person.

I just usually figure a 12 lb turkey for every 6 people and it gives me plenty of turkey with a few leftovers.

So you've already purchased a big ol' 22 pounder so what now? Well, you really only have one option of smoking it safely. Prepare the turkey as you desire, smoke it for about 2 hours at 225-240°F in the smoker then finish it in the oven at 325 °F until it reaches 165°F in the thickest part of the breast and thigh. I expect this to take an additional 2.5 to 3 hours in the oven however, use the temperature as your guide rather than the time.

ONLY after it's done. Stuffing prevents the heat from flowing into the cavity as it needs to and causes it to take longer to cook, something you do not need at low smoking temperatures.

If you want the bird to be stuffed for presentation, make the stuffing in a separate container in the oven and stuff it into the turkey after the turkey is done cooking and just prior to placing it on the table.

It is fine to place a few pieces of onion, apple, butter,etc. in the cavity as long as the heat flow is not impeded in any way.

If you must travel with the turkey, it is probably best to make it a day ahead of time and just as soon as it reaches 165°F, place it into a roasting pan with the lid off and let it cool for about 25 minutes.

After cooling, cover the turkey with a large piece of foil, place the lid on the roasting pan and place it in the fridge.

Keep it cold (less than 40°F) while you travel.

Once you get to grandma's house and about an hour before you are ready to eat, pour about ¼ cup of water down in the bottom of the roasting pan for humidity (prevents the meat from drying out) and if you have any extra maple/rub sauce from the smoking process, take it with you and baste the turkey again.

Place the entire roasting pan in an oven preheated to 350°F. It should take about 1 hour to reach a good eating temperature but if it gets done early, just turn the heat down to 170 °F and hold it there until you are ready for it.

Keeping the lid closed, adding the extra moisture and basting again with the maple sauce will revitalize it and it will be nearly as good as it was right out of the smoker.

I usually figure on about 4-5 lbs per 24 hour period.

If you are in a hurry, you can place the frozen turkey in the sink full of cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes (very important) until the turkey is thawed. For a 12 lb turkey that is completely frozen, you are looking at about 6 hours.

My general rule of thumb for applying smoke is ½ of the estimated cook time. I expect a 12 lb turkey to take about 6-7 hours so I recommend applying smoke for about 3 to 3.5 hours.

As long as you have good airflow.. i.e. your vents are open enough to allow plenty of air to come into the smoker and the smoke is able to exit quickly, you can easily and safely apply smoke for the entire time, after all, that is what happens by default in a wood burning smoker and there is no better way to duplicate that real wood smoked flavor.

I suspect that some of you will run into issues with your smoker such as not being able to get your heat high enough, the heat will be too high, or any number of other smoker related problems.

I suggest that you first, do not panic.

Second, do the best you can to apply about 2 hours of smoke then, if you are still having issues that you cannot alleviate, consider moving the somewhat smoked turkey to the oven following the same temperature and process recommendations.

There is no shame in moving to the oven if that is what is needed to make sure the turkey gets done and ends up delicious.

A few things you can do ahead of time to lower the risk of problems:

  • Make sure you have plenty of propane, wood chips/chunks, charcoal, etc..
  • Do a test run or two in the weeks preceding the big day
  • Make the rub, brine, sauce, etc. ahead of time

I would not change much.. make sure it is a bone-in (better in my opinion).

I would still brine it overnight and apply the maple syrup and rub as before. It may cook a little faster simply because the heat is able to get to all part of the breast unrestricted so you'll want to monitor it with a digital probe meat thermometer to make sure you take it off when it reaches it's optimum temperature.

If you plan to rest it as instructed in the newsletter, you can remove it at about 160 degrees since it will rise 5-7 degrees during the rest period.


Recipe Summary

  • cooking spray
  • 2 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour, or more as needed
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 pinches salt
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup milk
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9-inch cake tin with cooking spray and line with parchment paper.

Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, vanilla extract, and salt together in a bowl. Add eggs, milk, and vegetable oil. Mix by hand or use an electric mixer on low speed until smooth. Add more flour if batter is too runny. Pour into the prepared pan.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 1 hour.

Remove from the oven and let cool, 15 to 30 minutes. Transfer to the refrigerator to chill slightly, 15 to 30 minutes more. Slice the cooled cake through the middle to make 2 layers.


Butterfly Release and Lab Tour

Butterfly Release : $4 per person
Get your cameras ready! Complete your visit with an up-close and personal Butterfly Release experience. Help one of our butterflies complete its long journey to their first flight in our conservatory. In addition, you will receive a certificate trading card of your very own butterfly. Come again to collect all your favorite butterfly cards. Butterfly Biosphere admission not included.

Monday-Saturday 11:00-11:30 pm or 5:00-5:30 pm

Lab Tour: $12 per person
Enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at the lab of the Butterfly Biosphere! Visit with an entomologist to discuss invertebrates, insects, arachnids, how we care for them and more! Each tour includes your own butterfly release experience in the Butterfly Biosphere.

Every Wednesday & Friday at 1 pm. See the Front Desk for availability.


Mid Term Exams at Kuwait University "Emtihanat fee Jamyat AlKuwait"

Assalamu alaikoum,
Sorry I am not posting so often, it has been a demanding semester, probably my most demanding semester in the university yet. I am in the middle of mid term exams. Two of my five courses are in full Arabic Kuwait Government and Politics and Islamic History. The other two are just p artially in Arabic – Managerial Accounting, Calculus, and Entrepreneurship. I must do a debate about one of the legislative committees in the Kuwaiti government and I chose the committee on the environment. I will let you know how it goes. Speaking of government, Kuwait currently has none… Hehehe.. At least no parliament… The parliament was dissolved by the Emiri decree just last week. They will have to re-elect new officials. This is not the first time this has happened in Kuwait. At any rate, I have a lot to do today, including studying for exams and writing papers and doing my work for m internship so I better get going soon.

I have been enjoying learning more and more abotu Kuwaiti culture as each day passes. Just recently I visited the wife of the brother of my friend’s husband. Her name is Sahar. She had a family gathering and invited me. This famil is sooo nice. I love them all. That night we had so much fun. First we sat in the sitting room and talked about Islam and introduced ourselves. Then we had a great Kuwaiti potluck dinner and all the ladies were telling me which traditional dish they made. They were all so delicious. I love Kuwaiti and all Arab food. Yum! My favorite that night was the Moreg Laham. MMMM. If you can find it, try cooking with Loomi, it is a dried black lime. It adds a beautiful flavor to practically anything. Anyway, when were sitting in the living room talking, they asked me to tell them how I came to Islam. Most people I have met here love to hear stories about converts. It inspires them. Anyway, after dinner and desserts, we all gathered again in the living room to play a game. It was a riddle game and those who guessed the answer to the riddle questions would win a prize. I won a couple prizes. When a person would win, we would all do songs and cheers, Kuwaiti style. SO WANASA. Then Sahar played some traditional Kuwait music and her mother and aunt started to do the old traditional Kuwaiti dancing and I danced with them and then everyone joined in. It was really cool to see all the generations of these ladies mixed together and celebrating Kuwaiti culture. When I left, Sahar gave me a bunch of desserts and treats to take home. I gave everyone kisses and it was back to the house.

Ok, time to get back to my studies….


How to Smoke Chicken

In this tutorial, I take your hand and walk you through the process of butterflying a whole chicken, prepping it with my special rub/mayo mixture and then smoking the chicken to perfection. I used my Hasty Bake Legacy with lump charcoal and pecan wood for these smoked chickens but you can do this on any smoker whether it's a charcoal, electric, pellet smoker or even a grill.

The recipe card is below and be sure to watch the video as I demonstrate the entire process for you.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2.5 hours
  • Smoker Temp: 275°F
  • Meat Finish Temp: 165°F
  • Recommended Wood: Pecan
  • 1 or more whole chickens
  • 1 cup mayonnaise (per chicken)
  • ¼ cup Jeff's original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub)
  • 1 stick of butter

Brine (optional)

Basting Sauce

Please note that my rubs and barbecue sauce are now available in 2 formats-- you can purchase the formulas and make them yourself OR you can buy them already made, in a bottle, ready to use.

Note I did not go over the brining process in the video however, I will be doing that in a future video and when I do, I will add a link to that in the “how to smoke chicken video”.. For now, just follow the brining instructions below.

4-6 hours before you plan to prepare and smoke the chicken(s), make the brine by adding the cold water to a large container such as a tea pitcher. Add the coarse kosher salt and stir until the salt is dissolved and the water returns to clear. Stir in the brown sugar and the brine is ready to use.

Place the chicken in a glass or plastic container and pour the brine over the chicken to cover.

Place the container into the fridge for 4-6 hours while the chicken brines.

Once the brining process is finished, remove the chicken from the brine, rinse it under cold water and pat it dry with a paper towel. Discard the brine.

What is brining you ask?

Placing meat into a saltwater solution allows the salty water to aborb into the meat where it gets trapped between the strands. During cooking, moisture is always lost however, since it now has more water than it did naturally, it will end up being juicier.


What You’ll need To Make Cheesecake Bars

Begin by making the graham cracker crust. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar, salt, and melted butter.

Stir, using your fingertips if necessary, until well combined with no lumps of brown sugar remaining.

Press into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake for 10 minutes, until set. Remove the crust from the oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, make the batter. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the room temperature cream cheese, granulated sugar, and flour together until just smooth, about 1 minute.

Add the sour cream, eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt.

Beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as you mix. Do not over-mix.

Pour the batter into the warm crust.

Bake for about 45 minutes, until the filling is set but still a little jiggly in the center (it will continue to cook as it cools). An instant-read thermometer, inserted into the filling about 1″ in from the edge, should read 180°F-190°F. Remove the bars from the oven, and cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Refrigerate until cold, at least 6 hours but preferably overnight.

Before serving, use the foil overhang to lift the cheesecake out of the pan and onto a cutting board. Cut into squares, wiping the knife clean with a damp cloth between slices.

Serve cold with lots of napkins. Enjoy!


Recipe Summary

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 drops red food coloring
  • 1 cup apricot preserves
  • 2 cups ground almonds
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract

Cream butter and 1 cup sugar together. Beat in 3 eggs, one at a time. Mix in vanilla. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt gently. Add milk if needed.

Divide batter into 2 equal parts. Add food coloring to 1 part to make a deep pink color. Grease two 7 inch square pans. Spread batters into pans.

Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) until an inserted wooden pick comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand in pans 5 minutes. Turn out on racks to cool.

Trim edges from both cakes. Cut each cake lengthwise into 4 strips as wide as the cake is thick. Trim to make strips match. Heat jam slightly. Spread on sides to glue 2 pink and 2 white strips together checkerboard fashion. Spread all 4 sides of completed cake with jam. Repeat with remaining pink and white stripes. Makes two cakes.

To Make Almond Paste: Mix almonds, confectioners' sugar, egg, lemon juice, and almond extract together. Knead until smooth, adding a bit of lemon juice or water if too dry to roll. Add only 1/2 teaspoon at a time. It will be stiff. Divide into 2 equal parts.

Roll 1/2 of paste 1/8 inch or so thick on a surface lightly dusted with confectioners' sugar. Cut to fit length of cake, and long enough to cover 4 sides leaving ends uncovered. Lay cake on one end of paste. Wrap to completely enclose all 4 sides of cake pinching paste to seal. Roll in granulated sugar. Place with seal underneath on serving plate, or store in plastic bag. Repeat for second cake. Chill. Slice thinly to serve.


How to Make A Blown Sugar Globe

You can create your own sugar blower to blow the sugar using a blood pressure pump from a drug store and a brass fitting from a hardware store.

Melt isomalt and cool it down on a silicone mat the same as you did for the isomalt curls.

Work it in your hands just a little and roll it into a ball.

Flatten to form a disc that has even thickness all the way around.

Wrap the disc around the brass fitting on your sugar blower. Only the very tips of the disc should touch the pump. Clamp the the whole thing down and hold tightly with your fingers.

Turn your hand upside-down. The gravity will help to keep the globe round.

Press the pump slowly 2 to 4 times, never fully releasing the pressure. The globe will inflate. If you release the pressure, the globe will start to deflate.

Remove the globe from the pump and either cut off the end for a clean edge or pull to create an elongated rim.


Family Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dishes

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching here in the United States, I wanted to share some of our family's favorite holiday side dishes. These have been used over the years with lots of success and I just have a feeling that you will enjoy them every bit as much as we do!

Please note that my rubs and barbecue sauce are now available in 2 formats-- you can purchase the formulas and make them yourself OR you can buy them already made, in a bottle, ready to use.

No more stuffing out of the box.. make your own using my favorite family recipe

(makes 12-16 generous servings)

  • 2 stick butter
  • 4 onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 c. coarsely chopped celery
  • 2 tsp. dried sage
  • 2 tsp. salt (+ more to taste)
  • 4 tsp. coarsely ground pepper (+ more to taste)
  • 6 1/2 c. chicken broth or turkey drippings (you can use more or less, depending on how moist you like your dressing)
  • 2 loaves stale white bread, cut into cubes (9-10 c.)
  • 2 bunches fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten

In a large pan, melt butter over medium heat. Saute onions and celery for about 10 minutes, until softened and transparent. Add spices and stir to coat onions & celery cook for 3 minutes. Add 1/2 c. chicken broth or drippings and cook for about 5 minutes, until broth has reduced, stirring often.

Remove onion mixture from heat. In a large dutch oven or very large mixing bowl, combine onion mixture with bread cubes, parsley, eggs and chicken broth. Mix well.

Tip: If you don't have bread that is really dry and stale, you can substitute toasted cubes of bread. Simply cube it in ½ x ½ inch pieces and place it in a 200 degree oven on a sheet pan for 25-30 minutes or until it is nice and dry.

You can then stuff your turkey loosely with the stuffing, and cook the remainder in a buttered baking dish for 30-45 minutes at 375. However, we recommend that you cook your stuffing separately, and if you are smoking a turkey, you'll want to do this anyway.