Many Hoosiers will enjoy a long weekend of cooking and partying to celebrate the Fourth of July. On this week’s Noon Edition, we spoke with two local chefs and Earth Eats producer Annie Corrigan about summer cooking and the Bloomington restaurant scene.
Bloomington’s population fluctuates in the summer months when college students leave the city. And while restaurants tend to have fewer customers, the local chefs use the time as an opportunity to work ahead or develop new recipes.
“It gives us a chance to really refocus on the things that we want to do,” Arlyn Llewellyn, co-owner and chef of Function Brewing says. “When you’re in the midst of a really busy week, sometimes you lose that big picture perspective and now you’re able to just try out some specials, take some risks and refocus what you want and prepare for the coming onslaught in August.”
Seth Elgar, manager and executive chef of No Coast Reserve, relies on imported seafood, but says he uses local produce in other recipes — and summer is the perfect time to experiment with them.
“There’s a bounty of local ingredients to play with in the kitchen,” Elgar says. “Sadly enough, there aren’t as many people there to appreciate them, but it does give time for recipe development and long-term planning.”
And if you plan on trying out your own recipes over the summer, Llewellyn and Elgar have some food safety tips.
Llewellyn’s biggest barbecue pet peeve is the misuse of tongs while grilling.
“A spatula, I think, is inherently a cleaner thing because you’re coming up on the underside of the meat that’s been directly on the flame, but if you’re coming at it with tongs and the top part of the tong is touching the raw part of the chicken, that’s no bueno,” Llewellyn says.
She also says it’s important not to place cooked meat back in the same dish in which the raw meat was marinated or brought out to the grill.
Another reminder: keep hot food hot and cold food cold.
Elgar recommends only serving portions of food at a time and keeping the rest refrigerated until it’s ready to be served. He says to throw away foods such as potato salad, coleslaw, pasta salad and starches after four hours.
“The danger zone, if you will, for bacterial growth is four hours,” Elgar says. “Inside of four hours, if something is going to grow, it’s going to grow exponentially.”
And the perfect beer to pair with a meal on a hot summer day? Llewellyn says light beers are best when it’s hot outside. Function Brewing has a smoked blonde with orange peel and a lemon ginger golden ale to pair with summer barbecues.
Check out Earth Eats for recipes from this show.