Smoked Avocados (aka Deconstructed Smoky Guacamole)

Smoking avocados not only gives them a smoky flavor, it softens them just enough to be able to scoop a chip into them. Sprinkle them with a couple more ingredients, and boom: you have a deconstructed [and smoky!] guacamole. 

- Ingredients -

Smoked Avocados
2 ripe avocados, halved
3 tablespoons goat cheese
1 lime
1 small jalapeño
small handful fresh cilantro leaves
balsamic glaze, to drizzle

Balsamic Glaze
½ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar

- Tools -
Weston Smoker
wood smoking chips
Weston Mandoline Slicer
Roma 3-in-1 Grater

Preheat your smoker to 180°F, fill the water bowl, and soak your wood chips for 30 minutes. Once soaked, place your wood chips into the smoking box and smoke the avocados at 180° for two hours, skin side up (so that the green of the avocado touches the rack).

While the avocados smoke, prepare your homemade balsamic glaze by bringing the vinegar and sugar to a boil, stirring constantly for five minutes, then removing from heat. Allow to cool, then set aside until the avocados are ready.

Use your mandoline to slice the jalapeño very thinly.

Once smoked, sprinkle with goat cheese immediately (so that it melts a bit). Juice the lime over top of the avocados, drizzle with balsamic glaze, pepper with jalapeño slices, and then finally, use your grater to dust the avocados with minced cilantro.

Serve with tortilla chips. Simply scoop the chip into the softened avocado, just like guacamole, making sure to get a little bit of everything in each bite.

Smoked Whole Fish with Pickled Limes

Time to shake things up! Both the fish and pickled limes in this recipe come with very diverse, unique flavors, which intertwine for a perfect summertime dish. 
Try it out on your next fresh catch!

- Ingredients -

Pickled Limes
Makes 2 quarts
8 limes, cut into 6 slices
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons mustard seed
2 teaspoons coriander seed
2 teaspoons cumin seed
5 garlic cloves, chopped
5 one-inch slivers ginger
(use a potato peeler to remove the skin, then use it to make your slivers)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon paprika
½ cup water
½ cup white vinegar
¾ cup brown sugar

Smoked Fish
We used a 3 lb Lake Erie White Perch — This recipe could easily work for walleye, bass, trout and other similar fresh water fish
Brine, per lb. of fish
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper

- Tools -

Pickled Limes
Weston Professional Advantage Vacuum Sealer + Canister
or Canning Kit

Smoked Fish
Weston Game Processing Knife Set (fillet knife & scissors, for gutting & kiting)
Weston Vacuum Sealer + Canister or Bag
Weston Smoker
wood chips (we use Alder, you could use any, really, but Alder is best for fish)

First, prepare your limes. It will take about a week before they're ready to serve.

Pickled Limes (Lime Pickle)

Sprinkle the limes with the salt, then place them into your Vacuum Sealer Canister, seal them, and set them in direct sunlight for 2-4 days.

The Weston Pro Advantage Sealer with a Canister full of salted limes

In a large saucepan, toast your mustard seeds, coriander seeds, and cumin seed in the olive oil over high heat for 30 seconds, or until the seeds pop.

Add the garlic, ginger, red pepper, and paprika. Toss the limes in and coat them well. Bring down to low heat.

Bring the water, vinegar, and brown sugar to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, then add the lime mixture. Simmer for 15 minutes.

Pour into a Vacuum Sealer Canister and allow to cool. Once cooled, use the Vacuum Sealer marinate function to marinate the limes for 10 minutes. Keep the canister sealed. Leave the limes to pickle for at least a day. After they've turned a darker, faded green, they're ready to eat.

Pickled Limes, the finished product

Whole Smoked Fish

You can choose to remove the scales with a butter knife or the back of your fillet knife — or not. We did not remove the scales, however, you do run the risk of ending up with inedible scales in your fish. So if you're as daring as we are, just be sure to rinse the fish especially well and inspect for scales.

Butterfly (or "kite") the fish with your Knife Set. Remove the fins, slice the fish from tail to head and remove the guts, then remove the bones inside, gills, and finally: the head (you could keep the head on). Then spread the fish flat, skin side down. Hank Shaw has an excellent how-to on butterflying fish. If you need a how-to on the gutting and scaling part, this video with Darina Allen is also very helpful.

Butterflied, or kited Perch

Once the fish is butterflied, sprinkle it with the salt, pepper, and brown sugar. Rub the outside of the fish with this brine mixture as well. Close the fish up, place it into a Vacuum Sealer Bag (or Canister) and seal. Allow to brine in the refrigerator 12-24 hours.

Using the Weston Pro 3000 to pull the brine through the fibers of the fish (makes for a quick brine time)

Prepare your Smoker by filling the water bowl, preheating to 175-200°, and soaking your wood chips for 30 minutes.

Remove the fish from the bag, then rinse thoroughly under cold water for five minutes. Once pre-heated, fill the smoker box with soaked chips. Then, place the fish — fully open, skin side down — on a smoker rack. Smoke for 1-3 hours (fish cooking times vary dramatically — just be sure to check on it every half hour), until the fish starts to peel from the skin on its own.

The before and after of smoking the perch

Tip: To keep the smoker temperature down on a hot day, while still keeping some smoke in the cabinet, open the top damper completely and keep the side dampers half closed. Keep the fish on the lowest rack you can.

Once smoked, serve the fish immediately, hot, with the lime pickle on top. Use your fork to smash the lime "relish" over the fish when you take a bite. And yes, the peels are edible.

Tip Tuesday: 10 Ways to Put Your Dehydrator to Good Use This Harvest

1. Dry zucchini into chips for snacking, or for re-hydrated dinner sides later on.

2. Make tomato paste or powder from your tomatoes.

3. Turn blueberries, strawberries, and other fruits into "Fig" Newtons.

4. Infuse apple slices with your favorite liquor, then dry them into apple chips.

5. Make margarita-flavored fruit roll-ups using pears... apples work too.

6. Make kale chips or...

8. Make your own cornmeal.

9. How about some red wine mushrooms?

10. Homemade fruit roll-ups, of course - here are recipes for Raspberry Vanilla, Blueberry Apple Ginger, Strawberry Rhubarb, and Mixed Berry.

Dehydrator Fig Newtons from Scratch

Four ingredients, low fat, no sugar added - and delicious!
...Oh yeah, and did we mention: they're pretty dang easy to make.

Makes 12 cookies

- Ingredients -
2 cups almond flour
¼ cup almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 oz fresh figs (or blueberries, or chopped strawberries - no water needed in this case)
1 cup water

- Tools -
Weston Manual Food Grinder
Weston Dehydrator

Combine the almond flour, milk, and vanilla to create a dough. Set aside.

Grind together the figs and water with your Food Grinder. To do this, add a quarter cup of water at a time. You should end up with an easily spreadable paste.

Figs in the Food Grinder

Pureed fig filling for our cookies

Roll the dough out over a piece of parchment paper, creating a long, narrow, rectangular sheet. You will want the sheet to be about 6" across - length doesn't matter. You can use a pastry cutter to cut the dough into a perfect rectangle if you like. If your dough sticks to the rolling pin, place a sheet of plastic wrap over top of it before rolling it out. Spread the fig down the middle third of the dough sheet, about ¼" thick.

Fold each side into the middle.

Use a pastry cutter or butter knife to cut the fig newton roll into 2" pieces.

Place the pieces onto the tray of your Dehydrator, then dehydrate at 110 degrees for two days, or until the fig center is firm and the cookie is soft, but dry.

Newtons, pre-dehydration

The finished product: Homemade Dehydrator Fig Newtons!


Dried Zucchini in a Weston Dehydrator

We got a little crazy when we decided to try our hand at dehydrating zucchini: We made you not one, but three delicious recipes - Italian Seasoned Zucchini Chips, Middle Eastern Zucchini Chips, and Spanish Zucchini Chips. Each of these is equally as good as dried snacking chips, or "re-hydrated" with olive oil and sautéed as a dinner side. The benefits to dehydrating and re-hydrating are two-fold: 1. You can preserve your zucchini harvest for months after the season is over. 2. Once you re-hydrate, you'll notice the flavors are bolder than if you never dehydrated them! Time to dig in...

Each recipe serves 2-4

- Ingredients -

Italian style
1 zucchini
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon oregano
½ teaspoon dried sage
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon sea salt

Middle Eastern style
1 zucchini
2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons garam masala
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried mint
½ teaspoon red pepper
½ teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon sea salt

Spanish style
1 zucchini
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon dried cilantro
2 teaspoons garlic
2 teaspoons smoked spanish paprika
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon sea salt

- Tools -
Weston Mandoline Slicer
Weston Dehydrator
large bowl, for tossing

Use your Mandoline Slicer to thinly and uniformly slice the zucchini.

We recommend a crinkle cut - the ridges catch the seasonings and hold them onto the zucchini better

Combine the remaining ingredients for whichever style you prefer. Toss the zucchini slices in the seasoning mixture.

We use our Manual Kitchen Kit to juice fresh lemons

The Middle Eastern Zucchini slices are ready to dehydrate

Lay the slices onto the trays of your Dehydrator and dehydrate at 130° for 4-6 hours (might be closer to 8 for the Mexican-style). Once they're dry and crunchy, they're ready to be snacking chips.

Italian Zucchini Chips - before

Italian Zucchini Chips - After

Middle Eastern Zucchini Chips

If you'd like to "re-hydrate" them for a side dish, simply heat a skillet/pan over medium heat with a teaspoon of olive oil and sauté the dried zucchini. Once they are browned, they're ready to be eaten. There's no need to add water to re-hydrate - the oil will add the moisture you need, without "watering down" the flavor.

"Re-hydrated" Sautéed Spanish Zucchini Chips

8 Things You Didn't Know You Could Make With Your Tomato Strainer

Our tomato strainers are ridiculously versatile, especially if you have a set of screens for them. Sure, you've probably used yours to make tomato sauce, but we bet you're not using it to its maximum potential, and we're here to help...

1. Salsa, in its entirety
Maybe you're aware that we make a salsa screen for our Tomato Strainer - but did you know that you can put the peppers, onions, jalapeños, cilantro, etc. into the hopper with your tomatoes? Put all of it in there with the salsa screen attached, and crank the handle. You'll end up with perfect salsa. 

2. Mashed Potatoes
Seriously, just put your cooked potatoes, yams, sweet potatoes, etc. into the strainer - skins on - with the standard screen. Perfectly whipped mashed potatoes come gushing from the strainer. Awesome, we know.

3. Seedless Jams
Trying to keep those pesky raspberry seeds out of your teeth? Easy, just use our berry screen - that's what we made it for!

4. Ketchup
The rumors are true: it doesn't HAVE to come out of a squeeze bottle or some glass bottle that you have to smack the crap out of a 57 to get ketchup out of - you can make it yourself. Use the pumpkin screen to make your thick tomato puree, then follow the instructions in our Blueberry Chipotle Ketchup recipe (leave the blueberries & chipotles out if you're no fun).

5. Pumpkin Pie

What?! Pumpkin pie can be made with real pumpkins?! 


You'll need the strainer and a pumpkin screen to make Pumpkin Pie from scratch - it's waaaay better than the 10%-Pumpkin-90%-artificial-flavors-and-spices Pie you buy at the store. 

Try your hand at our Orange-Hazelnut Pumpkin Pie Recipe (if you're still no fun... leave out the oranges and hazelnuts).

6. Wine
Primary ingredient in wine... fruit juice. Use the berry screen to make yourself some fine raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, pear, what-have-you ...juice. And/or use the grape spiral for, you guessed it: grape juice. Take that, some wine making ingredients, ferment it, and poof: wine. Okay so it's not the easiest thing in the world, but it's not terribly difficult either. Take your fruit juice and follow our Pear Cider instuctions, mostly. You'll have a fine homemade wine. Or our name's not Weston. Cheesy, we know. Sorry.

7. Homemade Tomato Soup
It's ridiculous that you people are still eating from aluminum (or whatever) cans, considering how easy this is to make. Step one: Strain tomatoes with tomato strainer, use standard screen. Step two: add some spices. Step three: heat up, then eat. If you need a more formal recipe, here: Homemade Tomato Soup.

8. Applesauce

"Gaaaaasssp! I never thought of THAT before!" 

We know. That's why we're telling you. 

Cook up your apples, put them in the Strainer, turn the handle. Apple peels and seeds out the waste chute, beautiful apple sauce down the main chute. Add cinnamon and sugar and that kind of stuff. 

If you need a recipe, too bad.

And there you have it. Eight things you didn't know you could make with your glorious Roma Tomato Strainer. So maybe you did. Bet you didn't know all eight. Any other eye-openers you'd like to share? Please, comment with them below - we love stealing your great ideas!

Blueberry BBQ Sauce with the Roma Tomato Strainer

Here in Ohio, we have an incredible group called The Agrarian Collective. They put on super cool events like a Small Batch Ice Cream & Beer Making workshop that resulted in beer floats (they were actually really, really good), a Rhubarb Workshop from which I made a Rhubarb BBQ sauce, and, most recently: A Blueberry Picking Party complete with a Bluegrass band. Yeah, it's pretty awesome and I'm sure you're highly envious of us Cleveland area dwellers. 

The Bluegrass band at Edible Cleveland & Agrarian Collective's Pick, Eat, Repeat Blueberry Picking Party

So while you might not be able to attend Agrarian Collective events in your area, we're happy to bring you little tastes here and there. This time, we made you a Blueberry BBQ Sauce recipe from the fresh blueberries that were picked last week. 

The start to my Blueberry Patch Adventure (complete with Fat Head's Bumble Berry Ale)

A little tip before you start: Rinse your fresh blueberries when you get home from picking, then lay them out on a tray and freeze them. Once frozen, you can de-frost and use them for whatever you have planned... like this recipe. They'll come out less sour and more sweet. Tip courtesy of Voytko Blueberry Farm in Auburn, Ohio.

The final yield of my half hour romp through the patches of Voytko Farms

Blueberry Barbecue Sauce Recipe
Makes 2 cups

- Ingredients -

2 cups blueberries
6 oz Fat Head's Bumble Berry Honey Blueberry Ale
¼ cup brown sugar
1 vanilla bean - scrape seeds from pod, discard pod
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon ground cloves

- Tools -
Roma Tomato Strainer w/ Berry Screen
Weston Smoker + smoker chips
(peach, apple, or cherry work best)

Soak your wood chips for at least a half hour and preheat your smoker to 200°F.

Use the Tomato Strainer with the Berry Screen attached to puree your fresh blueberries - no need to worry about leaves or stems, the strainer will push those through the waste chute. Run the blueberries through 3-4 times to get all of the juice out.

Combine the blueberry puree with the remaining ingredients.

Smoke the blueberry BBQ sauce at 200°F for two hours, stirring every hour. If, after two hours, the sauce isn't smoky enough for you, simply smoke longer. Also be sure to change out your wood chips every hour, or the sauce will taste ashy.

Let cool, then pour into a jar with a Canning Funnel and store in the fridge, or use it right away. You could also can it for later use.

Closeup on what's left of the sauce

Smoked Venison smothered in the stuff. If you need a good idea on what to put your BBQ Sauce on, this is it!

As always, your comments and questions are welcome below:

Smoked Pulled Venison with Blueberry BBQ Sauce

With venison from the boss's December hunt, blueberries I picked from a local patch, blueberry ale brewed locally, and green onions from my makeshift front yard garden, this recipe is locavore certified! Don't beat yourself up too much if you're not able to acquire these exact ingredients locally — though we do encourage you to substitute things you can get locally (Pork from your local farmer/butcher, the wild ramps in your backyard, raspberries from the farmer's market?)...

Serves 6-8

- Ingredients -

3 lbs venison
(We used a lesser cut for this recipe since you're smoking low and slow)
6 oz Fat Head's Bumble Berry Honey Blueberry Ale
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon chili powder

Blueberry Barbecue Sauce

a dozen or so blueberries
two sprigs green onions, chopped

- Tools -
Weston Smoker
wood chips (peach, apple, or cherry are ideal)

Soak your wood chips (for at least a half hour), fill the smoker's water bowl with hot water, and preheat your smoker to 200°F.

Rub the entire outside of the venison with a mixture of cinnamon and chili powder. Place it in an aluminum pan and pour the Bumble Berry into the bottom of the pan. Smoke 8-12 hours, until the venison falls apart and has a full, smoky flavor.

If you're making your BBQ sauce at the same time as the venison (we did), simply place a pan of the sauce in the smoker 4 hours before the venison should be done. Two birds, one stone.

Once the venison is fork tender, pull it apart with two forks, until completely shredded. Pour the Blueberry BBQ Sauce over top, then sprinkle with blueberries and onions. Serve immediately, hot.