I don’t frequently craft sponsored content here on Kailley’s Kitchen. However, when the marketing team for the new SHARP AQUOS Crystal reached out and asked me to be a part of their #ToTheEdge media campaign, I excitedly said “yes!” The campaign is, of course, an initiative to get the phone on consumers’ radars, but it’s also igniting a conversation via social media about what it means to take life “#totheedge.” The AQUOS Crystal’s edgeless design inspired the campaign’s message; “Life looks best from the edge, we want to see the view from yours.” Some might find their edge by literally bungee jumping off a cliff. But for others, like me, it’s more nuanced: traveling to a foreign country, learning something new, or pushing outside of their comfort zone.
For me, taking it #totheedge implicitly means amping up flavor to turn something ordinary into something extraordinary. Thus, I’ve decided to share a few of my favorite things for boosting home cooking from basic to anything but. In the spirit of the approaching summer months–and with them, backyard barbecues and al fresco meals galore– these are my top 5 easy ways to take a summertime menu to the edge:
The scoop: Salt is indisputably the single most important ingredient in any recipe, and yet, it’s so often overlooked and taken for granted. Essentially, salt is a seasoning that doubles as a flavor enhancer; without it, that pasta sauce/sandwich/salad/you name it would taste bland and lackluster. But the world of salt extends far beyond the simple, finely-milled table salt sitting in your kitchen; from flaked Maldon sea salt to Himalyana pink salt and infused salts, there’s a wide world of salts out there waiting to give your food the little something extra it deserves.
How to use:
- Sprinkle Fleur de Sel on chocolatey cookies for a hit of savory to go with your sweet
- Rim a Bloody Mary glass with chipotle salt
- Top an omelet with black lava salt for slightly smoky flavor
- Himalyan pink salt caramel
The scoop: Everyone knows that there’s nothing like an ice-cold, frothy glass of beer, but not everyone knows how versatile beer actually is in the kitchen (and no, I’m not talking about drowning your sorrows when the souffle falls, the cookies burn, or the pork tenderloin goes dry). From grilling to desserts, beer’s natural properties lend themselves well to all sorts of delicious eats. And the best part? Different types of beers yield different flavors! Use a dark, full-bodied porter or stout in a dessert (or just add ice cream and call it a “beer float”), keep it pale and citrusy for grilling purposes (Corona and Blue Moon are rockstars in this arena), and go for something hoppy, like an IPA, for a punch of flavor in your beer batter.
How to use:
- Create a flaky, golden beer batter for all your deep-fried food needs
- Braise bratwursts and onions in PBR for a beer-infused upgrade of a summer favorite
- Grill chicken with a beer can and citrus
- Bake with beer (hello, Lagunitas IPA bread and Delirium Tremens beer cupcakes!)
The scoop: When it comes to grilling and smoking, nothing’s better than employing the humble wood chip. They’re a surefire way to add depth and smokiness to a dish without having to add a ton of ingredients. However, different woods produce different levels of smokiness, so keep that in mind when picking which chips you want to work with (and avoid soft woods altogether, like pine and cedar, as they emit a sooty smoke that can actually be hazardous to your health).
How to use:
- Pair applewood or cherrywood (mild woods) with delicate meats, like chicken and fish
- Pair oak and hickory (medium woods) with pork and beef; especially great for classic barbecue
- Pair mesquite (heavy wood) with beef (smoky Texas-style brisket or bust)
The scoop: Before you toss the fat rendered from your bacon-filled breakfast, consider repurposing it. Or really, just purposing it. Those slick driblets of porcine magic are about be your new best friend. From a flavorful lacquer to a substitute for veggie-based oils, the utility of bacon fat knows no bounds. Plus, is an excuse to eat bacon, since said fat can only be produced from bacon.
How to use:
- Drizzle grilled corn in bacon fat and finish with cilantro and cotija cheese for a fresh take on elote
- Add bacon fat (and chunks to bacon) to mac ‘n’ cheese
- Toss popcorn with bacon fat and finish with freshly grated parmesan
- Make croutons with slightly stale bread and bacon fat (one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right?)
The scoop: The only thing better than butter is butter mixed with supplementary ingredients.
How to use:
- Slather lavender and honey compound butter on cornbread wedges
- Top a pan-seared ribeye with bone marrow compound butter
- Complement chicken and waffles with foie gras compound better (trust me)
- Spread roasted garlic compound butter on focaccia
- Elevate a grilled brie and apple sandwich with thyme compound butter
So tell me, what does taking it #totheedge mean to you? Comment below with ways you take it to the edge, in cooking or your everyday life! The campaign is also looking for people to post photos on Instagram that symbolize #totheedge, so be sure to post photos with the hashtags #ToTheEdge and #AQUOSCrystal for a chance to be featured!
DISCLAIMER: This post is sponsored by the Sharp AQUOS Crystal. However, all opinions, photos, and ideas expressed are my own. Some links are affiliate links.