Kitchen Accomplice- Shock the neighbors and surprise the kids by cooking outdoors WITHOUT the grill

Heresy?  Some would say so.  But those people probably have not experienced an induction table top designed to plug in and use on your patio. 
No charring of your pots – and no charcoal hassle! 
I am a recent convert to this mechanism. It works brilliantly.  It travels well.  It is a cinch to clean.  It has many levels of heat so that beef can have a béarnaise sauce made table-side and the pasta entrée can be prepared without figuring out how to do it on the grill. 
Bobby Flay notwithstanding, the induction stove top will elevate your outside dining repertoire -- with sophistication.
Since it is electric, it means planning is essential—where to put the stovetop on the patio or balcony is of primary interest.  If cords are to be in the pathway of guests and family members, they need to be securely in place so not to provide a hazard for tripping and falling – or knocking the heated food on someone. 
Placement of your table can often accommodate this. As lawyers, you will be wary of potential accidents.
A word about your pots and pans. 
Take a magnet from your refrigerator and touch it to the bottom of a pan you are considering using.  If the magnet is attracted to it, you are in business.  If not, get a different pan.  I have a bunch of pans that do not pass the test.  I also have several that do. 
It is best to know this before you start.  The induction process requires this.  Interestingly, at least to me, a thoroughly non-scientist, you can put your hand on the induction top when it is at full blast and not feel a thing   -- that is, if you are not wearing a ring!
It’s fun for the kids to eat pancakes you have prepared outside in the summer while they sit at the table. The debris can be hosed from the patio and the kids will love the adventure. 
A plate of bacon takes well to advance preparation and fresh fruit,  juices and cold milk can be on hand.  The kids can help prepare the pancake batter on the patio. 
Place the pancake mixture in a pitcher and have some melted butter and brush alongside and you are on your way.  What are pancakes without softened butter – next time try a compound butter or two. 
Strawberries whirled in the blender with butter is a delicious combination as are blueberries.  A little powdered sugar with the butter is nice for a special occasion.  Syrup rounds out the menu.
And for a delicious summer pasta dish -- try this.
Mitchel London's* Pasta
with Homemade
Tomatoes and Prosciutto
3/4 lb rienzi pasta of your choosing - we like penne, chicciole, or fusilli;
5 slices negroni prosciutto di parma, julienned;
1 cup heavy cream;
Grated parmesan cheese;
2 dried chili peppers - optional;
2 handfuls baby arugula - optional;
1 basket red grape tomatoes;
1 pinch dry thyme;
Kosher salt to taste;
Fresh pepper from your pepper mill to taste.
Place tomatoes, cut side up, on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle lightly with dry thyme, kosher salt, and fresh pepper.
Drizzle with olive oil (not too much oil) and place in a 325 degree oven for 2-2 1/2 hours.
When finished the tomato will be slightly reduced in size but big on flavor.
Tomatoes prepared this way have an endless number of uses.
They are great on a sandwich, as an hors d'oeuvre with drinks, with polenta, etc. Place in a nice bowl and let sit in olive oil for those uses if you do not plan to use them in this dish.
Boil pasta in water and boil the cream in a separate pan.
Add the tomatoes to the cream as the pasta boils.
When the pasta is ready, drain and toss quickly in the boiling cream for under a minute.
Add the negroni prosciutto and toss.
Add the arugula and parmesan, toss one to two times and serve in a warm, large bowl.
Mitchel's note: it is always a good idea to save some of the water the pasta was cooked in and use it to thin out the sauce if need be.
*Mitchel London is a chef and caterer in New York City.  Why he has chosen to call his cherry tomato preparation “home made tomatoes” seems odd to me but they taste delicious!

Judge Kirkendall is a retired probate judge. 
He has taught cooking classes for more than 25 years at various cooking schools in the Ann Arbor area and has himself attended classes at Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris, as well as schools in New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. 
He is past president of the National College of Probate Judges and can be reached at