Archive for the ‘grill’ Category

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

Top Ten Vegetables for Grilling

Yes, I know, things have been a little quiet around here. I hope to get back to it soon. In the mean time, check out the guest blog I wrote for Full Circle Farm: Top Ten Vegetables for Grilling

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Sunday, April 11th, 2010

Whiskey and Brown Sugar Glazed Chicken

Tomorrow I go in for surgery on my ankle. I’ve spent the last few days preparing for my six-week recovery period, renting a knee scooter, moving rugs, finding a seat that I can use in the bathtub and most importantly stocking my freezer with tasty meals (because try as he might, the husband is not a great cook).

Wednesday I went through my freezer, finding out what proteins I had to work with (and pitching everything I couldn’t recognize). Thursday I did some menu planning and a little shopping to round out the grocery list. Friday I cooked (and cooked and cooked). Most of the veggies from this weeks box went into these efforts (and a few went into a lovely salad on Wednesday night). I now have several weeks worth of meals stocked up ranging from Cuban to Asian to plain old comfort food (mmmm, mac and cheese).

Saturday was a beautiful day here in the Seattle area, Sunny and warm and begging for some grilling. The thing is, with all my preparation efforts on Friday there was not much food left in the house. A look around turned up chicken breasts (which I had actually thawed for use on Friday but never got too), a few leeks and one giant sweet potato. Okay then, that’ll work.

One of my very favorite things is russet potatoes smoked on the grill. Basically you build an indirect fire, add the smoking chips and then put the potatoes directly on the grill for about an hour. When they are done you can top them as if they are baked potatoes (sour cream, chives and what not) but they have this subtle smokiness to them that is delicious. I decided to use this same method for my sweet potato. Unfortunately, I think the different kind of skin on the sweet potato kept the potato flesh from getting that same smokiness, but nonetheless the resulting potato was so good. Topped with chives and a touch of sour cream this was sweet and tangy and creamy goodness.

Once the potato was cooked I piled the coals together and stoked the fire a little more. I grilled the leeks (simply seasoned with olive oil and salt and pepper) and the chicken which I finished with a whiskey-brown sugar glaze (you’ll find the recipe below).

My that’ll do dinner turned out just great. Knowing that in just a couple of days cooking would be a whole lot more difficult I really took my time, savoring the experience and enjoying myself. I know a lot of people would consider  six weeks off from cooking a godsend, but for me it is something that I will truly miss (especially now in the heart of spring vegetable season).

I’m really hoping that I can get the hang of my knee scooter so that I can get back to cooking sooner rather than later. Worst case scenario, I’ll be back on my feet by Memorial day (just in time for summer vegetable season).


Whiskey and Brown Sugar Glazed Chicken

For the Marinade
1/2 cup apple juice
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For the glaze
2 Tablespoon butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup whiskey

chicken breasts or thighs

Combine all the marinade ingredients in a ziploc bag. Add the chicken and let it marinade for a couple of hours in the refrigerator.

While the chicken marinates, combine all the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer for about 15 minutes (until it is a glaze consistency). This will thicken as it cools so you may need to reheat it before use.

Remove chicken from marinade (discard marinade) and pat dry with paper towels.

Grill chicken over a hot fire until the chicken is cooked through, brushing on both sides with the glazes just before the chicken is done. Brush with a little extra glaze just before serving.

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

Steak Tacos with Tomatillo and Mixed Pepper Salsa

It’s been a few days since my last post. Work has been busy. Life has been busy. Luckily I’m going on vacation tomorrow. Viva Las Vegas!

I made this dish two weekends ago, on a day when I had lots of time to cook. The prep for the meal and the salsa making took place on Saturday, then I was left with a relatively easy meal to finish on Sunday.

I started with a marinade for the steak. I used skirt steak because I was in experimental mode and I haven’t used skirt steak a lot. Flank steak or flat-iron steak would also work.

Here’s the ingredients:

1 lime, juiced
2 Tablespoon fresh oregano, minced
4 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoon cumin
1 pound skirt steak cut across the grain into 1-inch strips
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

I combined all the marinade ingredients in a Ziploc bag, added the steak and tossed the bag in the fridge overnight.

Next I started on the salsa. I had a half-pound of tomatillos still stashed in the crisper from the box two weeks previous (along with three green bell peppers). The next box had three-quarters pound of hatch chilies. I decided to use all of these peppers in my salsa.

Here’s the ingredients:

2 clove garlic
.5 pound tomatillos
2 pounds mixed chilies and green bell peppers (pick peppers based on how hot you want the salsa, mine was pretty mild)
1/2 onion, diced
1 lime juiced
fresh cilantro

I started by heating up the grill. When it was quite hot I added the chilies and green peppers and left them to char, turning them as each side of the pepper was blackened.

As soon as each pepper was charred on all sides I removed it to a bowl (and then covered the bowl so the peppers could steam).

Once the peppers had cooled a bit, I donned some rubber gloves (this is very important if you don’t want to be in massive pain every time you touch your eyes for the next day) and peeled off the charred skin and removed the stems and seeds.

It is important that, no matter how much easier it would make the process, you not run the peppers under water. This removes too much of the charred, yummy taste. Once I was done, I chopped all the peppers.

Next I got out the food processor. I turned on the blades and tossed in the garlic while it was running (this helps to chop it up). Next I added the tomatillos and processed until the they were ground completely. I put this mixture into a bowl then added the onion, the chopped peppers, lime and a bit of salt.

At this point I set aside some of the salsa for the cilantro-hating husband, then added fresh cilantro to the rest. Then, this went into the fridge so the flavors could marry overnight.

When I was ready to eat the next day, I removed the steak from the marinade and threaded the strips onto several skewers, then grilled them over high heat.

In addition I grilled some green beans (then added a squeeze of lime) and made Cumin-Scented Rice Pilaf (white rice cooked with onion and a bit of cumin).

For the tacos, I set out warm corn tortillas, sour cream, diced avocado and the salsa (and the steak). That way, the husband and I could each put only what we wanted on our own tacos (he doesn’t like avocado on his, I like my rice on the side, not in, the taco).

I loved, loved, loved this salsa. I usually like my salsa more towards the warm side, but, as this was quite mild, I was able to heap lots of it on my tacos, yum. The husband liked it too (but he didn’t rave about it like me). However, on matters of salsa, I tend to discount his opinion a bit because, in general, he doesn’t like salsa.

A couple of days later, I used the rest of the salsa to top scrambled eggs. Also delicious.

All in all the salsa took about 2 1/2 hours to make (the peppers took a long time to peel). Totally worth it for a special occasion, but a little for work than I like to spend on a weeknight meal. I’ll make this again, but only when I’ve got time on my hands…

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

Shrimp Tacos

Lately I have had a craving for shrimp tacos. There is a local taco place that makes a pretty fair version, but since I am trying to cook more at home I have resisted the urge to get them.

So, when I saw that I would be getting cabbage in my box this week, I decided that this would be a good opportunity to make my own.

Here’s the ingredients.


2 limes, juiced, divided
1 tablespoon adobo sauce
30 or so smallish shrimp
1 cup shredded cabbage
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned
1 mango, julienned
creme fraiche
white corn tortillas

I started by marinating the shrimp in half of the lime juice and the adobo sauce (whenever I open a can of chipotles I stick whatever I have left in the can in the freezer, so I almost always have adobo on hand). I set this aside for about 20 minutes.

While the shrimp marinated I worked on the cabbage slaw. I combined the cabbage, red bell pepper and mango along with the juice of 1/2 a lime and a little salt and black pepper, then set it aside.


To grill the shrimp, I skewered them the long way through the entire shrimp so that they would be a bit straighter when they were done.


I sprinkled the shrimp with a little salt then grilled the skewers for about 3 minutes on each side. While the shrimp cooked I warmed the tortillas, wrapped in wet paper towels, in the microwave for 30 seconds.

When everything was ready I created tacos by spreading each tortilla with about a Tablespoon of creme fraiche, a bit of the cabbage slaw and a few shrimp.


How was it? Well, these were quite good. The slaw was maybe a tiny bit too limey but overall really tasty. With a couple of tweaks (less lime, a little more spice) I could see these going on the permanent repertoire.

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

Pasta with Grilled Veggies and Tomato Confit

Last week my local QFC had two pounds or grape tomatoes for only $3.99. What a deal. And as I like to say, when life gives you tomatoes make tomato confit.

So, yesterday I did just that. I use the method from the Tom Douglas cookbook Tom’s Big Dinners, but I switched the herbs around a bit to use what I had on hand.

I put all the tomatoes I had left (I had to eat a few) on a baking sheet (I used a small one so that I could roast in my toaster oven) added a few cloves of garlic and a bunch of fresh oregano. I topped this off with olive oil (not the really good stuff, just the kinda good stuff) plus a generous helping of salt and fresh ground black pepper.

I roasted this at 225 degrees for 3 hours, then let it cool before stashing it in the fridge (it is sooo much better the next day).

Now, tomato confit is one of my favorite things on the planet. It smells so good while it is cooking and can be used for so many things, as a condiment for meat or poultry (maybe even fish but I haven’t tried it) as a bruschetta topping, or, as I am going to use it, as part of a pasta dish.

I took a look in my very full crisper drawer and found a lot of vegetables that I would usually like to roast. The problem with that is, it’s almost 80 degrees out, so grilling seems like a much better idea. Luckily I remembered one of my favorite cooking tools, my grill saute basket. With it I’m able to take produce that is too small to grill (broccoli, for example) put it in the basket and get the high heat cooking of roasting with the ease of sauteing.

Here’s the ingredients for the veggies:

broccoli
carrots
sugar snap peas
asparagus
sweet onion
3 clove garlic
olive oil
salt and pepper

You’ll notice that I didn’t really put any amounts, that is because I used what I had, and other veggies would work here too (cauliflower, zucchini, bell peppers, etc.).

I chopped the broccoli, carrots and asparagus into bite-sized pieces, julienned the onion and chopped the garlic. In a large bowl, I combined these with the snap peas, olive oil and salt and pepper.

I put all this into my grill basket and put it on the grill.

I tossed the veggies every few minutes (for about a half hour) until they were crisp tender and char-cooked.

For the pasta:

1/2 pound spaghetti
1 Tablespoon olive oil from the tomato confit
1 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/2 cup ricotta cheese

I added the pasta to boiling water and coked it until it was al dente. I drained it, reserving some of the pasta water.

To the now empty pasta pan I added the olive oil and anchovy paste, then stirred in the ricotta cheese and the pasta, adding enough reserved pasta water to loosen it up (make it saucy).

To finish:

1 cup tomato confit
2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
really good Parmesan

I doused the tomatoes with the vinegar and then heated it for one minute in the microwave. Then I stirred in the parsley.

In my bowl I placed my finished pasta, then layered on my grilled veggies, and topped it with the tomato confit and a dusting of Parmesan.

How was it? Well, the tomato confit smelled insanely good while it was cooking, then the grilled veggies smelled insanely good while they were cooking, so I had very high hopes, and I was not disappointed. Each part of this dish was sooo good on it’s own, but together, wow. I loved this so much, light, but filling and just good.

The husband, though, well, I have to discount his opinion a bit since he doesn’t really like broccoli, asparagus or tomatoes. So while he ate it, he certainly didn’t enjoy it as much as me. But it doesn’t look like he cares.

As an aside, while I was making my tomato confit, I was also making strawberry sauce and strawberry-rhubarb jam. I have more of this than I know what to do with, so if you would like either one, the first five people that let me know their preference shall receive it.

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

Grilled Pork Loin with Picadillo-Seasoned Mango Stuffing

The meal today was inspired by the Serious Eats blog. The have decided to start something called the Weekend Cook and Tell:

“Each Wednesday the food sections from newspapers all over country feature many great ideas and recipes. Here at Serious Eats we are kicking off a new feature called Weekend Cook and Tell. Every Wednesday we are going to share a particularly interesting article or recipe from a food section. We want you to use this as a jumping off point for a weekend cooking project, come up with an idea inspired by the featured article or recipe, cook it over the weekend and then tell us all about it and share photos of your dishes.”

For the first go-around they decided to feature an article from the New York Times about “off-cuts” of meat.

“These unfamiliar cuts are readily available, inexpensive, and underutilized but full of flavor and really delicious when prepared using the right techniques.”

I knew that I had a pork loin (not tenderloin) in the freezer so I started it thawing and considered what to do with it. Now, they recommended it as a cut for roasting, but with the weather warming up I thought grilling was in order. Indirect grilling provides basically the same kind of cooking as roasting, but with the additional deliciousness of charcoal and wood that you can’t get from the oven.

A Cook’s Illustrated recipe that I had used before came to mind. It featured pork loin stuffed with an apple-cranberry filling. However, apples and cranberries bring to mind feelings of fall and winter, and it is trying desperately to be spring here. I wanted to stick with a fruit filling but the best looking fruit right now is strawberries, and that just didn’t seem right. Then I thought about the great mangoes that have just come into season and decided that might be the way to go. I did a little searching online and found a recipe for picadillo that featured mango as one of the ingredients (and seemed like a great start for a flavor profile). After a little more searching and comparing a few different regional recipes, I came up with the following for my version.

Here’s the ingredients:

8 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 onion, diced
1 mango, diced
1/2 cup golden raisins
2 Tablespoon capers
2 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
a couple of dashes cayenne
1/2 cup almonds, toasted
3 lb boneless pork loin

In a saucepan I combined all of the filling ingredients except for the almonds and brought the mixture to a boil.

I turned down the heat and let it simmer for 30 minutes.

After the simmering I strained out all the solids.

Then returned the liquids to the pan so that I could make a glaze.

I let the liquid reduce by half.

Meanwhile, I let my stuffing mixture cool, then I stirred in the almonds.

I butterflied the pork loin.

Spread the stuffing over (to within about a 1/2″ of the edges).

Then rolled it back up and tied it.

Unfortunately, I seem to have been distracted at this point and I forgot to take a picture (doh).

I let this sit on the counter while I started my coals. I have a fancy charcoal grill that has not only baskets for indirect grilling, but also, propane ignition. So, I loaded the baskets and set them aflame.

While I waited for the coal to be ready for cooking I put some smoking chips in water to soak.

When the coals were ready, I drained the chips and tossed a handful on the coals. Finally I added my pork loin (which I had basted with oil and seasoned with salt and pepper) to the grill in between the baskets and closed the lid (this is what makes it oven like).

I expected the pork to take about an hour to cook, so after a half-hour I flipped the pork over. When the pork was 15 degrees from being done I started basting it with the glaze

While the USDA would like you to cook pork to 160 degrees, I like my pork to have a remnant of moistness (plus I like to live on the edge). So, I cooked it to 135 degrees and then let it rest, covered The carryover cooking brought it to 145 degrees.

One of the ingredients that seemed to be fairly unanimous for picadillo was green olives, but rather than add it to the filling, I decided to add it to my rice side dish. I cooked up some yellow rice with a little butter and then stirred in some sliced green olives.

I sliced a zucchini into planks, drizzled them with oil, seasoned them with salt and pepper and grilled them once I had removed the pork loin.

Once the loin had rested for 10 minutes I sliced it and plated it with some of the rice and zucchini.

How was it? Delicioso! The filling kept the pork super moist and had a nice mix of sweet and sour. I loved the olives in the rice (and I was glad that I opted to put them in the rice rather than the stuffing). This one is going on the permanent repertoire. I might try it again with peaches instead of mango later in the summer. I think that’ll be tasty too.

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Cuban Flat Iron Steak with Wine Pairing

Last night I hosted the Puget Sound Chapter of the USPCA for a wine pairing event at my house. Each chef created a dish and then George from George’s Wine Shoppe paired each dish with an appropriate wine.

I decided to make a beef dish because A) in the three years we have held this event no one has ever made a beef dish, B) I know that George like beef, and C) I like beef.

I decided to grill a flat iron steak (probably my favorite cut of beef) but I wanted to find an interesting marinade (that would also provide a challenge for George). With a little searching I found a recipe for Cuban-Style Flat Iron Steak on the Whole Foods Web site. It sounded tasty enough and I had almost all the ingredients on hand, all I had to buy was the steak and limes.

Here’s the ingredients (but you’ll need to go to the whole foods Web site for the recipe).

Here’s the lime and orange zests along with the minced garlic and onion.

I followed the recipe exactly and found that it made a lot of marinade. I decided to split it and freeze half of it to marinade a steak sometime in the future.

Oftentimes you’ll see a recipe call for boiling the leftover marinade to create a sauce, but this one calls for reserving some of the marinade for drizzling after the meat is cooked, so that’s what I did.

I started the steak marinading Tuesday night. I wanted to give it a nice long time in the drink.

I decided to set up a little fancy for the wine pairing. Since I started my chef business I find that I don’t entertain at home as much as I used to so when I get the chance to be fancy, I often do.

Here’s my table set up (I like to put out a lot of plates for this event since over the course of the evening there are many different flavors that may not meld well).


I made some lovely little menus that listed each dish and the wine to be paired with it (too bad two of the attendees dropped out at the last minute).

Course number three was these cute little stuffed tomatoes.


I ended up as course number five (second to last). Here’s the finished steak (with the reserved marinade drizzled on top).

I (and everyone else) really liked the steak. I was glad that let it marinate overnight. It probably would have been even better if I had cooked it over charcoal, but sometimes gas is just easier.

The wine with my dish was lovely. All-in-all, George did a great job with the pairings. It can’t be easy to pair wine having never tried the food and using only a written description of the flavor profile (but somehow George always manages). One of the bottles was corked (the Viognier) but we used one of the wines that was supposed to have been paired with one of the canceled dishes, fairly successfully.

Here are some pictures.

This is the aforementioned George from George’s Wine Shoppe

My good friend (and fellow chef) Wendy

The rest of the group (except for me of course, I’m taking the picture).


Here’s the whole list of what we ate and drank (prepare to be jealous, all the food was great).

Antipasto Relish-Canadian Style, with Pickles, Olives, Peppers, Cauliflower And Tuna
Château Moulin De Ferrand, 2008 Entredeuxmers, Sauvignon/Semillon $7.99
Bordeaux , France

Brie En Croute with Hot Tomato Chutney
Mosel River Riesling 2007 $9.99
Mosel, Germany

Smoky Mozzarella Stuffed Cherry Tomato with Garlic-Roasted Asparagus
Zolo Sauvignon Blanc 2008 $10.99
Mendoza, Argentina

Corn Cups with Smoked Salmon and Mango Salsa
Terra Blanca 2005 Viognier $14.99 (this is the one that was corked)
Yakima Valley, Washington
Replaced with C.R. Sandidge 2006 Great Gams Rose $14.99
Columbia Valley, Washington

Grilled Cuban-Style Flat Iron Steak
Sobon Estate Old Vines Zinfandel 2007 $12.99
Amador County, California

Truffle Brownies
Porto Rocha Fine Ruby Port $13.99

And finally, the end of the night.

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

Grilled Acorn Squash and Orange and Grilled Aspargus Salad

I have two grills, one gas and one charcoal, and I tend to be a year-round griller. In the winter the gas grill gets the most action. It’s faster to light and heat so there is not as much time spent in the cold. Charcoal is reserved for summer when sitting outside for an hour while the coals get hot, makes sense (although I have been known to light the charcoal in the winter for a special occasion, say Christmas dinner)

Today in the Seattle area, we had our first day above 60 degrees in a long time (it was snowing three days ago so this is a welcome change) and I had the need to get outside.

We made a special trip to get propane for the gas grill, but as I was sitting outside, thinking about what to make, the charcoal grill started calling my name.

I started up the grill and made a two-level fire (hot on one side, medium on the other).

I bought a flat-iron steak and rubbed it with the Steak Seasoning mix from Costco (hey, there is nothing wrong with taking a little help now and then) and then turned my eye towards side dishes. I decided to make acorn squash and an asparagus and orange salad.

Here’s the ingredients for the Orange and Grilled Asparagus Salad

1 tablespoon homemade pear and honey infused vinegar (sherry vinegar would be a good substitute)
1 teaspoon, brown sugar
1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 orange, peeled and segmented
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
1 teaspoon fresh tarragon, chopped

In a bowl I whisked together the vinegar, brown sugar, shallot and oil. I cooked the asparagus on the hot side of the grill, tossing occasionally until it was cooked through.


I removed it from the grill cut it into smaller pieces and added it to the bowl. Once it cooled down, I added the orange segments and tarragon and tossed it to coat.

Here’s the ingredients for the Grilled Acorn Squash with Whiskey and Brown Sugar Glaze

1 acorn squash, cut into rings
3 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup whiskey
1/4 cup brown sugar
cayenne pepper to taste
salt and pepper

In a small saucepan I combined the butter, whiskey, brown sugar, cayenne and salt and pepper. I brought it to a boil, then let it simmer for a few minutes, until it was thickened a bit.

I rubbed the acorn squash rings with oil and then seasoned them with salt and pepper. I put them on the cooler side of the grill to cook for 15 minutes, turning them over once.

Once they were fairly tender, I started brushing them with the glaze, about 5 minutes more of cooking and three or four coats of glaze.


I sliced the steak and served everything family style, along with some grilled bread.

The asparagus was a little overcooked (burned) but the salad was really good, as my mother (who is visiting) said “it’s an unexpected combination of flavors”.

The squash was really good, sweet and spicy. I served the leftover extra glaze alongside the squash so that a bit more could be added if desired. We ended up adding this to the spice-rubbed steak and it made it extra delicious.

I liked it, the husband liked it, and the mother kept saying “just a little more” to everything I made. Looks like the first serious grilling of the season was a success!

About Me

I'm a personal chef living happily with her picky-eater (but willing to try anything) husband, neurotic black lab and a red heeler puppy.

I watch way too much TV and enjoy hip-hop more than any reasonable grown-up should.

I'm an avid swimmer and sometime triathlete (whenever I'm not nursing an injury).

Find out more about me here.

About This Blog

I started this blog at a time when my personal chef business was quite slow and I needed to keep my mind busy and my skills sharp. But now, business is booming so I've had to put the blog on the back burner. So, no new recipes for now, but please enjoy my archives.

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