Showing posts with label grilling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grilling. Show all posts

Plum BBQ Sauce

Ever on the quest to use up those fabulous plums from my tree, I whipped up some plum barbecue sauce today. I do mean whipped up - just a few ingredients, let it simmer away, puree and jar. Couldn't be easier, I promise!
Start by sauteing some onion in a little olive oil...
...and while those are getting a bit soft, take the pits out of your plums...
...then give them a rough chop.
Next, as Rachel Ray says, "Everyone into the pool!" In this case that would be plums, tomatoes, ketchup, molasses, brown sugar, balsamic and salt.
Let everything simmer for about an hour without the lid on and it will thicken and reduce and look something like this.
I use a stick blender to puree it right in the pot, but transfer to a traditional blender or food processor if you don't have a stick blender.
Because of the acid (tomatoes and vinegar) this should keep for 4-6 months in the fridge, but you can freeze it if you want it to last longer. You could always also do traditional canning to preserve it - but you know me, that's just too much work! Check back and see what I decide to make using this tangy little sauce.

Plum BBQ Sauce
Yields 3 cups

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced, about 1 1/2 cups
1 1/4 pounds plums, pitted and chopped
1 large tomato, peeled, seeded and diced, about 1 cup
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon molasses
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 teaspoon salt

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium high heat and add onion; cook until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil, and simmer, uncovered, for about an hour. Puree using a stick blender and pour into a covered container to store in the refrigerator for up to 4 months.

Variation: If you want a pure plum flavor, skip the tomato and ketchup, and add a little mustard and some ginger.

Ginger-Garlic Steak

Looking for a really flavorful yet simple way to prepare steak on the grill? I've been experimenting with ways to season and cook grassfed meats that will both impart flavor as well as tenderize them. In the process I threw together a few - and I mean only a few - ingredients the other day for marinade for a relatively cheap cut of grassfed steak and was thrilled with the results.
It all starts with garlic - two large pungent cloves, or more if you really love the flavor of garlic. Either mince them very finely, crush them through a garlic press (I hate those things - a pain to clean!), or use a Microplane to mince it (my choice).
And then you add in some grated ginger. Ginger comes in a large knob like this and if you're like I used to be, you might be wary about buying it as it seems to spoil before you use it up. A tip I picked up from Rachel Ray is to freeze the peeled leftovers and then grate them frozen for future use - works like a charm.
Peeling ginger is best with a spoon - just drag the side edge of the spoon over the skin and it will peel right off without taking much of the ginger flesh with it.
When you have it peeled, cut off about a 1 inch knob and either mince it finely with a knife or use a Microplane (my choice) to grate it. Mix the ginger with the garlic and about a half bottle of hearty red wine and let it sit in the refrigerator to marinate before grilling it to your liking.
Simple, flavorful, tender, fast, and uses only a few ingredients - what more do you want in a recipe?! Try it tonight - I promise it won't disappoint!

Ginger-Garlic Steak
Serves 4

3 cups red wine
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 1/2 pounds steak
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine red wine, garlic and ginger in a shallow baking dish large enough to hold the steak, then add the steak. Marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 24 hours. Pat dry, season with salt and pepper, and grill to desired temperature.

Lemon, Garlic & Parsley Grilled Shrimp

Next up from my Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 dinner is my grilled shrimp appetizer. I love this dish for its flexibility - serve it hot or cold, as an appetizer, over a salad, or as an entree. It's full of flavor on its own but also does well with a lemony or garlicky dipping sauce. I start by buying peeled and deveined shrimp with the tails still on (remove the tails if you are putting them on a salad).
Next combine the shrimp with all of the other ingredients in a bowl and let them marinate. Remember, the more delicate a protein is, the shorter the time for marinating, so this really shouldn't sit more than 30-60 minutes. Longer than that and the acid from the lemon juice will begin cooking the shrimp and you'll end up with ceviche.
When you put them on the grill, make sure the grill is nice and hot and put them on methodically. I start at the top left and work my way down rows. As soon as I finish putting the last shrimp on the last row, it's just about time to begin turning them over, which again I do in order. Why? Not because I have OCD or am a control freak (both of which might very well be true) but this way they cook evenly.
You can use other things to add flavor to shrimp, but I love this simple but classic combo of garlic, lemon & parsley.
Click here for a printable copy of this recipe.

Lemon, Garlic & Parsley Grilled Shrimp
Serves 8-10

2 pounds medium-large shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails on
4 cloves garlic
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Combine everything in a bowl and let marinate in the refrigerator for 20 minutes or up to 1 hour. Drain and blot shrimp dry before grilling over medium high heat just until barely cooked through, one to two minutes per side. Serve hot or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Grilled Romaine and Asparagus Salad with Pinenut Dressing

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24, recipe number two, was inspired by a blog post of Heidi Swanson (of She creates wonderful vegetarian meals using very fresh and natural ingredients. Her salad was more of an asparagus-broccolini montage, but the pine nut dressing caught my eye. So here's my version. First I made the dressing so the flavors would have a chance to meld. I combined a minced shallot, the zest and juice of a lemon, some sherry vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and some roughly chopped pine nuts in a food processor and whirled it until I got a consistency half way between a vinaigrette and a creamy dressing.
If only you could taste that picture! Next I grilled the asparagus and romaine lettuce on the grill, and then chopped everything into 1 inch pieces and tossed with the dressing.
You could add other things to this salad - radishes, croutons, grilled chicken - but it's also great on its own. The warm charred parts of the romaine contrast with the crispy cool pieces from the center of the head - it's something you just have to try!
Click here for a printable version of this recipe.

Grilled Romaine and Asparagus Salad with Pine Nut Dressing
Serves 8

1 large shallot, roughly chopped
1 whole lemon, zested and juiced
1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, or more or less to taste
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 cup pine nuts, roughly chopped
3 heads romaine lettuce
24 asparagus spears, tough ends removed
extra virgin olive oil

Combine shallot, lemon zest and juice, and vinegar in food processor and whirl for about 30 seconds. With food processor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil, then add salt and pepper and pine nuts. Process until fairly smooth but a few pieces of pine nut are still visible, about 1 minute. Drizzle lettuce heads and asparagus with olive oil, then grill over medium high flame until nicely charred. Remove from heat and cut into one inch pieces. Toss with desired amount of dressing and serve immediately so that lettuce and asparagus are still warm.

Basil Marinated Grilled Chicken Breasts

I promised you the recipes from the dishes I created for the Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 event last weekend, so here goes the first one. (Check out the new link below for printing a clean copy of the recipe!) In order to make the succulent chicken breasts, start by creating a basil marinade. This is similar to a basil pesto, but without the pine nuts and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. I always like to use a food processor for things like this, and I start by whirling the garlic around to mince it finely first. Next, I added the fresh basil leaves to the food processor...
...and let it rip just long enough to get a rough chop on everything.
Then with the lid on and the blade running, I drizzled in olive oil until the texture I wanted was achieved - like a thin ketchup consistency.
Add salt and this point and whirl it for a second to combine, then pour the marinade over boneless chicken breasts in a baking dish.
Toss everything so that they are coated on all sides evenly...
... then cover and refrigerate for about 4 hours.
Grill over medium high heat until nice grill marks appear and then turn them over to cook on the other side.
So your not slaving over the grill for a party, I pulled them off before they were completely cooked through, covered them with foil, and popped them into a 300 degree oven to hold (finish cooking) until we ate. If you are going to eat them directly from the grill, cook until the juices run clear and let rest 5 minutes under foil before serving.

Click here for a printable copy of this recipe.
Basil Marinated Grilled Chicken Breasts
Serves 8

4 cloves garlic
2 cups lightly packed basil leaves
extra virgin olive oil, about 1/2 cup
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 boneless chicken breasts, patted dry so the marinade will stick)

Mince garlic in a food processor, then add basil and process until roughly chopped. Drizzle in olive oil until a thin ketchup consistency is achieved. Add salt and whirl for 5 seconds to combine. Place chicken in a baking dish and pour marinade over chicken, turning pieces to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours. Grill over medium high heat until cooked through, about 8 minutes per side.

Cleaning the Garage

If you know me well, you know I've been with my husband for a long time - dating since I was 18, married for 24 years. While we get along well, we don't really do well working on household projects together, but yesterday was different. We cleaned out the entire garage without a nasty word or a single argument. And then, amazingly, he surprised me by making me lunch - beer brats, which is something I'd never make for myself but thoroughly enjoyed after working for 4 hours. Maybe it was my evening of "fame" doing the Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 event, but he seemed determined to get his moment in the spotlight and left me this note for his brat recipe:

"Bring 24 ounces of Budweiser to a full boil - put in bratwurst. Boil for 10-13 minutes. Immediately remove and place on hot grill. Turn in 4-5 minutes. Spread Harvest Coarse Ground Mustard on bun. After 10 minutes, place buns on grill with brats. Turn grill off - remove after 3 minutes. Place brat in bun, add American chees, sauerkraut and more mustard. Squeeze bun. Enjoy good garage cleaning food. By 'Cooking with Greg', no registered trademark and no patent pending."

Gotta love him, right?!

Foodbuzz 24, 24, 24 - Appetizer to Dessert on the Grill!

I always love a summer grilling menu with friends, so imagine my excitement to be chosen by Foodbuzz as one of the 24 food bloggers to host this month's 24, 24, 24 event! 24 food bloggers from around the world feature 24 different menus in the same 24 hour period and then post them the following day, and my summer grill menu was selected for May. I'll be posting the recipes for each dish during the week on this blog, but this will give you the highlights of our fun event last night. Any good summer party starts with gardens - and fortunately mine are blooming nicely...
...including the first peony to open for the season! While it can be said that grilling and dining al fresco is the quintessential sign of summer, it can also be said that fickle weather is the quintessential sign of May in Colorado. It stayed nice (and warm enough) for us to enjoy appetizers on the patio.And while I had intended to dine outside, I set up the dining room table upon seeing the black thunderheads roll in and we shifted to inside for the meal itself.
So...on to the menu! I love doing a complete menu - appetizers all the way to dessert - on the grill. Most people don't think of grilling for some of these course, so it's always a surprise and a delight. I think my friends thought so! We started with appetizers, and first up was a simple grilled shrimp. I marinated the shrimp in the classic combo of lemon, garlic and parsley and grilled them just until barely cooked through. You can serve shrimp like this either warm, room temp, or stick them in the refrigerator and serve them cold. My husband said he ate about 20 of these!
Next up was asparagus wrapped in prosciutto. I drizzled it with just a little olive oil and did not add any salt since the meat is so salty already. They only take a couple of minutes on each side on the grill and you have a succulent first course. Asparagus done this way can also be served as a vegetable side dish and balsamic glaze can be used as a dip or drizzle.
Our final appetizer was something new for most of my friends - grilled Halloumi cheese from the Cypress part of Greece.
This unique (and somewhat pricey cheese at about $20 per pound) somehow holds together and develops a fabulous texture and taste when grilled. We scarfed down a half pound in about 10 seconds. I know this looks burned - okay, it was actually a bit overcooked as I was busy enjoying a glass of rose wine and chatting with my girlfriends - but it tasted great cooked even to this level. Keep it on the grill long enough to really develop some color and flavor - maybe one minute less than I did!
After the appetizers we moved inside for the meal itself. First up, a grilled romaine and asparagus salad. Most people have never heard of grilling lettuce, but lots of leafy stuff works well on the grill. Anything that can hold together like radicchio or romaine is perfect. I just lightly drizzled the whole heads and the asparagus spears with extra virgin olive oil then sprinkled them with salt and grilled them until they were nicely charred. The warm charred part of the lettuce contrasts with the inside leaves that are still cool and crisp, making for a really unique salad.
I chopped the charred lettuce and asparagus and tossed them with my version of Heidi Swanson's pine nut dressing - lemon, shallots, extra virgin olive oil, sherry vinegar, and pine nuts. This might be my new favorite dressing!
For the entree I grilled off a large selection of vegetables - peppers, zucchini, red onions, and corn. Unfortunately, the corn was so tough it tasted like feed corn so I ditched it.
I had marinated some boneless chicken breasts in a basil marinade (kind of like pesto but without the cheese and nuts) for about 4 hours, then grilled them off on the grill so they were just barely undercooked. That allowed me to put them back in a baking dish and hold them in the oven (covered with foil) while we ate our salad without them overcooking. See how great those grill marks look?
To put it all together, I finely chopped the roasted veggies and tossed them with cooked orzo, a bit of heavy cream, and chiffonade of basil, then added salt and pepper to taste. I sliced the chicken breasts and served them atop the pasta.
Dessert, believe it or not, was also on the grill, but unfortunately it was too dark by then so I didn't get that photographed. I'll try to recreate it this week for photos when I post specific recipes, but this one is a winner. Quickly blanch whole fresh peaches in boiling water and slip the skins off. Cut them in half and remove the pits and grill them for a few minutes to caramelize the sugars a bit. And serve those mouth watering delights with rosemary ice cream, homemade earlier in the day. Mmmm...I might go get a bit of that leftover ice cream as a snack right now!
The final touch, for me as a trained sommelier, for a dinner like this is a fun selection of wines. We just returned from northern Sonoma wine country where we ordered way too much wine to be shipped to us, so this was a perfect chance to grab all of those 1 or 2 bottles of various wines in the cellar and offer them up.
Here's what we had:
Columbia Crest Reserve Chardonnay, Horse Heaven Hills, 2005
Paul Jaboulet Aine Tavel, L'Espiegle, 2005 (rose wine is a great summer wine - especially with a grill menu like this)
Piculit-Neri Delle Venezie, 2007 (great IGT wine that was given to me by my dentist of all people!)
Zenato Valpolicella Ripassa, 2005 (Valpolicella is a bit weak and watery, but the ripassa technique gives it body much more like an Amarone)
Catena Malbec, Mendoza, 2004
Valkenberg Madonna Eiswein, 2004 (wonderful pairing with the peaches and ice cream!)
Look for the recipes on my blog this week, then get grilling with your friends! Thanks Foodbuzz - I had a blast doing this!

Food, Fun ... and Fire

I had quite the day yesterday - after a quick trip to my parents in the mountains in the morning, I came home to cook for the final dinner of the year that I would be providing to the Whiz Kids tutoring program at Confluence, to discover that the grill I didn't know I had left on the night before had started a fire.
Yes, folks, that's what a heavy duty gas grill can do set at low for 15 hours! After turning it off and seeing that it was smoking from inside the structure, I opted to call 911 and the fire department (all 15 of those calendar ready young men) showed up quickly and promptly determined they needed to destroy the grill structure with an ax ("sorry, ma'am...") to put out the fire that was smoldering in the wood frame that housed it. Thankfully, although the wall of the house was warm, there was no fire damage to the house itself, and needless to say, we're rebuilding with a concrete frame. The firemen put it out just in time for my helpers to arrive to cook for Whiz Kids so we got right to cooking (after a little surveying of the damage).
Sammy and Allie volunteered, along with their mom Audrey, to help make steak fajitas. I was supposed to grill the flank steak, but went to plan B and roasted them all in the oven after putting a dry rub of cumin, coriander, garlic, onion, chipotle, salt and pepper on them. Truth is, I liked the result better than grilling as the outside of the beef remained more supple (not charred like that wood above) and it was easier to slice it thinly for the fajitas. Sammy produced this incredible pan full of caramelized onions...
...while her twin sister Allie did a fabulous job of sauteing the peppers for the fajitas. We served the fajitas with cheese and a store bought salsa that we doctored up with some tomatoes, red onion and fresh cilantro alongside a cumin scented rice and black bean dish. Thanks again to my volunteers - you girls were great! Tip for everyone: don't leave your grill on to burn off any excess stuff!

Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

As the number of posts to this blog increases, I'm finding I need to spend a little time reviewing what's already here to make sure I give you a variety without repeating myself. And a quick search this morning revealed that I have not included a single type of steak post yet, so here we go!
Flank steak is inexpensive, fairly low in fat, and easy to cook, so as our "winter" temperatures continue in the 70s, break out the grill tonight and try this recipe. While it's not necessary, most beef benefits (more flavorful and tenderized) from a marinade. I made this one simply by using up some extra lemon vinaigrette that I had from a dinner party and adding a bit more red wine vinegar to it. You want a good amount of acidity in your marinade (I like a 1:1 ratio of vinegar to oil) to help tenderize the meat. If you don't marinate the flank steak, simply season it well with salt and pepper before grilling it.If you think of it or have time, you can start this marinating the night before or in the morning before you head off for your day. When you're ready to cook, pat it dry (to avoid flame-ups on the grill) and grill over medium high heat for about 4 minutes per side for medium (above). When you pull it off, wrap it in foil and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing it against the grain into thin strips and serving with Chimichurri Sauce.
Chimichurri Sauce
Serves 12-16

3/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 medium shallots, quartered
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
3 cups fresh parsley, packed
2 cups fresh cilantro, packed
1 cup fresh mint, packed

Combine first 8 ingredients in blender; blend until almost smooth. Add 1/4 of parsley, 1/4 of cilantro, and 1/4 of mint; blend until incorporated. Add remaining herbs in 3 more additions, pureeing until almost smooth after each addition.

Pizza on the Grill

My newest culinary inspiration came from my desire to create a kids' cooking class this summer. I figured pizza on the grill was perfect for a group of boys and girls, ranging in age from 7 to 13. In the words of the youngest boy in the class, "This pizza is great!" It's been so easy and delicious that I find myself making this once a week. Here's my recipe - you can of course adapt it for whatever ingredients you like, so I've given some ideas at the end.

Pizza on the Grill
Serves 10-12

4 pounds pizza dough (I buy the premade dough from Whole Foods)
1 cup pizza sauce
1 cup pepperoni slices
1 cup italian sausage, browned and drained
1/2 cup basil leaves, torn
2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Cut dough into 8 half-pound balls and press each into a 12 inch crust on a cutting board; rub top side with olive oil.

Preheat grill to medium high. Gently lay dough onto grill surface, spreading out dough into desired shape as you lay it down. Cover and let cook for about 3 minutes or until golden brown on the first side. Check every 30 seconds and pierce any bubbled that may form in the crust.

Using tongs, turn crust over and quickly spread toppings onto crust: sauce first, then sausage and pepperoni, finishing with basil leaves and mozzarella cheese. Close grill cover and cook an additional 2 minutes or until crust is cooked through and cheese has melted.

Remove to a cutting board and cut with a large chef knife or pizza cutter.

Canadian bacon and pineapple
Mushrooms, onions and peppers (saute first)
Shredded cooked chicken, goat cheese and sun-dried tomatoes
Fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella
Roasted red peppers, roasted jalapenos, feta cheese and mozzarella cheese