Tag Archives: grilling

Girls can Grill!

27 Aug

 

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Girls can grill. And very well I might add. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Many folks think that grilling is a guy thing. I beg to differ! Not only do I grill a lot, so does my sister.

As is true for most things, my sister and I have very different (read opposite) methodology and philosophy in life. It is something we marvel over. It truly delights us. Raised by the same parents in the same house going to the same schools and having the same brothers, we couldn’t be more different. And we love it. Predictably, same goes for our grilling.

My sister and I conflict (agreeably) with one another on grilling techniques even when making the same thing. For ease and timeliness (I live in a perpetual state of whirling dervish mode…) I use a gas grill. It’s quick to start, temperature management is a no brainer, and it is easy to clean.

So while I go to my gas grill for speed and control, my sister goes full on charcoal grill. I say that with envy. She has WAY more patience than I do when it comes to the finesse of grilling, and she can really rock the charcoal grill.

On to the brats!  They are a grilling favorite. Let’s compare and contrast, shall we? I start cooking my brats in beer and onions on the stovetop. A bit ordinary but the outcome is delish. My sister, on the other hand, starts hers on the grill. With beer. And onions. And buttuh!  Nothing ordinary about that!

 

When the brats are cooked through and have beer and onion deliciousness wrapped around them, they go onto the grill. A gas grill for me-charcoal for my sister. She usually tosses some good hot dogs on a s well. Hey-we are german, so why not load up on the sausages! Look at those grill marks!

 

On to finishing the grilled brats. Again my sister and I express core philosophical brat differences. We disagree on sauerkraut, but we also differ with our buns and mustard, My buns are lightly toasted, hers are not. And my mustard is yellow. Hers is dijon. And she loads those succulent tender onions on her brats as well.

 

My sweet Denis sides with my sister here (in homage to family peace). He is all about the dijon mustard with his brats. But not me. Out of sheer pride I won’t even entertain a dijon mustard option here.

So here you have it. A grilling story.  With very different techniques-but all with great outcomes. So gals, go get a grill and fire it up. Let me know what you are grilling and remember, girls can grill!

 

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Cheese, butter mayo…

8 Nov
How are these items related?

How are these items related?

 

This is a recent conversation between myself and my teenaged son.  In literary terms it is known as a drama.  Why? Because everything with teenagers has the potential to be a drama…

Quinn: Why do we only have hard butter in this kitchen?

Me: Because it is real butter and healthier for us than margarine.

Quinn: But I can’t spread it for a grilled cheese sandwich!  Ugh!  Stupid butter!

Me: Heat the pan up, melt the butter, and grill your sandwich that way.

Quinn:  Why can’t we just have the spreadable tub stuff?  Man! (insert a sarcastic cough/snort here).

Fast forward a couple of days.  I was chatting with a friend that happens to be an executive chef.

Me: My son was all ticked off because we didn’t have spreadable margarine for his grilled cheese sandwich the other day.

David: Just use Mayonnaise.  Its oil and egg.  And it makes a great grilled cheese.

Me: Do you mean use mayonnaise instead of butter on the bread grilling side?

David:  Yes.  Its simple.

Me:  Seriously?  (I realized my mouth was hanging open.  I felt a mixture of surprise at David’s suggestion and disappointment in myself because this did not occur to me unaided.  I was excited with the idea but mad at my big bad self for not thinking of this earlier…)

Oh yeah, this sent my mind spinning.  It made sense.  Mayonnaise is oil and egg.  So maybe, I thought, the grilled cheese would end up with a little “french toast” essence to it.  As far as chefs go, David has a fabulous palate with an opinion that I trust.  I couldn’t wait to try this!

Friday rolled around.  I grab a quick dinner on Fridays because my son is an athlete that plays varsity football on Friday nights in the fall.  I rush home from work, have a quick bite, and head out to the game.  It was the prefect time to make a quick grilled cheese sandwich before heading out.  It was time to go rogue!

Taste test in the making…one grilled cheese with butter and one with mayonnaise.  Yup.  I was going to try it.  I used the same pan, the same heat, the same bread and the same cheese on both sandwiches.  This had to be a true side by side taste test.

The results:  Both cooked up in about the same amount of time.  Both sandwiches browned nicely, and had a crisp outside bite with a creamy inside.  Surprisingly, the sandwich with the mayo on the grilling side was the favorite.  It had a “cheesier” flavor than the grilled cheese with butter.

At  first look at the picture in this blog, the food items do not look related.  But they are.   Try this.  Let me know what results and preferences come out in your household.  It is fun to experiment with food!

Pumpkin is the new bacon.

19 Oct

Wow!  That sure got your attention, now didn’t it?  Pumpkin is the new bacon?  You bet.  I read it on the internet so it must be true (insert sarcastic tone and indignant faux cough with a hair toss here).  Seriously though, it’s an interesting culinary perspective don’t you think?  When sharing this statement with my teenaged son, he became certain that there is a conspiracy at work here. He says nothing could ever be the new bacon.

What, exactly, does this mean…the new bacon. Well, I took it to mean that pumpkin is the new “must have” ingredient that everyone is trying.  So not to be one left in the dark, I decided that pumpkin was MY new bacon.  Pumpkin became my fall food obsession.  Where to begin?  Where I always begin…I delved into the nutritional facts.

Pumpkin is a great source of beta-carotene, which our bodies convert to vitamin A.   That helps form and maintain healthy skin, teeth, and bones.  Vitamin A promotes good vision too.  Love that!

Vitamin C is also abundant in pumpkin.  This vitamin is an essential nutrient is great for our skin, brain health, and necessary to form certain proteins in our body.  .  Vitamin C is a well known antioxidant and essential for good cell health.  The bright orange color means that pumpkin is bursting with antioxidants!  That also keeps our skin elastic and healthy looking.  We need a continuous supply of this vitamin, so it is crucial to include in our diet.

Pumpkins are a good source of potassium and fiber.  Pumpkins are also naturally sodium free and low in calories.  It is a heart friendly food too.  And since studies show that canned pumpkin has all of the health benefits that fresh pumpkin does,  there is no reason not to jump on this bandwagon!

Okay, now on to the fun stuff.  Recipes!  Oh, I looked at them all!  Appetizers, desserts, pumpkin dice, pumpkin pureé, pumpkin seeds.  At first I was amazed that pumpkin is so versatile.  Thrilled, in fact, by the possibilities.  But in the end I followed my affinity for grilling and pizza to my very own pumpkin heaven.  Yup.  I made grilled pumpkin pizza.  And it was delish!

I did two pizzas.  One pizza had pumpkin puree as the sauce, and a second with pumpkin chunks as a topping.  Here is what I did.

I bought 2 “sugar” pumpkins, or pie pumpkins, a smaller variety. I cut them in half, took out the seeds and strings, placed the cut side down on a baking sheet, and roasted them in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  I pulled them out, turned them open side up, and let them cool.  I could then easily cut the skin away.

2 small sugar pumpkins, roasted and cut out of their skin.

Next, I cut the meat of one pumpkin into a small dice, and the other one I used for the puree.  The puree was intended to be a pizza sauce, so I wanted it thick.  I blended the pumpkin meat for the sauce with a little butter and milk until it was a good space consistency.  Then I tossed in a smidgen of salt and pepper.  That is it. Simple.

I started by grilling 2 pizza crusts on the grill.  After pulling the 2 pizza crusts off the grill, I met Denis at the island in the kitchen.  Denis and I discussed toppings, seasonings, flavors, and technique ahead of time.  We had a blast loading up our pizza pies!  For the toppings of the first pizza, we decided on goat cheese, grilled ham, and pesto to add to our pumpkin sauce.

Pumpkin pizza. This pizza has half pesto sauce and half pumpkin sauce. Next, we threw some savory toppings on!

The other pizza had diced pumpkin on it.  Since pumpkin is so moist, sauce wasn’t necessary on this pizza.  It was just the pizza crust and toppings.  Two pizzas, 1 with pumpkin sauce and one with pumpkin chunks as a topping.  Very different consistencies, mouth feel, and taste sensations.  Both were very pleasant, and had the essence of fall.   These pizzas certainly elicited some moanable moments while being taste tested!

Now it’s your turn.  Get some pumpkins.  Cook them up.  Develop your own recipes,  Mix diced pumpkin with pasta, puree with bread.  Pumpkin risotto.  Pumpkin pancakes.  How many other things can you think of?  For me, this is simply a jumping off point with so many places to go with pumpkin.  Denis is a genius at soups, so I know that an amazingly delicious pumpkin soup is in our future.  Any way you make it, start having fun with this nutrition packed food.  Pumpkin is the new bacon?  It sure is-minus the fat, but with all the flavor!

Pumpkin. The new bacon.

18 Oct

Wow!  That sure got your attention, now didn’t it?  Pumpkin is the new bacon?  You bet.  I read it on the internet so it must be true (insert sarcastic tone and indignant faux cough with a hair toss here).  Seriously though, it’s an interesting culinary perspective don’t you think?  When sharing this statement with a friend, he became certain that this is a conspiracy at work here. He says nothing could ever be the new bacon!

What, exactly, does this mean…the new bacon. Well, I am not sure.  I took it to mean that pumpkin is the new “must have” ingredient that everyone is trying.  So not to be one left in the dark, I decided that pumpkin was MY new bacon.  I became determined to begin cooking with pumpkin.  But first, I delved into the nutritional facts.

First, pumpkin is a vegetable but called a “pumpkin fruit”.  Ironic, but not when you consider that food is often classified in many ways.  Pumpkins date back centuries in our history, and for good reason!  They are delicious, moist, have loads of health benefits, and are a heart healthy food.

Second, we recognize that most varieties of pumpkin are orange.  Color is important in the food we eat.  The pigment has “non nutritive” health benefits.  Pigment in food contributes important antioxidants to our diet. In other words, it is super beneficial to our cells relating to oxidation, a reaction similar to “rust” as we see on metal.  Same basic principle.  The bright orange color means that pumpkin is bursting with antioxidants!  And antioxidants keep our skin elastic and healthy looking.

Another great point to consider is that pumpkin is a great source of beta-carotene, which our bodies convert to vitamin A.  They are low in calories and sodium free.  Pumpkin is also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber.  It is a heart friendly food too.  Studies show that canned pumpkin has all of the health benefits that fresh pumpkin does, so there is no reason not to jump on this bandwagon!

Okay, now on to the fun stuff.  Recipes!  Oh, I looked at them all!  Appetizers, desserts, pumpkin dice, pumpkin pureé, pumpkin seeds.  At first I was amazed that pumpkin is so versatile.  Thrilled, in fact, by the possibilities.  But in the end I followed my affinity for grilling and pizza to my very own pumpkin heaven.  Yup.  I made grilled pumpkin pizza.  And it was delish!

I did two pizzas.  One pizza with pumpkin puree as the sauce, and a second with pumpkin chunks as a topping.  Here is what I did.

I bought 2 “sugar” pumpkins, or pie pumpkins.  They are a smaller variety. I cut them in half, took out the seeds and strings, placed the cut side down on a baking sheet, and roasted them in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  I pulled them out, turned them open side up, and let them cool.  I could then easily cut the skin away.

2 small sugar pumpkins, roasted and cut out of their skin.

Next, I cut the meat of one pumpkin into a small dice, and the other one I used for the puree.  The puree was intended to be a pizza sauce, so I wanted it thick.  I blended the pumpkin meat with a little butter and milk until it was the consistency I desired.  I also tossed in some salt and pepper.  That is it. Simple!

I made my basic pizza crust on the grill.   But I must digress for a moment for the sake of accuracy.  I certainly had a partner in crime for this event.  Denis was the partner by my side to discuss toppings, seasonings, flavors, and technique.  So I say I, but certainly mean we.  These recipes are the genius of both us.  Now back to the recipes!

I pulled the 2 pizza crusts off the grill and met Denis at the island in the kitchen.  We had a blast loading up our pizza pies!  For the toppings, we decided on goat cheese, grilled ham, and pesto to add to our pumpkin.

Pumpkin pizza. This pizza has half pesto sauce and half pumpkin sauce. Next, we threw some savory toppings on!

The other pizza had diced pumpkin on it.  We did not have a sauce, just the pizza crust and toppings.  Two pizza toppings, 1 with pizza sauce and one with pizza chunks as a topping.  Very different consistencies, mouth feel, and taste sensations.  Both were very pleasant, and had the essence of fall in the flavors.  Fantastic!  These pizzas certainly elicited some moanable moments while being taste tested!

Now it’s your turn.  Get some pumpkins.  Cook them up.  Develop your own recipes,  Mix diced pumpkin with pasta, puree with bread.  Pumpkin risotto.  Pumpkin pancakes.  How many other things can you think of?  For me, this is simply a jumping off point with so many places to go with pumpkin.  Denis is a genius at soups, so I know that an amazingly delicious pumpkin soup is in our future.  Any way you make it, you will be enjoying a fantastic nutrition packed food.  Keep in touch and let me know where pumpkin takes you!

lamb revisited

30 Aug

For years I have said to my dining partners “If you want lamb, make reservations.”  I am not a huge lamb fan.  I mostly have enjoyed it at wine dinners.  Lamb paired with the appropriate wine is, like most food, amazing. Other than that, it just didn’t appear on my radar.  I didn’t crave it.

Then one afternoon  I was out wine shopping.  I just happened to get an outstanding bottle of wine at a bargain price.  Red wine.  And it was begging to be paired with lamb.  So the adventure began.

When I begin to embark on a new food or recipe, I research.  I look at the food history, cooking methods, seasonings, pairings, and pictures.  I try to become more familiar with the food.  To me, lamb is a middle eastern food, and I only like lamb chops.  So finding a good butcher for top of the line chops was a must.

I found a local mediterranean market that featured halal food.  Halal foods are foods that are allowed under Islamic dietary guidelines.  The market I found had a butcher.  Surely they would have the prefect lamb chops for which to begin my foray into cooking lamb.  I was correct.  This market with the butcher in the back had fresh lamb, cut the chops to order, and it was $6.99 a pound.  My local grocer had not so great lamb chops at nearly twice the price.  Score!

Now what?  Well, my research indicated that lamb, cooked indoors, could really stink up a kitchen.  So I decided to grill the chops outside on the grill.  I also discovered that rosemary was  perfect to flavor the chops.  I have a friend that grows rosemary in her yard, so I scooted by and nabbed a handful!  I wanted to keep it simple.  Rosemary, salt, pepper, and some flavorful high quality olive oil is what I used to prepare the chops for the grill.

I let the chops sit for a couple of minutes to come to room temperature while the seasonongs sat on them.  I wanted the flavor to sink in!  I tossed these things on a hot grill at about 400 degrees.  A quick flip after 4 minutes, and in another 4 minutes they were done.  I pulled them off.  Roasted beets accompanied the chops, as did wild rice.  And, of course, the lovely wine paired with the meal was a show stopper.  Yum!

The outcome was incredible!  So much flavor!  The chops were savoy, and very easy to prepare.  The meal was, in fact, quite effortless.  And the grilling not only eliminated the smell I was concerned about, it made cleanup a snap.  The outcome of my adventure into cooking lamb was a fantastic meal.  The discovery of a new mediterranean market which I will now frequent was an added bonus.  And exploring the amazing taste sensation of a fabulously paired food and wine combination is always a win in my book!

Rosemary and olive oil rubbed lamb chops

You can’t beat a beet!

12 Jun

Beautiful roasted beets!

I have always enjoyed beets.  But for some reason, I have totally gotten into them lately.  Maybe its just that they are in season, inexpensive, and just so darn delicious!  They are amazing grilled.  Roasted in the oven makes them sweeter!  They can even simply be boiled, cooled, peeled, sliced, and chilled.  They can then be enjoyed in a salad.

First, let’s chat about the nutritional value of a beet.  Beets are a root vegetable like a carrot.  They are in season right now.  They contain significant amounts of folate and vitamin C.  Beets are also rich in niacin, vitamin B6, iron, potassium and magnesium.  In other words, beets are loaded with vitamins and minerals.  And bonus!  The red color is a fabulous antioxidant!  (Gentle reminder…antioxidants are great for cell rejuvenation, which can help our organs function better and keep wrinkles at bay!).

Now, onto getting the beets from the garden or market to the table.  If you grab beets in the grocery store, look for firm round beets with nice green stems and leaves.  When you get ready to cook them, wash them up and cut off the greens.  Do not throw those greens away though!  Chop them up and toss them into a salad.  If a salad is not on the menu that day, wrap the greens in a damp paper towel and put them in the fridge.  They will make the most flavorful addition to your next salad!  Promise!

OK.  Back to cooking the beets.  The beets can be peeled, cut into quarters, and spread out onto a baking sheet.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil on then, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Toss into a 400 degree oven until tender, about  35-45 minute, depending on the size of the beet.  Check doneness with a fork.

Beets are also fantastic on the grill.  Simply grill them on a little pan or some foil.  Again, just wash, peel, and quarter them, add a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and toss them on.  Close the grill lid and let the grill do its job.  I have also tossed beets onto the grill in a pouch made from tin foil.  I literally made a loose pouch around the beets out of tin foil and placed on the grill.

Beets with crumbled goat cheese and walnuts.

I have served beets right off the grill.  I have also added a little crumbled goat cheese and walnuts over the top of warm beets.  I have taken leftover beets and added them to a cold lettuce salad.  Some mandarin oranges are also a great addition to a salad of greens and beets.  Sweet surprise…I have gotten fresh ravioli stuffed with beets at the farmers market.  3 minutes in boiling water, a little parmesan cheese or a simple white sauce over the top, and call it a big huge yum!

Any way you cook them, beets are packed with flavor, nutrition, and antioxidants.  As you can see below, I have grilled them with summer squash.  The colors together are fantastic and make a beautiful presentation.  Get creative or go easy and simple.  Any way you decide to prepare beets, it will be a winning dish.

Simple Grilled Beets! Yum!