Category: grilling

Grilled peaches with ricotta cream & honey.

Grilled peaches with sweet ricotta cream and honey.

Well, that’s a mouthful, eh? Or it sounds like a mouthful. But it really is a mouthful: a mouthful of delicious.

Remember when I told you about those peaches I received from the Washington State Stone Fruit Commission? Well, obviously I couldn’t possibly get to canning every single one. Not only did I not have the time, but they began to get too soft/ripe for canning pretty quickly. But just in case you, too, have an overload of stone fruit… here’s a little secret: it’s excellent grilled.

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Grilled pickles, a.k.a. barbecue-in-a-jar.

Joy comes to you in many ways. I find joy in lots of things- my family, spending time with Jay, cooking, baking, gardening, my pets (especially when they’re all cuddly & sleepy), fashion magazines, a nice cup of high quality coffee with cream & sugar, the color of the leaves in the fall, the smell of fresh herbs being chopped, walking through a museum, a summer rain, the J. Crew catalog coming in the mail, drinking a good bottle of wine, the smell of fresh oranges being sliced, Lola, anything Le Creuset, my new ‘as-yet-unnamed’ digital KitchenAid hand mixer, vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting, beautiful well-done tattoos, watching movies, a delicious dark chocolaty stout, sleeping late in freshly laundered sheets, eating a good meal of greasy pub food, a new pair of menswear-style pajamas, Central Park in the spring, shopping for handbags & shoes & lingerie & kitchen gadgets… and lots more. I find joy in writing about things I find joy in, apparently. I even find joy in buying produce. Probably because I buy most things with a specific idea of what I’m using it for, so I’m already excited & looking forward to it. But more so than that, I just like the colors of the fruits & vegetables, the shiny finish or rough textures, the irregularities, the perfection. It’s always an exciting trip, that trip to the fruit market or farmer’s market. And now that cucumber season is here, that means pickling, which also excites me & brings me joy. Mainly because my pickles are the most requested item I make next to cupcakes. And people are always asking for more, more, more; whether it’s more of new & different kinds or just more of the regular old kind. I don’t like pickles, myself, but it’s a perfect example of creating things just because people I love enjoy them.

Another thing that brings me joy? The smell of a charcoal grill.

There’s nothing like that smell. Gas grills may be great and all, but my heart will always belong to charcoal. You can’t get the same flavor on a gas grill, carcinogens be damned. Now… you’ve heard of fried pickles, surely. I even posted a recipe for them myself. Those are a slightly fattier & more decadent delight than these. These, they’re different. These pickles are pickles that are grilled, not fried, but they aren’t grilled after they’re pickled. They’re grilled before.

Basically, you wash & slice your cukes & onions, then grill them. Let them cool, then jar ‘em up. What you end up with is an amazingly different pickle. The charbroiled pickle… sorta. I got the idea & basic recipe from an article over at Serious Eats. What I did, though, was I grilled a jalapeno & added it in to two of the jars as well. I thought maybe that would add a totally different flavor profile to it than just the crushed red pepper. For the other jar, I just left it at about a ¼ teaspoon-½ teaspoon red pepper flakes.

The coolest thing though is that they don’t have to be processed. You can make these into refrigerator pickles, too! So don’t be scared to try them. And unlike me, don’t be scared to leave them on long enough to get really good grill marks. I was so worried they’d burn, my marks were a little weak. Eh. Whatever.

GRILLED PICKLES (adapted from a recipe created by Chris Lilly posted on Serious Eats)

Makes about 3 one-pint jars

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups distilled white vinegar, 5%
  • 1 ¼ cups water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Kosher salt
  • 3 small jalapeno peppers (or 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper, as called for in the original recipe)
  • 5 large cucumbers, cut into 4 to 5-inch spears
  • 1 medium white onion, cut into ½-inch disks and skewered horizontally
  • 6 sprigs dill
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine vinegar, water, sugar, and salt (and red pepper if using), whisking until sugar and salt dissolve. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover gill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes.
  3. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place cucumbers, onions & peppers on grill. Cook cucumbers until lightly browned on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. Cook onions until charred on both sides and slightly softened, about 4 minutes per side. Cook jalapenos just until they “blister” a little. Remove to tray. Allow to cool. Quarter onions.
  4. Place 2 sprigs of dill and 1 teaspoon of garlic in each jar. Divide cucumbers and onions equally between each jar. Pour in pickling liquid, leaving ½”-inch of headroom between liquid and top of jar. Refrigerate for 1-2 days before eating for quick pickles, or process jars in boiling water bath for 10 minutes to seal lids, then store in a cool, dark place.

When you open the jar, you’re hit with a smell of smoke. You really wouldn’t believe it, but the smokiness overpowers the dill and the vinegar! It smells like a charcoal grill in a jar. On that note let me say that if you have a gas grill, I don’t think the flavor or odor will be anything like this. You might get great grill-marks, but I don’t think you’ll get the smokiness you get with a charcoal grill. And if you’re one of those expert smoker people, then maybe using different kinds of wood as well can get you different flavors & smells. Same goes for using different peppers. Try a Serrano, or if you’re daring, try a Habanero for a crazy-hot smokiness.

I’d like to try these in different ways- maybe made with apple cider vinegar or maybe some booze. I’d even like to try a grilled Giardiniera, or grilled zucchini pickles. I really think this idea is kinda genius for summertime. A jar of these & a jar of that Guinness barbecue sauce would make any dad happy on Father’s Day, don’t you think?

Beers & barbecues.

It’s that time of year again. When everyone starts to grill their meats, when the sun sets later and when corn on the cob becomes the staple side dish. It’s been an unusually warm winter and an early spring, despite the temperatures dropping quite low at night lately (which has threatened crops that started to grow far too early when it was 80° degrees in March), it is indeed only a few weeks from the unofficial start of summer: Memorial Day.

I saw this recipe at The Black Peppercorn and I knew I’d have to make it myself. I’ve made Guinness cupcakes, Guinness jelly, even put Guinness in macaroni & cheese. Why not Guinness barbecue sauce? Beer & barbecues go together like… rama lama lama ke ding a de dinga a dong. Or peanut butter & jelly. I love me a good beer. Don’t you?

This was my first attempt at a barbecue sauce. I was a bit nervous, actually, but I think it all worked out just fine in the end.

GUINNESS BARBECUE SAUCE (adapted slightly from The Black Peppercorn)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 onions, minced (I used one very large white onion)
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1 cup Guinness beer
  • ½ cup white distilled 5% vinegar
  • 1 ½ cups light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 3 “shakes” Tabasco sauce
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 18-oz. can tomato paste

Directions:

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the onion, and garlic to the saucepan and saute until they are tender and beginning to caramelize, about 8 minutes.
  2. Add the molasses, beer, brown sugar, both vinegars, salt, pepper and cayenne . Bring to a boil. Let it cook with a low rolling boil for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally so that nothing sticks to the bottom of the saucepan.
  3. Stir in the tomato paste & Tabasco and lower the heat. Let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
  4. Remove from the heat and let the sauce cool slightly. Puree, I did so right in the pot using an immersion blender.
  5. For shelf-stable sauce: pour into hot sterilized jars to within ½” from the top. Process in a waterbath for 20 minutes for pint jars, 15 for half-pints. Allow to cool overnight, then check the seals. As always, if the top pops up and down, the seal is damaged and you have to put it in your refrigerator and use right away. If you’re using the sauce immediately or don’t want to make it shelf-stable, you can pour into any container and either use right away or put it in the fridge.

There’s no end to the possibilities for this sauce. You can make it hotter, make it sweeter, do whatever you want. You could even totally alter it and use some Jack Daniel’s or Jameson, or a lighter beer. Play with it, tinker with it. Come up with your own sauce! And the best part? It doesn’t have to be a “canned” recipe. You can use it right away or put half in the fridge in a Tupperware. But if you do decide to jar it up, just know I got 5 half-pint jars and I would’ve had enough for a 4 oz. jar as well. And also know that in order to “can” it, the acidity has to be of a certain percent, so do your research before you tinker with it!

So how did it taste?

Right before I put it on the grill!

e…

Delicious. I had it on a steak and it was just great. Not too sweet, not too tangy, not too overpowering. It’s a subtle taste, and you could taste the actual steak, not just the sauce like can happen with some sauces. And it actually mellowed more in the jar, after processing. Initially it was a bit tangier, after a day or two it was much mellower. I can’t wait to try it on chicken next. Actually, I can’t wait to try my hand at making more barbecue sauces & dipping sauces in the future. Thai hot & sweet dipping sauce, anyone!?

The grilled pizza experience.

Everyone loves grilling in the summer. And even though it’s the end of August, as far as I’m concerned there’s a lot of life left in summer & the grill. Along with the love of grilling, I have a love for pizza. It’s obvious to anyone who reads this blog even fairly regularly that I like to make (and eat) pizza. I have a gazillion different pizza dough recipes on here, all of them delicious in their own right. And here’s another!

This recipe isn’t mine, but it happens to be Joe & Jill Bidens’. Yes. The Vice President, Joe Biden. That guy. You know him? Yeah, apparently he’s got a mean grilled pizza recipe. It was in the September issue of the Food Network magazine, and I had been wanting to try grilling up some pizza, so really it was perfect timing. And the day I chose to make it was a beautiful day, sun was shining and no humidity. Lovely day for eating outside.

This dough requires not only a stand mixer, but an overnight resting period. If you don’t have a stand mixer/dough hook, you’re not into that or want to make this on the fly, check out this recipe for dough. It doesn’t require anything more than your hands and 10 minutes of resting and you can be on your way to grilled pizza paradise. This recipe also doesn’t have to make 6 pizzas, just make yours a bit thicker. Or you can refrigerate the dough for another day, or use it to make rosemary focaccia on the grill another time. I definitely plan on doing that. You’ll also probably have sauce left over, but it would be delicious on pasta too.

THE BIDENS’ GRILLED PIZZAS

Ingredients:

For the dough:
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼-ounce packet active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil,  plus more for the bowl
For the toppings:
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 6 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 bunch fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced and drained
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Make the dough: Put 1 ½ cups warm water (110° to 115°) in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Whisk the flour, sugar and 1 teaspoon salt in a separate bowl, then add to the yeast mixture along with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together and look smooth, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium low and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic, 4 to 6 more minutes (it should stretch 3 inches without breaking). Transfer to an oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel or plastic wrap. Let rise in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. Lightly press down on the dough, then divide into 6 balls. Put on baking sheet, cover and refrigerate until ready to grill.
  3. Meanwhile make the toppings: Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook about 3-5 minutes. Crush the tomatoes with your hands; add the juices. Rinse the can with 1 cup water and add to the pot. Add a handful of basil and season with salt & pepper. Increase the heat to medium and simmer until thickened, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool slightly.
  4. Preheat one side of the grill to high, the other to medium. Brush 2 baking sheets with olive oil; stretch the dough balls into thin ovals (about 8 x11″) on the sheets. Brush the tops of the dough with more oil.
  5. Working batches, grill the dough over high heat until bubbly on top and marked on the bottom, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the dough onto the cooler side of the grill. Quickly top with sauce & cheese. Cover until cheese melts, about 2 minutes. Transfer pizza to a cutting board, sprinkle with parmesan and remaining basil leaves. Serve!

Okay this was easily one of the best pizzas I ever had. Hands down. It’s a must-try for all of you. And yes, it can be done on a charcoal grill too, just keep an eye on it, it might very well cook faster because it’s unregulated heat. And the sauce? The sauce is fantastic.

As childish as it may sound, I’d be lying if I said a part of me wasn’t secretly filled with glee that I voted for his ticket in the 2008 election, and now I find out his pizza rocks. It was like a replay of my Clinton’s Chips all over again. I wonder if I could make those on the grill…