Saturday, July 31, 2010

It's Prime Summer Grilling Season!...... Keeping it Cool....

Summer has come with a vengeance, all over it seems judging by the temperatures reported each night on the evening news, yet with the high temperatures also comes other summer delights like going to the beach, camping, fishing, vacations (or is it staycations now?), fireflies and most of all outside dining.....

Grilling, apart from infusing foods with amazing flavor and aroma is also great when it comes to energy conservations as well as keeping the house cooler and I think we can all appreciate this, right? But it's certainly worth the prep work and having to clean the grill after- just to enjoy great tasting smoky food cooked "a la Quest for Fire" style..... love it!

A warm summer evening and you're having cocktails or a cool drink out on the patio or backyard while you watch the embers of your fire get red hot.... Very primal. I don't know anyone who doesn't like to grill (maybe they don't like the cleanup, but who can complain about the flavors, right?) and savor amazing food that's been given the added touch that only cooking over a "real" fire can bring, very nice. You sit while the food is cooking, keeping an eye on things as they evolve yet everything is nice and easy- side dishes have been prepared in advanced and will only be brought out at the last moment so you just need to supervise the grill while you relax and look forward to the moment when the food is done. A nice time to talk and share, reflect on being able to enjoy this time with friends and family and just "be".......

I've included some easy grilling ideas you might want to try the next time "fire" comes into the conversation. I can tell you that these are family favorites we've enjoyed time and time again. As a matter of fact the Tequila Lime Chicken is never absent from our summer table and everyone just loves it! Jerk Chicken is one of my favorite things in the world and Grilled Trout brings back memories of living in Idyllwild, CA, going to the nearby reservoir and sitting under a pine tree while watching my fishing line and waiting for the trout to "bite"..... that quiet time sharing this amazing place, hearing the Blue jays and the tree branches sway in the breeze, no cars, no city sounds, just the lovely quiet in the middle of the forest. What I wouldn't give to get that time back. Fresh rainbow trout on the grill, nothing better........

So here are some great food choices......

Tequila Lime Chicken.- I wouldn't use good sipping Tequila for this one, use anything you've got on hand, you won't be disappointed! It's amazing!!!!

1/2 cup gold tequila
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (5 to 6 limes)"green Mexican Lemons"
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)
1 tbl chili powder
1 tbl minced fresh jalapeno pepper (1 pepper seeded)- optional
1 tbl minced fresh garlic (3 cloves)
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbl cilantro leaves, chopped
3 whole (6 split) boneless chicken breasts, skin-on (or your favorite chicken parts)

Combine the tequila, lime juice, orange juice, chili powder, jalapeno pepper, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Put the chicken breasts in a large zip lock back and add the marinade. Close really well and place the bag on a dish (to catch spills). Shake now and then. Refrigerate overnight.

Heat a grill with coals and brush the rack with oil to prevent the chicken from sticking. Remove the chicken from the marinade, sprinkle well with salt and pepper, and grill them skin-side down for about 5 min, until nicely browned. Turn the chicken and cook for another 50-60 min, or until just cooked through. Use indirect heat to insure it's done once it's browned by moving it from the fire, close the lid and watch it. Remove from the grill to a plate. Cover tightly with foil and allow to rest for 5 min. Serve hot or at room temperature.
NOTE: I use this marinade for many other things too, like shrimp or meat, except that don't leave it as long or the shrimp will "cook"...... I've also done this in the oven and finished it under the broiler....

Jerk Chicken.- Another family favorite. Spicy and hot, fire brings out amazing flavors in the chicken,you'll love it!

3 tbl vegetable oil
1 med onion, chopped
3 tbl coriander, ground
3 tbl ginger, ground
3 tbl brown sugar
2 tbl garlic salt
2 tbl onion powder
2 tsp Kosher salt
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp thyme, dry
2 tsp basil, dry
1-3 Habanero Peppers, stem removed and sliced very fine (remove seeds if you want)
1-2 tsp cloves, ground
3 tsp orange juice
3 tsp lime juice
3 tsp sugar
2 tsp Soy sauce
1 whole chicken, cut-up or your choice of parts

Put all the ingredients, except the chicken, into the food processor and pulse until you have a smooth, dark sauce. If it's too thick, you can add more orange or lemon juice or even water, but it should still be thick to stick to the meat.

Put the chicken into a large zip lock back and pour in the marinade. Mix really well, turning it, put on a dish and allow to rest at least overnight to get full favor.

When you're ready to cook get the BBQ ready for indirect grilling (like before), sear the chicken until charred, skin side down then turn and cook 5-10min but then distance it from the direct heat to finish cooking until done. Close the lid of the BBQ. Keep checking so it doesn't burn and should take about 1 hour or so.

Allow to rest for about 15min, covered in foil while you set the table.....
NOTE: You can use this marinade for many other uses as well when grilling a variety of foods from fish and seafood to vegetables.

Grilled Snapper with Mojo.- A great way to have fresh fish!

8-10 roasted garlic cloves + 3-4 extra cloves
2-3 tbl orange zest
1/4 cup olive oil
1 orange, juiced
1 tbl honey
1 thai chile, seeded and finely chopped (can be serrano or habanero)
1 tsp thyme, fresh + 3-4 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 tsp Kosher salt

1 whole Red Snapper (or similar fish)
1 lemon, cut in half
1 tsp Greek Oregano

Rinse and pat dry your fish. Rub the fish with olive oil and place the 3-4 garlic cloves, salt and pepper and 3-4 fresh thyme springs inside the fish.

Put the first 8 ingredients into the blender and combine well. Place in a bowl and allow to rest while you make the fish.

Get your BBQ ready and rub the grill with oil to prevent sticking, fish is delicate. Once it's ready, place the fish on the grill and cook for about 4-5 min per side, flip carefully. Once the fish is done, squeeze half a lemon over it and sprinkle with some of the oregano. Serve with the Mojo Sauce on the side.

Grilled Trout with Garlic-Caper Sauce.- Tender trout done the best way imaginable!

2-3 Fresh Rainbow Trout, cleaned and rinsed. Patted dry
salt & fresh ground pepper
Herbs de Provence (savory, fennel, thyme and basil, dry)
1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbl olive oil
2 tbl butter
1 lb potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-1/2 thick
1 med leek, rinsed and sliced thin
2 tsp whole ground mustard
salt & fresh ground pepper

The Sauce:
1/2 cup olive oil
2 tsp capers, choppe
2 tsp shallots, finely minced
1 tbl garlic, chopped
1 tbl chives, chopped
2 tbl Basil leaves, chopped
1 tbl lemon juice

Heat your grill and oil it well. Rub the fish with oil, be generous and the herbs, salt & pepper. Place some of the herbs and salt and pepper inside the fish too. Allow to sit for at least 15 min to concentrate the flavors.

Get the veggies ready by putting oil and butter in a pan, then stir fry the vegetables with salt & pepper until tender and golden brown, over med heat. When done, finish off by adding the mustard and mix well to coat evenly.

To make the sauce, combine the ingredients in a pan and allow to come together, while stirring. Taste and add salt & pepper as needed.

Cook the fish on the grill about 3 min each side, taking care when turning. When done, place some of the veggies on a plate in the center, place the fish over these and finish off with some of the sauce over the fish. Serve.

Tiramisu.- An easy recipe that's great and very tasty, plus you can make in advance!

6 egg yolks
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 Mascarpone cheese
1 3/4 whipped cream (whip heavy cream until stiff)
2 12oz packages of Lady Fingers cookies, split in half lengthwise
1/2 cup Rum / Kahlua / Sherry or whatever you'd like
1 cup Espresso coffee, cooled (must be strong)
Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (for finishing)

Put egg yolks and sugar in a glass or metal pan or bowl that will fit on a Bain Marie (water bath). Making sure the bottom of the pan doesn't touch the water. Heat the water and place the bowl on top, lower the heat to the water and beat the eggs and sugar for about 10 min (you can use a hand mixer or whisk). Remove from the heat and continue beating until it thickens and turns a lemon yellow and reaches the "ribbon stage" (when you lift the whisk, the mixture falls in a stream). See the next recipe for another explanation.

Once it's thick, add the Mascarpone and fold in then add the whipped cream, folding well and making sure it's well combined. Set aside.

In a small bowl, add the liquor to the coffee. In a glass dish or serving dish, you will put the lady fingers on the bottom but first you will dip these, one at a time, in the coffee mixture and then place in the dish. Cover the bottom. Spoon half of the cream-egg mixture over the lady fingers, making sure it's even. Cover the cream with another layer of soaked lady fingers and then finish off with another layer of the cream-egg mixture.

Using a fine sieve, put a tablespoon of cocoa powder in the sieve then while hitting the sieve with a spoon, cover the cream-egg mixture evenly with the cocoa powder to finish. Refrigerate so it will be easier to serve, at least 1 hour or so. Enjoy!

Zabaglione with fresh fruit.- Another wonderful Italian dessert you will enjoy! (Very similar in procedure from the recipe above...)

6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Marsala (Jerez or Sherry)
Pinch kosher salt
Fresh berries, for serving, optional (or Frutti de Bosco, mixed berries from the forest)

Bring 1-inch of water to a boil in saucepan set over high heat. Add the egg yolks and sugar to a large glass bowl. Using an electric hand mixer on the highest speed, beat the eggs and sugar until the mixture is thick, pale yellow, and the sugar is completely dissolved, 4 to 5 min. Decrease the mixer speed to low and add the Marsala and salt. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and put the bowl atop the saucepan with the boiling water, making sure the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water. Beat the mixture on medium speed, until it is thick, frothy, holds a ribbon.

Place fruit or berries into a large wine glass or dessert dish and spoon the warm mixture onto the fruit and serve immediately or allow to cool slightly.
NOTE: Can be used as a dessert sauce on anything else you'd like: pound cake, cupcakes, etc.

What can I say? These dishes brought me some lovely memories and will continue to comfort my family every time we have them, they're really worth repeating, you'll see. They are so good they can be for company or just for family and you don't need an excuse to serve them so go ahead and enjoy!

The trout are waiting for the grill and the Tiramisu is in the fridge, it's one of Rene's favorites and he hasn't seen it yet because I hid it at the back of the refrigerator, he'll be delighted and makes him recall the time we spent in Florence and would go to "Il Porcospino", one of our favorite hangouts, a lovely little trattoria across the street from Il Duomo's Medicee Capelle! (you can see the white umbrella's on the left in the photo) Enjoy!

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