Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Girl and Her Grill: Grilled Vegetable Tips and Techniques

Here are a few pointers to make grilling vegetables a snap every time!
One of the most important things to remember to do is make sure you cut your vegetables approximately the same thickness so that they cook evenly.
Grill veggies over medium heat and be sure turn them often to avoid overcooking/burning. Never leave vegetables unattended unlike meat which can be somewhat forgiving vegetables are very time and heat sensitive.
Brush or drizzle oil on vegetables for added flavor and to help vegetables from sticking but DO NOT oil the grill itself because that can lead to flare up and charred vegetables.
The grill surface should be CLEAN to avoid sticking (prior to heating).

Secure thick slices of onion (at least 3/4" thick) with tooth picks to ensure they don't fall apart on the grill.
Parboil small, waxy potatoes or thick slices of sweet potatoes (at least 1" thick) until just tender. Let them cool to room temperature before you grill them.
When grilling large mushrooms like Portobello, remove the stem and start by grilling them stem-side up. This allow the natural juices to collect and the natural flavors of the mushroom are enhanced.
For grilling smaller pieces of vegetables, try using foil packets or a grilling basket so the veggies don't fall through the grate. If you make foil packs, be sure to use heavy duty aluminum foil so they will stands up to the heat of the grill.
If you are grilling kebobs, soak your wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes before you skewer your vegetables and start grilling. This will keep your skewers from burning away while you are cooking.
I like to toss grilled vegetables with flavored butters like garlic butter or Burger Nirvana Butter for a delicious finish!
You should also try basting grilled sweet potatoes with a little rum butter just before you serve them. To make Rum Butter, simple combine 2 tbsp butter, 6 tbsp light brown sugar, 2 tbsp rum, and 1/4 tsp vanilla in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stir until melted and then brush or drizzle over grilled sweet potatoes. I swear they'll be the hit of the party.
Happy Grilling!
What is your favorite vegetable on the grill? Do you have any tricks or tips your could share?

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Girl and Her Grill

Well there's no escaping it, even in rainy Seattle, we're officially in grilling season. Here are a few of my favorite tips and recipes to kick things off!

Grilled Spring Onions with Garlic Aioli

A new grilled veggie idea!
Grilled Spring Onions - My husband is a professed onion hater but even he loves these tasty, caramelized bites. Start by cutting about 1/2 inch off the root ends of a bunch of green onions. Next lay the onions on a rimmed sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to thoroughly coat the onions and then sprinkle them with a little salt. Grill over medium heat until the whites soften and the greens begin to get grill marks, about 3 to 5 minutes. Serve with garlic aioli (1 cup mayo, 1/2 tsp crushed garlic, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, and 2 tsp lemon juice blended together) or your favorite ranch dip. So yummy as an appetizer or alongside a steak!

A sweet treat!
Mock Cobbler - This is a simple one but so delicious! Mix 3 cups of your favorite berries or stone fruit with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/4 tsp of cinnamon and a squeeze of lemon. Spoon 3/4 cup of fruit each onto 4 squares of heavy duty aluminum foil and fold together like a hobo's pouch (make sure the foil is sealed so there are no leaks) and toss on a medium high grill for 5 to 10 minutes. Carefully open the pouches and pour the contents over ice cream or short bread! The fruit will be jammy and intensely flavorful.

Just say no to dried out meat!
I love to grill skinless chicken breast and pork tenderloins but if you aren't careful you can end up with an ultra-dry piece of leather. That's because both item are very lean. To combat this, I brine them. A few hours before you barbeque combine 8 cups of water with 1 cup of kosher salt and 1 cup sugar in a large Tupperware container. Stir to combine and then add 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts or pork tenderloins. Brine in the refrigerator for a couple hours and you are ready to grill! You'll be amazed how juicy the result is!

Get your family to eat more veggies!
Luscious Lettuce Wraps - Combine 3 cloves of garlic, the pulp of a large lemon, 2 tsp cumin, 2 tsp paprika, and 1/2 tsp kosher salt in a food processor to make a paste. Scrape into a gallon size zip-lock bag. Add 2 lbs of lamb or chicken cut into 1/2" x 3" strips.  Toss to coat the meat. Grill a few vegetables like zucchini strips, red onion slices and strips of bell pepper. When  the veggies are done, grill the meat for 5 to 10 minutes turning once over high heat.  Serve the veggies and meat buffet-style with leaves of butter lettuce.  Then let your family build their own lettuce wraps!  I like mine with a little yogurt dressing and some cilantro.

Happy Grilling!
What's your favorite grilling recipe?  Any tips you'd like to share?

Friday, June 3, 2011

The End of The Trend?

I just read an article by Greg Morabito on Eater.com regarding 10 NYC Dining Trends that are officially dead. His list included:

10) Old Time Decor - restaurants decorated with dark wood, eclectic antiques and taxidermy animals
9) Growlers - take-home jugs of beer that you refill at your local brewery
8) Discount Fine Dining - nice restaurants trying to fill slow hours with specials
7) Speakeasies - "secret" bars and restaurants
6) Tiki Bars - featuring kitschy rum drinks and puu-puu platters
5) Asian Sandwiches - like Vietnamese Banh Mi
4) Gastropubs - pub grub with an upscale twist
3) Tiny Menus - featuring only a handful of appetizers and entrees
2) Pies are the new cupcakes - you get the idea...
1) American Comfort Food - like mom made, only better

As I read the list, I must admit that a few items caught me by surprise but, I'm in Seattle, a totally different food scene. I don't see much Old Time Decor in the restaurants here outside of the standard steakhouses, so I could agree that that is passé. On the other hand, one of the first "welcome to Seattle" gifts we received was a Growler. I didn't really use it and don't see that many but then again, I'm not much of a beer drinker. Maybe it's still hot?

Discount fine dining, I don't know about the rest of the country but that's still here. There are plenty of great restaurants featuring small plates, pre-fixe meals and specials. With the recent news about the economy, I don't see that trend going away any time soon.

Tiki Bars and Speakeasies never really popped up en masse. However we do have quite a few Gastropubs. I think they fit the personality of this city. Good quality food, creative but still recognizable, and a beer or a glass of wine on the side - yeah, that still works. Honestly, I feel that way about American Comfort Food, too. I'm not ready to say good-bye to that. I really think it's an American standard, the heartland will never be tired of mac-n-cheese or pot roast. Am I right?

Asian sandwiches, well, perhaps it's our proximity to Asia on the West Coast but they are still pretty popular around here. I often see menus that include Banh Mi or some other Asian-inspired sandwich like Marination Mobile's Aloha Sliders.

Marination Mobile's Aloha Sliders

 Tiny menus, I have to agree with that one. I've seen a number of places try that and fail. I think the tiny menu is tough. You've got diverse tastes, food allergies and cravings to deal with. It's tough to please everyone with just a few choices.

Pies as the new cupcake, well, we have a few pie shops but they've never rivaled the popularity of cupcake bakeries. Part of the charm of cupcakes is their portability. You can eat them anywhere and you don't need a utensil. That's hard to beat even with the tastiest pie.

So, I wondered what the rest of the country might be like. Are they just drafting on the tailwind of New York? Have you experienced these trends in your part of the country? Have they run their course or are they just taking off? What's hot and what's not where you live?