Sunday, November 30, 2008

What's on the Grill #102

Sliced Lamb

Thanksgiving Edition: Grilled Rack of Lamb with Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette! I am little late with this, so my apologizes. We had a wee bit of a medical scare with my Mom this week and it has kind of thrown everything through a loop.

Originally, Zoë and I were planning on spending Thanksgiving alone. Since we were only feeding two...or really one and a half with the way she scratch that, two. I easily eat for one and half people...anyway, since we were not doing the whole meal thing, Zoë suggested lamb. I love lamb and never turn it down. So, when things changed and Mom decided she wanted to spend the week sucking on ice cubes and eating soup in the hospital, we easily made room for Dad.

This is a meal we have made before and it always pleases. It finds its way from the "brown" Weber book. (Hey, I just noticed I am the third reviewer on there...)

For the lamb, I have had great success at Sam's. Granted it is probably Sam's "mutant lamb", but it has always tasted good, it has always been priced right, and it comes frenched. The recipe is fast and straightforward.

Rack of LambRack of Lamb w/Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette

Pulled shamelessly from Weber's Real Grilling, page 121

1 large shallot, unpeeled
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 racks of lamb
2 tablespoons finely chopped thyme
salt and pepper

1. For the vinaigrette, brush the outside with oil. Remember, it should still have the skin on. Grill it over direct medium until is is blackened and soft. It takes about 15 minutes and you can turn it over once, half way through. Once done, remove and allow to cool.

2. Once cool, remove the skin and finely chop. Place the shallot in a bowl, along with the balsamic vinegar, mustard, thyme, salt and pepper. Add in the olive oil and whisk to create a smooth dressing.

3. As usual, yank the lamb from the fridge and allow to stand at room temperature for about 20-30 minutes before grilling. Lightly brush the lamb with olive oil and then season with the thyme, salt, and pepper.

4. Take some aluminum foil and cover the bones. This will prevent the bones from burning and your meal looking like it was the victim in a ChiP's auto accident.

5. Sear bone side down first over direct medium heat until lightly browned, about 2 -4 minutes. Turn over once, half way through. Move to indirect medium and cook until done. Medium rare is about 15 minutes more. In my opinion, lamb is really good medium rare and goes down hill from there. Let the lamb rest about 5 minutes after taking it off the grill. Cut and serve with the vinaigrette immediately.

Simple Asparagus

The lamb was served with asparagus and a sweet potato soufflé Zoë found online. We all ate well.

Although Thanksgiving didn't quite go as planned, the meal turned out great and Mom is home and doing fabulous.

Isle of Wight Invasion!

Wendy safely arrived on our doorstep late last night and we couldn't be happier.  She hasn't even been here twenty four hours and we already have the beginnings of an English Christmas Cake and a Christmas Pudding.  Oh yum!

Christmas Cake

Wendy informed me that a neighbor of her's indicated that on the Christmas Pudding gin burns better than brandy.  Fine by me, we have plenty of gin and I like food that puts off flame. 

Now of course being grateful for Wendy's safe arrival, I am even more excited to know that my urgent message, which I dispatched with Bob, arrived intact. 

...To Wendy, stop.  Bring Goddards beer, stop.  At least two bottles, stop.

Wendy showed up with no less than three bottles of Goddards beer!

Isle of Wight Invasion

Goddards is, as the label reads, "born and brewed" on the Isle of Wight.  In fact, the brewery is only a short walk from Bob & Wendy's.  I have had the pleasure of enjoying their fine beers many times over our trips to IOW and jump at the chance to enjoy their brews stateside.  For a really interesting look at their brew operation, check out this video on their website.

Tonight, I savored their Duck's Folly.  It's a classic English Ale with a delightful mouth feel.  It literally slides right down the palate.  The beer is not pasteurized, and tastes such.  The origin of the name is quite funny, as described on their site:

It's becoming something of a distant memory now, but back in the late 1980's and early 1990's Lloyd's (the insurance market) managed to stuff (financially, that is) about 20,000 people. The amount of 'stuffing' varied from a few tens of thousands of pounds up to seven figures and well beyond. Anthony Goddard was in the latter group, but took the view that it was a self-inflicted wound, that nobody else was going to feel sorry for him or bale him out, so it was better to kick on and start again.
Another Lloyd's underwriter based in Australia, took a similar view. Having owned half of Queensland (or whatever) he had to sell up and move to a smaller bungalow, which he named "Duck's Folly" - this being an anagram of "F*ck Lloyd's". Not being quick-witted enough to come up with this himself, when he read about it Anthony's reaction was to think it was a wonderful name for a beer...

I have already told Zoë that it is an absolute shame we have yet to visit Goddards.  On our next trip, this will be a high priority.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Cheese & Spinach Souffles

Cheese & Spinach Souffles

This post was supposed to have been about my experimentation with the reverse searing of steaks.  On the positive side, the steaks turned out rather well.  On the negative side, the pictures did not.  So instead of talking about the meat, I will talk about what really stole the show: Zoë's Cheese & Spinach Souffles.  For a woman that wasn't overly excited about cooking 10 years ago, she is a baking queen now.  I love these things.  One word of note, everything in this recipe is weighed out in the all loving metric system.  As Zoë would say, it's the English way of doing things.

Cheese & Spinach Souffles

Adapted from the 2005 Dairy Diary

                                                 Baby Spinach Leaves (225g bag)
Ramekin with breadcrumbsButter (25 g)
White Breadcrumbs (15g)
Plain Flour (25g)
Milk (150 ml)
Eggs 5 large, separated (I suppose counting is the same in either system)
Mature Cheddar Cheese, grated (150 g) Zoë used Stilton & Double Gloucester

 Stirring in the Cheese

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Put spinach into a saucepan, cover and cook over medium heat until just wilted.  Pour into a colander, rinse briefly under cold water, than squeeze the spinach well and roughly chop it.

2.  Butter six 9 oz ramekins and coat with breadcrumbs.


Adding Spinach3.  In a large saucepan, melt butter, stir in flour and add milk.  Bring to a boil, stirring until thick.  One at a time, beat in egg yolks and season well.  Mix cheese and spinach into sauce.

4.  In grease-free bowl, whisk egg whites until stiff, but not dry, and fold into sauce.  Pour into prepared ramekins.



5.  Bake souffles for 12-15 minutes, until well-risen, golden brown and softly firm when pressed gently in center.  Serve immediately.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

What's on the Grill #101

Cornish Game Hen with Sweet Potato and Brussels Sprouts! I was little unsure as to what I actually wanted for dinner and stumbled across the Game Hens and thought it sounded pretty good. The last time I had Game Hens was ManNight 2006 and on that evening we deep fried them. A pile of 12 deep fried Game Hens is quite the sight and not something you see every day, that is for sure. Tonight, the hen was getting the grill treatment.

Game Hen

I stuffed the hen with several sprigs of fresh rosemary and trussed it up. Since it is freezing outside, I opted for the gas grill and preheated it for indirect at 350. Essentially, that is both outside burners on medium. Since I am tired of cleaning out all of that fat off the flavorizer bars, I placed the hen in an aluminum foil baking pan and then placed the pan in the middle of the grill. She cooked for about 50 minutes, which in hindsight was probably a tad too long.

My favorite part of the meal was the Brussels Sprouts which were boiled and then sauteed with garlic and olive oil. My love of Brussels Sprouts came about in England almost three years ago. I was having dinner with Zoë's bestfriend's fiance, Keith, and his best man, James, on the night before Keith's wedding. Wow, that explanation almost cries for a chart...sorry. Anyway, James whipped up a quick dinner with bangers, mash, and Brussels Sprouts. I was in love...and I was already married...awkward! In my family, the love of Brussels Sprouts skipped a generation. My Mother detested them and my Grandmother loved them. Subsequently, my Mom never served them with any of her 10,000 chicken dinners we used to have.


The Brussels Sprouts were great, the hen was a little lacking. I think next time I will rotisserie the hen. At the minimum, I should have either added water or chicken stock to the pan to maintain some moisture. Oh well, at the end of the night I still cleaned my plate, so I guess it wasn't that bad.


Last Monday I had the great pleasure of having dinner with my friend Father Larry.  It is hard to believe that it was almost a year ago that he hosted his homebrew tasting.  While together, we feasted on a some great BBQ at Hoggy's.  Larry considers it the best BBQ in Columbus.  I will take his word for it, because it was great.

Father Larry

I wolfed down a platter of ribs, pulled pork, chicken wings, mashed sweet potato and a nice pint of Great Lakes Christmas Ale.

Larry has been busy brewing (much unlike myself as of late) and as we parted, he left me with one of his homebrew samplers.  Tonight I tried...strike that...really enjoyed, his Roggenbier.


I have not had tons of experience with rye beers, but I must say, his was incredible. 

His brew is based on the Sahti style which originates in Finland (Insert Fish Slapping Song). It incorporates rye with juniper berries and has the most amazing tart finish.  I loved it.

Speaking of homebrew, BYOB, and beer swapping, I pulled out my traveling six pack case yesterday and forgot how much I loved it.


If you are looking for the ultimate in six pack transportation, then check out Built NY's six pack tote.  It is made of neoprene and claims to keep your brew chilled for up to four hours...that and it just looks cool.  With holiday parties on the schedule and the always uncertainty as to what the host describes as "beer", it never hurts to have your own private stash just in case.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What's on the Grill #100!

Stuck in the SmokeWell here we are.  My 100th What's on the Grill post.  It certainly doesn't seem like a year and a half ago that I stole the title from Eric!  Stranger still, I didn't use the What's on the Grill moniker until post #2.  Truth be told, I had grand plans for my 100th post.  Filet? Rib Roast?  Ribs?  Oh no, try pizza.  Yup, my 100th WOTG post is pizza.  Fortunately, it has a twist: Grilled Mashed Potato Pizza.

Our local, Bostons, has a great Mashed Potato Pizza.  This was my first shot at trying to recreate it. 

I have grilled pizzas many times before, although they really aren't being grilled on the grates.  I use a stone.  I have also started using pizza screens I picked up form a local restaurant supply store.  I find it makes it a lot easier to get the pizza on and off the peal.  It isn't exactly traditional, but it works for me.


I prefer to make my own pizza dough.  I was out of high gluten flour, so I had to use bread flour.  Dough making is not my strong point.

1 cup warm water
1 packet yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
3 cups flour
2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Mix the water, yeast and sugar and let sit until foamy.  About 10 minutes.

I use a stand mixer and mix half the flour with the yeast mixture.  I then add the olive oil, salt and the remainder of the flour.  With the bread hook, mix on low until smooth.  Towards the end, I take it out and knead it by hand.  Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large greased bowl.  Stick it some place warm and let it rise until doubled in size.  It takes about 2 beers...err I mean 1 1/2 hours.

The Toppings

It's mashed potato.  Everyone knows how to make mashed potatoes, so I am not going there. 

So, beside mashed potato, you also need bacon.  Fortunately, that is what a cast iron skillet and a side burner is for.  Man, I could stop right there.  I love bacon.


Once your dough has risen, punch it down and let it sit for a few more minutes.  Then, work it into a roundish pizza shape.  I use a rolling pin because I am just not talented enough to throw it in the air. 

With the dough ready, I painted some melted butter across the top.  I have no idea if this did anything, it just sounded good...and I had some butter on hand.

Brush on the butter...

Next, spread your mashed spud.  At the time I used four medium size russets.  Next time I will back it down to three.  Four was a little too much.

Spread on the spud...

With the spud spread, add the chopped bacon and copious amounts of cheddar cheese.

Topped with cheese & bacon

I preheat the grill on high for about twenty minutes.  Before I get ready to put the pizza on I kill the burners under the stone.  I have had problems with the crust burning if I leave them on.  

I gave it about ten to twelve minutes.  To serve, add chives and a nice fat dollop of sour cream. 

Mashed Potato Grilled Pizza

Thanks for sticking with me this long.  Here's to another 100 grilled meals.  If I make it to 200, I promise I will make it something special(er)!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Oh what a big hood you have!

A friend of mine dropped me a hint several months ago that Weber was readying a 26 3/4 inch kettle.  This week, the beast has been exposed!

I first found notice here, and then found it listed on Amazon for $299 with a list price of $349.  Wow.  This new kettle fits between the standard 22 inch and the super monstrous 36 inch Ranch Kettle.  I have always admired the Ranch Kettle, but the $1000 price point is a little unrealistic to me.  The 26 3/4 looks to be a happy medium.

Not that I need another kettle, but I am really curious to see this thing up close.  On busy summer nights, I often have both of my kettles fired up.  Perhaps one larger kettle means less use of charcoal for the same amount of cooking?  Yup, that's the argument I am going to make.  Buying a new grill now will mean less use of charcoal in the future.  Now if I can just work the math to show how long my charcoal savings will pay for the grill, I am in.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Where does it go?

The SystemTime, that is.  The last week has somewhat been a blur.  Bob flew back to England on Friday, but unfortunately spent the last 5 days of his holiday with a bad cold.  Bob loves to hike and with the great weather he was quite miserable being stuck inside.

My also folks just moved into their new house and as is such, I spent a good bit of time finishing off my smart panel project I first spoke of several months ago.  Fortunately, everything worked! 

On Thursday we celebrated our first meal at their house.  Dad made his infamous bourbon tenderloin and vegetable platter.  I was just happy to stop by for a visit and not have to work.  You know how parents can be.

As always, the meal was delicious.  Dad has managed to keep both of his grills just under an overhang.  With his setup, winter grilling will be even easier for him.  Now to just talk him into a new Summit, or better yet the new Weber 26 inch kettle that I have heard is on the '09 agenda.

A Slice of the Loin

Saturday, November 01, 2008

What's on the Grill #99

Bacon Wrapped Fillet and Pesto topped Ribeye!  I guess Bob doesn't get enough meat on the Isle.  He was quite specific Thursday night.  He wanted a filet wrapped with bacon.  I kind of ebb and flow on filet.  In my mind it always needs something to go with it.  Its lean body is a blank canvas for flavor.  Yes, it is tender and delicious...but to me it can sometimes be bland.  So, when I saw a bone-in ribeye staring at me across the butcher counter I knew what I wanted.  The irony of all of this the next night I ended up having a bone-in filet at the Pine Club!  So much for consistency in desire.

The filet was straightforward prep...salt and pepper.  I picked up some bacon and wrapped it.  This is not terribly difficult mind you. 

A Study of Meat I: The Bacon Wrapped Filet

For the rib-eye, I wanted something a little different.  While at the store, I also picked up a rather large bunch of basil.  Since I had so much extra basil on hand, I decided to make pesto.

A Study of Meat II: The Bone-in Ribeye

The recipe comes for the Basil from Epicurious via Bon Appetit

4 cups fresh basil leaves (from about 3 large bunches)

1/2 cup olive oil

1/3 cup pine nuts

2 garlic cloves

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

It was delicious.  Bob prefers his meat to the more cooked end of the spectrum, as I have talked about before.  With the 650 heated to high, I seared both sides of his filet for 6 minutes a piece and then moved it over to indirect for another 12.  It's a long time to cook a filet, but a necessity when you are trying to please your father in law.

Burning Fat

The bone-in ribeye, which was also rubbed only with salt and pepper, was much easier.  I gave each side also about 6 minutes, with 3 minute interval turns to have nice grill marks.  Once done, I smeared the pesto across the top and plated.  Unfortunately, none of the pesto shots really turned out.  I can't stand the lights on the deck, so I will be working on some kind of solution here in the near future.

Tonight was basically Ribeye Friday, but on a Thursday.  I'm not complaining.