Sunday, May 31, 2009

Grilled Desserts

I received a message on Saturday morning from NPR about using one of my photos on their blog for a grilled dessert contest they were having.  Seeing all of my photos are licensed through Creative Commons, I said sure.  I also took the occasion to enter one of our go-to summer desserts, the inside out grilled banana split!  This post first documents the impetus for the idea.  I’ve taken it a little further with the sundae twist.  In my opinion bananas are an ideal fruit to grill, and can be used in a number of different ways.

Chocolate Banana Boat: Before

The “prize” for the contest is an interview on NPR.  Now how cool is that?  Get your recipes in here.

Inside Out Grilled Banana Splits

4 firm bananas
3 (or so) bars of your favorite chocolate (I’ve been told English chocolate is the best!)
1/4 cup crushed hazelnuts
ice cream

Take 4 firm bananas and slice a slit length-wise. Stuff the opening you just made with your favorite chocolate. Place the stuffed bananas over indirect medium heat for 10-15 minutes. When the banana peels have darkened and the chocolate melted, they are done.
Remove from the grill and top with ice cream and hazelnuts. You can eat them right out of the peel. No mess, no fuss, all good!

Monday, May 25, 2009

What’s on the Grill #134

Parmesan Breaded Scallops, beer butt chicken, steaks, and a load of veg!  Since I had to work Memorial Day, I cranked out as much grilling over the rest of the weekend as possible.  Keeping with this line of thinking, you would think this list of food was from the weekend.  Wrong, it was just from Sunday night!

Parmesan Breaded Scallops

Since my friend Brian was “bacheloring” it for the weekend, he joined us for an afternoon of food, sun, and beer.  Brian is a seasoned griller and not only brought himself, but also the menu! 

Scallop Prep

For the scallops, he took the recipe from the Weber red book.  There is nothing like getting excited about a recipe that has been unknowingly under your nose for years.

Brian

Brian modified the recipe slightly.  I cannot wait to have it again.  I have a feeling my days of simply salt, pepper, and oiling scallops is gone.

Topped Scallops

Parmesan Breaded Scallops

Adapted from Weber's Big Book of Grilling

The recipe calls from a coating and then a garnish.  Instead, Brian threw it all together.

20 large sea scallops
1/2 cup fine dry plain bread crumbs
1/3 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 cup loosely packed Italian parsley leaves
2 tbls lemon zest
1 tbls extra-virgin olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice

Wash and dry the scallops.  Mix together all of the ingredients.  Cover the scallops in the mixture. 

We elected to grill the scallops on a tray, only because the scallops were not overly firm.  I try to never use a tray, but in the case it seemed a necessity.  With the scallops on a tray, they were placed over direct low heat and indirect high.  They were done in about 15 minutes.

Grilled strip steak

Besides the scallops, we cooked up a beer butt chicken, a load of asparagus and zucchini, and some great strip steaks rubbed with salt, pepper, paprika, and granulated garlic.

Sitting Proud

In the end, I ate so much I could barely move!  In my book, a sign of a pretty good day.  Thanks Brian and happy Memorial Day everyone.

One bite

Friday, May 22, 2009

What’s on the Grill: Memorial Day Edition

Although Memorial Day should be celebrated first and foremost for the sacrifices made by the men and women who gave their lives for our country, it also known by many as the gateway weekend to summer grilling.  A strange dichotomy indeed.
Since I consider grilling a “year round who cares about the weather” activity, Memorial Day is really just another weekend where I enjoy grilling food outdoors.
After an extended vacation last week and lots of grill time, I really don’t have anything special planned.  Shocking, I know.
Instead, I thought I would give a little “What’s on the Grill” round-up of traditional Memorial Day grub to tempt even more people outside this year.
BBQ
Low on the 22Low on the 22Low on the 22
By BBQ, I mean low and slow.  There is nothing better…and I mean nothing, than spending time outside while you are BBQing.  The smells drifting through the air will taunt and entice you for hours.
You can go easy, with ribs:
Ribs
Or take it a notch up with a pork shoulder:
The End of the Ride
Or even further with brisket:
Brisket
Grilling
By grilling, I mean hot and fast…on the grill, people, on the grill.
You can go simple with burgers:
Melting in...
You can have fun with brats:
The Beer...
Or you can go uptown with my favorite, steak:
Burning Fat
Sliced
Ribeye Friday-Take 483
No matter what you decide to do this weekend, don’t forget the vegetables:
Grilled Corn
Don’t forget dessert:
Flaming Marsh
And most importantly, don’t forget the beer:
Hello weekend,
Here’s to Memorial Day 2009 and a great summer of grilling!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Vegas – Home of a never empty belly

As with any getaway, I can’t believe it is already over.  Vegas is no exception.  After a whirlwind 4 days, we are back home wondering where it all went.  As usual, I ate my way through town.  Here are the highlights:

Jasmine at Bellagio

For me, Jasmine was all about location.  Our table faced a huge swath of windows that overlooked the Bellagio fountains.  Every fifteen minutes we were able to watch as the fountains did their thing.  Very cool. 

Jasmine bills itself as authentic Cantonese cuisine which I took to mean order everything on the menu that has pork in it.  For an appetizer I had ribs and for my main I had the Wu Xi Ribs, which were braised belly ribs in rock sugar, star anise, and far dew ginger sauce (whatever the hell that is).  The waitress warned me that there was a lot of fat on the ribs.  She obviously didn’t know me, because that sounds an awful lot like an invitation.

My only skeptical eye was raised when they kept incorrectly pronouncing Tsingtao.  They can pronounce Wu Xi, but not Tsingtao?  Come on people!

Piero’s

Doing what I do best...Piero’s is off the strip, but within walking distance of the convention center and monorail line.  Voted the “Best Italian Restaurant in Las Vegas” for the past 10 years, Piero’s is the one place I really, really want to revisit.

With a more intimate vibe, Piero’s is apparently the destination of the locals, politicians, and celebrities.  Zoe & Michelle (Especially Michelle and her Tommy gun hand motions) felt the place really had a “mobster” feel to it.  Groups of men where huddled around dimly lit tables, talking with their hands, wearing bibs, and gulping drink…oh wait, that was me in a mirror. Sorry.

Keith and I had the Osso Buco, Piero’s signature plate.  It was a huge braised veal shank served with a side of fettuccini.  Absolutely heavenly.  My favorite part was using the smaller fork to pull out the bone marrow.  Yum, yum, yum.  After having our waiter recite the specials from memory 4 or 5 times, the ladies settled on halibut and were not disappointed.  The beer of the evening?  Peroni.  Enough said.

The Grand Canyon

Zoe’s birthday started out with Zoe and Michelle getting a massage, facial, and body scrub and then moved on to a beautiful helicopter tour of the Hoover Dam and the west rim of the Grand Canyon.  The four of us had a great time hauling ass across the Arizona tundra.  Unfortunately for me, but good for everyone else, I discovered the headset system’s microphone too late in the trip.  “Roger, roger…over, over…"  I easily entertain myself sometimes.

Zoe

Mix

The Mix lounge and restaurant is located on the 64th floor of THEhotel at Mandalay Bay.  We started off with drinks at the lounge, which has an open air seating area looking out across the south strip.  This was oddly similar to the drinks we shared with Keith & Michelle in London at Vertigo several years ago.

The view from Mix

Dinner was fairly mind blowing.  I started off with a spicy crab salad and then moved on to a bison tenderloin with sauce au poivre for my main.  With bison already being such a lean meat, I found the tenderloin really enjoyable and aptly suited to the dish.  The food is French American which to me means “small French”.  As is such, I took it upon myself to help out my guests with anything they couldn’t finish. 

Gin Martini

Our waiter, Randy, was great.  As we learned through the course of dinner, his wife was English and he used to be a Chippendales dancer.  I knew that guy had moves.  I just knew it.

Keith

Dinner was finished out with sponge cake and a Nutella dipping sauce to celebrate Zoe’s birthday.  The service was impeccable.  So much so that Mix was closing at 9 for a private party in celebration of the opening of The Lion King at Mandalay Bay.  Even as the tables around as were moved out of the way and re-situated with place holders for the various actors, never once did we feel rushed or hurried.  Yet another great and memorable meal.

Happy Birthday

After dinner, the girls went off to get their Aussie grove on by attending The Thunder Down Under.  Because as I put it, my cloudy with a chance of rain just doesn’t cut it.

The strip

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cheers!

Zoe turns the big 4-0 this week.  In celebration, our friends Keith & Michelle are in town from Singapore, via England.  Ironically, this blog was first started back in 2006 to document our trip to England for Keith & Michelle’s wedding.  From there, it somewhat inexplicably turned into the grilling and beer spot it is now.  Follow one’s interests I suppose!

Anyway, to commemorate Zoe’s big 40th trip around the sun we are off to Vegas!

Night on the Strip

Last year for Zoe’s birthday we went to Vegas to see George Michael .  Even though it was a surprise for her, I was kind of lukewarm on the whole thing.  It turns out he put on a great show and I had tons of people watching to make it even more interesting.  While there, I figured Vegas would be the place to catch Jimmy Buffett.  Well it turns out JB is playing the Grand Arena this Saturday and…we head home Saturday. I really missed that opportunity!  Perhaps next year!

If anything, I promise to eat well, drink better, and spoil Zoe more.  Keith, a fellow photo enthusiast, and I are bringing our “big cameras”, so although we will stick out like tourists, we will have plenty of good pictures to show for it upon our return.  In the meantime, I am certain to tear up Twitter with my so often unsolicited travel commentary.

Until then, cheers!

Cheers!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Maiden Grind

After finally scoring a meat grinder attachment for our Kitchen Aid mixer (Thanks Mrs. H!), I used it! I have had countless inspiration for this from a number of sources (Andrew, Dave & Mike, I’m talking to you!) I recently picked up Charcuterie too , so I am excited about some of the possibilities awaiting me.
My Maiden Grind
This grind was nothing special. I had some leftover ribeye from ManNight and decided to make burgers. Let me rephrase that, fat-laden burgers. Wow. Sorry about the only “uncooked” meat pictures. Or as I like to call them, potential.
Potential
Now on to the hog casings I have in the fridge. I can’t wait!

What’s on the Grill #133

Breakfast, because grilling just isn’t for lunch & dinner! With house guests soon to arrive, I have tried to keep the odor/mess of a cooked breakfast out of the house. Enter the 650’s side burner and my trusty cast iron skillets.

Grilling....

There is nothing to me more enjoyable then a cooked breakfast of eggs, Grotta, and bacon. As it is, everything tastes better in bacon fat.

One note: I picked up the Grotta last week at the store. It’s some kind of oat mass that you fry like sausage. I know nothing about it, except that it’s good and probably healthy…which in most circumstances would be a turn off…but in this case, it’s quite nice.

Oh, and Happy Mother’s Day!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

ManNight 2009 – The Food

ManNight would not be ManNight without memorable food.  Mike was the genesis behind a lot of the ideas this year.  As a fellow griller and beef connoisseur, Mike suggested steaks and fried chicken.  We rounded out the evening with a grilled rainbow trout, grilled potatoes, and the most glorious onion loaf.

Grilling for 10 can provide its own set of obstacles.  Fortunately, they were all rendered moot with all of the help I had.

Beef anyone?

For the steak, I picked up a 15 pond slab of beef ribeye.  At a little more than $5 a pound, it was a great deal to butcher our own steaks.  Just the sight of this thing set a few people into a tizzy.  Each steak was about one pound and an inch and a half thick. 

Ribeyes

The steaks were grilled on the 26.  Originally I thought I might recruit everyone to grill their own, but ended up changing my  mind.  The charcoal worked great with such a large amount of meat, because the flare-ups from these super fat laden steaks would have been trouble over gas.  On the charcoal, a quick cover of the lid to reduce the oxygen intake and voila, flame no more.

Pumping out the smoke

The rainbow trout was grilled the same as in WOTG #124, so I won’t go over it again here.

Sizzle Sizzle

When Mike suggested Fried Chicken, he clued me into a recipe from an episode of Good Eat’s.  We always include some kind of frying on ManNight.  Once again because it’s…well you get the picture. 

Fried Chicken

I picked up two fryer chickens and butchered them into pieces.  The chicken pieces then soaked in buttermilk for about 10 hours.  After seasoning, the pieces were dredged in flour and grilled in a cast iron skillet.  Absolutely succulent.  I have never made fried chicken before and I can guarantee I will have it again.  For the record, I used lard as our grease.  I love lard.

Jayme working the oil

The other winner of the night was the onion loaf.  Essentially, the loaf is a bunch of battered onion rings pressed into the bottom of a fry basket.  When done, you flip the loaf upside down onto a serving platter and pull the rings apart a fork.  Fried heaven.  I used this recipe.  With 10 mouths to feed, I cut up 14 onions.  We made 2 giant loafs and by the end of dinner, they were both gone.

Onion Love

Dinner was paired with everything from homebrew to some wine Gregg brought by.  The food was great and the company was even better. 

ManNight 2009 – The Party

Last night was time once again for our somewhat annual man gathering known as “ManNight”.  Originally started in 2006, it was one of the “Top 10 Things I Did…” when Zoe was out of the country.  Three years later, Zoe is out of the country and we are doing it again.  Having gone from last year’s Luau theme, we settled on “Viking” for this year.  Although in hindsight, I think “parking lot of a Renaissance Faire” might be a better label. 

As always, everyone’s costumes were shall we say…unique.  Some, like Mike, chose to make his appearance with suitably Viking like Skull Splitter beer (So named because of its 8.5 % ABV, a fact affirmed to by Eric this morning in a tweet).

Mike & some SkullSplitter

Speaking of Eric, after laboring with a glue gun for several hours, he entered the party in complete character.  Make note of the cell phone holder on his Viking belt.  Dave, to Eric’s right, also wowed us.  When he first walked into the backyard, his gold locks made me do a double take.

Eric & Dave

I opted for the “off-duty” Viking look.  After a hard day of pillaging, nothing says village comfort like a pair of leg warmers and a woolen tunic.   I also will find any excuse to work my mullet into a costume.  As Brian noted at the end of the night, I never broke costume once.  Quite a feat when you are working over a 600 degree grill which has the ability of turning your synthetic hair into a roman candle in under 3 seconds. 

Viking - Off Duty

With the power of Amazon, just about everyone was able to pick up a helmet.  Some with fur horns, and some without.

Eric the Terrible

I will address the food in a second post.  Since it was ManNight, we made it a point not to stick to a specific schedule.  Dinner was done when it was done…and what a dinner it was.

As we made out way to the table, the ten of us took a quick moment to capture the scene.  The table was adorned with our “Man Trophy” and since we couldn’t find the tiger picture we always hang on the hall, Jeff brought the new symbol of ManNight: James Tiberius Kirk.

The Group Shot

We ate like…well, men!  Ribeyes, Friend Chicken, Grilled Trout, and Onion Loaf.  Nothing green by design.  The Drew also bought a large swing top bottle of homebrew which we all toasted and shared.

Of course it would not be ManNight without Rockband and after Rockband, we tended to the fire outside. 

It wouldn't be ManNight...

Themes are already floating for the next ManNight and only one of them so far scares me.  I believe everyone was in agreement.  This was by far the best ManNight yet.  I am blessed to have such good friends who enjoy crazy fun like this.