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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Grilled Lamb Shawarma

Many years ago, I used to live in the Stevens Community apartments, near what is now called "Eat Street". During the summer, when my windows were open with no air conditioning, I could smell the cooking from all the restaurants down the street. One of my favorites was a little place called Jerusalem's, and I loved ordering the shawarma, because it was a flavor combination unlike anything I had tasted before, and the price was quite reasonable.

We went to see a show in the old neighborhood not too long ago, so I took Ray to my old favorite place, and the food just didn't live up to my memory. I have been craving good shawarma ever since, then this month's edition of Food and Wine came, and here is a grilled version I can make at home! This rub/marinade could be used on almost any kind of meat, and other than the grilling time, the meal came together quickly and easily.

Grilled Lamb Shawarma (based on June 2012 Food and Wine magazine version)

For the rub:
1 head of garlic, roasted **see note
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 lemons
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
Salt and pepper
1 4-5 pound leg of lamb roast 
**To roast the garlic: Cut the top off the head of garlic, and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap in foil and place on grill or bake at 350 for approximately 30 minutes until garlic is brown and soft. Let cool. 
Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of the head of garlic into a small bowl. Add olive oil, zest and juice from both lemons, paprika, cumin, coriander and cinnamon. Mash all the ingredients together with a fork until smooth. Butterfly the lamb leg roast (cut it open and lay flat), and cut several 1/2 inch slits into the fatty side. Spread the rub all over the roast. Place in a container and refrigerate overnight. 

The next day, remove from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. Preheat grill to medium to high heat (about 400 degrees). Generously salt and pepper the lamb roast, and place on the grill fatty side down. Grill 15-20 minutes per side, until pink in the center. Remove and let rest for 10-15 minutes before serving. 

Serve with:
Grilled pita bread 
Sliced cucumbers 
Greek yogurt 
Fresh dill 
Red onion 
Feta cheese 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Grilled Beet, Spring Pea and Goat Cheese Salad

When I did the podcast for the Minneapolis Farmers Market a couple weeks ago, I kind of bashed on the red beets, because I have a bit of an unholy love affair with their cousins, the golden beets. Now I am trying to make it up to them. 

I have to admit, they are pretty, but they can make a mess when you prepare them. Plastic gloves are definitely in order, but look how nice this salad looks on the plate! I grilled them, tossed them in a simple balsamic vinaigrette with onion, and added some other farmers market finds, and this was the result. Lovely! I just served this along side a simple grilled chicken breast and it was a perfect summer dinner. 

Grilled Beet, Spring Pea and Goat Cheese Salad
5 small red beets, scrubbed
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1 mango, peeled and sliced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced 
1/2 cup fresh sugar snap peas, shelled and lightly steamed
1/4 cup goat cheese crumbled 
Balsamic vinaigrette 
Salt and pepper 

For the balsamic vinaigrette: 
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1/2 tablespoon dijon mustard 
Blend together until thick. 

Rub the beets with olive oil. Preheat grill to high, and place beets on grill. Turn frequently until skins are charred and bubbly and beets are slightly soft, about 30 minutes. In the last 5 minutes, place mango slices on the grill and grill just until charred, about 1 minute on each side. Let the beets cool, and remove skins. Slice, and toss, along with the onions, with the balsamic vinaigrette. Arrange beets and onions on plate, along with the other ingredients. Salt and pepper to taste. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Creamy Black Bean Dip

Back in the 1990's, I actually won a prize for an appetizer I made called "Cowboy Caviar". It was a layered black bean dip with cream cheese and eggs. The cream cheese layered dips were quite popular back then. While quite delicious and pretty to look at, these kinds of dips are difficult to eat, requiring scraping and scooping off a platter. I found people were slow to try it, because of this. I thought they were missing out on a really unusual treat. Over the years, it lost its popularity, and I stopped making it as often. 

Every few weeks my Bitches Brew Crew gets together to make beer, and we bring snacks. This week, my old stand-by came to mind, but I wanted an easier way to eat it. I pureed the base ingredients together, then topped with the eggs and some scallions. While easier to eat, the base puree looked a little unappetizing. So, she isn't the prettiest girl at the prom, but very tasty, nonetheless!

Creamy Black Bean Dip (Cowboy Caviar 2012)
2-15 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed 
3 tablespoons olive oil 
2 tablespoons lime juice
4 cloves garlic, smashed 
1/2 cup onion, diced (I used the bottoms of my scallions as well)
1 tablespoon cumin 
1 teaspoon chili powder 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon black pepper 
1 can large black olives 
1-8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
3 hard boiled eggs, diced
1/2 cup green scallion tops, thinly sliced 

In a food processor, combine the beans, olive oil, lime juice, garlic and onion until smooth. Add cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper and process until combined. Remove from processor into a large bowl. Chop the olives until coarsely chopped, and stir into bean puree. Soften cream cheese in microwave and stir into bean dip. Spread mixture into a pie plate or flat serving dish, and top with eggs and scallions.
I wanted to show a little bit of what it looked like on the inside, but also how popular it was at the brew session. Don't be put off by the purple gray color of the's really yummy!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Manchurian Chicken

As promised,  I am using up some of my leftover "Manchurian" sauce from the cauliflower I made earlier this week. I toyed with various ways to add this into a dish, it could be good with many things. After just getting back from a few days out of town, I wanted something quick and easy.

This would qualify under my many "something with chicken" dinners. I prepared the chicken the same way we would have for tikka masala, and added the Manchurian sauce. Served with some cilantro rice, it was a very easy dinner for the first night home from vacation.

Manchurian Chicken

For the sauce:
4 tablespoons sriracha
2 teaspoons mushroom soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
3 scallions, chopped (saved greed tops for garnish)
2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Blend all ingredients together until smooth.

For the chicken:
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast and/or thighs, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
Chopped scallions for garnish
Salt and pepper chicken pieces, then toss with yogurt, garlic and ginger, and let marinate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight. Preheat grill to high (400-500 degrees). Place chicken on skewers, and grill until cooked completely, approximately 20 minutes. Remove chicken from skewers and toss with sauce. Serve over rice.

For the cilantro rice:
1 cup basmati rice
2 cups water
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons butter
Bring water to a boil. Add rice, cover and simmer for 40-50 minutes until rice is tender and all water is absorbed. Stir in butter and cilantro.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Overnight French Toast

I was happy to be the guest of my friend, Marianna, at a lovely lake cabin for the last few days. So, forgive the lack of photo here (she has one, so Marianna, if you would like to send it over, I will post it !). I volunteered to do the cooking, and I wanted a breakfast we could eat and head out to the lake to catch some fish!

Overnight French toast is perfect when you don't want to spend all morning cooking breakfast. You will find hundreds of variations of this recipe, I cobbled this together after having made this several times for family brunches, showers and holidays.

We served it with fresh strawberries, but you could you the standard butter and maple syrup as well.

Overnight French Toast
(serves 6-8)
12 pieces Texas toast
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon , divided
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg , divided
6 large eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt

Butter a 9 by 13 inch pan. place 6 sliced of Texas toast in the pan. Mix together the butter, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon each of vanilla and cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg. Spread mixture across the top of the bread, and top with the remaining bread slices. Mix together all of remaining ingredients, and pour over the top of the bread. Press down to make sure all bread is submerged. Cover pan and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, remove the pan from the refrigerator, and preheat oven to 400. Bake covered with foil for 30 minutes, then remove foil, and let bake an additional 10-15 minutes until the top is golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Top with fresh fruit, or maple syrup.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Grilled Cauliflower "Manchurian"

The last time we went out for Indian food, we had an appetizer called Gobi Manchurian. It was deep fried cauliflower in a spicy sauce, and we loved it.

I saw a post recently about how to make this dish, and I started thinking how I could recreated it at home. I don't like to deep fry anything, so already I had a problem. And, many of the ingredients I didn't have on hand, so there were many obstacles. Still, I thought I could come close to the flavor profile of this dish with ingredients I had on hand. I have to say, I could eat this sauce with a spoon, to heck with the cauliflower! I had quite a bit extra left over, so don't be surprised if you see it pop up later this week.

Grilled Cauliflower "Manchurian"
For the sauce:
4 tablespoons sriracha
2 teaspoons mushroom soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
3 scallions, chopped (saved greed tops for garnish)
2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
Blend all ingredients together until smooth.

1 whole cauliflower, cut into bite size pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat grill to high heat. Toss cauliflower with oil, and place in a large foil packet. Place on grill, and grill for 30 minutes, turning frequently. Open packet and place cauliflower into a large bowl. Toss with approximately half the sauce and the green scallion tops. Add additional sauce as needed.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Spice Rubbed Pork Chops and Garlic Green Bean Salad

This is another of the monthly installments of our anniversary dinners, pairing with a Three Floyd's beer. This time it was Dreadnaught, which is a very hop-forward IPA.

My idea was to try to replicate a spice rubbed pork tenderloin I had at a Food Porn class at Kitchen in the Market (from Molly Hermann and Tastebud Tart Catering). Hoppy beer loves spicy food, and this would make a good match. I had access to the recipe, but I didn't have all of the ingredients on hand, so I had to improvise. I also wasn't using a pork loin, and I was grilling...hmmm...sensing a possible problem, I really was on my own!

The side dish is an old stand-by of my husbands, he loves simply garlic and green beans.The two of these together were an excellent pairing. We are nearing the end of our stash of beer, which means it is almost our first anniversary. Hard to believe it!

Spice Rubbed Pork Chops and Garlic Green Bean Salad

For the pork chops: 
1 teaspoon garam masala 
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon anise seed
1 teaspoon whole Chinese peppercorns 
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon olive oil 
2 large bone in pork chops 
Put all the spices in a spice grinder, and blend together. Place in a small bowl with olive oil and mix together. Rub generously on pork chops, and let rest for 5 minutes. Preheat grill to high heat (400-500 degrees). Grill 4-5 minutes on each side, until meat is just pink in the middle. Remove from heat and let rest 5 minutes before serving.

For the green bean salad: 
1 pound green beans, trimmed
8-10 cloves of garlic, minced 
1 teaspoon salt 
2 tablespoons olive oil
Bring a pot of water to boil.  Put garlic in a large salad bowl.Place green beans in water, and let cook just 2-3 minutes, then place in a bowl of ice water to immediately cool down. Drain beans, put them in the bowl with garlic, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Toss them all together, and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Grilled Western Omelet Pizza

Yes, I have a new obsession. Eggs on pizza. I love the way they look, except I do find it a bit disconcerting that they stare at me before I cut up the pizza to eat! 

Seriously, what could be better? And this particular combination reminded me of the times when I was a kid when we would have "breakfast for dinner." This usually happened when my mom forgot to take out meat from the freezer, or it was too warm to fire up the oven. I loved those nights, as it was an excuse to have pancakes, or eggs and bacon for dinner. 

This pizza could not have been simpler. And, I have been experimenting with a "no-rise" pizza dough that is quick and easy to make. This is thin-crust, which I prefer, because it doesn't fill me up as fast, and I can eat more pizza!

Grilled Western Omelet Pizza
Pizza Crust Dough(makes enough for 2 crusts):
1/2 teaspoon active rise yeast
3/4 cup water
2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup mixed multi grains (I purchased this mix from King Arthur flour, but you can add whatever you like, or skip this part)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Flour for kneading dough
Warm water in microwave until just past room temperature (about 45 seconds). Stir in yeast and let sit for 5 minutes. In a large bowl, mix together flour, grains and salt. After yeast has proofed, make a "well" in the middle of the flour mixture and add the water. Mix together with your hands, until a ball forms. Place on floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth. Separate into 2 pieces. Roll out on parchment paper, or foil if you are grilling. I usually spray my foil with non-stick spray if I am grilling the pizza.

For the topping
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped finely
1/2 cup yellow pepper, chopped finely
2 whole eggs
Heat oven or grill to highest heat possible. Spread olive oil over crust, and liberally salt and pepper. Spread cheese over the top, then scatter peppers and onions over the cheese. Place pizza on the grill, or in the oven,  then gently place eggs on top. Bake just until eggs are set, and remove from oven or grill. Salt and pepper eggs, and serve.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Cardamom Spiced Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler

I love this time of year, when we have both strawberries and rhubarb available fresh from our backyard. Normally I just toss off a crisp, because they are simple, and always an excellent way to make use of any seasonal fruit. But I wanted to switch it up a bit.

Cobblers are easy too, they are like biscuits or dumplings baked on top of a fruit sauce. Everyone this time of year is making strawberry rhubarb something, so I decided to change up my flavor profile a bit by adding cardamom. It was exquisite. Cardamom has a spicy, citrus character that really goes nicely with the tartness of the rhubarb, and the sweetness of strawberry.

You will need to taste the "sauce" as you make it. Local strawberries, in my experience, tend to be a lot sweeter that those big, giant ones you get at the store, so start with a lower amount of sugar, and add more if you think you need to do so. Likewise with the cardamom: this is a strong spice, so add a little, and taste to see if you would like more, I personally like the larger measurement, but every palate is different.

Cardamom Spiced Strawberry Rhubarb Cobbler

For the sauce:
1/2 to 3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons corn starch
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
Pinch of salt
2 cups fresh rhubarb, diced
2 cups fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
In a small saucepan, mix together dry ingredients. Add rhubarb, strawberries and vanilla, and simmer over low heat until bubbly. Continue to cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Pour into a greased 8 by 8 baking pan.

For the topping:
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
Extra sugar for topping
Preheat oven to 400. Mix together dry ingredients. Cut in butter, and mix together until completely combined. In a small bowl, beat egg and milk together, and add to dry ingredients. Stir just until combined, and drop by tablespoons on top of sauce mixture. Sprinkle with extra sugar. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Grilled Potatoes with Parmesan and Basil

I am going to give these potatoes their own post, because they were just that darned good ! I am not saying the fish dish I paired them with wasn't, it was yummy too, but we kept going back to eat more potatoes. This really stands on its own merit.

You will notice I use the "foil packet" method of grilling a lot of my side dishes. That's because it works, and you just toss the foil in the garbage when you are done. I am lured by the fancy grill pans at the store, but you have to wash those (scrub them, really) when you are done, and especially when we are camping, the less dishes, the better.

So, the rock star potatoes...

Grilled Potatoes with Parmesan and Basil
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon Montreal steak seasoning
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup basil, cut chiffonade

Preheat grill to high. Make a foil packet. Toss potatoes with olive oil and Montreal steak seasoning. Grill on high for 30 minutes, turning every 5-10 minutes. Remove from foil packet and place in a bowl. Toss with cheese and basil. Serve.

Grilled "Bruschetta" Fish with Parmesan Basil Potatoes

We have this strange contraption for grilling fish that I call the "fish cage". You literally trap the fish filets between two pieces of metal "cage", and throw them on the grill. It is really the only way to grill thin, flaky fish without sacrificing large chunks of your filet to the burning embers below.

It works nicely for fish like tilapia, orange roughy, or my new favorite, swai. If I have two thin pieces, I can even stack them on top of each other, and they will still cook nicely. I used the "fish cage" for this dish, so I could try out this new idea for an accompaniment.

I still am working on using my massive basil purchase, and we love bruschetta, but I wondered what it would taste like on top of my fish dish. The answer: amazing! The onion, garlic and tomatoes were just right, with some nice, crispy grilled potatoes and parmesan cheese, it felt like comfort food, but was made quickly on the grill. I think you'll agree!

Grilled "Bruschetta" Fish with Parmesan Basil Potatoes

For the topping:
2 large fresh tomatoes, diced (or a 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes)
3 cloves garlic, diced finely
1/2 purple onion, diced finely
1/2 cup basil, cut chiffonade
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and set aside.

For the potatoes:
4 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons Montreal steak seasoning
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup basil cut chiffonade
Toss potatoes with olive oil and steak seasoning. Seal in a foil package and get ready to grill! Set aside cheese and basil for just before you are ready to serve.

For the fish:
1 1/2 pound fish filets, patted dry
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
3 cloves garlic, smashed

Preheat grill to high heat. Sprinkle fish liberally with salt and pepper. Put fish filets in a wire grill rack (fish cage) putting smashed garlic between the filets). I always spray mine with nonstick spray before I add the fish. Get the potatoes started on the grill first, turning every 5-10 minutes, for approximately 30 minutes. Place your fish rack on the grill, and grill 5-7 minutes on each side, until fish is opaque, but not dried out. Serve on top of potatoes, and top with the bruschetta mixture.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Grilled Chicken with Corn and Black Bean Salad

We grill a lot in the summer, and the biggest reason is that it is fast and easy. With so many other things going on, I want to be able to toss something on the grill, and have an easy side dish without a lot of extra prep time. 

This dish really couldn't be simpler. I take advantage of our homemade salsa that we canned last year to create a spicy side dish. You can grill the corn for the other part of the salad, or used canned or frozen, any one of those will work. 

Grilled Chicken with Corn and Black Bean Salad 
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon fajita seasoning (from Mexican market, or combine garlic powder, cumin, and black pepper)
1 teaspoon salt
1 can black beans, drained
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
2 cups salsa
Shredded cheese and sour cream (optional)

Preheat grill to high. Rub chicken breasts with fajita seasonings and salt, and place on grill. Grill approximately 6 minutes on first side, then turn over, and grill another 5-6 minutes until completely cooked. Remove from grill and let rest 4-5 minutes.

While chicken is cooking, toss together remaining ingredients. Place 1/2 cup of salad on each plate. Slice chicken breast and lay across the salad, top with fresh chives. You may also top with sour cream and cheese, if desired.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Honey Basil Mojito

With summer well under way, I start thinking of refreshing summer drinks to enjoy after a long day at work. Mojitos are always one of my favorites, but I wanted to find a different twist.

Basil is so lovely and inexpensive at the Farmer's Market this time of year, and I find myself grabbing a bundle every week. It made sense, then, to use it in place of the usual mint in a mojito, at least to me! I also substituted honey for the simple syrup, since we always have that on hand, and dark rum. This was a little more exotic tasting than the usual cocktail, but no less refreshing, and very simple to make!

Honey Basil Mojito
For one cocktail
1 1/2 ounces dark rum (I used The Kraken, because it's fun to say!)
1 tablespoon honey 
2 large basil leaves
1/2 large lime 
Lemon lime soda

Squeeze the lime juice into the bottom of a tall glass, and then toss the lime half in. Tear basil leaves in large pieces on top of lime. Using a muddler or wooden spoon, muddle the basil leaves with the lime until crushed. 
Muddling basil

Pour rum and honey on top of the lime and basil, and stir well. Fill glass with ice, top with lemon lime soda, and stir together. 

It is best to drink this with a straw, to avoid getting basil leaves in your mouth.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Hawaiian Venison Nachos

Venison is a staple food in many Minnesota households, ours included. I am always looking for new ways to prepare it. This recipe really came about just by trying to use up some pineapple I had left over from the weekend. I created a marinade for the meat using a mushroom soy sauce we received as a gift from some friends in Chicago. The intensity of flavor, along with the honey I added made the meat almost look "lacquered" after it was grilled. 

I wasn't sure my husband was going to like these, and I made an enormous plate of them. We ate the entire thing, they were really great! This recipe is definitely a "keeper"! 

Hawaiian Venison Nachos
For the marinade:
1 1/2 pounds venison chops 
1/4 cup mushroom soy sauce 
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar 
1/4 cup honey 
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
Mix together the soy sauce, vinegar, honey, water and pepper flakes in a gallon zipper bag. Place meat in the bag, and refrigerate overnight.
To prepare the nachos:
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 purple onion, diced
1 scallion, sliced
4 ramps, grilled 
2 cups pineapple, diced, placed on skewers
Tortilla chips
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup sour cream 
3 tablespoons spicy green salsa 
2 tablespoons mango puree 
Edible flowers, for garnish 
Mix together sour cream, salsa and mango puree and set aside. Preheat grill to high, and get steaks on the grill first. Grill for approximately 5 minutes, then turn, and put pineapple skewers on, and put ramps on the top rack.
Grill another 5-7 minutes until steak is medium rare (or however you like it) and pineapple and ramps have a nice char. Let steaks rest for 2-3 minutes before slicing, and then assemble your nachos on a platter. Top with edible flowers for a more tropical feel!