Beach and EAT

  • September 09, 2020
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Summertime, my favorite season of the year, is here! It's time for spending time in the great outdoors, get in some fishing, loll around in a hammock, enjoy sno-balls, read a book, lounge on the beach and EAT!

During the summer, most of my meals originate on the grill---steaks, burgers, chicken, fish, shrimp, vegetables, and yes, even fruit. Lucky me, my husband and I live on the banks of Bayou Teche and many evenings we take a cruise on our party barge when the sun begins its western descent. When we return home, we get the grill ready on our lush patio and enjoy our evening repast listening to the frogs and cicadas chirping in chorus.

Ah, life is good

Let's begin with grilled vegetables.

MIXED VEGETABLE GRILL

Makes 6 to 8 servings

  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut in half lengthwise
  • 4 baby artichokes, trimmed
  • 2 whole heads of garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 Belgian endives
  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, trimmed
  • 12 asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 large red onion, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch thick slices
    • Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, cilantro, salt, black pepper, hot sauce and soy sauce. Whisk to blend.

      Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the fennel bulbs and cook until just tender, about eight minutes. Remove and drain. Drop in the baby artichokes and cook until slightly tender, about eight minutes. Scoop them out, drain and cut in half lengthwise.

      Blanch the garlic heads for about five minutes in the boiling water. Remove and drain. Blanch the endive for about one minute. Remove and drain; cut in half lengthwise.

      Prepare a fire in a grill. Position an oil rack four to six inches above the fire. Arrange the vegetables on the rack. Brush the vegetables with the oil mixture. Grill the fennel, artichokes, garlic heads and onion slices for about 12 minutes; the mushrooms for six to eight minutes; the endive for about eight minutes; and the asparagus for about five minutes. Brush the vegetables several times with the oil mixture while grilling.


      GRILLED EGGPLANT WITH FONTINA CHEESE

      Makes 6 servings

      • 1 large eggplant, cut into 12 slices
      • 3/4 teaspoon salt
      • 1/3 cup olive oil
      • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
      • 1 garlic clove, peeled and smashed
      • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme leaves
      • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
      • 6 thin slices Fontina cheese


      Put the eggplant on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Sprinkle with one-fourth teaspoon of the salt. Cover with more paper towels. Let stand for an hour. Rinse with cool water and pat dry. Combine the oil, lemon juice, garlic, thyme, the remaining one-half teaspoon salt, and the pepper. Whisk to blend.

      Prepare the grill. Position an oiled grill rack four inches above the fire. Arrange the eggplant slices on the grill. Brush with the oil mixture. Turn them once or twice and cook until lightly browned, about eight minutes total.

      To serve, arrange six slices of the eggplant on a platter. Top each with a slice of the Fontina cheese, then top with the remaining eggplant slices. Serve immediately. (They can be kept warm in the oven if necessary.)

      If you really want to jazz the eggplant a bit more, try grilling thick slices of tomatoes and whole Portobello mushrooms. Brush them lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper and grill quickly. Then make stacks, alternating with the eggplant, cheese, tomato, and Portobello. (You can also grill thick onion slices also.) Spoon fresh pesto on top of the stacks when serving!

      I've been also experimenting with kabobs that include chunks of fresh or smoked pork sausage, porcini mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and big green olives. One evening I served the kabobs over rice pilaf; another time over baked cheese grits! Do some experimenting yourself…walk on the wild side!

      BLUE CHEESE BURGERS

      Makes 4 to 6 servings

      • 2 pounds lean ground beef
      • 1/2 pound lean ground pork
      • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh chives
      • Salt and black pepper to taste
      • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
      • 1 tablespoon olive oil
      • 4 to 6 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
      • 4 to 6 toasted buns

      Combine the beef, pork, chives, salt, pepper, soy sauce and olive oil in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Shape the mixture into patties. Then, make a pocket in the center of each patty and fill each with a tablespoon of the blue cheese. Close the pocket by pinching the meat together. Grill for five to six minutes on each side, or until all pink disappears. Serve on toasted buns.

      Top sirloin is ideal for grilling and is also a good choice with which to make kabobs. This Mediterranean rub combines spices as well as coffee, which makes for a rich, robust flavor.



      MEDITERRANEAN SIRLOIN
        Makes 4 servings
      • 2 tablespoons olive oil
      • 1 tablespoon crushed rosemary
      • 1 ½ tablespoons chopped thyme leaves
      • ½ tablespoon brewed coffee
      • ½ tablespoon sea salt
      • ½ tablespoon cracked black pepper

      1 (2-pound) top sirloin (Certified Angus Beef preferred) Brush the steaks evenly with the olive oil. Combine the rosemary, thyme, coffee, sea salt and black pepper. Rub the mixture onto the steaks.

      Prepare the grill.


      Grill the steaks until medium-rare and slightly charred around the edges, 5 to 6 minutes on each side. I have long been a fan of flank steaks as I find it flavorful and very economically priced. It's best when served cooked to medium-rare and cut thinly sliced against the grain of the beef.

      GRILED FLANK STEAK

      Makes about 6 servings

      • 1 flank steak, about 1 ½ pounds
      • ½ cup olive oil
      • ½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
      • ½ cup soy sauce
      • ¼ cup dry red wine
      • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
      • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

      Score the steak on both sides. Place the steak in a large shallow dish or heavy-duty plastic storage bag. Combine the oil and the remaining ingredients, stirring to mix well. Pour the mixture over the steak. Cover or seal and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or as long as 3 hours, turning occasionally. Drain the steak and reserve the marinade. Put on the grill with a medium-hot fire. Close the grill and let cook six to eight minutes on each side, basting with the marinade. Discard the remaining marinade. To serve, slice the steak across the grain into thin slices.

      SUMMER TOMATOES During the time of year, I can't get enough of tomatoes. I'll eat them for breakfast with an omelet, put thick slices on white bread slathered with mayonnaise and use them in salads. No matter where you live, tomatoes will be in season for most of the summer so enjoy them while you can!

      CREOLE TOMATO CASSEROLE

      Makes 6 servings

      • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
      • 2 cups chopped onions
      • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
      • 1 cup chopped bell peppers
      • 1 cup chopped celery
      • 2 cloves garlic, minced
      • 1 pound ground beef
      • 6 Creole tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
      • 1 teaspoon salt
      • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
      • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
      • 1/2 teaspoon dried sweet basil
      • 1 cup fine breadcrumbs
      • 6 tablespoons butter, melted
      • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

      In a large heavy pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, green onions, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Saute for about five minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Add the ground beef and cook, stirring often, until brown. Add the tomatoes, salt, cayenne, oregano and basil. Cook, uncovered, over medium-low fire, stirring occasionally, for one hour.

      Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour the mixture into a baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the bread crumbs, then drizzle with the butter. Sprinkle the top with the cheese. Bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese melts.

      SAVORY TOMATO PIE

      Makes 6 to 8 servings

      Pastry:

      • 2 cups all-purpose flour
      • ½ teaspoon salt
      • 2 teaspoons baking powder
      • 1 stick unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
      • 2/3 cup milk
      • Filling:
      • 3 pounds ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and sliced thick
      • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
      • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
      • ¾ teaspoon salt
      • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
      • Hot sauce to taste
      • ¼ pound sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
      • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
      Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Make the pastry: Sift the dry ingredients together and cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until the butter pieces are the size of small peas. Stir in the milk. Turn out on a floured board and knead a few times. Divide in two and roll out half. Line a 1-inch pie pan with one half and set aside.

      Make the filling: Mix the tomatoes, herbs, salt and half the cheese. Spoon into the pie pan. Spread with the mayonnaise, and sprinkle with the balance of the cheese over all. Roll out the remaining dough and cover the top, sealing around the edges. Bake until golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm.

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