Individual Pluot Cakes

A pluot is a cross between hybrid of a plum and an apricot. They have a smooth skin and firm flesh. The pit is fairly small. There were some nice ones at the grocery store, I remembered this recipe from the “try it sometime” pile and this was the result.

little pluot cakes

These are cooked in a muffin or cupcake pan resulting in nice individual cakes.

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Grilled Bread

My dad made this for me a dozen or more years back. For a while it was a staple at family gatherings at my parent’s house. He would serve it with pesto or hummus.

Grilled Bread

My version is a bit thicket than what he produced. I suspect he was more patient in shaping the dough. I’m usually in a hurry, making this as part of a weeknight meal and not very patient. I finish with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Grilled Bread
Servings: 6-8
Prep time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 20 oz. store-bought pizza dough
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • corn meal
  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and cracked black pepper
  • fresh herbs such as rosemary or thyme (optional)

Directions:

  1. Open the bag of pizza dough and place it on the kitchen counter for 30 minutes to a hour. This will allow the dough to warm up a bit and make it easier to shape.
  2. Light your grill, close the cover and let it heat up for 10-15 minutes. Scrape the grill grates.
  3. While the grill heats shape the dough. I use a pizza peel; the back of a sheet pan will work too. Start by scattering a generous pinch of corn meal over the surface of whatever you are using. Next empty the pizza dough from the bag into your hands and stretch it into a flat shape. Place it on the corn meal covered surface and let it rest for 5 minutes. After the rest gently stretch the edges to expand the dough. Rest again if it starts to pull back in a frustrating manner. In the end I aim for a generally squarish shape.
  4. Once the grill is heated and scraped, lubricate the grill grates using the vegetable oil. Turn the grill burners to low. Using your grill tongs dunk a wad of paper towels in the oil and apply the oil to the grate. There will be some smoke; don’t worry about it. Repeat until you’ve used up the oil.
  5. Make sure the dough moves on the peel/sheet pan when you give it a little shake. Better to fix that before you get to the grill. A little extra corn meal won’t hurt anyone.
  6. Transfer the bread to the grill by placing the lead edge of the peel/sheet pan at the back of the grill. Give the peel/pan a shake to move the edge of dough onto the grill. Once it catches the dough should slide off the peel/pan as you pull it back.
  7. Close the grill and cook for 2 minutes.
  8. Using the grill tongs grab the front edge of the dough and flip it over. Brush the cooked side of the bread with a teaspoon of olive oil. Cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  9. Remove the grilled bread from the grill, flipping it over so the most recently grilled side is up. Brush with the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add fresh chopped or ripped herbs at this time as well.
  10. Cut into pieces and consume. I use a pizza cutter however a sharp knife would work well.

Notes:
I used store-bought dough for convenience. I buy it at the grocery store, leave it in the fridge, pull it out when I get home from work and am ready to go in an hour or so. Some day I’ll try it with a homemade pizza dough.

The technique I used for lubricating the grill grates is explained much better by Cook’s Illustrated. Catch an episode of America’s Test Kitchen where they grill something and you see a good demo. This online episode shows the cleaning and lubricating method starting around 9 minutes and 30 seconds.

Grilled Chicken and Sausage

This chicken & sausage came together using a couple of recipes. I used parts Nigella Lawson’s One-Pan Sage-and-Onion Chicken and Sausage and combined it with some of the technique in the Grilled Lemon Chicken with Rosemary recipe from Cook’s Illustrated.

The result was nicely colored meat with a fairly moist interior.

Grilled Chicken and Sausage
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 75 minutes
Total time: 115 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup kosher salt
  • 3 quarts water
  • 12 chicken drumsticks, skin removed, bone-in
  • 12 sweet Italian sausage links
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • salt & black pepper for seasoning

Directions:

  1. Make a brine by combining the sugar and salt in a large bowl or 2-quart cup glass measuring cup. Heat 2 quarts water to a boil and then pour over sugar/salt. Stir until the sugar/salt is dissolved. Add remaining cold water (or ice) to reduce the temp of the brine. The temperature needs to get down to at least room temp before moving on. Colder is better, say 40-50°F.
  2. Cut 1/2″ slits, about 1/2″ apart, on the both sides of the drumsticks. Transfer to a large bin or zip-top bag. Add the cooled brine and seal. Refrigerate for 30-45 minutes.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a skillet or small pan over medium heat. Add the sage leaves one at a time and cook until crisp, about 1 minutes. Transfer the leaves to a double-layer of paper towels to remove some of the excess oil. Allow olive oil to cool.
  4. Zest and juice the lemons while the chicken brines. Crumble about sage into small pieces. Combine zest, lemon juice, 1/2 the crumbled sage, Worcestershire and Dijon in a small bowl. When oil cools whisk it into the mixture to create an emulsion. Add salt and pepper to taste. This will be a dressing and basting liquid for the chicken & sausages.
  5. Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry. Transfer to a large dish, add the sausage links and add about 1/3 of the lemon/oil dressing. Rub the dressing onto the chicken and sausages.
  6. Heat gas grill on high for 15 minutes. Clean the grill grates, leave half of the burners at high and turn the rest to low. Lubricate with vegetable oil.
  7. Place the drumsticks on the hottest part of the grill and arrange the sausages around the drumsticks. Close the grill and cook for 8-10 minutes. Flip the drumsticks and sausages over; brush with with basting liquid. Cover and continue to cook for another 8-10 minutes.
  8. Check the temperature of the chicken and sausages. If it is in the 175°F range then remove it from the grill to a clean dish. If it hasn’t hit 175°F yet turn it over again, baste it once more and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Repeat until all the pieces are cooked through.
  9. Brush cooked meat with any remaining basting liquid and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
  10. Transfer meat to a serving disk, sprinkle with remaining sage leaves. Serve.

Notes:
If you have the time and forethought, make the brine the day before, let it cool to room temp and stash it in the fridge overnight.

I served this with some grilled onion segments. Cut peeled onions (top to root) into quarters or eighths, depending on their size. Place the onions in a microwave safe bowl, toss with a tablespoon or two of olive oil and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high for 5 minutes to soften the onions. When you flip the chicken the first time place the onion quarters on the grill. Flip them after 4 minutes. It takes a bit of dexterity however if you leave a bit of root in place they should stay together.

Grilled Boneless Chicken Breast

Boneless chicken breast was on sale last week so I bought some. It is versatile, if bland. During the summer I like to grill up several at a time. A couple become part of that night’s dinner and the rest get bagged & tagged for later use.

Over the years I’ve come up with a way of grilling them on my gas grill that works fairly consistently. So I thought I’d share it with you. Step one is brine the chicken to help produce a moist end product. Step two is temperature control on the grill. Step 3 is patience.

Tonight we enjoyed grilled chicken with yellow rice. Some of the leftovers will become chicken salad sandwiches, maybe grilled with cheddar cheese. The rest I’ll chop up and stow in the freezer for easy use some night when I’m too lazy to go to the store.

Recipe under the cut

Grilled lamb patties

The weather was in the mid 60s for this year’s holiday party. I was originally going to make these lamb meatballs from Nigella Lawson. Instead I made grilled lamb patties. The recipe is roughly based on one in Joy of Cooking (1997) for Ethan’s Lamb Patties.

One of the criteria for this recipe was that it had to avoid onions, peppers & garlic due to the allergies of assorted guests. Even ground pepper can be a problem.

Grilled Lamb Patties

Ingredients:
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground rosemary
juice of 1 lemon
4 tsp sherry
4 tsp soy sauce
2 pounds ground lamb
1.5 cups panko bread crumbs

With a mortar and pestle grind the dried thyme, salt and ground rosemary until the thyme is well crushed.

Dump in bowl with the liquid ingredients and mix to combine.

Add the lamb and panko to the liquid mixture. Use you hands to combine all the ingredients.

Form patties using ~1 tbsp of lamb mixture by rolling them into a ball and then flattening. Place on a plastic wrap lined cookie sheet. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes once all patties are formed.

Heat gas grill for ~15 minutes on high then drop the temp to medium. Oil the grill and then fill the grill with patties. Cook on the first side for about 2 minutes and then flip. Cook for approx. 1 more minute and remove.

Yield was 35 small appetizer sized patties or probably 8 or 9 full sized ones.