Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Thrill of the Grill

Grilling is one of my favorite ways to cook. No pans, great flavor and tons of variety. Living in FL, I can pretty much grill year round and I LOVE it. I already blogged my favorite flank steak recipe here and a great swordfish one here. A lot of the time I use 30 minute marinades or seasonings I have on hand for other cuts of steak and for chicken breasts. But one day, my grocery store had skirt steak on sale so I picked some up. Then I went searching for a recipe and I found a great one that I have made over and over. It works well with flank steak too.

Grilled Skirt Steak (Churrasco)

2 skirt steaks (about 1 pound each), trimmed of fat and cut in 1/2 crosswise
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Vegetable oil cooking spray
Chimichurri, recipe follows


4 cups flat-leaf parsley (from about 1 large bunch)
6 cloves garlic
1/2 to 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 heaping teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

Rub a generous amount of salt and pepper into both sides of the steaks. Rub the onion powder into the steaks, dividing it evenly. Put the steaks into a baking dish or container that holds them comfortably. Sprinkle the vinegar over the steaks and brush them with the olive oil. Marinate the steaks at room temperature for up to 30 minutes or refrigerate for up to 2 days.

Heat a gas grill to medium-high or heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill the steaks, turning only once, to desired doneness. Remove from the grill and let rest 5 minutes. If desired, slice the steaks thinly against the grain before serving. Drizzle some of the chimichurri over the steaks and pass the rest separately.

In a food processor, pulse the parsley and garlic until finely chopped. Scrape into a bowl and stir in the olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the red pepper flakes, if using, for a spicy chimichurri.

This was a HUGE hit with my family as well as with friends I made it for. I recently found a new chimichurri recipe on my Food & Wine magazine and I liked it even better than this one and I think it will be my new go to one.

Citrus Chimichurri

1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried parsley
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
4 whole garlic cloves, peeled, blanched, minced
1 tsp dried dill
1 small shallot , minced
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp salt
black pepper
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 cup olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon

In a medium bowl combine dried oregano, parsley, dill, red pepper flakes, shallot, lemon zest and garlic. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and salt and pepper.

Add the wet ingredients to the herb bowl and marinate the ingredients together for a minimum of 2 hours.

Serve over grilled meats.

I made the recipe as is but next time I will use fresh herbs for all but the dill, unless I happen to have some. I grow parsley and oregano and I think it's a much better texture with fresh versus dried.

My last recipe is a marinade courtesy of my sister's mother-in-law. My sister made us chicken kabobs quite a few years back using the marinade and I remember thinking the ingredients were a bit weird but it was SO good. She made it for me again this past May when I was visiting her and I was able to get the actual name of the recipe. After trying unsuccessfully to get it from her one day, I Googled it and found it several places. This recipe is one that is on a MUCH smaller scale than most and I even halve this to make 6 chicken kabobs. I use cubed chicken breast, bell peppers and onions.

Cornell Barbecue Sauce

1/2 c. cooking oil
1 c. cider vinegar
2 tbsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1 egg

Combine ingredients and marinate about 6 chicken halves. Use also as a baste.

I use slightly less oil and salt. I also use Egg Beaters and dried marjoram instead of poultry seasoning since I didn't have any. Dried sage would work too.

Happy Grilling!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sometimes, I'm a CopyCat

You can find copycat recipes all over the Internet. And I Have to admit, I never really thought about trying any. I guess I never really found a dish I liked enough to look up the copycat recipe. But, in the last year, I have tried a couple. Here they are.

Panera Bread Broccoli Cheese Soup

1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half-and-half (I used fat free)
2 cups chicken stock or bouillon
1/2 pound fresh broccoli
1 cup carrots, julienned
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar

Saute onion in butter. Set aside. Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and slowly add the half-and-half (this is called making a roux). Add the chicken stock whisking all the time. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender for 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper. The soup should be thickened by now. Pour in batches into blender and puree. Return to pot over low heat and add the grated cheese; stir until well blended. Stir in the nutmeg and serve.

This was SOOOO good...even my kids liked it! I'm not a huge broccoli fan but I thought it was great.

Olive Garden Zuppa Toscana

1 Lb. Italian sausage ( I used hot turkey sausage)
2 large Russet baking potatoes, sliced in half, and then in 1/4" slices.
1 large onion chopped
1/2 can oscar meyer bacon bits (or crumbled fresh cooked bacon. I used turkey bacon)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups kale or swiss chard, chopped (The restaurant uses kale so that's what I used)
2 cans chicken broth
1 quart water
1 cup heavy whipping cream (I used 1% milk)

Brown sausage and crumble. Drain and set aside. Place onions, potatoes, chicken broth, water, garlic in pot and cook on medicum heat until potatoes are done. Add sausage and bacon and then add salt and pepper to taste

Simmer for another 10 minutes. Turn to low heat and add the kale and cream. Heat through and serve.

Even with my modifications, this tasted EXACTLY like the restaurant version. I was VERY impressed.

I think I need to do this more. If you can make these things almost as good at home, why go out? It's probably cheaper to make it at home too!