Tag Archives: grill

Grilled Mexican Corn

In our house, we love the movie Nacho Libre.  Of course it is silly, but it is also heartwarming and touching in many ways (with a great soundtrack too).  Thankfully, most of it is safe for children because it is one of their favorites — but I am a little liberal when it comes to movies. Every time we see it, I seem to enjoy it more.

In one scene, Steven is eating street corn and it always looked absolutely delicious.  And when he offers it to Nacho, he yells “get that corn outta my face” and swats it away. It has become a standard line in our house anytime corn is served.  Actually, movie lines are a big part of almost everything we do (Hello National Lampoon’s Vacation? We can’t start a trip without some reference to it.  OK, so maybe not that part I linked to though.)

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When we saw that a local vendor started serving grilled corn at our farmer’s market, I immediately told the kids we were going to have Nacho’s “Get That Corn Outta My Face” for lunch that day.  After trying it, my three year old decided we needed to call it “Get That Corn In My Face.”  He devoured it.  And then, somehow, ideas for Mexican Corn or Cuban Corn were everywhere.  I saw recipes in Cooks Illustrated and my hometown newspaper all in the same week.  It is apparently the “Tuscan” anything or the dulce de leche of this summer — somehow everyone decides it’s popular and pretty soon Pizza Hut is serving it.

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I decided I was going to figure out my version of it in time for corn season — even though I generally don’t fuss too much with corn beyond boiling, buttering, and salting.  I never want to risk the fleeting season by wasting a dozen ears on a dumb recipe.  This, however, is worth it.  It is divine.  I will warn you that it is rich — much richer than the corn you are probably used to.  Grilling the corn really enhances the sweetness and the kernels lose a little bit of their pop, making it almost meaty.  The toppings make it even richer — so it’s almost a meal in itself. Definitely serve it with something light.  If I could get my act together, I’d love to have a grilled corn party where I serve nothing but corn in this style with lots of different sauces and toppings.  What a great end of summer party that would be …  served up with appetizers and lots of real margaritas.  And, of course, we’d all have to wear our stretchy pants.

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Grilled Mexican Corn

Makes one dozen ears

Mayo mixture:
1 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped finely
1/2 t ground cumin
1 t smoked paprika
Zest of one lime
Pinch of chipotle powder (or more to taste if you like it spicy)
1/2 t salt
Freshly ground pepper

Butter mixture:
2 T butter, melted
1/8 t smoked paprika
1/8 t ground cumin
1/8 t salt
Freshly ground pepper

1 dozen ears of sweet corn
1 1/2 cups Queso Fresco, Cotija, or Feta Cheese (in small crumbles)
1 cup cilantro, chopped
12 wedges of lime

1.  Mix ingredients for mayonnaise mixture in medium bowl.  Mix ingredients for melted butter mixture in a small bowl.

2.  Preheat grill and rub ears of corn with melted butter mixture.

3.  Grill corn for about 8 minutes.  (We used indirect heat and grilled the corn for about 8 minutes indirect, turning frequently, followed by about 1-2 minutes over the coals to char the ears lightly.  I have also done this on a low flame gas grill — just be sure you are turning and moving the corn frequently so it doesn’t char too much.  The goal is to have the corn be just cooked with a slight char on it.)  Remove corn from grill and place onto a platter.

4.  Put cheese, cilantro, and lime wedges in separate serving bowls next to platter of corn.  Brush each ear of grilled corn with the mayonnaise mixture.  Then sprinkle with cheese, cilantro, and the juice of a lime wedge.  (You can do the whole platter or allow guests to prepare their own ear of corn.)

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Creamy Grilled Peach and Bourbon Sorbet

OK.  So I am in a conundrum as to what to call this dessert.  I started out thinking this was going to be an ice cream. But then I decided to up the amount of peaches and add grilled peach puree to the ice cream base — making it more icy than creamy, but also a lot peachier.  So, the idea of sherbet came to mind — a fruitier, lower fat version of ice cream– but my recipe has cream in it.  I am sure somewhere in the land of ice cream making that there is a term for whatever this is … but I settled on a Creamy Sorbet, which itself is somewhat blasphemous because sorbet is icy and fruity but is never made with dairy.

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I guess, in the end, I decided on “creamy sorbet” because it sounded nicer than sherbet.  The end product also reminded me most of sorbet from a textural perspective.  I am not a purist, nor am I classically trained (or trained at all, for that matter), so you’ll have to put up with my limited knowledge.  But I do know that regardless of what you call this, it tastes delicious and is really refreshing on a hot summer night.

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It is lightly sweetened with honey (use sugar if you like, but you’d have to heat the cream to dissolve it) and uses grilled peaches — which really enhances their flavor.  The sorbet (or whatever you call it) is finished with some bourbon, and while I used two tablespoons, I think you could add a bit more if you weren’t worried about serving it to children. However if you enjoy giving your children bourbon, please feel free to add more.  It is the end of summer, and I know we are all feeing it, aren’t we?

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Creamy Grilled Peach and Bourbon Sorbet

Makes about two quarts

8 ripe peaches, halved and pitted
1 1/2 cups of cream
1 1/2 cups of milk
1/2 cup of honey
1 t vanilla extract
1/8 t of salt
1/4 t ground ginger
Zest of one lime
2 T bourbon

1.  Grill peach halves for 5-7 minutes until nicely charred.  (You can broil them instead, just flip them half way through).

2.  In a blender, combine four grilled peaches (8 halves), cream, milk, honey, vanilla, salt, ginger, and bourbon.  Blend well until completely pureed.  Stir in lime zest and chill mixture very well for several hours. (If you are short on time, pour it into a medium bowl and place medium bowl inside a large bowl filled with ice water, making sure not to get ice water into the peach mixture.  Stir frequently until chilled.)

3.  Freeze mixture in an ice cream freezer according to manufacturer’s instructions. During the last five or ten minutes or freezing, chop remaining four peaches (8 halves) and add to ice cream freezer.  Serve immediately or put into a container and store in the freezer until ready to serve.  It will be quite hard out of the freezer, so give it time to soften.

(Note:  I served these with a ginger variation of the honey tuile cookie.  To make six cookies:  combine 1 T honey, 1 T brown sugar, 1 T melted butter, 1/8 t cardamom, 1/8 t ground ginger, 1 T white whole wheat flour, and 1 T sesame seeds.  Spread six rounds of the batter into circles on a parchment lined sheet and bake in a preheated 375 F oven for about 6 minutes until bubbly and golden.  You can shape them if you like when they are hot or leave them circular.)

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Barbecued Herb Burgers with Grilled Scallions

I know I mentioned recently that I hurt my back.  When I think about what the hell I did to it, all I keep coming up with is heavy duty gardening/digging up boulders, running, carrying around an almost three year old … and then loading a box containing 1/8th of a cow into my car.  Strangely enough, 1/8th of a cow is very freaking heavy.  When I was hoisting it into the car (with a somewhat sore back to begin with), I did happen to think that I should probably ask for help. But, I didn’t.  And then it got a lot worse.

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So, I have been trying to parent young children with a bad back — which is a cruel joke.  All you do all day is lean down, pick kids up, pick toys up, pick clothes up, pick towels up, empty dishwashers, scoop up 30 pounds of tantrum in the grocery store, attempt to help tie shoes, and load groceries into the car.  And basically any time you can’t bend down, there is an unwritten law that you will accidentally drop things ten times as much.

But damn if we aren’t going to have some local, grass fed beef for burgers this summer.

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This recipe utilized a lot of fresh herbs that we had growing on the patio, local cheddar cheese, and wonderful grilled scallions from our CSA box.  Served on fresh Honey Whole Grain and Spelt Rolls with a big glass of red wine, I almost forgot about my bad back.  Until I had to load the dishwasher.

Barbecued Herb Burgers with Grilled Scallions

Serves 4

1 to 1 1/2 lbs. of ground beef
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 t sea salt
Freshly Ground Pepper (about 1/2 t)
3 T chopped, fresh herbs (I used basil, chives, parsley, and thyme)
1-2 T barbecue sauce (a sweeter, Memphis style sauce)
4-6 scallions (green onions), trimmed
Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Additional Barbecue Sauce
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

1.  In a medium bowl, combine garlic, salt, pepper, chopped herbs, and barbecue sauce.  Gently mix with ground beef until combined (but not overmixed).  Gently shape into 4-6 burgers.  Season with additional salt and pepper.  Chill until ready to grill.

2.  Preheat grill.  Drizzle green onions with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Grill onions until lightly charred and softened.  Set aside.

3.  Grill burgers until desired doneness.  Top with cheddar cheese and melt.

4.  Serve burgers with soft rolls, grilled scallions (you can chop them into smaller pieces if you like), mayonnaise, and additional barbecue sauce.

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Grilled Pizza with Asparagus, Caramelized Onions, and Brandied Figs

At the beginning of last summer, we decided to abandon our patio as a dining room.  We had the obligatory table and chairs outside and never ever sat there.  Because the patio is right spanking next to our eat-in kitchen, it just always seemed so pointless to lug all of our food outside.  And then the table was always dirty and covered with pollen — and well, I am lazy.

So we sold the table and chair set at our yard sale and bought an outdoor loveseat, two chairs with big ottomans, and a coffee table.  And we threw down an outdoor rug and proceeded to spend the entire summer sitting on our patio.  We would have a glass of wine while the kids played in the yard before dinner.  After putting the two year old to bed, we would sit out there with our daughter and read mystery books.  We had friends over and lots of impromptu, small parties.  On several occasions, my husband and I sat out there after the kids were in bed and fell sound asleep.

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We couldn’t wait to get our furniture back out this spring and start to enjoy it all over again.  And guess what?  We eat out there more now than ever before.  The kids eat their lunch at the coffee table and we have relaxed dinners in our comfy chairs.    It was all a matter of redefining our space and not feeling so bound by the rules.  (“We have patio.  Must buy table and chairs.”)

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So our outdoor dining matches our new space — small plates of easy to eat things that are relaxed and fun.  Grilled pizzas are one of our favorites.  We usually do two pizzas — the first one with sauce and cheese (or tomatoes and basil once summer is in full swing) to please the kids and the second one with ingredients more suited for grown-ups.  We cook on charcoal and have found that the best way to grill the pizzas is over indirect heat, with a brief stint over the coals if you want to crisp it up even more.  If you have all of your ingredients ready to go, just bring them out on a tray and make the pizzas in stages.  It’s great small party food.  Let the kids run wild and eat as you go.

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Grilled Pizza with Asparagus, Caramelized Onions, and Brandied Figs

Serves 6 (makes 2 large pizzas)

Pizza Dough
Makes 2 lbs.

I like to make my own using the dough cycle of my breadmaker, but feel free to buy a ball of dough from your grocery store or local pizza shop.  Here’s my recipe for the breadmaker (use your dough setting — which is one hour and thirty minutes on my machine).  Just dump the following in and get the rest of your stuff ready while you wait.  (BTW, this makes enough for two pizzas.)

2 cups of white whole wheat flour
2 cups of all purpose white flour
3/4 t. sea salt
2 t. active dry yeast (about one package)
1 3/8 cup water (room temperature or slightly warm)
3 T. olive oil

If you want to make the dough ahead of time, just put a bit of olive oil on it and cover it tightly in a bowl in the fridge.

Topping Prep

This makes enough to top one large pizza.  If you want to do both of your crusts with these ingredients (i.e. you don’t have picky kids who only want sauce and cheese), just double the following ingredients.

1/2 onion, sliced
1/3 cup Olive Oil (plus additional for sauteeing)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Red Pepper Flakes
1 small bunch of Asparagus, trimmed and chopped into one inch pieces
1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese, freshly grated (or other cheeses — Fontina and Camembert are great too.)
6 dried figs (or fresh if you have them), stemmed and chopped
Brandy, optional
Salt and Pepper
Fresh herbs, optional (basil, chives, etc.)

1.  Caramelize onion.  Here’s my quick method… Saute the onion over medium high heat for 3-5 minutes until starting to brown.  Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water and scrape up any brown bits.  Reduce heat to medium low and cook for 5-7 additional minutes uncovered until nicely caramelized and soft.  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

2.  Saute asparagus in a bit of olive oil until just slightly softened (they should still be a bit crunchy).  Season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

3.  Warm a bit of brandy in the microwave or on the stove (on a low power level) with the chopped dried figs.  Let them sit in the warm brandy for 10-15 minutes until softened.  Give them a quick rinse to remove the heavy alcohol flavor, pat dry, and set aside.

4.  Make your seasoning oil by warming the 1/3 cup of olive oil over low heat until just warmed.  Add chopped garlic, red pepper flakes to taste, and salt and pepper.  Set aside.

The Pizza Grilling

1.  Preheat your charcoal (indirect method — which means coals should be on the perimeter, not in the center) or gas grill to about 350 F.

2.  Roll out half of your pizza dough (about a 1 pound dough ball) until it is very thin.  I like to do this on  a parchment lined jelly roll pan with a small wooden rolling pin (a clean bottle works too).  It should roll out to about 10″x12″.  (Rectangular shapes are easier for the grill.)

3.  Brush a bit of olive oil on the crust.  Put the oiled side down on the grill.  Don’t worry about getting the dough on the grill — just lift it off the sheet pan and drape it down onto the grilling grate.  It is pretty resilient.

4.  Let cook 3-5 minutes until starting to crisp and brown slightly on the underside.  Using tongs or a spatula, flip the pizza crust over.

5.  Drizzle several tablespoons of the garlic/red pepper seasoning oil onto the crust.

6.  Scatter the caramelized onion, sauteed asparagus, and chopped figs over the pizza crust.  Cover with shredded cheese.  Drizzle with additional seasoning oil if desired.  Close or cover grill to help the cheese melt.  Cook 2-3 more minutes, making sure underside does not get too brown.  If you want it extra crispy, move the pizza over the coals for a minute or so.

7.  When cheese is melted, use a big spatula to help you guide the pizza onto a tray.  Season with salt, pepper, olive oil, and fresh chopped herbs if you like.

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