Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Jalepeno !Bang! for July 4th

Explosions of Flavor!

Fireworks won't be the only thing lighting up your 4th of July picnic! Stuffed and grilled jalapeños will have a flavor explosion in every single bite. It would hardly be July 4th without burgers and dogs, but they don't have to be your everyday, run of the mill variety. Kick everything up a notch or two as Emeril would say.

Begin with fresh sweet corn that hasn't been shucked. Peel back the shucks leaving them intact, remove the silk, pull the shucks back up and soak for an hour or two, or even all day (great to do ahead). Prepare a medium heat grill (plenty of charcoal, probably a second chimney full). Place corn directly on grill, close and cook, turning occasionally for 30 to 40 minutes. After corn steams, it will begin to caramelize adding even more sweet flavor. Take corn from grill to sheet pan, remove and discard shucks, and brush corn with melted butter mixed with fresh lime juice, smokey paprika, sea salt, freshly ground pepper and a little grated parmesan. Cover sheet pan with foil, and hold in low (225°) oven until ready to serve.

And for those special dogs, choose your favorites, whether sausage, chicken or beef, and grill them over medium heat. Be sure to brush the inside of the buns with butter. Grilling the bun makes all the difference in a good hamburger or hotdog. To take your hamburgers and hotdogs over the top, add Cheese Stuffed, Bacon Wrapped Grilled Jalapeños. They're absolutely delicious and the ultimate condiment, adding that 4th of July explosion of flavor you're looking for.

For juicier burgers, add some sauteed onions, BBQ sauce, an egg, salt and pepper, and some grated cheese to your meat. Toss together with forks and avoid compacting too much when making patties. Chill patties until ready to grill. Over medium heat, add patties to grill, DO NOT press down with spatula. Cook about 3-4 minutes per side, turning once. Serve on grilled buns with condiments. They will be DEE-LICIOUS!


Cheese Stuffed, Bacon Wrapped, Grilled Jalapeños

8 Jalapeno peppers

1 tsp. Extra virgin olive oil

8 oz. Monterey Jack Cheese, small dice

8 cherry tomatoes

4 strips bacon, microwaved about 4 minutes, until about half done

4 (12 inch) bamboo skewers

Soak bamboo skewers in water for about 30 minutes before using.

Cut the stem end off the peppers, and with a small paring knife loosen the ribs and scrape out the ribs and seeds, leaving the pepper intact. (The seeds and ribs are the hottest part of the pepper.)

Add the olive oil to a small saute pan, and over medium heat saute the outside of the peppers just until they begin to blister, only a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Stuff as much cheese as you can into the peppers, and tread a stuffed pepper onto a soaked skewer beginning with the closed end. Follow with a cherry tomato, pushing it down to plug the top of the pepper and hold the cheese. Put two stuffed peppers and two tomatoes on each skewer.

Wrap peppers with partially cooked bacon, using tooth picks to secure. Use one strip of bacon for each skewer.

Grill for several minutes over medium heat, turning until bacon has finished cooking and cheese is melted.

Remove from skewers, and eat as appetizers, or use as condiments for hamburgers or hotdogs.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Marinated Tuna and Vegetable Skewers


Father's Day Alert! Just in time for the celebration I have a new grilling favorite—Marinated Tuna and Vegetable Skewers. This entree is delicious served over cheese grits. Add an Asian salad of cold cucumber slices, green onions, halved cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas and iceberg lettuce (I use Makoto Ginger Dressing found in the refrigerator section at local grocery stores--garnish the salad with Wasabi flavored wonton strips) and you have a complete meal including a no-fail new recipe for Dad to master on the grill.

The recipe came about when I found tuna 'chunks'--beautiful fresh tuna pieces--for a much lower price than the tuna steaks at the fish counter. A marinade combination I've used with cedar plank salmon turned them into a brand new, very healthy recipe.

When making kabobs, whether beef, chicken or fish, I recommend doing the meat and vegetables on separate skewers. That way you can control the cooking temperature and time. Vegetables need to grill long enough to begin caramelizing on the edges and tenderize in the center. This can take a longer or shorter time than the meat, depending on which meat you're using. Chicken takes a little longer, while beef and tuna require shorter cooking times, depending on your taste.

Always use a marinade to get the flavor into your meats and vegetables before grilling. And if you're using bamboo skewers, don't forget to soak them for at least thirty minutes in water before loading them up.

Marinated Tuna and Vegetable Skewers

One-half cup soy sauce

One-half cup mirin (found near soy sauce)

One-fourth cup seasoned rice wine vinegar (found near soy sauce)

One-fourth cup extra virgin olive oil

2 T sugar

2 tsp. ground pepper

2 lbs. Tuna cut into 2 inch pieces

4 small zucchini, sliced into half inch rounds

2 medium red onions, cut into pieces about the size of the zucchini

1 green pepper, cut into pieces about the size of the zucchini

One-half cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp. ground pepper

1 tsp. Sea salt

12 (12 inch) wooden skewers, soaked for at least 30 minutes in water

pickled ginger and wasabi as condiments

Combine soy sauce, mirin, vinegar, olive oil, sugar and pepper in large zip lock bag and swish to combine. Add tuna pieces, close bag and turn to completely coat tuna. Place in refrigerator for one or two hours, turning occasionally to keep tuna coated.

Place zucchini, onion and pepper pieces in medium bowl, and toss in olive oil, salt and pepper. Divide evenly between six skewers and set aside until ready to grill.

Prepare grill for medium-high heat. Prepare grill grate by brushing with oil.

Remove tuna from marinade and divide evenly between six skewers.

Place skewers on grill arranging according to temperature. Move to outer edges of grill when skewers are nearly done. Tuna should take just a couple of minutes per side for medium rare. Vegetables will take longer.

Serve with pickled ginger and wasabi paste as condiments.

Makes 4-6 servings