Jerseygator's Blog


Oh, please, not hamburgers and hot dogs!

Posted in brewing,Cooking,Garden,locavore by jerseygator on September 7, 2010

Labor day, last day of summer, grill-fest in every backyard.  As we homeschool, tomorrow is not-back-to-school day and the weather is too perfect for the summer to be over.  And when it comes to grilling, I just couldn’t face hamburgers and hot dogs!

Darrol picked today to finally brew his cherry lambic, so there were two cooks in our space limited kitchen.  Not a problem, though, as I was planning on grilling.  As usual when I cook, it was around 4:00 that I started thinking about cooking dinner (this is why Darrol usually cooks).  I decided to go to my cooking guru, Mark Bittman, for inspiration.  Mr. Bittman pulled through and we had an eclectic and delicious dinner around 7pm.

We’re omnivores, so I wanted to have some sort of meat.  Too late to pull anything out of the freezer (despite the fact that it is full of Mr. Cow 2 and Mr. Pig, the sequel).  If we’re going to buy “grocery store” meat, it will at least be something that we don’t have tons of down in the basement, so I went with a flank steak.   This went into a plastic bag with soy sauce, garlic, smoked ginger, lemon juice and mirin (sweetened saki).

I had Darrol start the grill, as I always seem to lose the hair on my arms when I try. While the meat was marinating, I decided to try grilled cucumbers made into a 15 minute pickle.  I grilled thick slabs of freshly cut cucumber from the garden to char, then combined them with tarragon vinegar, salt and sugar and set them aside.  The marinated meat went on the grill for 3 minutes per side and was nicely charred when I took it off and tented it.  Sliced Italian bread rubbed with olive oil was toasted , and then some sliced apples.

Grill off and back into the crowded kitchen.  Darrol was adding the sour cherries we had picked and frozen back in the spring to his wort and the kitchen smelled yeasty and fruity.  To add some cool crunch to the dinner I made a quick arugula salad with baby arugula, toasted pine nuts, dried cherries, sliced bosc pear and grated parmesan, then topped with a lemon juice/olive oil dressing.  Darrol cooked up sweet corn and Jersey limas, as our end of summer meals almost always include succotash.

The dinner was plated simply: steak cut on the bias, pickles, arugula salad and succotash with grilled bread on one plate, and the grilled apples topped with a drizzle of greek yogurt, honey and a sprinkle of cardamon for desert.  The pickles were a surprise.  Tart and crunchy with a smoky undertone; we will definitely have those again.  The apple dessert was also a revelation.  The cardamon added a fall touch somehow, probably because it add it to oatmeal all winter.  Next time, I’ll try grilled pears with the yogurt/honey drizzle, as I imagine that will be just as wonderful.  There are only a few more weeks to grill, so we’ll have time to experiment.

It was fun discovering that the grill does more than just the usual burgers and dogs.  Hope your Labor Day holiday was spent with friends and family and that you enjoyed this “last day of summer!”

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