Something New on the Barbecue – Okra!

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Last night, we enjoyed skewered chicken and okra marinated in canola oil, Madras curry powder, ground coriander and minced serrano chiles. I served it over a gratin of onion sautéed with tomato paste and topped with zucchini, tomatoes and parmesan cheese.  The grilled okra was tender and had no trace of the icky sticky that you might expect. It is good enough this way to have again soon.

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First, I heated all four burners on the grill and put the chicken directly on the grates over the flame for a few minutes to get some color and maybe a few grill marks.  Then I turned the two center burners off.

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I elevated the chicken skewers on two foil wrapped bricks and closed the lid to finish the chicken with indirect heat from the two outside burners.  Indirect heat kept the chicken moist and tender without charring it on the outside.  Next time, I’ll use two skewers so the chicken won’t rotate when I turn it over!  I did use two skewers and all four burners with the okra after the chicken came off the grill.

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Skewered okra on top of the gratin made me wish I’d had individual gratin dishes.  I don’t know where I’d keep them, though.  I couldn’t possibly get rid of anything from the cabinets to make room for something new!

Sashimi at Sam’s; Will Wonders Never Cease?

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Almost too beautiful to eat! Sashimi from Sam’s Club is a great treat and welcome addition to the menu.

I was at Sam’s Club on Mesa a couple of days ago and discovered that they had brought a chef from California in to train locals to make beautiful and delicious sashimi and sushi.  I visited with the chef for a few minutes and tasted a couple of samples. I made myself a promise to go back and get some to take home.  I made good on that promise last night and picked up a tray of sashimi nigiri featuring salmon, tuna and shrimp draped over perfectly seasoned rise.  The tray had 10 bites and packets of chopped ginger, wasabi paste and soy sauce.  I substituted tamari (gluten free soy sauce) for their soy.  I plated it and served it as an appetizer with sauvignon blanc.  They have at least a half dozen options from which to choose.  I’ll have to check them all out.  They are works of culinary art and flavor and very reasonably priced.

While enjoyed the appetizer, I was grilling a top loin steak and some fresh artichokes for the rest of the meal.  I made a lemon and garlic aoili for the artichokes.  Prep and boil the artichokes until a leaf comes off easily (about 20 minutes), then plunge them into an ice water bath.  Drain on paper towels, then slice in half and brush the cut side lightly with olive oil.  Heat through on the grill and get a little char.  Dipping the  leaves and the savoring the heart on a stem make for great eating with a different twist on artichokes.

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Cool, Refreshing Salad Supper on a Hot Day.

Yesterday was in the high 80s.  Spring in El Paso.  It seemed like a good night for a cool salad supper. Trip to the store… pick up cooked shrimp, green chile Krab salad, fresh dill and olives.  At home, hard boil a couple of eggs and peel that cucumber that has been waiting in the crisper. Make a simple vinaigrette from red wine vinegar, olive oil, grainy dijon mustard and a little salt and pepper.  Wash and tear greens into bite sized pieces.  gather The rest of the fixings for the mis en place (stuff that you will need all together on the counter does sound better in French).

I had some salmon scraps left over from cubing salmon for kabobs the other evening.  I poached them and put them in the fridge.  I had a partial carton of whipped lite cream cheese sooooooo.  salmon, cream cheese, diced red onion and chopped dill when into the mini-food chopper.  After a few pulses, I had a lovely salmon spread to feature as the center piece of my salad supper.

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Plasted up with the salmon spread and salad for two – half the platter each consisting of dressed salad greens, cucumbers, sliced egg, shrimp. grape tomatoes, green chile Krab salad and olives.  Dill and olive oil crackers and bagel chips for the salmon spread were standing nearby.  Cool, refreshing and very tasty.  I had some left over salmon spread that should be even better tonight!

 

20 Minute Dinner after a Busy Day

Some days you rush around to meetings, activities, family fun, visiting and more.  And then you’re home, you’re tired. And, for once, you’re glad you planned ahead!

One of my favorite quick fixes is “country style ribs.”  They are thick pork slices from the end of the rack.  Sometimes they are boneless and sometimes they are bone in.  I lucked into a pack of four ribs, two with bones and two without – mostly. These babies are well marbled and grill up juicy and tender in just a few minutes.  I like to sear them quickly over a high flame then place them over a burner I’ve turned off and let them finish with indirect heat.  No flareups, that way and they stay jucier.

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Country Style Ribs, seared and placed away from the flaming burners. Close the lid for a few minutes and let them finish with indirect heat.

Baste the ribs with sauce when they have reached about 150 – 155 on an instant read thermometer.  I love Julio’s Barbecue Sauce from the Farmer’s Market and try to keep both his hot and his spicy versions on hand at all times.  It is great on red meat and amazing on grilled salmon!  When the sauce sets up on the ribs, let the plating begin!

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Crisscrossed ribs waiting for the side dishes.

Planning ahead meant picking up side dishes at the deli counter.  It doesn’t always have to be baked beans and potato salad! Last night it was farfalle (bow tie pasta) with feta and vegetables and creamy coleslaw.  Good choices for an 80 degree evening on the patio.

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Ready to go! Bring me a beer!

All plated up and on the table in about 20 minutes.  Sometimes convenience foods are a really good thing.

Three Old Favorites Come Together to Celebrate the End of the Wind

Friday, a week-long windy cold front ended.  Temps warmed up and it was time to get back to the outdoor grill!

The entree was salmon cubes wrapped in pancetta and grilled on skewers.  I cover two bricks with foil, place them on the grill grates and rest my skewers on them so I don’t risk he pancetta sticking to the grates.  The pancetta cooks quickly and the salmon comes off the grill barely done, moist and delicious.

Sides are a hasselback potato.  I like the way they look.  I drizzle mine with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning and bake them in the oven.  If you wiggle the slices while you season them, some of the goody trickles inside and makes them extra tasty.  The other side is grilled asparagus with a sauce of soft boiled egg, shallots, red wine vinegar and chorizo.  My hoarded piece of Spanish chorizo must have evaporated in the fridge.  I substituted some well cooked (almost to the point of crispy) soyrizo for the flavor and it worked well.  This is a wonderful sauce for asparagus that I have posted before.

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Hassleback potato, grilled salmon cubes wrapped with pancetta and grilled asparagus topped with a chorizo vinaigrette sauce.

 

Desert was a newly discovered treat.  Slices of citrus fruit lightly sprinkled with sugar and diced candied ginger.  The fruit is placed under a broiler for about 15 minute (rotate the pan once) so the sugars caramelize and you get the tiniest bit of char.  It can be served warm or at room temp.  I like to top it with Greek yogurt swirled with a little three-fruit marmalade (grapefruit, orange and lemon).  Swirling the marmalade is makes it more attractive than mixing it in completely and muddying up the color of the yogurt.
A sprinkle of toasted slivers almonds add a little crunch.  It’s a great light dessert and might become part of a salad if served over greens!

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Broiled citrus fruits with candied ginger topped with yogurt swirled with three-fruit marmalade and toasted slivered almonds.

Photo Styling by the Gringo Gourmet.

Tonight, I’m doing a cooking demo for the Trans-Pecos Chapter of the Texas Master Naturalists.  I’m showing them what can be done with traditional southwestern foods for more contemporary tastes.  In prepping for the program, I did a little work on my PowerPoint that complements the cooking and tasting.  I’d like to share a couple of new photos from my recipe “The Three Sisters Meet the Guys from Down the Block.”  The recipe takes the traditional three sisters – corn, squash and beans – and gets them mixed up with onion, garlic, tomatoes, cilantro and and, sometimes chile.  One of the sisters told me they like it when chile comes to the party because they think he’s hot!  What do you do with those girls? There’s an answer to that question in the program, but I won’t spoil it for you.

About the pictures…  shooting on white plates against a black background makes the food pop!  Elevating the back of a square plate and moving around the dish makes for interesting perspectives and angles in the picture.  Here are some of today’s shots. I think I need to stop being too lazy to set up the black background and forget about using the old everyday placemats when I shoot a photo.  Please feel free to let me now what you think.

Thank you.

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The three sisters.
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The guys from down the block.
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The kids mix it up.

It’s the old What’s on Hand and Whats at the Deli Challenge!!!!

In the mood for something seafood, but holding out for grilled salmon on Friday night.  What to do?  Ah,  there are KrabKakes at the grocery’s meat block.  Tasty, even if a crab never came near them.  Smear some tartar sauce on them and it is even more of a treat. But still not seafoody enough, so in the pantry there were a couple of cans of chopped clams, a couple of small potatoes in the basket and, in the fridge, some Better Than Bouillon Fish Base, some celery, half an onion and about 1/4 cup of heavy cream.  Sounds like an approximation of clam chowder might save the day or evening as it were.  Surprise! There were a couple of ears of corn hiding in the veggie drawer.

Chop and sauté the onion until soft. Dice the potatoes and celery so they’ll cook quickly. Add water and fish base per label instructions and stir until mixed. Add potatoes and let them cook until soft, the mash about half in the pot so the broth will thicken.  Add two cans of chopped clams and their juice and simmer a few minutes.  There should be about 1-1/2 cups of liquid at this point.  In a two cup measure, mix cream and plain milk to get a half cup or so.  If you’re like me, you add a healthy pat of butter to compensate for diluting the cream.  Take some hot broth from the pot and add it to the cream mixture to melt the butter and help keep the cream from breaking.  Turn off heat and add cream mixture to the hot pot and stir in.  Serve with the KrabKakes and boiled corn on the cob and pretend you’re in New England for a little while.  Be grateful  you are only having wind in dust in West Texas and not the storms in the north, east and south. Keep the storm victims in your thoughts and prayers.

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