grilled pizzas

So a few weeks ago Hailey and I attended a cooking class hosted by The Vintage Mixer and SLC Foodie.  The two chefs teaching the class were Raw Melissa and Jen of Delightful Delicacies.  The class was really good but the part I liked best was the part on grilling pizzas!  If you know me you know how much I love to grill.  The thought of grilling pizza was not new, but the awesome and local ingredients they were using was certainly new to me.

So ever since that class we have wanted to host our own grilled pizza night and we invited over some good friends, the Baileys, who attended the class with us.    I am not going to really share specific recipes here, but rather some delicious pictures and some ideas to get your mind started on your own unique pizza options!

I would suggest store-bought already-prepared pizza dough, though there are tons of good recipes online.  In our class they introduced us to a local and healthy brand you can buy at good earth.  I know Caputos deli and Harmons also sell prepared pizza dough.  Other than the pizza dough, we made everything else.  Well we didn’t make like the cheese and stuff, but you get the point.  Oh, I did make my own pizza sauce!

The pizza sauce was pretty simple.  I just boiled for about 5 minutes a bunch of tomatoes and then gave them a fast ice bath.  After doing this you can peel them very easily and then I added the peeled tomatoes to a blender with garlic, onions, fresh thyme, fresh basil, and fresh oregano.  I blended it all up and then slow cooked it on the stove, covered for about 2.5 hrs.

Some hints that I may share to make your learning curve a bit less steep would be:

  • put foil under the pizza if you do not like the charred lines or smokier taste.  I actually prefer it, but it was nice to have some with foil under and some without.
  • roll your dough on the foil (oiled or buttered foil) and it will make it much easier to move to the grill, you can simply slide the foil and pizza right onto the grill.
  • If your pizza is not perfectly round or if it kind of falls apart when moving to the grill, DO NOT WORRY, it all looks great in the end, just straighten it up once it is on the grill.
  •  I like to add my basil after the pizza is cooked, it just keeps that fresh basil taste so much better.

So we made 6 pizzas, the Bailey’s made 3 and we made 3.  Here they are in no particular order or chef.  By the way, I may not remember all the ingredients, but again, have fun and experiment with your pizzas, you really cannot mess them up.

Margherita Pizza- tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, caramelized onions, fresh herbs, heirloom tomatoes

Roasted Root Veggie Pizza- beats, butternut squash, sweet potato, parsnips, carrots, smoked gouda cheese.  Slow roasted all veggies in olive oil and salt and pepper until caramelized and soft.

Pesto Chicken Pizza- kale pesto, pre-cooked chicken, roasted peppers, mozzarella cheese.

Zucchini Pizza- Grilled  zucchini, fontina cheese, mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce. This tastes like a lasagna, I loved it.

Cauliflower, Potato and Fennel Pizza- Steamed cauliflower in tiny almost fine chunks, steamed potatoes, dried fennel, fresh herbs, mozzarella cheese, and fresh tomatoes. To get that nice brown cheese as seen above, Brian broiled the pizza after drizzling with olive oil after it came off the grill, he broiled it on the top rack for about 5 minutes.  A great touch!

Bacon, Sausage and Squash Pizza- Thick cooked bacon, spicy italian sausage, tomato sauce, grilled squash, fresh tomatoes, basil, mozzarella cheese.

If you do your own pizzas in the oven or on the grill, try something unique and different; you will be surprised how good it tastes.  I promise you it is almost impossible to mess any pizza up.

 

 

Steaks with goat cheese, caramalized onions and herbs

There is nothing better to eat outdoors with friends, especially in the summer, than grilled steaks!  I have eaten steaks my entire life.  The cool thing is my kids now love steaks and I continue loving to grill them.

What I really like about steak is that there are all sorts of cuts, and all sorts of ways to prepare them.  I want to share what I feel is the best way to prepare, grill and finish steaks.

Best preparation.  It is important to bring the steaks out of the fridge about 15-30 minutes prior to wanting to grill them.  You do not want to grill a cold steak.  Just use coarse kosher salt and course fresh ground pepper.  Do not use olive oil, do not use garlic salt, or garlic pepper.  Look I use this sometimes, but keeping it simple is the key to a great steak.  Use more salt than you feel might be safe (do not go overboard, but get it on there)  also get quite a bit of the pepper on there too.  You want to apply it to both sides and make sure to rub it into the meat.

How to grill them.

You want to heat your grill on its highest setting and close the lid.  Let it get as hot as you can without killing yourself or harming others.  Once the grill is very hot, place the steaks diagonally on the grill grates.  The diagonal step will make your steaks look the best when done.  Now let them sit on the hot grill, with the lid open for about 2-3 minutes per side.  You are doing this to sear in the flavor!  Searing the meat is key.  So when you are ready to flip it over, flip it diagonally and sear the other side too.

Once searing has been done on both sides, reduce heat to low or medium and flip again but cross the meat diagonally the other way now to make the grill grate marks crisscross.  You will now cook again for 2-5 minutes per side or until your steak is done.  Maybe another time I will explain how to tell it is done, that is a tough one and takes some time.  For beginners, just slice into it when you think it is where it needs to be.

Finishing the steaks.

You need to let the steaks rest a bit before serving them.  If you cut them up right after removing from the grill you will lose all the tasty juices and ruin them.  Ok they wont be ruined but they will not be as good.  Let them sit for 3-7 minutes.  They even continue to cook a bit during this wait.

You can finish the steaks with a slice of butter.  Try a compound butter of herbs, chives and garlic if you wish.  The steaks in this photo are finished with goat cheese, caramelized onions and thyme.  I love topping my steaks with pebre too!  Pebre may be the best topping ever for a steak.  Be creative, the star here is the steak, but you can top with a cool arugala salad, a peach or mango salsa, etc etc.

I fee the absolute best cut of steak for grilling is the ribeye due to all the marbling and taste.  Marbling is the amount of fat in the meat and fat is tasty!  Happy Grilling

Cucumbers are taking over the kitchen

This past week I have made at least 4 wonderful dishes all featuring cucumbers.  When I think of summer and fresh tasting food, I think of crisp, cold cucumbers.  I recently shared a post about some amazing sandwiches we made with heirloom tomatoes and cucumbers.  In addition I have made gazpacho, cucumber and yogurt soup, and shrimp ceviche.

I have made my own twist on this recipe from my Williams Sonoma cookbook.  I look forward to the next time I make this so that I can put my own little twists on it.  Here is another picture with some basil, chives and fresh thyme from our garden on top of the gazpacho.

Here is a recipe from Williams Sonoma

  • 6 to 8 large beefsteak or other full-flavored
      tomatoes
  • 1 small sweet yellow or red onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 6 Tbs. red wine vinegar, or to taste
  • 2 regular or 1 English (hothouse) cucumber,
     halved, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 Tbs. for
     frying croutons
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 or 4 slices French or Italian bread, each 1 inch
      thick, crusts removed and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 small green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/4 cup finely minced red onion

Directions:

Bring a large saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil over high heat. Have ready a large bowl of ice water. Meanwhile, cut a shallow cross in the blossom end of each tomato and then remove the core. Carefully slip the tomatoes into the boiling water for 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to the ice water to cool. Remove from the water and peel immediately. Cut the tomatoes in half crosswise and squeeze out the seeds. In a blender or food processor, puree 3 of the tomatoes until liquefied and transfer to a large bowl. Reserve the remaining tomatoes.

Put the onion in the blender or food processor. Chop 3 of the garlic cloves and add them as well. Puree, adding a bit of the vinegar if needed for a smooth consistency. Add to the bowl with the tomato puree. Add the cucumbers with a little of the vinegar to the blender or processor and pulse until they are coarsely chopped. Add to the bowl as well. Chop the remaining tomatoes coarsely in the blender or processor. Add to the bowl. Whisk in the 1/2 cup olive oil and the remaining vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours.

Just before serving the soup, in a large fry pan over medium heat, warm the 2 Tbs. olive oil. Crush the remaining garlic clove, add to the pan and cook to release its fragrance, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the bread cubes and stir and toss until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain; keep warm.

Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings with salt. Ladle into chilled bowls and garnish each serving with the diced bell pepper and the minced red onion. Float the croutons on top and serve.

I strongly suggest chiiling the bowls you will serve the soup in, in a freezer for about an hour prior to serving.  The soup is best the colder you keep it.
 
I also made fresh cucumber and yogurt soup which required me to blanch and then toast my own almonds!

Recipe: also from my Williams Sonoma Cookbook

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped blanched almonds
1 English (hothouse) cucumber, halved and seeded (if necessary)
1 1/2 cups (12 oz) low-fat plain yogurt
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup (1/3 oz) finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
Salt and freshly ground white pepper

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast until lightly browned and aromatic, about 5-7 minutes. Let cool and set aside.

Coarsely chop half of the cucumber. In a food processor, puree it for about 20 seconds.

In a bowl, combine the yogurt and buttermilk. Stir in the pureed cucumber, parsley, garlic, chives, 2 tablespoons of the dill, and 1/2 cup of the almonds until well combined.

Chop the remaining cucumber half into small dice and add it to the soup. Season to taste with salt and white pepper. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 4 hours.

Taste and adjust the seasoning again just before serving. Ladle into chilled bowls and garnish with the remaining 2 tablespoons toasted almonds and the remaining 1 tablespoon chopped dill.

Like the gazpacho please serve in chilled bowls.

Makes 4-6 Servings. Recipe from Williams-Sonoma

And finally I made some grilled shrimp gazapacho with the cucumbers also!

I started by grilling some shrimp that I had coated with olive oil and salt and pepper.  You only need to grill for agout 1-2 minutes per side. 

I followed no recipe here and kind of just winged it from a few searches I did online

use mango, avocado, lime juice, cucumbers, cilantro and red onions.  You need to also use some ketchup and then whatever pepper you want for heat.  Mix it all up in a bowl until it tastes just how you want it.  Serve in a wine glass or bowl and garnish with lime, cilantro and tortilla chips.

Here is the final product:

Grilled Summer Medley Bruschetta

So on thursday last week I got my much anticipated box of fresh produce from Jacobs Cove.  One large heirloom tomato, a bunch of small sweet orange tomatoes, cucumber, green and yellow beans, kale, carrots and I think  turnip.  I was ready to let that box of produce be my inspiration for something tasty and I will share it with you now.

Earlier in the week my wife and I went and had dinner in Provo at La Jolla Grove and though I had been there once before and was not overly impressed I do have to say that the appetizer of bruschetta that I got and the tomato and basil salad with mozzarella cheese that my wife got were both amazing!  I was craving my own twist on that all week long so sure enough I felt inclined to make my own version with the box of goodies that had just arrived.

Ingredients:

In no particular order I used, tomatoes, basil, cucumber, squash, garlic, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, country wheat bread and salt and pepper.

Start first by creating your topping.  I cut up the tomatoes into 1/4 inch cubes and then added fresh basil which had been cut correctly (see chiffonade)

I like a strong basil flavor so I use quite a bit.  To my basil and tomato mixture I added some 1/4 inch cucumbers diced up (I left the skin on) and then some finely chopped garlic, about 3 cloves.  I drizzled some olive oil and balsamic vinegar into that and added salt and pepper to taste.  I decided I would grill my yellow squash before adding it into the mix.

Grilling the bread was done at the same time I was grilling the squash.  Make sure to brush both the bread and the squash with olive oil to prevent from sticking to your grill.

Once the bread and the squash was done grilling I diced the squash the same way I did the cucumber and the tomatoes into 1/4 inch cubes.  I now added all the ingredients together into a bowl and allowed them to combine all their wonderful flavors.

If you are wondering where I got the inspiration to add cucumbers to this dish it is at the salt lake farmers market there is a booth where this lady sells “cuacomole” which is her concoction of a guacamole but she uses cucumbers instead of tomatoes.

And here is the final product!  It was delicious.  You could drizzle again with good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar for presentation too.

 

 

My Secret BBQ Rib Recipe

easiest bbq ribs ever

I absolutely love bbq ribs!  The best thing about this rib recipe is the fact that it is absolutely simple and anyone can do it.  The key to this recipe is the “crock pot bbq pit.

You have got to have one of these to do bbq ribs
I assume even a normal crockpot will work, but if you can justify getting yourself one of these, then do it.  Everyone that eats my ribs asks me how I get them so tender.  Well
 here is how you do it.
Easy and Tender BBQ Ribs
  • Rack of baby back pork ribs (as many ribs as you want)
  • apple juice or beer or both
  • one whole onion
  • apple cider vinegar
  • a rib rub (buy your own or use my recipe)
  • your favorite bbq sauce (I prefer sweet baby rays)

Now that you have all the ingredients, what do you do?

I love removing the membrane or casing (it is on there naturally) off of my ribs.  This is the part of ribs that normally gets stuck in your teeth while eating or that you have to tear through with your teeth.  Take the time to remove it, trust me.

Once the membrane has been removed, add your rub.  Put it on very liberally.  You cannot put too much rub on.  Rub both sides of the ribs.

Once ribs are rubbed (you can do this up to 12-24 hrs prior) put liquids into your crock pot or bbq pit, whichever you are using.  As normal, I do not use exact measurements, however I would pour enough liquid (beer or apple juice or even cola) into the pot to fill it about 1 inch.  You do not want a ton of liquid, but you do want enough to make sure the ribs do not dry out while they cook!  I would now put about 1/2 cup of the vinegar in the liquid.  I use the vinegar because it gives the ribs a little bite.

notice how the ribs suspend over the liquid in the BBQ pit

Put the ribs in the crock pot along with a whole onion cut in half.  Notice how the bbq pit allows you to suspend the ribs out of the liquid.  This is why I like the bbq pit so much.  I prefer to cook on low setting for 6 hrs, but if you do not have the time you can go on high for 4 hrs.  The real trick to these ribs is to finish them off on the grill.  There is nothing worse than ribs cooked entirely in the house.  I do not care if it is the middle of winter, you have to finish your ribs over a grill.

I sometimes do the crock pot the night before or even hours before an afternoon bbq and then wrap them in foil and grill them later.  It is the grilling and flames that make the ribs not just taste right, but look the part too!  You do not need to grill them long at all, you are grilling them to heat them through and to give them the char grilled marks.  I brush my ribs with the left over drippings and liquid from the crock pot, (don’t forget to save that) and also my favorite bbq sauce.  Brush one side with juices and sauce and then lay brushed side down on a hot grill.  You will want to grill it on that sauce side down for 5-7 minutes.  Then flip them over but brush the other side too.  Cook again 5-7 minutes.

Remove from the grill and enjoy!

this is the opposite side of the ribs than on the top picture. This is the meaty side now facing up.