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

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.

Grilled Summer Vegetables with Balsamic Herb Dressing

I am not 100% sure where I first came across this recipe/idea, but I do know that my Dad, Jim Kandell made it first with me about 5-7 years ago.  I actually think I got it from a William Sonoma grilling book but have gone back to search and cannot find it.  Oh by the way, let me tell you that most of my recipes will never be exact or have clear step by step instructions as I am expecting most of my readers are looking just for inspiration, not directions.  I also have never followed exact recipes myself, rather I pull in ideas and tweak them a bit.

So honestly this is one of the best ways to enjoy veggies during the summer.  You can really use any veggies you want but I use the following:

Asparagus, red onions, bell peppers (all colors) mushrooms, and zucchini and of course other ideas would be tomatoes, squash, potatoes etc.

So there is no real direction for how many of each vegetable to use, however the ONE MAIN INSTRUCTION is to put all your veggies that take more time to cook in one bowl and the softer veggies in another.  For example my onions and peppers go in one bowl as they need to cook longer, and my mushrooms, asparagus and zucchini go in another.

Before putting in a bowl, cut them into bite size pieces and then throw in a bowl and coat with olive oil and salt and pepper.

Now to make the dressing or vinaigrette.  You can do this the night before if you like.  Again this is not an exact recipe, but I did write it down the last time I made it (just a week ago) so here you go:

1/4 cup lime juice

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tsp fresh chopped thyme (add more for stronger taste)

2 tsp fresh chopped rosemary (ditto)

2 tsp fresh chopped parsley

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (Add more if it seems too oily when you mix then dip your finger in for taste!)

3-4 crushed, pressed or finely chopped garlic cloves

salt and pepper to taste

Take all the oiled veggies and throw right on the grill.  If your grill grates are too wide, then get a grilling basket or something.  You want to grill the peppers and onion until charred in spots BUT NOT MUSHY, then when they are about 1-2 minutes from done thrown in the asparagus, mushrooms and zucchini (or other veggies).

Once cooked, immediately remove from the grill (should not take more than 5-10 minutes total on a hot grill) immediately add the dressing you made as the veggies will take in more flavor while hot and their pores are open.

You can eat them hot, but this is much better at or around room temperature and watch those left overs because they are delicious the next few days refrigerator cold!

The best grilled bruschetta ever

One of my favorite cooking shows on tv is called “chucks day off.” The show is pretty basic, you have this awesome chef/restaurant owner in Quebec who owns the hottest restaurant in town and his day off each week is Monday. Well on Monday he is in the kitchen preparing his favorite dishes for friends and business contacts etc. Its really a cool show and you can watch in on the cooking channel (new spin off from Food Network.) So why did you know this? I got my inspiration for this grilled bruschetta recipe from that show like a year ago.

Ingredients you will need:

    • French bread or country bread. Basically go to the bakery section of the grocery store and get the home made non sliced long loaf of bread.
    • Goat cheese- one log (they literally usually come in a log form)
    • Milk
    • Tomatoes
    • Arugala (spinach if no arugala, but try to find arugala)
    • Fresh basil
    • Lemon
    • Garlic clove
    • Pancetta (can use bacon if you want but I would use pancetta)
    • Olive oil
    • Salt and pepper

Quick Preparation:

mix the goat cheese with maybe a quarter cup milk and mix with a fork so it become spreadable.

slice tomatoes thin

Chiffonade your basil (instructions below)

fry your pancetta just like you would bacon

 

You do not have to grill the bread but I prefer that to toasting it in the oven.  Slice the bread length wise and then in half if you want smaller easy to manage pieces.  Once cut you need to brush them or drizzle them with olive oil.

After you have it sliced is when you go grill it up or broil it on the top oven rack.  Again I think grilling over open flames is better as it gives it grill marks, a bit of a smoky summery taste and is just more fun.  I suggest grilling or broiling it until it is pretty crispy and I even turn mine over so that both the bottom and the doughy side crisp up.

Take the bread off the grill and while still hot you take one clove of raw fresh garlic and you run it over the crusty toasted bread.  You will see the garlic start to go down in size as if you are grating it like you would cheese.  The crispy bread will take upon itself the garlic and you will soon smell the wonderful aroma.

Now you need to apply your goat cheese spread.  You should have mixed some milk with your goat cheese so that you have a spreadable and easily pliable goat cheese.  It is true that goat cheese is already pretty soft, but you want to soften it up a bit more so that you can easily spread it over the bread.

Once the goat cheese is spread over the bread (use as much as you would for a pretty good peanut butter sandwhich) Get a decent layer of cheese on the bread.  You want to spread your pancetta which has already been fried up all over the cheese.  You will notice in my picture below I bought pancetta that was cubed and what I did was put it in a food processor to chop it even finer so that after I fried it (you cook it just like bacon) I wanted to be able to sprinkle it.  I would suggest buying thinly sliced pancetta from your deli and fry it like bacon til crisp.

On  top of your cheese and pancetta you want to lay thinly sliced tomatoes.

On top of the tomato slices you want to literally pile on the arugala or spinach.  Be liberal, you want a salad of sort on top here.

At this time you also want to drizzle the arugala with olive oil and then squeeze lemon juice all over it and then also zest some lemon peel all over it too.  The large picture below will give you a good visual of what I mean.  Notice the lemon zest, some oil and lemon juice giving it a wet look and also the basic chiffonade!

Chiffonade your basil and sprinkle it over the arugala.  For info on how to chiffonade basil click here.

The final product is delicious.  Fresh grind some black pepper and add some kosher salt flakes or just salt and enjoy.  I will normally cut the bread into individual slices about 1-2 inches wide.  If I have time later I will come back and add some other pictures that my wife took.  PS, these photos are not as good as many you will find here on we are foodies, but I just had the trusty Iphone when making this tonight.  Enjoy the great flavors!  Oh one more hint on something you will find in the photo below.  I had some very small orange cherry like tomotoes left over from my Jacobs Cove pick up and they looked so colorful that I sliced them up and sprinkled them also on the very top.  You will see that in the picture below.