End of summer grilling tips, recipes

August 24, 2012 9:41:15 AM PDT
With Labor Day approaching, a lot of people will be firing up the grills over the next two weekends, but our Hungry Hound says a grill can serve many purposes, not just for cooking steak or hot dogs.

Rochelle Taylor from Sur la Table is showing Steve some unique alternatives for grilling at the end of the summer.

Grilling Tips

Temperature

1. For a grill without a built-in thermometer, the "hand method" can be used.

If your hand can only be held 5 inches above the heat source for:

  • 2 seconds, the fire is hot (450? to 500?F or more)
  • 3 seconds, the fire is medium-hot (about 400?F)
  • 4 seconds, the fire is medium (about 350?F)

2. It is often useful to have different temperature "zones" on your grill so that you can cook items with different temperature requirements simultaneously.

Tools

1. When looking for grilling tools, always try to find the longest handle possible. This will ensure that your hands remain away from the flames.

2. Look for new tools that were previously only for kitchens: woks, skillets and pizza stones are now available for the grill, allowing you to prepare your entire meal outdoors.

Cooking

1. Oil your grill just before you use it. If you oil it too early, the oil will either burn or become gummy, which will stick your food to the grill instead of release it.

2. Remember that your grill can be used two ways. If the lid is open, it will act like your stovetop. If your lid is closed, it will act like an oven. If you have thin items or food that cooks quickly (ie vegetables and fish), leave the lid open. If you have thicker or more dense foods that take longer to cook (ie large roasts or whole chickens), leave your lid closed.

3. If you have a charcoal grill and are closing the lid, be sure to leave the vents open or the fire will die due to lack of oxygen.

4. When using sauces with high sugar contents, be sure to only add them to your food during the last 15 minutes of cook time to prevent the sugar from burning.

5. Be sure to use separate plates and utensils for raw and cooked food to prevent cross-contamination.

Cleaning

1. Be sure to clean your grill while it is hot to make it easier to remove food particles and grease.

2. Be sure to keep grease drip pans clean to prevent flare ups.

Grilled Bananas Foster

While not as showy as traditional bananas foster, this version has a nice charred flavor that adds another layer to this classic dish. To make this dessert even more special, you can make a rum and cinnamon whipped cream to put on top.

4 semi-ripe bananas, peeled and quartered
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum
1 tablespoon banana liqueur
1 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Ice cream, for serving

Heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium high heat. In a small mixing bowl, stir together brown sugar, rum, banana liqueur, melted butter and cinnamon. Brush bananas with rum mixture. Grill bananas for 3 minutes on each side, or until bananas begin to soften and grill marks appear.

Serve warm bananas over ice cream, drizzled with remaining rum mixture.

Homemade Pizza Dough

Making pizza dough from scratch is simple to make, and easy to keep on hand for any occasion. Instead of letting the dough rise on the counter, you can make the dough the night before you want to use it, and let it rise overnight in the refrigerator. It's also a great idea to make a double batch, roll the dough into 4 or 8 balls, wrap, and freeze. Just thaw the dough overnight in the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter for an hour before you want to use it. To make grilling the pizza even easier, roll each ball of dough to the desired size, stack between layers of parchment paper for easy access, and have all your toppings prepared and placed by the grill.

Yield: 4 (10 inch) pizzas or 8 individual (5 inch) pizzas

2 cups (11 ounces) bread flour, plus more as needed, and for work surface
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 envelope instant yeast
1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the bowl

Place flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to combine. With mixer running on low speed, add water and olive oil, and mix for 1 minute to combine. Increase speed to medium and process until dough forms a slightly sticky ball, about 1 to 2 minutes. If ball does not form, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue mixing until ball forms. Coat a large mixing bowl with a thin film of olive oil. Transfer dough ball to prepared mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rest until doubled in volume, about 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

Press dough gently to remove air bubbles, and turn out on a lightly floured work surface. Using a bench scraper, divide dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a tight ball, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and allow dough to rest for 15 minutes.

Dust work surface with flour. Flatten one dough ball to a thickness of 1/2 inch, and roll to a diameter of about 5 inches, keeping the remaining dough covered. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet and cover with another piece of parchment. Continue rolling dough balls and placing on the baking sheet, separating layers of rolled dough with additional sheets of parchment as needed. Cover stack of dough rounds with plastic wrap and set aside.

Fresh Mozzarella and Heirloom Tomato Pizza with Basil Pesto

Take advantage of the season with this pizza dedicated to fresh ingredients of the summer. The basil pesto can be refrigerated, covered, overnight or frozen for up to 1 month, but don't wait too long, or the basil will lose its punch.

Yield: 8 individual (5 inch) pizzas

2 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
2 bunches (about 4 cups) fresh basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
Zest of 1/2 lemon
8 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable or canola oil, for brushing grill grates
12 ounces shredded fresh mozzarella cheese
2 heirloom tomatoes, sliced crosswise into 1/8-inch thick rounds
1 recipe Homemade Pizza Dough
5 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil leaves, for garnish

To prepare basil pesto, place pine nuts, basil, garlic, lemon zest, and Parmesan in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until finely chopped. With the motor running, drizzle in olive oil and puree until smooth. Top motor, taste, and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a small mixing bowl.

Prepare a hot charcoal fire, preheat a gas grill to high, or heat a large grill pan over high heat. Brush grill grates or grill pan with a thin coating of vegetable oil using a silicone pastry brush. Place pesto, mozzarella, and tomatoes in separate small mixing bowls and place near grill. Bring rimmed baking sheet of dough rounds to grill and remove plastic wrap.

Lightly flour a rimless baking sheet or pizza peel. Place dough rounds one at a time on the baking sheet and carefully transfer to grill grates. Place 2 to 3 dough rounds on grill, cover, and cook until grill marks appear, about 2 to 3 minutes. Open grill and transfer dough rounds to another rimless baking sheet or large cutting board. Repeat with remaining dough rounds.

Flip each dough round so grill marks face up. Quickly spread each round with about 2 tablespoons of pesto, then top with mozzarella, and arrange tomatoes on each. Return topped dough rounds to grill, cover, and grill until cheese melts and second side is cooked, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer pizzas to individual serving plates.

To serve, garnish each pizza with about 1 teaspoon basil. Serve immediately.


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