Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Grill Roasted

The other night I took a stab at adapting an oven roasted chicken recipe and putting it on the grill. The oven roasted recipe has delicate flavors and I wasn't sure how it was going to hold up on the grill. Would the fire, intense heat & smoke suffocate the gentle aromatic herbs and subtle sweetness. Well, I'll be dipped in honey, it didn't! Dinner was great!

Grill Roasted Provencal Chicken
with Honey and Thyme

Here's the original recipe.

To start, I brined two pieces of chicken. They were chicken quarters, thighs and legs. The brining solution was about 3-4 cups of water, 1/4 cup kosher salt, 2 TB honey, 1 tsp dried lavender flowers and 1 TB Herbes de Provence. Soak the chicken for an hour. When ready to cook, drain, rinse and pat dry.

Before you begin grilling, make your glaze. Herbes de Provence, lemon zest, shallots, fresh chopped thyme, honey, lemon juice and olive oil. (Quantities in the original recipe linked above)

Brush the glaze on the chicken and place on the grill. Brush the glaze each time you flip. For the grill roasting, I put the charcoal in two sections down the sides of the grill, leaving an emtpy section in the middle. Don't place the chicken directly over the coals or it might start to burn (remember there is honey in the glaze). My chicken took about 20-30 minutes to cook. Keep covered for most of the cooking time.

At the very end, I put some carrots that I had par-boiled onto the grill to get some char on them. There were just the right texture and the high heat carmelized them just a touch. Great!

I was surprised to see the tender lavender and thyme flavors stick around after roasting on the grill. The lavender was subtle, which is very important. It it becomes too strong you feel like you're eating potpourri. I've decided I won't cook chicken on the grill that isn't brined. It can become to tough and dry. Brining allows for making mistakes and still gives you a great dinner! Woo Hoo.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Eastern Market, Washington, DC

Over 2 years ago a fire destroyed Washington, DC's historic Eastern Market. A promise was made to rebuild and return this community anchor to its glory days. This weekend is the grand re-opening. DC did a great job. They did it right! I'm so happy to have the Market back. Bravo.

The morning started with a stack of the Blues at the Market Lunch.

A shared sentiment.



The streets were shut down for additional vendors today.

We got to the Market early, before it officially opened. Some of the vendors were still setting up.

The new Market is bright and airy. And all our familiar resident vendors have returned.

I've been known to put lots of money into that register over my years of shopping at the Market.

The North Hall, often a space for performances, meetings and arts and craft vendors.

Welcome Back!

CLICK HERE to see some photos of the devastation from the fire.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Summer Lovin'

What I'm about to say has the potential to cause riots and break out in a civil wars. But I have to speak the truth.

Wisconsin Beer Brats

How can Beer Brats be so incendiary? It's how you make them.

There are hard-core fanatics that go in one direction and those that go in the other direction.

To make Beer Brats you have to start with a Johnsonville Bratwurst. That's it. Other brands just don't work for me. As far as I'm concerned, Johnsonville is the only way to go for Beer Brats.

Here's where I think people see a difference...

I take the bratwursts out of the package and toss them on a hot grill. Get them good and charred. Smoky. Don't burn them and don't worry that they don't cook completely. They will continue cooking in a warm, steamy beer bath in a bit.

Once charred, take the bratwurst off the grill and submerge them in a mixture of beer, butter and onions. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Serve hot, on a bun with mustard and if you are a heathen like me, ketchup.

What's so bad about that??? There are folks who insist that you parboil the bratwurst in the beer before grilling begins. That's fine, but I don't think the beer flavor, which is the purpose of a Beer Brat, sticks around after you grill the wurst. By simmering & finishing the cooking in a beer bath, you will have a stronger beer flavor and a plump, juicy sausage. Perfect! And who doesn't love a plump, juicy sausage!???!!!

Wednesday night's dinner was bratwurst and fresh corn on the cob, both on the grill.

After the wurst get a nice sear on the outside, take them off the grill and...

...put them in a bath of beer, onions and butter. In this case, I had a medium-body, hoppy beer with onions I had grilled the night before. I used about 1/2 a stick of butter. Because butter is good for you.

Leave the corn on the grill until it because nice and charred as well. I think the most important step for grilling corn actually occurs before grilling starts. You need to soak the corn in water for at least an hour. This will trap some water between the kernels and the husks, creating additional steam to help cook the corn.

Beautiful. The corn, not being locally grown and just picked, was a little starchy, but still tasty. I kicked up the flavor some by making a chili-lime compound butter to put on the corn. Take one stick of butter, at room temperature, and mix with some chili powder (I used Chipotle & Cayenne powders), the zest of one lime and the juice of half a lime. Add some fresh black, cracked pepper. Mix together until well blended and spread on the hot corn. Hot and dripping in more butter. Yum.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Five Star Treatment

Next time you cook up a steak, give it the "Gucci Treatment." I've talked about it here before. Thanks to Steamy Kitchen for sharing the technique a few years ago! So tasty. Tonight, we grilled up a top sirloin steak using the Gucci technique...

This part of the process is optional. Chop up some fresh herbs and garlic...

This time I used thyme and garlic.

Here's where things get interesting. First, if you're using some herbs, rub those into the steak...

Then smother the steak in salt! Leave this to sit for one hour. Rinse off all the salt, garlic and herbs. Using paper towel, dry the surface of the steak and cook.

Steak and the grill. A perfect combination.

I also grilled some sweet onions and thick slices of potatoes.

The "Gucci Treatment" brings great flavor to the steak by drawing out the moisture from the steak, dissolving in the salt, then drawing the salt and herb flavors back into the steak. You need to be liberal with the salt and this has to have an hour to work. A little longer is ok, but not too long.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Mmmm. Stir-Fried Noodles.
I made way too much. We couldn't finish.
But a great meal on a mellow night at home.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Beets, Lentils & Strawberries

An interesting evening and very satisfying dinner! We started strong with beets from the Cheverly Community Market. The main course was a blending of two recipes involving lentils and pork products. Dessert included fresh strawberries, also from the Market, paired with a delicious scone and fresh whipped cream~~yippee~~Strawberry Shortcake!!!

This weekend, we bought a single bunch of fresh beets. Neither of us like beets. So we bought them on a hunch...why not...give beets a chance. So I peeled and quartered them. They received a little salt and were wrapped in foil and put in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes, until they were fork tender. Since we still weren't sure what to do to them, we settled on some butter.

And they were delicious. Think of the freshest, sweetest sweet corn you can imagine. It's weird to think of sweet corn, but they were really good! We both would have had more, but alas, the small, single bunch only included 4 little beets.

The main course of the evening was a blending of two different lentil recipes. Lentils with Sausage & Bacon and Warm French Lentil Salad. Bacon, sausage, simple dressing, and lentils. Very filling and super tasty. Easy. Cook the lentils, the bacon, stir and enjoy!

The lentils are good for you in all sorts of ways. They are only made better for you with the addition of the bacon and sausage! Right. RIGHT!!!! Good. And they are filling.

Melting butter. That's all. Delicious, golden, melting butter!

The scones. They came from a mix that we received at Christmas and are just getting around to making them. The mix was simple. I enhanced the flavor with some cinnamon, cardamom and freshly grated nutmeg. I gave the scones a brush with some egg wash and sprinkled some grainy sugar on top! They are good just like that. But let's gild the lily shall we...

Fresh strawberries from the Market. Sliced up and mixed with a wee touch of sugar and a vanilla bean. Simmer over medium-low heat until the sugar is melted and mixing with the juice. Allow to sit for awhile until they come almost to room temperature. Split the scone in half, spoon strawberries over the bottom half, add some fresh whipped cream, add the top half of the scone...spoon some extra strawberry juice over the top for more fun! The scones hold up really well, maintaining their structure while soaking up the juice. They were also a great foil to the sweet berries. Woo hoo!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Grab Bag

I have some catching up to do. Last week was busy. Tuesday was bookclub, so dinner was at 2 Amy's in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of Washington, DC. Great pizza and delicious fried risotto balls. Wednesday I had a staff retreat to attend. Wednesday night I had to prep food for my departments two day staff retreat. Thursday night I got home way late and was exhausted. Friday, same thing, home later than normal and just darned pooped out. Saturday we had a nice dinner at home and Sunday we spent in Baltimore at Honfest. This week should be a little more normal....???? Fingers-crossed.

The full staff retreat included a pot-luck component for lunch, I brought a pineapple & kiwi fruit salad, with ginger-lime syrup. This is super fun, easy and very tasty. Make a simple syrup of water and sugar. Put a few chunks of peeled, smashed ginger root into the syrup while it simmers and the sugar dissolves. When it cools down, add some lime zest and lime juice. Pour over the fruit. The tropical flavors all blend together beautifully for a refreshing dessert.

I think this with Saturday night's dinner. It looks pretty rough, but was fairly tasty. This is a play on the Tequila Turkey Fettucine. I used leftover chicken and pork roast instead of turkey and rum instead of tequila. It was tasty. I'm not going to go out of my way to make it again, but as a leftover dinner, it worked!

When I prepped last weeks menu, there was one special request. Chicken Picatta. I was pleased with the final outcome. First, I only make this with angel hair now. The lemony-buttery sauce seems to play best with the thin pasta. Also, I used shallots instead of garlic. No reason, but I loved the more mild flavor of the shallot. And I went a step further with the chicken. Normally, I just coat the thin chicken breasts with seasoned flour, then fry them. I wanted a more substantial coating this time, so I did the flour/egg/flour combo and received high marks! Good times. I had a few extra chicken breasts and turned one into a delicious sandwich for lunch. Great!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Bounty Hunters

We had a very successful morning at the Cheverly Community Market. Lots of goods and we're looking forward to all of them!

the full bounty.

farm fresh eggs!

little grape tomatoes.

we bought two bins of strawberries. this is it. no more fresh strawberries this season.

green beans.
carrots. i'm going to wash them and eat them. you can smell how sweet they are in our kitchen!

we're going to try roasting some beets. we're not fans, but want to give it a shot.

some of the last of the season's asparagus.

some of our neighbors make their own tea blends. we bought one tin to try. this one was very aromatic. the labels are all hand screened and once they are gone, they are gone. i'm not a tea drinker, but i'd consider buying them just for the artwork. check out their website at: Damn Fine Tea.

and a treat for me. a chocolate croissant.

You can follow the Cheverly Market on Whrrl thanks to Prickly Girl.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Put on your fat pants!

Time to put on your fat pants folks...you're going to need room to expand!

As part of our jaunt to visit Black Ankle Vineyards in Mt. Airy, we had to stop off and enjoy some CarterQue BBQ. This small town shop is full of great food and some of the best customer service I've experienced this side of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Gratitude and heart-felt thanks from the staff made us feel very welcome on our second visit.

Barbeque & Grilling Company
235 South Main Street**
Mt. Airy, MD

**The company will be moving to a new, larger location in the coming months. Watch the website for more info.

Aside from the sweet staff, you will be greeted by this sign!

CarterQue makes their own sauces. We had a sampling before ordering. There's a traditional, smoky red, a sweet & tangy vinegar based and their award winning Blackberry Grillin' sauce.

We all split our side dishes, so we could sample. The beans were very mild and sweet. There was apple and some warmer spice notes in the beans. The hush puppies were the best I've had. Extra crispy with some green onion mixed in. But the main event. Three pulled pork sliders! I had three of the sauces. The favorites were the tangy vinegar and the blackberry! Ridiculous!!! This is so awesome it has extra awesome sauce on top!

Caroline had the two meat platter. Pulled pork and brisket. Her side was coleslaw, which was nice and light, providing a nice crunch to the soft succulent meats. For some extra fun, put some of the coleslaw on your pulled pork sliders.

Jason did the sliders as well, but went with the mac & cheese and cornbread as his sides. The Mac & Cheese is ridiculous! Extra cheesey, Crazy creamy. The cornbread. Let's be real...that's cake! It's dessert. Depending on how you look at it, that's a good thing, or not. I do like traditional cornbread with it's light, crumbly texture, but this was a treat. With a little frosting or even the blackberry grillin' sauce, you would have dessert!

And the crazy good, beer-battered french fries. Tee hee....giggles!

I'm so proud of myself. I cleaned my plate! I couldn't finish the beans, but I snarfed down the sliders and made my way thru good portions of ALL the sides.

~~~Chris Carter, the certified pit master & owner at CarterQue will be competing at the National Barbeque Battle in Washington, DC on June 27 & 28, 2009. If you can't get to Mt. Airy, check out the Battle.