Monday, July 31, 2006

Bluefish "Burgers", Grilled Corn on the Cob, and a Tomato Basil Salad

We've been eating alot of fish and shellfish lately - trout, steamers, haddock, and now bluefish! Inspired by our favorite food blog, Helen's Beyond Salmon, and her recipe for "the other burger", we decided to make our own bluefish burgers! Morse Fish Company had some very fresh bluefish for $6.99/lb so we picked up a pound and brought it home. Along with that, we got some fresh corn on the cob and a couple of big, red tomatoes.

Back at home, M pulled the bluefish off of its skin in little chunks until he had shredded the whole thing. Then we mixed in some mayo (maybe 1/4 cup), dijon mustard (couple dollops) and some onions we had previously sauteed and allowed to cool (a medium onion, diced tiny, cooked with a generous pinch of salt). We would have thrown in some cilantro, but alas, we had none...

This made for VERY loose consistancy - not like patties at all, it would go right through your fingers. Undaunted, we scooped up 1/2 the mixture and plopped it onto a sheet in a relatively patty-shaped fashion... then repeated with the other 1/2. This sheet went into the fridge for a couple of hours and it was during this time that it solidified enough to work with.

The corn on the grill we have down pat by now: Peel back - but don't remove - the outer husk and remove the silks. Then fold the husk back up over the corn and use kitchen string to secure. Submerge in a bowl of water for 30 minutes so the husks get wet and the corn plumps up a little and they are ready to go. Hot grill, but careful over direct heat (the husks will burn a little, no problem) for 25 minutes, turning frequently. A little butter and salt and you have perfect corn on the cob!

Back to the bluefish... The only disappointing thing about this recipe was that they were to be pan-fried and not grilled. But we wanted to cook outside! Not to worry, we simply took our little le creuset baking dish and placed it right on the grill - using it as a griddle!

We pulled out the now-somewhat-more-solidified bluefish patties and sprinkled the top side with breadcrumbs. Carefully flipping over, we finished lightly breading the other side and forming these into actual patties - they were perfect consitency by this point.. to our relief!

We put the baking dish-cum-griddle over a medium high heat, carefully added some olive oil, then dropped our bluefish in... cooking them for about 5 minutes per side.

We served them up on a bed of baby spinach with the grilled corn, and a tomato, EVOO and basil salad. Not really burgers - more like patties. They were ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS!!! Wonderful flavor and texture - we'll definitely be refining this recipe a little and making these again! Thanks, Helen!

Sorry about the pictures, we are trying to use a new old camera and may just have to go digi camera shopping...

Sunday, July 30, 2006


We love shellfish - for the most part. Oddly enough, for a couple of kids from Maine/New England, one of us hates lobster! Mike doesn't eat it at all and has hated it since he was a kid when, at family gatherings in Maine, everyone would have lobster except he and his Grandfather. Burgers for them, lobster for everyone else! Consequently, today we never eat lobster and rarely crab.

Clams, oysters, littlenecks, steamers, mussels, etc. on the other hand... we gobble them down!

We were up in the South End and stopped in Morse Fish Company on Washington - the oldest fish market in New England - so we grabbed a little pouch of steamers and brought them home...

We were going to cook our clams - about 20 steamers - directly on the grill, but then we saw this recipe that steamed them in a pouch on the grill.

20 clams on a big double-sheet of alum foil. Over those; fresh shredded basil, thin sliced lemon, and several pats of butter. Folded up with tight seams, but with enough room for the clams to open up, all except the last end. In that opening, pour about 1/4 cup of chardonnay, then seal up that last end.

On a medium-hot grill for 8-9 minutes, then carefully open with tongs. Take the clam - with the big beautiful belly! - and wash it in the steam juice in the foil. Then dip in clarified butter* and eat in one big gulp! Delicious! Not sure how much flavor is actually imparted by the other ingredients - it's very subtle - but fresh clams are a treat in themselves!

* Slowly heat a stick of unsalted butter til it's gone - the milkfats will sink to the bottom, pour off the clear liquid - that's the good stuff - and get rid of the fats at the bottom..

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Fish Tacos

Can we please take a break from the grill, she said? Just to mix it up a bit, you know? Well, sure, as long as we use our grill pan to cook the fish one can escape the grill. With that being said, we reinvented our famous fish tacos, and now they are a hundred times better. We used to cut up cod/haddock in chunks, dredge them in flour and fry them up in some canola oil. Good, but not relied heavily on the sauce we mix up to give it zing (taco sauce mixed with some tartar sauce and chopped fresh cilantro, chilled well.)

This time M got a nice piece of haddock which he marinated in white wine, lime juice, cilantro, sliced jarred jalapenos - plus a big splash of the jalapeno juice - for 30 minutes. M put the whole filet on a hot grill pan, only flipping once. While M was busy with the fish, S sauteed up some onion and garlic in some EVOO, then added some rinsed and mashed black beans to the pan with some salt. After about 5 minutes, beans done, fish done.

Using WHEAT tortillas (yes, S is still tormenting M with the no white flour dealie), we built our tacos with the fish, black beans, cheese, lettuce, tomato and sauce. The fish alone was an amazing flavorful and healthier than our fried version. This definitely gets a thumbs up and we would certainly serve it for guests.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Grilled Pizza

What CAN'T you grill? Maybe pancakes and eggs - but you just need a griddle to make that work!

We did our normal pizza crust, but this time we left it as dry as we could possibly stand. Perhaps over-moistening had been our downfall in the past, the pizza dough sticks to everything and it is hard to get it nice and thin. This time, we added the yeast-and-water mixture and stirred it for a long time. What felt like it would be way to dry finally absorbed all the water evenly and the dough came out great. 3.5 cups whole wheat flour (with some salt and garlic powder for seasoning), 1 cup warm water that had yeast and a little honey added to it. That's IT! It looks like it wants more water... it is BEGGING for more water! DO NOT GIVE IT MORE WATER! Then, into an oiled bowl for at least an hour. This crust was the beginning of a great pizza.

We rolled out our dough into two pizzas to fit more easily on the grill. Grill preheated to a blazing 600-degrees, I wiped on a little olive oil on the grates and then popped the dough right on the grill! It bubbled up at first but those bubbles were taken care of after being flipped over - after about 3 minutes.

After about three more minutes on side #2, these were brought back inside for their dressing. We had sauted green peppers and onions and mushrooms, plus we had some deli ham and turkey pepperoni. Let's put it all on there! First sauce, then layer of cheese, then sauteed veggies, then meat, then cheese!

We put this full-dressed pizza on our pizza stone and put it back on the grill until the cheese was nice and melty and JUST getting a burnt top. We used the stone to heat the pizza at this point so that the crust didn't end up a charred mess... the stone worked perfectly! After the one, we popped the other pizza in, popped a beer, turned on the game, and sat down to enjoy our grilled 'za. Pizza, beer, Red Sox game - all the makings of a great summer evening!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Grilled Whole Trout

Please also see our 2008 Trout Post!

We like to go camping in New Hampshire later in the summer - set up the tent, blow up the air mattress (a necessity!), start the fire, and - surprise! - cook outside all weekend. When we go, we rent a canoe and go fishing for trout and perch... it's so peaceful to be out on the lake in the late afternoon's setting sun, just floating and pulling in a few fish.

On the shore of White Lake, New Hampshire:

Stacey throwing in from the shore - doesn't work too well in glacial lakes, but made for a nice picture!!

Here's a nice-sized perch that Stacey pulled in:

While we wait to go again in August and September, we've begun to crave those lake fish. They had a few fresh-looking trout, dressed, at Stop and Shop so we thought we'd give the whole fish a shot on our new grill.

The victims:

When I was a kid, my brother and father and I would catch trout while camping and memories of bacon-wrapped trout on the grill resound in my mind. I couldn't resist including bacon with the trout! So we rinsed and patted-dry the trout, then massaged a light layer of olive oil inside and out. We salt-and-peppered the inside, then placed garlic, lemon slices, and a big bunch of rosemary and thyme (fresh from the back deck) in the cavity. We then wrapped bacon slices around the fish and - holding the fish closed - toothpicked the bacon on to hold everything together.

These guys went on a very hot grill - covered and maintained at about 425-degrees - for 10 minutes per side.

The bacon fat acted as a self-baster and although it caused a few flare-ups, they were quick and harmless. The end result:

Delicious! Trout isn't exactly the MOST flavorful fish (edit: it's pretty darn delicious), but with the lemon and herbs and bacon, we coaxed the most out of it... doneness was perfect, the flesh slid right off those little, translucent bones. With the trout, we had a spinach salad with feta cheese, olives, and capers. We also threw some thick tomato slices on the grill for a few minutes.

Can't wait to go camping later this summer and get REAL fresh fish! If anyone knows of good camping and fishing spots in New Hampshire/Maine, let us know!!!

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th of July!

We're home and grilling on the back deck today after attending pool parties all weekend long. That burger, seasoned with salt, black pepper, onion and garlic powder, paprika, and ground fennel was a lunch preview for tonight's dinner - grilled whole trout! We have two dressed trout just waiting to get hot later, we'll get photos of that adventure!

Have a great 4th - we hope you're eating well!!!

A Very Special Steak

We were back in our old neighborhood - Boston's South End - on Saturday afternoon to see Sam the Barber at Blade Barber Shop (I just can't get the haircut I want in our new neighborhood!). We had a little time to kill after the haircut so we wandered into Lionette's Gourmet Shop on Tremont Street to inspect the meat case. Salivating over the thought of a steak on the grill, I asked if they had any aged beef. Sure enough, the grass-fed Vermont beef was all aged five months. The proprietor suggested a New York Strip steak and I had him cut me a large one-pound-plus cut of the wonderfully marbled beef. At $19/lb, this is a special occasion purchase for us - but what better occasion than the birth of our nation?

I wanted to get this right so I did a little research and focused on this article from the New York Metro that included input from the Executive Chef at Michael Jordan's Steakhouse in NYC. Seems like a good source to me! He described an easy, but new (to us) method that involved dipping the steak in a mixture of 1/2 clarified butter and 1/2 oil, then covering liberally with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. According to the chef, the oil and butter and salt and pepper coating hitting high heat will form a nice crust - achieving that desired crusty outside, buttery-textured inside when medium-rare. Brilliant!

So we clarified a stick up butter - simply heat the butter in a saucepan over low heat. When it completely melts, you'll see the milk solids sink to the bottom leaving the clear butter at the top. Skim away the few white floaties at the top, then pour the clear butter off. Let that cool a little and then combine with an equal part oil (we used olive oil). Dip your room temperature steak in this mixture and allow as much excess drip off as possible. Then liberally coat each side with kosher salt and black pepper. As the chef says: "You can't have too much salt on a steak," says Walzog. "It makes a great crust."

That steak went on a searingly hot grill for 6 minutes, then flipped and went 4 minutes more. We had some sweet potato wedges grilling happily for 15 minutes over the lower burner in the back and when we pulled the steak off, we threw on some pre-par-boiled (about 3 minutes) asparagus spears and grilled them up for 5 minutes. Both sweet potatoes and asparagus had a thin coat of olive oil and salt and pepper.

The steak was delicious - it did, literally, melt in your mouth. The crust was perfect and the inside was very tender, but maybe on the grill 1-2 minutes too long. Next time we pull it off one minute earlier on both sides. Other than that, perfect.

Check out Lionette's if in the South End... bring your wallet! They had all-local pork and chicken (fresh every Thursday), sausages, steaks, etc... plus salads and spices and marinades and rubs...