Stuff and Nonsense: grilling

Showing posts with label grilling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label grilling. Show all posts


#ImprovCooking: Steak & Potatoes

I don’t know about you, but I love all types of roasted vegetables. I feel quite strongly that roasting vegetables is one of the tastiest and easiest ways to prepare them and it's very much my go-to for weeknight cooking. Roasted potatoes are The Husband's favorite, but mushrooms, peppers, and onions are pretty popular with him, too.

When I set about drafting February's Improv Cooking recipe, I thought it best to stick to a combination of flavors I knew we would both like, because I'd also be cooking steak and -- while I believe in packing really nice work lunches for myself -- making steak just for myself seemed pretty mean.

Roasting green beans is a pretty new experience for me and I've found the haricot verts work best as they are thinner and more tender to start with. If you can't find haricot verts, you can use regular string beans but you'll probably want to blanch them first or bump up the overall roasting time if you don't want crunchy beans.

Obviously, YMMV as cooking times will vary depending upon the temperature of the steaks before grilling, the kind and thickness of the steaks, and the cooking temperature of the pan. Just keep an eye on your steaks and have your meat thermometer handy.

Steak With Roasted Vegetables

Yield: 2-4, depending on how famished you are


  • 8 oz small fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded & cut into chunks
  • 1 orange bell pepper, seeded & cut into chunks
  • 4 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 4 oz haricot verts (thin young green beans)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled & thinly sliced
  • 2 1-inch thick 10 oz boneless rib eye steaks
  • Sea salt, as desired
  • Penzeys salt-free California Style Seasoned Pepper or similar, as desired


  1. Allow steaks sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat oven to 400°F. Line a half-sheet pan with foil.
  3. Place the potatoes, peppers, and mushrooms on the foil-lined half sheet pan, drizzle with oil, season as needed, toss, then roast for 20 mins.
  4. Add the beans and garlic, toss, then roast for another 10 mins.
  5. Meanwhile, pat the steaks dry with a paper towel and season generously.
  6. Heat a nonstick grill pan or skillet over medium high heat. Add steaks and grill 5 mins on one side.
  7. Turn steaks over and cook for 5 minutes more or until the steaks are between 130°F and 135°F for medium rare, or until done to your liking.
  8. Remove the steaks from the pan, tent with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with the roasted vegetables.

The #ImprovCookingChallenge is a monthly blogging event where two ingredients are assigned to a month. Bloggers can make any recipe they like as long as it features the two ingredients. If you are a blogger and would like to join us, please visit our Facebook page.You can also read more about the event on our our home page.

If you’d like to see previous creations, check out our Pinterest board.


The Last Freezer Steak (Finally?)

Last year, I used a couple Amazon Local vouchers to buy grass-fed organic steak samplers from the American Farmers Network ... and we've only just finished them off. It's not as if the samplers were enormous -- although they were a good size for two people -- so much as we don't eat steak at home that often, because we are not very good Cookers of Steak. Until the last six months or so, anyway. It's as if, unconsciously, I decided it was finally time to buckle down and master steak. And so I did. Mostly. Sometimes the steaks are a bit chewy and better-than-shoe-leather-but-still-a-far-cry-from-Ruth's-Chris, but mostly they're pretty darn good.

Grilled filet mignon with mushrooms. (Photographed in my living room, because that's where the light was).

Anyway, Sunday I grilled up the last filet mignon!

About thirty minutes before I started the grill, I took the filets out of the fridge, patted them dry, rubbed them with a little olive oil, and let them sit on the kitchen side so they could warm up a bit.

I heated the grill up to 400°F, brushed the rack with canola oil, put the filets down, grilled them for 4 minutes, flipped them over, grilled them for 4 minutes, flipped them again and grilled them for 3 more. Then I remove the filets from the grill, covered them loosely with foil and let them rest for 10 minutes.

They were fantastic. Melting. Tender. Flavorful. Beautiful.


Easy Friday Supper With Grilled Chick-Chick

Since I read the marinating tips at, I have scored my chops and boneless chicken breasts in a crisscross pattern before marinating or rubbing them. I do think it helps the marinade penetrate deeper into the tissue and the outside tends to get a bit crustier (or extra-flavorful, as I see it). However, this could all just me seeing what I want to see and tasting what I expect to taste. Regardless, there's been some good grilled boneless chicken breasts coming off my grill this summer.

Usually, I soak the scored breasts overnight in ranch dressing or Italian vinaigrette (yes, truly upscale grilling at Chez Savory Tart this summer), but I've had a bottle of Stubb's Bar-B-Q Sauce malingering on the fridge door since May and was fairly sick of seeing it. I soaked the chicken breasts overnight, even though I know that longer soaking probably doesn't make a difference. Longer soaking is more convenient, though. I don't fancy the idea of handling raw meat first thing in the morning so I do it the night before and then the meat is ready to cook as soon as I come home from work.

Cucumbers and tomatoes are my go-to summer side. This time I chopped them and tossed them with Cindy's Kitchen Buttermilk Ranch and a few grinds of Boxed Goodes' Allium Salt.


I Wield The Barbecue Tongs

It seems like grilling is generally seen as a very masculine thing, but The Husband didn't grow up with grilling as any kind of male cultural or culinary marker and, after years of inflicting the grill upon my love, I've begun grilling everything myself. Really, what was I thinking all those years thrusting a completely shite gender norm upon him? Stick him in front of the grill with a plate of raw marinated chicken and he'll just magically know what to do because of two X chromosomes and long-term exposure to American sitcoms?

Nope, nope.
But, you know, I've found I really enjoy grilling. Indeed, it is completely awesome! Preheat the grill, give the hot grates a quick scrub with the wire brushy, rub the clean(er) grates with a bit of canola oil, slap the meat on, set the timer, go away and make salad, come back, flip the meat, set the timer again, go away and work on the salad some more, come back, etc until all raw ingredients have become food. There's just something incredibly satisfying about it all.


Maplelicious Chops With Chard

These chops soaked overnight in a marinade is based on a recipe I found in a recent issue of Taste of Home. I wasn't smart enough to copy down the recipe (or take a snap with my phone), but I remembered it was a simple mix of equal parts maple syrup and balsamic vinegar plus some salt and pepper. I used four tablespoons each maple syrup and fig balsamic vinegar plus one teaspoon sea salt and a half teaspoon sriracha. I used four thick six-ounce chops and they took about twenty minutes to grill, flipping twice -- first at eight minutes and then at sixteen minutes.

I had forgotten to hold back any marinade to baste the chops as they grilled, but still found the flavor to be quite good -- a little sweet, a little spicy, and plenty porky. As per the marinating tips at, I had scored one side of the chops in a crisscross pattern before plopping them in the marinade and I do think that helped. The cuts increase the chops' surface area and help the marinade penetrate deeper into the tissue.

Apparently, I don't own any plain balsamic vinegar and it was toss up between the fig and blackberry. (I actually own four bottles of flavored balsamic vinegars, but neither the peach nor the coconut white balsamic seemed remotely appropriate). Fig won the toss, but I'll definitely try this marinade again with the blackberry balsamic, holding back some of the marinade to baste the scored chops!

The chard was simple. Just heat a little broth, onion, and garlic in a pan until the alliums are fragrant. Add as much cleaned chopped chard to your pan as will fit and cook it, stirring regularly, until wilted. Toss with your balsamic vinegar of choice (fig, again) and a little sriracha. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Eat. My intention was to make enough chard to have leftovers to take to work ... but I gobbled it all up with the chops, instead. Good thing the garden is full of chard!


My First Oven-Barbecued Ribs

Oven Barbecued Ribs

For a first attempt at oven-barbecued ribs, these were pretty good. Not the ribs of my dreams, but then the ribs of my dreams are no longer available to me as my favorite ribs place couldn't weather the new economy. So, yes, there's a good reason to figure out how to make decent ribs at home.

I'd originally considered doing these in the slower cooker -- giving them a good rub, stacking them around the edges of the insert, and cooking them for about 10 hours on low, then slathering them with a smoky sauce and broiling them until beautiful. And, you know, I think that method would work as the fat and chewy bits should render out and tenderize into something fine.

But I decided to try the oven first. Because I like to second guess myself.

After peeling the skin of the ribs (harder than the Internetz had given me to believe), I cut the ribs into two-rib sections. Then I rubbed the ribs all over with an ancho chile seasoning blend and let them sit, covered, overnight in the fridge.

Thirty minutes before I planned to cook them, I took the ribs out of the fridge and let them sit on the kitchen side so they could warm up a bit.

Meanwhile, I doctored store-bought barbecue sauce with a little liquid smoke and sriracha. I also preheated the oven to 325°F.

I lined a jellyroll pan with foil, laid the ribs on top, brushed them with sauce, flipped them over, and brushed the other side. Then I covered the pan with another sheet of foil and put the ribs in the oven to bake for two hours.

After two hours, I uncovered the ribs, brushed them with more sauce, and broiled them for about ten minutes.

The ribs were good, but still a bit fatty and chewy in spots where the slow and low oven had not worked its magic. Longer time in the oven next time? Or straight to the slow cooker? Or, maybe, I just need to find a new favorite rib place?


Polish-Mexican Hot Dogs By Way of Martha Stewart

There's a really nice Polish market in New Britain called The Roly-Poly Bakery and, nearly every time we visit, we leave with a car filled with semolina pudding, chocolates, pickles, and sausages. Our latest trip was no different and we came home with three kinds of sausage -- Bacik kielbaski pyszne (label says "barbecue sausages" but Google Translate says "beautiful sausages" and they certainly are that) and parowki cieleco wieprzowe (veal and pork wieners), as well as Pulaski kielbasy links.

Sunday Dinner
Salatka jarzynowa with pan-fried Pulaski kielbasy links & cucumber salad.

Martha Stewart has a recipe for "Mexican Charred-Corn Dog" I've been eyeing for a while and as the purchase of the wieners meant I finally had all the ingredients on hand, I decided to give the recipe Friday when it was too wet to garden and I could not be bothered with house work. Why wash dishes when I could simply dirty more?

Polish-Mexican Hot Dogs By Way of Martha Stewart

I admit I cheated a bit with this recipe -- I used feta instead of Cotija and heated up some of Trader Joe's frozen fire-roasted sweet corn rather than browning fresh corn. Despite my cheats, we really enjoyed these dogs and I will definitely make this recipe again. With Cotija and fresh corn (when it's in season here, of course).

Mayonnaise on a hot dog may sound a bit weird, but it works well when you take all the other ingredients into account. We'd picked up a small jar of Hellmann's Babunu majonez at Roly Poly and it's much more like Heinz salad cream than mayonnaise. I find I like it a great deal and, while it won't replace the light Hellmann's already in our fridge, it's a good addition and I bet it would work well in a cold lobster roll or salatka jarzynowa. Certainly, it paired very nicely with the lime juice in Stewart's recipe.

Polish-Mexican Hot Dogs By Way of Martha Stewart


Huzzah, The First Grilled Steak of 2014

Weeknight Steak

I've been doing a bit of a freezer challenge and had thawed a bunch of meat, including a very nice piece of grass-fed steak. As the weather hasn't been so unseasonably hot and humid this week, I chose to grill the steak after marinating it overnight in barbecue sauce. I was surprised by how well it came out -- tender, juicy, perfect. Clearly, the old adage about practice and perfection is true.

We ate the steak with garlicky green beans (steamed green beans tossed with salt, pepper, a drizzle of garlic oil) and a Knorr Pasta Side I doctored by adding shredded carrot, frozen peas, and frozen corn to the cooking pasta.


Balsamic Chicken & Peppers

I bought an enormous bag of adorable mini peppers a few weeks ago to enjoy with hummus, but no matter how many peppers I ate, there were always more. So I gave up and stuffed the peppers in the bottom of the crisper drawer ... to be forgotten until this weekend, when a new batch of produce meant the peppers had to go. And go they did, right into my tummy.

Balsamic Chicken & Peppers

There's no real recipe for this dish -- slice a bunch of peppers and onions very thinly, toss with balsamic vinaigrette, and cook low and slow until the onions are caramelized and the onions are very tender. Serve with grilled chicken breasts (pounded flattish and marinated overnight in balsamic vinaigrette) and something creamy and starchy (Knorr "scampi" noodle packet, because I'm not proud).

Reheated leftover balsamic peppers were quite good on a roast beef sandwich.