Terry and I both enjoy The Kitchen on Food Network and watch it regularly. During the pandemic the hosts initially shot their segments from home, but they eventually returned to the studio. When they did so they maintained social distancing, and Sunny Anderson regularly took up duty outside on the patio. (Apparently Sunny likes it outside. When the hosts were doing the show from home we saw in inside of everyone’s house except for Sunny’s. She was always outside preparing dishes that could be cooked on a grill.)
One week (back in the studio) Sunny was preparing a shrimp dish on the grill. She wanted a way to make sure she didn’t lose any shrimp when she turned them over. So she put the shrimp between two wire racks which she secured with thin wire off a roll from the hardware store. That struck me as rather kludgy and Terry asked why she didn’t just use a grill basket. And what was odd was that we never did see her turn the contraption over on camera, even after all the trouble she took to put the thing together. I suspect that an attempt to flip the homemade basket may have gone awry and been cut from the broadcast version.
That got me thinking, however, that we ought to have a basket for grilling seafood. I found exactly what we were looking for on Amazon. Our plan for its first use to be with shrimp didn’t work out, but I tried it out on the grill with some cod and it worked great. I learned that the inside needs to be sprayed with some non-stick spray or the safflower oil we keep in a spray bottle, but I consider the first use a success.
Terry then used the basket for shrimp. I have to say I’m a bit disappointed with the quality of manufacturing in the basket. After simply putting it in the drawer and storing it between uses, Terry had problems moving the bracket into place to lock the basket closed. I gave the top portion a twist to the right to enable the bracket to slip into place. That was annoying.
Still. it’s a useful addition to our set of grilling tools.
I wrote a while back about how our outdoor gas grill never got used last year. This was due to a couple of factors: we had a new stove that we loved and on account of my surgery I was not allowed red meat until late August. So the grill sat there unused.
This year we decided that we would get back to grilling, but our grill was in serious need of cleaning. Due to social distancing we discontinued the services of our housekeeper, but thinking that she might appreciate the work we told her that we would pay her the regular house cleaning rate to clean the grill. However, she failed to call us on the agreed-upon day after the rain was to have ended, so Terry undertook the task of cleaning it herself. She completed the task and we’re now good to go. Given the current heat spell I think that we’ll probably give the newly-cleaned grill its first use tomorrow.
One day this summer Terry came home from Bed Bath & Beyond with a box of copper grill mats, as seen on TV. I hadn’t seen them on TV, but apparently she had. I couldn’t grouse too much as the store price was reasonable and she managed to finagle another twenty percent off.
I pulled one mat out of the box and put the other one away for later use. I was dubious at first, but after using the mat I was impressed. I’ve used it with both chicken and burgers. Everything turned out great. The claim “perfect grill marks every time” was inaccurate, but the food tasted marvelous and I didn’t have to scrape the grill, which goes for a lot. Perhaps the Grill Daddy will be retired.
The pièce de résistance was when I made pizza. Marvelous!
We’re making the grill mat an integral part of our grilling repertoire.
We’ve been serious about grilling this summer. One of the dishes for grilling that I’ve seen but which I had been hesitant to try was pizza. That was until Terry brought home a package of copper grill mats. (More about those another time.) After using the grill mat with chicken and hamburgers I was ready to try pizza.
I had a couple of grilled pizza recipes in my database, but nothing that really inspired me. So I went off on my own.
We don’t have a Trader Joe’s near us, but there is one in the retail metropolis of Temecula thirty minutes to the south. Terry was headed there to visit Barnes & Noble so I asked her to stop at TJ’s for their fresh pizza dough. Locally I bought mushrooms, sausage from the service meat department, sliced provolone, and Cento pizza sauce. We had a can of olives in the pantry. There were two small ripe tomatoes in our container garden.
I put everything together and put it on the preheated grill. I gave it about twelve minutes.
The result surpassed my expectations. I really left it on too long as the bottom of the crust was charred, but that only minimally interfered with our enjoyment of the pizza.
The next time I’ll give it eight minutes or so and it will be ideal.
One of the Food Network programs that I have set up for series recoding is Valerie’s Home Cooking. If you remember Valerie Bertinelli from One Day at a Time, which ran from 1975 to 1984, she is every bit as cute and charming today as she was back then. A much younger me had quite the crush on Valerie, or at least her character Barbara Cooper. The me of today loves watching Valerie share her cooking skills and learning new recipes from her.
One recipe that she demonstrated was Grilled Shrimp Skewers with Romesco Sauce. I saved the recipe to my database and tried it on a recent Saturday. The Romesco sauce comes from the Catalonia area of Spain and is based on roasted red peppers. I made it generally according to Valerie’s instructions, although I used pine nuts instead of almonds since I had pine nuts on hand and no almonds. I tossed the shrimp as directed and grilled them on our outdoor gas grill. I served a garlic-butter rice mix on the side.
The Romesco sauce made the meal. It was absolutely delicious. Terry gave it her highest praise, which is “We can make this again.”
Not only that, there was plenty of sauce left over, which I later used on grilled chicken.
Shortly after we got our new gas grill Terry said that I needed to get a cover for it. I responded that I didn’t think we needed one as it was under the patio cover. She told me it was getting covered with dust. She was right. It was dusty.
I checked out Amazon. (Where else?) I found the appropriate sized grill cover for only $19.95. When it arrived I was pleased with how heavy and sturdy it was. Great value for the price.
I’m glad I got it. When I’m ready to grill the grill is nice and clean and ready to go.
This is not a very interesting picture, but having the cover makes my grilling experience so much more pleasant.
One of the things that I like about Giada’s recipes is that she is serious about the spices and seasonings. I don’t have to add anything; she has it handled.
I have had her recipe for lemon-cumin chicken in my database for a while. I tried it on a recent Saturday and it was a success. I prepared the marinade as specified and I let the chicken marinate for close to five hours. I bought the thin-sliced chicken breasts at the full-service meat counter of our local grocery store. I cooked the chicken on our outdoor gas grill.
I had never made pesto before. The task seemed daunting. I have watched enough cooking shows that I really should have gotten it that pesto isn’t that hard. But it just never sank in. This recipe called for pesto, however, so I decided to tackle it. It was really very easy and came out quite tasty. I substituted pine nuts for walnuts because that was what I had on hand. Otherwise I followed Giada’s instructions.
On the side I served Farmhouse Herb and Butter rice mix and I had our home-grown romaine lettuce with my homemade vinaigrette blend.
It was a dinner that worked out very well.