Wednesday, June 18, 2014

How to Make Your Own Temporary Brick Grill

Whenever I post a video involving my grill – a common occurrence this time of year – I get a bunch of emails asking what kind of grill I’m using, and the reply is always the same. It’s a charcoal-version of the Weber “Q,” and you can’t buy one because they stopped making them. Sorry, but I think I have an idea.

With just a few dollars worth of bricks, and a cast iron grate, you can reproduce the same basic grill I’m using. Besides, yours is going to look a hell of a lot cooler, and you can tell your hipster friends it was made from “reclaimed bricks.” Just be sure to use plain clay bricks. You certainly don’t want anything that’s been treated with chemicals and/or will explode. If you get these at a home improvement store, be sure to ask the guy. In fact, ask that guy’s boss.

As far as the grate goes, if you want to splurge, order the porcelain-coated, cast iron versions that the major brands use. They all sell replacement grates, but just about anything will work, since you can change your brick layout to make it fit. If you want to save a few bucks, check the online auctions, as well as outdoorsy stores, and flea markets.

Besides working beautifully, it’s temporary state is perfect for people who only grill two or three times a summer. Just set it this up in some back corner of the yard, and break it down when the weather turns. I hope you give this fun DIY project a try soon. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Apparently you don't want the ash from charcoal briquettes in your garden. However, the ash from natural wood charcoal is desirable, so there you go.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Phil Nails the Skewer Genome

A viewer named Phil shared this with me today. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thanks, Phil!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Spinach & Leek Torta di Riso – Open Recipe, Insert Vegetables

I made this delicious and rustic torta di riso with fresh spinach and leeks, but the recipe is a perfect catchall for those abundant summer vegetables. Things like eggplant, peppers, beans, and squash will all work beautifully. Just cut them kind of small, cook them tender, and let the rice, cheese, and eggs do the rest.

I also encourage the use of other cheeses with, or instead of the Parmigiano-Reggiano seen herein. Fontina would be a great choice, as would almost any other melty variety. You can also double the recipe and use a taller spring form pan, which will give you a taller and more authentic looking torta.

Speaking of authentic, this isn’t. Whether sweet or savory, these are usually done with some kind of crust, which I generally skip. It’s not like it’s bad with a crust, but it adds another step, and for me the payoff isn’t worth the extra time, work, and calories.

So, whether you’re making this to use up leftover rice and/or vegetable; or your playing the old “we’re having pie for dinner!” prank on your family, I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 6 portions:
1 tbsp olive oil, plus more as needed
3 cups chopped leeks (2 large leeks, about 1 cup sautéed)
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cooked rice
1 1/2 cups finely chopped cooked spinach, squeezed very dry
2 large eggs, beaten
3/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, or other delicious cheese, plus more to dust pan and top
1 generous teaspoon fine salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
pinch cayenne
pinch nutmeg
- 350 degrees F. for 35 - 40 minutes

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Grilled Sausage-Stuffed Calamari – Squid Pro Quo

I usually go out of my way to simplify the recipes we post here, but for some things, like this Spanish-inspired, sausage-stuffed calamari recipe, there just are no acceptable shortcuts to take. However, your efforts will be rewarded with something that tastes every bit the effort it took to make…as long as they don’t explode in your face.

If you overstuff these, like I do every single time, they can burst open, sometimes violently. As you’ll see, the final results will still look great, and you do get to sneak a few tastes of the stuffing as you grill. So, be careful not to fill these too much, and/or wear your sunglasses while grilling these beauties.

As far as grilling time goes, you really should use a thermometer, and cook until you have an internal temp of 155 F. Especially since you’ll have squid of various sizes on the grill at the same time. If that’s not an option, look for when the juices and fat from the sausage starts bubbling out.

I was so hungry when I finally finished this batch I forgot to serve these with lemon wedges, which adds a nice, bright note to the smoky, spicy meat. A few platters of these, some ice cold beer (provided by friends you just taught what quid pro quo means), and you’re basically summering in Spain. I hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for 16 to 18 stuffed squid:
1 1/2 pounds cleaned calamari (tell the fish guy to give you mostly tubes)
For the stuffing:
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced red pepper
salt and pepper to taste
6 oz Italian or other spicy, garlicky sausage
1 large egg
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/8 tsp smoked paprika
4 ounces chopped tentacles (grilled the rest separately and eat!)
- serve with lemon wedges
*Note: grill these over a medium-hot coals, or close your cover to keep the heat down

Next Up: Grilled Stuffed Calamari