Recipes and Me

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Grilled Corn with Crazy Good Toppings

Where did summer go?  I feel like I’m always asking myself that question come mid-August when, even though still hot, the air starts to change, premature Halloween decorations show up at grocery stores, and fall fashion starts to take the lead.  It always passes too quickly for me because there are always so many great things to fill the season with, from free music concerts, to laid back BBQs that make you drool at 10:00am, knowing you’ll be eating something really fantastic by that afternoon, and simple seasonal recipes that are so easy to prepare yet full of phenomenal flavor.  I love cooking and baking all times of the year so it’s hard to pick a time or a season that I would call “favorite” but I will say, I love cooking in the summer!  The seasonal produce is so colorful and plentiful and the options really are endless, from simply grilled fruits, vegetables and meats, to freshly blended herb sauces and fruit smoothies.  So as we begin to feel the beginning of the end of summer, I’ve decided to pay tribute to the season once again with one more fabulous grill recipe that is easy, fun, beautiful, and always a great showstopper for friends and family.

Grilled Corn with Crazy Good Toppings
4 servings

4 fresh ears of corn (get them from the farmer’s market if you can)

And for…

Version 1: Grilled Corn with Butter and Old Bay
I’ve been making this version for years. When you spend years on the East Coast…
*1/4 cup Butter (I’ll be honest, I’ve never really measured the butter I put on the corn – just slather it on there so all of the corn is covered and you’ll be fine)
*2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning (or more if you’re an Old Bay fan, like me!)

Version 2: Grilled Corn with Mayo, Parmesan, and Parsley (a la Utah)
I learned this version while on vacation in Utah, never would have thought of mayo
*1/4 cup Mayonnaise- 1 Tbsp per ear (trust me – it’s good like you wouldn’t believe)
*4 teaspoons finely grated Parmesan
*1 small bunch of finely chopped Parsley

Version 3: Grilled Corn with Cotija Cheese and Lime
The favorite in my house!
*2 limes, freshly squeezed over the corn
*1/4 cup Cotija Cheese
*2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro (optional)

Soak the corn, husks on, for about 20 minutes in a large dish.  Meanwhile heat your grill to high heat, about 500 degrees Fahrenheit.  Once the grill is ready place the ears of corn, still in their husks, over direct heat on the grill.  Grill the corn for 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes or so to ensure all sides of the corn are evenly grilled.  Remove the corn and let it sit for a few minutes to cool before trying to handle it.  Pull back the husks (you might want a trash can nearby) to expose the corn.  Sometimes I remove the husks but most times I leave it on because I love the rustic look of it.  You can tie the husks back with small twist ties or rubber bands.  It makes a fun handle for people to hold their corn.  Go with whatever topping version you like.  It’s not complicated so don’t go crazy with exact measuring.  Just make sure each ear of corn is sufficiently covered with the ingredients.  Sometimes I make one topping and sometimes I make a few so friends can enjoy different flavors.  You can always grill more ears of corn and prepare a couple of topping varieties for friends to try.  Have fun with it!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Another spoonful of chimichurri for my steak please!

This is easily one of my favorite summertime recipes.  I’m constantly thinking of new twists on recipes for the grill because that’s pretty much where I stay in the summer.  Who wants to turn the oven on in the house when it’s 95 degrees outside?!

If you use a good quality steak, the flavor can be immense, and topped with this freshly made chimichurri sauce, this dish is taken to another level.  I learned a chimichurri recipe from a friend years ago and I was blown away by how simple but delicious it was. I’ve tinkered with it over the years and I still do sometimes if I want to try incorporating a different herb or a bit more heat.  Don’t be shy about adding or subtracting something to make it suit your taste.  I love the addition of cilantro but some may leave that out.  I’ve also added red bell pepper before and it was very tasty.  The key thing is to make this sauce fresh.  Store bought varieties, sitting preserved on the shelf, really can't compare.  

This dish is extremely quick to pull together and yet it definitely qualifies as a showpiece if you’re having friends over for a relaxed dinner on the patio.  I love serving this with other rustically grilled vegetables, like an array of whole peppers and potatoes that I toss in garden fresh herbs like chives and parsley after they come off of the grill.  I feel like this meal is the epitome of summer al fresco eating.  Take advantage, summer passes us too quickly!

Grilled Flank Steak with Chimichurri Sauce
4 servings

2 lbs flank steak (will probably need to buy 2 or 3 pieces)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

For Chimichurri:
1 bunch of flat leaf parsley, chopped
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
5 cloves of garlic, minced
¾ - 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ lemon, juiced
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat your grill to high heat (about 500 degrees fahrenheit on a gas grill).  Meanwhile prepare the steak. I usually place it in a large glass dish, drizzle the olive oil on both sides and then massage with my hands to make sure all of the steak is lightly coated with the oil.  Then sprinkle it with the salt and pepper.  Grill the steak over direct heat for 3-4 minutes per side (depending on the thickness of your steak).  This will give you a nice medium rare and as it rests it will cook through just a little more.  Remove the steak and cover with foil.  Set it aside to rest for 5 minutes. 

While the steak is resting, prepare the chimichurri.  Put the chopped parsley, chopped cilantro, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano, and salt into a food processor (you’ll need more than one of those “mini-prep” processors for this).  Juice ½ of a lemon, minus seeds (!), into the processor.  Pulse the processor a few times to chop the ingredients a bit more and to get them mixed together.  Through the processor’s pour spout, slowly pour in the red wine vinegar as you hold the chop setting on your processor.  Do the same thing with the olive oil until you have a consistency you are happy with, for some people this may be ¾ cup olive oil and for some it may be the thinner consistency preferred, using the entire 1 cup of olive oil. Taste and make any adjustments if necessary (a bit more heat, more salt,etc.).

Cut the steak thinly across the grain of the meat.  Pour the chimichurri sauce over the steak and enjoy!