Real life at Glover Gardens has been a little too busy for the Glover Gardens blog to be active for the past week or two…but I’m revving up for a revival.
I “catered” a friend’s 50th birthday party in the Texas Hill Country this weekend, spending a couple of very enjoyable days chopping, roasting, marinating, baking and garnishing. And hanging out with cool people in a lovely setting.
Crudités with Caramelized Onion Dip, Cheddar-Bacon Spread and Assorted Crackers
A mac and cheese selection: Lobster and Jalapeno Sausage
Zippy Pork Tenderloin with French Bread and Chimichurri Sauce
Basil and Mint Shrimp
Spicy Marinated Mushrooms
Peppercorn Beef Sausage
It was fun! I’ll share some of the recipes with you over the next few weeks, because this is a pretty good fall party menu. A couple of these dishes are going into the regular Glover Gardens rotation. And there was a bonus: the Grill-Meister found and executed a terrific cake called Bailey’s Chocolate Poke Cake. He says he’ll make it again, so you can expect to see it, too.
I like to live on the edge and tried a new recipe or two, including a sangria. I sent the birthday boy’s wife this story from Food & Wine and asked her to pick one. She picked a winner! Any time I get to use star anise, cloves, cinnamon sticks and whole allspice berries, I’m happy.
The Rosé Sangria with Cranberries and Apples was a hit. There was a teensy bit left, and I made it the star of a still life when we got home this afternoon. This spicy-sweet sangria will be on the menu over the holidays here at Glover Gardens. I jazzed it up a little bit and will tell you all about it the next it I make it.
Tender, succulent bites pack a one-two flavor punch of spicy-sweet and an aroma redolent of the Caribbean – this dish is a keeper. Serve with grilled pineapple and black bean-studded cilantro rice.
For the Labor Day holiday meal this year, the Grill-Meister requested “that jerk chicken thing you used to make – it’s been too long”. Good call! I have a favorite jerk chicken recipe that I’ve modified over a dozen years, scribbled on papers dotted with ingredient stains. It’s time to get it into the Glover Gardens cookbook for posterity and family “remakability”.
The recipe was from Bon Appétit in May of 2006, a Special Collector’s Edition called 321 Reasons to Love the Caribbean. I knew when I opened the fat, shiny issue just out of the mailbox and read the Jamaican Jerk Chicken recipe that it would be a taste-bud pleaser. I had a new boyfriend to try it out on, he who would eventually propose marriage and become the Grill-Meister in these pages. It’s just possible that this recipe figured into the proposal…
The original recipe is really good, but per usual, we’ve made it our own, tweaking ingredients here and there, switching from chicken to game hens, using the rotisserie rather than direct grilling. The jerk flavors are very versatile and the sauce and marinade work well not only with various poultry selections but with other cuts of meat on the grill: think jerk pork tenderloin or chops, jerk sirloin shish-kabob, jerk turkey burgers, slow-cooked jerk ribs. Eggplant, tofu, zucchini steaks or portobello mushrooms would hold up well for a vegetarian version. And don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you; the marinade comes together quickly, and the payoff is big.
Spicy Jerk Game Hens
4 Cornish game hens, rinsed, patted dry
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (juice from about 4 limes)
1/4 cup rum
1/8 cup water
3/4 cup malt vinegar
10-12 green onions, chopped in 1-inch lengths (white and green parts)
6 garlic cloves, peeled, chopped
3 tablespoons dried thyme
2 Scotch bonnet chiles or habanero chiles with seeds, chopped, or your choice of chiles based on your heat tolerance
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons ground allspice
2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/2 cup reserved marinade
1 cup tomato sauce
1 tablespoon malt vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
Arrange game hens in a large baking dish. Pour lime juice over and inside of each hen, turning to coat.
Make the marinade. Boil the rum and water in a small saucepan for 3 minutes and set aside to cool. Put the vinegar, rum mixture and the rest of the marinade ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree. The mixture will be slightly grainy. Transfer 1/2 cup of the jerk marinade mixture to a small bowl and set aside.
Spoon jerk marinade over the game hens, making sure to get some in the cavities. Cover and refrigerate at least four hours or overnight. Turn occasionally to ensure even distribution of the spicy goodness.
Make the sauce by combining all of the ingredients in a small saucepan, bringing to a boil over high heat and the reducing the heat slightly. Simmer for 3-5 minutes until slightly thickened. Let cool, cover and refrigerate until it’s time to grill.
Remove the hens and sauce from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving. Preheat the grill and rotisserie burner to medium-high and add the hens to the rotisserie. Put an old cookie sheet on the grill to catch drips and prevent flare-ups. Use a meat thermometer to get the hens done to your preferred temperature, checking after about 30 minutes. Brush a little sauce on the hens for the last 5 minutes of rotisserie grilling to get a nice char.
Remove the hens from the grill rotisserie and tent with foil to keep warm while you assemble the plates.
Serve with the remaining sauce on the side.
And get ready for the compliments.
Other cooking methods: The hens can be cooked directly on the grill, turning occasionally to ensure that they cook evenly. Or bake in the oven at 350° for about 40 minutes (or until done to your liking), basting in the last 5 minutes and potentially broiling a moment or two at end for crispy skin.
Other poultry: the original recipe calls for 2 3-pound chickens, but when using chicken, we prefer legs (with the thigh and drumstick), or just thighs. Substitute five pounds of chicken for the four game hens, and cook on the grill or in the oven.
“Doneness”: the recommended inner temperature for poultry is 165°, but the temperature will continue to rise after meat is removed from the heat source. The Grill-Meister takes poultry off the grill before it gets to 165° and always lets the meat rest in a foil tent for about five to ten minutes.
About the chiles: use your judgment. Going with the recommended two habaneros or scotch bonnets packs a good wallop. We like it spicy here at Glover Gardens, so I usually throw a few different chiles in. For the most recent, perfectly hot but not quite incendiary version of this dish, I used one habanero, one serrano, one hot long red chile, and eight tiny but very hot chile pequins. If you don’t like spice much at all, just use a couple of jalapeños and call it done.
Here’s a link to the original recipe from Bon Appétit (now in Epicurious): Jamaican Jerk Chicken. If you visit, you’ll see rave reviews, but also quite a few comments about how the recipe was confusing: many folks accidentally combined the sauce ingredients with the marinade. Hopefully, the Glover Gardens version makes it a little more straightforward. You’ll also note comments about the amount of catsup in the sauce. For the Glover Gardens version, catsup is eliminated altogether in favor of tomato sauce, malt vinegar and honey instead. Spices were adjusted slightly, and dry mustard was added for just a bit more variety in the “kick”.
Kitchen shears do the job
Precision cutting with kitchen shears
We made the Spicy Jerk Game Hens last night instead of waiting until Labor Day, to enjoy the leftovers all weekend. Looking around for a second side dish to compliment the spicy-sweet jerk flavors, I visited one of my favorite blogs, the Pleasant Peasant. Sure enough, there was a post about Cilantro/Lime/Jalapeño Rice With Black Beans, which inspired me to make a similar dish. Greg doesn’t publish precise recipes, but includes enough detail for readers to follow his lead and add their own jazzy riffs to his flavor ideas. I didn’t capture the recipe exactly, but here’s basically what I did. (I highly recommend visiting the Pleasant Peasant to check out his rice.)
I started a batch of basic rice by sautéing red onion and garlic in a bit of oil for a few minutes and then adding a cup of rice to brown it lightly. Looking in the refrigerator, I realized I had a zucchini and diced half of it, throwing it in with the rice to brown. To add a bit of color, I added diced red bell pepper, then some salt, pepper and two cups of homemade chicken stock, bringing it to a boil. The next step was to cover tightly, reduce the heat to simmer for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, I turned off the heat and let the rice sit for about 5 more. Then I gave it a big stir.
Greg had mentioned using cumin seeds in his 2nd-day treatment of the cilantro rice, so I added some to the cooked rice, and then some more goodies. These were: a can of drained black beans, chopped jalapeño, more chopped red bell pepper and red onion, and lots of cilantro.
I stirred and tasted – needs more salt! – and then threw in some golden raisins. They made all the difference. Doesn’t it look appealing? It was a great side dish for the jerk seasoning, and the beans and zucchini ratcheted up the fiber. (I always like to sneak in extra vegetables when the Grill-Meister isn’t looking.)
The other side was in my head from the moment the Grill-Meister requested the jerk chicken for dinner: grilled pineapple.
The treatment for the pineapple, jalapeños and green onions was a pre-grill drizzle and toss with olive oil, red pepper flakes, salt and a shake of cayenne. Yum!
Happy Labor Day
Happy Labor Day to my American and Canadian friends, and to all of my international readers, why not use our holiday and “unofficial end of summer” as an excuse to grill?
On the 4th of July, I’m thinking of our beautiful country. We’re smack-dab in the middle of some gorgeous countryside here at Little House in the Rockies. Just off the western edge of Pike National Forest in Colorado, Little House in the Rockies is surrounded by mountains.
It brings to mind America the Beautiful. The song. The poem.
Originally titled “Pike’s Peak,” Katherine Lee Bates wrote the poem in 1893 during a visit to Colorado. She was inspired by the beauty of the country, having traveled by train from the northeast across the plains to Colorado Springs. It was published a couple of years later to commemorate the 4th of July, and later set to music by Samuel A. Ward. I love the first stanza:
O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountain majesties Above the fruited plain! America! America! God shed His grace on thee, And crown thy good with brotherhood From sea to shining sea!
More than a century later, this is still inspiring country. I took this photo on Monday during a picnic in Pike National Forest. I didn’t realize until I looked at it on the computer later that there is a tinge of purple in the mountain range. Purple mountain majesties.
There’s a recent poll that says Americans are less patriotic than we used to be. Maybe so, maybe not. It depends on how you define patriotism (in my humble opinion). My patriotism today is focused on our beautiful country, the way that it was portrayed in that famous poem from so long ago.
Are we doing enough to take care of it?
I don’t think so.
Fires and pollution and global warming are taking their toll.
Will it be America the Beautiful in 50 years?
It depends. On us.
We need to do more.
I need to do more.
I will do more. In my own little way. Here in Glover Gardens with my words and conversations with all of you, and by joining the Palmer Land Trust. And by reducing my carbon footprint and the waste I produce. And most importantly, by voting for candidates who will make choices that preserve our environment rather than pillaging it.
I want it to be America the Beautiful forever. For my kids, and yours.
As the weather gets hotter, we do more and more grilling here at Glover Gardens. I’m really happy with the on-the-grill recipe I’m sharing with you today, a citrusy and piquant take on the ever-moist chicken thigh. It’s the product of a decades-long subscription to Bon Appétit. That venerable magazine and I have been friends for a long, long time.
In August of 2007, the Tequila-Glazed Chicken with Jalapeño recipe caught my fancy. I made it for years, adjusting this and that, playing with the spices, making it hotter, making it mine. Yum!
Then Bon Appétit’s 2013 recipe for Citrus-Marinated Chicken Thighs came out, looking like it was from another page of the same playbook. Of course it was also delicious.
The methods were different, though. The first recipe benefits from a dry rub for a few hours and then gets a glaze on the grill, and the second soaks in an “aggressively seasoned” marinade before being broiled.
But I wanted it all – the seasonings, the marinade, and the glaze. The best of both. So I played around with the ingredients and the concepts, and here’s the result. I think you’ll like it. There’s a long list of ingredients, but this is a really easy recipe.
Oh, and since the grill is already hot, sometimes I like to go one step further and throw on some pineapple and peppers for an easy side dish. I’ve included the instructions for that, too.
Citrus and Tequila-Glazed Chicken Thighs
1 bunch cilantro, long/leafless part of stems removed (about 1 1/2 cups, loosely packed)
5-6 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
1 serrano pepper, stem removed, cut in half and seeded
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tbsp coarse sea salt
2 cups juice: a combination of orange, pineapple, lemon or lime – I primarily use orange and pineapple
1/2 cup tequila (omit if you don’t cook with liquor and increase the juice)
1/4 cup olive oil
4-5 lbs. of chicken thighs, skin on
1/2 cup honey
1/2 tsp cayenne
Optional garnishes: cilantro, sliced jalapeños, sliced green onions
Combine the cilantro, garlic and serrano pepper in a food processor and process until they are finely ground. Add the cumin, nutmeg, red pepper flakes and sea salt and pulse again until combined. Pour in the juice, tequila and olive oil and mix again until blended.
Reserve and refrigerate 1 cup of the marinade, which will be used for the glaze later, or 1 1/2 cups if you’re planning to make the grilled pineapple and peppers side dish. Split the chicken thighs between two large food-safe resealable bags and distribute the remaining marinade on the chicken. Squeeze the air out of the bags and seal them, turning to ensure that the marinade covers all of the chicken pieces. Place in the refrigerator and marinate for 2-6 hours, turning the bags at least once.
Prepare the glaze by combining the honey and cayenne with 1 cup of the reserved marinade mixture in a small nonstick saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir and lower the heat to medium-high, keeping the glaze at a simmer until it thickens (about 5-7 minutes).
Remove the chicken from the marinade and place in a dish or cookie sheet. Preheat the grill to medium-high. Place the chicken on the grill and cook for about ten minutes, then turn and brush with the glaze on the cooked side. Turn again and add glaze to the first side. Continue grilling until the chicken is done to your liking, about 165° in the thickest part. Remove to a clean platter and either spoon on the reserved glaze, or serve it separately. Throw on the optional garnishes and serve.
Grilled Pineapple and Peppers
A mixture of sliced pineapple and bell and/or poblano peppers
1/2 cup reserved marinade
When you’re ready to grill the chicken, arrange the pineapple and peppers in a pie plate and drizzle with the marinade. Grill them after you cook the chicken until you have a nice char on each side. Serve with the chicken.
True Confessions: I’m always looking for ways to get the Grill-Meister to eat more vegetables. I like the challenge.
The latest effort was this salad with grilled vegetables and fresh mozzarella “pearls” on a bed of romaine, tossed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a surprise ingredient – golden raisins. It got the Grill-Meister’s Seal of Approval, a certification that is quite difficult to attain when vegetables are involved!
Here’s how to do it.
Grilled Vegetable Salad with Mozzarella and Golden Raisins
Makes 6-8 servings as a side dish, 4 as a vegetarian main course
1 fresh zucchini, sliced in 1/2 inch rounds
1 fresh yellow squash, sliced in 1/2 inch rounds
1 red bell pepper, sliced longways, in about 1 1/2 inch widths
1/2 medium red onion, sliced in 1/2 inch rounds and separated
Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to high heat. Toss the vegetables in a medium bowl with 1 TBSP of the olive oil, then grill for 3-4 minutes per side until the vegetables have nice grill marks but are still nicely al dente. Return the vegetables to the bowl and toss the with the remaining tbsp of olive oil, the balsamic vinegar, garlic and golden raisins. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and let the vegetables rest until they are room temperature, then add in the mozzarella pearls.
Distribute the romaine across an attractive serving platter, then place the grilled vegetable / mozzarella mixture on top. Add a little more pepper and garnish with the green onions and parsley.
The Grill-Meister was amazed that he liked this, and especially amazed that it would be good at room temperature (he was expecting the grilled vegetables to be served hot as per usual). The sweetness of the golden raisins and the balsamic vinegar are a perfect foil for the earthiness of the grilled vegetables and garlic, and the crunch of the romaine alongside the creamy mozzarella pearls provides a nice textural balance. This dish is a easy stunner.
And one more thing: you can dress it up to be a main course by adding slices of grilled chicken, or if you’re going vegetarian, slices of grilled tofu or portobello mushrooms.
The Kentucky Derby is today. It seems to always coincide with the last weekend of the New Orleans Jazz Festival, which seems to always be the weekend that we choose to go. I’ve seen the annual “Run for the Roses” on a bar TV in New Orleans more times than I can remember, usually from Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House. Even though the traditional Kentucky Derby cocktail is the mint julep, the libation of choice for the Grill-Meister and me is the Bourbon Milk Punch. It is lusciously, sinfully rich – a milkshake for grownups.
This year, we’re not at the Jazz Fest and we won’t be enjoying a cool, creamy Bourbon Milk Punch while watching the Kentucky Derby, but these things remain on our Replay List to enjoy again in the future. Read more about it and get the recipe for Bourbon Milk Punch here – and remember, one is enough!
We had a lotta leftover steak recently, because we tried this recipe from the Food Network’s show, The Kitchen. It involves huge porterhouse steaks, a cast iron skillet, and a unique method. Our foodie-senses were intrigued when we saw this, and we just had to make it.
It was good, but more work – and more food – than we anticipated. The instructions called for porterhouse steaks that were 2″ – 2 1/2″ thick, so of course I went for the thickest (wouldn’t you?). The butcher thought I was crazy. Turns out, he was right! And in looking at the picture above from the Food Network, there’s no way that’s a 2″ steak or bigger.
I gave up the idea of getting photos mid-recipe because it was a bit overwhelming; just suffice it to say that we had steak for days. Steak salad, steak quesadillas, steak burritos, steak tostadas and steak sandwiches. (Did I say it was a lotta steak?)
Well, Gentle Reader, in this Steak Week Odyssey, the steak sandwich was the best. Sautéed onions and jalapeños enhanced the flavor of the steak, and we dressed the sandwiches with ripe red tomato, fresh mint from our herb garden, and shreds of crisp raw cabbage, serving them on onion rolls. Double-Yum!Creating this Steak Sandwich for 2 recipe more than made up for the somewhat disappointing experience of the original steak dinner.
Steak Sandwiches for Two
3/4 lb. of leftover steak, cut in very thin slices
1 medium onion, sliced (I used part red and part yellow)
2 fresh jalapeños, sliced (leaving in the ribs and seeds for the heat unless that doesn’t work for you)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 ripe tomato, sliced
1/4 cup shredded raw cabbage
1 tbsp fresh mint, sliced in ribbons
salt and pepper to taste
2 onion rolls
optional condiments of your choice – I used stone ground mustard
In a medium skillet, sauté the sliced onions and jalapeños in the olive oil over medium high heat until they are soft. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. Heat the steak briefly to warm it without overcooking it; the microwave is fine for this. Try 1-2 minutes on half power. Assemble the sandwiches on warm onion rolls or other buns of your choice by starting with the steak on the bottom, adding freshly ground pepper, then the sautéed onions and jalapeños, then the tomatoes, cabbage and mint.
This sandwich was delightfully easy, with a very sophisticated taste. The crunch of the fresh cabbage and brightness of the mint were the perfect compliment to the juicy earthiness of the onions and steak. Pair it with potato salad and a quick black bean salad for an easy weeknight meal whenever you’re wondering what to do with leftover steak from the weekend’s barbecuing. Here’s a recipe for the black bean salad.