Grilled Vegetable Vinaigrette
1 medium fennel bulb, outer layer, stalks and fronds removed, root end trimmed of brown bits
1 small red onion (about1/4 pound), cut into 1/2-inch thick rounds
1 small head radicchio (outermost leaves removed, bottom trimmed of brown bits, quartered lengthwise) and cut into 1/2-inch thick wedges
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 teaspoon Maldon or another flaky sea salt
1 small garlic clove, very finely chopped
A five-finger pinch of fresh mint leaves
A five-finger pinch of fresh marjoram leaves
Makes 2 cups.
Halve the fennel bulb lengthwise and cut each halfway through the root nub (so the wedges stay intact) into about 1-inch-thick wedges.
Heat a grill or heavy grill pan over high heat until it’s good and hot, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add fennel, onion and radicchio. Cook, turning vegetables over occasionally, until fennel and onion are lightly charred in spots and cooked through, but still have a little bite, about 20 minutes. The radicchio is done when the stems are tender but still have a little bite, the leaves are wilty, the tips crackly, about 15 to 20 minutes.
As they finish, pop the grilled vegetables into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap until they’ve cooled fully. They’ll steam a bit and cook some more as they cool. Once they’ve all cooled, chop the vegetables into a mix of about 1/2-inch pieces, some smaller and some larger.
Pop the vegetables back into the bowl, add the oil, vinegar, salt and garlic, and stir really well. Toss the mint and marjoram together on a cutting board, give them a rough chop and stir them into the dressing.
Note: This is a chunky dressing that makes each bite of a salad taste different. The dressing is also good spooned over a steak and sprinkled with crumbled blue cheese, or dolloped onto a lamb chop with some feta.
Grilled Red and Savoy Cabbage with Roquefort and Celery Seed Dressing
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small head red cabbage, quartered lengthwise
1 small head savoy cabbage, quartered lengthwise
Olive oil for brushing
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper
8 ounces Roquefort cheese, crumbled
For the Celery Seed Dressing: In a bowl, combine the vegetable oil, vinegar, sugar, celery seeds, salt, pepper, mustard and garlic; whisk to blend. Set aside.
For the vegetables: Prepare a medium-hot fire in your grill. Brush the cut sides of the cabbages with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Grill on the cut sides of the cabbage, turning once, until browned with good grill marks and warm and supple in the middle, about 5 minutes per side. Place cabbages on a platter and drizzle with dressing and sprinkle with cheese.
Note: Grilled wedges of red and green cabbage taste incredible. If you love Roquefort cheese, add more as you like. If you don’t care for Roquefort, skip the cheese or substitute feta. Napa cabbage is a delicious substitute for either of the cabbages.
Grilled Cauliflower Paillards with Orange-Olive Pistou
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2 oranges (14 ounces total), peeled, segmented and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup golden raisins
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large head (2 1/2 pounds) cauliflower, part of core and green leaves removed (see note)
Olive oil for brushing
Kosher or sea salt
Serves two to three.
Prepare an indirect medium-hot fire in your grill.
For the Orange-Olive Pistou: Stir the olive oil, lemon juice, orange segments, olives, raisins, garlic and parsley together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
For the cauliflower: Cut the cauliflower from top to bottom into 1-inch-thick slices and place on a baking sheet. Brush the cauliflower with olive oil and salt to taste. Place the cauliflower slices over the hot fire and grill for 2 minutes per side to get good grill marks, then move to the indirect or no-heat side of the grill. Close the lid and grill-roast for another 10 minutes, until the cauliflower slices still hold together but are tender when pierced with a fork.
To serve, overlap the cauliflower slices on a platter and spoon the Orange-Olive Pistou down the center.
Note: One large cauliflower will yield about six (1-inch) paillards, with two of the slices being the end pieces. Cut only part of the core, because if you remove too much, the paillard will fall apart.
Bourbon-Brined Center-Cut Pork Chops
1 gallon water
1 cup kosher salt
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 head garlic, halved horizontally
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick (Mexican is particularly good)
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 tablespoon allspice berries
1 tablespoon whole cloves
3/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups bourbon plus 1 tablespoon, divided
4 bone-in center-cut pork chops (10 to 12 ounces each), about 1 1/2 inches thick
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Coarse sea salt
In a large pot, combine 1 gallon water, kosher salt, brown sugar, onion, garlic, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, black peppercorns, allspice berries, cloves and olive oil. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat and stir in 1 1/2 cups bourbon. Let cool to room temperature, then transfer to a nonreactive container and refrigerate until cold.
Put pork chops in cold brine and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours.
Remove pork chops from brine and pat dry with paper towels; discard brine.
Prepare a two-stage fire with medium and hot sides in a grill, making sure to oil the grill grates well.
Grill the pork chops over high heat until well charred on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Then move the pork chops to the medium-heat side and grill, turning every few minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into the center of the chops reads 145 degrees, 12 to 15 minutes longer. Transfer the pork to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes.
While pork chops rest, in a small skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Remove pan from heat and add 1 tablespoon bourbon. Return to heat and tilt the pan away from you until the alcohol ignites (use a match or a lighter if using an electric stove). Let alcohol burn off, then swirl the sauce until emulsified.
Transfer the pork chops to plates and spoon some of the sauce over each chop. Sprinkle with coarse salt and serve.
Spicy Black-Pepper Coated Drumsticks
12 chicken drumsticks
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons hot sauce, preferably chipotle
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed in a spice or coffee grinder
2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
2 fennel bulbs
4 ounces Gorgonzola dolce (a softer version of the Italian blue cheese)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place drumsticks on a baking sheet and season all over with salt. Bake for 20 minutes (25 minutes for very large drumsticks).
In medium bowl, stir together buttermilk, hot sauce, fennel seeds and pepper. Set a wire rack over a small baking sheet.
As soon as the drumsticks come out of the oven, toss them, in batches, into the buttermilk and turn to coat, then place skin side up on the rack to drain. Spoon a little of the mixture, with fennel seeds and pepper, over each one, and set aside. (The drumsticks can be baked and marinated up to a day ahead; leave them on the rack, cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before grilling.)
Preheat gas grill or prepare fire in a charcoal grill.
Trim fennel bulbs, cut lengthwise in half, and cut out the core. Cut into1/4-inch-wide sticks and toss into a bowl of ice water.
Crumble Gorgonzola into a small bowl and mash with a fork. Add the vinegar and stir until fairly smooth. Drizzle in oil, stirring. Pour into shallow bowls for dipping.
Place drumsticks on the hottest part of the grill, cover the grill, and cook, turning occasionally at first and then more often as they start to caramelize, until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes.
Put drumsticks on a platter. Drain the fennel sticks, pat dry and place next to the wings. Serve with the Gorgonzola dressing.
Chili and Cumin Marinated Hanger Steak
3 ounces red chiles, seeded and roughly chopped
5 to 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons mirin (Japanese rice wine)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 heaping teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted (see note)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup light olive or sunflower oil
4 (7-ounce) hanger steaks
Olive oil, for brushing
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a small food processor, combine chiles, garlic, mirin, vinegar, 2 teaspoons sea salt, toasted cumin seeds, oregano and1/4 cup oil. Blend to a smooth, wet paste. (Use immediately or refrigerate up to a week.)
Put the steaks in a large bowl and toss with 4 tablespoons marinade. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 4 hours, or preferably overnight.
Half an hour before you are ready to cook, take the steaks out of the refrigerator and let them come to room temperature. Light the grill and let the flames die down before starting to cook. If cooking indoors, heat a griddle pan until very hot. Scrape the marinade off the steaks and pat dry with paper towels. Brush them with a little olive oil, season lightly with salt and pepper, then grill them for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until cooked to medium-rare. They should feel a little springy when pressed. Remove from the heat and brush with a little of the unused (fresh) marinade). Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
Note: To toast cumin seeds, place in a dry pan over medium heat and warm until fragrant.
3 pounds apricots, pitted and quartered (about 4 cups)
3 cups sugar
Juice of 1 large lemon
1 Granny Smith or green apple
6 sprigs lemon verbena (optional)
1/4 cup (2 ounces) elderflower syrup or St-Germain brand elderflower liqueur
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
Makes four 8-ounce jars.
Stir together the apricots, sugar and lemon juice in a nonreactive bowl. Grate the unpeeled apple on the large-hole side of a box grater, discarding the core. Add the lemon verbena, if using; stir well, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days.
Place a colander over a heavy, 5-quart nonreactive pot. Strain the macerated fruit, capturing the syrup in the pot. Transfer the colander to a bowl to continue to capture the syrup. Clip a candy thermometer to the pot, and, over high heat, bring the syrup to 220 degrees.
Add the strained fruit and any accumulated syrup to the pot; cook (over high heat) for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring constantly. The mixture will foam up, meaning the moisture content is evaporating.
Once the foam is almost gone, discard the lemon verbena, as needed; add the elderflower syrup or liqueur, if using, and return the mixture to a full boil. Add the butter, stirring until the jam is foam-free.
Turn off the heat and check the set. If it is too loose, return the jam to the stove and continue cooking at a strong boil, removing it from the heat and checking the set every 2 or 3 minutes; keep in mind that the jam will set up further as it cools.
When ready, ladle the jam into the clean jars, leaving a 1/2-inch head space. Run a plastic knife around the inside of the jar to remove any air bubbles. (If the jam is very thick, be especially diligent.) Place the clean lid and tighten the ring just until secure.
Process in a boiling water bath (pot) for 10 minutes, starting the timing from the moment the water returns to a boil; see note. Remove the jars from the water bath, setting them upright on a folded towel. Let the jars cool naturally for several hours before testing the seal by removing the ring and lifting the jar by the lid. If the seal does not hold, refrigerate the jam and consume it within 1 month.
Sealed and kept in a cool, dark spot, the jam is shelf-stable for 1 year. Its color might darken over time, but the flavor will remain.
Variation: For peach jam, blanch and peel the peaches, chop them into small pieces and stir in the sugar and lemon quickly, to retain the color as the fruit macerates.
For cherry jam, the most familiar taste comes from using tart, or pie, cherries, but sweet cherries will work. Pit and halve the cherries and add 2 apples. Cherries have no natural pectin to speak of and are a tricky fruit to set. Don’t get discouraged if you get a loose set; spoon runny cherry jam over chocolate ice cream and call yourself a Black Forest genius.
Note: Water-bath canning safely seals high-acid, low-pH foods in jars. The time for processing in the water bath is calculated based on the size of the jar and the consistency and density of the food. For safety’s sake, do not alter the jar size, ingredients, ratios or processing time in any canning recipe. If moved to change any of those factors, simply put the prepared food in the refrigerator and eat it within a week.
Juice of 2 large lemons
6 large freestone peaches, slightly underripe and unblemished
1/2 cup sugar
Fill a medium bowl with cold water and add the lemon juice.
Bring a pot of water to a boil over high heat. Score an “X” in the bottom of each piece of fruit; carefully drop the pieces into the water and cook for a few minutes, just to loosen the skins. Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a cutting board; peel off and discard the skins. Cut the fruit in half along the seam (from top to bottom); discard the pit, then cut each half in half, dropping the slices into the acidulated water as you work.
Line one baking sheet with paper towels and a second one with parchment paper. Place the sugar in a small bowl.
Lift the fruit pieces out of the water with a slotted spoon, briefly draining them on the paper towels. Coat the fruit pieces in the sugar, placing them on the parchment-lined baking sheet as you work. If using, slide a bamboo skewer into four slices, keeping the slices from touching. Discard the lemon water.
Freeze until firm, about 4 hours, then transfer to a freezer-safe zip-top bag or container; freeze for up to 9 months.
Variations: For fresh apricotsicles, leave the skins on. Use 6-inch bamboo skewers. For fresh cherrysicles, use only sweet cherries that have been halved and pitted. (In both cases, the sugar will stick to the cut sides of the fruit.)
1 pound cherries, stemmed
2 3/4 cups sugar
4 cups vodka, rum, cognac, bourbon, rye or grain alcohol
Makes 1 quart.
Pierce each cherry with the tip of a knife in one or two places.
Combine the sugar and 1 cup of the liquor in the half-gallon jar; shake well to dissolve the sugar as much as possible. Add the fruit and shake again, then top with the remaining 3 cups of liquor. Shake gently to distribute the fruit.
Place the jar in a sunny indoor spot; let it sit for 1 week, then transfer it to a dark spot and let it sit for 40 days. The color of the bounce will darken/intensify.
Seat a strainer over a pitcher or container with a pour spout. Strain the cherry mixture; reserve or discard the fruit. Cover the strained liquor and let it settle for a few hours, then pour the bounce into a clean 1-quart jar; do not include any sediment.
Variations: To make an apricot bounce, use cognac or vodka; bourbon is too strong for the fruit, which can be sweet or tart. Add a dozen sprigs of fresh thyme; chop the unpeeled apricots into chunks, discarding the pits, before infusing.
To make a peach bounce, choose bourbon -- not rum. Add a dozen coin-size slices of fresh ginger root. Peel and chop the peaches before infusing.
Fegato Alla Veneziana
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium white onions, peeled and finely chopped
1 pinch sugar
1 pound calf’s liver, thinly sliced
Splash sherry vinegar or lemon juice (optional)
In a large skillet over very low heat, melt the butter with the oil. Add the onions and gently cook until translucent, but not browned. It will take about 15 minutes. Once they are ready, add a pinch of sugar and stir until they are caramelized, about another 5 minutes.
Heat a second skillet over high heat. Transfer the caramelized onions and then the liver to the second skillet, stir for a few minutes until the meat is seared but still juicy. If you like extra acidity, add a splash of vinegar or lemon juice and stir, scraping the bits at the bottom of the pan, and serve.
Serve the dish over mashed potatoes or -- more traditionally -- polenta.