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Grill-Roasted Lemon Rosemary Potatoes

30 Aug

I seem to have started something I am currently unable to quit. Remember when I made this chicken? And then this dessert? And how, before that, my husband made this? And even farther before that, I made this? I know it’s summer and all, but, man, I just can’t seem to stop grilling everything in sight.

As I may have mentioned a million or more times in the past year or so, Portland is not known for its particularly hot weather. On the rare occasion the temperature rises towards the upper-90s, it seems as though everyone in the city leaves their kitchens and heads outdoors to do their cooking. I am guilty of the same, but now, having grilled my fair share of meals so far this summer, I can’t seem to walk away from the grill. It’s not even that hot outside anymore. I just like grilling.

As my summer of grilling rolls along, I am reminded of things that I have eaten over the years, all lovingly prepared on a grill. Untold numbers of grilled vegetables, a foray into beer can chicken, and this, a dish I seem to throw together several times a summer, yet never really bothered to write down, such is its simplicity and limitless propensity for adaptation and transformation. You start with a large piece of foil, add some sort of root vegetable—potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, what have you—then throw on some sliced onions or shallots, toss on some cloves of smashed garlic, nestle in some fresh herbs, then dab on a bit of butter or oil (or both), perhaps some lemon slices, maybe something spicy, sprinkle on salt and pepper, then wrap it up, leave it on the grill, and walk away. 30 or 40 minutes later, after doing virtually nothing, you’ve got this: a pouch of steaming, slightly crisp vegetables, caramelized onions and garlic, and a pool of juices meant to be poured over whatever else you’ve got going on your grill. It’s a dead simple dish, and one that I consider a summer standard. I invite you to make it one of yours as well.

Grill-Roasted Lemon Rosemary Potatoes Recipe

Like I said, this dish is great at being adapted. Sometimes I start with potatoes, onions, and garlic, then add turmeric, cumin, and coriander instead of fresh herbs. Sometimes I use fresh fennel instead of onions. Sometimes I use sweet potatoes, sometimes I use Yukon Gold potatoes. Whatever you can dream up, I swear this dish can only shine brighter.

1 pound red or Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into uniform size

1 large shallot, sliced into rings

4 or 5 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

1 rosemary stem, about 4 inches long

½ large lemon, sliced into thin rounds

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat an outdoor grill to medium high.

Lay out a large piece of heavy aluminum foil. Add potatoes, shallot slices, garlic, rosemary, and lemon slices. Pinch off pieces of the butter and place on top. Drizzle over the olive oil. Add salt and pepper.  Tightly fold and close the foil over the mixture, adding a second layer of foil if your first one does not quite close all the way.

Grill the potatoes, grill lid down, over direct, medium-high heat. Turn once or twice to aid in even cooking (although, to be perfectly honest, I have, on more than one occasion, forgotten to do this and the potatoes turned out just fine). Cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through and the shallots are meltingly soft and sweet.

Be exceptionally careful when opening the foil pouch to check your potatoes, as the escaping steam is dangerously hot. Discard lemon slices and rosemary stem, then serve.

Fruit Crisp Made on the Grill

27 Aug

The wait for hot summer weather in Portland can sometimes be interminable, but then, when the hot weather does finally hit, people seem to forget all the grousing and moaning that they previously took part in when it wasn’t hot enough for their liking, taking part instead in a great deal of grousing and moaning about how unbearably hot it is. When it comes to grousing and moaning, I take part, as most people do, in my fair share (though I generally reserve my woeful moaning for talk of baseball), but you will never, ever find me complaining that it is too hot in Portland. It rains nine months of the year here, and I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t forced to wear a sweater throughout the month of June. More than ¾ of my life is spent waiting for hot weather to arrive.

In addition to having an excuse to lay around in a hammock and read, hot weather also gives me a great excuse to try out the many, many things I’d like to attempt to cook on a grill. The standards of meat and vegetables are always a pleasure, but, as is my way, I have always wanted to try out a number of desserts on the grill. In the past, I have grilled fruit, sprinkled with a bit of brown sugar and drizzled with dots of vanilla, but I’ve always known that I wanted to do more with a grilled dessert.

This crisp is the perfect gateway for those of you who would like to audition a grilled dessert. I say this, because I am a person who wants to tackle more dessert-making on the grill, and the success of this crisp has made me only more eager to do so. The fruit, bubbling away contentedly, took on a deep and luscious flavor when contained in the grill for the better part of an hour, and the buttery oat topping seemed to almost melt into the fruit in parts, resulting in a crisp that was not so much actually crisp, but something even better. When slowly grilled, the fruit and the topping joined forces, settling into one another like a perfectly formed puzzle. It was a delightful discovery, and a wonderful introduction to what I hope will be a new world of desserts.

Last Year: Mimi’s Ginger Lemon Tea–good as a cool summer drink, a warm winter tonic, and a catch-all healer for anything and everything that ails you.

Grilled Fruit Crisp Recipe

Prepare an outdoor grill for indirect cooking (more on how to do that here). With the lid down, heat one side on high until the internal temperature of the grill reaches about 350 degrees Fahrenheit.


½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/3 cup rolled oats (not quick cooking)

¼ cup light brown sugar

¼ cup coarsely chopped pecans or almonds, or a mix of the two

pinch of cinnamon

pinch of salt

6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces


6 cups fruit, sliced into roughly ½-inch pieces (I used strawberries, peaches, and blueberries which, obviously, I did not have to slice)

zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon cornstarch

3 tablespoons light brown sugar

pinch of cinnamon

To make the topping, in a medium bowl combine the flour, oats, brown sugar, nuts, cinnamon, and salt. Stir together, then add the butter pieces and, using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the topping resembles coarse crumbs with a few smallish pea-sized bits of butter throughout. Refrigerate the topping while you prep the fruit.

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients for the fruit filling and toss to combine. Transfer fruit to a heavy cast iron skillet (mine was a 12-inch skillet, but a 10-inch one would also work), spreading it out evenly. Spoon the topping mixture over the fruit as evenly as possible.

Cook the crisp on the unheated side of the grill, lid down, for 40 minutes, until the fruit is bubbling and the edges of the crisp topping have just started to turn golden. Be very careful when remove the skillet from the grill, as it will be incredibly hot. Allow the crisp to cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Serve plain or with ice cream.

Chicken Tikka with Tomato

16 Aug

This recipe is straight-up not mine, but it has, over time, morphed into something that comes as close to anything as being my signature dish. I bring this dish to potlucks and birthday dinners, I make it for family events like last fall’s cider pressing, and once, at the request of the betrothed, I even brought it to a wedding. It has become a dish for which I am known, and there is a tiny little part of me that feels sort of bad about it. After all, I didn’t put in any work when it came to developing the recipe or testing it out to make sure that it was perfectly delicious. To make it I just crack open a book, gather things together, and use someone else’s wisdom to guide me. Other than a tiny little tweak concerning the switching of cardamom pods with ground cardamom, and the exclusion of clove that I insist on in every recipe that happens to call for clove (because if there is one spice by which I cannot abide, it is clove), this recipe is 100% Madhur Jaffrey’s.

With the simplest of preparations involving nothing more than whirling up a marinade, pouring it over some chicken, then waiting a few hours before grilling the chicken to a perfect finish, there is no simpler way to become acquainted with making Indian food. Make it enough, and people may even begin to request it from you. I take no credit for the recipe itself, but I may have to claim ownership of warning you of its charms.

There is something about the warmth of the spices—a bit of cinnamon, a hit of cumin, a good dose of cardamom—combined with the perfect bit of brightness, garlic, and onion, that makes this chicken really stand out. I know that might sound a little phony and desperate (really? Can someone feel that strongly about chicken?), but I swear it is true. If you’ve always wanted to take a stab at Indian cooking, but are at a loss over where to start, I suggest you make this dish (along with these super simple accompaniments) your inaugural entrance to the world in Indian cooking.

Last Year: Quick All Parmesan Crackers–gluten free!

Chicken Tikka with Tomato Recipe

From Foolproof Indian Cooking, by Madhur Jaffrey

For the marinade:

5 tablespoons olive oil

3 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 onion, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground coriander

¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

20 black peppercorns

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon tomato puree

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2-inch strips

Put all of the ingredients for the marinade into a food processor or blender and process to a smooth paste.

Place the chicken pieces in a large bowl, add the marinade, and stir to mix. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 5 hours. (I have been known to marinate this chicken for fewer than 4 hours and it turns out just fine—I have also left it to marinate overnight, for up to 12 hours, and it also turned out just fine.)

When the chicken is done marinating, preheat an outdoor grill or a grill pan over high heat. Grill the chicken pieces in a single layer, being careful not to crowd the grill surface. Discard any marinade that is left behind in the bowl. Grill the chicken for about 10 minutes total, or until the chicken pieces are cooked through, but still tender.

Serve immediately.

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