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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.

Homemade Lemonade and Limeade

5 Aug

It seems a little weird to me that I am posting a recipe for what I consider to be the most basic of beverages, a beverage only about one notch simpler than, say, turning on the tap to fill a glass with water. Still, it was recently brought to my attention that there are a lot of people out there who don’t know how simple it is to make homemade lemonade. Maybe it’s the status of lemonade as a heralded summer drink that makes it seem like a daunting challenge to create at home, or perhaps it’s just a bit too easy to succumb to the allure of a bottle or two of the organic stuff that seems to be on sale at the market all summer long. Regardless, whether you’re making homemade lemonade by the glass or by the pitcher, you only have to keep track of a simple ratio in order to assure a perfect lemonade experience every time.

1 cup of water to 1.5 tablespoons of freshly-squeezed lemon juice, plus 2 tablespoons of sugar. That’s it. And here’s an odd little secret: the more you increase the volume of this recipe the more a surprise fourth ingredient begins to come into play. That ingredient? Salt. When you’ve got 8 cups of water diluting ¾ of a cup of lemon juice, the mixture starts to need a bit of perking up, and there is nothing more effective at perking up a nice, big pitcher of lemonade than a hefty pinch of sea salt. If you are making limeade instead of lemonade, that bit of salt becomes even more important, bringing out all the right notes of the lime’s flavor, and perfectly balancing it against the sugar.

Of course, once you’ve made yourself some lemonade, there is basically nothing stopping you from using it as the basis and inspiration for all types of wonderful drinks and treats. Muddle some fresh mint and fresh or frozen raspberries in the bottom of a glass, top it off with lemon or limeade, then drink as is, or add a splash of vodka. Or pour into popsicle molds and prepare yourself for some hot weather, perhaps even freezing the popsicles only halfway, then dropping some chunks of fresh fruit into the molds before popping everything back together and freezing completely. Once those babies are totally frozen, you’ve got yourself some fruit-filled citrus popsicles that are just to die for.

Last Year: Deep Dish German Pancake

Homemade Lemonade Recipe

I love making this with a mix of both lemons and limes, which, as you can see, is what I have done in these pictures. Also of note: I prefer a less sweet lemonade, so the amount of sugar you see here will result in an only mildly sweet drink. You can, of course, up the sugar content to suit your own personal tastes. The flavor of this lemonade will get more rounded as it is allowed to sit, so, if you’re making it for an event, I suggest making it a day ahead and allowing it to rest in the refrigerator for a day.

For a single serving:

1 cup water

1 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons sugar

small pinch of sea salt

Combine ingredients in a tall glass or cocktail shaker, then stir or shake until sugar is completely dissolved. Add ice, if desired, and drink.

For a pitcher:

8 cups water

¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ heaping cup sugar (or, to be more precise, ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons)

¼ teaspoon sea salt.

Combine ingredients in a large pitcher. Stir together until sugar has completely dissolved.

Olive, Lemon, and Herb-Stuffed Sole

5 Jul

Like most people, I find it frustratingly easy to get stuck in a cooking rut.  While I still find appealing the meals I tend to cart out on a regular basis, I do get a bit tired looking at the same presentations.  I could blame this on my child, and the fact that he is not blessed with the most adventurous of palates, but the truth is, my child’s pickiness is only partly to blame.  The rest of the blame lies with all the usual suspects: time (or lack thereof), forgetfulness (I was supposed to buy what at the store?), and, occasionally, laziness (we just spent two hours biking around the city and now I have to make dinner? Watch me as I head to the cupboard that contains all the take out menus).

In order to alleviate this rather common problem of constantly repeating dinners, I have decided that, instead of reverting to the usual meals several times a month, I will instead lay out all my usual dinner suspects, then attempt to mix and match them as I see fit.  Essentially, I can use many of the same ingredients, but I will have to use them in a different fashion, and in a way that deems the meal to be a distant relation of the original meal, but in no way the same animal.  Well, unless, of course, it really is the same animal, as in the case of this stuffed sole.

My inspiration dish is this wonderful and simple panko-crusted sole dinner that is a summer staple for us.  Though I like it a great deal, I have definitely been feeling as though I could stand to see this fish presented in a different way.  Taking cues from the panko and lemon I normally use in the dish, I grabbed an onion, some herbs, and an almost empty jar of Kalamata olives, and, with no real end point in mind, started to fiddle around.  The end result, so varied in texture and flavors, with great zing from the herbs and lemon and a wonderful burst of fruitiness and saltiness from the olives, was a delight.  Though I am sure that most of my meal reformations will not go as smoothly as this one, I can at least squeeze a bit of comfort out of knowing that my experiment is not one of total lunacy.  I managed to make at least one standard meal into something new and appealing, which, if nothing else, managed to feed not only us, but also my creative confidence.

Last Year: Rhubarb Bread Pudding

Olive, Lemon, and Herb-Stuffed Sole Recipe

1 ¼ to 1 ½ pounds thin sole filets

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup finely diced onion

1 cup panko breadcrumbs

¼ cup finely chopped Kalamata olives

¼ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint

2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

1 small lemon, zested and then sliced into thin rounds

salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly oil a small baking dish and set aside.

In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat, then add onions, reduce heat to low, and sauté gently for about 10 minutes, until onions are soft and just starting to turn golden at the edges.  Turn off the heat under the pan, and stir in panko bread crumbs, olives, pine nuts, mint, Italian parsley, and lemon zest.  Stir to combine thoroughly, then add salt and pepper to taste.

Season sole filets with salt and pepper.  Place 1 to 2 tablespoons of panko mixture on one end of a filet, then carefully roll up the filet, encasing the mixture inside.  It is all right if some of the filling escapes, as it inevitably will.  Place the rolled filet in the prepared baking dish.  Continue filling all the filets in this manner, placing each one in the baking dish.  When all the filets have been filled and rolled, place a slice of lemon on top of each roll, then sprinkle the remaining panko mixture on top of and around the rolled filets.

Bake the fish in the center of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until the fish is opaque and the middles of each roll have warmed through.  The panko on top of the fish should just be starting to turn golden.

Serves 4.

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