Monday, July 19, 2010

Grilled potato salad

I don't mind being the vegetarian at the barbecue. There are a lot of good veggie burgers (I'm partial to the spicy black bean ones) that make for quick, easy additions to the grill that I can enjoy when everyone else is eating burgers. But grilling is a great technique, and I feel like I shouldn't always be stuck with processed patties and the occasional grilled peppers on top. Last Friday, some friends invited us over to grill burgers for dinner. They had a bean burger in the freezer already, so I was covered, but I asked them to pick up some potatoes and tomatoes for a salad I had envisioned. We didn't have quite enough charcoal, and we started late, so we didn't get everything quite grilled to perfection, but I think this salad has serious potential. It's simple, but the nice grilled flavors from the potatoes and tomatoes are awesome. I'm sure it would be good with roasted veggies too, but there's something about cooking outside in 95-degree heat that makes food taste better.

Grilled potato salad

4 large baking potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices (I made wedges, but I think slices will work better next time)
4 tomatoes, cut into four wedges each
Canola oil for greasing the grill
1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
Juice of 1 lemon, or more to taste
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary, or more to taste
1 tbsp olive oil, or more to taste
Salt and pepper

Prepare the grill. Parboil the potato slices by heating up a big pot of water and boiling them until they are a bit firmer than you'd like, four minutes or so. Toss with some canola oil. Grease the grate of the grill with canola oil and place potato slices in a single layer on the grill. Cook until potatoes have nice grill marks on the grill side, then flip them over and cook on the other side. Grills vary a lot, so I won't give a time recommendation. Remove potatoes from grill, cut into bite-size chunks, and place in a large bowl.

When potatoes have finished grilling, place tomatoes on the grill, cut side touching the grate. Cook until they start to get some nice shriveling action going, then turn so the other cut side is down. When tomatoes are done, cut each wedge in half and add to the bowl with the potatoes. Add olives, lemon juice, rosemary, olive oil, and salt and pepper, all to taste. Eat warm while grilling whatever else is for dinner.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Peach pie

We're back! We were in France and Germany again for a month this year. Then we got back to Texas, almost immediately flew to San Francisco for Jon's brother's wedding, and just got back here on the fourth. We are still settling in and getting re-adjusted to Houston. I started a short summer teaching stint on Tuesday, so we will get a lot of Jon recipes in the next couple weeks. I hope to do a post soon about the good stuff we ate in France, but for now, here's a great American dessert.
When I was a kid, my family had two or three peach trees, two apple trees, and a pear tree that produced copious amounts of fruit in the summer. My mom would put up tons of applesauce and peach jam, but the pies were the best. She made dozens of them every summer and froze them. When a family moved into the neighborhood or a friend had a baby, got sick, or had a death in the family, she would take a pie over. We also ate a lot ourselves throughout the year.

This week, perfect, ripe peaches from Fairfield, Texas were only 0.88/pound, so I decided to make a pie. They had been pretty picked over and a lot of them were bruised or squished, but I knew they would make a great pie. So often, the peaches we get at the store are hard and flavorless, so I'll take a squishy, oozy, delicious one over those any day. I didn't get back from the store with my peaches until 9 pm, but they were so ripe I knew they wouldn't wait, so I whipped up a late-night pie.
The remains of the peaches we used plus some we didn't end up needing.
Peach pie
You can also make this with partially thawed frozen peaches. Let them sit in the sugar-flour mixture a little longer and add about 20 minutes to the baking time.

8 generous cups sliced ripe peaches (about 11 medium peaches), no need to peel unless you're picky or the skin is clearly damaged or undesirable
1/4 cup flour
Scant 1/2 cup sugar
2 pie crusts
1 tbsp almond milk
Sugar and cinnamon for dusting the top

Put sliced peaches into a large bowl. Sprinkle flour and sugar on top and stir together. Let sit while you run to the store because you realize you forgot the flour (or at least 20 minutes). Transfer one crust to the deepest pie dish you have. Spoon peaches into crust. Top with 2nd pie crust. Trim around edges and crimp if you're fancy like that. If you've got extra crust, you can roll it out and cut it into shapes. (I put "E+J" on the top, but I didn't realize how large the E had been when I cut out the J, so I look very egotistical.) Brush the top with almond milk and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Slash some vents in the top to let the hot air out. Here is the pie before baking.
Place pie on a baking sheet to catch any bubbling juices that might otherwise fall to the bottom of your oven and burn. This is very important because it will happen. Put foil around the edges of the pie, leaving a hole in the middle, so the edges won't burn. Bake at 375 for about 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake about 20 more minutes, until crust looks done. We were too tired to eat any pie when it came out, and it looked like there was no danger of it burning, so I turned the oven off and left the pie in it until the morning. It made a great breakfast!