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Grilling Pizza

Most people think of summer as grilling season, but I have my grill going year-round. It’s easy, makes fewer dirty pans, and the food just tastes better with the smokey grill flavor. And, one of my favorite grill meals is pizza.

Pizza is already one of the most universally loved foods, and grilling it takes it to a new level of deliciousness. Most stores have ready to cook pizza dough, but you’ll find an easy dough recipe below.

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Easy Grilled Pizza

Turn on grill to medium heat. Roll out pizza dough to desired size on a floured surface. Sprinkle some corn meal on a baking sheet and transfer rolled out dough to sheet. Brush dough with olive oil.

Transfer dough to heated grill oiled side down. Cook for around minutes and remove from grill back onto the baking sheet with the grilled side up. Add desired toppings to pizza. Reduce grill heat to low and return topped pizza grill and cook with the grilled cover closed until done.

The fun part about pizza is that you get to  make it your own by adding your own family’s favorite toppings, or throw on the leftovers lurking in the fridge. This is the ultimate in quick, easy, versatile, and delicious. Mangia!!

 

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Easy Pizza Dough

courtesy of Food.com

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 14teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2cup lukewarm water (plus an additional 2 tbsp)
  1. Mix 1 cup of flour with all other ingredients.
  2. Gradually add 2nd cup of flour until it forms a ball. …
  3. Let the dough rest 10-15 minutes in a bowl covered with a dish towel or plastic wrap to keep it warm.

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All photos Julia A Reed

 

 

 

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Grilled Napa Cabbage

Napa cabbage, also known as Chinese cabbage, is a popular vegetable found in CSA shares and at farmers’ markets all around the Upper Valley. Here is an easy and surprisingly delicious way to enjoy this plentiful local food.

napa cabbage

Grilled Napa Cabbage

adapted from Martha Stewart.com

  • 3 tablespoons hot mustard
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated garlic
  • 1 medium head napa cabbage
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves (OPTIONAL)
  1. Heat grill to high. Mix together mustard, agave nectar, 1 teaspoon oil, the garlic, salt, and pepper and put aside.

  2. Cut cabbage lengthwise into quarters, leaving core intact. Brush cabbage on all sides with 2 teaspoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

  3. Grill cabbage, flat side down, 3 minutes. Flip, and continue to grill until charred. Remove from grill.

  4. Brush cabbage on all sides with mustard glaze. Arrange cabbage on a platter, sprinkle with basil, and serve.

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Photo credit Julia A Reed

link to blog only; do not reuse

Grill Season is Here!

Summer is the time for firing up the grill and cooking some local food, because charred grill marks and a smokey taste makes everything better – and there are no pots and pans to clean!

Grilling a grass fed steak

At Valley Farm Fresh you will find great recipes (for grilling meat & veggies), a calendar for the Upper Valley farmers’ market season, and the Valley Food & Farm Online Guide so you can find farmstands,  pick-your-own, and more local food near you.

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And if you are a man who cooks with local foods (grill or otherwise) OR you know a man who cooks with local foods – enter our #MenWhoCookLocal summer competition for a chance to win an 8″ Japanese steel chef knife. Read about our celebration of Upper Valley men who are cooking local with our  #UpperValleyHotShots.

 

photo by Julia A Reed

Grilled Cauliflower “Steaks”

I visited Sonnax Industries last month to give a cooking demonstration during their lunch hour. I grilled cauliflower “steaks” and they were such  hit, I just had to share it with Everyday Chef.

This incredibly simple dish will catapult cauliflower from the ho-hum “boring” vegetable group into the star of any meal. And, the best part is that it cooks in less than 15 minutes AND doesn’t leave you with a mess in the kitchen.

Cauliflower heads

Cauliflower comes in lots of colors. I found your traditional white heads along with purple heads and a beautiful light orange-colored head that is called “cheddar”. This recipe works with any color – so go wild.

Cauliflower is in season now – and it’s never too cold to grill. So, find some local cauliflower and start cooking!

Grilling cauliflower steaks

Grilled Cauliflower Steaks

1 head local cauliflower
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tsp honey
3 Tbsp Emeril’s Essence seasoning (or any other spice concoction you like)
1 tsp salt

Trim stem and leaves from cauliflower head. Slice head in half and then cut 1/2″-1″ “steaks” from the inside of each half. There will be some crumbles of cauliflower, especially as you get closer to the outside of the head. Use a grill basket for the pieces that are too small for your grill grate.

Mix the olive oil, garlic and honey together and brush on both sides of the “steaks”. Then sprinkle both sides of each piece with the seasoning and salt. I often take the easy way out and use Emeril’s Essence, a pre-mixed spice bland, but you can season with chili or cayenne to make it spicy, or go Indian with a little curry powder.

Place on pre-heated grill and sear each side of the cauliflower then lower the heat, close lid and cook until tender. Serve as the main course or as a side dish.

Grilling steak!

Frozen Meat Primer

A common question I get from customers at farmers’ markets is if I have any meat that is not frozen. They are shopping for that evenings’ meal and don’t have time to thaw it. Occasionally, farmers will have fresh meat for sale, but the majority of locally raised meats are frozen, so knowing techniques for quickly and safely thawing frozen meat can be handy when shopping at your local farmers’ market or farm stand.

 

If time is not an issue, thawing meat in a refrigerator is the best option. Be sure to place the meat in a bowl or pan in case the package leaks during the defrosting process which will help keep the fridge clean and avoid limit the possibility of cross contamination. It is important that you make sure your refrigerator is less than 40 degrees F. The USDA’s Safe Food Handling Fact Sheet has valuable information about food safety including the fact that dangerous food borne bacteria can grow between the temperatures of 40-140 degrees F. It is important to limit the amount of time your thawing meat (any meat or prepared food, really) is in the ‘danger zone’. The refrigerator is the safest method, but in a pinch using a microwave or a cold water bath to speed up the process can work, if done correctly.

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Cold Water Bath
Submerge your packaged meat in cold water. Unpackaged meat can attract bacteria from the air and absorb too much water, so put the meat in a ziplock bag if needed. Replace the water as it warms (about every 30 minutes) with fresh cold water. This technique will speed up the thawing process significantly.

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Microwave
Using the defrost mode on your microwave is another way to get the meat on the table quickly. When defrosting in a microwave it’s important to cook the meat immediately. The microwave isn’t ideal for defrosting red meats (it negatively affects the quality), but chicken and pork can be ready for cooking in no time using the microwave.

 

Grilling steak

Cooking Frozen Meats
Another option is to skip the thawing process altogether. America’s Test Kitchen  determined that the quality of beef steaks (especially grass-fed beef) improves when cooked while still frozen. For those who like a rare or medium-rare steak, cooking a frozen steak is the way to go.

This cooking technique is courtesy of Cook’s Illustrated chef Dan Souza

  • Heat skillet filled 1/8 inch deep with oil
  • Sear until browned (90 seconds per side)
  • Transfer to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet
  • Cook in 275-degree oven until desired doneness (18 to 20 minutes for a 1-inch-thick steak)

Another handy tips when you are have a whole frozen chicken and need to have a meal on the table for dinner is to cook it frozen. It will take 50% more time to cook, but you can roast a whole chicken frozen and have a delicious dinner in a few hours. It is not recommended to cook frozen meats in a slow cooker because of the uncertainly about how long the meat will be in the danger temperature zone.

You can also boil frozen chicken. Boiling a whole frozen chicken has the advantage of giving you delicious chicken stock AND cooked chicken for several days worth of meals.

Thawing Frozen Meat FAQ

Can I refreeze meat that has been frozen and thawed?
Yes! If thawed in a refrigerator and packaged correctly you can refreeze meat that has been previously frozen. This is a great tip when you have a large package of meat and don’t want to cook it all at once. If frozen in an air-tight package there should be no loss of quality.

I just found a frozen chunk of meat at the bottom of my freezer – is it still good?
Hard telling, not knowing… You can find the FDA quidelines for storing foods here. Freezing (below zero) keeps food safe indefinitely, it is the quality that can be affected by length of time in the freezer and the type of packaging. Try to clean out your freezer at least once a year to be sure you use all your frozen goodies while they are still good.

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How long is my refrigerator thawed meat good for?
Sorry, there is no one answer to this question. It depends on the type of meat (ground vs. whole, seafood vs. lamb, smoked vs. fresh), the type of packaging (vacuum packaging lasts longer), how long is was fresh before being frozen originally. The best advice is to use common sense, use your nose, and don’t take any chances.

These rules are true for all frozen meats!

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Grilled Asparagus

Late spring and early summer is when you’ll find asparagus in its prime. And that means now. With an unique flavor and texture unlike much else – except perhaps fiddleheads – you don’t want to miss out on its relatively short growing season.

For many, the grill takes the reigns as the prime cooking tool for the summer. Good news. You’ll find that asparagus and the grill pair very well together. In a matter of a few short minutes and with minimal prep, asparagus is ready to go  as a healthy side to your other grilled foods.

But don’t let the possibility of what is commonly referred to as “asparagus pee” prevent you from eating this super nutritious food. Not everyone can even notice the side effects – it’s actually a trait determined by genetics. And those who do notice it should not fear. The odor is an indication that a sulfur-containing amino acid has been successfully broken down. Asparagus is low in fat and calories, high in fiber, a good source of Vitamin C and B, and contains the highest amount of glutathione – a powerful antioxidant and phytochemical – of any fruit of any vegetable. Glutathione helps prevent aging and a number of diseases like cancer, heart disease and dementia.

 

To start, (even if you don’t intend to grill), you want to purchase thin, tender stalks. They should be about the size of your pinky in diameter. If you have unusually large hands – think about the width of a pencil. Though as the season progresses, and it already has to some degree, you’ll notice thicker stalks (more like the width of your thumb) for sale, and these are still perfectly fine. It’s just that the thicker the stalk, the woodier the asparagus might taste. Some people like to peel the stalks of thicker asparagus to remove some of that toughness. I’ve never done so, though.

Asparagus

Regardless of the size of your asparagus, you store it all the same way – upright, in water, in the fridge, and at a temp below 40F. But first, trim the ends of the stalks slightly, as you would a bouquet of flowers. Asparagus is just one of those produce items you want to use as soon as absolutely possible – because it will lose its flavor and nutritional value pretty quickly.

When you’re ready to eat, the first thing you want to do is break off the woody bottoms. This is more necessary in thicker stalks than thinner. But all you have to do is hold the stalk with both hands and bend the bottom until you find its breaking point. Discard the ends and save them (with any peelings, if you choose to peel) in the freezer for your next batch of vegetable stock. Afterwards, give your bunch of asparagus a good rinse and pat dry with a towel.

 

For grilling, coat the asparagus in an equal mix of lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle with a little kosher salt and some minced garlic, if you’d like. Place the stalks on your clean (this is important!), hot grill. I like to cook them over a medium high flame for about 5 minutes. This leaves them with a good amount of crunch – just how I like them. There is really no need, however you choose to cook asparagus, to overcook them. Doing so can confuse people into thinking asparagus is a bland and mushy vegetable. And no one likes those.

Grilled Asparagus

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 6 minutes

Total Time: 11 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 clove minced garlic

Instructions

  1. Clean and preheat your grill with a medium-high flame.
  2. Give the asparagus a good rinse and pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Break off the woody ends of the asparagus.
  4. Lightly coat with the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and a couple pinches of salt.
  5. Arrange the asparagus horizontally on the heated grill.
  6. Rotate every couple of minutes with tongs, cooking for a total of about 6 minutes for a crunchy bite, or a bit longer for less.
  7. Sprinkle a little more lemon juice and salt over the cooked asparagus and serve.
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Beet Burgers

That’s no typo. Beet (not beef) burgers are awesome. But I’m going to go ahead and guess you aren’t already enjoying these at your typical summer cookout. Though there’s no reason why you shouldn’t. If you give these guys a chance you might be surprised – even you non beet lovers out there. A couple of attendees at a demo yesterday afternoon certainly agreed. They’re crunchy, sweet and moist. On a slice of toasted bread with some fresh greens and cheese, they quickly surpass the usual overcooked, dried out burgers that I often dread at gatherings. I want flavor! And these deliver.

The keys to a good veggie burger, aside from something like a portobello mushroom burger, are a balance of beans, grains, veggies and seasonings. What’s cool is that you can use whatever kinds you like. Pinto beans? Sure. Quinoa? Why not? Sweet potato? Definitely. But it’s certainly a balance. I’d say ia 1:1:2 ratio of beans to grains to veggies is ideal. Then flavor with the herbs and spices you prefer. Though, firmer vegetables are pretty much a necessity if that’s your burger’s focus. The root vegetable avenue is probably the way to go. And maybe some winter squash too.

On the other hand, an even balance of beans and grains, supplemented with some vegetables, works fine too. Though, technically, something like that might be classified as a bean or grain burger rather than veggie. Keep in mind that the beans and grains contribute proteins and amino acids that make a non-meat burger nutritionally balanced, so they’re certainly an important component no matter which kind you make.

Good characteristics of a veggie burger are: 1) that it stays together and 2) that it has some texture (not mush). If you find your burger heading in either of those directions, throwing in the chopped or ground nuts will help improve things immensely. I find that adding too much flour results in (logically) an overwhelming flour taste.

If you’re new to veggie burgers, this is a good place to start. And beets aren’t all that messy to work with – despite popular belief. I’ve never had an issue. And you could always use a food processor. So, have fun with this one and then try some of your own combinations!
 Beet Burgers

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 9 burgers

 Save yourself some time: Use leftover cooked rice and beans. When cooking grains and beans – always try and make some extra and freeze in cup sized portions for quicker cooking in recipes (like this) later on. Don’t feel like chopping? Throw the beets, onions, peppers and garlic in a food processor, instead.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced and seeds removed
  • 3 large red beets, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups black beans (or 1 can)
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 4 Tbsp parsley, minced
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped/ground nuts (optional; walnuts or almonds work well)
  • Olive oil
  • Bread, cheese and other burger fixings

Instructions

  1. Heat a couple teaspoons of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and peppers and cook until softened. Stir in the beets. Cover and cook until the beets are tender, stirring occasionally – about 10-15 minutes. Deglaze the pan with the cider vinegar and lemon juice.
  2. In a large bowl, mash the black beans up a bit. Add the rice, the beet mixture and herbs and spices. Stir to combine and taste for seasoning. Slowly mix in a little flour and nuts (if using) until it’s a thick enough consistency for forming patties.
  3. Heat a heavy skillet over high heat. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil. When you see the oil shimmer, the pan is ready.
  4. With your hands, scoop up about a cup of the burger mix and shape it into a patty between your palms. Set it in the pan, where it should begin to sizzle immediately. Shape and add as many more patties as will fit in your pan. Reduce the heat to medium-high.
  5. Cook the patties for 2 minutes, then flip them to the other side. You should see a nice crust on the cooked side. If adding cheese, do so now. Cook the second side for another 2 minutes.
  6. Serve the burgers on buns or lightly toasted bread along with some fresh greens.
  7. Cooked burgers should be eaten the same day. Leftover mix can be saved for up to a week. OR, form your patties, place on parchment or wax paper and freeze for a few hours before transferring to a large freezer bag.

Recipe adapted from Nick Evans at www.macheesmo.com.

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Teriyaki Beef Kebabs

Nothing says summer like food on a stick. From popsicles to corndogs, eating with your hands evokes the fun and casualness of the season. And it just wouldn’t be summer without a few kebabs on the grill – whether they’re beef, chicken, shrimp, or vegetables – almost anything goes.

However, the meat kebab is the most traditional. In particular, lamb. It’s a form of cooking that’s been around for thousands of years and varies just slightly throughout the world. But you’ll find that food skewered and cooked on or over a flame is almost always known as a kebab.

Primitive though it is, there are some key tips to a good kebab. First is a marinade.  A marinade will ensure your meat is tender and full of flavor. The longer you can let your meat sit in a marinade the better. Make it at least 30 minutes, though.

marinading-beef
Cut your meat up into pieces before sticking in the marinade, that way there is more surface area to penetrate. You don’t have to place them on the skewers until you’re ready for the grill, though. It’s up to you.

As for the skewers, wood is the way to go. The metal ones are sturdier and reusable, which is great, but they heat up fast and cause the center of your meat to cook too quickly and somewhat unevenly. I don’t see why they couldn’t work for vegetables, though.

Two other notes about the wooden skewers: First, in order to prevent the skewers catching fire, you need to soak them in water. Thirty minutes to an hour will do. Second, use two. Ignore my photo. I learned that one wooden skewer is just too flimsy.

While kebabs composed of all different items are visually appealing, I don’t think they work well. Keep the food on your kebabs consistent. In other words, keep the beef on its own skewers, the shrimp on its own and the peppers on their own. Different foods cook up differently and naturally require different cooking times. You don’t want to overcook your beef because the vegetable you paired it with needs more time. Leave mixing things up until they’re on your plate.

Teriyaki Beef Kebabs

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb beef sirloin, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 8 wooden skewers
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, grated
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Instructions

  1. Submerge the wooden skewers in water and soak for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Mix together the garlic, ginger, soy sauce, brown sugar and oil until combined.
  3. Coat the meat with the marinade, reserving a portion for serving.
  4. Let the meat marinade anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours.
  5. Thread the pieces of meat onto double skewers, leaving a little space in between each piece.
  6. Preheat the grill or a grill pan to medium high heat.
  7. Place the beef kebabs on the grill. Cook 2-3 minutes and turn. Repeat for each side, cooking a total of 10-12 minutes or until your desired temperature.
  8. Let rest for a few minutes then serve with remaining marinade.

Grilled Veggie Salad with Honey Yogurt Dressing

 

Photo Courtesy of www.foodandwine.com

Photo Courtesy of www.foodandwine.com

Grilled Veggie Salad with Honey Yogurt Dressing

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 4 +

You can use any combo of fresh veggies and herbs here. Try it as a side to meat or main dish tossed with pasta. If you already have grilled veggies leftover, you can put this together in just a couple of minutes.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of mixed grilled veggies sliced into medium sized pieces
  • 1 cup of fresh herbs, chopped (use your favorite mix of summer herbs)
  • 1/2 cup yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon grill seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • salt

Instructions

  1. Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve warm or at room temperature.

 

Grilled Salsa

Photo Courtesy of www.theheritagecook.com

Photo Courtesy of www.theheritagecook.com

Grilled Salsa

Total Time: 30 minutes

Yield: about 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 2 ears of corn
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 onion, halved and papery outside skin removed
  • 2 medium – hot peppers (your preference)
  • small bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • hot sauce (optional)
  • lime juice (optional)

Instructions

  1. Soak the ears of corn in water for 30 minutes.
  2. Heat the grill to high heat and lightly coat the crates with olive oil.
  3. Place the corn, tomatoes, onion and peppers on the grill, intact.
  4. Cook until everything is slightly charred.
  5. Let cool a couple of minutes before handling and then remove the corn husks, tomato stem and outer layer of skin on the peppers and onions.
  6. Slice the corn off the cob, chop the onions, peppers, tomatoes and the cilantro.
  7. Toss everything together in a large bowl with some salt, a glug of oil and a splash of lime juice, and a couple dashes of hot sauce, if using.
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