Food to match the fireworks

Published: Wednesday, Jun. 26, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 4D

Ditch the hot dogs an give your taste buds a blast with dishes hot off the grill. Even bake the cake on the grill.


Grilled spiced olives

Serves 4

Here the olive flavor is enhanced by marinating, then grilling them. The two-step process makes them a dynamic and interesting snack.

You'll need a grilling basket, and you'll need to soak 1 cup of applewood chips in water for an hour.

Make ahead: The olives need to marinate for a day or two at room temperature.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups mixed olives (pitted or unpitted)

Zest and juice of 1 orange, zest first removed in large strips using a vegetable peeler

1 teaspoon fennel seed

2 sprigs fresh thyme

One 3-inch cinnamon stick

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine the olives, orange zest and juice, fennel seed, thyme sprigs and cinnamon stick in a medium bowl. Cover and marinate for a day or two at room temperature, stirring every now and then to make sure the olives are coated.

Prepare the grill for direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to low (300 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them under the cooking area for direct heat. Drain the applewood chips and distribute them on the coals. You should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for about 6 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames. Grease a grill basket with cooking oil spray.

Remove the thyme sprigs and cinnamon stick from the olives and reserve them.

Spread the olives in the grill basket. Cook for about 5 minutes; they will sizzle and begin to caramelize. Move the basket away from direct heat just far enough to add the cinnamon stick and thyme sprigs to the fire, then return the basket to its original spot. Close the grill lid and let the olives smoke for about 5 minutes.

Transfer the olives to a serving bowl. Drizzle with the oil; serve right away.


Shrimp and sausage skewers with paprika glaze

Serves 6

Beautifully colored and savory, a single skewer makes a satisfying portion. Because the skewers are on the grill just long enough to cook the shrimp (and not long enough to cook sausages through), be sure to use a cooked smoked sausage.

You'll need six 12-inch-long metal skewers.

Make ahead: The glaze can be made and the skewers can be assembled up to 6 hours in advance.

Adapted from "The Grilling Book: The Definitive Guide From Bon Appetit," edited by Adam Rapoport (Andrews McMeel, $45 , 432 pages).

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 large garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons chopped thyme

5 teaspoons smoked paprika (pimenton)

4 teaspoons sherry vinegar

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

12 extra-large shrimp (13 to 15 per pound), peeled and deveined

1 pound cooked smoked sausage, such as andouille or linguica, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces

12 cherry tomatoes

12 red onion wedges (thick or thin, your preference)

INSTRUCTIONS

Prepare the grill for direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (450 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly over the cooking area. For a hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for 3 or 4 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames. Lightly coat the grill rack with oil and place it on the grill.

Whisk together the oil, garlic, thyme, smoked paprika, vinegar, salt, black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes in a medium bowl. Reserve half of the glaze by transferring it to a separate bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Thread the shrimp, sausage pieces, tomatoes and onion sections alternately onto the metal skewers, dividing the elements evenly. Arrange the skewers on a large rimmed baking sheet. Use half of the glaze to coat them thoroughly and evenly. Cook uncovered for 6 to 8 minutes, turning the skewers as needed and brushing occasionally with that glaze, until the shrimp are just opaque in the center.

Divide the skewers among individual plates. Serve warm or at room temperature. Pass the reserved glaze at the table.

Per serving: 310 calories, 24 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 70 mg cholesterol, 650 mg sodium, 8 g carbohydrates, 1 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugar, 16 g protein.


Mustard-and-aioli grilled potatoes with fines herbes

Serves 4 to 6

This combines flavors from the south of France and the Napa Valley. The dish is easy to assemble and the potatoes look smashing when served just off the grill.

Make ahead: The aioli needs to be refrigerated at least 30 minutes and up to a day in advance.

Adapted from "Bobby Flay's Barbecue Addiction," by Bobby Flay with Stephanie Banyas and Sally Jackson (Clarkson Potter, 288 pages, $35).

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup regular or low-fat mayonnaise

2 cloves garlic, smashed to a paste

1 heaping tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

1 heaping tablespoon whole-grain mustard

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 1/2 pounds baby Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed

2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tablespoon finely chopped chives

1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon

INSTRUCTIONS

Whisk together the mayonnaise, garlic and mustards in a medium container; season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 day.

Put the potatoes in a pot, cover with cold water by 2 inches and add 2 tablespoons salt. Bring to a boil over high heat; cook for 15 to 20 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the center of a potato meets some resistance. Drain well and let cool slightly.

Prepare the grill for direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium (350 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them under the cooking area for direct heat. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for about 4 or 5 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames. Lightly coat the grill rack with oil and place it on the grill.

Combine the warm potatoes and aioli in a mixing bowl and season lightly with salt; toss to coat evenly. Grill (uncovered) until golden brown on all sides (a little char looks appealing), about 8 minutes.

Transfer the potatoes to a platter and sprinkle with the fresh herbs. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Per serving (based on 6, using low-fat mayo): 230 calories, 5 g protein, 36 g carbohydrates, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 280 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar


Strawberry pazzo cake with herbed crème fraîche

Serves 8

This cake can be baked on the grill or in the oven.

Make ahead: The optional herbed crème fraîche needs to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to overnight. Adapted from "Michael Chiarello's Live Fire: 125 Recipes for Cooking Outdoors" (Chronicle Books, $35, 224 pages) with Ann Krueger Spivack and Claudia Sansone.

INGREDIENTS

For the herbed crème fraîche:

1 cup crème fraîche

1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary (may substitute minced fresh basil leaves)

For the cake:

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more to grease the pan

1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt, preferably sel gris

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 cup whole or low-fat milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

For the balsamic glaze:

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

A few grinds of fresh black pepper

For assembly:

Confectioners' sugar, for dusting (optional)

Roasted strawberries with syrup (optional; see note)

INSTRUCTIONS

For the crème fraîche:

Stir together the crème fraîche and rosemary in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

For the cake: Butter a 9-inch cast-iron skillet or an 8-by-8-inch enameled cast-iron baking pan (if cooking in the grill) or a standard 8-by-8-inch baking pan (if baking in your oven). Don't put a standard baking pan inside your grill or over a fire. Light the coals, turn a gas grill to medium, or preheat an oven to 350 degrees.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl.

Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes, until creamy. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

On medium speed, gradually add the egg, milk and vanilla extract, beating until just combined. The mixture might begin to look curdled; that's OK. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing just until smooth and creamy.

Pour into the pan, using a flexible spatula to smooth and level the surface. Arrange the strawberry halves, cut side down, on the batter. Don't overlap the berries; use just enough for one layer and reserve any extras as a garnish, if desired.

To bake in a grill: When the grill reaches 350 degrees, slide in the cake, resting the pan on the grill rack; close the grill's lid and let it bake for at least 20 minutes. Test the cake: It's done when a skewer inserted into the center (but not in a strawberry) comes out clean and the cake is golden brown on top.

To bake in an oven: Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. The cake is done when a skewer inserted into the center (but not in a strawberry) comes out clean and the cake is golden brown on top.

For the balsamic glaze: While the cake is baking, combine the balsamic vinegar, sugar and black pepper in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium and allow the mixture to boil for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. It should be the consistency of maple syrup; if it thickens too much before the cake comes out of the oven, stir in more vinegar as needed.

As soon as the cake comes off the heat, drizzle about three-quarters of the balsamic glaze over the top.

When the cake has cooled, cut it into wedges if baked in a skillet; if baked in a standard baking pan, cut it into 8 squares.

To assemble: Either garnish simply with a light dusting of confectioners' sugar and garnish with any remaining fresh strawberry halves; or to dress up the cake, spoon some roasted strawberries and their juices, or any remaining fresh strawberry halves, onto one side of each plate; on the other side of the plate, pour a small pool of the balsamic glaze. Drizzle more balsamic glaze over the cake if you like. Set a cake slice in between and top with a spoonful of herbed crème fraîche. Spoon any remaining crème fraîche into a bowl and set on a platter with leftover halved strawberries to pass at the table.

Per serving (using whole milk): 400 calories, 5 g protein, 46 g carbohydrates, 22 g fat, 14 g saturated fat, 80 mg cholesterol, 210 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 24 g sugar

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