Malibu Beach Recovery Diet: Ready to Grill
Four recipes to kick your summer grilling up a notch
This summer, it’s all about grilling at my house. As I’ve mentioned in the past, it took me a long time to finally resort to buying a barbecue, that typical contraption often thought to be reserved for men to exercise their cavemen skills and hold conversations whatever sporting event is at hand.
For whatever reason, we have few female barbeque inspirations, so it was with some reluctance that I made my way through numerous books, all written by male chefs like Bobby Flay, Steven Raichlen, Myron Mixon and the likes of them, and just focused on the technique, not the talk.
In fact, grilling on a barbecue requires a good knowledge of the basis or direct and indirect heat, how to keep moisture in, how to spice and season to account for the char and smoke, but once you have that locked in, it’s pretty easy altogether.
The texture of the meat is one of the most important factors. This is where it is important for you to prepare your meat yourself and not rely on pre-packaged patties. You want to allow your meat or fish to contain a reasonable amount of fat. The best combination for hamburgers would be a 80/20 ratio, or a fatty fish like salmon. When you mix your patties, do not compress them. Mix them together enough that they stay together, but a compacted burger spells dry and tough. Under the intense heat from the fire, the fat will melt, creating little pockets of juice that will contribute to make your burger tasty but also incredibly moist. Same for your salmon burgers: as explained in the attached recipe, a portion of your fish is ground to almost a paste, but only to bind the fish together in a patty and leaving some pockets of air to bring moisture as you cook.
Next comes the preparation: Some cuts of meats require more cooking time to become moist. You do not have that luxury on a grill and therefore have to tenderize your meat with a marinade that will spice it, soften the fibers and insert moisture into the meat. Any soy sauce or citrus marinade will start softening your meat so that it cooks with a shorter exposure to intense heat. Remember to pat dry your cut of meat thoroughly before putting it on the grill so you achieve the crunchy crust that retains the char. Also cut against the grain to further tenderize each bite.
Also, there are many new accessories that allow you to improvise at the barbecue: baskets to grill vegetables, skewers holders to better allow you to turn your brochettes without losing half of the ingredients to the grill, salt and cedar planks to impart a different flavor to your meat or fish.
All of these new gadgets should make it easier to approach the barbecue with new enthusiasm. And this is the final word for me: barbecuing allows everybody to pitch in or gather around the fire. It becomes a collective effort to put food on the table, maximizing each others skills and bringing their talent to the table. Along with the good weather and the relaxed atmosphere, it is a great occasion to bring families together around the table and that is what food is all about.
Crostinis with Tuna Mousse
Makes 1 Cup
- One 6-ounce can Italian tuna packed in olive oil, drained
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
In a food processor, combine the tuna with the vinegar, lemon juice and soy sauce. Add the butter and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cream and pulse to blend. Mix in the chopped capers. Scrape into a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Slice the baguette or sourdough bread into thin slices. Lay the slices on a sheet pan in a single layer and spray with olive oil spray. Toast in the oven for about 20 minutes, keeping an eye on the bread. It should be dry but not burnt.
Remove and let cool.
Serve the tuna mousse with the crostinis, in addition to a green salad or on their own as a pass-around appetizer. If making the crostinis to pass around, top the tuna mousse with one caper for decoration.
Grilled Vegetable Salad
Total Time: 20 Min
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups crumbled cotija (Mexican cheese) or feta cheese (about 4 ounces)
- 8 tomatoes (6 to 8 ounces each), cored and cut into 6 wedges
- 1 bunch asparagus
- 4 zucchini, halved
- 2 bunches of scallions
- Canola oil, for rubbing
Light the grill.
Place all the vegetables in a large bowl and add the oil. Toss and season with salt and pepper. Grill the tomatoes, asparagus, zucchini and scallions over high heat, turning once, until they’re blistered, 1 minute per side; transfer to a platter. Drizzle the salad with the lime juice and olive oil, sprinkle with the cheese and serve.
If making for a larger crowd, add a few handfuls of arugula to the salad.
Any leftover vegetables can be used to stuff an omelette for breakfast the next morning.
Time 20 minutes
Yield 4 servings
- 1 ½ pounds skinless, boneless salmon
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 shallots, peeled and cut into chunks
- ½ cup coarse bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon capers, drained
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
- Lemon wedges
- Tabasco sauce
Cut the salmon into large chunks, and put about a quarter of it into the container of a food processor, along with the mustard. Turn the machine on, and let it run — stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary — until the mixture becomes pasty.
Add the shallots and the remaining salmon, and pulse the machine on and off until the fish is chopped and well combined with the puree. No piece should be larger than a quarter inch or so; be careful not make the mixture too fine.
Scrape the mixture into a bowl, and by hand, stir in the bread crumbs, capers and some salt and pepper. Shape into four burgers. (You can cover and refrigerate the burgers for a few hours at this point.)
Place the butter or oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet, and turn the heat to medium-high. When the butter foam subsides or the oil is hot, cook the burgers for 2 to 3 minutes a side, turning once. Alternatively, you can grill them: let them firm up on the first side, grilling about 4 minutes, before turning over and finishing for just another minute or two. To check for doneness, make a small cut and peek inside. Be careful not to overcook. Serve on a bed of greens or on buns or by themselves, with lemon wedges and Tabasco or any dressing you like.
Total Time: 30 min.
Makes: 6 servings
- 6 medium ripe peaches, halved and pitted
- 2 cup fresh blueberries
- 4 tablespoons palm sugar
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoon lemon juice
Cut some foil paper into 12 in. squares. Place two squares on top of each other.
Place two peach halves, cut side up, on each of six double thicknesses of heavy-duty foil (12 in. square). Top with blueberries, palm sugar, butter and lemon juice. Fold foil around mixture and seal tightly.
Grill, covered, over medium-low heat for 18-20 minutes or until tender. Open foil carefully to allow steam to escape.