Fire & Ice

I don’t know why, but I get tapped for grill duty at every family cookout.Unlike the bright red I desire in a steak, I like my burgers cooked a heretical medium-well, crispy on the outside, cooked through in the middle.  And medium-well burgers are a mortal sin to 99% of food folks.

So, I possess no burger cred.And I don’t even like grilled hot dogs.  I’m a steamed girl.So, there’s no frankfurter cred, either.

But still, every cookout finds me standing over fire, attempting to resist smoke inhalation-induced swoonage.  No matter what, a smoky cloud envelops me like a meat-accented shroud.Because of the ongoing grill-induced trauma, the foods I’ve picked for a 4th of July cookout don’t need an attendant; just a little prep.  This also means they can be put together well in advance.

Piggy pocketspork pockets1 small boneless pork shoulder (5 pounds or so)

3-4 pounds small red skin or Yukon gold potatoes

1 bag undressed coleslaw from the produce department

2 sweet onions, thinly sliced

½ cup beer (your choice, darker beer has stronger flavor)

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

Heat grill to 275-300.

Cut pork and unpeeled potatoes into 2-inch cubes.  Put all the cubes into zip-top bag.  Whisk together beer and mustard.  Season.  Pour beer mixture over pork and taters.  Close and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.  When ready to make packets, divide into 10 equal portions.

Cut ten large pieces of foil (about 14-16 inches).  On one half of the foil, scatter ¾ cup dry cole slaw.  Sprinkle with pinch of salt & pepper.  Lay a couple slices of onion over veg.  Top with one portion of pork and potatoes.Seal packs and cook on heated grill for one hour.  Serve them closed so guests can open their own packets.

Mexican street corn

Stir together sauce:street corn cream¾ cup mayonnaise

¾ cup light sour cream

3 cloves of garlic, minced

Juice of 1 lime

Salt & pepper 

Refrigerate covered, up to a few days, until ready to serve corn.mexicorn

10 ears corn, cut in half

20 bamboo skewers, which have been soaked in cold water overnight

Chili powder

1/3 cup cilantro leaves

1 cup crumbly cotija cheese

Skewer each piece of corn. 

When the pork has been cooking almost an hour, move packs to warming area of grill.

Place corn on hottest part of the grill and cook 15-20 minutes, turning frequently to lightly char all sides.When cooked, paint mayo-sour cream over corn, then sprinkle with chili powder, cotija and cilantro.  Serves 10-12.

Served right out of the blender, this next treat is a soft serve dead ringer for Disney’s Dole Whip.  As popsicles, they are terrific, but if you have the palate for it, the added jalapeño makes it a unique sweet/heat frozen confection.

Pop-goes the firecracker-siclesdolesicles

8 cups frozen pineapple chunks

2 8-ounce tubs frozen fat-free Cool Whip

2 teaspoons vanilla

Pinch of salt

Jalapeños (optional)

Rum (optional)

Let pineapple and whipped topping sit out for 10 minutes to soften slightly.Place topping into the blender bowl first.  Add pineapple and salt.  Blend until almost smooth.  At this point, you can add the jalapeños, then continue blending until smooth and silky.

For cocktails instead of popsicles, blend in the rum, approximately 8 shots.  Then serve in 8 tall chilled glasses.Otherwise, pour mixture into 12 popsicle molds and allow them to freeze solid.  Can be kept frozen for up to a week.

With this holiday cookout menu, you can get everything ready days before the shindig. This means that when your guests arrive, your work is done, and you can enjoy your own party without all the smoke and the need for periodic resuscitation in the form of handsome paramedics bearing oxygen.  Can you say out-Martha-ing Martha?

Yay, go you!

Quick!  Where the hell are those charcoal briquettes!

Thanks for your time.











Frozen Gold

So I was watching this BBC show, Torchwood.  It’s a Doctor Who spinoff starring John Barrowman, a charming Scottish-American singer/actor/author Renaissance man.

This particular episode was narrated by Eugene, a young man whose death was being investigated.  He kept talking about banana milkshakes.  I started craving my own banana milkshake, but there were two monkey wrenches in the machinery of my desire.

I didn’t have any vanilla or banana ice cream, and there’s like a million calories in a banana shake. But, I did have 2 bananas in the freezer and I’d read about one or two ingredient “ice cream” with frozen bananas.  I’d even used them along with some buttermilk and frozen pineapple to make a frozen treat.  That had tasted okay, but wasn’t delicious, and the texture was odd.  I didn’t feel the need to rush out and make it again.

This time I decided to not fool around with ingredient curveballs and go super simple so I’d be able to make an honest judgment.  I’d know if I liked it without wondering if my tinkering had ruined something wonderful or conversely, made dreck delicious.I’m still me, though.  So I added Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa powder.  But aside from a splash of skim milk to facilitate blending, that’s all I added, and it was only one tablespoon of cocoa.

I used both bananas, and it turned into a couple cups or so of finished product.It was insanely delicious.  I’ve had chocolate-covered frozen bananas before, and while tasty, the fruit is brittle and icy.  This was the texture of perfect soft-serve ice cream.  It was rich and incredibly creamy.  Honest, if I hadn’t made it myself, I never would’ve believed that it wasn’t full of butterfat.

Before I knew it, I ate the whole darn bowl.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could do the same thing with other fruit?

I don’t know if papaya or pomegranate works, but with one little recipe adjustment, pineapple sure does.The Kid went to Bush Gardens recently and I was jealous.  Petey and I spent our honeymoon at the Williamsburg park.  We’re both suckers for nausea-inducing, life-risking rides and I love the corny faux-European theme.

And it might be amusement park grub, but I adore the sausage at the German Festhaus, and the manicotti they serve in Faux-Italy.  They were also the first place on the east coast I knew of that offered churros.

Upon arriving home, the first words out of my child’s mouth made me more than jealous. “They have Dole Whip.”

Originally sold at Disney parks, Dole Whip is this amazing, creamy, pineapple frozen treat.  You can actually buy bags of pineapple soft serve mix online, but you’ll need plenty of storage space—each bag makes a whopping 89 servings.

So, I researched.  Many recipes had all kinds of extraneous ingredients that added tons of fat and/or weird flavors.  I finally found a simple recipe that looked like it might work.Oh yeah, it worked.  It worked like a charm wearing a horseshoe and carrying a rabbit’s foot.  To make it we used rock-hard frozen ingredients and employed a Vitamix blender.  Those beasts could make smoothies out of diamonds, but if you don’t have one just let the ingredients sit out for 10-15 minutes.

With these recipes, make it then serve immediately.  It melts quickly and freezing for any length of time will make it too solid to eat.

How much did we love our homemade Dole Whip?  When I reminded The Kid to take the Vitamix home, instead my child left the machine at the house, and volunteered to purchase the fixings for more.

This summer I foresee a whole lot of frozen fruit in my future and hopefully, temporary custody of a Vitamix.forseeThanks for your time.

Banana dream

banana cream

4 bananas, frozen solid

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

Enough skim milk to blend

Throw bananas, vanilla and salt into food processor.  Process until smooth adding milk as needed.  Makes 2-4 servings, depending on one’s self-control. 

Whipped pineapple

dole whip

4 cups frozen pineapple chunks

1 8-ounce tub of fat-free whipped topping, frozen

Enough skim milk to make blend-able

Put all ingredients into blender, and blend until smooth.  Serves 4.