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On The Side…

[NOTE: This is a sponsored post from STOK Grills.]

On a grill, it’s usually meats that take center stage. One of the reasons I wanted to get into grilling with this particular model was the ability to do a full meal at the grill – no more running inside and outside to keep up with a pan on the stove and a steak on the grill. (I’ve done it. It’s aerobic.) Here are some of the grilled sides I’ve been able to make at the same time.

Preparing mushrooms - Spoon & Knife

Clean, quarter, and oil mushrooms.

Grilled Mushrooms

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. white mushrooms
  • Olive oil to generously coat
  • Salt

Instructions

  1. Clean the mushrooms, remove stems, and quarter.
  2. Toss the mushrooms in olive oil until well coated and season with salt.
  3. Preheat grill with vegetable tray insert.
  4. Lay mushrooms in a single layer in the vegetable tray and roast, stirring occasionally, until browned and tender.
http://spoonandknife.com/on-the-side/

I do have to say, two things stuck out to me. One, it’s such an ingrained habit to be able to pick up a pan and toss the mushrooms – which isn’t really possible with the tray insert. (The insert handle that comes with the grill is great, but I didn’t want to risk it.) Two, olive oil is flammable. There were plenty of flames. Christine kept lowering the camera and saying “Umm…” with concern to the amount of smoke involved. No, the mushrooms didn’t taste burnt, but next time I might cook them with less direct heat and more indirect heat – lower the burners under the mushrooms and crank up the other side.

Flame Roasted Broccoli - Spoon & Knife

Flame Roasted Broccoli

FLAME ROASTED BROCCOLI:
(what doesn’t sound cooler as “flame roasted”?)
2-3 broccoli crowns, cut into florets, larger ones split in half
2-3 cloves of garlic, slivered
Olive oil, salt

Toss the broccoli and garlic in enough oil to shine (not soaked) and season.
Preheat grill with veggie tray insert.
Lay broccoli in a single layer on the tray and cook, stirrring occasionally, until tender and browned.

This was good, but goes a bit into “this is why we test recipes first” category, which is why I still want to include it now. I know how to roast broccoli, and by now I have a decent sense of how the grill cooks, but I haven’t really translated all my indoor tricks to the outdoor kitchen yet.

Long story short, while I liked the broccoli well enough, Christine wasn’t yet a fan. Part of it is heat management – it went dark and lightly charred on the outside before it got completely tender. It was good, and had a bit of crunch. But the biggest issue was “torch taste”.

Torch flavors are a side effect of any gas flame. The exact science has been written about elsewhere, but it has to do with the compounds that form when food and natural gas burn. It’s very distinctive. Personally, I don’t mind a little of it here and there. Christine found it inedible. If you’ve ever had gas grilled food that tasted like, well, gas? That’s torch taste.

Similar to the mushrooms, the fix is to drop the direct heat on the broccoli. I had all four burners cranked on high to keep the temperature up with the lid closed, but that meant there was a LOT of direct heat on the broccoli in the pan. Lowering the flame under the broccoli would help it cook more evenly and without the torch taste char. Bear that in mind when you try this at home.

Cooking – it’s a constant educational experience. Enjoy the journey!

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Recipe

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Recipe

Poor Brussels Sprouts. They get such a bad rap as being one of the most hated vegetables out there. I won’t deny it, until I started eating a 4-Hour Body / Paleo style of diet, I thought I hated them too. Then Mike made these, and he turned my perception of them around with this recipe for Caramelized Brussels Sprouts.

Brussels Sprouts Recipe

A member of the cabbage family, these beautiful little morsels are quite delicious! (Maybe because we cook ours with bacon?) The key is to not overcook them, as that will bring out the strong flavor in them. Brussels sprouts contain glucosinolates, which have a lot of health benefits, but also release lots of sulfur the longer they’re cooked. Take care when cooking your Brussels Sprouts and you will have a delicious dish that is full of nutrients and vitamins!

(Today’s random trivia: did you know the spelling is Brussels, not Brussel like I thought? I had no idea. I thought Mike had made a typo at first, so I had to look it up.)

Preparing to make Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts to be Caramelized

Cut down the Brussels Sprouts in to halves or quarters

Trim end of the sprouts and pull off tough/loose outer leaves, leaving a tight leaf ball with a bit of core to hold it together. Cut into halves or quarters, depending on if the sprouts are small or large.

Cut Brussels Sprouts

Rendering the Bacon for the Brussels Sprouts

Cut bacon into pieces, place in pan, and cook over medium heat until the fat has cooked out and the bacon is crispy and dark golden brown. Remove the crispy bits and put them in a bowl to the side.

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts cooking in a pan

Turn the heat up to high and add the sprouts to the pan. Ideally, the cut side should be down – this will draw out the moisture in the sprouts and help them to caramelize better. Even heating will help make sure you don’t overcook them and draw out that sulfur flavor.

Leave them to cook for 2-3 minutes, then toss in the pan. Keep cooking, tossing occasionally, until they look well caramelized and become tender. (With larger sprouts, you might add a quarter cup of water to the hot pan to create some steam and help them get tender. Do this at the end.) Remove the sprouts from the pan to a bowl and set aside.

Brussels Sprouts set aside

Sauteing the Shallots for the Caramelized Brussel Sprouts

Add the minced shallots to the pan and sautée them for a minute or two. Add 2-3 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar, and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Shallots

Return the Brussels Sprouts to the pan along with the crispy bacon. Toss to combine it all together.

Tossing the Brussels Sprouts

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Shallots and Bacon Recipe

The next time you’re looking for a new vegetable to bring something to your dinner table, give these Brussels Sprouts a try. You may discover that you think they are delicious after all!

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts Recipe

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Yield: 3-4 Servings

Caramelized Brussels Sprouts

Ingredients

  • 1 Lb. brussels sprouts
  • 4-6 strips of bacon, cut into pieces
  • 1 shallot
  • Balsamic vinegar

Instructions

  1. Trim end of sprouts and pull off tough/loose outer leaves, leaving a tight leaf ball with a bit of core to hold it together. Cut into halves or quarters, depending on if the sprouts are small or large.
  2. Render bacon in pan. (Cut bacon into pieces, place in pan, and cook over medium heat until the fat has cooked out and the bacon is crispy and dark golden brown.) Remove crispy bits to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Turn the heat up to high and add the sprouts to the pan. Ideally, the cut side should be down - this will draw out the moisture in the sprouts and caramelize better. Leave them to cook for 2-3 minutes, then toss in the pan. Keep cooking, tossing occasionally, until they look well caramelized and become tender. (With larger sprouts, you might add a quarter cup of water to the hot pan to create some steam and help them get tender. Do this at the end.) Remove the sprouts from the pan to a bowl and set aside.
  4. If needed, add a tablespoon or two of oil back to the pan and sautée the minced shallots for a minute or two. Add 2-3 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar, and cook until most of the liquid is evaporated.
  5. Return the sprouts and bacon to the pan, toss to combine, and season to taste
http://spoonandknife.com/caramelized-brussels-sprouts-with-bacon-recipe/

Cauliflower Leek Soup Recipe – Cooking with Mike…

Easy Cauliflower Leek Soup Recipe

Cauliflower Leek Soup Recipe Prep

This Cauliflower Leek Soup recipe has the distinct honor of being the first post of the new cooking series on my blog!

My husband Mike & I have long talked about doing a “Cooking With Mike” series. He cooks, I take photos, and we share it all with you. I turned it in to a resolution for the new year – every weekend (well, every weekend that we are both in Houston), we spend time together in the kitchen cooking and photographing recipes. We’re still working the kinks out of the system, so while we cooked this the first weekend of the year, I am just now posting it here on the blog. Don’t worry though, I will be catching up soon!

On to cooking – the Cauliflower Leek Soup recipe! When I started doing 4 Hour Body 13 months ago, I gave up potatoes. The down side to that was no more potato leek soup. Mike decided to try to make it with cauliflower instead, and I discovered it tastes just as delicious, all while being Paleo / 4 Hour Body friendly!

Cauliflower and leeks for making soup

I should probably admit that until I met Mike, I didn’t even know what a leek was, other than being some weird thing I saw on the menu from time to time. Ah, the life of being a picky eater. He has definitely made me more adventuresome when it comes to food!

Who Doesn't Love BACON?

And who doesn’t love Bacon? Oh, wait, I didn’t until a year ago. Well, I used to, but then I stopped. I still can only eat it if it is really crispy!

Cutting leeks to prepare them to be washed.

Cutting leeks to prepare them to be washed.

When preparing your leeks, you want to cut them in half in one direction, but not all the way through at the base. Then turn and repeat for the other half (essentially cutting them in to quarters), again, not cutting all the way through the base – as Mike shows in the bottom photo. This will keep them together while you soak them to get them clean, making it easier to cut them for the soup.

Leeks - Ready for the Cauliflower Leek Soup

Chopping for the Cauliflower Leek Soup Recipe

Leeks - Ready to go in the Cauliflower Leek Soup Recipe!

Removing the core of the cauliflower

Breaking Down Cauliflower for cooking cauliflower leek soup

Cutting the cauliflower for our cauliflower leek soup

Cauliflower, ready for Cauliflower Leek Soup

While he was breaking down the cauliflower and cutting it, the leeks were sweating in the pot behind him, getting nice and soft and all of the water out of them so that we could add the cauliflower and the (still frozen) chicken stock.

The leeks are done when they have sweated out, are very soft, are not browned, and are about half their original volume.

Sweating the leeks - cauliflower leek soup

Cauliflower Leek Soup - cooking

Testing the cauliflower to make sure it is done cooking

Cauliflower Leek Soup in the Vitamix

Cauliflower Leek Soup in the Vitamix

We used our new Vitamix Professional Series 200 Blender [affiliate link] to blend our soup, but we discussed afterwards that it makes it so smooth and creamy, it is too smooth for me. (I have texture issues.) Mike’s tips to work around that if you like your soup a little more “hearty” like I do is to either hold back 25% of the soup and blend that in separately at the end, not quite so smooth, or to use a stick blender. He was THRILLED with how smooth the soup came out putting it all in at once, and said that that was the classic texture. Just so you know you have options!

Update January, 2014: We are so excited to be included in the Meal Planning Magic 25 Simple Soup Recipes for National Soup Month list! Many great ones there to check out as well!

Easy Cauliflower Leek Soup Recipe - topped with bacon

Easy Cauliflower Leek Soup Recipe

Cauliflower Leek Soup Recipe

Yield: 4-6 Servings

Ingredients

  • 4 strips of bacon, cut into ½” pieces
  • 3 leeks, trimmed and washed
  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 4 C chicken stock
  • ½ C heavy cream
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. In a pot over medium-low heat, cook the bacon pieces until golden brown and fat has rendered. Remove bacon pieces with slotted spoon and reserve.
  2. Halve the leeks and chop roughly into pieces about ½” wide.
  3. Turn heat to medium-high. Add leeks to pot, scatter over 1 tsp. kosher salt, stir, and cover pot. Let leeks sweat for about 5 minutes, until soft. Stir to scrape up brown bacon bits from bottom of pot.
  4. Core the cauliflower and separate the florets.
  5. Once leeks are done, add cauliflower and stock to pot and bring it to a boil.
  6. Turn heat to medium-low. Cover pot and cook until cauliflower is tender, about 15 minutes.
  7. Transfer soup to blender (work in batches if necessary) and blend until smooth. (May use a stick blender if you prefer.) For additional notes on this step, see the Cook's Notes.
  8. Stir or blend in cream, then taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
http://spoonandknife.com/cauliflower-leek-soup-recipe-cooking-with-mike/

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