fiery fish spectacular

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This is a killer recipe…whole fish, twigs, European liquor that Americans tend to ignore and setting things on fire! Loup Flambe au Fenouil

I have only attempted to flambe something on one other occasion, and so was expecting a similar fiery inferno…especially because this one had tinder! I didn’t really have the “dried wild fennel twigs” that Ms. Willam calls for so those are just regular fennel stalks that I dried.  The directions said to warm the Pernod, and well,  I warmed the alcohol right out of it!  Then I wasn’t having much luck getting it to light, so Rob tried it and finally I just poured some alcohol fresh from the bottle, not warmed, and he got it lit. Yay!  The fennel stalks burned a little…but it was pretty tame so I’m not sure if we got the full flambe flavor.

I do love cooking whole fish (this is grilled bass) and I love fennel and anise flavors so it was quite delicious. While I had the grill going I also grilled some eggplant, zucchini and fennel bulb to go along with the fish. It all felt a little like a summer meal in Provence, even in these sunny but frigid late winter days. Full disclosure. I have never been to Provence.

On a side note. Never go to the grocery store hungry, and especially not the grocery store next-door to possibly the best banh mi place in Chicago. Double especially when you know you must go home and eat leftover pesto pasta with potatoes and green beans. Because even though this pasta is very delicious, it won’t seem quite as good today because you were dreaming about banh mi. Just saying.

grilled fennel salad

I think I have suggested that everything can, and should, be grilled. Let me add  on to that; you should grill sliced fennel and eat it on a salad with pistachios and goat cheese. (and some fresh dill and watercress)

I will say that I lost a number a small pieces of fennel into the bottom of the grill, even with my cast iron grates that have pretty narrow gaps. They were kind of baby fennel bulbs this time and it would probably work better those  giant mutant bulbs….you know the ones that are the size of a small acorn squash. (craziness)

I did not toast my pistachios…okay let me rephrase. I burnt some pistachios. Then I gave up and ate my salad with some non-toasted  ones.  It was delicious and I always burn nuts when I try to toast them…I get distracted.

Tune in soon for another salad with pistachios and goat cheese. I’m sensing a trend coming on…

grilling cheese


This was my first attempt to grill cheese. Apparently this is special skill of this cheese called Halloumi, that it can be grilled.  It doesn’t just melt through the grill grate. It does get kind of spongy. Of course I didn’t leave it on there very long.

And the tomato relish was delicious, sweet, but delicious. I just don’t understand how you eat it on corn…. It was really good on a leftover hamburger the next day. (shrug)

Rhu-hab-a-que

So I’m not sure that this is the best use of rhubarb if you have limited amounts but I enjoyed it so if you have a lot and want to try something savory this time then…

Basically you just cook down the rhubarb and mix in with your favorite bottled barbeque sauce. Now I don’t have a favorite bottled sauce so I bought Local Folks Foods Hab-a-que sauce made with habenero peppers (because I like their ketchup).   I thought the hot and the rhubarb would be a good combo. I think I may have been wrong. I liked it, but the heat took away from the rhubarb flavor a bit and I think the tart with a sweeter fruit based sauce would work well.

Anyway…the recipe was for roasting the chicken, but it is summer and I grill everything so I cut it into pieces and grilled it. The recipe also had you put some of the sauce in the orzo (with green onions and shredded carrots) This is not a good call. Orzo and veggies should not have rhu-hab-a-que sauce on them.  I would have preferred just a little little olive oil and lemon juice.

I warn you…do not make these grits

grilled pork loin, grits, corn on the cobI realize people do much more elaborate and difficult things on the grill… but brining, and then grilling with indirect heat, a whole pork loin is by far the most ambitious of my grilling projects to date; so I feel like the grillmaster and there is no one here to tell me otherwise! ha! :p

And I warn you. Do not make these grits! You will eat them, and eat them….and not be able to stop until you are quite sure you may explode. If you have a love of sweet corn. If you are one of those people who can’t get enough of anything carb’y. if you tend to go back for just one more spoonful… I will say it again. Do not make these grits because they are far too delicious. Here is how to make them.

  1. Grate a vidalia onion and cut the kernels off two ears of sweet corn.
  2. Cook the grated onion in some oil on the bottom of your pan until translucent, add corn and cook a few more minutes.
  3. Add 2 cups of whole milk and 2 cups of water and 1 tsp of salt. Bring to a boil and whisk in 1 cup of grits. (not quick cook! just plain old coarse-ground dried corn)
  4. Turn to low stir occasionally. The recipe said for 45 to 60 minutes but mine were thick and creamy and started browning on the bottom of the pan at  about 30 minutes.
  5. In the meantime grate 3/4 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano and chop 1 tablespoon each of chives and parsley.
  6. Once the grits are done add the cheese, 2 tablespoons of butter, the herbs and a couple handfuls of coarsely chopped spinach. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Try not to eat it all by yourself

…actual recipe

kecap manis is really sweet

grilled shrimp and salmon kabobs with egg noodle and bok choyMy version of this marinade:

2 in piece of grated ginger
1/2 cup sake
3/4 cup kecap manis
1/2 tsp five-spice powder

If you can’t find the kecap manis, (pronounced ketchap) an Indonesian sweet soy sauce, I found a recipe.

Thread your shrimp and salmon cubes onto skewers and marinate for at least a couple hours.  They cook really quickly on the grill.  Of course oil the grate really well because the salmon will stick a little. But yummy caramelized goodness it is that you scrape off that grill grate.

I cooked the marinade and wilted in some sliced bok choy and ate it all with some egg noodles as the recipe suggested. That kecap is really sweet though.

If you only cook red meat on your grill I suggest you expand your grilling possibilities.  You will not regret it. I did buy the beautiful bright red/pink wild salmon rather than the anemic looking farmed salmon which was part of the reason it was so delicious.