Monday, March 30, 2009

Grilled Basil-Lemon Cornish Game Hens

Okay, the weather was great this past weekend so I needed to bust out the grill for the first time this year. And what is a better Spring-y thing to make than Cornish Game Hens? I made them with Grilled Summer Squash and Crushed Potatoes with Olive Oil, Parmesan and Basil and it was an amazing dinner. Well amazing even though the hens turned out kind of raw because I have no idea how to grill... but baby steps! Thank the heavens for microwaves! But really, this recipe is great and super impressive. If you are interested in grilling Cornish Game Hens, I strongly suggest you give them a try. And make sure you do the Myer Lemon Salsa if if Myer Lemons are in seasons because they are neat to work with.

Grilled Basil-Lemon Cornish Game Hens
Makes 8 servings

1 cup lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
½ cup grated lemon zest
¼ cup basil
¼ cup chopped mint
2 tbsp minced red jalapeno

8 Cornish game hens, halved
2 Tbsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 cup Meyer Lemon Salsa (below)

Combine the lemon juice, oil, lemon zest, basil, mint and jalapeno to make a marinade. Place the game hens in a large, shallow pan. Pour the marinade over the top, and turn the hens to coat evenly. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 12 hours.

Preheat a gas grill to medium-high; leave one burner off. If you are using a charcoal grill, build a fire and let it burn down until the coals are glowing red with a moderate coating of white ash. Spread the coals in an even bed on one side of the grill. Clean the cooking grate.

Remove the game hens from the marinade and brush off any excess marinade. Season with the salt and pepper.

Grill the game hens over direct heat until marked, about 4 minutes per side. Move the hens to indirect heat and continue to grill, covered and turning as needed, until cooked through, about 12 to 15 minutes more.

Serve the game hens on a heated platter or plates with the salsa on top.

Meyer Lemon Salsa
Makes 2 cups

1 Meyer lemon
1 cup minced shallots
¾ tsp salt
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ tsp ground black pepper
2 tsp Meyer lemon juice, optional

Cut the whole lemon, unpeeled, into crosswise slices about 1/8 inch thick. Remove the seeds and cut the slices into 1/8-inch dice. Place the diced lemon in a mixing bowl.

Add the shallots and salt to the lemons, and stir to combine. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Add the parsley, and gradually whisk in the oil until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and pepper. Add additional lemon juice if desired.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Grilled Summer Squash

So I mentioned that 2009 is the year I am going to learn how to grill, right? One of the cookbooks I really leaning on is the Culinary Institute of America's Grilling: Exciting International Flavors from the World's Premier Culinary College. That and some Bobby Flay and Mario Batali books I got last year. But this one from the CIA is REALLY great because it does give a whole lot of lessons.

I know that grilled veggies aren't exactly complicated, but since I'm LEARNING I wanted to document it here. The marinade has to be key and these were really great. But this took a ridiculous amount of time to prepare. I could only fit so many strips on the grill! I think I had to make these in about six different batches. The good news is that they taste amazing at room temperature.

Grilled Summer Squash
Makes 8 servings

4 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup rough-chopped parsley
2 Tbsp thyme leaves
½ cup lemon juice
1 cup olive oil
3 tsp salt
1½ tsp ground black pepper
4 zucchini
4 yellow squashes

Mix together the garlic parsley, thyme, lemon juice, olive oil, 2tsp of the salt, and 1 tsp of the pepper to make a marinade.

Cut the zucchini and squash lengthwise into ¼-inch-thick strips using a mandolin or a chef's knife. Place the strips in a zip-close bag and pour the marinade over the vegetables. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours.

Preheat a gas grill to medium-high. If you are using a charcoal grill, build a fire and let it burn down until the coals are glowing red with a light coating of white ash. Spread the coals in an even bed. Clean the cooking grate.

Remove the vegetables from the marinade and allow excess marinade to drain off. Season the slices with the remaining salt and pepper. Grill uncovered over direct heat, turning as necessary, until marked on both sides and tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove the vegetables from the grill and cut lengthwise into ¼-inch-wide julienne to make grilled squash noodles. Serve immediately.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Crushed Potatoes with Olive Oil, Parmesan and Basil

I got the New Scottish Cookery: 160 New and Traditional Recipes Using the Best Produce from Scotland cookbook when I was in Scotland this past September and have not had a chance to make anything from it until now. I know smashed potatoes aren't all that original, but these are really great. The fresh herbs really make it pop. These are so easy to make and can be an impressive staple for any Sunday meal.

Crushed Potatoes with Olive Oil, Parmesan and Basil
Serves 4

1 lb. new potatoes, scrubbed
Freshly ground sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
5 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh basil leaves
1 oz. Parmesan cheese, shaved

Cool the potatoes in simmering, salted water until tender. Drain and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and, with the back of a fork, gently crush each potato until it just splits. Season, then add the basil and Parmesan. Mix carefully until all the oil has been absorbed. Don't overwork it or you'll lose the texture.

You can serve the potatoes in a pile or use a 3-inch scone cutter to shape them into nice little cakes.

The mixture can be made in advance and cooled, and then reheated as potato cakes. Put them on an oiled baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, until golden brown on top.

Love is all around you...

- Rachel

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