Entries Tagged 'On the Grill'

A New Toy!

Artichokes in Niscemi

I just got my first camcorder and had the opportunity to try it out in the town of Niscemi during the Feast of St. Joseph celebration or, La Festa di San Giuseppe, as it’s known here. I’ll have more photos and videos soon but I wanted to share a quick look at the grilled artichokes I got to eat for lunch!


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Cilantro Caesar Salad with Carne Asada


I created this salad quite a while ago but haven’t posted it because I haven’t come up with an exact recipe. Each time I make the salad, I change the ingredients and amounts, trying to come up with the perfect combination. But it seems that it tastes just as good each time. So, I’m just going to give you a basic recipe and some general guidelines and you can either come up with your own “exact recipe” or you can keep changing it up like I’ve been doing.

I started experimenting with this salad because I was trying to replicate the mexican caesar salad from El Torito, a chain restaurant here on the west coast. I haven’t had it for years but I’ve never forgotten the cilantro dressing. Since I was in Italy when I started my experiment, I ended up using olive oil, pine nuts and parmigiano reggiano cheese. What I came up with is basically a thin cilantro pesto and it’s REALLY good on salad and meat! I think the only resemblance my recipe has to the El Torito salad is the main cilantro flavor and the tortilla strips. But it’s similar enough that I no longer crave the other one. Continue reading →

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Bacon-Wrapped Beef Medallions with Smoked Paprika Butter


I decided to get out and grill something before I missed the deadline for Carnival of the Grill, a blogging event hosted by Men in Aprons. I usually don’t need an excuse to fire up the grill, but it’s been so hot lately I’ve chosen to stay in my air conditioned kitchen and have kept my distance from fire-producing objects. Luckily, the mercury seems to be dropping and it’s actually pleasant outside in the evenings again.

So last night, in honor of my return to the grill, I opted for something fancy.  And by fancy I don’t mean complicated, I mean expensive. It’s nice to splurge once in a while and the thick beef tenderloin steaks at the market looked so good that I couldn’t resist. Although I love a good porterhouse or rib eye, there’s nothing like biting into a perfectly grilled tenderloin steak.

Usually I don’t do much to these steaks… a little olive oil, salt, and pepper and they taste amazing. But occasionally I wrap them in bacon.  Last night I took it a step further and crowned my effort with a slice of spicy, smoky compound butter. I was inspired to make this butter a few days ago after visiting 101 Cookbooks. I love smoked paprika and I’m always looking for new ways to use it. It tastes amazing in this butter and I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner! By the way, if you like to make your own barbecue rubs and you have never tried smoked paprika… go buy some now!

Yes, a steak wrapped in bacon and covered in butter might sound like a heart attack waiting to happen, but beef tenderloin is very lean and we’re only talking about one slice of bacon and maybe a teaspoon of butter. Adding a dab of compound butter to grilled meat takes it to a whole new level. Try some sage butter on a grilled pork chop if you don’t believe me.

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Grilled Peaches with Blue Cheese and Honey


I stumbled across a crazy site by the name of Steve’s Hot Dogs one afternoon and found this great recipe for grilled peaches. The actual name of the recipe is “The Best Damn Peaches You’ve Never Had…” and now I can say that they come pretty close to the best damn peaches I have had. These peaches were brushed with oil, grilled, filled with crumbled blue cheese and drizzled with honey. Unfortunately I didn’t have the Tupelo honey that was specified in the recipe but the bees in Sicily do a pretty good job.

Even if grilled peaches aren’t your thing, be sure to head over there for some interesting recipes (squirrel stew, for one), Samuel L. Jackson references, and the terrific beverage recommendations that accompany every recipe (“Serve with your favorite Cabernet Sangiovese and have yourself a Champagne Jam like the Atlanta Rhythm Section or with the Atlanta Rhythm Section”).


Once you try these peaches, you’ll probably be hooked on grilling fruit. I love to grill apple rings after they have been brushed with oil and sprinkled with a little cinnamon and sugar. Be creative. Just about anything you put on a grill is going to taste pretty damn good! An interesting article about grilling fruit can be found here.

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Flank Steak, Potato Pizza, and Baby Octupus Anyone?


I was looking at NPR’s Kitchen Window food column and found this recipe for spice-rubbed flank steak with cajun swamp sauce and it sounds really good! Since it’s Saturday, I think a barbeque is in order for tonight! I was planning on making some chili today using tri-tip instead of ground beef (I went a little crazy buying tri-tip one day because they had a good deal on it at the commissary). But I can make the chili today and eat it tomorrow. It will probably be even better if it sits overnight.

Spice-Rubbed Flank Steak with Cajun Swamp Sauce

Hanger steak also is excellent prepared this way.

2 medium garlic cloves

1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black mustard seeds (optional)

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)

1 1/2 pounds flank steak, trimmed of excess fat

With a mortar and pestle, mash the garlic and ginger into a paste. (You can use a flat meat pounder or mince very well with a large chef’s knife). Add the remaining seasonings. Salt to taste.

Pat the steaks dry with paper towels. Rub the paste all over. Cover in plastic wrap and marinate steak for about 5 hours or, better, overnight.

Oil the grill grates. When the grill is hot, cook the steak for 5 to 8 minutes on each side for medium-rare (depending on thickness). Test with a meat thermometer — 145 rare, 160 medium. Transfer steak to a cutting board and let stand 10 minutes.

With a very sharp knife slice the steak thinly with the grain and serve.

Cajun Swamp Sauce

Adapted from Steven Raichlen’s book Barbecue Bible: Sauces, Rubs and Marinades (Workman 2000).

Makes 2 cups

1 cup mayonnaise

1/4 cup Creole mustard (or other moderately hot mustard)

2 tablespoons prepared horseradish

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or more to taste

1 tablespoon ketchup

1 to 2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce (optional)

1 tablespoon sweet paprika

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon sugar

1 rib celery, minced

3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 scallions, chopped (discard tough green parts of stalks)

Coarse sea salt or kosher salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and stir. Taste for seasonings. Store in a sealed container — this will keep for several weeks.

On to the pizza and octupus…

Last night we went to dinner in Catania at a restaurant called I Vicere’ It was my first time at this restaurant and the food was really good! They are known for having excellent seafood AND excellent pizza (in my experience it’s usually one or the other, not both). I’m not a big seafood eater but I had a good pizza. It had tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, sliced potatoes that had been cooked with olive oil and rosemary, crumbled sausage and parmesan. I might be leaving something out but it was such a good combination! I love potatoes and rosemary on the pizzas here! Our friends ordered tons of seafood and I even tasted the octupus salad which was a first for me. It’s basically just chopped up baby octupus with olive oil, lemon, parsely. I think it was raw, but I’m not sure. It was hard for me to pop one of those little tentacles in my mouth but I did it and even chewed and swallowed :-)

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