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Like many of you, Andy and I just had to use our grill this weekend. And by “we”, I mean “Andy”; the grill is his domain. I’ll stick with the prep work, inside, in the air conditioning, away from bugs. Besides, I don’t really know why standing outside in the ungodly heat, cooking over fire, makes you an good American, but who am I to argue with years and years of senselessly following tradition? Especially when it yields tasty fire roasted goodness that I didn’t have to make. This year we decided to give grilling fruit a shot. I picked out some ripe nectarines, told the husband that all he had to do was cut them in half and lay them on the grill. Turns out I missed a few steps, and though the result was delicious it wasn’t very pretty and the process thoroughly stressed my sun baked hubby. I honestly thought that we’d done everything right and that grilling fruit was a messy tedious process, and not one we’d likely undertake again. then I read a post entitled “How to Grill Fruit” (you can read the full post, including recipes here on Henry Happened).
Here are the tips…
- Choose ripe, but firm, fruit that will hold its shape when grilling.
- Soak the fruit in cold water or juice ahead of time. This helps the fruit retain water so it stays juicy on the grill. Keep the fruit submerged for about 20 minutes so that it takes in all the moisture. You can also flavor the water with complementary herbs and spices. For grilled peaches, I chose cinnamon sticks, but coconut sugar and nutmeg would have also added a nice touch. Just be careful about the amount of sugar you use because it can burn.
- Use a clean cooking grate. Be sure to scrape off any residue from the grate or it will leave unwanted black specks and the taste of whatever was on there before.
- Brush the fruit and the grate with a fat that has a high smoke point, like coconut oil or ghee.
- Cook the fruit over medium heat on a grill pan (if cooking indoors) or indirect medium heat on an outdoor grill. Fruit doesn’t take long, so be sure to keep an eye on it.
- Grill the presentation side down first. This means, choose the side that you want to show when you serve it and grill that first. It gets the cleanest contact with the grill.
- If possible, aim for crosshatch marks, which tends to be easier to achieve with flatter pieces of fruit. Do this by placing the fruit first on a 45° angle, then rotating it 90° and searing it again.
I was so wrong! We probably won’t be grilling again until at least the weekend, but with this knowledge in hand I feel like we should try again. And by “we”, I mean “Andy”.
*This is all very tongue in cheek, yes Andy is the grill master, but I do help if he needs me to. That’s just how we roll.
Image from here.
While it’s not quite as muggy further up the east coast, my New York friends have been reporting wickedly harsh days in the mid to high 90’s. I can only imagine what it must be like trying to find a breeze in a city of glass and concrete, and I truly feel for you guys. At least in Florida we expect for it to be stupidly hot this time of year. In the south, you learn early on how to beat the heat. Avoid cooking in doors (yes, that’s why we all have grills), keep any unnecessary lights turned off, sit in front of the fan and most importantly, keep the iced beverages coming. Trust me, the iced beverages are the key, you really really have to make sure to stay hydrated. I speak from unpleasant experience. Here are some fun ways to make your drinks a little more interesting.
Fancy Ice Cubes:
Berry Mint Ice Cubes
Perfect for jazzing up a boring glass of water, these ice cubes are very easy to make. Just put a mint leaf and your berry of choice in each compartment of the ice tray, fill the rest of the way with water, freeze and enjoy. Larger berries like straw berries may have to be halved or quartered to fit.
Coffee/Tea Ice Cubes
Here in the south, sweet tea is a staple in almost every household. Heck, I’ve consumed so much tea in my 26, i’m surprised it’s not running through my veins. And to me, nothing ruins a refreshing glass of tea faster than melted ice. To prevent this fill your ice trays with sweet tea, freeze and problem solved. This work with iced coffee as well. You hear that Starbucks? Seriously, you might want to consider this.
Layered Ice Cubes
A little more labor intensive, these ice cubes are great for giving your lemonade or iced tea a little some thing special. Pour a layer of fruit juice into your ice tray, freeze, then repeat. Keep going until you have the visual result you want, or you run out of room. I’m thinking strawberry, blueberry and raspberry. Or you can go the extra mile and incorporate a layer of fruit puree.
My only other beverage advice, straws. Wacky straws make everything better.
Images from here:
Now that the weather is warmer and the evenings are longer, Andy and I have developed the habit of lingering at the table after dinner. Where the winter months inspired us to quickly clear the table so we could retire to the snuggley warmth of the couch, where we could bury ourselves under fluffy throws and warm kitties; we now sit back pour another glass of whatever and discuss our day, our weekend plans or whatever we happen to be thinking about. As a nod to these wonderfully laid back evenings I’ve been sprucing up our evening beverages with handfuls of fresh fruit or herbs. While our flavor combinations have been a bit more traditional, I am very excited to add these recipes to our weekly rotation:
To a large pitcher of lemonade add 2-3 cups of chopped strawberries and a handful of chopped basil. The longer this lemonade sets the more the basil flavor will infuse with the beverage!
To a small pitcher of lemonade add 1 cup of slightly mashed blackbarries. You can smash these by hand or with a spoon, but the more you smash them the more the color will infuse in your lemonade-pretty!
To a large pitcher of lemonade add in 2 cups of grapefruit juice and fresh slices of grapefruit. Give this one a taste when your done-as you may want to add more sugar if you feel it’s too tart.
To a large pitcher of limeade (or lemonade) add one cucumber, thinly sliced, and a handful of chopped mint leaves. This one is similar to the Strawberry Basil lemonade in that the mint flavor will become stronger the longer this beverage sets.
Serve in a tall glass with a straw, and keep an iced tea spoon (a spoon with a really long handle) on hand for getting every last bit of delicious fruit from the bottom of your glass.
Images and recipes from here.