Table Talk: May 21

Grilling and cookouts

By
May 15, 2009

This week on Table Talk: A conversation on grilling and cookouts in anticipation of the Memorial Day weekend — everything from pizza to corn to sweet potatoes. And learn about Kim’s vegetarian baked beans.

Table Talk with Kim O'Donnel - May 21, 2009(05/21/2009) 
9:56
Kim ODonnel:  Greetings from Seattle, where the air is springy and sweet! Who's got plans for the long holiday weekend? In my neck of the woods, the forecast is remarkably sunny (how many of us have endured wet Memorial Day weekends?), which means a whole lot of outdoor cooking and eating is in my future. Today's hour is all about grilling, al fresco noshing and quaffing and anything related to summertime feasting. By all means, if you've got an unrelated question, send it along, don't be shy. I'm going to give a new recipe a try, chicken in a loafpan, from a new book, "Big Bob Gibson's BBQ Book" by Chris Lilly. Anyone trying something new, too?
10:01
Kim C.:  Kim, I receive a newsletter from Jim Dixon, who's a Culinate contributer from time to time and an olive oil aficionado. In the most recent newsletter, Jim suggests grilling asparagus dry, then when it's done, drizzling it w/evoo. We've always tossed the asparagus in oil first, which makes it a messy (although it always tastes great). What's your experience?
10:02
Kim ODonnel:  Funny you ask, Kim. Just this week, I was in a rush, and threw a bunch of 'gras into the oven to roast, but completely spaced on brushing with oil. It tasted great!
10:03
[Comment From Dawn ]
Hi Kim! I'm planning to make a strawberry-rhubarb cobbler from fresh, local strawberries and rhubarb. It's my first adventure with rhubarb, and I'm planning to top it with local vanilla ice cream. YUM!
10:04
Kim ODonnel:  Hey Dawn! You're preaching to the choir over here re: rhubarb. You're GONNA LOVE IT! Please be sure to follow up with your kitchen report.
10:04
[Comment From Guest ]
I'm trying to cut back on food costs these days, like everyone else, without really cutting back on great food. I actually didn't do the whole college-student-ramen thing, but I'm thinking there might be ways to dress them up?
10:04
Kim C.:  Cool. I'm going with the dry-grilling method next time then.
10:04
Kim ODonnel:  Kim, it also reduces flare-ups without the fat!
10:06
Kim ODonnel:  Re: dressing up ramen noodles: My only gripe about those packaged noodles is the ginormous sodium packet included. I think it's enough for an entire day, and then some. If you could simply discard the sodium pack, then I truly think you could play around, but I'm forgetting how they package the noodles these days. have you ever ventured into an Asian grocery, where you can buy a bundle of noodles? Seems like it might be cheaper...
10:07
[Comment From Jill, The Veggie Queen ]
I find that olive oil is fine but most people use too much when they are roasting or grilling. Just a touch goes a long way.
10:07
Kim ODonnel:  Hey Jill, great point. Since you're online, can you share some of your fave points about grilling vegetables?
10:08
[Comment From Jill, The VeggieQueen ]
If you want great noodles, better than ramen in my opinion, are soba.
10:08
[Comment From Thia ]
There are so many sites with ramen recipes. Here's just one: http://www.budget101.com/ramen_noodle_recipes.htm
10:10
Kim ODonnel:  By the way, here's a piece I did last year --my seven briquettes of grilling wisdom learned over the years.
10:10
[Comment From Jill, The VeggieQueen ]
Having the right equipment is what's needed for griling veggies. Good tongs, a screen to keep things from falling through or one of those veg baskets. Some vegetables such as carrots are best blanched first. I love to grill vegetables.
10:10
[Comment From Julie ]
The only good thing about ramen noodles is that it's cheap & packaged well for one meal. It's easy for me to keep some frozen veggies in the freezer at work & a few packages of ramen noodles for those days I walk out of the house without my lunch!
10:11
Kim ODonnel:  Remind me, tho -- is the seasoning mixed in or is it separate?
10:11
[Comment From Thia ]
Kim, the packets are generally separate
10:12
[Comment From Dawn ]
I bought cute little green baby squash and sweet potatoes at the farm market yesterday. Can I grill them? I usually saute squash and roast sweet potatoes but I'd love something different.
10:12
Kim ODonnel:  Dawn, grilled sweet potatoes are amazing! Let's ask Jill, but my thought is to do a quick par-boil, in its skin, then peel and slice thin before putting on grill.
10:13
Kim ODonnel:  So...which is it? Gas or coal?
10:13
[Comment From Jill, The VeggieQueen ]
Yes, Kim, that's what I would do with the sweet potatoes. Oh, I do love them, too. But there are few vegetables that I don't like.
10:14
Kim ODonnel:  Dawn, those sweet potatoes will get a luscious smoky flavor. Would be great with a squeeze of lime and a whizzle of sesame oil after they come off grill.
10:15
[Comment From Jill, The VeggieQueen ]
Gas is so easy but you don't get that same grilled flavor. But I have gas and it works fine.
10:15
Kim C.:  One of my favorite grilled recipes on Culinate is for Spatchcocked Chicken. It's amazingly good, and, OK, I love saying "spatchcocked chicken."
10:15
[Comment From Thia ]
There is just one that seems to be vegetarian that I've found -- at least I hope it is. It's Nissin Top Ramen Oodles of Noodles Oriental Flavor, for those who care about such things.
10:15
Kim ODonnel:  Thanks, Thia!
10:17
Kim ODonnel:  Me, I love having a Weber kettle. We use a chimney to eliminate need for starter fluid and use hardwood. What's your preference?
10:17
[Comment From OrganicGal ]
Kim, I just wanted to say thanks for the post today about farmer's markets. I was recently at an NC Farm-to-Fork summit, to develop a statewide food initiative to get people to spend 10% of their food budget on locally-grown and produced food. It would mean 1.7 BILLION dollars staying in the NC economy. Let me say it again...when you go to your local farmer's market, find your local farms selling their own products, not a wholesale-reseller!
10:18
Kim ODonnel:  OrganicGal, as you know, it's a subject I'm very passionate about, and the more we know, the more we know, right? Here's that piece she's referring to
10:18
[Comment From Lauren ]
What is your advice for kebabs with veggies/fruit and meat combined? They're just not as fun if you separate the meat from the other stuff--plus I'd rather use less meat.
10:19
Kim ODonnel:  Lauren, are you wondering about cook times, seasoning? Talk to me.
10:19
Kim C.:  According to this old Grist article, gas is more enviro-friendly than charcoal — which we use — and the indoor stove beats them both :(
10:20
[Comment From Jill, The VeggieQueen ]
And the pressure cooker beats all the other cooking methods for environment, except solar. That's another story, though.
10:21
Kim ODonnel:  Jill, would be happy to focus a chat on greener ways of cooking! Kim and I will give that some thought.
10:21
[Comment From Lauren ]
Cook times! I'm a big fan of the mushroom-cherry tomato-chicken combo.
10:22
Kim ODonnel:  Lauren, make sure everything is of similar size. That will help immensely. You'll get more flavor from thigh meat, fyi.
10:22
[Comment From Linear Girl ]
Grilled salad is my latest favorite grilling innovation. I'm not sure how I'll start the season, but last Summer we grilled eggplant, squash and bread slices, tossed the veggies with balsamic vinaigrette, and served on arugula salad with pecorino shavings. Yum. Could work as a side if you want to grill meat, too, or come to think of it could add slices of grilled chicken or beef and keep it a one dish meal.
10:24
Kim ODonnel:  Linear Girl, grilled salad sounds fab. Last year, I experimented with a grilled Ceasar salad, and it was such fun. romaine gets cut into hunks, brushed with oil, then placed on grill, cut-side down. When it comes out, drizzle your dressing. Yowza.
10:24
[Comment From Jill, The VeggieQueen ]
Best kebab vegetables are those that cook fairly quickly such as summer squash, in larger chunks,. onions, pre-cooked potatoes or sweet potatoes. Later in season -- peppers, eggplant. I am getting hungry again.
10:24
[Comment From Lizka ]
First time I'm actually able to read and participate live since the move! I would love tips for roasting veggies - I don't have a grill so I do this in my oven, but otherwise - this is my most enjoyable area of experimenting. That hint of about parboiling the sweet potatoes - just what I needed. Mine never roasted right and this makes perfect sense!
10:25
Kim ODonnel:  Welcome aboard, Lizka! I'm also a fan of grilling fruit -- peaches and pineapples among my favorites...
10:25
[Comment From hsawtelle ]
I like to quarter romaine heads, soak briefly in vinaigrette, and then grill and dress
10:26
Kim ODonnel:  Hank, how can you go wrong with that combo? I may have to do a grilled salad this wknd...
10:26
[Comment From hsawtelle ]
grilling pizza is all the rage now but I haven't perfected it. I still prefer a hot hot oven
10:26
Kim C.:  Yum. This is making me hungry. Ellen Jackson contributed a recipe for Panzanella Skewers with Parmesan Vinaigrette, which sounds similar. Her story about unusual grilled items, including strawberries!, is here.
10:27
Kim ODonnel:  I think grilled pizza is actually better on a gas grill -- I know, it sounds counterintuitive, but you get less issue with sticking...I've had mixed results grilling pizza myself. Love the flavor, but it feels very stressful.
10:28
[Comment From Jill, The VeggieQueen ]
I was nervous when I first grilled pizza. Found that doing the crust first and then adding toppings after crust is a bit cooked works best. Haven't done it in a while but delicious.
10:29
Kim ODonnel:  Yes, totally agree, Jill, on doing dough naked on grill, then adding toppings, thanks!
10:29
[Comment From Jill, The VeggieQueen ]
I have relieved the pizza stress by starting out on a pizza pan with wholes in it so no worry about sticking or anything. Came with one of my pizza pans -- it's a pizza crisper.
10:29
[Comment From Linear Girl ]
Wow - you're all opening up whole new avenues to take the grilled salad. I'm thinking grilled pineapple, grilled lettuce, kinda sweet dressing, maybe some shrimp - a grilled teriyaki salad.
10:30
Kim ODonnel:  Linear Girl, methinks you're on the way to something rather divine...
10:30
[Comment From hsawtelle ]
I tried it once on an INSANELY hot (gas) grill - like infrared or something crazy - and it was too hot. burned before I could finish it
10:31
Kim ODonnel:  I love grilling whole fish on the grill. Did one not too long ago, in fact. Anyone every give it a try?
10:31
[Comment From hsawtelle ]
Kims, can I shamelessly self-promote (on topic)? I am teaching a class in Portland on July 18 - Hands-on grilling (and other cooking) with beer - http://tinyurl.com/dcbpyy
10:31
Kim ODonnel:  You got, Hank!
10:31
[Comment From Jill, The VeggieQueen ]
If you've never grilled radicchio or other bitter greens,, you are missing something special. Makes them sweeter and more delicious.
10:31
Kim ODonnel:  Yes to grilled radicchio!
10:32
[Comment From Linear Girl ]
Hank - is cooking with beer like cooking with wine - sometimes you even put some in the food?
10:33
[Comment From hsawtelle ]
thirding grilled radicchio. cut into eighths, marinate in balsamic vinaigrette
10:33
Kim ODonnel:  I've also grilled radicchio, after it came off grill, added blue cheese and a wee bit of honey.
10:34
Kim ODonnel:  Any favorite sides to share for those cookouts? I make a killer meatless baked beans, very smoky, you don't miss the pork...
10:35
[Comment From hsawtelle ]
Linear - yes, that is the idea. the malty sweetness and grain profiles work well in certain dishes
10:35
Kim C.:  

Here's another question: It's early in the season to be talking about corn on the grill, but what are your tips? Don't say foil-wrapped please; I'm cutting way back on that.

10:35
[Comment From hsawtelle ]
a favorite side = grilled polenta. make extra the night before, spread on a sheet pan, cut into squares, oil liberally, grill until hot
10:36
Kim ODonnel:  Now we're talking! That sounds scrumpdeelish...
10:36
[Comment From Linear Girl ]
Soak corn in it's husk in a little salt water for about a half hour, grill with the husk turning regularly to prevent burns.
10:37
Kim ODonnel:  I'm a sucker for slaw, but vin slaw -- cabbage, red bell pepper, herbs, rice wine vinaigrette, some chopped peanuts...
10:37
Kim C.:  

Thanks, Hank. What does the saltwater do? Flavor it? Prevent it from burning? Both?

10:38
[Comment From hsawtelle ]
I like Linear Girl's method too. my corn-direct-on-the-grill method requires a cooler spot on the grill to avoid meteorite results
10:38
Kim C.:  Sorry. That was LInear Girl, not Hank!
10:38
[Comment From littlepika ]
Oooh, is there a recipe for the baked beans? They are one of my favorite. Another grilling side that I make frequently is black beans/avocado/red pepper/maybe some corn/lots of cilantro and a squirt of lime juice. yum.
10:38
Kim ODonnel:  Killer Baked Beans
10:39
[Comment From hsawtelle ]
saltwater was LG's tip - but I'd be happy to research it :)
10:39
[Comment From Arlene ]
How long does lard last? I got some two weeks ago from a farm and probably won't be able to use it for a while. Should I just toss it/freeze it? Or is it fine?
10:39
Kim ODonnel:  Arlene, freeze it -- it lasts for several months that way, I do it all the time.
10:39
[Comment From Thia ]
I'm not sure this would be to many people's liking, but instead of butter on corn, try some umeboshi paste.
10:40
Kim ODonnel:  Interesting, Thia -- can you describe the flavor?
10:40
[Comment From Jill, The VeggieQueen ]
Sign me up for your slaw, Kim. I also want those baked beans. Grilled leeks and artichokes are wonderful, too. Blanch or precook.
10:40
Kim ODonnel:  Jill, posted the link to the beans. Enjoy, they're awesome.
10:40
[Comment From Linear Girl ]
Salt water adds some flavor, but mostly it soaks the husk to prevent conflagration. You could skip the salt, but my Wisconsin guy usually makes this dish and he says this is authentic to his childhood.
10:41
[Comment From Lauren ]
Does butter or oil yield a better grilling result for veggies? Or is it just a personal preference?
10:41
Kim ODonnel:  Lauren, butter has a fairly low smoking point compared to oil, so I would hold off on the butter.
10:42
Kim ODonnel:  Just thought of another fun one -- has anyone ever grilled Halloumi cheese? Such a treat.
10:42
[Comment From hsawtelle ]
what about ghee???
10:42
Kim ODonnel:  That's a thought. Eliminating milk solids would definitely help. We should look into smoking point of ghee.
10:42
[Comment From hsawtelle ]
ghee whiz
10:42
Kim ODonnel:  we've got a comedian in the house!
10:43
[Comment From Jill, The VeggieQueen ]
Thia -- I love umeboshi paste. Salty, lemony, tangy. Miso may be good, too, especially South River miso.
10:43
[Comment From Linear Girl ]
We've started experimenting on BBQing over wood fires rather than our standard gas grill, but it always seems like a waste for small, quick cooking items. What cut/variety of meat would be good for a longer, slower BBQ over wood?
10:44
Kim ODonnel:  Linear Girl, is this the kind of fire that would last at least six hours? I'm thinking a brisket. Definitely ribs.
10:44
[Comment From hsawtelle ]
wiki says 485F - higher than canola - makes sense, lots of saturated fatty acids . . .
10:44
Kim ODonnel:  Interesting. Great to know!
10:44
[Comment From littlepika ]
In Costa Rica they (or at least my friends) eat a lot of pan-fried salty cheese. It is fantastic and I bet grilled halloumi would be similar. Does it stay together enough to not melt onto the grill though?
10:45
Kim ODonnel:  I love it with roasted red peppers...or something even spicier...
10:45
[Comment From Thia ]
I can't get past the squeakiness of halloumi.
10:46
Kim ODonnel:  I find that more of an issue when it's at room temp than when hot, Thia, but I hear you.
10:46
[Comment From hsawtelle ]
LG, how about a big leg of lamb, or venison???
10:46
[Comment From Thia ]
Kim, umeboshi paste is hard for me to describe taste-wise. It's salty and slightly tangy. Made from pickled umeboshi plums.
10:47
Kim ODonnel:  Has anyone put a cast-iron skillet on the fire, then cooked up some eggs (You can see I'm not a big camper)? Do you get a smokey flavor?
10:47
Kim C.:  Thia, what do you usually eat it with?
10:47
Kim ODonnel:  Of course, we need to talk beverages. What's on the menu???
10:48
[Comment From Linear Girl ]
You don't really get the smokey flavor, unless you cook the eggs in the leftover bacon grease . . .
10:49
[Comment From OrganicGal ]
Kim, I've done the cast-iron skillet camping eggs, and have gotten a wonderfully smoky flavor. But, that could be due to the fact that we'd mixed the eggs from the campfire-cooked beans the night before, and ate the whole mess in a tortilla warmed over the grill. Oh, I miss north Texas camping/hunting trips!
10:49
Kim ODonnel:  Oh man, that sounds good, OG. MMMM!
10:50
Kim C.:  Mmm. Bacon and eggs outside. Is it just me, or does everything taste better outside?
10:50
Kim ODonnel:  Usually I make something sweet for a holiday cookout..is it too early to crank out some ice cream or sorbet??
10:51
[Comment From Jill, The VeggieQueen ]
Get some great locally brewed mirco brewed beer.
10:51
Kim ODonnel:  Yeah! That is not hard here in the PacNW, awesome beers everywhere.
10:52
Kim C.:  

What kind of ice cream, Kim? It's early for fruit …

10:52
Kim ODonnel:  P.S. Next week's theme is Meatless, our commitment to a once-monthly meatless hour. I'll be typing to you from the Oregon coast -- send those travel tips/ food finds over!
10:53
[Comment From OrganicGal ]
Oh, it's completely the perfect time for ice cream (is it ever NOT the time for ice cream?). Fresh strawberries, cut into the ice cream, ready to go now. Soon enough, blueberries cooked down to a syrup, and poured into the base for something that only gets better with the addition dark chocolate syrup. Then, blackberries, also syruped and added, for cosmic purple ice cream! Oh, cannot WAIT to break out the ice cream maker! I may have to do that tonight!
10:54
Kim ODonnel:  OG, you're a bad influence! I wonder how strawberry-rhubarb ice cream would be?
10:54
[Comment From Thia ]
Kim, I've added it to salad dressing, soups, sauces. But my favorite way is with corn. It's supposed to have medicinal value also. If I recall correctly, one is to use a small bit of it to ease a throat tickle.
10:54
Kim ODonnel:  How interesting, Thia, about its medicinal properties. You always have a good little tidbit to share.
10:54
Kim C.:  And I'm remembering these Ice Cream cookie sandwiches from David Lebovitz. Oh my.
10:54
[Comment From Jill, The VeggieQueen ]
Have a great time on the Oregon coast. Wish that I was going to be there but glad that you'll be. I want to tune in for meatless.Love hearing what people say.
10:55
[Comment From Linear Girl ]
I'm pretty sure that strawberry-rhubarb over ice cream would be great, and I bet the mental health qualities of homemade ice cream count as medicinal, too.
10:56
[Comment From OrganicGal ]
Kim, I'd maybe cook down the strawberries and add to the base for the ice cream, then make a chunky rhubarb topping. But I'm not sure how to go about a chunky rhubarb topping...any ideas?
10:56
Kim ODonnel:  Rhubarb gets pretty soft when cooked, but I do wonder what would happen during the freeze. I could puree it, perhaps...
10:57
Kim C.:  Roast the chunks of rhubarb, tossed with a little evoo and drizzled with honey. They keep their shape beautifully and would be heaven on top of vanilla ice cream.
10:57
[Comment From Jill, The VeggieQueen ]
All this strawberry rhubarb talk is making me drool. I actually have used chopped dates to sweeten it with NO sugar. Delicious.
10:57
Kim ODonnel:  Cool -- you mean to sweeten ice cream or rhubarb?
10:58
Kim ODonnel:  I'm also a big fan of making frozen yogurt -- coffee might be my favorite flavor of all time, altho ginger-peach is pretty wonderful...
10:59
Kim ODonnel:  So we're able to wrap things up for today -- any last-minute issues to resolve before I sign off into the virtual sunset?
11:01
[Comment From Linear Girl ]
How do you make coffee frozen yogurt? I bought huge tub of yogurt yesterday (plain non-fat if it makes a difference) with no plan for it's use. I see a plan forming right now.
11:02
Kim ODonnel:  Coffee Frozen Yogurt details. Don't delay!
11:02
[Comment From Thia ]
From me, just another thank you.
11:04
Kim ODonnel:  And thank you, Thia, and all of you, for stopping by! Another great conversation. Til next week -- May 28-- when we theme our chat to all things meatless.
In the meantime, feel free to e-mail me at writingfood AT gmail.com to sign up for my weekly e-letter or follow me on twitter @kimodonnel
Have a safe and delicious long holiday weekend. Bye!
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Table Talk

Kim O’Donnel is a trained chef, nationally recognized online food personality, and a longtime journalist. She is the author of a new cookbook, The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook.

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