Summer Grillin’-Fish, Veggies And A Cocktail Or Two!
Sometimes there is nothing better than a big, beautiful juicy hamburger, grilled to rare perfection and topped with a generous amount of salty blue cheese, but more times than not I choose to grill fish. To me summer grilling in New England means fish paired with an interesting salad or placing the grilled fish on a bed of rice or wilted greens. Here are a few dinners I have made recently on hot summer nights.
Swordfish is not cheap, but if you cut into medallions and mix with other fish or shellfish, add some veg you can stretch the fish to make a delicious meal that does not cost a fortune. This time I used a couple large shrimp, 2 plump scallops and 2 pieces of swordfish. The veggie skewer was simply zuchinni and cherry tomatoes drizzled with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.
Marinate your swordfish in olive oil, mayonaise, a couple cloves of finely chopped garlic, salt, pepper. 1 lb. of sword should feed 4 with 2 pieces of swordfish per person. Use 3-4 Tbsp. mayo, the same of olive oil, and liberal salt and pepper. You can add other seasonings or herbs, but I like to let the true taste shine so do not usually add anything else.
Start by cutting your swordfish in 2″ chunks (aka medallions), mix the aforementioned ingredients together and drop the swordfish in and mix thoroughly with your hands. Make sure every side of the sword has a liberal amount of marinade. Let marinate at least 3-4 hours; sitting overnight is even better. If it sits overnight roll it around every once in awhile so all sides continue to get coated evenly.
Scallops are so delicate I do nothing to them except add a tiny bit of salt and olive oil. They do not need to marinate. Same with the shrimp, but you do need to clean the shrimp. Hold the shrimp and cut through the backside to reveal the dark intestine (yes, that is a poop shoot). Scrape it out with your knife and rinse the shrimp. To me wild shrimp is always preferable–better flavor and texture. The wild shrimp usually have more to clean than the farm raised shrimp; not sure why that is; maybe they eat better!
Now we’re ready to grill. Skewer the fish alternating shrimp, scallop, and swordfish. Get your grill hot and spray with cooking oil and then place the skewers on and cook about 2 minutes and then rotate the skewer and cook another 2 minutes. This gives the fish nice grill marks. Turn the skewer over and cook for about 3 minutes for a total of 7 minutes of cooking.
I served the fish kabobs on a bed of brown and wild rice. When I make rice I like to mix rice types. Here I used 2/3 cup brown with 1/3 cup wild. The wild rice gives a nutty flavor and texture. Start by heating a couple tablespoons of olive oil and a bit of butter in a saucepan until bubbling hot. Add rice mixture, salt, pepper, 1 clove chopped garlic, a little chopped onion and stir the rice until it is coated thorougly with the butter and olive oil. Add 2 cups chicken stock, cover, bring to a boil and then turn heat to low and let cook until the chicken stock is absorbed; about 45 minutes.
Before beginning your outdoor dining, here is a GREAT appeitzer, easy to make and can be done ahead of time. Lemon Garlic Hummus is the perfect prelude to grilled srimp, fish, or even a burger!
I served this with whole grain pita pockets cut into eighths, sprayed with PAM and then topped with a Garlic and Onion Spice Blend made by The Gourmet Collection. I bought this spice at Home Goods and it has become my ‘go-to’ spice for many dishes. In addition to the garlic and onion it has a touch of salt, hot pepper, and other herbs and spices. Pop these under the broiler until they are a little crispy.
1 15.5 oz. can Garbanzo beans (chickpeas). I use Goya.
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Zest (yellow part only) of 1/2 lemon
1 clove finely minced garlic
5 Tbsp. olive oil
Coarse Sea Salt/Pepper
Rinse and drain garbanzo beans. Place beans, and all other ingredients in a blender or mini-max and blend completely. When you begin to blend, the beans will be coarse and thick, but keep blending until you get the desired consistency. If it is not coming together, add 1 Tbsp. water to loosen things up. Let it sit for a few hours so flavors comingle. You can top the Lemon Garlic Hummus with a drizzle of olive oil and an additional sprinkle of lemon zest. Yummy!
Outside with friends on a warm summer evening…how about a cocktail to go with your appetizer?
Here is my friend Francine enjoying a new drink which I call…
I started out calling this a Midori Martini, but Francine’s husband, Joe said that had already been created so I decided to call mine the Tropical Martini. Wow! These were fabulous!
First you need to make the special ice cubes. Start these in the morning and they will be frozen by early evening.
You may read lots of stuff about how hard it is to make granita or fruit ice cubes or fruit pops, but in my experience is is very easy. Watermelon gave this martini a bright burst of color and flavor.
WATERMELON ICE CUBES
Use 1/2 of a small seedless watermelon which will make about 2 cups of fruit. Remove rind and cut into chunks. Blend in a blender, mini-max or whatever processer you prefer until it is completely smooth. Pour into ice cube trays and freeze.
To make the Tropical Martini, fill cocktail shaker half full with ice cubes, add 2 1/2 ounces (a good 5-count) melon vodka, 1 ounce Midori Melon Liquer, and a splash of pineapple juice. Shake and strain into martini glass. Serve with one Watermelon ice Cube.
On to more fish…
This haddock is ready to go on the grill. Place the filet skin side down on a piece of foil. Top with salt, pepper, once again I used the Garlic/Onion Spice Blend, tumeric (that is what gives the yellow color), salt/pepper, drizzle of olive oil and fresh oregano from my herb garden.
Get the grill quite hot and place the foil right on the flames. Cover grill and cook for about 5 minutes depending on how thick your fish is. Take off grill and let sit for a couple minutes covered loosely with foil. It will keep cooking. When you remove the haddock from the foil, the skin will peel off and stay stuck to the foil. Nice trick, huh?!?
I served the Haddock with quinoa cooked with chicken broth, spinach, garlic, and orange cherry tomatoes. Now I am looking at this picture, I see I needed a splash of color to make this plate look more attractive, but it sure was delicious!
Ingredient options are endless, but here I started with a bed of Romaine, shaved carrot, thick chunks of juicy tomato, lots of fresh herbs and topped with grilled mushroom and zuchinni. Usually when I make brown rice, I make enough for several meals so this rice is the same as mentioned above.
I like to assemble my ingredients before I start preparing to cook. It helps me stay organized…OK, so I am a little compulsive!
I am going to end today with another cocktail. I have had Mojitos before, but never really liked them; way too sweet for my savory palate, so I decided to make one myself to see if I could improve the drink and I believe I have! To make the drink more special, I decided to make mint ice cubes with mint simple syrup. You need the simple syrup to make the mojitos anyway.
To make traditional simple syrup just remember 2 to 1, sugar to water.
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Bring sugar and water to a simmer in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then simmer 5 minutes. Cool syrup completely. Syrup keeps covered and chilled for months. It is nice to have on-hand to sweeten ice tea or lemonade.
Here is the twist…
Chop about 1 cup of fresh mint leaves in a food processor. Add the chopped mint to the saucepan as the simple syrup simmers. Simmer for an extra 5 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. This is the Mint Simple Syrup I used to make the Mojitos. I also poured the syrup into an ice cube tray and added one small mint leaf per cube before freezing.
Cindy’s Mint Mojitos (this makes 3 generous drinks)
Juice of 3 limes
Juice of 1 lemon
About 6 sprigs of fresh mint
6 ounces rum plus a little more for muddling
2 ounces Mint Simple Syrup
Muddle the fresh mint leaves with a bit of rum. I have a deep mortar and pestle, but you can use the back of a spoon and a bowl and just rub firmly to crush the mint leaves releasing their flavor. Add the muddled mint leaves to a cocktail shaker half filled with ice. Add juice of limes, lemon and simple syrup and shake vigorously. Add the rum and shake again. Strain and pour into a stemmed glass, top with club soda or plain seltzer and stir. Drop in a Mint Ice Cube and serve. You can adjust sweetness by adding more Mint Simple Syrup, but we all liked them like this. We were so excited to drink these drinks, that I forgot to take a picture…next time!
Grilling is fun, easy, keeps the kitchen cool and means less clean-up. You know my moto…have fun with cooking, mix it up, try different combos and please do play with your food.
Much love to you and yours!
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