Posted on | August 4, 2008 | 40 Comments |
Isn’t summer supposed to be the season of leisure? In my case it is quite the opposite! When I announced the “Grill It!” event this month, I had big plans. There were dreams of grilling at least twice a week. There were plans to grill everything – fruits, meat, seafood, vegetables, pizza – you name it! Even a jalapeno corn bread from one of my Grilling books was going to be tried out. It turns out that I was getting way ahead of myself as usual. Half a month is already gone by since the announcement, with hardly any grilling. But it is better late than never, right? I got a good start on Sunday and I am definitely going to try and continue this Grill fest. It is doubtful that I will ever get to that corn bread, but I sure am going to try.
I’ve had my eye on the cast-iron Le Creuset Reversible Grill & Griddle for a while. Spending $150 on a stovetop grill when all we need to do for grilling is to take an elevator up to the terrace was not justifiable. That is when I saw this cute little Cast Iron Single Burner Reversible Grill/Griddle by Emerilware at Williams-Sonoma on sale for $19.99! Now that is a deal you can’t pass up, right? I am absolutely in love with this grill! We grilled lamb chops on it, 6 chops fit perfectly on this small grill. We have a Calphalon non-stick grill pan, which we’ve been using for indoor grilling, but apart from the grill marks on the food, it really is just a glorified sauté pan. But this one is just awesome! Lamb chops turned out perfectly grilled, charred outside and perfectly juicy and moist inside.
Harissa is a North African hot red sauce or paste made from chili peppers (often smoked or dried) and garlic, often with coriander and caraway or cumin and served with olive oil. It may also contain tomatoes. It somewhat resembles sambal and chili sauce. Harissa is used both as a condiment and as an ingredient in recipes. It has been described as an important item in Tunisian cuisine. Harissa is also used in a few recipes of other North African cuisines, namely Morocco, Algeria and Libya , though it is often treated as a condiment to be served on the side. In France, couscous is generally served with Harissa sauce.
Ever since I saw the cutie pie chef Tyler Florence making Harissa on TV, I’ve been dying to try this out. I followed Tyler’s recipe pretty much exactly, halving the ingredients, but I used a very hot Habanero pepper instead of the 1 small red chili suggested in the recipe. So my harissa was very spicy. I am sure Tyler couldn’t handle that much heat. Also, I thought the spices (cumin + coriander + caraway) were a little too overpowering, so I’ve reduced the amount of spices in the recipe below.
To complete the meal, I made an arugula salad with grilled peaches. The slightly caramelized peaches went so well with the bitter arugula greens and the spicy Harissa. Harissa sauce did double duty, acting as the main ingredient in the salad dressing as well, of course I it had to be toned down with some honey and balsamic vinegar and some mint syrup for the salad dressing. Altogether, this was a true gourmet dinner, if I must say so myself!
- 1 red bell pepper
- ¼ tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tbsp coriander seeds
- ¼ teaspoon caraway seeds
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 small fresh red chile, chopped
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 ½ tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 lemon, juiced
Roast the bell pepper on open flame on the stove till the skin is completely charred. Place it in a bowl and cover and let rest for 10 minutes. Scrape charred skin off the pepper and cut into thin strips.
Place the cumin, coriander and caraway in a small skillet and toast over low heat until fragrant. Then grind to a powder in a spice grinder. Place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to puree.
Grilled Peaches and Baby Arugula Salad
- 4 cups baby arugula
- 1 large peach, pitted and quartered (apricot, plum etc will also work)
- 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
- 1 tbsp harissa (see above)
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tsp mint syrup (or use finely chopped mint leaves)
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Brush some olive oil on the peach slices and grill on a pre-heated grill for about 2 minutes per side. Place it in an angle, so that you get the beautiful grill marks on the flesh.
Prepare the dressing by placing all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisking well to combine.
Just before serving, toss the arugula with the dressing and serve topped with the grilled fruit and toasted pine nuts.
- 6 lamb chops
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp peppercorns
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- a handful of cilantro
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Place the cilantro, garlic, peppercorns and salt in a mortar and pound to a coarse paste with the pestle. Place the lamb chops in a Ziploc bag, add this paste and the olive oil and mix well to make sure the lamb chops are covered with the marinade. Marinate for at least an hour or overnight in the refrigerator.
Heat the grill and grill for about 8 minutes per side for medium-rare to medium. Remove from the grill and let it rest for about 5 minutes.
Burrrrp… I am full, how about you?
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