Multi-tasking grillers unite!

October 7, 2009

shrimp to grillIt might be autumn but I’m still grilling as often as I can. The only downside I’ve found to grilling, though, is that I find it difficult to be both in the house making a salad and side dishes and outside turning and moving little bits of food such as shrimp or scallops around.

My solution: throw ‘em on skewers! Not only will small foods not fall through the grating when they’re held together on a skewer, but turning four skewers takes much less time than turning 24 individual shrimp.

Got any multitasking tips you’d like to share? I’m always looking for ways to turn two hands into four.

Reinventing grilled cheese

October 5, 2009

shrimp naanwich

Did I mention to you that I’m on a diet? Yes, again. I’m truly the poster child for yo-yo dieting. I even have a string in the top of my head.

When I diet, I fantasize about my favourite foods. In fact, all weekend long I was tormented by dreams of crunchy, buttery, gooey grilled cheese sandwiches!

As much as I love old school, aged Cheddar melted between slices of sandwich bread (these are the sandwiches that I grew up eating for lunch), I’ve been known to experiment with my grilled cheese, too. In fact, in my 2007 cookbook Dana’s Top ten Table (Harper Collins), I featured this suppertime sandwich that combines tender naan bread, molten cheese and crunchy, sweet shrimp. Decadent, fast, easy and comforting:

Shrimp Toasty Naanwhich

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes

1/2 lb (50 mL) thawed, frozen cooked shrimp, tails and shells removed
3 tbsp (45 mL) mayonnaise (light or regular)
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 green onion, finely chopped
4 slices havarti cheese
4 slices naan bread, halved crosswise
1 tbsp (15 mL) melted butter

Pat the shrimp dry on paper towels and then chop coarsely if large. Blend with the mayonnaise with the garlic and green onion. Lay two large naan out on a clean work surface; spread the shrimp mixture evenly over one slice. Top with the cheese slices and remaining bread.

• Spread the butter evenly over the outside of the naan. Preheat a panini maker, hinged grill or a large skillet or griddle to medium heat. Add the sandwich and cook for 4 to 5 minutes or until bread is golden on each side and cheese is melted. If cooking on the stovetop, turn the sandwich halfway through cooking. Makes 4 servings.

In case you’re uninitiated, naan is an East Indian, wheat flour, leavened bread that’s baked until pillowy, soft and golden in a tandoor oven. According to the Chicago Tribune, using naan for sandwiches is trending up. From Canada’s west coast chain Sabri Sandwiches that transform Indian entrées like butter chicken into hand held meals to old crocks like me, naan is a great way to perk up your sandwiches.

Do you use naan in non-traditional ways like sandwiches and pizza?

Topline Trends Tuesday: Lobster – poised to become the new shrimp

March 31, 2009

img_2583According to a recent CBC news report, Atlantic Canadian lobster is now often a cheaper grocery store choice than bologna: “During the fishing season off the Nova Scotia coast at the end of the year, prices on the wharf fell to $3.50 per pound ($7.70 per kilogram). Sale prices for live lobster in grocery stores over the holidays dropped as low as about $13 per kilogram.” (According to Grocery Gateway, in Ontario bologna is currently 9.98 per lb.)

So, what will the lobster fishermen – an industry already struggling before the economic downturn – do to encourage higher lobster prices?

They have a multi-pronged plan to encourage people to use lobster more often in home cooking and to remind consumers that Canadian Atlantic lobster is a premium choice.

To that I say Bravo! I’d love to see people (in other words me) eating more of this wonderful Canadian seafood.

What about you? Do you think lobster will start turning up in your shopping cart more often if you can start thinking of it in the same category with shrimp?

PS: Pictured above is chef Derek Bendig and the lobster quiche he made for a party I went to a few weeks ago. It was pretty yummy.

Chimichurri’s the new ketchup

February 29, 2008

Chimichurri and steakChimichurri is an Argentine basting and dipping sauce that is served with grilled meats; it’s as common in Argentina as ketchup is in North America. Fresh, tangy and utterly terrific tasting, chimichurri is appearing more and more often on steakhouse and fine dining menus here in Canada.

Although there are a couple of bottled chimichurri sauce mixtures on the market, none of them compare to the taste of one made with fresh parsley.

Steak is the number one meat served with Chimichurri sauce in Argentina; my favourite steak to use with chimichurri is a rib steak, which is a well-marbled, flavourful cut that truly appreciates the astringency of this sauce (the picture today is a rib steak with chimichurri sauce from my latest book Dana’s Top Ten Table). That said, this sauce is also terrific brushed over shrimp as they come off the grill or used as a marinade for black cod or monkfish. In summer, I also like to barbecue a chicken over low coals or on the rotisserie and then serve chimichurri as a dipping sauce.

Fresh and Fabulous Chimichurri Sauce:

3 tbsp (45 mL) red-wine vinegar
2 tbsp (30 mL) water
4 cloves minced garlic
3/4 tsp (4 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) dried hot red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp (2 mL) coarsely ground black pepper
1 small bay leaf
1/4 cup (50 mL) olive oil
1/2 cup (125 mL) finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 rib, T-bone or porterhouse steak, about 2 lb (1 kg)
1 tsp (5 mL) salt

Stir vinegar with water, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, black pepper and bay leaf until salt is dissolved. Whisk in oil and stir in parsley. Divide in half. Brush the half without the bay leaf evenly over the steak. Let stand for 15 minutes.