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PIE ON THE BARBIE

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PIE ON THE BARBIE

It’s one of those unfair life situations: just when the best, sweetest, juiciest fruit is ripe, it’s too damn hot to turn the oven on to bake a pie. I mean, it was over 122 F/50C in parts of Southern California, Nevada, and Arizona yesterday and they’re not expecting that to change soon. You just go into survival mode when it’s that hot. Pie doesn’t even cross your mind. You are just trying to not cook to death.

I almost never turn the oven on from June through mid-September. But summer pies are legendary. Jesse Colin Young sang about them in “Ridgetop.”

I’ve got hundred foot pine trees
That just love to dance in the wind

And a yard full of bushes
That turn into pie in July

So what’s a piemaker to do when the summer fruit is plentiful but you don’t dare heat the house up any more than it already is? Turn to the barbecue. Instead of making a two-crust fruit pie, make one giant crust and use it like a hobo pack to envelope all the filling.

This is called a gallette in French – a flat, round(ish) pastry filled with fruit.

PIE ON THE BARBECUE

Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons very cold butter
  • ice water

Directions for making pie crust are here.

When you’ve made the crust, wrap it in waxed paper and store in the fridge for at least 20 minutes – an hour or two is better –  until very cold.

Filling:

  • 2-4 cups fresh summer fruit (slice fruit like peaches or apricots thinly as well as oversized berries; leave small berries whole)
  • sugar to taste (I use two or three tablespoons, depending on how sweet the fruit is)
  • tapioca

Combine fruit, sugar, and tapioca, and let sit until ready to make the pie. If you use the larger BB-sized tapioca like I do here, let the mixture sit an hour or two to allow the tapioca to soften and start absorbing moisture.

(If you really feel you can’t bear to make a crust, buy one of those refrigerated pie crusts in a box and roll it out really thin on a floured board.)

Roll out the crust on a floured board. Do not worry if the crust isn’t perfectly round. It’s fine if it looks like a map of France.  Roll it thinly to get a very large crust.

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Patch any holes with dough from the edges and a dab of water.

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Using a dough scraper or spatula if necessary, fold the crust in half and then in quarters, and transfer it to an aluminum pie plate. Unfold and let the edges flop over the sides.

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Spoon the filling into the center. Here I used plums and peaches.

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Then flop the edges over the filling.

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If not baking right away, refrigerate the pie. Do not set the pie near the barbecue because you want the crust to stay cold and not allow the butter bits in it to soften.

When ready to bake, preheat gas grill to 350 (charcoal BBQ, use this guide to determine temperature.)

Invert an empty aluminum pie plate or other aluminum pan on the grill.

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Set the pie on top on that, and close the lid.

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Monitor the temperature to keep it between 350 to 375.

A smaller pie with about 2 cups filling will take about 25 minutes. This larger pie with four cups filling took about 40 minutes. It’s done when the filling is bubbling and the crust feels crisp instead of soft.

At this point you can remove the pie, or you can set it directly on the grill for about five minutes to let the bottom crust brown. Watch it carefully (lift a section of the pie up gently with a spatula) because it can go from golden brown to burned fast.

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Cut into fat wedges to serve. Makes about four servings.

 

 

 

 

 

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TRI-TIP ON THE GRILL

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TRI-TIP ON THE GRILL

It’s Memorial Day weekend, which here in the US of A is considered the Unofficial Start to Summer, as well as being a three-day weekend. (I am glad my grandmother didn’t live to see this, as she would have disapproved of Decoration Day, as she always called it, being hijacked like that and not given proper respect.) It is also a huge weekend for outdoor  barbecuing, and tri-tip is going to feature on many grills around the country.

I don’t remember seeing tri-tip until about maybe 30 years ago when it suddenly became popular, and that’s because it wasn’t available. It was either made into ground beef or sometimes cut into steaks or stew meat (which is still how it’s treated in the rest of the world). But then in Santa Maria, California, a butcher took the bull by the horns (as it were) and created tri-tip roast – if you’re interested you can read all the details right here.

I wasn’t all that crazy about tri-tip for a long time because it was almost always overcooked and sinewy and tough. I did find a foolproof way to cook it in the oven, but when it’s a zillion degrees outside, turning the oven on is a last resort.

After beef being sky-high for months and maybe years due to the drought (no matter what Donald Trump says, THERE IS A DROUGHT), we suddenly noticed the prices tumbling, and especially the price of tri-tip. It was time to get some and figure out how to cook it on the grill, and that’s where the internet came in handy. I won’t pretend this is a method I dreamed up; it was blatantly stolen from The Tri-Tip Guy. It’s a good method and quite easy, though there are a few points that are really important to follow in order to not screw this up.

An instant-read meat thermometer is essential for this.

TRI-TIP ON THE GRILL

All tri-tips look about the same and weigh about the same. You can buy them “trimmed” of fat for a nominal fee, but get an untrimmed one and do it yourself.

They look like this….

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…until you flip them over and find a huge slab of fat.

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Get a sharp, long-bladed knife, and start at one end, pulling as you slice. The fat will peel off as you work. Don’t obsess over tiny bits of meat that may come off with the fat.

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You can go back and trim off any remaining large pockets of fat, which usually cause flare-ups on the grill.

Once you have your tri-tip trimmed, you can leave it as is or marinate it. We put this one in a bowl and poured low-salt soy sauce over it and added garlic powder and freshly ground pepper, and let it sit and think about things about a couple of hours.

POINT 1: Let the tri-tip come to room temperature.

Now get your grill going. For a gas grill, bring it up to 350. For charcoal or wood, you want a medium fire (to judge this, put your hand just above the grate without touching and count how many seconds you can hold it there – figure 6-7 seconds for 350).

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Point 2: Once the grill is up to temperature, put the tri-tip down and put the lid or cover on for 15 minutes.

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After 15 minutes, uncover the trip-tip and flip it over.

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Let it cook undisturbed for about 15 – 20 more, then start testing with the meat thermometer. Could take 20 minutes, could take 40 0r 50 minutes. Go with the thermometer reading. If you want, paint some barbecue sauce on the top when it’s almost done.

When the tri-tip is almost up to the temperature you prefer, remove it from the grill. (The temperature will continue to rise during the next step.)

Point 3: Wrap tri-tip in aluminum foil and let it sit 15 minutes. Do not skip this step.

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When you’re ready to slice the tri-tip – stop! Do not slice it the way you’ve been slicing – that is, slicing off the narrow ends.

Point 4: Slice it against the grain, across the widest part, and slice it thinly.

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Once you grill tri-tip this way, you’ll be converted to this method. It turns this tough cut of beef into a juicy and flavorful roast on the barbecue.

 

 

 

ROASTED POTATOES AND CAULIFLOWER ON THE GRILL

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ROASTED POTATOES AND CAULIFLOWER ON THE GRILL

After I retired – blessed retirement – I spent about the first six months getting up at the crack of noon and cooking myself an actual real breakfast. I suppose this was to make up for all the hurried breakfasts, the non-breakfasts, the eating in the car of so many years.

I made country-fried potatoes, home-fried potatoes, pan-fried potatoes, hash browns, O’Brien potatoes, mashed potato patties, oven-fried potatoes, cooked on olive oil, cooked in bacon fat. Eventually I found that cubed potatoes that were boiled and then fried made the best home-fries. Then I found out there was an actual name for those – Brabant potatoes, which is somehow associated with New Orleans.

Then I started making them in the oven – oven Brabant fries? And those were really good for dinner. But when summer came along (you can go any time now, summer), turning the oven on was not an option. And that’s when we started barbecuing them.

So I had bought a cauliflower with nothing particular in mind for it – it was cheap – and thought that maybe the potatoes and cauliflower could be cooked on the grill together. They turned out really, really well.

Amounts are approximate. You could substitute (or add) Brussels sprouts, broccoli, Romanesco, etc. for the caulilfower. And other root vegetables like parsnips, carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, etc. could be substituted for the potatoes.

ROASTED POTATOES AND CAULIFLOWER ON THE GRILL

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 6 Russet potatoes
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • spices as you like them

Scrub the potatoes. Peel them if you want (though I wised up a few years ago and quit wasting time doing that) and cut into uniform size-and-shape pieces. Here I cut them lengthwise, then into half-moons.

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Remove the leaves and core from cauliflower, then break into flowerets. Cut the bigger flowerets into pieces so they are all about the same size. Leave them raw.

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Pour about 1/3 cup vegetable oil (safflower, sunflower, corn, generic mixed oil) into a foil baking dish about 13″ X 9″. Then pour in your choice of spices. If you have some pre-mixed barbecue rub spices, this is a great way to use them. Toss in about two fat tablespoons of mixed spices. Or try some garam masala for aloo gobi on the grill.  There are a million secret barbecue rub recipes that Google is just waiting to reveal to you. At the very least, just salt and pepper. Let the oil seep into the spices.

Drop all the potatoes into salted water, bring to a boil, and cook about 5 minutes, more or less. Test the pieces with a knife – if they are just barely tender, they’re done. Drain potatoes thoroughly, then mix the cooked potatoes and raw cauliflower into the seasoned oil. Use your hands for this to really get all the spices mixed with the vegetables.

Put the pan on the grill, temperature about 350 or medium or over indirect heat. Do not cover the pan with foil. Just put the lid down on the grill and let this cook about 15 minutes. Then use a spatula to turn the vegetables over.

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All told, they’ll take around 35-40 minutes to get browned and crispy.

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I am embarrassed to say that my husband and I ate nearly ALL of this in one sitting.

BARBECUING YOUR DINNER

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BARBECUING YOUR DINNER

It’s the end of July and the cotton is high as an elephant’s eye, if you had any cotton. I don’t. I do know it’s hot and it’s gonna be hotter, so that’s when we do a lot of barbecuing.

In attempts to not heat up the house, we’ve been experimenting with cooking non-meat items on the grill, and it’s been pretty successful so far. Here are a few of the items we’ve made.

CORN ON THE COB

I know, everyone and their grandmother does BBQ’d corn on the cob, but they do too much work. You do not need to soak it, remove the silks, wrap it in foil, or any of those other tricks. You can trim off the excess silks at the end and maybe remove the stalk at the other end (which requires a cleaver or chef’s knife). Put the corn right on the grill.

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Turn them every now and then, letting the husks get brown all over.

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After about 25 minutes on medium heat, remove the corn. Put it in some sort of container like a shoebox and wrap with towels, foil, or newspaper to keep warm. This will keep the corn hot for at least 45 minutes.

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GRILLED EGGPLANT

Slice up your eggplant, peeled or not.

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Brush slices with olive oil (which you can add some seasonings to if you like) and lay on the grill.

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Brush occasionally with more olive oil. Flip slices as they brown (do not try to force them if they stick – they’ll let go of the grill when they’re ready).

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Remove slices to a plate when they’re browned and tender.

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FRUIT COBBLER

Summer fruit makes the best pie, but the the oven turned to 425 for an hour when it’s 118 outside is too much to think about. But fruit cobbler is easy on the grill. We used disposable foil pans, which (as it turned out) can be washed and reused several times.

Choose the sweetest, juiciest fruit you can lay your hands on. Here we used peaches and strawberries.

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Pour a little liquid into the bottom of the pan – apple juice, peach nectar, something like that. Keep the added sugar to a minimum because it tends to scorch like crazy.

Mix up a cobbler topping, either from scratch or from a mix like Bisquik – or even (for convenience’s sake) whack open one of those refrigerator rolls of biscuits. Spoon/scrape/lay the dough on top of the fruit.

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Put the cobbler on the grill and close the lid. The temp should be around 350 or a medium fire.

Check about every 10 minutes.

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When the dough is firm and the fruit is bubbling, it’s done. It won’t get really brown like it does in a kitchen oven.

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Remove from grill and serve right away, or let cool.

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