Monthly Archives: June 2009

Grilled pizza

078What: Pizza cooked on the grill.

Why: It’s too hot to turn on the oven and too nice not to grill.

Complications: Last summer we tried grilling pizza once, and it was a disaster. We plopped the dough on a super hot grill, and then walked away! From inside, we saw that the whole thing had puffed up huge, and by the time we ran outside, it was a blackened mess. This year, we grilled a whole platter full of food, and then did the dough on dying embers. I also rolled it out very thick, afraid it would tear during the transfer.

Result: Overall, very good. The dough was way too thick, but the lovely crispy bottom saved it. Grilling the top side for a bit first meant that the sauce didn’t get absorbed like it normally does in the oven. I don’t see how it would cook through without that step, though.

Next time: Maybe not wait so long to put on the dough, and definitely roll it out thinner. It would be nice to get the sauce to absorb more, so the toppings don’t slid off so easily. Maybe the secret is to use less sauce than an oven pizza?

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June 27, 2009

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Granola

010I made some more granola. It got me thinking. I assume that anything I make from scratch will be cheaper and better for me than anything I buy pre-made in the store. This was an easy comparison to make; the recipe is simple with only a handful of ingredients.

Price comparison: It’s much cheaper to make homemade granola. Since my recipe uses honey (as opposed to other comparisons which use expensive maple syrup) it works out to about $3.54 for a batch, for about 27 1 ounce servings. Bear Naked from our local Giant is $5.19 for 11 (approximately) 1 ounce servings. That’s 3 1/2 times more expensive!

Nutional content: They’re about equal. According to NutritionData, each serving of my homemade recipe contains 129 calories, 7 grams of fat, and exactly the same vitamin content as Bear Naked.

Final Analysis: Points for being cheap, but I’m really surprised that there is no discernible nutritional difference between my granola and the store bought version.

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Fire

070What: Tuna, skirt steak, and vegetables grilled over vine cuttings (sarments de vignes).

Um, what? In France, S’s family always uses vine cuttings as fuel for their grill. Every year, growers cut off the new grape vine shoots, leaving behind the trunk which will grow new shoots the next year. In southern France, you can’t walk two feet without tripping over vine cuttings. Here it’s a little more difficult. There are vineyards around, of course, but it’s just not in the culture to collect the cuttings. When S worked at a vineyard in the Finger Lakes, NY, he would wander the fields after work. He never did find a good source on Long Island, so he was determined to make it work here. Through some professional connections, S made arrangements with a Virginia winery and we drove out back in March-ish. The winemaker was super nice and drove us out to the fields where they had huge piles of cuttings, organized by varietal! S was like a kid in a candy shop. We picked cabernet sauvignon and packed the hatchback. When we got home we cut them up into bundles (which are pictured at the top of Les Ardoises).

071Why: S says that vine cuttings add a special flavor to the food, and most noteably leaves the food free of smokey charcoal flavors and aromas. Except for the driving 2 hours to collect them, it’s a pretty environmentally friendly cooking method. We use something that would’ve otherwise been burned in the field, and since we pour the cooled ash into the garden, there’s no waste, either.

075Result: Yeah, it’s pretty darned good! The tuna steaks were perfect… excellent char marks on the outside, very pink on the inside, and absolutely no smokiness. A very clean grilled taste, if that makes any sense.

Complications: The only problem I have with vine cuttings is the raging inferno when you start the fire. In college, S would use his mini-gr085ill on the sidewalk under a low-hanging tree. I had to hide out inside, I was so nervous. I’m better now (although I do sit with a hose turned on next to me). After the inferno dies down, there’s a very short window when the cuttings are hot, so that’s something to keep in mind.

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Sandwich bread update

030Hey, this new habit might actually stick. This time I added a cup of oats and a handful of sunflower seeds. It had a nice nuttiness, although it gets pretty crumbly after a couple days. Next time maybe plain whole wheat.

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June 20, 2009

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Beets, horseradish, and garlic

Garden Report June 13th:

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We pulled the beets! I’ve bought bunches of beets before, but I didn’t realize that there’s only one beet per plant. I guess I never thought about it. We pulled them on the small side, and they were very sweet! I still have some seeds that I never planted, so I might sow some for the fall. Not sure if it’s worth the space, though.025021

In other garden news: The weed that looked suspiciously like horseradish… was horseradish. I love “weeds” that come up on their own. Also, we thought the garlice was ready… and it was not. The stalk just pulled out by itself, and S dug around to pull up this half-formed bulb. I honestly have no idea how we’ll know when to pull the rest. We also planted some zucchini and delicata squash seeds (which have since come up!).023

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