Late Night on the Deck

We were about to call it a night when we decided to go out on the deck, fire up the grill, and watch a movie.  It’s funny how things work like that.  On top of it all we were watching one of the classiest movies of all time: Deuce Bigalow Male Gigolo.  We cut up some Hawaiian plantains, basted them with garlic and olive oil, and grilled until just charred.  Delicious!

It was all fun and games until the lights on the deck started attracting the huge insects.   Within 30 minutes we were being surrounded by moths, huge 4-winged beasties, and large flying beetles.  At that point it was time to go inside and finish the movie.

Grilling in the Poconos – Early April, 2010

The weather had finally worked out and I could finally get outside and do some grilling.  The weather in the Poconos at this time of the year can be fairly awful, so I was determined to take advantage of the mostly sunny weather in the mid 60’s.

Our first night there we made lobster salad sandwiches and had some homemade coleslaw.    We got a 2 lb lobster from the grocery store and I boiled it for about 6 minutes before splitting it in half and finishing it on the grill.  Once it was thoroughly cooked I removed the meat and chopped it into bite-size pieces and let Brie work her magic with the dressing.  Long story short:  It was delicious!

The second night featured grilled vegetables (asparagus, eggplant, onion, and mushrooms) and garlic-lemon marinated shrimp.  One of my favorite things to use are the awesome metal skewers that my parents brought back from Turkey.  Each one has a different handle featuring a different animal or character.  The only problem?  They get incredibly hot and you have to make sure you have enough layers between them and your fingers.  The vegetables were cooked perfectly and the non-stick grill basket is one of the coolest things I have used.  The only issue was that the asparagus was so thin they occasionally worked their way through the holes in the basket!

On the final day we had marinated london broil.  For the marinade I used garlic, rosemary, cracked pepper, hot pepper flakes, and olive oil.  After marinating for about 10 hours I shook off the big bits and put the meat on a hot grill and cooked them to medium-rare.  After they were done I let them sit for about 10 minutes before slicing them in thin strips across the grain.  With this I served an appetizer of roasted golden beets with feta cheese, topped with a lovely vinagrette that Brie put together.  For side dishes I made mashed sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli.

As with all of our trips to the Poconos, the weekend wouldn’t be complete without a few encounters with some wildlife.  This trip featured a very hungry red squirrel at the deer trough, and a black bear doing the same thing. Now that the weather is warming up my parents have vowed to stop feeding the wildlife in hopes of preventing the bears from hanging out permanently.

And finally, we moved the bar and stools from the basement up to the sun room.  It looks fantastic!  I look forward to many cocktail hours out there this summer.

A Weekend in the Poconos – 03/26/10: Asiago Chicken with Pancetta; Homemade Pizza

This trip to the Poconos was centered around the kitchen and the amazing meals we had planned.  Due to the rain and temperatures hovering in the 30’s we decided to cook entrees that would warm us from the inside out.  On Friday night I decided to cook Asiago Chicken with a side of Chive Polenta, Mushrooms and Onions with Gorgonzola, and Green Beans.

Here are the recipes:

Asiago Chicken

4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts
4 slices Asiago cheese (1/8″ thick)
Flour
1/2 c. dry white wine
4 slices pancetta
olive oil
salt and pepper
fresh thyme or fresh oregano

Mix some salt and pepper (1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper) along with about 1/2 c. of flour in a shallow bowl or plate.  Dredge chicken breasts, shaking off any excess flour.  Place chicken in a hot oven-proof skillet with ~ 1-2 Tbsp olive oil (as needed).  Turn on broiler and move rack to the top shelf.  Cook the chicken until golden brown (3-4 minutes), flip and cook additional 3-4 minutes.  Place 1 slice of cheese followed by 1 slice of pancetta on each chicken breast.  Place in broiler and cook until chicken reaches 160F (~4-5 minutes) and pancetta “crisps”.  Remove chicken from pan and cover with foil.  Add 1/2 of wine and finely chopped herbs to pan, deglaze, and reduce until thickened.  Pour sauce over chicken and serve.

On Saturday night we had some delicious homemade, thin-crust pizzas that Brie made.

The one on the left was a spinach (sautéed with garlic, onion, salt, pepper, and olive oil), oyster mushroom, and gorgonzola pizza.   The gorgonzola melted perfectly and the spinach blend had a lovely taste and texture.  The oyster mushrooms really held up well and were still firm, without a touch of the slipperiness that button mushrooms can have.  The crust had good flavor, and was made with a touch of red wine (thank you Mr. Batali).

The second pizza (on the right) featured roasted red peppers, hot italian sausage (crumbled and cooked beforehand), oyster mushrooms, fresh mozzarella, and a homemade red-sauce base. 

Grilling in the Snow – Another Weekend in the Poconos

After four weeks without leaving the city, we were desperate to get out to the Poconos and have a little breathing room.  When we arrived in Long Pond we were shocked to see the amount of snow still on the ground.  There was over 3 feet of snow in many places, with 6′ tall drifts around the house and 10′  tall plowed piles on the sides of the road.  It was insane.

One of the delicious meals we had this weekend was a pesto-stuffed chicken breast recipe that my mom made.  It was served over wild rice and topped with a tomato relish.   With that we had a side of baked butternut squash and roasted asparagus.  We even used the official “Hotel Hübner” plates.  It was a lovely start to a great weekend.

The weather had warmed up significantly by Sunday morning and I was adamant about using the grill for the lunch that we were going to make for our friend Scarlett.  Although I had to shovel a ton (literally) of snow off the deck, it was finally starting to dry in the sun by midday.  The next step was to prepare lunch.  The previous day we had run up to Wegmans and picked up 4 pounds of NY Strip Steak, some bell peppers, gigantic white mushrooms, and some pearl onions with the thought that we could make some kebabs and put them on the grill.  Luckily, the weather had worked out and a bit later we had another fantastic meal.

We weren’t the only ones that were eating well this weekend.  On Friday night we looked out on to the patio and saw this awesome porcupine, dubbed “Prickles” by my parents, munching down on an ear of corn.  The photo isn’t the best, but he’s a cute little bugger:  What a great weekend!

A Weekend in the Poconos – Poire Williams and Irish Whiskey

A weekend in the Poconos isn’t complete unless some fine liquor is consumed.  While the food was fantastic (well mostly, I made a forgettable Scotch Broth), I am going to focus on an amazing Poire Williams from France and a lovely 16-year-old Whiskey from Ireland.

Poire Williams is a pear flavored ea-de-vie/brandy/schnapps made mainly in Germany and France.  Most of the times it is around 70 proof (35% alcohol), but this special bottle of Joseph Cartron Poire Williams from France is 98 proof (49% alcohol) and packs a delicious punch.  The sealing wax used to keep the cap on is always a pain to break through, but it gives it a beautiful touch.  Unfortunately I cannot find it anywhere in the United States, so it is one of those items that I get when I travel to Germany.

As for the Irish Whiskey, it is 16-year-old single malt from Bushmills (Northern Ireland).  It is a fantastic whiskey with nutty flavors and a lot of character.  I am guessing that comes from the fact that it ages in three different casks: an American Bourbon cask, a Oloroso Sherry cask, and finally finished off in port wine pipes.  Long story short: Delicious!