Thursday, August 16, 2007

Tuscan grilled dinner, blueberry-lemon galette recipes

Look! Another post in less than 24 hours!!! :)

A few weeks ago, three friends came to visit. We have met at the lake house every year for five years now and it’s “all about cooking”. And drinking and generally having a great time together. Jenni suggested some wonderful-sounding recipes and Nancy offered to make one of her “famous” galettes, then I filled in with other recipes. I wanted the first night to be an all-grilled meal, on my new grill on the new patio, and enjoyed outside. Fortunately, I came across some recipes on the Fine Cooking website and it all came together. Even the weather, so ominously forecast even that same day, cooperated.

The Tuscan dinner menu was a perfect way to start out. We started with an assortment of olives and baked, marinated goat cheese with Jenni’s grill-baked Italian wheat bread.

I could have eaten the entire tray and been quite satisfied, but then we went on to the main part of the meal.

The Tuscan Grilled Chicken, Sausage, and Sage Skewers were delicious. I made the rosemary-garlic oil a few days before and we tossed chunks of chicken thigh meat with it a couple of hours before grilling. They were threaded on skewers with sage leaves (from Jenni’s herb garden). Instead of using sweet Italian sausage links, as directed in the recipe, I subbed chicken sausages with spinach and asiago which I had bought at Sam’s Club. These have a fraction of fat that the traditional pork Italian sausage does. Of course, since they are precooked, we skewered them separately and just heated them on the grill. I really liked eating bits of the crisp sage leaves along with the chicken and sausage pieces.

Tuscan Grilled Chicken, Sausage & Sage Skewers

Serves six to eight.


2-1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 7 or 8), trimmed of excess fat and cut in half (the pieces should be roughly equal in size; if the thighs are large, cut them in thirds or quarters)
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbs. Rosemary-Garlic Oil

1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 lb. sweet Italian sausage links, cut into 2-inch pieces (or may I suggest-- Chicken, Spinach, & Asiago Sausages!)

24 large fresh sage leaves

how to make

Up to a day ahead and at least a couple of hours before serving, toss the chicken in a medium bowl with 2 Tbs. of the oil, the rosemary, 1 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper.

Heat a gas grill to medium or prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire. Divide the remaining 1/2 cup oil into two small bowls (one for grilling and one for serving). Alternately thread three pieces of sausage, three pieces of chicken, and four sage leaves onto each of six 12-inch metal skewers (or wooden skewers that have been soaked in water for 1/2 hour).

Grill the skewers, covered, until one side is browned and has good grill marks, about 4 min. Brush with some of the rosemary-garlic oil, flip, and cook the other side until it, too, has good grill marks, about 4 min. Brush with

more oil and flip again. Continue cooking, flipping, and brushing with oil until the sausage and chicken are both cooked through (check by slicing into a couple of the thicker pieces), about 10 min. more.

Let cool for a couple of minutes and then arrange on a platter, drizzle on the remaining oil, and set out for guests to serve themselves.

from Fine Cooking #80, pp. 37

Also from Fine Cooking:

Rosemary-Garlic Oil

This wonderfully fragrant oil is the flavor base for many of the dishes in the Tuscan grilling menu. It involves little more than heating the oil so that the garlic and rosemary infuse it. You can make the oil up to five days ahead. Yields 1-1/2 cups.


1-1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
6 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
3 sprigs fresh rosemary

how to make

Heat the olive oil and garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic starts to bubble steadily, 3 to 4 min. Add the rosemary, remove from the heat, and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to a clean glass jar or other storage container, cover, and refrigerate. Use within five days.

from Fine Cooking #80, pp. 36

As for pre-prepping, I grilled the red peppers and zucchini the night before and allowed them to come to room temperature before adding to the pasta.

Fregola with Grill-Marinated Red Peppers & Zucchini

Fregola is a tiny toasted pasta from Sardinia. It can be found at Italian specialty stores, or ordered online at You can also substitute Israeli couscous or any tiny pasta, but toast it first in a large, dry skillet, over medium-low heat until it browns a bit, about 10 minutes.

Serves six to eight.


2 red bell peppers, cored and cut into four pieces
1-1/4 lb. zucchini (4 small), trimmed and quartered lengthwise
5 Tbs. Rosemary-Garlic Oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs. red-wine vinegar
3 Tbs. chopped fresh mint, plus 3 Tbs. torn mint leaves
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
3/4 lb. fregola

how to make

Heat a gas grill to medium or prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire. In a large bowl, toss the peppers and zucchini with 2 Tbs. of the oil, 1 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Arrange the vegetables on the grill and cook, covered if using a gas grill, until they have nice grill marks, about 3 min. for zucchini and 5 min. for peppers. Flip and cook on until the other sides are well browned, too, another 3 to 5 min. Continue cooking and flipping occasionally until the zucchini is crisp-tender and the peppers are completely tender with very charred skins, 8 to 10 min. total for zucchini and 12 to 15 min. total for peppers. Transfer to a large cutting board to cool.

Scrape the charred skins off the peppers. Coarsely chop the vegetables and transfer to a large serving bowl.

Toss with 2 Tbs. of the oil, the vinegar, chopped mint, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste and let sit for up to 2 hours at room temperature.

Up to 1 hour before serving, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender (about 10 minutes for fregola). Drain the pasta and toss with the vegetables. Drizzle with the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the torn mint and set out on the table for serving.

from Fine Cooking #80, pp. 39

Next up was a Spinach and Grilled Radicchio Salad. This was so good and flavorful. Meridee grilled the radicchio just before serving, and a few weeks later I made the same salad and grilled it a couple of hours beforehand. If there is time and it’s not too crazy, I would suggest grilling it just before using. The radicchio which I grilled early turned brown in many areas and I had to trim a lot of the very browned areas off. But I did need to leave some of the browned parts on (or there would have been no radicchio!) so it was a good thing that I was serving this outdoors under very concealing torch-lights. My guests loved it and one had 3 servings, browned or not!

Spinach & Grilled Radicchio Salad

Peppery, bitter radicchio mellows a bit when it's grilled, and, when tossed with baby spinach and shavings of Pecorino Romano, it's the perfect counterpoint to the rich grilled chicken and sausages.

Serves six to eight.


3/4 to 1 lb. radicchio (2 small or 1 large), trimmed and quartered through the core

7 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 oz. baby spinach (about 6 cups), rinsed well and spun dry
3-1/2 to 4 oz. shaved Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 1 cup)
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

how to make

Heat a gas grill to medium or prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire. Brush the radicchio with 2 Tbs. of the oil and sprinkle with 3/4 tsp. kosher salt. Grill the radicchio (covered if using a gas grill) until it browns and chars lightly

in spots on one side, 3 to 4 min. Flip and grill until the other side is browned and the radicchio is softened and wilting, 3 to 4 min. (If using a large radicchio, you may need to grill it on a third side for a few more minutes to fully soften it.)

Let the radicchio cool on a cutting board for a couple of minutes, and then trim off the cores and coarsely chop. In a serving bowl, toss the radicchio with the spinach and the cheese.

Just before serving, toss the salad with the remaining 5 Tbs. oil and the vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste.

from Fine Cooking #80, pp. 38

And now on to dessert. Nancy’s fabulous galette! Actually, two galettes. The first one featured a marzipan layer topped with apples and spices. Since this was to be an all-grilled dinner, some of us decided that we should grill the galette. Nancy had her doubts, but humored us. A baking stone was preheated on the grill, the galette formed in a well-greased cast iron skillet. It was baked but the bottom crust burnt before the apples were completely softened. Most of us thought it was very tasty (less the charred bottom) but Nancy was not pleased. Even though the entire galette was eaten by 4 of us after a big meal, she was not convinced that she did an good enough job on her dessert. So, being Nancy who is always well-prepared, she bought ingredients for a backup galette—blueberry and lemon. Since the blueberries were much softer in texture than the Pink Lady apples, this cooked without burning. And it, too, was delicious but we were
only able to eat half of it. Jack enjoyed the rest later that weekend.

Anyway, the consensus was:

You can grill galettes. Jenni bakes bread on a stone on her grill, so we think that any recipe can be adjusted. It’s just the adjustment which takes some patience and experimentation. For galettes and pies, however, either precook the more dense fillings (apples) or use soft fruit (blueberries, ripe peaches, etc.).

Following is the blueberry galette recipe. The apple-marzipan galette recipe can be found at the Cooking Light website.

A grilled galette!!!

Blueberry Galette

Recipe By : Gourmet July 2004

Servings : 6

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

--------- ---------- ---------------------------------------

1 pound fresh blueberries -- about 3 cups

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

1 9" refrigerated pie crust

1 large egg -- lightly beaten

1 teaspoon sugar

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat to 425F. Line a large baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.

Stir together the blueberries through 1/2 cup sugar. Unwrap pie dough and unfold onto baking sheet. Spoon blueberry mixture onto center of dough, leaving a 1-1/2" border around edge.

Fold edge of dough over blueberry mixture, pleating dough as you go around the circle. Lightly brush pastry with beaten egg and sprinkle with the teaspoon of sugar. Bake until filling is bubbly and crust is golden, about 25-30 minutes. Cool slightly on baking sheet on a wire rack.

After several hours of eating, drinking, laughing, and having a good time, we made our way back into the house where everything was cleaned up quickly and we all fell into our beds to enjoy the kind of deep sleep that only comes after such a thoroughly pleasant evening (of course, the fresh lake air and total silence helped, too!).

Next post will be the recipes for the coconut pancakes with mango compote and tropical fruit salad which was our breakfast the morning after this feast.