July Blog

July Menu:

A Trio of Kabobs:

Italian Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Kabobs

 Patio Daddy-O Shish Kabobs

 Grilled Topical Fruit Kabobs

     Now it’s time to get a little retro and make a trio of kabobs.  This week’s menu is both good eatin’ and fun! This is the excuse you’ve been looking for to invite a bunch of friends over to drink fruity drinks and eat food on a stick.

You can set up your party two different ways; you can assemble all the kabobs in advance. Or, you can set out all the fixings and have your guests assemble their own kabobs.  Either way, you’ll want to grill them once everyone has arrived.

I like to grill the kabobs in stages.  Grill the Italian Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Kabobs, place them on a platter and let your guests dig in while they are hot.  Kabobs are easy to eat while standing or can be placed on individual plates and served tableside.  Sometimes, I make twice as many mini-kabobs so that they are even easier to eat while standing and sipping on a drink of your choice.  You can buy 6-inch bamboo skewers or put half as many ingredients on your metal skewer.

Regardless, the easiest way to build the kabob is to use what I call my “Ladder Technique.”  That refers to using two skewers on either side of the food so the food doesn’t twirl around like a wheel on an axis.  This method makes it a cinch to turn the kabobs once halfway through the cooking time and get it browned and caramelized on both sides.

I start on the second kabobs, my Patio Daddy-O Shish Kabobs, about five minutes after everyone has finished their first kabobs. That means that the next course comes off the grill 5-10 minutes after they’ve had the first round of kabobs and everyone is generally ready to eat again.  Even though kabobs are a one-stop meal—meat, veggies, starch, all on a stick—if you want to serve an extra side, this is the time to do it.  And, I always serve these at the table because a knife and fork makes the meat easier to eat.

Once you try these recipes, you can make any kind of kabobs.  In fact, at the end of the summer when the gardens are bursting with produce, I love taking anything I have on hand, cubing it, brushing it with oil and letting everyone pick and choose to make their own kabobs.  The only rule is to put foods on the sticks that take the same amount of time to cook.  For example, you would never want to combine potatoes and shrimp on the same skewer because the shrimp will take very little time and the potatoes will take a lot longer.

When everyone is almost finished with the main kabobs, it’s time to put the Grilled Topical Fruit Kabobs on the grill.  I always assemble the dessert kabobs in advance because by the end of the evening, no one wants to make their own food.  You will want to make sure the cooking grates are brushed well and all the residue of the previous kabobs has burned away.  A clean cooking grate makes grilling fruit simple—almost foolproof. Grill the fruit until lightly marked and warmed through.  You can dip them back into the marinade for a little flavor bath and/or serve them with coconut ice cream and your favorite bittersweet chocolate truffles for a perfect ending to a perfect summer evening.

Italian Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Kabobs

Charcoal:       Direct

Gas:                Direct/Low Heat

 

1          thick, day-old baguette French or Italian bread

1          pound semi-firm mozzarella cheese (not fresh)

6          ripe but firm plum tomatoes

1          bunch fresh basil

5          tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

8          tablespoons unsalted butter

2          cloves garlic, finely minced

1           tin (2 ounces) anchovies, drained and finely minced

Special Equipment:   Bamboo skewers, soaked in water  or Grill Friends™ Dual Prong  Skewers, Vacu-Vin Instant Marinater, optional

Slice baguette into sixteen ½-inch-thick rounds and mozzarella into twelve ½-inch-thick slices.  Halve tomatoes lengthwise.  Separate basil leaves from stems, setting aside the largest leaves for use.

To make kabobs, on each of four 12-inch metal skewers, thread one slice bread, followed by a basil leaf, mozzarella slice, another basil leaf, tomato half, and then repeat process, starting with bread.  The ingredients should be pressed quite firmly together, and each kabob should have 4 slices bread, 6 basil leaves, 3 slices mozzarella, and 3 tomato halves.  Drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over each skewer and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat butter and remaining oil in a small skillet over medium heat.  When butter is melted, add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add anchovies and sauté one minute more.  Keep warm over very low heat.

Meanwhile, place kabobs in the center of the cooking grate and grill about 3 minutes per side, to toast the bread and gently melt (but not dissolve) the cheese.  Place kabobs on serving plates and drizzle generously with warm anchovy butter.  Serve at once.

Makes 4 servings.

Patio Daddy-O Shish Kabobs

Grilling Method: Direct/Medium Heat

Zest of an orange

Zest of a lemon

Juice of an orange, about ¼ cup orange juice

Juice of a lemon, about ¼ cup lemon juice

¼         cup olive oil

3          cloves garlic, minced

1          tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh or dried rosemary

3          pounds boneless leg of lamb, cut into 2-inch cubes

1          large red onion, cut into 1-½ inch wedges

2          yellow peppers, seeded and cut into3 inch squares

½         pound medium white mushrooms, stems trimmed

6          ripe Roma tomatoes, cut in half

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Special Equipment:   Bamboo skewers, soaked in water  or Grill Friends™ Dual Prong  Skewers, Vacu-Vin Instant Marinater, optional

In a medium bowl, whisk together zest, orange juice, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and rosemary.  Arrange lamb chunks in a single layer in a glass dish and pour marinade over or use a Vacu-vin Instant Marinater.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours, stirring every now and again.

When ready to cook, preheat the grill.

To assemble kabobs, put all vegetables on a cutting board with the skewers nearby. Drain meat from the marinade, and discard the marinade.  Thread meat onto two skewers, so they resemble a ladder.  Leave room in between meat so all pieces cook evenly. You should have about 6 kabobs.

Repeat skewering with onion, peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes, using two bamboo skewers for each kabob. Brush with oil and season with salt and pepper.

Place kabobs in the center of the cooking grate, turning to sear all sides. Cook to desired degree of doneness, 8 to 10 minutes for medium-rare. When skewers are done, remove from the grill. Place onto a clean platter. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Note: The vegetables and meat may take different amounts of time to cook. For example, the tomatoes may only take 3-5 minutes; but the onions and pepper should be done at the time as the lamb.

Let meat rest 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Serves 6

Grilled Topical Fruit Kabobs

Grilling Method: Direct/Medium Heat

Kabobs:
2          mangos, slightly under ripe and firm, cut into 2” cubes
1          pineapple, ripe but firm, cut into 2” cubes
2          pints strawberries, firm
1          teaspoon cinnamon
1          teaspoon sugar
½         teaspoon each nutmeg and cloves

Marinade:
½         cup dark rum
½         cup fruit juice, blend of orange, pineapple and passion fruit
¼         cup honey

¼         cup untoasted walnut or hazelnut oil
2          tablespoons brown sugar
1          lime, juiced

Special Equipment:   Bamboo skewers, soaked in water  or Grill Friends™ Dual Prong  Skewers, Vacu-Vin Instant Marinater, optional

Thread alternating fruit onto both sides of the double skewers using the ladder method.  Combine sugar and spices and sprinkle over the kabobs; turn kabobs over and repeat. Make marinade by mixing all the ingredients together and reserve.

Thirty minutes before serving, whisk marinade to re-combine and pour over the kabobs. Remove kabobs from marinade, and place in the center of a very clean cooking grate.  Grill until browned and fruit is warmed through, no more than five minutes.

Serve immediately.

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a food fanatic and the Grill Girl from North Carolina who has seasoned, basted and tasted my way across the country. Please join me on my non-stop, culinary journey...


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