In the months before Christmas, I started a class
of chopping and stirring and cooking with gas.
I dragged myself up every Sunday at eight.
Luck’ly they set out strong coffee to wait.
Knife skills and techniques were taught on week one,
but at home were dull knives that weren’t much fun.
Week two was eggs that we poached, whipped, and scrambled.
We made a soufflé even I could have handled.
On week three, we learned that a good stock should jiggle,
but without salt and acid, soup surely will fizzle.
The fourth week was braising, keep temperatures low,
to make cabbage and short ribs and osso bucco.
When week six was sauces, I made béchamel;
I took home a pear so the recipe I could tell.
But wait! You’ve just noticed — where’s the fifth week?
Oh you smart readers, nothing past you can I sneak!
Week five as you know, was on hot hot hot heat.
For my part, I set forth with grilling some meat.
Other types of dry heat, we also did try,
from broiling to roasting to deep deep fat fry.
You may not have realized, but until that day,
I’d never tried frying or grilling, no way!
I faced deep fat frying just earlier this week,
with sufganiyot – fancy doughnuts, so to speak.
But I think grill cooking and taking out trash
are jobs for a man, and I’ll flutter my lash.
Though I’m planning to try – only grilling, of course -
with a grill pan I own, or another resource.
I’ll start this “man’s task” with a feminine flair,
with fruit and with teacake and other sweet fare.
And, in case you are wondering, although I will grill,
the trash taking out will remain my worst skill.
A lot of different fruits can apparently be grilled. While my cooking partner and I were waiting for our meat to marinate, we scrounged around the kitchen for other things to grill. We found pears and grapefruits and set to work. We cut the fruit into good sized chunks that wouldn’t fall down the grill grates. For the pears, we made 4 cuts around the core. For the grapefruit, we made about 4 slices perpendicular to the fruit segments. We then brushed all surfaces with a little olive oil (I’m sure melted butter would be great too), a nice sprinkle or two of sugar, and a small pinch of salt (if you want). Fire up the grill. Or, if you are like me and only have indoor cookery, put your grill pan on medium heat. When your grill (pan) is hot, place the fruit on the grill. Let it cook for about 5 minutes on each side for harder fruit (apples, pears) or 2-3 mintues per side for citrus. Just like with meat, the fruit is ready when it releases itself from the grill (pan) – if you have to tug at it, leave it be for a minute more.
Grilled cranberry-orange zinfadel bread with orange mascarpone cream
We made these “breads” as tea cakes in mini loaf pans. They would obviously work just as well in 2 large loaf pans. I think the cake is great as is, but excellent with the extra texture and flavor from the grill. When you make the dough – think of it like pancake batter – you don’t want to over mix. Instead you want the ingredients to just barely come together.
For the cranberry-orange zinfandel bread:
- 1/4 C oil
- 2 eggs, slightly beaten
- 4 C flour
- 1 1/2 C sugar
- 1 t salt
- 1 T baking powder
- 1 t baking soda
- 1 C walnuts or pecans
- 3 C whole raw cranberries
- 2/3 C fresh orange juice
- 1/2 C white zinfancel
- 2 oz melted butter
For the orange mascarpone cream:
- 1 C (8 oz) mascarpone
- 1 t orange zest
- 3 T fresh orange juice
- 1 T orange liqueur (Cointreau, triple sec, Grand Marnier)
- 1 T confectioner’s sugar
Prep. Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly butter/oil and flour 2 loaf pans, 6 mini loaf pans, or 2 dozen muffin tins. Toast nuts in the heated oven for 10-15 minutes – the second you start smelling the nuts, grab them from the oven. Check them at about 7 minutes. When the cool a bit, chop them up into medium sized chunks.
Mix. In a large bowl, mix oil and eggs well. Then add the dry ingredients – flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir this all together until it just barely combines — the mix will be a bit crumbly. Fold in nuts and cranberries. Then add juice and zinfancel and stir until just blended.
Bake. Pour batter into the greased and floured pans. Bake for approximately 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out dry.
Grill. Turn on your grill (or get your grill pan ready). When the bread is cool, slice it into 3/4-inch slices. Brush with melted butter and grill slices 3-4 minutes on each side.
Make mascarpone cream. In a bowl, whisk mascarpone until smooth. Add zest, orange juice, orange liqueur, and sugar and whisk until well blended.