7.16.2012

Girl on Grill.



I feel bad. Maybe you haven’t noticed, or maybe it’s not a big deal, but I feel bad for being kind of absent lately. For the past couple of months a lot of things have been in flux. It’s felt a little bit like a deck of cards tossed up in the air. And some haven’t even hit the ground yet. But everything is all good, mind you. 


You all know Maggie, my dear friend and roommate of two years? She recently moved out. She found a magical, little spot all her own. Don't worry, she didn't go too far. In fact, we have plans to kick back with some wine at her new place tomorrow night.

Alas, you know how it go – Ch, ch, ch, ch, changes.


In the midst of Maggie’s move, my birthday happened. It was a fun one. Fred and I went to Los Olivos (and places surrounding) for the better part of the weekend, explored, went to wine tastings, had a beautiful dinner, and embraced the drive both up and back. I got some beautiful and touching cards and some wonderful gifts. Surprisingly, I actually received a couple of pretty extravagant gifts. One of these was from my dad. He called me and told me he wanted me to have a gas grill. The wording here is important: he wanted me to have. I already have a charcoal grill that I have been perfectly happy with for years. I had no idea I wanted or needed a gas grill. Dad’s logic was that, with a gas grill, I could use it like an oven and wouldn’t even have to heat up the kitchen. I guess in the Summer in the South that is a huge plus.

Dad seemed very enthusiastic about his gift idea (it reminded me of the time I was thirteen years old and he was brimming with excitement to give me the surprise gift of, wait for it… a plant), and I get it. It’s fun to give a gift. It’s rewarding. And when you think you’ve drummed up the best gift idea ever, it’s downright titillating. I’ve often felt it more fun to give gifts than to receive them. I guess that all depends on the gift going in either direction, though.

And so, after an arduoulsy involved process, I brought home my shiny, new gas grill. Dad insisted I get a Weber. He has one and he loves it. He told me, “I’ve had dozens of gas grills and this one is the best.” So that’s what I got.


This was about two or three weeks ago, and ever since the first day we put it on the patio, Fred (who was captivated by the idea from the get go) and I have done some thing or another with the grill almost every day: steaks (two or three times), BBQ chicken, mojo chicken wings (courtesy of Erika at Lindy & Grundy), vegetables, salmon, veggie burgers, meaty burgers, sausages, lamb chops, onions, a pork tenderloin. More than once I’ve sparked it up just to grill a zucchini or a sausage to use in a separate dish. And tonight we are going to grill oysters! I must admit, I love it and it is tons of fun – Thanks, Dad! Don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten about my little charcoal grill still which sits proudly on the patio, right next to The Monolith.

The most interesting thing we’ve been doing on the grill, and the most frequent – hell, and the most fun – has been pizzas. We have now made pizzas four different times, with a number of different kinds of pizzas each night. This past weekend we made four pizzas: a breakfast pizza with sausage egg and cheese, a classic pizza Margherita (but with purple basil instead of green (pictured above)), a dessert pizza with grilled peaches, mascarpone, mint and honey (not pictured) and Fred’s wild card pizza with grilled corn, salsa, cilantro, onions, bacon and Cotija cheese (pictured at top). They were all fantastic except for the dessert pizza. A - we didn’t think it through completely and the mascarpone turned into liquid and B – grilled fruit is going to make me hesitant because it just does. But I loved the idea of breakfast, dinner and dessert pizzas, all in a row. My favorite of all of our pizzas was the 'breakfast pizza'.


And so, my dear dad ended up giving me a pretty rad gift. And one I didn’t even realize I would want at the time. And I can’t even imagine all the amazing meals that lie ahead in the years that I will have my grill. So much better than a plant.

And with this, things are settling. New colors and shapes and people and sounds. 


You all know Fred? Well, pretty soon he’ll be moving in. The grill, Maggie, Fred…

Strange fascination, fascinating me.
Ah, changes are taking the pace I’m going through.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes.


Sausage, Egg & Fontina Cheese Pizza


Makes 8 slices

What you need/what we used:
Pizza dough: make your own or use prepared pizza dough. In full disclosure, we used the prepared stuff from Trader Joe's = Not. Too. Shabby.

1-1 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes, cooked down with olive oil, basil, salt & garlic

1 1/2 cup grated Fontina cheese

1-2 grilled Andouille sausage(s), sliced

2-4 eggs (entirely depending on your eggy wantonness)

Salt & pepper

What you do/what we did:
Prepare the grill for high direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat for 10 minutes until the temperature is between 550 and 600 degrees. Prepare a small bowl with olive oil for greasing the grill grates and for brushing the pizza. Prepare the toppings so they are ready to go on the pizza - tomato sauce, cheese, and anything else you wish.

Shape the pizza dough by flattening it with your hands on a slightly floured surface. Either use your fingers to stretch the dough out, or hold up the edges of the dough with your fingers, letting the dough hang and stretch, while working around the edges of the dough. Once you've stretched the dough, let it sit for 5 minutes and then push out the edges with your fingers again, until you have a nice round shape, about 12-inches in diameter. Do not make a raised rim, it will interfere with the grilling process.

Note that if you are preparing the pizza dough for a party, you can make several pizza dough rounds, stack them separated by parchment paper, and keep them in the refrigerator for up to two hours before cooking.

Once the grill is hot (you can hold your hands an inch over the grates for no more than 2 seconds), dip a tightly folded up paper towel in olive oil and use tongs to wipe the grill grates. Then place a pizza dough round on a lightly floured (or you can use cornmeal) pizza stone (or rimless cookie sheet). Let the dough slide off the stone onto the hot grill grates. Close the lid of the grill and let cook for 2 minutes.

After 2 minutes, open the grill and check underneath the dough to see if it is getting browned. If it is on one side, but not another, use a spatula or tongs to rotate the dough 90 degrees and cook for another minute. If it is not beginning to brown, cover the grill and continue to cook a minute at a time until the bottom has begun to brown. It should only take a couple minutes if you have a hot grill. The top of the pizza dough will start bubbling up with air pockets which you should stab and pop - gently.

Once the pizza dough has browned lightly on one side, use a spatula to flip the dough over so that the grilled side is now up. 

Paint the grilled surface of the pizza with a little olive oil, then cover with 1 ladle of sauce – no more, or you'll end up with a soggy pizza. Sprinkle on your grated Fontina cheese, slices of grilled sausage and, finally crack the eggs on top. Remember to go light on the toppings, or your pizza will be heavy and soggy.

Slide the topped pizza back onto the grill. If you are using a gas grill, reduce the heat to medium. If working with a charcoal grill, close the vents on the cover almost all the way. Close the lid and continue cooking. After 2-3 minutes open the lid to check the egg and the bottom of the crust. You want the whites just cooked through and the yolk soft. If the grill marks start to get too dark before the eggs is done, lower the heat some more and rotate the pizza 90 degrees. Check every 2 minutes until the eggs is done and and the cheese is bubbly, pull off the grate with a spatula onto a cutting board or other flat surface and let rest for a couple minutes before cutting into slices.


Salt & pepper that bad boy, slice and serve!




Three years ago: Pimiento Cheese


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