Randy’s Recipes: Summer Grillin’ Menu
Summertime and the grillin’s easy.
When I think about summer, I think about spending all day at the beach body surfing or firing up my grill on a beautiful day on California’s Central Coast. I remember Dad grilling two large Porterhouse steaks for the four of us. I remember because Dad couldn’t ordinarily afford good cuts of meat. He constantly grilled hamburgers and hot dogs for us, but rarely anything else.
Dad worked in the parts department of a San Francisco Ford dealership on Geary Boulevard. He worked with a guy who knew of a guy who had a cousin that sold Porterhouse steaks for next to nothing. Dad did a favor for this guy late one Friday afternoon in 1967. The following Friday, the guy brought two separately wrapped 30-ounce Porterhouse steaks to Dad as a thanks for helping him out. I remember asking where the guy got the steaks. Dad said, “You don’t want to know.”
On Saturday, Dad dusted off his round barbecue, built a pyramid of Kingsford charcoal briquettes in the bottom, squirted half a can of lighter fluid on top, and stood back to light them off with a loud whoomph. When the briquettes were mostly covered in ash, he spread them out, put the grill on, and carefully laid the steaks on the grill.
While Dad and his two boys were grillin’ and chillin’, Mom was making stovetop macaroni and cheese in the kitchen. Talk about good times! I would give anything to spend another summer afternoon with Dad and Mom savoring the sight, smell, and taste of Porterhouse steaks and Mom’s mac and cheese.
My menu for a fine summer backyard dining experience includes Porterhouses, Mom’s mac and cheese, grilled zucchini, grilled avocados, and a fresh minty-lime fruit salad. I’ll let you decide what beverage to enjoy, but I recommend a Topa Topa Brewing Company Chief Peak IPA, if you like beer.
Grilled Porterhouse Steaks
When grilling steaks, the Porterhouse is my go-to steak. The Porterhouse is a New York strip and a delicate filet mignon separated by a T-shaped bone. It’s considered by many to be the undisputed ruler of the steakhouse. It’s expensive, but worth the price. Regarding flavor, Porterhouse steaks will taste milder in their beefiness than, say, a ribeye. But what they lack in flavor is made up for in texture. Since these muscles get minimal exercise, they grill up very tender.
Makes 4 servings.
4 Porterhouse steaks (1 to 1 ½ inches thick)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh chopped thyme (optional)
Fresh chopped rosemary (optional)
Directions: Preheat the grill to medium heat (about 375 degrees).
Brush both sides of each steak with oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. If desired, sprinkle with herbs and let rest at room temperature while the grill preheats.
Cover and grill the steaks until cooked to the desired doneness. I like mine medium rare and cook them for 6 minutes on the first side and 3 minutes on the second, although the timing will depend on the steak size and the precise temperature of your grill.
Transfer the steaks to a wire rack placed on a rimmed baking sheet and let them rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Mom’s Stovetop Mac and Cheese
Mom’s version of mac and cheese is a fine complement to the steaks. The grape tomatoes go nicely with the creamy mozzarella sauce and basil. Add a little Dijon mustard and a touch of paprika, and you have a mouth-watering, rib-sticking combination that is hard to beat.
Makes 4 servings.
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons whole wheat flour
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup milk
1 cup half-and-half
1¼ cups fresh mozzarella cheese (grated)
2 cups grape tomatoes (cut in half lengthwise)
½ cup fresh basil leaves (chopped)
5 to 6 ounces of uncooked penne pasta
Additional paprika for garnish (if desired)
Directions: In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Stir in flour until smooth and bubbly. Let the roux cook for 2 to 3 minutes to ensure the whole wheat flour cooks thoroughly. Stir in mustard, paprika, salt, and pepper. Add milk and half and half, and whisk to incorporate. Continue whisking until the sauce begins to thicken. Add cheese and continue to stir until the cheese melts. Add grape tomatoes and basil. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain the pasta and fold into the sauce. Cover and simmer on medium-low heat for 10 to 12 minutes. To serve, transfer the bubbly mac and cheese to a family-style serving bowl and garnish with additional paprika.
Grilled Summer Zucchini
How about a side of grilled zucchini? You have tried every which way to use up the zucchini in your garden but still have some left that the neighbors won’t even take! It’s tasty, easy to make, and nutritious. Try it. You’ll be glad you did, and your neighbors will be grateful.
Makes 4 servings.
1 large zucchini (sliced into ½-inch rounds)
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (crushed)
½ teaspoon lemon zest (chopped)
Salt and fresh ground black pepper (to taste)
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Directions: Preheat the grill to high heat (about 600 degrees).
Toss zucchini with olive oil, garlic powder, pepper flakes, and lemon zest in a large bowl — season with salt and pepper.
Using tongs, place zucchini on the grill. Cover and cook for 4 minutes. Carefully flip the zucchini rounds and continue cooking on high, covered, for 3 minutes more. Remove from the grill and place in a serving bowl. Add balsamic vinegar and carefully toss to coat. Serve warm.
Grilled Avocado Appetizers
Grilled avocados is a recipe that our son, Robert, created and shared with us. Think of it as a Caprese salad folded into a grilled avocado. Who’d a thunk it? It’s easy to prepare and is full of nutrition. It doesn’t hurt that it looks and tastes fantastic.
Makes 4 servings.
1 clove garlic (minced)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus more for the tomatoes
1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lime juice
2 large ripe avocados
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
18 grape or mini-heirloom tomatoes
12 Ciliegine Whole Milk Fresh Mozzarella balls
1 serrano pepper (stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced)
2 tablespoons basil (chopped)
Directions: Heat the grill to medium-high heat (about 400 degrees).
Place garlic in a medium-sized bowl. Add oil and lime juice, and whisk together. Cut the avocados in half (lengthwise) and remove the pits. Brush some of the oil mixture onto each avocado half. Reserve the balance of the oil mixture. Season the avocados liberally with salt and pepper.
Skewer the tomatoes, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt.
Place the avocados on the grill, cut side down. Add the tomatoes alongside. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes in total, turning the tomatoes once. The avocados should be nicely marked, and the skin on the tomatoes should be blistered. Remove everything from the grill.
Un-skewer the tomatoes and cut each in half. Add the tomatoes and the mozzarella balls to the reserved oil mixture. Fold in the sliced serrano pepper and the basil. Spoon some of this mixture into each avocado half and finish with a little extra salt, if desired. Serve warm.
Minty-Lime Fruit Salad
This fruit salad will delight your taste buds. It brings a fantastic combination of flavors and textures to the table and is perfect for a summer lunch or a side salad for a grilled dinner. Makes 4 generous servings.
2 teaspoons lime zest
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons agave syrup
2 tablespoons fresh mint (minced)
1½ cups strawberries (sliced)
1 cup mango (peeled and diced)
1 cup kiwi (peeled and diced)
2 cups seedless grapes (cut in half)
1 cup blueberries
Dressing Directions: Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small jar or bowl. Stir until well combined.
Salad Directions: In a large bowl, combine all of the fruit ingredients. Stir to combine. Drizzle with mint dressing and stir to coat. Cover and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
Tip: The dressing can be made ahead of time (several hours or up to one day) and stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.