Sunday, August 14, 2011

New Grill -- Shrimp and Pineapple Kebabs

There is nothing like grilling in the summer. We've been fortunate in Boston to have either my landlord's grill or my roommate's grill, so we've never had one of our own. Luckily there were never any "ugh, they left the gas on AGAIN?!" moments or surprises. Once we got here it seemed important to find a grill as quickly as possible. It happened pretty quickly... we found one today! Best part? It was free!! Thanks be to craigslist. A very kind gentleman posted a grill his friend had left behind, and was asking $20. The starter is broken, it has some slight cosmetic rust, but it works! And he didn't want a dime. Said he didn't want scrap metal seekers bothering him. Bonus; he took one look at Brian's compact car and threw it in his mini van.


To celebrate, we've had two of three meals hot off the grill today. :D Basic hotdogs for lunch, and never fails to make me swoon shrimp and pineapple kebabs for dinner. Wouldn't you know this is another recipe I can't recall where I first saw it? I know I read it the first time... I've just made it from memory - or as close as I can get - every time since then.

Shrimp and Pineapple Kebabs
from ???

40 raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (tails on)
1 pineapple (you'll use about 3/4 of it)
1 red onion
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce
1 tbsp sesame seeds

Cut up the pineapple; start by cutting off the top leafy part. Then cut down the sides to shave off the outside spiny bits. Then cut off the bottom outside bit. If you look at the middle, there is a core - this part is woody and not good for nomming on. Cut off sections of the pineapple leaving that part behind, just like you would an apple. If you cut too far into it, you'll know, just trim it off. Cut those pineapple portions down into rough cubes, about 1 inch chunks. The idea is that the pineapple will char before the shrimp, and help protect it from overcooking and drying out, so don't get them too small. Plus, they split when skewered if they're too small.
Of course you can skip all that if you are substituting canned pineapple cubes. ;)

Cut the red onion into quarters or eighths (depending on number of skewers planned, and how cooked you want the onion). My pictures show eighths.

Toast the sesame seeds for a couple of minutes. Do not burn them! I find 4 minutes at 350*F is usually enough, it may finish faster in a toaster oven (I don't remember toaster times, and don't have a new toaster yet to try it).

Mix the sesame seeds with the teriyaki sauce.
IMG_4272 IMG_4282

Recruit a partner to help skewer the ingredients. I go every other pineapple, shrimp, pineapple and so on. Make sure you have a pineapple on each end; this helps keep the slippery shrimp in place, and boosts them off the grill. Put a red onion quarter/eighth near the middle of the skewer. Keep going until all skewers are full! We got 6 skewers out of the ingredients listed. It just depends on the size of your shrimp and pineapple pieces.


Use a silicone basting brush to brush on the sauce/seed mixture. The silicone really grabs the seeds, I was pleased with how easy this made it. Just brush them off on the pineapple chunks!


Grill for about 6 minutes, turning once. Shrimp are done when pink. Make sure they aren't grey, but don't leave them on the grill to dry out!


*to pick a pineapple, look for 3 things: color, smell, leaves. Color: it should be yellow, not green or brown, over much of the outside. Some green or some brown is ok, but too much means its either not ripe yet or past the ideal. Smell: if you smell near the base of the pineapple or the yellowest parts, it should smell like pineapple! Funny thing, huh? Leaves: my mom's fiance Steve swears by the leaf trick; grab a leaf and pull... if it comes out, its probably ripe. If they don't budge, don't buy it.
* you can easily sub a can of pineapple chunks if fresh pineapple isn't affordable/available/ripe.
* grill the extra pineapple to serve with vanilla ice cream for dessert. You can chill it a couple of days and then nuke it for a few seconds and it will still have that smokey grilled flavor. You can even make a simple glaze for it... though I bet a simple carmel sauce drizzled over it would be yummy.
* this can be prepped a few hours in advance. Then you're all set to throw them on the grill at dinner time! I wouldn't do it more than 4-6 hours early... you don't want the pineapple to dry out or anything weird. I'm too excited to eat this recipe to try longer advance prep times!
* Get the kids involved making their own skewers! Just be sure to help them with the onions (if they want onions... I don't eat them, but Brian loves them) since they can be tricky to stab through.

Notes on skewers: Some people swear by metal skewers. I haven't gotten around to buying a set yet. I find the wooden ones you pick up at the grocery store work fine. For shrimp, you don't usually have to do the pre-soak step because the cook time is so short. However, if you want to cook something that has to be well done (like chicken, or thick steak), soak the skewers in water for around 20 minutes before you load them up and grill. Once we get to more chicken and beef grilling, I may revisit my stance on not getting the metal ones. ;)

Tonight I served the kebabs with sliced French bread. It was handy and quick. This is also lovely with rice, cous cous, or grilled pita or naan slices. Start the meal with an appetizer salad while you wait, or be sure to have an extra helping of greens at lunch. ;) Just don't try to do too much once the kebabs are assembled - shrimp grills up really fast! (And gets cold quickly.)



PS: I just hit 1000 site visits! Thanks guys! :D

Welcome to NC Baked French Toast

I've officially moved. Not the usual blog announcement kind of move... I'm on the same host site and server, all the usual. In fact I've been reminded its time to renew my domain name, so I may actually get around to linking that up soon.
No, this time its the good old fashioned move. The kind that requires lots of boxes.


Two days of driving later, Goodbye Boston! Hello North Carolina! Its hot, its humid, but hey it is August... its all down hill from here!

First night was the traditional order pizza and colapse sort of evening. Day two we... well, Brian and his brother... emptied the truck. Brian's sister and I started unpacking! So we had a fair amount of the kitchen out of boxes by dinner, and Brian made us a lovely Chicken Parmesan. I got adventurous and made a soak-overnight-bake-in-the-morning French Toast.


I've done one/two slices at a time in the frying pan French Toast. I've done stuffed French Toast. But this was new. I really like how it turned out! I started with a pretty basic recipe, and modified it based on what we had on hand. Brian stuck it in the oven before I got out of bed, so I didn't do the final "flip the bread over" step to make sure it was evenly moist. I liked the effect though... the crunchyness was not overwhelming and gave a nice texture contrast. Especially after pouring the melted butter and brown sugar on top. Mmmmmm. It was so good, we didn't even use the maple syrup.

Baked French Toast
modified from recipes of assorted contributors on

loaf crusty bread (can be a couple days old!)
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar (approximately, anyways...)

Cut crusty bread diagonally in 2in slices. (My bread was pre-sliced at the bakery, this time.) Arrange bread in the bottom of a rectangular baking dish, such as pyrex.
In a medium bowl, beat eggs, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon until combined. Pour over the bread, making sure to drip it down all parts of bread that are showing. Cover (my pyrex has a matching lid, or you can use foil or plastic wrap) and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning, take the pan out of the fridge while you heat the oven to 350*F. This will let the pan warm a little so you're less likely to shock the pyrex (and break it). Turn the bread over to make sure both sides are moist. (I mentioned before we skipped this step - still turned out fantastic!) Bake covered with foil for 20 minutes. (I think we had it uncovered... oops? Again, loved it anyways!) While it is baking, heat the butter in a small saucepan. Once it is melted through, remove from heat and mix in the brown sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Pour as much as looks good over the french toast and bake for another 20 minutes uncovered. Serve with maple syrup if desired, but I found the brown sugar butter was syrup enough! :)


Possible modifications;
* sprinkle with raisins before baking.
* use a mix of milk and cream or half and half (original recipe suggested 2 cups milk and 1 1/2 cup half and half or using JUST half and half. I modified it partly because milk is what I had on hand and partly for the calories!)
* make it in the morning, if you forget the night before! Stick it in the fridge for an hour or two, turn the bread a couple extra times to be sure its soaking in, and bake like normal!
* use as much sauce as looks good! I cut the amount down a good bit and still didn't use it all. Top it till you like the look.
* alternate sauce; I didn't have corn syrup and that looked like too much butter! A phrase I'll have to unlearn here in the South ;)
3/4 cup butter
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
In a small saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar and corn syrup; heat until bubbling. Pour over bread and egg mixture.

Anyways, everyone claimed to enjoy it, and I had a blast cooking it. It felt really nice to be set up in a new kitchen - that I don't have to share! ...besides Brian. ;) - and back to playing with food. I miss it a lot during those hectic school months. I've got a couple of weeks left before the school year starts. I don't know yet if I'll be at the front of the classroom or the back (Masters degree still lurks...) but I intend to cram as many posts in before it starts and life gets frantic again as I can!



Related Posts with Thumbnails