Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Food Night goes Grilling

As you probably have heard, it’s a weeeeeeee bit steamy here in the nation’s mid-section. How do we combat the heat at Food Night? We stand over a hot grill, that’s how. Because when you move AWAY from the grill... the sauna that is the atmosphere doesn't feel so bad! Anyway, it recently occurred to me that we have not had ONE single grilled item at Food Night.* Ever. How is that possible?! That’s a Food Night fail right there.

*Not including the braised pork shoulder which gets seared on the grill prior to braising.

For grilling inspiration, Food Night looked to the best restaurant in St. Paul… The Strip Club.

(photo by Tom Wallace, for

When not Food Nighting, you can sometimes find me enjoying proper food and drink at The too-fabulous-for-words Strip Club Meat and Fish.* Chef JD does a killer little ditty there called “meat on a stick” that changes daily and is typically served with fun little accoutrements. Who doesn’t love grilled bites with accoutrements?! Inspired (and after standing over the grill, excessively perspired), Food Night fired up the grill on a recent Saturday that was so sweltering, even the wine was sweating...

*Suggestion – if you would like to experience a perfect Saturday morning… begin at the St. Paul Farmers Market, cruise across the Street to the Heartland Market to pick up Saturday dinner proteins and whatever else, then scoot up the hill to TSC for brunch while sitting at the bar. Bang. Perfection. See you there.

Hell, we even grilled the SALAD at Food Night!

So let’s do this; let’s see if Food Night can pound out a post a day for the next four days – one for each course at the recently completed Food Night on a Stick. Yes? Yes.

Grilled Summer Salad

Like lots of things at Food Night, what follows is ripe for your brilliant and learned improvisations. Whatever you’ve got and wanna grill and make a salad out of… be my guest. But I must say… the following was super summery and delish.

- Garlic Scapes (pictured above, get ‘em at the Heartland Market, Farmers Market, etc); blanched for 30 seconds, shocked in an ice bath, patted dry,
- English Peas (shelled, blanched, shocked)
- Cherry Tomatoes
- Brussels Sprouts, halved through the core, excess leaves removed and reserved.
- Herbs (purple basil, arugula, tarragon, lemon thyme, whatever you want)
- Cucumber broth (recipe follows)
- Shallot (finely diced)
- Lemon juice
- Maldon sea salt

1). Fire up the grill, and get it HOT. (Food Night uses a gas Weber that gets blazing hot). Season scapes, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts separately with salt, pepper, and olive oil.

2). Skewer the tomatoes (soak the skewers for an hour in water if they are wood), and grill the tomatoes long enough to just blister the skins a tad and soften partially. Toss Brussels sprouts directly on the grill, they will pop and fuss a little bit, turn once to mark and soften, and remove. Grill garlic scapes to desired level of charredness.

3). Sautee reserved Brussels sprout leaves in a modest amount of olive oil for a couple minutes over med-high heat, finish with a little finely diced shallot and a splash of lemon juice.

4). Combine tomatoes, scapes, sprouts, peas, and herbs in a large bowl. Drizzle with cucumber broth, olive oil, lemon juice. GENTLY toss to combine, and sprinkle with a dash of Maldon sea salt.

5). Arrange lovingly on a plate, and finish with your favorite cured pork product from Heartland Market… Food Night used the utterly insane Wild Boar Prosciutto. Get it while you can (it’s very limited) – that stuff is funky delicious. Garnish with sautéed sprout leaves, micro arugula, and a drizzle of the cuke broth. Or, don’t.

Cucumber Broth
- 1 English cucumber, washed, rough chopped
- Handful bright green herb(s) (parsley or tarragon work great, blanch and shock for brighter green color)
- Salt (enough to season the cuke)
- Handful of Ice
- Water (maybe a ½ a cup… enough to get the mixture moving)
- Lime juice (roughly juice of ½ a lime)

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Puree. Extensively. Strain if you must, but not required – really depends on how finely your blender can puree the food stuffs. I like it unstrained for use in this salad as it retains some body/structure and seems more like a salad dressing substance. If strained, I’d probably emulsify it with oil for the salad dressing (as you would vinegar for vinaigrette).

Use as directed above. And with seafood. And in your favorite Hendricks Gin cocktail.*

*YEAH. Definitely use with Hendricks.


  1. Love this post. I know I owe you dates! All references to excellence -- Hendricks, TSC and garlic scapes -- are of course spot on.

  2. Many thanks Kate. And obviously you know that Food Night's blender is QUITE adept at pureeing food stuffs.... :) That machine is simply amazing. Dates... yes, dates.