16 March 2008

Tropical Dessert for a Windy March

Tropic-Al's: Almost Surfside Dining
Tropic-Al's reopened for the 2008 season a week ago when the weather hit 60* for about three seconds. It snowed the same night. Any BBQ pirate worth his coarse sea salt would reopen in weather like this. To celebrate the drunks in the St. Patricks' Day celebrations everywhere (in the cold climate that is) we give you "Monkey Island Mash"
Grilled pineapple, bananas and plantains with coconut milk, honey and melted butter sauce

Simply gill sliced pineapple with the core and skin removed. It's done when it looks done to you. It is done to me when their are decent black grill marks on the flesh. Grill the plantains in their skin but slice the banana cousins to marshmallow size pieces. They are done when the skin is black and charred. Bananas are a little tricky so they can be "cheated" by grilling in aluminum foil. Other wise slice the bananas lengthwise almost all the way through. Leave the peel on. They are done when the skin is charred. No need for any olive oil here as the focus is Tropic-Al not Alberto.

Now for the sauce. Place 4 ounces of unsweetened coconut milk in a sauce pan. Slowly add the butter (approx 3 tbs) Simmer until butter is melted into the milk. Now add honey 2-3 tbs and stir to keep the honey off the bottom of the pot so it won't burn. For extra flavor try adding some cinnamon, nutmeg or vanilla extract. Make the sauce to taste so play around with the ingredients. A little brown sugar or turbinado sugar crystals works well also.
Simply drizzle the sauce over the fruits and serve with a monkey grunt.
Tropic-Al's: A Banana Republic in The Catskills

09 March 2008

Tropic-Al's: Almost Surf Side Dining
Spaghetti Squash is a wonderful thing. I made dinner for my parents a few weeks back. I saw a recipe for chile rellenos on TV and I was hooked on the idea. The recipe called for spaghetti squash and shrimp to mixed and stuffed into poblanos.
I took the recipe a step further as we always do here on the island. I added some corn and peas to the mix. Also to top the peppers when done a special version of Partial Eclipse BBQ sauce. I roasted the squash on the BBQ over direct heat for about twenty minutes. Having never used squash like this on the grill before I was pleased with the results.
Poblanos were not available at the Price Chopper supermegamagnum mart even though every where you turn in Catskill there are residents of south of the border descent. This supermarket says they have a wonderful selection of fresh stuff. Yeah right. Fresh money maybe because the squash was $1.29 a pound while at the farm market where I work 79 cents per pound.

As a little change to the recipe we used red peppers. To the squash we added some taco cheese blend an egg and some diced shrimp. Back on the grill, a little oilve oil and 25 minutes later the peppers were roasted to a smokey pepper aroma and lunch was a hit.
Tropic-Al's: A Banana Republic in The Catskills

03 March 2008

Eat More Fish They Say

I had envisioned a grilled swordfish steak today. I still envision the grill but ate the fish....broiled indoors.

You see we have weathermen around theses shores that received their degrees off a cereal box. Today was supposed to be 45* it was....it was supposed to be sunny as well....it was.
But what the moron with the weather map did not tell us was that gale force winds would blow.

But blow they did!

The day was saved though with a magical potion prepared as a finishing sauce for the fish. Olive oil (extra virgin island of course) crushed garlic, a touch of soy sauce, some fresh pepper, cilantro, sea salt and BAILEY'S IRISH CREAM. All these wonderful ingredients warmed on the stove and then gently poured over baked potatoes and the fish rubbed with Red State Blue State Rub (a Tropic-Al's recipe).

Was it good? (Of course, I am Tropic-Al ya know) but what was missing were the grill marks and the crisp crust that can only be achieved over real fire. Swordfish baked or broiled tends to develop a whitish coating instead of the grill marks and crust. It was good but not as good as grilled.

As for the weatherman I hope he gets grilled and skewered by a swordfish should he be lucky enough to hook one.

Full sail ahead.........................18 days 'til spring


02 March 2008

Outdoor Kitchen Installed Today March 2nd

It snowed yet again twice in the last nine days. I got a teaser a few Mondays back and was able to get outside and roast some spaghetti squash to a nice dark skin. After that I had to finish the dish indoors because it went from 60* to 35* in almost two hours. Now mind you I do BBQ in the 30's but not when the wind lifts the hair off your neck.

So indoors I went and roasted some red peppers stuffed with the squash, cheese, shrimp and egg, and mushrooms. Boy was it good. Only way it would have been better was if they were done on the grill.

Anyway back to the subject of today's' post. I am in awe of the flashy outdoor kitchens everyone seems to installing these days. I cannot figure out if I want want one of those or a big black torpedo smoker on the back of my Honda Element to tow around and show off.

Being the sensible one what with three kids and a wife to feed I went for a stripped down version of the outdoor kitchen. I am happy that the name "gourmet" appears in the name on the box that arrived from Cabella's Friday.

My gourmet outdoor kitchen has two sinks, dual cutting boards and drink ware holders just like a real bar does. The sinks operate with a foot pedal attached to a five gallon water cooler. The stem ware holders are "s" hooks hanging off a wrought iron rod right over the twin sinks.

And yes my outdoor gourmet kitchen is an island. I can configure the island in any of six different patterns. And the pretty thing about my island is when I am done for the night or want to show my neighbor I can fold it up and put it back in the box the UPS man delivered it in.

I guess you figured it by now with the name Cabella's huh? It is a gourmet kitchen........for a campground.

But it sure beats what most campers use and it sure was thousands (tens of) less than the indoor quality outdoor kitchens that grace the lake front homes of the owners who never visit them.

Here's to March............................................Cheers!