Summer Time and the Grilling is Easy
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Summer Time and the Grilling is Easy

 

It’s high time, past time, good time to grill your summer meals, as many of you already have.  Here, we are as tomatoes begin to hang juicy on the vine, zucchini are still at that small, tender stage before they overwhelm and threaten to take over the world.  Melons are fat with promise and aroma, peaches and nectarines scent up orchard and market, eggplant isn’t far away, and I’ve never seen new garlic so fat and juicy.

Many of you are weeks if not months into grilling, I know. Here in France we’re off schedule a bit, as everyone is still trying to figure out what’s a weekend, what’s a workday, and where are they all going to be on vacation.  The SNCF train system is running ads saying things like “Go to the Great Greek Beaches” then showing photos of Brittany and its beaches.  Why? Because travel is tricky, and the French government is urging its citizens to stay within the country’s borders and discover that they don’t have to go far for inimitable beauty.  France is one of the top tourist destinations of the world, the government argues; it’s always fun to discover your own backyard.

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Wherever you find yourselves, pull out the grill and turn to FRENCH GRILL with its window into how the French transform  simple summer ingredients fresh from the garden and the market into gastronomic feasts, all on the grill.  I’m suggesting  you begin with tomatoes and summer fruits, and of course you’ll have plenty ideas of your own.  Grilling is easy, grilling is social and no matter the situation, eating a meal outdoors with family and friends has always been, and is even moreso now, the best revenge!

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Grilled Bread with Smashed Tomatoes
Grilled Bread with Smashed Tomatoes
Course Appetizer
Cuisine French, Italian
Keyword tomato
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or to taste
  • 1 to 2 fat cloves garlic peeled
  • 4 ripe tomatoes cut in half
  • Fleur de sel
Course Appetizer
Cuisine French, Italian
Keyword tomato
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or to taste
  • 1 to 2 fat cloves garlic peeled
  • 4 ripe tomatoes cut in half
  • Fleur de sel
Grilled Bread with Smashed Tomatoes
Instructions
  1. Build a medium-sized fire in the barbecue. When the coals are red and dusted with ash, speared them in a tight, single layer; they need to emit concentrated heat. Set the grill over the coals.
  2. Brush the slices of bread on each side lightly but thoroughly with olive oil. Set the slices on the grill and toast until they are golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the slices and repeat, until the bread is crisp and toasty and even very dark on the outer edges (if you like really toasted bread the way I do).
  3. Transfer the slices to a cutting board and brush them on one side with oil. Quickly and thoroughly rub them with the garlic cloves on one side. Cut them into serving-sized pieces, then arrange them on a platter. Serve immediately with the tomatoes, with instructions to your guests to smash and rub the cut side of the tomato firmly over the surface of the hot grilled bread then enjoy!
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PROVENCALE TOMATOES - TOMATES PROVENCALES
Oh my these are good. Tomates Provencale are a French summer tradition, usually baked in the oven. Here, I grill them, using perfectly ripe tomatoes that sing with flavor. Something about the heady seasoning here makes you feel that you’re on vacation even if you’re not – it evokes those hills, vineyards, and winding roads of Provence. You can serve these glorious tomatoes hot (you do have to let them sit for a few minutes or they’ll blister), warm, or at room temperature. I like to serve these as a first course – they’re a terrific introduction to Beef with Smoky Olives (page xx). ASTUCE: When you core the tomatoes, remove just the very core without making a huge hole in the tomato. Salting the tomatoes firms them up and seasons them through. These cook surprisingly quickly and the tomatoes get quite soft, which is what you want. Transfer them carefully from grill to plate or platter, using tongs and a metal spatula. Don’t be concerned if the skin is quite dark; as you eat the tomato you’ll find the fleshy part separating from the skin, which will stay on your plate.
Cuisine French
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 6 large (6 ounces;180g each) tomatoes cored, cut in half horizontally, seeds removed
  • 2 generous teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 2 large cloves garlic minced
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2/3 cup; about 50g fresh bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup;60ml olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Cuisine French
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 6 large (6 ounces;180g each) tomatoes cored, cut in half horizontally, seeds removed
  • 2 generous teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 2 large cloves garlic minced
  • 1-1/2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 2/3 cup; about 50g fresh bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup;60ml olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Sprinkle the tomatoes evenly with the salt (you may or may not use all of the salt, but give them a nice, even sprinkling). Place them, cut side down, on a wire rack over a baking pan or non-reactive surface, and let the tomatoes drain for 30 minutes.
  2. Mince together the garlic, basil, and thyme. Place the mixture in a small bowl and whisk in the oil then the breadcrumbs, to make a thick paste.
  3. Preheat all three burners of a gas grill, or build a medium-sized fire in the barbecue. When the coals are red and dusted with ash, spread them in a tight, single layer leaving a perimeter of grill with no coals under it; they need to emit concentrated heat. Set the grill over the coals and set the grill pan on top.
  4. Turn the tomatoes, cut side up. Spread each tomato with the herb mixture, letting some fall into the cavities left by the seeds, and spreading it evenly over the cut side. You’ll have plenty to do this, and use it all.
  5. When the grill is hot, set the tomatoes on it, cover the grill, and cook until the tomatoes are bubbling on top, and the breadcrumb mixture is golden, 10 minutes. Transfer the tomatoes to a platter, season with pepper, then let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.
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GRILLED PEACHES WITH ORANGE FLOWER WATER - LES PECHES A LA FLEUR D’ORANGER GRILLEE
A lot of orange flower water makes its way into French cuisine, thanks to the Maghreb and its residents, many of who make France their home. I love the flavor so much I planted an orange tree in my garden just to have the aroma for a few weeks a year; I also love its exotic perfume in both sweet and savory dishes. Here it enhances peaches in the simplest way possible. ASTUCE: choose peaches that are fragrant and slightly firm. Softer peaches will work, but they tend to melt on the grill. I like to use a perforated grill pan, and grill these on a gas grill. Note that white peaches are generally sweeter than their yellow counterparts and while the recipe calls for freestone peaches, you can make it with clingstone peaches too – it’s just a little more challenging to cut off the peach from the stone. I’ve suggested garnishing this dessert with red currants, though it really doesn’t need beautifying if your peaches are blushing red. Finally, the sugar is optional, optional, optional. If the peaches are lovely and sweet, skip it!
Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 6 medium-sized; 5 ounces;150g freestone peaches either white or red, stone removed, cut in half,
  • 1 teaspoon mild vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar – if desired
  • 1 tablespoon orange flower water
  • A small handful of red currants – optional garnish
  • About 1 tablespoon of small fresh mint leaves – optional garnish
Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 6 medium-sized; 5 ounces;150g freestone peaches either white or red, stone removed, cut in half,
  • 1 teaspoon mild vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar – if desired
  • 1 tablespoon orange flower water
  • A small handful of red currants – optional garnish
  • About 1 tablespoon of small fresh mint leaves – optional garnish
Instructions
  1. Brush the peaches all over with the oil.
  2. Light the gas grill on all burners. Place the perforated grill pan on the grill.
  3. When the grill pan is hot, place the peaches on it, skin-side down. Brown them for 3 minutes, turn and brown them for 2 minutes, then return them to the skin side, cover the grill and cook until the peaches are tender but still hold their shape, about 5 more minutes.
  4. Transfer the peaches to a serving platter. Immediately sprinkle them with the sugar, if desired.
  5. Just before serving, drizzle the peaches with the orange flower water and swirl them on the platter so it is well mixed among them. Garnish with the red currants and mint leaves, and serve immediately.
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Print Recipe
GRILLED PEACHES WITH ORANGE FLOWER WATER - LES PECHES A LA FLEUR D’ORANGER GRILLEE
A lot of orange flower water makes its way into French cuisine, thanks to the Maghreb and its residents, many of who make France their home. I love the flavor so much I planted an orange tree in my garden just to have the aroma for a few weeks a year; I also love its exotic perfume in both sweet and savory dishes. Here it enhances peaches in the simplest way possible. ASTUCE: choose peaches that are fragrant and slightly firm. Softer peaches will work, but they tend to melt on the grill. I like to use a perforated grill pan, and grill these on a gas grill. Note that white peaches are generally sweeter than their yellow counterparts and while the recipe calls for freestone peaches, you can make it with clingstone peaches too – it’s just a little more challenging to cut off the peach from the stone. I’ve suggested garnishing this dessert with red currants, though it really doesn’t need beautifying if your peaches are blushing red. Finally, the sugar is optional, optional, optional. If the peaches are lovely and sweet, skip it!
Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 6 medium-sized; 5 ounces;150g freestone peaches either white or red, stone removed, cut in half,
  • 1 teaspoon mild vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar – if desired
  • 1 tablespoon orange flower water
  • A small handful of red currants – optional garnish
  • About 1 tablespoon of small fresh mint leaves – optional garnish
Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Servings
servings
Ingredients
  • 6 medium-sized; 5 ounces;150g freestone peaches either white or red, stone removed, cut in half,
  • 1 teaspoon mild vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla sugar – if desired
  • 1 tablespoon orange flower water
  • A small handful of red currants – optional garnish
  • About 1 tablespoon of small fresh mint leaves – optional garnish
Instructions
  1. Brush the peaches all over with the oil.
  2. Light the gas grill on all burners. Place the perforated grill pan on the grill.
  3. When the grill pan is hot, place the peaches on it, skin-side down. Brown them for 3 minutes, turn and brown them for 2 minutes, then return them to the skin side, cover the grill and cook until the peaches are tender but still hold their shape, about 5 more minutes.
  4. Transfer the peaches to a serving platter. Immediately sprinkle them with the sugar, if desired.
  5. Just before serving, drizzle the peaches with the orange flower water and swirl them on the platter so it is well mixed among them. Garnish with the red currants and mint leaves, and serve immediately.
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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Cathy

    Everything looks so delicious as always!

    1. Susan

      I hope you’re grilling today, overlooking your Valley!!!

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