Friday, August 29, 2008

Weekend Cookbook Challenge: Get Your Grill On Out of the Pantry

It has been been a long time since I last participated in my online wife's (he-he!) Weekend Cookbook Challenge. Not because I haven't wanted to but rather with all the craziness in my life and schedule, I haven't had time for all the online food events I would like to participate in every month. But when I saw this month's theme of "Get Your Grill On", I figured since I have spent so much time grilling this summer, I probably could figure out a way to participate; besides, I don't want to be in the dog house since Sara is hosting this month.

Last weekend, I went to some dear friends house to help them christen their new Kitchen Aid mixer with a round of pasta making. I had a fabulous time with them and some of their friends from New Jersey who came up to help. We had a wonderful bread salad with good sweet Jersey tomatoes while we waited for the dough to relax and then built up an enormous appetite making about 4lbs of fettucine. To serve with the pasta, we had some incredible "gravy" (spaghetti sauce) and chicken Italian sausages from Whole Paycheck.

I have to admit, I had my reservations about Italian sausages made from chicken but one bite of these and I was hooked and hooked in a bad way. So much so that on Sunday, I drove to the Greenwich location and some sausages and grilled them for dinner that night.

Chicken Italian Sausage on Grill

Now even though I would like to think so, I can not live on grilled chicken Italian sausage alone. One needs to have a salad to go with them. Since I felt guilty about purchasing the sausages and sorta-kinda cheating on the Pantry Plan (the sausages were only $4.21 and were almost half of the $9.00 I spent on groceries last week), I was determined to stick to making a salad out of the ingredients I had on hand.

Digging around the pantry, I found I had 1/2 a bag of tri-colored rotini pasta. I also had a tone of ripe grape tomatoes and a green bell pepper from my garden that needed to be used. These were all I needed to make a pasta salad I haven't made in a while from a cookbook I haven't opened in almost two years. The cookbook I used for this challenge is one I've used for WCC before way back for Weekend Cookbook Challenge #3, Simply Delicious Cooking by Ron Kalenuik.

The original recipe calls for broccoli and green onions, which I normally use but since I didn't have either on hand and I wanted to keep within the spirit of the Pantry Plan as much as possible, chicken sausages not withstanding, I didn't use them for this version of the salad. The salad is an excellent side dish for anything you throw on the grill: chicken, steaks, hamburgers and hot dogs.

Chicken Italian Sausages with Tri Colored Pasta Salad

A Tri Color Pasta Salad

Adapted from Simply Delicious Cooking by Ron Kalenuik

4 cups multi-colored rotini, cooked
1 bell pepper diced small
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 tsp parsley (dried spice) or 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh
1/2 tsp oregano (dried) or 1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh
1/2 tsp coriander (dried) or 2 tsp finely chopped cilantro
3 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp celery seeds (optional)
2 Tbsp cider vinegar
2 Tbsp lemon juice, fresh squeezed
2/3 cup safflower oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup shredded Romano cheese

Cook pasta to al dente, cool with cold water to stop pasta from cooking, drain and set aside.
Prepare pepper, tomatoes and combine with pasta in large bowl and set aside.

In medium bowl, whisk remaining ingredients including and add salt and pepper to taste. Pour dressing over pepper, tomatoes and pasta and mix well. Chill for 4 hours before serving. Mix in cheese just before serving.

Now, I know that recipe isn't exactly 100% in keeping with the monthly theme Sara picked for Weekend Cookbook Challenge. So, I offer one more dish for this month's WCC in the form of my favourite way to make chicken on the grill with a family recipe, my Aunt Jan's Chicken.

Jan's Chicken on the Grill

This recipe makes a brine that you boil the chicken in and then use the brine as a basting sauce. The best pieces of a chicken to use for this recipe are legs and thighs. But breasts are pretty tasty too and the brining makes them super tender and moist.

Jan's Chicken - my favourite way to grill chicken

Jan's Chicken
A family recipe for a brine and basting sauce

1 1/2 quart water
1 3/4 cup cider vinegar
2 1/2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp garlic salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup butter
1 Tbsp salt

Bring ingredients to boil and add chicken. Boil chicken for 15 minutes. Remove chicken from brine and remove two cups of brine to use a basting sauce. Grill chicken for about 5 - 10 minutes until chicken if finished cooking, basting and turning the chicken often.