Tag Archives: Grilling

Hardware, Soft Crust

Painted in WaterlogueAlthough I like cooking over charcoal, the half-hour or so it takes to get the coals ready is often too long to wait–especially during the summer, when we frequently get home late in the evening. Her parents gave us a gas grill as a birthday gift. It isn’t one of those gigantic cook-for-an-army models with a footprint that would cover most of the deck; it’s a funky little number that looks like a flying saucer. Although it can be used on a picnic table, ours sits securely on its companion-model stand (which will fold to take very little garage space once the grilling season ends). It can be used with a small propane canister that connects directly to the intake valve, but her folks recommended we use it like they do–with a full-sized tank connected by an accessory hose (which, like the stand, was included in the birthday gift).

We love it. It heats quickly and evenly; the cast-iron grates are sturdy and easily cleaned; and the saucer’s “wings” are convenient for holding prep items.

But we’re not the only ones who are fond of it. For the second time since May, I went out to start dinner only to find that something had chewed a hole in the hose.

The big-box home centers in the area couldn’t help me, but I found a replacement hose made of stainless-steel mesh at a old-school hardware store. Helpful Hardware Guy said, “Yeah, we sell a lot of these. Something drips on the rubber hose, and a critter thinks it might be dinner.”  I’ll remember to wipe down the hose from now on, but even if I don’t, the metal mesh will give any prospective diners a toothache.

Since it was a sunny Saturday–unusually warm for mid-October–I used the now-functioning-again grill to make lunch. Grilling pizza is remarkably easy, and much faster than baking it in the indoor oven. I’ve had too many occasions where the pie won’t slide off the peel and makes a horrible mess in the oven. This one was perfect, with a crust that was both thin and delightfully chewy.

Helpful Hardware Guy Grilled Pizza

Stretch your favorite pizza dough into a thin more-or-less round. Brush the stretched dough with a little oil, put it oiled-side-down on the grate, close the lid and bake for about 2 minutes.  Remove it with tongs—it lifts right off without any sticking!—and brush the uncooked side with a little oil. Off the grill, turn over the crust. Put sauce, cheese, and any other desired toppings on the grilled side, and return it to the grill. Close the lid, and bake for about 5 minutes more.

Thanks to the Helpful Hardware Guy, we may not ever make pizza another way.


Not Another Pizza Night

In addition to getting through the week without ordering takeout, we wanted to get through the week without an emergency trip to the market–and to use things that were already in the fridge.

“This pizza dough has to be used this week,” she said. “And this sauce.”


After a long day of office time and rehearsals, I headed for the train station to collect her, but I was late; she started walking and was almost home by the time I caught up with her. Fortunately, it wasn’t one of the brutally hot and humid days we’d had during production week; still, she was ready for a shower.

I didn’t want to use the oven and heat the kitchen, so I gathered everything I needed, took it to the deck, and lit the grill. The dough stretched beautifully, the coals were ready, the grill-grate was clean and ready. I oiled the dough and laid it out gently, per instructions.

She came to the deck, refreshed and happy. We talked for a moment. Well, maybe two moments.  However long it was, it was just longer than it takes for pizza dough to go from beautiful to charred black.

We put the pizza toppings on leftover rice, heated it in the microwave, and called it a day. Just not a pizza.

It’s Not the Heat, It’s the Humidity

‘Twas the night before Labor Day, and the grill was alight.

This isn’t going to be a poem, though that would be fun.  Nor was this a “oh, gosh, it’s the last gasp of summer, we have to have a cookout!” sort of panic.  It was burgers.  One of which was going to be well-done and not one degree beyond.  The smoke detector was not going to sound.

The burgers were originally intended to come from the awesome burger place our neighbor suggested, but they’d closed early for the holiday weekend. Thus, 80/20 chuck was defrosted and formed into patties–one thick and narrow, one thin and wide, so they’d cook to the desired doneness in approximately the same time.

Potatoes were sliced thinly through most of their cross-section, buttered, salt-and-peppered, and foil-wrapped for tucking into the coals. Cabbage was sliced and carrots shredded for slaw. The charcoal was lighted.  The grill-grate was cleaned and swabbed with oil. All was right with the world.

And then it started raining. 

Not cute little sprinkles, either. Let’s-get-this-over-with buckets. The kind that makes you consider gathering the animals by twos.

And thus it was that I fetched an umbrella and became one of those suburban guys who stands on the deck, grilling in the rain.

The burgers were worth it.

Grilling in the Rain 2

I am afraid her umbrella may smell a little smoky the next time she needs to use it.

Burgers 0831

Nothing says “end of summer” like taking off your wet shoes and plating a pretty-much-perfect dinner.