April was a month for getting a little more ambitious as well as trying variations on dishes I’d made before. Among the variations I would count the tilefish, grilled chicken thighs, and bratwust hot tub. The tilefish was just a variation on the Raichlen grilled fish recipe I’d tried before with blackfish. This time I removed the scales to ensure the flavoring on the outside of the fish wouldn’t be wasted. It still wasn’t quite what I wanted, but I think grilled fish like this one is a great candidate for an after-grill marinade. I’ll try that next time. The grilled chicken thighs were a variation on the gochujang paste recipe from America’s Test Kitchen. I liked the mustard-tarragon paste, but Danielle was pretty blase about it. Finally, the bratwurst hot tub was the third such variation on braising bratwurst on the grill. It was fine, but I prefer Meathead and America’s Test Kitchen’s versions to Raichlen’s, which was the one I did here.

In the middle I would place the burger and fries. We’d had oven fries before, but I’d never made fries on the grill. I’m also usually not a big fan of the taste of steak fries. I’m more a fan of fast-food style fries – I think those are called shoe-string, but I’m not sure if that implies something else. Still, these ended up tasting great and being a pretty big hit. The Vermont maple-mustard glazed burger was pretty great. I didn’t fully follow the recipe, which would have required a pretzel roll, but so far I’ve been really loving most of the burgers from the Weber book of Burgers.

As you know, when you try to go ambitious, you have a bigger chance of failing along with a chance for a huge success. Starting off with the failures were the scones. I’m still learning my way around baked goods and there were also some complaints in the reviews for the cookbook I used that some of the weights were not very good. But it’s also possible I didn’t know what I was doing. They came out a little overly dry and were more crumbly than coming together before baking. Slightly less of a failure, but still not what I wanted were the crispy chickpeas. I got that recipe from a Milk Street mailing list email. It was touted as a crunchy snack or a replacement for croutons. I thought I was following the recipe, but the chickpeas did not reach true crunchiness. They were OK, but they almost would have been better uncooked instead of being in that weird not-quite-crunchy state. The piadine continued my experiments with different breads, this time a flat-bread. I’d had it on my to-make list for a while, but after eating a piadine sandwhich at Zoe’s Kitchen, I wanted to try my hand at it. It came out pretty good and it was a pretty fast bread. But the biggest surprise for both myself and Danielle were the hot cross buns. She’d commissioned me to make them for Easter and I wasn’t sure – I’d never made a super fluffy bread like that. But they came out really really well and I was proud of myself for trying and succeeding.

Published by Eric Mesa

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