Memorial Day grilling with a twist

Spice up your Memorial Day BBQ

WESTLAKE, OH (WOIO) - Seven billion hot dogs are consumed between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Summer is the grilling season but you don't have to settle on hot dogs.

The chefs at Sur La Table in Westlake showed us one unique and impressive option for your next barbeque: scallops grilled on a salt block.  That recipe and dozens of others are featured in new Memorial Day and Date-Night Grilling classes at the Crocker Park store.  They even have a class specific to salt block cooking.

"They're going to be thinking ribs and coleslaw, but you'll be serving them seared scallops on a salt block," says Resident Chef Jennifer Horvath.

Salt blocks come from 600 million year old salt deposits overseas. They're not only a source of great flavor and minerals, they also hold heat and make for a unique grilling surface.

"You start it in a cold oven, or on a cold grill and then you heat it up with the grill or the oven," says Horvath.

Scallops, or any meat, should be at room temperature as you start to season and prep.

"It helps your protein accept seasoning better, it also cooks faster and more evenly when it's at room temperature."

Here's the recipe for the Salt-Crust Scallops with Thai Lime Dipping Sauce:

1 9-inch round salt block

¼ cup fresh lime juice

¼ cup Thai fish sauce

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 garlic clove, minced

1 hot chile pepper, minced

¼ cup finely shredded carrot

1 ¼ pounds wild-caught scallops

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place the salt block over low heat on a gas grill or stove top for 10 minutes. Turn the heat to medium and heat for 10 more minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high and heat the block to about 600 degrees F, about 20 more minutes.

To make the dipping sauce, mix the lime juice, fish sauce, ¼ cup water, vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, chile pepper and carrot; set aside.

Pat the scallops dry and pull off their white grisly tendons if not already removed. Season the scallops with black pepper and let stand at room temperature until the block is hot.

When the block is very hot (you should only be able to hold your hand above it for just a few seconds), place the scallops on the block and sear until browned and springy to the touch but still a little soft in the center, about 3 minutes per side. Work in batches if your salt block cannot comfortably fit all the scallops at once.

Transfer to a platter or plates and serve with the dipping sauce.

Family-Friendly Dessert

Horvath also offers a way to kick up your Memorial Day dessert with a recipe for Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream.  It's a dish even the kids can help make.  Horvath says she's noticed a big increase in the number of kids interested in cooking. In June, Sur La Table will be kicking off a new summer cooking series. There will be three, week-long camps for kids and teens over 8 years old.  Sur La Table also offer classes for younger children and their parents.

Roasted Strawberry Ice Cream

1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

1 tablespoon dark brown sugar

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup whole milk

2 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

5 large egg yolks

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place a 1-quart freezer-safe container with a tightly fitting lid in the freezer to chill. Set up and pre-chill the ice cream maker.

In a medium bowl, combine the strawberries with the brown sugar and toss to coat. Spread the berries onto a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet and transfer to the oven. Roast the strawberries until dark and syrupy, about 15 minutes.

Combine the milk, heavy cream, sugar, salt and vanilla in a medium saucepan. Heat the cream mixture over medium heat until it just begins to simmer and the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Temper the yolks by slowly adding the warm cream mixture to the yolks, one ladle at a time, and whisking continuously. When about a third of the cream mixture has been added to the yolks, pour the warmed yolk mixture back into the saucepan with the rest of the cream and return to the stove over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and temperature reaches 175 degrees F to 180 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to boil.

Strain the custard through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean medium bowl. Place custard over and ice bath or refrigerate until cold.

Transfer the custard to an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturers' instructions. Add strawberries and lemon juice two-thirds of the way through churning when the machine prompts to add mix-ins. Enjoy right away or transfer to chilled container and place in the freezer until firm enough to scoop, about 2 hours.

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