I walked around my back yard Sunday morning checking out my garden beds, planning where everything is going to be planted, and I looked back at the house. I had to chuckle. My husband, Paul, loves cooking outdoors more than anything. We have an electric smoker, a pellet smoker, a charcoal grill/smoker combination and a gas grill surrounding our patio. 

Now there are just two of us and even though we love to host parties and cook for small groups looking at the cooking capabilities in our yard one would think we were cooking for a living. 

I prefer to use my reliable gas grill. It fires right up, heats to 600 degrees in about 10 minutes and cleans easily. No muss, no fuss. Paul and I have had long “discussions” about whether gas or charcoal imparts better flavor in the meat and is a better way to cook, but we both agree smoking is the best. Since Paul is the pit master in our home, I will let him share his recipes and tips in a future article. 

A grill might just be the best thing to ever happen to a steak. There aren’t many things that taste better than a simply grilled, crusty on the outside, juicy on the inside steak. For a perfect steak, grill it on high and don’t touch it. You need to leave it alone until a nice crust forms. 

Perfectly Grilled Steak

Perfectly Grilled Steak for 4 is best with boneless rib-eyes, New York strips or filet mignons. 

Ingredients: 

4 12-ounce steaks

2 tablespoons canola or olive oil

Kosher salt and black pepper. 

Prep: 

Twenty minutes before grilling, remove the steaks from the refrigerator and let them sit, covered, at room temperature. Heat your grill to high. 

Brush the steaks on both sides with oil and season liberally with the salt and pepper. Montreal steak seasoning, chipotle or barbeque rubs are good substitutes if you want to try something different. Place the steaks on the grill and let cook until golden brown and slightly charred, about 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the steaks over and continue grilling for 5 to 6 minutes for medium rare. The internal temperature will be 135 degrees. Cook 7 to 8 minutes or until the thermometer reads 140 degrees for medium. A medium-well steak should cook 9-10 additional minutes and will have an internal temperature of 150 degrees. 

Remove the steaks to a cutting board and tent with aluminum foil for 5 minutes to let the juices redistribute back into the meat before serving or slicing.

Cuban Style Corn 

Grilled corn is a treat you don’t get to enjoy until the end of summer but is worth waiting for and Cuban-Style Corn is out of this world. This is a popular street food in Miami and even though the combination of grilled corn and mayonnaise may sound a little weird, one bite and you will be hooked. 

Ingredients: 

4 ears of fresh corn, frozen will not work

1 tablespoon Kosher salt

1½ cups mayonnaise, no Miracle Whip please

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 tablespoons ancho chili powder

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

½ teaspoon Kosher salt

1½ cups cotija cheese, the best substitute for cotija cheese is feta. This brine curd cheese derived from a mixture of cow and goat milk and is tangy, rich and slightly salty. 

Grated zest of 2 limes

Prep: 

Whisk together the mayonnaise, garlic, ancho powder, lime juice and salt in a medium bowl. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 8 hours. 

Heat the grill to medium. Pull the outer husks of the corn down to stalk end. Strip away the silk from the corn. Fold the husks back into place and tie the ends together with kitchen string. Place the ears of corn in a large bowl of cold water with a tablespoon of salt for 10 minutes. 

Remove the corn from the water and shake off the excess. Place the corn on the grill, close the cover and grill for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, until the kernels are tender when pierced with a paring knife. Remove the husks. 

Spread the cheese mixture on a large plate. Brush each ear of corn with the garlic-red chili mayonnaise, then roll in the cheese. Sprinkle with lime zest and serve immediately. 

Grilled Apricots with Greek Yogurt, Warm Honey and Toasted Walnuts

Grilled Apricots with Greek Yogurt, Warm Honey and Toasted Walnuts is a tasty way to finish  your steak dinner. Fresh apricots are generally available in May and June, but if you cannot find them or they are out of season, substitute fresh nectarines, peaches or plums. 

Ingredients: 

6 ripe apricots, halved and pitted

3 tablespoons canola oil

½ cup honey

¼ cup walnuts, toasted

¾ cup Greek yogurt

Fresh mint sprigs, for garnish if desired

Prep: 

Heat grill to high. Put your walnuts in a single layer in a sauté pan and toast over medium-low heat, shaking the pan every couple of minutes to prevent burning, until light golden brown and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. This can be done on the stove top or the grates of your grill. 

Brush the apricots with oil, place on the grill, cut side down, and cook until golden brown and caramelized, about 2 minutes. Turn the apricots over and cook until warmed through, about 2 minutes longer. 

While the apricots are cooking combine the honey and walnuts in a small pan and heat on grill until honey is melted, about 3 minutes. Remove the apricots from the grill and place 3 halves on each plate. Top each half with yogurt and drizzle the honey-walnut mixture over the top. Garnish with a mint sprig if desired.