Although fall is my favorite season of the year, it’s still really difficult to say goodbye to summer.
The things I love most about fall are the colors, flavors, smells, spices and crisp weather and, certainly not the least, I get to drag out all my fall sweaters… I really do like sweater weather!
But for me the end of summer means the end of the grilling season, which I love more than fall sweater weather.
Summer lets us focus on the array of fresh summer fruits and vegetables, most of which can be transformed deliciously on the grill. You have the opportunity to grill or barbecue practically anything!
So when the days of summer finally started to wane, I decided to pay homage to the season by making my favorite recipes. One of my favorite comfort food items to grill is turkey burgers topped with smoked Gouda, grass-fed aged cheddar cheese, and onions caramelized with balsamic vinegar and peach jam.
I accompanied the burger with roasted potato wedges, served with a spicy habanero, mango ketchup. I want to share the recipe for the ketchup with you, because it’s so versatile and can be used in place of regular ketchup anytime. You may find it's your new favorite condiment!
Spicy Mango Ketchup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, coarsely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- ⅛ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 small habanero pepper, seeded and finely chopped (Please avoid touching your face or eyes after chopping the habanero, the heat of the chili tends to linger, so it's best to also wash your hands thoroughly.)
- ½ teaspoon tomato paste
- 1 large mango, peeled, pit removed and coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup red wine vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft. Add the cinnamon, allspice, cloves, ginger, and habanero and tomato paste and cook an additional minute. Add the mango and continue cooking until it has softened, about 5 to 7 minutes. Place the mango mixture into the bowl of a food processor; add the vinegar and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can serve the ketchup either at room temperature of after being chilled in the fridge.
This ketchup is pretty versatile. I’ve eaten it as a dip with tortilla chips, on roasted potatoes, French fries, sweet potato fries, used it as a base for a BBQ sauce and so much more. The spice lends itself to so many options and it also packs quite a tasty wallop.
That same meal ended with a light dessert that can really be eaten at any time of the year, a Lemon-Almond Butter Cake, studded with rich, tangy and tart lemon curd. For me, it was the perfect dessert to end the season with.
I also wanted to welcome fall with a Sweet Potato Pie, which happened to be one of my dad’s favorite desserts, giving me the opportunity to honor his memory. It included several of the spices that come to mind whenever I think of fall: ground ginger, allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Another summer favorite of mine is a good old fashioned shrimp or crawfish boil. I’ve only done a few of them at home, but I've taught quite a few of the Crawfish Boil classes that we offer at The Chopping Block. So I decided to do a version of a shrimp boil, but done in foil packs, also referred to as hobo packs.
One of the great things about this Shrimp Boil Foil Pack recipe is that it can be cooked in your oven as well as on your outdoor grill. So it can easily go from your outdoor grill during the summer months, to your indoor oven.
If you are worried about cooking with aluminum foil affecting your health, so was I, until I did a lot of research on the subject. My take away is that if you’re not cooking with aluminum foil very often, its effects are practically harmless. Scientists have even found that there are minute amounts of aluminum in the air and water.
This recipe serves 4, but I cut everything in half to serve just two people. When I purchased the shrimp for this recipe, I also noticed some large bay scallops that I thought might work in the recipe, adding another depth of flavor to the shrimp Boil. A note of caution if you decide to add scallops to the recipe: be careful not to overcook foil packets. You don't want to be left with flavorful, yet dry scallops.
Shrimp Boil Foil Packs
- 1-pound shrimp, peeled and de-veined
- ½ pound of the largest bay scallops you can find
- 2 ears of corn on the cob, husked and quartered
- ½ pound of Andouille sausage (I used chicken Andouille sausage to lighten up the recipe a bit.)
- 1 pound of red baby potatoes or baby yellow potatoes (I used a combination of both.), diced into 2-inch pieces
- 4 tablespoons of Old Bay seasoning or you can also make your own homemade seasoning (see note, below)
- 4 teaspoons of minced garlic
- The juice of 1 lemon, plus lemon wedges for serving
- 4 tablespoons of melted butter, plus ½ cup of butter divided
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chopped fresh parsley, for topping
1. Boil corn and potatoes for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. In a large bowl combine shrimp, scallops, sausage, and the corn and potatoes that were drained. In a small bowl, stir together the melted 4 tablespoons of butter, Old Bay Seasoning, garlic, juice from half a lemon, and salt and pepper to taste and pour over shrimp, sausage, scallops and veggies. Stir to coat.
3. Divide between four 12x12 inch sheets of aluminum foil. Fold edges of foil up around the food to create a closed and tightly sealed packet.
4. Cook on a preheated grill over medium-high heat for 8 minutes on one side, then flip and cook another 5-6 minutes on the other side. An alternate method would be to bake the packets in a preheated 400-degree oven for 15-20 minutes until the corn is tender and the shrimp and scallops are fully cooked.
5. While the packets are cooking, melt the ½ stick of butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted, turn the burner to medium heat; stir the butter gently for 3-4 minutes until the color changes from pale yellow to golden amber (but be careful not to burn it). Once it turns to a golden amber color, take it off the heat immediately.
6. After removing your shrimp boil foil packets off the grill or from your oven, carefully unwrap them. At this point you can scoop everything into a large bowl or plate, top with the chopped parsley, browned butter, and lemon wedges for squeezing.
Be sure to serve this with crispy warm bread for dipping into the browned butter and lemon sauce. So delicious!
Note: To make your own homemade Old Bay Seasoning mix: whisk together 1 tablespoon of celery salt, 1 teaspoon of paprika, ½ teaspoon of black pepper, ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper, ¼ teaspoon of dry mustard, ⅛ teaspoon each of allspice, cloves and a pinch of ground ginger.
The next time I experiment with this recipe, I think I'll add a ½ pound of firm white fish, such as halibut, cod, red snapper or sea bass, cut into 2 inch pieces, in place of the bay scallops. I may also throw in some thinly sliced fresh fennel, or some sliced scallions, or add some fresh thyme sprigs.
I think the beauty of this recipe is that it contains so many fantastic flavors and textures all wrapped up and cooked in a single foil pack.
Foil packs make for great camping food because of their ease to put together and cook over an open flame. We include recipes and techniques in our Guide to Campfire Cooking. Download it and plan a camping trip (or just an outdoor dinner over a fire in the firepit) before we are looking at winter temperatures instead of just the fall chill!