Savvy Cookbooks: The Gardener and the Grill

Grilled Steak Bok Choy

The Gardener and the Grill, by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig, is quickly becoming my most-used cookbook. After all, it combines my favorite hobby – growing my own food – and my latest favorite cooking technique – grilling.

The preface of the book is short, contained to a two-page introduction and a brief description of various grilling methods, and then it is right into the recipes.

The first recipe section, “Pantry,” is actually my favorite, filled with rubs, dressings and sauces that can be used on any number of grilled meats and veggies. We’ve developed a particular fondness for the Italian Parmesan grilling paste (page 31) and the lemon garlic aioli (page 39).

Grilled Steak Bok Choy 2

The rest of the chapters are divided by course- appetizers; sandwiches, flatbreads and pizzas; soup and salad; meat, poultry and fish; vegetable sides; and fruit desserts. Scattered among the recipes are gardening tips and how-tos, such as “A Gardener’s Pound” (page 64) to help you determine how many cherry tomatoes, asparagus stalks or other vegetables are in a pound without a scale. There are also short features on gardening for cooking various cuisines, such as “Gardening and grilling with an Italian accent” on page 98.

So far, every recipe we’ve tried from the book has been stellar. My one complaint is that some of the page numbers in the table of contents and recipe headnotes appear to be off. For instance, he Brussels Sprouts with Feta Garlic Butter is on page 170, not 178, as the headnote for the Italian Parmesan grilling paste suggests.

Grilled Steak Bok Choy 3

Still, if the only thing I can find wrong with a book is a few wrong page numbers, there isn’t much to complain about. I give The Gardener and the Grill

5 out of 5 stars

Blackened Beef with Thai Chile Noodles

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: Serves 4

Recipe slightly adapted from The Gardener and the Grill.


    For the noodles:
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chile oil
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 8 ounces rice noodles
  • 1/4 cup chopped, roasted peanuts
  • For the bok choy and steak:
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 whole baby bok choy, cut lengthwise into quarters
  • One 12-ounces, 1 1/2"-thick boneless sirloin steak


    For the noodles:
  1. Cook the noodles according to package instructions.
  2. While the noodles are cooking, whisk the olive oil, chile oil, vinegar, mint, cilantro, red pepper flakes and garlic together.
  3. Toss the cooked noodles with the dressing and garnish with the peanuts.
  4. For the bok choy and steak:
  5. Turn the grill to medium-high heat.
  6. Whisk together the smoked paprika, sea salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper.
  7. Whisk the sesame and canola oils together.
  8. Brush first the bok choy, then the steak, with the oil blend. Sprinkle the paprika seasoning on both sides of the steak.
  9. Grill the steak for 3-5 minutes per side. I use the hand method to tell when the steak is done.
  10. The bok choy should go on the grill a few minutes after you start the steak, as it only needs 2-3 minutes per side. The vegetables are done when they are softened and have developed grill marks.
  11. Slice the steak thinly and serve with the noodles and bok choy.

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