Dining » Vol. 5

High End Grilling

Make the Most of Summer’s End

By Julie Grady

Not everyone finds summer grilling to be the epitome of haute cuisine, but there are always the returning gastronomic greats: fresh fruit, veggies, shrimp and chicken, burgers and dogs. Grilling is a great American pastime, but even the best of traditions can tire the palate. So, for this summer’s end, instead of having the same old BBQ menu, master the flames of the grill with a touch of international savoir faire with some simple and simply impressive recipes from around the globe.

First things first: The aperitif. It’s not just for drinks. In the most frequented spots in Europe, you’ll find the aperitif – a pre-dining drink and snack – to be an essential part of social interaction, not to mention the entire meal itself. It sets the tone for a great gathering. Since summer months bring hot weather, the perfect way to start this perfect summer meal would have to be a classic Spanish gazpacho.

Ingredients: 10 oz. of bread; 21 oz. of tomato; 2 cloves of garlic; 2 onions; 2 red and green peppers; 1 cucumber; 7 tblsp of oil; 2 tblsp of vinegar; 1 fi tblsp of cold water; dash cumin.

How to: In a large bowl, mash together the cumin, the garlic and bread. In a separate bowl, mix chopped onions, some chopped tomato (be sure to save some for garnish), the oil, the vinegar, the salt. Now, just combine it all in one bowl and mash it with a mixer while adding very cold water. Strain it and add a little more salt to the soup. For a heartier gazpacho, add on chopped cucumber, fresh chopped tomato, and chopped peppers. Keep it chilled until served. To accompany the dish, toast some bread.

Another summer favorite is seafood. A simple appetizer that’s easy on the eyes is grilled shrimp, marinated with lime juice and olive oil, on a bed of greens, with a spicy, South American flare from cayenne peppers. This dish not only is delicious, but deceivingly easy to make and quite impressive.

Ingredients: 21 oz. of shrimp; 2 small cucumbers; 7 oz. of cherry tomatoes; 4.5 oz. of greens; 1 small red onion; three limes; one or two cayenne peppers (depending on how spicy you like your food); 3 tblsp of olive oil; 2 tblsp of cooking oil.

How to: Baste the shrimp with the lime juice and olive oil. Feel free to add other flavor enhancers – albeit sparingly – like salt, pepper, or crushed red pepper seeds. Let them sit in a bowl, soaking up the rest of the lime marinade while you heat up the cooking oil in a small pan. Throw in the cayenne peppers, which should be sliced rather thickly into the pan, and let them simmer for about five minutes (they must brown to extract the best possible taste). As they’re cooling, skewer the shrimp and head to the grill. This should not take more than 10 minutes. While the shrimp is grilling, slice your cucumbers and red onions and halve your tomatoes. Throw everything into a salad bowl, sprinkle what’s left of the lime marinade onto the veggies, then throw in the shrimp, adding the left over cayenne-spiced oil.

Middle Eastern kefta

The next step to the perfect menu would be a main course even more exotic and delightful than the appetizer. In this case, Middle Eastern kefta, with a hint of cilantro, does the trick. This entrée is an easy way to impress the toughest critics and the most grill-enamored guy.

Ingredients: 31 oz. of ground beef; three large white onions; two tsp of powdered cumin; one tsp of cinnamon; one tsp of crushed red pepper seeds; two tblsp of finely cut cilantro; one tsp of sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

How to: Put the meat in a large bowl. Add the salt and pepper and sprinkle some crushed red pepper seeds into the mix along with the cumin, the cinnamon, and the cilantro. Dice the onions and add them into the bowl as well. Now, mix everything together by hand. Once you have an even mix, roll it into small balls. Skewer them and let them grill anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes on each side. If you feel like eating Moroccan- or Indian-style – just leave the kefta on the skewer. Great additions to this dish are couscous, basmati rice, or a small green salad with a lemon-oil-vinegar dressing.

Rounding out this tour of gastronomic grilling is arguably the best dessert to hit the U.S. since apple pie ~ and it’s easier to make. This recipe comes straight from the hills of Virginia’s finest wine country – the Barboursville Vineyards. All you need are peaches, vanilla bean ice cream and some dessert wine, like their unique Phileo.

How to: After marinating the peaches in the Phileo for at least an hour, throw them on the grill to heat them up a bit. When the peaches get warm, toss them onto some vanilla bean ice cream and sprinkle a little more Phileo atop this tasty dessert tower.

There you have it. Summer grilling does not just have to be hot dog after hot dog. Everyone can master the flames of that all-powerful backyard boy’s toy while satiating the appetites of friends, families, and significant others alike.

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