The Art of Cooking: Taste of Summer

Taste Of Summer

The season of swimsuits, sandals, and sunburns has arrived once again. The rising temperature leaves ovens empty and makes plenty of room for one great discovery: the grill. Nothing sheds the warm layers quite like the aroma of a steak sizzling on the grill for the first time after a long winter. With all of the stores filling up their seasonal sections with outdoor furniture and every grilling utensil you could ever need, there is no better time for pool parties and backyard get-togethers than the long, hot days of summer.

In a season where you wouldn’t step within 10 feet of your oven, the grill has truly created the taste of summer. Smokey flavored hamburgers, steaks, and chicken play an important role in these months to come and make the cornerstones of any great summertime activity.

Before you jump right into your summer grilling, here are a few tips that could prove helpful. Since I have experienced this more than a few times, let me just say that your food will not stick to a clean, hot, greased surface. To ensure this, turn your grill on and let it warm up for 15 minutes before cooking anything, then, give it a quick brush. Using tongs and a towel, sparingly dab vegetable oil over the grill rack. This will make flipping easier, and will give your food the well-desired grill marks. One popular grilling technique involves adding damp wood chips, usually hickory or mesquite, to your coals to provide more of the smoked flavor for your meats. I recommend doing this in a small portable grill, to minimize clean-up.

Social functions are a popular part of this season. Hosting your own backyard fete is a great way to get friends and family together to enjoy the warm weather. Having a few great recipes up your sleeve is the key to making any party a hit. For an appetizer, skewers are always a favorite with my family. The sky is the limit when deciding what to put on them. I like to use button mushrooms and tenderloin steak. A friend of mine does a “land & sea” skewer with steak and scallops; both are a sure crowd pleaser. If you are using bamboo skewers, remember to pre-soak them for at least an hour before using. When planning to cook steaks on the grill, I find the best seasonings are the simplest. I generously sprinkle the meat with sea salt and black pepper, and when cooking I keep a bowl of olive or sunflower seed oil for brushing. Grilled meats are always well-accompanied with salads like potato, macaroni, or my favorite, broccoli. Light desserts like pudding pie, no-bake bars, or fruit and whipped cream parfaits are always great to finish up with. They are quick and easy to prepare, which allows more time for socializing rather than cooking.

Have fun grilling, and welcome summer with a smile and a spatula!

Yummy Bleu Cheese Burgers

Serves about 4

Cooking time: 8 minutes

1 lb. ground beef

4 crushed garlic cloves

1 small onion, minced

about ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

salt & pepper to taste

dash hot sauce (if desired)

crumbled bleu cheese

Combine the first six ingredients. Mold into patties and cook on a preheated grill until desired color. Flip, and sprinkle with the crumbled bleu cheese.

Grill Roasted Potatoes

Serves 8

Cooking time: about 1 hour 10 minutes

8 large baking potatoes

about 2 sticks butter

8 large garlic cloves

fresh chives to top

aluminum foil

Individually cube each potato. Set 1 cubed potato in the center of a foil square. Put about 4 tablespoons butter on top. Combine 1 crushed garlic clove, and top with chives.

In my opinion, this is the best way to cook potatoes on the grill. The
individual foil wrappers allow the garlic to cook right into the
potato. To speed up the cooking time, you can pre-cook
the potatoes in the microwave before cubing for about 10 minutes. This
will cut the cooking time to about 25-35 minutes, but, the potatoes
will not absorb as much garlic flavor.

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