Cooler Weather Leads to More Grilling Fun
by Kirsten Harrington
If you’re looking for a fun way to entertain, why not fire up the grill and enjoy happy hour on the patio? It beats heating up the kitchen, and the dishes will have a delicious smoky element that adds to the flavor.
Pizza is always a crowd pleaser. Top pita bread or naan with fresh mozzarella and basil or barbecue sauce, cooked chicken and cheddar, and grill until the cheese melts for no-fuss pizza that rivals restaurant quality.
Add some class to grilled cheese sandwiches by slathering baguettes or rosemary bread slices with pesto, mango chutney or Dijon mustard and layering with Gouda, Brie or aged cheddar and smoked turkey, ham, bacon, apple slices, tomatoes or roast peppers. Butter and grill for a few minutes on each side.
Orlando cheesemaker Renos Alexandrou imports Halloumi cheese crafted in Cyprus with his family’s recipe.
“Halloumi can be grilled, and it will become soft and tender, but it won’t melt,” he said.
Place the cheese on a hot, oiled grill and give it a minute or two on each side.
“Serve grilled Halloumi drizzled with honey and crushed pistachios. It’s an excellent appetizer,” said Alexandrou, who also likes to serve it with sliced tomatoes and a squeeze of lemon juice or tucked into grilled pita garnished with lettuce, tomato and olives.
Grilled skewers make fun happy hour nibbles.
“The great part about skewers is you can put anything you want on them,” said Cathee Brady, a Windermere resident and chef/owner of Cathee Brady Catering.
Soak wooden skewers in water for 30 minutes first, and then thread them with salmon pieces marinated in soy, honey and ginger or chicken brushed with Thai peanut sauce. Colorful baby heirloom tomatoes and red and yellow pepper skewers make a beautiful dish.
“Intertwine them and sprinkle with extra virgin olive oil, fresh oregano, and salt and pepper,” Brady said. “Grill them just until you get the grill marks you like.”
For a sumptuous summer vegetarian meal, Brady suggests grilled Portobello mushrooms served with a kale and arugula salad. Marinate the mushrooms in balsamic vinegar for 30 minutes; rub with fresh garlic; and sprinkle with fresh thyme, kosher salt and pepper before grilling for about 10 minutes.
For dessert, Brady favors grilled pineapple.
“You can serve it with small shortbread cookies or ice cream,” she said. “The neat part about fruit is you can grill anything. Kiwi, strawberries and peaches on kebabs are really nice.”
Cook just a minute or two, and then baste the finished fruit skewers with honey, cinnamon and nutmeg. Display them in a hollowed-out watermelon for an elegant centerpiece.
For a festive beverage, Brady suggests sparkling white wine with crushed ice, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and a small sprig of mint for garnish.
Stuff fresh figs with Gorgonzola cheese and grill for 1 to 2 minutes. Drizzle with honey and balsamic vinegar.
Slice watermelon 3/4-inch thick, brush with olive oil, and grill for 2 minutes per side. Sprinkle with smoked sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
Slice Yukon Gold potatoes in thick rounds; toss with olive oil, salt and fresh chopped rosemary; and grill for 8 to 10 minutes.
Coat apple slices with lemon juice and cinnamon, grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side. Top with cheddar cheese slices, and let it melt.
Toss shrimp in olive oil, smoked paprika, and salt and pepper, and grill for 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from grill and heat small corn tortillas for delicious smoky tacos. Serve with a platter of grilled zucchini and peppers for a quick, festive dinner.
Grape Leaf–Wrapped Camembert
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma’s Essentials of Grilling
Grape Leaf–Wrapped Camembert is a delicious appetizer or light meal.
10 large brined grape leaves, rinsed
and patted dry
1 10-ounce round of Camembert
cheese, well chilled
Rustic country bread for serving
Preheat grill to medium-high. Lay four grape leaves, vein side up, on a baking sheet with stems just touching. Center a fifth leaf where the stems touch. Place the Camembert in the center. Fold the tips of the other four leaves up over the cheese. Center a leaf on the cheese, and tuck its ends under. Arrange the remaining four leaves, vein side down, atop the cheese with their stems touching center. Tuck the tips of these leaves under the cheese, enclosing it tightly, with no rind exposed. Place cheese on the grill, cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes per side. Monitor carefully; the leaves should char slightly, with no more than a drizzle of cheese escaping. Transfer to serving platter, unwrap and serve with bread.