Home Cooking Recipes
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Quick & Easy
By Beverly Barbour

Springtime is busting out, so bust out the grill

After the most ridiculous winter ever experienced in almost every nook and cranny of the globe, springtime has arrived on planet Earth. We don't know what comes next but we do know that when you see your neighbor's grill starting to flavor the atmosphere it is time to fire up your own grill and take a break from cooking on the range.

When I was a wee girl we didn't have a grill but we did on very special occasions (like when the kitchen was unbearably hot) have a campfire. When our Mom could no longer stand the monotony of the kitchen and Dad could no longer stand the begging of the kids, off we would go with our cookout equipment: a very battered old frying pan with a long handle for cooking burgers and a very blackened coffee pot for making boiled coffee. These two implements, plus wooden matches were the cookout gear.

Today's picnics are most often held in the backyard where there is a handy-dandy grill for cooking foods a lot more sophisticated than a campfire can handle. The grill is able to give a whole new taste to simple foods, it's handy and it keeps Dad busy.

Grilled Fish or Seafood Skewers

You can use any combination of seafood and even chicken breast halves or thighs on skewers. Skewers even take kindly to fish. They are a blessing for any home with a fisherman in the family. Preparation requires that you must skin and de-bone the fish and chicken before cutting them. When grilling shrimp peel them first and then remove the vein. Water creatures all taste best served with a dipping sauce which you can quickly make. However, you can substitute a commercial salad dressing when you are desperate. Mustard, ginger and puns sauces are great for dipping. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

3 to 4 pounds of any combination of the following: salmon, albacore, tuna or any other firm fleshed fish or 3 to 4 pounds chicken breasts or thighs, skinned and de-boned

Asian sesame oil or vegetable oil

Cut thick fish against the grain into 1/2-inch wide strips. Cut chicken lengthwise into 1-inch wide, 1/2-inch thick strips. Use a small sharp knife to butterfly shrimp: cut lengthwise along back of shrimp, stopping before you cut all the way through, then spread apart to flatten. Thread 1 strip of fish or chicken, 2 scallops or one shrimp onto each soaked 12-inch wood skewer. Brush lightly with Asian sesame oil or vegetable oil. Place on a lightly oiled grill over a solid bed of hot coals or over high heat if using a gas grill (you can hold your hand at grill level only 2 to 3 seconds); close lid on gas grill. Cook, turning once until seafood is opaque but still moist looking in center of thickest part. Cook chicken until it is no longer pink in the center (cut to test), about 5 minutes for tuna, chicken, and shrimp, 8 to 10 minutes for salmon and scallops.

Dipping Sauces for Barbecued Foods

These three simple sauces give a good beginning selection for seafood, meats and vegetables.

Ginger Sauce. Serve with seafood, chicken and pork. Makes 2 cups.

1/4 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup peeled and chopped ginger
1/3 cup peeled and chopped sweet apple
3/4 cup soy sauce
6 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
1/4 cup granulated sugar

In a blender or food processor, whirl the first 3 ingredients until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and whirl until incorporated. Can be covered and chilled for up to 1 week.

Mustard Sauce. Good with beef, pork, and some vegetables. Makes 1 1/3 cups.

3/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1/4 cup dry mustard
1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds, divided*
1/4 cup granulated sugar

In a blender whirl soy sauce, water, mustard, 1/4 cup of the sesame seeds and the sugar. When the mixture is smooth stir in the remaining 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds.

*Sesame seeds can be toasted in a small frying pan on the range.

Ponzu Sauce. Takes kindly to seafood and fish of any kind also to cold noodle salads. Makes about 1 2/3 cups.

1/2 cup sake or dry white wine
1/2 cup mirin (sweet rice wine)
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons lemon juice.

Combine ingredients a bowl or jar and stir or shake in lemon juice.

Grilled Italian Sausage with Warm Peppers and Onion Sauce

When you can't grill outdoors, vegetables and sausage can be grilled in a hot lightly oiled, well-seasoned ridged grill pan over moderately high heat, or under the broiler. The whole long coil of sausage (of any kind, it need not be Italian) makes an eye-catching, bulls-eye when it is all one long sausage, coiled and skewered to keep it in one big solid circle for grilling. If you can't buy a long coil, individual sausages can be grilled. Mix the colors of the peppers you use, yellow, green and red are an attractive combination. Makes 4 good-sized servings.

3 large bell peppers, trimmed and quartered lengthwise
1 large red onion, quartered lengthwise and separated into layers
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound fresh pork sausage coil

Toss peppers and onion with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Grill on lightly oiled grill sheet set directly on grill rack, with grill covered if you are using a gas grill. Turn occasionally, until slightly softened and charred, about 9 to 15 minutes (onion will cook faster) transfer to a bowl as cooked. Add vinegar, oregano, salt, pepper and remaining 2 tablespoons oil to peppers and onion, tossing to coat. Let stand 10 minutes to allow flavors to develop. While vegetables are standing about enjoying each other, run skewers crisscrossed horizontally through sausage coil, securing ends. Grill directly over medium-hot charcoal (moderate heat for gas grill) turning over only once, until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. (Cook covered if a using gas grill.) Transfer the cooked vegetable to a platter and top with sausage.

Isn't it fun to cook out with the bugs and the breeze?


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