Beyond BBQ Basics – Creative Ideas for the Grill

A number of years ago, my oven went up in flames – literally.  We ended up without an oven for a few months and this created the necessity of finding different cooking methods.  Necessity sparked creativity.  It was my daughter’s birthday soon after the oven incident – I ended up making (very successfully) a chocolate cake in the crock pot, mac and cheese and nachos on the BBQ, and more.  I didn’t miss my oven as much as I thought I might.

This summer, as the hot weather sets in even more I find myself more inspired to cook on my BBQ and avoid heating up the house by using my stove or oven.  My taste buds, stimulated by the smokiness of the grill, prompt me to experiment with new recipes and foods to cook on my BBQ.  The BBQ is a great way to introduce flavour into your food and it can give us so much more than burgers.

Here are some of my favourite ways to be creative with the BBQ:

Grilled Tofu Steaks– Marinate a firm tofu in your favourite marinade or a simple combination of soy sauce, olive oil, honey and fresh minced garlic. Grill each side until golden brown.

Polenta – Make a batch of polenta, chill in the refrigerator until set, cut into squares or fun shapes, brush with oil and grill. Top with grilled veggies, as well as a pesto or marinara sauce.

BBQ Stir Fry – Use a combination of vegetables such as onions, peppers, zucchini, mushrooms, or asparagus. Use a simple sauce of soy sauce, oil, ginger, garlic and honey. Cook in a grill wok, stirring often. Toss in spinach when vegetables are tender and cook just until wilted. Serve over rice.

Grilled Veggie Focaccia Sandwich – Grill some peppers, onions, zucchini and eggplant and use as a sandwich filling. Split the Focaccia bread in half and warm on the grill. Brush with a basil pesto mayonnaise, top with grilled veggies and cheese (optional). This is one of my daughter’s favourites; she says she knows summer is near when I make this for the first time – if summer had a flavour, this would be it!

Quesadillas – Too hot to cook in the house? Take your quesadillas outdoors to cook them on the grill. The BBQ gives the tortillas a smoky crunchiness. Cook on a lower heat so as not to burn the tortilla and to give the cheese time to melt.

Grilled Haloumi – Take thick slices of this Greek goat and sheep milk cheese, brush with olive oil and grill until lightly browned on the outside. Serve immediately while still crunchy on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside.

Babaganoush – poke some eggplants with a fork, then grill them up until charred and wilted.  Whip up a batch of smoky baba ganoush – our favourite way to enjoy eggplant.

Grilled Fruit – Don’t forget dessert! Take some fruit (fruits high in sugar work best) such as peach halves, pineapple slices or bananas (cut in half lengthwise), brush with a neutral oil such as canola and grill until their sugars begin to caramelize and turn golden on the outside. Alternatively, baste with a mixture of dark rum and demerara sugar while cooking. Serve over a bowl of vanilla ice cream or top with whipped cream.

 

See recipe for grilled avocado

 

Healthy FAT is where it’s at..

Cruising the grocery store aisles I have noticed that there are still some low fat products out there…throwbacks to when we thought all fat was bad and we could replace it with refined carbohydrates and sodium-laced products instead. What grew out of that low fat notion was a crazy ride. Fat became the demon and carbohydrates, of every ilk, became the stars.
Our food industry was bursting with packaged, processed foods claiming to be fat-free. Some were already naturally fat free i.e. frozen peas…fat free!?

We have since gained wisdom and knowledge through research to help us realize that not all fat is bad. Yes there are the really bad fats, trans-fats to avoid at all cost and no one is saying that a diet of solid saturated fats is healthy.

The fats we are talking about are the mono and poly unsaturated fats that play a vital role in a healthy diet.

If everyone exchanged their morning muffin or boxed cereal for a handful of walnuts and a piece of fruit, a serving of full fat yogurt and berries, or some nut butter on multi grain toast… maybe we could decrease the need to keep snacking creating a huge surplus of calories being converted to fat.

The interesting thing with dietary fat is that is creates satiety. Carbohydrates, especially the refined ones found in most breakfast cereal, processed snacks and convenience foods are not satisfying resulting in us craving another refined carbohydrate snack. Quite the rollercoaster ride for our insulin as it desperately attempts to keep that blood sugar in balance.

Try adding healthy fat to your diet…you will notice fewer cravings, have more success at portion control, and experience skin, digestion and overall health benefits.

Here is a quick cheat sheet of healthy fats; pick and choose your favourites!

  • nuts and seeds
  • nut and seed butters
  • chia, flax and hemp seeds
  • full fat dairy (cheese, yogurt, milk, cream)
  • coconut oil
  • nut oils
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • olives
  • dark chocolate
  • wild salmon, other oily fish
  • free range eggs
  • grass fed organic beef

Join our Big FAT surprise class where Kelli and I will wow you with delicious healthy fat recipes. Taste, Learn and Experience.

 

The BIG Fat Surprise

Join Stir Cooking School for this interactive workshop and learn why good fats should play a major role in your diet! De-mystify the world of fats, including the misconception that all fats make you fat. Learn how to choose fats that offer health benefits to you and your family.

Take away recipes, knowledge and a goodie bag which includes a bottle of Kazousi Raw Olive Oil!

Tickets are $25.00 and are available in-store or online here: https://pom.me/bigFATSurprise

Plant Proteins Cooking Class

Do you want to decrease the meat in your weekly menu? Are you wondering where to get protein without eating meat? This class is designed to educate and empower you to cook protein-rich, plant-based meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Build your confidence and increase your repertoire of vegetarian/vegan recipes in this delicious, educational class!

 

Plant Based Proteins

MEZE (Mezze)

There are many spellings of this word as it appears in Persian, Turkish, Serbian, Albanian, Armenian, Lebanese and endless other cultures.

Historically Meze refers to cuisines in the Ottoman Empire originating in Persia meaning to taste/snack.

Every country has different traditional foods that are included on the Meze platter or sharing table.

In Lebanon and Cyprus the meze is often a meal. Groups of dishes arrive at the table 4 or 5 at a time. Reflecting the season, the pattern is usually olives, tahini, salad and yogurt, followed by veggie and egg dishes. Next are the small meat and fish dishes with their accompaniments.

The larger dishes that follow include whole fish, meat and stews.

When snails or certain veggies are in season, they will be featured.

With the volume of food being served, the idea is to eat slowly, socialize and share. The Meze is not a rushed affair but rather a forum to gather and debrief about the day, exchange stories and relax.

Alcohol served with the Meze is traditionally distilled drinks including raki, arak, and ouzo. Beer, wine and spirits are also paired with the meze platters.

Meze is a great way to entertain! Have friends bring different contributions to the Meze platters. Buy some Turkish or Persian unleavened bread, chill beer and wine and you are all set for an evening of socializing and tasting  “Lebanese style”.

We can’t wait to share our Meze building class with you! We will be featuring meze with spiced olives, hummus, baba ganoush, feta, chicken skewers, labneh, lentil salad, falafels and more!

Join us April 10th 6-9pm, Lucky’s Liquor Gourmet mezzanine Kitchen Country Club Mall.

Lebanese Mezze Feast Cooking Class