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A couple of years ago John and I were on a cruise around the Adriatic Sea and one of the ports of call was Bari. Exploring on foot can build up quite an appetite. Usually I will have already researched a place to eat but Bari was one that I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t ‘touristy’ (we crave authentic). Exhausted from the blazing heat, humidity, and starting to feel a bit cranky, we stumbled upon a place to eat that wasn’t rustic and felt, perhaps, a bit too upscale for what we wanted. Still, my stomach was telling me we had to stop now otherwise I was about to keel over. In we went, and with John’s Italian language skills of that of a 3-year old, we managed to order what we thought were going to be just a ‘few’ antipasti. Yikes! We must have had enough for 10 people! Our server brought us marinated white anchovies, assorted olives, octopus, peppers, zucchini, fresh mozzarella, focaccia, but one dish that stood out was grilled peppers. The grilled peppers were silky smooth, delicately bathed in olive oil, scented with chopped basil and garlic. I mopped up the juices with bread (not the focaccia) but fresh bread that came out of the oven. We always chat to people and our server (owner I think) kept bringing us food to try. I think it was due to our enthusiasm for food and a willingness to want to try new things. But in the end we had to tell him we were stuffed. I have added a couple of ingredients which, I think, highlights the sweetness from the peppers. I hope you will enjoy this dish as much as we did. It’s a lovely way to re-visit the food of Italy in your own home.
Serves 4 to 6 as an antipasto
3 bell peppers (red, yellow, orange or all one color)
1 to 2 cloves of garlic, minced
splash of extra-virgin olive oil
splash of white balsamic vinegar or sherry vinegar
6 to 8 basil leaves, sliced
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
handful Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
Fire up the barbeque and place whole bell peppers on grill. Grill until charred on all sides. Remove from heat and place peppers in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and allow peppers to cool enough to handle. Remove charred skin, seeds and membrane. Slice peppers and place in a clean bowl. Add rest of the ingredients and toss to combine. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: This dish is gorgeous on its own or used in pasta, as bruschetta topping, in sandwiches etc. These will keep in the refrigerator for up to 5 days…if they last that long! Enjoy!
There are oodles of recipes incorporating an avocado but the most familiar is guacamole and everyone has their own version. Grilled guacamole is a slight spin on an old favorite. The avocado has been around for thousands of years and is rich in potassium (helps regulate blood pressure) and vitamin A (helps your eyes). Avocado paste can be applied to the skin to help with rashes and to smooth rough skin. Guacamole is so easy to make and is a crowd pleaser at a barbeque, pot luck or family gathering. I’ve been making guacamole for years and was recently inspired by the one I saw from The Kitchn.
2 avocados, halved, stones removed
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
5-6 drops of Tabasco sauce
1 large tomato, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/3 cup fresh coriander, chopped
juice of one lime
Turn barbecue on to medium heat. Make sure grate is clean and lightly oiled. Place avocado halves flesh side down and grill 5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Scoop out flesh and in a bowl lightly mash avocado. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Serve with your favorite corn chips.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: Try to select avocados that aren’t too ripe otherwise the consistency will be mush-like. Enjoy!
cool cold Spring has me pining away for warmer days. Warmer days sees us using the bbq more often and sees me experimenting with new, aromatic sauces that accompany a barbecue. This Parmesan grilling sauce is so versatile and scrumptious, you’ll want to smother it on everything you grill…I kid you not! It’ll work well with chicken, beef, pork, seafood, vegetables and would be perfect on kebabs. Spread it on a baguette slice and place on the grill. A super easy sauce to whip up leaving you more time with family and friends.
Makes a bit over 1 cup
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 to 2 tablespoons minced garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
2 to 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
The Culinary Chase’s Note: If you want a thicker sauce, add more cheese. Red wine vinegar can dominate the lovely flavors of the cheese and herbs so begin with 2 tablespoons first and adjust accordingly. Enjoy!
It’s been a scorcher the last two weeks but that hasn’t stopped us from being outdoors. Summer for us automatically means using the barbeque more – and we grill anything! Of course we grill the usual suspects such as meat, chicken, fish and veggies. But we also love grilled bread, pizza, artichokes, onions, romaine lettuce, radicchio, Belgium endive, peaches, pineapple, corn on the cob, flatbread, lemons, halloumi cheese…phew! and that’s only the beginning. Just about anything you cook inside can be taken outdoors. For dessert think outside the kitchen box and try grilling pound cake slices, banana nutella s’mores, banana split, watermelon etc. All stone fruits work well on the grill and they end up with a sweeter taste.
Serves 4 as a side
1 cup Greek feta cheese, crumbled
zest of 1 lemon
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup Kalamata olives, chopped
yellow summer squash, sliced
Combine feta, lemon zest, garlic, and olives in a small bowl. Add enough olive oil to moisten the feta mixture; stir to combine. Preheat bbq to 350f. Lightly brush olive oil on the veggies, season and grill both sides until cooked – about 5 minutes depending on how thick the slices are. Remove from heat. To serve, place an eggplant slice on a plate followed by a spoonful of feta salsa, slice of zucchini, another spoonful of feta salsa and topped with summer squash slice. Top the summer squash with a small spoonful of the feta salsa. Drizzle with olive oil and serve.
John and I barbeque all year round and when Spring and Summer arrive, it’s full on. Our barbeque gets used on a weekly basis so it’s not unusual to see me out on our back deck firing up the barbie. I love it…less mess for me to clean up! I’ve been noticing more and more these days that most food places I shop carry planks for grilling – some individual and some in packages carrying an assortment (cedar, birch, hickory or maple). Plank grilling originates from the Native Americans from the Pacific Northwest who grilled salmon on open fires over cedar and alder. The concept is by far not new but certainly merits consideration.
4 portobello mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
2 medium-sized zucchini, sliced
2 medium-sized yellow summer squash, sliced
Allow cedar plank to soak in water for at least an hour (longer if possible). If using a stainless steel plank saver then soak the plank for 30 minutes. On medium heat, grill portobello mushrooms gill side down, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and set aside. Lightly brush olive oil onto zucchini and summer squash slices. Season with salt and pepper. Place on grill for up to 5 minutes and turn. You want the slices to show some grill marks and the flesh to be slightly softened.
Remove cedar plank from water and pat dry. Place portobello mushroom (gill side up) on the cedar plank. Followed by zucchini slices, yellow summer squash slices, tomato slices, and pesto. Make sure bbq is at 350f and add plank. Cover with bbq lid and cook 10 minutes. Don’t worry if smoke is billowing out of the bbq – this is normal. The cedar smoke will infuse the veggies. Remove from bbq and serve on a plate and drizzle with olive oil.
Note: After using, rinse the plank off with soap and water and let dry. Reuse the planks two or three times – if there’s wood left, you can use it. Crumble up charred planks over coals to use as smoking chips and choose planks that aren’t chemically treated.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: This was my first attempt at plank grilling and I liked it. I think I’ll experiment with salmon the next time. Add freshly grated Parmesan to the portobello mushrooms before adding the vegetables. Enjoy!
The tail end of Spring is drawing to a close and thankfully the warmer weather has arrived. And because of this, the air in our neighborhood is perfumed with food being cooked on backyard barbeques. If you don’t barbecue you almost feel left out. When I head out to our back deck to fire up the grill, my stomach grumbles as I get a whiff of someone using their barbeque. I love this time of year. Broccolini is a cross between broccoli and gai lan (Chinese kale). It’s more delicate in flavor than broccoli and can be eaten raw or lightly sautéed.
adapted by The Gardener & The Grill
1 to 2 anchovy fillets, mashed into as paste
3/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
2 bunches broccolini, trimmed (about 2 lbs.)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the sauce, whisk together all ingredients and set aside. Light your barbeque to a medium-hot fire. Place broccolini on a plate and brush with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Grill until broccolini is al dente, about 5 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and serve with sauce.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: Fresh and simple! Make sure broccolini is similar in size otherwise the larger pieces will take longer to cook and will result in the smaller ones becoming burnt. Serve this right off the grill or at room temperature. Summer is just around the corner…Friday, 21st of June. Enjoy!
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