The month of May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month as well as Older Americans Month and DCPL will be celebrating both with many exciting special programs and presentations. What you may not know, is that May is also National Barbecue Month. I am by no means what you’d call the “outdoor type” but each year when spring arrives I feel myself irresistably drawn to cooking on the grill. Now I don’t know that it’s true that everything tastes better outdoors. A piping hot bowl of chili , for example, probably doesn’t gain in appeal when consumed in 90-plus heat but I do believe that there are certain delicious flavors that grilling enhances. There are the standards, of course, such as steaks, chicken, and burgers but I also favor vegetables like zuchinni, eggplant and peppers cooked to carmelized perfection. I like to grill slices of pineapple and serve them on vanilla ice cream. I’ve even grilled pizzas – a production to be sure and the pies never come out perfectly round – but the result is delicious and the heat of the grill produces a crust redolent of char and crispiness to rival that produced by a professional pizza oven.
Do you like to grill when the weather starts to warm up? Do you favor gas or charcoal? (Believe me, that’s a more than lively debate in some circles). What’s your favorite food to cook on the grill? Do you need ideas and inspiration? As always, DCPL can help.
Culinary writer Steve Raichlen is widely acknowledged as an authority on grilling and his book The Barbecue! Bible is a 500 page plus guide to everything grilled. Raichlen provides recipes from around the globe for grilled dishes and their accompaniments. Grilled Snails might be a hard sell around my house but I suspect that Pancetta Grilled Figs followed by Lamb and Eggplant Kebabs would be met with enthusiasm.
The world of competition barbecue is certainly hot these days and throughout the country teams with names like “Squeal of Approval” and “Albert Einswine” vie for money, trophies, and glory at barbecue “opens” and on reality television. One of the best known names on the circuits is Myron Mixon and his book Smokin’ With Myron Mixon: recipes made simple from the winningest man in barbecue could be a good introduction to those who are new to grilling and barbecuing. Mixon’s motto is “keep it simple” and he follows through with clear cut instructions and techniques that will help anyone from grilling tyro to barbecue wizard turn out succulent ‘cue.
Lest anyone brand me as biased toward meat, let me steer you toward Grilling Vegan Style: 125 fired-up recipes to turn every bite into a backyard barbecue by John Schlimm. Packed with recipes and color photographs, Schlimm’s book is definitely not just for vegans. I don’t know about you but Grilled Vegetables and Foccacia and Flame Kissed Eggplant with Hoisin Sauce sound absolutely scrumptious. For more great vegetable-centric recipes and techniques, be sure to check out The Gardener and the Grill: the bounty of the garden meets the sizzle of the grill by Karen Adler and Judith Fertig.
Finally, you might want to give grilling pizza a whirl this spring and summer (I recommend that you do). Be sure to check out Pizza On the Grill: 100 fiesty fire-roasted recipes for pizza & more by Elizabeth Karmel and Bob Blumer. Filled with gorgeous photographs, the book includes a concise, and very useful, chapter on basic techniques and equipment. Many of the pizza bear names like “Magic Mushroom Medley” and “Lucy in the Sky with Pizza”, just in case that’s your thing. Even if it isn’t t you’ll find enough alluring recipes for pizza and the “go-withs” to keep you happily grilling for months to come.