I love grilled foods. They are simple to make and do not leave a mess in my kitchen. During the summer, or the last two weeks in Nebraska, the heat has approached close to 100 degrees everyday. The last thing I want to do is to heat up my oven and the house to make dinner. The grill is an excellent alternative. It is also a way to prepare foods and add flavor without adding a lot of fat and salt. Grilling can be done on a gas, electric or charcoal grill. It can be done in a grill pan on the top of your stove. It can also be done in your broiler–especially in the winter when you don’t mind heating up your house.
I registered for an open kitchen workshop at The Metropolitan Community College Institute for the Culinary Arts on grilling recently. This is our local culinary school, and one of the top ten in the U.S. I thought they might be able to help me! I am capable of placing perfectly good food on the grill, and it all turns to hockey pucks in a short period of time! These classes are offered for the general public and involve all sorts of foods and preparation skills. They involve a little teaching and a lot of hands on–which is what most of us need. My expectations were high!
Chef Bob and his two Sous Chefs were excellent. They put all of us at ease, and we spent three hours learning to grill all sorts of foods, including vegetables. They discussed adding layers of flavors to foods that you grill by adding compound butters and simple gastriques. Imagine grilling a flat iron steak to perfection, placing it on a plate with a reduction made from red wine, a little beef glaze, sugar and salt and pepper. Adding a small spoonful of citrus butter flavored with lemons, oranges, limes and garlic on top of the steak pushes the flavor profile over the top! All very simple! They all sound extremely time consuming–but they were not!
We grilled eggplant and zucchini along with the steak. They were very simple to prepare. Here are the instructions to grilling vegetables:
- Wash vegetables thoroughly under cold water
- Slice vegetables into 1/4-1/2 inch slices
- Slice eggplant in circles and zucchini and summer squash into long strips
- Cut the tops and bottoms off, and leave the skin on
- Brush with canola vegetable oil
- You can season these as you place them on the grill with salt and pepper
- If you want to add more flavor, add some chopped fresh herbs, or garlic, or whatever you like
- Place on the grill at a diagonal. Shift a little to get grill marks.
- These items do not need to be left on the grill long–possibly just a few minutes.
- Turn and grill on the other side.
- Take off of the grill and serve.
It is really that easy. You could grill peppers, asparagus, or any many other vegetables. Grilled fruit is tasty also. Try brushing pineapple slices with a little honey and cinnamon, then grill briefly. It’s the best dessert in the world! Your goal is to heat the food thoroughly without burning it. Watch for hot spots on your grill, and move things that take a little longer to cook to a side where it is not so hot to cook slower. Grill vegetables to place on a salad, or put them on a kabob for a fun meal. Your imagination is the only thing limiting you! Give your grill a try this weekend! You won’t regret it!
Citrus Compound Butter
Serves 20–you may want to cut this down. It does freeze well.
- 2 # butter, softened
- 1 lemon, juiced and zested
- 1 orange, juiced and zested
- 1 lime, juiced and zested
- 2 cloves garlic, pasted
- Salt and pepper as needed
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a balloon whisk, add all ingredients and beat on high until well combined. Don’t add all the juice at once, drizzle it in so you don’t get too soupy, (or you may choose to not use it at all). Taste and adjust the seasoning. Wrap butter into useable portions with parchment or wax paper. Refrigerate and us within a week, or freeze for up to 3 months. Serve over fresh steaks, burgers and chicken. Recipe shared from the Culinary Institute.
Check out local cooking classes — they are great fun, and the tips and tricks you learn are terrific!