August 9, 2017
A record number of hot, sunny days in Calgary means optimizing the backyard grill!
Apparently we’ve had more hot, sunny days so far this summer than any other on record. Berries are exploding all over the city, tomato plants are producing fruit early, and ovens are being left off because it’s just too hot to cook. We’re lucky to have a small back yard and a barbecue, so we’ve been doing as much as we can on it - everything from pizza to fruit crisp, cooked in a cast iron skillet directly on the grill. It’s amazing what you can do with a backyard barbecue! If the bottom heat source is too intense, turn on one side and cook on the other, or create a buffer between your food and the grill with a soaked cedar plank or even a bed of sliced cities to protect fragile fish. Smaller fish can even be done in a cast iron skillet on the grill.
This week we’ll likely toss a whole small salmon onto the grill, wrapped in a double thickness of foil to create a packet, the fish itself stuffed with thinly sliced lemon and handfuls of fresh herbs, from dill to cilantro. Another foil packet will be filled with tiny new potatoes, a good drizzle of canola oil, a dab of butter and perhaps a handful of fresh herbs and/or a few crushed cloves of garlic. We’ve also been loving lamb kofta this summer, our appetite for it revived after sampling some at the Turkish Festival downtown a few weeks ago. It’s more affordable (and just as delicious) made with beef — a great way to use ground beef on the grill without making more burgers. The ground meat on a stick is divine with grilled naan on the side (even a basic pizza dough works for this, but here’s a recipe for naan dough too) - the intense heat and smokiness of the grill mimics a tandoor oven, and you can cook the naan at the back, where it’s hotter, while the kofta cook at the front, where it’s cooler and the bamboo skewers can stick off the front edge and not burn. A batch of garlicky tzatziki made with thick plain Bles-Wold yogurt is pure bliss.
And because it’s summer, there seems to be a fruit crisp each week, using whatever is in season. There are so many berries these days, we’ve been using them this way - on their own, or paired with rhubarb or soon, peaches. And if you don’t want to turn the oven on, it can bubble away on one side of the barbecue - the turned-off side - while the other side is on. Close the lid to create an oven environment. I like to top blueberry crisp with whipped cream sweetened with brown sugar or maple syrup.
Have a great week, everyone!
whole wild pink salmon
lean ground beef
plain Bles-Wold yogurt
’Tis the season for dark, sticky beef & Guinness pie — it’s like a slow-simmered stew, topped with a puff pastry lid and baked.
Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion, or just looking for the decadent finishing touch on a special meal, cake is the way to celebrate.
Meet Calvin Raessler, a rancher raising grass-fed, free-range cattle on 1,400 acres near Drumheller, Alta.