Cyndi Allison had the good fortune of not getting an Easy Bake Oven as a child. We're all the better for it. This is our second guest post in our BBQ Bonanza. Cyndi publishes the Yes You Can Grill website and also the Barbeque Master blog.
BBQ Bonanza - 300 Big & Bold Barbecue & Grilling Recipes
by Cyndi Allison
I wanted an Easy Bake oven for Christmas when I was younger, but my Mom said we had a kitchen and to “have at it” anytime I wanted. After I made fudge with condensed milk rather than evaporated milk and caught Pop-Tarts on fire, I was banished to the yard where fire is the norm, and where there are no smoke detectors. I did burn a few hot dogs along the way, but I found my niche with outdoor cooking.
Being a goddess of the grill was a handy skill to have in college, since most of my friends never did master the cheap, open-air hibachi grills of the 1980s. Then, I grew up and had sons, so outdoor cooking simply worked out better for our household. The boys thought cooking outside meant a party instead of being household duties that simply had to be done. We grew up with lots of parties and lots of buddies to help us polish off the grilled food.
Beyond Burgers and Brats
Although I grill all the classics, I also enjoy going gourmet on the grill. In fact, my boys are absolutely hooked on grilled crab legs. I hope they both do very well in college and get good jobs or homes near the beach, because they are going to find that crab legs put a dent in the wallet, although they are worth every cent.
What’s Between the Covers Of “Big & Bold?”
When you’re putting together 300 recipes for a grilling cookbook, you can cover a lot of ground, and Adler and Fertig have recipes for everything from rubs/sauces and seafood to beef, lamb, and fruit. Believe me, this is a cookbook that could keep you busy for a very long time. I am still working down my list of things to grill from the cookbook. I tried out several recipes and adapted some to my area. When grilling gourmet in a rural area, there are some items that are hard to come by. I was intrigued by the recipe for bread sticks wrapped in Swiss chard or beat leaves, but those were not available locally here yet, so I used turnip greens. In other cases, I simply added ingredients to my ongoing grocery lists and picked up items when on a city grocery run.
Top Pick by the Gourmet Boys (who do not know they eat gourmet)
I gave the boys the cookbook and had them pick out something they wanted to try, and they went with Stir-Grilled Coconut Shrimp. We lived on the eastern shore of Virginia for a while, so they are big shrimp fans, although I still can’t convince the older son that heads-on shrimp are the way to go. He just does not get into taking off the heads and deveining shrimp. Oh well. The younger one can hang with that.
In this case, the shrimp recipe is in a grill wok. I don’t see those used very often around here, but I think everyone should get one. You can do so many things in a grill wok, and they are very easy to use. If you like to do your sides on the grill, then a wok is perfect for vegetables on the side.
In this case, I made up the coconut marinade and let the shrimp rest a while. Then, I put the shrimp in the wok over a medium hot fire and tossed them until they were orange in color. This took under fifteen minutes in terms of grill time, so although some people are afraid to try the fancier grill recipes, many are actually easier than the traditional grill recipes which also take longer over the fire.
Is This the Grill Book for You?
“300 Big & Bold Barbecue Grilling Recipes” is not really a beginner barbecue book, but no gourmet grilling cookbook would be. It’s better to get to know your grill and to try some of the most basic recipes out first – kind of like learning the scales when taking music lessons.
On the flip side, the recipes really are easy to understand and follow. These ladies do know their barbecue and grilling. The steps are easy to follow, and the tips are right on the money. The boys helped with the grilled shrimp (the older one made up the coconut sauce), and the two teens had no problems understanding how to grill wok the shrimp, although they have not done that before.
Grillers may have to purchase a few barbecue accessories like grill planks (easy to find now and not too pricey) and also may have to look around for a few ingredients in the book (although not so much in a city). But, that is how you go from being the hot dog queen or king to making some really fabulous outdoor dishes that will make you blush with pride and impress the heck out of your family and friends.
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