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New ways to barbecue

Summer has finally arrived, albeit mixed with a fair amount of June showers. With the promise of sunnier days ahead, I am thinking about updating the barbecue routine. 

Steaks and gourmet burgers remain popular, but consider pizza on the grill, grilled vegetables and updating your wine selections to include some savoury French reds.

Barbecued pizza?

Did you know that June is Italian Heritage Month? June days are fleeting, but there is still time to enjoy what’s left.

In tough economic times like now, what better culinary traditions to celebrate than Italy’s? 

Italians are known for their frugal nature and ability to turn a little flour, water and a minimum of other ingredients into delicious pizza and pasta dishes. 

I, for one, could eat both all year round, and thanks to my new PC Propane-Powered Pizza Oven from the Atlantic Superstore, I can make pizza without stepping inside.

Halloom and za’atar pizza

Recipe provided by President’s Choice

Makes 2 pizzas, 8 inches in circumference

All-purpose flour, for dusting
Pizza dough 
4 tsp olive oil, divided
2 tsp za’atar spice blend, divided
1/3 cup diced halloom cheese (¼-inch to ½-inch dice), divided
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters, divided
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro, mint and/or parsley leaves, chopped

Directions: Preheat pizza oven to medium-low. When ready to use, baking stone inside oven should read 425 F to 450 F on infrared thermometer. Dust pizza peel generously with flour; set aside. Divide dough ball in half; gently stretch one half from underneath using hands (or roll using rolling pin) into 8-inch round, leaving thicker 1-inch border for crust. (Let dough rest 1 minute if it’s not stretching easily.) Transfer to prepared pizza peel. Gently shuffle peel from side to side to ensure dough slides easily on peel; if it sticks, carefully remove dough and dust peel with more flour.  Brush 2 tsp oil over surface of dough and sprinkle with 1 tsp za’atar, leaving border uncovered. Top with half each of the cheese and tomatoes.  Slide pizza off the peel and onto the stone in pizza oven. Bake, using peel to rotate pizza every 30 seconds, until crust is evenly golden and crisp, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from oven by sliding onto peel. Transfer to cutting board. Stretch or roll out remaining half of dough and top with remaining oil, za’atar, cheese and tomatoes. Bake as directed in step 4. Sprinkle pizzas with herbs, dividing evenly. Cut into strips or squares. Serve immediately. 

Tip: No pizza oven? Bake on flour-dusted pizza pan, pizza stone or baking sheet on bottom rack of 450 F oven until crust is golden and toppings are bubbly, 11 to 14 minutes.

Grilled vegetables

A growing movement towards lighter fare and plant-based diets, means more of us are welcoming chicken, fish and vegetables to our grill. 

Enjoy some recipes for grilled vegetables and pair them up with fresh whites, rosé and light red wines.

Grilled fennel

6-8 servings

2 bulbs fennel, washed, fronds removed 
1/4 cup olive oil 
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar 
Salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Directions: Slice the fennel bulbs lengthwise into ¼-inch thick slices. Brush the fennel with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and season the slices with salt and pepper. Place the fennel slices over medium heat. Close lid of the barbecue and cook for 5 minutes per side. Serve the fennel warm, with lemon wedges. A squeeze of lemon juice helps balance the natural sweetness of the fennel.

*Grilling or roasting fennel brings out a wonderful sweetness in the vegetable and slightly subdues its powerful anise flavour. You can grill the fennel ahead of time. When ready to serve, place the fennel on a non-stick baking sheet and warm in the oven for 4-5 minutes at 400 F.  

Grilled mushrooms

6 servings

3 tbsp garlic, minced 
2 tbsp fresh thyme
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 
6 large King mushrooms, halved lengthwise

Directions: Combine the garlic, thyme, olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a bowl. Add the mushrooms and marinate for up to an hour. Grill the mushrooms over medium-high heat for 4 to 5 minutes per side. 

Bring a Rhone to your barbecue

When deciding on the wines to serve at your next barbecue, consider bringing home a Cotes du Rhône, from France. The wines of Côtes du Rhône come as Blanc (white), Rouge (red) and Rosé (pink), although red wines dominate the region, accounting for about 85 per cent of production. 

The red wines of Côtes du Rhône — blends of up to 15 permitted grape varietals, although dominated by Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Carignan — are known for their combination of rich flavours, yet fresh palates. 

Grenache-based versions are fruitier, while those with more Syrah are a little spicier in style.

To make Côtes du Rhône, winemakers can sources grapes from as far south as Avignon and almost to Lyon in the north, although the bulk come from the warmer southern section of the valley. 

Despite the size of the appellation, there is a remarkable consistency of quality in the Côtes du Rhône, which is perhaps why they are so popular among the French. The wines of the Côtes du Rhône are so popular in France, that often on the wine lists of bistros and country restaurants they are labelled simply as their place, with no reference to a producer. 

It is this overall quality and their approachable flavours that make them the perfect barbecue wines. Don’t be afraid to serve them a little chilled as this will make them taste even fresher. Put them in the refrigerator about 20 minutes to half an hour before serving.

Inspired by the Rhone lamb skewers

4 servings
 

2 lbs ground lamb
1/4 cup cilantro, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp each paprika, ground pepper, ground cumin, ground coriander
1 lemon, zest, juice
Salt

Directions: Place lamb, cilantro, spices and salt in a bowl. Mix well. Form 16 meatballs. Roll meatballs into log-like shapes. Place on metal skewers. Set a grill to medium-high heat. Grill for 5 to 6 minutes per side. 

Grilled sausages with Provencale style tomato jam

2 lb hot house tomatoes 
1/2 cup brown sugar 
1/6 cup apple cider vinegar 
1 clove garlic, minced 
1 tbsp Herbs de Provence  
Salt, to taste 
Pepper, to taste 
Grilled sausages, to serve
Toasted hot dog buns, to serve

Directions: Place all the ingredients, except salt and pepper in a pot. Bring to a boil. Stir. Reduce heat to simmer. Simmer, stirring periodically, until a jam like consistency is achieved; about 35 to 45 minutes. It has achieved the right consistency, when you drag a spoon through the middle and liquid does not rush back into the middle. Season with salt and pepper and stir. Let cool and puree using a handheld mixer or food processor. Transfer to a jar and refrigerate. Jam is good for up to 2 weeks. Place grilled sausages in toasted hot dog buns and top with tomato jam.

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