What We're Cooking Now

What We're Cooking Now - My Paris Kitchen by David Lebovitz

Saturday, September 27, 2014

bon appetit's THE GRILLING BOOK

  Bon Appetit's The Grilling Book is a formidable hard cover volume with 432 pages of photos, advice and recipes for summer and for grilling.  In many ways, we came to think of it as a technique book rather than a cookbook, although it contains many tasty recipes, all of which had earlier appeared in the magazine.  Because of the detailed advice on technique, we found ourselves trying our hand at grilling when it has mostly been the domain of our hubbies.

BAs The Grilling Book is loaded with information, containing well-organized mini sections on how to do things.  (Example:  steps to grilling whole fish, how to grill various vegetables, how to organize your time on grill, tips for shopping, how to peel and de-vein shrimp,etc)  It has easy to read charts and lists throughout the book and the photos are lovely and keep the book exciting.This book is worth its weight!  An excellent value--one of our members actually has passed along all of her other grilling books--saving valuable shelf space in her kitchen.

What we liked:
  • Most ingredients were easy to find
  • Many recipes made allowances for substitutions (i.e. using store bought BBQ sauce, using store bought pizza dough instead of using the dough recipe provided.  Substitutions were also provided for cheeses in some recipes. These “allowances” made the book user friendly and practical for real people who like to cook.
  •  The “Grilling Tool Box” section  helped to demystify all the BBQ gadgets that have been acquired over the years in our houses.   Using the equipment was part of the fun.
  • That allowances are made for both gas and charcoal BBQ'ing
  • Great variety of recipes that appeal to the widest range of tastes
  • Numerous vegetarian options
  • User friendly layout
What we didn't like:
  • Not much...there were some recipes found within questionable sections. For example the Corn Salad with Manchego Cheese is not in the "Sides & Salads" section
  • Some of the cooking times had to be altered.


Chicken Breasts with Tomato, Olive and Feta Relish p31

Sandra: Easy, simple and quick.   Would have liked more mint.

Beer-Can Chicken p36
Kristi: I love this technique.  While nothing new to us, it’s nice to have an actual recipe/ reminder of the technique.  We like to add fresh herbs to beer can for extra flavor. 

Spicy Texas Drumsticks p48
Debra: Drumsticks on the BBQ are a good thing, and the technique for cooking them works well, but we didn't love the taste of the sauce.  Son (aged 10) said there was too much chili taste.  I had to agree.  I recommend using the described technique with your own favourite BBQ sauce.

Julie:  It was nice to find a recipe that serves two as most recipes are for four or more people.  The cooking time of the drumsticks was approximately 10 minutes longer than the recipe indicated. While the flavours were pleasant, I did not find myself so impressed that I would consider making this again. 


Chicken Under a Brick p53
Kristi:  Great!  I had never tried this technique before, and it worked very well.  We had a little flare up, so you definitely need to pay attention with this method.

Grilled Avocados and Chiles p53
Kristi:  This idea was my big learning from the book.  It had never occurred to me to grill avocados, and they’re delicious!  Great way to add some extra flavor to avocados before adding them to salads.  I wonder what a grilled avocado guacamole would taste like?

Chicken Yakitori p56
Bonnie: This recipe didn't work for me at all. The mixture was so goopy that in order to save it, I ended up adding probably close to 2 cups of bread crumbs. The end result was tough and not very well flavoured. I will not make this again.

Chicken & Romaine with caper dressing p64

Sandra:  You have to like capers for this dressing – my husband didn’t care for it, but I really enjoyed it.  Grilling the romaine lettuce was not as easy as I thought it would be – it did come apart! I think it will take more practice to determine how many outside leaves to remove before slicing the lettuce lengthwise.

Balsamic Marinaded Tomatoes p 80
Deb: Simple, uncomplicated accompaniment.  Nice to be reminded sometimes of the simple, especially in summer when the produce speaks for itself.

Jalepeno Cheeseburgers with Bacon p78

Bonnie: While the burger was quite good, the Ranch sauce was just overkill--and it made far too much.
Julie:    This recipe has a fairly lengthy list of ingredients that seem a bit daunting but the recipe comes together quite quickly.  The Ranch sauce was pleasant, but did not seem to add a great deal of flavour to the burger and tended to be a bit messy.  The patties themselves were moist and very tasty. Overall, a nice cheeseburger but nothing that we found to be so remarkable that we would make it again. Full disclosure, we do prefer turkey and chicken burgers over beef, so that may have impacted our critique of this recipe.

Turkey Burgers with Tomato Jam, Olives and Feta p 8
·     Julie:  Although skeptical about the tomato jam in this recipe we  were pleasantly surprised with the end result.  The grilling time for the turkey patty was accurate and the patty had a really great flavour from the olives and feta.  The tomato jam came together very quickly with only a few ingredients which are pantry staples—the end result was a sweet/savoury condiment that blended well with the burger patty. My big problem with this recipe is that the tomato jam recipe makes a huge quantity—halving the recipe would make a reasonable amount. Having said that, we would definitely make these burgers again. 

Pork Mushroom Burger Lettuce Wraps p87
     Julie:  Great Asian slant to this burger and the lettuce wrap made them very light and truly enhanced the flavour of the patty.  We absolutely loved these burgers and the hoisin sauce that accompanies it is absolutely delicious.  The mushrooms in the pork patty helped to keep them very moist.  We found the recommended size of the pork patties to be a little too substantial for the lettuce leaves and we would reduce the quantity of meat when making these again.  This recipe is yet another recipe where the grilling time was exact.

Chickpea and Tahini Burgers p94
Deb: Wanted to love.  While the taste was fine, and even liked by some in our family, the burgers dried as they cooked to achieve the outside look suggested and fell apart.

Parcook fresh sausages p99
Deb: This technique worked very well!  It as my first attempt at BBQing sausages and they worked very well using the parcook method!


T-Bone Steaks with Lemon & Rosemary p111
Sandra:  This recipe appealed to me because of the short list of ingredients.  I also did not have very much lead up time for the marinading.  It turned out “Ok” with only 4 hours in the marinade, but I think it would have benefited with more time in the marinade.

Flatiron Steaks with Tapeade and Tomatoes p120
Bonnie: The tapanade was delicious and I have made it since to put on top of grilled bread. The steak was ok, and the salad was ok. But that's about all...won't likely make this again.

Flank Steak with Bloody Mary Tomato Salad p124
Bonnie:  This was my favourite recipe tested! The steak itself was perfectly fine...nothing too spectacular, but the salad was spectacular. Likely my favourite tomato salad ever. And now that the cherry tomatoes are in abundance in the garden, we make this weekly.


Kalbi p133
Bonnie:  A very simple Kalbi recipe, but it really works. The hardest part is finding the specific cut of beef ribs you need for this dish. I ended up at a Korean store, but any good butcher can cut them for you. The key is to let them marinade overnight and not over cook them.


Strip-Steak Salad with Green Beans and Blue Cheese p 137
Deb: Okay it's not much of a recipe I thought.  I could do this in my sleep I thought.  And where are the red onions?  Except, it's easy and it's good and I'll make it again.  It could have red onions, but they aren't necessary.  So even if only as a reminder or an idea, I was grateful for this recipe.  Nb. Cannot stand "season to taste" and " enough dressing to coat."  



Pork Tenderloin with Pipian Sauce p152
Sandra:  The Pipian sauce was delicious with an interesting texture.  The recipe yielded more than enough to smother our pork.  I put the remaining sauce in the freezer thinking that it would be fun to try to turn into a soup for lunch – but I haven’t gotten around to it yet…

Spice-Rubbed Tenderloin with Peach Barbecue Sauce p153

Deb:  This recipe was easy and the flavours were wonderful.  A nice heat and yet the taste of peach shines through.  I found it challenging to eat pork this pink (see p148) but I did and frankly the texture was delightful.  I'm a convert!

Pork Tenderloin with Cherry Salsa p155
      Julie:  This recipe was very quick and easy to prepare and the end result was a very tasty pork tenderloin dish which is enhanced by the salsa.  The cherry salsa was light, refreshing and a nice change from the typical fruits that are used in salsas and with meat.  The pork itself was not tremendously flavourful but we did enjoy this dish as it was quite different than any pork dish that we have tried in the past.

Best Ever BBQ Ribs p158
Sandra:  I will reduce the salt next time in the rub, but these ribs were very tasty.  The technique worked well - I think it was one of the few times that my ribs were did not separate when trying to serve them.  They were perfectly tender, moist and looked good on the serving platter.  This recipe gave permission to use store bought BBQ sauce as a short cut, which is what I chose to do. 

Baby Back Ribs p160 
Kristi:  We made these twice.  The first time, we didn’t actually have bourbon and it was Canada Day so the LCBO was closed, so we skipped this step.  This was the first time that we used a smoker and they turned out to be some of the best ribs that we ever made.  Felt like I needed to repeat the recipe, this time with the bourbon and the bourbon BBQ sauce.  Admittedly, they weren’t quite as good, but suspect that was because we were drinking/ entertaining friends, and weren’t watching the grill temperature as closely as we should have.  Noticed that the grill got too hot and the ribs weren’t as tender as a result.

Bourbon Barbecue Sauce p162
Kristi: Fine, but can’t say that I enjoyed more than a store-bought brand.  I suppose when you actually see how much sugar goes into barbecue sauce, it’s hard to enjoy as much.

Peach Barbecue Sauce p163
Deb: Easy to make, and tasty, although with a bit more heat than I expected.  Made slightly less than 2 cups when strained and pressed.  Which is okay since it only keeps for a week!  Peach flavour really comes through, despite the heat!


Char Siu Lamb Chops p180
Bonnie:  This was quite delicious--but it was very 'five-spicey' so if you don't like five-spice, then you may not like this.

Herbed Lamb Skewers with Arugula & Lemon p196
Sandra:  This was a quick and simple dish to prep and leave to marinade.  It was good.

Cedar Plank Salmon p206
Deb: Great technique.  Again, our first time with cedar planking and this worked very well.  Salmon cooked evenly and quickly, and was very moist.  Not really sure that the cedar infuses "a wonderful flavour," but it's a useful technique.

Sandra:  We really liked the salmon cooked on the cedar plank.  We used a mustard maple sauce on it.  Delicious.

Kristi: This is a familiar technique to us and used it a few times this summer.  I particularly find it an easy way to grill fish when serving a large crowd.  More suggestions on different glazes would be a welcome addition to this book, but also a nice chance to add your own creativity.

Side of Salmon with Lemon and Olive Oil p208
Debra:  My husband made this recipe repeatedly over the summer.  It was easy and a success every time.

Sandra:  The technique worked perfectly.  The skin stuck on the grill.  I was able to get the skin off the grill and then use it on the platter as garnish.  It looked very professional, yet it was very easy. I used Wild Sockeye Salmon.  Yum.

Swordfish with North African Spice Rub p209

Sandra:  This was one of the best things in this book.  The rub on the fish made a very thin bit of a crust on the outside of the steaks and the inside of was so moist and juicy.  Paired with the yogurt sauce, it was totally awesome.

Sandra:  This is a delicate white fish that paired very well with the Ladolemano.   The steps to grilling whole fish on p. 222 were helpful. 

Fish Fillet Packets p226 
Kristi: : This was the only recipe in this book that didn’t work for me.  I used mahi mahi, white wine, and basil, but I didn’t manage to cook it correctly and wasn’t cooked all the way through.  You can’t tell using this technique whether the fish is done until you open the packets and release the steam, so kind of tricky.  


Butterflied Shrimp p243
Kristi:  Really enjoyed these shrimp—they were very tasty adn easy to make. Next time, we'll actually put them on the grill in the "butterfly" position.

Roasted Garlic-Herb Sauce p243 
Kristi:  Great!  Lots of flavor and easy to make.


Sweet-and-Spicy Shrimp with Mint Sauce p244
Bonnie: The shrimp were great, but I found the mint sauce...well...just too minty. It did not add anything to the dish, and in fact I found it distracted from the shrimp.

Sandra:  These shrimp were fantastic, not “rubbery”.  The mint sauce was like a pesto consistency and people loved it.  The contrast with the shrimp worked well.  The recipe did not have “do ahead” directions, but I prepared both the mint sauce and the marinade 1 day in advance. The shrimp was marinaded as per the recipe (45 min. to 1 hr.)  The recipe yields 6 servings.  I served it as an appetizer for 11 people.

Shrimp and Sausage Skewers with Paprika Glaze p250
·       Julie: These skewers assembled very quickly and the ingredients could easily be adapted to whatever suits your particular palate in terms of vegetables and the type of sausage.  The grilling time was very quick and the skewers were quite flavoursome due to the paprika glaze.  As someone who is not a huge fan of sausages I found that they could have been omitted without losing any flavour from the kebabs but the sausage was very tasty and would be a bit hit if you were a fan of them.  A very easy weeknight meal that could also be served if you were having guests over

Grill-Roasted Clam Linguine p259


Sandra: Most fun I ever had while making dinner!   It was actually my son who selected the recipe, bought the ingredients and had it all started before I got home from work on a Tuesday night.  Watching the clams open up was great fun.  This recipe would have been difficult to pull off with only 1 cook (especially if you were not able to have the pasta water on a side burner beside the grill).

Debra: This recipe is very easy and quite tasty. It is also a crowd pleaser--who'd have thought of grilling clams?! My husband wishes that you could figure out which side has the clam affixed so you'd bbq that side down and allow the clam to rest it its jus.


Shrimp Salad with Corn and Avacado p265

Bonnie: Very good, fresh, light summer salad. This is another keeper recipe from this book. I particularly liked the orange vinaigrette.

New Potatoes with Parmesan and Herbs p269
Sandra:  I will do this again in place of roasting potatoes in the oven.  I found boiling the potatoes whole early in the day was great for time management especially because it was on a hot day.  The potatoes were delicious - soft inside, but not mushy and looked so good with the toasted skin.  Very easy.  I used a basket with a locking lid that could be flipped.

Campfire Potatoes p270
Bonnie:  Dead easy--and I loved the tip on par-boiling the potatoes first before grilling them in the foil packets. A great make ahead recipe--I've even par-boiled and created the foil packets hours ahead of a dinner party....at dinner time, you need only throw the packets on the grill and you're good to go.

Julie:  The flavour from the herbs was lovely on the potatoes. Precooking the potatoes worked well as there was no concern about finding uncooked potatoes in the foil once it was opened.  The potatoes did not crisp up as much as we would have liked but we did enjoy this dish and would consider making it again.

Asparagus p272
Deb: Simple technique - good result.

Sesame Eggplant p276

      Julie:  Although I like Asian flavours a great deal I was a little skeptical about this dish as I found the marinade to be a bit overpowering when I made it, however, the flavour did mellow once it was cooked on the eggplant. We thoroughly enjoyed this dish and would make it again as it would be a great accompaniment to a number of grilled meats.

Corn with Honey-Ancho Chile Butter p278
Debra:  We love the corn done on the grill out of the husk, and this butter is very tasty indeed.  However, the recipe doesn't say when to combine the two butter components, and the technique used on the next corn recipe, brushing butter on while the corn is cooking, works much better.

Corn Salad with Manchego and Lime p279
Bonnie:  The devil is in the details...and when the details are lime and Manchego...well, you'll pardon the pun....this is a DAMN good salad.

Kristi:  I love corn salad and the addition of Manchego was a good suggestion.  I felt that this salad could use a little more pizazz though, so added some grilled avocado before serving.  

·      Julie:  Limited list of ingredients and a recipe that comes together very quickly but yields big flavours.  Thoroughly enjoyed this salad and the use of the manchego cheese was wonderful as it added a nice nutty flavour to the salad.  The heat from the jalapeno and the red pepper flakes may not suit all tastes and would need to be altered if you were feeding a crowd.

Corn with Hoisin-Orange Butter p282
Debra:  This was a new technique for us and we LOVE it.  We've been cooking our corn as directed here on the grill all summer.  The Hoisin-Orange butter is a nice change and very easy to put together.  Excellent!  It's important to follow the recipe though or the corn will dry out.

Julie: Easy, simple and very deliciousAnother unusual flavour combination for corn but it really worked well.  We found that adding a bit of salt to the corn enhanced it a great deal—nice savoury/sweet combination.


Grilled Halloumi with Watermelon & Basil Mint Oil p284
Sandra:  This was very interesting flavour and texture combo.  I liked it, but the reviews from family were only so,so.

Julie:  This was a nice, light and refreshing salad that was delicious for a light lunchThe basil mint oil was easy to assembly and brought out the sweetness of the watermelon and the saltiness of the halloumi.  Cooking the halloumi on the grill grates was a little challenging as it was difficult to lift off and in the future we will use a flat top grill when making this dish

Cast-Iron Roasted Carrots p290

Kristi:  Simple technique with great results.


Homemade Flatbread p298
Kristi:  Great—make a nice appetizer, similar to Little Caesar’s Crazy Bread.  I ended up making a marinara dipping sauce to go with them, and liked them with butter, parmesan cheese and a sprinkle of Maldon salt.  Definitely bread like though—too thick for pizza crust, IMO.

How to Grill Pizza p302

Deb:  This is a fun way to make pizza in summer with kids.  We tried this recipe with our own pizza dough and also store-bought dough.  Both worked well.  I think I need to make it thinner than I did but I was a bit nervous about putting thin crust on the grill.  This technique is overall a keeper.

Pizza – Pears Pecorino and Walnuts p306
Sandra:  Would make a nice après ski or skating snack. 

Pizza – Sausage Fig with Goat Cheese p 309
Sandra:  Heaven!  This is the best pizza combo – ever.  

Crostini – Avocado & Chile p310, 314
Sandra:  110% rave reviews!! And it is easy.  My new standby.


Garlic Bread with Rosemary and Parmesan p316
Deb:  Claire (aged 12) made this one and it was (a) easy and (b) tasty.  It used a heck of a lot of tinfoil, but that's my only complaint about this recipe which we will make again.



Classic Coleslaw p321
Kristi:  Good recipe, nothing wrong with it.

Tuscan Kale Caesar Slaw p324
Deb: I really wanted to LOVE this slaw.  It was relatively easy to put together, but we found the recipe much too oily.  The notes recommend that slaws use a 1:1 ratio rather than a 3:1 ratio as is usual with salads.  This one, however, uses the standard 3:1.  Don't know if this is intentional or an oversight.  I might try it with a 1:1 oil:vinegar ratio so see if it works better.

Old-Fashioned Potato Salad p326

DEB: This. is. it.  Our new family potato salad recipe.  Wonderfully creamy but interesting taste.  Two quirks.  There's not enough potato cooking technique and I really hate throwing out half of the eggs.  Seems unnecessary?  That said, this is absolutely comfort food at its finest.

BONNIE: Yup...what she said.

Kristi: Delicious!  I did find that the dressing needed some lemon juice though, so made this addition before adding it to the salad.  Took a picture and tasted, but decided to add some color and clean out my fridge and added radishes, green onions and the egg whites which I like and didn’t want to throw out.  I used a sweet & smoky mustard instead of Dijon (since I never have Dijon in my fridge) and it was a terrific addition.  It added a bacon-like flavor.  Next time, I might even add some crumbled bacon bits on top as a garnish.

Sandra:  Lots of “likes” on this.  I made this after seeing Kristi’s photo and quick comment.  I agree, it is better with the egg white added.

Julie: This was easy to prepare and although I am not a huge fan of sweet pickles the use of the juice in combination with the mayonnaise and Dijon mustard was delicious.  The recipe makes a nice amount of potato salad as many recipes make too large a quantity for a few people.  This recipe would be a huge hit for a party as it would appeal to many tastesA definitely “go to” potato salad recipe.


 Black Barley Salad with Fennel and Radishes p330
Bonnie:  I could not find black barley anywhere but even with regular barley this was a very good and hearty salad-not really a side dish at all. Loved the salty, briny olives with the sweet orange juice dressing. 

Potato Salad with Radishes and Herb Vinaigrette p326
Deb: Interesting new potato taste - I like this one.  Love tarragon.  Again, more cooking potatoes technique would be helpful as I ended up with slightly crunchy potatoes so the salad was not as good as it might have been.

Grilled Green Beans with Lemon and Thyme p334
Deb: Sound simple? Yep...it is. So simple, it's down right boring. Meh.

Sandra:  Not my favourite vegetable to grill, but they turned out great, perfectly cooked.  I used the bottom basket/base from a beer can chicken grilling device/tool.

Bonnie:  Doesn't seem like much of a recipe...and it wasn't.  

Root Beer Baked Beans p336
Deb: This recipe was way too sweet for me.  Yuck.  Much prefer the vinegary taste of the baked beans from The Splendid Table, although three cooks did not agree on those!

Charred Corn Salad with Basil and Tomatoes p341

Kristi: This is my August salad at the cottage anyway, but always delicious when corn is in season.  After this book though, I don’t think I can NOT add grilled avocadoes (did I mention these were my favorite??) to this salad.

Sandra:  This another new favourite from this book.  It surprises me that it requires 12 cobs for 6 servings.  Left overs were still enjoyable on day 2 after, it just required a little draining.   The secret ingredient must be the lime juice.


Sugar Snap Salad p343
Bonnie: I really liked the contrast between the sweet peas and the salty feta. The radish added a great texture too. A lovely summer salad.


Spicy Grapefruit Margarita p353

Deb: Spicy and good.  I love this recipe.  It's easy and I've been enjoying it ALL SUMMER LONG.

Bonnie: I did not enjoy this at all...sorry Deb, but more for you, I suppose :)



Rose, Bourbon, and Blue p357
Bonnie: If you like bourbon, you'll love this. I found it to lean far to the bourbon side of life...not my favourite.

Strawberry Rose Spritzer p363
Deb: Beautiful in strawberry season, and a refreshing way to cocktail without all the alcohol.  Nice.  Solid.  Will make again.


 White Wine Sangria p363

Deb: This was an easy and tasty white wine sangria.  I"m a bit of a tough sell as I have my own standby recipe, but this one was a good alternative.


Chimichurri marinade p390
Sandra:  I was disappointed with the Chimichurri marinade.  It didn’t have enough heat.

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