Definition: the application of dry heat to food. Ah, but we know that grilling is the definition of summer. Yes, we grill in the winter, but it is only in summer we lay claim to the evocative aromas along with the equally compelling soundtrack of mower and lawn sprinkler, followed by beer-top popping. Meat, fish, bread, vegetables — it all tastes better when done on the grill.

Spicy orange pork chops

ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen

  • ½ c orange juice
  • 1 T oil
  • 1 T fresh-cracked black pepper
  • ¼ t chili powder
  • ¼ t paprika
  • 2 dashes hot pepper sauce
  • 4 boneless pork loin chops
  • 2 T fresh cilantro, chopped

Combine first 6 ingredients (orange juice – hot pepper sauce) in a heavy Ziplock plastic bag. Remove 2 T of marinade, set aside. Add pork to remaining marinade and squeeze bag to coat pork; seal bag. Let stand 30 minutes. Remove chops from marinade and pat dry; discard marinade. Grill chops over low heat on natural gas barbecue for 30 minutes or until done, basting occasionally with reserved marinade. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serves 4.

Grilled antipasto

ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen

Serve as an appetizer, side dish or a light main course.

  • ½ lb mild Italian sausages
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 3 c cauliflower florets
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ c cubed mozzarella cheese
  • ½ c pitted olives
  • Balsamic vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Grill sausages over medium heat on natural gas barbecue, turning occasionally, until browned and completely cooked, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer sausages to a plate and let stand until cool enough to handle. Slice sausages into ¼ inch thick pieces. Set aside.

Combine oil and garlic. Add cauliflower and bell peppers; toss to coat.

Place vegetable mixture in a grill wok or on a grill topper. Grill vegetable mixture over medium heat on natural gas barbecue, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and lightly browned.

Combine sausage slices, vegetables, cheese and olives in a bowl. Add balsamic vinaigrette and toss to coat. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving. Serves 4.

Balsamic herb vinaigrette

  • ¼ c balsamic vinegar
  • 3 T fresh basil
  • 1 T chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 T chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ T freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ t salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ¼ c olive oil
  • 1 T drained capers

Whisk first 7 ingredients together (vinegar to garlic) until combined. Gradually whisk in oil until blended. Stir in capers. Cover and refrigerate until serving. Stir before using.

Pistachio-dusted leg of lamb

“Leg of lamb is a great thing to grill. The leg has lots of tender meat that absorbs marinades well, and due to the contours of the boneless leg some pieces will get done more than others, which will please everyone.” — Brad Smoliak, Kitchen by Brad Smoliak

  • 3-5 lb boneless leg of lamb
  • 1 T grainy mustard (Brassica, my favorite)
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T fresh rosemary, rough chopped
  • ¼ c chopped garlic
  • 2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 c yogurt
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 c pistachio nuts, finely crushed

Mix together mustard, olive oil, rosemary, garlic lemon juice and yogurt together. Smear this all over the lamb, pressing into all the crevices. Allow to marinate for 6 hours or over night.

Preheat grill to medium-high on one side and low on the other.

Remove the lamb from the marinade, and remove excess marinade from the lamb. Grill on hot side of the grill, if flare-up happens, move to the lower heat. The leg will take between 30-45 minutes for medium rare. Relax for 15 minutes, dust with pistachio and carve into ½ inch slices — awesome drizzled with pomegranate vinegar. Serves 6-8.

Eggplant with spicy tomato sauce

Eggplant, an Alberta vegetable? The ones growing on my porch never get bigger than something for a flower arrangement — that’s it. The power of greenhouse growing is the answer. Doef’s has fabulous looking eggplants — shiny, firm and unblemished; all ready to slice and grill. Don’t want to make the sauce? Use Bove’s Vodka Tomato sauce — versatile and delicious, tastes homemade, really.

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 T salt-packed capers, soaked and drained
  • 1 small red chile, ribs and seeds removed (or to taste)
  • 6 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 T lemon juice or red wine vinegar
  • hanful cherry tomatoes (about 6-8)
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • sml handful basil
  • sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 2 large eggplants, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into ¼ inch thick pieces

Put eggplants on a baking sheet, brush both sides with remaining oil, and season with salt and pepper.

Preheat a gas grill to medium-high or make a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a cast-iron grill pan over medium-high heat.

Meanwhile, place garlic, capers and red chili in a food processor. Chop, then add oil and lemon and blend until fairly smooth and emulsified. Pulse in herbs until well distributed, or chop by hand and whisk together.

It’ll be chunkier, but no less tasty.

Cook eggplant, one each side until slightly soft and browned, about 6 minutes. Serve on a platter with sauce on the side.

Bánh mi burgers

Our favourite Vietnamese sandwich in Edmonton is at the corner of 106 Avenue and 97 Street, right by the bubble tea place, run by a mother and daughter team. The sandwiches are always so fresh and tasty, flavours in glorious balance, never greasy. They get it just right. The sweet/fresh/salty/fatty flavours of a banh mi sandwich are also excellent in a burger. Try with chicken or fish, even a slice of tofu if you are not a burger fan.

  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 1 cucumber, sliced lengthwise
  • ¼ c unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 T sugar
  • In a small bowl, toss the carrots and cucumber with rice vinegar and sugar. Let stand for 10 minutes then drain.
  • Spicy mayonnaise
  • 1/2 c mayonnaise
  • 2 T Tabasco
  • 1 t tomato paste
  • sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

Whisk the mayo with Tabasco and tomato paste. Season. Reserve in refrigerator.


  • 1½ lbs ground beef chuck
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ c finely chopped mint
  • ¼ c panko crumbs
  • sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

Preheat grill to medium.

Lightly mix all the burger ingredients together and season well. Check seasoning by cooking a bit of burger meat and adjust if necessary. Form the meat into 4-6 patties, about 1 inch thick. Cook the patties, turning once, until medium, about 12 minutes.

  • 2 T unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 24-inch baguette, quartered crosswise and split
  • For finishing
  • 2 pickled jalapeños, thinly sliced
  • 12 cilantro sprigs
  • 4 slices foie gras pâté

While the burgers are cooking, butter the baguette. As soon as the burgers are off the grill, lightly toast the baguette. Spread the Tabasco-spiked mayonnaise on the bread, top with burger, patty, slice of foie gras, carrot /celery, jalapeño slices and cilantro. Close and serve immediately.

Grillin’ Goodies

Stasia at Dansk told us about the Emile Henry BBQ Ceramic Grilling Stone designed for delicate foods such as fish and shellfish. The Emile Henry ceramic is extremely heat resistant, and can reach temperatures up to 500ºC/900ºF, which helps create a crispy finish. The solid surface of the grilling stone prevents the fat dripping onto the hot embers, or your kebabs falling into the grill. Black or red, $80.

We all love our cast iron pans but if they’re not properly seasoned they can be tricky. Staub has an enameled east iron pan, enameled both inside and out, made especially for the barbecue (and for Brad Smoliak’s cast iron potatoes). Regular price, $125 on sale, $90 at Dansk.

Danesco provides a variety of shapes and sizes for cooking small things on the barbecue: a wok topper with fairly high sloping sides; the shake and turn basket; and a grill topper. Grilling vegetables is easy, cherry tomatoes don’t roll off the side, and they make handsome platters on the table as well, $15 and up.

We like these individual poultry thermometers, handy for chicken breasts or small Cornish hens on the grill. The silicon collar makes them easy to handle, $8 each.

Remember the Popeil Patti-stacker? Sold on TV? Well, this isn’t it, but it’s the next best thing. The Hamburger Press makes uniform, bun-sized patties. No more overworked, tough softballs posing as burgers on the barbecue. Comes with discs for easy separation, dishwasher safe, $12.

The Delmonicos Restaurant in NYC’s financial district is the original steak house, and the creator of such Americana as eggs benedict, lobster Newburg and the baked Alaska. They also make tasty sauces — a rich and tangy Caesar dressing, a smoky Chipotle steak sauce and the Classic l837 steak marinade. Pick up a bottle or two for camping, the cottage or to have on hand when time is precious, $8.

We love rubs — no muss no fuss especially when cooking outdoors. The UK-based spice company Bart’s makes an excellent line of dry seasonings, packaged in a handy tin, for fish, chicken and meat, plus an all-purpose aromatic jerk spice, $9.

Find at Bosch, Call the Kettle Black, Dansk, Italian Centre South Side, Sandyview Farms, Wild Earth, Zocalo, and other fine specialty shops. Not all items in all stores.