Fire up the barbecue
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Fire up the barbecue

This week saw the first day of summer and 90 degree temperatures to seal the deal. Next week comes July 4 and the age-old tradition of backyard barbecues with family and friends. (Note..if you do not have a barbecue, the information and recipes will work fine in a regular oven.)

After the calls are made to invite guests, check and make sure you have all the basic supplies, starting with charcoal briquettes or a full tank of propane for a gas grill. Also see if anyone has a special diet. Lois Goldrich reminded me of the importance of always having vegetarian options. She makes fresh vegetable skewers with cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, onions, and eggplant on the grill. You might also want to have a few veggie burgers on hand.

At the market pick up hot dog/hamburger buns (the potato ones have become very popular), deli brown or yellow mustard, barbecue sauce (there are several light varieties), a few cans of sauerkraut (store the extra in the pantry for a later barbecue), a can or two of vegetarian baked beans, chips, dips, vegetables, tomatoes and onions for slicing, pickles, relish, pickle slices for burgers, ears of corn, drinks, ice, lemons for lemonade, bottles of water, and don’t forget the fruit, including a nice watermelon. When buying smaller melons, like cantaloupes, I first smell them, then shake them to make sure I hear the seeds. If it doesn’t smell like a sweet melon and the seeds do not shake, then it is probably not a good one. As for ears of corn, take the time to peel back a small part and look to see that the kernels are even. If you can find yellow/white kernel mix or all white, grab a few. They will be sweet as sugar. It will also save you time and make much less of a mess in your kitchen if you shuck the corn at the market. There usually is a can just for this purpose. Buy a bag of fresh cole slaw in the produce section and add your own dressing. Most store bought cole slaw is dripping with so much extra mayonnaise and juice. Buy 2 lbs. of fresh potatoes, boil them, let them cool, and add chopped celery, carrots, salt, pepper, and real mayonnaise. Your guests will be asking for the recipe. There is nothing like fresh. I will suggest the same for macaroni salad, by buying brand name macaroni (store bought pasta doesn’t taste as good), follow directions on the box for cooking, cool, and add some fresh vegetables, a little Italian dressing for zesty flavor, and some mayonnaise.

Hot dogs

Everyone’s favorite for sure. No one will turn down a grilled frank (same at a reception – isn’t everyone looking for the franks in the blanket??). Ok, here you have choices. I know there are lots of you out there that like the traditional full-fat hot dogs. If you have the chance, try a reduced fat one. They are really delicious. You can also buy 97 percent fat free ones not my favorite… but some do like them. They are a different color…reddish – and do not get that burned-grilled look… but hey, if you are a stickler for no-fat, then these are the ones for you. There are also chicken and turkey franks and total fake- vegetarian ones… your call.

Burgers

Here too there are many choices. The kosher butcher sells ready-made patties. I even saw patties that were slider-size (bite-size ones-and you can also buy slider-size buns). I prefer to buy a package of 5 pounds or more of very fresh chop meat and make my own patties. This way, one can add onions (do not do this at our home – ever), and make nice juicy, generous-sized, delicious burgers. I love the smell of burgers cooking on the grill. Ground turkey also makes for good burgers, but they can be dry if you just use the white meat turkey. You can mix the white meat and regular ground turkey for patties, or mix ground turkey with ground meat for a lower fat/healthier option. Let them cook well on one side before turning, although it is tempting to keep turning them, as my husband loves to do. The turkey ones tend to fall apart.

Chicken

Chicken is a necessity at barbecues. Everyone enjoys it and it is relatively easy to make as long as it doesn’t get dried out. The best advice I have is to prepare the chicken and let it marinate. Rinse the chicken breasts (boneless or on the bone… your preference). Remove the skin from the chicken parts if that is what you choose to use. There is no reason to keep the skin on. It adds no nutritional value, just fat. The only time I really keep the skin on poultry is for Thanksgiving turkey…more to come on that later this year!!!

After rinsing, put the chicken in a bowl. At this point, thoroughly wash down the kitchen counter and sink with a disinfectant and also wash your hands. Raw chicken leaves behind lots of germs. I add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to coat the chicken in the bowl and then add some barbecue sauce, salt, and pepper. You can now buy 2-gallon plastic freezer bags that work great for marinating. Transfer the chicken in the bag..give it a shake, and refrigerate overnight or for day or two. (A time saver for during the school year is preparing the same way, placing the cutlets flat in a freezer bag, and freezing. When you take them out to defrost, they are all ready to go..marinated and all).

Like all grill cooking, first spray the grill with a non-stick vegetable or grill spray. Place the chicken on the rack and let it cook. Tell the chef to cut into a piece or two and make sure there is no pink. Undercooked chicken can cause salmonella.

Steaks and ribs

Clearly a treat for all…especially if cooked properly. Kosher steak needs to be prepared for cooking. Take a cleaver and pound it or poke with a fork. Definitely add a little olive oil and rub it on. I highly recommend marinating steaks as well for a few days before using. They will taste so delicious.

Here are a few recipes to start – I will add more next week.

Healthy burgers with oatmeal

-Shira Schechter Weiner

2 pounds ground beef
1 pound ground chicken or turkey
3 tbsp. ketshup
1 tbsp. mustard
2 tbsp. teriyaki sauce
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 minced onion
1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
1 cup oatmeal

Salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients the day before you plan to cook, form large burgers, and refrigerate.

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A nice colorful, delicious, healthy side dish

Stuffed zucchinis

6 zucchinis, cut in half lengthwise
3 tbsp. pareve margarine
1 chopped onion
1 chopped red pepper
3-4 cloves finely chopped garlic
1 tsp. dried, crushed oregano leaves

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Scoop out zucchinis and set aside 2 halves. Put 10 zucchinis on baking sheet.
Chop the pulp and 2 extra pieces of zucchini. Cook the chopped zucchini and onion in melted margarine in frying pan. Add pepper, garlic, and oregano. Cook for one minute, stirring a lot. Spoon mixture into zucchinis. Bake for 25 minutes.

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Baked potato strips

-Peggy Elias

8 potatoes for baking
Seasoned salt for tasting
Vegetable oil

Slice potatoes the long way, in strips like thick French fries.
Drizzle a little vegetable oil over the potatoes and season to your liking. Microwave for about six minutes (you are just partially cooking them). Place the potatoes on your barbecue the opposite way of the grate, turn them carefully, and cook until they are done. This will become a family favorite.

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Grilled asparagus

– Joff Jones

2 pounds of fresh asparagus..preferably thin ones
olive oil
kosher salt to taste

Wash and trim asparagus spears. Place them flate in a glass plate. Sprinkle olive oil over them very sparingly and then a little salt. Grill them, turning quickly, and keep a close watch so they do not burn. Serve hot or cold.

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Amazing Avocado Corn Salsa

-From “Simply Southern – With a Dash of Kosher Soul” (www.simplysoutherncookbook.net) – watch for an upcoming review in The Jewish Standard, July 2.

2 tbsp. vegetable oil
4 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 tbsp. taco seasoning
½ tsp. pepper
1 sweet bell pepper chopped
½ jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
½ cup chopped green onion
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ cup fresh lime juice
2 tbsp. orange juice
1 tsp. salt
3 ripe avocados, diced (Beth, the blogger’s note… keep one avocado pit in the bowl until ready to use… it will keep the avocados from turning brown).

Heat oil in a skillet. Sauté corn, taco seasoning, and pepper, 6-8 minutes, or until corn is slightly golden browned. Combine corn mixture with red pepper, jalapeno pepper, green onion, cilantro, lime juice, orange juice, and salt. Mix well. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Stir in avocados just before serving.

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