Phil's International Flair

Welcome to Seasoned Cooking and to Phil's International Flair!

First, I would like to notify readers that the Grilling with Grillmates book will be released in coordination with the release of my first product, Grillmate Gourmet Sauce. I have tested the second test batch of sauce and it was very good. So, we will proceed into manufacturing by the time this is published in June. As a promotional offer, I have decided to offer the Grilling with Grillmates cookbook free to those who purchase Grillmate Gourmet Sauce. The only requirement is that you send me an email telling me where you purchased the sauce. The sauce will also be available online. In addition, you can purchase the cookbook alone for $3.95 there.

Now, this month, I have decided to present a few ideas for the grill that may be new to many of you. The first recipe is for Grilled Zucchini Pizza, a vegetarian’s delight and a great appetizer. The second recipe, Grilled Artichokes, can be served as a main dish or as a side dish.

There is no good reason why grilling cannot be tailored to the vegetarian or vegan diet. Grilling vegetables can be as simple as throwing an ear of corn on the grill. Or, you can create some gourmet meals on the grill using vegetables instead of meat, fish or fowl. Grilling imparts a flavor to food that cannot be obtained by any other means. And, depending on the type of wood used for the fire, you can tailor the flavor of the food that you grill. By adding spices and seasonings to the fire, you can impart flavors to the food that you are grilling. However, like cooking in the kitchen, use flavorings sparingly until you have a sense of control over the methodology and flavors that will result from adding spices and seasonings to the fire.

For example, if you like the flavor of rosemary, you can add a few sprigs of rosemary to the coals prior to placing food on the grill. The smoke from the rosemary sprigs will add a flavor to the food that must be experienced to be appreciated. Similarly, you can add other herbs and spices to produce smoke that will flavor the food that you grill.

I suggest that when you make a fire and are getting ready to grill some food, try putting a sprig of thyme, rosemary, or other herb on the coals and then smell the smoke. If it smells pleasing to you, it will likely impart a nice flavor to the food that you are grilling.

Now, on to the recipes! Be well, and good eating!

Grilled Zucchini Italian Style

This recipe makes an excellent appetizer. It is also a great way to use those fresh garden zucchini that seem to grow so quickly that you can't keep up with the harvest. Select a medium to large size zucchini for this dish.
  • 3 medium to large zucchini sliced lengthwise, 1/4 inch thick.
  • 1 small can tomato paste.
  • 3 small cans tomato sauce.
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped.
  • 1/4 tsp. dried basil.
  • salt and pepper to taste.
  • dried oregano.
  • 1/2 lb. mozzarella cheese or other cheese of your choice, grated.

In a small pot, heat the tomato sauce, paste, garlic and basil over low heat to a simmer. Add the salt and pepper to taste. If you want to spice it up a bit, add a little chili powder.

When the coals are ready and covered with ash, place the zucchini slices across the grill and top each with a tablespoon of the sauce. Sprinkle a little dried oregano over the sauce and then top with the grated cheese. Allow some of the oregano to fall into the coals to produce smoke that will flavor the zucchini. Remove from the grill as soon as the cheese begins to melt and serve immediately. You may also cut these into segments to serve as appetizers.

These will not take long to cook on the grill. Allow about 5 minutes for a hot fire. Covering the grill will make the cheese melt faster, but don't allow too much of the cheese to drip into the coals as it will burn and impart a bitter flavor to the food.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Grilled Artichokes

Here is a great way to serve artichokes instead of the usual boiling or steaming method.
  • 3 large artichokes, stem trimmed and split lengthwise.
  • 1/4 cup olive oil.
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped.
  • salt.
  • melted butter, mayonnaise or other sauce for dipping.
  • garnish if desired.

First place the chopped garlic in the olive oil and allow to stand at room temperature for 3 hours to infuse the flavors. Alternately, you can place the olive oil and garlic in a food processor to produce a paste that you can use to baste the artichokes.

Brush the flavored olive oil on the surface of the artichokes and place them on the grill, cut side down. Cover the grill and allow the chokes to cook for approximately 12 minutes before turning. Baste again with the olive oil after turning. Cover the grill once again and allow to cook an additional 10 minutes.

After the artichokes are cooked, use a spoon the remove the fibrous matter in the center of the choke. Baste one final time and turn the chokes for a final searing before removing from the grill. Serve hot with a dipping sauce of your choice. I highly recommend serving this dish with Hollandaise or Béarnaise sauce for a special treat.

If you are not vegetarian, you might consider filling the cavity of the artichoke with crab or shrimp meat and top with a sauce before serving. Garnish the dish with a little chopped parsley or chopped chives.

  • Yields: 6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 30 minutes.