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Girls Go Grilling (June 18, 2003)


Barbecue time, and we say, come on, admit it... it's the man in your family who may not even boil water, but he'll roar out to the grill to cook anything while the gals stay back to do all the "fixin's" that accompany the meat cooking outside.

Ron has a theory on this.

Eons ago, Neanderthal guys periodically picked up their clubs and lumbered out of the cave in search of a mastodon. Women and children, of course, stayed home keeping the place clean and dry and existing on roots and shoots while the men, having bagged a big one, immediately sliced off a haunch and roasted it on the spot. The beginnings of outdoor grilling were born! Eventually the men made it home with what was left of the carcass, which the women turned into a tasty stew.

Ah, you're nodding; hmmmm, yes, perhaps that explains it.

Well, move over, boys, it's our turn. Weber has come up with a great little free booklet, Girls' Guide to Grilling™, that explains it all for you. The basics are covered in several sections, including "How About a Little Grill Talk," "The Art of Accessorizing" and "Practicing Safe Sizzle"! Yummy recipes include Chicken and Guacamole Quesadillas, Ginger's Grilled Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup and Apples Grilled in Parchment Paper. It's as much fun to read as it is to grill, and grill you will.

Looking for more recipes, we went to Weber's Big Book of Grilling and alternated between drooling shamelessly and shrieking with glee over the recipes, photographs and prose. You'll find it hard to get past the '50s photos... This is truly the bible of barbecue, and a great read to boot.

Out west in Canada, there are more great women at the grill. Our home economist friends in the Alberta utility's ATCO Blue Flame Kitchen, who have been providing reliable, up-to-date answers to everyday household questions for over 70 years, sent us a copy of their latest cookbook, Let the Flames Begin. This is a splendid book, with 128 pages of information, menus and wonderful recipes. Sure, many are dishes to be done on the grill, but the Blue Flame Kitchen has also included all the side dish recipes as well. We can't wait to try Wine Planked Salmon, Grilled Brie and onion Sandwiches, Cuban Beef, Grilled Mangoes with Cilantro Vinaigrette and – WHOA! – Chocolate Toffee Pizza! "Let the Flames Begin" indeed! They have at our house!

So, you male hunters and gatherers, watch out – you're about to be hustled away into the kitchen to make the salad and serve dessert, 'cause the girls are going grilling!

On today's menu:

Download these recipes in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (91 KB)


Tea Grilled Shrimp

The Blue Flame team looked East and not only came up with this tangy shrimp recipe, but suggests sides of mushroom and onion skewers, grilled asparagus, wasabi lime mayonnaise, mango and tomato salad, sesame flatbread, and five-spice ice cream with warm brandied cherries. Your tribe will love this meal!

From Let the Flames Begin.

Serves 4

Bamboo skewers
½ cup double-strength brewed tea, cooled (125 mL)
2 Tbsp honey (25 mL)
2 Tbsp soy sauce (25 mL)
2 Tbsp rice vinegar (25 mL)
1 Tbsp oil (15 mL)
1½ tsp grated fresh ginger (7 mL)
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper (1 mL)
1 lb. frozen shrimp, thawed, peeled and deveined (0.5 kg)

Soak bamboo skewers in hot water for 30 minutes. To prepare marinade, combine remaining ingredients except shrimp in a heavy zip-lock plastic bag. Add shrimp and squeeze bag to coat shrimp with marinade; seal bag. Let stand 20-30 minutes. Remove shrimp from marinade; discard marinade. Thread shrimp onto soaked skewers. Grill shrimp skewer over medium heat on natural gas barbecue until shrimp are pink, about 3 minutes per side.

Grilled Asparagus with Wasabi Lime Mayonnaise

Serves 4-6

1 Tbsp sesame oil (15 mL)
2 tsp soy sauce (10 mL)
2 tsp rice vinegar (10 mL)
1 tsp grated fresh ginger (5 mL)
1 clove garlic
Dash freshly ground pepper
24 asparagus spears, trimmed

To prepare marinade, combine first 6 ingredients (oil through pepper) in a heavy zip-lock plastic bag. Add asparagus and squeeze bag to coat asparagus with marinade; seal bag. Let stand 30 minutes. Remove asparagus from marinade; discard marinade. Grill asparagus over medium heat on natural gas barbecue, turning occasionally until tender, about 5-7 minutes. Serve with Wasabi Lime Mayonnaise.

Wasabi Lime Mayonnaise

Yield: 1 cup

1 cup mayonnaise (250 mL)
4 tsp soy sauce (20 mL)
2 tsp fresh lime juice (10 mL)
1½ tsp sugar (7 mL)
1½ tsp wasabi paste (7 mL)

Combine all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
All those spices cry out for a white wine with lots of acidity and lots of fruit. Look for a white wine with a touch of sweetness but good acidity – such as Vouvray Sec from the Loire, Riesling Spätlese Trocken from Germany or an off-dry Riesling from Ontario.


Grilled Polenta with Mushroom Ragout

Polenta, a simple cake of yellow cornmeal, is fantastic grilled. Top it with savoury mushrooms and you've got one full-flavoured appetizer. Even the most serious carnivore in your family will ask for seconds on this dish! Sure beats the mastodon haunch.

From Weber's Big Book of Grilling.

Note: The mushrooms are grilled over Direct Medium heat and the polenta over Direct High heat.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

For the Polenta
2 cups whole milk
1 cup polenta or coarse-ground yellow cornmeal
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp dried thyme

For the Ragout
8 ounces mixed wild mushrooms (portobello, shiitake, brown and button)
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the mushrooms and polenta
2 cups thinly sliced red onion
1 Tbsp tomato paste
½ cup chicken broth
¼ cup dry vermouth
1½ tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp finely chopped fresh thyme
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
½ cup fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)

To make the polenta
Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with plastic wrap so that the wrap spills over two opposite sides by about 4 inches. In a large heavy saucepan, combine the polenta ingredients with 1 cup water and whisk until smooth. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, whisking frequently. Reduce heat to low and cook the polenta until tender, about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so with a wooden spoon to avoid scorching. Transfer the polenta to a baking pan and smooth the surface with a spatula dipped in water. The polenta should be about ½ inch thick. Allow to cool to room temperature. Fold the long ends of the plastic wrap over the top and refrigerate until the polenta is firm, 4 to 24 hours.

To make the ragout
Remove and discard the stems from the mushrooms. With a spoon, scrape the black gills from the portobello mushrooms and discard. Wipe all the mushroom caps clean with a damp towel. Generously brush or spray both sides of the caps with olive oil. Grill the mushrooms, cap side up, over Direct Medium heat until tender, turning once and basting with more oil, if necessary, halfway through grilling time. The portobello mushrooms will take 12 to 15 minutes and the shiitake, brown and button mushrooms will take 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the grill and cut into 1-inch chunks.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until soft and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook for 2 minutes more. In a small bowl, whisk together the tomato paste, chicken broth and vermouth. Add to the onion and mushroom mixture. Sprinkle with the rosemary and thyme and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside while you grill the polenta.

Remove the polenta from the baking pan and plastic wrap. Cut into squares or other desired shapes. Brush or spray both sides of the cakes with oil. Grill over Direct High heat until warm and marked on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes, turning once halfway through grilling time.

To serve, gently reheat the ragout ands spoon it over the polenta cakes, then sprinkle each serving with some of the cheese if desired. Serve warm.

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
A medium-bodied dry white – Old World barrel-aged Chardonnay (white Burgundy), New Zealand Chardonny, Ontario Chardonnay.


Lobster Tails with Champagne Vanilla Sauce

He does steak and ribs, you do lobster with the most divine sauce you've ever tasted. This is truly rapture on a fork, a seduction selection if there ever was one! When done, the lobster shells will be a rich reddish brown and the meat will be firm, juicy and coral-white. Ooooh... is that a tiny ring box in his pocket? Darling, do have another lobster tail.

From Weber's Big Book of Grilling.

Serves 4

For the Sauce
1 vanilla bean (about 4 inches long)
1 small sprig fresh thyme
1 Tbsp minced shallots
1 cup brut champagne
½ cup unsalted butter, cold
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

4 lobster tails (uncooked) about 7 ounces each
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp snipped fresh chives
¼ tsp kosher salt

To make the sauce
Cut the vanilla bean in half and split lengthwise. Place in a small saucepan with the thyme, shallots and champagne. Bring just to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until reduced to ¼ cup. The reduction will be a clear golden colour.

Remove from the heat and strain the reduction through a sieve. Reserve the vanilla bean. Rinse the sauce and return the reduction to the pan. Using a sharp paring knife, scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the reduction.

Bring the reduction to a simmer and whisk in the butter, 1 Tbsp at a time to fully incorporate, until glistening and smooth. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary. Remove from the heat and set aside until the lobsters are ready. Keep warm.

Place the tails shell-side down on a cutting board. Split the tails lengthwise to expose the meat. In a small bowl, mash the butter with the lemon juice, chives and salt using the back of a fork. Spread the butter over the lobster meat and between the shell and the meat. Grill the tails, shell side down, over Direct Medium heat, until opaque throughout, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the meat from the shells and serve immediately with the warm sauce.

Accompanying wine? Tony recommends...
The no-brainer is to go with Brut champagne, but if you don't have a bottle handy (substitute Gewürztraminer and lemon juice in the recipe) and opt for a white Burgundy of quality, a Gavi from Piedmont or an Anselmi Soave.

To order your copy of Let the Flames Begin, call toll-free in Canada: 1-877-420-9090, or visit the Blue Flame Web site at

To order your free copy of Weber's Girls' Guide to Grilling™, call the Weber Grill-LineSM at 1-800-474-5568 or email to

We wish to thank Chronicle Books for permission to publish recipes and photographs from Weber's Big Book of Grilling by Jamie Purviance and Sandra S. McRae. Photographs by Tim Turner.


Happily tested by Helen Hatton and Ron Morris.

Download these recipes in printable form as an Adobe Acrobat PDF (91 KB)





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