Sunday, May 28, 2006

Summer Grilling Desserts

Summer means different things to different people. For some, it is the time of the year to enjoy any kind of outdoor activities; for others it is the only chance to travel and take a family vacation; but for Edgard, my husband, it is all about grilling. Not matter if it is raining, too cool or too hot outside; he takes advantage of every opportunity he has to relax and cook over coals.

I don’t blame him, there is something about grilling that brings out the best flavor and aromas in food and even the simplest meal turns into a casual celebration. But grilling is not just for meats, poultry or fish. Almost any kind of fruit, from berries to banana, can be turn into tempting desserts using this cooking technique. The hot grill caramelizes the sugar in the fruit bringing out its natural sweetness while intensifies its flavor.

Firmer fruits, like bananas, pineapples, apples, and pears are easier to grill because they can stand hot heat without falling apart. I generally, cut them in half, pit, core and grill them on medium-low heat for about 10-15 minutes. Oranges and other juicy fruits do best cut into thick slices and with the skin on. Softer fruits like nectarine, plums, apricots and other stoned fruits are more delicate and can turn easily to a mush if overcooked. I usually, cut them in half, pit, core and just heat them for about 3-5 minutes. Berries and small fruits can be heated on skewers or wrapped in foil for 5-8 minutes.

Whichever fruit you choose, pick the ones that are in season and feel firm to the touch. Wash and dry them with paper towel and brush them lightly with oil or melted butter to help prevent sticking. You can also marinate the fruit with balsamic vinegar, lemon, wine or a liquor of your preference and a little amount of sugar.

In order to get a flavorful crust and seal the juices inside the fruit, it is very important to preheat your grill to medium-low heat. If you are using a charcoal grill, you have to light up for 30-40 minutes before grilling. For gas grill, you will need 10-15 minutes to reach the desired temperature.

One of my favorite grilling recipes is Strawberries marinated in balsamic vinegar and brown sugar. The acidity of the balsamic vinegar with the sweetness of the brown sugar gives another dimension of flavor to the strawberries creating a delicate dessert that takes only few minutes to assemble. I like to serve it with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream or yoghurt.

Grill Balsamic Vinegar Strawberries

  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved
  • 3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar

Toss strawberries with balsamic vinegar, lemon zest and brown sugar.

Divide strawberries among foil squares. Bring the edges of foil together and scrunch to seal.

Grill over medium-low heat until warm (5-10 minutes)

Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.