It's barbeque time, and you're having a party - a big one. Your family keeps kosher but you have asked non-kosher friends to bring an extra barbeque grill, and suddenly you realize that the borrowed grill is not kashered What do you do? Ask them not to bring their grill and rush out to buy a few hibachis that will store easily in the garage till next year? Revise your menu drastically to include more salads and less already-bought, very-expensive wild salmon?
Not to worry. Here are some basic instructions for kashering a non-kosher barbeque: first, clean all the ashes out of the body (or firebox) of the barbeque, and wash it thoroughly with hot soapy water. Clean the legs and the cover as well. Scrub off the grill itself with a wire grill brush and wash with hot soapy water. When everything is dried off with a clean (disposable) towel, build a good, hot charcoal fire in the firebox and let the coals burn for about 15 minutes with the lid on. Extinguish the coals by spritzing them with water till they're cold. Dump out the coals and voila! A kosher grill, ready for a fleischig, milchig or parve barbequing!
Once that grill is ready to go, I like to treat it more as a new cooking device than just something that imparts wonderful smoky flavor to meats and fish. When the barbeque is smoking, let's make some great Jewish treats even better!
A favorite of Jewish gatherings everywhere, of course, is baba ghanoush, a dish that traditionally has derived its full flavor from roasting the eggplant till the flesh is soft and the skin is burned black. The origins of this Middle Eastern desert dish would have the eggplants roasting in the coals while meat was skewered above over the family fire, giving a luscious, smoky flavor to the creamy baba. When your barbeque has good, hot coals, put a coating of olive oil on the skin of a couple of eggplants and turn them on the grill while they get smoky soft inside and deeply blackened all around. And to add even more interest to this appetizer dip, throw some onions, zucchini and tomatoes on the grill and add them when pureeing the eggplants. A new baba ghanoush!
Grilled Vegetable Baba Ghanoush (Parve)
1 med. eggplant (1 to 1-1/2 lbs.)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 med. zucchini (3/4 lb.)
1/4 c. tahini (or to taste)
1 med. onion
3 Tbs. lemon juice, or to taste
1 med. tomato
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 c. olive oil
2 to 3 tsp. kosher salt
Cut the zucchini in thick lengthwise slices, peel and cut the onion in thick crosswise slices (don't break into rings), and cut the tomato in half.
Rub the eggplant and all the vegetables with the olive oil.
Place the eggplant on a mediumhot grill and let brown on one side, then quarter-turn it and brown on the adjacent "side." Continue turning and browning until you come back to the beginning.
Now grill the first side until nearly or completely black and continue the same way all around the eggplant. When you begin the second round of turns on the eggplant, place the other vegetables on the grill - the zucchini and onion flat over medium heat and the tomato skin side down. When the eggplant and tomato are completely blackened and the other vegetables are soft and browned, take them off the grill.
Peel the blackened skin off the eggplant, rinse thoroughly and cut in half. Squeeze out as much juice as you can (it usually is bitter) and cut into 2" chunks.
Peel the tomato and cut in quarters, and chop the zucchini and onion roughly.
Place all vegetables together with the tahini, garlic, salt and lemon juice into a food processor and process until nearly smooth. Taste and add salt, lemon juice and/or tahini till the taste is as you like it.
Garnish with fresh herbs and serve with marinated olives and fresh pita bread.
Makes 3-1/2 cups
It seems that barbeque parties are often accented with the cries of children protesting, "I don't want to eat that!" about anything that is about to come off the grill - even big, juicy, yummy kosher hot dogs, or perfectly grilled, very expensive wild salmon filets.
What food does a kid always want, any time of the day or night, even for breakfast? Pizza! So here's a pizza on a pita (a great authentic substitute for anyone's favorite crust) that can be done on the grill - appetizers for the grown-ups and an acceptable (maybe even enjoyed?) dinner for kids.
Grilled Pita Pizza (Dairy or parve)
1-1/2 c. (12 oz.) canned no-salt-added tomato sauce
1-1/2 tsp. fresh or dried oregano
1 c. shredded part skim mozzarella cheese (omit for parve)
1 small onion, sliced thin
1/2 green or red pepper, seeded and sliced very thin
6 large mushrooms, sliced (if the kids like them)
12 olives, sliced (ditto)
2 Tbs. olive oil
Make sure that you have space on the grill where you can cook the pizzas over medium heat. One way to do this is to allow the charcoal to burn to almost grey and then pile the coals in the center of the firebox, leaving space around the edge which will remain at medium heat for about 3540 minutes.
To assemble the pizzas, first spread the tomato sauce over the center of each pita, dividing it evenly among all six pitas, then sprinkle each with oregano. Similarly divide the cheese, onions, peppers (and mushrooms and olives), between the pitas, starting with the cheese and ending with the olives. Drizzle each pizza lightly with olive oil.
To cook the pizzas, place them on the barbecue grill about 3 inches apart over medium heat (not over direct heat or they will quickly burn). Put the lid on the barbeque to allow the heat to build up (like in an oven). Let the pizzas cook for about 10 minutes, then peek under the lid to make sure the pitas aren't burning and the cheese is melting.
If the pitas are too browned before the cheese is melted, move them away from the heat source and replace the lid. When the cheese is melted and the edges nicely browned, remove from the grill, cut into pieces and serve.
Makes 6 pizzas
The best possible barbeque, in my opinion, is one in which you can also grill your dessert. S'mores are for campfires, so they don't count. One delicious and almost elegant option is an adaptation of a Passover dessert from Natchez, Mississippi: baked bananas. Barbequed Bananas, wrapped in foil and grilled, combine two flavors made for each other: bananas and brown sugar.
(Dairy or parve)
8 firm bananas, peeled
2 Tbs. lemon juice
2 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
3/4 c. brown sugar
4 Tbs. butter or parve margarine
Cut two pieces of foil, each about 18 inches long. Grease each piece with one tablespoon of butter or margarine.
Place four bananas on each piece, then sprinkle each with half the lemon juice, cinnamon and brown sugar. Dot each with one tablespoon of the butter or margarine.
Fold the foil around the prepared bananas, sealing very well. Place the packets on the barbeque over medium heat, close the lid and let bake for about 20 minutes, turning around several times (don't turn over or the packets might leak).
When the bananas are bubbling inside the packets and have begun to smell wonderful, carefully remove from the grill and serve from the packets, with or without kosher or regular ice cream - they're delicious either way!
Makes 8 servings