from Jude’s Kitchen: Born to Grill

Robert Rainford's new book, Born to Grill offers 100 recipes for backyard grilling, including a couple of samples here.

Food Network chef Robert Rainford grills some kabobs at Save-On foods in Orchard Plaza as part of a promotional tour for his new book: Born to Grill.

Food Network chef Robert Rainford was in town the other weekend, demonstrating some recipes from his new book, Rob Rainford’s Born to Grill,  for Save On Foods customers at Orchard Plaza, so I stopped by to meet him.

He’s just as cheery and in command of the grill in person as he appears to be on television, and there were lots of fans dropping by to meet him and sample fare from his book. One even brought along his previous book, Grilled to Perfection, for Rob to sign as well as purchasing his latest.

In this current book, he offers 20 menus for meals around the backyard barbecue, many of which include some exotic flavours such as these North African dishes.

In all, there are more than 100 recipes for everything from chicken to ribs, beef to fish, with everything in-between and lots of dishes to go with those basics.

His recipes are easy to follow and most of them are interesting.

We paired these lamb koftas with the Siren’s Call 2010 Merlot made by the Artisan Group and winemaker Mark Simpson, which was bursting with bright fruit flavours and a hint of spice that paired well with this exotic-flavoured meat dish. These wines include the Siren’s call series and the Include wines, and both are available online at: http://theartisancollection.ca/

For more barbecuing recipes, pick up a copy of my book, Jude’s Kitchen, available at bookstores, wine shops and the B.C. Wine Museum. It includes pairings by renowned wine writer John Schreiner for many of the more than 200 recipes, and it’s arranged by the seasons so you can be inspired by local products, in season.

Food lovers should be aware of a couple of upcoming events: the June 1st Earth Wine and Fire extravaganza at the Delta Grand with our best local chefs as well as  Culinary Team B.C. and local wineries helping to raise funds for the Nature Trust of B.C.

Then, there’s the second annual Okanagan Spot Prawn Festival, this time at the Cove Resort in West Kelowna June 2, 1 to 4 p.m. with top chefs from around the valley and Vancouver offering $2 tastes.

Yogurt Garlic Cucumber Dip

I made a hybrid version of this dip, which is based on the Middle Eastern Tzatziki, using some of Robert Rainford’s recipe and some of mine, so I’ll provide his and tell you where I varied it. We loved the addition of fresh lemon juice (I used the sweeter Meyer lemons) and fresh mint from my garden to the usual Tzatziki. I didn’t bother with the olive oil.

1 1/4 c. (310 ml) finely diced English cucumber

1 tsp. (5 ml) kosher salt

2 c. (500 ml) whole milk yogurt

2 tbsp. (30 ml) finely-chopped fresh mint

1 tbsp. (15 ml) olive oil

1 tbsp. (15 ml) fresh lemon juice

2 garlic cloves, finely grated

1/4 tsp. (1 ml) fresh black pepper

Seed the cucumber and finely dice it in a colander and sprinkle with three-quarters of the salt. Toss very well and let drain in the sink for 30 minutes. (I’m lazy and grated the whole cucumber into a bowl, salted it and left it for a few minutes, then pressed the excess water out and drained it.)

While the cucumber drains, spoon the yogurt into another colander lined with a coffee filter and let stand for 15 minutes. (I used fat-free yogurt and I didn’t drain it.)

When the cucumber has drained, grab a few layers of paper towel, place the cucumber in the middle of the layers and press down lightly to draw out as much excess moisture as possible from the cucumber.

In a bowl, stir together the strained yogurt, cucumber, mint, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, pepper and remaining salt. (I used minced green onion too.)

Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serves 4-6.

Egyptian Lamb Koftas

Although I followed the recipe exactly, my meat mixture was not firm enough to stay on the skewers, so I ended up grilling these on their own and they were very delicate until the egg cooked enough to hold everything together. However, they were absolutely delicious.

3/4 lb. (375 g) ground lamb

1/4 lb. (125 g) ground beef

1 large onion, finely grated

1/4 c. (60 ml) fresh parsley

1 egg

1 tbsp. (15 ml) olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely grated

1 tbsp. (15 ml) ground allspice

1 1/2 tsp. (8 ml) kosher salt

2 tsp. (10 ml) fresh black pepper

oil for the barbecue

Mix meat and grate onion into it. Finely chop fresh parsley and mix all remaining ingredients together in a large bowl until well combined.

Place mixture in a resealable plastic bag and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Take the mixture out of the bag and form into eight even-size portions, shaped like mini footballs. Run a skewer through the length of each.

Pre-heat the grill to medium-high (if you are using charcoal, heat the coals until a thick white ash develops) Oil the grate. (I used a spray oil and sprayed one side of the koftas instead and it worked fine.)

Place the koftas on the hot grill. Make sure to sear them well before you try to turn them, and turn carefully or they will break apart.

Grill the koftas until a meat thermometer registers an internal temperature of 150 to 160 F. (65 to 71 C)

Remove from skewers and serve in pita bread. We added dollops of Yogurt Dip and grilled local asparagus.

Makes 8.