Top Ten Fruits for Grilling

Fresh-picked fruit from your garden and the heat of the grill can be a fabulous combination. Grilling fruit intensifies its flavor and sweetness. The look of grilled fruit is appealing, too, with deep brown grill marks that denote caramelization and provide a rustic appearance.

Top Ten Garden-Grown Fruits for the Grill

Gardeners can grow many types of fruits, from berries to orchard fruits, and most of them work well on the grill.  

Even small, homegrown berries can be scattered fresh over grilled fruit, then served with ice cream or frozen yogurt. Here are ten fruits that you can grow in your garden and that translate well to the grill.

Apples. lGolden Delicious apples, cut into slices and then cored, are naturally sweet and stand up well to the heat of the grill, softening quickly without drying out. Other types of apples such as Jonathan Granny Smith can be stuffed, then roasted over indirect heat.

Berries. S  Strawberries do well on skewers and only need a minute or two. Smaller fruits such as  blueberries and blackberries can be  stir-grilled with other fruits or scattered over a planked cheese on the grill.
Cherries.  Pitted first, sweet cherries also do well on skewers over the grill grates. Turn once.
Citrus. Oranges, lemons and limes can be cut in half, then grilled cut-side down until the natural sugars caramelize.
Figs. Grilled whole or cut in half, sweet figs do well as appetizers or desserts.
Grapes. Grill a whole cluster of grapes, until the grapes have good grill marks, then turn with tongs to grill the other side.
Melon. There’s more to melon that just eating it raw. Try grilling slices of cantaloupe or honeydew to bring out their sweetness.
Pears.  Juicy ripe-but-still-firm pears take to grilling and planking for salads and desserts.
Persimmons. Japanese persimmons, especially the Fuyu variety, can be cut in half and grilled so their sweet, bland flavor gets a little boost.
Stone fruits. Apricots, peaches, plums, and nectarines—fruits that have a stone or pit in the center—do well cut in half, pitted, and grilled.

Honeyed Blackberries with Grilled Pound Cake
Though the berries aren’t grilled, the sauce is cooked on the grill along with the grilled slices of pound cake. The butter content in the pound cake is enough to keep it from sticking to the grill grates, so you do not need to brush the slices with oil or butter. Adapted from The Gardener and the Grill
Serves 4
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 cups blackberries
6 tablespoons honey, divided
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 (1-inch) slices of pound cake
Prepare a hot fire in your grill. Whip the cream with an electric mixer or a whisk until it holds medium peaks, about 5 to 7 minutes. Set aside.
In a heavy saucepan that can be used on the grill or on a grill side burner, combine the blackberries, 4 tablespoons honey, lemon juice, and cinnamon.
Set the saucepan over the heat and stir to blend, cooking until the mixture begins to bubble.
At the same time, grill the pound cake slices for about 3 to 4 minutes per side until they get good grill marks.
Stir 2 tablespoons of the remaining honey into the whipped cream with a light touch.
To serve, set a slice of grilled pound cake on each plate. Spoon the warmed berries over the cake and top with the honeyed whipped cream.

Summer Dishes from India

After a weeks of 100-degree days and no rain, the Kansas City area feels like the Kalahari desert must--hot, dry, and foreign.  The shimmering heat also reminds me of photos you see of India during the dry season. Oh, for a monsoon!

So, the Les Dames d'Escoffier Kansas City cooking class I attended on Summer Foods of India was extremely timely.   People who live in India face extremes in climate as a regular occurrence (like people who live in the Midwest!), and their food helps them cope.  Our cooking class instructor Jyoti Mukharji, trained as a physician, gave us a taste of Indian home cooking we rarely get in restaurants, plus a peek into another culture. 

According to Jyoti, dishes meant for hot weather have the ancient ayurvedic properties 
of cooling the body.

Sprinkling Salt on Curried Watermelon 

In India, "vegetarian" doesn't only mean no-meat. It also means no onion or garlic, as these ingredients are said to increase body heat much the way that meat does.  In a very traditional family, a widow can never remarry, no matter how young she was when her  husband died.  She also must eat a vegetarian diet for the rest of her life, so no dishes with onion or garlic ever again.

Along the way, Jyoti also gave us 

Shopping tips: Indian herbs, spices, rice, and dried beans and chickpeas are much less expensive at an Indian market. Buy in bulk, then share with friends.

Spice tips: Use a special coffee grinder to freshly grind whole spices for a much more fragrant and flavorful recipe. Try smoky-flavored black cardamom or tiny black nigella seeds in curries, flatbreads, and vegetable dishes.

Curry tips: With onion/ginger/garlic for the flavor base, tomato for body and color, and yogurt to finish, you have the blueprint for just about any curry. You customize with herbs, spices, and other vegetables. Serve the curry with basmati rice.

My favorite dish of the evening is also the easiest to prepare and one of Jyoti's signature recipes.

Curried Watermelon

This recipe by Jyoti Mukharji balances the sweetness and crunchiness of watermelon with more pungent spice. Tiny black nigella seeds, often used to flavor naan, add a slight onion-like flavor and pleasing texture.  The classic combination of citrus-like coriander (the seed head of the cilantro plant) and hot and earthy cumin round out the flavors.  If you want to make this ahead, wait to sprinkle on the salt and toss to blend right before serving.    

Serves 4 to 6

1 small, seedless watermelon, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds (tiny black seeds in the onion family)
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt to taste

Place the watermelon in a large serving bowl.
In a small pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the nigella seeds until they begin to sizzle and turn fragrant. Quickly add the coriander and cumin, gently shake the pan, then take off the heat. Stir the oil and spice mixture several times, then pour over the watermelon. (Can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated at this point.)

Right before serving, sprinkle with salt to taste and toss the watermelon. Serve chilled.