I have been away in California for my niece's graduation. What a wonderful time I had. It is so good to reconnect with family, especially over such a great celebration.
We had a good ol' fashioned Bar-B-Que while I was there this past week, with my nephew making some pretty awesome hamburgers. We also had the discussion of whether to call it a BBQ or cookout. In the east, we call it a cookout, and I guess I became accustomed to the word as it seemed natural to me, but my family got a kick out of it - "Cookout?", they asked. Ah well, semantics.
Chris' Amazing Hamburgers
My nephew, Chris, begins making the hamburgers by mixing the meat up with a few simple spices - salt and pepper, or whatever you have on hand. He takes a patty-sized amount of the meat and rolls it into a ball, depresses the center and adds a large cube of cheese. After closing the ball, he pats it into a patty and cooks it on the grill. Serve with your favorite toppings, relishes, etc.
To that, we added grilled eggplant that my friend, Fiona and her son, Campbell, recently taught me to make.
End of the School Year Eggplant
Slice one eggplant about 1/2" thin, skin on. Layer the pieces in a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt and let sit for 1/2 hour (with something underneath to catch the water). Rinse well and pat dry.
Heat grill to medium/medium high.
Mix 1 Tbs chopped garlic with 1/2 C olive oil. Before placing the eggplant pieces on the grill, brush each piece with the garlic/olive oil mixture. Grill on one side until grill marks form and eggplant is beginning to be soft. You may need to brush with more olive oil to keep the eggplant soft. Turn the eggplant and brush with the oil. Continue to grill until soft.
Sprinkle all pieces with salt or seasoned salt once grilled.
Whatever you call it, cooking outdoors brings an altogether smoky and adventurous flavor to food. I am looking forward to sharing more grilling stories and recipes with you this summer. Having just picked up the Cook's Illustrated guide to grilling, I expect to have many more grilling experiences coming up. Stay tuned!