Cooks Exchange

Get out to the grill before it gets too hot

Foil packets are a low-fat way to cook a satisfying meal of fish and vegetables.
Foil packets are a low-fat way to cook a satisfying meal of fish and vegetables. MCT

The oven is not my friend when the thermometers start rising.

My gas oven heats the dining and living rooms to say nothing of the kitchen. If I am doing any baking, it is at night. My AC just can’t handle the kitchen heat.

Perhaps some readers want to play it cool, too. Crisp, cold dinner salads, grilled meats and vegetables and even one-pot, slow-cooker meals keep the heat out of the kitchen. Today, the grill is the focus.

I was making a simple rice dish, while my daughter was grilling jerk marinated chicken breasts. It was so warm that I checked the AC thermostat to make sure it was still on the job.

Readers, if you are in the mood for cool meals that take little effort, then I have some recipes for you. Let me know what you are cooking this summer. Is it barbecue, burgers, cedar-plank salmon, shrimp kebabs or what? Let’s share these ideas with fellow readers and see what creative meals turn up.

Meats or vegetables cooked in aluminum foil packets keep the flavor in and make cleanup a breeze. Even a sheet of foil works well on the grill to keep food from sticking. Be sure to poke holes in the sheet of foil.

During a stint at a Coast bookstore, I found a cookbook on the bargain table “Reynolds Cooking with Foil” that provides tasty recipes and grilling tips. It is a summer go-to cookbook and includes everything from grilled potato salads to desserts. The book still is available at www.amazon.com/ for prices ranging from $1.03 for used to nearly $10 new. Prices at www.barnesandnoble.com/ range from $7.18 to $9.98.

A favorite is either the grilled jerk chicken or grilled teriyaki chicken. I never buy a whole chicken because all that gets eaten is the chicken breast or wings in my house. When chicken breasts are so large, I butterfly them so they will cook thoroughly and quickly. I wouldn’t do either recipe without a sheet of foil on the grill. I don’t like messy cleanups.

If keeping cool ranks high on the list, then give these easy meals a try.

GINGER LIME TERIYAKI GLAZED CHICKEN

Non-stick aluminum foil

6 bone-in chicken breasts (the bone gives added flavor)

1 3/4 cups soy sauce

1 teaspoon finely grated lime peel

1/2 cup fresh lime juice

3 cloves garlic, peeled, flattened with a knife

2 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated

1 (3-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons honey

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Combine soy sauce, lime peel, lime juice, scallion whites, ginger and honey in a heavy saucepan, stir until honey is dissolved. Spoon half of marinade over chicken in baking dish. Cover with foil, refrigerate 1 hour, turning twice. Make drainage holes in a sheet of non-stick foil with large grilling fork; set aside.

For glaze: Add sugar to remaining marinade. Heat to boiling on medium high. Reduce heat to medium, cook and stir occasionally about 10 minutes or until thick and syrupy. Strain glaze; let cool. Glaze will thicken. Reserve 1/2 cup glaze for serving.

Preheat grill to medium high. Place foil sheet with holes on grill with non-stick (dull) side toward the food. Drain chicken; discard marinade. Brush sesame oil on both sides of chicken; place skin-side down on foil.

Grill chicken 5 minutes each side. Brush both sides with glaze. Continue grilling and basting 6 to 8 minutes longer per side or until skin is dark golden brown; chicken is tender and juices run clear or meat thermometer reads 170 degrees for the breasts. If chicken browns too much, reduce heat to medium. Discard remaining basting glaze.

Remove chicken from foil. Drizzle with reserved glaze; sprinkle with scallion greens and sesame seeds. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

From ‘Cooking with Foil’

HONEY DIJON SALMON PACKETS

4 sheets (12-by-18-inches each) heavy duty foil

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter or olive oil

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/8 teaspoon white pepper, optional

1 pound fresh or frozen asparagus spears

4 salmon fillets or steaks (about 4 to 6 ounces each)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat grill to medium high. Blend honey, mustard, butter, Worcestershire sauce, cornstarch and pepper; set aside.

Center 1/4 of asparagus on each sheet of foil. Top with salmon fillets; drizzle with reserved honey-mustard sauce. Sprinkle with walnuts.

Bring up foil sides. Double fold top and ends to seal packer, leaving room for heat circulation inside. Repeat to make 4 packets.

Grill 9 to 11 minutes in covered grill. Makes 4 servings.

‘Cooking with Foil’

CHEESE STEAK PACKETS

4 sheets (12-by-18-inches) non-stick foil

1 pound boneless beef sirloin steak, 1/2-inch thick

Salt and pepper to taste

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

4 sub or hoagie-style buns

Ketchup or steak sauce (I like the Tabasco Steak Sauce, a little kick)

Preheat grill to medium high. Cut steak lengthwise in half; then crosswise into 1/8-inch thick strips. Sprinkle steak strips with salt and pepper; set aside.

Center 1/4 of onions on each sheet of foil. Top with steak strips and cheese.

Bring up foil sides. Double fold top and ends to seal packet, leaving room for heat circulation. Repeat to make 4 packets.

Grill 8 to 10 minutes in covered grill. Serve on sliced buns with additional cheese. If desired, top with ketchup or steak sauce. Makes 4 servings.

‘Cooking with Foil’

CARIBBEAN JERK CHICKEN PACKETS

4 sheets (12-by-18 inches) non-stick foil

2 cups cooked rice

1 can (16 ounces) red beans or light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup Caribbean jerk marinade, divided

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (1 to 1 1/4 pounds)

Preheat grill to medium high. Combine rice, beans and 1/4 cup marinade.

Center 1/4 of mixture on each sheet of foil. Top with chicken; drizzle with remaining marinade.

Bring up foil sides. Double fold top and ends to seal packet, leaving room for heat circulation inside. Repeat to make 4 packets.

Grill 16 to 20 minutes in covered grill. Makes 4 servings.

‘Cooking with Foil’

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