A few years ago, when my stove died and upgrades to accommodate the new stove took a while to get done, I started getting creative with cooking on the grill. Eventually, I figured out that just about anything you can cook on a stovetop or in an oven, you can make on the grill.
On the other hand, there are things that are so much better on the grill. And some of them might surprise you. If you don't have a grill -- or when weather doesn't cooperate -- you can certainly make these recipes on a grill pan.
Part 1: Grilled Cheese (no, not that kind!)
Did you know there's a type of cheese that can be grilled? I'm not talking about slapping it between two sliced of bread. I mean you can put the cheese on a grill or grill pan and it won't turn into melty goo; you'll get nice grill marks and the cheese will hold its shape. It will get softer, but it doesn't melt in quite the same way as other cheese. The typical grilling cheese is called Halloumi, but I found another one, called Talari, that was labeled as a Halloumi-type cheese, so I figured I'd give it a try.
This appetizer seems very simple, but the flavors work together in ways that will surprise your guests: creamy cheese, crisp lettuce, sweet-tart tomatoes, and garlicky ramp pesto.
Grilled Talari Appetizer
1 bunch ramps, leaves only
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pinch salt
8 leaves butter lettuce
4 small tomatoes
8 1/4-inch slices Talari or Halloumi cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
Part 2: Pineapple on the Grill
When you grill pineapple it gets sweeter, but this recipe isn't massively sweet. You could serve it as dessert, or as a side dish with a spicy barbecue meal to help cut the heat. Or, serve it for breakfast. I like this best with a thick, tart Greek-style yogurt, but you could sweeten it up for dessert by serving it with a scoop of ice cream instead.
To make pineapple rings, you need to cut the core out of the pineapple. If you have a pineapple corer, you can use that, but not many people have those. You could use a knife to cut the core out, but that's not very efficient, and it's not very pretty. However, if you have a small biscuit cutter, it works perfectly. You won't be able to core the whole pineapple at once, but you can easily core one or two slices at a time.
You can serve the pineapple while it's warm from the grill, or let it cool off.
Grilled Pineapple with Macerated Fruit
1 pineapple, peeled, sliced, and cored
1 cup strawberries, quartered, halved, or sliced, depending on size
1 mango, peeled, seed removed, and cut in a large dice
1 teaspoon sugar
1 pinch salt
Juice of 1/2 lime
Part 3: Grilled Cake
If you're making everything else on the grill, it's fun to grill some cake as well. Your best bet for grilling is something a little dense, like a pound cake. Obviously, you don't want to grill a frosted cake, but almost any unfrosted loaf-style cake would work just fine.
The flavor is up to you. I chose a vanilla cake so I'd have a neutral base, but I also saw an orange-flavored loaf cake in the freezer section that looked pretty good. Angel food cake would also work. Of course, you can always make your own cake, if you prefer. As along as the cake isn't too delicate, you can grill it. You just don't want something that will crumble or fall apart on the grill.
When it comes to ice cream and toppings, that's your choice -- or offer a variety and let your guests choose for themselves. Don't forget a garnish! I used chocolate pearls for a little crunch.
Grilled Cake with Ice Cream
1 small pound cake
1 pint ice cream
Like this post? See Donna's post from last week: Birdie Bread and Spatchcocked Chicken.
All photos by Donna Currie.
Donna is a Colorado food writer and the inventive blogger behind Cookistry. If she's not in the kitchen, she's likely shopping for intriguing new edibles.