JUSTIN SORENSEN n WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES

Justin Sorensen / NNY Living

Spice up your backyard barbecue with simple seasonings

Have you ever noticed how the kitchen becomes the center of every party? It doesn’t matter how large your house is, or how well you have arranged your furniture to accommodate guests. It doesn’t matter if you have the greatest great room of them all. And it doesn’t matter how small your kitchen is or if there happens to be a caterer and her staff trying to work, people are always drawn to the kitchen.

When I was growing up, my parents hosted an annual Christmas cocktail party. At least 200 people attended every year and it was a mob scene of black velveteen and Christmas taffeta. My mother would serve gallons of her minestrone soup, carved ham and turkey cocktail sandwiches, smoked salmon, pate and water crackers, fancy cheeses and cured meats. The house would be jam-packed with people, most of whom would gravitated to the kitchen. Guests would bring their musical instruments and sing carols around the kitchen table. The staff with their trays of hors d’oeuvres and champagne was left to dodge the musicians and their followers as they passed in and out of the kitchen.

When the weather finally improves in Northern New York and al-fresco dining becomes possible again, why not let the grill replace the stove and the patio replace the kitchen. Nothing says “relax” like dinner cooked on the grill. The sight of lump charcoal as it turns from black to glowing red and then powdery gray, followed by the sound of sizzling meat and the taste of char and smoke.

Move the cooking outdoors and watch as family and guests gravitate out of the kitchen. A glamorous outdoor kitchen is not necessary to enjoy cooking under the stars. A grill, lump charcoal or propane, a few simple tools — a good chef’s knife, a grill brush, a side towel, tongs and a metal spatula, cooking spray or olive oil, a small work space, and some seasoning rubs.

Grilling doesn’t always have to mean hamburgers and hot dogs. Grilled vegetables taste amazing — even children who don’t like to eat vegetables like them when they are served right off the grill. I have friends who make pizza every Friday night on their grill, and other friends who make macaroni and cheese on their Big Green Egg, the coolest of the cool grills on the market today.

The current favorite in our house is grilled fish tacos. Mild white fish, like Tilapia, rubbed with a slightly spicy seasoning mix and quickly grilled, served with cilantro-sour cream, salsa and chopped lettuce in a warm tortilla. This is a super-fast and delicious grilled dinner — add some grilled vegetables to the plate and you are good to go.

Grilled food just tastes better than food cooked under a roof and it’s so much more fun to eat. So crank up the tunes, clear off the picnic table and watch as your friends and family leave the kitchen to join the action at the grill. Not to mention the ease of cleanup — turn off the heat and shut the lid, no pots or pans to wash and more time to socialize. Food is love.

Boo Wells is chef and owner of the Farm House Kitchen, a catering

company and cooking school in Sackets Harbor. Contact her at sacketsfarm housekitchen@gmail.com or visit www.thefarmhousekitchen.com.

Tandoori chicken

seasoning

INGREDIENTS

1 Tablespoon ground ginger

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

1 Tablespoon ground coriander

1 Tablespoon paprika

1 Tablespoon turmeric

1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper

½ Tablespoon kosher salt

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine all ingredients and store

in an airtight container.

Farm House Kitchen

fish taco seasoning

INGREDIENTS

2 teaspoons ground ancho chile powder

½ teaspoon ground cumin

2 Tablespoons granulated garlic

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine all ingredients and store

in an airtight container.

Farm House Kitchen

coarse BBQ rub

INGREDIENTS

¼ cup coarse black pepper

¼ cup smoked paprika

2 Tablespoons granulated garlic

1 Tablespoon dry mustard

1 Tablespoon whole celery seed

1 Tablespoon brown suagar

2 teaspoons kosher salt

INSTRUCTIONS

Combine all ingredients and store

in an airtight container.

 

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