Cooking outdoors can be more adventurous than burgers and chicken legs, according to British writer Genevieve Taylor, author of Charred: The Complete Guide to Vegetarian Grilling and BBQ (Hardie Grant/Raincoast, $32.99).
Although she describes herself as “a passionate omnivore,” Taylor boosts veggies, claiming “a little fire and smoke” elevates the taste of almost any vegetable. Author of nine previous grilling books and consultant to the Napoleon equipment company, she makes outdoor cooking seem easy and mouth-watering.
“When you cook over a grill or griddle,” she writes, “some sort of magic happens: flavours intensify, surfaces caramelize and edges get irresistibly crisp and charred.” Charcoal is best, as we all know, but Taylor accepts that we like the convenience of gas.
The recipes in Charred are organized by type, ranging from kebabs to stuffed and wrapped vegetable creations. Some ideas are surprising, such as corn on the cob basted with coconut cream and lime juice, or smoked onions grilled and blended with black olives into a rich soup. Taylor offers some interesting suggestions for the glut of zucchini that gardeners deal with each summer, such as stuffing them with lentils or soaking wedges in a garlic-oil mixture before grilling. She knows her onions, and admits the onion is one of her favourite vegetables. Four pages packed with advice about equipment and technique start off her collection of more than 70 recipes.