I don’t want to jinx anything but it just might be (finally!) time to uncover the barbecue and pull out the lawn chairs. Our notoriously short Canadian summer is fast approaching and I’ve found just the right people to help us make the most of it.
Stratford-born Phyllis Hinz and Vancouver native Lamont Mackay, known professionally as The Cooking Ladies, have made their careers out of travelling and eating. After 20 years in the restaurant business in Southwestern Ontario, they sold almost everything and spent nine years in an RV exploring food culture wherever they found it. They’ve since been to every province and territory in Canada, with the exception of Nunavut.
On the Road With The Cooking Ladies; Let’s Get Grilling (Whitecap Books; 2017) is a collection of their best grilling and smoking recipes, inspired by over 100 stops across North America.
It’s as much a travelogue as a cookbook. The authors share photos and stories of the characters, the landscapes and the food cultures of the areas they love visiting.
On the Road has grilling advice and food safety tips, and the writers explain how to get the most out of your barbecue, including how to turn a grill into a temporary smoker. (It’s a great way to enjoy the benefits of smoking your own food without the commitment of a dedicated appliance.)
For an impressive side dish at your first family cookout this year, try Maple Bacon Onion Rings. Large rings of white onion wrapped in bacon and basted with maple syrup and Dijon mustard, grilled until crisp outside and tender inside. These will impress any crowd.
A grill is a versatile cooking tool that can be used to make everything from salad to dessert but, for me, the first barbecue of the year is always a carnivore’s feast. Marinated Sirloin Steak fits the bill perfectly. Left to bathe overnight in the classic flavours of garlic, Worcestershire sauce and olive oil, then cooked quickly over a hot grill, it’s the taste of summer.
You won’t find many fussy recipes here, just delicious, simple food that you’d be proud to bring to any summer gathering. On the Road With the Cooking Ladies is a great resource if you are looking to expand your barbecue menu with some good, solid recipes and get the most out of your grill. It’s also a great inspiration if you are planning your own road trip this summer. And if you’re looking for both, it’s the perfect choice.
Recipes excerpted from On the Road With The Cooking Ladies; Let’s Get Grilling . Published by Whitecap Books. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.
Maple Bacon Onion Rings
Makes 4–6 servings
2–3 medium-sized mild onions
6 thinly sliced bacon strips
2 Tbsp (30 mL) maple syrup
1 tsp (5 mL) fresh lemon juice
1 tsp (5 mL) Dijon mustard
Peel and slice the onions into thick (½ inch/1 cm) slices widthwise.
Push out the center 2–3 rings of each onion slice. Keep the remaining outer rings together. Set the inner rings aside for another recipe.
Wind and stretch a bacon strip around each set of outer onion rings, covering the surface of the onion with the bacon. Secure the bacon ends with a toothpick.
Place the bacon-wrapped onion rings side by side in a flat baking dish.
In a bowl, combine the maple syrup, lemon juice, and mustard.
Brush the maple syrup mixture over the bacon onion rings. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the grill on medium-high (450–550°F/230–290°C) for 10 minutes with the lid closed. Using a pair of long-handled tongs, oil the grate by wiping it with a piece of folded paper towel dipped lightly in canola oil.
Place the bacon onion rings on the grate. Cook over medium-high heat with the lid closed, turning every 3–4 minutes until the bacon is cooked and the onion is tender-crisp.
Remove the toothpicks before serving.
Marinated Sirloin Steak
Makes 4 servings
Two 1-lb (450 g) top sirloin steaks
½ cup (125 mL) peeled and chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, chopped
½ cup (125 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
¼ cup (60 mL) red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp (30 mL) soy sauce
1 Tbsp (15 mL) Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp (5 mL) Dijon mustard
½ tsp (2 mL) hot sauce
¼ tsp (1 mL) sea salt
¼ tsp (1 mL) coarsely ground pepper
Place the steaks flat in a shallow, glass dish.
In a bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Mix well.
Pour the mixture over the steak. Turn the meat to coat both sides. Cover and refrigerate 12–24 hours. Turn the steaks once or twice while marinating.
Preheat the grill on high (550–600°F/290–315°C) for 10 minutes with the lid closed. Using a pair of long-handled tongs, oil the grate by wiping it with a piece of folded paper towel dipped lightly in canola oil.
Remove steaks from the marinade. Discard marinade.
With the lid closed, grill the steaks for about 5 minutes on each side or until the internal temperature registers 135°F (57°C) for medium-rare on an instantread thermometer.
Transfer the steaks to a cutting board. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.