Grilling Fools

By Anna Dantoni –

In the 1950s when owners of new American suburban tract houses abandoned the traditional front porch (houses didn’t have them) for the modern social possibilities of backyard patio entertaining, the phenomenon of grilling was born in the USA. Boy, have we taken to it.

Americans today will dash outside to cook anything on a coal or gas-fired burner from a chicken plopped onto a open can of beer to fish wrapped in banana leaves to lamb kebabs on fresh rosemary branches. We are grilling fools.

A new book called Patio Daddy-O at the Grill mines the nostalgia of the 1950s and America’s early love affair with hot charcoal. The book offers page after page of appealing vintage art that’s witty and fun. And, honestly, the recipes are pretty good too – most of them easy to make with instructions that are simple to follow. The recipes have nostalgic names but they are up-to-the-minute with global  influences.

Recipe categories cover rubs, kebabs, meat/seafood (called Big Heat), sides, cocktails and dessert. There are about 60 food and drink recipes in all.

At first I thought this small-format cookbook was too cute and kitschy to actually be useful, but Patio Daddy-O delivers the goods. And, there’s a helpful conversion chart on the last page. I love when cookbooks include this practical feature.

So, light the grill because these recipes are ones you want to make for your next party or grill-night family supper. Buy the book but get started with these:


Self-Defense Asian Marinade

(keeps for two weeks, covered and refrigerated. Makes 1 ½ cups)

1 tablespoon each of ground coriander, Chinese five-spice powder and

ground fennel seeds

2 tablespoons each minced garlic and minced shallot

1 tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger

2 tablespoons honey or brown sugar

1 teaspoon hot chili powder, chile paste or chili flakes

½ cup each fresh lemon juice, soy sauce, olive oil


Combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and stir well to blend. Pour over the food to be grilled and marinate until ready to grill. Marinating times: whole chicken 3-4 hours. Chicken breasts and thighs, up to 1 hour. Fish fillets or shrimp, 1-2 hours. Country-style boneless ribs, 2-4 hours. Duck breasts, 2-4 hours.

Voodoo Fruit and Fish Fingers

(serves 4)


2/3  cup fresh lime juice (5-6 limes)

2/3  cup olive oil

2/3 cup dry white wine

5 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

3 tablespoons honey

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 ½ tablespoons grated peeled fresh ginger

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard


1 ½ pounds swordfish, cut into 1 ½-inch cubes

1 pint cherry tomatoes

2 large peaches, pitted and each cut into 8 slices

16 large green onions (white part only), about 2 inches long

Vegetable oil for the grill

Combine the marinade ingredients in a large glass bowl. Add the swordfish. Cover and marinate for 30-45 minutes in a cool place. Soak eight 10-12-inch bamboo skewers in water for at least 30 minutes. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or preheat a gas or electric grill to medium-high. Using a slotted spoon, remove the fish from the marinade; reserve the marinade for basting. Thread the fish, tomatoes, peaches and onions alternately onto each of the skewers. Brush the grill grate with vegetable oil. Grill the kebabs until the fish is cooked through, about 5 minutes on each side, basting occasionally. Serve at once.

Wicked Indonesian Chicken with Whiskey Peanut Sauce

(serves 6)


¾ cup creamy peanut butter

1 ½ ounces (3 tablespoons) Scotch whiskey

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2/3  cup fresh lemon juice (4 lemons)

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 large cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

¾ cup water


6 boneless chicken breast halves, skins left on

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Vegetable oil for the grill

Chopped peeled fresh ginger for garnish

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas or electric grill to medium-high. To make the sauce: In a small, heavy saucepan, combine the sauce ingredients and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat, cover and keep warm. Pat chicken breasts dry and season with salt and pepper. Brush the grill grate with vegetable oil. Place the chicken, skin side down on the grate. Grill turning once, until just cooked through, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a carving board and let rest for 5 minutes. Cut lengthwise into thin slices. Arrange on a heated platter and drizzle with the Indonesian peanut sauce. Garnish with chopped ginger and serve.

(Patio Daddy-O at the Grill, by Gideon Bosker, Karen Brooks, and Tanya Supina. Chronicle Books publishers. Hardcover, $14.95)


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