Everything and the Kitchen Shrink: Grill, baby, grill - election fever food


By Last February, this Canadian became an American citizen, trading in her Green Card for a red, white and blue passport. Earlier this month, I received my first piece of election mail as official proof that I am registered to vote on Election Day.

To celebrate this election of “firsts” - my inaugural vote, along with an exciting historic outcome, whether it be the first African-American president or the first female vice president - I’m throwing a patriotic shindig with all the Yankee Doodle trimmings. Along with some apropos recipes, I’ll be dishing up some fun presidential trivia.

First, both Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama have more in common than you know. Both are left-handed, as were Herbert Hoover, Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, Papa Bush and Bill Clinton.

Also, both candidates were born in August and each likes a game of chance - Obama enjoys poker while McCain likes a good game of blackjack.

Now for the food part. To paraphrase this election season’s motto - “grill, baby, grill” - the new American grilling gurus are granting all foods an equal opportunity to earn their grill marks.

Meat, move over.

Everything from appetizers to desserts is being thrown on the barbie including papayas, leafy greens and gourds. Even pizzas, cakes and brownies are barbecue-bound.

Grill healthy American fare like corn on the cob, chicken bratwursts and turkey and veggie burgers. If you must have red meat, lamb is the best alternative.

My fave is a vegetable patty solidly packed with brown rice, barley, roasted peppers, red onions, shiitake mushrooms and beets - it is dessert delicious.

Dress your burgers and brats with all-American red, white and blue toppings - heirloom tomatoes, grilled red peppers and red onions, blue cheese, ketchup, barbecue sauce or mayo.

Whip up a homemade red, white and blue potato salad or a tri-colored coleslaw with purple cabbage and red peppers for some colorful and crunchy sides.

Or make a patriotic flag pizza in an elongated pan and do the toppings with strips of mozzarella and red peppers for the stripes, black olives cut in half or dollops of dark caviar for the stars.

For dessert, try a raspberry, strawberry and blueberry tiramisu or a rum trifle. Peach or apple cobbler or pie is about as American as it gets, especially if served with a trio of red, white and blue ice creams (or sorbets for the cholesterol watchers) - strawberry, vanilla bean and blueberry or some other funky blue hue that our friends at 31 Flavors have concocted. If you’d like the recipes for Cindy McCain’s favorite oatmeal butterscotch cookies or Michelle Obama’s shortbread cookies, I’d be glad to email those to you.

Here are my culinary contributions for turkey burgers and tri-colored potato salad.I hope they get your vote!The All-American Turkey Burger

  • 1 pound of ground turkey (medium lean)
  • 1/2 sweet red pepper, diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 4 ounces of shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • About 1/4 cup of bread crumbs
  • Sea salt and cayenne pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of barbecue sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of Tabasco sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of olive or grapeseed oil

Heat the oil on low in a small fry pan and saute the vegetables until tender.

In a large mixing bowl combine the turkey, sauteed veggies, sauces and seasonings. Start adding the bread crumbs until the texture is firm enough to form patties. Form into desired size, about 1/4 pound each.

Slather grapeseed oil on the grill and cook till done, about 8 minutes on each side. Dress with your favorite toppings and condiments and serve with a heap of baked hickory chips.Red, White and Blue Potato Salad

  • 14 medium potatoes - red-skinned, purple (blue) and russet, cooked and diced (skin intact)
  • 6 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • 1/4 - 1/2 medium cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 1/2 cups of diced celery
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 2 cups of mayonnaise
  • Juice from half a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard powder
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • Radish roses or paprika for garnish

In a small bowl, blend the mayonnaise, lemon juice and mustard powder. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl combine the potatoes, eggs, celery, onion, cucumber and peppers. Add the mayonnaise mixture and toss gently. Season with salt and pepper. Toss again. Garnish with radish roses or sprinkle with paprika.