Tube steaks and burgers keep a lot of diners happy, whether or not it's a holiday. But many cooks -- especially those who head up the grill -- want a more exhilarating challenge when they have an audience, the kind of adrenaline-pumping, fire-eating excitement where you strut your grill-meister stuff.
If grilling were fireworks, this would be the grand finale, a display of prowess that offers the biggest boom, the most color and a whole lot of sparkles. K-A-B-O-O-M! B-o-o-m! Boom! B-o-o-m! Boom, boom!
And the crowd goes wild as they swallow the first bite of whatever it was you were grilling. Yes, you definitely need something beyond the predictable if you expect -- no, yearn for -- those fireworks of taste, followed by oohs and aahs, cheers and sighs of appreciation.
(If you as the baker want to go beyond the predictable, yet stick with the usual meat, check out our homemade hot dog and hamburger bun recipes from last week, at startribune.com/baking, which also has a video. There's fireworks with baking, too!)
Maybe it's Turkish chicken breasts with ground fennel and coriander that light your fire, or cedar-planked salmon with orange zest and fresh thyme.
Perhaps it's the side dishes that bring out the sparklers at your venue: a grilled Moroccan many-pepper salad, bruschetta with asparagus and white beans, grilled tortillas with Manchego cheese and prosciutto. You can find these recipes inside Taste.
More ideas? Grill romaine leaves for a salad tossed with shaved Parmesan and a little kosher salt and balsamic vinegar. Brush oil on portobello mushrooms and pop them on the grill. Or give pineapple slices some fire. Ooh. Aah. When is it time to eat?
You get the drift. If you want fireworks at the picnic table, you need to do more than light a match. So get cooking!