Summer Cooking - Grill-Side
Recipes by James Cohen, Owner / Chef, Park Lane Restaurant

James Cohen, Owner/Chef,
Park Lane Restaurant
For Americans, the grill holds immense cultural power. It brings people together and serves as the hearth of the summer party. The grill is so versatile, you can cook almost anything on it. And cooking outside keeps the house a cool sanctuary.

The following dishes, a few of my favorite recipes, were chosen because they embody the magic and ease of summer cooking. They take advantage of the Western New York growing season by incorporating local produce. All are meant for easy clean-up so you don’t have to waste precious minutes of sunlight standing in front of your kitchen sink.

Eggplant Caviar
1 medium sized eggplant
1 medium sized onion
1 fresh ancho chili
1/2 cup green pepper
5 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
10 basil leaves
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

Light or start up your grill. Slice the eggplant in half lengthwise, score, and stick thyme sprigs in score. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Lightly oil the chili. Grill both items over mesquite chips until cooked. The eggplant should be nice and golden and soft to the touch. The chili will blacken. Remove the outer skin of the chili (some people wear rubber gloves to do this). After the outer skin is removed, slice the chili lengthwise to expose the seeds inside the chili. Remove the seeds and veins (this is where most of the heat comes from if you like hot foods, you may decide to leave the seeds and veins in). Cook garlic, onion, and pepper in a saute pan over medium-high heat until lightly colored. Add tomato paste and cook until caramelized. Remove from heat and add eggplant and chili to the mixture. Transfer mixture into a food processor. Add basil. Process until smooth. Refrigerate overnight, serve the next day or whenever you need it (up to a week) with your favorite grilled flat breads. Yields 15 servings.

Corn Crab Soup
For the soup:
12 ears of fresh corn
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 peeled and diced Idaho potato
1 diced celery stalk
1 diced medium white onion
1 diced leek, white only
1 garlic clove, rough chopped
12 cups chicken stock
2 basil sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon black pepper corns

For the garnish:
2 ounces Peeky Toe crab, picked clean
1 ripe tomato, concasse
12 tablespoons corn kernels (left from soup)
6 teaspoons basil chiffonnade
2 corn tortillas, julienned and fried

Husk corn, removing all silk. Cut the kernels off the cobs, but be careful not to cut the cob with it. Reserve. Scrape the cleaned cobs with the back of a knife, reserving the liquid and pulp. Cut cobs in half. In a stock pot, heat the olive oil, add the halved corn cobs, potatoes, celery, onion, leeks, and garlic, sweat for 15 minutes, do not brown. Add the stock, basil sprigs, bay leaves, and pepper corns, simmer for 1-1/2 hours. Strain the stock. Place the stock back in the pot and continue to cook until it has reduced by one third. Add three fourths of the corn kernels and reserved pulp, season and puree. You may not need all of the corn stock, depending on the desired consistency. Combine the crab, tomatoes, corn kernels and basil, lightly toss together. Divide into six soup bowls and pour six ounces of soup around the garnish in each bowl. Place the fried tortilla strips on top. Yields 6 servings.

Camper Style Trout
3 medium leeks, white part only, washed
1 cup parsley leaves, washed
2 cups basil leaves, washed
1 celery stalk
3 peeled garlic cloves
4 anchovy filets

8 sheets aluminum foil
4 one pound trout, bone in-scaled and washed
Salt and pepper to taste
Non-stick vegetable spray
8 roma tomatoes, sliced into 6 lengthwise wedges, 1/4 inch thick
8 new potatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick
12 basil leaves
2 cups leek mixture, see recipe
3 tablespoons stock (or water) per fish

To prepare leeks: Place all the ingredients in a food processor, process 20 seconds, scrape down sides, process another 20 seconds, or until finely chopped.

To prepare the trout: Wash the trout and rub with salt and pepper. Measure length of fish and make sure the foil is long enough to extend two inches on each end of the trout. Spray the foil with non-stick vegetable spray. Spread the leek mixture on the center of the foil and place the trout on top of the leeks. Surround the fish with tomatoes, potatoes, and basil. Season with more salt and fresh pepper. Spoon stock over fish, create a boat by shaping the sides of the foil up. Fold foil, then make a series of short folds until you have created a seal so the steam will not escape. Put a single layer of coals on the bottom rack of the grill. Burn about 40 minutes, then spread coals out, place fish on coals, and cover. Cook for half an hour. Serve in the foil. Serves 4.

*Note: Bones add flavor and moisture, but they also make the fish more difficult to eat. If you prefer to use boneless fish, double the amount of leek mixture and stuff the fish with the extra half. Also cut your cooking time by about 10 minutes.

Recipes by Michael Andrzejewsi, Chef, Oliver’s Restaurant

Michael Andrzejewsi,
Chef, Oliver’s Restaurant
The whole grilling ritual is somewhat of an event—from starting the fire to preparing the food. Of the many distinctly enjoyable smells and aromas of cooking, burning charcoal is my favorite aromatherapy.

Personally, I grill everything, from hot dogs, burgers, and ribs to prawns and strip loins, but here are a couple of recipes adapted from Oliver’s kitchen to try at home. Although a gas grill will work equally well, nothing quite beats the flavor and smells of real hardwood charcoal!

Grilled Vegetable and Goat Cheese Napoleon
1 eggplant cut into 1/2-inch disks
1 zucchini cut into 1/4-inch disks
1 yellow squash cut into 1/4-inch disks
1 sweet red pepper seeded and quartered
1 red onion sliced (do not separate rings)
4 ounces goat’s cheese, crumbled
Fresh basil leaves, julienned
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Balsamic Vinegar Syrup (recipe to follow)

Balsamic Vinegar Syrup: Reduce about 1-1/2 cups balsamic vinegar, with a sliced clove of garlic, over low heat until thick. Strain and reserve at room temperature.

Toss the eggplant, zucchini, squash, and red pepper in olive oil to coat lightly. Season with salt and pepper. Brush onion with olive oil and season. Grill vegetable pieces until tender, but not charred, and lay out flat on a baking sheet. Sprinkle each slice with goat’s cheese and julienned basil.

To reheat and serve: Place baking sheet directly over coals until vegetables start to sizzle, remove and stack vegetables starting with eggplant on the bottom, layering vegetables alternately. Drizzle with balsamic syrup.

Grilled Fish with fresh corn salad and greens
4–6 pieces of fresh, meaty fish
(such as swordfish, tuna, shark, or thick salmon filets)

1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. dijon style mustard
Juice of 2 lemons
Crushed Red Pepper

Corn Salad:
2 cups fresh corn, cut off the cob and blanched
1/4 cup fine diced red pepper
1/4 cup fine diced red onion
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

About 4 cups fresh, tender green lettuces (such as arugula, butter lettuce, spinach leaves, red oak leaf, or mesclun salad mix)

To prepare marinade: Combine all ingredients, whisk together thoroughly. Refrigerate. Brush fish with a little marinade, reserving the rest as dressing for the greens. Let the fish stand in refrigerator for about 30 minutes before grilling.

To prepare corn salad: Toss all ingredients together and taste for seasoning. If you like spicy salad, add finely minced jalapeno.

To serve: Wipe off excess marinade from fish to avoid flare-ups. Grill marinaded fish over hot charcoals to sear and seal in the natural juices and flavors. Move away from intense heat to finish cooking. Gently toss greens in just enough of the reserved marinade to coat lightly. Divide evenly onto plates. Place grilled fish over greens and top with corn salad.

*Note: The recipe works equally well with other foods such as chicken, veal, or shrimp (just be sure to skewer the shrimp to keep them from falling through the grates).

Champagne Citrus Granita
Recipe contributed by Oliver’s Pastry Chef, Christine Storfer
Simple Syrup:
6 cups sugar
4 cups water
Bring this mixture to a boil and cool. Measure out three cups of the syrup (reserve remainder for another use). Mix with:
2 cups grapefruit juice
1-1/2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 bottle chilled champagne

Freeze the mixture in a shallow container overnight. Once frozen, scrape with the back of a fork until it appears fluffy and can be scooped. Return to freezer. Serve in wine goblets with fresh berry compote (recipe to follow).

Fresh Berry Compote:
1 qt. strawberries
1 qt. raspberries
1 qt. blueberries
1 qt. blackberries
Toss berries with orange zest and sugar to taste.
Let sit at room temperature for one hour.


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