By Will Budiaman
The Daily Meal
Last year, we assembled a list of eight unlikely foods to grill that we thought would be fun (and delicious) and provide some inspiration come grilling season. It proved so popular that we couldn't help putting together a sequel with seven more surprising and delicious ideas for the next backyard shindig.
New this year is the addition of dessert items to our list. The one and only George Duran, chef, entertainer, and host of TLC's Ultimate Cake Off as well as the popular Ham on the Street series on Food Network, takes his favorite dessert, a banana split, and puts his own grilled twist on it. He also offers a few tips to keep your next grilling adventure worry- and stress-free:
For easy cleanup, Duran usually keeps a spray bottle around to clean the grill right after he's done with it. That way, the grill's still hot enough to generate steam, and a grill brush does the rest of the work. Plus, spray bottles also come in handy for putting out flare-ups while grilling.
And for a more comfortable grilling experience, Duran advises investing in a grill mat -- he says you'd be surprised what a difference it makes after a few hours in front of the grill, and it also prevents nasty slipups.
Also, don't miss Kent Whitaker's grilled pound cake. Whitaker, known as "the Deck Chef," is a cookbook author and winner of the Emeril Live Food Network Barbecue Contest. His dessert is a quick and easy post-party treat that's easily personalized with different toppings.
Think tofu is bland? Think again. Grilling tofu imparts a nice smoky flavor to the healthy protein, and pairing it with a sweet and spicy marinade makes it pop. When grilling tofu, it's best to use a firm tofu and grill for about five minutes on each side without moving it to get those coveted grill marks. For more tips on cooking with tofu straight from a Tofu Master, click here to see How to Grill Tofu.
Sure, they're great just eaten straight from the shell, or broiled or baked with a delicious topping, but what about grilling them? Go ahead and throw 'em straight on the grill without shucking them; they'll pop open when done to let you know they're ready! If serving these at a party, it's best to cook them to order rather than all in advance so everyone gets some nice, hot, juicy oysters. You can also cook them in the half shell, too, like in this recipe for Diablo Oysters.
Grilling potatoes is a convenient and delicious way to make a side dish without having to shuttle back and forth between the kitchen and the outdoor grill. Throw them on while the main course is cooking and they'll be done in about 10 minutes. Russet or waxy potatoes work pretty well; just make sure to slice them thinly or cut them into thin wedges (about ½-inch thick) and coat with a good amount of olive or vegetable oil.
4. Pound Cake
This is Kent Whitaker's signature dessert. To cut down on prep, he advises cooks to use ready-made pound cake, and to cut down on calories or fat, he says to try using low-fat or sugar-free items as well as cutting out the butter and brown sugar. Feel free to switch up the fruit with pineapple, peaches, or whatever's in season, and serve with your favorite ice cream.
5. Rice Ball
Yaki onigiri, or Japanese grilled rice balls, are just as fun to eat as they are to make. It's best to use Japanese short-grain rice for this, as other types of rice will not contain enough starch for the ball to stick together when placed on the grill.
Cook the rice as usual, either on the stove or in a rice cooker, and let it cool slightly. While it's still hot, place it in the center of a square piece of plastic wrap and wrap it into a dense, 1-inch-thick triangle (make sure to really pack it in). Brush with a bit of melted butter and some soy sauce, and grill on both sides until crisp. Enjoy!
Putting quesadillas on the grill gives the tortillas a nice crispness and slight smokiness for something a little different. If preparing these for a party, the fillings can be prepared in advance and placed between the tortillas just before serving. Grill them up to order until the cheese is melted. Make sure to coat the grill thoroughly with cooking spray to prevent sticking and to get it nice and hot before placing the quesadillas.
7. Banana Split
George Duran fires it up with his twist on the classic banana split by slipping sliced bananas, pound cake, and pineapple onto skewers and throwing them on the grill. Make sure to soak the wooden skewers for about half an hour before using. Click here to see the Grilled Banana Split Recipe.
More From The Daily Meal:
-- What Not to Grill
-- Best Steak Grilling Tips From the Pros
-- 5 Grilling Mistakes You Should Never Make
-- 15 of the Most Expensive Grills -- And Are They Worth It?