Cook | Grilled and skewered in your own backyard

Our neighbors are beekeepers, and I don’t know who spends more time in our fog-shrouded backyards — them or us. They check hives and putter endlessly. We grill. Also endlessly.

I marinate chicken and flank steak in large sealable bags and grill our protein over the flames for a week’s worth of meals. If we can’t face dishes, we grill. When feeling daunted by life and picky children, we skewer frozen chicken meatballs and grill.

These days, I also entertain by grill. Not only is outside a lot easier to clean up, there’s no shortage of company when you’re hanging out in the great (gray) yonder of San Francisco. Bring layers, and welcome to summer.


Herby Burgers with a Kick

Serves 6

2 lbs. ground round

1 Tbs. thyme leaves

2 Tbs. adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chiles

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

6 buns (if desired)

Break up ground round and sprinkle with parsley, thyme, adobo sauce, salt and pepper. Toss lightly with your hands to distribute seasonings, but be careful not to overhandle. Divide into six equal portions. Shape each into a 3⁄4-inch patty wide enough to fit your bun (again, handling as little as possible). Grease grill rack and grill over medium heat 5-6 minutes per side.


‘Hacker Salmon’

Serves 6

Bolani sauces (Sweet Jalapeño, Cilantro Pesto, Garlic Mint Yogurt)

(*see note)

3 lb. salmon fillet

plenty of freshly ground black pepper

1 lemon, cut in wedges

Prepare grill for medium-high cooking (about 375 degrees if you’re working with gas).

Arrange salmon on a grilling tray if you have one. If not, prepare salmon on a large tray and transfer directly to grill when time to cook. Scoop 4-6 Tbs. Bolani Sweet Jalapeño sauce into a bowl. With a pastry brush, paint top of salmon with the sauce. Sprinkle generously with black pepper. Grill salmon, covered, 8-12 minutes until cooked through to taste. Transfer to serving platter and serve with Cilantro Pesto, Garlic Mint Yogurt and lemon wedges.

If you’re really feeling the love for Bolani Afghani foods, purchase some of those Spinach Bolanis, and grill them on low heat or in the bread tray (suspended under the hood in most gas grills) until warm.

Note: Bolani sauces are widely available at Bay Area supermarkets, specialty food stores and farmers markets. To find one in your area, visit


Blueberry Ketchup

Makes 1 1/2 cups

3 Tbs. olive oil

1 1/2 Tbs. sherry vinegar

1 1/2 tsp. tomato paste

1 1/2 tsp. adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chiles

1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. ground allspice

10 oz. sweet red grape tomatoes

1 clove garlic

1 Tbs. blueberry jam

In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, sherry vinegar, tomato paste, adobo, salt and allspice. Thread grape tomatoes on six 10-inch metal skewers (approximately 10 tomatoes on each skewer), placing the clove of garlic on one of the skewers. Paint the tomatoes with the tomato paste slurry. Place tomato skewers over medium heat. Grill 4-5 minutes. Using tongs, turn every 90 seconds or so until skins begin to split. Remove tomatoes and garlic from skewer and transfer to a food processor. Add remaining tomato paste slurry and blueberry jam and pulse until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Josie A.G. Shapiro is the co-author of “The Lazy Gourmet” and works at the JCC of San Francisco. Her columns alternate with those of Faith Kramer.

Josie A.G. Shapiro

Josie A.G. Shapiro won the 2013 Man-O-Manischewitz Cookoff and is the co-author of “The Lazy Gourmet.”