Phew…The heat here in E.T. is fierce. Plus we’ve had ample rainfall for a change. That combination makes for abundance of fruits and veggies just begging to be cooked and consumed. First summer time cooking tip. Never take the husks off fresh corn until you’re ready to eat it. Clean off the silky stuff and pop the ears in the oven or onto the grill for a crisp treat. Fresh corn deserves real butter, no matter what your dietary notions are. Grill some extra ears for a corn salad treat. What do the gardens grow out west? We appreciate California fruit off-season, but this time of year…nothing tops a luscious Georgia peach.
No fruit recipes as we eat them all au natural. But here’s one for those extra ears of grilled corn:
2 cooked and cooled ears of corn
Eight plum Tomatoes chopped
Medium green pepper diced
Small sweet onion finely chopped
Small clove of garlic, minced
½ English cucumber, diced
½ small zucchini, diced
4 fresh basil leaves
Sprig fresh thyme
Sprig fresh oregano
1tbs fresh parsley
1 tbs lemon juice or more to taste
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Dash of chili powder
Lemon pepper to taste
Scrape corn off the cob, toss veggies and dressing in bowl and chill slightly. Keeps for a week refrigerated.
This time of year, we have melon mania. Cantaloupe for breakfast, Honeydew for lunch, and watermelon for dessert! Fruit is my favorite thing about the summer. Especially during cherry season. I go a bit crazy because they are only around for about a month here but they are so incredibly yummy I can’t resist gorging myself on them. They make such a terrific snack. We also grow a lot of avocados that I love. Funny, when I first moved to California I couldn’t stand them. I thought what the heck is that large green thing? Or black if it’s a Haus :). When I took my cousin’s dare to eat one, I thought the texture kind of slimy. But I couldn’t deny how absolutely delicious they tasted, especially when they came straight off my cousin’s tree! But back to fruit. They often star at all the great parties we throw in my neighborhood. The pomegranate margarita is the in-cocktail this summer. Here’s my secret recipe. Talk about yummy. : )
2 cups pomegranate juice
1/2 cup limejuice
2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur (triple sec or Grand Marnier)
1/2 cup tequila
Margarita salt to coat the rim of the glasses serves 6
How do you squeeze pomegranates to extract the juice? Tomatoes bombard us this year. Also onions, chives, green pepper, and mega herbs. Calls for fresh pasta sauce. Toss tomatoes into a pan and pop into over until good and hot. The skins will slip right off. Then cut up and mix up everything else and cook on top of stove until liquids reduce. Tastes like summer time. . Our favorite dish for sliced tomatoes is a simple salad, kind of a play on the Italian classic made with fresh mozzarella. We use Tennessee cheddar. Today’s salad mixed slices of hickory smoked and herb cheddar. Top slice tomatoes with sweet onions, place cheese slices between tomato slices, Calamata olives in the middle and sprinkle with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Can you tell that tomatoes are my favorite food?
Having just come back from Italy and enjoyed many a Caprese salad, I think the Italians would shoot you for messing with their favorite classic tomato salad. : ) When I think of summer my favorite thing is potato salad. My hubby makes a version that will complement any barbecue as it’s done on the grill. He uses mesquite, which gives the potatoes a wonderful smoked flavor. Try this one at your next barbecue and I swear people will be beating down your door for more!
GRILLED POTATO SALAD
1/4 cup Sherry wine vinegar
1 large shallot, chopped
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
12 medium red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled (about 2 3/4 pounds) Additional olive oil
2 bunches watercress, stems trimmed
3 green onions, chopped
Combine vinegar, shallot, and mustard in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Mix in cheese. Season vinaigrette to taste with salt and pepper.
Cook potatoes in large pot of boiling salted water until almost tender, about 16 minutes. Drain; cool completely. Cut potatoes into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick rounds. Brush rounds on both sides with oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Arrange watercress on platter. Grill potatoes until golden and cooked through, about 3 minutes per side.
Mound warm potatoes atop watercress; sprinkle with green onions. Spoon vinaigrette over potatoes.
Your hubby’s salad has my mouth watering. I wish I could hop a plane with a bag of the homegrown reds just dug from the neighbor’s garden! Used them today in a hot German potato salad I made to go along with our brats. The bacon complimented the new spuds and the onions sautéed in the smoky fat made the dish. I can feel the entire coast of California shuddering from the thought of eating grease, or is it another earthquake? Despite my Italian ancestry, I can’t get a taste for mozzarella cheese. But I like other Italian cheeses like the one in my favorite spinach salad:
PET'S EVERYTHING SPINACH SALAD
One six-ounce package of baby spinach with shaved carrots.
Four slices bacon (We use maple-pepper bacon. The smoky kind from Benton’s in nearby Madisonville is also yummy.) cooked and crumbled.
One large or equivalent small tomatoes chopped
½ cucumber diced
½ small sweet onion, chopped
½-pint ripe strawberries, sliced
Two tablespoons gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
One dozen pitted Calamata olives
¼-cup garlic croutons
Two tablespoons chopped pecans
Sprinkle of lemon-pepper seasoned salt
Raspberry-Walnut vinaigrette to taste
Place spinach in one big, or four individual, bowls. Layer ingredients and stir slightly before serving. Diners will add their own salad dressing. Ranch or Italian dressing also good.
Wow sounds decadent! Yes, here in sunny Southern California where everyone wants to look like a super model, bacon is actually a dirty word. : ) Salads of course are a main stay here and chefs can be very creative with the ingredients. How about instead of bacon to add a little crunch to your salad, adding some fried tofu, or better yet beetles. Have to say I tried them on a dare and roasted beetles taste like chicken. Lol Actually they taste like popcorn! Yum……………….. One of my favorite main dishes in the summer is grilled chicken. Here’s a recipe with a very California twist.
CALIFORNIA GRILLED CHICKEN
1/2 cup (California) walnuts
1 to 1 1/2 lbs of chicken breasts/tenders
1 large ripe fresh (California) nectarine
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup light brown sugar
3 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger
Place walnuts in skillet. Over low heat, toast walnuts about 3-5 minutes until fragrant. Remove for heat and let cool. Then place the toasted walnuts in food processor or blender until finely chopped. Cut nectarine in half and remove seed. Cut up fruit; place in blender or processor and liquefy. Pour pureed fruit into a large saucepan. Add honey, brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, and ginger. Cook on low heat for 8-12 minutes until thickened. Stir nonstop once comes to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool. Rinse chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Once the sauce mixture is cooled place the chicken in a large zip-locking bag. Add mixture and toasted walnuts. Remove most of the air from the bag and make sure all the chicken is covered with the sauce. Refrigerate 1-2 hours before removing from marinade and grilling. Discard marinade. Then grill until done.
Love that chicken, but boo to the bugs. Markets are loaded with tasty vegetarian bacon substitutes so you West Coasters don’t have to resort to beetles. In New York, where residents realize that 99.9% will never end up in the movies, pork fat is all the rage. A super trendy noodle house, where a reservation is impossible to get, biscuits cooked in pork fat draw the crowds in. And where do these big apple eateries get the pork? Why here in Tennessee at Benton’s Country Hams. I’m going to end this fattening blog with a barbecue substitute. Pork ribs ala Petrina who doesn’t like tomato laden, sweet sauce:
PET'S SECRET SAUCE
Place a rack of baby back ribs in a roasting pan. Rub generously with garlic pepper, cover and bake for one hour. Pour off fat, cool and marinate in my secret sauce revealed here for the first time:
2 tbs. Worcester sauce
¼-cup soy sauce
2 tbs. Hoisen Sauce
2 tbs. Raspberry vinaigrette
6 cloves of garlic, minced
Dash Thai peanut sauce
Dash Liquid Smoke flavoring
½ can beer
Durkee Grill Creations Chicken and Rib Rub
I like to marinate over night and all day until the grill is heated. Since the ribs are already cooked, five minutes on both sides should do the trick.
For research into Tennessee cooking:
Benton’s Country Hams https://bentonshams.com
Sweetwater Valley Cheese Farm www.sweetwatervalley.com
Thanks for finally coughing up your secret sauce recipe! Now I don’t have to torture it out of you. : ) I thought I’d add to the fattening finale with my grandmother’s killer devils food chocolate cake recipe. Probably has 1,000 calories in a slice as it’s a three-layer cake but you can split it with a friend and feel half as guilty. : )
GRANDMA’S DEVILS FOOD CAKE
1 cup unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups boiling water
1 cup cocoa powder (preferably Ghirardelli’s)
1 tablespoon (non-alcohol) vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3 1/4 cups powdered sugar
Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour 3 - 9 inch cake pans or use my favorite Crisco spray with flour added. Mix cocoa and boiling water, stir until smooth, set aside to cool. Sift dry ingredients together, set aside.
In a large bowl beat butter sugar, eggs and vanilla together. Alternately beat in the dry ingredients and the chocolate mixture. Beat just until blended, do not over mix. Pour batter into the three greased pans (again I use the flour baking spray) for about 30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Remove cakes from oven and allow them to set for 3-5 minutes. Remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.
Prepare frosting by melting the butter and chocolates together over low heat. Stir in the cream and mix until smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and place it in a large bowl filled with ice. Using an electric hand held mixer or if you want a workout a wooden spoon, beat in the powdered sugar until the frosting holds a stiff shape. Chill. Place the flattest layer on the bottom and frost. Repeat with the other two layers. Use a baker’s spatula to apply the frosting in a swirling motion. Refrigerate till ready to serve. Enjoy!
One thing for sure, once you have a piece of this chocolate cake you’re likely be addicted. Dream on Chocoholics! Hope you enjoy the Transplants summer recipes!