If I stole it, it would undoubtedly taste better. Ever since I was a little girl, despite the food on my grandpa’s plate being absolutely identical to the food I had before me, I would try to steal his. His food was tastier, stronger, more courageous and intelligent than my boring food. The bacon was crispier, the sausage was juicier, and the egg yolks were sunnier.
My mother used to tell me she would drive to Malibu several times a week. She wouldn't stop there, just drive there and back. To relax…to write in her head...to figure things out. She doesn't do it anymore, because of the price of gas, it's wasteful...but every once in awhile I'll wake up early and do the drive myself...watching the coastline as I speed by...I'd pay more for a movie...
When my parents first split up they weren't exactly on the best of terms. My time was divided. I spent way more of it with my Mom, and distinct brackets with my dad. My Mom and I had an easier time hanging out, satisfied with doing nothing. One Wednesday, in the middle of the day, she drove me along the coast. 'Where are we going,' I thought to myself, but I didn't dare ask, for one because she wouldn't have told me if I had, but also because she probably didn't know herself. She stopped at one point and we got out of the car. She disappeared up a small trail you would barely notice, and I followed her up the mountain.
Some days are just harder than others.
Today I’m listening to my favorite Bruce Springsteen songs. I had the Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town album’s in the 70’s and I would play them over and over in my dad’s apartment. I would watch his foot, the one that was attached to his brace start to move to the beat of the music. One day, he said “Who is this guy, he’s very talented”. “Bruce Springsteen Dad, isn’t he great?”
I miss sharing the love of music. I miss sharing the love of food. I miss sharing the love of people. I miss my dad!
My dad played the harmonica. So did the Boss.
The last night I went out with my dad was when we met at the House of Blues. His friends, the Gittlesohns invited him. They told him there would be this harmonica player performing. Everyone was saying this guy was great. The guy hadn’t gone on stage and it was going on midnight. I bailed. My father, at age 85 stayed out until he saw the guy perform. Ever the hard core music supporter and enthusiast, he wasn’t home until nearly 2 AM. That night at the House of Blues, I wore this tight gold dress. My father said he loved my dress.
In the summer, people tend to fall in around here, sometimes when we least expect it. Spontaneous plans get made in the morning or a minute before because the weather’s nice and Alan’s almost always game for a barbecue (though he has been known to get cranky when the dishes pile up.)
He is constitutionally “allergic” to making salad and the appetizers and the sides (unless we’re talking grilled vegetables and the occasional amazing polenta) generally fall on my shoulders. But, since the side dishes and appetizers often define a meal, give it its flourish so to speak, it could be viewed as a tiny opportunity, to show off.
So here are a couple of my favorites, that involve a minimum of effort, the next time there are hot dogs on or burgers or Alaskan salmon on the grill and you just have to rustle something up to go along with them.
There is nothing like ordering fresh fish at a sea side tavern in Greece. It’s one of the quintessential experiences when visiting the Greek Isles. My friend Rich Campbell, who has uncanny knack for finding incredible places to eat, introduced me to a wonderful spot in Oia on Santorini called Taverna Katina in the quaint Ammoudi Port.
It’s simple, casual dining at its best. Mrs Katina oversees everything and beams with pride as guests enjoy her authentic Greek dishes. If you visit, be sure to try her tomatokeftedes (tomato balls) – a house specialty.
They offer the freshest fish, which you can choose from the display case inside the restaurant. We opted for local snapper - served whole with simple lemon and olive oil dressing on the side - and it was some of the best I’ve ever had.
If a trip to Greece isn’t in your near future, you can grill fresh snapper in your own backyard. Grilling a whole fish (head and all) delivers a richer, deeper flavor than grilling boneless fillets. If your fish are a little larger (between 1 1/2 and 2 pounds), simply grill them a minute or two longer on each side.
No matter the time of year, I always appreciate an appetizer I can serve that looks awesome, tastes wonderful and can be prepared ahead of serving time.
During the summer, bruschetta is my choice. Bruschetta (bruce-KEHTA), toasted slices of baguette, serve as small crunchy, yet chewy plates that can be topped with just about whatever you can think of. Typically, the first thing that comes to mind is the traditional Italian topping of tomatoes, garlic and basil. I like to add fresh mozzarella to that topping. When fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes are available, this topping can’t be beat.
Sweet bell peppers are also approaching their seasonal peak in my area. I buy several green and red peppers at the farmers market, roast them and once sliced, I marinate them in an olive oil and vinegar mixture, along with some minced fresh basil and parsley. The marinating peppers can be stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks.
We are big barbecue lovers over here, ribs, pulled pork and brisket make for an amazing meal. But the sauce has to be right. Like perfection. Sometimes I crave my tangy-vinegar based Eastern Carolina Barbecue Sauce. But lately I’ve been wanting something sweet with a little bit of smoke on the side.
Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce is known for its balanced sweet-smoky-spicy flavor. It can be hard to achieve since the sweetness can easily overpower the other flavors. However, I’ve been playing and tweaking and I think I’ve finally gotten it. Practice makes perfect!
The sauce is thick and somewhat dark brown. It’s powerful and ornery with lots of attitude. I love this sauce on pulled pork and all kinds of other barbecue. I have been spending a lot of time learning about all the different regional styles of barbecue, it’s fascinating and it’s not just about the sauce.
I don’t know if I would really call this dish a “recipe”. No need for measuring cups, measuring spoons, tons of ingredients, or chopping. I cannot tell you how many times I have thrown some fresh mozzarella, heirloom tomatoes, and some basil together to enhance a meal. A little good olive oil, some balsamic, fresh ground pepper, and coarse salt creates a fresh, tasty, savory, and sweet dish.
Sometimes I will make a bruschetta and add a piece of burrata cheese. My motto – you can’t go wrong with anything that includes burrata. Even without the burrata, there is something special about this combination.
When I read that this weeks dish for French Fridays with Dorie was a salad that included a fruit, I wasn’t exactly overwhelmed. Generally, I don’t really like fruit in my salad. I can’t get into watermelon with my lettuce and PLEASE, hold the mandarin oranges in my chinese chicken salad.
Going out to eat has many pleasures, not the least of which is learning a new trick to add to your own repertoire at home.
Recently at Il Fornaio, during the Lazio Regionale, we had Lattuga Romana alla Griglia or lightly grilled hearts of romaine topped with shaved pecorino pepato and Il Fornaio's creamy house dressing.
The rest of the menu was terrific, but the real stand out was the deceptively simple grilled hearts of romaine.
The dish is easy to make at home. So easy, in fact, you can serve it on the spur of the moment because it takes barely fifteen minutes to prepare.
Three years ago I discovered something at the farmers' market that changed my life: it's called elote (Mexican grilled corn).
Despite the fact that it was only 10:30 in the morning, the aroma of smoky grilled corn lured Jeff and me to a stand where open grills were covered with plump ears of roasting corn. As soon as each ear was cooked it was quickly jammed onto a stick then drowned in a lime-spiked mayonnaise sauce, rolled in crumbly cotija anejo cheese and sprinkled with lime juice and cayenne pepper. Each customer's eyes widened in anticipation when handed this unusual treat.
Since that day, I have learned that the Spanish word "elote" can refer to corn or to grilled corn and that it's a common street food in many parts of Mexico. Like the famed fish taco, grilled corn is classic street food: unpretentious yet remarkable in its unique flavor. It's hot and creamy and salty and spicy, and utterly, wholeheartedly addictive.
by James Moore
The real secret to a great Margarita is choosing the best tequila, so save these for special occasions with just a few friends. Start this recipe the day before your party – it’s worth it. The longer the zest and juice mixture is allowed to steep, the more developed the citrus flavors in the finished margaritas - the full 24 hours is best,...Read more...
by James Moore
I generally don’t care for Sangria, except for when I’m in Spain - it just seems to taste better there. Sangria makes a perfect summer drink when entertaining, because you can make large batches ahead of time.
This recipe is based on one I received during my stay at Le Meridien Barcelona from the General Manager, Gonzalo Duarte Silva. They...Read more...
by James Farmer III
My house wine is sweat tea, but there are a couple concoctions I simply relish as much as tea. One is Mrs. Wilson’s Rosemary Lemonade and the other, a “James Farmer” – this Farmer’s version of an Arnold Palmer.
Dear friends of mine in Montgomery host me and “put me up” (or more so put up with me) when I’m staying in town for the night, and Mrs....Read more...
by Maureen Greer