Five years since inception and Simmer and Smoke is available in paper and Kindle, with other formats on the wing. Mallory, Shelby and Miss Ann are, at last, alive. A feeling akin to childbirth? Not quite. It’s more like a funeral and I’m mourning their loss.
I can’t revisit my people––give Mallory another pill washed down with booze; push Shelby any harder; tuck Miss Ann to sleep. So be it. I’ve begun a second book about my ladies, Where There’s Smoke, which is easing the pain of this temporary loss. If this sort of fiction appeals to you, the first few chapters are free for your perusal. Just click onto the Kindle site and tap the “Lookinside” feature on the top, left-hand side of the screen.
Salmon Fillet with rub, pesto and lemon-herb butter–ready for the grill.
So what’s cookin’ with you? Summer’s settled the landscape, and it’s a pity to spend any more time indoors than necessary. Maybe your family, like mine, has taken to the grill–in our case the Big Green Egg.
The other night we were gifted (thank you Beth and Brian) a huge salmon fillet. We were debating its treatment before grilling and settled on a trio: 1/3 pesto, 1/3 rub, and 1/3 lemon-herb butter. Something for everyone, right?
Grilling romaine on the Egg.
And what better way to complement the salmon than with a Grilled Caesar Salad. Grilled romaine, especially when cooked over hardwood coals, is sublime.
Other heartier lettuces also hold their shape and are marvelous when exposed to the heat of a grill. Raddichio loses some of its bitter edge sweetening into a unique, nutty flavor, as does endive or escarole.
Grilled Caesar Salad
With all lettuces, simply halve or quarter the heads, ensuring the leaves remain connected at the stem end, brush with olive oil, and grill over medium to medium-high heat.
The lettuces will cook quickly and you’ll know they’re ready when softened and lightly browned here and there. Then, drizzle dressing (recipe below) into the cut side of the leaves, add slivers of Parmesan, quartered cherry tomatoes and croutons, if desired. Pass the anchovies.
The recipe below yields 1 cup of rich dressing; enough to douse 4-6 half-heads of grilled romaine. Years ago, Donna Newsom showed readers how to make a classic (not grilled) tableside Caesar from her long-ago days waiting tables at the venerable Lord Fox. Her recipe includes homemade croutons that would lend a crunchy addition to the salad.
Peonies and red leaf lettuce make a lovely centerpiece.
My son, Zan, married Lucy last week. Last week my first novel, SIMMER AND SMOKE, was attached a firm publication date: two weeks from today. (The paperback is now available on Amazon; the ebook will be soon.) Events surrounding the book’s massive to-do list were swept beneath wedding hoop-la without a glance. Big glorious times.
This week the balloon has deflated, the to-do list resurrected. My brain feels cracked, like some errant mule kicked my head into nonsense and all I can report are that ribbons of young, uncooked chard are delicious in tossed salads (as reflected in today’s recipe) and wood chunks (rather than chips) make a long smoke easier.
But you probably knew this anyway.
Greta wrapped the tent legs with burlap, tied them with gingham bows, then inserted fresh daisies into the bows.
Backing up, my self-catered, pre-wedding party (menu found in the previous blog) for 65 guests was a success. A lesson learned decades ago: when entertaining, do as much as you possibly can in advance.
For instance, pop-up tents were ordered to fit our backyard several months ago. (It was less expensive to buy then rent them.) Pinterest is an invaluable tool in storing decorating ideas. And who knew Joanne’s Fabrics is a Godsend for tent leg inspiration?
After a week of non-stop rain, the son shone down on my boy and his bride, the fiddler fiddled, and our guests dined on heritage recipes that relatives long passed away had penned. Zan’s deceased grandmothers, amongst others, were celebrating this union with their recipes for potato salad and pimento cheese. How wonderful is that!
Back to today’s recipe. Lucy once made me a tossed salad using ribbons of fresh, young, locally-grown chard; I loved the element of texture it lended to the salad and recreated something similar last night. It’s a riff on a Caesar Salad but I eliminated the egg in the dressing and substituted grated Gruyere for Parmesan. I also added some beets, avocado and pumpkin seeds I had on hand. I fear my riff has strayed quite a bit from the original tune, but your salad will be delicious, whichever chord you play.
Happy Memorial Day! Perhaps the long weekend will offer you more time to relax and fire up the grill, and the following recipe for Hot Slaw and Shoulder Sliders has been a family favorite for generations. My millennial son, Zan, is getting married to Lucy in 4 weeks, I’m hosting a party the night before the wedding, the boy wants mama’s down-home barbecue, and it better be good. Damn good.
Frozen smoked, pulled and sauced pork.
Serving pork, fresh from the smoke, is BQ done right, but that special evening I want to be apart of the revelry–not an ember-scented mama, eyes watering from smoke, fingers sticky with sauce.
So I quadrupled the barbecue portion of the recipe below to feed sixty, and for the past two days, I’ve smoked 4 shoulders in my Big Green Egg; the large Egg accommodates 2 shoulders but it takes 6-7 hours to smoke them. Then, I froze the pulled, sauced pork, which I plan to thaw the night before the party. I’ll serve it from a sterno-lit chafing dish next to the slaw and buns. Heresy, perhaps, but I’ve frozen freshly smoked pork before with excellent results.
And they’ve only been open 10 months. I’ve license to brag, right? Dang.
Family recipes are what will lend sentiment to the occasion; food from Zan’s side of the family honoring family present and those who’ve
Pork should smoke at a constant temperature.
“moved on”: my Alabama mother’s recipe be for smoked pulled pork shoulder (a.k.a. Boston butt); his uncle Allen’s recipe for Hot Slaw; his German grandmother’s recipe for potato salad; his stepmother’s recipe for carrot cake, which she (praise God) will be making. Strategically placed bowls of my own riff on Pimento Cheese, gussied up with bacon and creme fraiche, will be served with pumpernickel bread and celery sticks. Peanuts in the shell at the bar–easy-peasie. Deviled Eggs may make a showing, if I’ve the time. For libation I’m making a whiskey punch, and for fun I’ve hired a fiddler to work the crowd.
Barbecue is, more than likely, the oldest form of cooking in our part of the world; whether its genesis be African slaves, Pilgrims or native Hawaiians; whoever had the great idea of devising that first pit of burning embers, and placing a pig within it to roast. The art of the pit is in it’s golden age with nationwide beloved pit masters and their BQ joints enjoying more local notoriety than their representatives at the White House.
For me, the key to making the best smoked pork is keeping my fire at a constant temperature (250-300 degrees), selecting my favorites woods for smoking pork (hickory and a fruity wood such as apple or cherry) and removing the pork when it temps at 190-200 degrees.
The following recipe is for the typical, popular kettle grill. A couple of years ago, I sprung for a Big Green Egg, which has made smoking infinitely easier, once you get the hang of it. I’m able to skip the drip pan step in the recipe below, regulating heat and keeping a constant heat is a breeze, and one kettle filled with their organic charcoal is enough fuel for 7 hours+ of smoking time.
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