Simmer and Smoke paired with Grilled Caesar Salad

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 “Look inside” 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

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.

Recipe: Classic Caesar Salad Dressing


  • 2-4 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 6 anchovy fillets
  • 2 heaping teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 egg yolks*
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. With a fork, mash together 2 teaspoons minced garlic, anchovy, and mustard.
  2. Whisk in egg yolk, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and red wine vinegar.
  3. Slowly whisk in olive oil and continue whisking until emulsified. Taste and add additional minced garlic, if desired, and freshly ground pepper, to taste.

*Egg may be “coddled” (shell pricked then boiled in water for 1 minute) before using, if desired.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 1 rich cup of dressing

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.


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Ribbons of Chard

Peonies and red leaf lettuce make lovely centerpieces.

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.

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?

IMG_0854After 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!

IMG_6091Back 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.

Have a lovely, safe Fourth of July. Here are some explosively delicious recipes that may inspire.

Recipe: Riff on a Caesar Salad with Ribbons of Chard


  • Garlic clove half, plus 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2-3 anchovy fillets
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Dash Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 (loosely packed) cups washed, cut or torn baby lettuce leaves, locally grown, if possible
  • 4 (loosely packed) cups washed, 1/3-inch chard ribbons
  • 2 cooked beets, cut into cubes
  • 1 pitted avocado, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • Grated Gruyere, as desired (1 cup was perfect for my salad)


  1. Rub cut side garlic clove around interior of wooden salad bowl.
  2. With a fork, mash together garlic, anchovy, and mustard. Whisk in Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and red wine vinegar. Slowly whisk in olive oil and continue whisking until emulsified. Taste and add additional freshly ground pepper, to taste.
  3. Toss lettuces, chard ribbons, beets, avocado and pumpkin seeds into dressing. Liberally season with Gruyere and serve.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Number of servings (yield): 4 large salads

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.


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An Outdoor Barbecue Party Featuring Hot Slaw & Shoulder Sliders

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.

Rose's last May, two months prior to opening.

Rose’s last May, two months prior to opening.

His bride-to-be brings me to my knees in the kitchen, her Detroit diner, Rose’s Fine Food having been written up in the May issues of Bon Appetit, (Lucy’s holding that pot of coffee in the linked article) Saveur, and past issues of the New York Times and the Detroit News.

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.

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.

IMG_0769Barbecue 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.

IMG_0700For 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.

Recipe: Hot Slaw and Shoulder Sliders 


  • 6-7 # pork shoulder (aka: Boston butt)
  • 1/3 cup rub* (recipe below)
  • 1-2 disposable aluminum or metal drip pans for placing under the pork butt
  • 1 kettle (charcoal) grill, smoker or Big Green Egg
  • Charcoal, as needed
  • Several chunks of wood (preferred for long smokes) or 4-6 cups wood chips (I prefer mixing hickory with a milder wood, such as apple), soaked at least 1 hour
  • Cooking thermometer
  • 4-6 cups barbecue sauce (I prefer a medium-thick, tomato-tinged vinegar sauce)
  • 25-35 small rolls or 15-20 regular-sized hamburger buns
  • 1 recipe for Hot Slaw (below)


  1. Massage rub into pork, wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator 8-24 hours.
  2. Remove from fridge and let sit at room temperature 30-60 minutes, prior to grilling.
  3. Follow manufacturer’s advise if using a smoker or Big Green Egg. If using a kettle grill,  place 1-2 water pans in the bottom grill grate. Fill pan(s) halfway with water. You want the pan or pans to use about half the space at the bottom of the grill.
  4. Surround the pans with charcoal and, with a chimney starter or lighter fluid, heat coals to hot heat. Coals should be red hot and lightly covered with white ash. Sprinkle several handfuls of soaked wood chips over the hot coals.
  5. Place the top grill grate on the grill. Position the grill grate so if you are using a hinged grill grate, one of the hinged areas lifts up over the coals so you can easily add coals when needed.
  6. Put the meat on the grill away from the coals. Lay the meat over the water pans as far away from the coals as possible. Do not let the meat rest directly over the coals.
  7. Cover the grill, positioning the vent on the cover directly over the meat. This helps direct the smoke over the meat. Close all vents, including bottom vents, to keep the temperature low. If your vents and cover are extremely snug, open one vent.
  8. If your grill lid has a thermometer, it should read about 250-300°. Ideally you want the temperature at the meat level around 225-260; heat rises and a lid thermometer will show the temperature at the lid, and not at the meat level. If your kettle grill does not have a thermometer built-in, put a meat thermometer into the cover vent and check it occasionally.
  9. If the temperature rise higher than 325°, open the lid and let the coals burn off a bit. Then add some more soaked wood and close the lid again. If your temperature begins to drop below 225°, open the vents. If the temperature does not rise, open the lid and add more coals and soaked wood.
  10. For kettle grills, you may need to add additional soaked wood and charcoal as the meat smokes. (One full kettle of Big Green Egg charcoal and large hunks of wood keep a steady smoke for at least 8 hours without replenishing.)
  11. Your meat is ready when it temps at 190-200° and is easily pulled apart with a fork. Wrap in a cloth towel and place in a cooler at least an hour or until ready to serve.  Then,in a large bowl, shred with a fork and thoroughly mix pork with barbecue sauce to taste.
  12. To serve, place barbecue pork in a slider or bun and top with Hot Slaw.

*There are dozens of prepared barbecue rubs on most grocery shelves in town. You may have the ingredients to make your own signature rub just by using what you have on hand. The recipe below is a guideline and makes a flavorful rub.

Rub sit time: 24 hours + time to build the fire

Cooking time: 5-7 hour(s)

Number of servings (yield): apx. 25-30 sliders 

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

Recipe: Hot Slaw (may be made 24 hours in advance)


  • 4 cups cabbage, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1½ cups shredded carrots
  • ½ red minced bell pepper
  • ¼ cup minced sweet or red onion
  • ¼ cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1-3 teaspoons prepared brown mustard (I prefer Gulden’s)
  • Hot sauce*
  • 1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil


  1. Layer the vegetables in a large glass bowl in the following order: Cabbage, carrots, bell pepper and onion. Do not combine.
  2. Whisk together the vinegar, sugar and 1 teaspoon of the mustard. Add additional mustard, hot sauce, kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste and pour over the layered vegetables. Do not combine.
  3. Heat the oil in a sauté pan until it begins to smoke. Carefully and evenly drizzle the hot oil over the slaw. Do not toss. Let sit 10 minutes for the flavors to combine. Toss well and refrigerate until serving.

*Most Hot Slaw fans prefer it extremely spicy so I take a heavy hand with the hot sauce. However, you can put it in, but you can’t take it out. My suggestion would be to add enough hot sauce so the slaw at least lives up to its name, then let your guests add more according to their palate’s endurance.

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

Recipe: Rub for Pork

Ingredients:  Combine:

  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic or onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne

Copyright © Peggy Lampman’s dinnerFeed.

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