Summer. I don’t know about you, but there is something so special and pure about the Summer.
Hell, think of all of the songs created in honor of this warm and wonderful season.
“Ain’t no cure for the Summertime blues.”, “Summer in the City”, “Surf City”, “Endless Summer Nights” “Surfin’ USA”, “Hot Fun in the Summertime” and one of my favorites, “Summer Nights”, by Van Halen. If you haven’t heard it..get ready to blast it.
Oh, to be asparagus: One of the most vilified vegetables of the bunch. Next to broccoli and Brussel sprouts, asparagus continues to be one of the most misunderstood and underutilized greens in the garden……but not for long.
We’re taking it back to the top, gang.
There’s a game I like to play every summer evening when walking our dog: What’s on my neighbor’s menu.
It’s an adventure in olfactory exploration. One house has the charred and robust smell of slow smoked brisket, and another the garlicy aroma of vegetable kabobs. Perhaps there is the yeasty scent of grilled pizza and then the unmistakable smell of beer can chicken. Potatoes, corn, hot dogs, burgers – you name it. I can sniff it out with my nose.
Summertime is quite literally a magical time: It is a time of rebirth, awakening, and reemergence. We are well out of our winter stupor, let go of our soups and our casseroles, and make way for fresh, crisp, vibrant foods that rise like a phoenix during the sunny summer days. It is the time of Farmer’s Markets and vegetable stands on the side of the road. It is the season of grass-fed beef, copper river salmon if you’re in the pacific northwest, or lobster if you’re on the east coast. It is the time to unleash all of the amazing ingredients that hid quietly and unassumingly during the winter months.
I love grilling for so many reasons. The cleanup is easy, the act is social, and there is something beautiful about cooking a meal with the wind blowing through your hair and the sun upon your face. Beyond that, grilling is a method of cooking that releases subtleties in flavor that simply sautéing, baking, or frying just cannot compete with.
If you want to maximize your spring and summer culinary game, just follow these easy steps:
- Talk to the farmer or butcher Some of the best meals start with the following phrase: “What would you recommend today?” Farmers and butchers are more artist than grocer. These are the people that know their produce and meats. They can tell you not only what is best in the bunch, but how best to prepare it.
- Get spicy Or herby. Whatever you choose, choose fresh. Use old coffee cans to grow your own herb garden and simple pick and choose your spices and herbs straight from the plant.
- Let your meat rest This is good advice anytime you are cooking meat, but it is crucial when grilling. The super heat of the grill can char and beautify a piece of meat, but without the proper rest time, your grilled meat will be an utter disappointment.
And if you’re looking for inspiration, I encourage you to walk through your neighborhood and follow your nose: You never know what inspiration you might find.
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July 4th is Independence Day in the United States.
It celebrates the commemorating of the adoption of Declaration of Independence, July 4th, 1776, stating that the 13 American colonies were no longer part of the British Empire and that the United States of America was born.
It also gives us the right to shoot off fireworks, attend awesome parades, drink beer and participate in some serious grilling.
Let us not, ever, downplay the freedom aspect of the holiday and the respect portion.
Don’t ever let my humor, sarcasm, amazing culinary skills, ninja-esque veggie chopping abilities, outrageously handsome and rugged stature make you think that I am diluting the holiday. Not a chance. I’m just enhancing it with the previously mentioned details…because we live in the most amazing country ever and have freedoms that should never be taken for granted.
Now on to the cooking……
Spring has sprung.
Birds are singing their anthems…
The flowers are sweet and fragrant…
The sun is shining bright early in the morning…
The landscapers are in the backyard at 7 am waving their leaf blowers around like light sabers..
And the pollen count is already high….
But, that also means that farm stand fruits and veggies are on the menu, fresh seafood is at the market and we’re cooking outside more often, so get ready for a marinade that will not only be synonymous with the nice weather but will also be known as your favorite go-to recipe.
Enter: The Only Marinade You Will Ever Need.
It really doesn’t get any easier than this.
Freshly squeezed lemon juice, a high quality olive oil, a fragrant selection of dry and fresh herbs make this marinade the flavor of warm weather.
The zesty lemon, rich oil and delicious herbs compliment almost anything that you marinate, baste and brush this on.
Check out the recipe below in the Recipe Card section!
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- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic-about 2-3 large cloves
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest, from one lemon
- 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- Whisk together lemon juice, oregano, parsley, dill, garlic, tablespoon salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and lemon zest in a large bowl and add oil in a slow stream, whisking while you pour.
- Perfect for chicken, seafood, meat or your favorite fresh veggies.
It’s very much a fishing town that people flock to because of it’s dock to table seafood, relaxed atmosphere, awesome waves and the tranquil vibe it leaves you with.
It’s gotten more developed, more trendy and more inhabited over the years, but to me it will always be a place where I learned to swim in the ocean, respect the waves, appreciate amazing sunsets, develop my love for seafood and a place where beautiful memories were made.
There are so many places on Long Island to get great seafood, but to me the best places are the closest to the water.
The dockside restaurants where industrial fishermen haul back monster tuna and tremendous shark to be sold at markets as well as off the map seafood shacks and small restaurants where amazing recipes are developed after the patrons have left, the last table is cleaned and they break out the beers.
“This is about chicken wings, right? Why all the talk about fish?”
We’ll, I’m glad you raised your hand and asked this question.
Over the last few years the foodie focus has not only been on seafood, but tavern and beach hut type eats such as innovative salads and finger foods like creative chicken wings.
Originally, it was down to earth fish like fried flounder, but then as tastes developed, family cooks became chefs, new inspirations were created, fancy foods were introduced and celebs bought restaurants… the times changed and so did the menu.
Restaurants that were known for having the reliable chopped steak and crab cake all of a sudden replaced these standards with sushi grade tuna, chilean sea bass with mango chutney, steak tartare and dishes revolving around molecular gastronomy, like edible sea foam.
What the hell is edible sea foam?
It’s just lecithin powder incorporated with other ingredients to look like a wave, rolled up on your plate and left it’s nasty, greenish residue.
Sexy, right? How about edible sand?
How about no!?!
The trend is going back to eating what you like, not what’s trendy and what the local celebs are chowing down on.
What a concept.
Fresh cut fries with sea salt and garlic butter is coming to mind, sweet and smoky short ribs and Smoked Cheddar and Pulled BBQ Chicken Mac & Cheese all lend their notes to how I created my wings.
These wings are simple, even though there are numerous ingredients, the process is easy and your taste buds will thank you.
Sure, if you look hard enough you can still find a free range, grass fed elk burger with a raw quail egg and shaved wheat berry truffle infused olive oil on it being eaten by someone who wants to be seen eating something like this, but for me, I’ll stick to eating what I want.
Check out the full recipe below and…
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- 20 chicken wings
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 cup high end, store bought regular bbq sauce. Noting too fancy or anything with added heat.
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 4 tbsp ketchup
- 3 tbsp Frank's Red Hot Sauce
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 3/4 cup honey
- 5 tbsp salted butter
- Preheat the oven to 375.
- Wash wings with cold water and dry well with paper towels.
- In a large zip lock bag, add the pepper, cayenne, paprika, garlic powder and brown sugar.
- Place wings, 5 at a time in the bag and coat well.
- Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray or if you are using a great non-stick cookie sheet, lightly coat with a little canola oil.
- Place the wings in a single layer on the cookie sheet.
- Cook for 35-40 minutes, turning once.
- While wings are cooking, make the sauce by simmering the ingredients on very low.
- As the wings are just about finished done baking, brush the sauce all over them, and put them back in the oven for another 5 minutes.
- While the wings are cooking, simply make the sauce by simmering all of the sauce ingredients for 10 minutes, under very low heat.
- Go to Costco for napkins.
Grilled chicken is a family favorite, oh so easy and so many ways to prepare it.
Technically, it’s the still the Summer. It’s hot and nobody wants to be in the kitchen, especially when the weather is perfect, the birds are chirping and the sun is setting so perfectly in the sky.
Ok, it’s not always such a bucolic setting in August and early September here in New York, in fact the mosquitoes are out like frantic shoppers on Black Friday and the heat and humidity can be downright oppressive, but with this winning recipe, you’ll be cool as a cucumber enjoying the good life whether you are dining in or outdoors.
There are so many ways you can add flavor to chicken to look like a rock star to your friends and family, but one of the easiest and most rewarding ways is by marrying these simple and delicious ingredients that I use to make my Grilled Lemon and Herb Chicken.
Strawberry season is coming to an end, but have no fear…there are some excellent options if you missed the berry boat.
The summer brings us so many amazing things.
Fresh vegetables, delicious fruits, the sounds of children laughing as they run through the sprinkler, the smell of fresh cut grass and especially today…
God Awful Heat and Humidity!
Cue the Lovin’ Spoonful’s song……
Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty
Been down, isn’t it a pity
Doesn’t seem to be a shadow in the city
All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head
It’s January on Long Island and it is oh so cold, but that isn’t keeping me away from the outdoor grill, aka, The Beast.
In keeping to my January foodie theme, “The Month of Meat”, I am officially a Porterhouse perfectionist.
The recipe at the bottom of this blog will give you simple step by step instructions for grilling the most amazing Porterhouse steak that has ever been placed before you.
Usually this time of year I am busy with my slow cooker making soups and sauces and other slow food creations but that’s not the case this year, so far.
Happy New Year’s Day 2017!
January 1st always brings excitement, exhilaration and anticipation of great things to come for the new year.
A fresh start….A new way of thinking…Time to do things right. This is a time of celebration.
Use the good china, use the best ingredients and open up that expensive bottle of wine you have been saving for that special occasion… because that special occasion is the now.