There’s a game I like to play every spring and 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……
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.
I don’t think I know of a single living soul that doesn’t LOVE mozzarella.
Think about it…
Have you ever heard someone say..“Yeah, gimmie a slice and hold the cheese.” ????
NO! You haven’t! I can almost guarantee it.
In fact, I hit the streets to ask what New Yorkers favorite pizza toppings are and guess what the answers were?
I also asked people what are their favorite cheese’s and the 1st responses were always..yup, you guessed it.
And finally, I asked..”What is the best cheese to eat when you have tomatoes and basil or want to cut it into sticks and fry it?
The answer. You know it baby…Mozzarella again.
( Thanks for answering my questions, Mom and Dad)
I loooovvveee fresh oysters.
The variety, the different flavors, the history.
The only thing I don’t love about them are shucking them.
Oysters are like women.
(Angry women unfriending my Facebook page in 3..2..1)
They are sensual,beautiful, and totally worth the effort.
They are unique, stand out in a crowd and are desired by many.
They also may be difficult and unforgiving at times.
And yup, You may walk away with a few scars at the end of the day..but still it’s worth it.
Shucking an oyster is something that must practiced with care. It’s takes time to be a pro, so don’t rush it….or that beautiful, significant other will be rushing you to the ER, because you rushed that shucking knife into the palm of your hand. Or will she….
Now shuck on!
- 1 (36 ounce) bottle ketchup. The good stuff.
- 3 tablespoons Peter Luger steak sauce (or other high quality sauce)
- 4 tablespoons prepared horseradish
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed organic lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper ( freshly cracked)
- In a large bowl, mix all ingredients, cover and refrigerate for, ideally, an hour before serving so that all of the flavors and mix perfectly together.
Penne ala Vodka.
Delicious. How can you go wrong?
Come on people…this is comfort food calling you.
It must be getting cooler out because I’m actually cooking inside the house and giving the charcoal and propane a much needed rest..for now.
For decades, Italian grandmother’s have been arguing with other grandmother’s or “Nonna’s” about their recipe for sauce and meatballs being the best.
One of the many simple pleasures coming out of this Irish guy’s kitchen…but in my kitchen we call it…
Bru’sketta, just like Giada.
Ok, I never talk like that, but it sounds more fancy than saying tomatoes and bread, right?
January 11th is National Hot Toddy Day!
What does this mean for you?
You have a legit excuse to go out and have a drink! That’s a good enough reason for me!
The job of the Hot Toddy is to warm you up and cure what ails you.
Scratchy throat? Yup, Hot Toddy.
Can’t sleep? Yup, Hot Toddy.
Fever? Yup, Hot Toddy.
Need to chill out? Yup, Yup, Hot Toddy.
Now do you get it?
I have fond memories of being a kid with a fever and having my mom make me one of these every time.
I guess they worked because the only thing I ever remember was waking up the next morning feeling pretty darn good and now being an adult who really loves Irish whiskey.
Hey Mom, thanks for the drinking problem.
Anyway, drink responsibly and enjoy a hot toddy by the fire, with a loved one on the couch or ask for one at your favorite pub.
Happy National Hot Toddy Day!
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- 1-Enough boiling water to fill a mug.
- 2- 3 Cloves.
- 3- Lemon Twist.
- 4- 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar.
- 5- 2 ounces of Irish Whisky or Bourbon.
- 6- 1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice.
- Choose a clear mug (if possible) and fill it with boiling water. (to heat the mug)
- Put the cloves into the lemon and place it aside.
- Empty the mug and fill about halfway with fresh boiling water.
- Add the sugar and stir it to dissolve.
- Add the clove filled lemon twist and stir some more.
- Add the whiskey, lemon juice and stir some more.
- DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE.
- ** Add some honey if you have a sore throat.** Perfect!
Winter is finally here in New York.
I went outside this morning about 6 am and it was 11 degrees. When it’s 11 degrees it feels like 3 degrees, so I ran back into the house for the warmth of my coffee cup and laptop and to think about hot food and delicious treats.
Right now is prime baking season, so I’m joining the cool kids and turning up the freak switch to high.
Ok, I’m not that outrageous and there is no freak switch…just my oven that ..um..I’m turning up to high.
Enough with my failed attempts of culinary comedy and trying to fit in with the Millennials.
On with the show.