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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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)
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!
A home filled with amazing aromas, family, friends and food.
A holiday to be thankful for so many things, to give thanks to others and to relax…but not for the cook, unless you play your cards right.
As a foodie, I do love Thanksgiving, but not for the main course. The big bird.
God knows that I can get creative in planning, prepping and preparing the perfect poultry, (say that three times fast), but for me my true passion is in the appetizers and sides.
The turkey is and will always be the center of attention and it will always be the big boss and the star of the show, but do not forget that there are many players that need to come together to make a perfect performance.
Enter the perfect muffin.
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.
Last week my wife tells me that her friend is out of town on vacation and she needs a big favor?
She has a large garden that needs to be watered and as a “Thank You”, we would be able to take as many cukes as we wanted.
So, I grabbed a basket, a colander and my favorite helper. My little guy.
Oh yeah, St. Patrick’s Day is March 17th, and that can only mean one thing.
Getting drunk at 9 am?? No…….well, maybe..but it’s a “day for wearing of the green” and other kick-ass Irish traditions, like making Irish soda bread, watching the parade on tv, listening to Irish music and ..ok, perhaps getting drunk early in the morning.
Many of you don’t know that St. Patrick was not even born in Ireland, in fact..it is said that he may have been,,,ugh..don’t shoot the messenger, Italian. Yup.
Waiter…extra whiskey in my coffee please.
So before you start drinking green beer and dancing with strangers make sure that you gather up all of your ingredients and ready to have the most delicious corned beef and cabbage that you have ever had.
When I hear the words, “Classic, old school party foods”, a few thoughts come to mind.
I usually conjure up images of….
* Flakey, golden brown dough strips blanketing a salty mini-frankfurter dipped in spicy brown mustard..
* Crusty, mini quiche packed with flavors of fluffy eggs, sharp cheese and smokey bacon…
* Wonderful, freshly picked clams on the half shell, broiled with seasoned breadcrumbs and fresh herbs…
and of course, Classic Shrimp Cocktail.
It’s Timeless…Classic… Classy…and Simple, but is always predictable.
So how do I transform my mundane and predictable shrimp cocktail to get In the Zone?
I’m going to have to get a more powerful computer and hire one of those Geek Squad guys to maintain this website for a little bit because once you guys try this…..if you can take your hand off the crackers, the emails are going to blow up my servers.
If you are like the many that feel that food is Love, then my homemade boursin-like herbed cheese spread is similar to your biggest crush.
The best relationship that you ever had.
Your first kiss.
That episode of the Brady Bunch when Bobby Brady kissed that girl from Little House and saw fire works.
I originally posted a version of this recipe a few years ago and received rave reviews about it, so I wanted to post it again.
I’m was not the perfectionist with the pictures and stories as I am now, but the recipe is really worth sharing.
I hope you enjoy.
Did someone say Football?
That’s right kid’s. The Super Bowl is right around the corner and to me that means food.
“Don’t you mean football?”….
Nope…I’m not a huge football fan ..but I do love food….so on with the show.