So, it’s the first day of fall, but yes, I’m in denial. I’m not quite ready to give up on summer yet. April, May and most of June was a washout. Cold, damp, and definitely not the start of a … Continue reading
Let me tell you about Uncle Scotty. Uncle Scotty is my brother-in-law. The very same one who each year lovingly prepares my Thanksgiving turkey, and then poses for the “kiss the turkey” picture. One day recently, he was scrolling through my blog and was insulted to find that I had taken down the recipe I had posted a few years back for Uncle Scotty Spare Ribs. “No, I didn’t,” I insisted. “You are looking at the wrong blog.” Previously, I had written my posts on a livejournal domain. I switched over a few years ago and slowly, I’ve been reposting those recipes in addition to many others. So far, I’d not reposted the spare rib recipe onto the wordpress blog.
So, this past weekend I purposely made the ribs in order to take some photos and share this tasty recipe with you.
Originally, when I asked Scott what was in the marinade, he only said, “duck sauce, bourbon, and soy sauce.” He gave me no amounts, or any indication that he added seasonings. So, I played with the amounts and the recipe and this is what I came up with.
Uncle Scotty Spare Ribs
Approximately 4 pounds of country style pork spare ribs
3 cups duck sauce
1 cup bourbon
½ cup soy sauce
2 cloves crushed garlic
1Tablespoon fresh ginger or 1teaspoon ground ginger
¼ brown sugar
¼ cup vegetable oil
Whisk all the ingredients together until well blended. Marinate spare ribs overnight or for at least 5 hours. Grill.
Summer is the best season for flavor. The fruits and vegetables are fresh, especially if you buy locally grown, in-season produce from your local farms. For me, walking outside to my herb garden and clipping sprigs of oregano, tarragon, and fragrant leaves of basil and mint makes a world of difference in the flavor of my food. Even for the timid cook, or the person who claims to cook only because they have to, seasoning with herbs can make creating a meal an easy and painless task.
Cooking relaxes me. I love playing with flavors and combinations, but I also savor the foods I grew up with. The tried and true. The recipes handed down from yiayiá to mamá and now to me. I watched my mother cook, throwing in a little of this and a little of that, never measuring. Tasting as she went along. That is how I learned to cook. So read your cookbooks with an open mind and with your taste buds in consideration. If a recipe calls for an ingredient or a seasoning you don’t care for, don’t discard the recipe; tailor it to your liking.
This past Monday, Memorial Day, I announced I would have a lazy day by the pool. The rest of the weekend was fun, but filled with commitments and I wanted to do absolutely nothing – a rarity for me. I told my family that I would just grill some hamburgers and make a quick salad when we were ready for dinner. My niece said, “A lazy day by the pool. I could use that. I’ll come over.” Then her mother, my sister, said that her husband would be working on getting the boat ready for the summer and she wanted to come over, too. Then, I called my friends who live across the street, because, after all, they’re not company, and why shouldn’t they join us for a “lazy” day by the pool. Next thing I know, my niece texts me and asks if my husband’s nephew is coming because she has a present for his children. Now why didn’t I think of that? Sophia and Ryan would love to swim.
Well, needless to say, my lazy day by the pool and hamburgers for dinner turned into a little bit more.
Jack Daniels hamburgers with pretzel buns, lemon-tarragon grilled chicken, olive oil and herb rubbed lamb chops, Greek salad, grilled corn salad, lemon roasted potatoes, and tomato bruschetta.
Actually, it was a simple dinner for the 13 of us. I kept it as uncomplicated as I could and restrained myself from making more side dishes and appetizers. I don’t think I could have sat around doing nothing for too long anyway. Watching everyone have a good time at my home gave me joy. A trait passed down from my mother.
Olive Oil and Herb-Rubbed Lamb chops
8 – 10 Lamb chops, rib or round bone
1/3 cup Olive oil
2 Tablespoons dried oregano, or ¼ cup loosely packed fresh, snipped
2 Tablespoons dried basil, or ½ cup fresh, shredded
2 Tablespoons fresh dill
4 – 5 mint leaves, shredded
2 – 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
½ Teaspoon each of salt and pepper
Juice and zest from 2 lemons
Combine all the ingredients (minus the lamb) in a bowl and mix together. Rub the herb mixture onto each lamb chop. Place in a marinating bag or container and add the rest of the mixture. Marinate overnight. Grill or broil.
Lemon Tarragon Chicken Marinade
2 Pounds thin sliced chicken cutlets
1/3 cup olive oil
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
¼ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup of honey
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon dried tarragon, or several sprig of fresh, leaves pulled off stems.
Combine all the marinade ingredients. Add the chicken and marinate at least 4 – 5 hours, overnight if possible. Grill.
Lemon roasted Potatoes
5 Pounds of potatoes.
1/3 cup Olive oil, or enough to coat potatoes
Juice and zest of 2- 3 lemons
3 – 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
3 Tablespoons dried oregano, or 1/3 cup fresh
2 Tablespoons dried parsley, or ¼ cup fresh
Fresh basil if you choose
2 Tablespoons semolina
* Note on the herbs – the amounts are estimates. Add as much or as little as you like. More of something you love, less or not at all of something you don’t care for.
**This is a recipe that can be played with. For another variation, skip the lemon and add grated cheese. Or keep the lemon and add tarragon and shallots, omitting the oregano.
Peel and quarter medium sized potatoes. Place in a roasting pan and add the olive oil. Toss to coat thoroughly. Add the lemon and zest and toss again. Add the herbs, garlic and seasonings. Add the semolina and once again, toss to coat. The semolina will give the potatoes extra crispness. Roast in a pre-heated oven at 450 degrees for 25 minutes. Turn the potatoes and roast for another 20 minutes.
Cooking in the summer is simple, even for those individuals who claim to be a disaster in the kitchen. Anyone can prepare the most delicious meals by using marinades. Toss your favorite vegetables in olive oil and vinegar—add a few spices and herbs, grill, and DONE! Do the same with meats. I like to marinate meat overnight, but with vegetables I toss and grill right away or the marinade will make the vegetable soggy. Use your imagination. What are your favorite spices and herbs? I love tarragon which pairs nicely with Dijon mustard and champagne vinegar. Oregano is great with olive oil, crushed garlic, lemon and red wine vinegar. Or maybe try an Asian marinade with sesame oil, fresh grated ginger and soy sauce. The possibilities are endless.
Friday I ate lunch at Westhampton’s beachfront restaurant The Saltwater Grill. I ordered their most popular side dish—grilled corn with lime and queso fresco. After eating it, I understood why on just about every table there was an order of corn. So, on this beautiful Sunday I planned to grill and eat on the patio, soaking in every minute of sunshine. Guess what I was craving? You guessed it— that corn. I came up with my own version of the rub they put on the corn before grilling, and hoped it was close to the one on the restaurant menu. To accompany the corn I made a tequila lime marinade for chicken.
Grilled Corn with Lime and Queso Fresco
6 ears of corn
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon tequila
2 tablespoons cilantro
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 lime – juice and zest
½ cup grated queso fresco
Mix together the oil, tequila, cilantro, cayenne pepper, black pepper and the lime and zest. Marinate the corn for 20 minutes. I like to rub it on so that every part of the ear of corn has the marinade. Grill on each sides until the kernels turn brownish. (About 4-5 minutes on each side) Remove from grill and sprinkle generous amounts of the grated queso fresco on the corn.
Tequila Lime Marinade for Chicken
1 ½ pounds boneless chicken, sliced thin
¼ cup vegetable oil
¼ cup tequila
1 tablespoon cilantro
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce
2 limes – juice and zest
1 clove garlic, crushed
Whisk together in a bowl, oil, tequila, cilantro, black pepper, sweet chili sauce, garlic, limes and zest. Add chicken and marinate overnight. Grill until cooked through, about 5 minutes on each side if sliced thin.
*Try this marinade with shrimp or pork also.