Thursday, July 25, 2013

Big Dude's BBQ Ribs and a Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest with Friends and Family

Last week blogging buddy Larry of Big Dude’s Eclectic Ramblings and his family once again took an RV trip to our neck of the woods near Lake Chatuge in Hiawassee, Georgia. For more about their trip and where they stayed, check Larry's post here. You may remember we, along with Meakin's brother Stuart and his wife Sandy, toured wineries in north Georgia last fall with Larry and his wife Beverly and SIL Pat, post here.

This year he brought along his three granddaughters and we thought it would be fun to get together again, but this time have an old-fashioned picnic-style lunch with BBQ ribs and burgers at Stuart's house. Of course no summer picnic is complete without watermelon and to make it even more fun, Meakin suggested a watermelon seed spitting contest for the girls.

This posts looks longer than normal, but never fear, it’s mostly pictures.

Neither of the three girls had ever participated in a seed spitting contest, so a little help and encouragement was needed from Grandmom Beverly. I wish I had a picture of Meakin showing them his seed spitting secrets. It was pricless, but he was the photographer…

They finally mastered the art themselves as you can see from the lead photo, and everyone had a good time.

I had raved about the fabulous sweet and spicy pineapple flavored BBQ pork ribs that Larry made for the annual blogger get-together earlier this year at his house on Tellico Lake on Memorial Day (post with recipe here) and he graciously offered to show us how to make them while he was here.

As he explained to Meakin and Stuart, first you have to remove the silver skin on the ribs. I would have thought that would have been difficult, but Larry made it look easy by just lifting the white skin and, using a butter knife for help, just raised it up with his fingers and discarded it.

Then using a dry rub, he massaged the rub in on both sides of the ribs.

The ribs were then smoked on Stuart’s smoker (notice the wine cork: it was run through the probe of the thermometer to keep it from touching the grill - another nice tip from Larry)

until they were ready for Larry to brush on his marinade made up of pineapple juice, a little more dry rub, balsamic vinegar, and minced garlic. You can find the recipe for the ribs and the marinade on Larry’s blog post here.

The ribs were cooked for a while longer and here’s the finished product. They are exactly how I like them – falling-off-the-bone tender with lots of flavor.

I made a succotash salad that’s been on my blog before (recipe here)

and some Southern pimento cheese sandwiches that got gobbled up before we could get a picture. I used my own pimento cheese recipe (here), but took my inspiration for making the sandwiches from Gena Knox in her charming cookbook Southern My Way.

I like Gena's book a lot, primarily because not everything is fried or smothered in butter. I am a 5th generation Southerner and not all Southerners cooked that way, and that would include my mother and grandmother. And furthermore, in many households, including mine, we had African-American help. In fact I was raised by a lady named Rhoda, who I wrote about one Mother's Day as my "other" mother, post here. I can guarantee you that no racial slurs were ever used or tolerated in my house and I don't even want to imagine how much trouble I would have been in had I used one. Don't believe everything you hear about Southerners. We are not all alike by any means.  Whew, I just had to get that off of my chest.

Photo from Southern My Way

I love the chopped parsley on the side of the sandwiches. James Beard first made chopped parsley on the side of finger sandwiches popular when he introduced the food world to his classic sliced onion sandwiches in 1974. It's simple to do - smear a tiny bit of mayonnaise on the side of the sandwich and dip it in finely chopped parsley.

Stuart grilled burgers and dressed them with his secret sauce and later Sandy made ice cream sundaes for the girls and then the picnic ended with the watermelon seed spitting contest. All in all it was a great day with family and good friends. I want to thank Larry for showing us some of his secrets of how to make great ribs. He is THE king of the grill in my book. Meakin, were you taking notes?

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday at Simple Recipes, and Seasonal Sunday at the Tablescaper.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Peach Lime Salsa

Succulent garlic flavored grilled pork tenderloin meets sweet and tangy fresh peach lime salsa to create a perfect summer on-the-grill dish. We’ve gotten some great fresh Georgia peaches this summer and they have lived up to their reputation of being some of the best peaches around. After all, Georgia is called the Peach State. But I hear from my friends that Michigan peaches are every bit as sweet and juicy and California produces some fine peaches too.

You’ll notice from the photos that we like our pork tenderloin on the pink side. In 2011 the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture lowered its safe cooking temperature for pork from 145 degrees for the longtime standard of 160. To quote Jacques Pepin, chef and cookbook author, from an article in the New York Times, “Finally people from the U.S.D.A. started cooking themselves and realized that is you have a lean piece of meat, it gets tough and dry at a higher temperature. Jacques Pepin went on to say that the 145-degree recommendation was fine for learner cuts like a pork loin, but that cuts with more fat would often be braised longer and reach higher temperatures.

No matter where you get your peaches, from Georgia to Michigan to California and beyond, this is a must-try summer dish during peach season. Just remember not to overcook your pork.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Peach Lime Salsa
Adapted from Taste of Summer Cookbook – serves 4

2 small cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher or sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1½ pounds pork tenderloin
3 large peaches or 4 small peaches, peeled and cut into ½” pieces
1 small red onion, minced
¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

In a small bowl combine the garlic, oil, salt and pepper to form a rough paste. Coat the pork with the paste and let stand it at room temperature for about 10 – 15 minutes. While pork is standing, make the salsa by combining the peaches, onion, basil, lime juice in a bowl, sprinkle with a little salt, stir very gently, and set aside.

Lightly coat a grill or grill pan with cooking spray and heat to medium-high. Grill the pork for 10 to 12 minutes per side or until it reaches your desired degree of doneness. We like our pork on the pink side at 145 degrees. Transfer the pork to a cutting board and let it rest for about 10 minutes before slicing. To serve, cut pork into 1/2” thick slices and serve warm with the fresh peach salsa.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday at Simple Recipes, and Seasonal Sunday at the Tablescaper.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Hot Pepper Shrimp with Chipotle Mayonnaise & Herb-Tossed Corn

The fresh corn this year has been the best I’ve eaten in a long time. The ears are heavy, indicating it’s nicely filled out and the kernels are plumb and sweet, but not too sweet. Some years the kernels are very small and the corn almost tastes like it has been injected with sugar, making it too sweet for my taste. It has been especially good this year and we’ve been taking advantage of that fact by making dishes that include corn. This recipe pairs the herb-tossed corn perfectly with the hot pepper shrimp with chipotle mayonnaise.

The garlicky hot pepper grilled shrimp in this recipe are fabulous on their own and grilling them adds a nice dimension to their flavor. But pairing them with corn tossed with a little butter and fresh herbs takes the dish over the top. Serve with slices of fresh tomatoes and you have dish worthy of company.

We grilled the shrimp on a stove-top grill and it works out very well if you don’t happen to have access to an outdoor grill. The pan is similar to the one Giada de laurentiis uses on her television series. I affectionately call ours “Giada’s grill pan” and we use it often. It is a snap to clean too.

Try this while the corn is at its peak of freshness. The herbed corn would be a good accompaniment to many summer suppers. When choosing shrimp, be sure to buy the large ones. They are much easier to skewer and won’t overcook as fast as smaller ones. The chipotle mayonnaise is great on fish tacos and other sandwiches that need a little kick. We puree a can of chipotles in adobo sauce and it keeps for what seems like forever in a covered jar in the refrigerator. You can also use all sour cream for a lighter sauce and low-fat sour cream for an even lighter version. We think low-fat sour cream (not the fat-free one) is just as good as the full fat version in recipes such as this.

Garlicky Hot Pepper Shrimp with Chipotle Mayonnaise & Herb-Tossed Corn
Adapted from Light and Easy, the Best of Bon Appetit, Gourmet & Self, Summer 2013 – serves 6

For the chipotle mayonnaise:
1/2 cup sour cream (I used low-fat)
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 ½ tablespoons chopped chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, including sauce
1 ½ teaspoons fresh lime juice

For the grilled shrimp
2 lbs peeled and deveined large raw shrimp, preferably wild caught
4 large cloves of garlic, chopped
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Ten 12” wooden skewers, soaked in warm water for 30 minutes

Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal, or use a gas grill or a stove-top grill as I did.

Whisk mayonnaise, chilies, and lemon juice together in a small bowl and chill, covered, until ready to serve. May be made several hours in advance.

Pat shrimp dry, then thread (through top to tail, leaving shrimp curled) onto each skewer, leaving no space between shrimp. Arrange skewers on a large baking sheet. Puree garlic with red pepper flakes, salt and oil in a blender. Transfer to a small bowl and brush shrimp on both sides with the spicy garlic oil. Lightly oil grill rack. Grill shrimp, covered only if using gas grill, turning over once, until just cooked through, about 3 – 4 minutes total. Serve warm or at room temperature with chipotle mayonnaise, herb-tossed corn and if desired, sliced tomatoes.

Herb-Tossed Corn

Stir together 3 tablespoons melted butter, a squeeze of lemon juice, a pinch of cayenne, and 3 tablespoons mixed fresh herbs, such as thyme leaves, basil and snipped chives. Season with salt and pepper and toss gently with corn cut from 6 cooked ears.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday at Simple Recipes, and Seasonal Sunday at the Tablescaper.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Red, White, and Blue Watermelon Salad

In the states we are celebrating Independence Day, also known as the 4th of July, this Thursday. I wanted to make something patriotic, yet healthy. When I saw this Red, White, and Blue Fruit Salad on Foodie Crush, it reminded me of a watermelon salad that I’ve made several times from Stacey’s Snacks.

I used some of the parts of both recipes and substituted raspberry vinegar for the red wine vinegar based on a comment from a reader on Stacey’s post. I also added a couple of pinches of sea salt to the dressing, because salt is a flavor enhancer even to fruit.

This salad could be served all summer long and the sweet/salty combination is a real winner. You won’t be disappointed by its looks or flavor.

Red, White, and Blue Watermelon Salad
Adapted from Stacey’s Snacks and Foodie Crush – serves 5-6

One 4 pound seedless watermelon, rind removed, cut into squares
1 quart of fresh blueberries
Handful of fresh mint leaves, cut into a chiffonade
½ cup crumbled feta cheese

3 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
Zest of 2 limes
Juice of 2 limes
Pinch of chili powder
Pinch or two of fine sea salt or kosher salt

Place the cut up watermelon and blueberries into a big bowl and set aside. Place the ingredients for the dressing in a glass jar with a tight fitting lid and shake well to combine. Drizzle the dressing over the melon and blueberries, tasting as you go. You may have extra dressing. Add the mint leaves and feta cheese and carefully stir just to combine. Best served right away, chilled. Either serve right away or refrigerate, covered, for no longer than an hour.

Have a great 4th of July.

This will be shared with Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farms, Miz Helen’s Country Kitchen Full Plate Thursday, Foodie Friday at Simple Recipes, and Seasonal Sunday at the Tablescaper.