Sometimes it takes a long time to get organized for a holiday weekend. A holiday weekend which is meant to be about relaxation and enjoyment, and is often anything but! What to cook, where to go, what to do, kid friendly or adults only. It makes me tired just typing the words. All you need are these last minute 4th of July recipe ideas to make your holiday planning a bit easier.
I just hosted my first Underground Dinner Party! Sounds so illicit doesn’t it? Bootleg whiskey and gangsters (more on them later) is what comes to mind when I think underground. But that wasn’t really the case at all!
This Underground Dinner Party was hosted by Foods From Chile, and took place in five cities across the United State at the same time. Along with my little soiree in Pasadena, there were other dinners in Los Angeles, as well as New York, Washington DC, Miami and Chicago. The best part was getting to invite some of my blogger friends to enjoy some of the fantastic foods grown by the Chilean people.
Jackie from Domestic Fits, Greg from Sippity Sup, Chef Louise from Geez Louise, Lana of Bibberche, Cathy the ShowFood Chef and Allison, who has one of the coolest new food porn sites Fridgg came to enjoy the food. And last but certainly not least Phu Son Nguyen, Allison’s boyfriend, who tirelessly took incredible photographs of the entire party.
I love this picture of Greg because he has a glass of wine in one hand and a spoon in the other. Why? Because he’s a food blogger! We do that kind of thing! And no, I am not wearing shoes. I am not a big shoe wearer at home, even when I am hosting a party!
I love Allison’s smile. So open and beautiful. She is a gem. Unless she is flashing gang signs. . .
That’s actually Cathy flashing the gang signs, the Fridgg gang that is! If you love to look at pictures of food, which I assume you do since you read food blogs, head over to Fridgg. You’ll find lots of food porn over there!
Chile is located at the bottom of South America, in the Southern Hemisphere. While we are enjoying our winters here in North America, Chile is experiencing their summer. That is why they are able to import fresh summer fruits and vegetables, so we can enjoy them year round. Our dinners featured fresh raspberries, clementines, blueberries, cherries, avocados, almonds, walnuts and Chilean olive oil. All these items are now being harvested in Chile. The salmon fillets I cooked for dinner were flown overnight from Chile right to my doorstep. Talk about fresh!
The Endive Salad, made by my sous chef for the evening, Chef Louise, was so pretty, with endive leaves filled with fresh clementine pieces, raspberries, Chilean goat cheese and micro kale. It was then drizzled with Chilean olive oil.
That’s Chef Louise serving her lovely salad to Lana and Cathy below.
The Chilled Avocado Soup was one of the favorite dishes of the evening. Avocados are always in my fridge, though I usually just slice, salt and eat them. Now, I will be making this chilled soup with them.
The fresh fruit salsa was colorful and bright with flavor, the perfect compliment to the rich salmon.
The salmon was served on top of the black rice, which made for a beautiful presentation! Almond accented bread crumbs covered the intense pinkness of the salmon covering the intense blackness of the rice. And it was good.
My guests enjoyed Chilean wines along with their dinners. I am a casual kind of hostess, so I made the dinner buffet style, instead of a formal sit down dinner. Everyone served themselves, and we ate, drank and were merry as could be!
See the lovely lady in the cool skirt above? That’s my friend Michelle, who I have known since we were 12. We met a music camp, were I played violin and she played clarinet. Yes, I embrace my geekiness, and wear my nerdette hat proudly! She doesn’t write a food blog, but is a very talented interior designer. Next to Michelle, in the lovely rose blouse is Jackie, who has this recipe for candied bacon on her blog that makes me cry tears of joy. Seriously.
We even had entertainment during dinner. She isn’t exactly Alicia Keys, but my baby girl played a piano composition for us! She was so proud of herself when she heard the applause! She even took a bow!
We enjoyed our sweetly juicy Cherry Berry Crisp along with more Chilean wine and conversation. The good people at Food From Chile provided my guests with lovely parting gifts stuffed with Chilean goodies, including wine, olive oil and Chilean Merken spice.
A good time was had by all, though that could have been all the Chilean wine.
If you would like the recipe for the Avocado Soup, Endive Salad or Cherry Berry Crisp, please visit the Foods From Chile website. I’ll give you the salmon recipe in my next blog post, so stay tuned!
While looking through some old posts, I decided to do a small compilation of grilling recipes. Summer brings the inner grill-meister out in everyone, but not everyone knows how to properly flavor their foods before slapping them on the grill.
If you love pork ribs, this is the dry rub for you. These Sweet ‘n’ Sticky Baby Back Ribs are good on the grill or slow cooked in the oven. It’s all in the rub people. . . it’s all in the rub.
If you are a steak lover then Smoky and Spicy Steak Rub is for you. A blend of chile powders, herbs and spices, this rub will make your steaks or burgers a winner in every crowd.
Grilling fish is a wonderful and healthy way to add flavor to fish. I added additional layers of flavor by grilling wild salmon fillets on a bed of rosemary on a cedar plank.
When I made these lamb chops I broiled them, as it was not grilling season yet (although it really is always grilling season here in So Cal!) But, these Herb Marinated Lamb Chops would be incredible on the grill. Or try the fresh herb rub on another cut, such as a butterflied leg of lamb.
Gas grills are for wusses. Oh all right, that’s not really true, but I have been a charcoal grill user since day one. Way back in the stone ages when I was a child, my father was the king of the Weber kettle in the backyard, cooking up burgers and hot dogs and chicken and hot links for all! Inside the house, mom would handle the baked beans and potato salad.
And where would little Cheryl be? Outside helping dad with the grilling, which meant being a go-fer girl when he needed something. I told you he was the king, and I was a mere servant girl. Although a servant girl would imply that I was being paid, and lord knows that was not the case! But I learned how to start the charcoal, how to spread the coals and how to grill.
Grilling over hardwood coals imparts the best flavor in my opinion, which you just don’t get with a gas grill. Of course, this is not to say I would never own a gas grill. I can imagine they come in handy, since you do not have to wait for the coals to be ready. In fact, I have been lusting over this Combination Gas-Charcoal Grill from Char-Broil. But I am happy still grilling on my father’s trusty Weber kettle grill. And I plan on teaching my daughter the proper way to BBQ, when she is old enough.
I recently agreed to write a guest post on the grilling blog over at Outdoor Gourmet, a great website that sells grilling planks, wraps and other accessories to make your grilling experience delicious. When you grill your foods on a wood plank, it stays moist and the wood imparts a subtle flavor.
The planks were soaked in water, although I bet you could soak them in other liquids to impart even more flavor. Of course anything highly flammable would probably not be a good idea. You know, something like 151 proof rum.
I like to buy my salmon in a whole fillet, which is one complete side of the fish. I then cut it into smaller pieces, and freeze them for future use. I had some wild salmon with the skin on to use, so I made a simple marinade of olive oil, Meyer lemon zest, salt and fresh ground pepper.
Salmon has such a strong flavor it can really stand up to other strong flavors. Many types of fish would just get overpowered if you paired it with fresh rosemary, but not salmon.
I laid some large, fresh rosemary sprigs onto the soaked cedar planks, then put my marinated salmon on top. That is three different sources of flavor: the simple marinade, the rosemary and the cedar. And then you add the hardwood smoke from the BBQ, and you have a really special salmon fillet.
When preparing your grill, set the coals up for indirect heat. That means put the pile on one side of the BBQ only, as you can see in the picture. The planks are then set on the side without the coals, so the wood does not get completely incinerated by the heat.
Once the salmon is on the grill, cover it up and let it go for about 15 minutes, until it is done to your liking.
My plank did not catch on fire, and the rosemary began to dry out a little, releasing its oils into the salmon.
The salmon was moist, tender and flaky with hints of lemon, rosemary and smoke throughout. If you are worried the salmon would taste like a cedar closet, have no fear. The cedar notes were very subtle and lent a distinct and lovely flavor to the salmon.
Grilling salmon on a cedar plank imparts a subtle flavor while helping the fish retain its moistness.
2 large wild salmon fillets
1 tablespoon Meyer lemon zest
1 tablespoon olive oil
to taste sea salt
to taste fresh ground black pepper
6-8 fresh rosemary sprigs
2 cedar planks, soaked per manufacturers instructions
Prepare your grill for indirect heat cooking.
Place your salmon fillets onto a plate or platter. In a small bowl mix the zest, oil, salt and pepper together. Rub the marinade onto the fillets and let it sit at room temperature while your grill is getting ready.
Divide the rosemary sprigs between the two soaked cedar planks. Place one salmon fillet onto each plank.Place the planks onto the grill rack on the side without direct heat, then cover. Cook for 15 minutes, or until the salmon is done to your liking.
Prep time: 20 mins Cook time: 15 mins Total time: 35 mins Yield: 2 salmon fillets