Post #535 A Happy 4th On The Side

July 1, 2017 at 6:13 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

So we’re coming up on another National holiday!

Partner/Spouse and I were discussing how to celebrate this year.  That really translates to “What do you want to eat?”  And on a holiday that usually means what flesh of which animal are we going to sear and have with salad?  For some reason, for us, trying to be inventive with the side dishes is always troublesome.  Since it’s usually just the two of us, we have to think small.  We can’t make two gallons of potato salad because we’d never eat that much.  And I don’t like it.  We can’t make a grilled steak and four side dishes because inevitably, something is going to go to waste.  So we have to be careful.  Even when we have guests, we have to make sure that we either make the right amount, or have plenty of take-home boxes.  And this year, there’s a new wrinkle.  We now live in an apartment complex, share the patio area, and there’s one grill.  If we want to grill some animal flesh, it’s going to have to be done early.  Like around 6:3oam.

So it made me think of the logistics of a big, outdoor, barbeque party.  I’ve known loads of those starting from when I was five or so.  At that time, the biggest thrill was drinking as much soda as I could, eating cake, and running around on a sugar high shrieking with the other kids.  As I got older, and more involved in the prep stage, it became how can we make enough cake, enough salad, enough hot dogs and hamburgers to feed an indeterminate number of people?  So, I thought I’d cull through the old blog posts and find some of my favorite side dishes and re-share them.  It wasn’t hard to find my favorites because, to be honest, they’re all my favorites or they wouldn’t be in the blog.

The very first one I thought of was Anne Burrell’s Asparagus Salad.  This one is so easy and so good.  Five ingredients and about ten minutes of prep and it’s all good.  You need one pound of young asparagus.  I usually try to find the ones that are about the size of a pencil, but if you have to use the older stuff, it’ll still be okay.  Prep the asparagus by snapping off the tough ends and cutting the rest of it, including the tips, into pieces the size of a pearl.  Then get a medium sized red onion and mince it into pieces of the same size.  Mix it together with the asparagus in a bowl with about half a cup of your favorite vinaigrette.  We use a champagne vinaigrette.  Chill for an hour or two and serve.  Now, I’ve never left anything alone for more than one iteration of any recipe, so we’ve added feta cheese pieces, leafy herbs like parsley or cilantro, and sunflower seeds.  We haven’t added any other veggies because that detracts from the star, the asparagus.

One side dish we just learned about recently was from America’s Test Kitchen.  They made garlic bread with a spread that can be adapted to add garlic flavor to anything.  Melt 3 tablespoons of butter in a bowl and set aside to cool.  Do not let it solidify.  While it’s cooling rub several cloves of garlic against a microplane until you have a rounded tablespoon of garlic paste.  Stir it into the melted butter and heat the butter in a microwave for thirty seconds.  Stir the garlic around and heat for another thirty seconds, then set aside.  In a smaller bowl, mix two teaspoons of garlic powder or garlic granules with one teaspoon of water.  DO NOT USE garlic salt as this will make the result very salty.  Unless that’s what you’re after.  Mix the garlic powder mixture into the garlic and melted butter and allow to cool to room temperature.  Add four tablespoons of chilled butter cut into pieces and mix until well blended.  It should be the consistency of baby food.  The result can be chilled in a tightly sealed container for as long as butter can be.  We used it to make the garlic toast, but there’s something else.

Grilled Bread.  I’ve blogged about it once before, and it bears repeating.  Basically, you get your grill as hot as possible and wipe the metal grills with olive oil.  Then you wipe your bread with the oil and grill it until hot and a little toasty.  Depending on the heat of the grill and the type of bread, this can take seconds or up to a minute.  Our favorite is naan bread from Asia.  What I would do is spread both sides with olive oil and then spread one side with softened garlic butter.  Grill the non-spread side for several seconds, then flip and grill the garlic spread side.   I wouldn’t do more than two at a time.  Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm until serving.

The last side dish I’m going to talk about is another I’ve done a couple of times.  We went to a wonderful farmer’s market that I’ll write about in more detail in the next post,  but as we wandered through it, it inspired the side we’re having tonight.  We’re having really thick cut pork chops, and Caprese Salad.  Caprese Salad is simply layered slices of ripe tomatoes, mozzarella cheese slices, olive oil, and basil.  It’s arranged in a circle on a plate with fresh basil leaves scattered over the top.  Simple, elegant, and really tasty.  Tonight we’re going to add (cuz we never leave anything alone, you know) smoked mozzarella and onion slices interspersed.  Yum!

These are only some ideas for the upcoming holiday.  Let me know your favorites, recipes included if you have a yen to.

 

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