Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

As what has become an aside, but ought to be the real focus of the holiday for all of us…while we are enjoying barbecue, beer, picnics, long weekends and the lake, our neighbors and brothersand sisters and sons and daughters are in Iraq and Afghanistan getting shot at and dodging IED’s.

Thank a soldier the next time you see one. And for anyone who reads this today, set your beer down and say a quick prayer or meditation or observe a moment of silence for all those who fought, then and now. You owe ’em a lot more than that.

That said, I’m about to fire up the grill. I’m going to grill the wild turkey, which has been marinating since yesterday afternoon in tamarind molasses marinade, and I’m going to grill some squash and put some broccoli in the oven. I’m tempted to do a lot of other stuff, but there are only three of us tonight, and the refrigerator is starting to get crowded. Red-Headed Stepchild and Red-Headed-Step-Grandchild left an hour ago, just as the sun came out, can you believe that?

Anyway, I’ve got to hit the kitchen. More later.

UPDATE:

Dear sweet baby Jesus. I’m so full I couldn’t even bestir myself to walk across the street and down the neighbors’ driveway to watch the fireworks on the lake, which have been going off for about 10 minutes.

Here’s the menu: grilled wild turkey breasts in sorghum-tamarind marinade; barley pilaf; roasted broccoli with lemon, garlic and parmesan; and grilled yellow squash. The turkey went a little dry on me; would have been better served, I think, with a thinner marinade that I could’ve basted with, or inject it. Good flavor, though, albeit a bit sweet. The rest of the stuff was perfecto. First time at the barley pilaf; it will not be the last.

Recipes:

Sorghum Molasses and Tamarind Marinade

Blend all ingredients except tamarind paste or concentrate in food processor. Combine with tamarind in a saucepan over low heat.

I made half a recipe. It wants more vinegar, is my personal opinion, or to be used in more sparing portions than a full-blown marinade. It’s a touch sweet. Good flavor, though; I might also add more cayenne, but then I didn’t have Scotch bonnets, and used one dried habanero instead. Could’ve achieved the same with more habaneros, I suspect.

Roasted Broccoli with Lemon, Garlic and Parmesan

  • 1 large bunch broccoli, separated into good-sized florets
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 cloves roughly minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp or so olive oil
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup or so of grated parmesan

Toss broccoli in olive oil and arrange on baking sheet with sides in a single layer. Sprinkle with garlic, pecans and lemon zest. Roast in 450 degree oven for 20 minutes. Top with parmesan, and squeeze lemon juice over all. Return to oven under broiler long enough to barely melt cheese. Serve hot.

This is the recipe my friends John and Brenda served me at dinner just before I left. I demanded the recipe; it’s a Barefoot Contessa one. And it is possibly the best broccoli I ever put in my mouth.

Barley Pilaf

  • 1 cup uncooked, quick-cooking pearled barley
  • 1 Vidalia or other sweet onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1 can water chestnuts, diced
  • 1/2 cup butter

Saute barley, onion and almonds in butter until onions are soft. Add mushrooms, if using fresh; saute for 2-3 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and transfer to a greased baking dish. Bake, covered, 1 hour at 350 degrees; check with 10-15 minutes to go and add additional chicken broth or water if too dry.

The original recipe called for a medium onion and an envelope of onion soup mix. I eschew the stuff, so I subbed a large onion and added the garlic and seasoned salt and called it even. If you’re using unsalted broth, you’ll want to add more seasoned salt.

People, this stuff is GOOD.

Grilled Yellow Squash

  • 2 small, young yellow squash per person (or zucchini will work)
  • Olive oil
  • Seasoned salt

Split squash in half lengthwise. Cut a sliver of skin off the outside opposite the cut surface. Brush exposed surfaces with olive oil, and sprinkle with seasoned salt. Grill until soft.

It’s a tough race whether I prefer squash like this or fried up with onions. I believe I could easily eat one as an entree and one as a side item.

I’m presently enjoying the last of a bottle of excellent pinot noir (La Crema). I could die a happy woman tonight. And it even quit raining.

So I’m going to watch baseball and call it an early night. Hope you and y’mama ‘n ’em had a fine Memorial Day.

Thanks, soldiers.

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Back home!

April 5, 2009

Well, I’m back, and well-fed, with another culinary adventure in my future next weekend.

Wedding was pretty. Reception food was good, if nothing stunning. The Amaretto wedding cake was pretty stunning, and the won-ton wrappers with some kind of seafood salad on ’em were cute.  Had barbecue for dinner — great barbecue, just smoky enough, good tangy coleslaw, and a nice touch — THREE kinds of sauce (hot, medium, mild) instead of the more common-place two.

Sunday lunch was good — basic Southern fare, creamed corn (fresh-frozen from last year’s garden), butterbeans (ditto), creamed potatos, cole slaw, roast beef. Sliced tomatos. Can’t beat it. Well, you could if the tomatos were in season, and there was okra, but that’s about the only way.

Had promised the kids fried rice when I got home, and I had that thawed tenderloin that had wound up being a teriyaki marinated one that I needed to cook. So I coated it in a liberal coating of five-spice powder and threw it in a 450-degree oven for 30 minutes (it was a pound and half tenderloin). Let it rest for some 15 minutes and sliced it into medallions. Perfect! Done all the way through (I just can’t go pink in pork), but still moist and juicy. The five-spice complemented the teriyaki well; it could have used some added cayenne to kick it up a little bit.

Did a riff on the minced chicken lettuce wraps from a few weeks ago. I used:

  • 1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup chopped water chestnuts
  • 12-oz bag frozen, cooked popcorn shrimp
  • Pad Thai sauce
  • chopped almonds
  • won-ton wrappers

I sauteed the mushrooms and then threw in the ginger and garlic; after a couple of minutes, I added the 2 cups of shredded cabbage and the water chestnuts, let it all simmer until the cabbage wilted a little, and added about 1/4 cup of Pad Thai sauce. It was going to be hoisin sauce, but that has gluten in it and the gluten-allergy child (Child B) couldn’t eat it. I stirred in the thawed, drained shrimp and let it simmer for a couple of minutes while I lined muffin tins with a couple of won-ton wrappers each (corn tortillas for Child B). A spoonful of the shrimp-cabbage mix in each cup, and into the 450 oven for about 10 minutes.

Made the veggie fried rice, and that took care of that. Strawberries and creme fraiche for dessert.

But next weekend’s adventure: Remember Ross and Jake, the Great White Hunters who supplied me with duck breasts back in January? I had gone by to visit their parents while I was up home, and they were home as well, because it’s turkey season. And they are about as deadly on turkeys as they are on ducks. It does not pay to be a bird in their range.

So, I came home with two hefty wild turkey breast halves, which I now have to figure out how to cook. They’re not as gamy as duck, but gamier than regular turkey or chicken, so I I’m thinking some kind of fruit-based marinade (with tamarind! Yeah!) and a fruit chutney to go with them. Roast potatos. Fresh asparagus. M’mm h’mm. Yeah. That.

So said turkey breasts are now brining in my sink, because I DO know enough to know they need to brine, and I’ll peruse the ‘net ‘twixt now and next weekend to see what I do next.

That said, I’m givin’ it up for tonight. I’m whipped. Tell y’mama ‘n ’em to send me wild turkey recipes. (Or just Wild Turkey.)