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Archive for June, 2010

When it comes to summer side salads, I’m a big fan of the tangy vinegar-based dressings over their creamy mayonnaise-based counterparts.  The bite and bitterness of the vinegar offers a great counterpoint to homemade grilled pork sausages or hamburgers, salty fried chicken, or sweet barbecue ribs.  You also don’t have to worry about the mayo spoiling easily in the heat at your outdoor picnic.

For the cuke salad, thinly slice a seedless English hothouse cucumber and half a dozen medium-sized red radishes. Then, in a small bowl, mix together a fourth cup of rice wine vinegar, two teaspoons of sugar, teaspoon each of onion powder and garlic powder, fresh cracked black pepper, and sea salt to taste.  Mix the dressing and sliced veggies together and let stand in the fridge for an hour before serving cold.

And, here’s my twist on classic German potato salad using pickled okra:

German Potato Salad

1 1/2 pounds red baby potatoes

5 slices of bacon

1/4 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup chopped celery

1/4 cup chopped picked okra

1/4 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

salt/pepper to taste

1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley

(1) Cut the baby potatoes in halves or quarters and boil in salted water. Meanwhile, fry the 5 slices of bacon until crispy and dice.

(2) Saute the onion, garlic and celery in some olive oil until tender. Set aside.

(3) Combine the broth, vinegar and spices in a small pan and bring to a boil.

(4) Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, tossing the potatoes with the bacon, onion mixture, diced pickled okra and vinegar dressing.  Add salt/pepper to taste, topping with fresh parsley.

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Ask pretty much anyone who’s lived in the greater Washington, DC, area where to find the best blue crab and at the top of their list will likely be Jimmy Cantler’s Riverside Inn on the Chesapeake Bay in Annapolis.  I recently ventured out to this local institution as a blue crab “novice” and returned after a fantastic experience an expert in shelling and feasting on the insides of Maryland’s favorite seafood treat.  At Cantler’s, the beer is cold, the crabs are fresh and sweet — coated in savory Old Bay seasoning — and the crispy fries and fresh slaw are perfect nibbles on the side for an afternoon outdoor dinner with friends on the shores of the Bay.

The no-frills restaurant, where picnic tables are topped with paper and the food is served on paper and plastic, is tucked away at the end of a windy, dead-end road in a remote neighborhood outside Annapolis. (As one colleague told me, you almost need a GPS to find it!)  But if you don’t have a GPS just look for the parade of cars that cram the small parking lot starting mid-afternoon and pile up along the road for hours after. Don’t worry about the wait though (and you will have to wait) — grab a cold drink and head down to the docks to see where they bring the crabs ashore and take in the scenic views.

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