Archive for July, 2010

No trip to the great Northwest wilderness is complete without a classic dessert prepared artfully over the open flame:  the s’more.  Gooey toasted marshmallow sandwiched between crunchy honey grahams and rich sweet chocolate. Heaven in the woods — and totally worth every mosquito swat while toasting the ‘mallows over the fire.   This year we decided to shake it up and use Nutella — the European hazelnut spread — in place of the standard Hershey’s milk chocolate bar. I was won over my the creaminess and the nutty flavor.  Try it out next time!


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Fish cannot be any fresher than out of the water and into the frying pan, like this walleye dinner up at the lake.  It’s one of the highlights of every summer vacation (provided we have the luck to catch enough for a whole meal!).  The fillets are dipped in egg wash and coated lightly with bread crumbs and seasoning. Then dropped into a cast iron skillet over an insanely hot fire, which mom says is the secret to not letting the oil soak into the fish and keeping the outer crust crispy.

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Skewered grilled shrimp.

Gemelli and sliced green and white beans tossed with homemade pesto.

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This summer’s much needed vacation at the lake afforded a chance to connect with my “culinary roots” and my primary source of inspiration in the kitchen: Mom.  I continue to be amazed by her skill at consistently constructing beautiful and deeply satisfying meals. The first night we arrived, mom served grilled marinated lamb and vegetable kabobs, Israeli cous cous with fresh basil, feta and kalamata olives, and strawberry-rhubarb pie for dessert.  A stunning outdoor dinner with the sun setting on the water.

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For as long as I can remember, summertime barbecuing with Dad has included charcoal-grilled chicken and ribs coated in this outstanding dry rub from John Berwald, a restaurateur and pitmaster out West.  We’d fill gallon size ziplock bags with massive batches of the rub for cooking all season long.  The brown sugar caramelizes on the outside of the meat creating a dark, crispy crust, and its sweetness is offset by the salty, spicy zing of garlic, onion and cayenne.  This was the first year we smoked the ribs with mesquite chips and indirect heat — and boy were they incredibly flavorful and tender.

John Berwald’s Dry BBQ Rub

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup kosher salt

1/2 cup black pepper

1/2 cup paprika

2 tablespoons garlic powder

2 tablespoons onion

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

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