Summer Relish Crostini

Summer Relish Crostini is a great recipe for the beach or poolside. It requires little or no refrigeration and all of the prep can be done well ahead of time. If you don’t have time to make the crostini serve the Summer Relish with tortilla chips or pita crisps. The recipe can also easily be doubled or tripled for a larger crowd.

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Summer Relish Crostini
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of The Food Network)

Yields 6 servings

2 ears corn, boiled, kernels sliced off
Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing
6 thick baguette slices
4 strips crispy thick bacon, coarsely chopped
2 Fresno chile peppers, stemmed and seeded, cut crosswise into thin strips
3-4 Tbsp red wine vinegar, to taste
4 scallions, thinly sliced on a bias, white and green parts
Paprika for dusting
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375F.

On a rimmed baking sheet arrange the bread slices. Brush each on both sides with oil. Dust both sides of the bread with paprika. Bake for 7 minutes. Remove and flip the slices over. Sprinkle each slice with kosher salt. Bake for another 6 to 7 minutes until just firm. Remove slices to a wire rack to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine the corn, pepper, scallions, and red wine vinegar. Stir gently to mix everything and to break the corn kernels apart from each other. Add the bacon, again stirring gently. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve: Top each crostini with a generous scoop of the relish.

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Citrus and Herb Marinated Shrimp

Citrus and Herb Marinated Shrimp are a great topping for a salad. They can be served as an appetizer. Or, they can be chopped up, dressed and mixed into salad to stuff tomatoes.

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Citrus and Herb Marinated Shrimp
(Adapted from a recipe courtesy of Food & Wine, August 2016)

Serves 2

1 lb. medium shrimp (21-30), shelled and deveined, rinsed, patted dry and brought to room temperature
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 Tbsp finely grated orange zest
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
One 1 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375F.

Toss the shrimp in 1/4 cup oil. Season with salt and black pepper. Arrange on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes. Remove and flip the shrimp over and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup oil and remaining ingredients except for salt and black pepper. Mix thoroughly. Add shrimp to the dressing and toss to coat thoroughly. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 4 days.

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Smoked Potatoes and Sweet Onions with Caraway Butter Sauce

Smoked Potatoes and Sweet Onions with Caraway Butter Sauce is an interesting side dish that allows you to bring in smoked flavor to your barbecue without smoking your entree.

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Smoked Potatoes and Sweet Onions with Caraway Butter Sauce
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit, July 2016)

Serves 4

2 small Yukon Gold potatoes
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
12 oz. Cipolline onions, unpeeled
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 Tbsp caraway seeds
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 scallion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black peppers

Prepare gas grill for medium-high, indirect heat. Place smoker box with soaked wood chips over the lone lit burner.

Toss potatoes and onions in oil in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Arrange potatoes and onions on the grates above the unlit portion of the grill. Smoke potatoes and onions, turning occasionally, until tender, 45 to 60 minutes. The onions may be done sooner than the potatoes. If so, remove them to a covered bowl and keep warming oven.

While the potatoes and onions are smoking, prepare the sauce by cooking the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, swirling occasionally until it is beginning to brown and smell nutty, about 4 minutes. Add the caraway seeds; let cool slightly, then stir in lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

Arrange smoked potatoes and onions on a platter and drizzle with the Caraway Butter Sauce. Top with scallions.

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Grilled Artichokes with Garlic Aioli

Grilled Artichokes with Garlic Aioli is a perfect summer barbecue side because most of the work is done ahead of time and it can be finished over a hot grill after you have grilled the entree.

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Grilled Artichokes with Garlic Aioli
(Mark Kelly, 2016)

Serves 4 – 6

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1 tsp Dijon mustard
6 large garlic cloves, roasted, cooled pulp removed and chopped
6 large whole garlic cloves, peeled
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 lemons, scrubbed and halved
6 large artichokes
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for brushing grill grates

To make Garlic Aioli: In a small bowl whisk together mayonnaise, roasted garlic pulp, lemon juice, garlic powder, and cayenne. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to serve. The aioli can be made a day ahead.

To par-cook the artichokes: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the whole garlic cloves. Squeeze the lemon halves over the pot and drop them into the water. Add the whole artichokes to the water and bring it back to a simmer. Cook covered until the bases of the artichoke stems feel tender when poked with a knife or skewer, about 45 minutes. Drain the artichokes and and transfer them to a cutting board to cool. The artichokes can be boiled up to 2 days ahead of serving.

Preheat grill for direct cooking over high heat. Halve the artichokes lengthwise and scoop out the choke. Brush the cut sides with oil and season with salt and pepper. Oil the grill grates. Grill the artichokes uncovered, cut side up, about 5 minutes or until browned and lightly charred. Flip the artichokes over and cook until grill marks appear, about another 5 minutes. Remove from the grill and drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper before serving. Serve warm with Garlic Aioli for brushing or dipping.

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A Pair of Grilled Skewer Dishes

Sweet Spicy Grilled Bacon Skewers with Scallion-Ginger Relish is a great appetizer or the bacon skewers can be combined with other skewers meats, like Soy-Basted Chicken with Sesame-Citrus Sprinkle as a meal. In either case they are perfect for an Independence Day cookout.

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Sweet Spicy Grilled Bacon Skewers with Scallion-Ginger Relish
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of FoodandWine.com, June 2016)

Makes (6) 12-inch skewers

6 scallions, thinly sliced
1 serrano chile, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
4 Tbsp light brown sugar, divided
Kosher salt
4 Tbsp
Vegetable oil (for brushing grill)
4 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp Sriracha
1 1/2 lbs. extra-thick-cut bacon
Lime wedges for serving

To make Scallion-Ginger Relish: In a medium bowl, whisk together scallions, serrano, lime juice, sesame oil, ginger and 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Season with salt and refrigerate until serving.

To prepare the glaze: In a small bowl, whisk together honey, remaining 3 tablespoons brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, and Sriracha. Can be made up to a week ahead of time. Cover and chill.

Prepare gas grill for indirect cooking with only one or two burners on. Thread the bacon onto skewers, folding back and forth in accordion style and grill over indirect heat, turning every minute or so until brown and crispy. Be patient and take care to minimize flare-ups. Once crispy, baste with glaze every 30 seconds or so, until lacquered and slightly sticky, about 3 minutes. Serve with Scallion-Ginger Relish and lime wedges.

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Soy-Basted Chicken with Sesame-Citrus Sprinkle
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of FoodandWine.com, June 2016)

Makes (6) 12-inch skewers

4 Tbsp toasted white and black sesame seeds
2 Tbsp thinly sliced chives
1 Tbsp cracked red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp lemon zest
Kosher salt
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2/3 cup mirin
2/3 cup lower-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tsp Sriracha
2 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken strips
Vegetable oil (for the grill)

To make Sesame-Citrus Sprinkle: Mix sesame seeds, chives, red pepper, and lemon zest in a small bowl to combine; season with salt.

Combine the brown sugar, mirin, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and Sriracha in a large bowl. Marinate the chicken strips, refrigerated, for at least 2 hours or overnight. When skewering the chicken, remove most of the marinade to a sauce pan and cook over medium-high heat until it boils and then simmer until it is reduced by half and thickened. Remove glaze from heat and reserve for basting.

Prepare gas grill for indirect heat with only one or two burners on. Oil grates. Grill over direct heat until browned and beginning to char. Move to indirect heat and continue to grill glazing turning every 30 seconds until cooked through and coated with glaze, about 5 minutes. Serve topped with Sesame-Citrus Sprinkle.

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Crab and Cheese Crisp Tacos

Crab and Cheese Crisp Tacos are not your typical tacos but they are quite refreshing on a warm summer night.

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Crab and Cheese Crisp Tacos
(Mark Kelly, 2016)

Makes 12 tacos

2 large shallots, minced
1/2 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and minced
1/2 cup fresh lime juice, divided
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup crema fresco or sour cream
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 lb. crabmeat
1 English cucumber, cut into spears
3 cups grated Fontinella cheese
Toasted sesame seeds
12 tortillas

Fresh pico de gallo to garnish

To make the crab filling: in a medium bowl, combine shallots, jalapeno, and 1/4 cup lime juice. Season with salt and pepper. Add crabmeat, crema fresco, and mayonnaise. Gently fold together. Refrigerate until plating.

Preheat oven to 350F. On three parchment paper-lined, rimmed baking sheets place four 1/4 cup mounds of cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden, crispy and firm, moving and rotating the sheets as needed to cook all cheese crisps evenly. Remove the crisps carefully with a spatula to a cooling rack.

In a medium bowl toss the cucumber spears with remaining lime juice and season with salt. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes. Drain the cucumber and refrigerate until serving.

To serve: Place a cheese crisp on a each tortilla. Fold and add a scoop of pico de gallo. Top with a portion of crab. Add a cucumber spear, sprinkle of sesame seeds and a few sprigs of cilantro.

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Charred Caprese Sandwich

Charred Caprese Sandwich can be served as an appetizer, sandwich entree or a unique side salad.

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Charred Caprese Sandwich
(Adapted from recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit, June 2016)

Serves 2 – 4

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
1 large garlic clove, finely grated
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 baguette, split in half lengthwise then cut in half crosswise
Extra-virgin olive oil
3 cups cherry tomatoes
1 cup basil leaves, torn
1 cup parsley, torn
Freshly ground black pepper
Torn fresh mozzarella (about 4 oz.)

To make spread for the sandwich: whisk together mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld.

To make the dressing: combine the shallot, garlic and vinegar in a medium bowl (charred tomatoes will be added later).

Brush the cut baguette with oil and grill until beginning to char and grill marks have formed. In a medium bowl toss the cherry tomatoes with oil. Put a cast on skillet on the grill over high heat. Add the tomatoes. Grill the tomatoes shaking the skillet frequently, until blistered, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the dressing.

To serve: dress the cut side of each grilled baguette with spread. Place tomatoes on top, add pieces of the mozzarella and herbs. Spoon a bit of dressing over each piece and serve immediately.

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Tuna Salad-Stuffed Tomatoes

Tuna Salad-Stuffed Tomatoes might be the perfect summer meal. They are easy to prepare, cool, refreshing, and healthy … yet, quite filling. Variations on this recipe can be made with crab meat or chopped shrimp. Seasoning can be changed by substituting tarragon for the dill.

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Tuna Salad-Stuffed Tomatoes
(Mark Kelly, 2016)

Serves 2 – 4

20 pitted Kalamata olives, quartered
1/4 medium red onion, chopped
1/4 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
1 cup tuna, drained
1 Tbsp dried dill weed
Freshly ground black pepper
4 large tomatoes, cored with flesh and seed scooped out to form a cup

In a medium bowl, combine olives, red onion, red pepper, eggs, tuna, dill and mayonnaise, mix gently. Season with pepper, to taste. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour to allow flavors to combine.

To serve: Fill the tomato “cups” with tuna salad. Serve along with a tossed salad and fresh fruit.

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A Couple of Great Appetizer Dips

Mushroom-Onion Toasts and Smoky Caramelized Onion Dip are simple vegetarian dips that are perfect starters for a Father’s Day barbecue.

Mushroom-Onion Toasts features a rich mushroom spread on seasoned toasts. As an option consider adding some grated parmesan cheese just before serving. Smoky Caramelized Onion Dip is a great appetizer dip that features the combined flavors of smoky caramelized onions, fresh thyme and a hint of sherry vinegar. Once you master this dip you will never again buy grocery store onion dip.

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Mushroom-Onion Toasts
(Mark Kelly, 2016)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing toasts
French bread, sliced on a bias
1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 lb. baby bella mushrooms, sliced 1/4-inch thick
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp paprika
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp chopped curly parsley
1 tsp dried thyme leaves

Preheat oven to 375F.

On a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet place the bread slices. Brush both sides of each lightly with oil. Bake for 8 minutes. Turn the slices over and bake for another 8 minutes or until firm and crisp. Immediately after removing the toasts from the oven season with salt and paprika. Place the toast on a rack to cool.

In a large cast-iron skillet heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes. Remove the onions and garlic from the skillet. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and add the mushrooms and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms are well browned, about 8 minutes. Stir in wine and cook until it is evaporated, 1 minute. Stir in the parsley and thyme. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Place mushroom mixture and half of the onion-garlic mixture in a food processor and pulse until almost smooth. Scrape out to a bowl and stir in the remainder of the onion and garlic. Garnish with parsley sprigs. Serve by spreading over toasts.

Smoky Caramelized Onion Dip
(Mark Kelly, 2016)

Makes 1 1/2 cups

3 large sweet onions, quartered, skin left on
4 large shallots, halved, skin left on
6 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat broiler. Set top rack 3 to 4 inches below the heating element. On a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet place the onion quarters and shallot halves and brush all sides with oil. Place 4 thyme sprigs on the baking sheet with the onions. Broil until the skins are charred and the onions begin to soften, about 8 minutes.

Change oven setting to bake at 300F. Bake the onions and shallots for another 45 minutes until they are soft and caramelized. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Once the onions and shallots have cooled completely, remove the skins and coarsely chop about 1/2 cup of the flesh and reserve any remaining for another use. In a food processor, combine the chopped onion and shallots, Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, leaves of the remaining 2 thyme sprigs, and sherry vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Pulse until smooth. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to meld.

Serve with your favorite salty cracker, chip or pretzel.

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Shakshuka with Smoked Turkey Sausage

Shakshuka with Smoked Turkey Sausage is a breakfast, lunch or brunch dish with Israeli roots that also draws from Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen. The dish can be made vegetarian by substituting tofu, zucchini or spinach for the sausage or try a seafood version with sautéed shrimp or crawfish.

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Shakshuka with Smoked Turkey Sausage
(Mark Kelly, 2016)

Serves 2

1 (8 oz.) smoked turkey sausage, sliced on bias 1/4-inch-thick
Extra-virgin olive oil
6 okra pods, cut in half lengthwise (if using frozen thaw to room temperature)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup thinly sliced sweet onion
1/3 cup thinly sliced red pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
1/2 cup edamame beans (if using frozen thaw to room temperature)
2 large eggs
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp green onions thinly sliced
Hot sauce (preferably Sriracha)
Whole wheat pita bread

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium cast iron skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, brown the sausage slices on both sides and set them aside on a paper towel-lined plate. Add oil as necessary and saute the okra pods for 5 minutes or until tender and browned in spots. Remove from the pan and set aside. Add cherry tomatoes and cook for 1 minute, until blistered. Add onion, red pepper, and garlic clove, cook until tender and the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, a few dashes of hot sauce, edamame, and okra. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Crack the eggs into the skillet. Place pieces of sausage in the sauce around the eggs. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook 4 minutes until eggs are set but the yolks are still runny.

Sprinkle the Shakshuka with green onions. Drizzle with good extra-virgin olive oil. Serve along with warm pita bread and hot sauce.

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