How are you? We are feeling pretty darn great around here, celebrating what I've been calling Saturday v2: another chance to have a relaxing but fulfilling day at home before preparing to go back to work on Tuesday.
Chances are you're celebrating this long weekend with some family and friends, and hopefully food will be a big part of enjoying the warm weather and good company. I'd like to offer up a few suggestions just in case you're still not sure about what to bring to a gathering or make for yourself this afternoon or tomorrow, with foods that balance health and indulgence, and are always beautiful.
One of my all-time favorite last-minute foods is the avocado. This fruit is one source of good fats, but it also comes with a flavor and texture that are so valuable to a home cook.
Guacamole is something that you can throw together in a few minutes but will still be a major hit. It's great served with blue corn tortilla chips, but it's also excellent as a condiment on a burger.
Guacamole (first posted here)
2 ripe avocados. (if they are not ripe, this is not worth eating.)
2-3 small roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 a small red onion, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
the juice of one lime (maybe more to taste)
1 tbsp. salt (again, more to taste)
1 tsp. fresh cracked pepper
That old photo:
I heard another brilliant idea for avocados yesterday on KCRW's Good Food. If you're going to be grilling, follow the advice of this avocado farmer (source)
who suggested slicing ripe but still firm avocados in half, removing the pit, seasoning them with lemon juice and salt and pepper, and then searing them on the grill. He recommended serving this with some kind of sauce in the middle, but I think a spoon and fork would be more than enough to enjoy this treat.
Asparagus is green and perfectly in season at the moment. Again, if you're grilling, I'd highly recommend bringing some fresh rinsed asparagus and cooking it on a hot grill, seasoned only with olive oil and salt and pepper. If the grill is hot enough, they should get a nice char on the outside just as they're tender enough on the inside.
One of my favorite party foods that is a hit with kids is this recipe for cheese straws. A whirl in the food processor and a quick 15 minutes in the oven and you have these little cheesy bites that are addicting and perfect finger food.
From this post
Spicy Cheese Straws
3 c. grated extra-sharp cheddar
8 tbsp (one stick) butter at room temperature, cut into tbsps
1 1/2 c. white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. fresh black pepper
1/4-1 tsp. cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
1 tbsp. milk
Combine all ingredients but the milk in a food processor, pulsing until they make a sandy dough.
Add the milk, then pulse again until the dough comes together.
Roll this into a rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick.
Use a pizza cutter or knife to cut the dough into strips 1/4-1/3 inch long.
Bake these on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350 for 13 minutes, or until the edges are just brown. They will puff up, the bottoms will get crispy, and they will be light and airy.
If you're in charge of meat but still want to keep things lean and cheap, I recommend using this marinade on some flank steak, which grills beautifully. Here I've done it with some sweet onions that we also grilled.
Chili Flank Steak
1/2 mild chili powder (if you like it hot, 1/4 c. each mild and hot)
4 cloves garlic
2 tsp. salt
the juice of 1/2 lime
1 tbsp. freshly ground cumin (toast the seeds whole in a dry non-stick skillet on low heat, then grind in the blender or a spice grinder)
Finally, let's not overlook PIE as the perfect thing to bring to any celebration. I'd like to suggest two options: one sweet and one savory.
Sausage Kale Pie
This savory sausage kale pie is a great last-minute dish because it uses puff pastry. You could even use precooked sausage so long as the quality is good. Recipe here.
This is one of my best and most popular posts to date. It illustrates putting together a pie crust that's easy and consistently works for me. There's something celebratory about a pie, and bringing a beautiful one to a party nearly guarentees a good time. You can use any fruit for the filling that is good right now. I'd highly recommend strawberries if your market has them. Recipe here.
Finally, I'd like to share a "recipe" for watermelon popsicles that I made and have been enjoying in the heat. If you're anywhere warm right now, you've probably been craving watermelon. This is a great way to have some in a slightly different style.
Simply take a couple pounds of watermelon and cut it into small chunks. Put these in a blender or food processor with 2-3 tbsp. honey, depending on how sweet the watermelon is, and a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Process or blend, then pour into a popsicle mold. (I found mine at JoAnn fabric for $2.50.) When these are frozen (a few hours, depending on your freezer) they are refreshing and delicious, and not too sweet.
Yeah, that's what I had for breakfast. Oh and one of these. You'll have to wait for that recipe until next time ;)
I hope you spend this weekend with people you love, and delicious food!