Labor Day Weekend Special

misty_morning_pleasant_lake_04Labor Day Weekend and the local veggies are divine! Make sure you build plenty of green, yellow and red … not to mention purple and orange … into your weekend cookouts. Get out the grill and go fancy or plain with a great steak or burger, delicious fish or wonderful fowl. That’s fowl not foul.

It’s starting to get chilly here in New Hampshire, so don’t forget your sweater. A pair of jeans is probably a better option than that cute, little sundress. If you haven’t had a chance to use the fire pit, well, this is the weekend. The moon will be nothing more than a sliver, all the better to see the stars.

Here are some suggestions to mix, match and enjoy a delicious end of summer cookout:

Start with a great dip, maybe two …

Fresh Tomato Crostini
or
Baba Ganoush
or
Grilled Caponata
or
Roasted Beet & White Bean Hummus

Enjoy a great salad …

Summer Salad with Green Beans, Blueberries & Goat Cheese<
or
Heirloom Tomatoes with Balsamic Reduction
or
Caesar Salad with Parmesan Croutons

And for the main course …

Grilled Filets Mignons with Salsa Verde
or
Grilled Lamb
or
Maple-Bourbon Pork Ribs
or
Grilled Swordfish with Olive & Caper SalsaChimichurri or Tequila-Lime Butter
or
Tandoori Chicken

Now, what about sides? …

Fresh Corn with Sriracha Aioli
or
Grilled Balsamic Vegetables
or
Crunchy Quinoa Salad
or
Grilled Potato Salad

Last but not least – a sweet little sompin’ sompin’ …

Blueberry Grunt
or
\Flourless Chocolate Cake
or
Fresh Berries with Creamy Lime Custard

Have a wonderful long weekend and bon appétit!

How will you celebrate the holiday weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2016

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Labor Day Weekend & Fresh Corn with Sriracha Aioli

Fall_Early_Morning_Pleasant_Lake_03If you live here, the dawning of September is nothing to fear. Labor Day will come and go but the suns will still shine and Pleasant Lake will stay put. The Summer People are not so lucky. If they haven’t already, they will soon be fighting bumper-to-bumper traffic on the drive south to cities and suburbia.

Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I was one of those Summer People. Late on Labor Day afternoon, kids, dogs and turtles crammed into the station wagon with a small mountain of duffle bags. Reluctantly, we headed back to suburbia. I think my mother hated the end of summer migration even more than we three kids did. If it weren’t for Dad’s business, she would have moved to New Hampshire in a heartbeat. Instead, she bravely made sure that everything was packed, closed down the house and herded us into the car. Heaving a dramatic sigh, she proclaimed to any and all, “I am bereft,” and backed out the driveway.

So what’s in store for the Summer People this Labor Day Weekend?

If there is no justice, and there isn’t, they will be busy washing one last load of sheet and towels, storing beach toys and stowing paddleboards and kayaks under the deck. Business at the supermarket and farm stand will be brisk. Townies and Summer People alike will be stocking up for holiday cookouts. Activity at the boat launch will be nonstop. Fancy speedboats, fine looking sailboats and humble dinghies will be strapped onto trailers and hoisted out of the water. Rafts and docks will be dragged onto beaches.

However, Labor Day Weekend is not just about cleaning up and buttoning down. It is also the weekend for a last hurrah. It could be one last sail or one last waterski before hauling the boat out of the water. Maybe it’s a final hike (or finally a hike) up Kearsarge, a run around the lake or a bike ride to nowhere and back.

All of it, both the chores and the fun, is topped off with a festive cookout or two. That’s the thing about Labor Day Weekend. It’s both bitter and sweet. While there are tons of end-of-summer tasks to do, Summer People always do their best to balance the drudgery with fun and games.

However, if live here like me, you can focus on fun all weekend. There will be plenty of time to wash, fluff and fold that last load of beach towels. It will eventually turn cold or rainy or both. It always does. But, if we’re lucky, we can count on at least a month of warmish weather and sunshine.

September is a lovely in-between month; not really summer and not quite fall. The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts above average temperatures and below average rainfall this year. While we’d like this drought to end, it is good news for outdoor activities. Only the bravest will continue their early morning swim. The rest of us are content to row or kayak, hike or bike and enjoy the golden sunshine. While it may be a bit chilly for dinner al fresco, we can still enjoy a lunchtime picnic or an evening cocktail on the deck.

Here’s to the magic of September and bon appétit!

Corn with Sriracha Aioli
Corn_w_Sriracha_Aioli_01When it comes to corn, I’ve always been a purist – butter and a little salt. Then I tried it with spicy aioli. Now, I’m hooked. Whether the corn is steamed or grilled, it is a delicious combination. Enjoy!

1 ear corn per person
Sriracha Aioli
Sea salt (optional)

To steam the corn: fill a large pot with a few inches of water, add a steam basket and the corn, cover and bring the water to a boil. Steam the corn for 4-6 minutes or until tender crisp.

To grill the corn: preheat a charcoal or gas grill to high. Lightly coat the corn with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange the corn on the grill and cook on high heat for about 3 minutes per side.

To serve: invite everyone to grab an ear and pass the Sriracha Aioli and sea salt.

Sriracha Aioli
Not just for corn, this aioli is wonderful on a burger. It makes a delicious dip for French fries, fresh veggies or shrimp.
Makes about 2 cups

2-3 cloves garlic, choppedCorn_w_Sriracha_Aioli_08
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons or to taste sriracha or your favorite hot chili sauce
Grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
Sea salt to taste
1 cup or to taste mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped mint

Put the garlic, olive oil, ketchup, lime juice and sriracha in a small food processor, season with cumin, paprika, salt and pepper and process until well combined and smooth.

Add the mayonnaise and process until well combined. Add the lime zest and herbs and pulse a few times to combine. Cover and chill for an hour or more to combine the flavors.

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One Year Ago – Romaine with Grilled Corn, Tomato & Avocado
Two Years Ago – Savory Parmesan Shortbread with Tomato Jam
Three Years Ago – Chocolate-Orange Tart
Four Years Ago – Chicken Liver Pâté
Five Years Ago – Blueberry Crisp
Six Years Ago – Death by Chocolate Sauce
Seven Years Ago – Lemon Cupcakes
Eight Years Ago – Couscous with Dried Fruit and Pine Nuts

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What do you love about late summer? Feel free to share.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2016

Warm & Sunny Labor Day Weekend Special

on_the_raft_with_the_setting_sunIn case you didn’t notice, we are about to finish an extra-long summer. No, the solstice and equinox didn’t move. It’s a quirk of the calendar tied to the unofficial bookends of summer, Memorial Day and Labor Day. At one end, Memorial Day, the last Monday in May, fell on the earliest possible date this year. At the other end, Labor Day, the first Monday in September falls on the latest possible date this year. I hope it was a great summer for you; filled with lots of fun and sunshine!

Are you still up in the air when it comes to weekend plans? Why not join friends and family around the grill? Whether you do it all or organize a potluck, the weather promises to cooperate! Here are a few ideas:

The farm stands and farmers markets are bursting! Take advantage of summer’s bounty. Begin your cookout nibbles from the garden. Corncakes, Zucchini Pancakes with a dab of Tapenade and/or Bruschetta with Fresh Tomatoes, Goat Cheese & Pesto Oil will make a delicious start to your cookout. . Or maybe you’d like to try shots of my delicious Gazpacho.

When you are ready for dinner, be sure to include some beautiful salads like my Romaine with Grilled Corn, Tomato & Avocado or Summer Salad with Green Beans, Blueberries & Goat Cheese. Looking for something more substantial, try my Couscous Salad with Grilled Vegetables or New Potato Salad. Next, make your cookout special with my Not Your Ordinary Burger, Hint of Asia BBBQ Chicken or Maple-Bourbon Pork Ribs. And hopefully, you made some of my Spicy Refrigerator Pickles!

How about dessert? Well, brownies are a natural at a cookout. You can’t go wrong with my Cheesecake Brownies. If it stays warm and steamy, give my New Hampshire Mud Pie a go.

Have a great weekend and bon appétit!

What are you planning for the long holiday weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2015

Labor Day & Romaine with Grilled Corn, Tomato & Avocado

strike_up_the_bandAs often happens, Labor Day’s original message may have been lost in all the hoopla of cookouts and block buster sales. And no, the true meaning of Labor Day has nothing to do with white shoes or seersucker. It celebrates the labor movement … without which we might all be working sixteen-hour days assembling widgets or whatnots.

The first Labor Day was celebrated on a Tuesday, the fifth of September 1882 to be exact. There is a bit of confusion as to who is the father of Labor Day. Some records suggest that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, initiated the holiday to honor working men and women. Others believe that a machinist named Matthew Maguire founded the holiday. McGuire, Maguire … tomato, tomahto?

In spite of the kerfuffle over the founder, a parade and a picnic were held in New York. It got off to a slow start until the Jewelers Union of Newark arrived from New Jersey. They brought a band. With music playing, feet slowly began to shuffle. Several hundred union workers lined up and began the march through lower Manhattan. Some bricklayers brought along a second band, more and more workers joined the crowd and history was made. By the time, everyone had wound their way to Wendel’s Elm Park at 92nd Street and 9th Avenue, an estimated 10,000 workers had joined the parade. Once at the park, kegs were quaffed and picnics were consumed. There was more music, speeches were given and fireworks flared.

One year later, Labor Day was again celebrated on September fifth. Luckily, someone smart figured out that Monday was a much better day for a holiday. In 1884, Labor Day found a permanent place on the first Monday in September. Ten years later, Congress and President Grover Cleveland declared it a federal holiday. After sending in federal marshals and the army to crush a railroad strike and boycott, Cleveland wanted to make nice with the unions. Since the 2016 election is already heating up, you can expect to see more than a few politicians making nice this Labor Day weekend.

As a kid, Labor Day was always a sad day. It was the end of our summer fun. No more late nights playing flashlight tag. It was early to bed and much too early to rise. We went from ragamuffin to schoolgirl in an instant. No more beach sand in our hair, we put on a dress and exchanged our comfortable sneakers with real shoes. Okay, a new dress was always nice but the shoes invariably produced blisters. We needed Band-Aids before the first bell rang.

And that was just the start. Instead of breezing through the neighborhood on our bikes, we were held captive in stuffy classrooms. While daydreaming of lazy days by the water, we amassed an assortment of weighty tomes and a bunch of assignments to go with them. Oh, what a difference a day makes!

How will you celebrate Labor Day this year? For most of us, it’s a hale and hearty salute to the end of summer. These days, there is a lot less marching and a lot more hiking, biking, tennis and golf over the Labor Day Weekend. Then of course, there are the millions who head to mall for back-to-school sales. Do you suppose shoppers will be humming Look for the Union Label as they wind their way through the stacks of jeans and t-shirts?

So unless you are a political junky, ignore the campaigns, wear white, drum up some fun and enjoy the sunshine! Bon appétit!

Romaine with Grilled Corn, Tomato & Avocado
Enjoy this wonderful combination of flavors and textures at your Labor Day Weekend cookout!Romaine_Grilled Corn_Tomato_Avocado _07
Serves 8

Caesar Vinaigrette (recipe follows)
2-3 ears fresh corn, about 1-1 1/2 cups corn kernels
2-3 romaine hearts, chopped or torn into pieces
16 grape and/or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and chopped
2-3 scallions
About 2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Make the vinaigrette (recipe follows).

Preheat a charcoal or gas grill to high. Lightly coat the corn with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange the corn on the grill and cook on high heat for 2 minutes per side. Remove from the grill. When the corn is cool enough to handle, cut the kernels from the cob.

Put the romaine in a bowl, add enough vinaigrette to lightly coat and toss to combine. Transfer the greens to a platter or individual plates.

Put the corn, tomatoes, avocado and scallions in the bowl, add enough vinaigrette to lightly coat and toss to combine. Artfully arrange them on top of the romaine. Using a vegetable peeler or a course grater, make shavings from the Parmigiano-Reggiano and sprinkle on the salad.

Caesar Vinaigrette
Makes about 1 cup

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons anchovy paste
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1-inch chunk red onion, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
About 1 cup (or to taste) extra virgin olive oil

Put the vinegars, mustard, anchovy paste, garlic, onion, and Worcestershire sauce in a blender or small food processor, season with salt and pepper and process until smooth.

With the motor running, gradually add the olive oil and process until smooth. Let the vinaigrette sit for 30 minutes at room temperature or longer in the refrigerator to combine the flavors.

Can be made in advance. Store extra vinaigrette in the refrigerator.

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One Year Ago – Savory Parmesan Shortbread with Tomato Jam
Two Years Ago – Chocolate-Orange Tart
Three Years Ago – Chicken Liver Pâté
Four Years Ago – Blueberry Crisp
Five Years Ago – Death by Chocolate Sauce
Six Years Ago – Lemon Cupcakes
Seven Years Ago – Couscous with Dried Fruit and Pine Nuts

Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!

What is your favorite way to spend a rainy summer day? Feel free to share. Let’s start a conversation.

Want more? I’ve got links to lots more to read, see & cook. © Susan W. Nye, 2015

Labor Day Weekend Special

corn_field_07Although September is a beautiful month in New Hampshire, Labor Day weekend signals back-to-school and the end of summer. How will you celebrate the long weekend? At the mall buying school supplies? Closing up the cottage? Or a fun day outdoors … hiking? biking? or relaxing with a book? However you spend the day, bring family and friends together for a late summer cookout in the evening.

Need some help with the menu? How about:

For a great start … Local corn is fantastic these days. Make the most of it with Grilled Corn, Black Bean & Avocado Salsa and a few chips. Or revel in the glory of local tomatoes with Gazpacho. Add some Spicy Olives and a few Roasted Almonds.

Fire up the grill when you are ready for dinner.. Grill up some Scallops and Swordfish and serve them both with Olive & Caper Salsa. While you’re at it, throw some veggies on the grill. My Grilled Balsamic Vegetables are wonderful.

double_trouble_chocolate_cupcakes_03And for dessert? It’s my mother’s birthday on Friday. She’ll be eighty-five! So cupcakes are definitely in order. I’ll be baking up a batch of Double Trouble Chocolate-Orange Cupcakes. Mom has Alzheimer’s Disease and living in an assisted living facility. I’m looking forward to celebrate wih her and the wonderful staff at Woodcrest. If there is no birthday party at your house … how about some blueberries from your local pick-your-own farm! I’ve been fiddling with my Blueberry Crisp. Instead of ground ginger, I’m adding about a tablespoon of freshly grated ginger as well as the grated zest and juice of one lemon. I made it for a family dinner last weekend and may have to do it again in the next day or two. Then again, for a change, I could go with Blueberry Crumb Cake.

Happy birthday to my mom, have a wonderful weekend and bon appétit!

What’s up with you this weekend? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Want more? Click here for more seasonal menus! For a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog Click Here!

© Susan W. Nye, 2014

Labor Day in Paradise & Grilled Swordfish with Caponata

It may be late this year but it seems that it came awfully quickly. Just a few weeks ago we stood on a soggy beach watching the fireworks fizzle in the rain. Now it is suddenly Labor Day.

When we were kids, Labor Day weekend was always a sad time. It was time to pack up the station wagon and head south to the suburbs. But before we left we always tried to cram at least another summer into the three day weekend.

I can’t say it never rained on Labor Day, at least once or twice, we packed up while the last vestiges of a hurricane blew through. But most of my childhood memories are of glorious sunshine. After weeks of heat and humidity, summer in New Hampshire ends with warm, dry days and cool nights. It is the perfect weather for tennis matches or sailing. Tennis tournaments and sunfish regattas kept our parents on the courts and on the lake and out of our hair for most of the holiday.

With parents occupied, a virtual army of kids and teenagers were free to do almost anything but play tennis or sail. Suddenly, we didn’t have to be prompted to get moving. We went in search of amusement in and around Pleasant Lake. Grubby little boys and girls went on one last frog hunting expedition. Convinced that all those swimming lessons might have helped, a few young ones made one last, valiant attempt to pass the raft test. The results were generally mixed.

Teenagers did their best to dodge babysitting younger brothers and sisters. If successful, they rambled around the hills that surround the lake or took one last turn on water skis. I remember one Labor Day when I was determined to finish the summer on a single ski. I spent most of Saturday and Sunday falling as I tried to drop one ski and make at least one short pass by the beach. It took awhile but my tenacity, and the boat driver’s patience, paid off. Finally exhausted but triumphant, I took a very quick victory lap. I then completed the effort, arms and legs flailing, with one final, dramatic tumble into the lake.

The long weekend will be packed with activity but there is a sweet sadness to Labor Day on Pleasant Lake. Everyone will take one last swim, sail, ski and paddle before docks are be pulled up and out of the water. Boats of all shapes and sizes will be hauled to dry land. Sandy beach towels will be collected and thrown in the washer. Grills will fire up for one last cookout before cottages are swept clean for the winter. After sharing one last sunrise or sunset or both, beach chairs will be stored away. Long, teary farewells will be exchanged. Hugs will be shared. For the summer people, it’s the last hurrah and time to go home. So maybe it’s just sad and not so sweet after all.

Unless you live here. If you are lucky enough to live here, you won’t spend Labor Day cramming duffels, bikes, kids, cats and dogs into the SUV or mini-van. The day after Labor Day will not be another day of insanity and rushing around in bumper to bumper traffic. It will be another day in paradise. It will be another great day to listen to the loons, to ramble through the woods, to kayak on the lake to play tennis or golf or both in the early fall sunshine.

We may need to add an extra blanket at night and find a sweater on chilly mornings but it’s time to celebrate one of New Hampshire’s best months … September. Enjoy!

Bon appétit!

Grilled Swordfish & Grilled Caponata
Caponata is incredibly versatile and perfect for the holiday weekend. Make up a batch and serve it with swordfish hot off the grill, pop some into a pita for lunch or spread it on lightly toasted ciabatta bread for a delicious hors d’oeuvre. Enjoy!
Serves 4

1 – 1 1/2 pounds swordfish
Olive oil
Juice from 1/2 – 1 lemon or lime
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Grilled Caponata (recipe follows)

Heat grill to high. Brush the swordfish with olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper. Grill for 3 – 5 minutes per side. Remove from the grill and serve with Grilled Caponata.

Grilled Caponata
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-2 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium eggplant, thickly sliced
1 large red onion, chopped
10-12 grape tomatoes
1/4 cup large green olives, pitted and chopped
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1/4 cup golden raisins, plumped in hot water and drained
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Olive oil

Combine the garlic, anchovy paste, red pepper flakes, vinegar, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk in the extra virgin olive oil until the vinaigrette is well combined.

Heat grill to high.  Brush eggplant with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss onion and tomatoes with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Put the onions and tomatoes in a grill basket and grill for 6-8 minutes, stirring from time to time. Grill the eggplant for 4 to 6 minutes per side until golden brown and cooked through. Remove the vegetables from the grill. Chop the eggplant.

You can still enjoy Caponata when it’s too cold or wet to get out the grill. Roast the veggies until tender in a 425 degree oven.

Place the vegetables in a medium bowl and add the olives, capers, raisins and pine nuts. Add enough vinaigrette to the vegetables to lightly coat.  Add the parsley and toss. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.

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One Year Ago – Harira (Middle Eastern Soup with Chicken, Chick-Peas and Lentils)  

What’s your favorite way to spend a cold, rainy day? I’d love to hear from you! Let’s get a conversation going. To make a comment, just click on Comments below. I’d be delighted to add you to the growing list of blog subscribers. To subscribe: just scroll back up, fill in your email address and click on the Sign Me Up button. You’ll get an email asking you to confirm your subscription … confirm and you will automatically receive a new story and recipe every week.

Feel free to visit my photoblog, Susan Nye 365 or my cleverly named other blog, Susan Nye’s Other Blog, or website www.susannye.com. You can find more than 200 recipes, links to magazine articles and lots more. I hope that you will take a minute to learn about my philanthropic project Eat Well-Do Good. ©Susan W. Nye, 2011