Last night I enjoyed a picture-perfect barbecue at the home of my cousin Kate and her husband, Seth, joined by Kate's sister Liza and Liza's boyfriend, Avi. I brought along as my date a six-pack of Dogfish Head Raison D'Etre, whose brute strength left me still weak in the knees this morning. Heh. A good date, indeed.
The weather was perfect, the conversation lively, the fire pit roaring, and the food excellent. As an added bonus, I learned two important lessons from Kate and Seth's wonderful, casual, al fresco dinner:
1) Boiled potatoes with nothing but salt and pepper on them are underrated and delicious -- and a frugal eater's dream.
2) Grilled chicken need not be dry, if you follow this important step: boil it first! Kate learned this brilliant bit from her mom, my Aunt Mary. No need to boil it very long, maybe 5 or 10 minutes. This way, the chicken is already parcooked and doesn't desiccate away on the open flame.
That reminds me, I have another gem to offer, courtesy of Aunt Mary: her amazing broccoli salad, which I mentioned in my last post and served at Easter. It's been a popular fixture at the past three or four holiday functions, I think. I dare you to find a better way to eat broccoli.
Recipe: Aunt Mary's Broccoli Salad
Adapted from Richmond's Ukrop's Deli via a 1980s Washington Post recipe, which does not seem to be available on their archives. Makes 6-8 servings.
For the salad:
1.5 - 2 C finely chopped broccoli florets and/or stalks
2-3 finely chopped celery ribs
1/2 C finely chopped onion
1/2 C golden raisins [Mary's note: dark is fine]
7 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled [DEO note: omit the bacon if you want to make a vegetarian version]
6-8 large, well-shaped lettuce leaves for serving [DEO note: Mary doesn't serve the salad in lettuce leaves, and it is just fine that way.]
For the dressing:
1/2 - 2/3 C reduced calorie mayonnaise [DEO note: use full-fat mayo if that's what you already have]
1/4 C sugar
1.5 T cider vinegar
1/2 - 1 t seasoning salt
1/8 - 1/4 t freshly ground pepper
Combine all the salad ingredients, except for the bacon, in a medium-sized bowl. Combine all the dressing ingredients and spoon over the salad; stir and cover. Chill 4-8 hours before serving. Top with the bacon. Serve on lettuce leaves (optional).