Monday, July 30, 2012

Seasons Eatings 2

































Happy to do some more freelance work for The Local Palate magazine again this month.  I've featured some of my favorite recipes for summer entertaining - they are sure to be a hit!  Better yet, I just noticed that I can snag a copy of this great magazine at my local grocery store!  Congrats to this Charleston, SC based company on taking over the South - keep it up!

MM

Seasons Eating’s
by Matt Moore

Homemade peach ice cream on sunburnt lips . . . that’s what country is.  

The preceding lyric just so happens to be one of my favorites from friend, and fellow country music singer Luke Bryan.  For me, it’s always remarkable how the power of a single lyric can draw back so many memories – and perfect moments.

I would argue that food, just like a song lyric, can do the same exact thing.  Oftentimes, cutting into a fresh summer watermelon brings me back to the days of my youth.  That cool, sweet refreshing bite always tasted best after a long day of sweating it out on the football field.  Yet, sometimes cutting into that exact same watermelon recalls a different memory.  I’m transported back to college in Athens, GA, where a watermelon was almost always spiked with cheap vodka.  Ah, those were the days – though the memories of those headaches are still very clear.

To describe a summer in the South, one must first step outside.  Invariably, the warmer weather creates an environment where all of us are called to enjoy the great outdoors – lake weekends, picnics, and evening strolls chasing fireflies are all part of the southern summer experience.

All things considered, one of my favorite summer activities is grilling outside.  For those who hail from above the Mason-Dixon Line, I’d like to make two things clear when it comes to entertaining in the South.   First and foremost, and with all due respect a grill is a grill – not a barbeque.  Second, the act of ‘barbequing’ should only refer to slowly cooked, smoked meats served alongside a tomato, mustard, or vinegar based sauce.  In other words, if you host a ‘barbeque’ in the South, don’t serve your guests hamburgers and hotdogs.  Now, let’s get back to the good stuff . . . food.  

Don’t get me wrong, I love a grilled hamburger or hotdog just as much as the next guy, but sometimes such a menu seems less than ‘inspired’ when it comes time to entertain my guests.  For me, I like to think outside the box.  With that in mind, I’ve put together an eclectic southern menu of items that all can be prepared on the grill.  Don’t worry; I haven’t weighed you down with heavy choices.  Instead, I’ve kept these dishes rather light and tasty – yet always satisfying.  

So enjoy invite six or eight of your closest friends over for your next cookout.  Surrounded by a hot grill, cold beer, and great food – I can guarantee you and your guests will enjoy the very best of summers in the South.

Keep peaceful!

MM

Grilled Andouille Sausage + Creole Mustard – Andouille is a pork sausage which can pack plenty of heat.  Local butchers and specialty stores regularly stock this Cajun favorite throughout the year.  I like to serve this dish informally, while still on the cutting board, to give my guests a chance to have a small bite to satisfy their appetite.  If you can’t find creole mustard, go with whole grain mustard as a substitute.  Truth be told, the spice of this dish typically gets my guests into their second beer rather quickly – which is always a good thing in my book.
(Prep 5 mins, Cook 15 mins, Serves 6 – 8)

2 lbs Fresh Andouille Sausage
½ Cup Creole Mustard
Chives, garnish
Toothpicks, to serve


Prepare grill over medium high heat.  Add whole sausage links to grill and cook for 3 – 4 minutes on each side, turning on occasion to ensure they do not burn.  When sausages are fully cooked (about 10 – 12 minutes), remove from heat, and allow sausages to rest on a cutting board for 2 – 3 minutes.  Use a knife to cut the links into 1 inch bite-sized pieces.  Garnish with chives, and serve with toothpicks and mustard on the side.


Grilled Peach + Red Onion + Goat Cheese + Pecan Spinach Salad – I always love a salad with warm and cool contrasts.  This bright, flavorful mix of warm grilled peaches with the cool, tangy goat cheese, bite of the red onion, and crunch of the pecans is simply delightful.  For best results, I like to use peaches that are ‘just-ripe’, as I find that overly ripe peaches tend to fall apart on the grill.  Don’t fret, the heat of the grill will help to tenderize the peaches and make them juicy and flavorful.  To make your life easier, you can arrange this dish well in advance, just wait to add the dressing until prior to service to prevent the spinach from wilting.
(Prep 15 mins, Cook 10 mins, Serves 6 – 8)


Salad

4 ‘Just-Ripe’ Small Peaches, pits removed and quartered
Canola Oil
8 Cups Baby Spinach, washed
1 Medium Red Onion, sliced paper thin
1 ½ Cups Crumbled Goat Cheese
1 Cup Toasted Pecans, roughly chopped
Honey Balsamic Dressing, recipe follows


Prepare grill over medium high heat.  Toss peaches in canola oil, and add to grill over direct heat.  Grill peach slices for 2 – 3 minutes on both sides, creating nice grill marks; remove from grill and set aside.  Place spinach leaves into the bottom of a large serving bowl.  Top the spinach with onion, goat cheese, and pecans.  Finally, finish the dish by arranging the grilled peaches on top of the salad.  To serve, toss with dressing until evenly combined.

Dressing

¼ Cup Aged Balsamic Vinegar
1 ½ Tablespoons Honey
½ Teaspoon Salt
1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Combine the first three ingredients into a medium sized mixing bowl.  Next, slowly stream in olive oil while vigorously whisking ingredients until emulsified, or evenly combined.  
 

Simply Grilled Shrimp Kebabs + Rosemary – I love the simplicity of fresh, grilled shrimp.  This recipe ‘ups the ante’ on presentation by using rosemary stalks as the skewers that hold everything together –while also imparting great flavor.  To prevent the stalks from burning, be sure to soak them in water prior to grilling.  You can peel back the rosemary leaves, and sharpen the bottom of the stalk to make skewering the shrimp effortless.  Served either hot off the grill, or at outside temperature, these will surely delight your guests.  (Prep 30 mins, Cook 6 – 8 mins, Serves 6 – 8)


12 Mature Rosemary Stalks, soaked in water for 30 minutes
1 ½ lbs Fresh Large Gulf Shrimp, deveined and peeled with tails on
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Fresh Lemon, sliced

Prepare grill over medium high heat.  Toss shrimp in olive oil and season lightly with kosher salt.  Next, carefully skewer 3 – 5 shrimp onto each stalk, depending on the size of the shrimp.  Do not overcrowd; allowing the shrimp to cook evenly.  Cook shrimp, over direct heat for 2 – 3 minutes on both sides, or until shrimp are firm and bright pink.  Remove from heat, and finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the top of the shrimp.  Serve.

Grilled Red Onion + Squash + Zucchinithese grilled vegetables make for a colorful, tasty side dish to serve alongside the main course.  The beautiful grill marks and tangy marinade impart plenty of great flavors, yet the dish remains light and refreshing.  It’s best to marinate the vegetables for 30 minutes – no more as the vegetables will become soggy, and no less as you want the flavor to soak in.  (Prep 35 mins, Cook 10 mins, Serves 6 – 8)
2 Large Red Onions, peeled and cut into ½ inch ‘coaster-like’ discs
2 Large Yellow Squash, cut into ½ inch slices
2 Large Zucchini, cut into ½ inch slices
10 Cloves Garlic, minced
½ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ Cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 ½ Tablespoons Kosher Salt
1 Tablespoon Fresh Cracked Pepper

Prepare grill over medium high heat.  Thirty minutes prior to grilling, equally divide onions, squash, zucchini, and garlic into two large plastic storage bags.  Whisk together oil, vinegar, salt and pepper until thoroughly combined.  Evenly divide the marinade, and pour over the vegetables.  Using your hands, toss the ingredients together, careful to keep the onion rings intact.  Marinate for 30 minutes.  Grill vegetables over direct heat (Onions: 3 – 4 minutes per side, Squash and Zucchini: 2 – 3 minutes per side).  Remove from heat.  Serve.  

Grilled Corn + ButterI tend to be more of a purist when it comes to grilling corn.  The flavor from the grill, along with the savory butter, provides plenty of love to enhance the sweet taste of natural, fresh corn.  This recipe requires that the corn be cooked over indirect heat, or offset from the heat source.  Since most of the other items require direct heat, these can be placed on the unlit side of the grill, or if using charcoal, on the area away from the coals. 
(Prep 10 mins, Cook 15 mins, Serves 6 – 8)


6 – 8 Ears Fresh Corn, husks pulled back, silks removed
8 Tablespoons Salted Butter
Kosher Salt


Prepare grill for indirect  cooking over medium high heat.  Coat each cob with a tablespoon of butter and lightly season with kosher salt.  Next, carefully secure husks around the cob, using a string to tie the husks together if necessary.  Grill corn, with the lid covered, over indirect heat for 12 – 15 minutes, turning occasionally.  Remove corn from grill.  When ready to serve, peel back husks (careful when hot), and serve alongside extra butter.  
 

Grilled Whole Red Snapper + Lemon + Thyme – most people shudder in fear at the thought of preparing a whole fish, but truth be told, this method couldn’t be easier.  To save time, have your local fish monger scale, gut, and dress the fish at the store.  Even though the fish might be staring back at your guests – have some fun by reserving the best part of your fish for your honored guest – the cheeks!  (Prep 10 mins, Cook 20 mins, Serves 6 – 8)

4 – 6 Whole Red Snapper, about 1 ½ - 2 lbs. each, scaled and gutted
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Lemons, cut into ¼ inch slices
12 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper
Prepare grill over medium high heat.  Using a sharp knife, make 4 – 5 slits into the sides of each fish.  Coat the fish in oil, and place the lemon slices and a few sprigs of thyme into each cavity.  Season the fish liberally with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.  Grill fish over direct heat for 6 – 8 minutes on each side – or until flesh flakes and is cooked through.  Remove from grill and sprinkle lightly with sea salt and squeeze remaining lemon juice over the fish.  Serve. 

Grilled Flatbread + Mascarpone + Mixed Berries – to round out this outstanding meal, I’ve put together one of my favorite grilled creations – done dessert style.  Grilled pizzas are a fast weeknight dinner, as they can be prepared quickly after work, and the high heat of the grill forms a perfectly crispy crust.  With that in mind, I’ve sweetened the deal.  Mascarpone cheese, enhanced with honey and topped off with fresh warmed berries is the perfect way to enjoy a bite-sized dessert to finish the evening.  TIP – I like to leave the grill on low heat while eating the main course, as it will cook off and clean the grill in time for dessert.
 (Prep 10 mins, Cook 10 mins, Serves 6 – 8)

2 Store-Bought Pizza Dough Balls, refrigerated
Canola Oil
2 Cups Mascarpone Cheese
2 Tablespoons Honey
1 Teaspoon Orange Zest
1 Cup Raspberries
1 Cup Strawberries, stems removed and sliced in half lengthwise
1 Cup Blackberries
Powdered Sugar, garnish
Mint Leaves, garnish

Setup grill for direct and indirect cooking over medium-high and low heat, respectively.  On separate cookie sheets, coat dough in canola oil and form two circular 12-inch flat surfaces with the dough, about ¼ inch thick consistency throughout.  Carefully place the dough over direct heat, stretching the dough over the grate to ensure an even consistency.  Cook for 60 – 90 seconds, or until the underside of the dough is browned and the top of the dough is bubbling with air pockets.  Carefully flip the dough and move to indirect heat.  Meanwhile mix the Mascarpone, honey, and orange zest together in a bowl.  Next, liberally smear the mixture over the top of both flatbread surfaces, and evenly top with assorted berries.  Cover grill and cook for another 4 – 6 minutes, or until the fruit is warmed through.  Remove from heat, and garnish with a dusting of powdered sugar and a few mint leaves.  Cut into quarters and serve.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

BetterTV

Check me out on the BetterTV network today doing my latest and greatest - picnic recipes pour deux!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Jezebel Magazine Feature

Back and re-charged after a few solid days cooking at the Common Ground Music Fest up in Lansing, Michigan.  Thoroughly enjoyed my time at the festival - especially hanging out with Jeff, Patrick, Gary, and the rest of the guys in the kitchen.  Thanks for making me feel right at home fellas!

Packing my bags tonight and off to NYC to do the BetterTV show Thursday morning.  Check your local listings for showtimes/stations in your area.

Finally, I was excited to get some love from Atlanta's Jezebel Magazine.  A great piece from Emily making me sound more important, and busier than I truly am!  Seriously, I can't thank you all enough for supporting all of my endeavors.  Check out the full feature here.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

PEI - Round 3

Wrapped up another glorious year at the Cavendish Beach Music Festival.  Once again, I'm completely humbled by such a great festival, people, food, and the natural beauty that exists on PEI.  Next year is the festival's 5th anniversary - I hear even bigger and better things are in the works - so book your tickets now!

After an eventful trip in from Montreal, I was kindly greeted by my buddy Charles at the Charlottetown airport around 10:30 a.m. Thursday morning.  Honestly, I had a twinge of a hangover from a long night of taking in the sights, sounds, and tastes of Montreal - but Charles knew just the cure.  And by cure, I mean the hair of the dog.  Fortunately islanders Jeff Squires and the folks over at the Murphy group have successfully created a beer that is truly the essence of the island, the Beach Chair Lager.
Grab a chair!

Ahhh . . . nothing like a cold beer before breakfast.  Charles and I made our way into Charlottetown to check in at the Great George Hotel.  Upon our arrival, it seemed that all of those travel delays and headaches were worth it.  Rachael kindly offered up a condo suite for my stay - so I certainly obliged.  I almost felt guilty taking up so much space - but I got over it upon walking through the door.  Wow!  A big thanks to Rachael and the Murphy's for showing me such hospitality - truly appreciated.
Jealous?  Kidding - it was truly an incredible place to stay during my visit.  One cold beer down, I decided it best to grab a workout prior to indulging in some great food.  A few loops around the scenic waterfront were just what I needed.  My buddy Cory made his way over mid-afternoon and we grabbed some mussels, chowder, and conversation over at Fishbones.  (I ended up making 2 more visits for the chowder during my visit)  From there, we cruised over to the Merchantman Pub for a few more brews and chats with the locals.  Sadly, I had to cut the afternoon short to get back and do some prep for the festival.  Work complete, it was off to Gahan House for a nightcap beer and their famous brown bag fish and chips.  A great day/evening in the books - time to get to work!
With the sun brightly shining, Charles picked me up again and we were off to the festival - Day 1.  Finally got to meet the man responsible for all of my visits to PEI and festival promoter Kevin Meyer.  Kevin, like always, was in great spirits along with Chris, and it felt like little time had passed since last year.  A solid lunch, and off to meet with chef Adam Loo.
Chef Adam Loo
Adam was awesome, and he and his team busted their ass all weekend to put out great food to thousands of hungry festival go-ers.  Seriously can't thank Adam and his team (Darla and the boys) for all of their kind hospitality and professionalism.  Great crew.  To get some of Adam's serious eats, check out his restaurant in Charlottetown - Daniel-Brenan Brickhouse.  Note - they also pour Knob Creek at the studio bar upstairs - just a hint for you southerners like myself!
Food, food, and more food.  Over the next three days I would boil over 1500 lbs of local PEI baby red potatoes, fresh corn, local pork Andouille sausage from Marty Taylor, mushrooms, crawfish, onions, shrimp, and fresh PEI north shore lobster.  We served well over a thousand folks who kindly listened to my stories, laughed at my less than funny jokes, and showered me with compliments on the food.  No seriously, everyone couldn't have been kinder regarding the experience and the food.  Always makes me smile to watch people enjoy new (crawfish) food, while taking a spicy slant on island favorites.  A special thanks to Issac Murphy, Rob, and Ray for their assistance each day on the demos.  And of course, a big thanks to the folks over at Cavendish Farms for allowing me to be a part of their sponsored demos. 

I finished the evening by boiling up some lobster for the one and only Dierks Bentley.  It must have been good, because he and the boys put on an incredible show!
Made it back into town to stir up just a few more beers and a meat-head oyster at Sim's Corner Steakhouse.  Nothing better than gulping down a fresh oyster the size of my palm as a nite cap.  Good times.

Day 2 - back in action.  Enjoyed quite a few bands at the smaller kitchen stage, including EJ Ouellette and Crazy Maggie from Boston - good guys. 
Once again, word got out to some of the artists that a Nashville guy was cooking up PEI lobsters.  I'm no islander - but I think I did a pretty fair job paying homage to the traditional and simplicity of a great cooked lobster.  I wrapped up the day by cooking a few reserved lobsters for Randy Owen and crew from Alabama.  Pretty darn cool.  Off to bed early - you'll see why.
Day 3 turned out to be the highlight of my trip, and we got started early - 6:30 a.m.  No, I wasn't prepping in a kitchen, instead my buddy Kim and his pal Rick kindly offered to take me to one of their secret honey holes to do a little fly fishing on the island.  Honestly, I can't thank these two enough for breaking up the routine and getting me back out on the water.  I used to make time for fishing, but lately it seems that I never get an opportunity to enjoy the great outdoors.  So, when Kim and I chatted about our mutual love of the sport, he took it upon himself to arrange a great morning out on the beautiful Morrell River. 
Indian Bridge
Thanks to Rick for snapping me in action.
So, how'd it go?  Let's just say I left plenty of fish out there for you!  Fortunately, I didn't get skunked, and I closed out my morning by reeling in a small brookie before the trip home.  Both Kim and Rick were great hosts, and you can check out all of their adventures on their site.  Thanks again fellas!
The drive back into Charlottetown provided plenty more beautiful PEI scenery - rolling hills, greenery, and the crystal blue Gulf of St Laurence on the horizon.

Back in Charlottetown for a bit.
It was back off the the festival site for one more day of music and food.  It was the biggest day yet, and I got a kick out of running into my buddy Tristan from Nashville who road manages Rascal Flatts.  Funny how you have to come to one corner of the world to run into friends!
And just like that, the festival came to a close.  Once again, I'd like to thank Kevin Meyer, Chris Smith, Chris Meyer, Charles, Kim, Rick, Kurt, Ray, The Murphy's, Racheal, Karen, Cory, Adam, Darla, Rob, Jeff, Cavendish Farms (Wayne and Suzanne), and everyone else for making me feel at home on the island.  Your hospitality, generosity, and kindness is truly appreciated.

With that said - I'm hopping a plane tonight to meet back up with Kevin and Chris in Lansing, Michigan to cook for the Common Ground Music Festival.  

On the road again!

MM

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Montreal

Rough day of travel yesterday -

Nothing like spending your 4th of July holiday in airports - much less dealing with delays.

Oh well, life could be worse.  I ended up getting stranded in Montreal for the evening, which just happens to be one of my favorite cities in the world.  Of course, United Airlines claimed their delay was due to the weather, so it was left up to me to secure a hotel and cover cab fare into the city.  When in Rome.

Booked a last minute deal at Hotel Zero 1 on the corner of St. Laurent and Rene Levesque - perfect location for the annual JazzFest celebration that I just happened to catch - I guess karma comes back in your favor every once and a while.  Enjoyed a few beers and some music while taking in the sights and sounds.  Montreal is alive!  For anyone who's never visited this city, I have to tell you that it's arguably one of the best in the world.  A mix of French/English, America/Europe, and everything in between.  It's like taking New Orleans, Chicago, San Fran, NYC and Paris - and simply slamming them all into one city.  Incredible.

Closed down the evening hitting up a few bars up and down St. Laurent/St. Dennis - some of my favorite old spots.  And of course, I grabbed a smoked meat sandwich from Schwartz's deli and shot the shit with the staff - picking up some more of my favorite spices to take home with me.

All in all - I'm ready to get to my destination - PEI.  But, if all layovers occur in Montreal - I'm not complaining.

MM

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Cooking with Cast Iron

How goes it?

Check out my definitive guide to cooking with Cast Iron over at The Art of Manliness.  Lots of great feedback from people all over the world on their methods, teqhniques, and love of cooking with cast iron!

Last day in Nashville - tying up some loose ends.  Taking off for PEI tomorrow - can't wait.

July 4th - 9th (PEI, Canada) Cavendish Beach Music Festival

July 12th - 15th (Lansing, MI) Common Ground Music Festival

July 18th - 22nd (NYC) - National Television Appearance July 19th on BetterTV

That's it - look forward to providing lots of shots and stories from the road.

Stay tuned!

MM