Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hello, Blog, My Old Friend

by Xani

Hey! Blogging! I remember this! Been a while, but it's just like riding a bike, right? Life has been a whirlwind lately, and rather than bore you with excuses about why I haven't been blogging, I'll get right to the action...

Item the first: BCD Goes Gutenberg.

That's right, we're in print! Starting this month, we will have a monthly column in our neighborhood newsletter, the Federal Hill South Free News-- hoorah! Lovely Editor Michelle, an old colleague of mine, is a fan of the blog and asked us to be her regular food columnists-- SCORE. The newsletters should be posted on the website regularly, but until then, you can check out our column here (and the second page here).

Item the second: BCD needs your help!

Very soon we will be asking for your help in winning a local blogging award. We'll keep you posted on how to vote and show your support for BCD. STAY TUNED!!

Item the third: FOOD. That's what you're here for, right?

While I was too busy to blog, I did find a leeeetle time to have fun, cook, eat and entertain. We had one small bbq when my friend Hayley and her husband came to visit from Cleveland, and another, more elaborate one the weekend right after the Blackacre Blowout, at which point I almost died from over-entertaining. Here's a rundown of the eats:

BBQ #1
  • Gazpacho
  • BBQ chicken
  • grilled corn
  • yellow watermelon and feta salad
  • nectarine and blueberry gallette

Sounds simple, right? And in reality, we did try to keep everything light, easy, casual-- and it worked! But more importantly, everything was SO delicious. We used almost all local farmer's market produce, which made all the sides especially yummy. The gazpacho, which I had been talking about making all summer but didn't get around to until August was absolutely summer at its best, especially with the homemade croƻtons and other garnishes to sprinkle on top.

The watermelon and feta salad was a test-run for the dish we wanted to make at the Blackacre Blowout, and this version was so fresh and interesting that it secured a spot on the menu for the big party. The chicken, however, was really the star of the show. I have to give FULL CREDIT to my wonderful boyfriend, D, who proved at this party, and the next, that he is a true bbq master. (That's right, boyfriend. (!!) Who cooks. Really well. Didn't I mention life has been crazy lately? But in a good way, sometimes :) ) I'm not even really sure what he did with this chicken-- it involved a new piece of a equipment which has taken up residence in my backyard-- a smoker. D+ smoker+magic= amazingly delicious bbq chicken! It was so moist, with perfectly crispy skin and wonderful smoky flavor. A triumph. We also grilled up some fresh local corn, which was just as sweet as any I had all summer.

Dinner wouldn't be complete without dessert, specifically my new obsession, random fruit gallete. I threw together the dough early in the day, mixed some sliced local nectarines and blueberries with a touch of sugar, some flour, and lemon juice and voila!


So all that was just bbq #1! Bbq # 2 was for a few more people and was just a touch more elaborate...

For our starter, we made a fantastic chilled zucchini soup. Unlike the vegan recipe we used for the Blackacre party, this one was chock full of homemade chicken stock, milk, and sour cream (of course, it's James Beard, after all). Lots of hot pepper flakes, too! It was a great first bite to warm up the palette- cold, rich, spicy.

D was on meat-duty again, and he pulled out all the stops by smoking some fantastic St. Louis style ribs, as well as a brisket that cooked OVERNIGHT. In my backyard. Let me rephrase: something in my backyard was on fire all night. I was certain the fire department was going to be called-- the whole neighborhood smelled like a campfire... oops! But the payoff was totally worth it. We were in serious meat-heaven...

massive piles of meats
the elusive smoke ring!

Along with the meat we served a bunch of sides-- again focusing on using the last of the local summer fruits and veggies. We made this recipe for Ina Garten's Sagaponack Corn Pudding that I have been lusting after for, literally, years. It did NOT disappoint. Fresh corn, cream, ricotta, basil, cheddar cheese- what could be bad? (There are somehow no pics of the finished pudding-- probably we were in too much of a rush to devour it. Here are some of us putting it together, thanks to our personal paparazzo, Max!)

While D was slaving over a hot grill and many pounds of meat, he also made this grilled potato and scallion salad, which was good but could have been better if not for an inherent recipe flaw-- everyone knows that vinaigrette should be pured over WARM potatoes, to allow them to soak up the dressing. This recipe, however, said the potatoes and scallions could be grilled ahead of time and tossed with the dressing the day of the party. Also, it said the bacon in the recipe was "optional." BACON IS NEVER OPTIONAL!

We also made a simple Israeli salad with tomatoes, cukes, red onion, and simple lemon-y dressing. Aaaah refreshing!

All of of guests seemed to enjoy the various offerings, along with LOTS of beer. There were several sauces to accompany the meat, and lots of napkins used to wipe fingers and faces. What a meal!

We finished up with great conversation and dueling peach desserts. OK, not really dueling, as I would never dessert-duel with our friend Joy, who is a professional pastry chef! I made a rustic peach-pecan crumble and she brought a gorgeous lemon-verbena tart topped with fresh peaches. Two desserts= we're all winners!

It seems like it will be awhile before we have another bbq. A taligate, maybe. A pumpkin-carving party, possibly. But summer is over and fall is in the air-- bring on the coziness!

So Long Summer,


P.S. We're hoping to get back to more regularly blogging, including the special announcement, philly and nyc trips, and more super-jumbo lobsters, coming soon!

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