Not a recipe, just a simple suggestion.

OK—so I’ve been a bit wrapped up in work lately and have not posted. Not because I haven’t had some tasty meals—but, I always feel as though I want to share something fabulous—something extraordinary. I guess that’s just part of opening yourself up online—you just want to share the exciting—not necessarily the normal. I am a bit of a people pleaser so that’s just how my brain works sometimes.

So—this time I decided to break it down and keep it simple. I started to remember the easy, effortless meals and snacks that my grandmother Hattie use to pull together. She was all about making some grand dishes and meals. Believe me, the spreads that she use to grace the table with were nothing short of spectacular. But, she was also one to keep things easy, taste-full and accessible. Mmmm—cheese grits, crumble bacon and a few grapes for breakfast—crunchy toast, chicken salad and an apple for lunch—then dinner was usually a bit more involved, but could have been simple just the same.

So—that’s what I wanted to share today. Kristy and I were both a bit worn out from a big day working in the yard yesterday so I decided to just make a tasty grilled sandwich and have some sliced tomato—mine topped with a bit of chow chow that I picked up at a small farmers market in Banner Elk, NC. You all know as well as I that fresh and tasty ingredients are the key. A crusty italian loaf, some provolone, a slice or two of horseradish and fontina cheese—oh, and don’t forget a piece or two of prosciutto. Drizzle a little olive on the bread and grill til nice and crispy. This will always be satisfying with a slice of fresh tomato or apple—it just depends on what you’re feeling.

Just roll with it—keep it simple—and enjoy. Not everything has to break new culinary ground.

Soon to be classic: The BST

I love sandwiches. So easy to be creative with. You can eat ‘em with your hands. You can pack ‘em and take ‘em to a ball game or your trekking in morocco . you can put argan oil on ‘em, They really are quite fabulous—and this one is definitely a favorite. Now, the classic BLT has always been one of my favorites—but, being a southern boy that grew up eating lots of homemade cole slaw—well this sandwich has found a permanent place in my heart.

It’s so simple. Here we go.

Hearty Rye Bread
Homemade Cole Slaw
Slowly cooked crisp bacon
Big Boy summer tomato
mayo, salt and pepper to taste

How to get it together:

Simple—butter bread on both sides and lightly toast. Now build it—they will come. Nice layer of mayo, tomato, cole slaw and crisp bacon. Stack it, cut it, grab a few kettle chips and cold soda or beer—enjoy.

I really hope you enjoy. I mean—good hearty bread, garden fresh tomato, nice crunchy slaw and savory bacon—who wouldn’t enjoy.

Cheers, R.

Tiny, beautiful and full of flavor.

This is all about a fun, beautiful and elegant way to prepare a simple salad. I was recently on vacation with some of my family at Disney—it was wonderful. We had so much fun. While on vacation we had dinner out a couple of nights and on one of those evenings my father-in-law had a wonderful salad—probably one the best I’ve had out.

Anyway—I did not duplicate what he had as far as ingredients—just the prep method. All ingredients where chopped and served petite. It’s beautiful, mixes well, works wonderfully with a light dressing and so textured. It plates so well too—just add some sliced chicken, a piece of fish or some thin sliced flank steak—wow.

I know this all sounds so simple—and it is. So—try it. Be sure to add some fresh leafy herbs—this is a great chance to pump up the flavor with cilantro or maybe a flat leaf parsley. I really think you’ll enjoy—and like I said, it’s beautiful—just look at the picture.

Wonderful traditions made this cookie standout

Everyone’s Holidays are filled with wonderful family traditions.

You know what I am talking about—your Aunt Mary made fabulous oyster stuffing, your Uncle John made a just perfectly tart cranberry sauce and of course your grandmother made a pumpkin pie or red velvet cake that just—well, it ended your Christmas meal like nothing else could. Wow—even after days and days of eating just thinking about those things makes my mouth water.

I love to think of the Holiday meals of years past and dream up ways to pay homage to those long-lasting traditions that have found a permanent place in my memories. As I was flipping through cookbooks and magazines trying to find something a bit out of the ordinary I came across the perfect little cookie recipe. I had been very busy with work and creating something completely original was the last thing on my mind—but, I wanted to make something other than the same old gingerbread or sugar cookie. Don’t get me wrong—I love them both—but, something more connected to my eating experiences growing up was what I was hunting for.

Well—guess what? I found it. It’s times like this I am thankful for my three different food mag subscriptions every month—although Kristy gets a bit tired of the piles and piles of books and mags—she appreciates it when it’s time to eat though, trust me.

Back to the recipe. When I was growing up, one of the vibrant memories of Christmas dinner was the Ambrosia dessert. It was a mainstay on the table. My Great Aunts made sure it was always there—and now other family members continue to carry on the tradition. So—with ideas of orange, coconut and pecans on my mind I set forth to make a unique, sweet holiday treat. Here is a recipe inspired by one that I came across in Bon Appetit—enjoy.

Ambrosia Macaroons

yield: Makes about 4

5 cookies
1 stick unsalted butter @ room temp
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup toasted and lightly salted chopped pecans (optional)
2 tablespoons rum (optional)
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
grated orange peel of 1 navel orange
3 large eggs
24 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (melted)

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 325°F. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment. Use an electric mixer and beat butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt and beat until blended. Beat in orange zest, orange juice, pecans and rum if desired. Now add eggs and blend well. Mix in coconut. Drop batter onto sheets by tablespoonfuls, spacing apart by an inch or so.

Bake macaroons until golden on the bottom and browned in spots—set aside to cool. Once they cool for about 20-30 minutes use a fork to drizzle the chocolate over the macaroons. Let cool until the chocolate is firm.

Now—enjoy. Be sure to share—these are fabulous.

A lovely couple—Salmon and Dill.

Over the years I have become such a fan of Salmon. Lovely color, texture and flavor. And it seems, as with a lot of things these days in the market, it’s so easy to get Salmon—good Salmon. It’s always a nice opportunity to break up the weeks menu and introduce some fish. In my quest to keep things interesting (and yes vibrant) at the table I am constantly browsing magazines, books and markets for inspiration. I recently came across a simple, but tasty recipe. The great thing about this one—quick. It also included a couple of things I really enjoy.

First—Salmon of course.

Second—Dill, I love Dill.

Third—Cucumber, or better yet, I just decided to add it.

OK—so here is the long and short of it. Simple, quick and tasty—a super mid-week meal to break things up. Depending on your plating it can be quite elegant too.

The original recipe I found in an issue of Bon Appétit, but I decided to make a few modifications to my own taste. Here is the list of ingredients.

1 English cucumber chopped
1/3 cup chopped fresh dill
1/3 cup finely chopped green onions (about 2)
1/2 cup shelled natural pistachios, toasted, finely chopped
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bunch of Asparagus (grilled)
4 6-ounce salmon fillets (grilled)

OK—so mix the ingredients together for the Pistou and set aside. This can be made ahead of time and set in the fridge—a couple of hours. Next, I saute the Asparagus with the garlic and olive oil—til tender. This is a cook-to-preference kind of thing. I prefer my Asparagus firm. Finally, I like to grilled my Salmon. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. The cook over a medium high flame for 2-3 minutes a side.

Now, plate and serve. I like my Salmon served on the Asparagus and topped with the Pistou. Oh, last but not least, a Pinot Grigio or Summer Wheat beer would be a great choice for beverage.

Hope you enjoy.