Friday, August 6, 2010


A few weeks back, we kicked off our visit to San Diego with a fabulous dinner. Personally, I don't think there's a better way to begin a vacation. A delicious meal sets the tone for the trip and allows you to relax while you plan out your itinerary (i.e., what  meals you're going to eat for the duration of your trip). So, we threw some goodies on the grill, grabbed a glass of wine, and got into total chill mode.

Ryan & Papa C have definitely become grill masters (they even hand-cut their own steaks from a giant slab of beef, Flintstone-style). After getting the coals nice and hot, they put some simply seasoned ribeyes on the grill. The boys have tried various marinades and spices over the years, but have discovered that less is more: olive oil, salt (or Lawry's), and pepper is all that's necessary to enhance the smokey flavor of the meat.

Nothing goes better with grilled steaks than grilled side dishes. Ryan whipped up an amazing fingerling potato salad. He steamed the potatoes a bit to start them cooking, then finished them off on the grill. The potato party also included some crumbled goat cheese, microgreens, crispy bacon, and a light lemon-dijon vinaigrette. Once it was tossed all together and served, an embarrassing amount of oohing and aahing ensued. (Remember the dinner scene from "What About Bob?" It was kinda like that).

The only thing missing now? Some corn on the cob. But not just any corn on the cob. Corn with a homemade cilantro butter, courtesy of Mama C. Holy kernels, it was delicious! How did she do it? She took some finely chopped cilantro, minced garlic, salt, and pepper and mixed it into softened butter. She popped it into the fridge to harden a bit, then brought it out for us to slather all over our sweet summer corn. Three ears later, I was nearly in a corn-coma. So good!

So fire up the coals, grab a glass of wine or a cold brew and enjoy the smokey relaxation of the grill. The burning question: what do you like to chill with? Burgers? Beer-can-chicken? If it's grill-icious, do tell!

Happy Searching!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wacky Word Wednesday

chiffonade (pronounced "shif-FUH-nod"): A way of cutting large leaf herbs that produce fine ribbons obtained by tightly rolling the leaves and slicing across in thin cuts.
The recipe called for a chiffonade of basil as a garnish for the pasta.

Want to see a quick demo of how to make a chiffonade cut? Click here!

Happy Searching!

*Information courtesy of

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Great BBQ Debate

There are few dilemmas in our household when it comes to BBQ. Thankfully, there are no disagreements about where to get it: the best bbq is at the Salt Lick, unanimously. (It's the one that's been featured on tons of shows on both Food Network and The Travel Channel).

We both know where to go. Our debate surrounds what to order when we get there. The two topics in question?

1. Beef vs. Pork (Ryan vs. Jen)
2. To Side or Not to Side (Jen vs. Ryan)

Pork Baby Backs with Sides

Beef Ribs with Sides

1. Beef vs. Pork (Ryan vs. Jen)
If the Salt Lick had bacon, I'm pretty sure this one would easily go to the pig. But, Ryan had the Beef Ribs for the first time a few Sundays ago and I've never seen a man eat with such conviction. I had the Pork Baby Back Ribs (which were incredible), but Ryan said (and I quote) "These beef ribs are so good, I want to hang the bones up above the mantle."

We don't even have a mantle (thank goodness) but Ryan says those were hands-down the best ribs he's ever had. I think I prefer the pork ribs since they are a bit leaner; Ryan likes the beef because they are fattier and meatier. Where do you weigh in on the meat debate?

2. To Eat or Not to Eat Sides (Jen vs. Ryan)
Sides are given their name for a reason--they're not the main dish and are often forgettable. (Ryan claims that they just take up valuable stomach real estate.) And, I have to say, traditional bbq sides don't do much for me. But. The Salt Lick has mastered theirs.

The potato salad is unlike anything I've ever tasted, and I think that's why I can't turn it down. In more of a German-style application (vinegar/mustard based) with sesame oil (strange, I know, but trust me) and diced onions. The coleslaw is crisp without having a raw cabbage texture and isn't drowning in dressing--it's fresh, flavorful, and the perfect compliment to a roll topped with brisket. And the beans--oh, the beans. They are probably the plainest of the three sides but their simplicity is what wins me over. Pinto beans in a pinto sauce...I don't know even how they do it. So, what do you think--sides or not?

I'm not sure we'll reach a timely conclusion on these issues, but I'm happy to eat Ryan's serving of potato salad in the meantime.

Happy Searching,
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