Monday, July 5, 2010

Celebrate Summer

I love summer food. After our ritual Sunday morning trip to the farmers’ market and before departing for the annual Independence Day BBQ with friends, we enjoyed a light summer lunch on the patio. I sometimes forget how delicious a simple meal can be. We had grilled chicken leftover from the barbecue we hosted Saturday night, Cypress Grove Chevre Purple Haze on crackers and fresh figs from the farmers market. The Purple Haze is a light sweet goat cheese with lavendar and fennel pollen. Along with the figs, it paired perfectly with a glass of Dry Creek Fume Blanc. Lunch was divine.

Saturday night’s barbecue was successful as well. We needed a fairly simple menu since we would be spending all afternoon at a memorial service and I knew all the prep had to be done in the morning. We served grilled chicken and shrimp marinated in a lemon juice/olive oil/garlic mixture with a chipotle chive aioli, melon salad, La Brea garlic bread and Larry’s favorite potato salad. Perfect menu for a hot summer evening. And we made authentic Brazilian caipirinhas. A caipirinha is a very refreshing drink made of sugar, cachaca (sugar cane liquor) and lime juice. Our friends, one of whom is half Brazilian, were very familiar with the “real” way to make caipirinhas with cashaca, not American substitutes like many restaurants tend to do. They enjoyed them without over-indulging.

The potato salad is Larry’s adaptation from a recipe in a Sunset recipe annual over 20 years ago, but he continues to get requests for it year after year.

Sweet Onion Red Potato Salad
3 lbs medium-sized, red thin-skinned potatoes
1 large mild, sweet onion, finely diced
3/4 cup finely diced celery
1 large Golden Delicious apple, cored and diced
1/3 cup sweet pickle relish
1 ½ cup lite mayonnaise
1 tsp creamy Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp distilled white vinegar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper

In a 4- to 5-quart pan, boil potatoes in 1-inch of  water over medium heat until tender when pierced, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain and cool. Dice potatoes and put in large bowl. Add onions, celery, apple, and pickle relish.
In a small bowl, stir together mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, and Worcestershire sauce. Then spoon sauce over potato mixture and stir gently. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until the next day. Makes 10 to 12 servings.

We had lingered at our friend's memorial service, and therefore our barbecue was a little behind schedule. I needed to create a  quick appetizer. Larry had returned from grocery shopping previously with Redwood Hill Farm Camellia cheese, which had not been on list, and I had never tried. So I cut off a slice, to see what I could do with it. Already a fan of RHF cheeses, this one was no exception. Camellia is a soft Camembert-style goat milk cheese with a mild, buttery flavor. I grabbed the apricot jam, chopped up some fresh basil to blend in and made a tangy spread to top the cheese. It was well received and quickly disappeared.

The afternoon and evening of the Fourth were spent at another excellent barbecue with our godchildren and their parents. Gib's famous ribs have been ingrained in our family's traditions for about 20 years. I'll share that another day.....


  1. Will absolutely be trying the potato salad recipe, sounds fantastic.

  2. This was a fabulous food spread and the drinks were delicious!!