Tuesday, June 21, 2011

just in time for summer

refreshing watermelon salad

I love summer...and today being the official start, the summer solstice...I want to make sure everyone is as excited as I am about the next couple of months!  What better way to get excited than to think about all the great summer foods!  Last night I made a delicious summer salad.  I have been hearing and reading about "watermelon salad", and watermelon being one of my favorite summer fruits, I figured it was time I whipped one up.  My sister always talks about adding cheese to her melon and my grandfather used to put salt on his watermelon, so really when I started looking for recipes, it didn't seem all that strange that salty cheeses were one of the main ingredients.  I also asked my bff Dan (of Sweet Dani B) - a self proclaimed foodie - if she ever made a watermelon salad.  She suggested substituting basil for mint since she wasn't a big fan of mint...I followed suit since I too prefer basil to mint.  So I ended up with 3 simple ingredients, seedless watermelon, feta cheese and basil.  I also read about dressing it with items such as oil, balsamic vinegar, lime juice and even salt and pepper.  Since I was travelling with my salad, I left it plain, but I could see one or all of these additions only making the salad extra tasty.

Of course summer foods are not only about fruits and fun salads...for me and so many, they include amazing grilled eats!  My husband and I love to use our grill... from the minute it even feels like it's getting sort of warm out, we start using the bbq.  We do the basics... burgers, sausage, kabobs, corn, pizza...but this year I want to start expanding my skills on the grill.    Pizza is fairly new for us, that we started last summer.  We actually had our first grilled pizzas of the season just this past weekend!  I think we have really started to perfect the technique :)

My husband Tom manning the grill with 2 pizzas!

My friend Wendye giving me a steak "searing" lesson

My latest conquest is red meat.  Although I do not eat it all that often...I would really like to learn/get better at cooking a nice, rare steak (my husband's favorite).  I even enlisted the help of a good friend who is a food stylist (among other things) to give me a mini lesson last time she was over.  I was making steak tacos...so I had a recipe from one of my favorite magazines Everyday Food for Chile-Spiced Steak and I used their marinade on the flank steak.  Wendye brought over a great book by the editors at Cook's Illustrated, The Best Recipe: Grilling and Barbecue,  that we used as a reference for grilling temperature and cook time.  It went well....however I still feel I have a lot to learn.  Fortunately, there are always friends, books and of course, one of the great masters herself, Martha Stewart, to pass along some lessons!  I had the opportunity a few weeks ago to work with the incredibly talented team that put together Martha Stewart Presents: Grilling Secrets of the Master Chefs.  It was a great shoot where Martha and several well known chefs (including Emeril) grilled up some amazing meals and shared their secrets while doing it.  I can not wait to see it air.  The premier is June 24th, 8pm on the Hallmark Channel.  For a preview, click on the link above.  Of course I also have some great behind the scenes from the shoot to share with you all, just like I did from the Martha's Eggcellent Easter Special!  Make sure you check back after you tune in on the 24th!

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