Wow - summer is coming to an end. Labor day weekend has come and gone, and August has flown by. I feel the urge to get this grilling triumph down on the page before the summer comes to a close. We had some friends over for another Sunday dinner and made an amazing smoked brisket on the grill, twice-baked potatoes, a green salad with apples, candied pecans and shaved parmesan, and a small gratin of spinach artichoke dip for an appetizer.
You'll have to wait for the brisket since it requires much consultation with the grill-master for the exact recipe, but the rest of the meal was just as worthy. You can see our humble dining room above, just waiting for the onslaught of food and wine.
First, the appetizer...
The recipe for this Spinach-Artichoke dip can be found here. I make this often and it never disappoints. This is a picture before it bakes in the oven until bubbly. I think it tastes best on warmed pita bread or baguette slices. This can be made well in advance.
Next, the sides...
Twice Baked Potatoes
4 Russet baking potatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup sour cream
milk, maybe 1/2 cup
1 stick butter
fresh ground black pepper
2/3 cup grated white cheddar cheese
I found this combo to be really, really good. Of course, you can use whatever kind of cheese or cream cheese, etc, that you think makes a great mashed potato. I think the more herbs the better. Throw some blanched broccoli in with the mashed potatoes before baking, add a salad and this could be a hearty vegetarian meal.
Wash the potatoes and poke a few holes all over them with a knife. Bake at 375 degrees F for 1 hour or until potatoes are cooked through. Remove from the oven and let cool 10 minutes.
Cut the potatoes in half lengthwise and scoop out the insides to a large bowl, leaving a small amount behind to keep a nice shell to hold the mashed potatoes. Add the butter, milk, sour cream, herbs and seasoning to the cooked potato and mash thoroughly. Stir in the shredded cheese; taste and re-season.
Scoop some of the mashed potatoes into each potato skin and sprinkle with additional shredded cheese. These can be made up to this point well in advance, just bring to room temperature before continuing. Bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and the potatoes are hot. Mixed Greens with Candied Pecans, Apples and Shaved Parmesan
3 cups washed lettuces (spring mix or baby lettuces)
1/2 cup whole pecan halves
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp butter
1 apple, fuji or something similar
large shavings of Parmeggiano Reggiano (or blue cheese if you prefer)
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp shallots, minced
1 tsp garlic, minced
fresh ground black pepper
First, toast the pecans in a dry skillet over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the butter and brown sugar and cook another 1-2 minutes until the sugar is dissolved and the pecans are evenly coated. Stir often for another minute and then remove to a piece of waxed paper or greased piece of foil, spreading them out so they cool separately.
Mix the dressing ingredients (amounts are approx.) in the bottom of a large salad bowl. Season to taste. Add the chopped apple to the dressing, place the lettuces on top of this, then the cooled pecans and finally the shavings of parmesan. Cover and refrigerate until serving. Do not make more than 1 hour in advance. Toss gently before serving.