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Your Memorial Day successes (or failures)?

We were just having a small barbecue but I got kind of inspired this weekend after a few months of cooking malaise. I hit the farmer's market and got a bunch of stuff on Sunday.
Sunday night we just wanted a simple supper before the barbecue, so I made Nigella Lawson's lemon linguini and added some shrimp for protein. It was delicious, and a big hit with my boyfriend who usually doesn't like pronounced lemon flavors.
For the barbecue, I made jalapeno/lime/tequila butter for the steaks we grilled;
Panzanella (Tuscan bread salad), beet/apple/roquefort/walnut salad and potato salad. My son doesn't like fancy viniagrette potato salad, while I don't like mushy mayonaisy boring middle american potato salad. I compromised with a dressing made from olive oil, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, buttermilk and low-fat mayo. A big hit with everyone!
Dessert was homemade apricot/buttermilk ice cream, yum!
What did you make?

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  1. Curried Potato Salad. It had fresh spring English peas, celery, red skinned potatoes, and spring onions. The dressing was a bit of mayo with vinegar, curry powder, and cayanne pepper.

    Then I also made Lemon Bars with fresh meyer lemon juice. Martha Stewart says you can only get them once a year, but tell that to my friend with the meyer lemon trees that bear fruit all year round! The sweet juice from those lemons are like a cross between an orange and a lemon. They really perk up those lemon bars like nothing else.

    3 Replies
    1. re: VirgoBlue

      Could I get a recipe for that potato salad? I can estimate :) but if you already have the magic combination, I'd love it! How did you cook the potatoes? I've been experimenting by grilling potatoes recently, either in foil packets or on a grill pan, after parboiling.

      I wish I could find Meyer lemons after that glowing description. I'm in Rhode Island and I just don't see them around. Maybe I need to step up my investigation.

      1. re: foxy fairy

        You can buy indoor trees. Williams-sonoma sells little ones but we found a nice sized one at a nursery. We gave one to my MIL for mother's day so we'll see how it is with fruit bearing. I was spoiled since a friend of mine in CA had a huge, overflowing tree and now am living for that one lemon.

        1. re: foxy fairy

          Curried Potato Salad with Peas

          1 pound unshelled fresh peas
          3 pounds small creamer potatoes (red or white), washed and quartered w/skins on
          3/4 cup mayonnaise
          1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
          1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
          1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
          3 green onions, chopped
          3 stalks celery, chopped
          Salt and pepper to taste

          INSTRUCTIONS: Boil the potatoes until just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain & cool. (Add the peas during the last 2 minutes of boiling and drain w/potatoes.)

          Whisk together the mayo, vinegar, curry powder and cayenne. Season with salt and pepper.

          Combine the peas, potatoes, celery, and onions in a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate to let flavors marry.

      2. I made a big salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, chunks of red onion, mixed olives from the Middle Eastern grocery in my neighborhood, and some super creamy feta from the same store. I threw in a lot of fresh oregano and made a nice red wine viniagrette. It's a pretty traditional salad, but the addition of the olives and feta took it to a new level.

        1. Saturday was a rain out, so we went for lunch to a Korean BBQ spot in Chicago.

          Sunday, I got 2.5 lbs of skirt steak from my local butcher on Saturday, he ran it through the tenderizer he has at his shop. I marinated the skirt steak in a mixture of lime juice, pineapple juice, minced jalapenos, minced garlic, cumin, salt pepper, and olive oil which I ran through the food processor. I marinated the beef for about 3 hours. I also made guacamole (minced garlic, minced jalapeno, lime juice, salt, pepper, Melindas XXX Hot Sauce) when I was making the marinade. I grilled the skirt steak for 3 minutes each side, and it was a perfect medium rare. I also fired up some tomato and onion Quesadillas on the grill as the meat was resting. I served the beef on a choice of corn, or flour tortillas. A great sucess paired with cold beer, and alot of tequila.

          Monday, The grill was fired up all day, for lunch we had some basic cheeseburgers with Japalpeno jack cheese, and my burger had a fried egg on top as well as diced olives, guacamole, and chopped cherry peppers. For dinner I marinated some cubed pork loin, in a mix of lemon juice, lime juice, minced garlic, Lea & Perrins, Tobasco, rosemary, and olive oil again run through the food processor. I marinated the pork for 3 hours, and then made skewers of pork, green peppers, onion, and pineapple. I basted them towards the end of their cooking time with a bbq sauce thinned out with beer. I served these over some white rice made with chicken stock. A great weekend of grilling, and decent weather.

          1. Something about the first summertime holiday made me think margaritas on Sunday afternoon. Made with frozen limeade, jose cuervo, triple sec and limes. Had smoked cheddar corn tortilla quesadillas with peach salsa on the side to tide us over (um, soak up some alcohol) while grilling chicken tenders marinated 3 hrs in OJ, garlic, S&P.

            Dinner last night was shrimp cocktail and cold beer while watching the sunset at a local beach.

            1. Nice to see all these American inspired dishes on Memorial Day weekend. Yum.

              2 Replies
              1. re: rochfood

                The big hit of the weekend was a whole smoked bluefish. The fish was absolutely fresh, I cured it for a few hours, then smoked it for about 90 minutes. It was heavenly, rich and smoky and succulent. We had a millet, black bean and corn salad dressed with lime, olive oil, chile and cilantro as a side.

                Other new dishes: Israeli couscous with roasted pumpkin, zucchini, golden raisins. We had this with grilled spice-rubbed pork chops. Also a really good meal.

                Other weekend meals include grilled black sea bass, turkey enchiladas. All good eating. The only failure was a wild rice soup which was taking far too long to cook, so it was left out of dinner plans. It tasted good this morning so it may not be a total failure.

                1. re: cheryl_h

                  Hi, Cheryl - haven't seen you posting much of late, but if you're still around I would love some details on how you did your bluefish. I'm hoping to do something similar this weekend.

              2. Broke free from my comfort recipes and made brownies from the Greystone Bakery Cookbook, I didn't think I was a cocoa brownie based person but they were really good and will be made again.

                1. My success was very nearly a failure at first. My girls asked me to bring devilled eggs to the Memorial Day picnic. I made about 2 dozen hard boiled eggs on Sunday night. Monday morning we tried to peel the eggs and found that they were just not going to cooperate; the eggs were too fresh, I guess. So, I thought, we'll bring something else to the picnic. Then I thought, that will leave me with 2 dozen hard boiled eggs in my refrigerator. Not something I really wanted. In my desperation, it occurred to me that the eggs looked a lot like avocadoes. Why shouldn't I slice them in half with a sharp knife and scoop them out of the shell with a spoon? Worked perfectly!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Euonymous

                    That is the greatest idea ever!

                    I often have the fresh egg / peeling problem.

                    Thanks for posting!

                  2. AC went out with 95 degree weather so I had so scale back a lot. Ended up w/ carolina pulled pork, cole slaw, potato salad w/ peas and bacon, salad, burgers, buns (was going to make them myself but didn't want to turn on the oven), Restaurant Eve cake w/ Best Recipe chocolate cream frosting. The frosting overwhelmed the cake.

                    1. A mellow day at home meant that I made Sweet and Sour Roasted chicken from Jamie Oliver's cookbook (recipe is here: http://allthingsedible.blogspot.com/2...
                      weekend-cookbook-challange-16-something.html). I substituted boneless, skinless chicken thighs (just because I had them) for the whole chicken, which I sprinked with chinese five spice. (Oh, and I reduced the cooking time to 50 min. too) No other substitutions. I served it over brown jasmine rice, made with chicken better than bouillon. We all really liked it, and I'll definitely make it again.

                      I recommend it highly if you like cooking with lots of vegetables. Prep was super-easy and the end result was beautifully-colorful. Although it's worth waiting until peppers are in season. And, Quellia is correct; the recipe makes a large amount of food.

                      1. I volunteered at a homeless shelter on Memorial day, grilling burgers and hotdogs for about 100 homeless men and women. The regular cook there made a giant seasonal fruit salad, potato salad, and a homemade hommus, made from fresh chickpeas and lemons, which was outstanding. I was on grill duty; although the burgers were the frozen patty kind, I did my best to sear them up with attractive grill marks and serve them piping hot. I also had to do it without proper grill tools--just a regular tongs and spatula--anyone out there have some good used grill utensils you'd like to donate so the next volunteer doesn't sear her arm hairs off? It was a great day--while I didn't ask, I'm sure there were some veterans in the crowd.

                        1 Reply
                        1. Sunday - Cold lump crab (old bay) with dips of avacado or mango salsa and a side of asparagus, salted and olive oil.

                          Monday - Steak and cheese - dry aged organic new york strip (seasoned with salt and pepper), mild provolone cheese bechamel, stir fried scallions and mushroom mix, and mashed yukon potatoes.

                          1. I made the lime pound cake recipe from the Chowhound website, and my partner made 3 bean salsa (3 kinds of beans, chopped tomato, jalapeno, and onion, oil, and vinegar). We took them to a potluck on Saturday afternoon. Both were well received.

                            1. Wow do the chowhounds eat well - everybody's meal sounds delicious!

                              For my brother's cookout, I made three recipes from the CH Cookbook of the month "Sunday Suppers" - Green Goddess dressing which I used as a dip for shrimp cocktail, Succotash Salad, and Chorizo burgers (links below).

                              Mom made Banh Cuon, rice with artichokes and black olives, and blueberry/strawberry shortcake, my brother made chips and dip, grilled hot wings with blue cheese, cedar-planked salmon with maple-soy-ginger glaze, Greek marinated steak tips, and garlic bread twists, my SIL made corn pudding and a spinach and mixed green salad with hearts of palm and goat cheese, and my aunt made spring rolls. Whew! No favorites, I loved it all. : )

                              Green Goddess Dressing:

                              Chorizo burgers:

                              Succotash Salad:

                              Shrimp, banh cuon (Vietnamese rice-flour crepes filled with ground pork and mushrooms and garnished with fried onions), and sides.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: Rubee

                                Spring rolls, mains, and burgers:

                                1. re: Rubee

                                  I want to come to your house for food! That all looks delicious! Did you make the banh cuon?

                                  1. re: chowser

                                    No, mom's specialty - my brother and I request it every time there's a family gathering ; )

                                2. We had a lovely dinner. Burgers with meat from Knight's Market, accompanied by fresh asparagus from the farmer's market, salad with tomato, carrot, cheddar and cuke, oven baked potato wedges with olive oil and sea salt, and brownies for dessert. Plus some nice cold Labatt's. Classic Memorial Day dinner.

                                  1. The bulk of our intended weekend activities, especially those connected with friends coming for a cookout, got knocked in the head when Mrs. O fell into the Soggy Swamp of Sinus Hell on Friday. I did manage to accomplish one goal: I grilled out all four nights, scoring three triumphs (butterflied leg of lamb, burgers, and chicken hindquarters) and one disaster (a slab of flounder that dissolved into Fish Mush!). I finally perfected my roasted summer-squash dish, by which I mean I prepared it in such a way that Mrs. O finally liked it as much as I do - I just cut up two each of six different varieties I got from the farmer's market in fairly large chunks, along with two tomatoes and half a red onion, tossed that with olive oil, a little fresh lemon juice, and some thyme and herbes de Provence and let it sit for an hour or two before spreading it all out in a glass pan and roasting at 350ยบ for not quite an hour. This went along with the chicken wonderfully. Then the next night - last night - I reheated the squash stuff with a little El Pato spicy tomato sauce and tossed that with some spaghetti, then put that into an oiled gratin pan with some freshly grated parmesan on top and heated it until the cheese went bubbly. Had that with some mixed green and yellow beans and cold chicken. Not exactly exotic fare, but it made us happy.

                                    Oh, I also made some wonderful shortcakes and got a three-box package of lovely strawberries and some heavy cream, and then had only two overweight people (one sick) to feed them to. Damn. We had a small portion on Sunday night, just to make sure it was okay, and then Mrs. O ate up the rest of the berries with nonfat yogurt over the rest of the weekend into last night. So now I have three 6" sweet biscuits and about 3/4 pint of cream stashed away. Does the Salvation Army take stuff like that?

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                      Ha - I'm going to make Will Owen's Special Roasted Summer Squash tonight as a side dish. Thanks, sounds great!

                                    2. We had a great Memorial Day Weekend!

                                      For our out of town guests, on Sunday morning I did pan-fired soft shell crabs, placed on a thick slice of toasted challah with arugula, topped with a soft fried egg and a few dollops of mustard sauce. This was accompanied by slices of fresh tomato and avocado.

                                      Monday morning, we had a brunch for a few friends. The menu included: Nigella's "cheesecakelets" (which are just cottage cheese pancakes, but so simple and tasty, and when made as minis are great for a crowd) accompanied by macerated raspberries and mango; shirred eggs (aka eggs en cocotte) with baby spinach, fresh herbs, and roasted tomatoes on top; banana corn bread, baked in a cast iron skillet; chicken-apple sausages; bagels etc; and a friend brought along her creme brulee french toast (from epicurious -- yum). Of course there were mimosas and iced coffee, too.

                                      In the evening, Mr. Lit and I worked the grill, and like Cheryl H went the bluefish route. Did a large fillet coated in a yogurt-mustard sauce loaded with fresh tarragon, put it in the fish basket, and threw it on the fire. We accompanied it with farm-fresh rainbow swiss chard and ramps cooked in one of those skillet/basket thingys for the grill. That was a revelation -- the smokiness of the hardwood charcoal infused the greens, which had simly been tossed with a little olive oil and salt. I can't recommend this technique enough -- it was an experiment that worked out beautifully.

                                      1. There are just two of us, so I bought a very small piece of brisket. I don't have a charcoal grill right now, and I didn't want to leave the monster gas grill on for 6 hours for a 1.5 piece of meat, so.....I put the brisket (dry rubed for 24 hours) in the oven on 200 for a couple of hours to mimic "low and slow". Mopped it occasionally. Then through it on the grill for the last hour low, cranked the heat to burn on some of Bobby Flay's bbq sauce recipe in the last few minutes.

                                        It was pretty good. Nothing like the piece of rubber I made a few years ago trying to do brisket. Still a little dry-ish, though, even though it I only brought it up to 140 on the meat therm, and it had a tinge of pink left. Anyone have any ideas on better faking a BBQ brisket?

                                        Also made wild rice salad - sauteed onion, added rice, then water, cooked 45 minutes, added mint, orange zest, dried cherries, chopped almonds. Cooled, made honey vinaigrette, tossed the whole thing w/ watercress. YUM.

                                        1. ...And now for the failure, since you asked. We tried Mark Bittman's burger recipe (grind your own meat, it's so easy, blah blah) from the NYT this last week. Um, kind of a disaster. We went with lamb, and maybe we didn't grind the meat fine enough (even though he says not to go too fine), but the darn things totally fell apart on the grill. We ended up not with burgers, but very tasty grilled meat chunks -- well, the ones we could rescue before they fell through the grate anyhow. We'll try it again, because it did taste great, but we'll be adding bread crumbs and egg the next time around. ;)