Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Labor Day Repast! "The Summertime Cookbook" (BBQ Beef); "The Coastal Living Cookbook" (Chopped Salad) & "Can You Take the Heat - the WWF is cooking" (The Rock's Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

Date I made these recipes:  Monday, September 2, 2013 – Labor Day

The Summertime Cookbook – Elegant but easy dining indoors and out by Marian Burros and Lois Levine
Published by:  The MacMillan Company
© 1972
Recipe:  Barbecued Beef Roast - p. 64-65

The Coastal Living Cookbook by the editors of Coastal Living magazine
Published by:  Oxmoor House
ISBN:  13: 978-0-8487-2828-1
Recipe:  Chop Salad with Corn, Snap Peas, and Bacon – p. 128

Can you Take the Heat? – the WWF® is Cooking! by Jim “J.R.” Ross & the WWF® Superstars
Published by: Regan Books/HarperCollins
ISBN:  0-06-039378-5
Recipe:  The Rock’s Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies – p. 195

Folks, I don’t know how it happened, but here we are at Labor Day already and as we know, Labor Day traditionally starts that “F” word season – “Fall.”  It isn’t fall, mind you, it’s still summer, but trying to change the collective verbiage is like trying to herd cats.  But for the record, summer ends and fall begins on September 22nd and so I have plenty of time to squeeze in summer recipes.

And for once, let me tell you all, Nature is cooperating by giving us outstanding September temperatures in the high 80’s and 90’s.  Woot! And so for once, I didn’t go kicking and screaming into Labor Day, reluctantly finding BBQ recipes to signal the end of the year, but instead embraced it and gleefully looked for summertime recipes.  Take that, Nature!

So of course, the first order of business was looking through summer cookbooks and I found recipe hits in both the Coastal Living Cookbook and the aptly named The Summertime Cookbook. And then my eye went to a new acquisition, Can you Take the Heat?, written by the WWF (World Wrestling Federation) and I’m here to tell you I cackled – can I take the heat of summer?  Oh yeah!  Bring.it.on. In fact, make that “turn it on” as in “I’m going to turn on my oven and bake some cookies during this heat wave and na na boo boo to you!”

And with that, I set about slicing and dicing and mixing and when I got done, I realized I hit the trifecta:  every single recipe I made this time around was fabulous and I especially loved (and am still munching) The Rock’s cookies.  Although some people like to eat dessert first, I am not one of them, preferring to save my sweets for the end of the meal and so Andy and I thoroughly enjoyed our Barbecued Beef roast and Chop Salad first before hitting the sweets.

Fans of the sloppy, laden-with-sauce barbecue should know that this is not that kind of recipe but it was darned good and the use of molasses instead of brown sugar was inspired.  Flavors here are subtle but rich and yummy.  Add to that the crisp and fresh vegetable medley that makes up the Chop Salad and you have the perfect summer meal—in September!  And chocolate (chip cookies) never disappoint and these won’t, either.  There may have been some “labor” involved in this Labor Day meal but it is worth every single morsel (Toll House or otherwise).

As to the books, you cannot go wrong with any book written by Marian Burros.  I’ve met her and not only is she a really nice person who knows her stuff but she’s got the street cred to prove it, having written for both The Washington Post and (currently) The New York Times.  Her recipes are pretty much no fuss, no muss concoctions that I love and I’m rapidly working my way toward acquiring a decent Marian Burros cookbook library.  And this is how it should be.

As to the Coastal Living Cookbook, I am a Coastal Living Magazine subscriber and have been for many years; this book is a compilation of their best recipes.  I grew up on the shores of Lake Superior and family vacations were spent back east visiting my grandmother in New Jersey with side trips to the Jersey Shore (not THAT Jersey Shore made famous/infamous by Snooki and her friends but the “original” Jersey Shore).  We used to get up early, drive to Island Beach State Park, spend most of the day there, head over to Seaside Heights for some fun on the boardwalk as well as fabulous food (Italian sausage and peppers, custard and salt water taffy) and then stop for dinner at Nick the Greek’s on the way back to grandma’s.  It was always the perfect summer trip.  When I was a kid, I longed to have a cottage (operative word:  “cottage”) on the Jersey Shore but alas, most of them are now long gone having been replaced by ugly condos and there is just no fun in that at all.  But I am a water baby at heart and so when I can, I head to a beach and when I can’t, I read the magazine and it’s all good.

And then there’s the WWF cookbook which is just hilarious and insightful as I must confess I knew next to nothing about the WWF except for the fact that it always seemed to be on late night when I was growing up (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and we had three TV channels from which to choose our viewing enjoyment).  I must also confess that I was “this close” to making wrestling promoter Vince McMahon’s “Millionaire Pie” (how apt is that title?) until I turned the page and found The Rock’s Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe in which case it was all over but the crying.  I love The Rock (Dwayne Johnson). Love him.  He is damned funny and if you have not seen him in the movie, Be Cool (a sequel of Get Shorty) then you need to order it up right now as the man is laugh-out-loud funny. And his cookies are really good so there’s that.  In fact, get the movie, make the meal (and the cookies, naturally) and enjoy what’s left of your summer.

Barbecued Beef Roast – Serves 10 (I made half the recipe)
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup vinegar
½ cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup light molasses
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon celery salt
¼ teaspoon dried savory (If you cannot find this spice, use thyme, marjoram or sage)
¼ teaspoon garlic salt
1 (4-pound) eye-of-the-round roast

Combine all ingredients except the roast in a large bowl for the marinade.  Place the beef into the marinade mixture and marinate for several hours (or up to 2 days).

There are several ways of cooking this meat.  In the oven at home, you place it in a shallow roasting pan for 1 ½ to 2 hours at 325, basting frequently.  On a spit out of doors, it will take 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours, basting frequently with the marinade.  In a covered kettle cooker out of doors, it will take 1 hour.  You may serve this hot or cold, sliced.

Chop Salad with Corn, Snap Peas, and Bacon – 8 servings for the salad; ¾ cup for the mustard vinaigrette that you’ll make to serve with this
1 ½ cups sugar snap peas, trimmed and cut in half diagonally
1 ½ cups fresh corn kernels (2 to 3 ears)
½ head romaine lettuce
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 carrot, peeled and shredded
½ red bell pepper, diced
5 radishes, thinly sliced
3 green onions, sliced
6 cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup basil leaves, cut into thin strips
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
For mustard vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons minced garlic
9 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
18 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

To make the salad:
Cook peas in boiling water to cover for 1 to 2 minutes; immediately plunge peas into ice water to stop the cooking process.  Cook corn in boiling water 2 minutes; immediately plunge corn into ice water to stop the cooking process.  Drain peas and corn.

Chop lettuce into small pieces; place in a large bowl.  Add peas, corn, cucumber, and next six ingredients; toss with Mustard Vinaigrette.  Add cheese, salt and pepper; toss gently.  Mound salad on a large platter, and sprinkle with bacon.

To make the Mustard Vinaigrette:
Combine first 4 ingredients (red wine vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, garlic).  Whisk in oil; stir in salt and pepper. (Author’s note:  the vinaigrette recipe is from Tom’s Big Dinners by Tom Douglas.  © 2003 by Tom Douglas.  Reprinted in the Coastal Living Cookbook by permission of HarperCollins Publishers Inc.)

Ann’s Notes:  I’m not fond of romaine lettuce so I skipped that and just loaded on the veggies to suit my own taste.  As to the vinaigrette, it made slightly more than ¾ cup and it almost, but not quite made the salad too soggy (especially without the lettuce) so add as you go until you achieve your own comfort zone.

The Rock’s Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies – makes 4 to 5 dozen cookies
(Ann’s Note:  I halved this recipe, something that is often hard to do with baked goods, but they came out perfectly.)
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
2 ½ cups quick oatmeal, blended to a fine powder in a food processor or blender
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
12 ounces chocolate chips
½ 8-ounce Hershey bar, grated (Ann’s Note:  freeze this bar before attempting to grate!)
1 ½ cups chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, or mixture).

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar.  Stir in the eggs and vanilla.  Blend in the flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.  Add the chocolate chips, Hershey bar, and nuts.

Roll the dough into ¾ - to 1-inch wide balls and place them 2 inches apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet (or Silpat).

Bake 10 minutes (I went with 12 and they were perfect), or until browned to suit.

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