By the time you read this, it’ll be over. With luck I’ll be stretched out in a lawn chair, cold iced tea in hand, enjoying my house and yard, which will be in better condition than they have been in years – no, in better shape than they’ve ever been.
But now, there are still porches to be painted, and the house is a disaster zone. The porch steps outside our primary doorway have been torn out; the walkway from there to the driveway is dirt, gravel and edging molds waiting for concrete to be poured. My daughter, Ashley, and her fiancee, Cory, will be married here in less than a week. Not just the wedding will be here: there’ll also be a wiener roast/rehearsal dinner on Friday, and brunch on Sunday.
It’s hard to be calm with endless to-do lists running through my head. But I know we’ll pull it off. Everyone in my family is an old hand at large-scale entertaining, with a do-it-yourself mentality. That includes food preparation, although this time, thankfully, somewhat modified: Ashley’s RealCuisine catering staff will be doing most of the advance preparation, finishing and serving the food. “I’m trying to think of it as a large event that my business is doing while I’m out of town,” says the bride/caterer.
Here are recipes for a few items on the wedding supper menu.
Grilled asparagus with romesco
Because warm weather arrived so early this year, we’re hoping to be able to use local asparagus.
A low to moderate heat is desirable when grilling vegetables. If you are using a charcoal grill, place the hot coals on one side of the grill. This gives you a place to move vegetables from one side to the other to keep them from burning. If you’re using a gas grill, set it to moderate to low heat. If your grill has two heating units, turn on only one side.
To grill asparagus: Choose thick stalks. Brush with oil and lightly salt. Keep the tips away from the hottest part of the fire. A way to make asparagus especially easy to turn is to skewer several stalks together in a “raft” with two wooden skewers. Grill just until crisp/tender.
Serve the asparagus warm or at room temperature. Arrange in a circle on a large platter with a bowl of the romesco sauce in the center for dipping the asparagus and/or spooning it onto the plate.
Hazelnut romesco sauce
• 1/3 c. roasted hazelnuts, skinned
• 2 large roasted red bell peppers, peels and seeds removed, either freshly prepared or bottled, about 1 1/2 c.
• 3-4 coarsely chopped garlic cloves
• 2 T. sherry vinegar
• 1 T. chopped fresh rosemary
• 1 T. chopped fresh marjoram or savory
• 2 tsp. sugar
• 1 tsp. salt
• Cayenne, hot pepper flakes or other dried hot pepper to taste, optional
• 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
Place all the ingredients except the olive oil in the container of a blender or food processor. Process until all the ingredients are finely ground, stopping to scrape down the container as needed. With the motor running, add the olive oil in a thin stream. The sauce should be quite thick. Check the seasoning. You may want to add more salt, sugar, vinegar or hot pepper. The sauce can be used cold, room temperature, or gently warmed. (If it gets too hot, the oil will separate.) Makes about 1 3/4 c.
Beer steamed shrimp
Steaming the shrimp mixed with these spices, aromatics and beer makes them extraordinarily flavorful. And Jasper White’s remoulade is fantastic.
For the remoulade:
• 1 c. good quality mayonnaise, such as Hellman’s PLUS 1 T. minced jalapenos,
1 T. minced scallion, and 1 T. sugar
• 1 T. stone-ground mustard
• 1 T. tomato paste
• 1 tsp. minced shallot (preferred) or onion
• 4 T. minced dill pickle
• 1 T. minced scallion
• 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
• 1 tsp. Old Bay seasoning
• 1 T. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
• 1 tsp. sugar
• 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Let stand, refrigerated, for at least 1/2 hr. before serving. Makes about 1-1/2 c.
For the shrimp:
• 2 lb. shrimp in the shell
• 1 lemon, unpeeled and thinly sliced
• 1 small onion (1/2 – 3/4 c.) thinly sliced
• 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
• 3-4 bay leaves
• 1 heaping tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
• 1 tsp. Kosher or sea salt
• 12 oz. lager or other fairly light beer
• 1/2 c. cider vinegar
Cut the shrimp down the back with a pair of sharp scissors and remove the black vein, but do not shell. Combine the shrimp in a large resealable plastic bag with the lemon, onion, celery, bay leaves, Old Bay Seasoning, and salt, seal the bag, and toss to combine well. Let the shrimp marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Bring the beer and vinegar to a boil in a nonreactive pan with a steamer or colander insert. Put the shrimp with the marinade in the steamer, cover and steam for 2 minutes. Uncover, stir the shrimp, cover the pan again, and steam just until opaque and cooked through. Cooking time will depend on the size of the shrimp – from 3 to 7 minutes. Stir once more if needed. Place the shrimp on a platter, and drizzle with about ¼ c. of the steaming liquid. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Adapted from a recipe by Jasper White, Summer Shack Restaurant, Stonington, Conn.
Pacific Rim rice salad
We’ll be serving this rice salad primarily because it’s so delicious, but it’s also a nod to Ashley’s university experience in New Zealand: the recipe comes from a friend in Auckland.
• 2 c. brown sushi rice
• 1/2 c. soy sauce, preferably Kikoman
• 1/4 c. peanut or other vegetable oil
• juice of 1 lemon
• 1 tsp. grated lemon rind
• 1 tsp. grated ginger or ginger juice
• 2 tsp. minced garlic, or to taste
• 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
• 1 red and/or 1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
• 1 c. unsalted roasted peanuts
• 1/2 c. roasted sunflower seeds
Cook rice according to package directions. When done, but still hot, stir in the soy sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut oil, lemon juice, lemon rind, ginger and stir into the cooled rice. Reserve some of the scallions and peppers for garnish and stir the rest into the rice. Reserve some of the peanuts and sunflower seeds and mix in the rest JUST before serving. Garnish with the reserved scallions, peppers, peanuts, and sunflower seeds. Serves 4-6.
Meyer lemon curd
Lemon curd is wonderful in any guise, but Meyer lemons with their floral note and intense fragrance make it even more delectable. And particularly appropriate to use as the filling between the wedding cake layers, because Meyer is Cory’s last name.
• 2 c. sugar
• 2 T. grated lemon peel
• 12 large egg yolks
• 1 c. lemon juice
• 1/4 tsp. Kosher or sea salt
• 1 c. unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
If you have a food processor, combine the sugar and the grated peel and process until the peel is ground into the sugar. Put the sugar and lemon peel into a heavy-bottomed sauce pan and whisk in the egg yolks. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats a spoon. It should register about 168° on a thermometer. DO NOT ALLOW THE MIXTURE TO BOIL! Remove from the heat, still stirring constantly. Continue to whisk for a couple of minutes, then begin adding the butter a few pieces at a time. When all the butter has been incorporated, pour into jars and refrigerate. Makes 2 pints.
Contact Julianne Glatz at firstname.lastname@example.org.