At the end of a challenging and productive week at work, I want to be pampered at a restaurant or to have something super-easy at home.
That’s where our Family Smorgasbord comes into play. Here’s what we had for dinner last Friday night, just the Grill-Meister and me.
It’s a selection of cheeses from our local farmers’ market, some fresh fruit and veggie with a couple of dips we had on hand (also from the farmers’ market), sliced meats and olives.
The only “cooking” was assembly of canapés from stuff we had lying around, liberally seasoned with freshly ground pepper:
leftover cornbread adorned with horseradish sauce, roast beef, red onions and parsley
leftover cucumber slices from a salad earlier in the week, spread with harissa and topped with sliced fresh jalapeños
hummus packed into celery bites sprinkled with a spicy olive/garlic/bell pepper garnish (like olive salad)
A Great Way to Spend Friday Evening
The Grill-Meister wanted red wine and I was in the mood for white, so we threw caution to the wind and opened them both (don’t judge, it was Friday). Sipping wine and enjoying a throw-together smorgasbord meal while reviewing The Week That Was and The Weekend to Come is a great way to spend a Friday evening – who wants to spend it in the kitchen? And of course we didn’t eat all that cheese, paving the way for another smorgasbord soon, maybe even this Friday.
What will yoube doing for dinner this Friday night?
Family Smorgasbord Night – No Cooking, Just Bonding
For more about our favorite Friday night no-cook, easy-peasy approach, see the original post below. Click herefor the story, including the history of smorgasbord.
The Grill-Meister owned a German deli here in our little suburb of Houston for a while, years before we met. The relics of that adventure are “I would never want to own a restaurant again” and this marvelous sandwich, the U-Boat. It’s a German-ish variation of an Italian sub sandwich.
The U-Boat is party food. Big bites for people with big appetites. Perfect for big games or big parties or just a bunch of hungry teenagers.
I convinced the Grill-Meister to revisit the U-Boat recently for a Super Bowl party we were attending, and documented his every move as he made it. Here is the recipe, just for you.
The U-Boat Sub
Ingredients (serves 4 as a main course, 8-12 as an appetizer)
Large loaf of soft Italian or French bread (not a baguette), sliced in half longways
7 oz. thinly sliced Black Forest ham
5 oz. thinly sliced garlic (German) bologna
2 oz. thinly sliced hard salami
6-8 slices each of provolone, American and Swiss cheese
2 large, ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 head of iceberg lettuce, shredded or sliced in ribbons
Your favorite Italian dressing, about 1/4 cup or enough to spread across the top of the French bread
Freshly ground pepper
Large wooden picks (optional)
Gather all ingredients and place the bread on a cutting board. Starting with the ham, add a layer of meat, then alternate with a layer of cheese, overlapping the slices in each layer. Then scatter a layer of red onions, followed by the tomatoes. Add a liberal amount of freshly ground pepper, then the lettuce. Sprinkle a generous amount of the Italian dressing on the second half of the bread, then position it atop the sandwich. If you’re serving the U-Boat as an appetizer, use the picks to secure it in sections, about 1 1/2 inches apart. If it is a main course, cut the U-Boat in quarters.
Where did the name U-Boat come from? The Original Italian U-Boat was a successful submarine sandwich restaurant in Chicago that swelled from a single location in 1975 to 32 stores in its heyday, only to file for bankruptcy and close during the recession in 1983. Chicagoans remember it fondly, according to this article. There isn’t a recipe for their U-Boat Sub online, although it may exist in someone’s attic. The Grill-Meister’s U-Boat is similar to recipes for an Italian Sub, although it has a German spin with the Black Forest ham and garlic bologna.
I first tasted Chipotle Chicken Salad on a multi-family road trip to the Rio Frio area of West Texas. It was a marvelous concoction by my friend Theresa on her day to make lunch for the crowd. I never got her recipe, and she is cooking with the angels now. I miss her every day. But I devised my own recipe based on that taste memory, and it’s pretty darn good. It’s also very easy, and quick. I made it recently as an appetizer for a football-watching party and aw, shucks, there was abundant praise. This recipe is as foodie-worthy as it is appropriate for a tailgate party. Hmmm, there’s a big game coming up…
Chipotle Chicken Salad
3 cups cooked chicken, white and dark meat, skin off, roughly chopped (one regular-sized rotisserie chicken should yield about 3 cups when deboned)
1/2 cup diced onion (red, white or yellow based on your preference or mood)
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1 cup jalapeño jack or jalapeño cheddar cheese
1 minced chipotle chile and 1 1/2 tbsp. of the adobo sauce (from a small can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce)
1/3 cup plain greek yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 can of mild green chiles (4 oz.)
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ancho chile pepper (ground)
bread, rolls or crackers for serving, or you can put it on a bed of mixed greens
pepper jelly spread (optional), if you make little slider sandwiches
chopped cilantro for garnishing
Combine the chicken, onion, cilantro and cheese in a medium bowl and toss. In a small bowl, mix the chipotle and adobo sauce, yogurt, mayonnaise, green chiles, salt and ancho chile powder, then pour over the chicken combination. Stir well to mix, taste, and adjust seasonings if necessary. You can also add more mayo or yogurt if the mixture is too dry.
Garnish with cilantro and serve with crackers, slider rolls or on a bed of mixed greens. Pepper jelly is a great condiment; I like the Inferno Sauce from Just Pure Flavors, a regular at our local farmers’ market.
About the Ingredients
I use a rotisserie chicken for this recipe, both the white and dark meat, which provides a broader range of taste and texture than just using chicken breast.
I go back and forth between using red, white or yellow onions – they are all good for their own reasons. Red onions are apropos in Southwest dishes, and pretty. Yellow onions are sweet and mellow. White onions are crunchy, sharper and more pungent. It’s all dependent upon your onion mood.
The Greek yogurt really gives the chicken salad a tart and tangy taste, while the mayo provides a sweet creaminess. I like using them together for the balance. You can use nonfat yogurt and light mayonnaise without impacting the taste, in my humble opinion.
If you have never used chipotle chies, it’s easy. Just pop open the can and use the amount you need, saving the rest for later. For this recipe, fish out a whole chipotle pepper, then mush your measuring spoon in the adobo sauce to get the 1 1/2 tbsp. you need.
I like McCormick’s Ancho Chile Pepper for the dried spice-it-up kick. If you can’t find it, cayenne will do, but it won’t be as multidimensional, taste-wise.
As the “delivery device” for serving the Chipotle Chicken Salad, I used King’s Hawaiian Rolls this time, both jalapeño and regular-flavored, and of course the jalapeño ones went first – bring on the spice! The slider-sized sandwiches are just right for a hearty party like the football-watching event we attended.
Wheat Thins or water crackers are also a great delivery device, more appropriate for snacking or an appetizer for a cocktail party.
I’ve blogged before about the Grill-Meister’s smoked salmon. It is amazingly good. He makes it for all major holidays and any time we have a party; I think there would be a revolt if the smoked salmon was not on the appetizer menu at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is expected. (Did I say it’s amazingly good?)
My Sister-by-Choice sent me a text last month that got me to thinking that the Grill-Meister needs to start making a double batch: “Not that there’s ever any leftover smoked salmon that Tom makes, and it’s delicious by itself, but saw this in the Bon Appétit Thanksgiving edition magazine and thought of you.” She attached a picture of this recipe from Bon Appétit: Smoked Salmon 7-Layer Dip.
Yum! I didn’t have to twist the Grill-Meister’s arm to get him to double up on the salmon, and the dip was as good as it looked. The double batch thing will be permanent.
Served with Belgian endive and little toasts, this 7-layer dip is very festive and just right for a holiday or cocktail party. Thanks for the tip, Sister-by-Choice! What else ya got?
I published the Grill-Meister’s smoked salmon recipe and process as a gift to all cooks who have a smoker or want a reason to buy one. Find it here: Tom’s Smoked Salmon .
I was inspired to make a rosemary wreath by another blogger (see yesterday’s post) and it worked! It is a lovely way to dress up the old standby party dish of cheese, salami and olives. I decorated the wreath with marinated piquant Peppadew peppers, but cherry or grape tomatoes would work just as well.
Here’s how to do it. You’ll need to have access to a large a rosemary plant.
Snip about 30 sprigs of rosemary, one inch long or less. Remove the side sprigs so that each length of rosemary is only one stem. Lay the longer sprigs in a circle on a round platter and secure with florist’s wire. Tuck the shorter ones in around the circle to even out the wreath.
Rosemary wreath (see above)
9 marinated cherry peppers, cut in half sideways
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
8 oz. of your favorite white cheese, cut into cubes (I used Havarti dill)
8 oz. sliced salami
Place a small container with toothpicks in the middle of the platter, then surround it with salami slices inside the wreath area. Arrange the peppers in groups of three on the wreath to resemble holly berries, then add the cheese cubes to the wreath. Scatter the Kalamata olives across the whole platter.
Below is the original wreath from Home is Where the Boat is, shared by Sara from Last Night’s Feast.
Did You Know…?
Sweet piquant peppers called Peppadew are originally from South Africa and were discovered in the early 1990s. Peppadew is a trademarked name and the peppers can be a little hard to find. Bon Appetite published a recipe with them a few years ago and got loads of letters from disgruntled readers looking to make their Pimento Mac & Cheese, so they followed up with the article Where to Buy the Elusive Peppadew.
Peppadew peppers resemble (but are not the same as) cherry peppers, which is another name for pimento peppers. Pimentos resemble (but are not the same as) red bell peppers.
Any of these wonderful peppers can be used in this recipe.
My colleague and friend Stephanie makes the most marvelous dip, and we pester her to bring a batch to us at least monthly. It’s ‘formal’ name is Creamy Jalapeño Dip, but we mostly refer to it as Green Dip. And sometimes, Crack Dip (because it’s addictive). It’s that good!
Stephanie brings a big ol’ batch of Green Dip to work with a couple of giant bags of tortilla chips and some veggie dippers, puts it all out in a common area, and backs away slowly: then we attack it like we’ve been starved for months.
Stephanie makes the Green Dip / Crack Dip with her son Josh, and together, they won the dip category of our Halloween Dips and Desserts competition at work, a bit of team-building fun we had together last month. Our contest was patterned after the Food Network’s show Chopped, and yours truly was a judge. Fun!
A self-described “Team Mom, Stephanie is generous with her time and her Green Dip, and has provided the recipe so that I can share it with all of you. It is PERFECT for a post-Thanksgiving football weekend (add it to your tailgate party!), and great on a turkey sandwich. In fact, there are tons of ways you can use this dip – see the list at the end of the post.
Stephanie was the food stylist for this post, providing the photo below. I think she might need to be a guest blogger in the Glover Gardens Cookbook!
Creamy Jalapeno Dip, AKA Stephanie’s Green Dip
3 tbsp mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 1-oz. packet of ranch dressing mix
1 small can diced green chilies (mild or hot, depending on your taste)
2-4 fresh jalapenos (depends on pepper size and desired heat), cut into pieces; remove and save seeds and spines
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, pulled off of stems
Juice of 1 small lime
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 pinches cumin
Throw all ingredients in blender and mix until smooth. Add jalapeno seeds and spines to increase heat as desired. Serve as an appetizer with chips or fresh veggies.
And there’s more…
The best thing about the Green Dip is using the leftovers. It will keep for about 10 days in the fridge, which is good, because this recipe makes a large batch. Since Stephanie started gifting us with this dip (including once as a get-well gift after a hospitalization), I have used it in various and delightful ways:
As a spread for a turkey sandwich, chicken breast sandwich, or just about any sandwich (think Green Dip BLT)
Whipped into leftover mashed potatoes for a whole new take on them
In scrambled eggs, before scrambling – a couple of tablespoons provides a creamy richness, and just the right bit of spice
Swirled into creamed corn
As a condiment on fish tacos, shrimp tacos, any tacos, fajitas
Tossed with chopped chicken breast and minced red onions for a quick chicken salad
As a dip for boiled shrimp in place of – or addition to – cocktail sauce or remoulade
As a salad dressing – it’s great with romaine and crisp, brightly colored bell peppers
In place of mayo, plain yogurt or sour cream in a variety of other uses
The final say…
There are tons of recipes for dips like this out there on the internet, but Stephanie’s is The BOMB. It’s the only version of a creamy jalapeño dip I need, because she and her son Josh have fine-tuned this recipe over the years they’ve been making it. Trust me on this.
I love to create in my kitchen on weekends, take a bunch of photos, and then recreate the yumminess in posts here in the Glover Gardens Cookbook blog. Alas, there are no kitchen creations to post this weekend, as I have an early morning flight for a business trip tomorrow and am busy preparing and packing. I do have a recipe to share, though: Churrasco’s chimichurri sauce. Have you had chimichurri before? It is sooooo good – a foodie-worthy sauce that is very simple to make. Churrasco’s is a Houston-based South American restaurant chain, and they deliver the real South American goods. “Churrasco” means beef, or more generally, grilled meats, in both Spanish and Portugese.
That green sauce on the steak is chimichurri sauce, and it is wonderful. Fresh, green and garlicky in its olive oil base, it brings a brightness to the steak. I can’t get enough chimichurri, and it is good on so many other things! Scrambled eggs, fajita tacos, grilled chicken, as a dip…the possibilities are endless. In addition to topping steak with it, Churrasco’s serves chimichurri with dried plantain chips as an appetizer.
Whenever I go to Churrasco’s, I bring home plantains and chimichurri sauce, to continue the South American party at home.
There are lots of chimichurri recipes out there, but I am loyal to this one from Churrasco’s, published in Food and Wine magazine. Simple and delicious, it has only four ingredients and can be made in less than five minutes. Although the recipe calls for curly parsley, flat-leaf parsley is also excellent, and you can substitute cilantro for a different south-of-the-border flavor.
2 bunches curly parsley, thick stems discarded
1/3 cup garlic cloves, crushed
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
Combine all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Refrigerate, but allow to come to room temperature before serving.
Here’s a link to the recipe in Food and Wine, which also has instructions for the steak. Another of my finds at Churrasco’s was the Pisco Sour.