My favorite way to celebrate the start of summer is with a rockin' family cookout full of great food. In my household we plan many of these summer feasts weeks in advance, making lists of all the drinks and dishes we want to serve, then compiling recipes to form the desired menu. Since our cookouts mostly take place in either Martha's Vineyard or Cooperstown we typically make dishes that are influenced by ingredients from the local area. This way, when we shop at the farm stands and markets in the town we are visiting, we are able to procure the freshest, most delicious ingredients. This year our Memorial Day banquet was one for the books. The weather was sunny and warm, my daughter was beside herself with excitement at the local parade, and the food was perfect.
When we are on the Vineyard the main feature of our cookout is usually some kind of fish. Our whole family adores seafood and, luckily, living on a island means there is always a bounty of locally caught fresh fish available at the markets. This year we opted for swordfish steaks for our cookout, it is a meatier game fish that is packed with flavor and worked well with our menu. One of my favorite parts about preparing fresh seafood is that it requires only the simplest of instructions. For swordfish I employ an old trick my father-in-law taught me, I simply spread a thin coat of mayonnaise on each side of the steak, to seal in the moisture and flavor, then grill it for seven minutes per side. Every single time I use this technique the swordfish turns out perfectly cooked and is moist and flavorful. When I made it this weekend I was able to grill our steaks in fourteen minutes and then tented them for ten minutes so they could rest, leaving my daughter and I plenty of time to collect a few shells on the beach.
Since summer is just beginning I have included my cookout menu from Memorial Day below, maybe it will give you some ideas for your next outdoor event. The dishes I have listed are some personal favorites, they are a cinch to prepare and are completely family friendly. As testimony to this fact, all of us at the table devoured our meals and, embarrassingly enough, had second helpings. No matter though, we were able to work it off after dinner with a big family game of badminton, bringing the perfect end to a great cookout.
Naptime Chef's Memorial Day Cookout 2009 Menu (all homemade)
Roasted Vegetable & Mozzarella Salad (recipe to be posted in June)
Cous-Cous with Pecans, Cranberries and Blue Cheese (recipe to be posted in June)
Naptime Chef Go-to Brownies, with Vanilla Ice Cream
Wine & Beer
Naptime's Swordfish on the Grill
1. Heat the grill to medium.
2. Spread each side of swordfish with a thin layer of mayonnaise and top with a few good cranks of fresh pepper.
3. Grill each side of the swordfish for seven minutes.
4. Remove the fish from the grill and tent it on a plate with aluminum foil, let it rest for 8-10 minutes.
5. Serve with a slice of lemon, or topped with a dollop of mango chutney.
Naptime's Fish Sandwich (for leftovers)
Sandwich Bun, the softest you can find
1. Toast the sandwich bun.
2. Spread the bottom of the bun with a thin layer of tarter sauce. Over that place a crisp leaf of lettuce and a slice of tomato.
3. Finally, on top of the tomato place the remaining piece of fish. Top with bun and serve.
Naptime Recipe Props: One of the most simple and delicious ways to prepare seafood is by grilling it. This form of cooking is ideal because it is easy, healthy, and doesn't strip food of it's natural flavor. This swordfish recipe is totally fool-proof, you can't go wrong.
Naptime Stopwatch: Grilling typically takes very little time and is easily accomplished right before dinner needs to be served. Swordfish takes 14 minutes, total, on the grill and more delicate fish will take even less time.
Naptime Reviews: I was surprised to see that my daughter liked the swordfish, it was the first time I'd ever given her game fish. She wolfed it down like any other meal, excited by the new taste and texture on her palate.