White-hot pork dogs, Northern apples and other signs of the season.
By Judi Gallagher
I always find it amusing when people are concerned about inviting me to a dinner party. I can see them wondering: “Are you sure you want to have a professional chef in your home?” or “You can’t serve her that.” One of my favorites: “I would love to have you over, but we don’t cook gourmet meals so maybe we can meet for dinner at a good restaurant some night.”
Truth be told, on a night off, especially a Saturday night, there is nothing more appealing to me than a cold glass of iced tea, a crunchy, well-grilled hot dog or two with some raw onions and mustard, and great conversation.
Thus, you can imagine our pleasure at attending the perfect dinner party this past weekend. Our friends Debra and Bill invited a group of five couples for a casual Saturday night cookout. It was to me, the perfect meal. Nibbles of creamy corn bread with cheese, ground sausage and melted cheese canapés segued into my first “white-hot” experience. As Bill proudly wore his white-and- red paper butcher’s hat from Zweigle’s in Rochester, N.Y., home of the “white hot”—a pork hot dog, well-seasoned, and yes, it is white—men gathered around the monster grill to share advice on the perfect grilling technique.
“Hey, Bill, turn the flame up,” or “You know, Bill, my wife finds my hot dog grilling skills to be pretty impressive and you might want to let me take a turn.”
But clearly, Bill needed no other’s advice. After all, the man is from Rochester, and he Federal Expresses a case of these backyard cookout delicacies to his home each month.
Butcher’s hats off to this zesty dog, well worth the freight cost for your next barbeque. To order: www.Zweigles.com
The other day my son called from the grocery store to see if I would be home to share the lunch he was planning to make. (The benefits of having an aspiring chef as offspring). Since I was buried in paperwork and recipe testing, I was thrilled with the notion of someone else preparing lunch for me. Eric knows that I am a huge salad fan, so he decided a big mixed green salad with bleu cheese dressing would be a Mom-pleaser. Little did I know, the salad would be dressed with sautéed Cajun shrimp. Delicious! When I asked Eric about his Cajun seasoning, he showed me to a container of Cajun butter that he’d purchased at the seafood section at Publix. “Mom, I think this stuff is worth blogging about,” he said. Not only is he an aspiring chef, perhaps he’s an aspiring food writer.
(Publix on Fruitville Road is also carrying scampi butter—a good trick if you do not want to buy several ingredients or if you are cooking for one or two.)
THE APPLES ARE IN!
As I was preparing our Rosh Hashanah dinner Friday afternoon, I ran out for some extra ingredients, including another bag of the first Macintosh apples from the farms up north. While in the past I have not been overly impressed with the Mac’s shipped to the Sunshine State, I must say the first bushels at Sweet Bay Supermarket were impressive. Tart and crisp, although not quite the tummy-aching sour that I most prefer, these apples were perfect for making warm apple compote to serve with our brisket.
Since we are heading to Boston this week for a culinary trip down memory lane and to attend a family wedding, I had thought about bringing some crispy Macs back with me on the plane, but with all the scrutiny as the airports these days, I’m not sure if real Northern apples constitute a threat to national security. So instead I will gobble my fill while strolling the Boston Commons, lament the belly ache from the tartness of each apple consumed over a creamy bowl of clam chowder at Legal Seafood and gulp down a warm apple cider doughnut or two while frolicking in the autumn leaves. And then the cold winds will blow and the damp autumn nights will remind me why we moved to Florida and I will be at peace with the apples at our local market back in the Sunshine State.
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