July 12, 2013 by caitlinvaclark
How long is the acceptable amount of time to wait for an appointment or meeting? At what point do you call it quits? Are you allowed to get angry after 30 minutes? An hour? I mean we’ve all been late to something or other, I’m sure. But the other night, our handyman was supposed to come fix some issues in the flat at 5pm. Reasonable. I waited until 6 and then started to get worried, not necessarily about him but about having someone in my home at dinner time. But then you have to think if you cancel, you’re only going to have to deal with the same awkwardness of someone being in your home on another night, but with the added uncomfortable heebie-jeebies that you have reamed him out for being late. I decided that I would give him until 6:30. This was at 6:15… and you guessed it. He showed up at 6:20. Great.
To add fuel to the fire, some of these issues were in the kitchen. Which was also where the handy man chose to store his dusty tools while he worked. Awesome. Oh, and he brought along a man, whom I believe through his heavy Russian accent he explained was his father, there to assist. This man was very rotund and wearing a very small tank top. Getting hungry for dinner yet? I will say that they were thorough and clean, but took forever and allowed themselves plenty of smoke breaks standing right outside our door with the smell wafting right back inside. I hate that. None of these factors were adding up to a very appetizing evening.
And what had I planned on making for dinner that night? Of course a relaxing, unwind-after-a-long-day, stand-around-and-stir risotto. Silly me. We had a very late dinner involving minute rice instead.
Thankfully this was earlier in the week. While, Chris and I don’t mind eating dinner a bit late, we’ve had family in town and had a big BBQ the other night. That’s right, familiar faces in London. Woohoo. Chris’ aunt and uncle and cousins to be exact. Knowing that there are only so many pub dinners one can have without feeling like Big Ben himself, I invited everyone over for an easy (do I say that too much??) light summer dinner. Here’s what I put together:
Great Summer BBQ menu:
- Honey Mustard Balsamic (Grilled) Chicken
- Spectacular Summer Caprese Salad
- Herby Creamed Corn
- Classic Picnic Potato Salad
For a few years now, I have been making these ribs every summer, from Real Simple magazine and they are always a hit. Since we have still not resolved our rusted out grill situation, I decided chicken would be a better protein. There’s just something wrong with a rib that hasn’t been kissed by an open flame. So I just baked boneless skinless chicken breasts and thighs in the reduced honey mustard balsamic sauce for 30 minutes and served with all my other sides.
The key to a perfect Caprese Salad is good ingredients. There’s no real recipe involved, just shopping for the right stuff: in-season heirloom tomatoes, fresh buffalo mozzarella, good extra virgin olive oil, and bright green basil leaves. Just before serving, sprinkle with flake salt and fresh cracked black pepper.
I also made a basil studded version of my Smokey Creamed Corn, by swapping 1/2 cup of fresh chopped basil for the smoked paprika in the original recipe. And then of course tripling the recipe to serve a crowd. Note that you might not need quite as much cream. I added just over one cup.
My favorite way to make potato salad is using classic ingredients and not getting to fancy. The secret to perfection is making sure that the potatoes are cooked enough. You want them to be very very tender, almost like you would make them if you were doing mashed potatoes. Then when you stir them with the mayonnaise mixture, the starchy potato goodness blends with the sauce. Personally I hate when you feel like you are eating a cold potato just coated in a jar’s worth of mayo.
Classic Picnic Potato Salad
4 lbs. new potatoes
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ cup Greek yogurt
2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
4 scallions, thinly sliced
Cut the potatoes into about a 1 ½ -inch dice and add to a large pot. Cover with cold water and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, add about 1 tablespoon of salt to the water and cook for 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are very tender. They are done when a fork easily pierces through them with little pressure but before they crumble. Drain.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, paprika, salt, and pepper. Add the drained potatoes to the bowl and toss until well combined. Stir in the scallions. Chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving.