Dinner outdoors — it’s that time of the year


Dinner outdoors — it’s that time of the year

Lynne Sawicki of Decatur’s Sawicki’s Meat, Seafood and More says when planning a summer dinner party, think “farm-to-grill.”

“I’m definitely an ‘in season’ person. I like to get my ideas from going to local farmers markets. I focus on the fruits and vegetables that are fresh and colorful and then the protein usually falls into place after that,” she said.

Color is a large part of what entices you to eat, she says, and in the middle of summer with its abundance of colorful produce, planning a menu is like painting a picture. “I’ve spent my whole life cooking but I also have an art background so thinking about food this way is very fulfilling to me,” she said.

Aroma is another important element to consider. She’s become more and more convinced that how food smells is as important as the taste. “Food that looks pretty but doesn’t smell delicious usually isn’t delicious.”

Her focus on color and aroma is helping her design dishes for her newest venture, Harvest 4 Health, launching this fall. Harvest 4 Health will offer farm-to-table custom meals for hospital patients and their families, as well as hospital staff. She’ll be preparing dietitian-approved meals that can be delivered to patient treatment centers for easy pick up. The meals will be stored in locked coolers provided by Springer Mountain Farms.

This kind of partnership is important to her. Springer Mountain chicken is local - grown in northeast Georgia - and raised on a vegetarian diet and without antibiotics. “The flavor is great and it’s clean food. That’s important when you’re cooking for people who are trying to get and keep themselves healthy through nutrition,” she said.

Just as she plans to tantalize Harvest 4 Health’s customers with colorful, fragrant dishes, Sawicki used those same principles to plan a summer dinner to be served in the backyard of the Decatur home she shares with partner Sandee Jarnac . She turned to her newest culinary toy, a Grill Dome kamado-style cooker to create appetizer, entree, salads and even dessert.

Tips from Sawicki for planning and grilling your summer dinner:

It’s high season for peaches, tomatoes and basil so why not combine them in an update to the traditional Caprese salad? “When grilling peaches, cut them in half and leave the skin on. They caramelize quickly so just take a minute or two to get good grill marks on the cut side. That’s a nice contrast with the freshness of the fruit.”

Cooking corn on the grill simplifies the task of husking fresh corn. Once the corn is cooked, the husk and silks come off easily.

Chicken is a staple for backyard grilling. A flavorful marinade is quick to put together and takes the traditional grilled chicken up a notch. “This is a great place to be creative and surprise your friends with new flavors. And always set aside a little marinade before you add the rest to the chicken. Then you can use that fresh marinade to add shine and a little extra flavor when the chicken comes off the grill.”

Because chicken wings cook quickly, their marinade can have more sweetness than one you’d use with a longer-cooking whole or half bird. “In my Spicy Balsamic Chicken Wing recipe, the balsamic actually beings to cure the wings, so don’t marinate for more than 30 minutes. This is a great marinade, but if you used it on a whole chicken, the marinade would begin to burn before the chicken cooked through.”

And yes, dessert can come off the grill as well. Sawicki suggests toasting slices of something like a sturdy pound cake and then topping them off with a grilled tropical fruit salad and your favorite ice cream.

Topper: A little kitchen work ahead of time will help you throw a relaxed dinner party. The grill pulls everything together from the chicken wing appetizer to a grilled poundcake dessert.

Spicy Balsamic Chicken Wings

Hands on: 25 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes plus cooling and marinating time

Serves: 4

Use any barbecue sauce you have on hand.

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons Sriacha or hot chili sauce

2 tablespoons barbecue sauce

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 pounds chicken wings

In a medium saucepan, make marinade by combining vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, Sriacha, barbecue sauce and butter. Heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Allow to cool.

Preheat grill to medium high. When internal temperature is 375 degrees, the grill is ready. Lightly oil the grates.

While marinade is cooling and grill is heating, prepare chicken wings. If the wing parts are not separated, cut the drum portion from flat and put these two portions into a sealable plastic bag. Discard wing tips or reserve to make chicken stock. Continue until all wings are prepared. Pour half the cooled marinade over the wings, seal bag and refrigerate for up to 30 minutes. Reserve remaining marinade.

When grill is ready, arrange wings on grate. Grill until wings are cooked through, about 15 minutes, turning once to grill both sides. When wings are done, arrange them on serving platter and drizzle with reserved marinade. Serve immediately.

Adapted from a recipe provided by Lynne Sawicki of Sawicki’s Meat, Seafood & More.

Per serving: 228 calories (percent of calories from fat, 59), 14 grams protein, 10 grams carbohydrates, trace fiber, 15 grams fat (6 grams saturated), 55 milligrams cholesterol, 1,318 milligrams sodium.

Moroccan Grilled Chicken

Hands on: 30 minutes

Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Serves: 8

A sharp chef’s knife or poultry shears make cutting a whole chicken in half a possibility for home cooks. Or you can ask your grocery store butcher to saw their whole chickens in half. Cutting the chicken makes for shorter cooking time. Or substitute chicken quarters to avoid the butchering process.

Annatto is an optional addition for this recipe and is available at stores that carry Hispanic groceries including the Buford Highway Farmers Market.

1/2 cup mint leaves

4 cloves garlic

2 tablespoons cumin seeds, lightly toasted

2 tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika

2 teaspoons ground annatto, optional

Zest and juice of 1 lime

1/2 cup vegetable oil

2 (3 1/2-pound) chickens, cut in half lengthwise

In the jar of a blender, make the marinade by combining mint, garlic, cumin, salt, oregano, pepper, paprika, annatto and lime zest and juice. Process until smooth. Slowly drizzle in oil and process until mixture is emulsified.

Reserve 1/4 cup marinade and set aside. Rub the remaining marinade over the chicken, inserting it under the skin as well. Refrigerate the chicken up to 30 minutes.

Preheat grill to medium high. When internal temperature is 375 degrees, the grill is ready. Lightly oil the grates.

When grill is ready, arrange chicken on grate. Grill until chicken is cooked through to a temperature of 165 degrees, about 30 minutes, turning once. When chicken is done, arrange on serving platter and brush with reserved marinade. Serve immediately.

Adapted from a recipe provided by Lynne Sawicki of Sawicki’s Meat, Seafood & More.

Per serving: 278 calories (percent of calories from fat, 65), 21 grams protein, 3 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 20 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 60 milligrams cholesterol, 1,679 milligrams sodium.

Charred Corn and Edamame Salad with Ginger Vinaigrette

Hands on: 20 minutes

Total time: 30 minutes, plus soaking time

Serves: 4

Roasting the corn in its husk, silks intact, imparts a smoky flavor to the corn and then the silks and husks are easy to remove once the corn has been cooked.

2 ears corn, unhusked

1/2 red onion

1 red pepper

1/2 cup shelled edamame

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Salt and pepper

Field greens

Soak corn in cold water for 30 minutes.

Preheat grill to medium high. When internal temperature is 375 degrees, the grill is ready. Lightly oil the grates.

Grill corn and onion about 10 minutes, turning each once. Grill pepper, turning every 2 minutes to char all sides. Remove vegetables as they are done and allow to cool.

Remove skin, stem and seeds from roasted pepper and dice. Put into a medium bowl. Dice grilled onion and add to peppers.

Remove husks from corn and cut kernels from the cob. Add to pepper and onion mixture. Add edamame and cilantro and toss.

In a small bowl, make dressing by whisking together lemon juice, oil, ginger and mustard. Season to taste. Pour dressing over corn mixture. Serve over field greens. May be served immediately or made ahead and refrigerated up to 2 days.

Adapted from a recipe provided by Lynne Sawicki of Sawicki’s Meat, Seafood & More.

Per serving: 135 calories (percent of calories from fat, 38), 6 grams protein, 16 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 6 grams fat (1 gram saturated), no cholesterol, 29 milligrams sodium.

Local Peach, Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

Hands on: 20 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

You might not want to heat up the grill just for a salad, but as long as the grill is going, this is a great way to add another layer of flavor to a traditional Caprese salad. Peaches and tomatoes have an affinity for each other with their similar combination of acidity and sweetness.

2 ripe peaches, skin on, cut in half

2 large heirloom tomatoes, cut into wedges

Salt and pepper

8 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

5 leaves basil, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon Georgia olive oil

Preheat grill to medium high. When internal temperature is 375 degrees, the grill is ready. Lightly oil the grates.

Arrange peach halves cut side down on grill and cook until charred, about 2 minutes. Remove from grill.

While peaches are grilling, arrange tomatoes on serving plate. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Sprinkle mozzarella pieces on top of tomatoes and drizzle with vinegar.

Cut peaches into wedges and arrange over mozzarella. Garnish with basil and drizzle with olive oil. Serve immediately.

Adapted from a recipe provided by Lynne Sawicki of Sawicki’s Meat, Seafood & More.

Per serving: 245 calories percent of calories from fat, 63), 13 grams protein, 10 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 18 grams fat (9 grams saturated), 51 milligrams cholesterol, 241 milligrams sodium.

Grilled Coconut Poundcake Sundaes with Tropical Fruit

Hands on: 45 minutes

Total time: 2 hours

Serves: 12

Sawicki gilds this lily by topping the fruit and lightly sweetened cake with Honeysuckle Gelato in Sea-Salted Caramel.

1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup unsalted butter

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon coconut extract

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup water

4 coin-size slices fresh ginger, smashed

1/2 pineapple, peeled

2 mangoes, cut off pit in two lengthwise pieces

1 papaya, cut in half lengthwise and seeds removed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess.

Spread coconut on rimmed baking sheet and bake until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat sugar and butter until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time. Then add vanilla and coconut extracts. With mixer on low speed, beat in flour mixture just until combined. Remove bowl from mixer and fold in toasted coconut.

Spoon batter evenly into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Do not overbake. Remove cake from oven, allow to cool 5 minutes, then turn cake out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. Cake may be made up to 2 days ahead.

While cake is cooling, prepare lemon-ginger syrup. In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, lemon juice, water and ginger. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let steep 15 minutes. Remove ginger and cool. Syrup may be made up to 2 days ahead and kept refrigerated.

When ready to serve, preheat grill to medium high. When internal temperature is 375 degrees, the grill is ready. Lightly oil the grates.

Slice cake into 1-inch thick pieces and arrange on grill. Grill just until cake slices have grill marks on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Arrange slices on serving platter. Add pineapple, mango and papaya to grill and cook just until fruit has grill marks on both sides, about 1 minute per side. Remove from grill. Cut pineapple into bite-size pieces and arrange over grilled cake. Peel mango and papaya, cut into bite-size pieces, and arrange over cake. Drizzle lemon-ginger syrup over everything and serve immediately.

Adapted from a recipe provided by Lynne Sawicki of Sawicki’s Meat, Seafood & More.

Per serving: 444 calories (percent of calories from fat, 40), 5 grams protein, 63 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 20 grams fat (13 grams saturated), 112 milligrams cholesterol, 183 milligrams sodium.

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