The weather report in Annapolis last Saturday was gloomy. In fact, as we Food With Friends pals gathered at Donna's home on the banks of the Severn River, that's exactly what we encountered. Blustery, cold, overcast. And then...as the lump charcoal and wood chips were lit, the clouds parted, the sun emerged, temperatures rose. Magically, the day transformed into Springtime! Who knew BBQ smoke has miraculous properties?
This time the theme of our quarterly get-together was BBQ. Our Georgia gentleman, Greg Blanton, pit master extraordinaire, manned the Webers and created heavenly flavors out of pork butt, chicken and salmon.
As hours of tending slowly smoking proteins passed, many jokes were told, cocktails sipped, laughs shared and friendships forged more solidly while the aroma of smoking proteins rode the wind. Watching Greg work his magic was quite the treat, but nothing compared to the smoked delights that graced the dinner table. That man knows his way around a smoker!
|Greg (front and center!), Bonnie (supervising (?) in the background)|
That beautiful weather? As the fire and smoke went out, so the sun slid behind darkening clouds. We were dry and toasty inside as the wind blew and rain pelted the deck and windows outside. Good timing, Greg!
Here's the line up of everyone's deliciously BBQ-appropos contributions to the day:
While the 'Cue was smoking happily away, appetizers were served to the hungry throng.
Marti outdid herself warming up our tastebuds! Boursin-Stuffed Bacon-Wrapped Dates kissed with just a touch of smoked paprika - these marvels were sweet and salty perfection; Baked Bean Dip...what's a BBQ without baked beans? From scratch, homemade baked beans with her very own BBQ sauce, whirled into hummus-like consistency and served with corn chips absolutely stole the show; Manchego Rosemary Fricos - these were my go-to addiction on Saturday; Coffee-Rubbed Pork Tenderloin Squares adorned with a dynamite Chipotle Cherry Sauce. Oops! I almost forgot the Smoked Cheddar Puffs...wow!
Marti designed her appetizer selection around the cocktail created for the event which was created to pair with BBQ. (It's so good to conspire and work so well together!) What goes with BBQ, but bourbon?!
Bourbon HumZinger is the name I came up with for my cocktail. Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Canton Ginger Liqueur, orange blossom honey rosemary syrup, lemon, a splash of seltzer and a garnish of fresh rosemary served casually in a pint Mason jar nicely complemented the smoky BBQ flavors.
Why the cocktail name? The bourbon part for obvious reasons, the "Hum" part for the honey and the "Zinger" for the ginger. Maybe for the tickle of the bubbles in those cool antique seltzer bottles, too? (Where do you get seltzer the way it used to be done? Pittsburgh Seltzer Works! More about them in another post.)
- 2 ounces bourbon, Buffalo Trace
- 1 ounce Canton ginger liqueur
- 1 ounce simple Sugar Syrup, Orange Blossom Honey Rosemary syrup, see recipe below
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- soda water, splash
- fresh rosemary sprig
Fill a tin 3/4 of the way with ice. Add bourbon, ginger liqueur, syrup and the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Cap, shake until the tin is frosted and strain into a Mason jar filled 3/4 of the way with ice. Top with a splash of soda.
Place the rosemary on the palm of your hand slap sharply with your other hand to release the fragrant oils. Garnish and enjoy!
In a pan, bring 1 cup honey and 1 cup water to a boil. Reduce heat, add 3-4 sprigs of fresh rosemary and stir. Remove from heat and let cool. Take out the rosemary and store the syrup in a covered container in the fridge.
While Greg did the smoking, both he and Donna provided the proteins that were the focus of the day.
Salmon with a sweet and spicy, red rub and smoked quickly to produce a moist and tender filet; chicken rubbed with yet another (secret mixture); pork butt with yet another rub, smoked for many hours to ensure a moist and tender butt that fell into shreds. (There was a fig BBQ sauce to slather or to dip the butt in, but there was no need for gussying it up at all. I DO wish I'd tried the sauce though...FIG? How did I forget to try that one).
|Bonnie's Green Bean, Grape & Pecan Pasta (L), Greg's Smoked Chicken (R)|
|Greg's Smoked Salmon in the foreground (There was plenty more in the kitchen!)|
In addition to the smoking, Greg also whipped up a huge batch of authentic Southern Brunswick stew and the most wonderful (authentic again) Shrimp n Grits I've ever experienced! (Yes, the recipe and pic of this one will be coming later!)
Deviled eggs (yay Iris! delish!); Fruits Baked with Port and Southern Rice and Pea Salad by Maria; Kale and Tender Greens by Donna (our gracious and patient hostess); Spring Rolls by Brian; and Bonnie made a particularly amazing Grilled Blue Cheese and Bacon Potato Salad and also a Green Bean, Grape & Pecan Pasta Salad. Bonnie, I WANT the potato salad recipe! Please?
|Grilled Blue Cheese and Bacon Potato Salad by Bonnie|
Sweet temptations of all variety overloaded the sideboard. Sherron devloped a smoky, sweet, good-for-you (sort of) Maple Bacon Granola to adorn Peach Cobbler with Sweet Biscuits to be made on-site and I brought a Bourbon Pecan Praline Sauce to further gild that lily. Peanut & Pretzeled Texas Sheetcake with vanilla ice cream (and more of that Bourbon Pecan Praline Sauce) was another planned dessert.
We ended up not doing the Peach Cobbler as there were more desserts than could ever be consumed. Maria brought Pumpkin Chiffon Pie, Coconut Cream Pie, Pecan Pie with Chocolate Chips & Kahluah and more than I can even remember. Thank you, Maria! Our sweet tooth(s?) were more than satisfied.
Far more dishes than mentioned above were brought by more members than were mentioned here...sorry for any omissions...I ran out of space!
We don't have a date yet, but we do have a theme for our next shindig. It's a Baby Shower for Sherron! We're all thinking tiny things, little things...BABY things! We're "expecting" yet another wonderful Food With Friends!
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