By Brack Johnson


Summer's sizzling in the Triangle. It's the season of barbecued chicken, seared salmon and charred skirt steak. At suppertime, we're out there by the grill.


Great grub! Now, what about the starters, sides and desserts? Here's what!



The No-Cook, No-Bake Cookbook

101 Delicious Recipes for When It's Too Hot to Cook

Published by Ulysses Press










Coconut Cream Pie Milkshake
1-1/2 cups milk of choice
1 cup chopped frozen coconut meat
1 large banana, preferably frozen
2 heaping tablespoons graham crumbs, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup macadamia nuts
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg, plus more for garnish
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Place all the ingredients in a blender or food processor container and blend until smooth, about 1 minute. Running your machine for at least 1 minute will help break down the coconut for a smoother consistency.


Pour into serving glasses and garnish with additional graham crumbs or freshly grated nutmeg.


Makes 2 servings



Watermelon Slushies
8 ice cubes
2 cups cubed watermelon
1/2 cup orange juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint or basil
1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup


Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor container and process until you have a "slushie" consistency. Don't over-blend into a completely smooth texture. Best served in a glass with a small spoon.


Makes 2 servings



Dishing Up Virginia

145 Recipes That Celebrate Colonial Traditions and Contemporary Flavors

Published by Storey









Hanover Tomato Gazpacho
14 large Hanover tomatoes,
roughly chopped
10 garlic cloves, minced
7 English cucumbers, seeded and roughly chopped
3 red bell peppers, seeded
and roughly chopped
3 yellow bell peppers, seeded
and roughly chopped
1 sweet onion, such as Vidalia, roughly chopped
3 jalapeno peppers, seeds included and roughly chopped
1 large bunch basil, leaves picked and roughly chopped
2 cups pine nuts
3 cups tomato juice
2 cups vegetable juice, such as V-8
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup sherry wine vinegar
Salt and white pepper
Cherry tomatoes, halved, for garnish
Goat cheese, for garnish


Toss the tomatoes, garlic, cucumbers, red bell peppers, yellow bell peppers, onion, jalapeno peppers, basil, pine nuts, tomato juice, vegetable juice, olive oil, and vinegar in a large bowl. Blend everything in small batches until very smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.


Transfer the soup to a large nonreactive bowl, cover and chill until ready to serve, at least 2 hours.


Garnish each serving with the cherry tomatoes and/or small scoops of goat cheese.


Makes 12-14 servings


Note: This recipe makes a lot of soup, but is easily halved. Leftovers can be refrigerated for 3 to 5 days, and it also freezes well.





Barbecue Potato Chips

Spice Mix
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon chile powder
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Potato Chips
2 large potatoes, preferably Yukon Gold
Oil, such as vegetable, canola or peanut, for frying



Make the spice mix
Whisk the paprika, garlic powder, salt, onion powder, chile powder, black pepper, granulated sugar, brown sugar and cayenne together in a small bowl. Set aside.


Make the chips
Slice the potatoes 1/8-inch thick with a mandoline or other handheld slicer. (This provides uniformity and allows the chips to cook evenly.) Soak the slices in a large bowl filled with cold water for 30 minutes to remove the starch. Rinse the slices and drain in a colander. Place the slices on a paper towel-lined cookie sheet and gently pat dry.


Heat the oil to 350 degrees in a large, heavy saucepan; do not fill it more than halfway full. If you do not have a thermometer, add one potato slice to the pan to check the temperature of the oil. If it gently sizzles, the oil is ready.


Fry the potatoes in small batches until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Do not overcrowd the pan. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chips to a cooling rack set over a baking sheet and let drain.


Sprinkle generously with the spice mix while still warm. (Reserve any remaining spice mix for another use.) Allow the chips to cool and crisp before serving.





Classic and Contemporary Pasta, Risotto, Crespelle, and Polenta Recipes

Published by Wiley









Fresh Cheese Ravioli With Pesto and Pine Nuts
Cheese Filling
6 ounces Robiola (soft cheese)
4 ounces mascarpone
6 ounces ricotta
1 pound pasta sheets
Egg wash: 1 large egg blended
with 2 tablespoons water
Kosher salt, as needed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup pesto
1/2 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
Freshly ground pepper, as needed


In a small bowl, stir together the Robiola, mascarpone and ricotta for the filling in a small bowl. Set aside.


Brush one pasta sheet with egg wash. Spoon the filling in mounds (about 2 teaspoons each) down the center of the dough. Cover with a second pasta sheet and press the dough together around the filling to seal the sheets together and to remove any air pockets. Using a 2-inch-round cutter, cut out the ravioli.


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the ravioli all at once and stir a few times to separate them. Cook, uncovered, at a gentle boil until just tender to the bite, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain the ravioli in a colander. Shake well to remove excess water. Transfer to a heated serving bowl, add the olive oil and pesto, and toss to coat evenly. Or, spoon the pesto into warmed pasta plates, top with ravioli and drizzle with olive oil.


Serve the ravioli in a heated serving bowl or pasta plates, topped with the pine nuts and seasoned with salt and pepper.


Makes 6-8 servings




Ricotta and Spinach Gnocchi
1 pound fresh spinach, blanched, squeezed dry and chopped
12 ounces (1-1/2 cups) fresh ricotta, drained if necessary
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup fine semolina flour
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or aged Pecorino Toscano
2 egg yolks
Freshly grated nutmeg, as needed
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, as needed
4 ounces (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
6 sage leaves, whole or thinly sliced


Combine the spinach, ricotta, all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup of the semolina flour, 1/2 cup of the Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Toscano, the egg yolks, a few grains of nutmeg and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir together until evenly combined. Cover the bowl and let this mixture rest in the refrigerator for about 1 hour to firm up.


To shape the gnocchi: Place the remaining semolina in a mound on a work surface or in a bowl. Lightly dust your hands with the semolina, and then pinch off a piece of the ricotta mixture (about 1 tablespoon) and roll it into a little ball. Dredge the gnocchi in the semolina and place them on a lightly floured baking sheet or platter. (The gnocchi are ready to cook now, or you may keep them, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours.)


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the gnocchi and stir to submerge and separate them. Cook, uncovered, at a gentle boil until they rise to the surface and are cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes depending on their size. (To be certain, taste one of the gnocchi.)


While the gnocchi are cooking, heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat until it starts to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the sage leaves and continue to cook until crispy, about 1 minute.


Serve the gnocchi at once on heated plates topped with the brown butter and sage leaves, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano.


Makes 4-8 servings





A Savor the South Cookbook

Published by The University of North Carolina Press











Crook's Corner Green Peach Salad
2-1/2 pounds unripe peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced 1/4-inch thick
Scant 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons strong-flavored extra-virgin olive oil,
such as Greek or Lebanese
2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, cut into very thin strips


In a large nonreactive bowl, toss the peach slices with the sugar and salt. Let rest for 5 minutes, then fold in the pepper, olive oil and mint.


Chill, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use. Serve within a few hours of preparation; if allowed to sit too long or overnight, the peaches will become mushy.

Makes 4-6 servings



North Carolina Barbecue Joint-Style Peach Cobbler
3 cups peaches, skin-on or peeled, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, divided
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon cinnamon


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the peach slices and 1/2 cup of the granulated sugar in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, mix together the cornstarch and water in a small bowl, then add to the peaches and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Transfer the peaches and thickened juices to an 8 x 8-inch baking dish and set aside.


Sift together the flour, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and the brown sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, work the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse meal. Spread the topping evenly over the peach filling and pat down firmly with the palms of your hands and your fingers, smoothing out the top. Sprinkle the topping with the remaining 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and the cinnamon.


Bake the cobbler in the oven until the crust is golden brown and bubbly, about 40 minutes. Set aside to cool briefly before serving with whipped cream or ice cream if you like.

Makes 6 servings




Fresh Food Nation

Simple, Seasonal Recipes From America's Farmers

Published by The Taunton Press









Summer Bread Salad
6 ripe tomatoes, cut in half crosswise, seeds gently squeezed out and cut into 1-inch chunks
6 cups 1-inch cubes of good Italian bread, such as ciabatta
1 cucumber, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeded and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil; more as needed
1/4 cup sherry vinegar; more as needed
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves


Put the tomatoes, bread, cucumbers, peppers, onions and olives in a large bowl and toss to mix. Drizzle with the olive oil and vinegar and season well with salt and pepper. Toss again.


Let marinate for at least 30 minutes and ideally 1 hour, tossing occasionally to distribute the juices. Right before serving, toss in the basil and mint and then taste and adjust with more salt and pepper, oil, or vinegar. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 4 servings



Fresh Strawberry Cake With Strawberry Compote Drizzle
2-1/4 cups cake flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
8 ounces strawberries trimmed and finely diced (about 1 cup)
Strawberry Compote Drizzle (recipe below)


Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt or tube pan.


Put the flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl and whisk to blend and lighten.


With an electric mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar together, beating until the mixture is quite light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.


Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the mixing bowl and beating well between each addition. Beat in the vanilla.


With the mixer on low, beat in about one-third of the flour mixture. As soon as the flour is almost blended, add about half the buttermilk and beat until blended. Repeat with the next portion of flour and continue until you've added all the flour and buttermilk. Stop beating as soon as that happens; overbeating will cause the cake to be tough.


Beat in the strawberries until just combined.


Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading the surface so it's even. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool the cake in its pan on a wire rack; when it's cool, gently invert it onto a cake stand or platter. Serve with the Strawberry Compote Drizzle.

Makes 8 servings


Strawberry Compote Drizzle
8 ounces strawberries, trimmed and quartered
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar; more as needed
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice; more as needed
Pinch of salt; more as needed


In a small saucepan, combine the strawberries, sugar and 1/4 cup water. Cook over medium heat until the strawberries are very soft and the mixture becomes compote-like and thick, stirring occasionally. Stir in the butter, lemon juice and salt. Taste and add more sugar, lemon juice or salt as needed. Serve chunky or transfer to a blender and puree until smooth. Serve either warm or cold.

Makes about 1 cup