Here we are- on the cusp of summer, on the eve of grilling season, keeping a look-out for fireflies, swatting early mosquitoes, and planning a post-COVID cookout. I’m looking forward to familiar and comfortable: a little gathering of old friends on the back porch, with songs from college playing in the background as we laugh and scarf bowls of chips like it was still the good old days of few consequences. We are panning for the gold.
As we catch up with our merry band, hearing about new babies, new homes, lives in big cities, I wonder, as one does, if I made the right choices. Maybe we would have been happier with an urban life. And then I read the newspaper, and chortle, and feel pretty smug. I was never destined to be a New Yorker, someone who might stroll into the Mischa restaurant this Memorial Day Weekend, and plunk down $29 for a hot dog. Nope. I think I plunked down about $29 for our entire cookout. The Mischa hot dog isn’t even on the lunch menu – it’s a dinner entree. For that kind of money, I’d rather learn to love caviar. Mischa: https://mischa-nyc.com
We aren’t going to serve anything that extravagant this weekend, just the old reliable favorites: hamburgers, hot dogs, corn-on-the-cob, potato salad, green salad, and strawberry short cake. Also, chips and classic French onion dip, and little bowls of radishes, cucumber spears, celery and carrots for karmic balance. There will be beer. (Nothing like that Hoboken Brewing beer at Mischa for $14 a serving…) Welcome to summer. Welcome to ordinary America. No fancy pants here! Mischa Hot Dog on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/CrJs0WgPE45/
This is the best sort of holiday meal, one that doesn’t require numerous trips to the grocery store, ordering fancy cuts of meat, or perusing cookbooks. Jacques Pepin and Alice Waters can sit sullenly on the bookshelf – these are tried and true dishes that vary little from year to year, or really from family to family. I sometimes miss the crunchy, charred, hockey-puck-hamburgers of my childhood, but I must say that Mr. Sanders can flip a mean burger. And I still make my mother’s potato salad. Maybe you’ll grill sausage, or have a watermelon. Maybe your family always grills chicken. Be sure to enjoy yourself! COVID seems to be behind us, after all.
We will be putting a personal touch on the corn, to tide us over until our first crab feast:
Old Bay Corn on the Cob on the Grill
Heat the grill to 350° F.
Wrap each ear of corn in aluminum foil.
Generously butter the corn and sprinkle with Old Bay seasoning.
Roll the corn in the foil and twist the ends tight.
Grill for 5-8 minutes on each side.
Carefully unwrap the corn and place back on the grill for a quick 1-2 minute char on each side, if desired. The grilled ears will be Instagram-able.
For added flavor, sprinkle with more Old Bay after serving.
For your oh, so, reliable pre-dinner snack’ums:
Onion Soup Dip
We never make this dip when it is just the two of us, so I welcome major religious holidays and group events when we can indulge in a nice, big, retro bowl of dip. With Ruffles. I do a slight spin on the traditional Lipton’s sour cream and French onion soup back-of-the-box dip recipe – I add a generous shakes of red pepper flakes, garlic powder and onion powder. Sometimes I splurge and get Knorr French onion soup mix, so there are attractive bits greenery in the dip, but mostly I buy the store brand. I read that this dip, a staple of the 1960s, is hot again in New York City. Just so you know, too.
Silly folks at Food52 think you might like to make the dip from scratch, but I have the Succession finale to watch this weekend, and I do not want to waste any time standing over a hot stove. May the best Roy win!
Food52’s Homemade French Onion Soup Dip: https://food52.com/blog/27921-absolute-best-onion-dip
“The first ear of corn, eaten like a typewriter, means summer to me— intense, but fleeting.”
― Michael Anthony