Simple Food, Family and Friends


Monday:              Cold Cereal with Blueberries

Avocado Toast

Tuesday:              Avocado Toast with Fatoush / Hash with left-over Porterhouse  (make Ricotta)


Wednesday:      Ratatouille / Charred Bread with Cherry Salsa

Thursday:            Dunnings / Pasta with Zucchini Sauce for Beez and Drew


Dinner on the terrace at Annie and Denny’s beautiful home.  L-R:  Beez, Dave, Annie, Dennis, Walter, Julie, Bill, Katy, Tim, Shelley.  Ann took the picture.

Friday:                  Cestra Party – Great apps from everybody, Annie’s brisket was killer, Julie’s Cookies and Raspberry Tart


Pizza on the porch with Beez and Andrew

Saturday:             Pizza – Margherita / Mushrooms and Sausage / Green Pepper, Onions and Sausage Green Salad


Sunday:                Grilled Swordfish with Wine Bottle Sauce / Charred Sweet Potatoes with Honey / Green Salad – App of cheese, chutney, crackers, toasts

Grilled Chicken

Monday:              Family Cook Out – Grilled Chicken with cracked olives and herbs / Toasted Bread with Ricotta and fixings and Cherry Salsa / Corn Salad / Cole Slaw /Chocolate-Almond Semifreddo

billy and emily

Billy and Emily

I’m back on my favorite subject – the nexus between family, friends and food.  This long holiday weekend gave us a chance to catch up with a lot of people and eat a lot of good food.  On Friday, heading into the holiday weekend, Annie Cestra served amazing food and Dennis plied a mighty drinks table.  To quote my son, Andrew, on Annie’s leftover brisket (“that’s one of the best thing I’ve ever tasted”).  And Julie Stoecklein added a strawberry tart and cookies that are at least as addictive as opioids.  The occasion was a celebration of the Pink Palominos trip to Walter and Shelley Stoecklein’s ranch in Idaho – and Walter and Shelley were in town for the occasion.  Julie had put together a video memory of the trip and Walter told some fishing stories that sounded true – and nobody left until after midnight.

Then on Sunday we shared a simple dinner with Andrew, Billy and Marc Pugliese.  To my thinking, this dinner was perfect and as addictive as Julie’s cookies.  We rarely repeat a “Keeper” on the blog, but this is a meal you need when you want to cook, eat and talk till all hours outdoors.

And on Monday we had a gang for a real feast of grilled chicken with 34 bottles of beer, 7 bottles of wine, Glenlivet, Hendrick’s Gin and Calvados.  We’re still cleaning up, and moving rather slowly.

And hey – don’t knock the cold cereal I had while Barbara was away on business.  The blueberries were huge, firmly plump and had that combination of sweetness and tartness which makes for a perfect berry.  A little cold milk and some Special K were all they needed to provide a quick, delicious dinner.  You don’t have to chop onions and garlic every night, amigo.

A Simple Grilled Dinner to Amaze Family and Friends:


Swordfish with Wine-bottle Sauce and Grilled Sweet Potatoes

There are two keys to this meal – the wine bottle sauce provides the savory underpinning that will ensure that you have no leftover swordfish – and the grilled sweet potatoes will change every one’s mind about this tuber which is usually forgotten after Thanksgiving.

You can cook the swordfish in about 16 minutes – there is almost no prep.  And you can use swordfish from your local market – no need for a special trip to the fishmonger.

You can grill the potatoes in 5 minutes, provided you have cooked them to just-tender earlier in the day.

Add a green salad with a simple dressing of oil and lemon and maybe some blueberries or tomatoes thrown in, and you have a meal so easy to cook that you will be able to hang with your guests most of the night.

swordfish only

SWORDFISH WITH WINE-BOTTLE SAUCE (Very slightly adapted from Joe Carroll’s recipe in his great cookbook, Feeding the Fire – I have added an early flip in the cooking process to avoid the wine-bottle sauce washing away the seasoning) 

Timing:                                 15 minutes (plus the time it takes to start the coals and get your grill hot – and the hour or so it will take to pre-cook the sweet potatoes.

Ingredients:                                                       (Feeds 4 or 5)

2 Swordfish Steaks

Wine-bottle-sauce (Drink 12 to 2/3 of a bottle of dry white wine – add a good glug of olive oil and the juice of 1 lemon and shake to mix – shake again before pouring over the fish)

Salt and Pepper


Season the swordfish on both sides, liberally, with kosher salt and ground black pepper

Get your grill grates hot and brush and clean with olive oil

Cook over medium-high heat for a total of 8 minutes.  Turn after 1 minute and douse with wine-bottle sauce.  Turn after the 2nd minute and douse with wine bottle sauce.  Then turn again and cook for 4 minutes – douse again.  Turn and cook for another 4 minutes – douse again.  Dinner is served.

Meanwhile, if you’re game for the sweet potatoes, here they are:

sweet potatoes

GRILLED SWEET POTATOES (Adapted from “Charred Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Olive Oil” – bon appétit, July, 2017) 

Timing:                                 1 hour and 6 minutes

Ingredients:                       Feeds 4 – but if you have sweet potato lovers coming over, buy 4 potatoes  (Recipe easily doubles, triples, etc.)

2 sweet potatoes
Olive Oil
2 tablespoons of honey
2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar
Kosher Salt, Ground Black Pepper
Flaky sea salt for finishing


Cook potatoes in a 350 F oven for about one hour – or until just tender.  You can set aside for several hours at this point – you will need to wait at least 10 minutes or so until you can handle the potatoes to proceed.

Bring honey, vinegar and a large pinch of kosher salt to a boil in a small saucepan, reduce heat and simmer about 4 minutes until it begins to thicken.  Keep warm or rewarm before using.


Cut the potatoes in half.

Rub the cut sides with 1 tablespoon or so of olive oil – this is so they don’t stick to the grill – and season with salt.

Grill for 5 minutes – cut-side down – until slightly charred.

Transfer to a platter and brush with the honey glaze, then drizzle some more glaze and a little olive oil over the top.

Season with pepper and flaky sea salt.

Enjoy – if you don’t like sweet potatoes done this way, you must have been traumatized by your family during some long-ago Thanksgiving dinner.

horse doovers

Anchovy Toasts and Melon with toasted Prosciutto and Basil

One thought on “Simple Food, Family and Friends

  1. Pingback: Gigantic Shrimp Dinner | whatwecookedlastweek

Leave a Reply