Labor Day grilling and tailgating

August 28, 2013 

Labor Day will be celebrated Monday, and the holiday that has been around since 1894 is celebrated the first Monday in September each year to honor the economic and social contributions of the worker.

For many people, the holiday also serves as a seasonal marker -- the end of the summer, although many hot days almost certainly lie ahead.

It's also coincides with the beginning of football season and Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans are hopeful that this year just might be a winning season.

Nonetheless Labor Day is a holiday that almost demands a cookout and it is a perfect time to hone your grilling skills for football season's tailgating parties.

The basic rules are quite simple -- buy the best quality ingredients you can afford, take your time and make sure you use the best technique for the recipe (cutting corners often means cutting flavor) and don't forget the presentation.

It really does not take much to go out into the yard or garden and pick a few leaves or a flower or two for decoration. Think also about the dishes you might use; why not serve that salad in a wine glass, or that appetizer in a large spoon?

Here's another suggestion, instead of serving supersized steaks and mounds of potato salad, make it more of a tapas event. A nice selection of things to eat, mostly finger foods would be nice, served in small portions. It is a healthier approach and if

you get the selection right your friends will be most impressed.

SPICED UP SLIDERS WITH FRIED OKRA

1 pound hamburger

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 tablespoons Dale's Seasoning

3 chopped garlic cloves

2 pinches Italian seasoning

4-6 okra cut in 1/2 in sections

1/2 cup corn meal

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 tablespoon Tony Chachere's Seasoning

Gruyere cheese (1 thick slice for each slider)

Pistolettes (1 each slider)

Homemade mayonnaise

Oil for frying

Start the grill if you are grilling outside. Combine the hamburger, onion, Dale's, garlic and Italian seasoning in a mixing bowl and mix well. Form into small patties, making sure to pat the edges in and make a uniform size.

Add oil to a sauce pan or skillet (never fill a pot/pan more than half full for frying) and heat to about 350 degrees.

Combine the corn meal and flour in a bowl and add the Tony's and stir well. In another bowl add the butter milk. Drop the okra in the butter milk, coat well, remove and shake off excess, then add to the meal/flour mixture and coat well again.

Fry until crispy and done, just a minute or two, but make sure not to overcrowd the pan. Drain well on paper towels.

Grill the sliders medium well, but please do not overcook. Place on a sliced pistolette, top with fried okra and them add the cheese. Place back on the grill or under the broiler and toast until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Serve with homemade mayonnaise and to make it a real Southern classic also serve with sweet potato fries.

The Vietnamese use this salad on their version of a po-boy, but it is just as good on a burger, hot dog or as a simple side.

CRUNCHY AND COOL ASIAN SALAD

1 cup julienned carrots

1 cup julienned daikon

1 cup, plus 4 teaspoons sugar

3 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup rice vinegar

1/2 cup warm water

Place the daikon and carrots in a large bowl and sprinkle with 4 teaspoons sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. Toss until well coated and until the carrots and daikon began to soften, it should take about 3 minutes. Rinse in a colander and drain thoroughly. In another large bowl mix 1 cup sugar, vinegar and warm water and stir until the sugar dissolves. Place in a sealed container and store overnight in the refrigerator.

GRILLED LAMB CHOPS WITH YOGURT SAUCE

Yogurt sauce

1 cup yogurt

1 finely chopped clove of garlic

2 tablespoons chopped mint

Chops

4-6 lamb chops

2 chopped cloves of garlic

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

4-5 tablespoons olive oil

Combine the ingredients for the sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Marinate the chops in the garlic, oregano and olive oil for at least 30 minutes. Remove from the marinate, shake off the excess and grill for about 2 minutes on a side. Remove to a serving platter, garnish with sauce and serve hot. If the yogurt sauce does not excite you then make a garlic mayonnaise; Place two egg yolks along with two finely minced garlic cloves in a blender and blend into a paste. Slowly, slowly drizzle in 1 cup of good quality olive oil with the blender on slow. It should start to thicken in about 1 minute.

Serve chilled.

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