My Birthday Party on the Grill Menu
I celebrated a birthday this past weekend. It wasn’t one of those big zero birthdays, but last year, when I did mark one of those, my family and I were still reeling from so many devastating losses in the several months before, that we really didn’t feel much like celebrations.
That, along with the fact that this is probably my last year living in the house I have been blessed to reside in for the past 16 years, prompted me to invite the extended family and a couple of friends over for a little party. This beautiful home, which my parents bought 30 years ago, has a large living/dining area flanked with wall sized glass sliding doors and windows offering gorgeous views of the city of Los Angeles. Although I am know it’s time to move on, the thought of leaving the house is bittersweet. I hope that my move will lead to more wonderful times for me, but this house has been the site of so many special gatherings over the years. And I want to make sure to take advantage of it for whatever get-togethers are possible while I am still here, so gather we did.
I am also fortunate to have a birthday right at the height of summer (although it probably wasn’t too comfortable for my poor Mom to be in her last stages of pregnancy during a steamy New Orleans summer), so menu planning is a fun and easy task. There’s so much great produce available at the farmers’ market, and pretty much all of it can be cooked on the grill, which is exactly what I did.
We started off with a couple of simple hors d’oeuvre, while I finished grilling Caribbean Spiced Rubbed Chicken Breasts served with Mango Salsa, Jerk Sea Bass, Asparagus, Artichokes and Bok Choy. There was also a delicious kale salad my cousin, Adele, brought along – she had a birthday earlier that week, too – and a family favorite recipe of ours, Curried Rice Pilaf. And for dessert, we had Peach Cobbler, and I recreated the Southern Comfort Ice Cream I’d had recently at Borgne Restaurant in New Orleans, as I recently treated myslef to a new fancy ice cream maker. I had to break it in, right?
I’ll miss the house – especially the views, but I’ll always have my family, and cherished memories of the times we’ve spent here.
- 3 large globe artichokes, split in half
- 1 cup spicy olive oil*
- 1/2 teaspoon each of Melissa’s Organic Italian Seasoning, Organic Rainbow **
- 1 small clove of garlic, finely minced
- Additional coarse sea salt for finishing
- Boil the artichoke halves in a large pot of salted water until they are tender. This can take 30-40 minutes. If you are increasing the recipe, you will probably have to do this in batches.
- When they are tender, remove the artichokes and drain them. This step may be done a day ahead, if you like. BTW, after not doing this the first time I made these, I learned it’s best to gently scoop out the fuzzy choke from the artichoke with a small spoon.
- Prepare coals for the grill (I use a chimney, available at most drug stores), until they are glowing hot, then dump the coals inot the bottom of your grill. I also soaked some wood chips in water for about 20 minutes, which I drained and placed over the coals, to add a little smoky flavor.
- Mix the garlic, herbs and pepper into the oil, and thouroughly brush the artichokes with the oil. Grilll until there are char marks on one side, about 6-8 minutes, then turn the artichokes over and grill the other side.
- Pour the extra olive oil over the artichokes, and especially into the little area from which you removed the choke.
I served the artichokes with a bowl of Sauce Ravigote for dipping.
*A big thank you to California Olive Ranch, who sent me a couple bottles of their premium olive oil to sample. For this recipe, I used their Miller’s Blend, which is bold and a bit peppery.
***Thanks also to Melissa’s Fresh Produce for the grinders of various herb, sea salt and pepper blends.