Dates of Doom
I receive more requests for these little confections than anything else I've ever cooked. Remove the pits from 1 pound medjool dates. Fill each date with a thumb-size ball of fresh chorizo or linguiça sausage, wrap the package in a slice of bacon and stab the whole thing with a toothpick. Grill over a very hot fire for about five minutes.
Where to get it: For the best quality, pick up the fixin's at Barbur World Foods (9845 SW Barbur Blvd.); if you're in a hurry, you can find all the ingredients at Trader Joe's.
Baby Octopus Skewers
These adorable critters are guaranteed to freak out a third of your friends. Marinate 1 pound of baby octopuses (make sure you get the kind that have already had their guts and beaks removed) overnight in a blend of 1 cup vegetable oil, 4 tablespoons fish sauce, two cloves of garlic, minced, and two minced Thai bird chiles or other small, hot pepper. Thread the creatures, whole, onto bamboo skewers and grill, turning frequently, until they turn white. Garnish with fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro. Eat them whole.
Where to get it: Buy the octopus at ABC Seafood (6509 SE Powell Blvd.) and everything else down the street at An Dong Market (5441 SE Powell Blvd.).
A vegan recommendation from Aaron Adams, chef and owner of Portobello Vegan Trattoria (1125 SE Division St.). Remove the lower stem and leaves from a head of cauliflower, leaving the core intact. Slice the head into half-inch-thick slabs, and marinate in olive oil, lemon juice, coriander, cumin, salt and pepper. Grill the slices on a cool section of the grill until cooked through, then briefly move to a hotter spot to sear.
Crunchy fat is the most wonderful thing in the world. Get your fill by cutting 2 pounds of fresh pork belly into 3-inch squares. Marinate overnight in a blend of one diced sweet onion, two sliced green onions, three diced cloves of garlic, one diced red chile, two tablespoons each of sugar, olive oil and soy sauce, and one tablespoon each of fish sauce, sesame oil and white wine. Brush the grill with oil and grill the cubes of belly, covered, for about five minutes on each side, until browned and crispy all over.
Where to get it: Buy the pork belly from Tails and Trotters (tailsandtrotters.com).
The easiest, most delicious summer dessert. Halve fresh peaches, brush halves with melted butter and cook three to four minutes per side. Sprinkle finished peaches with sea salt and serve with vanilla ice cream. For a more savory preparation, Portobello chef Aaron Adams recommends marinating the halved peaches in olive oil with rosemary, lavender and "a teeny bit" of red onion and garlic, plus salt and pepper, then grilling them cut-side down and serving with grilled corn.
Where to get it: From mid-July to late August, pick your own at Sauvie Island Farms (19818 NW Sauvie Island Road).
Tired of the same old mass-produced lager and sugary punch? I am. So I asked Kelley Swenson, the bar manager at Ten 01 restaurant, to suggest some other drinks for this summer's barbecues. Here's what he had to say.
What better way to celebrate our independence from the British than by drinking one of their creations on our national holiday? "I make mine equal parts pilsner/lager beer and Sprite with a good squeeze of fresh lemon juice," Swenson says. "If you really want to stick it to the Brits you could serve this on ice and garnish it with an American flag toothpick."
• 6 ounces American lager
• 6 ounces Sprite
• 1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
"In many parts of Mexico Palomas are more popular than margaritas—basically a strong shot of tequila topped with a grapefruit soda and salt," Swenson says. "I make mine only slightly classier by mixing a good tequila with a touch of fresh lemon and Izze grapefruit soda." Build this one on ice, adding the ingredients in order. If you really love salt, rim your glass with it.
• 1 1/2 ounces 100 percent agave tequila (Swenson suggests El Jimador)
• Dash of fresh lemon juice
• Top with grapefruit soda (Izze or Squirt)
• Pinch of kosher salt
BONUS: Jeffrey Morgenthaler's Cumberland Press Punch
Jeffrey Morgenthaler, bar manager at Clyde Common, sent us this recipe too late for press--but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try it out! Take it away, Jeffrey:
"90 oz bourbon
45 oz lemon juice
60 oz ginger syrup
15 St. Elizabeth's Allspice Dram
150 oz soda water
Mix ingredients together in a punch bowl, chill with large blocks of ice and serve!"