A warm summer breeze, dusk settling into night, the last embers of a roaring a fire, laughter and conversation, and bellies full of simple food—that’s the essence of Holly Peterson’s new cookbook, which is just as much about family and friends as it is about grilling and smoking food.
Smoke and Fire: Recipes and Menus for Entertaining Outdoors published by Assouline is a reflection of how our culture has rejected the pomp and formality after 15 years of suffering—through the 9/11 attacks, the Great Recession and now rising inequality, says Peterson, a journalist and New York Times best-selling author.
“Being showy or extravagant to impress people is seen now as so tacky, so passé, so Bravo housewife,” says Peterson. “That’s mixed up with the warp and warped speed at which we live our lives, through email and the internet. It’s so hard for us to relax without phones and with our family and friends.”
Enter Smoke and Fire, a book that Peterson hopes will help readers create intimate, outdoor settings for family and friends to make memories together while also enjoying delicious, but unpretentious food.
To pull together the menus, she called on her chef friends and acquaintances, each with a distinct style of cooking, from pizza chefs to lobster bake aficionados. They tested each menu in a whirlwind of gatherings last August. The result is a collection of regionally diverse recipes that capture many traditional family events such as crab boils, pizza parties, July 4 barbeques and Mexican night with unique twists. The recipes will appeal to both grill masters and novices alike.
Aside from the main entrees, the menus include recipes for cocktails and desserts—one each from Peterson herself. The book, ripe with show-stopping pictures, also offers practical advice for cooking with fire—from flavoring to equipment—along with safety tips. Even if you don't yet have your dream house with a great back yard, there's still a good reason to buy the book: All proceeds go to Feeding America.
The Fiscal Times has gathered a few of Holly's favorite recipes from Smoke and Fire that you can include in your summer gathering. Bon appetit!
Farm Stand Pizza (Holly’s favorite) on the Grill**
Serves 1 to 2
2 ears of corn
½ bunch of asparagus
½ red onion, sliced
1 cup cremini mushrooms or 1 large Portabella
1 (9-oz) ball of pizza dough (baseball size)*
½ cup tomato sauce*
½ cup sliced or cubed mozzarella cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
*Smoke and Fire provides its own recipes for these ingredients.
1. Grill corn, asparagus, red onions and mushrooms to taste. Cut the corn kernels off the cob. Slice the mushrooms.
2. To cook pizza directly on a grill, preheat to medium and generously oil grill. Place a round of prepared, plain, untopped quick-and-easy dough on a well-oiled sheet pan. Slide the dough from pan directly onto grill. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Brush the top with olive oil and flip the pizza onto the other side. Remove pizza from the grill to a cool pan. Add tomato sauce, cheese and toppings, and slide pizza back onto grill. Cook until cheese bubbles, 2 to 3 more minutes.
4. If using a pizza stone, place it directly on the grill and cover to preheat, 10 minutes. Then slide precooked crust with toppings onto the stone. Cook until cheese begins to bubble.
**Smoke and Fire also provides pizza-cooking instructions for an outdoor pizza oven and an indoor oven.
Bacon-Wrapped Radicchio and Pear
4 heads radicchio
2 ripe Bose pears
1 lb bacon
¼ cup sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup honey
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1. Preheat grill or outdoor oven to medium, or indoor oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Cut each radicchio into 4 wedges, keeping the stems intact. Slice pears into wedges and remove seeds.
3. Place one wedge of pear on top of each wedge of radicchio and wrap together with bacon; place in a cast-iron pan (no bacon on the grill!).
4. Sprinkle with sugar, salt, pepper and olive oil.
5. Grill or bake until bacon is crispy and radicchio is charred.
6. Remove and drizzle with honey and balsamic vinegar to serve.
Grilled Thai Honey Sriracha Wings
Serves 10 to 12
½ cup sriracha sauce
½ cup honey
2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp sea salt
1/3 cup chopped cilantro, plus 1 bunch for garnish
5 lbs chicken wings
2 Tbsp sesame seeds, for garnish
1. Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Reserve half of the marinade to use later on; do not mix raw chicken marinade with anything you use later on.
2. Add the chicken wings to half of the marinade. Store in fridge for 2 to 3 hours.
3. Preheat the grill. Shake the excess sauce off the wings (discarding marinade) and grill, 8 to 10 minutes, turning halfway through, to a crispy brown finish.
4. Place the chicken wings on a serving platter, and pour the remaining half of the marinade on top. Garnish with fresh cilantro and sesame seeds, and serve.
S’Mores with Fresh Cherries (Holly’s own recipe)
1 cup pitted extra-ripe cherries
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small bag jumbo marshmallows
12 graham crackers
6 bars semisweet chocolate, broken into 12 squares
1. Make the compote: Simmer ingredients over medium heat until cherries look like molten lava, about 20 minutes. Let rest while you assemble the s’mores.
2. Make the s’mores: Blister marshmallows over an open flame and place on top of each graham cracker and a square of chocolate. Smother with hot compote. Best eaten on a plate.
Serves 8 to 10
1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1 cup simple syrup*
2 cups white rum
16 oz fresh blackberries
1 full handful fresh mint
12 oz club soda
1 lime, thinly sliced, for garnish
*Smoke and Fire provides its own recipes for this ingredient.
1. Combine lime juice, simple syrup, and rum in a large pitcher.
2. Coarsely chop half the blackberries and mint. Place the mixture inside pitcher and stir.
3. Serve over ice and top off with a shot of club soda.
4. Garnish with the remaining blackberries and mint, plus the sliced lime.
Disclosure: The Fiscal Times is owned and funded by Holly Peterson’s father, Pete G. Peterson.