“Be Inspired” Seasonally by Rita Calvert

I hope everyone enjoys the upcoming Father’s Day weekend and can spend a special time with their dad or remembrance of them. Looking for an event to "stage" to make dad feel special? Get inspired with a grill party straight from the heart and right off the fire. These recipes work beautifully outside and complement that Luau pig you just might be burying in the pit. No really, a hog in the pit is big big effort, so instead we suggest the "easy to master" pork tenderloin...especially after being brined in a full-flavored beer. The rest of the menu translates to Hawaiian flare especially with outdoor decor from Homestead Gardens.

BTW: I'll be grilling this very pork tenderloin at Homestead Gardens, Davidsonville this Saturday @ 2:00. I'm a brining advocate so come learn and sample!


Why Brine?

Brining was originally used for food preservation in the pre-refrigeration era. However, there are two solid reasons why you should brine your meat here and now: flavor and texture. Brining infuses the meat with savory, delectable' flavors, all while tenderizing it to butter-soft texture. 

Culinary expert and general food science nerd Harold McGee explains: "This is one time when we find our old nemesis 'water retention' actually playing a beneficial role!"

While you brine, your meat is not only gaining liquid; it's also gaining salt, and the higher salt concentration will begin to break down its proteins making it extremely tender.

 Beer Brined Grilled Pork Tenderloin 

  •  2 cups water
  • 1 large bay leaf, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light molasses
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 2 cups dark beer
  • 1  1/2-2 pounds pork tenderloin
  • Maple Sage Mustard, add fresh chopped sage, maple syrup to Dijon mustard

Bring the 2 cups water to a boil; add bay leaf,  salt, sugar, and molasses and boil for 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature and then stir in ice and beer. Place pork tenderloin in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour beer brine over pork to cover completely and seal bag. Refrigerate overnight, turning bag occasionally.

Heat the grill to medium-high.

Remove pork from beer brine; pat dry. Grill pork until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 145°F to 150°F, turning as each side becomes golden. Transfer to a platter; cover with foil, and let stand 5 minutes.

IMG_8826 For Grilled Pineapple: Have the pineapple rings patted very dry; sprinkle with brown sugar & let sit for a few minutes. Place sugar side down on medium-hot grill. Flip when grills marks are golden. Serve with thinly sliced pork. 


Grilled Shrimp with Cool Cucumber Salad

Serves 6-8

  • 5 Kirby cucumbers, unpeeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 large Muau onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
  • 6 dashes Tabasco sauce, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3/4 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt

 Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high. 

 In a fine-mesh strainer, toss the cucumbers and onions with 1 teaspoon of the salt and drain over a bowl for 15 minutes. In a small bowl, dissolve the sugar in the vinegar.

 In a medium bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt, the lemon zest, 1 teaspoon of the dill, the Tabasco sauce and the olive oil. Toss the shrimp in the seasoned oil and set aside.

 Squeeze the drained cucumbers to release extra water, then place in a medium bowl and toss with the sweetened vinegar. Mix in the yogurt and the remaining 1/4 cup of dill and refrigerate.

 Grill the shrimp until cooked through, about 3 minutes on each side. Serve the shrimp warm or at room temperature on top of the cold cucumber salad. Garnish with additional dill.


Red Skin Potato Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette 

  • 3 pounds small red skin potatoes, peeled
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 stalks celery, minced
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup tightly packed fresh parsley, chopped


  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons grainy or regular Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

 Put the potatoes in a big pot with enough water to cover by 1-inch. Season with salt and bring the water to a boil. Cook just until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. 

 While the potatoes cook, make the vinaigrette by mixing the vinegar, lemon juice and mustard together. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil.

 Drain the potatoes and return them to the uncovered pot off the heat. Let them sit until almost room temperature. Pour off excess water.

 When cool, cut the potatoes into 1-inch pieces, add them to a serving bowl. Add the celery and onion, salt and pepper, dill and then pour over a portion of the vinaigrette. Toss well and add more vinaigrette as needed as it will be absorbed as the potatoes cool.

 Keep covered at room temperature if serving immediately. Do refrigerate if not using within one hour.


 Dessert Corn Cakes with Blueberries and Strawberries

Serves 6

Corn is so popular is works magnificently for an unusual dessert and you start with a corn muffin mix you know is tasty, like famous the one at Trader Joe’s. I baked my corn cakes in small tart pans with removable bottoms so they are large enough that one cake serves 2.

  • Cooking spray, for the pan
  • 1 8.5-ounce package corn muffin mix
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons strawberry preserves
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • Small fresh strawberries, for garnish
  • Red currants for garnish, if available

 Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 

 Lightly coat a 6-cup muffin pan or 3 small tart pans with cooking spray. Prepare the corn muffin batter as the label directs, then stir in the flour, lemon zest and vanilla.

 Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups or small tart pans. Bake until the edges are set and the centers are soft but not wet, 12 to 17 minutes. Meanwhile, toss the strawberries and strawberry preserves in a bowl and set aside.

  Remove the corn cakes from the oven. Gently press the back of a teaspoon into the center of each to make an small indentation about one-third of the way into the cake to hold the topping. Let the cakes cool in the pan on a rack, 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool completely. 

 Beat the cream and confectioners' sugar with a mixer until soft peaks form. 

Place a large dollop of whipped cream and spoon about 2 teaspoons of the strawberry/blueberry mixture into each indentation, pressing lightly.

 Place more berries and currants on top. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.



Recent Posts

Posts by Category

See all