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A cocktail barbecue: Fun and tasty sophisticated hootenanny

The John Daly gives lemonade a vodka kick.

SCOTT KEELER | Times

The John Daly gives lemonade a vodka kick.

A barbecue cocktail party.

It may sound incongruous, but if both food and drink pack a wallop of flavor, down-home good cookin' and sophisticated spirits are a winning combination.

Set the backdrop for the party by draping twinkling lights over the trees and tuning in to a Southern rock music channel.

Then serve picnic food with strong drinks in those oh-so-trendy mason jar glasses.

Consider the John Daly — the spiked version of the non-alcoholic Arnold Palmer — that is named after the golfer known for his partying ways. The Arnold Palmer is a mix of lemonade and iced tea favored in country clubs. The John Daly is the same thing — with a shot or two or three of vodka mixed in. (Daly actually started his own line of the cocktails that bear his name after, he said, he got tired of seeing it offered on menus all over the world.)

Another Southern classic that can be made as easily by the pitcher as by the glass — read: good party drink — is the mint julep. Though it is universally associated with the Kentucky Derby, it's a refreshing summer cocktail with its sweet mix of mint and bourbon in a chilled glass.

Moonshine-gone-legit is trendy these days, with distillers large and small offering up their own variety of unaged white whiskeys. Because the taste is often that of a less-distilled vodka, it turns a vodka martini into a moon-tini with ease.

The rise in the production of moonshine is a result of the rise in small craft whiskey distilleries. These new distillers sell this un-aged product while waiting for their first barrel-aged products to be ready. It can be bottled and sold immediately after being distilled without additional storage and aging expenses.

Menu IDEAS

This is a cocktail party, not a full-on barbecue, so the menu is finger food, but not far removed from the church picnic.

■ Spiced Nuts

■ Barbecue Deviled Eggs

■ Pulled Pork Sliders

■ Grilled Vegetable Kebabs

■ Blushing Brownies: Dress up a package of store-bought brownies with a small dollop of whipped cream and top with a plump raspberry or a slice of strawberry and a sprig of mint.

>>EASY

Mint Julep

2 1/2 cups bourbon, such as Maker's Mark

Minted sugar syrup

Crushed ice

Fresh mint leaves

For the minted sugar syrup:

3 cups sugar

3 cups water

Large handful of mint leaves

To make the syrup, boil the sugar, water and mint leaves until the sugar melts. Let the mixture stand several hours or overnight. Strain sugar syrup into a container and set aside.

In a pretty pitcher, mix 2 ½ cups of minted syrup with 2 ½ cups of bourbon and chill. When ready to serve, pour over crushed ice and garnish with fresh mint leaves.

Makes about 8 drinks.

Source: Tampa Bay Times

>>EASY

John Daly

1 1/2 ounces Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka

1 1/2 ounces lemonade

Mix the vodka and lemonade and pour over ice in a tall glass, then garnish with a slice of lemon.

Makes 1 drink.

Source: Firefly Distillery

>>EASY

Moonshine Martini

1 1/2 ounces moonshine

Splash of brine from olive jar

Splash of vermouth

Pitted olives on skewer

Shake moonshine, olive juice and vermouth together with several ice cubes in a shaker. Strain into a cocktail glass, then garnish with an olive and serve.

Makes 1 drink.

Source: Devil John Moonshine

>>Easy

Spiced Nuts

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

4 cups unsalted mixed nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and almonds

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon salt

Mix spices and reserve.

Heat the nuts in a dry skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to toast, about 4 minutes. Add the butter and cook, stirring, until the nuts begin to darken, about 1 minute. Add the spices, the brown sugar, 1 tablespoon water and the salt and cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens and the nuts are glazed, about 5 minutes.

Remove the nuts from the heat and transfer to a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, separating them with a fork. Let the nuts stand until cooled and until the sugar has hardened, about 10 minutes. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 16 (¼-cup) servings.

Source: Emeril Lagasse

>>MODERATE

Carolina Style Pulled Pork Sliders

Don't let the long list of ingredients scare you. Most of them are in your cupboards. In this recipe, the slow cooker does the work for you.

½ red onion, sliced

½ white onion, sliced

4- to 6-pound Boston butt, or pork loin roast (boneless)

For the first sauce:

½ cup apple cider vinegar

¾ cup ketchup

⅓ cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

For the second sauce:

½ cup apple cider vinegar

½ cup ketchup

2 tablespoons barbecue sauce

1 tablespoon honey

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

For the slaw:

2 cups thinly sliced green cabbage

2 cups thinly sliced red cabbage (may sub broccoli or packaged coleslaw without dressing)

¼ cup mayonnaise plus more for slider buns

2 teaspoons white sugar

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

½ teaspoon salt

For serving:

12 slider buns

Place onion slices in the bottom of your slow cooker. Place pork roast on top of onions. Whisk together ingredients for first sauce. Pour first sauce over roast. Cover and cook on low 8 hours or on high 4 hours.

Whisk together all ingredients for second sauce. A half-hour before serving, remove pork from slow cooker and shred with two forks. Drain juices and onions from slow cooker. Return shredded pork to slow cooker. Pour second sauce over pork and stir to combine. Cover and cook 30 minutes longer.

Prepare the slaw by tossing sliced cabbage with mayonnaise, white sugar, cayenne pepper and salt. Chill until ready to serve. Slice slider buns in half crosswise. To prepare sliders, spread mayonnaise onto one half of each slider bun. Top with ¼ cup shredded pork and then the slaw.

Makes 12 sliders.

Source: adapted from Spicy Southern Kitchen

>>EASY

Summer Vegetable Kebabs

Because vegetable grilling times vary, it's best to keep the same vegetable on each skewer.

12-inch wooden skewers

¼ cup dry white wine

¼ cup honey

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 ½ teaspoons pepper

1 teaspoon salt

16 cups assorted cut vegetables

Soak skewers in water 1 hour.

Whisk together wine and next six ingredients until well blended. Reserve ¼ cup and then combine the remaining mixture and vegetables in a large bowl. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Remove vegetables from marinade, discarding marinade.

Preheat grill to 375 degrees (medium-high). Thread vegetables onto skewers, and grill according to times below.

Transfer skewers to a platter. Remove vegetables from skewers, if desired. Serve with reserved ¼ cup white wine mixture.

Cooking times

Cut vegetables thick so they will stay on skewers as they cook. Thread one type of vegetable onto each skewer, threading so the cut sides lie flat on the cooking grate to ensure even cooking. Grill covered with grill lid. Your goal is to achieve tender, slightly charred vegetables.

Zucchini and squash: 7 to 10 minutes on each side

Okra: 6 to 8 minutes on each side

Eggplant: 5 to 6 minutes on each side or until tender

Bell peppers: 4 to 5 minutes on each side

Mushrooms: 3 to 5 minutes on each side or until tender

Onions: 3 or 4 minutes on each side or until lightly charred

Cherry tomatoes (thread onto double skewers): 1 to 3 minutes on each side or until skins begin to split

Source: Southern Living

>>EASY

Barbecue Deviled Eggs

12 large eggs

¼ cup mayonnaise

cup finely chopped smoked pork (see note)

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

teaspoon hot sauce

Paprika for garnish

Place eggs in a single layer in a large saucepan; add water to a depth of 3 inches. Bring to a boil; cover, remove from heat, and let stand 15 minutes.

Drain and fill pan with cold water and ice. Tap each egg firmly on the counter until cracks form all over the shell. Peel under cold running water.

Cut eggs in half lengthwise, and carefully remove yolks. Mash yolks with mayonnaise. Stir in pork and next four ingredients; blend well.

Spoon yolk mixture evenly into egg white halves. Garnish, if desired.

Note: If you want to omit the pork, use a drop or two of liquid smoke to get the barbecue flavor.

Makes 24 deviled eggs.

Source: Southern Living

A cocktail barbecue: Fun and tasty sophisticated hootenanny 06/02/14 [Last modified: Monday, June 2, 2014 5:42pm]

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