0517 Monday Night Cookout

Despite the beautiful weather all weekend, today was grim and rainy – perfect for a cookout, right?  Maybe not, but Garin’s leaving town either way, so we all persevered to send him off to Madison and the Underground Food Collective in style.  Matt and Shannon threw a great party under the merciful protection of a giant tent, and the rain didn’t stop intrepid souls from toasting marshmallows around a surprisingly vigorous firepit.  We brought my current favorite instant side dish – steamed or grilled asparagus with a mustard vinaigrette – along with assorted odd sausages, buns, and other remnants from our party over the weekend.  It was an evening of friends, of elaborate snacking, and of an amazing pig cake made by Olivia and Heather.    I’d show you a photo, but instead I’ll just have to tell you that it might have involved caramel, praline crunch, and maple.  And me licking my fingers a lot.

Oh, and because I’ve been asked a couple of times, here’s the rough formula for my vinaigrette.  All of these amounts are approximate, and are negotiable based on what tastes good to you.

1 part whole grain mustard
2 parts white wine vinegar OR apple cider vinegar OR regular old vinegar (in order of preference)
a couple of pinches of kosher salt (tonight I used lavender salt)
fresh ground pepper

Shake or whisk it all up and taste it.  If it’s too tart or astringent, add a little sugar.  If you want more bite, add a very wee bit of crushed red pepper.  If you have fresh herbs, a fine chiffonade of basil or thyme or both can be quite nice.

If you’re dressing steamed or grilled veggies, use 1 tablespoon mustard to 2 tablespoons vinegar to start.  You really won’t need THAT much dressing.  Double it for a large salad.  This dressing will keep well in the fridge for at least a few days, and is just as good on cold things as on warm.

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