Say Yes to a Grill Fest on The Fourth of July
The summer holidays are all about family and food.
No matter that they’re on a culinary adventure every day, Charlie and Kathleen Schaffer view holidays as time to share food with friends and family. And even though they’ve been together for 15 years, the couple is always trying to impress each other with their culinary prowess.
They come by this tradition honestly as both Charlie and Kathleen are from families that treated holidays like the Fourth of July as sacred social sharing time.
Kathleen and her four siblings could be found racing from pool-to-picnic table all day long, enjoying grilled hamburgers and produce fresh from their mother’s garden and from neighboring farms in country Pennsylvania. Dishes like fresh corn, soaked in water and then grilled in the husks and garden-ripened tomatoes, simply dressed with basil, pickled red onions and vinaigrette.
“We swam until our eyes burned, were sticky from eating watermelon and eventually peeled off our bathing suits to fall into bed, exhausted from the endless food all day long,” she shares.
Charlie’s roots in the South meant there was always barbecue on the grill and fried chicken on the table, made the Southern way -- “Brined in buttermilk,” he explains.
Now, the menu reflects healthy options and the best fresh produce California has to offer, but one thing is the same -- the grill is the center of attention. It starts with the first course -- a charred romaine salad.
“Charlie takes tender romaine hearts and slathers them with olive oil, garlic, rosemary and oregano and places them cut side down on the grill,” Kathleen explains. “It makes the most delicious salad.”
The Schaffers advocate using the grill for everything. Some of their favorites include grilled cauliflower steaks served with a chimichurri sauce, endive and radicchio grilled to remove the bitterness, even red cabbage, grilled and served with a delicious miso vinaigrette or hemp miso dressing.
The grilling doesn’t stop with dessert. Stone fruit -- plums, peaches and nectarines -- are perfect for the grill.
“Cut them in half, brush them with olive or coconut oil and grill until there’s a nice char,” Charlie explains. “Brush them with a little melted butter and cinnamon sugar. You could serve them with ice cream or macerated cherries or berries as a sauce.”
“It’s heaven,” Kathleen chimes in, “and better than a cobbler, especially with the smoky and sweet combination.”
But it’s the most local of locally sourced produce that takes a starring role at the Schaffer’s home grill fests -- guavas grown in the backyard.
“We have a guava tree that yields about 100 pounds of pink guava each year,” Kathleen says. “We use the fruit to make jams, jellies and the most delicious guava barbecue sauce,”which is served with chicken. “It’s spectacular and we get to enjoy it year-round.”