Big Smokey Cooks!

Grill Master Grant

Grill Master Grant

So, I’ve been a lazy cook lately, mainly repeating old favorites or making simple meals but lucky for me, Grant (also known as Big Smokey when he plays guitar!) has been picking up the slack in our household. I feel very fortunate to have a partner who not only enjoys eating with me but also, he can cook! He came up with these two great new meaty recipes. I wanted to post these right away as he incorporated many of the yummy late summer veggies we’ve been getting here in middle Tennessee right now. Enjoy!

Mediterranean Chicken Wings with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes served with Herbed Mashed Potatoes and Sautéed Green Beans with Mushrooms.

Mediterranean Chicken Wings with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes served alongside Herbed Mashed Potatoes (Chives and Parsley) and Sautéed Green Beans with Shishito Peppers & Mushrooms.

Mediterranean Chicken Wings with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
1 dozen Chicken Drumettes
1/4 cup Olive Oil
Juice of 2 small Lemons
5 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp Sea Salt (more to taste, if necessary)
1/4 tsp ground Black Pepper
2 Tbsp fresh Oregano, chopped
10-15 medium sized Cherry Tomatoes

Mix all ingredients, except chicken and tomatoes, in a large bowl. Add chicken drumettes, mix, and cover. Set in fridge for about an hour. Preheat oven to 400. Place chicken in a large iron skillet or baking dish. Arrange tomatoes between chicken drumettes, evenly spread out. Place in oven and roast for 25-30 minutes. Turn oven to a high broil for approximately 5-7 minutes, until the tops of the chicken and tomatoes have turned a golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Chicken Wings cooking.

Chicken Wings, cooking

Chicken Wings Meal Final-2

We’ve recently come to love shishito peppers. Many local Nashville restaurants have been featuring them on their menus which caught our attention. In addition to a small plant in our own raised bed garden, our lovely CSA, through Double N Urban Farm, has had a beautiful crop of them this year so we’ve enjoyed quite a few this summer and found so many fun ways to incorporate them into our meals. Below, is one of the most recent ways.

Shishito Peppers and Garlic

Shishito Peppers and Garlic

Big Smokey’s Steak with Shishito Peppers
Nicely marbled grass-fed New York or Ribeye steak (we got ours from local, Creek Bend Farm)
Rub generously with sea salt, pepper, garlic powder, chili powder. Set aside for 30-45 minutes at room temperature. Prep your grill. (You can cook them indoors, stove top, by using a cast iron skillet on medium high heat if unable to use an outdoor grill.)

Preheat oven to 400.

20-25 Shishito Peppers, destemmed
4-5 Garlic Cloves, sliced
2 Tbsp Butter
3 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tbsp Honey
Salt and pepper to season

Shishito Garlic Cooking

Pre-heat roasting pan and add butter, peppers, garlic, and seasonings. Roast for approximately 20 minutes until peppers start to brown. Turn and shake pan occasionally. Do this while steak is grilling. When the steak is done to your liking, pull the steak off the grill to rest. Add cider vinegar and honey to peppers, mix well, and roast for a few more minutes. Slice steak across the grain and arrange on a serving platter. Mix the steak juices with the peppers and sprinkle over sliced steak.

Steak with Shishito Peppers

Steak with Shishito Peppers served on a bed of sautéed kale.

Wine Pairing: Serve with a nice Rioja or Argentinian Malbec.

And here’s a salad I came up with to serve alongside the steak.

Steak Meal Final

Fennel & Grapefruit Salad
1 Grapefruit, peeled and cut into sections
½ Fennel Bulb, cut into slivers
¼ cup Fennel Fronds, chopped
5 Romaine Leaves, chopped
¼ cup Roasted Pistachios
1 small chunk of Feta, crumbled
Drizzle of Balsamic Vinegar
Sea Salt

Mix all ingredients together and toss. Add a pinch of salt and drizzle with vinegar.

Fennel Grapefruit Salad

Fennel and Grapefruit Salad

And, since these are mostly Grant’s recipes, I must include a new favorite bluegrass album that has been one of Grant’s favorite albums of the summer- Hot Rize’s 2014 release, “When I’m Free.” Formed in the late 1970’s, Hot Rize got it’s name from the leavening ingredient found in Martha White flour, a common sponsor of the old country shows way back in the day. We were lucky to have the opportunity to see Hot Rize back in July at the Ryman Auditorium for their special Thursday night Bluegrass Jam series. These talented A-list performers (individually and together as a band) put on quite a show.

Hot Rize, Ryman Auditorium. July, 2015.

Hot Rize, Ryman Auditorium. July, 2015.

Be sure to check out this album, if you haven’t. It’s a good one!


Turn, Turn, Turn…

As with all natural disasters, the Great Nashville Flood seemed to bring the community together to help one another out. What an amazing city of good souls Nashville is. As far as the music goes, there was a real sense that the “show must go on” as exemplified by the Grand Ole Opry who temporarily lost its Opry House but didn’t miss a single show. Vince Gill helped organize a telethon at our local news station in which he played with many of country music’s biggest stars (some who also suffered loss in the flood) while other top stars answered phones and took pledges and raised well over a million dollars in one night. Since then, there have been many benefits every week. We had our own benefit over in East Nashville at the 5 Spot last week, organized by the lovely Traci Thomas with proceeds to benefit MusiCares. American Songwriter wrote a lovely little article about it here. It was a great night of music and they raised $3000. On the bill was- Joshua Black Wilkins with Amanda Shires, Josh Hedley, Derek Hoke, Caitlin Rose, and Justin Townes Earle.

The first ever East Nashville Arts Fest last weekend brought many of our Chicago buddies to town! It was a super fun weekend full of good art- new paintings by Bryan Cunningham, our friend Dolan Geiman, and tons of hand-made goodies added to our wish list (jewelry by Nancy Deal, leather bag and guitar strap by Becky Quigley, a new skirt by Beeline A-Line skirts made by Meg Guiffrida, and awesome printed shirts by Mary Ink.). We went to a vintage clothing sale at Fanny’s House of Music, the Ton Up vintage motorcycle show put on by the Road Mangler himself, Dim Sum with our friends Buddy & Adrienne at Lucky Bamboo (that’s right- Nashville finally has Dim Sum!), and enjoyed good food shared with friends all weekend!

Dolan and Ali Marie, who were staying with us, brought us home a big bag of veggies from the Turnip Truck. We already had the menu for the night planned out- Big Smokey’s amazing bbq smoked chicken, a big salad, sweet onion rice, and apple pie.

But, later in the week we made this Thai red curry dish using the big bag of veggies they brought us… Thank you Dolan & Ali Marie!

And, new summer cocktail idea:

And then- MORE MUSIC! Grant won tickets from WSM (one of the greatest radio stations in the world) to see Roger McGuinn at the Belcourt Theater. We had seen him once before a year or so ago, in the round, with Guy Clark and the Toad the Wet Sprocket guy. This solo show, however, was amazing. He simultaneously demonstrated the history of music and his own personal musical history. He had his Rickenbacker, his special edition Martin 7 string guitar, an acoustic 12 string guitar, and a banjo. He played all the classics and the early songs that inspired his early musical career. He put on one great show musically and visually, I really enjoyed watching the jingle jangle tapping of his cowboy boots. They were very animated. And, it is unbelievable that he is 68 years old as he looks about 50 and his voice is very strong (yet flowery as always). Such an inspiring show! Thank you Roger McGuinn!!!

The sign on the door of the Belcourt stated that I was only allowed to take non-flash photos from my seat and because Grant had an afternoon gig and we got there just as the show started, we were in the back of the theater. Anyway,  you can see his instrument set-up here…

Grant ended his musical week playing two gigs with Jon Byrd on Saturday. I have confessed my love of Derek Hoke‘s music on this here blog before but I have not yet had the opportunity to share my love of Jon Byrd’s music. If you haven’t heard of him, I just don’t know what you are waiting for. He is amazing! Check his music out now! Do it!

Pictured here are Jon Byrd with the awesome and amazing Grant “Big Smokey” Johnson in the shadows on the left and with the super talented Eric Brace on the right.

Next week- I look forward to reporting on the opening of our friend’s new River Cafe in Normandy, TN and a very exciting show at the Ryman Auditorium, one of my very favorite places in the whole wide world!!! Good food and country music- all of the time!