Tomato and Cucumber Summer Salad with Grilled Corn

RecipeA perfect July 4th cookout deserves a perfect summery salad. Fresh produce flavors meld with lemony balsamic vinaigrette and mellow feta cheese. Make the salad in advance and keep it in the refrigerator while grill action is taking place.


3 tablespoons golden balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil
2 large cucumbers, halved lengthwise and then sliced 1/2 inch thick
2 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes, cut up
1 small Vidalia onion, thinly-sliced
1 pound raw sheep’s milk feta cheese, cubed
3 ears fresh corn, shucked, leaving the stalk intact
Kosher salt
Coarse white pepper
Prepare the grill for direct grilling over medium heat.Combine the golden balsamic, lemon juice and 6 tablespoons olive oil in a 5-quart mixing bowl. Whisk until thickened. Add the cucumbers, tomatoes, onion and feta. Gently fold together, being careful not to bruise the tomatoes. Set the bowl aside at room temperature for the time being.


Lightly brush the corn with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Grill over direct heat, turning as soon as each side is marked by the heat. Remove from the grill and let cool until you can comfortably hold onto the stalk ends. Cut the corn from the cobs and add to the bowl. Gently fold together and season to taste with salt and pepper. A generous amount of salt will likely be needed. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours before serving.

Liberty Burgers

The name is not just about the holiday. These burgers were inspired by the classic cheese steak sandwiches of Philadelphia – home of the Liberty Bell. Start with Choice ground beef and top with provolone cheese and grilled peppers and onions. Served on a toasted Italian roll, these burgers will put everyone in a good mood for the evening fireworks.

the insides of the rolls

Despite the poblano and banana peppers, these burgers are very mild. If, however, you are concerned about the heat, you can substitute a green bell pepper for the poblano.
Servings: 8

Course: Entrees

4 pounds Choice ground round, 85% lean, formed into 8 hamburger patties
Extra virgin olive oil
Finely-ground sea salt
8 Italian rolls, sized appropriately for the burgers, split
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 poblano pepper, thinly sliced
1 banana pepper, thinly sliced
1 Vidalia onion, thinly sliced
8 slices provolone cheese
Prepare the grill for direct grilling with two temperature zones; one medium-low and one medium-high. Preheat a 12-inch cast iron skillet over the hottest part of the fire.Brush the hamburger patties all over with olive oil and liberally season with sea salt.


Lightly brush with olive oil and lightly season with sea salt.

Toss the peppers and onion with about 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Grill the burgers over the hot zone of the fire, turning once, about 4 minutes per side. Toast the rolls over the cooler zone of the fire during the second half of the burger cooking. Transfer the cooked burgers to a platter, top each with a slice of cheese, and cover with foil to rest and to melt the cheese. Remove the toasted rolls from the fire and reserve. Cook the peppers and onions in the hot skillet, tossing frequently until nicely browned, about five minutes. Top each burger with peppers and onions, transfer to the rolls and serve.

Smoky Three Cheese Macaroni

This is not kids’ macaroni and cheese. The mahogany-colored top says it all — this is a smoky and flavorful side dish for grown-ups. You can cook it before starting on the BURGER. If kept covered with foil and wrapped in a towel, it will still be warm enough for serving when the burgers are ready. The creative approach to smoking can be applied to almost any baked dish you desire… even on a gas grill.

Servings: 8 to 12
Course: Sides
1 pound dry Conchiglie pasta, cooked (you can use elbow macaroni, but I like the bigger Conchiglie)
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs
16 ounces aged gouda cheese, shredded (I like a 9 month old Robusto for this recipe)
4 ounces Maytag blue cheese, crumbled
8 ounces medium-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups wood chips (I like apple for this recipe)
You will also need two aluminum turkey roasting pans and a 3-quart earthenware or cast iron casserole dish
Prepare the grill for indirect grilling at 400°F.Cook the pasta to al dente in salted water. Drain, rinse under cold water to stop cooking and drain again.Baked macaroni and cheese uses a classic béchamel sauce as its base. For this recipe, we are omitting the bay leaf and garlic, but sticking pretty close to this tradition. While the water for the pasta is coming to a boil, begin by making a light roux. Melt the butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the flour and stir constantly with a whisk until the color is golden brown, about 5 minutes. At this point, the flour is cooked and the starchy flavor is gone. Whisk in the milk and sour cream to thoroughly combine and simmer for 5 minutes.Beat the eggs in a small bowl (about the size of a cereal bowl). Temper the egg by adding a couple of ounces of the milk mixture to the egg bowl and stirring. Repeat several times to slowly raise the temperature of the eggs. Add the tempered eggs to the milk mixture along with the gouda, blue cheese and 4 ounces of the cheddar. Stir until melted in.Transfer the drained past to a 3-quart casserole dish. Pour in the cheese sauce. Top with the remaining cheddar cheese.


To create the smoking chamber, place one turkey roasting pan on the grill grate directly over the fire. Place the wood chips around the perimeter of the inside of the roaster. Close the hood and let this get started smoking for about 5 minutes. Place the casserole dish inside the aluminum roaster with the wood chips. Place the second aluminum roasting pan upside down on top as a lid, trapping in the smoke. Close the grill hood and cook for 5 to 10 minutes with the contraption still in the direct grilling zone (making sure the wood chips only smoke and do not ignite). Move the smoking contraption to the indirect zone and continue cooking for a total cooking time of 30 to 40 minutes. The top of the dish should be a deep brown color from the smoke, and the sauce should be bubbling when it is heated through. Remove the casserole dish from the roasting pans, cover tightly with foil, and wrap with towels until serving time. It should stay warm for at least 45 minutes.