‘America’s Test Kitchen’ co-host Julia Collin Davison shares delicious sides for a memorial day cookout

Morning News

“America’s Test Kitchen” and “Cook’s County” co-host Julia Collin Davison, who’s also the executive editorial director of “America’s Test Kitchen,” joined us live with creative and delicious side ideas for your Memorial Day cookout. For more information on these recipes featured in “The Complete Summer Cookbook – Beat the Heat with 500 Recipes that Will Make the Most of Summer Bounty,” visit AmercasTestKitchen.com. The book is also available on Amazon.

You can also find the recipes below. 

Why This Recipe Works:
From its humble—and ancient—roots in Spain, sangria has grown to become a party drink mainstay around the world. Many people think of sangria as a random collection of fruit chunks in overly sweetened wine. To create a robust, winey sangria with pure flavor, we experimented with untold varieties of fruit and eventually concluded that simpler is better. With red wine, we preferred the straightforward tang of citrus in the form of oranges and lemons, discovering that the zest and pith, as well as the fruit itself, made an important contribution to flavor. Some orange liqueur complemented and deepened the citrus flavor of the fruit. With white wine, we preferred the crisp taste of apples and pears, highlighted with brandy instead of orange liqueur. For another twist uniquely suited for summertime, rosé seemed like a natural pairing with mixed berries; for our liqueur, we wanted something more floral and delicate and chose elderflower. The longer sangria rests before serving, the smoother and mellower it will taste. Give it an absolute minimum of 2 hours and up to 8 hours, if possible.

Serves 12
· 2 (750-ml) bottles of fruity red wine, such as Merlot
· 4 ounces orange liqueur
· 4 ounces Simple Syrup
· 3 oranges (2 sliced thin, 1 juiced to yield 4 ounces)
· 2 lemons, sliced thin

1. Combine all ingredients in serving pitcher or large container. Cover and refrigerate until flavors meld and mixture is well chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours.
2. Stir sangria to recombine, then serve chilled in chilled wineglasses half-filled with ice, garnishing individual portions with macerated fruit.

Peach Caprese Salad
Why This Recipe Works:
Caprese salad is traditionally made with slices of tomatoes and mozzarella and fresh basil with a simple dressing of extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. To give this salad a new twist, we swapped in a different juicy summer fruit: ripe fresh peaches. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to find both the peaches and fresh mozzarella at the farmers’ market. A lemony dressing highlighted the best flavors in both the peaches and the creamy cheese. Tossing the peach slices with the dressing before assembling the salad ensured that the peaches were deeply seasoned. For the best results, use the ripest in-season peaches you can find. We like using 4-ounce balls of fresh mozzarella in this recipe.

Serves 6
· 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
· 1½ tablespoons lemon juice
· ¼ teaspoon table salt
· ⅛ teaspoon pepper
· 1 pound ripe peaches, quartered and pitted, each quarter cut into 4 slices
· 12 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, halved and sliced ¼ inch thick
· 6 large fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

1. Whisk oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper together in large bowl. Add peaches and gently toss to coat.
2. Shingle peaches and mozzarella on serving platter. Drizzle any remaining dressing from bowl over top. Sprinkle with basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

24-Hour Picnic Salad
Why This Recipe Works:
Picnic side dishes should be simple, portable, and flavorful and this recipe checks all the boxes. It can be assembled in advance, put in the fridge for a night, and simply tossed and served the next day. Salting the layers of iceberg lettuce pulled moisture out; we used this water to thin our dressing to the perfect consistency. Soft ingredients such as mushrooms and spinach wilted into mush overnight but crunchy celery, bell pepper, and cucumber stayed crisp. Frank’s RedHot Original Hot Sauce is our favorite brand of hot sauce. If using a hotter brand, such as Tabasco Sauce, reduce the amount to 1 tablespoon.

Serves 12

· 1 head iceberg lettuce (2 pounds), cored and chopped, divided
· 1 teaspoon table salt, divided
· ½ red onion, sliced thin
· 6 Easy-Peel Hard-Cooked Eggs (page 54), peeled and chopped
· 1½ cups frozen peas
· 4 celery ribs, sliced thin
· 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
· 1 cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced thin
· 1 pound bacon, cooked and crumbled
· 6 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (1½ cups)

· 1½ cups mayonnaise
· 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
· 2 tablespoons hot sauce
· 2 teaspoons sugar
· 1½ teaspoons pepper

1. For the salad Layer ingredients into large serving bowl as follows: half of lettuce sprinkled with ½ teaspoon salt, onion, eggs, peas, celery, bell pepper, cucumber, remaining lettuce sprinkled with remaining ½ teaspoon salt, bacon, and cheese.
2. For the dressing Whisk all ingredients together in bowl and spread evenly over top of salad. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours. Toss until salad is evenly coated with dressing and serve.

Whipped Feta Dip
Why This Recipe Works:
Everyone loves a rich, cheesy dip to serve with crackers, chips, or bread. But in the heat of summer, so much richness can be unappealing. That’s why we love this salty feta dip with a whipped, light texture. To ensure that our dip that was loose enough to easily scoop up with soft pita, we processed the cheese with a few tablespoons of milk in addition to extra-virgin olive oil. We also rinsed the feta in water before processing to avoid an overly salty dip. A little garlic and lemon juice, along with 2 teaspoons of oregano, rounded out the flavors with freshness and savory herbal notes. Cow’s-milk feta makes a firmer dip that holds up well at room temperature; do not substitute sheep’s-milk feta, which is softer. Because feta is quite salty, avoid serving this dip with salted chips; Crudités (page 23) and pita bread make great accompaniments.

Serves 8 (Makes about 2 cups)
· 1½ teaspoons lemon juice
· ¼ teaspoon minced garlic
· 8 ounces cow’s-milk feta cheese
· 3 tablespoons milk
· 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
· 2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano

1. Combine lemon juice and garlic in small bowl and set aside. Break feta into rough ½-inch pieces and place in medium bowl. Add water to cover, then swish briefly to rinse. Transfer to fine-mesh strainer and drain well.
2. Transfer feta to food processor. Add milk and reserved lemon juice mixture and process until feta mixture resembles ricotta cheese, about 15 seconds. With processor running, slowly drizzle in 2 tablespoons oil. Continue to process until mixture has Greek yogurt–like consistency (some small lumps will remain), 1½ to 2 minutes, stopping once to scrape down bottom and sides of bowl. Add oregano and pulse to combine. Transfer dip to bowl. (Dip can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.) Drizzle with remaining 2 teaspoons oil and serve

Foolproof Boiled Corn with Chili-Lime Salt
Why This Recipe Works:
You might think that you don’t need a recipe for boiled corn, but who hasn’t pulled out the ears too early only to reveal underdone, starchy kernels or let them sit in the cooling water too long, turning mushy and shriveled? Corn season is so fleeting that we wanted a foolproof method for perfect corn every time. There are two key variables at play: starches and pectin. As corn heats, the starches in the kernels absorb water, swell, and gelatinize, and the corn “milk” becomes smoother, silkier, and more translucent. Simultaneously, the pectin (essentially the glue holding together the cell walls inside each kernel) dissolves, so the corn softens. The more pectin that dissolves, the mushier the corn becomes. To produce perfectly done, juicy corn every time, we learned that the ideal doneness range is 150 to 170 degrees—when the starches have gelatinized but a minimum amount of the pectin has dissolved. Here’s how you get there: bringing a measured amount of water to a boil, shutting off the heat, dropping in six ears of corn, and letting the corn stand for at least 10 minutes. Even better, the method is flexible: It can accommodate six to eight ears of different sizes, and the ears can sit in the water for up to 30 minutes without overcooking.

Serves 4 to 6
Total time: 30 minutes

· 6 ears corn, husks and silk removed
· Unsalted butter, softened
· Salt

Chili-Lime Salt
· 2 tablespoons kosher salt
· 4 teaspoons chili powder
· ¾ teaspoon grated lime zest

1. For the corn Bring 4 quarts water to boil in Dutch oven over high heat. Off heat, add corn, cover, and let sit for at least 10 minutes or up to 30 minutes.
2. For the chili-lime salt Combine all ingredients in bowl; set aside.
3. Transfer corn to serving platter and serve immediately, passing softened butter and chili-lime salt separately.

This segment aired on the KTLA 5 Morning News on May 27, 2021.

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