Labor Day is a mere week away! And it's summer’s last call—our last cocktail of surf, sand and sunshine before sobering into the daily rest-of-the-year grind. The water is warm and the trees still green. Soon, we’ll cross the threshold beyond which wearing sleeveless shirts and swim trunks in public is no longer deemed socially acceptable. Needless to say, it's three days when good food and good times are essentials on the menu.
Observed the first Monday of September, Labor Day began in 1882 to commemorate industrial revolution-era organized labor movements, though it didn’t become a national holiday until the Pullman Strike of 1894, a bloody boycott that cost thirteen picketers their lives. Today, it’s a day of appreciation for America’s workforce, particularly in a world where no job is taken for granted. But for most, this de facto finale of summer conveys anything but its name. If you’re lucky, the hardest “labor” on the agenda is working the finishing touches on your tan. After all, it may have to last you the next eight months.
No matter how you choose to celebrate, here are a few recipes to help you bid our favorite season a tasty farewell:
Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp “Shiskies”
It would be blasphemous to not break out the barbecue and garnish your weekend with grilled goodness. These killer kabobs are a favorite at California’s Santa Margarita Ranch—home to Ancient Peaks Winery—where barbeque builder and sixth-generation Central Coast native Phil Reader serves them to cattle drivers and railroad engineers alike. As the story goes, Reader, amidst mealtime malaise, awoke from an afternoon nap with a vision of this recipe, sent his wife shopping, and voila! And it's been improving ever since. For a more social serving style, Reader suggests preparing the ingredients separately and setting up a “make-it-yourself” kabob bar. These scrumptious shiskies are best cooked on Reader’s Santa Maria-style “Cowboy Hibachi” grills or his unusually favorite cooktop: the back-head of a steam locomotive boiler.
Prep Time: Approx. 2 hours
Requires: BBQ grill, sharp knife, bamboo kabob sticks, basting brush
1.5 c Yoshida’s Gourmet Sauce
1.5 lb top loin, chilled to firmess
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts, chilled to firmness
12 medium prawns
12 slices bacon, thin
1 yellow bell pepper
1 yellow onion
1 firm, ripe pineapple
1/2 c Kikkoman’s Teriyaki Baste and Glaze Honey and Pineapple
Soak bamboo kabob sticks overnight in water. Cube the beef and chicken into 1” cubes. Place in Yoshida’s and let set in refrigerator for at least 1 hour (over night works well). Carefully, trim skin, top and bottom off of pineapple. Slice meat in quarters and remove core. Take remaining pineapple and cut into 1” cubes. Shell and de-vein prawns. Wrap each prawn in a U-shape with the bacon. Quarter onion and quarter and core bell pepper and cut into 1” sections. Plan a sample kabob pattern by alternating items, finishing end with a wrapped prawn. Repeat pattern for all 12 kabobs. Place kabobs on grill over medium flame until evenly cooked through. Brush each with glazing sauce and cook until just singed. Remove from grill and plate with steamed rice and a King’s Hawaiian Roll. Serves 4.
Recipe and Photo: Phil Reader
with Gratin Dauphinois
If you're looking for more beyond average barbeque, these two recipes from Chef Bamba Seydou at New York's Lina Frey may fit the grill. While Gotham isn't often associated with outdoor cooking, this lower east side bistro boats a 20-foot retractable roof and a kitchen that knows how it's done. Consider Gratin Dauphinois in place of ordinary potato salad beside a spread of zesty Bamba’s Burgers—among the restaurant’s top sellers.
For the Burgers:
1 tsp each: onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1-1/2 lbs. 80% ground beef
Grill to temperature and serve with a soft bun, lettuce, tomato and a thick slice of red onion.
For the Gratin Dauphinois:
Cook a few sweet onions until golden brown. Add few tablespoons each of honey, parmesan cheese, a diced shallot – and a couple tablespoons of butter, cream and salt and pepper to taste. Layer potato discs in large baking dish, alternately dousing the potato layers with this onion and cream mixture. Cook in oven at about 400 degrees for roughly 45 minutes until tender and sweet. Serve both warm or at room temperature.
Recipe: Lina Frey. Photo: Barbara Pheby/Shutterstock
MommyLou's Key Lime Cheesecake
Old-fashioned cheesecake is a dessert as American as apple pie, without actually being it. Chef Jamie Reilly of MommyLou's Cheesecake has concocted countless reinventions of the classic dessert, ranging from pineapple swirl and cookies and cream to seasonal specials like pumpkin and eggnog—yet this smooth, less complex recipe reigns among his most popular. Simple yet elegant, this velvety take on the classic, infused with zingy summer flavor, is a fitting end to your feast. Reilly's sinfully luscious indulgences are served at several Hamptons restaurants including Bridgehampton's Copa Wine Bar and Southampton's 75 Main.
Prepare the crust:
1 box of graham crackers (crushed)
1 stick of butter (softened)
.5 tsp. cinnamon
Mix ingredients well. If too moist, add more graham crackers. Preheat oven to 335 degrees. Spray 10" spring form pan with non-stick cooking spray and press crust on sides and bottom of pan. Set aside.
Make the cheesecake:
1.5lbs. room temp. cream cheese (Philadelphia works best)
1 cup sugar
4 whole eggs
3 tbsp. Key Lime Juice (add 1 at a time)
Blend on med. speed for 30 to 35 min. or until smooth and creamy. Pour mixture into pan. Bake for 35 to 45 min. or until outer edges start to crack lightly. Cool on counter. Refrigerate for 4 to 5 hours until firm.
Add the whipped topping:
16 oz. thick sour cream
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp. lime zest
Mix sour cream and sugar at med-high speed for 3 min. or until stiff peaks form. Stir in 1 tbsp. lime zest. Pour evenly over cheesecake. Sprinkle 2nd tbsp. lime zest evenly over topping. Bake for 8 min. in 425 degree oven, cool and refrigerate overnight.
Must be made 1 day ahead of time needed.
Recipe and Photo © Jamie Reilly/MommyLou's Cheesecake
1 oz. Frangelico
1 oz. vodka
Top with Lemonade
Serve in tall glass over ice
Lucid French Pear
2 oz Pear Juice or Pear Nectar
.5oz Simple Syrup
.5oz Lemon Juice
Garnish with sliced cucumber (optional)
2 oz Russian Standard Vodka
5 oz premium ginger beer
Squeeze in a wedge of Lime
Pour Russian Standard vodka over ice in a chilled mug or Collins glass.
Add 5 ounces of ginger beer and stir gently. Garnish with a squeezed wedge of lime.