by Tara Davis

Spring has arrived!

Warm weather is almost here to stay a while again, bringing with it the best sights, sounds and scents of our small beach towns across Mississippi.   

The water has started calling to us again. The sun is flirting with those little seeds that were just hopes and dreams in their tiny packets until now.

Everyone is digging out their shorts and sandals, planning picnics and backyard barbecues.

What better backdrop for our naturally social tendencies than this pristine season? Fie on bugs and pollen and pop up rain showers,  we will not be deterred!

Invitations,  formal and impromptu are more regularly issued, decks are cleaned and life is happier with friends sitting around us.

I imagine your grill has already been fired, and friends and family have groaned in fulfilled misery and spoken highly of your charcoal and natural gas fueled skills.

What is it you cook best, or most often?  Is the grill your finest tool or an intimidating shadow in the patio corner?

Fear not!  Today’s recipes ask of you only 3 real skills, the first 2 of which can be eliminated if you truly prefer: (1) Cutting ingredients into similar sized pieces (2) Placing cut ingredients on skewers (3) Placing and removing skewered ingredients onto and from a properly heated grill in a timely manner.

There’s also some stirring thrown in there, but it’s no big thing.

Don’t know how to light a grill?  It’s an easy skill to develop via internet these days. (But if you’d like my insights, let me know).

I have faith each and every one of you can handle it.

Let’s talk proteins and marinades.  Why do we marinate things? In order to add flavor, and to allow them to better absorb and retain moisture. The resulting product, therefore, is ideally a more tender, flavorful experience.

Here I include a couple of my favorite marinades as well as a couple of sides you might want to give a whirl while you enjoy March’s exit into April.

The recipes:

Steak skewers- cut 1-2 steaks into large cubes. Marinate 1-2 hours, unrefrigerated, in a mixture of 1/3 cup soy sauce, 2 tbsp garlic (fresh is best but powdered will do), 1 tsp each salt and pepper, and 1 tbsp prepared mustard.  Place close together on skewers (soak bamboo skewers 20 minutes before) and grill at 350 for 8-12 minutes, or to preferred doneness.

Greek chicken- mix 2 cups Greek yogurt, 1 tbsp garlic powder, the juice of 2 lemons and salt and pepper to taste.  Reserve 1/4 cup mixture. Cut 2-3 chicken breasts into large cubes, marinate in yogurt mixture 8 hours, or up to overnight.  Place on skewers, grill at 350 10-15 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked.  Brush with remaining yogurt mix before serving.

Bacon potato salad- Large dice 4-6 potatoes, depending on size.  Boil in salted water 10 minutes, or until fork tender.  Cool completely.

Toss in a mixture of 1/4 cup whole grain mustard,  1/2 cup oil,  juice of one lime, 3 garlic cloves, minced, salt and pepper to taste. Add 1/2 cup chopped cilantro or parsley and top with cooked, chopped bacon. Serve warm, room temperature or cold!

Corn salad- shuck, clean and grill 4 ears of corn. Cut kernels from cob and toss with 2 diced tomatoes, 3 sliced green onions, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1 tsp each salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Serve cold or room temperature.

Editorial Side Notes:  

Savage Skillet Grand Opening was last Wednesday.  Tara has done a remarkable job opening a great community food location.

In the western portion of Bay St. Louis off Highway 90, the restaurant is open Wednesday-Saturday from 6:30am-6pm.  Call them up at (228)344-3017 and check them out.