Sunday, August 09, 2009

Grilled Avocado & Smoky Corn Salad and Our Dinner with Julie & Cheryl

Meeting Calgary food bloggers Cheryl and Julie didn't go exactly to plan, but isn't that usually the case when you are looking forward to something?

On the day of the appointed dinner date we drove into Calgary from Jasper, Alberta. It was our second day of driving, meaning that clothes were rumpled, faces and hands were sticky and everyone was a little out of sorts. Jasper to Calgary is an easy 4 hour drive, but a breakfast stop at Moraine Lake stretched the journey to nearly 6. Making this drive without seeing some of the best scenery in North America is just silly and it was worth the detour.

We pulled into Calgary around lunchtime, but it wasn't until we were on the doorstep of another friends' home (coincidentally our hosts for the weekend and away on vacation themselves), did we discover that their neighbor had left us the wrong key and our access was denied. That meant no naps for the boys, no much-needed cup of tea for me, no fresh sundress for dinner--just packing everyone back into their car seats and freshening up in the car wash bathroom. It didn't help that said neighbor was on a cruise and unreachable; we were pretty much stuck until our friends returned from New Brunswick that evening and opened up their place for us.
Of course, by that time we were saying our 'Hellos' to Cheryl, Julie and their families, where the TGIF celebrations were already in full swing.

I immediately felt at home in Cheryl's comfortable home; gorgeous splashes of color on the walls and exquisite handmade quilts draped luxuriously over the furniture gave the place such a warmth, it would thaw the most timid of visitors. I soon forgot about my frustrating afternoon, especially after a few (OK, a lot) of these jicama sticks with chili salt and a glass of bubbly.

Cheryl--actually the entire family--had prepared quite the spread:

Watermelon and Jicama Sticks with Chili Salt
Hubby's Famous Arkison Burgers w/ house ketchup
Grilled Avocado and Corn Salad with Smoky Caesar Dressing

Sour Cream Ice Cream
Cherry Hand Pies

Can I just say for the record that everything was stellar?!! Cheryl outdid herself and created the perfect, relaxed summer BBQ. The kids chowed down on buffalo hot dogs while I assembled the tastiest burger of the summer to date. Of course the presence of a wriggly one-year-old on my lap prevented me from getting any photos of the masterpiece, but Julie has a great shot in her recap of the night. I can't wait to re-create the burgers with our own fresh beef.

The kids...before Noah and Julie's son started a shoving match and Mateo swiped Noah's hot dog

After two days of road food, I couldn't get enough of the avocado and corn salad! It was indeed smoky and the grilled avocado gave it a sensual twist--ideal for a warm sultry night as that one. And those sour cherry hand pies! Killer. Lucky for us, Cheryl gives the recipe here, which you should promptly start prepping for because they were too good.

Julie provides the recipe for Sour Cream Ice Cream and plenty more great photos over at Dinner with Julie. Oh, and here Cheryl describes the evening as a perfect first date. This was one well documented dinner, but what do you expect when 3 food bloggers unite, really?

For the record, I can confirm that Julie does not have an assistant, yet she skillfully manages a career in freelance,TV & radio, plus mothers, cooks and blogs almost daily. Wonder Woman! Also Cheryl somehow fills the roll of full-time mom, food blogger, career woman and expert quilter without the help of a nanny. Did I mention she has a baby and a three-year-old?
One thing they both have--and I should say this because they are our backbone-- are supportive husbands who know how to fix a plate of food that is camera-worthy AND keep the kids fed.
Cheers to the men behind these food blogs!

Romaine, Grilled Avocado and Smoky Corn Salad with Chipotle-Cesar Dressing

adapted from Gourmet

1/4 cup grated parmesan

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 ears of corn, shucked

2 firm-ripe 6- to 8-oz avocados, halved and pitted but not peeled

1 head romaine (1 lb), tough outer leaves discarded and head quartered lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1-inch strips

Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over hot charcoal (high heat for gas);

Put parmesan in a medium bowl and add olive oil in a slow stream, whisking. Whisk in lime juice, garlic, chipotles, and 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper.

Rub vegetable oil on corn and cut sides of avocados, then season with 1/8 tsp each of salt and pepper. Grill avocados, cut sides down, and corn, covered only if using a gas grill, turning corn occasionally, until golden-brown, 3 to 4 minutes.

Peel avocados and thinly slice. Cut corn kernels from cobs.
Toss romaine with dressing and serve topped with avocado and corn.


Cheryl Arkison said...

Aw, you're too kind. It really was a good night. Entertaining with kids is never simple and the night is always filled with half-started and never finished conversations, but it was a lot of fun.

I do think I need to make that salad again! The grilled avocados were so unique.

Julie said...

Aw, you're too kind! Cheers to the hubbies though - I agree mine is an essential element in my kitchen!
It was so great to meet you in 3D!

Nutmeg Nanny said...

It looks like you had a great time:)

Melissa said...

What beautiful landscapes-it make me miss living in the NW. What a wonderful little Eli just started to eat avocados so I will have plenty around the house now!

Ingrid_3Bs said...

:) Family,friends, food, and fun doesn't get much better, does it?!

Bergamot said...

Seems like you all had a lot of fun and the food is simply yummy...liked the simple jicama sticks and the deserts a lot...grilled avacado...that seems nice too

CookiePie said...

Sounds like such a fun trip! And a delicious meal.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful part of the world! And isn't it fun to meet food blogger friends along the way? The whole trip looks like a great adventure.

Maria said...

Glad you had fun! I need to try grilling avocados!

Avocado nutrition said...

Good recipe. Looks delicious. I am surely gonna try it. I like avocado. Avocado is very healthy and has many health benefits. It is rich in nutrients and is excellent as conditioner and makes one’s locks lustrous and smooth, it helps to get rid of the frizz from hair, also helps preventing hair loss and its nutrients helps for good hair growth.


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