Celebrity Chef Melissa Cookston Makes Star-Spangled Recipes

Friday 26th, June 2020 / 10:14 Written by
Celebrity Chef Melissa Cookston Makes Star-Spangled Recipes
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Star-Spangled Recipes for your Fourth of July Cookout by Celebrity Chef Melissa Cookston!

Everyone is on the grill for the Fourth of July, and BBQ Hall of Famer Melissa Cookston’s star-spangled spread of recipes including sides, entrees, and desserts will make you the grill champion for America’s 244th birthday this year! Recipe and photo credit: Melissa Cookston!

I love the light pop you get from pink peppercorns and use them quite often when cooking at home. This dish takes a bit of preparation time to wrap the bacon around the asparagus but is worth it. Serve as appetizers or as a side, allowing 4 per person.”

Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus with Pink Peppercorn Vinaigrette

Pink Peppercorn Vinaigrette:

  • 1 teaspoon minced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pink peppercorns, lightly cracked with a mortar

Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus:

  • 16 fresh asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 8 slices thin-cut bacon, cut in half
  • 1 teaspoon Basic BBQ Rub

To make the vinaigrette, in a small mixing bowl, whisk the shallots, honey, mustard, balsamic, and salt and whisk to combine. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking to emulsify. Whisk in the peppercorns. Allow the mixture to sit for 30 minutes for the flavors to combine, then lightly whisk again before serving.

To make the asparagus, wash and dry each spear, then wrap each one with a half-slice of bacon, using a toothpick on each end to secure. Place on a sheet pan when done, then lightly sprinkle them with the BBQ rub. On a medium-hot grill, place asparagus perpendicular to the grill grates and grill for 4 to 5 minutes per side, until the bacon is crispy. Place on plates and drizzle with the Pink Peppercorn Vinaigrette.

Deep South Burgers with Pimiento and Cheese and Fried Green Tomatoes

Chef Melissa Cookston  recipes

Deep South Burgers

  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons Grillin Shake
  • Pimiento and Cheese
  • 4 buns, for serving
  • Fried green tomatoes

“Prepare a medium-hot grill for cooking. In a bowl, combine the ground beef, Worcestershire, garlic, and onion powder. Stir until incorporated and pat into 4 (8-ounce) patties (I usually use a burger ring when I’m grilling so I can get evenly thick patties). Season both sides with the Grillin Shake and place on a medium-hot grill. Cook to your desired temperature, about 4 to 5 minutes per side for medium to medium-well. As the burgers are nearing temperature, place 2 to 3 ounces of pimiento and cheese on each burger and let cook for 1 to 2 more minutes, or until the pimiento and cheese is beginning to melt. Place the burger patty on the bun with your favorite burger fixings, then top with a fried green tomato and enjoy.” 

“This is my pimiento and cheese recipe when I’m looking for a “comfort sandwich.” It makes for a pretty tasty burger topping as well!”

Pimiento and Cheese

“This is my pimiento and cheese recipe when I’m looking for a “comfort sandwich.” It makes for a pretty tasty burger topping as well!”

  • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimientos, drained
  • 2 teaspoons grated Vidalia or other sweet onion
  • ½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon hot sauce, preferably Roasted Pepper Hot Sauce
  • 3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup Candied Jalapenos, diced
  • Salt

Whisk or beat the cream cheese until soft, then fold in the mayonnaise, pimientos, onion, pepper, hot sauce, cheese, and jalapenos. Stir until well mixed, then add salt if needed. Store, covered, in the refrigerator for up to a week, but bring to room temperature before using on burgers.

Fried Green Tomatoes

This is slightly breaded and cut thin to cook quickly and still have a fresh tomato texture.”

  • Peanut oil, for frying
  • 2 medium green tomatoes, cut into ¼ to 1/3-inch slices
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • ¼ cup white cornmeal
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat about 1 inch of peanut oil in a heavy skillet to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the tomato slices in a bowl and pour the buttermilk over them. On a plate, combine the flour, cornmeal, salt and pepper using a fork. Lightly dredge the tomato slices in the seasoned flour on both sides. Lay the tomatoes in the oil and cook until the bottom begins to brown. 2 to 3 minutes, then turn over to brown the other side for another 2 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain until ready to serve.

My grilled blackberry upside down cake recipe covers a lot of territory for me.  I am a blackberry fan, and as you probably know I also love grills.  Further, I am partial to cake!  So, after a trip to the Memphis Farmers Market where I found some luscious blackberries, I decided to put them to good use!”

Grilled Blackberry Upside Down Cake

Chef Melissa Cookston recipes
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups fresh blackberries
  • 1 ¾ cup sugar divided
  • ½ cup butter softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat.

Add the 2 tablespoons of butter and the brown sugar and stir to make a caramel.

Chef Melissa Cookston recipes

Add the blackberries and 3/4 cup sugar and stir. Press the blackberries with a spatula to break them up and release their juices (you don’t want them to cook into a puree, just broken down some.) Depending on how juicy your blackberries are, cook for 3-4 minutes until it reduces slightly and forms a syrup.

In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda and salt. In a mixer, add 1/2 cup softened butter and add 1 cup sugar. Mix until the butter is incorporated, then add the eggs. Continue beating and add flour mixture, vanilla and milk a little at a time and beat until all is incorporated.

Pour the batter into the blackberry syrup. Using a spatula, “tease” the batter to the edges of the pan.

Chef Melissa Cookston recipes

Place on a grill running at 350 degrees. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Remove from grill. Using a knife, lightly go around the edges to release from the pan. Allow the cake to sit for 10 minutes to allow the cake to tighten up. Position a plate on top of the skillet, and then flip over. Slowly raise pan. (If the cake doesn’t release, put the skillet on a stovetop for 3-4 minutes to heat up the syrup again, then try again.)

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