Sweet and Spicy Peppadew Cheese. Ann Beth Strelec/Augusta Good News
Sweet and Spicy Peppadew Cheese. Ann Beth Strelec/Augusta Good News

Naked Epicurean: A masterful grilling party

(Disclaimer: Opinions expressed in columns are those of the author)

I am often asked for recommendations of where to eat and what to do around Augusta during the Great Migration aka Adult Spring Break aka Masters Week. That’s a really tough question due to the surfeit of options we have around town.

But this year, the query was different: What would you serve if you were to host people in your home? I LOVE answering that type of question! Assuming that my guests have come to town with plans of patronizing a particular sporting event during day hours, I enjoy hosting drop-ins pre or post tourney for cool drinks + light snacks in an intimate setting.

As host or hostess, you want to enjoy your soiree without being tied to the kitchen or bar.  With that in mind, many components of these snacks and cocktails can be prepared almost effortlessly in advance with just a bit of assembly only 30 minutes prior to guests arriving.

With the flowers shining spectacularly this time of year, I lean toward outdoor soirees. And being outside gets me excited about grilling, which also means I’m not heating up the house. Take your party to the patio with colorful napkins. Fill pitchers full of lively self-serve libations and load up some platters with warm-weather snacks and you’ve put your party on autopilot.

READ MORE: Naked Epicurean: Super Bowl Party ideas

Sweet + Spicy Peppadew Cheese

I have NO intention of competing with the mystical pimento cheese recipe served at the course, but what would a golf party be without Southern Caviar? This Sweet + Spicy Peppadew Cheese recipe swaps sweet peppadews for pimentos and adds a bit of kick with grilled jalapeños.

Sweet and Spicy Peppadew Cheese. Ann Beth Strelec/Augusta Good News

⛳️ Sweet + Spicy Peppadew Cheese

▪︎8 oz Cheddar cheese, grated by hand▪︎

▪︎8 oz Jalapeño Jack cheese, grated by hand**

▪︎4 green onions, finely chopped

▪︎7 oz peppadews, drained + chopped

▪︎1 tsp smoked paprika

▪︎1 tsp garlic powder

▪︎2 tsp Worcestershire

▪︎1-2 jalapeños, roasted or grilled, finely chopped, leaving some seeds to your liking (more seeds=more heat),

▪︎¾ c mayonnaise

Throw everything in a bowl. Mix it up gently with a large spatula. Let it sit to allow flavors to meld. Taste AFTER it sits, as the flavor-melding changes the game. Serve at room temperature. Store in the refrigerator.

*Grate the cheeses by hand. Pre-grated cheese is covered in cellulose to prevent it from sticking together in the bag, therefore making it less creamy.

**Shredding cheese in a food processor sometimes makes it gummy.

Blackened Shrimp + Avocado Cucumber Bites with Remoulade Sauce.

Another cool, make-ahead snack is a tray of Blackened Shrimp + Avocado Cucumber Bites with Remoulade Sauce. The cucumber and avocado nicely balance the spicy shrimp.

⛳️ Blackened Shrimp + Avocado Cucumber Bites with Remoulade Sauce

▪︎1 Tbsp oil

Blackened Shrimp + Avocado Cucumber Bites with Remoulade Sauce. Ann Beth Strelec/Augusta Good News

▪︎1 Tbsp creole seasoning

▪︎1 lb lg shrimp, peeled and deveined

▪︎1 lg cucumber, sliced

▪︎¼ c remoulade sauce (optional)

▪︎1 avocado, mashed

▪︎1 green onion, thinly sliced

▪︎2 Tbsp cilantro and/or parsley, chopped

▪︎1 Tbsp lemon juice

▪︎salt and cayenne pepper, to taste

Remoulade Sauce (optional)

▪︎¼ c mayonnaise

▪︎1 tbsp creole mustard

▪︎1 tbsp ketchup

▪︎1 tsp horseradish

▪︎1 small clove garlic

▪︎1 tbsp lemon juice

▪︎1 tsp capers

▪︎1 green onion, chopped

▪︎¼ tsp cayenne pepper

▪︎¼ tsp paprika

▪︎hot sauce to taste

Blend everything in a food processor until smooth.

Toss the shrimp in the oil and seasoning and cook in a preheated (med-high heat) heavy bottomed skillet on your grill until slightly blackened, about 2-3 minutes per side.

Combine avocado, green onion, cilantro or parsley, lemon juice and S+P in a bowl.

Top cucumber slices with avocado, shrimp and remoulade sauce.

Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts

Try your best to keep these yummy Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts from disappearing directly from the grill!

⛳️ Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts (24) with Spicy Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

Bacon-Wrapped Water Chestnuts. Ann Beth Strelec/Augusta Good News

▪︎8 strips of center-cut bacon

▪︎⅓ c soy sauce

▪︎3 Tbsp runny honey

▪︎2 8-oz cans of water chestnuts, rinsed and drained

▪︎¼ c Dijon mustard

▪︎¼ c honey

▪︎¼ c mayonnaise

▪︎½ Tbsp cayenne pepper

▪︎1 tsp apple cider vinegar

▪︎1 tsp yellow mustard

Set grill to 300⁰F direct heat.

1. Cut bacon strips into 3 equal sections for a total of 24 pieces. Set aside.

2. Mix soy sauce and honey in a medium mixing bowl. Add water chestnuts and turn to coat. Marinate at room temperature for approximately 30 minutes, turning 2-3 times during that time.

3. Drain water chestnuts, but reserve the marinade. Wrap each water chestnut with a piece of bacon, securing with a toothpick.

Repeat with remaining water chestnuts.

4. Place water chestnuts directly on the grates for 20 min, reserving marinade. Flip after 10 minutes. Once bacon is crispy, move water chestnuts to a small grill-proof pan. Pour remaining marinade over the chestnuts. Close the lid and cook until the sauce has set, about 10 minutes.

5. While chestnuts are on the grill, prepare Spicy Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce by whisking together remaining ingredients.

(Cooking water chestnuts too fast will yield flabby bacon and chestnuts that are hard instead of toothsome.)

READ MORE: Golf week brings concerts and other special events

Grilled Donut Ice Cream Sandwiches with  Black + Blue Berry Sauce

These Grilled Donut Ice Cream Sandwiches with  Black + Blue Berry Sauce will make you a Masters party legend.

Grilled Donut Ice Cream Sandwiches with Black + Blue Berry Sauce. Ann Beth Strelec/Augusta Good News

▪︎4 day-old donuts, cut in half horizontally

▪︎½ t cinnamon

▪︎2 c fresh blueberries (set aside ½ c)

▪︎1 c fresh blackberries

▪︎½ c water

▪︎juice + zest from 1 lemon

▪︎1 tsp vanilla

▪︎¼ c runny honey

Heat your grill to 300⁰F. 

1. In a skillet combine 1½ c blueberries, blackberries, water, lemon juice + zest, vanilla and honey. Allow to cook about 10 minutes until gently bubbling. Cook further until reduced to your desired consistency. Add remaining blueberries and remove from heat.

2. Sprinkle both halves of the donuts with cinnamon. Grill donuts about 2 minutes on each side until the glaze melts and caramelizes but NOT TOO LONG as they will get hard.

3. Top bottom halves with ice cream, then  berries. Place other half of donut on top. Add more berries on top, if desired.

Augusta inspired beverages

I’ve chosen two vodka-based cocktail recipes, both using Berckmans Vodka, which seems especially fitting this week as Augusta’s hallowed golf course was built on the grounds of P.J. Berckmans’ nursery.

Grilled Bloody Mary

????The first drink is a Grilled Bloody Mary (for 2) Grilling the vegetables before pureeing them adds a welcomed depth + warmth to this perennial favorite.

▪︎4 oz Berckman’s Vodka

▪︎8 oz Grilled Bloody Mary Mix


Grilled Bloody Mary. Ann Beth Strelec/Augusta Good News

1. Set your grill for med-high.

2. Gather these ingredients and cut into halves: 4 pounds of vine tomatoes, 1-2 poblano peppers, 1 spring onion, 2 lemons + 1 lime. Toss in olive oil. Sprinkle with S+P. Add flesh side down to your hot grill. Grill until charred, turning occasionally. Remove from grill once fully charred.

3. While still warm, peel the skin and remove seeds from the poblano. Add poblano, tomatoes, onion, juice of the lime and 1 lemon, a few dashes Worcestershire sauce, a pinch each of fresh horseradish + ground ancho chili + celery salt, and hot sauce to a blender. (Reserve the other lemon for garnish.) Blend until smooth. Refrigerate.

4. Run lemon around the rims of tall glasses; dip into Everything But the Bagel seasoning or flaky salt or BBQ rub. Fill the glasses with ice; add the vodka. Add the Grilled Bloody Mary mix; stir to combine. Garnish and enjoy!

garnish ideas:

▪︎grilled asparagus

▪︎pickled green beans + okra + cucumbers

▪︎lemon wheel

▪︎cherry tomatoes

▪︎avocado wedge dipped in everything seasoning

▪︎sweet baby peppers


▪︎spring onions

Caramelized Pineapple Moscow Mule

????The second cocktail using Berckmans Vodka is a Caramelized Pineapple Moscow Mule.

Caramelized Pineapple Moscow Mule. Ann Beth Strelec/Augusta Good News

▪︎1 whole pineapple, cut into ½” rings

▪︎¼ cup brown sugar

▪︎4 Tbsp grilled pineapple, chopped

▪︎4 mint leaves

▪︎4 oz Berckmans Vodka

▪︎2 oz pineapple juice

▪︎juice of two limes

▪︎4-6 oz ginger beer



lime wedges

grilled pineapple wedges

pineapple fronds

Sprinkle pineapple rings with brown sugar and place on grill (or oven) at 450⁰F for 7-10 min. Turn the rings over; sprinkle with more brown sugar and grill for 7-10 more min. Remove and allow to cool completely. Chop half the pineapple; leave the other half for a garnish. Muddle chopped pineapple and mint in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add vodka, pineapple juice, lime juice and stir. Fill the shaker with ice; shake until cold. Pour into 2 glasses filled with ice. Top with ginger beer; stir gently and garnish with a sprig of mint, slice of lime and a wedge of roasted pineapple.

Ann Beth Strelec is known around town as Naked Epicurean. This cocktail connoisseur also has mad skills in the kitchen and on the grill.

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