Joe Suarez caught my attention on the Arkansas Public Theatre stage in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Turns out he’s an even better foodie than a singer and actor — and that’s saying something!
A former fitness trainer, geographer and graphic designer by trade, Suarez says he always had a passion for food and cooking, which started with watching his mom make “amazing” meals for her family.
Being exposed to many diverse peoples and cultures while growing up helped him acquire a deep appreciation for all kinds of delectable things, he says, which in turn allowed him to create his own personal cooking style: rustic, simple, flavorful, international and delicious.
After being diagnosed as celiac in 2010, he spent months developing gluten-free recipes that would not only look great but taste better than “regular food.” He also wanted to create a “one-stop” website where people with celiac disease and other autoimmune disorders could find helpful information that “would help them live a healthy and happy life,” so “Joe and The Gluten Free Life” was born. The website is free to use and includes more than 150 recipes for everything from everyday family meals to cocktails, Southern food, international dishes, holiday meals and kid-friendly choices, all gluten free.
For the Memorial Day weekend, Suarez offered up a Caribbean Style Grilled Chicken and a Spicy Hot Coleslaw for your last-minute cookout pleasure.
Prep time: less than 10 minutes
Marinating time: at least 2 hours
Cooking time: 25 to 30 minutes
Ever been to the Caribbean? If you have you will remember seeing vendor stalls at the beach providing delicious grilled chicken to tourists and locals alike, Suarez says. “The chicken had a beautiful char on it and tasted divine: lemon, herbs, garlic … yum! Probably it was served with some side salad, plantains and rice. But I bet you found it to be heaven on a plate, right?”
If you want to experience this wonderful beach treat, you can do it at home.
5 pounds of chicken leg quarters (about 6 pieces)
15 to 20 garlic cloves (peeled)
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
2 tablespoons of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon fresh oregano
1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
2 teaspoons of sea salt
1 teaspoon of black pepper
1/4 cup of olive oil
Step 1: Prep the chicken
Wash the chicken with cold water and pat dry with a paper towel.
Using a sharp knife cut two or three small incisions on each leg quarter and insert a garlic clove into each cut.
Place chicken into a non-reactive dish or zippered bag.
Step 2: Marinate the chicken
In a non-reactive bowl add the juice of the lemons. Do not discard the lemons.
Mince the remaining garlic.
Add the oregano, thyme, rosemary, minced garlic, garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Mix well.
Pour the marinade over the chicken and add the squeezed lemons.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Turn the chicken every hour. The longer the chicken marinates, the better the flavor.
Step 3: Grill the chicken
Set the temperature of your grill to 350 degrees F. If you are using charcoal, follow the instructions in the package.
Make sure you have greased the grill to avoid the chicken sticking to it.
Remove chicken from fridge. Discard the lemons.
Do not discard the marinade. Set aside. You will use it to baste the chicken while grilling.
Place the chicken skin down first. Let it cook for about 5 minutes before you turn it. Cook for 5 minutes on each side and continue to turn until it is ready (about 25 to 30 minutes).
Using a brush, frequently baste the chicken with the reserved marinade set aside earlier. Make sure you use all the marinade while grilling the chicken. This will ensure a beautiful crispy exterior and deeper flavor.
Serve and enjoy!
Joe’s “Spicy Hot” Cole Slaw
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 0
Inactive time: 0 to 8 hours
Gluten/Soy/Corn Free; lacto-vegetarian
One thing Suarez can assure you: This is not your grandma’s coleslaw! This, he says, is his rendition of the traditional dish, so expect a twist.
“My twist is simple: I add cilantro (coriander), radishes, cayenne pepper, and jalapeños to the coleslaw to create an extra layer of unexpected flavors … and it is hot and delicious!
“This is a simple and easy to make side dish that complements burgers and sandwiches, barbecue meats, sausage-based dishes, pork, and more.
“I have had some pretty boring and tame coleslaw in my lifetime and have always wondered how I could improve it while adding more personality and flavor to it, without departing from the dish everyone has learned to love and expect at the dinner table. So here is the recipe I came with; it has become a favorite at our summer family gatherings and dinners.”
1 head of purple cabbage, shredded
1 head of green cabbage, shredded
1 large carrot, peeled and julienned finely
1 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and julienned finely
8 to 10 radishes, julienned finely
1 cup of mayonnaise
4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
11/2 cups of milk
Salt & black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper
Place the shredded cabbages, carrot, radishes and cilantro together in a large bowl.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix everything well. Taste for seasoning and adjust to your liking. You can add more salt, pepper, vinegar, cayenne pepper, or sugar to taste.
You can either serve right away or let it rest in the refrigerator for up to 8 hours for a more developed flavor profile.
If you have “celebrity” friends who can cook, we’d love to feature them here. Suggest them by emailing [email protected].