Grate Your Corn, Not Your Nerves

This may be one of our all-time favorite vegetarian dishes! WOW, how we gushed over the flavors with ooo-gobs of taste in every bite! With the ingredients at the height of their season, especially sweet corn, the time is NOW to make this tasty Campanelle with Sweet Corn, Tomatoes and Basil recipe from The elements in this summery pasta dish are few, so fresh corn and ripe tomatoes are key.

The sauce is nice and creamy but made without cream because you grate the corn kernels from the cobs. To reinforce the corn flavor, the cobs are boiled in the water that is later used to cook the pasta. Brilliant!

Using a minimal amount of water—just 2½ quarts—means the flavors and starches are concentrated in the liquid, and then some of this liquid goes into in the sauce. Yellow corn gives the dish a golden hue, but white corn works, too. Whichever you use, make sure to remove as much of the silk as possible before grating.

Short, sauce-catching pasta shapes are best here—if you can’t find campanelle (a frilly, trumpet-like shape), look for penne rigate, fusilli or farfalle. However, the campanelle is just perfect for capturing the sauce and bits of corn, so really try to make an effort. I found it easy enough in our local supermarket.

Don’t fear the habañero chili in this dish. It does add a little heat (seeding the chili removes much of its burn), but it’s here mostly because its fruity notes are a nice complement to the corn, tomatoes and basil. If you have a delicate palette and are really sensitive to spicy heat, use just half of a habañero, but please don’t omit it altogether.

Although not necessary, add an extra flavor boost with a little grated parmesan as a garnish, it adds another salty/nutty note.


Campanelle with Sweet Corn, Tomatoes and Basil

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 Pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 4 Ears corn, husked
  • 4 Tbsp. (½ stick) salted butter, cut into 4 pieces, divided
  • 2 Medium shallots, minced
  • 1 Habañero chili, stemmed, seeded and minced
  • 12 oz. campanelle or other short pasta
  • 1 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 1/2 qts. water (10 cups)


  1. In a small bowl, stir together the tomatoes and ½ teaspoon salt; set aside.
  2. Set a box grater in a rimmed baking sheet or pie plate. Using the grater’s large holes, grate the corn down to the cobs; reserve the cobs.
  3. In a large pot, bring 2½ quarts water to a boil. Add the corn cobs (cut them in half to fit in the pot better) and 1 tablespoon salt, reduce to medium and cook, covered, for 10 minutes. Using tongs, remove and discard the cobs, then remove the pot from the heat.
  4. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the grated corn, shallots, chili and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring, until the shallots have softened, about 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in 1½ cups of the cooking water. Cook over medium-low, uncovered and stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened (a spatula should leave a brief trail when drawn through the mixture), 10 to 15 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, return the remaining corn-infused water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.
  7. Add the pasta to the skillet and cook over medium, stirring constantly, until the pasta is coated and the sauce is creamy, about 2 minutes; if needed, add the reserved cooking water 2 tablespoons at a time to reach proper consistency.
  8. Off heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, the tomatoes with their juices and the basil, then toss until the butter has melted. Taste and season with salt and pepper.




Cool and Refreshing Tzatziki

A Friday night, the official first day of summer, and we were heading to a party to get our Greek on. The hostess was serving Greek Chicken Kebabs as the main entrée and asked us to contribute an appetizer. I immediately thought of Tzatziki, a cucumber-yogurt dip that would also complement the skewers (if there was any leftover).

Often, in addition to chopped fresh mint, Tzatziki recipes also call for fresh dill—our least favorite herb. Here, we use a combination of freshly picked oregano with some mint instead. It is so simple to make, but keep in mind the dip needs to cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving.



  • Servings: Yields 2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • Kosher or sea salt
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, mashed with salt
  • 1 cup plain Greek whole-milk yogurt (like Fagé)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup peeled seedless cucumber, grated
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. red-wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fresh mint leaves for garnish


  1. Put 3/4 tsp. salt in a mortar bowl. Peel the garlic, chop it and add to the mortar. Mash with pestle until it’s a coarse paste.
  2. Transfer the garlic and salt to a medium bowl and stir in the yogurt and sour cream.
  3. Grate the cucumber over some paper towels and squeeze as much liquid out of it as you can.
  4. Add the cucumber, lemon juice, vinegar, mint, oregano, and olive oil to the yogurt mixture. Stir to blend and season to taste with salt.
  5. Cover and chill for at least 4 hours before serving so the flavors meld. Serve cool, garnished with the mint leaves and accompanied by fresh pita wedges and red bell pepper strips.

Pork Cutlets with Flavor Galore!

Don a sombrero and grab a margarita, it’s about time to get your Mexican on. This recipe starts with chili-garlic-infused oil, then is finished with a chipotle-lime sauce. Bigger flavor is built by breaking down a marinade.

Mexican-Style Grilled Pork Cutlets use a chili-and-garlic-infused oil to season pork tenderloin cutlets before quickly grilling them. The remaining oil is made into a sauce/marinade to drizzle on afterward to add a fresh burst of flavor. We served ours with Mexican rice and red beans, but you could also slice into strips and nestle into warmed corn tortillas with chopped white onion, fresh cilantro for making tacos.

The directions say not to grill the second sides of the cutlets for more than about 1 minute or they will overcook. But I pounded our cutlets to a 1/4″ thickness as opposed to 1/8″ because we like ours a bit thicker, thus they take a minute or two longer—use an instant-read meat thermometer to test for doneness at 145°. Aim to get charring on only the first sides, then serve the pork charred side up.

¡Arriba, arriba! ¡Ándale, ándale!


Mexican-Style Grilled Pork Cutlets

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 2 Tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 Tsp. packed brown sugar
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1¼ Lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed of silver skin
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 chipotle chilies in adobo, chopped, plus 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
  • ⅓ cup fresh lime juice, about 2 limes
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro


  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the oil, cumin, paprika, coriander, sugar and garlic. Microwave on high until the garlic is softened, about 1 minute.
  2. Measure out 3 tablespoons of the seasoned oil, including some of the solids, into a large baking dish.
  3. Cut the tenderloin in half crosswise, then cut each piece in half lengthwise. Using a meat pounder, pound each piece to an even ⅛-inch thickness.
  4. Place in the baking dish, turning to coat on all sides with the oil mixture. Cover and refrigerate while you make the sauce and prepare the grill.
  5. Into the remaining oil mixture, whisk ¾ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, the chipotle chilies, adobo sauce, lime juice and cilantro. Set aside.
  6. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill. For a charcoal grill, ignite a large chimney of coals, let burn until lightly ashed over, then distribute evenly over one side of the grill bed; open the bottom grill vents. For a gas grill, turn all burners to high. Cover and heat the grill for 5 to 10 minutes for charcoal or about 15 minutes for gas, then clean and oil the cooking grate.
  7. Place the pork in a single layer on the hot side of the grill and cook until well browned, about 2 minutes.
  8. Using tongs, flip each piece and cook for 1 minute (or a bit longer if your cutlets are thicker).
  9. Transfer browned side up to a platter. Stir the sauce to recombine, then drizzle desired amount over each cutlet.
  10. Tent with foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Serve with your favorite sides and the remaining sauce.

Original recipe by Diane Unger from

Spanish Potatoes with Olive Oil

With only a handful of ingredients, talk about simple, and simply delicious! Patatas Panaderas, an almost effortless, yet luxurious dish of thinly sliced potatoes accented with onions and garlic and baked in white wine and plenty of really good olive oil, is little known outside of Spain, but it deserves a place among the iconic potato dishes of Europe—trust me on this one.

In this version from Cook’s Illustrated, they cover the potatoes with a tight foil lid so that the potatoes soften. The wine is withheld for the first 40 minutes of cooking to prevent its acid from interfering with the softening of the potatoes. Loosening the foil for the last 20 minutes allows excess moisture to evaporate while keeping the potatoes moist, blond, and tender throughout.

For the best results, be sure to use a fresh, high-quality extra-virgin olive oil here. We used one imported directly from Spain: “Oro del Desierto” Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Truly, don’t cheap out on this ingredient. I was going to throw in some fresh chopped thyme from our herb garden, but then forgot. A smattering of some fresh herbs would be a nice addition, although not needed.


NOTES: This recipe uses Diamond Crystal kosher salt; if using Morton kosher salt, decrease the amount to 2⅝ teaspoons. To make peeling and slicing easier, choose larger potatoes. For slightly crispier potatoes, cook the last 20 minutes with the wine uncovered.


Spanish Potatoes with Olive Oil

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 ½ pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and sliced crosswise ¼-inch thick
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup dry white wine


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Stir potatoes and oil in large bowl until potatoes are evenly coated. Stir in salt and pepper until well distributed.
  3. Stir in onion and garlic. Transfer potato mixture to 13 by 9-inch baking dish and spread into even layer.
  4. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake until potatoes can be easily pierced with tip of paring knife, about 40 minutes.
  5. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
  6. Carefully remove foil and set aside. Pour wine evenly over potatoes. Lightly place reserved foil on top of dish, leaving sides open so moisture can escape, and return dish to oven.
  7. Bake until wine has evaporated or been absorbed (there will still be some oil bubbling around edges of dish), about 20 minutes.
  8. Carefully remove foil. Let cool for 10 minutes and serve.

The Best of Times. The Worst of Times.

Vacations—we all dream of these respites from the hum-drum of everyday life. BUT, sometimes the Powers that be, alter your preconceived notions…

Chatham, Mass is often referred to as the elbow of Cape Cod in the area described as the lower portion of the peninsula. We were fortunate to rent a Cape Cod style cabin for a little over a week in late-July around my birthday time. Built in 1965, it is situated in a secluded tree-filled lot boasting an awesome expansive back deck—complete with views of shooting stars—overlooking Oyster Bay River which feeds into Nantucket Sound; just a short car ride to Hardings Beach (shown below).


Back home in Southeast PA, the forecasters warned of a dangerous heat wave that would engulf the area for days soaring well into the 100s just as we left for the Cape, where luckily for us, we were supposed to enjoy more moderate temps in the high-80’s, turning to the mid-70s later in the week.

So for the first four days, it was vacational bliss, lounging on the beach with cool breezes and dining at some of Chatham’s finest restaurants. BUT THEN, the cool front came roaring into town in the form of at least two strong F1 tornadoes touching down right near us.

It was a late Tuesday morning and aware that thunderstorms would be rolling in during the afternoon, we decided to take a car ride into town and check out shops, ogle some gorgeous mansions, and then head over to Harwich to see where our ferry ride was going to depart for Nantucket Island the following morning. (It departed, we didn’t.)

No sooner had we pulled into our driveway when both of our cell phones sounded tornado warnings to take cover immediately. Honestly, we weren’t too concerned because we had received similar notices over the past few months, so we just shrugged it off. WRONG! By the time we navigated the steep steps to the house, extremely gusty winds made it a struggle to get through the side door. I wondered out loud where we should take cover as there was no basement access, which was locked with the owner’s personal belongings.

Within seconds, huge trees were practically bending over backwards, debris was flying all around us, the front door blew open and we lost power. After 15 or 20 minutes the worst seemed to be over so we began to assess the damage. Not good. Our staircase exit from the cabin down to our vehicle was blocked with half of a tree. Russ navigated out to the street only to find the cross street blocked with more large branches and downed wires. On his way back to the house, a delayed dropping branch hit his car windshield, smashing it enough to render it undriveable. Now what?

In the meantime, my sister Lolly and her husband Paul had been traveling from Michigan with a camper and were scheduled to roll into town that very afternoon. We still had spotty text and cell phone access so we were able to communicate with them, as they sent us photos of the widespread destruction. Because of downed trees and wires, it took them hours longer to finally reach our street. But as mentioned, it was impassable, so we met them down at the end of the road.

3.blocked streetThe cabin is behind the downed trees and wires and up a hill. Lolly tries to get phone reception in order to find an operating campground with power to set up their camper.

What can I say? A stunning vacation had turned into a bit of a nightmare, but we squared our shoulders and decided to make the best of a bad situation. It was serendipitous that my sister and her husband toted a small portable generator with them. So once they settled in at camp, they came back, navigated through the mess to our cabin with the generator, cables, candles, a solar-powered light and a gas can in tow. Now we could at least keep the refrigerator and our tech hub going, plus see in the dark.

First on our minds? Something to eat of course! Their was a charcoal grill that we used the prior night, and with hamburgers and hotdogs on hand, we fashioned a simple dinner by candle light the first night without power; followed the next night by steak and baked potatoes (initially microwaved in their camper) the next evening.


Pre-tornado meals: My birthday breakfast on the back deck. A spatchcocked grilled chicken.


Grilled rib-eyes by candlelight. Paul, Lolly and I enjoy an after-dinner glass of vino.

Here’s a blow-by-blow pictorial of the meals enjoyed on the Cape:

First dinner was enjoyed at Bistro on Main where we started with a nice dry, chilled Rosé and some crusty bread with a melted garlic butter.


Russ chose a bowl of their absolutely delicious Clam Chowder, of which we both agree, probably the best we’ve ever had! Then he went all out with a night’s Special of Baked Stuffed Local Lobster, a 1 1/4-pounder brimming with clams, lobster, chorizo and herbs served on roasted fingerling potatoes with grilled vegetables and drawn butter.

I was seafood all the way too with my choice of another Special, Seafood Penne Pasta Diablo. However, not a fan of clams (except in their chowder) or mussels, I asked them to substitute extra shrimp and scallops, which was not a problem. The ginormous bowl came laden with shrimp, scallops, lobster, salmon, cod, roasted vegetables and herbs, and a crostini slab smothered in a spicy red diablo sauce. (I doggie-bagged more than half of it home.) A perfect meal to start the vacay!!




Our second night was a birthday celebration for me at the elegant Chatham Wine Bar & Grill. The evening commenced over a bottle of French Sauvignon and were treated to an amuse-bouche (below, top) along with crusty bread and a triangle of room temp butter topped with finishing salt.


Our first choices included, for me, Lobster Ravioli, forest mushrooms, heirloom tomatoes, parmesan foam and a sourdough crumb topping. Mr. Russ selected their Carpaccio Panzanella with Snake River Farms wagyu beef on herbed focaccia and blistered heirloom tomatoes. We were getting into the groove for sure…


For main entrées we kept in theme with me choosing the Lobster and Scallops prepared with butter poached lobster tail, seared scallops, and broccolini over cavatelli with a garlic froth and lemon peel purée. And since Russ started with the wagyu beef, he continued with Wagyu Beef Duo consisting of Snake River Farms wagyu strip steak and braised short rib with rosti potatoes, onion, mustard and creamed kale. They were literally works of art on a plate! Even though it was my birthday, there was no room for dessert…


The next three nights we grilled at the cabin, two of which were out of necessity because of storm damage. During that time however, Lolly and Paul picked us up for lunch and drove us to a part of the Cape that dodged the bullet and still had restaurants up and running. That’s how we ended up at Land Ho in Orleans.


We arrived at the parking lot by 11:20 only to find out they don’t open until 11:30, but what’s 10 minutes when you’ve got all day? Apparently many others had the same idea because by the time they opened their doors, it was a packed house. To be honest, we were not sure why? While the interior was a visual trip of signs, license plates and chalkboards listing the day’s specials, the food was mediocre at best—except for my spinach salad with grilled chicken which was very good.



With electricity finally back two days later, the street now passable, and the temps in the mid-70’s with low humidity, Russ and I headed for the beach while Lolly and Paul decided to sightsee in town, with promises of meeting up for dinner at the Talkative Pig—like every other establishment, also located on Main Street, just in the other direction. It seems most of the restaurants in Chatham do not take reservations and this place was no exception, so we had about a 15 minute wait outside until our names were called.

Unfortunately, we’re not sure THEY had power back because it was quite hot inside. They must have been running their appliances on a back-up generator which didn’t have the capacity to also power the AC. Regardless, the place was packed.


Our dining guests chose the beautifully plated Bruschetta as their appetizer, while Russ was on a mission to try yet more Clam Chowder. It seems each couple was on the same page as far as entrées with Lolly and Paul opting for the Shrimp Scampi and Russ and I splitting a Wood-Fired Pizza, with the seafood in this case being half anchovies for Russ.


That evening we bid adieu to my sister and her husband as they were leaving the Cape early the next morning for adventures in other states as they made their way back to Pure Michigan. However, we welcomed Russ’ son Dan and his girlfriend Tina who trekked in from outside of Boston later that night.

After fetching our car, which had been towed off the Cape to Plymouth for repairs, we spent a lazy afternoon at Harding’s Beach. To celebrate Tina’s milestone birthday, we made a res at Pisces, which is located just across the street from The Talkative Pig. (The owner of our rental property highly suggested we dine there.)

We actually had made a reservation at Pisces for Tuesday evening with our other guests, but that’s the day the tornadoes hit, and most folks, and businesses were in survival mode so obviously that was a no-go.


However, so glad we got the chance to check it out—the food was fabulous!! After Dan and Tina ordered cocktails and Russ I selected a bottle of wine, we got down to business in making our appetizer and entrée selections. While doing so, we were served a basket of homemade focaccia accompanied by a delicious bean spread (which was so good we asked for seconds). 


The Cheese Course was all that Tina needed to see. On a slab of slate were three handpicked cheeses each paired with an accompaniment, house made shortbread cookies and bruschettini. Dan was in a greens mode and chose The Pisces Salad, with crisp hearts of romaine tossed with house made Caesar dressing, toasted garlic croutons topped with marinated white anchovies and shaved ricotta salata.



Russ and I couldn’t resist the Fresh Maine Lobster and Corn Chowder finished with white truffle oil and chives. Simply Divine!


Our main courses, in no particular order: Tina (not a seaffood fan) = Grilled Statler Chicken marinated in herbs and garlic, served with black truffle sachetti in a wild mushroom Madeira cream sauce and sautéed garlicky spinach. Dan = Oysterman’s Spaghettini consisting of freshly shucked oysters in a light parmesan cream with bacon, spinach tossed with thin spaghetti and finished with garlic and butter toasted panko.

Russ = Mediterranean-Style Fisherman’s Stew brimming with sautéed shrimp, scallops, mussels, clams, scallops and cod in a spicy lobster broth, finished with cilantro and fresh lime, and served with garlic and butter toasted panko. Lynn = Pan Seared Atlantic Salmon and Sea Scallops with pumpkin and butternut squash ravioli in a Thai curry coconut sauce topped with fresh asparagus.

Our meals were outstanding! And when we got the tab, our waitress told us that the rental owner called Pisces in advance and graciously picked up quite a substantial amount toward the total. WOW, what a pleasant surprise that was!

Instead of dessert at Pisces, the group wanted to get ice cream at the infamous Buffy’s (way on the other end of town, on Main Street of course). Apparently you haven’t lived until you stood in the long line at Buffy’s then enjoyed your treat on the pink bench…

Also, I need to give a shout-out to Mac’s Chatham Fish and Lobster joint practically just around the corner (on Main Street no less) from where we were staying. On both our first Friday night in town, and last, we enjoyed some wonderful seafood both as eat-in and take out. However, it seems on that first Friday, the entire Cape had the same idea because it took nearly an hour to wait in line to the ordering counter—there is no waiter service whether you sit inside or out. You even had to stand in that line if you called in an order!


But the food is worth it. Some of our delicacies included Local Cape Littlenecks, the best clams Russ has ever eaten; Fried Oyster Cobb Salad, delicious Garlic Fries, Lobster Tostada (which I ordered both times!), Pulled Chicken Banh Mi (Tina), and Blackened Tuna Sandwich.


OK, so maybe a few tornadoes wasn’t that bad after all. That unexpected punch from Mother Nature was softened by the wonderful food and gorgeous weather (for most of the trip). If you ever get onto, or back to, the Cape, I hope I’ve inspired you to try out a few of these splendid eating establishments. Just keep in mind that the ones that do take reservations, make them well in advance; while the others, be prepared to shoot the breeze with your friends while waiting for seats…

Sometimes it’s OK to Cheat

OK, “cheating” may be too strong of a word, but we all have (many) times when we cut corners and don’t make a meal from total scratch. Check out my version of a quick stir-fry using a store-bought simmer sauce that’s chock full of flavor and less time-consuming. So what’s to complain about?

I don’t often promote specific brands in my food blog, but in this case, the “cheat” element is Trader Joe’s Thai Basil Green Curry Simmer Sauce—the basis of which contains coconut milk and lemongrass, two Thai staples—however, use whatever suits your fancy. As far as the produce, try to incorporate a mix of colors for both the visual impact and nutrient value.


Our organic garden was bursting with herbs and green beans so I wanted to use a few of them in a stir-fry meal—and you all know I adore Thai cuisine. So the backbone for it started with our abundance of Thai basil and the beans, a jar of that sauce in our pantry, and removal of the chicken breasts from our freezer. A quick trip to the supermarket for the other veggies completed the list of ingredients.

My man Russ is the ultimate stir-fry machine. He can wok those veggies and meats around like nobody’s business. So when it comes to stir-fries, I act as sous chef prepping everything in advance (a must), and then he takes over and does his magic.

This recipe acts as a blueprint to adapt as you please, so feel free to alter your ingredient choices, but stick to the approximate amounts for balance.


Lynn's Quick Thai Stir-Fry

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 3 Tbsp. peanut oil
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4″ pieces
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, stemmed and cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 6 oz. fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 yellow and 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 3/4″ pieces
  • 3 large scallions, whites cut into 1″ pieces, greens thinly sliced at a diagonal for garnish
  • 2 Tbsp. Thai basil, roughly chopped and divided into two equal parts
  • 1 12 oz. jar Thai simmer sauce, like Trader Joe’s Thai Green Curry or a similar product
  • 1/4 cup roasted unsalted cashews, roughly chopped
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • Jasmine rice, preferably steamed with homemade chicken stock


  1. Heat a large wok over medium-high heat. In the meantime cook the rice according to package directions.
  2. Add 1 Tbsp. of peanut oil and swirl around wok.
  3. Add green beans, bell peppers and scallion whites to hot wok, stir continuously for about 4 minutes.
  4. Add 2 Tbsp. of water to wok and cover for about 4 minutes, stirring once, until veggies are crisp tender. Transfer to large bowl.
  5. Put another tbsp. of oil into wok and when hot, add mushrooms and a pinch of salt. Flip continuously for several minutes until starting to brown then transfer to bowl with other vegetables.
  6. Add last Tbsp. of oil to wok and when hot, add chicken pieces and season lightly with salt and pepper. Spread out into one layer and leave undisturbed for about 2 minutes, then turn continuously with spatula until opaque and cooked through.
  7. Lower heat and add jar of Thai sauce to chicken, stir and let sit for 1 minute. Add all of the veggies back to the wok with the chicken, stir in half of the basil and let reheat for 1 final minute.
  8. Divide rice into 4 to 6 bowls, ladle stir-fry over rice and garnish with scallion greens, chopped cashews and remaining basil. Add a sprinkle of finishing salt.

Ultimate Summer Comfort Food

Every summer I look forward to fresh locally grown produce, and among my faves are tomatoes of every variety (especially heirlooms), and sweet corn on the cob. In this area of the country, we can get really good corn starting around the July 4 holiday through most of September.

For this recipe, don’t even think about substituting frozen kernels because the flavor of this Spicy Corn Chowder depends on freshly cut kernels. The creamy soup has just the right amount of heat from the chipotle chili powder that compliments the sweetness of the corn. And for even more corn taste, “milk” the cobs and add it to the chowder when you mix in the kernels.


Mother Nature decided to pull a fast one on me right in the middle of making this recipe. Just as I was adding the corn kernels, a powerful storm moved in and knocked out our electricity. Even though it was dark as night in the middle of the afternoon, I was luckily  able to continue the process with the aid of a flashlight and a few candles on my gas stove top.


For a quick cooking chowder, it is jam-packed full of flavor! Yes, corn is KING in the summertime!

Spicy Corn Chowder

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1/2 lb. thick-cut applewood-smoked bacon (6 slices), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme
  • 5 cups fresh corn kernels (from 10 medium cobs)
  • 1/2 tsp. pure chipotle chile powder
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and coarsely grated
  • Kosher salt
  • Crumbled queso fresco or grated Monterey Jack cheese, for garnish (optional)


  1. Cook the bacon in a 5- to 6-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot over medium-high heat until browned and crisp, about 5 minutes.
  2. With a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper-towel-lined plate.
  3. Return the Dutch oven to medium-high heat and add the onion, half of the scallions, the celery, bell pepper, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the corn (and corn milk if using) and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the chipotle powder and cook for 30 seconds.
  6. Add the half-and-half and chicken broth and bring to a boil.
  7. Add the grated potato, lower the heat to medium, and cook, covered, until the potato is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  8. Season to taste with salt and transfer to 4 large (or 6 smaller) soup bowls. Garnish with the reserved bacon and scallions, and the cheese, if using, and serve.

Original recipe by David Bloom of Fine Cooking

Summer-Perfect Salad

Green Bean Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Feta was the perfect side dish to highlight the beans and herbs from our garden. Plus a bounty of tomatoes at nearby farm stands rounded out this flavorful salad. But cooking beans until they’re soft enough to be speared with a fork generally means you’ve got to boil the living daylights out of them—not to mention all their fresh, grassy flavor.

To make the beans tender, bright green, and deeply flavored, blanche them in highly concentrated salt water (¼ cup of salt to 2 quarts of water). According to Cook’s Illustrated, this quickly softens the pectin in the beans’ skins, so they became tender before losing their vibrant color; it also seasons them inside and out.

This recipe is a Mediterranean composition using mint, parsley, feta cheese, and tomatoes; but you can also switch things up with a French-style version with Dijon, capers, and tarragon; or a Southeast Asian–influenced salad with fried shallots, carrots, and peanuts.

NOTE: If you don’t own a salad spinner, lay the green beans on a clean dish towel to dry in Step 2. The blanched, shocked, and dried green beans can be refrigerated in a zipper-lock bag for up to two days.


Green bean with Cherry Tomato and Feta Salad

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 ½ pounds green beans, trimmed and cut into 1- to 2-inch lengths
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt, plus salt for blanching
  • 12 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt, plus salt for blanching
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (½ cup)


  1. Bring 2 quarts water to boil in large saucepan over high heat. Add green beans and ¼ cup salt, return to boil, and cook until green beans are bright green and tender, 5 to 8 minutes.
    Our beans were freshly picked from our garden, so the actual blanching time took only 4 minutes.
  2. While green beans cook, fill large bowl halfway with ice and water. Drain green beans in colander and immediately transfer to ice bath.
  3. When green beans are no longer warm to touch, drain in colander and dry thoroughly in salad spinner. Add them and halved tomatoes in large serving bowl.
  4. Place oil, mint, parsley, lemon juice, pepper, and salt in a small bowl and whisk together thoroughly.
  5. Drizzle the dressing over the beans and tomatoes and toss to combine; sprinkle with feta, and serve.

Original recipe courtesy of Cook’s Illustrated

Hearty Meal Minus the Meat

Like many folks nowadays, we try to cut back on meat consumption a few times a week. This Fusilli with Gourmet Mushrooms, Peas and Creamy Tarragon Sauce is hearty enough to satisfy even the most die-hard meat lover (providing they like mushrooms…)

The original recipe by Ronne Day calls for 12 ounces of bucatini pasta, but I scaled back the amount by 50% and substituted fusilli because I feel the curls tend to wrap themselves around the other ingredients better than straight pasta. And it’s almost impossible to get the fresh morels and chanterelles required of the original recipe, more power to you if you can. Instead, I used a gourmet mix of oyster, shiitake and cremini ‘shrooms.

I didn’t hold back on the chopped fresh garlic and increased the peas (fresh or frozen) to two cups. You may object to topping each serving with pea shoots, but give them a try, they really do add some welcome texture to the dish.


Fusilli with Gourmet Mushrooms, Peas and Creamy Tarragon Sauce

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1/2 stick (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs. Champagne vinegar
  • 2 medium lemons, 1 zested and juiced, 1 cut into wedges for serving
  • Kosher salt
  • 8 oz. fusilli
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 1 lb. fresh gourmet mushroom mix (oyster, shiitake, cremini and morels and chanterelles if possible), cut into bite-size pieces, (about 4 cups)
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped garlic (about 14 cloves)
  • 8 oz. mascarpone, at room temperature
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh tarragon
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 oz. pea shoots
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano, for serving


  1. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat until the milk solids are deep golden brown and the butter has a nutty aroma, about 4 minutes.
  2. Whisk in the vinegar and 1 Tbs. of the lemon juice, and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. cook the fusilli according to package directions until al dente.
  4. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Return the pasta to the pot and toss with the brown-butter mixture.
  5. In a large straight-sided skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the shallots and cook until golden brown in spots, 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown and crisp in spots, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the peas and cook, 1 minute, and then add the garlic and cook, about 15 seconds.
  8. Transfer the fusilli to the skillet, and toss with the mushroom mixture. Add the mascarpone, 1/2 cup cooking water, 2 Tbs. of the lemon juice, the tarragon, 2 tsp. of the lemon zest, 1-1/2 tsp. salt, and 1 tsp. pepper, and toss until the cheese melts and the sauce is creamy. Add cooking water as needed.
  9. Divide the pasta among four plates. Top with the pea shoots. Serve with lemon wedges, and pass the Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Original recipe by Ronne Day

All Aboard the Soup Train. Hot or Not.

Who in their right mind makes hot soup on a 95° summer day? OK, so maybe I didn’t have all of my faculties in order when planning this meal, but I did have the ingredients on hand (other than the baby bok choy, that is), and thought why not? There is scientific reasoning behind my madness, so stay with me.

Though it’s counter-intuitive, when you eat hot food, your body’s receptors notice. They relay the hotness to the brain, which in turn signals your body’s systems to cool down—you start sweating as a result. As your sweat evaporates, it cools your body down. Did you ever notice, people in countries with warm climates like India often eat very hot, spicy foods? Just sayin’…

This brightly flavored Turmeric-Ginger Dumpling Soup is ready in no time, thanks to prepared dumplings (our bag was 50% more at 1 1/2 lbs.). With plenty of homemade chicken stock, a bag of frozen pork/vegetable dumplings, lemons, scallions and all of the herbs and spices—plus only 20 minutes of my time—I was stoked to whip up this quick, tasty recipe from Fine Cooking’s “Make It Tonight” series.


Baby bok choy (shown cut in half above ) can vary in size from the length of your index finger to the length of your hand; in the end, you’re looking to have pieces that are 2 inches long, so trim accordingly. Make sure to rinse really well, because a lot of grit can lodge itself within the leaves.

We topped ours with both a drizzle of Sriracha and soy sauce, which, along with the spicy pork dumplings, provided an extra jolt. You of course may want to tame things a tad and select a milder dumpling, and omit the Sriracha.

Yes, I would jump on this train again…


Turmeric-Ginger Dumpling Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 8 1/8-inch-thick peeled slices fresh ginger, smashed
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1-1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 2 quarts lower-salt chicken broth
  • 4 3/4-inch-wide strips lemon zest
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lb. frozen Asian meat or vegetable dumplings
  • 1 lb. baby or Shanghai bok choy, halved through the stem or quartered if large and cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces
  • 1-1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 medium scallions, thinly sliced diagonally
  • Asian sesame oil, Sriracha, or soy sauce, for serving


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the ginger, garlic, and turmeric, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the broth, lemon zest, and 1/4 tsp. salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook until the flavors meld, about 5 minutes.
  3. Uncover, bring to a boil, and add the dumplings. Return to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes less than the package directs.
  4. Add the bok choy, and continue cooking until the dumplings are cooked through and the bok choy is crisp-tender, about 2 minutes total.
  5. Stir in the lemon juice, and season to taste with salt. Sprinkle with the scallions, and serve with a drizzle of sesame oil, Sriracha, or soy sauce.

By Christine Gallary from Fine Cooking

Use Your Noodle

This Cha Soba Noodles with Ginger, Mushrooms and Pork is a lovely and quick Asian meal. We loved the spicy, gingery, tangy and slightly sweet notes it had to offer.

If you can find them (which I couldn’t), cha soba noodles are subtly flavored with green tea and pair well with the flavors of the pork. Look for them where you buy noodles. If you can’t find cha, then substitute regular soba noodles. In fact, you may even want to purchase the “ready to serve” brand, which saves a bit of time. It comes with two individual 7-ounce packages. Keep in mind, when seven ounces of dried soba noodles are cooked, you’ll have more volume than the already cooked kind.


Anyway, I beefed up the amount of ground pork and shiitake mushrooms by 25% each, but kept the remaining ingredients the same. In the last few steps, I reengineered the process a tad. Instead of removing the cooked pork mixture to another bowl (why bother?), I just added the scallions and mushrooms directly to the pan with the meat. Once the scallions were softened, I stirred in the cilantro.


Cha Soba Noodles with Ginger, Mushrooms and Pork

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 7 oz. cha or regular soba noodles
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil
  • 5 cups thinly sliced fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup finely minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1 cup thinly sliced scallions
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame seeds


  1. Cook the noodles according to package directions until al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
  2. Heat 1 Tbs. of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden-brown and beginning to crisp on the edges, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Swirl the remaining 1 Tbs. oil in the same skillet. Add the pork and pepper flakes, and cook, breaking up the pork with a wooden spoon, until cooked through and no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, and mirin. Bring to a simmer while scraping up the bits on the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium low, and continue to cook until the liquid is reduced by about half.
  6. Transfer the pork mixture to a large bowl, tossing to help cool slightly.
    OR, as I did, just add the scallions and mushrooms directly into the skillet with the pork.
  7. Add the scallions, cilantro, and mushrooms to the skillet, and cook until the scallions soften. Transfer to the bowl with the pork, and toss to combine.
  8. Divide the reserved noodles among four plates, top with the pork and mushroom mixture, sprinkle with the sesame seeds, and serve.

By Emily Peterson from Fine Cooking



Bright. Bold. Saucy.

You’ll rave about this grilled Piri Piri Chicken with its spicy moist flavor profile. Serve it with a side of just picked corn-on-the-cob and fresh green beans off the vine, and you’ve got a winner, winner chicken dinner on your hands.


Piri piri often hyphenated or as one word—and with variant spellings peri peri or pili pili—is a cultivar of Capsicum frutescens, a chili pepper that grows both wild and as a crop. Its name sometimes refers to the bird’s eye chili. Sauce made from piri piri chilis (used as a seasoning or marinade) is Portuguese in origin and a very popular dish there. I see why…

Like many dishes, the history of piri-piri chicken is a little vague. According to most accounts, when the Portuguese landed in Mozambique, they discovered the malagueta pepper. Naturally, they brought some of those chilies and the recipes back to Portugal with them and even brought the chili to other parts of the world including India. In recent years, piri-piri chicken has become extremely popular around the world. That’s more due to the South Africans than the Portuguese, though.

While you may be thinking you can substitute ancho, chipotle and regular chili powders in this recipe, don’t, the flavors taste off. Instead, use New Mexico (I ordered online through Amazon) or California chili powders. If you can’t find them, both are sold as dried, whole chilies that can be ground. Or simply leave it out and increase the paprika to ¼ cup (not preferable).

Fresno chilies are fresh red chilies similar in size and shape to jalapeños but with pointier tips; if they are unavailable, fresh cherry peppers work well, too. Don’t reduce the number of fresh chilies in the sauce; all eight are needed for flavor and color. To reduce spiciness, remove some or all of the seeds and ribs from the chilies before processing. And don’t substitute Thai chilies for the Fresnos; they pack far more heat.

When we first made the sauce and starting basting the chicken, we thought Holy Hot Sauce, that was one potent marinade! Oddly, once the chicken was cooked and given a final baste with the cilantro mixture, the flavor profile really seemed to mellow. Verdict is in, we’ll definitely make it again.

For a smokier flavor, add apple, cherry or hickory wood to the fire. Keep in mind that the entire process takes over two hours, so plan in advance.

Piri Piri Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 3 Tbsp. New Mexico or California chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. ground coriander
  • 1 Tbsp. sweet paprika
  • 1½ Tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 4- to 4½-pound whole chicken, spatchcocked
  • 2 Tbsp. white sugar
  • 8 medium fresno chilies, stemmed and quartered
  • 3 medium garlic cloves
  • ⅓ cup lemon juice (2 to 3 lemons)
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems, finely chopped


  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the chili powder, cumin, coriander, paprika and salt. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the mixture to a small bowl, setting the rest aside.

  2. Loosen the skin over the chicken’s breast and thighs by gently working your fingers between it and the flesh. Using a small spoon, evenly distribute the 2 tablespoons of spice mixture under the skin, then rub it into the flesh. Set the chicken on a baking sheet.
  3. In a food processor, combine the reserved spice mixture, the sugar, chilies and garlic. Pulse until finely chopped, scraping down the bowl as needed. With the machine running, pour in the lemon juice and vinegar; process until smooth, scraping down the bowl once or twice.

  4. Measure out ¼ cup of the sauce, reserving the rest for later, and brush evenly over the chicken, including the bone side. Let stand at room temperature for 45 minutes to 1 hour.

  5. Meanwhile, prepare a grill for indirect, high-heat cooking. For a charcoal grill, spread a large chimney of hot coals evenly over one side of the grill bed; open the bottom grill vents. For a gas grill, set half of the burners to high. Heat the grill, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes, then clean and oil the cooking grate.
  6. Set the chicken skin side up on the cooler side of the grill. Cover and cook for 25 minutes.
  7. Using tongs, rotate the chicken 180 degrees to bring the far side of the chicken closest to the heat. Cover and continue to cook until the thickest part of the breast reaches 160°F and the thighs reach 175°F, another 25 to 35 minutes.

  8. Brush the chicken with 2 tablespoons of the reserved sauce, then use tongs to flip it skin side down onto the hot side of the grill. Cook until the skin is lightly charred, 1 to 2 minutes.
  9. Transfer skin side up to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Stir the cilantro into the remaining sauce, then baste the chicken once more. Serve with the sauce on the side.

IMG_3997 b 

Armenian Grilled Pork and Potatoes

Continuing on our ethnic culinary journey, this recent meal heralds from Armenia. Bone-in, blade-end pork loin chops are the best cut for this Armenian Grilled Pork with Pepper Sauce recipe because they contain a good amount of fat, which keeps the meat moist and flavorful; rib chops will work, too, but because they are leaner, it’s important not to overcook them.


The sauce that accompanies these chops was inspired by an Armenian grilled vegetable recipe called summer khorovats. It’s excellent with any grilled pork or chicken. (You will need a disposable foil pan for cooking the vegetables.) To recreate khorovats, or Armenian barbecue, use thick-cut, bone-in pork chops, marinate them in a mix of onion and oregano, then grill them with wood chips to infuse the pork with smokiness.

Don’t soak the wood chips before wrapping them in foil. Dry chips smoke more readily, which is desirable for quick-cooking foods such as pork chops. After placing the pork on the grill, don’t open the lid for 10 minutes. This allows the smoke to collect and create a more intense smokiness in the chops.

For just the two of us, we cooked only two chops as opposed to four. But they were huge, and in my case at least, I could only eat half of it. Plus, we had hickory wood chips on hand instead of apple, which might have resulted in a slightly different flavor profile, but I doubt one that would be too discernible.

You can make the meal without the skewered potatoes, but I recommend you don’t. They are fabulous, especially when cut up and mixed with those luscious peppers and tomatoes. I’m not gonna lie to you, the meal required quite an assortment of pots, pans, trays and other cookware. But my oh my, it was Magnifico!

Armenian Grilled Pork with Pepper Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print



  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into large chunks
  • 3 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 4 10- to 14-ounce bone-in pork chops, each 1 to 1½ inches thick
  • 3 Tbsp. salted butter, cut into 4 pieces (placed on the chops as a finish)
  • 3 cups apple wood chips (for smoking)


  • 1 pound plum tomatoes (4 medium), cored
  • 12 ounces Cubanelle peppers, Hungarian wax peppers or Anaheim chilies, stemmed, kept whole and seeded
  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 medium garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 Tbsp. (½ stick) salted butter, cut into 4 pieces, divided
  • ½ tsp. dried oregano
  • 3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • kosher salt and ground black pepper


  1. To prepare the chops, in a food processor, combine the oil, onion, oregano, 2 tablespoons salt and 1 tablespoon pepper. Process to form a coarse paste, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl as needed. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
  2. Using a paring knife, make verticals cuts spaced about ½ inch apart into the fat on each chop. In a large ziploc, add the chops to the onion paste and turn to coat, rubbing the mixture into the meat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before heating the grill.
  3. Loosely wrap the wood chips in a 12-by-18-inch sheet of foil, forming a flat packet roughly 7 inches square. Poke several holes in each side of the packet.
  4. Prepare a grill for indirect, high-heat cooking. For a charcoal grill, pour a heaping chimney of hot coals evenly over one side of the grill bed and set the wood chip packet on the coals; open the bottom grill vents and lid vents.
    For a gas grill, place the wood chip packet directly on one burner that will remain on during cooking; turn all burners to high. Heat the grill, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes, then clean and oil the cooking grate. If using a gas grill, turn off one burner, leaving the remaining burner(s) on high.
  5. To prepare the sauce, while grill heats, in a large bowl, toss the tomatoes, peppers and oil.
  6. Place the vegetables on the hot side of the grill, then cover and cook, turning occasionally, until lightly charred all over, 5 to 10 minutes.
  7. Transfer to a disposable foil pan and add the garlic, 2 tablespoons of butter and the oregano. Cover with foil and poke a few holes in the foil, then place the pan on the cool side of the grill.
  8. Scrape any excess marinade off the pork chops and place the chops on the cool side of the grill alongside the foil pan. Cover the grill, positioning the lid vents over the pork chops if using a charcoal grill. Cook without lifting the lid for 10 minutes.
  9. Move the chops to the hot side of the grill and cook, uncovered and turning occasionally, until well-browned on both sides and the centers near the bone are just barely pink when cut into or reach 135°F, 5 to 8 minutes.
  10. Transfer to a platter, place 1 piece of the butter on each chop and tent with foil. Let rest for 15 minutes.
  11. Meanwhile, uncover the foil pan; the vegetables and garlic cloves should be completely softened. Using a fork, mash the vegetables until broken down but a bit chunky. Use tongs to remove and discard any large pieces of tomato or pepper skins that do not break down.
  12. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter until melted, followed by the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve with the pork.

Armenian Grilled Potatoes

When purchasing potatoes for this recipe, look for ones about the size of an extra-large egg (although mine were the size of eggs on steroids) and that weigh about 2 ounces each. And for even cooking, try to select potatoes of similar shape and size. The potatoes can be precooked and refrigerated up to a day in advance; just before grilling, skewer them, brush with lard/butter and season with salt and pepper.


You’ll need two to four sturdy 12- to 14-inch metal skewers; skewers with pins that are flat rather than round or square to help prevent the potatoes from spinning around, making them easier to manage on the grill. If you’re preparing this recipe to serve with Armenian-style grilled pork chops, place the skewered potatoes on the hot side of the grill after you’ve removed the chops and allow the potatoes to brown while the chops rest.

Don’t precook the potatoes at a rolling boil; this can cause the skins to split. Aim to keep the water at a gentle but constant simmer. Don’t skewer the potatoes without first chilling them in an ice bath. Chilling firms the potatoes slightly so that they cut more cleanly when scored with a paring knife.

Armenian Grilled Potatoes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 pounds small yukon gold potatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. lard or salted butter, melted
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. minced fresh oregano
  • Lemon wedges, to serve


  1. In a large pot over high, bring the potatoes and enough water to cover by about 1 inch to a boil. Reduce to medium-high, cover partially and cook until a paring knife inserted into the largest potato meets just a little resistance, adjusting the heat as needed to maintain a gentle but steady simmer, 8 to 12 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice water. Drain the potatoes in a colander, then transfer to the ice water. Let stand for 10 minutes. Drain again and pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Thread the potatoes lengthwise onto each of three 12- to 14-inch flat metal skewers, dividing them evenly.
  4. Using a paring knife, make 4 or 5 parallel crosswise cuts into each potato, stopping when knife blade reaches the skewer; leave the second sides of the potatoes uncut.
  5. Brush the potatoes on all sides with about ½ of the melted butter and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Prepare a grill for high-heat cooking. For a charcoal grill, pour a large chimney of hot coals evenly over one side of the grill bed and open the bottom grill vents and lid vents; for a gas grill, heat all burners to high. Heat the grill, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes, then clean and oil the cooking grate.
  7. Place the skewered potatoes on the hot side of the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over, 7 to 10 minutes.
  8. Transfer to a platter, brush with the remaining butter. Sprinkle with additional salt and pepper and the oregano. Serve with lemon wedges.

Both recipes by Diane Unger from

Brandywine Prime

Birthdays only roll around once a year (a good thing at my age), so we always try to make it memorable for each other. Last year, even though it wasn’t a milestone, Russ bought tickets to the Longwood Gardens Fountain & Fireworks show “Monet in the Garden.” Originally, I was going to treat him to one of their fountain and fireworks shows for his birthday back in mid-May, but they were sold out. Well, either way, both of us got to enjoy(?) it for someone’s birthday.

Our original plan was to celebrate beforehand with a special dinner at Longwood’s fine dining restaurant, 1906. Apparently however, they close that restaurant early (like mid-afternoon early) on the days when they have the fireworks concerts. So after a little research, we found Brandywine Prime at the location of the historic Chadds Ford Inn less than 5 miles from the gardens. Ironically, that is the same restaurant I dined at with my parents after a trip to Longwood around 25 years ago!

The best laid plans right? You may recall from a previous post that it rained so hard that day, and never got out of the 60’s (in mid-July!!) so we grudgingly changed our plans to eat a quick pizza on our way to Longwood Gardens. It poured pretty much the entire show 😦

But I guess we’re gluttons for punishment because almost one year later we got tickets for another Fountains & Fireworks show and revived our plans to dine at Brandywine Prime


A short clip of this year’s spectacular fireworks display.

From the time Brandywine Prime opened in February of 2007, it has been a unique dining destination, a restaurant that brings distinctive American fare to the charming and historic Chadds Ford community. It has been lovingly modernized to offer a comfortable dining experience. One of the reasons for Brandywine Prime’s success has been the willingness by the owners to adapt and change based on what customers want and expect.

It’s rustic charm and casual atmosphere can be attributed to the fact that it is situated in the beautifully restored 300-year-old Chadds Ford Inn. The superb traditional American fare of steaks, chops, and seafood, brings an elegant and upscale touch to the restaurant. Everything is made from scratch including their own bread and desserts. They place an emphasis on prime steaks and chops and seasonally changing seafood selections that arrive daily.

fireworks movie

After an hour-and-a-half touring Longwood Gardens (the weather was sunny and hot this year), we arrived a few minutes early for our dinner reservation, and were shown immediately to an upstairs corner window table. Due to the somewhat early time, only one other four-top was already seated, but the place was filling up quickly when we left.


But let’s get down to the reason we came. The Food. The meal was fantastic!! Our very friendly and seasoned waiter started us off with glasses of the day’s featured wine, a Grenache Red. Shortly thereafter, we were served a basket of still warm, crusty bread accompanied by soft triangles of butter scattered with a red sea salt (apparently a restaurant staple).

I zeroed in on the Jumbo Lump Crab Cocktail from the Raw Bar section of the menu. Holy Moses, the bowl was brimming with the largest lump crab I’ve ever seen—and I’ve eaten a lot of it in my lifetime! The succulent morsels were atop a bed of wakame seaweed (not visible in photo), and garnished with red sea salt and an artisan olive oil, with a side of wonderful cocktail sauce.


A coworker with Russ informed him that the Kennett Square Mushroom Tart was phenomenal so that’s where he started. Filled with a triple cream brie, local sautéed mushrooms are topped with truffle oil and microgreens; each bite literally melted in your mouth (I know, because he gave me a taste).


For entrées, Russ opted for the 14-ounce Milk Fed Veal Chop from the Steakhouse Grill section of the menu. It was served simply with butter-braised French green beans with herbed butter and their homemade BP steak sauce. While he had declared my appetizer as the winner of the two choices, he claimed the chop was the BEST veal he can ever remember eating, and told the waiter too. He also couldn’t pass up a side of Truffle Parmesan Fries that came with a nice crisp, a touch of salt, lots of grated parm and a side of ketchup.



I stuck with the seafood theme and chose the Grilled Faroe Island Salmon, which was wild caught and artfully plated with tender asparagus, salt-roasted beets, pesto vinaigrette and a Meyer lemon aioli. Yes, it was quite good, but I had to agree, Russ won the entrée round with his veal chop.


With zero room left to even consider coffee or dessert, we paid the bill, which was by-the-way a bit pricey, but well worth it. So if you ever find yourself in the Chadds Ford Chester County, PA area, treat yourself to some fine dining at Brandywine Prime—and take in a stroll through Longwood Gardens…

Slammin’ Carolina-Style Barbecued Chicken

Y’all are aware, barbecue is practically synonymous with summer here in the United States, and some would insist South Carolina is the spiciest. This southern state is one of several that claim to be the “birthplace of barbecue,” and it has a whole host of different sauce options if you’re looking to change it up—like this tangy sauce which is a nice reprieve from the traditional red BBQ sauces.

The Midlands of South Carolina serve a barbecue sauce that is easily recognizable thanks to its brightly colored mustard base. This recipe, Carolina-Style Barbecued Chicken is sweet and tangy, and arguably the one the state is most known for. Here, mustard tames the sweetness of the brown sugar. If you don’t have regular yellow mustard on hand, substitute Dijon-style like I did—it provides a golden yellow color and a bit more twang.


Because daughter Julia was visiting, I cooked 4 each of both dark (Hubby’s preference) and light meat (the ladies’ choice); and being the “saucy” folks that we are, I increased the marinade mixture. Well, I’m so glad I did because the chicken was slammin’ good! This might be my new favorite BBQ sauce; and in fact, we’re thinking of smothering our next racks of grilled baby back ribs with it…. stay tuned…


TIP: If using breasts halves, chop each one into two so that the pieces are approximately the same size as the thighs.

Carolina-Style Barbecued Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1/2 cup yellow or Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce, such as Frank’s
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 8 pieces skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs and/or breasts
  • Vegetable oil, for brushing
  • 1 large tomato, sliced


  1. Preheat a grill for direct and indirect heat to high.
  2. Whisk the mustard, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard powder, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in a bowl. Whisk in the butter.
  3. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, then toss with about one-third of the mustard sauce in a large ziploc until coated. Refrigerate for at least 20 minutes and up to 2 hours.
  4. Brush the grill grates generously with vegetable oil. Remove the chicken from the fridge.
  5. Put about 1/4 cup of the remaining mustard sauce in a small bowl for basting and reserve the rest for topping.
  6. Sear the chicken over the direct heat until well marked on both sides, about 2-3 minutes each side.
  7. Move the chicken to the indirect heat side of the grill and cover, basting occasionally with the sauce, and flipping after about 10 minutes. It is ready when a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thighs registers 170 degrees F, 10 to 12 minutes per side.
  8. Serve the chicken with the reserved mustard sauce, sliced tomato and other sides as desired.

Adapted from a recipe from Food Network Kitchen