Coriander-Orange Skirt Steak with Arugula

This dish, inspired by a recipe in “Season” by Nik Sharma, delivers a flavorful steak plus salad using just a handful of ingredients. A simple spice mix spiked with orange zest seasons both the steak and the vinaigrette that dresses the arugula; while the peppery bite of the baby arugula complements the bold flavors of the meat.


Don’t use extra-virgin olive oil, as its smoke point is too low for searing the steak (which we increased to 1 1/2pounds); regular olive oil is the better choice. Alternatively, use 1 tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral oil for cooking the steak and 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in the dressing.


With few ingredients, this meal comes together quickly. As a speedy side that is also low-carb, we paired it with a Caprese salad of heirloom tomatoes, sliced mozzarella, fresh-picked green and purple basil chiffonade and a lite balsamic dressing.


Coriander-Orange Skirt Steak with Arugula

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 Tbsp. finely grated orange zest, plus 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp. ground coriander
  • 1 Tbsp. garam masala
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1-lb. (or larger) skirt steak, trimmed and cut crosswise into 5- to 6-inch sections, patted dry
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsp. sherry vinegar
  • 5-ounce container baby arugula


  1. In a small bowl, stir together the orange zest, coriander, garam masala, 2½ teaspoons salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.
  2. Measure 1 tablespoon of the mixture into a large bowl; set aside. Rub the remaining mixture onto both sides of each piece of steak, massaging it into the meat. Let stand for about 15 minutes.
  3. In a nonstick 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of oil until shimmering. Add the steak in a single layer and cook without disturbing until well browned, 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Flip and cook until the second sides are well browned and the center of the thickest piece reaches 125°F for medium-rare or 130°F for medium, another 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a platter, tent with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.
  5. To the reserved spice mixture, whisk in the orange juice, sherry vinegar, ¼ teaspoon salt and the remaining 2 tablespoons oil.
  6. Add the arugula, toss, then transfer to a platter. Slice the steak thinly against the grain and place on top of the arugula.


Bookmark This Quick Weeknight Dinner

Sheet Pan Salmon With Potatoes and Broccolini is another “Easy Dinner” from the Real Simple Magazine (RS), December 2018 issue. In the name of convenience, less dishes to wash, and healthy ingredients, I figured this was a must-try for a weeknight meal. Not only does this simple salmon and veggie dinner come together on one sheet pan, it keeps your shopping list short—a double win!

However, my main concern was with how the broccolini was treated. There was no way it was going to be anywhere near done in only two minutes under our broiler. (Gas ovens tend to have lousy broilers.) By steaming it in the microwave until crisp tender, the broccolini was at least partially cooked before I added it to the sheet pan.


I cut our 1 1/2-pound salmon fillet into three portions as opposed to four, weighing in at 8 ounces a piece. Therefore I reworked the cooking time table so that after the potatoes roasted (which were pretty small) for only 12 minutes, I added the salmon (on top of some sliced shallots), and cooked everything another 7 minutes before adding the broccolini. Then I broiled it all another 5 minutes total, turning the sheet as necessary for even browning.

The key to making this recipe work is the timing—and getting the broccolini just right. Starting the potatoes off first allows them to get a head start, instead of overcooking the salmon or fussy steps. The sauce is tangy and mahvelous, and brings everything together. Two thumbs up!

Sheet Pan Salmon with Potatoes and Broccolini

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


  • 1 pound small Yukon Gold potatoes, halved
  • ½ cup olive oil, divided
  • 1¼ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ¾ teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 4 6-oz. salmon fillets
  • 1 pound Broccolini, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot thinly sliced, (optional for salmon bed)
  • 1½ teaspoon Dijon mustard


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss potatoes with 2 tablespoons oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, rub salmon with 1 tablespoon oil and season with ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  3. Add salmon to sheet (over a bed of shallots slicing if using) and roast until potatoes are tender, 5 more minutes.
  4. Turn potatoes, add Broccolini to sheet, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon oil. Heat broiler and broil all until salmon and Broccolini are browned, 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Whisk lemon juice, minced shallot, and mustard with remaining ¼ cup oil and ¼ teaspoon salt and drizzle over salmon and vegetables.

Lean, Light & Bright Burgers

Chicken Burgers with Lime, Pepper and PickleWho knew a lean burger could taste so light and bright? Lime zest and juice as well as fresh cilantro and red bell pepper brighten these babies beautifully. And the addition of dijon mustard with the mayonnaise raises the level of tang just a smidge more.

Every now and again it’s nice to change things up. And even though a grilled beef burger is an all-American favorite, especially during the warm weather months, these chicken patties are sure to make you raise an eyebrow or two. 

Because the meat is so lean, they are best cooked in a cast-iron skillet as opposed to on the grill. You’ll still get a nice crisp char on the outside, but the meat will remain juicy on the interior.


Don’t leave off the pickle; that little bit of tang and crunch makes a big difference.


Chicken Burgers with Lime, Pepper and Pickles

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 lb. 98% lean ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 2 tsp. finely grated lime zest
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs. canola oil
  • 4 provolone cheese slices
  • 8 butter lettuce leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 4 hamburger buns, toasted if you like
  • Sliced dill pickle chips


  1. Heat oil over medium-high in a large cast-iron skillet until shimmering.
  2. Put the chicken, onion, bell pepper, cilantro, garlic, lime zest and juice, pepper flakes, and 1-1/2 tsp. salt in a medium bowl, and use your hands to mix well (the mixture will be very moist).
  3. Divide evenly to make four patties. Put the burgers in the hot skillet.
  4. Sear, flipping once halfway through until the burgers are cooked to 160°F, about 7 minutes each side.
  5. Flip one last time and top each burger with a slice of cheese. Let melt about one minute more. Temperature should now be 165°F.
  6. Meanwhile, mix the mayonnaise with the dijon mustard in a small bowl until well combined.
  7. Spread the mayonnaise/mustard sauce on each of the bottom buns. Top with the burgers, lettuce, pickles, and top bun, and serve with chips or fries.

Adapted from a recipe by Diana Andrews

Steak, Snap Pea and Asparagus Stir-Fry

We love stir-fries with lots of veggies and this one was everything it claimed to be—easy, fast and incredibly good. And is par for the course, we often make a few tweaks based on our own preferences or comments from other reviewers. In this case, we reduced the mirin (by half) which lends a sweet taste; instead we added chili garlic sauce for a more spicy note.

Several other alterations included increasing the amount of sirloin steak to 1.75 pounds (we wanted leftovers), adding a red bell pepper (great way to add a pop of color and more nutrients), increasing the snap peas to 12 ounces, and using a wok instead of a skillet. However, the recipe below is the Bon Appétit original.

You bet this was a keeper, and we totally enjoyed leftovers for lunch the next couple of days.


Steak, Snap Pea and Asparagus Stir-Fry

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 lb. sirloin steak
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, divided
  • 4 Tbsp. vegetable oil, divided
  • 8 oz. sugar snap peas
  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • 6 scallions
  • 1 2″ piece ginger
  • 3 Tbsp. mirin (Japanese rice wine); or 50-50 mix of mirin and chili garlic sauce
  • ¼ cup oyster sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • Kos


  1. Place 1 lb. sirloin steak on a cutting board and pat dry with paper towels. Slice meat crosswise as thinly as possible.
  2. Transfer steak to a medium bowl and add 1 Tbsp. cornstarch1 Tbsp. soy sauce, and 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil. Toss with tongs until meat is evenly coated.
  3. Prep the rest of your ingredients: Trim ends of 8 oz. snap peas and remove any strings; transfer to another medium bowl. Snap woody ends off of 1 bunch asparagus and discard. Cut asparagus crosswise into 1″ pieces; transfer to bowl with snap peas.
  4. Trim both ends of 6 scallions and set aside 2 scallions for serving. Cut 4 remaining scallions crosswise into 1″ pieces and add to bowl with asparagus and snap peas.
  5. Scrub 2″ piece ginger under running water, then slice crosswise as thinly as possible; add to bowl with the other veggies.
  6. Combine 3 Tbsp. mirin, ¼ cup oyster sauce, 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar, and remaining 1 Tbsp. soy sauce in a glass measuring cup and stir with a spoon to incorporate.
  7. Heat 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a large skillet, preferably stainless steel, over medium-high. When oil shimmers across surface of skillet, add vegetable mixture. Cook, shaking skillet often, just until asparagus are tender but still retain a hint of crunch, about 3 minutes. Return vegetables to original bowl.
  8. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil in skillet over medium-high. Add steak, arranging slices in a single layer. Cook, undisturbed, until juices start to pool on surface of meat and underside is browned, about 3 minutes. Using a thin metal spatula, scrape bottom of skillet and loosen meat.
    We had to sear the meat in two batches, putting the first batch in with the bowl with the cooked veggies.
  9. Immediately add cooked vegetables and sauce to skillet and cook, tossing constantly, until meat is fully cooked and sauce is thick and bubbling, 1–2 minutes more.
  10. Remove from heat and let cool for a minute or two. Season stir-fry lightly with salt. Divide 2 cups cooked rice among plates. Spoon stir-fry over. Thinly slice reserved 2 scallions and scatter over.

Adapted from a recipe by Claire Saffitz from Bon Appétit

Easy Appetizer from The Basque Book

It’s been six years since our visit to lovely San Sebastian, a coastal town firmly ensconced in the Basque Country of Spain. A relatively new cookbook for Russ, The Basque Book (by Alexandra Raij with Eder Montero) made us fall in love with the cuisine all over again—although we’ve been pretty regular Spanish chefs in the interim.

We were heading to a small house party at the home of friends Paula and Mike and wanted to contribute a couple of appetizers. One of them, Marinated Mushrooms with Vermouth and Garlic, was a simple recipe from The Basque Book. Snappy to make, they can be popped into your mouth right away (or at least once they’ve cooled), but if for some odd reason you have any left over, they are even better a day or two later—so you might want to make an extra batch—just sayin’.

The final step is to thread the ‘shrooms onto little skewers, but we didn’t bother. Simply plating them in a serving dish with a large spoon and a side of crusty baguette to mop up the tasty sauce was party-friendly enough. Vegetarian- and vegan-approved.


Marinated Mushrooms with Vermouth and Garlic

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 tsp minced garlic (OK, I used 1 Tbsp.)
  • 1//2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds small, white button mushrooms
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp dry vermouth
  • Juice of 1 lemon


  1. In a large saucepan, warm the garlic and oil over medium heat for about 30 seconds. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
  2. Add the mushrooms and 1 tsp salt. Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms begin to release their juices and shrink just a little.
  3. Add the pepper flakes and parsley, and cook for about 2 minutes longer.
  4. Add the vermouth and deglaze the pan, stirring to dislodge any browned bit. Cook for about 6 more minutes, until the remaining liquid has a syrupy consistency.
  5. Remove from the heat, add a pinch of salt, and stir in the lemon juice. Transfer the mushrooms and their liquid to a dish, let cool, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  6. Thread the mushrooms on bamboo skewers, arrange on a platter, pour the liquid from the dish over the mushrooms, and serve at room temperature.

Meet Your Mojo

Grilled Shrimp with Turmeric Mojo Sauce is like a tropical curry sauce with a kick and it’s a great recipe for a last-minute grilling idea that’s sure to impress guests. If you make the mojo ahead of time it will literally only take 15 minutes to marinate the shrimp and 2 or 3 more to grill. That’s barely enough time to pop open a cold one!

Shrimp, unlike chicken or steak, can take on the flavors of a bright, acidic marinade in minutes, making it a good choice for last-minute grilling. You actually don’t want to let shrimp sit in the marinade for too long because the acid in the citrus will start to firm up and cook the flesh. Even though the original recipe didn’t say how long to marinate, we did for 15 minutes, which I noted below.


Because we had a two-pound bag of extra large shrimp in the freezer, we thawed the entire amount. The supermarket wasn’t carrying habaneros, but I always keep jars of pickled chiles on hand and substituted serranos with their seeds, which added plenty of heat. You can determine how much to include based on your own tolerance for spiciness.

We both concur, turning the shrimp would be much easier if threaded onto metal (or soaked wooden) skewers instead of flipping each crustacean individually… next time. Rice, or couscous steamed with shellfish stock makes a nice base on which to lay the shrimp and soak up some of the extra marinade. And a grilled veggie like asparagus, rounds out the meal without using additional cookware.


Grilled Shrimp with Turmeric Mojo Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 habanero chiles, seeds removed, chopped
  • 1 3″ piece ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
  • ⅓ cup fresh lime juice (about 2 limes)
  • ⅓ cup fresh orange juice (about 1 large)
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
  • ½ tsp. ground turmeric
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil, plus more for grill
  • Kosher salt
  • 1½ lb. large shrimp, peeled, deveined
  • Cooked short-grain white rice or couscous (for serving; optional)
  • Flaky sea salt


  1. Prepare a grill for medium-high heat. Pulse garlic, chiles, ginger, lime juice, orange juice, sugar, vinegar, and turmeric in a food processor until combined and almost smooth. With the motor running, gradually stream in ⅓ cup oil and process until emulsified.
  2. Pour half of the sauce into a small bowl; season with kosher salt. Set aside for serving.
  3. Transfer remaining sauce to a medium bowl and add shrimp. Season with kosher salt and toss to coat. Marinate about 15 minutes.
  4. Clean and oil grate, then immediately arrange shrimp on grill. Grill until bright pink and lightly charred, about 1 minute per side.
  5. Divide shrimp among bowls. Spoon reserved sauce over; sprinkle with sea salt. Serve with rice or couscous if desired.

Recipe found in the June/July Grilling Issue of Bon Appétit


Grilled Veggies: Stars of the Show

One of the easiest, most satisfying, quick and pan-less ways to prepare vegetables is grilling them. There’s no question that vegetables are good for you because they’re filled with vitamins and nutrients that we need to stay healthy. But sometimes, even for many adults, they just aren’t appealing enough to eat. Grilling them is another matter. Why?

Because the flavor is enhanced naturally. While marinades are definitely delicious—and some of the recipe links below bare that out—they aren’t a necessity when grilling vegetables. Because of the smoke from the grill, the vegetables are infused with a subtle barbecue flavor that appeals to everyone. But that’s not all.

The heat from the grill caramelizes the natural sugars inside the vegetables, causing them to taste sweeter and more flavorful, as in the spring onions and portobellos that we recently grilled. Simply tossed or brushed with a good extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper, then arranged on a hot grill for 3-5 minutes per side, perfection!

Loin lamb chops, spring onions and portobellos were the perfect grilling trio as they all took less than 10 minutes to cook. They were all simply brushed with a good extra-virgin olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper prior to grilling.

Found a veggie you’ve never tried? Give it a ride on the ole barby. You’ll find that when you’re unsure about how to cook a vegetable, grilling is the simplest answer. It’s also the easiest—no prep time involved if you’re too lazy to do any slicing or chopping, and we’ve all been there, right? You will get the best results using vegetables with a low water content. Examples include mushrooms, onions, cabbage, asparagus, and bell peppers; although we’ve been known to grill eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and bok choy too.

An added bonus for when you host both plant-based diet followers and die-hard meat eaters. Grilled vegetables can be the centerpiece of a vegetarian meal or an accompaniment to a main dish.

So go for it! Heat up your grill. When it is medium hot, either place your vegetables on the grill, in a foil pouch or on skewers. If you are using dense vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes, these take longer to cook, so add them first. Turn the vegetables when they need it and brush on more marinade or oil when required. If you can pierce the vegetables easily with a sharp knife, they are ready to eat.

Some past postings of vegetables we grilled:

Mixed Medley in a Basket:
medley in a basket

Eggplant and Tomato Skewers:

Baby Bok Choy:

Lime-Miso Marinated Asparagus:

Deconstructed Veggie Kebabs:

Filipino Adobo Chicken—Our Way

Just as there are umpteen versions of Italian Spaghetti Sauce and Mexican Salsa Roja, you can also find a plethora of recipes for Filipino Adobo Chicken. To clarify, “adobo” refers to a method of marinating and stewing for any cut of meat or fish in a briny mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, and spices. However, don’t confuse Filipino adobo with the spicy Spanish adobo sauce. Although they both share the Spanish name, they are vastly different in flavor and ingredients.


There are basic adobo ingredients, yet often a variety of others are included. Vinegar and soy sauce are the heart of adobo, but over the centuries, other liquids have occasionally been added to the brine. Some combos include coconut milk, which mellows the strong flavors of the vinegar and soy sauce. Others include sugar or honey to add a touch of sweetness and an almost teriyaki-like characteristic. The flavor of adobo can also be varied depending on the type of vinegar used. In the Philippines, coconut vinegar, rice vinegar, or cane vinegar are the most common.

Over the past Winter holiday season, Hubby attended a work function where one of his coworkers contributed a crockpot full of her mother’s version of this dish. He was so impressed, he asked the officemate to email him the recipe, which she did—but we didn’t get around to making it until late Spring. Anyway, the recipe below reflects my changes, which Mr. Hubs also loved.


If using bone-in chicken breasts, cut the split breasts into quarters so that they are a more uniform in size to the dark pieces to ensure even cooking, plus the marinade will penetrate more of the meat. BTW, for additional flavor, swap out unsweetened pineapple juice for the 1 cup of water. If you serve it over rice (best steamed with homemade chicken stock instead of water), spoon the extra sauce over.

Trust me, you’re gonna hope there are leftovers!


Filipino Adobo Chicken

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 Cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 Cup soy sauce
  • 3 Whole garlic bulbs, smashed and peeled
  • 1 Tsp. fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. adobo seco seasoning
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped; plus more for garnish
  • 3 Lbs. bone-in chicken thighs, drumsticks, breasts; or a combination thereof
  • 2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 Cup water (or unsweetened pineapple juice)


  1. Combine the first seven ingredients in a small bowl. Add with chicken to a ziploc bag; refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.
  2. Drain, reserving marinade. Pat chicken dry.
  3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; brown chicken on both sides for about 4 minutes per side.
  4. Stir in water (or pineapple juice) and reserved marinade. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, until chicken is no longer pink and sauce is slightly reduced, 20-25 minutes. The meat is done when an instant-read registers 165°. If some pieces are done before others, move them to a platter and cover with foil.
    NOTE: If you want to reduce the sauce further (which is what I did), move all of the chicken to a platter when it reaches 150° and cover with foil. The meat temperature will rise as it rests. When the sauce is to your liking, add the chicken back to the skillet for a minute or two while spooning the marinade over the meat.
  5. Serve chicken immediately over steamed rice with cooking sauce.


Linguine with Cauliflower and Prosciutto

Anchovies and cauliflower are a classic Italian pairing; the anchovies instill a deep, savory (not fishy) flavor that’s made even better here with the addition of garlic, fresh rosemary, and red pepper flakes. All that, plus a little cured pork, guarantees excitement in every bite.

Often in recipes such as this, we reduce the pasta by 50%, so here we used only 8 ounces as opposed to 12. In addition, we increased the prosciutto by 50%, incorporated orange cauliflower for a pop of color, and added extra red pepper flakes. Then for an extra boost of flavor we used homemade chicken stock instead of boxed or canned, and threw in some extra grated cheese.

The end result was really good. The only other change we’d make is next time we’ll crisp the prosciutto before adding the cauliflower to lessen the chance of it clumping and infuse some of the taste into the veggie. I noted this step into the directions below.


Linguine with Cauliflower and Prosciutto

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • Kosher salt
  • 4 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small head cauliflower (about 1-1/2 lb.), cut into 1-1/2-inch florets and halved lengthwise
  • 12 oz. linguine
  • 6 anchovy fillets, rinsed well, patted dry, and finely chopped (about 1 Tbs.)
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2/3 cup lower-salt chicken broth
  • 6 thin slices prosciutto or speck, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
  • 1/2 oz. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup)
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 Tbs. of the butter and 1 Tbs. of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the prosciutto and cook until crisp, stirring occasionally, about 2 minutes; remove from pan to a side dish.
  3. Add half of the cauliflower, flat side down in a single layer, and season lightly with salt. Cook until golden brown on one side, about 2 minutes.
  4. Flip and cook until the cauliflower is tender, about 3 minutes more. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining cauliflower, 1 Tbs. butter, and 1 Tbs. oil; set aside.
  5. Boil the pasta according to package directions until al dente.
  6. Meanwhile, melt 1 Tbs. of the butter in the skillet over medium heat. Add the anchovies, rosemary, garlic, and pepper flakes. Cook, stirring, until the garlic is softened, about 2 minutes.
  7. Add the broth, and cook until reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes more.
  8. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, and then drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the skillet along with the cooked prosciutto, half of the cheese, and the remaining 1 Tbs. butter; toss until the butter is melted.
  9. Add the cauliflower, toss to combine, and season to taste with salt. Add some pasta water to loosen the sauce, if necessary.
  10. Serve topped with the remaining cheese and the parsley.

Recipe adapted from one by Arlene Jacobs of Fine Cooking

Adults Only Dessert

Belly up to the bar—the ice cream bar, that is. Häagen-Dazs  has risen to fill a void of boozy frozen desserts with the release of its new Spirits Collection. Each pint features a different variety of popular liquor, paired alongside indulgent mix-ins, and Häagen-Dazs’ famously rich ice cream. After eyeballing a full-page ad in a recent cooking magazine, something compelled me to purchase the Bourbon Vanilla Bean Truffle variety, and I almost never eat ice cream or dessert, but the Husbster wasn’t about to dissuade me…

Although the bourbon one may not sound too exciting compared to the line’s other offerings, this flavor goes to show that ice cream doesn’t have to be complicated to win you over. With a dense, sweet, vanilla bean-flecked base, we found it a pleasure to appreciate this variety’s superb consistency and creamy mouthfeel, and the tiny truffles speckled throughout provided just enough intermittent bursts of crunch and texture.

IMG_3334To up the decadent ante, serve with a Dark Chocolate Godiva heart…

Rather than finding recognizable streams of bourbon swirled throughout, we tasted hints of booze in each spoonful and found the alcohol’s slight edge helped to make this flavor seem like an “adult’s only” version of vanilla bean ice cream (which as a kid was one of my faves). And don’t worry about getting schnockered over dessert, it only contains less than 0.5% alcohol by volume.

Rounding out the collection are three more flavors: Rum Tres Leche, Irish Cream Brownie and Stout Chocolate Pretzel Crunch. Apparently you can also find nondairy amaretto black cherry almond toffee and Irish cream cookie squares in your freezer aisle. The summer just started, so you have all season to indulge…

Roasted Salmon with Mustard and Tarragon

Attention all you salmon lovers. You simply can’t get much more simple than this recipe! Fresh tarragon pairs beautifully with salmon, and just a little goes a long way in this simple, yet flavorful meal.

Instead of six fillets, we only cooked four, but kept the portions of the remaining ingredients the same. We didn’t have much leftover, but what there was, was perfect as a dressing for the accompaniment of steamed asparagus.


Roasted salmon with Mustard and Tarragon

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: super easy
  • Print


  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbs. plus 1 tsp. coarse-grained Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh tarragon
  • 6 6-oz. center-cut, skin-on salmon fillets
  • Kosher salt


  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Line a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with foil.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, mustard, lime juice, and tarragon.
  3. Arrange the salmon skin side down on the baking sheet and sprinkle lightly with salt. Spread the mayonnaise mixture evenly over each fillet (there may be a little left over).
  4. Roast the salmon until just cooked through, 10 to 14 minutes. (To test for doneness, poke a paring knife all the way through the thickest part of one fillet and hold it there for 5 seconds. Then touch the flat side of the knife gently to your lower lip. If the knife feels warm, the fish is cooked through.)
  5. Using a spatula, lift the fillets off the baking sheet, leaving the skin behind, and transfer to plates.

Round out the meal with asparagus and/or some sort of potato.

Adapted from a recipe by Laraine Perri 


Peruvian Pesto

In Peru, the pasta is partially boiled, then drained and added to the sauce, where it finishes cooking in the skillet. This technique effectively under-hydrates the pasta and allows it to absorb—rather than simply be coated by—the flavorful pesto found on the cooking site.

Of course this is not spaghetti with pesto. It is tallarines verde. It is a Peruvian dish. It is a result of the mix of both cultures. — Gaston Acurio, Peruvian mega-chef and unabashed ambassador for his country’s cuisines

For more than two decades, Acurio has pushed the world to take notice of Peru’s vibrant cuisines, and to transform Lima into a culinary capital. In the process, he created a global empire of dozens of restaurants and opened a culinary school for children from impoverished areas.

For a bright color and fresh flavor, purée ¾ pound of spinach for this Peruvian Pesto. A quick simmer in a skillet takes the raw edge off the onion and spinach, giving a depth and complexity lacking in traditional raw pestos. Parmesan and a splash of cream enrich the dish, and a healthy squeeze of lime juice ties everything together.

In Peru, it is traditional to accompany the dish with potatoes and top it with fried steak or fish. Here, consider it an American take on the Peruvian variation of the Italian immigrants. Don’t be alarmed if the skillet seems very full after adding the pasta. Use tongs to gently lift and stir the noodles, and a rubber spatula to scrape the edges of the pan.

Typically we cut back on the amount of pasta in these recipes by about a third. However, I suggest using the full 12 ounces, if not a pound, because it makes a huge amount of pesto. For a finish, I squeezed the lime over the plated pasta, added a pinch of red pepper flakes and a sprinkle of finishing salt.


Peruvian Pesto

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 12 ounces linguine or fettuccine
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 small)
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup water
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces baby spinach (about 12 cups)
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 2 ounces parmesan cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
  • 4 ounces queso fresco, crumbled (about 1 cup)
  • Lime wedges, to serve


  1. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until just tender but not fully cooked, about 2 minutes less than package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving 1½ cups of the cooking water.
  2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine the onion, oil, ¼ cup water, garlic and 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Add a third of the spinach and process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining spinach in 2 batches, processing until smooth after each.
  3. Transfer the spinach mixture to a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to thicken, 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Add the reserved pasta water and return to a simmer, then add the pasta and stir to coat. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is al dente and the pesto no longer appears watery, 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the heavy cream. Off the heat, stir in the Parmesan, then taste and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle with the queso fresco and a garnish of lime wedges. Serve with a simple side salad for a complete meal.

Grilled Tuna Steaks with an Asian Flair

In just a handful of ingredients, this Grilled Tuna Steaks with Soy-Mustard Sauce recipe manages to convey a whole range of flavors and textures, especially combined with the grilled baby bok choy, this smaller variety is more tender than the mature version. And enough can’t be said about the health benefits of this veggie!

Bok choy is a type of Chinese cabbage that doesn’t look like the typical cabbage. Instead, it has dark green leaves connected to white stalks. One cup has just 9 calories and barely a trace of fat, yet delivers protein, dietary fiber and almost all the essential vitamins and minerals. It is in the top three on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, meaning it delivers one of the highest levels of nutrients per calorie compared to other foods.

And that’s not all. It’s also one of the top anti-inflammatory foods on the planet, making it a vital piece of the healthy lifestyle puzzle. Its mild, sweet flavor and crispy texture make it a great addition to any dish, as well as an alternative to other leafy greens. Think kale is too bitter? Can’t eat collard greens without adding salt? Bok choy may be your new go-to superfood.


Keep in mind, it can often be gritty so I find slicing it half lengthwise and then placing it, cut side down, in a bath of cold water helps loosen and grit—your kitchen sink comes in handy for that. Dirt tends to collect toward the base of the stems.

IMG_5202Usually Sichuan peppercorns come whole so you’ll need to grind them down in a spice blender or mortar and pestle.


Grilled Tuna Steaks with an Asian Flair

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. shallots, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp. Sichuan peppercorns, finely ground
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6-8 baby bok choy, split in half lengthwise, rinsed well
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 10-oz. tuna steaks, 1″ thick
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Combine the mustard, soy sauce, ginger, shallots, salt, sesame oil and the lime juice.
  2. Put the tuna steaks in a ziploc bag along with the 2/3 of the marinade, seal bag. Reserve remaining third for basting.
  3. Carefully massage the bag to avoid breaking up the fish and to make sure they are completely covered. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
  4. Heat grill to medium high.
  5. Meanwhile, slice bok choy in half lengthwise, rinse the bok choy well and pat dry. Place on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper on both sides.
  6. Remove fish from ziploc onto a platter and discard the marinade.
  7. Grind the Sichuan peppercorns in a spice grinder and sprinkle it both sides of the tuna.
  8. Place the bok choy over direct heat for a couple of minutes on each side to char, then move over to indirect heat side of grill.
  9. Add the tuna steaks to the hot grill and cook over direct heat for about 4 minutes each side for medium rare, 125°.
  10. Remove the tuna and veggies from the grill onto individual plates and serve immediately. Place reserved marinade on table to spoon over fish, if desired.

Appetizers: Simple Is, As Simple Gets

Here’s a real quick, yet tasty appetizer when you’re short on time. Start with Gilbert’s Caprese Chicken Sausage with mozzarella, basil and sun-dried tomatoes, available at Costco or online. They honestly burst with the fresh flavors of an Italian summer! They are all-natural, gluten-free sausages made from chickens that were not raised with antibiotics. Each link is individually wrapped so you can use as few, or as many, as you need.


Even though they are pre-cooked, I did brown the diagonally sliced pieces for a few minutes on each side to enhance the flavors. Then simply build a small stack with the meat at the bottom, followed by a thin slice of Manchego cheese, a small grape tomato and then topped with a pitted kalamata olive half and speared with a decorative toothpick.


Each sausage will cut down into five or six pieces. When I made these it was for only four people, so using three links I ended up with 15 small appetizers. Your welcome!

Manchego Cheese Canapés with Olives and Piquillo Peppers


Another tried and true appetizer we like to make, not only because everyone loves them, but because there is no cooking involved, they only take a few minutes to assemble, and they are easily transported.


Manchego Cheese Canapés with Olives and Piquillo Peppers

  • Servings: 20-24 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • One 13/4-inch wedge (about 1/2 pound) Manchego cheese
  • 30 cured black olives, pitted and chopped
  • 3/4 cup chopped piquillo peppers (see Pantry, page 15), or pimientos
  • 6 anchovy fillets
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • Minced fresh parsley


  1. Cut the wedge of cheese lengthwise into 1/8-inch slices to form triangular pieces.
  2. In a mortar or mini processor, mash to a paste the olives, piquillos, anchovies, and oil.
  3. Spread about 3/4 teaspoon of the mixture on each cheese slice.
  4. Sprinkle with parsley and arrange attractively on a serving dish.


Rhapsody in Rhubarb?

Seriously, when was the last (or only) time you’ve ever made something edible with rhubarb? I recall as a child pulling the stalks out of the ground from the rhubarb patch around my grandparents barn and eating it raw with sugar sprinkled on it, but can’t recollect a time of ever cooking with the stalks myself.

FYI, rhubarb is technically a vegetable, but is legally considered a fruit. Rhubarb is sold at farmers’ markets and grocery stores by the stalk, like celery. It’s harvested in the spring, with a short season that spans from April to June. The stalks are famous for their bright pink color, but they can also be light pink and even pale green. The color is not an indication of ripeness or sweetness, like it is with other fruits.

But be aware, the stalks are the only edible part of the plant; in fact, the leaves of rhubarb are poisonous! Rhubarb is naturally tart when it’s raw—and I mean jaw-achingly so—so be prepared if you indulge in it’s raw state, therefore it’s almost always cooked or baked with a generous serving of sugar.

I was on a garden tour recently and the proprietor happened to have a large patch growing next to her prized peonies and hydrangeas. She asked if any of us wanted some rhubarb stalks to take home, so I thought, why not? Rhubarb is famously paired with strawberries, spring’s other darling, but not being a pie eater, I wanted to make something both my husband and I would eat. Enter these Nut-Topped Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins found on

When cooled, they provided just the right balance of savory and not-too-sweet. Consider using them as a great item for a brunch; as a grab-and-go breakfast; or for a real indulgent treat, why not pair with a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert? And I just heard at my garden club luncheon today, that one of the other gardeners on that hydrangea tour made Rhubarb Margaritas last night… Just sayin…


Nut-Topped Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins

  • Servings: 18 muffins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/3 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
  • 3/4 cup diced fresh (about one large 15″stalk)


  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon cold butter

  1. In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients. In another bowl, whisk the egg, buttermilk, oil and vanilla.
  2. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.
  3. Fold in strawberries and rhubarb.
  4. Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the pecans, brown sugar and cinnamon. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle over batter.
  6. Bake at 400° until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20-25 minutes.
  7. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks. Serve warm.

NUTRITION FACTS: 1 muffin: 243 calories, 10g fat (2g saturated fat), 14mg cholesterol, 155mg sodium, 37g carbohydrate (21g sugars, 1g fiber), 3g protein