Monthly Archives: June 2016

In Michigan, Mingling the Old with the New

Ahhhh vacations…. Recently we traveled to Michigan for a wedding and a baby shower in the lower half of the state; followed by a family vacation in picturesque Emmett County in the very northwestern tip of the lower peninsula. Our first leg of the trip took us to the Ann Arbor area, home of the University of Michigan, my alma mater. I was looking forward to some reminiscing from my college days—and to show Russ around the beautiful campuses.

Since several family members would be busy with a rehearsal dinner the night before my nephew’s wedding, we knew to make advanced dinner reservations. Having researched Ann Arbor’s top restaurants, the Pacific Rim came to the forefront, an upscale fine-dining establishment serving contemporary pan-Asian cuisine that draws from the best of Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai food. What I didn’t know, was that it was Restaurant Week. Luckily the host was able to squeeze us in for a 7:30 reservation.

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The Pacific Rim is nestled between many store fronts lining Liberty Street.

Our hotel was about 15 miles outside of Ann Arbor so we had to drive in for dinner. Navigating our way through a busy Friday night on Liberty Street, Russ decided to let me out so I could claim our table and he could go park. I was mentally patting myself on the back for pre-booking because the place was packed and spilling out onto the sidewalk—yet within five minutes, I was shown our seats.

We could choose from the regular menu, or get 3 choices for only $28 on the Restaurant Week Menu… what’s to decide??

The waitress explained that we could order from the regular menu, or from the prix fixed Restaurant Week menu, which had a limited, but tempting number of selections. On it, you could choose one from each of three courses, all for the low price of only $28—what a steal!! When our waitress asked about drinks, I mentioned my husband was parking the car and should be along shortly… or so I thought…

After reviewing both menus several times, scanning every inch of the interior, and deceptively eyeballing the other patrons for 20 minutes, I finally decided it was time to call Hubby and find out where the H he was. Panic set in when I realized I must have left my cell phone back in our hotel room.

Another 10 minutes went by, and still no sign of my other half. Now I’m panicking. I begin thinking he didn’t know which restaurant he left me at, and couldn’t call me because I had no phone. Finally I decided to make a plea with the host. In a not-so-calm manner, I explained my dilemma and asked if there was a phone I could use to try and call Russ.

With a smile on his face, the youngish host pulled his cell phone from his pocket and said I was welcome to use it. Talk about a relic, it was a model from the 1990’s before flip phones—a technological dinosaur!  But hey, who’s going to kick a gift horse in the mouth?
An exact replica of the cell phone the host handed me!

When no one was picking up on the other end, I realized Russ would not recognize the number and probably not answer. But before I succumbed to full-blown hysteria, he did answer and irritatingly explained he was trying to call me while he sat in line in a parking lot that was not moving AT ALL in either direction, and he had no idea how much longer he would be.

After verifying he knew at which restaurant to find me, I hailed our waitress and ordered a bottle of wine to appease my rattled self. Luckily so, because it took Russ another 15-20 minutes before he walked in the door—all said and done, nearly 1 hour from the time he dropped me off!

By now, I knew the menu backward and forward and regaled Russ with my knowledge, resulting in agreement to order from the special menu. The selections were decidedly western in commitment of using top-notch ingredients, with a reliance on basic French techniques and an emphasis on freshness and seasonality. Right up our alley!

Lynn’s crab cake from Course One.

Russ chose the lettuce wraps as his first selection.

For the first course I chose the Pacific Rim Crabcake made with Australian crabmeat, served with a cilantro-lime sauce and a spicy mango salsa. Not a fan of the crispy wontons, I pushed those aside. Russ opted for the Vietnamese Beef Lettuce Wrap with tender cubes of marinated beef sautéed with red onions, served with Boston Bibb lettuce and pickled daikon. We were off to a great start.

This coconut-curry soup was exquisite.

The spring salad was Russ’ second choice.

Next up, I selected the Coconut-Curry Soup, green curry soup with sweet potatoes, butternut squash and shiitake mushrooms—in a word, divine! The Mr. elected to dine on the Spring Salad with Soy-Balsamic Vinaigrette with mixed spicy greens, radish, turnips, spiced pecans, fresh mozzarella cheese and a soy-balsamic vinaigrette. With each bite, our earlier tensions now gave way to a more relaxed mode…

While there were six options for Course Three, for our final choice we both chose the Korean-Marinated Ribeye, consisting of thin slices of grilled Certified Angus ribeye, with sesame crispy rice, sautéed julienned vegetables, quail egg and Korean chili sauce (which I asked for more of)—Fantastic!

We both gravitated to the Korean ribeye as our final choice.

Not ready to call it a night when dinner was over, we took a quick drive (with no parking issues) to a well-known landmark, the Gandy Dancer, where I fondly remember having my college graduation dinner a few decades ago. I was thrilled to see that it was still a working establishment, and with no reason to rush back to the hotel, we decided to go there for an after-dinner drink.

Russ seated on the Gandy Dancer’s patio.

The beautifully restored 1886 Michigan Central Depot is surrounded by cobble stone streets. Known as a popular wedding destination, there was an outdoor wedding reception in full swing when we arrived, and we scored great patio seats where we could enjoy the band on a balmy mid-June night.

Lynn enjoys a glass of wine while listening to the band.

It was definitely a memory-jogger going back to Ann Arbor. And while many of my old haunts had gone the way of locomotives, I was enamored of the progress and the youthful energy it still possessed. With a week and a half of vacation still ahead of us, we were looking forward to new adventures…

No-Carb Weekday Meal

Complex flavors meld well with the pork in Spinach Salad with Stir-Fried Pork & Warm Ginger Vinaigrette from Fine Cooking’s “Make It Tonight” series. Against my better judgement, and as per the instructions, I stuck to only incorporating a half of a red pepper. Next time I’ll use a whole pepper (or half red + half yellow) to jazz it up with more color and as an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and B6.

For a splash of heat, drizzle this salad with some Sriracha hot sauce or Thai chile paste—oh yeah baby! If you prefer less heat, set a bottle of hot sauce on the table for guests to add as they like. We definitely did not dress the salad with all of the vinaigrette, it would have been way too wet.

But we did have leftover stir-fry mixture which Russ topped with the remaining vinaigrette. He packaged it separately from some Bibb lettuce and took it for lunch the next day.



  • 1/2 lb. baby spinach, washed and spun dry (8 loosely packed cups)
  • 3 Tbs. rice vinegar
  • 2-1/2 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 lb. 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick boneless pork chops, trimmed of excess fat and sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 Tbs. dry sherry
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup canola or peanut oil
  • 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
  • 6 scallions, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3-1/2 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger

Pork slices marinate in soy sauce, sherry and corn starch for at least 10 minutes.

Cooking the pork for a few minutes in a hot skillet.

After the meat is done cooking, add the scallions, mushrooms and bell pepper to the same hot skillet.

Transfer the vinaigrette to a measuring cup and  whisk to emulsify thoroughly.

The dressed spinach is plated first, topped by the stir-fry mixture.


  1. Put the spinach in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the rice vinegar with 1-1/2 Tbs. of the soy sauce, the sugar, and 3 Tbs. water.
  2. Put the pork in a medium bowl and season with 1/2 tsp. salt. Toss with the remaining 1 Tbs. soy sauce, the sherry, and the cornstarch. Let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Heat 1-1/2 Tbs. of the canola oil in a heavy, 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the pork and cook, stirring, until it loses its raw color and is just firm, about 2 minutes. Transfer the pork to a clean medium bowl.
  4. To the skillet, add 1-1/2 Tbs. of the canola oil and the sesame oil, scallions, mushrooms, and bell pepper. Sprinkle with salt and cook, stirring, until the mushrooms and scallions soften and brown in places, about 3 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to the bowl with the pork and toss.
  5. Still over medium-high heat, add 1 Tbs. of the canola oil and the ginger to the skillet and cook, stirring until very fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove the skillet from the heat, add the vinegar-soy mixture, and stir well with a wooden spoon or spatula, scraping the pan to incorporate the browned bits.
  6. Whisk in the remaining 1/4 cup canola oil; the mixture will remain largely separated. Transfer the vinaigrette to a measuring cup and  whisk to emulsify thoroughly (the cornstarch from the browned bits will help).
  7. Toss the spinach with half of the vinaigrette (or enough to lightly coat). Portion among four plates, top with the pork and vegetables, and drizzle with some of the remaining vinaigrette (you may not need it all). Serve immediately.

by Tony Rosenfeld from Fine Cooking

Back to the Scene of the Crime

June 14—a date that holds a special place in our hearts because we first met on that day at JB Dawsons restaurant in Langhorne, mere minutes from where we now live—and thirteen years after that, we got married on that date. So we thought it fitting to enjoy our anniversary(s) back at the scene of the crime with dinner at Dawsons on June 14.

Restaurateur-owner Jim Lukens’s first establishment was Austin’s Restaurant & Bar in Reading, PA; he then added the J.B. Dawson’s Restaurant and Bar namesake (same quality…different name) to Langhorne, PA; Lancaster, PA; and at the Christiana Mall in Newark, DE. The interior of the one in Langhorne has a cool vibe with rich polished wood, leathered upholstery and stacked stone.


Our initial dinner date is still fresh in my mind. I arrived first (no surprise there) and waited at the bar about 10-15 minutes before Russ entered the crowded vestibule. He was easily recognizable from our prior interactions. That night, he enjoyed a steak while I chose an entree salad and we talked for hours, until the place was closing—in fact they were putting chairs on top of the tables and sweeping the floors around us—a not so subtle hint!

Anyway, fast-forward seventeen years. The interior has since been remodeled so “our table” was not an option. But we were seated immediately in a similar spot, this time in a booth on the other side of the bar. Our waitress, Heather, took our drink order within minutes, and gave us a list of tonight’s specials allowing us time to review our choices.

Their menu is extensive and includes numerous Soups & Starters, Salads, Sandwiches and Burgers, Steaks and Seafood, Pasta, Chicken and Ribs, a children’s menu and gluten-fee options—something for everyone. With a two-week vacation looming in front of us, and knowing that we’d probably be dining out often, I tried to choose wisely, concentrating on the more healthy options.


For starters, we opted to split the Seared Ahi Tuna—spice rubbed and seared rare with soy sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger. It was excellent, and enough to share between us with ten luscious slices. My main meal was the Shrimp and Sea Scallop special with a mango salsa and a choice of two sides. Tasty enough with a skewer each of four scallops and four shrimp—not overwhelming in portion.


As a nod to our first date, Russ couldn’t help but to order the Cajun Ribeye12 ounces of ribeye grilled medium-rare with cajun spices, and topped with blue cheese crumbles (an extra). He selected a side of their thin french fries, while we both had the crisp-tender broccoli.


We commented how JB’s was always busy, even for a Tuesday night. In fact, we tried to dine here about a month ago on a Wednesday night, and even though it was already after 8:00, there was a 45-minute wait! Needless to say, we went elsewhere that evening. However, they do take reservations now, so if you plan on going, I suggest you call ahead f time and secure a table, just in case…

Well Worthy of Side Dish Status

Grilled Onions with Balsamic Vinaigrette are not normally something one would think of as a side on its own. But let me tell you, I’ve changed my mind after eating these—definitely worthy of being a stand-alone side dish. You’ll drool over their mellow, sweet bite; caramelized edges; and crisp-tender texture!

In case you need a little coaxing, onions, which are very popular in French cuisine, are thought to play a role in the so-called “French Paradox” — the low incidence of heart disease among the French, despite their relatively high-calorie diet. Never mind the tears they bring on, onions are an ace ally in your fight against disease.

Still not convinced? For centuries, onions have been used to reduce inflammation and heal infections. A prized member of the lily family, onions lavish you with health benefits while adding oodles of taste to your food. Not to mention you can buy a bundle from the grocery store for mere pennies.

For this recipe, start with halved onions, cutting them from pole to pole rather than through the equator to keep them intact. Then grill the onions directly over the flame until very dark to ensure that they have sufficient chargrilled flavor.

Trim stem end of onions and halve onions from root end to stem end, leaving skin intact; and prepare vinaigrette.

Leaving the skins on keeps the bottoms of the onions from burning but still allows for plenty of caramelization. After grilling, steam them in a covered disposable pan to cook through evenly, for buttery soft results. Finish with a simple balsamic vinaigrette to complement their sweetness and lend a burst of acidity.

The size of the onions will affect the cooking time, so it’s important to choose onions that weigh between 7 and 8 ounces each and measure about 3 inches in diameter. In step 3, be sure to err on the side of achieving darker charring, as the steaming step will soften the char’s appearance and flavor. As an added bonus, the onions can be served hot, warm, or at room temperature.

A balsamic vinaigrette lent bright acidity and flavor that complemented the chargrilled, sweetly caramelized onions, while a sprinkling of minced chives brought color and freshness. They paired perfectly with our grilled lamb kebabs. But with just the two of us for dinner, we had leftovers.

No problem there, a few nights later we just incorporated them into a pasta entree with red and yellow peppers, cremini mushrooms and some roasted garlic. And for a final flourish, I sliced up several links of all-natural Chef Bruce Aidell’s Sun-Dried Tomato & Kale Smoked Chicken Sausagedelish!

Brush cut sides of onions with oil and sprinkle each half with salt.

Arrange onions cut side down on grill over medium heat and cook until well charred.

Flip onions and cook cut side up until light charring develops on skin side.


  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • onions
  • (13 by 9-inch) disposable aluminum roasting pan
  • tablespoon minced fresh chives


  1. Whisk 6 tablespoons oil, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper together in bowl; set aside.
  2. Trim stem end of onions and halve onions from root end to stem end, leaving skin intact. (Root end can be trimmed, but don’t remove it.) Brush cut sides of onions with remaining 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle each half with 1/8 teaspoon salt.
  3. Arrange onions cut side down on grill over medium heat and cook (covered if using gas) until well charred, 10 to 15 minutes, moving onions as needed to ensure even cooking. Flip onions and cook cut side up until light charring develops on skin side, about 5 minutes.
  4. Transfer onions cut side up to disposable pan and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Return disposable pan to grill and cook over medium heat (covered if using gas) until onions are tender and easily pierced with paring knife, 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. When onions are cool enough to handle, remove and discard charred outer skin; arrange onions cut side up on large platter. Rewhisk vinaigrette and drizzle evenly over onions. Sprinkle with chives, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated

When onions are cool enough to handle, remove and discard charred outer skin; and arrange on a large platter.

Finally, drizzle the vinaigrette over the grilled onions and top with chopped fresh chives.


Slicing up the leftover grilled onions for a pasta entree.

Sautéing the grilled onions with other veggies and chicken sausage before tossing with pasta.

The pasta entree made with the leftover grilled onions, sautéed veggies, roasted garlic and chicken sausage and topped with a sprinkle of grated parm and chiffonade of fresh basil.


Heck Yeah It’s Healthy!

Mushrooms stand in for meat in this fresh version of a take-out favorite, Spring Vegetable Lo Mein. Asparagus and carrots give it a decidedly spring feel; and you’ll feel lighter too with only 300 calories per serving!

The recipes calls for oyster mushrooms, but the grocery store was not carrying them on their own, so we purchased a mushroom blend which included oysters. Personally, we don’t think it made any difference in taste, so don’t sweat it if you can’t find them. And as usual, I increased the quantity of each vegetable by about a third.


Because of Russ’s commitment to eating gluten-free, we swapped out the lo mein noodles for Shirataki—noodles that are carbohydrate-free, because they are made with glucomannan starch, an indigestible dietary fiber made from the root of the konjac plant (whatever the heck that is!) They are also very low in calories, with little flavor of their own, but absorb the flavors you cook them with—perfect.

Prepackaged wet Shirataki noodles.

The Shiratki noodles are rinsed and drained well before the sesame oil is added.

Shirataki noodles can be found both in dry and soft “wet” forms in Asian markets, or in many local supermarkets. When purchased wet, they are packaged in liquid, which is what we used. They normally have a shelf life of up to one year.

Spring Vegetable Lo Mein is delicious on its own, but for a more filling main course, we topped ours with a piece of roasted soy-glazed salmon. Another suggestion: topping each serving with a sunny-side-up egg. Or perhaps adding a handful of chopped peanuts, which I did for my leftover lunch… Just remember, these additions will up the calorie count… And yes, we did use a healthy dose of Sriracha!

The veggies and garlic are prepped; and the soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sherry are whisked together in a small bowl.


  • Kosher salt
  • 9 oz. fresh Chinese lo mein egg noodles*
  • 1 Tbs. Asian sesame oil
  • 2 Tbs. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbs. dry sherry
  • 2 Tbs. peanut or canola oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 oz. asparagus (about 1-1/4 cups), trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 2-inch pieces
  • 3-1/2 oz. oyster mushrooms (about 2 cups), stemmed and thinly sliced
  • 2-1/2 oz. matchstick-cut or julienned carrots (about 1 cup)
  • 4 scallions, trimmed and cut on the diagonal into 2-inch pieces, white and green parts separated
  • Sriracha, for drizzling (optional)
*TIP: Chinese egg noodles are classic Asian noodles made from wheat flour, water, and egg. Springy with a slight chew, these noodles are made in thin or thick strands. Look for fresh ones in the supermarket’s produce department; be sure they contain egg and aren’t tinted with food coloring instead.

Asparagus, mushrooms, carrots, and scallion whites are added to sizzling garlic.

Noodles and scallion greens are added to the cooked veggies for several minutes.

After the soy-sauce mixture is incorporated for a minute, plate the meal with or without a topper.


  1. Bring a 6-quart pot of well-salted water to a boil. Boil the noodles according to package directions until al dente. Rinse with cold water until cool, then drain well, shaking the colander to remove as much water as possible. Toss the noodles with the sesame oil.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, oyster sauce, and sherry.
  3. Heat the peanut or canola oil and garlic in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until the garlic sizzles, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the asparagus, mushrooms, carrots, and scallion whites. Add 1/2 tsp. salt, and stir frequently until the asparagus is tender and bright green and the mushrooms soften, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the noodles and the scallion greens, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring frequently until the noodles heat through, about 2 minutes. Add the soy sauce mixture, toss, and continue to cook, about 1 minute.
  6. Serve, drizzled with the Sriracha, if using (and of course we did.)

Adapted from Tony Rosenfeld of Fine Cooking

Two Speedy and Versatile Sides

Thumbing through our latest issue of Fine Cooking Magazine, Russ spotted these two mouth-watering sides. We adore leeks and mushrooms equally, so we decided then and there we wanted to make both of them for dinner during the upcoming week.

The intent was to pair them with two beautiful lamb steaks recently purchased from Aaron’s at the Newtown Farmer’s Market. Pan-searing the lamb would take as little time as cooking the veggies, so it was a perfect combo all around.

The simplest way to pan-sear a steak is to brown it in a real hot, oven-safe skillet for a few minutes on each side, then pop the skillet into a 400 degree preheated oven for 7-10 minutes depending on how you like your meat and how thick the steaks are.

The lamb steaks are seared on each side for a few minutes in a real hot skillet.

Russ checks the meat temperature after 8 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

Not a lamb aficionado? Try pairing them with beef steaks, braised chicken, or enjoy sans anything else as a vegetarian meal.


Poached Leeks with Capers and Mustard Vinaigrette

This classic but quick French side dish gives leeks, often thought of as a supporting player, their own star turn. We found that the leeks were not tender enough after 5-7 minutes of boiling. It took ours twice that long, but I guess it would depend on how thick they were to start with.


  • 1 Tbs. sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch of granulated sugar
  • 4 large leeks, roots and dark green tops trimmed
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1-1/2 tsp. finely chopped drained capers

Optional: Mash 1 anchovy in bowl before whisking in remaining vinaigrette ingredients.

After trimming and cleaning, slice the leeks in half down to 1-inch above the root end.

After nearly 15 minutes, the tender leeks drain on paper towels.

The luscious mustardy vinaigrette, parsley and capers dress the leeks.


In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, 1/4 tsp. salt, a generous pinch of pepper, and the sugar. Slowly whisk in the oil.

Halve the leeks lengthwise to 1 inch above the root ends, leaving the ends intact, and rinse well. Bring the leeks to a boil in salted water, cover, reduce the heat, and simmer until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain, slice through the root ends, and place cut side down on paper towels to drain more.

Transfer the leeks to a platter cut side up and spoon the vinaigrette over them. Sprinkle with the parsley and capers and serve.

by Laraine Perri from Fine Cooking


Pan-Roasted Garlic-Butter Mushrooms

This quick side dish coaxes amazing flavor out of mushrooms with the oven’s high heat and the addition of a few simple ingredients. The ‘shrooms were so delicious, I could make a meal out of them alone!


  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1 lb. cremini mushrooms, trimmed and halved, if large
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 Tbs. fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. dry white wine
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Mushrooms, parsley and garlic are added to the hot butter an oil for a few minutes.

After 8 minutes in a real hot oven, the mushrooms are ready for plating.

The mustardy leeks and garlic mushrooms made great plate pals!


  1. Heat the oven to 450°F.
  2. In an oven-safe 12-inch skillet, heat the butter and canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, garlic, 2 Tbs. of the parsley, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
  3. Cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Add wine and transfer to the oven. Roast until tender, about 8 minutes.
  4. Stir in lemon juice and the remaining 2 Tbs. parsley.

by Julissa Roberts from Fine Cooking


A BONUS: There was plenty of lamb leftover so later in the week we had salads for dinner that utilized the leftover meat, leeks and mushrooms. We added some sliced radishes, yellow grape tomatoes and crumbled blue cheese, and for dressing, we just made more of the mustardy vinaigrette. Perfect, quick weeknight meal with very little clean-up!

Brazilian Skirt Steak with Golden Garlic Butter

“Oh Rio, Rio dance across the Rio Grand” Based on a dish you’ll find in many Rio de Janeiro restaurants, this recipe uses such simple ingredients but the flavor is boldly outstanding!

Flank steak and skirt steak are both long, odd-looking cuts of steak. Wonder if you’ve ever eaten either of them? If you’ve ever had fajitas, then chances are it was skirt steak. It is a thin, lean, long cut of beef from the diaphragm muscles of the cow, which has even more intense beefy flavor than flank steak, but contain more tough muscles, so it should only be cooked to rare or medium rare for the most tender texture. Make sure to cut against the grain when serving.

If your garlic has a green sprout growing in the center (the “germ”), be sure to remove it, because it will impart a bitter flavor to the final dish. We paired our steak with sautéed spinach and some reheated steak fries. Originally I planned to whip up some garlic mashed potatoes, but it was hot out (finally) and I wanted to use up some leftovers. Can’t get much simpler than that…


Brazilian Skirt Steak with Golden Garlic Butter

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy peasy
  • Print


  • 6 medium cloves garlic
  • Kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 lb. skirt steak, trimmed and cut into 4 pieces
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


  1. Peel the garlic cloves and smash them with the side of a chef’s knife. Sprinkle the garlic lightly with salt and mince it.
  2. Pat the steak dry and season generously on both sides with salt and pepper. In a heavy-duty 12-inch skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the steak and brown well on both sides, 2 to 3 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer the steak to a plate and let rest while you make the garlic butter.
  3. In an 8-inch skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Add the garlic and cook, swirling the pan frequently, until lightly golden, about 4 minutes. Lightly salt to taste.
  4. Slice the steak, if you like, and transfer to 4 plates. Spoon the garlic butter over the steak, sprinkle with the parsley, and serve.

Sautéed the mature spinach in a separate pan as the meat was seared.

The strips of meat had to be seared in batches.

Russ slices against the grain on a cutting board with moat to catch the juices.

The chopped garlic is browned in butter for a few minutes.


Serving Suggestions

Serve with something that would also benefit from a hit of garlic, such as spinach or mashed potatoes.

by Leticia Moreinos Schwartz from Fine Cooking

Greens are Greens, Right?

Sautéed Tilapia over Swiss Chard with Tarragon Butter was a definite winner for a whole host of reasons. First, it was quick and easy and perfect for a Meatless Monday dinner. Second, you couldn’t argue with the fresh, healthy ingredients. Third, we loved it—and tilapia happened to be on sale at the grocery store that week.

Here, fresh tarragon lends a haunting, delicate anise flavor to mild, quick-cooking tilapia fillets. And as luck would have it, we had enough fresh tarragon in our backyard herb garden. However, pleased as we were about getting the fish on sale, Russ grabbed collard greens instead of Swiss chard, and I didn’t notice until a few days later when preparing dinner.

Greens are greens, right? Not when you have to factor in the cooking time. While the chard cooks up in a matter of minutes, the collard greens have to cook, partially covered, for at least 45 minutes for chewy collards, or up to 2 hours for silky soft collards. So much for “quick.”

Luckily (or not, depending on if you were driving), Russ was once again stuck in a major traffic jam and wouldn’t be home for at least an hour, so that gave me ample time to cook the collards… and do some laundry, and read my email, and talk on the phone with my brother…

Our other side dish was Jasmine Rice with Toasted Pine Nuts and Chives, which was very good and easy to make. The buttery, toasty pine nuts added a hint of richness to the basic rice pilaf creating a rich flavor. Might try a bit more lemon juice next time to balance the flavors. In the end, everything came together beautifully—even though it was almost 9:00 by the time we finished dinner 😦

Many reviewers cut back on the overall amount of butter used, so we heeded their advice. Because of the greens faux pas, we had to use two skillets, but if you follow the directions and buy the chard, you’ll only have one pan to clean. The moral of the story? Pay attention to what you grab in the supermarket, or be ready to roll with the punches.



  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. Swiss chard, fibrous stems and ribs discarded; leaves coarsely chopped, washed, and dried
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 Tbs. unsalted butter (4 Tbs. cut into small pieces)
  • 2 tilapia fillets, 6 oz. each
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. chopped fresh tarragon


  1. Heat the oil in a 10- to 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30 to 45 seconds. Add a big handful of the Swiss chard and cook, tossing often, until it has collapsed enough to add more.
  2. Continue adding the chard in batches until it’s all in the pan and then cook until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, divide the chard between two dinner plates, and keep warm.
  3. Wipe out the skillet and return it to medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbs. of the butter and let it melt. Sprinkle the tilapia with 1/4 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper.
  4. Add the tilapia and cook, turning once halfway through cooking, until it’s well browned and cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes. Top the chard with the tilapia and keep warm.
  5. Add the shallot to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and beginning to soften, 30 to 60 seconds.
  6. Add the lemon juice; it should evaporate almost instantly, but if not, cook until nearly evaporated, about 30 seconds. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the 4 Tbs. butter pieces and tarragon, stirring constantly until the butter melts.
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour the butter sauce over the fish and chard and serve immediately.

by David Bonom from Fine Cooking

About 20 minutes into sautéing the collard greens with some minced garlic.

The pine nuts are browning in butter for a few minutes before getting mixed into the rice.

The third fillet browns in the skillet.

The original two tilapia fillets keep warm on the greens while the last fillet cooks.

Minced shallots are lightly browned in butter.

Chopped tarragon is added to the browned shallots.

Jasmine Rice with Toasted Pine Nuts and Chives

Good and easy to make, the buttery, toasty pine nuts add a hit of richness to your basic rice pilaf and create a rich flavor. Might try a bit more lemon juice next time to balance the flavors.


  • 1 cup jasmine rice
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 Tbs. chopped chives
  • 2 tsp. lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Cook the rice according to package directions with a pinch of salt.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and cook until the butter and nuts are browned, about 3 minutes.
  3. Combine with the rice and add the chives and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

by Ronne Day from Fine Cooking