Monthly Archives: July 2016

Supper Salads Three Ways

August is typically known as the hot and sultry “dog-days” of summer, but they came a month early this year. July was a beast indeed, with countless days at 90 degrees or above. And the humidity? Fugeddaboutit! With no relief in sight, we decided to make entree salads for most of our dinners this past week. Here’s the first in a series of three:

First up was the Steak Salad with Grilled Red OnionsWith forecasts indicating Monday would be the hottest day of the year so far—hovering around 100 degrees with feel-like temps of 107—we grilled the red onions and steak on Sunday while also preparing our Cedar-Planked Salmon dinner (blog posted on July 27.)

This meaty main-course salad has loads of full flavor thanks to a glaze on the steak, a mustardy vinaigrette, and a generous sprinkling of blue cheese. It was a breeze to throw together on Monday evening, and hardly any dishes to deal with afterward!

What is the difference between skirt, flank, hanger and flatiron steak? These pieces of beef are all alike in one way: they’ve made their way up the steak food chain in recent years. The skirt steak is probably the best of the four because it has more fat and therefore, more flavor and grills up juicier. But all are great for grilling, pan frying, wok cooking and other dry heat cooking methods. Formerly tossed aside, bound for ground beef, or reserved for butchers themselves to eat, these under-appreciated cuts have been sneaking their way onto restaurant menus as chefs and customers alike see their value.

Skirt steak is a long belt of meat from the belly of the steer. It’s a thin cut with a visible grain, sort of like a loosely woven version of flank steak. But skirt steak is a big treat when you cook it right. Sear or grill it quickly, slice it thin, and you’ll have a lean, juicy steak with plenty of flavor. Most often used in fajitas, it should be marinated in acid and olive oil for a few hours to overnight to increase tenderness. This recipe doesn’t indicate how long to marinate, but try to give it at least an hour before throwing on the grill.

If the thickness is not uniform, pound the meat with the flat side of a meat mallet until the steak is about 1/4 inch thick. That may seem thin, but the steak pulls back together as it cooks. Pounding also tenderizes the meat by breaking down connective tissue. OK, now that you’re an expert, have at it…

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The steak is marinating in a mixture of olive oil and Worcestershire sauce.

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Marinated skirt steak is grilled at the same time as the onions for just a matter of minutes.

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The red onion slices brushed with oil are grilled until tender, about 4 minutes per side.

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. skirt steak, trimmed and cut in half
  • 4 tsp. sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced crosswise in 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 6 oz. baby greens (6 packed cups)
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 oz. blue cheese, crumbled (about 3/4 cup)

Directions

  1. Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat or prepare a medium-high (400°F) gas or charcoal grill fire.
  2. In a baking dish just large enough to hold the steak, combine the Worcestershire sauce and 1 tsp. olive oil. Add the steak and turn to coat both sides.
  3. Combine the vinegar, mustard, honey, garlic, 1/2 tsp. salt, and several grinds of black pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the 1/4 cup olive oil.
  4. Brush the onion slices with the remaining 2 tsp. olive oil, and grill until tender, about 4 minutes per side. Season the steak with salt and pepper and grill alongside the onion, flipping once, 3 to 5 minutes total for medium rare. Transfer the steak to a cutting board, tent with foil, and let rest 5 minutes.
  5. Toss the greens and tomatoes with just enough of the vinaigrette to coat lightly and divide among serving plates. Slice the steak across the grain, separate the onion into rings, and arrange both over the greens. Sprinkle the blue cheese over the salad, drizzle with additional dressing, if you like, and serve.

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by Laraine Perri from Fine Cooking

Be on the lookout for salad #2: Pork Souvlaki Salad with Black Pepper Tzatziki

 

 

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Cedar-Planked Salmon

So buttery soft and flavorful, we concurred that this was probably the best salmon we’d ever prepared. In fact, we completely forgot about the horseradish-chive sauce until after we finished the meal! As Russ commented, no worries, we’ll just have to grill some again real soon before that sauce goes bad… no problems with that thinking…

Cedar-Planked Salmon with Lemon-Pepper Rub and Horseradish-Chive Sauce is one of those uncomplicated Make It Tonight Fine Cooking recipes. Grilling on soaked cedar planks has a lot of benefits: the planks char lightly, creating cedar smoke that delicately perfumes the food, and fish doesn’t stick to the grill grates because it’s on the planks. Who doesn’t like that aspect?

Plus, the spice rub—a simple mixture of salt, cracked black pepper, lemon zest, fresh thyme, and a bit of sugar—pairs really well with the cedar-smoke flavor. Next time we plan to double the spice rub, it was sooo good. Company-worthy for sure! To round off the meal, we served simple corn on the cob and grilled tomatoes with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette and a touch of sea salt.

Don’t throw out your cedar planks when you’re done grilling, they are reusable (if they are not too charred or warped.) Scrub off any residue with hot water—no soap—rinse well and wrap in a plastic bag while still wet. Store in the freezer, thaw overnight in the frig before using again.

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While the salmon rested after grilling, we grilled some halved plum tomatoes then drizzled with a balsamic glaze and a touch of sea salt.

BTW, because it’s a simple technique, it’s easy to grill two fillets at once and use the leftover fillet within the next couple of days in a salad or sandwich. Since it was just the two of us, we had leftovers from only one fillet.

Ingredients

For the salmon
  • 1 Tbs. grated lemon zest, minced
  • 1 1/2tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 2-lb. boneless, skin-on salmon fillets (preferably wild and no longer than 15 inches), pin bones removed
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
For the horseradish-chive sauce
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche (sour cream is not a subsitute)
  • 3 Tbs. minced fresh chives
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. prepared horseradish
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

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The salmon is rubbed with olive oil and then with the spice mixture before grilling.

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We used two cedar planks for our salmon. Make sure to angle the thin side of the fish away from the heat source. Check the temperature in the thick part of the salmon flesh.

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After the salmon is removed from the cedar planks, let it rest on a platter for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Directions

Soak the cedar planks in water to cover for at least 1 hour. Drain the planks.

Prepare the sauce

In a small bowl, stir the crème fraîche, chives, and horseradish. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate.

Prepare the salmon
  1. In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest, thyme, sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1 Tbs. pepper.
  2. Rub the mixture together with your fingers until the zest is distributed throughout.
  3. Rub the salmon fillets on both sides with the olive oil and then set each fillet skin side down on a plank.
  4. Sprinkle the fillets with the lemon-pepper mixture, dividing it evenly. Gently rub the seasoning into the fillets.
  5. Let stand at room temperature while the grill heats.
Cook the salmon
  1. Prepare a gas or charcoal grill fire for indirect cooking with high heat: On a gas grill, heat all burners on high; then turn off all but one burner just before cooking the salmon; on a charcoal grill, bank the coals to two opposite sides of the grill.
  2. Arrange the planks over the cooler part of the grill, positioning them so that the thickest part of the fish is closest to the heat source.
  3. Cover the grill and cook until the thickest part of each fillet registers about 135°F on an instant-read thermometer, 20 to 35 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillets. The planks may smoke a bit (this is fine) and will become very aromatic.
  4. Let the fillets rest on the planks for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.
  5. Cut the salmon fillets crosswise into serving portions and transfer to individual plates. Serve with the sauce.
Make Ahead Tips

The sauce may be made up to 1 day ahead, and refrigerated, covered.

Leftovers

Cool any leftover salmon completely, wrap well, and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

By Dawn Yanagihara-Mitchell

Talula’s Garden

What better way to celebrate a birthday than at one of Philadelphia’s most acclaimed restaurants? I’m talking ultra-fresh ingredients in flavorful, straightforward dishes. Co-owner (with Steven Starr), Aimee Olexy’s claim to fame has been in creating intimate settings; resolutely farmer-friendly ones as in Talula’s Table, an infamous, iconic small-town café in Kennett Square.

If you’re not familiar with it, Talula’s Table (named for Aimee’s daughter Annalee Talula), “serves a single farm-sourced dinner each night around its folksy 12-seat pine farm table, a meal so exquisite, so personal, and so tuned to the beat of the season that it would become, and remains, the toughest reservation in the land – an extraordinary one-year wait for the $100 seat.” ~ Rick Nichols, Inquirer Columnist, April 21, 2011

Anyway, I just wanted to set the stage for the meal we were about to experience at Talula’s Garden, southwest of Philly’s Independence Hall. In the classic, tall-ceilinged space, the room rises a few short levels under the drum lights toward a 2,000-pound salvaged stone counter—the stage for Olexy’s top players, her coveted artisanal and farmstead cheeses check out the list here. The cheeses we sampled, the “altar” we didn’t see…

Talula's agrden interior
A stock photo depicts the modern, yet rustic interior.

It had been a brutally hot day and we were debating about dining al fresco in the city, but once we parked (no easy feat in that vicinity) and entered Talula’s garden oasis, there was no doubt where we wanted to be. Nestled between two towering buildings, the narrow garden dining room beckons patrons with charming vistas that draw the eye upward. Luckily, due to an earlier heavy downpour that cooled things down, it was actually pleasant, with a nice breeze even!

Our extremely pleasant and knowledgeable waitress, Abigail, went over the dining options then left us to ponder the wine list, the Cheese Sampler menu, the Chef’s Tasting menu and the A La Carte menu. Allowing us time to review the selections, Abigail returned to answer any questions, and took our beverage request for a wonderful French Côtes du Rhône, Mistral Domaine Coulange.

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Daylight was quickly turning to dusk as the twinkling lights and hanging lanterns came to life.

To sum up the atmosphere, there were soaring rusticated weather-beaten timbers, twinkling lights intertwined in vertical landscaping, an artsy collection of lanterns hanging in trees and from beams, and romantic table candles—all with sound that didn’t drowned out conversation, and service that was laid-back and well-informed. From the stylish interior to the casual garden, the restaurant’s varied ambiances created an intimate climate that was elegant yet informal, and most definitely comfortable.

IMG_6572Neighboring diners offered to take our picture. Our waitress Abigail is shown in the background just to the left of Russ.

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One of the exterior walls by the serving station displayed a vertical garden of hanging greenery that soared many feet up the building.

Now about that food… I can only describe the meal as a well-tuned orchestra of flavors that played a melodic symphony on my taste buds without ever missing a beat. No imperfections noted—the juxtaposition of flavors, textures, and temperatures was nearly flawless. Even the next day I couldn’t stop singing its praises when I indulged in my leftovers! Yes. It was THAT GOOD!!

The feast began when presented with a plate of two of the most heavenly brioches rolls I have ever had the good fortune to indulge in. Looking innocent enough when they arrived tableside with a lightly seasoned melted butter topping, I popped a piece in my mouth and swooned. Not one to eat much bread, I slowly savored each bite until the entire roll disappeared, as did Russ (he threw caution to the wind by allowing himself to eat wheat.) Yes. They were THAT GOOD!!

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For starters I just had to have one of those acclaimed cheese platters (Paula Graham I’m thinking of you here.) My choice, Not Your Granny’s – Six New Takes on Tradition, with goat, cow and sheep varieties from Spain and the USA. Gorgeously plated on a piece of slate, the samples were accompanied by swipes of tasty spreads, dried fruit, nuts and seeds.

One odd looking item we overlooked, until Abigail appeared and asked which one of us was going to enjoy the “ground cherry,” so I swooped it up and ate it immediately. Abigail was amazed that I didn’t even give Russ a chance, at which point he explained it was OK, since it was my birthday celebration. Happy wife, happy life 😉

In case you’ve never heard of them (which we hadn’t), ground cherries are sweet and look like a cross between cherry tomatoes and tomatillos, and are wrapped in a papery husk (notice the beige colored round fruit to the right in the picture below.) Some say they taste like pineapple, others talk gooseberry. Whatever the case, they can be eaten raw, added to salads or cooked into jams, jellies, salsa, condiments or pies. I will definitely be on the lookout for them in the future.

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Russ, an oyster aficionado, chose to start with the Cornmeal Fried Chesapeake Oysters with charred corn and chili remoulade, pickled green tomato, baby bib lettuces and fresh dill. Since he was also enjoying my cheese platter, he felt generous and offered me a taste of his oyster dish. For the record, I HATE oysters. But, feeling adventurous after that ground cherry, I acquiesced and he carved off a piece. I sheepishly admit, it was very good…

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There were four options under the “Pasta” category, with a choice of an appetizer size or larger dinner portion. We noted our neighboring diners splitting the smaller share between them and decided that was the way to go. Light and delicate, our preference Sweet Onion Top Scented Pappardelle with creamy fennel and pork shoulder ragu, summer squash and fragrant fennel pollen arrived artfully plated in a small bowl. The lime green of the pappardelle was striking!

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At this point I was basically full, but knew my main entree would be making an appearance soon. To be fair, there were a good number of seafood dishes on the menu, but we both had a hankering for red meat. In my case, I chose the ‘Steak & Tomato,’ entree with sliced and charred rib-eye, breadcrumb baked heirloom tomato, spiced eggplant, tomato, and Shishito peppers.

Wowser, it was almost other-worldly in how the array of quality elements united. This is one of those dishes where you eat with your eyes first, take a bite of the perfectly sublime rib-eye, and are transported to a place you never want to leave. YES. It was THAT GOOD!

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My man, staying true-to-form, ordered the Roasted Rohan Duck Breast, a hybrid of several duck breeds produced by D’Artagnan that includes the Heritage Mallard and the Peking. The dish consisted of silky smooth slices of medium-rare breast meat complemented by a lavender-infused duck sausage made by hand in the restaurant’s kitchen. This taste of duck heaven was accompanied by buttery farro, black garlic, charred pickled radicchio and garlic scapes. 

Black garlic was something totally new to us. We learned that it’s an Asian treat made by heating whole bulbs of garlic over several weeks at low heat until the cloves turn black. This makes roasted garlic look like fast food! The earthy flavor of the garlic and the tang of the pickled radicchio provided a pleasing undertone to the richness of the duck. The only disappointment was the garlic scapes, most of which were too tough to eat.

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Dessert not being my thing—not even for my birthday—Russ of course had to take on the difficult task of having dessert for me. (His suffering was immense, I’m sure!) The dynamic duo of chocolate and mint melded together in his choice of Chocolate Crémeux, a creamy, dark chocolate custard that rested, unmolded, on a luscious fresh mint sauce accompanied by homemade, intensely minty ice cream sprinkled with a white chocolate crunch and vanilla salt. Need I say more? By the look on his face as he tasted each element of his dessert, I knew I had to give it at least a taste. It was truly amazing.

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While I excused myself to go to the bathroom, I later found out that our neighbor suggested the waitstaff bring me one of those brioche rolls with a candle due to my earlier praises. Instead, they thoughtfully presented me with the above plate with a lighted candle and hand-written birthday sentiment.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that bathroom. Inside behind a large door, one enters into a chicly decorated unisex vestibule with a long trough sink. Each of four or five gender-neutral stalls were ultra-clean, nicely appointed and well sound-proofed. I believe this to be the footprint of future bathrooms to be.

One final note on the mark of a superior restaurant according to Mr. Hartman is the coffee. Well there was no failure in his expectations here. Russ said the La Colombe Fresh Locally Roasted Organic Bleu Coffee was probably one of the best cups of Joe he’s ever sipped. High praise indeed!

Our culinary bar has now been raised. Talula’s Garden dining experience will be what all future adventures will be compared to. YES. It was THAT GOOD!

Super Savory Summer Sides

During the summer season at a local farm stand, my grown-up-self reacts much like my kid-self did when inside a candy store back in the day. Growing up I could barely stomach a vegetable, and practically lived on sweets. Thank goodness my tastebuds have “matured” since then. Now I crave vegetables and rarely eat sweets.

With the bounty of fresh produce, I get excited about all of my choices and the plethora of recipes in which to incorporate the abundant harvest. Two of my faves are fresh corn and tomatoes—can’t get enough of them from July through September. And the possibilities are endless, so when I happened upon these three recipe gems, I pounced into action—making all three within the same amount of days.

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The first recipe Buttery Balsamic Corn with Shiitake and Grilled Onion uses corn stripped from a fresh, husked cob—no need to precook. The red onion slices will need to be grilled for a caramelized finish, a step you can do a day or so ahead.
QUICK TIP: Use a clean toothbrush to remove the silk from the ears of corn, which can sometimes be a frustrating chore.

While the Miso-Glazed Eggplant recipe doesn’t utilize corn or tomatoes, the ingredients struck a chord with me. I love the umami flavor of miso! Our fifth taste sensation, umami is what makes foods taste savory, complex and deeply satisfying. Consider this rich, pungent paste a supercharged Asian mayo; made from steamed soybeans that have been fermented with rice, barley, or rye. White miso, used here, is the most common variety adding nutty undertones to whatever it touches.

Russ thinks we could improve on this recipe by slicing the eggplant into thick planks and grilling them on both sides, after which you slather on the miso mixture and finish with several minutes under the broiler. We think the slices would make for a better visual on your plate. Hey, we all eat with our eyes first…

Finally, Pattypan Succotash incorporates baby pattypan squash, and screams summer with all of the fresh and colorful ingredients. Alas, neither our supermarket nor local farm stand carried pattypans so another option was to use summer squash as an alternative, which is what we did. Because we had some green beans to use up, we added those when cooking the squash and peppers. Some of the other components? Fresh corn and tomatoes of course!
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Buttery Balsamic Corn with Shiitake and Grilled Onion

(by Joanne Smart)

While grilling the onion for this colorful side dish, we threw some fresh tuna steaks on the grate, and assembled a quick caprese salad as well—dinner, done.

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Slice the kernels directly from the cob without cooking in advance.

Ingredients

  • 1 small red onion, trimmed and cut into 3 or 4 slices
  • 1 tsp. olive oil; more as needed
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 7 to 8 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 3 to 4 medium ears)
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar; more to taste

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The red onion slices can be grilled a day ahead of time if necessary.

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Grill the onion slices until tender with some char marks, 4 to 5 minutes per side. 

Directions

  1. Prepare a medium-high (400°F to 475°F) charcoal or gas grill fire. Rub each onion slice with a little olive oil, and grill, turning occasionally, until tender with some grill marks, about 8 minutes. Remove from the grill and coarsely chop.
  2. In a 12-inch skillet, heat 1 Tbs. of the butter and the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shiitake, and season well with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and almost tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Add the corn, onion, and the remaining 1 Tbs. butter, and cook, tossing occasionally, until the corn is tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, season to taste with salt, pepper, and more vinegar, and serve.

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Miso-Glazed Eggplant

(by Erica Clark)

We ended up using the darker red miso. Not on purpose. Of the two containers of miso in the frig, we assumed one was “white,” but you know what happens when one “assumes”… Anywho, it just intensified the flavor and produced a darker color as noted in the photos. And unless you are a fan of real bold and spicy flavors, you may want to omit the Sriracha.

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Slice the eggplant in half, then rub with sesame oil and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Ingredients

  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separate
  • 2 small Italian eggplants, sliced in half lengthwise
  • Asian sesame oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. white miso
  • 1 Tbs. mirin
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp.grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame seeds
  • Sriracha, optional

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Once the halves are oiled and seasoned, lay the cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet.

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Just prior to broiling, spread the miso mixture liberally over the cut side. We found that we had to broil at least 4-5 minutes to achieve the slightly charred finish.

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Brush the eggplant all over with sesame oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet, and roast for 10 minutes. Flip and roast until tender, another 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the miso, mirin, sugar, ginger, scallion whites, and 2 tsp. water in a small bowl. Spread the miso mixture on the cut side of the eggplant, and broil on high until dark in spots, about 2 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds, scallion greens, and a little Sriracha, if you like.

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Pattypan Succotash

(by Liz Pearson)

This classic Southern side dish is chock full of squash, corn, peppers, and fresh beans. Pattypan squash, as well as the summer squash, lends a mild buttery flavor. The baby ones, if you can find them, look pretty sweet, too.

Perhaps because I added more veggies than the recipe called for, I had to cook the squash, peppers and green beans around 10 minutes, about 3 times longer than instructed. Make sure you don’t omit the last step of topping with fresh lemon juice and chopped chives as they add a wonderful bright note to the flavors.

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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 12 oz. pattypan squash (or other summer squash), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (from 1-1/2 to 2 medium ears)
  • 1 cup shelled fresh baby lima beans (or frozen, thawed)
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • Thinly sliced fresh chives, for garnish

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After the squash, pepper and green beans are tender, the lima beans, corn and thyme are added to be cooked another several minutes.

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The medley of vegetables just before the fresh lemon juice and chopped chives are added. 

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the squash and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender and golden, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the corn, lima beans, thyme, 1-1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 minutes more.
  4. Stir in the tomatoes and lemon juice. Serve garnished with chives.

Let us know which of the three was your favorite!

Impress Yourself with this French Classic

EASY button time again. Not a lot of ingredients, or time is needed for Pork Tenderloin Provençal. An aromatic mix of fresh rosemary, fennel seeds, orange zest, and garlic—a classic flavor combo—gives this quick-to-prep dish a French accent, mon ami.

During the summer months we prefer to grill rather than heat up the oven. In this case however, with the crumbly rub on the tenderloins, we decided the oven was the smart choice lest we lose all of the fragrant topping through the grill grates. Glad we did because that mixture was out-of-this-world délicieux—thus earning a spot in the upper echelon of our pork recipes. Très bien!

The notions of slow cooking (although this takes less than a half hour) and eating seasonally are both ingrained in the French cuisine du marche or cooking from the market. If you want to cook like the French, you need to shop for food like the French and that means going for produce that’s naturally available—like grow your own herb garden, or shop at a local farm stand.

Food is all about love mon chér, so share your meals with family and friends when you can.

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Ingredients for the rub (orange zest, fresh rosemary, garlic and fennel seed) are gathered.

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After the fennel seed is crushed, the rest of the seasonings are mixed together in the mortar.

Ingredients

  • 1 1-1/2-lb. pork tenderloin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbs. whole fennel seeds, coarsely ground in a mortar and pestle
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp. finely grated orange zest

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The tenderloins are oiled before the rub is pressed onto the pork.

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After a 5-minute rest, the tenderloins are sliced down and the juices are poured over the meat.

Directions

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F. Brush the pork all over with the olive oil, and season generously all over with salt and pepper.
  2. Combine the garlic, fennel seeds, rosemary, and orange zest, and press the mixture all over the pork.
  3. Transfer to a small rimmed baking sheet or ovenproof skillet, and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the pork registers 135°F, about 20 minutes.
  4. Let rest on a cutting board for 5 minutes before slicing and transferring to a platter.
  5. Pour the juice from the cutting board and the baking sheet over the pork and serve.

by Erica Clark

NOTE: A suggestion from FineCooking.com is to serve with Fresh Parsley and Caper Mashed Potatoes. But to me that is more of a cool weather side dish.

Provençal Seasonings

Fresh and dried herbs are used extensively in Provençal cooking. A popular Provençal dried herb blend is called Herbes de Provence, and typically contains thyme, marjoram, savory, rosemary, sage and basil. These herbs, and others such as parsley, are used together or separately in a wide variety of dishes including stews, bakes, soups and salads—or are simply rubbed over fish, chicken or meat, as in the case with this recipe, before grilling.

Other commonly used seasonings include saffron, anchoïade (anchovy paste), aïoli (garlic mayonnaise), capers, rouille (chili and garlic mayonnaise), tapenade, wine vinegar and lemon juice.

Five-Minute Marinated Skirt Steak

Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t have to marinate a steak overnight to get great flavor—with this marinade, five minutes is all you need—but a bit longer is preferable. Don’t be surprised that the marinade is thicker than most, because it helps cling to the meat.

I have to confess, my radar went up when I saw one whole cup of brown sugar went into the marinade, which seemed excessive indeed. We recommend using only half a cup (or less)—and when I read some of the online reports afterward, I found that many reviewers agreed with the reduction.

When grilling, high heat is the key in order to burn off that sugar and facilitate caramelization. However, to counter balance the sweetness, we added about a 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red paper flakes, resulting in very flavorful, just oh-so-slightly sweet, charred steaks.

It is a GREAT recipe for a busy work week. To make it even simpler, we served the steak with leftover baby smashed new potatoes and haricot verts green beans, which themselves cook up in just minutes.

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I marinated our steaks for more than an hour before tossing on the grill.

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It’s important to cut the slices against the grain.

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We like to pour the juices from the cutting board over the platter of meat.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar (we recommend 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 medium cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbs. coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1-1/2 lb. skirt steak, trimmed of excess surface fat
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions

  1. Combine the sugar, vinegar, Worcestershire, garlic, and rosemary in a baking dish or zip-top bag large enough to hold the steak. Add the steak and turn to coat. Let sit at room temperature for at least 5 minutes and up to an hour.
  2. Prepare a high (500°F to 600°F) charcoal or gas grill fire. Take the steak out of the marinade and season both sides generously with salt and pepper. Cut into smaller pieces to make grilling more manageable, if you like.
  3. Grill, flipping once, until grill marks form on both sides and cooked to your liking, about 3 minutes per side for medium rare (135°F).
  4. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice against the grain and serve.

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Adapted from Pat LaFrieda of Fine Cooking

Unless You Have A Seafood Aversion, You’ll Love These!

Two summertime faves are combined to make a winning seasonal entree. Classic crab cakes get a subtle Tex-Mex treatment with the addition of corn and a refreshing lettuce and cilantro salad on the side.

A perfect idea for using up leftover corn-on-the-cob, Crab and Corn Cakes with Lime Sour Cream should win a place in your expanding recipe repertoire. Lump crab meat is expensive, so maintain quality by using fresh corn as opposed to canned or frozen.

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Pan sauté four patties at a time, four minutes per side.

To adhere to Russ’s no-wheat diet, we used a gluten-free panko. But instinct told me 1-1/3 cups was too much. I decreased the amount to only 1 cup. After dinner we agreed that next time we’ll reduce the amount of panko even further, incorporating only a 1/2 cup. Who wants all those carbs if they don’t make any tangible difference?

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Rounding out the meal, we paired it with White and Green Bean Salad with Tomatoes (recipe follows). Russ dubbed it the “Italian” version of a Three Bean Salad. It was so good, I could eat it as a meal in itself. You can cook the white beans up to a day ahead of assembling the salad. Refrigerate the cooled beans in their broth and bring to room temperature before assembling the salad.

If using canned cannellini beans which saves a lot of steps (we did), you don’t need to worry about the carrot or 1/2 onion. Instead, mix in a teaspoon of fresh chopped thyme; and a teaspoon of roasted garlic paste if you have it (we always have a container in the frig.) If not, a finely minced clove should suffice.

The resulting meal was perfect for a summer evening. Both the patties and the salad complemented each other and were full of flavor without being heavy. We had leftovers of each, which made a wonderful lunch and dinner a few days later.

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Ingredients

  • 1 lb. lump crabmeat, picked over
  • 1-1/3 cups panko
  • 3/4 cup corn kernels, preferably fresh
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 lime
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

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The crab cakes are formed, plated and refrigerated before cooking.

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Sour cream, lime zest and juice are combined to make the sauce. Instead of thinning with water, we added some 1% milk.

Directions

  1. Combine the crab, panko, corn, and 1-1/2 tsp. salt in a large bowl. Gently stir in the eggs. With damp hands, tightly shape the mixture into eight 3/4-inch-thick cakes and place them on a small cutting board or flat plate. Refrigerate at least 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, toss the lettuce and cilantro together and arrange on four plates. Finely grate the zest and squeeze the juice from the lime into a small bowl.
  3. Stir in the sour cream, and thin with a little water (we used 1% milk) to make a pourable sauce. Season to taste with salt.
  4. Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 4 crab cakes and cook, flipping once, until golden brown, about 8 minutes.
  5. Repeat with the remaining oil and crab cakes. Divide the crab cakes among the plates and serve with the sour cream.

In place of crab, try smoked trout or cooked salmon for a tasty fish and corn cake.

White & Green Bean Salad with Tomatoes & Basil

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White beans and tomatoes are coated with the sauce and marinate at room temp for 2-4 hours.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried large white beans, such as Emergo or cannellini, well rinsed (soaked and drained, if you like)
  • Several sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 large clove garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut in half
  • 1 small carrot, cut into several pieces
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 salt-packed anchovies, filleted (or 4 oil-packed anchovy fillets), rinsed, patted dry, and finely chopped
  • 3 Tbs. red-wine vinegar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters (or grape tomatoes cut in 1/2)
  • 1 lb. haricots verts or regular green beans, trimmed and cut into pieces if large
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

Directions

  1. In a deep, heavy-based pot, cover the beans with 6 to 8 cups cold water. Add the thyme, garlic, onion, carrot, and 1 tsp. salt. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, skimming any foam that rises to the surface. Cover and cook until the beans are tender, about 90 minutes; let cool in the broth. (If using canned cannellini beans, eliminate the first two steps.)
  3. In a large bowl, combine the shallot, anchovies, vinegar, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until well combined.
  4. Drain the white beans and add them and the tomatoes to the bowl. Toss to coat the vegetables well with the dressing. (If using canned cannellini beans, add the chopped fresh thyme and garlic.) Let stand at room temperature for 2 to 4 hours.
  5. Cook the green beans in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and spread on a paper towels to cool.
  6. When ready to serve, add the cooled green beans to the white beans and then the basil, tossing well after each addition. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.

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Crab cakes adapted from Jill Silverman Hough; Salad adapted from Jan Newberry, both of Fine Cooking

Krazy Good Kebabs

Maybe the best lamb kebabs on the face of the planet—at least that’s how I felt on this particular night when we dined on these babies! A tangy, garlicky marinade made with lots of fresh oregano that paired perfectly with the full-flavored lamb in the Grilled Lamb, Tomato, and Halloumi Skewers. Not a lamb fan? You could use chicken or pork cubes in its place.

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The halloumi cheese block is cut into 16 equal pieces.

What the heck is halloumi? It is a Cypriot semi-hard, unripened brined cheese made from a mixture of goat’s and sheep’s milk—and doesn’t melt! Unlike most cheeses, which melt at high heat, halloumi holds up well to grilling, so it makes a great addition to a kebab. The cheese is white, with a distinctive layered texture, similar to mozzarella and has a salty flavor.

Having experienced not-so-pleasant results recently when cutting lamb into 1-inch cubes for kebabs, this time I cut them into 1 3/4″ to 2″ chunks. Russ grilled them at four minutes per side on high heat, turning once, resulting in perfectly medium-rare deliciousness.

We added slightly more garlic than the recipe calls for—which we almost always do. A boxed Zatarain’s Yellow Rice dish stood in for the orzo because it is gluten-free, although the following recipe includes the orzo directions. I did include all of the other ingredients into the rice, cutting the amount of the mixture to a 1/4 cup and topping some steamed green beans with the rest.

The halloumi cheese and lamb made a perfect combination, and the leftovers (if you have any) are great!

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Scallions are sliced and the fresh mint is ready to be minced.

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About 2 pounds of boneless lamb leg is cut into almost 2-inch chunks.

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Halloumi cheese squares and lamb chunks are tossed with the marinade.

Ingredients

  • Kosher salt
  • 10 oz. (1-1/2 cups) dried orzo
  • 1-1/2 lb. boneless leg of lamb, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 48 pieces)
  • 8 oz. halloumi, cut into 16 pieces
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 16 cherry tomatoes
  • 4 whole scallions, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice; more to taste

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We have used this style of tossable skewers twice now and find they work great—the food stays in place and does not turn.

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Meat, cheese and tomatoes are threaded onto skewers. 

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After 4 minutes Russ turned the skewers and grilled for another 4 minutes.

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The sauce was mixed into our rice side and drizzled over steamed green beans.

Directions

  1. Put the lamb and halloumi in a large bowl. In a small container with a lid, combine the olive oil, vinegar, oregano, garlic, red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cover tightly and shake vigorously. Toss the orzo with 1/3 cup of the mixture and pour the rest over the lamb and halloumi, tossing to coat.
  2. Thread 6 pieces of lamb, 2 pieces of halloumi, and 2 tomatoes onto each of eight 12-inch metal skewers, alternating a tomato and a piece of cheese between every 2 pieces of lamb.
  3. Grill, turning once, until the halloumi is browned and the lamb is pink in the center (cut into a piece to check), 4 to 6 minutes total.
  4. While the lamb is cooking, toss the scallions, mint, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper with the orzo (or rice.) Season to taste with more salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Serve the skewers with the orzo.

By Adeena Sussman from Fine Cooking

Here’s looking at you, kid

“What in heaven’s name brought you to Casablanca?” To answer this line from the movie, we were inspired by a GroupOn that was about to expire, and made the trek to Warrington, PA (nearly 20 miles from home) to the Moroccan restaurant, Casablanca.

Let’s just say it was quite the experience! Not knowing what to expect, we arrived in the parking lot of a large, slightly run down strip mall. The set back restaurant/club was a bit shabby in appearance, screaming for a spruced up paint job. But we came this far, and decided to venture forward.

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This was our view from the back corner of the room.

Enter we did. A young woman with heavily glittered eyes met us as soon as we walked in and asked if we had reservations (seeing as how there appeared to be no one else dining, it seemed an odd question.) She led us to a back corner room with low couches and brass tables, exclaiming this room was cooler (after all it was 96 degrees out, what no air conditioning?)

She offered us two somewhat worn brown bath towels and said to drape them over our laps, they would be our napkins—OK, now I’m a bit bewildered. Within seconds our waiter, Ahdam, in traditional garb—who turned out to also be the cook, bottle washer and bus boy—explained the customary cleansing of hands and with that he asked us to hold our palms over the brass vessel as he poured rose petal scented water over them. The “napkin” on our lap proved essential as that was all we had to dry our hands.

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The hand washing vessels are put back on the ledge.

Asked if we had any food issues, Russ mentioned his wheat intolerance. Ahdam said they could accommodate this with just a few tweaks to the menu. Additionally he mentioned the food was to be eaten by hand, using the pita bread to scoop up the food. Wait, what?? Seeing my obvious concern, he said forks are available if we were uncomfortable with that idea. I bet you can guess what our answer was! Now that large “napkin” really made a lot of sense…

I gotta tell ya, our waiter, a middle-aged guy, had great flexibility because every time he came to our low table, which was often, he squatted and got back up without any hesitation, impressive! He starting explaining the menu (without giving us one) and we soon realized there was not an a-la-carte option, only the 8-course prix-fixed dinner.

After numerous questions as to what our preferences were for each course, he also asked about our beverage inclinations. Deciding red wine was the way to go, he came back with a bottle of Pinot Noir for half price. Can’t beat that because glasses of wine started at $9 and up, so a bottle for $18 was a bargain indeed.

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About midway through our meal, the melodic background music suddenly increased in volume and was decidedly more lively. And we guessed correctly, the young woman who showed us to our seats (her glittered eyes gave her away), came shimmying in dressed in belly dancing attire. We had our own private exotic dancer—well almost private as there was another couple far off in the opposite corner. Not only did Ahdam multitask, she also held numerous jobs, because after her show, Russ wove his way to the men’s room and found her bartending.

Each course is described below, with our choices highlighted in purple, and a picture of each above the description. However, this was food overload for me. I would’ve been satisfied with just two, maybe three courses. In fact, the B’stilla, though gorgeous to look at, was not up my alley at all and I barely touched it, while Russ seemed to enjoy it. With leftovers from initial offerings, and courses six through eight virtually untouched, Ahdam brought us take home containers.

With our bellies beyond full, two hefty doggie bags laden with food, and the temperature on the rise inside the building, we knew it was time to go. While it was an interesting experience, I’m not sure I’d be rushing back anytime soon; although Russ thinks it would be fun with a group of people—we’ll see. “Not an easy day to forget.”

Traditional Menu

Casablanca restaurant offers authentic Moroccan dishes in both regular and vegetarian varieties. The set menu includes an 8-course dinner and is $32.50 per person. (A real bargain considering the amount of food you get!)

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First and Second Courses

Hummous and Baba Ganouj
Served first is the creamiest, richest Hummous in Pennsylvania, top center (chickpeas, tahini, garlic and lemon); and smooth, rich Baba Ganouj, lower left (eggplant pureed with tahini and various Mediterranean spices—Russ said it was the best he ever had!) Served with pita bread (or a gluten-free style for Russ) for dipping.

Salads Three Ways
Carrots strongly flavored with garlic, vinegar, and spices contrast the tender eggplant salad beside them, marinated in mild spices. The third salad is a medley of crunchy diced cucumbers, green peppers, and tomatoes with parsley, vinegar and oil—all pictured on the decorative plate.

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Third Course

B’stilla
A traditional Moroccan pastry of flaky phyllo dough dusted with powdered sugar and cinnamon which created the camel motif. It’s filled with a delectable mix of eggs, chicken, toasted almonds, and sweet cinnamon spices. A piece of artwork in itself!

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Fourth Course

Chicken or Rabbit
The chicken at Casablanca is melt-off-the-bone tender, perfect for eating with fingers. Topping it is your choice of lemons and olives, super-spicy homemade harissa sauce, walnuts, or dried apricots. The rabbit, an unusual and low-fat alternative to chicken, is cooked in a mildly spiced tomato sauce topped with sweet dates. The chicken was my favorite course.

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Fifth Course

Beef, Lamb or chicken shish kebabs
Juicy chunks of beef, lamb or chicken grilled with onions, green peppers, and tomatoes and brushed with a garlic and olive oil marinade. Or alternatively, meltingly tender nuggets of juicy lamb topped with sweet honey and almonds, or fragrant lemon and cumin.

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Sixth Course

Couscous with vegetables
A traditional dish of Morocco, a medley of carrots, onions, and other vegetables served on a bed of steamed semolina grains (Russ had his over rice), topped with bits of chicken, chickpeas, and raisins. We were too full to even attempt a bite at this point.

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Seventh Course

Basket of fresh fruit
Fresh and uncut fruit- apples, grapes, oranges, plums, and other in-season fruit to refresh your palate. We took all but the pineapple slices home.

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Eighth Course

Baklava and mint tea
The version of these traditional small pastries served at Casablanca is a unique, sweet blend of walnuts and honey snuggled in between tall layers of flaky, crunchy phyllo dough. The sweet mint tea is poured from a height to aerate and cool it to perfection. Again, didn’t even try…

NoLa—and We’re Not Talking New Orleans

Operated by chef-owner Brian Held, NoLa’s restaurant name is short for “North of Lambertville.” The BEST crab cakes I ever had nearly a decade ago were at Brian’s, his other restaurant in Lambertville, NJ, and while few places have come close, no one has ever surpassed those perfectly crafted patties. That’s why we were excited to see he opened a new establishment last summer, and we were looking for a chance to visit.

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Finally over July 4 weekend, we rounded up friends Rosanne and Gary Zarrilli to make the trek with us, agreeing to meet there shortly before the 7:00 Saturday night reservation. As we rounded the corner to park the car, Rosanne and Gary were seated at an outside bistro table at the infamous Stockton Inn across the street from NoLa.

Referred to as a restaurant you might find in the Hamptons, it has clean lines and amazing food. The streamlined menu is bursting with originality, with “dishes that dazzle and dance” as one reviewer put it. Although I thought the decor was too bland and would benefit from some artwork for pops of color.

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Russ and Gary getting jiggy with the wine!

You may fondly remember it as the former home of Meil’s, one of the most popular weekend breakfast places in the region. Now NoLa’s 40-seat BYOB outpost is minimalist contemporary in style with white walls, where along one, bench seats are buffered with pillows (where Rosanne and I sat.) These pillows offering the only color to the otherwise completely white palette.

After being seated by our friendly waitress, we were served a dish of two flatbreads—a welcome change from the typical dinner roll that is commonly served. The baked whole wheat rounds were delicately seasoned with sea salt and fresh thyme, and accompanied by a mascarpone spread that tempted our tastebuds, in a good way, a positive omen for what was to come.

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Our “amuse bouche” of two flatbreads and a mascarpone and olive oil spread.

Being in the height of the season for certain produce, we knew a salad this time of year should be fresh and crisp, harvested within hours of eating. No disappointment there for the two guys who ordered one. Russ couldn’t help but get the Duck Confit Salad with pine nuts, fried capers and greens. Gary selected the Mixed Organic Greens comprised of walnuts, grapes and gorgonzola. It was clear that the chefs cared, as each element of the two salads was thoughtfully layered, presenting something as attractive as it was delectable.

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Russ’s Duck Confit Salad.

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Gary enjoyed his Organic Mixed Greens.

The ladies on the other hand both opted for the luscious Wild Mushroom Soup with braised leeks and a drizzle of truffle oil. It was so full of flavor and seemed to pair well with our bottles of red wine, both coincidentally of the Spanish persuasion.

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Rosanne and Lynn both loved the Wild Mushroom Soup.

NoLa’s menu changes often, and tonite’s hand written list was completely different from what showed online as a sample menu. But that made it all the more exciting to review their offerings. Of course I mentioned those crab cakes from Brian’s which clinched my decision, and also that of both Rosanne and Russ.

I was hoping that my glowing memory of crab-cakes-past would live up to their expectation in tonite’s Jumbo Lump Crab Cake entree. Let’s just say, none of us were in the least disappointed! Each plate consisted of one ginormous pattie with bits of red pepper and chives woven in and topped with a silky mustard emulsion glaze. No filler could be discerned—Russ thought maybe they used a binder of pulverized shrimp, a trick we’ve used in the past.

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The Jumbo Lump Crab Cake with a mustard emulsion glaze.

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The gorgeously plated Lasagne Bolognaise.

The entree calling Gary’s name was the Lasagne Bolognaise, and what a pretty presentation it was, so artfully plated in a round Americana bowl with blue stars adorning the perimeter. How apropos. And according to Mr. Z, not only was it pretty to look at, it was darn tasty as well!

With no room for dessert, and the Zarrilli’s needing to make it home to meet an air conditioner repairman (at 9:30 p.m. on a holiday weekend, yikes), it was time to bid adieu

NOTE: Keep in mind if you do go, they still only take cash or check, no plastic.

Playing with Fire!

Somehow a summer holiday is just not the same unless you enjoy an outdoor BBQ. For the 4th of July we were all set to make Russ’s famous baby back ribs again when we just happened to be online and this intriguing rib recipe from Bon Appetit caught our undivided attention.

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Take heed all you foodie lovers of the brash and bold—we hit the Motherlode! This is the Holy Grail of sauces. The key ingredient? Gochujang Korean Hot Sauce, a savory, spicy, pungent, fermented vegan Korean condiment that combines red peppers, cane sugar, garlic, sea salt, and other ingredients for an umami flavor with the perfect balance of sweet and savory. A one-teaspoon serving of the sauce contains just 10 calories and no fat or gluten. Ride on!

gochujang container

And as luck would have it, we just happened to have a container sitting in our pantry waiting to be used. Months ago we purposely bought it with the intent to make some recipe or other that we clearly never got around to making. In fact, we had all of the other ingredients too, except some fresh scallions, which were easy enough to pick up at the local grocery store.

Onward ho… Barbecue Ribs with Gochujang Sauce, yeah baby, we were psyched! Be forewarned, this concoction is not for those with a faint-of-spice palette (of course you could use sparingly if you wanted to try it.)

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David helps with preparation by husking the corn.

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Mike and David are the first to try our grilled ribs with Gochujang Sauce.

Our first “guinea pigs” were son David and his friend Mike. David, who shares a love of all things spicy, was given a tiny taste of the prepared sauce prior to cooking. His first reaction was nothing out of the ordinary, but within seconds the full flavor punch hit him, causing a succession of rapid eye blinks. Once grilled however, we all agreed the sauce mellows in intensity, and you’re left with unbelievable depth of flavors.

Knowing the ribs would steal the show with their potency, we rounded out the meal with more mellow sides starting with a Caprese Salad: heirloom tomatoes topped with slices of fresh mozzarella, just-picked basil leaves, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction; recently husked white corn on the cob; and a store-bought cole slaw.

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A very summer side, Caprese Salad is the perfect accompaniment to the spicy ribs.

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Simple cole slaw and boiled corn on the cob round out the meal.

Our conclusion? Gochujang rub is great on ribs, but would also work on a pork shoulder before braising, pork tenderloin, or bone-in pieces of chicken. And since we did have leftover sauce, we plan on grilling bone-in chicken breasts later in the week.

Did we like these better than Russ’s baby backs? To be honest, we did season the ribs with his special rub to get happy overnight, instead of just using salt and pepper as the recipe instructs. But the sauce, oh that wonderful attack-on-all-of-your-culinary-senses sauce! The bar has been raised once again, and happily so. David asked that I email him the recipe because he couldn’t wait for me to post this blog…

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Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 racks baby back pork ribs (about 2 pounds each)
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • 4 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 3-inch piece peeled ginger, very coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for grill
  • ¾ cup gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste)
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • cup fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons plum sauce
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Lime wedges, for serving

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The aromatics (garlic, ginger and scallions) are finely chopped in a small food processor.

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The pulsed aromatics are then cooked in oil in a skillet for several minutes to soften.

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All of the other ingredients are mixed into the cooked aromatics.

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Once blended well, the sauce cools. It will turn decidedly darker as it is grilled.

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300°. Pat ribs dry; season generously on both sides with salt and pepper. Wrap each rack in a double layer of foil, crimping edges tightly, and place on a rimmed baking sheet. (We seasoned ours with Russ’s spicy rib rub and let them get happy overnight in the frig, baking them the next day.)
  2. Bake until meat yields easily when pierced with a skewer but is not quite falling off the bone, 2–2½ hours. Remove from oven and let sit inside foil until cool enough to handle.
  3. Meanwhile, pulse scallions, garlic, and ginger in a food processor until finely chopped. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a medium saucepan over medium. Add aromatics and cook, stirring often, until softened, golden, and starting to stick to bottom of pan, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add gochujang, ketchup, lime juice, plum sauce, sugar, fish sauce, soy sauce, and ¼ cup water and stir until smooth. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring often to prevent scorching, until thick, 5–10 minutes. Remove sauce from heat; season with salt.
  5. Prepare a grill for medium-high heat; lightly oil grates. Remove ribs from foil (if desired, stir cooking liquid into sauce) and cut racks in half crosswise. Place ribs on grill, meaty side down, and grill until lightly charred, about 1 minute. Brush ribs with sauce and turn over. (We actually grilled ours for about 5 minutes per side.)
  6. Brush with more sauce and continue to grill, turning ribs one or two more times, until sauce is lightly charred in spots, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes before slicing into individual ribs.
  7. Serve ribs with remaining sauce and lime wedges.

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Russ begins to baste the seasoned ribs with sauce before grilling.

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After grilling for about 10 minutes total, the racks are cut in half and plated.

Recipe by Chris Vergara and Justin Montgomery, Harper’s, Dobbs Ferry, NY