What to do for dinner in late-summer/early-fall with an abundance of grape tomatoes and fresh herbs? Well that would be Skillet Burst Grape Tomato Casarecce with Lemony Breadcrumbs. It’s a very simple pan roasted grape tomato pasta with white wine, garlic, fresh herbs, topped with the most crunchy lemony breadcrumbs, and finished with luscious burrata cheese.
This perfect late-summer dinner is ready in under 30 minutes using basic pantry staples and end-of-season garden bounty. If you’ve never used it, Casarecce pasta is a very narrow, twisted, and rolled tube, almost resembling a scroll. If you can’t find it, substitute a similar twisted, tubular pasta like cavatappi, cavatelli, gemelli, or fusilli.
If you have any leftovers, keep the bread crumbs and buratta separate. When ready to eat, reheat the pasta in a microwave for a few minutes, then top with crumbs and cheese.
Skillet Burst Grape Tomato Casarecce with Lemony Breadcrumbs
1 pound casarecce pasta, or other twisted tubular pasta
1 1/4 lbs. red and yellow grape tomatoes
6-8 cloves garlic, smashed
2 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup manchego cheese, grated
2 cups fresh basil, roughly chopped
2 balls fresh burrata cheese, each ball split in two
In a large skillet set over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add the bread, a pinch of red pepper flakes and pinch of kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally until golden and toasted all over, about 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest. Slide bread crumbs onto a plate. Wipe the skillet clean.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Just before draining, remove 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain.
Meanwhile, place the same skillet used for the bread over high heat and add the remaining olive oil. When the oil shimmers, add the tomatoes, garlic, thyme, and oregano, and a pinch each of salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook until the tomatoes begin to pop, about 4-5 minutes. Pour in the wine, cook 1 minute.
Add the pasta and a splash of the pasta cooking water to the skillet, tossing to combine. Remove from the heat and add the manchego cheese and basil, toss to combine. If needed, thin the pasta sauce with a little of the reserved cooking water.
Divide the pasta among shallow bowls, nestle in half a burrata ball, and top with bread crumbs.
This was one of those days that we knew there wouldn’t be much time to prepare and cook dinner because we planned on spending all day at the beach, probably the last hurrah of the season in late September. I thought cheeseburgers would be an easy fix.
The day prior, I pulled a package of Trader Joe’s ground pork out of the freezer to thaw and noted we had brioche buns, plus lettuce, tomato and onion on hand for garnish. Perfect. Then, while standing in line at the local farmer’s market, I glanced at a display of Urban Accent seasoning mixes and saw one for Ancho Chile Pork Burgers. More Perfect!
I rarely tout product placement in my blog, but it seemed that this serendipitous combination was just meant to be, so I ran with it. The bold spice blend will pack your burger with the smoky flavors of ancho and chipotle chiles, paprika, coriander, allspice, and sweet brown sugar. But if you’re not into pork burgers, Urban Accents Ancho Chile Pork Burger blend also goes great with beef, turkey or even a veggie burger!
My brilliant solution to pull everything together was a mix of mayonnaise and adobo sauce (gotten from a can of smoked chipotle chiles). Mix and spread on both bun bottoms and tops. Along with a side of Bush’s Black Bean Fiesta—another timesaver which contained chipotle seasoning—we enjoyed a super flavorful meal in no time.
Of course you can use whatever toppings float your boat, but we decided Swiss cheese melted on top—in fact two slices per burger—plus the lettuce, tomato and onion trinity, added color, flavor and a skosh of healthy nutrients.
Although summer produce season was nearing its end, we easily scored some fresh corn and zucchini to make this flavorful Spiced Chicken with Corn, Mushrooms and Zucchini. It’s a one pan meal that’s ready in a total of 45 minutes. Cooked in a skillet, the spiced chicken takes on a brick-red hue with a moderately spicy kick. (You can adjust the amount of heat by adding or eliminating the amount of cayenne.)
Here gochugaru—Korean red chile flakes—imbues this one-skillet chicken and vegetable supper with its deep, savory flavor, gentle heat and a hint of smokiness. But don’t fret if you can’t find gochugaru, just substitute ancho chile powder, regular chili powder or chipotle chile powder (or choice) for a delicious but different taste profile. Add more cayenne or eliminate it to adjust the level of heat, which is moderate as written. (Gochugaru can be found at Asian markets, well stocked supermarkets or online.)
I got carried away and pounded the chicken breasts down to a 1/4″ instead of the indicated 1/2″. Not a problem as long as the meat is not overcooked and dried out. Adjust the cooking time so that the poultry registers 160°, then move to a plate and cover with foil.
The amount of chicken we made was over 1 1/2 pounds, which when hammered down made 4 large cutlets, and therefore had to be cooked in 2 batches. Once the veggies are done, pour the accumulated chicken juices into the pan and stir to distribute.
Yes, you can make this meal with frozen corn, but you will suffer from a loss of flavor. This summer was THE BEST corn season we’ve experienced in a long time. And this last batch in particular was astoundingly sweet and juicy!
2 Tbsp. canola oil or another neutral oil, divided
8 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms or a mix of mushrooms such as shiitake, oyster and/or cremini, sliced
2 to 3 Tbsp. water, plus more as needed
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions, white and light green parts, plus dark greens for garnish
1 Tbsp. minced or finely grated fresh ginger
1 medium zucchini (8 ounces), trimmed, quartered lengthwise and sliced 1/2-inch thick
3-4 ears of corn, kernels sliced from cob
In a small bowl, combine the gochugaru, 1/4 teaspoon salt, the granulated garlic and cayenne pepper. Sprinkle the spice mixture onto both sides of the chicken, rubbing it in a little with your fingers.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil until shimmering. Add the chicken to the pan, reduce the heat to medium and cook until cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan, followed by the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add the water if the pan seems dry, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the scallions and ginger and cook until they soften, about 1 minute.
Add the zucchini, corn and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook until the vegetables are tender, 3 to 5 minutes. If the pan seems dry, add more water as needed, a couple of tablespoons at a time.
Pour any accumulated juices from the chicken into the pan with the vegetables, and then slice the chicken into strips.
Serve the vegetables with the sliced chicken on top or on the side.
On vacation in Hilton Head in mid-September, and with plans to check out as many restaurants as the schedule would allow, we also anticipated dining in, at least a few evenings. The Hubs and I drove down with good friend Merry Sue (owner of the time share) which sported a modern, fully-equipped kitchen. As her guests, we promised to make dinner a couple of nights, although we had no pre-planned menus. (But we did intentionally schlepp down a few good knives 🙂 )
Lots of Shallots
It was unanimous that chicken be the star of dinner this particular night, so The Hubs began his search on several of our recipe faves and found this perfect gem, Baked Chicken with Herbs, Garlic & Shallots, on FineCooking.com. Because it consisted of few ingredients, a good thing when on vacation, and was simple in employment, the recipe fit our criteria to a tee.
For some strange reason the local supermarket carried only four whole chickens, so I bought the smallest at just over 4 1/2 pounds—which in hind sight worked out well because we all ADORED the finished dish, plus had leftovers for a tasty chicken salad for lunch the next day! This recipe is so easy to modify to your liking with different herbs, extra garlic, small onions, etc. If you prefer white or dark meat only, you could also substitute bone-in, skin-on split breasts or thighs.
I believe this will easily become a staple of our weeknight dinner repertoire. Vary the herbs as you like, but stick to the hardy ones—thyme, rosemary, sage, and oregano. They’ll roast without burning and have a stronger flavor.
Without a lot of staples at our disposal, we opted to go for a packaged rice dish and a simple side salad (the grape tomatoes we transported from our garden at home) to complete the meal. When we make this delicious dish again, I think we’ll go ahead and make the pan sauce to pair with some garlicky mashed potatoes to accompany the baked chicken. Mmmm-mm good!
Heat the oven to 425°F. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels. Cut away any excess fat and tuck the wings behind each breast.
Put the butter into a large, shallow baking pan (a 10-1/2×15-1/2-inch Pyrex pan is ideal for this). Put the pan into the oven while it’s heating. When the butter is melted (about 10 minutes), remove the pan and set it on a heatproof surface or on a couple of potholders. Add the shallots, garlic, thyme, and rosemary, and swirl the pan to coat the ingredients in the butter.
Dredge the chicken, skin side down, in the butter and herb mixture, and arrange, skin side up, in the pan. Sprinkle the chicken generously with the salt and pepper. Bake until the chicken is browned and cooked through, 50 to 60 minutes. Serve with the shallots and garlic along with a drizzle of the pan drippings.
A rare cool, rainy Sunday afforded us the opportunity to cook a slow braised dish for a summer dinner. While thumbing through several favorite cookbooks, I happened upon this Roman Braised Beef with Tomatoes and Cloves in Milk Streets “The New Rules” by Courtney Hill.
The “new rule: don’t sear your meat” goes against something we typically do, brown our meat beforehand. But because you cook it uncovered for the last hour or so, the meat will brown at the end of the process.
Pot roast comes to mind with this meal, and in Rome, cloves are used to flavor the dish known as “Garofolato di Manzo alla Romana” because cloves are called chiodi di garofano. Here, the earthy, subtly smoky and slightly bitter flavor of cloves complements the natural sweetness of onion, fennel and tomatoes.
Milk Street advises not to use ground cloves that have gone stale, as they won’t add much flavor or fragrance to the braise. If your cloves have been in the pantry for more than a few months, uncap and take a whiff. The aroma should be sharp and strong. If not, pony up and get a new jar.
Unlike pot roast where you cook the large piece of meat whole, the beef is cut into chunks and simmered as a stew resulting in succulent meat throughout. Polenta is an excellent accompaniment for absorbing the flavorful sauce. In a unique pairing, we wedded the meat with another Milk Street recipe Spanish Green Beans with Ham, Almonds and Smoked Paprika.
This recipe is an adaptation of the remarkably delicious green beans from Extremadura, Spain, home of pimentón, aka Spanish smoked paprika. For perfectly crisp and tender beans, cooking techniques are combined. You start by searing the veggies in a hot pan to develop browning and flavor. Then add water and a tight fitting lid to steam them until tender. Voila!
6-7 lbs. boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch chunks
¾ tsp. ground cloves
kosher salt and ground black pepper
4 oz. pancetta, roughly chopped
6 med. garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
1 med. yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 med. fennel bulb, trimmed, halved, cored and thinly sliced
28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
2 tsp. fresh thyme, minced
Heat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the lower-middle position. Place the beef in a large bowl and season with the cloves, 1 tablespoon salt and 2 teaspoons pepper.
In a large Dutch oven over low, cook the pancetta, stirring occasionally, until sizzling and the fat has begun to render, about 5 minutes.
Increase the heat to medium-low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the pieces begin to brown, another 7 minutes.
Add the garlic, onion and fennel, then increase to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and translucent, about 6 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Stir in the beef, then cover, transfer to the oven and cook for 2 hours.
Remove the pot from the oven. Stir, then return to the oven uncovered. Cook until a skewer inserted into a piece of beef meets no resistance, another 1 to 1½ hours.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a medium bowl. With a wide spoon, skim off and discard the fat from the surface of the cooking liquid, then bring to a boil over medium-high, scraping up any browned bits. Cook until the liquid has thickened to the consistency of heavy cream, 10 to 12 minutes.
Stir in the thyme, then return the beef to the pot. Reduce to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is heated through, about 5 minutes.
Spanish Green Beans with Ham, Almonds and Smoked Paprika
First, the almonds. Begin by toasting them in olive oil to deepen their nutty flavor, then add the garlic and thinly sliced serrano ham, cooking the mixture until the meat crisps and the garlic is fragrant. Then remove that mixture from the pan and add the green beans and char them in the flavorful fond left behind.
For the final flourish of smoked paprika, first deglaze the pan with another 1⁄4 cup water, scraping up any remaining flavorful bits, then remove the pan from the burner and stir the spice in off heat. This preserves the paprika’s smoky aroma, resulting in a pan sauce that is as quick as it is deeply smoky-savory.
Don’t stir the beans too often after adding them to the pan. Stirring only a few times allows the beans to take on some char that adds flavor the finished dish. If you’re entertaining more than four people with the braised beef dinner, you’ll want to double this bean recipe.
My mistake here was using a nonstick skillet so the beans didn’t get as good a sear as I wanted. But in the end since there were no browned bits left in the pan, there was no reason to perform Step 5. Instead, I just sprinkled the smoked paprika right onto the finished beans, stirred and served. OMG, so friggin’ good!!
Spanish Green Beans with Ham, Almonds and Smoked Paprika
2 oz. thinly sliced serrano ham or prosciutto, sliced into ¼-inch-wide ribbons
2 med. garlic cloves, minced
1 lb. green beans, trimmed and halved
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
½ tsp. smoked paprika
In a 12-inch skillet (don’t use nonstick) over medium, heat 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add the almonds and cook, stirring often, until lightly golden, about 2 minutes.
Add the ham and garlic and cook, stirring, until the ham crisps and the garlic is fragrant, another 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl; set aside.
To the same skillet over medium-high, add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and heat until smoking. Add the beans and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook, stirring only a few times, until the beans are lightly charred, about 4 minutes.
Return the ham-almond mixture to the pan and add ¼ cup water. Cover, reduce to low and cook, occasionally shaking the pan, until the beans are tender-crisp, about 3 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a serving dish.
Set the skillet over medium-high and add ¼ cup water. Bring to a simmer and cook, scraping up the browned bits, until the liquid has reduced to about 2 tablespoons, about 2 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the paprika. Drizzle the sauce over the beans and serve.
Make sure you get the freshest home grown cherry tomatoes for this fabulous pasta dish. Currently they are in season in our neck of the woods and, lucky for us, our Farmer’s Market was brimming with every type imaginable.
When Milk Street(where we got this recipe) sampled this no-cook tomato sauce in Sicily, it was made the traditional way, with a large mortar and pestle. A food processor gets it done faster and more easily. But The Mr. wanted to do it the traditional way in his favorite gargantuan mortar and pestle. He felt the results would produce a better paste.
Topped with crisp, olive oil–infused croutons and toasted almonds, the dish is served warm or at room temperature after the pasta has had a few minutes to soak in the flavorful sauce. Instead of blanched, slivered almonds, we used sliced, but whole almonds roughly chopped are another option.
Please don’t over-process the second addition of tomatoes. The first half is pulsed to create a juicy sauce,but the rest are pulsed only until roughly chopped so that tomato chunks add bursts of bright color and texture, and boy did they!
I usually don’t combine bread with a pasta meal because of the heavy carb count, but those croutons are a must! Serve with a veggie-laden side salad to help compensate. It’s typical to grate some cheese over a pasta dish, but even though I served some on the side, we both felt it was not necessary and might even take away from the fresh taste. Will certainly make again!
Gemelli with Fresh Tomato-Almond Pesto and Croutons
6 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to serve
3 oz. crusty white bread, torn into rough ½-inch pieces (about 1¾ cups)
In a 10-inch skillet over medium-high, toast the almonds, stirring frequently, until golden brown and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside; reserve the skillet.
In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Add the pasta and 2 tablespoons salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Reserve about ½ cup of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.
Meanwhile, in a food processor, process ½ cup of the almonds, the garlic and 2 teaspoons salt until finely chopped, about 30 seconds.
Add the basil and half of the tomatoes, then pulse until chopped and well combined, 4 to 6 pulses.
Add the remaining tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of oil, then pulse just until the whole tomatoes are broken up, about 3 pulses.
Transfer to a serving bowl, add the pasta and ¼ cup of the reserved cooking water, then toss. Let stand, tossing once or twice, for 10 to 15 minutes to allow the pasta to absorb some of the sauce.
While the pasta stands, in the same skillet used to toast the almonds, toss the bread, remaining 4 tablespoons oil, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Cook over medium, stirring frequently, until the bread is crisp and golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes.
Scatter the toasted bread and the remaining ¼ cup almonds over the pasta. Drizzle with additional oil and sprinkle with pepper.
Anytime is perfect to skewer around, don’t you agree? And when all it takes is a bit of prep and less than 30 minutes to cook, you will have plenty of extra time for anything else on your agenda, or just relax and enjoy a cool beverage.
Once again chicken is the star of the show. Specifically, boneless, skinless chicken thighs. Each one is cut crosswise into three strips and added to the marinade, tossed and set aside for 15 to 30 minutes. While they get happy, you can prepare whatever accompaniments you plan to serve. A prepackaged couscous and a zucchini-onion sauté completed our meal.
Grilled lemon halves, drizzled with honey and squeezed over the charred chicken skewers, adds a final note of sweet-tart acidity that helps balance all the bold, savory seasonings. Minced fresh cilantro, parsley or mint brings bright color and a herbal freshness to the dish. Use whichever you prefer, or any combination of the three.
The directions indicate to use metal skewers, but we were on vacation at a rental property in Cape Cod and all we had access to was wooden skewers, which we presoaked for an hour. They tend to run shorter in length than their metal counterparts, so it’s likely you’ll need more of them—in our case, 6 wooden skewers as opposed to 4 metal.
Keep in mind: Don’t marinate the chicken longer than 30 minutes. Any longer than that and the lemon juice and ginger will make it mushy.
¼ cup minced fresh cilantro, flat-leaf parsley or mint
With a wand-style grater, use 1 lemon to grate 1 tablespoon of zest and squeeze 2 tablespoons of juice.
In a large bowl, stir together the zest, juice, oil, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of the honey.
Cut each chicken thigh crosswise into 3 strips. Add the chicken to the marinade, toss and set aside for 15 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare a grill for direct cooking over medium-high heat. For a charcoal grill, spread a large chimney three-quarters full of hot coals evenly over the grill bed; open the bottom grill vents. For a gas grill, set all burners to high. Heat the grill, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes, then clean and oil the cooking grate. If using gas, reduce the burners to medium-high just before adding the chicken.
Thread the chicken onto four 12-inch metal skewers, scrunching multiple pieces onto each skewer. (We used 6, presoaked wooden skewers.)
Cut the remaining 2 lemons in half. Grill the chicken and lemon halves (cut side down) until the chicken is well charred all over, 10 to 12 minutes, turning halfway through. Remove the lemons once their cut sides are nicely charred.
Transfer the skewers and lemon halves to a platter. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon of honey over the cut sides of the lemons.
Squeeze the juice from 1 lemon half over the chicken, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with the remaining lemon halves on the side.
Genoa, Italy is the birthplace of this dish. It traditionally is made in a mortar and pestle of nothing more than basil, pine nuts, cheese, garlic, salt and olive oil, emphasis on the basil. And to follow that tradition, we did the same. This was perfect at summer’s end because we had a plethora of fresh basil in our herb garden.
Good quality cheese is essential for a rich, full-flavored pesto. Seek out true Italian Parmesan cheese. In place of pecorino sardo, don’t use pecorino Romano, which is too strong. The best substitute is Manchego, a Spanish sheep’s milk cheese, one we love and typically have on hand.
While you may be tempted, don’t toast the pine nuts. In Italy, the pine nuts for pesto are used raw. And don’t add all the ingredients at once to the food processor (or mortar if using). Adding them in stages ensures the pesto has the correct consistency and texture, and that it won’t end up thin and watery, the result of over-processing.
Using a mortar and pestle creates a luxurious sauce with a rich, deep flavor and a beautiful, silky texture that’s superior to what a food processor can do. Yes, it takes a bit longer and gives your arms a workout, but the reward of the best pesto you’ve ever eaten is sooo worth it. (FYI, the cheeses will have to be ground in a small food processor beforehand.)
If for some reason you cannot locate, or happen to dislike pine nuts, you can replace them with macadamias, walnuts, almonds or pecans. To store pesto, press a piece of plastic wrap against its surface and refrigerate for up to three days. After that, leftovers can be frozen in a sealed container.
1¾ oz. parmesan cheese (without rind), chopped into rough 1-inch pieces
1 oz. pecorino sardo cheese (without rind), chopped into rough 1-inch pieces
¼ cup pine nuts
2 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2½ oz. (about 5 cups lightly packed) fresh basil leaves
12 oz. orecchiette pasta, cooked al dente
In a food processor, process both cheeses until broken into rough marble-sized pieces, about 10 seconds, then pulse until they have the texture of coarse sand, 5 to 10 pulses, scraping the bowl as needed. Transfer to a small bowl.
In the food processor (or with a mortar and pestle), combine the pine nuts, garlic and ¾ teaspoon salt. Process until a smooth, peanut butter–like paste forms, about 1 minute, scraping the bowl as needed.
Add the cheeses and about ½ of the oil and process until mostly smooth, 10 to 20 seconds, scraping the bowl as needed; the mixture should hold together when pressed against the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Using a chef’s knife, roughly chop the basil, then add to the food processor. Pulse about 10 times, scraping the bowl several times, until the basil is finely chopped and well combined with the cheese mixture.
Add the remaining oil and pulse just until incorporated, about 2 pulses. The pesto should be thick, creamy and spreadable.
Meanwhile cook the pasta as directed on the package for al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water then drain the pasta.
Add a couple tablespoons of pesto to bottom of serving dish, top with pasta, stir. Continue adding pesto and cooking water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stir until dish is creamy. (You won’t need to use all of the reserved cooking water.)
Mortar and Pestle
In a small food processor, grind the cheeses until the consistency of coarse sand, set aside.
Crush the garlic, salt and pine nuts in a mortar with the pestle, smashing and grinding until a sticky, ever-so-slightly chunky, beige paste forms.
Add basil leaves, a handful at a time, and pound and grind against the walls of the mortar. Continue until all basil leaves have been crushed to fine bits.
Add both cheeses, then slowly drizzle in olive oil (it helps to have another person do this), working it into the pesto with the pestle until a fairly smooth, creamy, emulsified, sauce forms.
Meanwhile cook the pasta as directed on the package for al dente. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water then drain the pasta.
Add a couple tablespoons of pesto to bottom of serving dish, top with pasta, stir. Continue adding pesto and cooking water, 1 tablespoon at a time, stir until dish is creamy. (You won’t need to use all of the reserved cooking water.)
Adapted from recipe byCourtney Hill from Milk Street
Italian Marinated Grilled Chicken
In a pinch I have used bottled Italian dressing as the marinade for chicken, but nothing compares to homemade. If you can, use fresh herbs, however dried is also an option. Use a combination of both white and dark meat if you prefer. It’s best to cut your chicken breast halves in half again so that all pieces are similar in size, and will therefore finish cooking at about the same time.
Sound anything like your last relationship gone awry? Well this recipe should actually cheer you up instead, if tender, juicy, bone-sucking baby back ribs are your thing. You may recall last summer I posted a blog on Carolina-Style Barbecued Chicken that used a similar BBQ sauce—and it was slammin’ good!
Sweet and tangy, mustard tames the sweetness of the brown sugar—a nice reprieve from the traditional red BBQ sauces that many of us are more accustomed to. Surprised to find we were out of apple cider vinegar, we substituted white wine vinegar which shares a similar acidic level.
As for the Adobo Seco Seasoning, we always keep a container of homemade on hand (it has a long shelf life) but you can also buy it commercially made and use that. The most popular version is the dry seasoning mix, made from garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt, pepper, and sometimes dried citrus.
3 Tbsp. adobo seco seasoning (store-bought or homemade)
2 cups water
1 cup yellow or Dijon mustard
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
3 Tbsp. mustard powder
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. hot sauce, such as Frank’s
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
Oil for the grates
Rub both racks of meat all over with the adobo seco seasoning. Position on a rack in a rimmed backing sheet. Place upright toothpicks in several areas of the meat and cover tightly with heavy-duty foil and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, 2 1/2 to 3 hours before you plan to start grilling, preheat the oven to 325°.
Remove a portion of the foil away so that you can pour 2 cups water into bottom of rimmed baking sheet and recover. Place into preheated oven for at least 2 hours.
After 2 hours check the ribs to see if the meat pulls away from the bones easily. If not, continue cooking for another 1/2 hour.
Meanwhile heat the grill to medium. Oil grates just before adding meat.
Brush one side of each rack with room temperature BBQ sauce and lay the racks onto hot grates sauce side down. Brush sauce on top side.
When bottoms of ribs are browned, flip and brush again with more sauce. Repeat several times over the course of 10-12 minutes until racks are well sauced and browned.
Break racks apart into 3-4 ribs per section, place on platter and serve with any leftover sauce.
Fresh basil, I like that this pasta recipe uses a lot of it. At the time we made the entrée, our garden was brimming with the herb, one of my all-time faves. Freshly picked, the aroma alone titillates the senses.
This recipe is Milk Street’s weeknight adaptation of the pasta fresca con carciofi e pecorino. The flavors are bright and fresh, and the prep is a breeze (chopping the basil is as arduous as it gets here). In 30 minutes or so, you have a tasty and filling entrée that’s sure to please.
As per Milk Street’s instructions, be sure to purchase jarred marinated artichoke hearts—they offer much more flavor than canned or frozen. You will need three 12-ounce jars to get the 3 cups drained artichokes called for. The hearts usually are halved or quartered; there’s no need to chop them after draining, as they will break apart during cooking.
About those artichokes, if you happen to have jars marinating in mostly oil, go ahead and use that in place of the additional EVOO listed in the ingredients. Trader Joe’s fits that bill, while Cento for example has too much vinegar in the mix.
Our box of rigatoni was only 12 ounces as opposed to the 1 pound called for, which we thought made for a better pasta-to-artichoke ratio, and still provided 4 full servings.
Don’t forget to save 2 cups of the cooking water before draining the rigatoni. You will need the starchy seasoned water to create a sauce that lightly coats and marries the artichokes and pasta.
2 oz. pecorino romano cheese, finely grated (1 cup)
1 Tbsp. grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup lightly packed fresh basil, chopped
3 Tbsp. salted butter, cut into 3 pieces
In a large Dutch oven, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Stir in the pasta and 1 tablespoon salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until just shy of al dente. Reserve about 2 cups of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.
Wipe out the pot, add the oil and heat over medium-high until shimmering. Add the artichokes and cook, stirring, until well browned, 5 to 7 minutes. (Ours took 9 minutes.)
Add the garlic and pepper flakes, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Return the pasta to the pot, along with 1½ cups of the reserved pasta water. Cook, uncovered and stirring often, until the pasta is al dente and little liquid remains, 3 to 5 minutes.
Remove from the heat. Add the pecorino, lemon zest and juice, basil and butter, then stir until the butter is melted.
Stir in additional pasta water 1 tablespoon at a time until slightly saucy. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
With the end of corn season drawing to a close, you may be thinking what else could you make with freshly picked maize? Sweet corn is the most common variety of maize eaten directly off the cob. The ear is picked while the endosperm is in the “milk stage” so that the kernels are still tender. How about Mexican Sweet Corn Cake?
For starters, it is only slightly sweet, moist and nothing like cornbread, which is denser and cornier. The texture is softer and more velvety than cake. A hint of corn flavor, but less than you expect and a suggestion of sweetness without being sweet. Interested now?
According to Milk Street where we found this recipe, this simple baked treat is ubiquitous in Mexican food markets, street stalls and restaurants. Its texture lands somewhere between cake and cornbread while hinting at custard. In Mexico City, it’s commonly served for breakfast, but finished with a dusting of powdered sugar, it also makes a casual, homey dessert.
Fresh Mexican corn used for making this type of cake is starchier and drier than the fresh corn available in the U.S., so a bit of cornmeal is added here. If you have more than 250 grams (1½ cups) corn after cutting the kernels from the ears, it’s best to save the extra for another use rather than use it in this recipe; the additional moisture may make the cake too wet. Yellow corn yields a cake with a warm golden hue, but white corn also works.
Don’t use frozen corn kernels—it results in a dense, gummy texture. Made with fresh corn, the cake’s crumb is much lighter and softer. After adding the flour mixture to the corn puree, don’t whisk vigorously. Gentle mixing, just until no pockets of flour remain, will minimize gluten development so the cake bakes up tender.
3 medium ears fresh corn, preferably yellow, husked
¼ cup fine yellow cornmeal
14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
¼ cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. kosher salt
2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks
½ cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
Powdered sugar, to serve
Heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position.
Mist a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Using a chef’s knife, cut the kernels from the ears of corn. Measure 1½ cups kernels and add to a blender; if you have extra corn, reserve it for another use. To the blender, add the cornmeal, condensed milk and yogurt, then puree until smooth, 15 to 20 seconds, scraping down the blender as needed. Let stand for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.
To the blender, add the whole eggs and yolks, and the oil; blend on low until smooth, 5 to 10 seconds.
Pour the puree into a large bowl. Add the flour mixture and whisk just until evenly moistened and no lumps of flour remain.
Transfer to the prepared cake pan and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes.
Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Run a paring knife around the pan to loosen the cake, then invert directly onto the rack and lift off the pan. Re-invert the cake onto a serving platter and cool completely, about 1 hour.
More fun than the American classic, the Mexican take on the dish has a whole lot more personality, so says Cook’s Illustrated. Cóctel de camarón offers an incredible mix of flavors and textures: plump, tender poached shrimp; crisp bites of raw onion and cucumber; and cool, creamy avocado are all coated in a tangy, spicy-sweet tomato sauce.
“Eaten ice‑cold with a spoon and saltines, it’s like a festive, shrimp‑packed Bloody Mary or gazpacho.”
V8’s blend of tomato and vegetable juices and lack of added sweeteners give the dish a welcome savory balance. To round out the dish, cut a ripe avocado and half an English cucumber into bite-size chunks. For savory crunch, add finely chopped red onion to the mix. Finally, a smattering of chopped cilantro contributes freshness.
For a fun presentation, I served the cocktail in margarita glasses accompanied by a long handled spoon and a basket of nacho chips. Son David and girlfriend Vikki joined us for dinner that evening and absolutely loved their appetizers. They scarfed it down in no time!
If you don’t have margarita glasses, another serving option would be a martini glass. In the end, no matter what you serve the shrimp cocktails in, your guests will gobble them up!
1 ¼ lbs. large shrimp (26 to 30 per pound), peeled, deveined, and tails removed
¼ tsp. table salt, plus salt for cooking shrimp
1 cup V8 juice, chilled
½ cup ketchup
3 Tbsp. lime juice (2 limes), plus lime wedges for serving
2 tsp. hot sauce, plus extra for serving
½ English cucumber, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 cup finely chopped red onion
1 avocado, halved, pitted, and cut into ½-inch pieces
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Saltines (or tortilla chips or thick-cut potato chips)
Bring 3 cups water to boil in large saucepan over high heat. Stir in shrimp and 1 tablespoon salt. Cover and let stand off heat until shrimp are opaque, about 5 minutes, shaking saucepan halfway through.
Fill large bowl halfway with ice and water. Transfer shrimp to ice bath and let cool for 3 to 5 minutes. Once cool, cut each shrimp crosswise into 3 pieces (or more if using larger shrimp).
Combine V8 juice, ketchup, lime juice, hot sauce, and salt in medium bowl.
Add cucumber, onion, and shrimp and stir until evenly coated. Stir in avocado and cilantro.
Portion cocktail into individual bowls or glasses and serve immediately, passing saltines (or chips), lime wedges, and extra hot sauce separately.
When it comes to poultry, The Hubs favors the dark meat and I most often prefer the white meat. What’s nice about this Senegalese Braised Chicken with Onions and Lime recipe is you can use a combination of both and make everyone happy. And happy is the name of the game when you’ve been hunkered down together for months (thanks COVID).
Don’t let the name fool you. With just a few ingredients, “Yassa Ginaar” delivers multiple layers of flavor—savory yet sweet with lightly caramelized onions, citrusy with lime zest and juice, meaty from the deeply browned chicken, and slightly spicy from the heat of a habañero chili. This version from Milk Street is based on a recipe in “Yolele!” by Pierre Thiam, who marinates then sears the chicken, then uses the marinade as a base for the flavorful sauce.
Bouillon concentrate adds to the savoriness of the dish. As it is for Milk Street, our preferred brand is Better than Bouillon. We paired our entrée with a side of sautéed spinach in roasted garlic olive oil and jasmine rice steamed in homemade chicken stock. A side of creamy mashed potatoes would work easily as well for the saucy onion bed.
Keep in mind that you don’t want to marinate the chicken for longer than two hours; the acidity of the lime juice will soften the meat and turn it mushy. Likewise, don’t use an uncoated cast-iron pot. The lime’s acidity will react with the metal, causing the sauce to taste metallic—not necessarily a flavor enhancer in our book!
3 Tbsp. grated lime zest, plus 6 tablespoons lime juice
1 habanero chili, seeded and minced
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 tsp. chicken bouillon concentrate
2 lbs. bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, thighs or drumsticks, trimmed
3 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
Finely chopped fresh chives, to serve
In a small bowl, stir together 3 tablespoons of oil, the lime zest, habanero, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Transfer 2 teaspoons of the mixture to a pinch pot and set aside.
To the remaining oil-zest mixture, whisk in the lime juice, bouillon and ¼ cup water. Place the chicken and onions in a large ziploc bag, add the oil-zest mixture, seal and toss. Let marinate at room temperature for 1 hour or refrigerate up to 2 hours, turning once.
Set a colander over a large bowl and strain the contents of the ziploc. Remove the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Reserve both the marinade and the onions for later.
In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil until barely smoking. Add the chicken, skin side down, and cook until well browned, about 4-5 minutes.
Transfer to a plate and pour off and discard all but 1 tablespoon of the fat. Set the pot over medium heat and stir in the onions and ¼ cup water, scraping up any browned bits.
Cover and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are softened and lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes.
Stir the reserved marinade into the onions. Return the chicken, skin side up, nestling the pieces into the sauce, and pour in any accumulated juices. Reduce to medium-low, cover and cook until a skewer inserted into the thickest part meets no resistance, about 20-25 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to a serving platter or shallow bowl. If the saucy onions appear too watery, reduce them down, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes at a rolling simmer to thicken. Off heat, stir the reserved oil-zest mixture into the onions, then taste and season with salt and pepper.
Spoon the onions and sauce around the chicken and sprinkle with chives.
Tomatoes are another summer staple that explodes with a variety of luscious choices by season’s end. In fact, every year in our raised bed herb garden we are fortunate to get several “bonus plants” compliments of seed from our compost.
Fresh, snappy late-summer beans are a fleeting pleasure on their own, but jazz them up with the sweet acidity of grape tomatoes and crackly breadcrumbs, you’ve got a winning combination. The layers of colors (especially if you include yellow wax beans) and crisp and juicy textures effortlessly upgrade any main, such as our herb-marinated grilled bone-in pork chops.
As soon as I eyeballed this recipe in our latest Martha Stewart Living magazine, I knew it was going to make an appearance on our dining table within days. Unfortunately I could not access any yellow wax beans, so instead I used a combination of red and yellow grape tomatoes for that tri-color effect.
A few weeks earlier we made bead crumbs from some leftover crusty bread and put it in the freeze until such time we would need them again. Well this seemed like the perfect occasion, although the crumb was much finer than asked for here, still we went ahead with the recipe and it was great! They were a side dish to those grilled pork chops, but hardly played second fiddle.
12 oz. green beans and/or yellow wax beans, trimmed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 slices rustic bread (5 ounces), crusts removed, torn into large pieces
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
10 oz. cocktail tomatoes or large cherry tomatoes, or a combination, halved
1 oz. Manchego cheese, finely grated (1/4 cup)
Bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add beans and cook until bright green and crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain and transfer to a serving platter; lightly drizzle with oil.
Pulse bread in a food processor until coarse crumbs form (you should have 2 cups). In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil and butter over medium. Add breadcrumbs and season with salt and pepper; cook, stirring, until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in skillet over medium-high. Add tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in breadcrumbs. Top beans with warm tomato mixture. Sprinkle with cheese; serve.
Because of the abundance of fresh produce in mid- to late-summer, we find ourselves gravitating to certain vegetables which have a limited growing season, one being sweet corn on the cob. It finds its way to our dinner table often as a side dish: hot, buttered and eaten right off the cob. But occasionally, we want to make it the star of the show, such as in this Smoky, Sweet Corn Chowder recipe. And September is synonymous with THE BEST, when corn reigns king.
Using corn sliced right off the cob, diced potatoes and veggies this easy chowderis finished with a bit of cream, a skosh of white wine and crispy bacon crumbles. Don’t throw the cobs away after removing the kernels, instead, add them to the broth to get even more of their milky goodness into the chowder.
We changed things up a bit, no surprise there. The original recipe called for 5 cups of water. Since we had some homemade ham stock in the freezer, we substituted that (and upped the quantity by 1 cup) for the water which of course adds tons of flavor. Then, figuring we would get more taste and substance from andouille sausage than ham hocks we made that switcharoo too.
Lastly, our bicolored ears of corn were not large so I added 6 ears worth, after all, it is the star of the show here. Because it all comes together fairly quickly when the cooking starts, prep the vegetables for the chowder before you begin cooking. All the chopping—that’s the most time-intensive part of the process. But oh so worth it, because corn reigns supreme and is crowned the king in this recipe.