Monthly Archives: August 2022

Herby Yogurt Sauce with Grilled Lamb Chops and Cucumber Couscous Salad

Did you know that plain yogurt is an excellent base for a marinade? It slowly tenderizes the meat, rendering it juicy, but never meaty or tough; plus it leaves a pleasant tangy flavor behind. In this case, a simple blend of yogurt, shallot, lemon and salt is a perfect match for lamb’s richness.

A portion of the mixture is set aside to purée with tender green herbs and lemon juice for a quick finishing sauce after the lamb is done. The original recipe called for baby lamb chops (aka lollipop chops), but we prefer a meatier cut such as the loin chop, and the ingredients list reflects our changes.

The yogurt sauce mixture not only complimented the meat but benefited the sliced cucumbers as well. Another side was whole wheat pearl couscous cooked in homemade chicken stock for added flavor.

Herby Yogurt Sauce with Grilled Lamb Chops and Cucumber Couscous Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 1/2 cups plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest, plus 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, all from 1 lemon
  • 8 loin lamb chops
  • 1 cup packed fresh tender herbs (such as parsley, dill and mint leaves), plus more for serving
  • 1 cup pearl whole wheat couscous, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 cucumber, sliced thin for serving


  1. Stir together yogurt, shallot, salt, and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Measure 1 cup of the mixture into a large ziploc bag. Cover and refrigerate the remaining 1/2 cup yogurt mixture.
  2. Add lamb chops to ziploc bag; seal bag and turn to coat lamb in sauce. Let marinate in the fridge at least 2 hours, and up to 24. Ours marinated 8 hours.
  3. Preheat grill to high (450°-500°). Scrape off excess marinate from lamb, then discard the bag .
  4. Sprinkle chops evenly with salt and pepper. Arrange chops on oiled grill grates. Grill covered, turning once or twice until browned and a thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers 135° for medium-rare; about 10 minutes total; lollipop chops will take about 5 minutes.
  5. Transfer chops to a platter and let rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, transfer reserved yogurt mixture to a food processor. Add fresh herbs and lemon juice; pulse until smooth, about 20 pulses.
  7. Serve lamb alongside sauce, cooked couscous, cucumbers and additional herbs.

Adapted from a recipe for Food & Wine Magazine

Coconut Chicken Curry

Curry powder is stirred into this braise only during the last minute of cooking, delivering a bright hit of spice on top of the paprika and turmeric mellowed into the slow-simmered chicken.

This dish needs time on the stove but not much attention, and gets even better after resting in the fridge, making it an ideal weeknight meal that can last days. There’s plenty of coconut milk broth to spoon over rice or noodles; or even platha, a buttery, flaky Burmese flatbread, for dipping.

Based on reader reviews claiming the curry was too soupy, we omitted adding any water. Other changes included altering the amounts of the spices including adding Thai red curry paste and fresh ginger to the mixture. These changes are noted in the list below.

In order to make the most of the ingredients, it is important to let the curry sit for 20 minutes at the end. This allows the chicken to soak in more flavors as the curry cools.

Coconut Chicken Curry

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 2 ½ lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 Tbsp. ground paprika
  • ½ tsp. ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • ⅓ cup canola oil
  • 2 yellow onions, finely diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 13-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 3 Tbsp. fish sauce, plus more as needed
  • 1 ½ tsp. Madras curry powder
  • 1⁄4 tsp. ground cayenne
  • 2 Tbsp. Thai red curry paste
  •  Cooked rice or noodles, for serving
  • 1 cup cilantro sprigs, for serving
  • 1 lime or lemon, cut into wedges, for serving


  1. Trim the chicken thighs of excess fat and cut into 1/2- to 1-inch pieces; transfer to a bowl. Add the paprika, turmeric and salt, and use your hands to mix well. Let the chicken marinate at room temperature while you prepare the other ingredients, or cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high. Stir in the onions, lower the heat to medium-low and cook gently, stirring often to prevent scorching, until tender and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and continue to cook, stirring often, until most of the water from the onions has been cooked out and a glossy layer of oil has risen to the surface, about 5 minutes more.
  3. Add the marinated chicken and stir to release the spices into the onion. Pour in the coconut milk and bring to a near boil. Let the coconut milk simmer briskly for about 4 minutes to thicken a bit. Lower the heat to medium-low and add the fish sauce. The broth will thin out as the chicken starts to release its juices.
  4. Lower to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is tender, about 30 minutes. Droplets of paprika-red oil will rise to the surface. Stir in the curry powder, cayenne and Thai red curry paste and simmer briefly and remove from the heat.
  5. Let the curry sit for at least 20 minutes before serving. This allows the chicken to soak in more flavors as the curry cools. Bring to a simmer again right before serving and taste, adding more salt or fish sauce if desired.
  6. Serve over rice or noodles, with bowls of cilantro and lime wedges.

Adapted from recipe by Desmond Tan and Kate Leahy for NYT Cooking

Tomato Salad with Tuna, Capers, and Black Olives

Local tomatoes are king this time of year so we try to use them in a variety of ways almost everyday during the season. Here’s a simple summer tomato salad recipe that makes the most of—and uses up—some of the tomato bounty from your garden or local farm market.

America’s Test Kitchen (ATK) discovered that salting the tomatoes before mixing them into the salad brings out their juices, which make a great base for the dressing. Another discovery was there’s no need to peel homegrown tomatoes for a tomato salad recipe, because their skins are usually thin and unobtrusive.

The amounts of the ingredients are subjective to your own preferences. If you prefer tuna packed in oil, go ahead and use it; in fact, save the drained oil from the tuna and use it instead of, or with, the remaining olive oil. No blanching or cooking needed here!

The olives, red onions and capers are boldly flavored Mediterranean standbys, typically a healthy diet to follow. It’s a great option to bring on a picnic or to enjoy lunch at your community pool.

While we are on the subject of great tomato recipes, I have to give a shout out to the Heirloom Tomato Tart (shown above) that I blogged about 4 years ago. If you are also interested in that recipe just click on the link. The tomato salad recipe is below.

Tomato Salad with Tuna, Capers, and Black Olives

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 1/2 lbs. vine-ripened tomatoes
  • ½ tsp. table salt
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice from 1 lemon
  • 3 Tbsp. capers, chopped
  • 12 large black olives, such as Kalamata or other brine-cured variety, pitted and chopped
  • ¼ cup red onion, chopped fine
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 6-oz. can solid white tuna in water, or oil-packed if preferred


  1. Core and halve tomatoes, then cut each half into 1/2″ thick wedges. Toss wedges with salt in large bowl; let rest until small pool of liquid accumulates, 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk oil, lemon juice, capers, olives, onion, parsley, and pepper to taste in small bowl. Pour mixture over tomatoes and accumulated liquid; toss to coat. Set aside to blend flavors, about 5 minutes.
  3. Crumble tuna over tomatoes; toss to combine. Adjust seasonings and serve immediately.

Spicy Chinese Beef Skewers

Spice it twice—the mantra for this flavorful beef skewer. After skewering but before going on the grill, the meat is dusted generously with the spices. Those spices toast, their flavors deepening during cooking. Once the meat comes off the heat, it’s seasoned a second time with the same spice blend, creating multiple layers of nuanced flavors from the same few ingredients.

What did we do different? In place of flat iron steak, we substituted flap meat because it was already in our freezer and it’s easier to source than the aforementioned flat iron cut. In keeping with the Asian theme, we also grilled bok choy right along with the meat skewers. They benefited from a chili oil sauce that complimented the meat rub.

Don’t trim the fat from the beef before cooking. The fat adds flavor and helps keep the meat succulent. If you’re using a gas grill, make sure to give it at least 10 to 15 minutes to heat before cooking the skewers. This ensures the meat gets a nice surface char without overcooking the interior.

Spicy Chinese Beef Skewers

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1½ lbs. beef flat iron steak, sliced against the grain into ¼-inch-thick strips
  • 1 Tbsp. dry sherry or Shaoxing wine
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil, plus more for grill grate
  • 2½ Tbsp. cumin seeds
  • 2½ tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1½ tsp. sichuan peppercorns
  • 2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • chili oil, to serve (optional)


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the beef, sherry, soy sauce and oil. Let stand at room temperature while preparing the spice mix and the grill.
  2. In a small skillet over medium-low, toast the cumin, fennel and Sichuan peppercorns until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a spice grinder and add the pepper flakes. Process until coarsely ground, about 10 seconds. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in 1¾ teaspoons salt. Measure out 1 tablespoon of the mix and set aside to use as garnish.
  3. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct, high-heat cooking. For a charcoal grill, ignite a large chimney of coals and let burn until lightly ashed over, then distribute the coals evenly over one side of the grill bed; open the bottom grill vents and the lid vent. For a gas grill, turn all burners to high. Heat the grill, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes, then clean and oil the cooking grate.
  4. While the grill heats, thread the beef onto ten 8- to 10-inch metal skewers, evenly dividing the meat and pushing the pieces together. Sprinkle the remaining spice mixture evenly over both sides of the meat, patting gently to adhere.
  5. Grill until lightly charred, 2 to 3 minutes, then flip and grill until the second sides are lightly charred, another 2 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, sprinkling both sides of the skewers with the reserved spice mix, then drizzle with chili oil (if using).

Adapted from a recipe by Laura Russell for Milk Street

Sautéed Cod with Zhoug

Zhoug, a spicy pesto-like condiment with a base of cilantro and often parsley, is popular throughout the Levant and Middle East regions. Its zip and pungency comes from fresh chilies, a small handful of spices and fresh garlic. Olive oil supplies fruity richness.

Milk Street claims zhoug is just the thing to add bold, bracing flavor to mild-tasting fillets of white fish. Readily available cod works well in this recipe, but snapper and tilapia are also good substitutes. Whichever you choose, for quick, even cooking, look for fillets no thicker than about 1 inch. Be sure to dry the fish well by patting it with paper towels, especially if it was previously frozen; removing excess moisture helps ensure they brown well in the pan.

Unable to source Serrano chiles, a jalapeño and a Fresno were substituted. Cod was the fish of choice because it was the most economical of the options—and we like it. To complete the meal, we made sides of steamed green beans lightly dressed in a flavored olive oil, salt and pepper; and whole wheat pearled couscous in homemade seafood stock (instead of water), then finished with sautéed shallot and minced parsley.

NOTE: Don’t leave the cilantro wet after rinsing. Be sure to dry it well so there’s no residual water to cause sogginess during processing. Also, don’t move the fish around once it’s in the skillet, and don’t worry if it releases a little a liquid during cooking. The skinless fillets are delicate, so minimal maneuvering is best to keep them intact, as well as for best browning.

Sautéed Cod with Zhoug

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 4 cups lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems (about 1 large bunch), roughly chopped
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 2 serrano chilies, stemmed, halved and seeded
  • 1½ tsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. ground cardamom
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup plus 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 4 6-oz. skinless cod, snapper or tilapia fillets, each about 1 inch thick, patted dry
  • Lemon wedges, to serve


  1. In a food processor, combine the cilantro, garlic, chilies, coriander, cumin, cardamom, ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Process until roughly chopped, about 20 seconds.
  2. Add the ¼ cup oil and process until smooth, about another 30 seconds. Transfer ¼ cup zhoug to a small bowl; set aside for serving.
  3. Season the fish all over with salt and pepper, then brush the one side with half of the remaining zhoug. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil until shimmering.
  4. Add the fillets zhoug-side down, brush the tops with the remaining zhoug and cook, undisturbed, until golden brown on the bottoms, 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Using a wide metal spatula, carefully flip the fillets. Cook until golden brown on the second sides and the fillets are opaque throughout, about 3 minutes. Using the spatula, transfer the fillets to a platter. Serve with the reserved zhoug and lemon wedges.

Adapted from a recipe by Courtney Hill for Milk Street