All posts by LynnHoll

About LynnHoll

I have been an artist and designer all my life incorporating graphic design for websites, gardens, publications, fabrics, interior design and cooking. I am now retired from my professional job, but still create artistic visions in all forms on a daily basis.

Vietnamese Braised Lemongrass Chicken

With a penchant toward bold flavors, this recipe from Milk Street appealed to us from the get-go. Typically, bone-in chicken thighs are also sold with the skin on. Simply remove it before cooking, and if you make homemade chicken stock, save it with your other body parts for the next time you throw some together.

In Vietnam, turmeric, garlic, chilies and fish sauce—staple ingredients in the Vietnamese kitchen—douse chicken with a riot of flavor and provide that gorgeous caramel coloring. The other main ingredient, lemongrass, is a grass of robust habit native to southern India and Ceylon that is grown in tropical regions for its lemon-scented foliage used as a seasoning and that is the source of an aromatic essential oil.

Luckily, instead of mincing fresh lemongrass, which requires a good amount of time and effort, simply bruise the stalks so they split open and release their essential oils into the braising liquid; then remove and discard the stalks when cooking is complete.

The soy sauce was an addition to the Milk Street recipe, a stand-in for the MSG and pork bouillon. The braising liquid is thickened with a little cornstarch to give the sauce just a little body. Serve the chicken with steamed jasmine rice.

Simply stated, 2 1⁄2 pounds of bone-in chicken is not enough for four adults. Plan on eight large thighs, no matter the weight. I went ahead and incorporated this change in the list of ingredients below.

Heads Up: Don’t leave the skin on the chicken. The bone adds flavor to the braise, but not the skin, which turns soggy with simmering and releases fat into the liquid. But bone-in thighs are almost always sold with skin, so simply pull it off before cooking.

Vietnamese Braised Lemongrass Chicken

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • 6 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Fresno or jalapeño chilies, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. ground turmeric
  • 3 stalks fresh lemongrass, trimmed to the bottom 6 inches, dry outer layers discarded, bruised
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 cup + 1 Tbsp. water, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
  • 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, skin removed and discarded, patted dry
  • 1 tsp. cornstarch
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • Ground black pepper
  • Cilantro and/or sliced scallions, to serve


  1. In a large Dutch oven over medium, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the garlic, chilies and turmeric, then cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Add the lemongrass, broth, soy sauce, sugar and 1 cup water, then bring to a simmer. Add the chicken skinned side down in even layer and return to a simmer. Cover, reduce to medium-low and cook until a skewer inserted into the chicken meets no resistance, 30 to 40 minutes.
  3. Using tongs, transfer the chicken skinned side up to a serving bowl. Cook the braising liquid over medium until reduced by about half, about 12 minutes. Remove and discard the lemon grass.In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water. Whisk the mixture into the braising liquid, return to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly thickened, about 1 minute.
  4. Off heat, stir the lime juice and fish sauce into the braising liquid, then taste and season with pepper. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pot, cover and let stand until heated through, about 5 minutes. Return the braise to the serving bowl and sprinkle with cilantro.

Recipe adapted by Diane Unger for Milk Street

Sagey White Bean Dip

What are the secrets to transforming a can of humble white beans into an elegant appetizer—especially if your guests follow a gluten-free and/or vegan diet? Creamy, nutritious and infused with sage, lemon and garlic, this Sagey White Bean Dip is so versatile! Amazing as a dip, yes, but also great on sandwiches!

Smelling the amazing aroma as the sage leaves sizzle is just the start—something magical happens when they fry—the flavor becomes more subdued and a bit toasty. Often, white bean dips appear as a chalky and bland alternative to hummus, typically why it’s not one of my favorite appetizers. But this riff definitely raises the bar.

Ours was served with gluten-free crackers, bell red pepper strips and carrot sticks, and guests went crazy over the dip! The final consistency is a little loose, however just decrease the amount of water to thicken the dip if desired.

Sagey White Bean Dip

  • Servings: Yields 1 1/4 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 10 sage leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves chopped
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch salt


  1. Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet. When hot, add the sage leaves, chopped garlic and red pepper flakes. Fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring a few times.
  2. Add the drained cannellini beans and water. (if you want a thicker dip, use less water.) Warm through, about 2 minutes. Purée in a small food processor.
  3. Transfer into a small serving bowl and stir in the lemon juice and salt. Cover and let rest for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Uncover, drizzle with a little bit more olive oil, garnish with a sage leaf and serve with your choice of chips and/or veggies.
  5. You can make the dip up to 24 hours in advance, but wait to drizzle it with oil until right before serving.

Pasta e Piselli (Pasta and Peas)

Recipe adapted from one found in a recent Cook’s Illustrated magazine, the traditional Italian dish Pasta e Piselli, like its better-known cousins pasta e fagioli and pasta e ceci, combines peas with small pasta to form a hearty soup; all of which come together in one pot. Always a plus for a weeknight meal.

The pasta is cooked in a broth flavored with sautéed onion and savory pancetta, simultaneously infusing the pasta with savoriness and thickening the rich, silky broth. As well as using homemade chicken stock, we doubled the pancetta to four ounces, both of which provided more depth of flavor.

At the end of the cooking process, frozen petite peas (sweeter and less starchy than fresh peas), are added—in our case it was 2 cups as opposed to 1 1⁄2 cups because that was the contents of the bag. Immediately afterward, the pot is taken off the heat to preserve their tenderness and bright green color.

A sprinkle of Pecorino Romano contributes richness and tangy depth. Last-minute additions of minced herbs and extra-virgin olive oil punch up the aroma and flavors of the dish. You can substitute small pasta such as tubetti, ditali, elbow macaroni, or small shells for the ditalini, but do so by weight, not by volume.

TIP: For a vegetarian version, omit the pancetta, substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth, and add an extra 2 tablespoons of grated cheese. Pecorino Romano adds a welcome sharpness. Cook’s Illustrated does not recommend substituting Parmesan in this recipe.

Pasta e Piselli (Pasta and Peas)

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 4 oz. pancetta, chopped fine
  • ½ tsp. table salt
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • 2½ cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 2½ cups water
  • 7½ oz. (1½ cups) ditalini
  • 1½ to 2 cups frozen petite peas
  • ⅓ cup minced fresh parsley
  • ¼ cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus extra for serving
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh mint


  1. Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, pancetta, salt, and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is softened, 7 to 10 minutes.
  2. Add broth and water and bring to boil over high heat. Stir in pasta and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid returns to boil. Reduce heat to maintain simmer; cover; and cook until pasta is al dente, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in peas and remove saucepan from heat. Stir in parsley, Pecorino, and mint. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, drizzling with extra oil and passing extra Pecorino separately.

Adapted from a recipe by Cook’s Illustrated

Grilled Beef Kebabs and Veggie Skewers with Aromatic Couscous

Here’s a typical meal for outdoor grilling with a couscous side dish made on the stovetop while the meat and vegetables are getting happy. If you are not a red meat eater, you can always switch out the beef for boneless, skinless chicken pieces. The dry-rub will work just as well on poultry.

The beef kebabs were 2″ cubes cut down from a 2-lb. top sirloin. The meat was tossed in a dry rub of ground up 1 Tbsp. mustard seed, 1 1⁄2 tsp. black peppercorns, 1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary and 1 tsp. kosher salt; then divided onto four metal skewers and put in the refrigerator, uncovered for eight hours.

It is best to use long metal skewers. If all you have are the wooden ones, make sure to soak them in water for an hour, and you may have to use several more because they are typically shorter than their metal counterparts.

Veggie skewers are a particular favorite of ours especially during the warmer months when we can grill outside. While the cocktail tomatoes (1 lb.) and mushroom caps (12 oz.) are left whole, the bell peppers (1 red, 1 yellow) are cut into 2″ pieces, and the 2 red onions into 8 wedges each, with the root end intact. Make the marinade with 2⁄3 cup olive oil, 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 2 crushed garlic cloves and 1 Tbsp. fresh oregano snipped from the garden.

Place the tomatoes and mushrooms in one ziploc, the onion and bell pepper in another, and divide the oil mixture between the two bags. Let marinate at least one hour, up to eight hours, turning each bag a couple of times.

While the grill is warming up—direct heat on one side, indirect on the other—skewer the veggies. Alternate the cocktail tomatoes and mushroom caps on three skewers; then the bell pepper and red onion on another 3 skewers. If you have any random veggies leftover, slide them onto a final skewer.

Put on direct heat side of grill for about 20 minutes, flipping once to char both sides, keeping the lid closed in between. The tomato skewers will get done first so move them over to the indirect heat side of grill. When the onion skewers are nicely charred, pile them up with the tomato skewers and now place the meat skewers on the direct heat and close the lid. The meat is medium-rare when it registers 125° with an instant-read thermometer, about 10-12 minutes.

Originally from Cook’s Illustrated, the couscous recipe called for three tablespoons of raisins, which we omitted. But curry powder, lime juice, and mint lent depth and brightness to the dish. All said and done, it takes about 15 minutes to make.

Aromatic Couscous

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Aromatic Couscous


  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, minced (about 3 Tbsp.)
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced (about 1/2 tsp.)
  • ½ tsp. curry powder
  • ¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • ½ cup plain or tri-colored couscous
  • 2 Tbsp. minced fresh mint, cilantro or parsley
  • 1 ½ tsp. fresh lime juice


  1. Heat the oil in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.
  2. Stir in the garlic and curry powder and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir in the broth. Bring to a boil.
  3. Stir in the couscous and remove the pot from the heat. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
  4. Fold the mint (cilantro or parsley) and lime juice into the couscous. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Couscous recipe adapted from one for Cook’s Illustrated

Lynn’s Twice-Baked Potatoes

These twice-baked potatoes have been a family favorite with my step children from the time they were little. Now, as young adults, the spuds are an oft-requested side dish, especially when steaks are the main entrée. I must confess, both their dad and I maintain a certain fondness for them too! They are pretty decadent, so we don’t serve them too often…

In all of these years, I just eyeballed the amount of each ingredient, adjusting as I saw fit. But I finally decided it was time to write down the recipe when an opportune time presented itself with the engagement of the youngest. When confronted with what they wanted as their celebratory dinner choice, David and his lovely fiancée Vikki, asked us if we would make steaks, twice-baked potatoes, asparagus and Tres Leche Cake for dessert. Game on!

Vikki and David toasting to their engagement.

It’s best—although not a deal-breaker—if you bring the butter, blue cheese crumbles, sour cream, and heavy cream to room temperature. When ingredients are different temperatures, they don’t necessarily “play” well together. Plus, when everything is approximately the same temp, they will cook more evenly in the oven.

If you have eight guests for dinner, or just want leftovers, a 13″ x 9″ baking dish will easily hold eight potato halves, so start with four russets instead of three. In this case however, you may want to increase all of the other ingredients by 25%. The potatoes can be assembled a day ahead, covered and refrigerated. Remove from fridge about an hour before they go into the oven at 350°F.

Purple chive blossoms are a flavorful, aromatic, and colorful edible flower that will appear at the end of chive stalks in late springtime. Even if you don’t plan on eating them, they make a nice garnish. You can substitute shredded sharp cheddar in place of the blue cheese if you or your guests abhor the latter.

About that Tres Leche Cake, David (mostly) and Vikki (some) had polished off the entire thing before we got up the next morning!

Lynn's Twice-Baked Potatoes

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 3 large Russet potatoes
  • 3 Tbsp. butter, cut into 3 pieces, room temperature
  • 5 oz. crumbled blue cheese, divided into thirds
  • 2 Tbsp. heavy cream or whole milk, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives or scallions, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • Chive blossoms for garnish, optional


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Pierce potatoes all over with a fork 4 or 5 times. Rub olive oil all over each potato.
  3. Cook potatoes in preheated oven for about 45 minutes, or until easily pierced with a paring knife. Let cool for 20 minutes.
  4. Reduce oven heat to 325°F.
  5. Slice potatoes in half lengthwise, and let the steam escape, another 2 minutes. Over a large bowl, carefully scoop out most of the flesh with a spoon, leaving about 1/8″ thickness against the skin.
  6. Add butter, heavy cream, sour cream, salt and pepper to the potatoes and smash with a potato masher until combined but still a bit lumpy. Next, turn in 2/3 of the cheese crumbles and chives, mixing all ingredients together with a large spoon.
  7. Arrange the six potato skins in a casserole/baking dish. Evenly spoon the mixture into the skins. Run an indentation along the center of each and top with the remaining 1/3 blue cheese crumbles.* Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes or until the tops are a light golden brown.
    *Make Ahead: Once the potatoes are assembled with the mixture and topped with blue cheese, cover with foil and refrigerate until one hour before placed in oven. Preheat oven to 350°F, and once the oven is ready, cook, still covered for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for another 30 minutes or until the tops are a light golden brown.
  8. Garnish with a chive blossoms, if using. Serve immediately.

Spicy Shrimp Tom Yum Soup

Originating in Thailand, this soup is a hot and sour bowlful of local ingredients like Thai chili peppers and lemongrass. These are available in Asian markets, but there are swaps that are easier to find in a pinch, if needed. We jokingly called it “Tom Oh-Yum” due to the fact it was St. Patty’s Day when we made it.

This soup usually begins with simmering shrimp shells to make the stock. For a shortcut, simmer lemongrass and galangal with boxed seafood stock; OR use your own homemade shellfish stock, like we did.

Pan-fried dumplings make a nice first course. Often available in the freezer section of supermarkets or Asian grocery stores.

Spicy Shrimp Tom Yum Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 6 cups fish/seafood stock, or vegetable broth
  • 1, 3-inch piece fresh galangal or ginger, thinly sliced
  • 2 stalks fresh lemongrass, trimmed and halved crosswise and lengthwise, or 1/2 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 Tbsp. refined coconut oil
  • 8 oz. fresh cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 2 medium fresh Thai or serrano chile peppers, thinly sliced lengthwise*
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped roma tomatoes
  • 1–2 tsp. Asian chili-garlic sauce
  • 1 lb. fresh or frozen large shrimp in shells
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Keffir lime leaves (optional)
  • Lime wedges


  1. In a 5- to 6-qt. Dutch oven combine stock, galangal, and lemongrass. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, 20 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl; discard solids.
  2. In Dutch oven heat oil over medium. Add mushrooms, onion, chile peppers, and garlic; cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add tomatoes; cook 2 minutes. Stir in chili-garlic sauce; return strained stock. Bring to boiling. Add shrimp; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until shrimp are opaque.
  4. Top servings with cilantro and, if desired, lime leaves. Serve with lime wedges.

Original recipe by Laura Marzen for Better Homes and Gardens

Asparagus with Vietnamese Scallion Sauce

Adding fresh allium notes as well as bright green color to any dish, Vietnamese scallion oil, called mỡ hành, is used as a garnish or condiment on a number of different foods, here we are adding it to cooked asparagus.

This version from Milk Street includes savory fish sauce (or soy sauce), pungent ginger and a little sugar to build complexity. Try it on shrimp, steak, grilled pork chops, corn on the cob or steamed dumplings. Leftover scallion oil can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days; return it to room temperature before serving.

For proper texture and flavor, the scallions should be chopped. Slice them first, then run the knife blade over them a few times to further break them down.

Asparagus with Vietnamese Scallion Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • ½ cup chopped scallions (5 or 6 scallions)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup peanut or other neutral oil
  • 1½ Tbsp. fish sauce or soy sauce
  • 1½ Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. white sugar
  • 1 1⁄2 lbs. asparagus, trimmed and halved on the diagonal
  • 3 Tbsp. water


  1. In a medium heatproof bowl, combine the scallions, ¼ teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Using your fingers, gently rub the salt and pepper into the scallions until the scallions begin to wilt.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering, then pour the hot oil over the scallions; the scallions will sizzle. Stir, then stir in the fish sauce, ginger and sugar. Cool to room temperature.
  3. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon neutral oil until barely smoking. Add asparagus and cook, stirring only a few times, until charred. Add 3 tablespoons water, then immediately cover. Reduce to low and cook, stirring just once or twice, until the asparagus is crisp-tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve with scallion oil spooned over.

Recipe by Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Simple, Juicy, Roasted Dry-Rubbed Chicken with Leeks

The honest to goodness truth about roasting a whole chicken? Whether it’s Tuesday night or Sunday supper, whether you’re cooking for two, like us, or a dozen, there’s nothing simpler, more delicious, or more comforting than a proper roast chicken (or two, or three). That, with a velvety pile of creamy mashed potatoes with pan gravy, and silky soft roasted leeks, and you have the ultimate comfort food meal.

Now our chicken weighed in at 5 pounds, slightly larger than the recipe calls for, but we used our “roasting convection” option on the oven and it cooked perfectly in the same amount of time.

There are lot of theories out there about how to season a chicken—we know, we’ve done most of them! But as Bon Appétit claims, the only truly nonnegotiables are (a) being generous with the kosher salt inside and out and (b) letting the chicken sit out for at least an hour, which gives the seasoning time to work its way deep into the meat, meaning every bite is delicious through and through.

The magic begins to happen when you salt the bird inside and out, tie the legs and refrigerate uncovered for 24 hours. The next day, while the oven is preheating, lightly oil the bird, and then pat it all over with the dry rub. Lift the tied legs and insert the lemon quarters and rosemary sprig into the cavity. Now let the oven continue the magic…

Simple, Juicy, Roasted Dry-Rubbed Chicken with Leeks

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1, 31⁄2 to 4 lb. whole chicken
  • Olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp. black peppercorns
  • 3 large leeks, white and light green parts only
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 lemon, quartered
  • 1 large sprig rosemary


  1. Pat a 3½-4-lb. whole chicken dry with paper towels and season generously with kosher salt inside and out. Use 1 tsp. Diamond Crystal or ½ tsp. Morton kosher salt per lb.
  2. Tie legs together with kitchen twin. Let sit 1 hour minimum. Salting the chicken ahead of time allows the seasoning to really penetrate the meat. An hour is great, but longer is even better. Chill the salted bird, uncovered, up to 1 day, which is what we did.
  3. Meanwhile, to make the dry rub, grind the fennel seed and peppercorns in a spice grinder until fine.
  4. Slice off the dark green parts of the leeks, slice the light parts in halve lengthwise and wash thoroughly to remove all of the grit. Let dry.
  5. Place a rack in upper third of oven and set a 12″ cast-iron skillet or a 3-qt. enameled cast-iron baking dish on rack.
  6. Preheat oven to 425°. Once oven reaches temperature, pat chicken dry with paper towels again and lightly coat with olive oil. Now’s the time to sprinkle the dry rub all over the bird. Into the cavity, insert 3 or 4 of the lemon quarters and the rosemary sprig.
  7. Drizzle a bit more oil into hot skillet. This prevents the chicken from sticking to the pan.
  8. Place chicken in the center of the skillet. Arrange the leek halves around the bird for a built-in side dish.
  9. Roast for 50-60 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast should register 155°; it’ll climb to 165° as the chicken rests.
  10. Turn the leeks at least once to prevent them from getting too dark. (We didn’t do this and some areas became charred.)
  11. Lift the chicken and push the leeks under the bird so that they’ll absorb flavorful juices. Lightly tent with foil. Let rest in the skillet for at least 20 minutes, and up to 45 minutes.
  12. When done resting, move the chicken to a cutting board with moat, transfer pan liquids to a fat separator to remove excess fat. Wipe out any charred bits from your pan then add back the juices without the fat. At this point we added 1 1⁄2 cups of homemade chicken broth, made a cornstarch slurry, and put back any accumulated juices from the resting chicken and made a pan gravy.
  13. Carve the chicken into legs with thighs, breasts and wings, arrange on a platter and serve with your favorite sides.

Loosely adapted from a recipe for Bon Appétit

Balsamic Marinated Skirt Steak with Roasted Chicories

A simple quick protein paired with an easy, delicious side dish of roasted chicories, simply fabulous! The marinated skirt steak recipe, compliments of Martha Stewart, can marinate for as little as 15 minutes, or overnight. We soaked ours for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

When we first made this, it was the beginning of December with cold temperatures, so our outdoor grilling option was off the table. But there are two other choices available. Finish the steak on a grill pan, like we did; or cook the steak in a cast iron skillet that had been preheated in a 500 degree oven with olive oil. Either way, it takes 5 minutes or less to cook to medium-rare. The directions below give you the steps for either option.

I was a little apprehensive about the one-pan chicories side dish. But once I tasted the finished product, I was blown away! It hit the right combination of flavors and textures with briny, sweet, bitter, creamy and crunchy. And you don’t even have to peel the squash!

If necessary, cut your piece of steak in half vertically in order to fit your grill pan.

Balsamic Marinated Skirt Steak

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds skirt steak, cut crosswise into 4 equal pieces
  • Oil, for grates 


  1. In a resealable plastic bag or shallow dish, combine vinegar, sugar, garlic, rosemary, 1 teaspoon coarse salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Pierce meat all over with a fork; add to marinade, and turn to coat. Let marinate at room temperature at least 15 minutes, or cover and refrigerate up to 1 day.
  2. Heat grill to high; oil grates. Remove steaks from marinade, allowing excess to drip off. Grill steaks 2 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a plate; cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest 5 minutes.
  3. Alternatively: Cook the steak two minutes per side in a cast iron skillet that had been preheated in a 500 degree oven with olive oil. Result: caramelized edges and medium rare middle.
  4. After resting, cut the meat against the grain at a diagonal in 1/2″ thick slices. Arrange on a serving platter and drizzle with any accumulated juices.

Roasted Chicories with Brown Butter

Roasted Chicories with Brown Butter

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 oz. focaccia or ciabatta bread, cut into cubes
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp. finely chopped Italian parsely
  • 1 large delicata squash (about 1 1/2 lbs.), halved lengthwise, seeded, and cut into 3/4″ slices
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 heads Belgian endive, halved lengthwise
  • 1 small head radicchio, cut into sixths
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter 
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • ¼ cup drained capers
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped Italian parsley


  1. Preheat oven to 450°F. In a shallow baking pan toss bread cubes with 1 tablespoon oil. Spread in an even layer. Bake for 8 minutes or until toasted, stirring once. Sprinkle with Parmesan and finely chopped parsley; toss to coat. Transfer to a piece of foil to cool.
  2. In the same baking pan arrange squash in an even layer; drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes.
  3. Add endive, radicchio, and 1 tablespoon oil and toss to coat. Season with additional salt and pepper. Bake for 10 minutes more or until vegetables are tender and browned.
  4. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan heat the butter over medium-low heat until browned. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice and capers.
  5. Arrange vegetable mixture on a platter. Drizzle with browned butter mixture and sprinkle with croutons and 2 tablespoons parsley.

Recipe compliments of Better Homes & Gardens

OMG, The BEST Moroccan Chicken Skewers

WOWSER, these were so friggin’ good! While the original Milk Street recipe broiled the skewers, we decided to grill them for a more enhanced char. The skewers are then finished with the juice of charred lemon halves that have been drizzled with honey, along with a sprinkle of fresh herbs. Cilantro, flat-leaf parsley or mint are good choices, alone or, as we did, in combination.

As a perfect accompaniment we also grilled vegetables tossed in EVOO, salt and pepper. Some skewers were laced with red and green bell pepper along with onion wedges; while others consisted of cherry tomatoes and mushroom caps. We purposely arranged them separately because the onion and pepper pieces took longer to cook. And if you’re not restricting carbs or gluten, tricolored couscous can round out the meal nicely.

Some reviewers commented that they used pomegranate molasses as a finishing drizzle with the herbs because it’s not as sweet as honey but still adds another interesting texture and taste. I think that’s worth a try!

Grilled Moroccan Chicken Skewers

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon, plus 2 lemons, halved
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. honey, plus extra to drizzle
  • 1 Tbsp. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. ground coriander
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1½ lbs. halved boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Chopped fresh herbs


  1. Preheat the grill for direct high heat.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the lemon zest and juice, oil, honey, ginger, spices, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper; set aside 2 tablespoons.
  3. Toss the chicken with the remaining mixture. Scrunch the chicken onto metal skewers, then place on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Add the 4 lemon halves.
  4. Oil the grates and grill chicken and lemon halves until charred, about 12 minutes, flipping the chicken skewers halfway through.
  5. Spoon the reserved lemon-oil mixture over the chicken. Sprinkle with herbs.
  6. Drizzle the lemon halves with honey and serve alongside for squeezing over the chicken.

Adapted from a recipe for Milk Street

A Fabulous Greek Bean Salad

This delicious simple bean salad, Fasolia Piaz, was found in our Milk Street magazine and had the Mediterranean profile we were looking for. In Greece they typically use large, flat butter beans, but here, easier-to-find cannellinis are incorporated.

To compensate for canned beans’ blandness, they are heated in the microwave, then tossed while still hot with oil, vinegar and aromatics. As the beans cool, they absorb the seasonings, so they’re flavorful throughout.

A bonus, the beans can be heated, dressed and refrigerated up to a day in advance; but bring the beans to room temperature before tossing with the avocado, herbs and lemon. However, even cold the salad is delicious. A great dish to serve at a picnic or potluck as a side for meat lovers, or as a main for plant-based followers.

Milk Street stresses not to skip the step of heating the beans in the microwave, and don’t allow the beans to cool before adding the oil, vinegar and aromatics. Dressing them while hot ensures they are fully infused with flavor. To keep the flavors and colors fresh and bright, don’t add the avocado and herbs until you’re ready to serve.

Greek Bean Salad

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 4 15½-oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 1 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more, to serve
  • 1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and chopped into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 cup lightly packed flat-leaf parsley, torn if large
  • 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice


  1. In a large microwave-safe bowl, toss the beans with 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and microwave on high until hot, 3 to 3½ minutes, stirring once halfway through.
  2. To the hot beans, add the garlic, onion, vinegar, oil, 2 teaspoons salt and ¾ teaspoon pepper; toss to combine. Let stand until cooled to room temperature, about 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  3. Stir the beans once again, then stir in the avocado, parsley, dill and lemon zest and juice. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and drizzle with additional oil.

Adapted by Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Pan-Seared Steak with Mustard Seeds, Black Pepper, and Rosemary

Super simple, and fabulously flavorful, this riff on pan-seared steak found in Milk Street magazine, is just the ticket to take a dinner from hum-drum to over-the-top! With Father’s Day coming up, it might be just the change your man is looking for. Of course, if he’s hell-bent on grilling, this recipe only works on the stove top because you need to make the fantastic sauce in a pan—which I guess you could improvise on an outdoor grill…

The secret is to build on the spicy mustard seed used as a steak seasoning by making that quick pan sauce with whole-grain mustard, plus a little shallot and butter. Cooking alert: Be sure the pan is off the burner when the butter is whisked into the sauce at the end so the butter doesn’t “break” and become watery. That would be a real bummer…

With our side of Roasted Sweet and Spicy Squash, another flavor-packed recipe, my man exclaimed this might be his new favorite steak meal!

Pan-Seared Steak with Mustard Seeds, Black Pepper, and Rosemary

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 Tbsp. yellow mustard seeds
  • 1½ tsp. black peppercorns
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 1-lb. beef sirloin strip steaks, trimmed
  • 2 Tbsp. neutral oil
  • 3 Tbsp. salted butter, cut into 1-Tbsp. pieces, divided
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. whole-grain Dijon mustard


  1. In a spice grinder, pulse the mustard seeds, peppercorns, rosemary and 1 tablespoon salt until coarsely ground. Season the steaks on all sides with the mixture.
  2. In a 12-inch skillet, heat the oil over medium-high until barely smoking. Add the steaks and brown on both sides until the centers reach 120°F (for medium-rare). Transfer to a platter.
  3. To the skillet, add 1 tablespoon of the butter and the shallot. Cook over medium, stirring, until the shallot is softened. Add ⅔ cup water and the Dijon mustard. Cook, stirring, until slightly thickened.
  4. Off heat, whisk in the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and the accumulated steak juices. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Slice the steaks, return to the platter and pour the sauce over them.

Adapted by Calvin Cox for Milk Street

Tender, Smoky Grilled Artichokes

It’s odd, that even though we love artichokes, neither of us have ever cooked thistles. So this was our first foray, and we decided to grill them. After a bit of online research, we happened upon this approach from Simply Recipes. Apparently, the trick is to steam them first.

Artichokes take a long time to cook, and like moist heat, so it’s best to just grill them at the end for the grill marks and smoky flavor—which it did in spades! Steaming, instead of boiling, assures the artichokes don’t get too soggy from the water and they stay dry enough to get good browning on the grill.

After we brought them home from the grocery store I had to read up on how to store them for a few days. Well let me tell you, everybody seems to have their own opinion. But my first mistake was cutting a good portion of the stems off so that the large globes would fit into a plastic ziploc. That is a no-no, BTW.

According to Williams Sonoma, sprinkle artichokes with a few drops of water and store in a perforated plastic bag in the coldest part of the refrigerator for up to 1 week. If cooking them on the day you buy them, leave them at cool room temperature. Once opened, marinated artichoke hearts will keep refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.

Let’s just say prepping these puppies was a little labor intensive, especially scooping out the fuzzy chokes. Instead of rubbing all of the cut areas, including each leaf to prevent the artichokes from turning brown, we acidulated them. This is done by filling a large bowl with 2 quarts of water, slicing a lemon in half, and squeezing the juice into the water, leaving the rinds submersed in the liquid.

The grilling aspect is easy-peasy. Just prepare your grill for direct, high heat. Use a pastry brush to brush the artichoke all over with the herb infused oil, then sprinkle all over with salt. Place the artichoke halves cut-side-down on the grill grates, cover, and grill for 5 to 10 minutes, until you have nice grill mark on the cut sides of the artichokes. If desired, serve with mayonnaise, remoulade, or aioli.

Tender, Smoky Grilled Artichokes

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print


  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh herbs such as rosemary, oregano, thyme
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, cut in half (no need to peel)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  • 2 to 4 large globe artichokes
  • Salt


  1. Steep herbs in warm olive oil: Place chopped fresh herbs in a small bowl (not the bay leaf), cover with olive oil. Microwave on high heat for 30 seconds (or heat oil and herbs on the stovetop until warm). Let the herbs steep in the warm olive oil while you prepare the artichokes.
  2. Prep the artichokes: Prepare a large pot with an inch of water at the bottom. Add the cut cloves of garlic and the bay leaf, and place a steamer rack in the pot.
  3. To prepare the artichokes, have lemon wedges ready. If you want a nice presentation, use scissors to snip away the pointy tips of the artichoke leaves. As you trim the artichokes, rub the cut areas with juice from the lemon wedges to prevent the artichokes from turning brown from oxidation.
  4. Use a vegetable peeler to cut away the thick outer layer of the artichoke stems. Trim the stems to 2 inches from the base of the artichoke. Cut off and discard the top 1/2 inch of the artichokes. Cut the artichokes in half.
  5. Scoop out the chokes and inner leaves: Use a strong metal spoon to scoop out the fuzzy chokes and the small inner artichoke leaves. Rub lemon juice all over the inside and exposed cut areas of the artichokes.
  6. Steam the artichokes: Heat the water in the large pot with a steamer rack on high. When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium high and place the artichoke halves, cut side down on the steam rack.
  7. Cover. Steam for 20 minutes (less or more, depending on the size of the artichokes), until you can easily pull off the outer leaves, and you can pierce the heart easily with a knife.
  8. The artichokes can be just a tiny bit less cooked than would be typically perfect for steamed artichokes, as you will be cooking them further on the grill.
  9. Grill the artichokes: Prepare your grill for direct, high heat. Use a pastry brush to brush the artichoke all over with the herb infused oil. Sprinkle all over with salt.
  10. Place the artichoke halves cut-side-down on the grill grates. Cover, and grill for 5 to 10 minutes, until you have nice grill mark on the cut sides of the artichokes.
  11. Serve: Sprinkle the cut sides with more lemon juice. Serve alone or with mayonnaise, remoulade, or aioli.

Adapted from a recipe by Elise Bauer

Thai Stir-Fried Chicken with Cashews

When it comes to Thai food, the cuisine ranks among the top of our ethnic food preferences. This classic from Milk Street, Thai Stir-Fried Chicken with Cashews raised the bar as the best version we’ve made at home. We pretty much followed the recipe to a T, except exchanging a medium-large red pepper in place of the small one. Oh, and of course we increased the amount of cashews 😉

Milk Street’s version uses mostly pantry staples and can be on the table in about 30 minutes. The chicken marinates for 15 minutes before cooking, and you can prep the bell pepper and scallions in the meantime. Serve the stir-fry with steamed jasmine rice.

Tip: Don’t discard the marinade after draining the chicken. It’s mixed with ¼ cup water and becomes a sauce that lightly coats the chicken and vegetables.

With stir-fries, most commonly we use our carbon steel wok, but our large cast-iron skillet happened to be sitting on the stovetop that evening, so it became the vehicle of choice. Choose your weapon—I mean skillet—according to your own preference, but don’t use a non-stick otherwise the chicken won’t brown well, if at all.

Thai Stir-Fried Chicken with Cashews

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


  • 5 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 3 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. white sugar
  • 2 tsp. cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 tsp. ground white pepper
  • 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut oil
  • 1 small red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch lengths; save some thinly sliced greens for garnish
  • 1/2 cup roasted cashews, more for garnish if desired


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch, pepper flakes and ¾ teaspoon white pepper. Stir in the chicken, then marinate at room temperature for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Drain the chicken in a fine mesh strainer set over a medium bowl, pressing the chicken to remove excess marinade. Stir ¼ cup water into the marinade and set aside.
  3. In a 12-inch skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Add the chicken in an even layer, then cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the bell pepper, scallions and cashews. Stir the marinade mixture to recombine, add to the pan and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid thickens and clings to the chicken, about 2 minutes.
  5. Taste and season with white pepper.

Adapted from a recipe by Courtney Hill for Milk Street

Baked Eggplant Parm with Chunky Tomato Sauce

It’s not unusual that most of us would like to cut calories and fat where we can, but not loose flavor. With this riff on a Martha Stewart recipe, you bake rather than fry, for less mess and less fat. In addition, there is no salting of the eggplant to extract moisture—a process I’ve never grown fond of.

Another plus, make the chunky tomato sauce a day or two ahead and save time on dinner night. It only takes about 20 minutes total, then refrigerate in an air tight container, and you’re one step ahead of the game.

As we prepped the dish, we realized that a few tweaks to the recipe were needed. After coating the slices for one of the eggplants, we noted there would not be enough for all the remaining slices, so we quickly increased by about another 50%; while the amount of egg wash was spot on.

The shredded mozzarella was increased to 2 cups from 1 1/2, although we would even increase it more next time! The dried basil was swapped out for fresh, making sure to add it between layers as well as a garnish. One of those grocery store clamshells of basil is the perfect amount. These changes are noted in the ingredients below.

It was so light and tasty, The Hubs claimed it might be the best Eggplant Parm he’s ever had! Can’t wait to attack those leftovers… Serves 8 as a side dish, 6 as a main.

Baked Eggplant Parm with Chunky Tomato Sauce

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


Chunky Tomato Sauce (Yields 6 cups)

  • 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans (28 oz. each) whole tomatoes 
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Eggplant Parm

  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
  • 2 large eggs 
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 cup plain dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus 2 Tbsp. for topping
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 oz. fresh basil, chopped to equal a loose 1/2 cup, save some whole leaves for garnish
  • 2 large eggplants (2 1/2 lbs. total), peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch rounds
  • 2+ cups shredded mozzarella


  1. Tomato Sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Cook onion and garlic, stirring frequently, until translucent, 2 to 4 minutes. Crush tomatoes into pan; add oregano. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Make up to 3 days ahead.
  2. Eggplant Parm: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush 2 baking sheets with oil; set aside. In a wide, shallow bowl, whisk together eggs and 2 tablespoons water. In another bowl, combine breadcrumbs, 1 cup grated Parmesan, and oregano; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Dip eggplant slices in egg mixture, letting excess drip off, then dredge in breadcrumb mixture, coating well; place on baking sheets. Bake until golden brown on bottom, 20 to 25 minutes. Turn slices; continue baking until browned on other side, 20 to 25 minutes more. Remove from oven; raise oven heat to 400 degrees.
  4. Spread 2 cups sauce in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Arrange half the eggplant in dish; cover with 2 cups sauce, then 1 cup mozzarella and 1/2 of the chopped basil. Repeat with remaining eggplant, sauce, mozzarella and basil; sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted, 15 to 20 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe